3/16/19  Indy 11 tonite 7 pm, Champions League Final 8, US games 3/21 & 3/25, Full TV Game Schedule,

Champions League

So this is why its Champions League – wow. Ronaldo, a three time defending UCL winner with Real Madrid has taken his winning ways and goal scoring to Juventus and continues the unbelievable run as he scored all 3 of Juve’s goals in a come from behind win at home vs Atletico Madrid to advance 3-2 on aggregate. This is why Juventus spent $110 million to bring him to Italy for nights like Tuesday.  His 8th Hat-Trick in Champions League play ties him in first with Messi and his 124 total UCL goals is by far the most in history.  The biggest thing is he does it in the knockout rounds – he comes up big when his team needs him most.  If he can help take Juve – to the league title – he might just go down as the best ever in Champions League.  Of course as a long time Juve fan – I am not sure how I feel as legendary Goalkeeper Gigi Buffon is why I followed Juve.  I would love to see them win it all but without Buffon – man that would be heartbreaking.  I just wish Buffon had an offense when he manned the pipes for so long in Turin.

In other action Liverpool came roaring into Bayern Munich and took the game to the Germans with an impressive 2-0 victory as Mane scored the brace, while Man City and Barcelona both destroyed their opponents.  We are down to the Elite 8 now with an impressive 4 EPL teams in.

Liverpool vs Porto

Man City vs Tottenham

Barcelona vs Man United

Ajax vs Juventus  

USA

Interesting Roster in this 2nd gathering of US players for new coach Gregg Burhalter as the US will host Ecuador on March 21 at 8 pm ESPN2 and Chile on March 26 FS1 at 8 pm.   Basically the US returned much of the MLS based roster from January while adding top level internationals – Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKinney, John Brooks, Tim Ream and DeAndre Yedlin.  Missing from this line-up are young forwards Josh Sargeant, and Tim Weah among others.  It will be interesting to see how they play and how they line up the mid-field and forward line.  The US ladies sued the US Soccer Federation last weekend claiming Gender Inequality between the men’s and women’s teams with regards to pay among a ton of other things.  Interesting as the Women are 2 time World Cup Winners and are heading into this summer’s World Cup as the #1 Ranked team while the men didn’t even qualify last year.  That and the Women actually generated more revenue the last 2 years than the men.

US Men Roster

GOALKEEPERS: Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge, BEL; 3/0), Sean Johnson(New York City FC; 6/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 8/0)

DEFENDERS: John Brooks (Wolfsburg, GER; 36/3), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas, MEX; 48/3), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 4/0), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact; 2/0), Matt Miazga (Reading, ENG; 11/1), Tim Ream (Fulham, ENG; 26/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, ENG; 57/0)

MIDFIELDERS: Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, GER; 9/1), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, CAN; 143/17), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 7/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke, GER; 7/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, GER; 23/9), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 7/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 13/0)

FORWARDS: Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 19/3), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 2/0), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; 2/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 25/5), Christian Ramirez (LAFC; 2/1), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 42/6)

Indy 11

Our Indy 11 dominated possession in their first game of the 2019 season on the road at St. Louis and even outshot the home team – but a late goal saw them lose a heartbreaker 2-1 on the afternoon as a sizable contingent of Brick Yard Battalion fans looked on.  The 11 are back on the road tonight at 7 pm as they travel to Charlotte on ESPN+.  Get your season ticket package today by visiting IndyEleven.com/season-tickets or by calling 317-685-1100. First home game is Sat, March 30th vs Hartford Athletic at 7 pm at the Luke!

Big Games on TV this Week

Not a lot of great games this weekend, our Indy 11 face Charlotte tonight/Fri at 7 pm on ESPN+.  Sat gives us a battle of 2 Americans in Germany as Schalke’s McKinney will face RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams on Fox Sports 2 at 10:30 am. Dortmund and Pulisic who scored 1 and assisted on 1 last weekend, play on FS2 at 1:30 pm vs Hertha. The Milan Derby – Inter vs AC Milan is 3:30 pm on ESPN+ Saturday.  FA Cup games are on ESPN+ Sat at 8:15 am as Watford faces Crystal Palace, and Wolverhampton hosting Man United at 4 pm on the plus.  Burnley hosts Leicester Sat at 11 am on NBSCN, while Sun gives us Fulham vs Liverpool at 10:15 am and Everton vs Chelsea at 12:30 on NBC.  MLS has Cincy hosting their first game vs Portland at 5 pm on FS1 Sunday while NYCFC and LAFC battle at 3 pm on FS1.  Of course the international break hits this week and next weekend as the US will play 2 games at home Thurs at 8 pm on ESPN2 vs Ecuador and Tues 3/26 at 8 pm vs Chile on ESPN2.  While European qualifications will be on ESPN+ and ESPN3.

Champions League

Zidanes Return Signals Big Changes at Real Madrid are Coming – Jonathan Wilson SI

A rested Zidane ready to Return to Madrid refreshed – SI

Crazy happenings in Champions League – SI

Messi Matches Renaldo’s Magic

Champions League belongs to Ronaldo – ESPNFC

Ronaldo’s Hat Trick Sends Juve Thru on Magical Night in Italy

Juve Advances Wow

Bayern’s humiliation vs Liverpool must lead to Changes –

– Ronaldo: Hat trick why Juventus signed me
– Guardiola: Ronaldo hat trick a warning to Man City

– Ogden: Van Dijk the player Liverpool need on quest for double
– Liverpool player ratings: Van Dijk, Mane both 9/10 as Reds advance

Champions League Power Rankings Final 8 – NBCSports

USA

What Does US Ladies Lawsuit for US Soccer Mean?  Graham Hayes ESPNW

US Ladies Will Make their Marks on and Off the Field – SI – Grant Wahl

Berhalter Excited about Flexibility Adams & Pulisic can offer US men – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Arrialo Says MLS Veterans of Camp will help US Internationals Adjust to new Coach

Pulisic comes on Late for Assist and Goal to save Dortmund

USMNT Team youngster Zelalem leaves Arsenal for Sporting KC

USWNT suing U.S. Soccer for discrimination

Foudy: USWNT union changes are step in the right direction

Carli Lloyd: USWNT negotiations will set global standard

USSF asks EEOC to dismiss USWNT wage suit

USWNT: Federation disputes equal-pay claim

Women’s filing vs. U.S. Soccer: Men paid more

EPL

Who’s got the Edge Liverpool or Man City Down the Stretch?

Slumping Spurs opens door for Arsenal/Man U and Chelsea

4 Things Learned Arsenal vs Man United

Indy 11

Indy 11 vs Charlotte – Preview

Josh Penn shows Pedigree in Indy 11 Debut – Kevin Johnston  soctakes.com

Indy 11 Sign Columbus Crew Defender Alex Crognale on loan

Eastern Conference Preview – soctakes.com John Lenard

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Season Tickets Just over $100

BYB Away Game Watch Parties Around Town

GAMES ON TV

Fri, March 15

3:30 pm FS2                            Borussia M’Gladbach vs Frieburg

7 pm ESPN+                                           USL- Charlotte vs Indy 11

Sat, March 16 

8:15 am ESPN+                                     Watford vs Crystal Palace FA Cup

10:30 am FS2                                         Schalke (McKinney) vs RB Leipzig (Adams)

9:30 am FS2                                            Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Stuttgart

11 am NBCSN                                        Burnley vs Leicester City

11:15 am beIN Sport                             Real Madrid vs Celta de Vigo

1 pm ESPN+                                            Chicago Fire vs Seattle Sounders

1:20 pm ESPN+                                    Swansea City vs Man City (FA Cup)

1:30 pm Fox Sport 2                             Hertha vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

2 pm ESPN+                                            Columbus Crew vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

4 pm ESPN+                                            Woverhampton vs Man United (FA Cup)

Sun, March 17 

8:30 am Fox Sports 1                       Bayer Leverkusen vs Werder Bremen

10:15 am NBCSN                                 Fulham vs Liverpool

10 am ESPN2                                         Lazio vs Parma (Italy)

12:30 pm NBC                                      Everton vs Chelsea

1 pm Fox Sport 2                                Bayern Munich vs Mainz

3:30 pm ESPN+                                    Milan vs Inter 

3 pm Fox Sport 1                                NYCFC vs LAFC

3:45 pm beIN Sport                             Real Betis vs Barcelona

5 pm Fox Sport 1                                Cincinnati vs Portland (1st Cincy home MLS Game)

Thurs, Mar 21

3:45 pm ESPN3                                    Belgium vs Russia (Euro Qualifying)

8 pm ESPN 2                                          USA vs Ecuador

Fri, Mar 22

3:45 pm Watch ESPN                       England vs Czech Rep (Euro Qualifying)

3:45 pm ESPN+                                    Portugal vs Ukraine  (Euro Qualifying)

4:20 pm beIN Sport                                                  Argentina vs Venezuela

10:15 pm                                                                         Mexico vs Chile

Sat, Mar 23

3:45 pm Watch ESPN                          Spain vs Norway (Euro Qualifying)

3:45 pm ESPN+                                    Italy vs Finland (Euro Qualifying)

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Philly vs Columbus Crew

Sun, Mar 24

3:45 pm ESPN+                                    Netherlands vs Germany  (Euro Qualifying)

4 pm ESPN+                                            New England vs Cincy

Mon, Mar 25

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Montenegro vs England (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Iceland (Euro Qualifying)

Tues, Mar 26

2:45 pm ESPN3                                    Czech Republic vs Brazil

2:45 pm ESPN3                                     Norway vs Sweden

8 pm ESPN 2                                          USA vs Chile

 USWNT Puts Equal Pay Discussion Back in Spotlight With New Lawsuit vs. U.S. Soccer

By GRANT WAHL March 08, 2019 SI

The players of the U.S. women’s national team got tired of waiting, and so on Friday, International Women’s Day and less than three months before the start of the World Cup, they sued U.S. Soccer in search of pay and treatment that are equal to the U.S. men’s team.In many ways, the lawsuit is simply a furtherance of the complaint that USWNT players filed three years ago against the federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—a complaint that has essentially sat in purgatory ever since. But make no mistake, this lawsuit reignites the issue and will be a dominant topic of discussion as the team plays games before and during the Women’s World Cup.It marks a grander version of the case brought forward by former U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo in August of last year, with the player accusing U.S. Soccer of committing the same violations in her own personal federal lawsuit that remains pending in California. “I’d always hoped my former teammates would follow suit and join me in the battle in Federal Court against the United States Soccer Federation,” Solo said in a statement on Friday. “It was clear that U.S. Soccer was never going to acquiesce or negotiate to provide us equal pay or agree to treat us fairly. The filing today by the entire United States women’s national team demonstrates that they no longer fear the Federation by forcefully and publicly acknowledging U.S. Soccer’s violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII.”In the days since Abby Wambach retired from soccer, she has said regularly that she wished she had done more during her career to fight for better treatment of women’s players. The 28 USWNT players who brought Friday’s lawsuit clearly don’t want to have those regrets, and they know that the three-decade history of the USWNT has shown that real gains have only come when the players have decided to go toe-to-toe with U.S. Soccer.Will that make things uncomfortable between the players and the federation over the coming months with more eyes than ever on women’s soccer? You’d better believe it. But that’s precisely why the players chose this timing of their lawsuit. Given the circumstances, we shouldn’t expect any major changes on the field as a result of their action. U.S. Soccer isn’t going to do anything that would jeopardize the chances of winning a fourth Women’s World Cup this summer in France. And the players, who are pros and are unified, won’t either.There’s no threat of a work stoppage here. But get ready for a lot of discussion—on equal pay, on revenues produced, on investment in the women’s game. And look for that discussion to ripple out into the wider world as other women’s national teams take their cues from the USWNT, which is what we’ve been seeing in recent years.This fight won’t be settled soon. But it’s one that these USWNT players are viewing as part of their legacy—and every bit as important as what they accomplish on the field itself.

Alex Morgan on USWNT equal pay lawsuit: ‘This is about women in all industries’

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris just shakes her head in disbelief that civilization has advanced to the year 2019 — an inclusive and enlightened time when her recent engagement to teammate Ali Krieger was celebrated among fans and athletes throughout the soccer world — and yet, Harris and her colleagues on the U.S. women’s national team are still treated as second-class citizens compared to their male counterparts.A marriage between two women is legally and socially acceptable, as it should be, but sadly, so too is unequal compensation among American men and women soccer players. Even when the women are much better at their jobs than the men.Which is why Harris, her superstar Pride teammate Alex Morgan and the 26 other members of our world champion national women’s soccer team just filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer — the federation that governs the sport in this country. Our women want equal pay, equal perks, equal working conditions, equal resources, equal per diems, equal travel arrangements, equal everything.And not only do these amazing women deserve the same treatment as their male counterparts; they probably deserve more. Our men’s national team has never won diddly poo and couldn’t even get to the World Cup last year; our dominant, dynamic women’s team is the  premier power on the planet with three World Cups and four Olympic gold medals.Memo to U.S. Soccer: Check your bleeping calendar! This is 2019; not 1919. Believe it or not, women are actually allowed to vote now and, yes, even own land.Why is this even a topic of discussion?  Why doesn’t U.S. Soccer just do what any decent parent would do: Treat your daughters with the same respect as you treat your sons?

“We’re wondering the same thing,” Harris told me Thursday during Pride media day. “This has to change and we’re trying to create that change. It shouldn’t be up for debate whether I make the same amount as a man if I’m doing the same damn job and I’m putting in the same work, the same hours and I’m getting better results and bringing in more money. This shouldn’t be a conversation; it should be a freaking right.”This is not only a fight for the U.S. women’s national team, it’s a fight for women athletes everywhere. Correction, it’s a fight for women in every profession in every country across the globe.“As female athletes, they (the U.S. women’s national team) are pioneers. They are fighting the good fight for the rest of us,” said Pride defender Alanna Kennedy, a member of the Australian national team.Said Morgan: “This isn’t just about us; It’s about women in all industries. Women fight for equality every single day. Our hope is that we not only set up ourselves, we set up the next generation as well.”U.S. Soccer should be ashamed of itself. The organization will tell you that this is a complicated compensation issue because the U.S. women’s national team and the U.S. men’s national team have separate collective bargaining agreements with different pay structures. U.S. Soccer will also tell you that they are at the mercy of FIFA, the world soccer governing body that doles out $400 million in bonuses to the 32 men’s teams participating in the World  Cup whereas the 24 women’s teams get only $30 million in bonuses.This argument is lame. The U.S. men’s national team, riding the coattails of Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, etc., has little to do with the financial success of the  World Cup. The U.S. men are sort of like Vanderbilt cashing that $50 million TV check from the SEC every year just because the Commodores are lucky enough to be in the same conference as Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Florida.Meanwhile, the U.S. women’s national team is Alabama;  they are THE reason for the financial success of their World Cup. Not only that, but an argument could also be made that the U.S. women have had 10  times the impact of their male counterparts in growing the game of soccer in this country. The U.S. women are national heroes. The U.S. men are national nobodies.Without question, if you were judging and compensating them on merit, then the U.S. women should actually get more, not less, than the U.S. men. But this should not be based on merit; it should be based on fairness.U.S. Soccer isn’t some independent, privately-owned sports league like the NBA. Nobody has an issue with NBA players making significantly more money than WNBA players because the NBA makes billions of dollars every year whereas the WNBA doesn’t even break even.But U.S. Soccer is a nonprofit organization that funds the United States men’s national team and the United States women’s national team.The two key words here are, “United States.” And in the United States, all men and women are created equal.Iconic Orlando Pride forward Marta, commonly recognized as the greatest women’s soccer player of all-time, is a Brazilian goodwill ambassador to the United Nations who says women’s inequality around the world  is a major issue on her agenda.“You shouldn’t have to win anything to be treated equally,” Marta said. “Women should be treated equally to men because it’s the right thing to do.”

Watch: Christian Pulisic’s goal, assist help Borussia Dortmund keep pace with Bayern Munich

Doug McIntyre,Yahoo Sports Sat, Mar 9 12:27 PM EST

Christian Pulisic’s goal and assist off the bench on Saturday might just have saved Borussia Dortmund’s season, with the American’s 15-minute cameo in a crucial 3-1 win over Stuttgart keeping BVB even on points — if not goal difference — with Bayern Munich atop the Bundesliga table.The 20-year-old U.S. national team star has struggled with nagging leg injuries and form for most of the season. But he was the difference-maker in a match that Dortmund, which has seen its huge lead in Germany’s top division evaporate over the last number of weeks, simply had to have.With the score knotted at one and just 12 minutes of the 90 remaining, BVB manager Lucien Favre summoned Pulisic. It marked just his third appearance, all as a substitute, since Feb. 13 as he continues to gain match fitness after returning from a muscle injury. And Pulisic made the most of the opportunity, his clever footwork inside the box setting up Paco Alcacer’s all-important go-ahead goal in short order:

Then Pulisic, who will move to Chelsea this summer after agreeing to a $73 million transfer in January, got onto the scoresheet himself deep into stoppage time. The first-time finish with his left foot off a pass by Mario Gotze easily beat Stuttgart keeper Ron-Robert Zieler to the far post:The goal sealed the vital three points for the hosts. It could also help Pulisic earn more playing time as his tenure in Germany winds down. Pulisic’s last two starts came in the German Cup and the Champions League, competitions Dortmund is no longer involved in. The Pennsylvania native has not made Favre’s lineup for a Bundesliga match since late last year, before his looming move to Chelsea was announced.Maybe this is why BVB insisted on Pulisic sticking around until the end of the season, with the club bent on ending Bayern’s string of six Bundesliga titles this spring. Dortmund has not won the domestic championship since 2012. The two clubs both have 57 points after Bayern crushed Wolfsburg 6-0 on Saturday, and Bayern’s plus-2 goal differential give it the top spot. If Dortmund does manage to reclaim the lead and break its chief rival’s stranglehold on the trophy between now and May, the impact Pulisic made on Saturday will be a big reason why.Doug McIntyre

 covers soccer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

Berhalter excited about ‘flexibility’ Pulisic, Adams can offer United States men’s national team

Mar 12, 2019 Jeff Carlisle  U.S. soccer correspondent

For Gregg Berhalter, the U.S. men’s national team is akin to a jigsaw puzzle at the moment. He has a fair idea of where certain pieces go, while others are still scattered. Then there are those who might not end up fitting in. The pieces can also change shape depending on circumstances. Such is the way of things in the early days of a national team tenure.At least in this instance, with upcoming friendlies against Ecuador on March 21 in Orlando, Florida, and a second match against Chile five days later in Houston, Berhalter has more of his preferred pieces available, particularly in midfield. Christian PulisicWeston McKennie and Tyler Adams are all available, and Berhalter has some ideas on where each would be positioned. Pulisic will be deployed as “the No. 10 slanted to the left.” It looks as if Adams could play the right back/holding midfielder hybrid position occupied by Nick Lima during the January camp, though a more central role wasn’t ruled out. That would leave McKennie to either occupy the right-sided No. 10 slot or play in more of a holding role.Most of the attention will be focused on Pulisic. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder — for a few more months anyway — has invited plenty of debate as to where he should be positioned at the international level. With Dortmund, he’s usually deployed out wide, but given the relative dearth of creativity in the U.S. team, there have been calls for him to be stationed more centrally, the better to impact the game. But Berhalter isn’t so rigid in terms of where Pulisic finds space once the whistle blows.”When you look at last camp, there’s times where the wingers go inside and the 10s go wide,” Berhalter said. “We just want to see how that looks. We want Christian to be flexible, we want him to take advantage of his one-v-one [abilities], but we also want to get him in front of goal.”That versatility isn’t limited to Pulisic. He wants the likes of McKennie and Adams to show the same trait.”If I’m thinking about Weston who as a No. 10 but then defends as a No. 8, Christian as a No. 10 who also moves wide, or Tyler is a right back who can come inside and can also overlap or inner-lap; those are the things that are exciting to me,” the U.S. coach said. “It gives a lot of flexibility in the team.”As with most rosters, the players who were left off generated as many questions as those on it. In particular, forwards Josh Sargent and Tim Weah were, at least on the surface, surprise omissions. But Berhalter has chosen this moment to reconstitute the U.S. U23 team that, it is hoped, will qualify for the 2020 Olympics. With playing time not guaranteed for either player — and with clubs usually directing some stink-eye at national teams that make players travel and then don’t play them — Berhalter has hit upon a reasonable compromise. A pair of U23 games are being planned and it seems likely that both players will take part if the plans come to fruition. A U.S. Soccer spokesperson also said that the USSF is “deep into the hiring process” for the U23 manager.”When we looked at players that were U23 eligible, and weren’t necessarily going to be in our starting group, we had to weigh is it more beneficial for them to try to play full international games at a level where they can gain confidence and potentially bring that back to their club and then get a boost in performance with their clubs,” Berhalter said.Another interesting takeaway from Berhalter’s second roster is the notion that age isn’t as much of a barrier to a player being part of the 2022 World Cup team as was once thought. In addition to Michael Bradley, center backs Tim Reamand Omar Gonzalez are back in the fold. Fabian Johnson, while he didn’t make this roster, is still in contention. Berhalter has long valued veteran leadership, and in a young team that makes sense. The extent to which that will impact 2022 — should the U.S. qualify — is still to be determined, though Berhalter isn’t eliminating any possibilities at the moment.”This roster is [composed of] guys that we think can potentially play in 2022,” he said. “Some of them will be pushing the limit, and some of them may not make it to there because of the physicality of it. When we’re projecting this, we’re saying, ‘It can’t be all young players. It could be three guys on the roster in 2022 who are in their mid-30s. It can happen, especially when you’re trying to balance a young team.”At present, Berhalter isn’t looking that far out into the future. Rather his focus remains on getting the most out of what will be a short window. The Ecuador game falls on a Thursday, and for some players that will take place just four days after their last club match. That’s why Berhalter is calling this camp, “the most challenging two games we’ll have together as a group,” especially given that the 10 players will be taking in his tactical approach for the first time. The U.S. coach has attempted to mitigate this by doing video conferences with players in a bid to transfer the tactical know-how ahead of time.Berhalter acknowledges there is no substitute for practicing on the field. That will put a premium on “the players openness to learn, take information in. We know it’s not going to be perfect, but how much of that information is absorbed and executed upon, that’s what we’re going to be looking for.”If that takes place, then perhaps more puzzle pieces will snap into place.

Pulisic, McKennie and Adams called up to U.S. squad for March friendlies

Mar 12, 2019Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

The European-based contingent of Christian PulisicWeston McKennie and Tyler Adams headlines the roster for the United States ahead of friendlies against Ecuador on March 21 and Chile five days later.  The 24-man roster is the second put together by manager Gregg Berhalter since taking over the U.S. team back in December. But whereas his first camp in January was comprised entirely of domestic players, this get-together sees nine performers playing abroad while the remainder are with MLS clubs. Of the 15 MLS players that were invited, 14 took part in the January camp.”We thought it was important to tie some of the themes of last camp into this next camp and to have some consistency in the personnel made a lot of sense,” said Berhalter. “We still think we’re able to evaluate a new group of players, and we think that is going to be valuable as we move into the Gold Cup.”That said, the roster assembled is closer to what will look like a full-strength side, though there are some notable absences. Toronto striker Jozy Altidore is still not fully recovered from a recent knee injury. Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan was not included, nor was Hannover 96 striker Bobby Wood.A USSF spokesman said that the U.S. U23 team — the side that will attempt to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since the 2008 games in Beijing — is also planning to play a pair of matches during the upcoming international window. Berhalter indicated that the scheduling of those games played a role in determining who was called up to the full team and who will play for the U23s. It’s likely that this is why Werder Bremen forward Josh Sargent and Celtic winger Tim Weah were excluded from the full team.  “We had to make decisions for this camp and we looked at the players in a number of different buckets,” said Berhalter. “For example, we have some younger guys that aren’t getting the game time that they would have expected and they’re still age-eligible for the Olympics, so we think it’s a great opportunity for them to play two international games with the Olympic team.”We have other players that we have evaluated thoroughly in the January camp and we’re going to bring back in the future, but not in this camp. That’s another group. Then we have some guys that are returning from injury and we thought now is not the right time to subject them to the intensity of international soccer and the national team.”The squad is a bit older than some those in other recent camps, with an average age of 25 years, 261 days. It also average 21 caps. Among the more experienced call-ups are Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (143) and Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin (57).Berhalter also took the opportunity to pick some players who have been out of the U.S. mix for extended periods. Defenders Tim Ream of Fulham and Atlas center-back Omar Gonzalez were called in for the first time since 2017.”We have been saying all along that we thought it was important to have a veteran presence in the national team,” he said. “I think it’s really important when you talk about the history, the heritage and culture of what it means to play for the national team.”In Omar and Tim’s case, they’re both playing at a high level, they’re both playing every week and we thought this would be a good camp to evaluate their performance.”Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris was called up for the first time since tearing the ACL in his right knee early last year. He scored two goals for the Sounders in the season-opening 4-1 win over FC Cincinnati.”We’re excited for Jordan,” said Berhalter. “He’s a player that we had contact with in January Camp and it will be great to see him live and in person on the field.”Most of all, Berhalter will be looking to build on the concepts that he established in his inaugural camp last month.”Our goal is to keep making progress. Building on the themes of last camp, building on the style of play of last camp, but also now evaluating a new group of players,” Berhalter said.”We made progress in the first camp and it’s now asking if we can take it to another level. When we are done with this camp, it’s important that we have a good idea of our strongest group of players heading into the Gold Cup.”

FULL U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals)

GOALKEEPERS: Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge, BEL; 3/0), Sean Johnson(New York City FC; 6/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 8/0)

DEFENDERS: John Brooks (Wolfsburg, GER; 36/3), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas, MEX; 48/3), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 4/0), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact; 2/0), Matt Miazga (Reading, ENG; 11/1), Tim Ream (Fulham, ENG; 26/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United, ENG; 57/0)

MIDFIELDERS: Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, GER; 9/1), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC, CAN; 143/17), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 7/2), Weston McKennie (Schalke, GER; 7/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund, GER; 23/9), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 7/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 13/0)

FORWARDS: Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 19/3), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake; 2/0), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; 2/0), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 25/5), Christian Ramirez (LAFC; 2/1), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC; 42/6)

What Josh Sargent and Tim Weah being off the USMNT means for “The Process”

If there is such a thingBy Parker Cleveland  Mar 14, 2019, 7:00am PDT Stars and Stripes

The second wave of friendlies under new USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter has some shape now that the roster has been announced. The team that he’s called in seems… underwhelming. There’s Michael Bradley poised to continue his steady march toward breaking the USMNT record for caps, the anonymous college graduate at left back, an entire forward line filled with MLS players with only one that scored double digit goals last season, and a center back that scored an own goal in World Cup qualifying. What is this?Where are the kids? Where are the players that are testing themselves at the highest level? WHERE ARE TIM WEAH AND JOSH SARGENT? Is this what fans want to overpay to see? Is this the best that Gregg Berhalter can do? A roster that looks like 15/24 of a January camp with Tyler AdamsChristian Pulisic and Weston McKennie mixed in? Is everyone who says SUM controls USSF right and is this roster the shooter on the grassy knoll in the flesh?At the very least it’s disappointing and at the worst it seems like a step back in terms of the work that American Manager Dave Sarachan did at expanding the player pool in his year as interim manager. So what are we supposed to make of this?

The good: this is “The Process”

Let’s give the US Soccer Federation more credit than it deserves and think that it’s making decisions with the “long game” in mind. Suspend your belief in reality for just a minute and step back and look at how the roster fits into “The Process.”Obviously, Sargent and Weah aren’t on the team sheet. Addressing their omission the coach noted, “We’re looking at this from the big picture standpoint. The big picture is Tim and Josh have the opportunity to play at the U-23 level and gain experience. I see them very much as part of the group moving forward, this is a way for them to keep playing and get on the field.”That’s nice; they’re in the group going forward and are with the U-23s for this camp. On its face, it would appear that US Soccer is prioritizing getting back into the Olympics on the men’s side. If so, the thinking that the youngsters would have time to get some experience under a new U-23s coach, which the article linked above also mentions will be hired shortly, makes sense. It is still three years and then some between now and the 2022 World Cup kicking off and there’s a lot that needs to happen in that time. One thing that will come up is the 2020 Olympics, a tournament the US men have only qualified for once in the past four times it’s been held.Concacaf U-23 qualifying has not been scheduled (for 2016 it occurred in October 2015), but holding Weah, Sargent, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Antonee Robinson and other promising players out of the senior squad for now would give them time to gel under a new coach. That time will be more valuable to prep for Olympic qualifying than playing a pair of friendlies that will let Berhalter assess the player pool ahead of the Gold Cup.The 2020 Olympics are also a way to turn the page for the USMNT. The failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup was in some ways the end of a chapter that began with failing to qualify for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Those teams were full of players who took a different track and focused their development and careers in MLS. The current crop of U-23s, at least its brightest members, are choosing to challenge themselves at the highest level in Europe and not repeat the mistakes of the “lost generation” that had its ultimate failure in Trinidad & Tobago.If the goal is a successful run in the 2022 World Cup, this is the right roster for Berhalter to call in, “The Process” is working, and everything is fine. Of course, that’s only if it means that the players who will make the biggest impact in that tournament are taking the field in Tokyo next summer.

The bad: there is no “The Process”

There’s no way that Sargent and Weah should be behind Corey Baird, Jonathan Lewis, and Christian Ramirez in the depth chart and no way that they don’t have a higher upside for 2022 than Gyasi Zardes. There is room on the roster for them. On top of that, their clubs are under no obligation to release them for a U-23 camp. Plus, if the goal was to have them playing meaningful soccer against tough competition, friendlies against senior players for two tough South American teams would be just that.In its recent decisions, such as extending Jurgen Klinsmann with a massive contract before ever coaching a World Cup game, hiring Bruce Arena to try and pick up the pieces after Klinsmann’s early qualifying losses, alienating a top dual-national prospect, creating a general manager position that seemed to be aimless that few candidates were interested in, and seemingly pre-selecting the USMNT manager without a competitive hiring process (you know, again), USSF has exercised foresight like it was planning a music festival on Pablo Escobar’s island in the Bahamas. Is that changing?A good sign is that there are exciting young players in Europe who could make a big difference with the Stars and Stripes ahead of 2022, but does that mean there’s a “Process” that the federation set in motion to make that happen? The crop of players choosing to play in Europe and not MLS it might make it seem like US Soccer is thinking more strategically. Another way to look at it is that the young talented players that are choosing to go abroad over MLS are making the case for long-term planning easier for the federation to take credit for.Whatever Berhalter says, we don’t know why Sargent and Weah are being sent to the U-23s. If this is not “The Process,” then Weah and Sargent not being called in to the senior team is quite simply just another in a long line of bad decisions.

Premier League title race: Who has the best fixtures in the run-in? Manchester City or Liverpool?

Mark CritchleyThe IndependentMar 10, 2019, 10:19 AM  photos

Premier League title race: Who has the best fixtures in the run-in? Manchester City or Liverpool?

Eight games remain in the Premier League season, with champions Manchester City and challengers Liverpool the only teams left in contention to win the Premier League title.The two clubs are currently separated by just one point, after their respective wins over Watford and Burnley this weekend.The competitive standard they have both set has simply been too difficult for the rest of the pack to keep up with.At this rate, one of Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola will end in second place having managed one of the Premier League’s best-ever runners-up.And whether City defend their crown or Liverpool end their 29-year wait for a domestic title will depend in part on how their fixtures fall in these final weeks and months.By calculating the average points-per-game home and away of each top-flight club, we can weigh up the difficulty of their run-ins and see where the title may be won and lost.

Manchester City

Current position: 1st

Points: 74

Average home/away points of opponents: 1.33

Remaining fixtures

30/03 Fulham (A)

06/04 Cardiff (H) *

14/04 Crystal Palace (A)

20/04 Tottenham (H)

24/04 Manchester United (A)

28/04 Burnley (A)

04/05 Leicester (H)

12/05 Brighton (A)

* Subject to change due to FA Cup

City’s schedule comes with two reminders of the last time they contested a Premier League title race with Liverpool five years ago.The champions travel to Crystal Palace on the same afternoon that Liverpool host Chelsea, just as they did on a pivotal April day of the 2013-14 campaign.And if that was not eerie enough, Brendan Rodgers will be given the chance to enact revenge when Leicester City visit the Etihad on the penultimate weekend.But the key game in the remainder of this title race is likely to be City’s trip to Old Trafford on 24 April.The Manchester derby will be City’s most difficult test. It will also be a game in hand over Liverpool, who play Fulham next weekend while their rivals are in FA Cup action.It comes at a challenging time too. City host Tottenham four days before playing United, then face a tough trip to Burnley four days later.Six points away to Fulham and at home against Cardiff will be expected.The champions will also hope that Brighton are all but on the beach rather than fighting to stay up on the final day. Chris Hughton’s side can be a tough nut to crack at the Amex.

Liverpool

Current position: 2nd

Points: 73

Average home/away points of opponents: 1.32

Remaining fixtures

17/03 Fulham (A)

31/03 Tottenham (H)

05/04 Southampton (A)

14/04 Chelsea (H)

21/04 Cardiff (A)

26/04 Huddersfield (H)

04/05 Newcastle (A)

12/05 Wolves (H)

When comparing the home and away points-per-game totals of Liverpool and City’s remaining opponents, the difference is 0.01 of a point in Liverpool’s favour.In other words, there is no meaningful difference in difficulty when comparing the remaining schedules of the two title contenders.Liverpool’s remaining away days are against bottom-half clubs, which can be a double-edged sword at this time of the season.Fulham, Southampton and Cardiff are all currently fighting for the points they require to retain their top-flight status, even if some look more doomed than others.Newcastle, meanwhile, are in excellent form and will be no pushovers at St James’ Park on the penultimate weekend of the campaign.Two ‘top six’ clubs visit Anfield before the end of the season. Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham arrive at the end of the month and have struggled of late.Chelsea have not travelled particularly well under Maurizio Sarri but have already won at Anfield this season in the EFL Cup.Huddersfield’s form on the road is woeful and Jan Siewert’s men may well be relegated by the time they turn up on Merseyside.But Wolverhampton Wanderers are not ideal final day opponents and Anfield itself could be a gift or a curse if it does come down to the very last game.

Verdict

It remains very close to call though, with a point advantage and a relatively even schedule, City must be considered favourites.How Guardiola’s side negotiate their commitments in other competitions next month is likely to be the deciding factor.Their league sequence of Palace away, Tottenham at home, United away and Burnley away comes at a key moment in their season as a whole.A probable Champions League quarter-final second leg falls in the middle of that spell and a possible semi-final comes right after it, the midweek before Leicester’s visit.Add in a likely FA Cup semi-final, which would force the Cardiff game to be rearranged, and City’s April suddenly appears quite hectic.  Liverpool could be involved in European action as well, of course, though there is a sense at Anfield that domestic success is their priority.

Four things we learned: Arsenal v. Man United

Joe Prince-Wright

NBC Sports•Mar 10, 2019, 5:45 PM

LONDON — It was a case of unlucky 13 for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, as he lost for the first time as Manchester United manager in the Premier League at Arsenal on Sunday.

The Gunners scored in each half through Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyangto push themselves into the driving seat in the top four battle as they won a ninth-straight home game. United missed numerous glorious chances and hit the woodwork twice as their heroic midweek win at PSG seemed to catch up with them.

Here’s a look at what we learned from a gripping encounter in north London.

EMERY HAS INSTILLED STEEL

It wasn’t pretty from Arsenal, but they got the job done and kept a clean sheet, and it is clear that Unai Emery has instilled a steely resolve into this Gunners team. In recent weeks they’ve held firm against the rampant attacks of Tottenham and Man United in the Premier League, and on Sunday it took a lot of courage to dig deep and fight back after their disappointing midweek defeat at Rennes in the Europa League. By the end of Arsene Wenger‘s Arsenal reign, they had become a weak-minded, fragile bunch of players. There is now a fighting spirit and grit to their play which complements their free-flowing attacking prowess. Despite various setbacks along the way this season, one thing that has improved drastically under Emery is their defensive organization. And despite that improved defensive solidity, helped mainly by Sokratis’ arrival, they have also scored more goals (63) than they had at this point last season. With three goals conceded in their last five PL games, if Arsenal’s defense keeps this up it will get them into the top four. Coupled with turning the Emirates into a fortress, the Gunners have finally added some steel to their silky attack.

UNITED’S MIDFIELD MUDDLE COSTS SOLSKJAER

25 minutes into the game Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had seen enough from his midfield. He switched the formation from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2 because Fred and Nemanja Matic were left woefully exposed to Arsenal’s fluid attacks. Young shifted to center back, Diogo Dalotwent to right wing-back and all of a sudden United had more control. Pogba was drifting around aimlessly early on, not sure if he was playing in the center or on the left of midfield, and it was all a bit of a muddle. Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay were badly missed alongside Matic, and although Fred gave away a penalty kick, he didn’t play too badly. United’s failure to finish chances was their biggest downfall on Sunday, as Solskjaer’s fine unbeaten run is over. Injuries, constant personnel changes and the PSG win in midweek caught up with them, but there is still plenty of life left in their top four quest.

LUKAKU GOES COLD IN FRONT OF GOAL

After scoring twice in each of his last three outings, Romelu Lukaku was bang on form heading into this game. Moments before Arsenal took the lead he somehow hit the crossbar from close range, and before half time he gave Bernd Leno just enough time to claw the ball away after he rounded him. In the second half Lukaku was clean through again but was denied and it just wasn’t his day in front of goal. The Belgian striker still caused problems with his runs and combination play with Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, but he had an off-day in front of goal. Lukaku going stone cold in front of goal was the main reason why Man United failed to get anything from this game. And the fact that only 14 percent of Lukaku’s 113 Premier League goals have come against “big six” opposition (16 in 75 appearances) will add fuel to the fire of those saying Anthony Martialmust replace him in the starting lineup.

TOP 4 BATTLE BLOWN WIDE OPEN

The race to finish in the top four of the Premier League got real this weekend. Tottenham lost at Southampton. Chelsea drew at home against Wolves. And Arsenal beat Man United. Arsenal now sit in fourth on 60 points (just one point short of third-place Spurs), Man United are in fifth on 58 points and Chelsea are in sixth on 57 points with a game in hand.In the matchday programme Arsenal skipper Laurent Koscielny said that this was a “crucial game” for the Gunners and their season. It’s cliche, but every game between now and May 12 is huge for Emery’s Arsenal project. And the same can be said for Pochettino, Sarri and Solskjaer at their respective clubs.

PREVIEW | INDY DEPART FOR QUEEN CITY CLASH AGAINST CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE

By IndyEleven.com, 03/13/19, 8:00PM EDT  Boys in Blue gear up for second consecutive road match of the season

Indy Eleven at Charlotte Independence – #CLTvIND
Friday, March 15, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. EST

Sportsplex at Matthews Stadium – Matthews, NC

Watch/Listen Live:Streaming Video: ESPN+ ($)
WEEK 2 | SHOOTING FOR THE FIRST THREE POINTS

Indy Eleven aim to capture the first three points of the season against Charlotte Independence in the team’s second road game in as many weeks. The Boys in Blue look to improve their all-time record against Charlotte, which currently stands at 1W-1D-0L.Indiana’s Team fell in their first match of the 2019 USL Championship season 2-1 on the road against Saint Louis FC. Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie’s side featured several new faces during the matchup, some of which included defender Neveal Hackshaw and forward Josh Penn. Hackshaw excelled in his Boys in Blue debut as he completed nearly 90 percent of his passes, acted as a stiff presence in the back third, and scored Indy’s only goal of the match in the 61st minute. Youngster Penn also caused havoc down the flanks for Saint Louis, as the 18-year-old nearly scored a goal in the 19th minute and almost assisted forward Dane Kelly in the 48th minute. Despite his best effort, the USL Championship all-time leading goal scorer watched his header clang off the post. Even though Indy dominated possession and created seven chances, the side fell 2-1 on the road. The focus is now claiming points in Charlotte.“For us, we’ve played a competitive game now and we’ve learned things from that game that we could improve on in practice,” said Rennie. “The start of the season is tricky for us. There’s a lot of away games that’ll be quite tricky, so we need to really dig in and truly get results to set us up for the rest of the season.”Charlotte Independence begin their 2019 USL Championship season against Indy Eleven on Friday night after having a bye week in league’s opening weekend. The side will play its first competitive match after a preseason loss to 2018 Major League Soccer champs Atlanta United on March 2, finishing the preseason with a 3W-1D-1L record. Charlotte, now with first-year head coach Jim McGuiness leading the charge, will look to bounce back from a 2018 USL Championship season that saw the side finish 11th in the Eastern Conference standings. Charlotte’s defense could prove to a soft spot in the side after allowing 57 goals in the 2018 season, the fourth most goals conceded in the Eastern Conference. The Independence were able to move the efficiently in the midfield last season, completing 80 percent of passes played throughout the game.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: MF TYLER GIBSON

Midfielder Tyler Gibson was one of four FC Cincinnati players signed in the offseason by Coach Rennie. Gibson’s presence in the midfield can be felt most with his quality of play. The 28-year-old navigates the ball with precise accuracy through passing channels, helping to facilitate counter attacks and control the pace of the game.During the match against Saint Louis, Gibson completed 91 percent of the passes he played. He also completed 88 percent of the long balls he played through the midfield. Accurate passing isn’t a new concept to the midfielder, who averaged 84-percent passing accuracy last season.

CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE PLAYER TO WATCH: MF JORGE HERRERA

The man that will martial the midfield of Charlotte Independence is veteran Jorge Herrera, something the midfielder has been doing since 2015. His 106 appearances for Charlotte have led to the Columbian finding the back of the net a total of 36 times.The 38-year-old led Charlotte in goal scoring last season, scoring 13 goals in 30 appearances. He also moved the ball well through the midfield, averaging just under 80-percent passing accuracy and creating four assists for his teammates. The Boys in Blue midfield will need to keep a close mark on the midfielder in order to keep the first clean sheet of the season.

MATCHUP TO MARK: INDY FW DANE KELLY VS CHARLOTTE FW DOMINIC ODURO

Friday night’s matchup will feature two prolific strikers in Indy Eleven’s Dane Kelly and Charlotte Independence’s Dominic Oduro. Both forwards have impressive resumes in regards to scoring goals, as Kelly is the USL Championship all-time leading goal scorer and Oduro spent 16 years in MLS.Kelly looks to open his goal scoring account with Indy Eleven on Friday after nearly getting things going against Saint Louis. The forward, who signed with the Boys in Blue in mid-January, struck the post against Saint Louis after youngster Josh Penn played him a cross. Then a dozen minutes later, the Jamaican saw his well-placed penalty kick saved by Saints goalkeeper Jake Fenlason. With a mind for the back of the net, Kelly will be eager to capitalize on any goal scoring opportunity that comes his way.Kelly’s opposite will be 16-year MLS veteran, forward Dominic Oduro. One of the paciest forwards ever to play in MLS, the 33-year-old has featured for sides like FC Dallas, Columbus Crew, New York Red Bulls, Chicago Fire, Toronto FC and Montreal Impact. He’s used his searing speed to score 63 goals in 346 appearances. In addition to scoring the goals, the native of Ghana can create them as well. The Charlotte forward has assisted on 32 goals during his extensive career. Each forward will look to put their mark on Friday’s fixture as the two players look to score their first goals for their clubs. Indy’s backline will need to work hard to keep tabs on the pacey Oduro, and Charlotte will need to mark the Kelly in the 18-yard box in order to keep a clean sheet against an Indy Eleven side they have yet to defeat.Don’t miss a second of the Boys in Blue on the road. All home and away USL Championship matches are available at your fingertips with ESPN+. New users can click here or visit plus.espn.com to start a seven-day free trial.

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3/8/19  Champions League Stunners, Indy 11 Season opener Sat, MLS Wk2, Full TV Game Schedule

Ok I simply have to start with Champions League this week as there were unbelievable upsets and hard to figure VAR reffing decisions that dominated this week as favorites Real Madrid, PSG and AS Roma all lost. The biggest collapse was Real Madrid – the holders, 3 time Defending UCL Champions, losing AT HOME 3-1 to Ajax.  The Dutch squad with a roster full of players on the A and B team that make less per month than Real Madrid’s Garreth Bale makes.  Yes the entire squad.  Wow !!  In Paris – PSG made their annual exit at the Sweet 16 level complete as they gave up their 2-0 lead by losing 3-3 (away goal difference) to Man United.  PSG outplayed, outpossessed and outshot the EPL miracle workers but it was VAR that laid the final nail in the coffin – as a 91st minute call for hand ball on a defender turning and jumping on a shot sailing over the goal was called hand-ball and Man U won on the last second PK to send PSG and GK Buffon packing.  See below to see the call and decide for yourselves.  As a ref – I would not have called it a hand ball?  Fellow refs out there thoughts?   Either way the Champions League the top level of club soccer in the world continues to show why it is must see TV – even if we can’t see all the games because TNT/BR live stinks!  Enjoy this week’s games remember kickoffs are 4 pm this week not 3 pm because of daylight savings.

Tues Mar 12                                    Champions League

4 pm BR Live/Uni Desp               Man City 3 vs Schalke 2  CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

4 pm    TNT                                     Juventus 0  vs   Atletico Madrid 2 

10 pm Yahoo SportsOL                  Santos Laguna vs NY Red Bulls CCL

12 am Yahoo Sports                        Houston Dynamo vs Tigres

Weds, Mar 13                                CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

4 pm TNT                                         Bayern Munich vs Liverpool 

4 pm BR Live                                  Barcelona 0 vs Lyonnais  0

9 pm ET Yahoo Sports OL            Atlanta United   vs Monterrey  CCL

INDY 11

Finally our Indy 11 get underway on their 2nd season in USL on the road this Saturday afternoon in St. Louis at 2 pm on ESPN+.  An improved roster helps the 11 kick off the new season as they will have many more Saturday night home games at Lucas Oil Stadium this season.  Meanwhile – its not too late to get your season tickets for just $99 for the season. Check out season reviews below on the OBC and the USL as the Eleven are being picked as high as #4 in the league and some have us favored to represent the Eastern Division in the playoffs with the newly revamped roster that the Boys in Blue have added.   Get your season ticket package today by visiting IndyEleven.com/season-tickets or by calling 317-685-1100. First home game is Sat, March 30th vs Hartford Athletic at 7 pm at the Luke!  Season kicks off tonight at 10 pm on ESPN+ with Seattle Sounders 2 vs Rio Grande Valley.

Big Games on TV this Week

Fifth place EPL squad Arsenal hosts 4th place Man United on Sunday at 12;30 pm on NBC as the battle for the top 4 comes to a head.  Champions League Tues/Wed 3 pm on TNT.  Atlanta United hosts Cincy FC at 5 pm on ESPN Sunday, while LAFC hosts Portland after at 7 pm on FS1.

Carmel FC and Carmel Dad’s Club – Dick’s Shopping Days are this Weekend 3/9-3/10 Sat/Sun at Clay Terrace 20% off

Indy 11

Indy 11 Add New Fire Power – Indy Star Kevin Johnson

Indy 11 Tips Hand in Eleven Pre-season Final – Kevin Johnson – SocTakes.com

Indy 11 Sign former West Brom Midfielder Do Heon Kim –

Indy 11 sign New Defender & Forward

Indy 11 Draw Nashville SC in Final Preseason Game

Indy 11 Stadium Proposal Passes the Senate – Indy Star

Full Schedule Released

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Season Tickets Just over $100

USL Western Conference Preview – Soctakes.com

USL Power Rankings – Indy 11 4th

USL Picks-

Sellouts Welcome New teams in the league

USL Champions Campaign

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE  

Zidanes Return Signals Big Changes at Real Madrid are Coming – Jonathan Wilson SI

A rested Zidane ready to Return to Madrid refreshed – SI

Crazy happenings in Champions League – SI

PSG is Robbed by Ref, Var & Man United

UEFA backs Ref over Man U bad call vs PSG

PSG proves again they are Europe’s Biggest Losers – ESPNFC

Player ratings PSG

Why Real Madrid suffered their darkest night in UCL History – Marcotti ESPNFC

Bale Was Supposed to Replace Ronaldo – Why He’s Soon Out Too-  Sid Lowe

POLL: Who stays and who goes from Real Madrid?
Carvajal: Read Madrid’s ‘s— season’ is already over
Real Madrid Player Ratings: Kroos, Nacho worst of a bad a bunch

Spurs plan to play UCL quarters at home

Roma fires coach after loss

De Rossi Saddened to lose via Var

Real Madrid Coach to Be out Soon – Mourino the Target

Top Ten Teams World Wide Rankings – ESPNFC Shaka Hislop

MLS

MLS Week 2 What to Watch For – Arch Bell – ESPNFC

MLS predictions: Atlanta United favored to repeat

MLS Statues – who Deserves the Next Statue

MLS story lines: Will Zlatan dominate?

FC Cincy’s First Ever Goal in MLS at Seattle last weekend

Ibra out vs FC Dallas with Injury – New MF Joe Corona could play

EPL

Klopp defends Salah Goal Record this month

As Liverpool Stumbles Klopp says he prefers to chase Title from behind-NBCSN

Chelsea’s Higuain Seems to Have Hit Stride

GAMES ON TV

Fri, March 8  

10 pm ESPN+                                        USL Seattle Sounders 2 vs Rio Grande Valley

Sat, March 9 

9:30 am FS1                                            Bayern Munich vs Wolfsburg (Brooks)

9:30 am FS2                                            Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Stuttgart

9:30 am Fox Soccer +                                              RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Ausburg

10 am NBCSN                                        South Hampton vs Tottenham

10:15 am beIN Sport                                               Atletico vs Leganes

12:30 pm NBCSN                                Man City vs Watford

1 pm ESPN+                                            Chicago Fire vs Orlando City SC

2 pm ESPN+                                           USL- St Louis vs Indy 11

3:30 pm Univision                              Dallas vs LA Galaxy

Sun, March 10 

8 am NBCSN                                           Liverpool vs Burnley

10 am NBCSN                                        Chelsea vs Wolverhampton

10 am ESPN2                                         Inter vs SPAL  (Italy)

12:30 pm NBC                                      Arsenal vs Man United

3 pm ESPN+                                            NYCFC vs DC United (Rooney)

5 pm ESPN                                               Atlanta United vs FC Cincy

7:30 pm FS1                                           LAFC vs Portland Timbers

Tues Mar 12                                           Champions League

4 pm  BR Live/Uni Desp                     Man City 3 vs Schalke  2 

4 pm  TNT                                              Juventus 0  vs  Atletico 2 

10 pm Yahoo SportsOL                   Santos Laguna vs NY Red Bulls CCL

12 am Yahoo Sports                          Houston Dynamo vs Tigres

Weds, Mar 13  CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

4 pm TNT                                             Bayern Munich 0 vs Liverpool 0 

4 pm BR Live                                       Barcelona 0  vs Lyonnais  0

9 pm ET Yahoo Sports OL            Atlanta United   vs Monterrey  CCL

Fri, March 15

3:30 pm FS2                                         Borussia M’Gladbach vs Frieburg

Sat, March 16 

10:30 am FS1                                         Schalke (McKinney) vs RB Leipzig (Adams)

9:30 am FS2                                            Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Stuttgart

9:30 am Fox Soccer +                                              RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Ausburg

11 am NBCSN                                        Bournmouth vs New Castle United

1 pm ESPN+                                            Chicago Fire vs Seattle Sounders

1:30 pm Fox Sport 2                                                 Hertha vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

2 pm ESPN+                                            Columbus Crew vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

2 pm ESPN+                                           USL- St Louis vs Indy 11

3:30 pm Univision                              Dallas vs LA Galaxy

Sun, March 17 

8:30 am Fox Sports 1                                               Bayer Leverkusen vs Werder Bremen

10:15 am NBCSN                                 Fulham vs Liverpool

10 am ESPN2                                         Lazio vs Parma (Italy)

12:30 pm NBC                                      Everton vs Chelsea

1 pm Fox Sport 2                                Bayern Munich vs Mainz

3:30 pm ESPN+                                    Milan vs Inter

3 pm Fox Sport 1                                NYCFC vs LAFC

3:45 pm beIN Sport                                                  Real Betis vs Barcelona

5 pm Fox Sport 1                                Cincinnati vs Portland (1st Cincy home MLS Game)

Plenty of new faces, added firepower up the ante for Indy Eleven in 2019

Kevin Johnston, Special for IndyStarPublished 9:33 a.m. ET March 8, 2019

There are plenty of new faces on the Indy Eleven’s roster this season as the club pushes for a USL Championship title. Matthew Glenesk, Wochit

After the Indy Eleven sputtered out 4-1 in the first round of the 2018 United Soccer League playoffs to rival and eventual-champion Louisville City FC — Indy’s first year in the USL Championship — expectations are elevated this year.With the breadth of talent coach Martin Rennie assembled in the offseason, the 2019 Eleven are looking more like a team expected to contend for a title alongside Louisville as opposed to last year’s iteration that finished seventh in the Eastern Conference and looked overmatched when it mattered most.“I think that there are opportunities for everybody, and I think that guys will get time and get chances to play,” Rennie said of his roster depth. “It’s nice to have those options. I think we’ve got a lot more pace, a lot more danger going forward than we maybe had before, so I think that’s going to help us during the season.”Indy bulked up its roster by tapping into the FC Cincinnati well and by bringing in some of the most accomplished Division 2 attackers available.

More: Eleven owner talks about stadium, MLS and ‘good bill’ from lawmakers

More: Eleven stadium deal now would require team cash and MLS buy-in up front

NEW FACES

Four notable new guys — defender Paddy Barrett, goalkeeper Evan Newton and midfielders Kenney Walker and Tyler Gibson — all come from FC Cincinnati, the team with the best record in the USL last season that has since moved on to Major League Soccer. All four have a solid chance to start in the Eleven’s opener Saturday at St. Louis.Indy also signed USL all-time leading scorer Dane Kelly, forward Ilija Ilic from Louisville City and striker Thomas Enevoldsen from Orange County SC. Kelly captured the league’s Golden Boot award with 18 goals in 2017, Ilic was a key offensive component of Louisville’s title run and Enevoldsen bagged 20 goals and 10 assists last year.We have a lot of talented players, so anyone can make that break to score or set up that goal,” Kelly said of the team’s attacking options. “So hopefully once the league starts, we can get a lot of goals.”Other newcomers include: goalkeeper Mario Perez, defenders Neveal Hackshaw, Lucas Farias, Mitchell Osmond and Macauley King, midfielder Do-Heon Kim, forwards Joshua Penn and Alioune Diakhate.Brad Ring, the former IU standout who had played with the Eleven since their inaugural season, announced his retirement this offseason.

WHO’S BACK

Left wingback Ayoze and center back Karl Ouimette return this season. Both are likely to remain starters when healthy.The only other familiar faces from the 2018 roster are captain Matt Watson, midfielder Nico Matern, winger Tyler Pasher, forward Eugene Starikov and backup goalkeeper Jordan Farr.

PROJECTED STARTING XI (3-4-3)

In what looked like a regular-season dress rehearsal Saturday against Nashville SC in the team’s final preseason match, here’s essentially what Rennie rolled out:

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The only thing to note is that the lineup played more like a 3-4-2-1, with Pasher and Ilic clearly playing deeper than Kelly, who was constantly staying even with the last defender in search of a dangerous run in behind the defense. Pasher and Ilic also regularly swapped sides, so look for plenty of interchange between them.Rennie utilized a few different formations last season, so it’s entirely possible he diverts from this setup. But that’s how it appears Indy is set to begin its 2019 campaign if Saturday was any indication.

SEASON OPENER AND 2019 GOALS

The Eleven will visit St. Louis FC for their season opener 2 p.m. Saturday with their focus squarely on one game and one game only, according to Rennie. But the undercurrent of unfinished playoff business will surely flow underneath Indy’s subconscious throughout the season — especially with raised expectations.“The main thing I’m thinking about is just the first game of the season,” Rennie said. “And get on with that. That’s our first goal, you know. Win that game, and we’ll go from there.”“I’m trying to score as many goals as I can,” Kelly added. “But definitely we’re trying to get a championship in Indy, for sure.”Indy Eleven season prediction: a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference table, a win in their first home playoff match and a loss in the conference semifinals.

 

Opinion: Rennie tips hand in Eleven’s preseason finale

March 7, 2019by Kevin Johnston

Photo credit: Robbie Mehling/Soc Takes

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Indy Eleven manager Martin Rennie somewhat prides himself on being cryptic about his lineups and tactics, especially during the preseason.

The first time I interviewed him and inquired about his coaching philosophy shortly after he took the job, he told me he didn’t want to give away too much before the regular season started, which was many weeks away. He’s also a stickler at times when it comes to formations. It doesn’t matter what the USLsoccer.com match center shows nor what the bird’s-eye view from the press box leads you to believe. If you try to pin him down with a question about a specific formation, he generally deflects it with something like, “No, that was just our usual, 4-4-2, 4-3-3.”

In a sense, I get it. It’s quite common for lineups to completely change from offense to defense, and even more common to tinker with everything as a match wears on. For example, Gregg Berhalter religiously played a 4-2-3-1 while at the helm of Columbus Crew SC, but when his side transitioned from offense to defense it essentially morphed into a 4-2-2-2. Again, I get it from the coaching side of things. That said, after observing Indy’s 0-0 draw against Nashville SC with a keen eye Saturday afternoon at Arad McCutchan Stadium, I’m ready to face the “2019 Martin Rennie Challenge” head on. If Saturday truly was a regular-season dress rehearsal of sorts, which Indy’s gaffer hinted at, it was crystal clear how he intends to set up his squad.“I think more so than other preseason games, this was more of like kind of putting our team together a little bit with an eye towards next week,” Rennie said after the match. “So, I think we certainly learned some good things and see some things we need to work on, but overall it was a performance I was happy with and I think there’s a lot more to come.”Spoiler alert: his lineup involves an influx of central defensive midfielders. Pics or it didn’t happen, right?The most accurate and pedantic way to label it is a 3-4-2-1. For the sake of not being a pedantic dimwit, let’s call it a 3-4-3. A 3-6-1 might also suffice, but — OK, I’ll stop, 3-4-3 it is. Here’s exactly how the Eleven took the pitch Saturday, which I have every reason to believe is precisely — or very close to — how they’ll line up this Saturday against St. Louis FC in the regular-season opener:

One thing to note is that there was quite a bit of side swapping between Tyler Pasher and Ilija Ilic, as the arrow indicates. Rennie has either deliberately asked them to switch flanks often to constantly give the defense a different look, or given them the green light to roam about the attack more so than other players and it’s happening naturally as a result of that extra freedom.

Up front, Dane Kelly was consistently central on the last defender, ever a threat with his finishing ability and pace. Pasher and Ilic were clearly playing a little deeper.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of this particular setup was central midfielder Matt Watson essentially playing as a right wingback. Rennie vaguely indicated that he’s pleased with what he’s seen from his captain in the role.

“I think he looks good in that position and we’ve got other guys who can do it as well,” he said.

Photo credit: Robbie Mehling/Soc Takes

With extra bodies in the midfield, Indy mostly controlled the middle of the park against Nashville SC, but it’ll be interesting to see how this group does defensively on a faster surface with more pressure coming their way. Saturday’s preseason match featured a patchy pitch and 40-degree temperatures, so neither side appeared too comfortable nor sharp in the final third.

Of course, none of this is top-secret intel. The Indy Eleven Live Twitter account put the starting XI out there for public consumption, it was simply a matter of observing and connecting the dots. But the sometimes-guarded Rennie finally provided a glimpse Saturday — after mixing in several trialists in all his prior preseason lineups — as to what we might see from Indy early in the season.

Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KJboxing.

 

Major League Soccer 2019 predictions: Atlanta United favored to repeat; SKC, LAFC in hunt

USA TODAYPublished 10:00 a.m. ET March 1, 2019 | Updated 7:38 p.m. ET March 4, 2019

MLS commissioner Don Garber, sees the future of the league as one that continues to grow and serve the “soccer nation” he sees developing. Autumn Allison, Nashville Tennessean

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With the 2019 Major League Soccer season kicking off this weekend, we surveyed the USA TODAY Sports team of writers for their predictions on how the new season will shake out.

Can Atlanta United become the first repeat MLS Cup winner since the LA Galaxy did it in 2011-12? Which players will define the season? Which teams win trophies?

Pat Brennan, Cincinnati Enquirer
(@PBrennanENQ)

MLS Cup winner: Atlanta United

MLS Cup finalists: Atlanta United vs. Sporting Kansas City

Supporters’ Shield: Atlanta United

U.S. Open Cup winner: Atlanta United

MVP: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)

Golden Boot: Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)

Jim Reineking, USA TODAY Sports
(@jimreineking)

MLS Cup winner: Atlanta United

MLS Cup finalists: Atlanta United vs. Seattle Sounders

Supporters’ Shield: Sporting Kansas City

U.S. Open Cup winner: Philadelphia Union

MVP: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)

Golden Boot: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Martin Rogers, USA TODAY Sports
(@RogersJourno)

MLS Cup winner: LAFC

MLS Cup finalists: LAFC vs. Atlanta United

Supporters Shield: Sporting Kansas City

U.S. Open Cup: Seattle Sounders

MVP: Pity Martinez (Atlanta United)

Golden Boot: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)

Nate Scott, For the Win
(@aNateScott)

MLS Cup winner: Atlanta United

MLS Cup finalists: Atlanta United vs. Sporting Kansas City

Supporters’ Shield: New York Red Bulls

U.S. Open Cup winner: Sporting Kansas City

MVP: Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)

Golden Boot: Josef Martinez

2019 STORYLINES: Can Atlanta United repeat? Will Zlatan dominate?

ESPN’S CHAMPION: MLS’s ‘potential is limitless’

ONLY THE BEGINNING? Major League Soccer reaching new heights

JOZY ALTIDORE: Minorities should be inspired by riches of MLS

DAILY SPORTS, DELIVERED: Get the best sports news in your inbox!

 

MLS Statues: Who else deserves the David Beckham treatment?

Mar 4, 2019Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Saturday marked the unveiling of David Beckham’s statue outside the LA Galaxy stadium, a testament to the remarkable era in Major League Soccer that began with his arrival in 2007. (It’s also an era that will continue when Beckham’s franchise, Inter Miami CF, begin league play in 2020.)

Beckham moved to the U.S. over a decade ago following an illustrious career at Man United and Real Madrid. The league’s designated player rule — known as the Beckham rule — has allowed MLS clubs to attract high-profile players such as Thierry Henry, David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the years since. Beckham was a force on the field, with 18 goals and 40 assists in 98 appearances over five seasons, helping the Galaxy win back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.

This recognition got us thinking: Who else will merit the bronzed treatment when they retire given their services to the beautiful game in the USA? We present five such choices, players who impacted the league in their own way and would be seriously statue-worthy.

Landon Donovan: The American

 

Why he’s worthy: When it comes to leading lights in the modern MLS era, few come close to matching Donovan’s impact.The Galaxy have no shortage of candidates to have their likeness put up in front of Dignity Health Sports Park. There were Mauricio Cienfuegos and Cobi Jones from the team’s early years. Robbie Keane was arguably the league’s best player for much of his time with LA, too, which is why the decision to put a David Beckham statue in front sparked a considerable debate in Galaxy circles.But Donovan wasn’t just the face of the team; he was the face of an entire league when MLS was at one of its lower points and the term “designated player” was still a few years away. In that moment, there were no Beckhams or Henrys to share the media spotlight.Donovan delivered on the field as well. The Galaxy won four MLS Cups, two Supporters’ Shields and a U.S. Open Cup crown during Donovan’s time in Los Angeles, with the California kid making a massive contribution. He finished his career with the most goals (145) and assists (136) in MLS history and proved remarkably durable despite being a marked man for the entirety of his career.There will always be those who think Donovan’s career would have been better served by his spending more time in Europe — and he’s still playing, having switched to indoor soccer in 2019 — but there’s no doubting his contributions to the Galaxy and MLS.

What the players think

— “[Donovan] for everything he’s done for U.S. Soccer, and LA and San Jose.” — Nick Besler, MF, Real Salt Lake

David Villa: The icon

 

Why he’s worthy: Villa will be the prevailing face of NYCFC for as long as it operates. No small feat for someone who was here just four years.

Not every designated player delivers. In New York City FC’s inaugural season back in 2015, it had two such performers in Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo who fell well short of expectations. Lucky for NYCFC that it struck gold with David Villa.The sprightly Spanish striker’s contributions came at a critical time in the club’s admittedly brief history. He was the first player signed by the organization in 2014 and he gave the fledgling club some instant street cred. He was the proverbial face of the franchise in the league’s biggest media market and his performances on the field also helped NYCFC establish a foothold in New York.Villa scored at least 15 goals in each of his four league seasons. He won the league’s MVP award in 2016 and was a Best XI selection in 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately for NYCFC fans, Villa’s heroics weren’t enough to lead his team to a trophy, but he’ll be remembered for laying a foundation in a manner that oozed class and professionalism.

What the players think

— “If New York wants to do that, they can definitely do that. [Villa] had a great impact there.” — Matt Hedges, DF, FC Dallas

Chris Wondolowski: The eternal scorer

 

Why he’s worthy: Mr. Consistency has scored goals against everyone, even keeping up his pace over time.

Sometime in the not-so-distant future, Chris Wondolowski will have the career MLS scoring record all to himself. All but four of those 144 goals will have come in the colors of the San Jose Earthquakes, too, but it isn’t just goals for which the Danville, California, native will be remembered. He’ll also be hailed for the way he went about getting there.His Quakes teams have enjoyed scant success, with just four playoff appearances in his 11 seasons, but it’s never stopped the veteran striker from going about his business with seemingly superhuman levels of consistency. He has hit double figures in goals nine seasons in a row, with his professionalism beyond reproach. That was never more evident than in the darkest moment of his career, when he missed a glorious opportunity for the U.S. against Belgium that could have put the Americans in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup. He could have gone into a funk, but Wondolowski did what he’s always done: He put his head down, kept working and has continued to excel for his club.The Quakes had a glorious spell at the beginning of this century and boasted some fantastic players, including Landon Donovan, whose eventual move to rivals the LA Galaxy made him persona non grata to some. But in terms of Wondolowski’s level of performance and longevity, he towers over them all.

What the players think

— “He should have one whether he breaks the record or not.” — Jeff Attinella, GK, Portland Timbers

Sebastian Giovinco: The playmaker

 

Why he’s worthy: Giovinco wasn’t the only star brought to Toronto FC, but he almost single-handedly delivered a treble in 2017.

MLS teams have made big signings for the past decade, but Sebastian Giovinco’s arrival before the 2015 season, was different. At age 28, he was a little younger than the typical European star who came to the league, and from the get-go, he was utterly dominant. He won MVP honors in 2015 with 22 goals and 16 assists, and scored at least 18 goals across all competitions in each of his four seasons.Giovinco’s effect on the entire Toronto FC team was immense. While he wasn’t the only big-ticket arrival during that period — Jozy Altidore also joined that season, while Michael Bradley arrived the year before — his efforts sparked a revival at BMO Field. The Reds qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 2015 and Toronto later reached the peak of MLS, capping off its ascent with a domestic treble in 2017.

The abrupt manner of Giovinco’s departure, in which he joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal before the 2019 season, was far from ideal, but the heights Toronto reached in recent years are due in large part to the Italian’s influence.

What the players think

— “As a former player I’d give it to Giovinco … He did a lot for this league, he was an unbelievable player. He changed Toronto, changed that whole team, got them a championship. So yeah, I think he deserves it.” — Alejandro Bedoya, MF, Philadelphia Union

Bradley Wright-Phillips: The scorer

 

Why he’s worthy: Wright-Phillips has a remarkable century of goals in MLS, but he has some way to go to match his famous father, Ian Wright, who managed a record 179 for Arsenal.

When the New York Bulls signed Bradley Wright-Phillips in 2013, it seemed like an afterthought. He’d been toiling away in England’s third tier for the previous two seasons and arrived in MLS during the days when the likes of Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Dax McCarty called Red Bull Arena home. As it turned out, Wright-Phillips has not only outlasted them all, he’s become the biggest legend in the club’s history. Yes, even bigger than the massive presence that was Henry.

Wright-Phillips has amassed 106 goals in 171 league matches, good for eighth on the all-time MLS list. Health permitting, he’ll crack the top five by season’s end. His longevity is even more impressive given the willingness of the Red Bulls to part with other beloved players. Both McCarty and Sacha Kljestan have been traded away but Wright-Phillips proved adaptable to these changes, having bought into the higher-tempo pressing style that was instituted by Jesse Marsch in 2015 and continued by his successor Chris Armas.When it comes time to put a player’s bronzed likeness in front of RBA, it will be Wright-Phillips who gets the nod.

What the players think

–“[Deserves one for his] loyalty to the club, amount of years he’s been here. He’s broken records. Absolutely adored by the club and the fans.” — Aaron Long, DF, New York Red Bulls

— “I think he’s just been instrumental for the league; he’s a good example for everyone to follow. Stayed with the same team, very loyal, scores a bunch of goals. Carries himself the right way with the media, with his teammates, with everything. He’s just a good example of what we need to strive for.” — Paxton Pomykal, MF, FC Dallas

Other players worthy of a statue

Who else would make the cut? We asked some MLS players for their picks in preseason.

— “Michael Bradley. That guy is a leader upon leaders, man. Even on the national team that guy’s had such an illustrious career. That guy leads at every given possibility. Even at meals. That guy is a legend.” — Reggie Cannon, DF, FC Dallas

— “I’d like to see someone who’s been in the league longer, so I’d go with Dax McCarty and give him some nice ginger flow and maybe a red rocket, it would be pretty epic.” — Jonathan Campbell, DF, Seattle Sounders

— “Someone who has changed the sport for MLS … I can talk about Zack Scotthere with the Sounders, what a wonderful guy. Came up from the USL and made a name for himself.” — Cristian Roldan, MF, Seattle Sounders

— “First one that comes to mind is Landon [Donovan], obviously. Just what he’s done in this sport and this country. I guess I’d be remiss though if I didn’t say someone like Preki. A Wizards legend. He’s one of the better players that this league’s seen.” — Graham Zusi, DF, Sporting Kansas City

— “They should build a Nick Rimando and a Kyle Beckerman statue simultaneously and they should go up together for a huge unveiling in Salt Lake.” — Jeff Attinella, GK, Portland Timbers

— “I think Jimmy Conrad. He’s a guy that I think is a very historical figure for this league, you know even after his playing career. He’s still kind of been at the forefront of allowing us to bring a little humor and be a little chill and off-the-cuff a little with MLS.” — C.J. Sapong, FW, Chicago Fire

— “Kyle Beckerman, because he’s been in the league 20 years now. He’s an iron man and a good representative for MLS.” — Justen Glad, DF, Real Salt Lake

 

Why Real Madrid suffered their darkest night in Champions League history

Mar 5, 2019Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

The poison of blame, recrimination and scapegoating was already flowing through the veins of Madridismo — the collective noun encompassing the hefty slice of humanity that swears loyalty to that other White House, on La Castellana avenue in the Spanish capital — before they even stepped on the pitch for what would be Real Madrid’s darkest night in Champions League history.Two defeats — at home in the past week — to archrival Barcelona, the yin to their yang, had meant Real Madrid were out of the Spanish Cup and, barring divine intervention, out of the race for the Spanish title. The Champions League was all they had left. It is the biggest prize in the club game and a competition they had won four times in the past five years. Making it five out of six seemed unthinkable, but then, so did winning three straight, and they had managed that feat the year before. In a season when there is no dominant European club, Real Madrid had reason to hope despite their struggles elsewhere.Real’s European dreams were bolstered by the unlikeliest of opponents in this round of 16. Ajax is a historical giant of football — only five teams have won more European Cups — albeit in the way General Electric is a historical giant of industry: the game has evolved, the revenues that grease the machines flow to the big clubs in the big leagues.Ajax hadn’t even qualified for the Champions League for the past four seasons, and the last time they even reached the round of 16 of the competition was 13 years ago, when more than half of their starting lineup was in elementary school. More importantly, the first leg, in Amsterdam, had finished with a 2-1 Real Madrid victory — they hadn’t played well, but they had won because, well, that’s what winners do — and that meant that Madrid could win, draw or even lose the game 1-0 and still advance to the quarterfinals.

– POLL: Who stays and who goes from Real Madrid?
– Carvajal: Read Madrid’s ‘s— season’ is already over
– Real Madrid Player Ratings: Kroos, Nacho worst of a bad a bunch

Instead the bottom fell out. The game kicked off and within 20 minutes Ajax were 2-0 up. By the 62nd minute, Real Madrid trailed by three goals, meaning (because of the away goals rule) they would have to score three to advance. When they pulled one back to narrow the deficit, Ajax immediately hit back with an improbable looping free kick to make it 4-1. Which is how it ended, though by that point much of Europe’s largest stadium had emptied, expelling sullen, white-clad Madridistas into the night.

As upsets go, this wasn’t Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson in Tokyo. This was more like the quiet, scrawny young buck challenging the Alpha Male and forcing him out of the pack. Partly through his fresh legs and fearlessness, partly because his opponent doesn’t realize he’s a little less quick and less fierce and a little too arrogant.

Real Madrid are out of the Champions League before the semifinal stage for the first time since 2009-10. Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Exhibit A in the arrogance file is captain Sergio Ramos. He picked up a yellow card in the first leg — his third of the tournament, meaning he was suspended for this game — and later boasted that he had done it intentionally. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t force [them to give me a yellow],” Ramos said, knowing he’d serve his suspension in the second leg against Ajax and therefore be available for the quarterfinal. Ramos later retracted his comments, but UEFA, the game’s governing body, wasn’t impressed and slapped him with an additional one-game suspension.

That sort of attitude — from your longtime club captain no less — percolates throughout a side. But it’s only a small part of the picture.

The stock explanation is that Real Madrid’s early exit — the first time they’ve failed to reach the quarterfinals in nine years — is partly due to the summer departures of coach Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo, who decamped to Juventus. But that’s simplistic. Ronaldo is staring down the barrel of an early Champions League exit, too, with Juve trailing Atletico Madrid by two goals. As for Zidane, the reality is that last season’s Champions League crown was a smoke-and-mirrors affair.

Real Madrid finished the 2017-18 season third in La Liga, a whopping 17 points off the pace. In the Champions League, they suffered through the knockout stage, particularly at home, at the Bernabeu, a place where the crowd are quick to turn. “They are like the crowd at the Opera. They have very high standards, and they will gladly boo if you don’t meet them … regardless of whether you win, draw or lose” said Carlo Ancelotti, who won the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2013-14, kicking off this cycle of success.Real Madrid were outplayed for long stretches at home by Paris Saint-Germain, they lost 3-1 to Juventus (and only advanced thanks to a last-ditch penalty) and in the semifinals against Bayern, they were the beneficiaries of major a goalkeeping blunder. In fact, they have now lost three of their last 10 home games in the Champions League and the last four straight in all competitions. You wonder if, for all the experience out there, performance anxiety played a part too.

Truth be told, the club did realize that a rebuild was necessary after last season. It’s just that, as so often happens in every sport, if you do it cautiously, try to reload instead and put your faith in the wrong players, you pay a price. Julen Lopetegui, the “system” manager chosen to replace the more orthodox Zidane, had a poor start to the season and was fired after 14 games. Rising stars like Isco, Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos did not immediately go to the next level, for a variety of reasons. Veterans like Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, who were meant to blossom now that they were out of Ronaldo’s shadow, wilted instead, particularly the Welshman: Once the most expensive player in the world, now Bale is a figure of scorn at the Bernabeu.

This is the end of a cycle that, probably, should have ended a year ago but was extended thanks to the unique combination of talent and experience, spit and gravel. With nothing left to play for, Real Madrid now embark on their longest offseason in 42 years. That’s the last time they were out of the running in every competition in early March. As defender Dani Carvajal said after the match, Real’s “s— season” is over.

Bale was supposed to be Real Madrid’s hero after Ronaldo left. Instead, he’s headed for the exit too

Mar 7, 2019Sid LoweSpain writer

They were never going to kiss Gareth Bale‘s feet, even less so after his agent said they should, but they might have offered a little encouragement. As it turned out, even that was too much to ask for.On Wednesday night, Real Madrid were two goals down after half an hour against Ajax, losing 3-2 on aggregate, when Bale appeared on the touchline ready to replace Lucas Vazquez. The unthinkable was happening: the European Champions were on their way out unless someone could change this and come to their rescue. Madrid had to score. They needed someone; they needed him.

Real’s fans might not have chosen him, even with Lucas limping off. Marco Asensio was on the bench — he’d be forced to join them six minutes later when Vinicius departed as well, with ruptured knee ligaments — and Isco was in the stands. But he was the man they were getting: the man with the best goals-per-minute record of anyone in the squad, second top-scorer for the club this season, the man who came on in the final in Kiev and did that.

This was supposed to be Gareth Bale’s year, with Cristiano Ronaldo leaving in the summer for Juventus. It sounds a bit silly — it is a bit silly, perhaps — when in all those previous years he won four European Cups, a Copa del Rey and the league, scored in two European Cup finals and got a penalty in the shootout in the third, when he’s the scorer of arguably the greatest cup final goal ever and the greatest European Cup final goal, too. But there is something in it.

Bale is a man equipped to be Real’s saviour, hero of another hour but still, on Tuesday at the Bernabeu, there was still no huge roar, no shout, no “come on!” There wasn’t even a: “go on, then: prove us wrong.”Instead, there were whistles.So, this is it. Over. Something has broken between fans and a player when they don’t even cheer you out of convenience, need or some shared objective. Even if it wasn’t over and even if there was some way back in this match, which, as it turned out, there wasn’t. Not long before half-time, Bale hit the post, but Ajax scored two more to defeat the European champions and eliminate them three years after — 1012 days on — from the last time it happened.”Here lies a team that made history,” the front cover of the sports daily Marca said. The team that had won four of the past five Champions League were out, an era ended.Perhaps it already had ended, and this defeat was just confirmation. It was a “s— season” according to Dani Carvajal, one that ended early with Madrid winning nothing, knocked out of all three competitions — the Copa del Rey, the league (more or less) and the Champions League — in the space of seven days. The first season post-Ronaldo was over in March, ending in disaster. The first Gareth Bale Season — and maybe the last.The reaction to Bale’s introduction suggested that there is no way back for him at the club. It’s hard to avoid the feeling that this has no solution now. At least not an easy one. Had he rescued them, perhaps there would have been hope, some chance of a rapprochement. But it didn’t happen, and it can’t really happen now: there is nothing left to win, no grand stage remaining for a huge, redemptive performance.Real Madrid will not play a truly meaningful game for almost six months.As the media and the fans reacted, one question was repeated: whose fault is it? Some have looked higher, to the president: there were chants of “Florentino resign!” after the game. Some to the manager, and there were a few chants for Jose Mourinho, although most recognise that this is not a mess entirely of manager Santi Solari’s making and didn’t expect him to carry on anyway. His position is almost irrelevant in all of this.Some have looked to players, collectively and individually. Marcelo, already gone and left out once more, has not been blamed this time because he was absent, although he has been blamed in the past. Toni Kroos, who admitted that they have “all been below our level, myself included,” has been criticised. So too has Sergio Ramos, watching the disaster unfold from inside a glass-fronted box where he sat serving a suspension he admitted he’d sought.So too has Bale, although perhaps less so in the immediate aftermath of the disaster than in the build-up to it.Post-defeat, the classic reaction from fans — as it always is with supporters everywhere — has been to demand more commitment and to demand signings. In Bale’s case, those demands intersect. Polls have drawn up long lists of players they want in and even longer lists of players they want out. Bale is near the top. In truth, he already was, even before Wednesday.The difficulty is finding an exit strategy that works for everyone or a solution that allows him to stay. A Madrid manager that likes him, plays him and backs him is the ideal scenario from his point of view, giving him that freedom up front. But it feels like the tide is turning and that some in power have turned too, given the manner in which this has become entrenched. A way out is harder than it looks: his age, price and salary guarantee that.After last season’s European Cup final, when he came on and scored twice, he said he could not spend another season like it, namely sitting on the bench. He was reassured that he wouldn’t. More than that, he was reassured that he would play a central role, especially as he wasn’t the only one threatening to go that night. Ronaldo did too, and Ronaldo did go.The opportunity was there to step from the shadows — but he couldn’t. Marcelo admitted that he couldn’t really converse with Bale. Thibaut Courtois said that he didn’t join the team for meals because it was too late. He said they called Bale “the golfer.” TV cameras caught him watching a golf competition on his mobile as he walked into the ground away at Levante.The criticism was fierce. It was absurd, too. On a basic level, he was being accused of … liking golf and going to bed early.As accusations go, they’re not the most heinous crimes. Nor is his limited ability to speak Spanish, although that too was a recurring theme and an increasingly bitter one; at times, it was presented as the ultimate evidence that he should be booted out. You don’t need to be able to ask the way to the train station in order to win the European Cup.But it is true that it ran deeper, that those accusations came together to offer up a portrait of a player who was a little separate from his dressing room, a man who had not fully integrated and of a dressing room that wasn’t particularly pleased about that. He had always been quiet, except with Wales; he’d always been a little different. And it is unfair that his timidity was taken to be dismissiveness, but it was understandable too. Just as it was understandable that Bale should be annoyed that teammates should say so publicly and effectively expose him like that, throwing him to the wolves.ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti predicts Real Madrid’s disastrous UCL exit to Ajax will be the catalyst for major changes at the Bernabeu.Speaking of understandable, the feeling grew that he and they just didn’t understand each other, although it wasn’t just about language. The fact that Bale’s teammates said that was concerning. The fans grew irritated, some whistles followed — not so unusual at Madrid and not so unanimous, but they were there. Some sections of the media, so protective of Spanish players for whom they often campaigned, went for him. Often viciously so. You’d think he was responsible for everything.

While Bale has been hugely successful and boasts a superb goal-scoring record — he has 101 goals at the club — it has not always felt enough. It is strange in a way that doubts surround a player who has done what he has done, but they do. He was the world’s most expensive player and for all the goals he got, there were all the goals he didn’t, the games he missed through injury. He has played only 50 percent of Madrid’s minutes since he arrived.Instead of sympathy, at times those injuries were presented almost as if they were his fault. There was this sense that while he was decisive, he did not always dominate. The goals he scored on the biggest stage almost came to be used against him: the fans wanted them every week.Especially this season, his season. This year, Madrid have collapsed; it’s a collective malaise but it singles out individual players, fingers pointing their way. Much has been made of Madrid’s failure to replace Ronaldo and his goals — rather less has been made of their defensive disasters, curiously enough — and that means Bale, among others. Modric suggested that some players could have stepped up this season. Again, many took that to mean Bale. He has 13 goals and has found Vinicius and Lucas playing ahead of him.Last year, in Kiev, he came on as a sub and did that, ending in another European Cup win. In Madrid on Tuesday night, he came on as a sub and hit the post, ending in defeat.As Bale stood there on the touchline, there was an opportunity, maybe a last chance to rescue Madrid and rescue himself, his relationship with them, but it wasn’t to be. Maybe it never was.

3/5/19  Champions League Tues/Wed, Indy 11 Season opener Sat, USA Wed 7 pm FS1, MLS Wk2, Full TV Game Schedule

Sorry Soccer fans – had a crazy week last week so couldn’t properly preview the MLS season which got off to a roaring start in week 1.  New comer Cincy FC scored its first goal on the road at Seattle before being trampled 4-1 – a good return to form for US and Seattle winger/forward Jordan Morris coming off last season’s early ACL injury as he started and scored in 80+ minutes of play.  More on MLS week 2 on Friday.

We quickly move to Champions League this week and next as Tottenham carries a commanding lead to Dortmund on Tuesday on TNT at 3 pm – where US Christian Pulisic will probably not play. Real Madrid return home with 2-1 lead over Ajax Tues at 3 pm but will not have superstar defender Sergio Ramos on suspension for a Red Card.

Wed Paris St. Germain take a 2-1 lead and a 2 away goal lead back to Paris vs Man United at 3 pm on TNT while Porto will look to sneak pass AS Roma as they have the 1-1 lead heading back home at 3 pm.  CCL action returns as 4 MLS teams are still alive in the competition Tues/Wed of this week and next games at 8 & 10 pm on Yahoo Sports online.

Tuesday

3  pm TNT  —                                          Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Tottenham
3 pm Univsion Desportes             Real Madrid 2-1 Ajax

Wednesday

3  pm TNT  —                                     Paris Saint-Germain (2)  Man United (1)
3 pm Univsion Desportes             FC Porto 1-1 AS Roma

USA

The USA Ladies have had their hands full in 2 draws at home in the She Believes Cup vs Japan then England.  They can regain their footing with a win over Brazil on Wed night on Fox Sports 1.

INDY 11

Finally our Indy 11 get underway on their 2nd season in USL on the road this Saturday afternoon in St. Louis at 2 pm on ESPN+.  An improved roster helps the 11 kick off the new season as they will have many more Saturday night home games at Lucas Oil Stadium this season.  I will have a more intense season preview on Friday.  Meanwhile – its not too late to get your season tickets for just $99 for the season.  Get your season ticket package today by visiting IndyEleven.com/season-tickets or by calling 317-685-1100. First home game is Sat, March 30th vs Hartford Athletic at 7 pm at the Luke!

Carmel FC and Carmel Dad’s Club – Dick’s Shopping Days are this Weekend Sat/Sun at Clay Terrace 20% off

 Champions League

UCL Predictions this week

Tottenham are good enough to win UCL –goal.com

Spurs can end it with 3-0 lead on the road

Spurs looks to finish off Dortmund – NBCSports.ocm

Sancho of Dortmund Still has Lots to Learn –

Missing Ramos will hurt Madrid vs Ajax

Ramos to be Suspended 2 games not just 1?

Will Cavani Return for Man United Game?

United Injury Crisis won’t be Better for PSG Game

Neymar to Real Madrid?

USA

US Ladies look to regain footing for Brazil

U.S. women’s tie with England is entertaining but ‘frustrating’

U.S. women settle for draw in SheBelieves Cup opener with Japan

USWNT has plenty to prove in SheBelieves Cup

Indy 11

Indy 11 Draw Nashville SC in Final Preseason Game

Indy 11 Stadium Proposal Passes the Senate – Indy Star

Indy 11 Announces Ownership Group of from Around Indiana

Full Schedule Released

Indy 11 Signs USL Championship All time Leading Scorer DC United’s Dane Kelly

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Season Tickets Just over $100

GAMES ON TV

Tues Mar 5                            Champions League

3 pm TNT                              Ajax 1 vs Real Madrid 2 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

3 pm BR Live/Uni Desp       Dortmund (Pulisic) 1 vs Tottenham 3 

7 pm Fox Sports 1               USA Ladies vs Brazil – She Believes Cup

8 p.m. ET   Yahoo Sports OL   Independiente vs Sporting KC

10 p.m. ET  Yahoo Sports —     Houston Dynamo vs Tigres

Weds, Mar 6  

3 pm TNT                               PSG vs Man United  CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

3 pm BR Live                        FC Porto vs AS Roma

8 pmET Yahoo Sports online  Independiente vs Sporting KC  CCL

10 pm ET Yahoo Sports OL      Monterrey vs Atlanta United  CCL

Fri, March 8  

2:30 pm FS2                          Werder Breman (Stewart) vs Schalke (McKinney) 

10 pm ESPN+                          USL Seattle Sounders 2 vs Rio Grande Valley

Sat, March 9 

9:30 am FS1                        Bayern Munich vs Wolfsburg (Brooks)

9:30 am FS2                        Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Stuttgart

9:30 am Fox Soccer +      RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Ausburg

10 am NBCSN                     South Hampton vs Tottenham

10:15 am beIN Sport       Atletico vs Leganes

12:30 pm NBCSN              Man City vs Watford

1 pm ESPN+                        Chicago Fire vs Orlando City SC

2 pm ESPN+                        USL- St Louis vs Indy 11

3:30 pm Univision            Dallas vs LA Galaxy

2 pm ESPN+                        USL- St Louis vs Indy 11

Champions League state of play: how will the last-16 ties be decided?

Adam Hurrey,The Telegraph 34 minutes ago

Some are seemingly done and dusted, others nicely poised, one or two simply too close to call: the Champions League’s last-16 business will be concluded over the next two midweeks. Four English sides, to varying degrees of confidence, are still in the mix – but will that still be the case when the quarter-final draw is made on March 15?Here is the state of play for all eight ties, and how each of them might be decided in the second leg…

Borussia Dortmund vs Tottenham

State of play

Tottenham lead 3-0 on aggregate

Mauricio Pochettino’s half-time adjustments at Wembley helped turn the tie overwhelmingly in Spurs’ favour, with Jan Vertonghen and substitute Fernando Llorente turning a slender 1-0 lead into a handsome three-goal advantage to take to north-west Germany.

How can Spurs absorb the likely Dortmund cavalry charge?

Lessons have surely been learned from last season’s careless Champions League exit to the rather more canny Juventus, and Spurs are now largely a rock-solid proposition even without a three-goal cushion. Sitting back and defending needn’t be an option for Pochettino – Spurs have the firepower to finish the job in clinical style.

Where do the dangers lie for Pochettino?

The first 20 minutes or so at a raucous, hopeful Westfalenstadion. Spurs conceded early against PSV at Wembley and then home and away against Barcelona in the group stages, while Hugo Lloris will need to avoid the rushes of blood previously seen away to PSV, among others.

The good news? It isn’t a terrible time to be playing Dortmund: they’ve won just once in their last seven games, let a 3-0 lead slip against Hoffenheim in the last 15 minutes, went out of their domestic cup on penalties to Werder Bremen and, on Friday, lost 2-1 at lowly Augsburg.

Prediction: Tottenham to keep Dortmund at arm’s length for long enough to prevent any second-leg jitters.

Real Madrid vs Ajax

State of play

Real Madrid lead 2-1 on aggregate

Despite a first-half, eleven-shot onslaught in Amsterdam, Real Madrid somehow emerged – with the sort of luck earned only by winning the Champions League three years in a row – with two away goals and a lead to take back to the Bernabeu.

What hope do Ajax have in Madrid?

Well, their chances have been improved slightly by 1) the Dutch FA postponing their Eredivisie game against PEC Zwolle, which was due to be played three days before the second leg against Real, and 2) Sergio Ramos getting himself suspended for the return match (and another on top) by picking up an “intentional” yellow card in Amsterdam.

Sergio Ramos will be suspended for Real after his first-leg yellow card –A fluid front three caused the Real defence plenty of problems in the first leg and, with Ramos sidelined, an upset shouldn’t be ruled out.Recent form certainly gives Ajax hope: before their nine-day rest, they put 10 goals past NAC Breda and Den Haag, while Real have lost three of their last four, including a double dose of Clasico misery at Barcelona’s hands.

Prediction: Ajax to pose plenty of questions at the Bernabeu…and then Real to find an answer, as always.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester United

State of play

PSG lead 2-0 on aggregate

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first – and only – setback as Manchester United’s caretaker manager means they have it all to do at the Parc des Princes on March 6th. Even without Neymar and Edinson Cavani by his side, Kylian Mbappe looked a class apart, and his goal at Old Trafford put PSG firmly in the driving seat for the home leg.

How can United turn things around?

Paul Pogba’s suspension, after his late sending-off at Old Trafford, could be a terminal blow to their chances: he has scored or created 16 goals in his last 15 games as United clambered back into the top four reckoning and swept past Chelsea in the FA Cup. In his absence, Solskjaer will need other players to step up and – with an injury crisis taking hold – that means Romelu Lukaku taking responsibility.Lukaku ended a nine-game goul drought with a brace apiece against Crystal Palace and Southampton and it will be his penalty-area presence in pursuit of the two-goal deficit that will make or break United’s slender Champions League hopes in the return leg.

Will Neymar be back for PSG?

Absolutely not – he has returned home to Brazil to continue rehab on his fractured metatarsal – but PSG will likely have Cavani and Thomas Meunier available again for the second leg, just in case United’s task wasn’t hard enough.

Prediction: United to struggle to land a significant early blow, and PSG to safely progress.

Porto vs Roma

State of play

Roma lead 2-1 on aggregate

Textbook Champions League scenario: Roma were sitting pretty after 19-year-old Nicolo Zaniolo scored twice in the space of six minutes at the Stadio Olimpico, only for Porto to snatch a late away goal. It’s all set up for a fascinating return leg in Portugal.

Who would the English sides prefer to avoid in the quarter-finals?

With memories of Roma’s stirring near-comeback against Liverpool in last year’s semi-final still fresh, no trip to the Italian capital would be ideal for any of the Premier League quartet if they make it through to this season’s quarterPorto’s solid-looking record this season (32 wins from 42 games) belies a relatively weak Champions League group, while title rivals Benfica came from a goal down to beat them on Saturday and move top of the table.

Prediction: Roma to sneak through, but they might have to score an away goal of their own.

Manchester City vs Schalke

State of play

Manchester City lead 3-2 on aggregate

A VAR-tastic first leg in Gelsenkirchen went City’s way, then Schalke’s, then City’s again – Pep Guardiola has a one-goal lead to play with at the Etihad on March 12th.

So, are City home and dry now?

Guardiola – while delighted with the result in Germany – couldn’t hide his despair at City’s sloppiness. “We’re not ready to fight for the Champions League,” he said afterwards. “We gifted the goals. If that happens in another stage… We are a nice team to watch, but we don’t know how far we’ll get.”File that one under Kicks Up the Backside. Manchester City at the Etihad, though, are a rather more clinical and merciless prospect and – even with the early-spring distractions that come with fighting on all four fronts – they will surely not make life too hard for themselves in the second leg. But they do have a habit of it. They have spent 150 minutes (nearly a quarter of the time) trailing in the Champions League this season, which – given the less than stellar opposition – has to be a worry for Guardiola as his side tackle the business end of a competition on which his City reign will ultimately be judged.

Prediction:City to take a small step closer to the quadruple, but with bigger domestic and European tests to come.

Juventus vs Atletico Madrid

State of play

Atletico Madrid lead 2-0 on aggregate

Perennial Champions League business-enders Juventus have it all to do after being well and truly Diego Simeone-d by the crotch-grabbing Diego Simeone and his Atletico side.

Just how lively is the second leg going to be?

2-0, “they” say, is the most dangerous scoreline in football. Not if you’re Atletico Madrid. They have been a welcome anti-hero in the Champions League over the last six years or so – scrapping for every goal, every point, every tie they can find – and they’ll be no different in Turin. That will only turn the screw for Juventus, who are yearning for their first Champions League triumph in 23 years, after losing two finals in the last four seasons. They will have to bring the fight to Atletico in the second leg but, unfortunately, that’s precisely Atletico’s bag, even without the suspended Diego Costa.In his place, they have Alvaro Morata, dripping with footballing narrative, ready to score a crucial goal against a former employer in the Champions League once again. Have we forgotten anyone? Ah, yes…

Is this Ronaldo’s final stand in the Champions League?

“I have five Champions Leagues,” Cristiano Ronaldo sneered in the mixed zone of the Wanda Metropolitano after the first leg. “You have none.”It’s a fact, but not one that is going to come in handy on March 12th. Ronaldo knows only the last hurdles of the Champions League race – he has reached the semi-finals every year since 2010 – but even his steam is surely running out, and he has just one goal in his six European games this season.”For sure we will have to suffer in Turin,” Simeone signed off in Madrid, but it looks rather more like Ronaldo who will be feeling the pain when this tie is done. Schadenfreude will never lift a European Cup, but it can still cut you deep.

Prediction: An Atletico Madrid defence with a two-goal lead in their pocket? You do the math(s).

Bayern Munich vs Liverpool

State of play

0-0 after the first leg

“Not a dream result but a good one”. Jurgen Klopp declared himself satisfied with a clean sheet at Anfield, but this is certainly the most finely-poised tie of the round.

Will Liverpool rue drawing a blank at home?

Perhaps, but the away-goal anxiety now switches to the Allianz Arena, where Bayern will not be inclined to defend as deep as they did at Anfield. A formidable Champions League home record – they have won 22 of their last 26 there – is one thing, the latent threat of a Liverpool sucker-punch quite another.With Virgil van Dijk returning from suspension to shore up the defence, Liverpool will be confident of sucking up the Germans’ pressure and then hitting them on the counter. This is different territory to last season, when Liverpool racked up 13 goals in their first legs against Porto, Manchester City and Roma, but they are certainly better equipped to handle cagey chess matches this year.Is there a but? There is. Liverpool have drawn a blank in their last three crunch games – Bayern at home, Manchester United and Everton away – and there is no longer a sense that Mohamed Salah just needs to turn up in order to guarantee himself a goal. If, when and how Liverpool score will say a great deal about how this second leg unfolds.

Prediction: A coin-toss of a knockout tie, but a Liverpool away goal could be decisive.

Barcelona vs Lyon

State of play

0-0 after the first leg

After a first half in Lyon in which either side could have been out of sight, the hosts eventually settled for a goalless draw to take to Barcelona on March 13th.

Do Lyon really have it in them to resist Barcelona at the Nou Camp?

The first leg showed some ominous signs of things to come: Barcelona attempted 25 shots, eight of which were blocked and only five found the target. Lionel Messi alone had nine efforts at breaking the deadlock, and it would take a brave punter to bet on Lyon keeping a clean sheet where so few others have. The Nou Camp swarm is ready to go.

Prediction: Barcelona 3 (Messi 14, pen 34, 67) Lyon 0.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN, NASHVILLE SC DRAW IN PRESEASON FINALE

By IndyEleven.com, 03/02/19, 10:15PM EST

Boys in Blue’s preseason concludes with a split result

ndy Eleven’s preseason series comes to a close following a nil-nil draw to USL Championship Eastern Conference rivals Nashville SC. Saturday’s result sees Indy with a 1W-2D-2L overall record through the preseason before heading into the regular season with a clean slate.“I thought today was a good performance against one of the stronger teams in our league,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We were trying to get guys through the full 90 minutes, just like we would in a proper game…But we defended well and handled the game well. I’m happy with that. Just looking forward to the season now.”Indy Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton was forced to make an early save four minutes into the match. Boys in Blue midfielder Tyler Gibson was quick to return the favor two minutes later with a header on frame off a corner kick, but the nodded hit was caught by Nashville goalkeeper Connor Sparrow.Much of the first half was played in the midfield as both sides battled for attacking opportunities. Nashville had numerous free kicks from long distance that failed to materialize into dangerous plays. Indy Eleven midfielder Tyler Pasher had two shots in the 23rd and 28th minutes that were deemed offside and ended over the crossbar, respectively.Boys in Blue forward Ilija Ilic came close to finding the afternoon’s opening goal in the 44th minute after a play into Nashville’s box from forward Josh Penn, but his headed effort was blocked by defender Liam Doyle before crossing the goal line.
Indy continued its offensive push with a trio of on-target shots, all of which were saved by Nashville’s keepers. Half-time substitute forward Thomas Enevoldsen played a cheeky backheel pass through to defender Karl Ouimette deep into Nashville’s 18-yard box for a near-post shot in the 56th minute. Penn followed up with a shot nearly 10 yards out toward the lower left corner of the goal two minutes later.Forward Dane Kelly forced a lateral-dive save from Nashville goalie Matt Pickens in the 68th minute, seven minutes after the keeper subbed in, with a heavy hit near the top of the penalty box.The Music City side asked the final question in the 84th minute with a shot within Indy’s 18-yard box. Newton stood his ground and firmly contained the ball, keeping it a comfortable distance from goal.Coach Rennie will seek continued improvement from his squad as his sights turn to the team’s first fixture of the regular season a week from today against Eastern Conference newcomers Saint Louis FC.“The whole preseason, even in the beginning before preseason started, was about getting fit; about learning what we want to do and improving our play,” Rennie said. “We’ve done that well. Obviously, things count now that points are at stake every game. We need to really keep working on the way that we play. We need to keep improving and get ready for what will be a big game next week.”

Don’t miss your chance to see the Boys in Blue this season. Season Ticket packages for the 2019 USL Championship season are on sale now for a low as $99. Get your season ticket package today by visiting IndyEleven.com/season-tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Preseason
Indy Eleven 0:0 Nashville SC
Saturday, March 2, 2019 – 3:00 p.m. EST
Arad McCutchan Stadium – Evansville, IN

Scoring Summary:
N/A

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Paddy Barrett (Yellow card) 55’
Indy Eleven lineup (L–>R): Evan Newton (GK); Ayoze Garcia (Josh Penn 18’), Karl Ouimette, Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett, Matt Watson, Tyler Gibson, Kenney Walker (Trialist 76’), Tyler Pasher (Thomas Enevoldsen 46’), Ilija Ilic (Trialist 66’), Dane Kelly

U.S. women’s national team out to find footing against Brazil (again)

By Graham Hays | Mar 4, 2019espnW.com

It is overwrought to suggest that the United States women’s national team needs to take long hard looks in the mirror just yet. But if some measure of self-reflection is in order, the team faces the right opponent in the final game of the SheBelieves Cup. For better or worse, Brazil has often held up that mirror for the Americans.It is entirely possible that Tuesday’s game between the U.S. and Brazil will be an afterthought in the outcome of the tournament. England and Japan are tied atop the standings, each two points ahead of the U.S. Either can clinch the title with a win in Tuesday’s first game in Tampa. ADVERTISEMENT

After draws in its first two games, the only scenario by which the U.S. retains the title in the four-year-old event is if England and Japan play to a draw and the U.S. beats Brazil by at least two goals while erasing Japan’s advantage in total goals scored (5-4). Even England manager Phil Neville painted Tuesday’s opening act as the main attraction, albeit with a noticeably rosy prediction for the Americans in the nightcap.”It is a final. It’s the final of the competition,” Neville said of the impetus on both England and Japan to play for a win. “I think if we draw on Tuesday, then USA will win the SheBelieves Cup because I think they’ll score goals past Brazil. … I could see USA scoring three or four goals there.”

If so, and whether or not it means the hosts finish the night with a trophy, it might be one more instance of the U.S. approaching a pivot point and finding Brazil waiting.Take a quick look back.

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

With the Women’s World Cup just around the corner, USA coach Jill Ellis could use a commanding performance from her team.

Sept. 27, 2007: In a strong contender for the all-time low ebb of the women’s national team, the U.S. lost to Brazil 4-0 in a World Cup semifinal in China. Equally remembered for Hope Solo’s comments afterward about being replaced as starter, more went wrong than one lineup change. The U.S. won the subsequent third-place game, but the tournament marked the end of Greg Ryan’s run as coach and the nadir of an era when attendance dwindled and influence waned.

Aug. 21, 2008: Back in China the next year for the Olympics under new coach Pia Sundhage, the U.S. lost its opening game but then went on a run that culminated with a 1-0 win against Brazil in the gold-medal game. Hinting at drama to come from the team, Carli Lloyd scored what proved to be the winner in extra time. Suddenly, the U.S. could counter back-to-back World Cup disappointments with back-to-back Olympic gold medals and new energy.

July 10, 2011: How might history be different if not for the added minutes at the end of extra time in a World Cup quarterfinal against Brazil? For all the positive Olympic momentum from 2008, it would have meant little had the U.S. endured its earliest exit from a major tournament. That was possible after Brazil took the lead early in extra time. Then Brazil wasted time, Megan Rapinoe picked out Abby Wambach’s head, and a second golden era was well and truly born.

July 30, 2017: It needn’t be a major tournament to matter. Staging the Tournament of Nations for the first time, the U.S. lost its opening game against Australia — its first loss to the Matildas. In the midst of a revolving door of player auditions after Olympic disappointment, the U.S. was a team in search of continuity and perhaps identity. It was also down 3-1 and heading for a second loss in a row with 12 minutes to play. The epic rally culminated in Julie Ertz’s 89th-minute winner, fitting for a game in which she found her new home in midfield.

Aug. 2, 2018: Another year, another Tournament of Nations. The U.S. capped a title run with a 4-1 demolition of Brazil. Although it included a draw against Australia, the U.S. vastly outplayed all three opponents in the event last year. With the roster largely settled, the three performances were the embodiment of the attacking, almost marauding style that coach Jill Ellis wanted to develop.

That Brazil was often the opponent in consequential games is both a coincidence and selective. There are, of course, other meaningful games in the team’s recent history. It would be possible to make a list with Sweden. But Brazil’s presence isn’t random. Forever dependent on themselves more than, say, institutional or infrastructure support back home, the Brazilians play. Any game will be physical, and it will be about your soccer beating their soccer. The way they play gives opponents the opportunity to magnify their own strengths — or weaknesses.

More from espnW.com

U.S. women’s tie with England is entertaining but ‘frustrating’

U.S. women settle for draw in SheBelieves Cup opener with Japan

USWNT has plenty to prove in SheBelieves Cup

Tuesday night might not be a pivot point in the long-term course of the program, but it could go a long way to defining the momentum, not to mention the tenor of the conversation, this spring.

By themselves or in tandem, the games against England and Japan were disappointing in the results but not without positives in the play. On its own, a 3-1 loss to France in January was explicable — an American lineup at less than full strength at the end of the team’s preseason losing to a French team whose players are in the middle of their league seasons. Wins at Scotland and Portugal to close out 2018 were workmanlike but achieved the desired results.

However, when all of those factors start to accumulate in short order, from difficulty scoring goals abroad to a penchant for costly mistakes at home, June 11 begins to feel uncomfortably soon.

“They’re a team that can look at you, and they’re good enough tactically to be able to try and exploit or implement things to make you have challenges,” Ellis said of England after the 2-2 draw. “That’s exactly what we need. Are we doing enough to imprint our game on our opponent? Those are things, good takeaways, in terms of this and our confidence in staying with the things we believe, being true to who we are.”

What the U.S. could use right about now is a commanding performance without caveats.

Asked after the draw against the U.S. what separated his team from other contenders, Neville eventually settled on the idea that England was enjoying itself.

“It’s probably slightly different for the USA because when you’re on the top, you’re there to be shot at,” Neville said. “We’re actually a team that’s actually enjoying the moment.”

The U.S. has enjoyed a lot of memorable games against Brazil. It wouldn’t hurt to enjoy Tuesday night.

Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

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Great 2,000 SF place in La Porte, IN just 20 min from both Notre Dame and the lakeshore. 3 Br/2 Ba Place 4 beds on Stone Lake – check it out: https://abnb.me/EVmg/KjWULabehK

Proud Member of Indy’s Brick Yard Battalion – http://www.brickyardbattalion.com

Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite