4/26/19  Champions League Final 4 Tues/Wed TNT, EPL Race Heats Up Chelsea vs Man U Sun, Carmel FC New Logo, Full TV Game Schedule

With just 3 games now left in the EPL season – the battle for the top between and Liverpool and Man City and the top 4 between Tottenham, Chelsea, Man United, and Arsenal is boiling over.  Man City had no issues at Man United Wed as they took control in the 2nd half for an easy 2-0 win over their rivals and put them back on top over Liverpool by 1 point.  Of course 3 of the Top 6 teams all lost over the weekend leaving the battle for Top 4 and Champions League qualification completely up in the air. This weekend the only top ranked games are Sunday with Arsenal still barely in 4th traveling to Leicester City at 7 am on NBCSN and Manchester United 2 pts back and hosting Chelsea at 11:30 am on NBCSN.  Why this game isn’t on NBC rather than the Saturday New Castle United vs Brighton game at 12:30 pm I have no idea.  And why the EPL doesn’t have more of its top 6 teams playing each other down the stretch is another thing I just don’t understand.  Honestly this is the last weekend featuring a top 6 match-up.  Don’t they understand what a Liverpool vs Man City or Chelsea vs Arsenal playing on the final 2 weekends would provide?  Of course that would be like playoffs which we can’t have in European football unless its Europa or Champions League.  J


So Champions League is back Tues/Wed with the Semi’s – underdog Ajax hosting Tottenham on Tuesday 3 pm on TNT and of course the big one – Liverpool traveling to Barcelona on Wednesday 3 pm on TNT.   As Champions League reaches the pinnacle several League Champions have already been determined at Juventus won their 8th straight Italian Championship, and PSG their 6th of the last 7 French League 1 Titles.  Barcelona can wrap up La Liga on Saturday at home at 5:30 pm on beIN Sport if they beat Levante. The top leagues still in play are of course the EPL, the German Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and Dortmund just 1 point apart and the Dutch with Ajax and PSV Eindehoven still tied.  We should get a battle of Americans in the Bundesliga Saturday 9:30 am on Fox Sports 2 as Dortmund and hopeful US sub Pulisic will host USMNT midfielder Weston McKinney and Schalke in a Derby.

US Youngster Pulisic can become the youngest to 50 Wins in the Bundelisga if he features in a win that would keep the title pressure on Bayern Munich.

Indy 11

Fresh off a 3-0 win over Bethlehem, that moved them into the top 3 of USL with a 4-1 mark in the East despite having 2 games in hand, the Indy Eleven wrap up their April away swing in USL play this Sun, April 28. The Boys in Blue travel to the Big Apple to face the NY Red Bulls 2 Sun at 5 pm on ESPN+. The Indy Eleven return to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., followed three days later by another home game on Saturday, May 4, against North Carolina FC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets.  Also this week the bill allowing the Indy 11 New Stadium and Indy Park passed the senate and the bill is now on the way to the Governor’s Desk.  Great news for the future of professional soccer in Indy!!


So before I get started on MLS games to watch this week – can someone please tell me why DC United, Seattle, New England and the LA Galaxy wore Man City/NYCFC baby blue jerseys last week? Seriously DC United at home vs NYCFC in NYCFC’s baby blue jersey?  Really?  I was confused the entire game.  And don’t even get me started when my Seattle Sounders don’t wear Green on the road at LAFC? I understand away kits and jersey sales and all — but copying Man City’s baby blues it appears that like half the teams in MLS have one now – crazy?? The East is muddled with DC United, Montreal, Toronto FC, Philly and Columbus on top and last season’s top teams Atlanta United and NY Red Bulls in LAST PLACE- Crazy?  The West is closer to normal as LAFC, LA Galaxy, Seattle and FC Dallas are on top.  Sunday features a replay of the top 2 teams in MLS as LAFC now travel to Seattle at 3:30 pm on ESPN (after pounding them last weekend) right after Minnesota United hosts DC United and Wayne Rooney at 1:30 pm on Fox Sports 1.


Check out the Saves of the Week over the past few Weeks below and don’t forget to watch Champions League Tues/Wed especially as 3 of the Top Goalkeepers in the World – Barcelona’s Ter Stegen, Liverpool’s Alisson, and Tottenham’s Hugo Loris will battle it out.

Carmel FC New Logo

On another note Carmel FC has unveiled its new logo for next season – it’s 10 year anniversary as a travel soccer club with over 600 athletes currently playing along with celebrating 60 years of Carmel Dad’s Club.  Read full story in Carmel Current


What to Watch For – ESPNFC

EPL Title Race and Champ League Chase Coming to the End – Mark Ogden ESPNFC

Man City too Good to let Title Slip thru Grasp at Struggling United – Mark Ogden ESPNFC

How Man City Used EPL Title Race to Overcome UCL Heartbreak – eSPNFC

Same ole Arsenal as Gunners lose on Road again – Nick Aimes ESPNFC

Watford’s Ben Foster Urges Elton John to cancel concert for FA Cup Final vs Man City May 18


Power Rankings – Barca, Liverpool, Tottenham on Top ESPNFC

Juventus Wins 8th Straight Serie A (Italy) Title- Ari Creditor SI

PSG Wins 6th League Title in 7 years – Avi Creditor SI

Dortmund and Schalke Derby – as Dortmund battles for top spot, Schalke survival

Tiny La Liga outfit Getafe closing in on Champions League slot

Barcelona set to Win La Liga at home this Weekend

Ajax Champions League Run Exciting – SI Jonathan Wilson

Son proving Spurs are more than Harry Kane’s Team

Indy 11

Indy 11 Park Bill makes it thru the Senate headed to Governors Desk for Signature

Indy 11 Forward Dane Kelly named USL Player of Week 7

3 Things Week 7 for Indy 11

Indy 11 Roll over Bethlehem Steel 3-0 to move into 4th at 4-1 overall

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

Sat 8 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM


Battered Sounders seek payback for last week’s defeat to LAFC

Making Sense of the East is Not Easy to Do  – Andrew Wiebe MLS

How USMNT F Kenny Saeif swapped Anderlecht for FC Cincy – MLs.com


US to Play Jamaica in DC June 5, before Venezuela in Cincy June 9

Players Union opposes US Friendly in Cincy don’t want Grass over Turf

Chelsea – Pulisic key to Bringing more US Fans ESPNFC

US Men’s National Team Stock Watch – Brooks, Pulisic, McKennie Up doug McIntyre yahoo soccer

Catching up with Mark McKensie – future USA U20 star of Philly – ESPNFC


Great Story I found on Seattle GK’s Kasey Keller and Marcus Hennemann – both former US Keepers in  England

MLS Save of the Week 8

USL Save of the Week 6

USL Save of the Week 7

Top Saves La Liga Last Week

Save of the Week NWSL week 2

Premier League sprint to the finish: Title race, Champions League chase, relegation battles in focus

5:00 PM ET Dale JohnsonMark Ogden

The Premier League season is set for a frantic conclusion at both ends of the table, with the battles for the title, top four and relegation set to go down to the wire.With permutations updated after each game, we run through what is left to play for and ESPN FC senior writer Mark Ogden offers his thoughts and predictions.


  1. MAN CITY (89 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Burnley (a), Leicester (h), Brighton (a)

Victory at Manchester United means the way is now clear for City to retain the title. Now they are out of the Champions League, will those free midweeks prove key for their sharpness and results?

Ogden: The long-awaited derby clash at United has been successfully navigated, and that should leave a home run to the title.

  1. LIVERPOOL (88 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Huddersfield (h), Newcastle (a), Wolves (h)

Liverpool have now set a new club record for Premier League points, but they will need a favour from one of the division’s lesser lights if they are to win the title. They also have to navigate a two-legged Champions League semifinal against Barcelona while Man City rest.

Ogden: Jurgen Klopp’s team have done all they can do, but their fate now lies in the hands of others. Even if Liverpool win their final three games, as they probably will, it may not be enough. The time has come for one of City’s remaining opponents to deny them a win and, looking at City’s remaining fixtures, it may be a forlorn hope.


The top four in the Champions League will qualify direct to the group stage, with fifth and sixth into the Europa League.

  1. TOTTENHAM (70 points from 35 games)

Still to play: West Ham (h), Bournemouth (a), Everton (h)

The late victory at home to Brighton should almost see Spurs over the line in the race for the top four. Two of their remaining three games are at their brand-new stadium, so Mauricio Pochettino’s men are very much favourites. It would be remarkable if they were to mess it up from here.

Ogden: Back-to-back defeats for Manchester United and Arsenal, and the win at home to Brighton, have kept Spurs in control of their own destiny. They now have daylight to the chasing pack.

  1. CHELSEA (67 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Man United (a), Watford (h), Leicester (a)

Maurizio Sarri’s men looked to be outsiders a few weeks ago, but now have their destiny in their own hands. The major hurdle is Sunday’s trip to Manchester United, and if they come away from Old Trafford with a positive result they will be favourites for the top four. Along with Arsenal, they have the chance to reach the Champions League via winning the Europa League; Chelsea face Eintracht Frankfurt in the semifinals.

Ogden: A big week for Chelsea began with a disappointing home draw against Burnley. Much now rests on their visit to Manchester United on Sunday; a win at Old Trafford would go a long way to sealing a top-four finish.

  1. ARSENAL (66 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Leicester (a), Brighton (h), Burnley (a)

Back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and Wolves have left their top-four hopes hanging in the balance. Two of their remaining three fixtures are away and they have only two wins on the road in five months, going back to Nov. 25. It’s likely they will have to win all three games to finish in the top four. They also have a tough Europa League semifinal — the competition winners earn a UCL place — against Valencia to navigate.

Ogden: Losing at home to Palace and at Wolves has put Arsenal’s top-four chances in real jeopardy. They still have to go to Leicester, who are chasing seventh spot and potential Europa League qualification. Sunday’s Manchester United vs. Chelsea clash will see at least one rival drop points, but Arsenal may regret a horrible week at a crucial point of the season.

  1. MAN UNITED (64 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Chelsea (h), Huddersfield (a), Cardiff (h)

United have suffered a dramatic collapse in form just at the wrong time, but their rivals haven’t fared much better. They still know that victory at home to Chelsea on Sunday will put them level with their visitors, and with already-relegated Huddersfield and struggling Cardiff left to play they could remarkably still qualify for the Champions League.

Ogden: A disastrous run of results has seen United slip down to sixth place and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are now needing others to drop points if they are to sneak a top-four finish. Nothing less than seven points from their final three games will be enough, but United may have to win all three.


The bottom three teams will be relegated, and it looks as though one of these sides will join the already-relegated Fulham and Huddersfield in the Championship.

  1. SOUTHAMPTON (37 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Bournemouth (h), West Ham (a), Huddersfield (h)

The draw at Watford has all but seen Saints over the line. They have a favourable final three matches compared to Brighton and Cardiff. A recent run of three wins in four games looks to have provided the breathing space they need.

Ogden: If Southampton beat Bournemouth at St Mary’s in the South Coast derby on Saturday, the Saints can celebrate survival for another year, but Ralph Hassenhuttl’s team may already have enough in the bag, barring late surges by Brighton and Cardiff.

  1. BRIGHTON (34 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Newcastle (h), Arsenal (a), Man City (h)

Brighton almost claimed a vital point at Spurs, but where undone by a late goal which keeps Cardiff within striking distance. That lost extra point could yet prove to be huge with three games left to play.

Ogden: Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Wolves ended Brighton’s four-game losing streak in the league, which included a potentially crucial defeat at home to Cardiff. With Arsenal and Manchester City still to play, the Seagulls will need something from next Saturday’s home game against Newcastle to keep Cardiff at bay.

  1. CARDIFF (31 points from 35 games)

Still to play: Fulham (a), Crystal Palace (h), Man United (a)

Victory at Fulham at the end of the month looks an absolute must to even be in contention to stay up. And Cardiff still have Man United to play at Old Trafford, on the final day no less.

Ogden: A spirited home defeat against Liverpool saw Cardiff emerge with nothing, but next Saturday’s trip to Fulham and the home game against Crystal Palace give Neil Warnock’s team hope of taking the survival battle to Old Trafford.


  1. FULHAM (23 points from 35 games)

Fulham were relegated April 2. Makes me so sad—I truly thought Fulham would be a lower mid-table team this year.  One of the few American’s starting in the EPL – Tim Ream resides here.  So sad L

  1. HUDDERSFIELD (14 points from 35 games)

Huddersfield were relegated March 30.

Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs fighting for two spots in mad dash for top four

8:19 AM ETMark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

With three rounds of matches to go in the Premier League season, the race to qualify for the Champions League has become a battle between four clubs seemingly unable to grasp the opportunity.Third-placed Tottenham, sitting on 70 points, took a huge leap towards confirming a top-four spot with a late home win against Brighton on Tuesday, but Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, separated by just three points from fourth to sixth, continue to drop points.United host Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday in a game that is now crucial for both clubs’ aspirations, but with time running out to make the top four, who needs the Champions League most, which clubs are best-equipped to cope with a year in the Europa League and who is facing a nightmare scenario by failing to qualify?

3rd place: Tottenham, 70 points

Remaining Fixtures: West Ham (H), Bournemouth (A), Everton (H)

Why they need a top-four finish

Tottenham have finally moved into their spectacular new stadium, but they now have to pay for it and the money that comes from being in the Champions League is crucial in ensuring that the finances remain healthy enough for the club to avoid having to sell their best players.As this season’s run to the semifinals, and potentially beyond, has shown, Spurs are an emerging force under coach Mauricio Pochettino and are a team capable of winning the Champions League.But missing out on qualification and ending up in the Europa League would leave Spurs vulnerable to losing their top stars, and Pochettino, to clubs who can offer Champions League football.If Spurs finish in the top four, their business model and football development will only become stronger.

What happens if they miss out?

Christian Eriksen is stalling on a new contract, while Toby Alderweireld can leave for £25 million this summer, so Spurs would find it difficult to keep those two key players if they can only offer Europa League football.And for a club that has not added to their squad since January 2018, recruitment plans would be hit badly if Champions League football is not booked.Of all the clubs chasing a top-four finish, Spurs are arguably most at risk of the ramifications of missing out because of the delicate balancing act of keeping the team together and paying for the stadium, so Champions League qualification is absolutely vital.

Prediction: The win against Brighton has put Spurs in pole position and, with two home games to come, they will secure qualification by finishing third.

4th Place: Chelsea, 67 points

Remaining Fixtures: Man Utd (A), Watford (H), Leicester (A)

Why they need a top-four finish

With Eden Hazard increasingly likely to leave Stamford Bridge this summer, Chelsea need to be able to offer Champions League football in order to attract a top quality replacement.There is also the question mark over the future of coach Maurizio Sarri, who might just cling onto his job if he can guide the club back into the Champions League.Chelsea are in the midst of a transitional period and their rebuilding plans would be accelerated by a return to the tournament, both in terms of finance and the ability to attract better players.But, of course, they still have the problem of a two-window transfer ban imposed by FIFA. They do still hope to get the ban paused, or overturned, to be able to deal this summer.

The funding of owner Roman Abramovich will always insulate Chelsea from the financial hit of not being in the Champions League, but as the only London club ever to win the competition, there is a determination at Stamford Bridge to regain the prestige of being back among the elite.

What happens if they miss out?

Any slim prospect of keeping Hazard would evaporate if Chelsea face another year in the Europa League and Sarri might follow the Belgian out of the door.But there could be a positive element of missing out on the Champions League for Chelsea in the shape of their emerging youngsters.Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi have been given first-team chances this season and, if Chelsea are unable to offer Champions League football to prospective signings, the club’s hugely successful youth policy could finally bear fruit with more senior graduates. Financially, Chelsea are in a stronger position than Spurs to ride out another year in the Europa League, but if a new coach comes in and turns to the youngsters, the transition may take even longer.

Prediction: Everything hinges on Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford, and Arsenal can take advantage and leave Chelsea finishing in fifth.

5th Place: Arsenal, 66 points

Remaining Fixtures: Leicester (A), Brighton (H), Burnley (A)

Why they need a top-four finish

Arsenal’s business model has always been heavily reliant on the money earned from playing in the Champions League and two seasons in the Europa League has hit them hard.Coach Unai Emery has been restricted in the transfer market and Arsenal simply cannot compete financially with their top-six rivals as long as they sit outside the Champions League. Traditionally London’s biggest club, Arsenal as a Champions League team are an attractive proposition to potential signings, but they are forced to shop in the second tier as a Europa League outfit. So Arsenal need to be back among the big boys for reasons of finance and prestige. Another year out will see them drop even further behind.

What happens if they miss out?

Emery’s transfer budget is already restricted and he will be forced to find a replacement for Aaron Ramsey, leaving on a free transfer to Juventus, as well as bolstering every other department of his squad this summer, namely the defence.The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain coach has worked wonders simply to make Arsenal competitive for the top four this season, but his task will only become harder if they miss out on the Champions League for 2019-20.Petr Cech has announced his retirement, so a back-up keeper will be needed, and Danny Welbeck is out of contract, so perhaps more than any club, Arsenal need the Champions League riches to keep the wheels turning.

Prediction: If Arsenal can win one of their two remaining away games, they should end the season in fourth position.

6th Place: Manchester United, 64 points

Remaining Fixtures: Chelsea (H), Huddersfield (A), Cardiff (H)

Why they need a top-four finish?

Financially, United can withstand missing out on the Champions League for one, maybe even two seasons, and there is even a school of thought that such a failure would actually trigger the reality check required to make the club focus properly on the challenge of returning to the top of the game.But even United feel the pain of not playing in the Champions League, especially when their biggest rivals — Liverpool and Manchester City — are becoming potential European champions.Champions League football would enable Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to rip up his squad and attract top quality players to Old Trafford. A year in the Europa League would force United to pay bigger fees and higher wages to get their main targets and, after upsetting the pay structure to sign £400,000-a-week Alexis Sanchez last season, that is the last thing the club wants to expose itself to.

What happens if they miss out?

The biggest pain felt by United would be to their pride, as the self-styled “biggest club in the world” missing out on the Champions League for the third time in six seasons would be a real humbling proposition.Solskjaer would be under no financial pressure to sell any of his players and United would continue to generate millions off the pitch, but they would be a less attractive proposition on it to stars whose sole focus is playing in the Champions League. No team has won the Premier League after starting the season in the Europa League, so United would already be on the back foot domestically and, with Solskjaer under pressure to oversee a “cultural reset” at Old Trafford, being out of the Champions League would only make life more difficult.

Prediction: United need to win all three remaining games to have any hope, but their recent form suggests they will fall short and finish sixth.

W2W4: Man United can still salvage season vs. Chelsea; title race isn’t over yet

4:00 AM ETNick MillerESPN.com writer

It’s been a miserable campaign for Manchester United, but despite all their suffering, they could still qualify for next season’s Champions League. Nick Miller previews the weekend’s Premier League action by highlighting its most compelling storylines …

Manchester United can salvage their season

Roy Keane’s assertion that this current crop of Manchester United players are “bluffers” is a subjective call you can agree with or not, but there’s one problem that you can’t get around: United haven’t scored a goal from open play in 527 minutes of football, and not one of any description in 280.They’ve lost seven of their past nine games — most recently in Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at home to Manchester City — and the last time they had a comparable run was at the end of the 2000-01 season, when they lost six of their last 10. The difference there was they had wrapped up the title by the middle of April and, to say the least, were winding down; in one game they fielded a midfield of Ronnie Wallwork, Michael Stewart, Luke Chadwick and Quinton Fortune. The cruel might say any of those four would stroll into the United team today.When a team goes into what amounts to an existential crisis like this, the understandable temptation is to immediately look for the wider view, to pull back and consider the fundamental, long-term problems that need fixing. But there’s the short term to think about too: even after this calamitous run, they are still only three points behind Chelsea in fourth, and if they can conjure a goal or two to beat them on Sunday, they could still stumble into the Champions League and salvage something from this season.

Should Klopp use his squad?

Jurgen Klopp suggested this week that because of the way Liverpool’s remaining games are spaced out, he won’t necessarily have to rotate his players for the purpose of keeping them as well-rested as possible. He could, in theory, put out his best XI in every one, but might it be sensible to rotate a little in Friday’s game against Huddersfield for the sake of his second string, rather than the first?Huddersfield have lost 20 of their past 22 games, and at the moment they carry a sort of haunted air, a dead look in their eyes that says they just want this season to be over. In theory, Klopp could play the collection of teenagers that won the FA Youth Cup on Thursday night and still beat them.But rather than doing that, might it be worth giving some fringe men a run-out against Huddersfield so they retain some sharpness should they be needed in a more meaningful situation in the next few weeks? Xherdan Shaqiri is the most obvious candidate, a man who could be valuable but has only played 19 minutes since the start of February, but there’s also Adam LallanaDivock OrigiDaniel Sturridge, even Alberto Moreno, who might get a game if only because Andrew Robertson is one booking away from a suspension.

The title race is not over yet …

“Is Burnley a place I would love to have on the schedule for us now? No, honestly not. It is not a place where you think: ‘Oh nice, we are going to Burnley. Easy points.'”Klopp wasn’t just playing mind games when he suggested that Manchester City would not be able to just stroll up to Turf Moor on Sunday and make off with a victory on their relentless charge to the title. In some ways, City are more likely to drop points there than they ever were against Manchester United on Wednesday.Burnley’s point at Stamford Bridge on Monday was their 28th since the turn of the year, and only four teams are above them in a table of only the second half of the Premier League season. Sean Dyche’s side have found their form, and they could still provide an upset and keep Liverpool in this title race.

Spurs just have to survive West Ham clash

With three games remaining and a top-four spot not safe by any means, it is in theory hugely irresponsible to suggest that Tottenham should take it easy against West Ham on Saturday. But if you could ever forgive a team for punting a game, it’s this one: with their Champions League semifinal against Ajax a few days later, there’s only one priority for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.Really, Pochettino should rest as many players as he dares against West Ham, not least the likes of Christian EriksenDele AlliJan Vertonghen and Toby AlderweireldSon Heung-Min is suspended for the Ajax game, so he should start, but the rest of them must be protected: Tottenham’s task this weekend is to emerge intact for their big night on Tuesday.

U.S. star Pulisic on brink of being youngest to 50 Bundesliga wins

3:36 PM ETStephan UersfeldGermany correspondent

United States star Christian Pulisic is on the brink of another Bundesliga record when Borussia Dortmund host FC Schalke 04 at the weekend.

The future Chelsea midfielder can become the youngest player ever to win 50 Bundesliga games if he features in a Dortmund victory over Schalke in the Revierderby on Saturday.Pulisic, who would be 20 years and 221 days old at the time of kick-off, would assume the record from Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Julian Draxler, who was 11 days older when he accomplished the feat with Schalke in May 2014.Plagued by injuries, Pulisic has made only 16 Bundesliga appearances in the 2018-19 season. However, 12 of those 16 matches were victories.Second-placed Dortmund won the reverse fixture at Schalke, 2-1, on December 8.Pulisic, who debuted for Dortmund as a 17-year-old in January 2016, became the youngest non-German to score in Germany’s top flight and then the youngest ever to score two goals in April of that year.This January, he joined Chelsea for €64 million, which is a record transfer fee for a U.S. soccer player. He was then loaned back to Dortmund where he will finish out the season.

Learning languages, talking race and soccer: U.S. U20 captain Mark McKenzie opens up over dinner

Apr 19, 2019Arch Bell

BEAR, Del. — It has been a busy day in the McKenzie household; that’s only natural when there are inhabitants ages 20 and younger. One of them, Mark, just so happens to be a second-year center-back with the Philadelphia Union and one of the rising stars within U.S. Soccer. But it’s another McKenzie who has the more pressing matter. Younger sister Madison has prom coming up and a decision needs to be made.”Sorry I’m late,” says Mark, who slides into a booth at a Buffalo Wild Wings, just miles away from the McKenzie home. “I had to help my sister pick out her prom dress. It’s a big deal, you know?”The same could be said for Madison’s big brother. In the past 12 months, the 20-year-old made his MLS debut, started 18 matches, captained the United States Under-20 team to a first-place finish at the 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and then earned his first U.S. senior national team call-up. Not exactly normal stuff for someone who still can’t order a beer with dinner.He’s yet to play for the Union in 2019, but McKenzie is expected to start against Montreal on Saturday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN+). It will be the latest step forward as he prepares for this summer’s Under-20 World Cup.”The last year has been great. There were a lot of ups and downs but it’s been a learning experience,” McKenzie says. “I just wanted to put my head down and do my work, and ultimately, I feel like my play would do the talking and it did. It’s been a whirlwind to keep it all together, but I’m extremely humbled and thankful for what happened last year.”On this night, however, McKenzie is like any U.S. fan experiencing the emotions that comes with watching the national team, this one a late March friendly against Chile. There is praise for Michael Bradley (“Dude, I picked his brain so much during camp”) and Gyasi Zardes (“That first touch bro, how ’bout that?“). But there is also angst when Chile equalizes. (“Argh! Can’t let that happen.”)

One of the biggest takeaway from watching the Chile game with this budding U.S. star is that McKenzie is a true student and lover of the game. He’ll sit there and patiently wait for your reasons as to why Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo while munching on his sandwich, and then counter it with his own in support of the Portuguese superstar.

He’ll also wade into waters that divide much of American soccer. Promotion and relegation? “We need it. We need that incentive so we don’t get complacent.” That night in Trinidad in October 2017? “It was a sad night. So much buildup for a big game and to see it crumble hurt me personally, because I’m part of it in a way.”McKenzie has a passion for other sports, too. His occasional glances at the other televisions in the restaurant reveal as much. The NBA is a favorite, and while he enjoys watching the games, it’s the off-court stuff that really gets McKenzie’s attention. “NBA Twitter, man. It’s so petty! I love it,” he says with a laugh.McKenzie is also a big follower of the NFL. MLS locker rooms boast players from around the world, which means players from overseas make for prime targets when it is fantasy football time. Pity the new foreign arrival who decides to join the Union’s league. “I’ll say, ‘Yeah bro, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid choice,'” McKenzie says, drawing laughs from the two Union staffers across the table.Just as easily as McKenzie jokes around, he is sincere on other topics. One such discussion in which he finds himself in the middle is whether he’ll be in Poland this summer with the U.S. at the U20 World Cup. It all depends on the Union releasing him for the tournament, and of course getting selected by head coach Tab Ramos. The look in his eyes shows clearly that McKenzie adores his time with the U20s, fondly recalling the 2-0 win against Mexico in the 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 final.”That game was so much fun, I just kind of sat back and watched Paxton [Pomykal] and Alex [Mendez] run the show,” McKenzie said. “You know, you spend the whole month together, and when you spend that much time together, a bond grows. I talk to a lot of them sometimes on a daily basis. We’ll get on Snapchat and comment on each other’s tweets or Instagram pics. I’m really tight with those guys.”It’s also a situation that has the potential to serve as a headache for Union boss Jim Curtin if McKenzie is not released for the tournament. The last thing anyone wants is for a bridge to burn between player and team.”It has to be what’s best for the Philadelphia Union, what’s best for the national team and most importantly what’s best for Mark at this stage of his development,” Curtin told ESPN FC. “He’s a big part of what the U20s have accomplished, he’s worn the captain’s armband because of his leadership. We need to recognize that it means a lot to him. We’ll see where we’re at as a team health-wise, fitness-wise and where Mark is in the group.”While not making the trip to Poland would be disappointing, McKenzie gives off an air that bigger things are headed his way. Driving that is his unquenchable thirst for knowledge. As the U.S.-Chile match drifts into the second half and the food has been cleared away, the conversation turns to his life away from the field and non-sporting interests.The void of not being in college like many 20-year-olds is being filled by teaching himself French and German. There is also a casual mention that he is learning to play guitar and piano. It’s all very impressive and it doesn’t come off as boastful. If anything, it is spoken with a confidence that reinforces his desire to feed his brain, something that teammates notice daily.”After training he’ll come back and he’ll be like, ‘Remember that situation, you want me to shift over a little bit, you want me to step?’ And we’ll talk through it,” Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya told ESPN FC. “He’s always learning and that’s what you want out of a young guy, always asking questions.”At the dinner table, the conversation is briefly interrupted by sister Madison, who just happened to swing by to say a quick hello. The dress Mark saw is a finalist for selection, and Madison’s date has apparently been properly vetted by big brother — he is a defender, of course.Madison’s cameo is a reminder of the strong bond that exists within the McKenzie family and has emboldened Mark to wield his influence as an emerging African American player in MLS, serving as an ambassador for Future Soccer Stars, a local nonprofit that brings soccer to inner-city kids. When McKenzie is with the kids, he is present in every way: spending time with them, talking or playing soccer.This commitment to community is nothing new, though. If anyone watched McKenzie take part in MLS’ Black History Month roundtable, they found someone who has long thought about what it means to be an African American in this sport.”I’m proud to be black,” McKenzie said. “I think you see so much negativity, so much racism popping up here and there in this game, so if I can stand up and speak for a broader audience, and be a face for those who may not want to or have the courage to speak up, I want to inspire them to raise their voice.”I don’t want it to just be a conversation, I want there to be action. I want to see others involved in stuff like this. Off the field I feel like this is something that we need to be proactive about and that will grow on the field.”As with any international friendly, the number of second-half substitutions has disrupted the flow of the game, and now less attention is being paid to the USA’s fate. Free to head back home to rest up ahead of another day of training, McKenzie instead waits around to make sure that this author and first-time visitor to Delaware isn’t standing by himself while waiting for his ride. It’s a small but thoughtful gesture that encapsulates the positive vibe that McKenzie emits both as a player and a person. The next morning at Union training, Curtin smiles when the previous evening’s activities are retold.”That’s down to how good of a person he is and how good his parents are,” Curtin said. “With Mark, the sky’s the limit. I’m really proud of his accomplishments on and off the field. It’s been fun to watch.”Make no mistake, big things are headed McKenzie’s way for club and country, and even bigger things in life.



By IndyEleven.com, 04/23/19, 2:00PM EDT

Jamaican striker tops league’s Best XI after notching three goals, one assist across two wins

Indy Eleven forward Dane Kelly has been voted the USL Championship Player of the Week for Week 7 of the 2019 season. Kelly opened his account for the Boys in Blue in grand fashion with three goals and one assist across a pair of road victories against Swope Park Rangers (3-1) and Bethlehem Steel FC (3-0) to help Indy push its winning streak to four games, the best start to a season the Eleven has seen in its six-season history. The 28-year-old continues to lead the Championship all-time scoring charts with 70 career goals to his name.Eleven midfielder Tyler Pasher also earned a nod on the Team of the Week list alongside Kelly, earning an honorable mention tab on the Week 7 chart’s seven-man bench.Kelly snapped a frustrating start to his season – included four hit posts in his first three games – last Monday by factoring into all three goals against Swope Park, notching an assist on Thomas Enevoldsen’s 6th minute goal in between scoring the fastest goal in Indy Eleven history (67 seconds) and a 56th minute insurance tally. Kelly would pass Enevoldsen for the team’s scoring lead on Saturday at Bethlehem Steel FC, scoring his third of the season in the 28th minute to put the Boys in Blue up two early in the eventual 3-0 victory.Kelly received 56 percent of the poll conducted by a national panel of independent media representing every USL Championship market. Austin Bold FC’s Diego Restrepo finished second with 22 percent after recording seven saves over back-to-back shutouts in Bold FC’s victory against Phoenix Rising FC and draw against El Paso Locomotive FC.Kelly earned a slew of accolades at the conclusion of the 2017 season, including being named USL Championship’s Most Valuable Player and was named to the All-League First Team. Additionally, Kelly claimed the 2017 USL Championship Golden Boot after recording 18 regular season goals. The Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica native made his MLS debut for DC United in early 2018. Outside of regular season action, Kelly started at home in United’s fourth round US Open Cup 1-1 draw (4-3 on penalty kicks) against USL Championship’s North Carolina FC.Indy Eleven’s April on the road comes to an end next Sunday, April 28, when the Boys in Blue travel to the shadows of the Big Apple to take on New York Red Bulls II. Indy Eleven’s visit to MSU Soccer Park in Montclair, N.J., is set for a 5:00 p.m. ET kickoff for a match can be seen exclusively via streaming video on ESPN+ (sign-up for a free 7-day trial here).Indy Eleven returns to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., followed by a second home match three days later against North Carolina FC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

The story behind how Kenny Saief swapped Anderlecht for FC Cincinnati

April 25, 20199:29AM EDTTom BogertContributor


A few months ago, Kenny Saief wasn’t aware city called Cincinnati existed, much less could he spin a globe and point it out. The creative attacker was still on the books for Belgian giants Anderlecht, his fifth season in the country and second at the club. But things weren’t going as well as they had the four seasons prior. He got hurt, there was an unfavorable coaching change and Saief found himself on the bench all too often.Things are much better in the Queen City.“I didn’t even know there was a Cincinnati to be honest!” Saief told MLSsoccer.com last week with a self-deprecating laugh. “It’s a very nice city, the people here are very friendly. It feels good to be in the city.”Still, FC Cincinnati weren’t Saief’s only option. There was work to be done to ensure that the US international would soon be one of FC Cincy’s most important players. Fans can thank technical director Luke Sassano for getting the deal over the line.“The guy who convinced me was Luke,” Saief said. “I knew there was interest from multiple teams in MLS, but at that point I was focused on staying at Anderlecht. At one point, Luke took a flight over, we had a chat and he convinced me this is the right place. Something inside of me said this is the right choice to take right now.”Saief was born in Miami but spent only the first three years of his life in the country before his parents moved their family to Israel, where he would spend his youth. Saief then joined Gent in 2014 and enjoyed three strong seasons with the Belgian side, earning him a move to the storied club RSC Anderlecht, who have far and away won Belgium’s most league titles. “At the beginning at Anderlecht, it was all good until I got injured,” Saief said. “Things changed with the new coach. I wanted to play, that’s what I like to do, to play soccer. That’s the most important thing, to get my minutes. Once I saw it was difficult, I had a chat with the coach. He didn’t want to let me go but I tried to convince everybody I want to play. They promised me in the future I’d get a chance but I didn’t want to wait anymore.”With Saief ready for a change of scenery, clubs came calling, including more than one from MLS. He had a decision to make.“You can talk to many people, but when you don’t feel this is the right thing between you and yourself, it’s something you won’t do, you know what I mean?” Saief explained. “Something inside me felt good with this move. People tried to talk to me, but when Luke talked to me I felt good. I trusted him. I’m very happy with this choice, hopefully it will keep getting better and better.” In Cincinnati, just as he longed for, Saief hasn’t struggled to get his minutes. Even as the 25-year-old asserts he is still regaining his form and fitness, he has impressed with a goal and two assists across six appearances (four starts). “There’s a lot still to improve,” Saief said. “My level is higher than what I’m showing right now. I believe I can do much more to help the team get more points. It’s the beginning, to get used to the league and the players I’m with, it takes time.” If he is able to continue to raise his level to where he believes he’s capable, a return to the US national team may be on the horizon. In 2017, Saief was selected to Bruce Arena’s provisional Gold Cup roster seemingly out of nowhere. He was not on the radar for casual USMNT fans, having represented the Israeli youth national team at various stops and even earned a pair of friendly appearances with their senior national team.But when America called, Saief had no hesitation about filing for a one-time nationality switch.“At one point I got a call from Bruce Arena, they asked if I was interested to switch,” Saief said. “I said yes, it’s been my dream through my youth to represent the country I was born. Israel also has a big part in my heart, but I wanted to represent the country I was born in. I didn’t doubt this decision.”Could a run of form spark a return to the US national team?“I hope so,” Saief admitted. He added that he hasn’t spoke with USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter yet. “Now, I’m focused on getting my level back step-by-step. It’s an honor to represent your country, I hope I can show the coach that I deserve to be there. I’ll do my best for my team. It’s an honor for every American to represent their country, this is a dream of every kid.”For now, all he can do is focus on himself, his new team and new city. “It’s really nice, it’s a great group and I’m enjoying my time here,” Saief said. “On and off the field, I’m having a great time right now.”

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85


Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

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.comCLICK HERE FOR BYBTIX

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


4/19/19  Champions League Semi-Finals Set, Carmel FC New Indy 11 Goalkeeper Coach, Full TV Game Schedule

WOW what a set of Champions League Quarterfinal results – first Ajax and their magical win over Juventus and then Tottenham with their huge defeat of Manchester City in what some are calling the greatest UCL game ever played with 7 goals and 3 VAR decisions and drama and excitement into stoppage time.   It leaves us with Tottenham vs Ajax on one side and Barcelona vs Liverpool on the other.  Most will consider the Liverpool vs Barca match as the true final – and I for one am looking forward to a 2 leg home and home series to decide the champion rather than a 1 game at a neutral site.  I think like everyone else I just assumed Man City with their billions spent would advance vs Spurs – especially with Harry Kane out – but man did Son show he’s truly world class in leading Spurs to the win.  As for the VAR decisions – I feel the ball to hand goal should have stood – as it was not 100% obvious it went off his hand and it certainly wasn’t a purposeful hand ball.  I also think that last offsides call was mighty, mighty close against Man City.  I still think the offsides rule should be relaxed somehow which would lead to more goals in games.  Anyway – it sets up an exciting set of semi-final games.  Oh and either the Spurs or Ajax is going to make the finals – who would have thought that could happen when this tourney started.

Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr to Coach Carmel FC Goalkeepers

Jordan Farr has signed on to serve as Head Goalkeeping Coach for Carmel FC this season.  Farr is in his 2nd season as a goalkeeper for the Indy 11.  He also serves as GK coach for Indiana Wesleyan.  Farr was a standout goalkeeper for the record-setting 2016 Corban University Warrior team that advanced to the NAIA National Tournament Round of 16 for the first time in program history. He ranks number two all-time in the NAIA with 44 career shutouts, tallying nine during his senior campaign and owns a career goals-against-average of 0.74.  A Portland native, Farr also was all-conference for the Portland Timbers U-23s.  Welcome Jordan!


Indy 11

Fresh off a win the Indy Eleven continue their April away swing in USL play this Saturday, April 20, when the Boys in Blue travel to the Philly area to take on Bethlehem Steel FC. The matinee kickoff from Talen Energy Stadium – the home of MLS side Philadelphia Union – in Chester, Penn., is set for 4:00 p.m., and the match can be seen exclusively via streaming video on ESPN+.  Indy Eleven return to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., followed three days later by another home game on Saturday, May 4, against North Carolina FC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets.


Huge announcement this week as MLS has announced they will add 2 more teams -probably Sacramento and St Louis and will plan to expand to 30 total teams in a few years.  Of course Indy is on the list but I really don’t think we have the $200 million MLS is asking in expansion fees now.  Sunday features a battle of the top 2 teams in MLS as LAFC will host the Seattle Sounders at 7 pm on FS1 before turning around and playing again next Sun at Seattle.  Cincy has won 2 in a row and will host Real Salt Lake tonight on ESPN+ at 7:30 pm.  Saturday former Carmel High defender Matt Hedges and Dallas travel to defending champs Atlanta United at 4 pm on ESPN while Sunday Wayne Rooney fans get national coverage as DC United, tops in the East, will host NYCFC on ESPN at 4 pm on Sunday.


With just over a month left in the EPL season – the battle for the top between and Liverpool and Man City and the top 4 between Tottenham, Chelsea, Man United, and Arsenal is heating up big-time.  Man City hosts Tottenham this Saturday with a 7:30 am kickoff on NBCSN.  Then they host Manchester United in a Manchester Derby on Wed at 2 pm on NBCSN.  We get Americans at 12:30 on Saturday as Newcastle United and US Defender Deandre Yedlin will host Southampton at 12:30 on NBC, while on Fox Sports 1 Borussia MGladbach and midfielder Johnson will host RB Leipzig and American DMid Tyler Adams.   Sunday we get Man United traveling to Everton and Liverpool traveling to Cardiff at 8:30 am and 11 am respectively.


Fri, Apr 19

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Cincy vs Real Salt Lake

8 pm ESPN+                                            Toronto vs Minn United

11 pm Uni Desp                                  LA Galaxy vs Houston

Sat, April 20

6:30 am ESPN2                                     Parma vs Milan (Italy)

7:30 am NBCSN                                  Man City vs Tottenham  

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen

10 am CNBC                                           West Ham vs Leicester City

10:15 am beIN Sport                          Eibar vs Atletico Madrid

12:30 pm NBC                                      NewCastle United (Yedlin) vs Southampton

12:30 pm Fox Sports 2                    Borussia Mgladbach (Johnson) vs RB Leipzig (Adams)   

1 pm ESPN+                                            Chicago Fire vs Colo

2:30 pm ESPN+                                    Inter vs Roma

2:45 pm beIn Sport                          Barcelona vs Real Sociedad

4 pm ESPN+                                      Bethlehem Steel vs Indy 11

4 pm ESPN                                               Atlanta United vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

Sun, April 21

8;30 am NBCSN                                    Everton vs Man United

9:30 am FS1                                           Freiburg vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

10:15 am beIN Sport                          Real Madrid vs Athletic Club

11 am NBCSN                                         Cardiff City vs Liverpool

3 pm beIN sport                                  PSG vs Monaco

4 pm ESPN                                               DC United (Rooney) vs NYCFC

7 pm FS1                                                   LAFC vs Seattle Sounders

Mon, Apr 22

3 pm NBCSN                                           Chelsea vs Burnley

Tues, Apr 23

2:45 pm NBCSN                                   Tottenham vs Brighton

Weds, Apr 24

2:45 pm ESPNDes, ESPN3              Werder Bremen vs Bayern Munich German Cup

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Milan vs Lazio  Italian Cup

3 pm NBCSN                                    Manchester United vs Man City  

Fri, Apr 26

3 pm NBCSN                                           Liverpool vs Huddersfield Town

Sun, Apr 28  

9 am NBCSN                                           Burnley vs Man City

9:30 am FS1                                            Hoffenheim vs Wolfsburg

11:30 NBCSN                                         Man United vs Chelsea  

3:30 pm FS1                                           Seattle Sounders vs LAFC

5 pm ESPN+                          NYRB vs Indy 11

Tues, April 30                                        Champions League SEMI-FINALS

3 pm TNT                               Barcelona vs Liverpool

Weds, May 1                                          Champions League

3 pm TNT                                                  Ajax vs Tottenham

7 pm ESPN+                          Indy 11 vs Tampa Bay Rowdies (Lucas Oil)

Tues, May 7                                            Champions League SEMI-FINALS

3 pm TNT                               Liverpool vs Barcelona

Weds, May 8                                          Champions League

3 pm TNT                                                  Tottenham vs Ajax

Sat, June 1                             Champions League Finals


EPL Sprint to the Title Race is On – ESPNFC

Has Liverpools Win over Chelsea Swung Momentum in EPL? World Wrap-Up Gab Marcotti  ESPNFC

Dortmund win again

Champions League

7 Goals, VAR Drama as Spurs Stun City – Was this the Greatest UCL Game Ever? – Mark Odgen ESPNFC

Player ratings: Laporte 3/10 as City’s dream dashed
Manager reaction: Guardiola laments City’s ‘cruel’ exit, VAR calls
Social reaction: Kane, Alli on Tottenham’s unforgettable night

Miller: Liverpool’s ‘ugly’ wins show they’re true contenders

Liverpool player ratings: Mane 9/10, Fabinho 8/10

Juve in Danger or Collapse All Season – Gab Marcotti ESPNFC

Allegri dismisses Juventus exit speculation

De Jong: Ajax should’ve beaten Juve by more

Ajax’s ideals triumph over Juve and Ronaldo’s riches

Inside Ajax’s dream factory: How they produce so much talent

Inside Ajax’s dream factory

Messi is Genius enough for Barcelona to win it All – Mark Ogden ESPNFC

Two-goal Messi ‘unstoppable’ at his best – boss

Solskjaer: Man United rebuild could take years

De Gea gets 4/10 after howler ends Man United hopes

Messi 9/10, Coutinho 8/10 as Barca sweep past Man United

Arsenal and Chelsea win to Advance to Europa League Semis

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview of Sat 4 pm Game @ Bethlehem Steel

Dan Kelly Brace Gives Indy 3-1 Win at Swope Park Rangers Mon

Chaos in the USL – Soc Takes

Indy 11 to Host US Open Cup game at Butler Bowl – SocTakes Kevin Johnston

Indy 11 moving 3 Games during Colts Football Season

3 Things Indy 11 home Win

Indy 11 Win Home Opener In front of Record Crowd – Kevin Johnston – Indy Star

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


Gold Cup Groups Unveiled – S&S

US Men to play Venezuela in Cincinatti –Sunday, June 9th

America Coaches Abroad- Harder and Harder for MLS Coaches to Move to Europe S&S

Jesse March, former Red Bulls Coach, to coach FC Red Bull Salzburg

Luna Bar donates over $700K to make Up Women’s pay to equal men’s

US Ladies Celebrate Past and Rout Belgium

Alex Morgan Notches 100th goal vs Australia in 5-3 win

US Ladies Confident blueprint in Place for World Cup

NWSL Week 1 Round-Up

Top NWSL Storylines



MLS to Expand to 30 Teams Jeff Carlisle ESPNFc

MLS Clubs to Receive Solidarity Payments

What does Training Compensation mean for MLS

Power Rankings MLS


Ter Stegen Didn’t Celebrate Messi’s Goal vs De Gea citing GoalKeepers Union  See here

Great Save Szczesney Juve vs  Ajax

Ter Stegan Great Save on CK

TerStagan again

Great PK Save Hugo Loris vs Man City

Official Top Saves Sweet 16 UCL

Top Saves in Sweet 16 UCL

Great Story I found on Seattle GK’s Kasey Keller and Marcus Hennemann – both former US Keepers in  England

Seven goals and VAR drama as Tottenham stun City. Was this greatest UCL game ever?

6:35 PM ETMark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

MANCHESTER, England — It was Pep Guardiola’s Jose Mourinho moment. A late, dramatic winner in a Champions League tie, followed by the victorious manager sprinting down the touchline to celebrate wildly with his players.But then, in the flash of a video screen, it wasn’t.The Etihad Stadium went from raucous noise to mournful silence as Raheem Sterling‘s 93rd-minute hat-trick goal, Manchester City’s fifth on the night, was ruled out — correctly — following a VAR review that ruled that Sergio Aguerohad been offside at the beginning of the move for the goal. It was a tight call, but it was the right one, and Guardiola was forced to sheepishly retreat to his bench, knowing that his team had just two more minutes to score to claim the crucial goal required to eliminate Tottenham and reach the semifinals. Back in 2004, there was no such pin-pricking of Mourinho’s balloon as he celebrated Porto’s late winner at Manchester United — a goal that propelled the Portuguese club to Champions League glory that season. But on this occasion, it was like Guardiola had been abruptly woken from a dream to find himself in a living nightmare. City could not score again and Spurs went through on away goals, with the score tied 4-4 on aggregate.”It is cruel,” Guardiola said. “But it is what it is and we have to accept it.”Once again, City had fallen short in the Champions League. Once again, Guardiola had failed to take his team to the final, having now not done so since guiding Barcelona to victory against Manchester United in the 2011 final at Wembley.But such was the drama of this quarterfinal second leg in Manchester that the events in stoppage time were only a small element of the story of the tie.The damage was done to City in the first leg, when Spurs won 1-0 after Aguero had missed a penalty — awarded by VAR — inside the first 10 minutes. It was also a night that saw Harry Kane — ranked No. 1 among the world’s strikers in the ESPN FC 100 — suffer the ankle injury that threatens to rule him out for the rest of the season and, potentially, the Champions League final.Yet what happened in the first leg was only a taste of what was to come at the Etihad on a night of football madness: a pulsating encounter that will go down as a Champions League classic.City went ahead inside four minutes, leveling the tie on aggregate, when Sterling curled past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris from 12 yards. The Etihad erupted, but within five minutes the home side were 2-1 down with Son Heung-Min — scorer of the only goal in the first leg — netting twice on the counterattack.City now needed to score three more times without response to stay in the Champions League and keep their Quadruple dream alive. Bernardo Silvapulled one back within two minutes of Son’s second to make it 2-2, and it was then 3-2 on 21 minutes after Sterling converted Kevin De Bruyne‘s cross at the far post.Just let that sink in: 3-2 after 21 minutes. This was video-game football, attack versus defence, with attack winning every time. Sterling and Son were running riot, terrifying their direct opponents whenever they had the ball, while De Bruyne was also producing his best performance of the season.But at 3-2, City needed one more goal to go through, and nobody scores more late goals than Manchester City. And the loss of injured Spurs midfielder Moussa Sissoko on 41 minutes, which forced Mauricio Pochettino to change his formation by introducing Fernando Llorente as a lone striker, appeared to play into City’s hands.Spurs were now light in midfield and had lost their biggest strength — pace on the counter — and they began to ship water as the second half progressed. City pushed them deeper and deeper toward their own goal, and the pressure told when Aguero scored from De Bruyne’s pass on 59 minutes to put Guardiola’s team ahead for the first time in the tie.Rather than sit back and play the game out, City went for the kill. One more goal would surely finish Spurs off.But it didn’t come, and then came the first crucial VAR intervention, when Llorente deflected in Kieran Trippier’s corner before Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir was called to review it on the video screen by VAR. Cakir took an age, reviewing numerous angles before shrugging his shoulders and awarding the goal, judging that the ball went in off Llorente’s hip rather than his hand. It was the right call.But City still had 17 minutes plus stoppage time to tilt the pendulum back in their favour, and they pushed once again, pouring forward and targeting the byline. The clock ticked on, into stoppage time, until Christian Eriksen’s loss of possession gifted the ball to Aguero, who laid it off for Sterling to score.Guardiola sprinted to celebrate and the Etihad went wild, but VAR had one more card to play. Bernardo Silva’s outstretched leg had diverted the ball toward Aguero and the cold, emotionless VAR once again called a big decision correctly: Aguero was offside and the goal would not count.City would not win and the Quadruple dream was over, for another year at least. The Champions League, the biggest prize of all, continues to elude City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan. Perhaps Guardiola & Co. can take solace in knowing they will get another shot at Spurs on Saturday, in the Premier League.It is Spurs who march on, with a semifinal looming against Ajax — a tie they will expect to win, even without Kane and Son (the latter will miss the first leg through suspension). Pochettino is eyeing Champions League glory, not Guardiola, but the Spurs coach insisted it was all down to his players.”My players are heroes, making the semifinal, making history,” he said. “I am so proud of them. This team has such strong mentality that all is possible.”But to reach a semifinal in the Champions League, you need fate, good spirit, lots of preparation in preseason. It is a long time ago that we started to build this achievement.”UEFA have confirmed the dates for the Champions League semifinals, with Tottenham vs. Ajax first leg on April 30 and Barcelona vs. Liverpool on May 1. Liverpool vs. Barcelona in the second leg is set for May 7, while Ajax host Tottenham on May 8.

Juventus have been in danger of collapse all season long. Against Ajax, it happened

1:19 PM ETGabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Imagine a warning light flashing on your dashboard as you speed down the highway. You know it’s there. You know it’s potentially important but no matter what you do, no matter what tweaks you make, it won’t go away.Welcome to Max Allegri’s view while driving Juve’s team bus. All season long he beat the same drum, even as the side were sailing through their Champions League group and establishing a record-setting pace

We need to play better. We need to dominate the opposition for longer stretches. We can’t be too reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo. We need to show more personality. We need to get out of our comfort zone. This was his message and on Tuesday, chickens came home to roost. Juventus were beaten and thoroughly outplayed at home by Ajax, particularly over the first 25 minutes of a stunning second half, in a 2-1 defeat that dumped them from the Champions League. What struck you most, perhaps, is that over the 180 minutes, Juve generally matched Ajax for the other 155. The problem is that at this level, it’s not about staying in the game and holding your own, waiting for a set-piece or an opponent’s mistake to strike. It’s about being able to raise your game for spells in which you dominate, creating chances repeatedly and snuffing out every reaction before it begins. That’s what Ajax did so well after half-time on Tuesday, with the crowd waiting for a home comeback that never came, and that’s what we’ve rarely seen from Juve this season, at least not against good sides.Think back over the campaign. How many times have Juve played well this season against good sides?

In the Champions League? Atletico Madrid and Valencia at home, Manchester United away. In Serie A? Roma at home, arguably Milan away and Napoli at home back in September. You’ll note that only one of those games took place after Christmas.I know that “playing well” is subjective but there’s still a “know-it-when-I-see-it” eye test. If you’re into something more “objective” how about the xG? Against Champions League opponents Valencia, Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Ajax — yes, I’m excluding Young Boys for obvious reasons — they managed 9.06 Expected Goals and conceded 7.23. Against Serie A’s top six, they fared even worse, with an xG of 9.54 and and an xG conceded of 10.84.Some of us who thought that Juventus could still go deep in the Champions League believed Allegri would fix this, that he’d make the light stop flashing by coming up with something brilliant in the second half of the season. Because let’s face it: it would have taken something brilliant to overcome the Ajax side seen on Tuesday night. This time, he wasn’t able to conjure up the magic.We can drive ourselves mad with microanalysis of the match, decisions made and not made, the impact of Giorgio Chiellini‘s absence and the sluggishness in midfield, Cristiano Ronaldo being too isolated and whatever else. But the bottom line is that Juve’s wage bill is five times that of Ajax. If the resources to perform better — not win, mind you, because Ajax were out-of-this-world, but at least react and not get battered for 25 minutes at home in the second half — are there (and they obviously are) there can be only one of two explanations: either Allegri got it wrong (not just last night, but all season long, given the performances) or this team is poorly constructed.Allegri bears plenty of responsibility, no question. But this is also a team with two right-backs, one of whom can’t attack consistently and one of whom can’t defend. (Put Mattia De Sciglio and Joao Cancelo into one of those machines from “The Fly” and that might do the trick). A midfield where, other than Miralem Pjanic, most players appear as if they’d rather not have the ball, given their tendency to either pass it sideways or simply run with it when they do get it. A frontline with a battle-scarred center-forward who turns 33 in May (Mario Mandzukic) and a would-be “No.10” whose confidence has been thoroughly destroyed over the past 18 months (Paulo Dybala).

People have pointed to Juve’s average age and yes, that’s a concern too. What we saw is pretty much their Best XI — bar Chiellini for Mattia Rugani (which would actually make them nearly a year older) or, possibly, Mandzukic for Dybala (which would also make them older) — and it borders on age 28.Juve president Andrea Agnelli said he disagreed that age was an issue, adding that “apart from Ronaldo, the team that faced Ajax were all young.” Given that nobody was younger than 24 and that six were 28 or older, you can only conclude he has his own definition of “young.” It’s easy to mock Agnelli (I just did) but the reality is that he can’t get too caught up in issues of age for the simple reason that this is no time for a rebuild.Tempting as it may be, and as many are wont to do after this most traumatic exit, to talk about clear-outs and rebuilds, Juve simply can’t do it. They made a very clear choice when they committed some $375 million in wages and fees over four years to Ronaldo. They need to win right now and they built their side accordingly, packing it with pricey veterans. (There’s another one on his way next year in the form of Aaron Ramsey, who turns 29 next season.)  What’s more, they made a $22m loss in the 2017-18 financial year (the one before Ronaldo’as arrival) and while they did show a profit in their half-yearly statement this year ($9m), Financial Fair Play only gives you so much wiggle room.Agnelli understands this and that’s why he knows Juve have to stay the course. He left no doubt that Allegri would be back next season and that he had faith in this group of players. They’ve put a destination in their GPS and chosen a route to get there. It’s too late to find a different way of getting to where they want to be: supertankers don’t do U-turns particularly well.Allegri will still be driving because when you have a team of veterans, shocks to the system can be dangerous and counterproductive. He has six months to get that warning light to stop flashing.

Ajax’s ideals triumph over riches of Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo

6:55 PM ETJames HorncastleItaly writer

TURIN, Italy — It turns out Cristiano Ronaldo is not enough. The Portuguese scored in both legs of Juventus’ Champions League quarterfinal against Ajax. He put the Bianconeri in front at the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday. They wouldn’t even be here without his face-saving hat trick against Atletico Madrid in the round of 16. The 34-year-old kept up his side of the bargain. Ultimately, though, Juventus came up short.What Ajax have achieved is stunning. As Erik ten Hag noted on the eve of the game, “it’s already a big deal to still be in Europe after winter.” Ajax had not reached the competition’s knockout stages in 13 years. They began the campaign in the second qualifying round. When Ajax played Sturm Graz at the end of July, they couldn’t have imagined they would be the first Eredivisie side to reach the Champions League semifinals since PSV in 2005. The game has become so economically stratified since then. Consider the wealth gap. The €112 million Juventus spent on acquiring Ronaldo is €20m more than Ajax’s annual revenues. The team’s wage bill is €4m short of what the five-time Ballon d’Or winner makes before tax.But sometimes ideas trump investment. Ajax deserved to win in Amsterdam a week ago and outplayed Juventus in the second half Tuesday for a 2-1 win and 3-2 aggregate edge. They remain unbeaten on the road in Europe despite going to Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and now Juventus. The feat of coming back from behind in the backyard of a team who are about to become the first in Europe’s top five leagues to win the title for eight straight years is jaw-dropping.

Not least because Ajax did not look themselves in the first half. Six fouls in the first 15 minutes stopped either team getting into a rhythm. Frenkie De Jong‘s influence was initially more limited than it had been in the first leg, perhaps because of the muscle injury he sustained at the weekend, and the early loss of Noussair Mazraoui to injury meant Ajax were without either of their first-choice full-backs with Nicolas Tagliafico also missing the game through suspension.Ronaldo’s goal came just as Ajax were beginning to build some pressure, too. Teams of lesser character would have resigned themselves to their fate, thinking this is just the way it is. Ronaldo has scored 65 goals in 78 knockout games. He has wn this trophy four times in the past five years. This is what Madrid were missing when Ajax dumped the holders out of the competition last month.But Ten Hag’s players never let any doubt creep into their minds. That in itself is astonishing. Ajax are the youngest side in the competition. Legs are supposed to tremble under this kind of pressure. But this team didn’t waver an inch. Before kickoff, Juventus’ vice president Pavel Nedved was asked what stood out to him about their opponents in Amsterdam. “I was surprised by the

That composure came to the fore again Tuesday. Ajax got back level within six minutes of going behind. A deflected Hakim Ziyech shot found its way to Donny van de Beek, who didn’t look up to check whether he was onside or not, focusing solely on beating Wojciech Szczesny. The flag stayed down, as it should in today’s VAR era, correctly too because Federico Bernardeschi, late to step up, played the Dutchman onside.A different Ajax emerged after the interval, the one we’ve become accustomed to over the course of this season. It was as if they’d overcome whatever had been inhibiting them in the first half. It was as if they realised there ws nothing to be afraid of.They proceeded to cut Juventus to shreds. Were it not for Szczesny, the Old Lady’s man of the match, the defeat would have been heavier. The Poland international needed a strong left hand to repel a Ziyech shot and then tipped a Van der Beek curler over the bar with his right. Like Ronaldo, he cannot be blamed for Juventus’ elimination.In the moments before Matthijs de Ligt‘s towering header, it looked as if Ajax might be found guilty of attempting to walk it in. Dusan Tadicand Ziyech both passed when they had ample time to shoot, letting Juventus’ defenders off the hook. But their 19-year-old captain — just let that sink in for a moment — ensured Ajax left with no regrets, emulating Gerrie Muhren, who scored the decisive goal in the Dutch side’s last win over Juventus 45 years ago.And so the dream lives on. Ajax are in the semis for the first time since 1997.This wasn’t supposed to happen. The best team they’d had in years was picked apart two seasons ago. Just the Europa League final in Stockholm felt like a fairy tale in the modern game. No one thought Ajax would be back and do even better. Davinson Sanchez and Davy Klaassen left for the Premier League. Last summer, Justin Kluivert decided it was time for him to go to Serie A.The rest made a pact to stay together one more year, curious to see what might happen if they realised their potential. It’s fair to say they have exceeded all expectations. In the next round Ajax will play Spurs — a team consisting of alumni like Toby AlderweireldJan Vertonghen, Sanchez and Christian Eriksen— or Manchester City, whose coach Pep Guardiola learned everything he knows under Johan Cruyff.Whatever happens, Ajax will have great cause to be proud. It is the triumph of their idea.

Premier League sprint to the finish: Title race, Champions League chase, relegation battles in focus

Apr 16, 2019Dale Johnson  Mark Ogden

The Premier League season is set for a frantic conclusion at both ends of the table, with the battles for the title, top four and relegation set to go down to the wire.With permutations updated after each game, we run through what is left to play for and ESPN FC senior writer Mark Ogden offers his thoughts and predictions.- Premier League table


  1. LIVERPOOL (85 points from 34 games)

Still to play: Cardiff (a), Huddersfield (h), Newcastle (a), Wolves (h)

The late victory over Southampton sent Liverpool back to the top of the table, though with a game extra played. The home match against Chelsea, which turned into a 2-0 home win with a brilliant Mohamed Salah goal, was their toughest test remaining but Jurgen Klopp’s men must remain perfect from here on out in order to be top of the pile on May 12.

Ogden: Liverpool are beginning to display the never-say-die spirit that could take them all the way to the title. Having dispatched Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday in what could have been a real nightmare, Klopp’s team look set to win all their remaining games to turn the screw on Manchester City.

  1. MAN CITY(83 points from 33 games)

Still to play: Tottenham (h), Man United (a), Burnley (a), Leicester (h), Brighton (a)

After a good win away at Palace, the title is still City’s to lose, and the key would seem to be the back-to-back matches at home to Spurs and away to Man United — which is their game in hand — later this month. But will their attempt to win all four trophies take its toll?

Ogden: City are looking strong in their bid to achieve the Quadruple, but they now face a crucial stretch of league games. Spurs (home) and Manchester United (both away) are dangerous fixtures, and dropped points in any of them will hand Liverpool the initiative. Expect a slip against United.


The top four in the Champions League will qualify direct to the group stage, with fifth and sixth into the Europa League.

  1. TOTTENHAM (67 points from 33 games)

Still to play: Man City (a), Brighton (h), West Ham (h), Bournemouth (a), Everton (h)

Three of Tottenham’s remaining five games are at home at their brand-new stadium, with Brighton among the visitors, so Mauricio Pochettino’s men are still very much favourites to book a Champions League place.

Ogden: Tottenham’s run of games in their new home should be enough to see them finish in the top four, particularly with rivals United and Arsenal losing in recent games. Four more league wins should be enough to secure a top-four spot, so it’s a simple equation: collect maximum points from the remaining home fixtures.

  1. ARSENAL (66 points from 33 games)

Still to play: Crystal Palace (h), Wolves (a), Leicester (a), Brighton (h), Burnley (a)

Arsenal are in a decent position and do not have to face any of the top six, but three of their remaining five fixtures are away and they have only two wins on the road since Nov. 25. A tough Europa League quarterfinal tie against Napoli means the Gunners cannot take their eye off the ball in the Premier League.

Ogden: Arsenal’s poor away form could cost them a top-four finish. They won narrowly at 10-man Watford, but still have to visit Europa League-chasing Wolves and Leicester, as well as Burnley on the final day of the season.

  1. CHELSEA (66 points from 34 games)

Still to play: Burnley (h), Man United (a), Watford (h), Leicester (a)

Chelsea had virtually been written off in the top-four race after defeat at Everton, but three wins on the spin elevated them into third — though the loss at Liverpool ended that run, and they have played a game more than their rivals. The dip in form suffered by Man United and Tottenham in recent weeks opened the door, although the trip Man United later this month will test a side that has shipped 26 goals away from home and lost more matches on the road than Arsenal.

Ogden: Chelsea had at one stage regained a measure of control in their top-four destiny with back-to-back home wins against Brighton and West Ham, but a tough away trip at Manchester United will be huge. The clash with United looks like a top-four eliminator.

  1. MAN UNITED (64 points from 33 games)

Still to play: Everton (a), Man City (h), Chelsea (h), Huddersfield (a), Cardiff (h)

United have three home games left, but back-to-back fixtures against City and Chelsea, after the Champions League exit to Barcelona, could be key. Playing two of the current bottom three in their final matches provides a favourable finale, but their form has gone through the floor.

Ogden: United are playing catch-up after a dip in form, but tough fixtures ahead for Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal give them a chance to reach the top four. They simply have to beat Chelsea at Old Trafford and avoid defeat against Man City, while a trip to Everton will also be very tricky for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.


Boys in Blue, Steel FC to face off in second Week 7 matchup

Two of anything is typically better than one. Two beers are better than one. Two corn dogs are better than one. Two Indy Eleven games in one week are better than one. Indiana’s Team faces Bethlehem Steel FC on the road in its second Week 7 match this Saturday afternoon, in what will be the first of two meetings in the 2019 USL Championship season, the return date in Indy coming on Sept. 14.Indy Eleven (3W-1L-0D, 9 pts.) extended its winning streak to three after defeating Swope Park Rangers 3-1 in the first Week 7 matchup on Monday. Forward Dane Kelly had the break out game he’s been striving towards, having his hand (errrrr, feet) in all three goals the last time out, netting twice and assisting on the other for strike partner Thomas Enevoldsen. Kelly’s two goals see him knotted atop the Eleven scoring chart alongside Enevoldsen, and brought his league-career-leading total to 69. The three tallies on the evening brought Indy’s aggregate goals scored to eight in 2019, while the three points earned has the Indiana’s Team resting at a deceptive seventh place in the Eastern Conference table, sitting just three points off the pace of the second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies (12 pts.).Bethlehem Steel FC (3W-3L-1D) looks to return to winning ways after a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Charlotte Independence in their first of two Week 7 matchups on Tuesday, an 80th minute goal from midfielder Chavany Willis not doing enough to plug the holes in the sinking Steel ship. The fixture was the third time in 2019 that the second-highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference was held to one goal or less in its seven games, showing that, when Bethlehem scores it does so in lumps. Meanwhile, the two goals conceded brings the team’s total to 10 goals allowed thus far in 2019. Leading goal scorer Kacper Przybylko (3 goals) did not appear for Bethlehem on Tuesday, but the team’s second highest scorer, Faris Pemi Moumbagna (2 goals), played the full 90 minutes without impacting the game. The loss sees Bethlehem one point ahead of Indy, sitting in fifth place with 10 points.Previous meetings between the sides indicate the matchup should be tightly contested, as the 2018 three-game series resulted in a win for each team followed by a draw in the final meeting.


In basketball, there’s the hot hand. In soccer, there’s the hot foot? Maybe? Either way, Indy Eleven forward Dane Kelly is certainly heating up after netting twice in the previous match against Swope Park Rangers and creating a goal for Thomas “The Engine” Enevoldsen. The brace is the first pair of goals of 2019 for the 28-year-old after fighting through a difficult start to the season, which included hitting the post four times in his first three appearances.Despite the rough start, the look of relief after the Jamaican striker’s somewhat lucky and skillful first goal and the smirk of confidence after the stunning strike for the second indicate the 2017 USL Most Valuable Player has his swagger back. Cut the guy a little slack for not starting out hot – he went from 27 appearances and 18 goals in 2017 with the Western Conference’s Reno 1868 to one appearance and no goals with Major League Soccer’s D.C. United in 2018 before being loaned to now-USL League One Richmond Kickers, where he made four appearances and scored once. But the form displayed against Swope Park is what Kelly in his prime looks like, a form that the Eleven faithful – and coach Martin Rennie – hope to rely on.


One man has played every minute of every match in 2019 for Bethlehem Steel FC. A veteran of course, right? Wrong. Eighteen-year-old Ben Ofeimu, a Steel FC central defender, leads the team in minutes played and most defensive categories, as well. The Philadelphia Union youth product is in his first year on a professional contract, which he signed just four months ago.The rookie has been worth the money, too. The Michigan native leads the backline in clearances, blocks and interceptions, and has only lost one tackle so far in seven games. The lengthy 6-foot-3-inch defender uses his height to his advantage as well, as he’s won exactly half of his aerial challenges. If that wasn’t enough, he’s both scored and assisted this season, too.


Want to know who scores a lot of goals in the Eastern Conference? Bethlehem Steel FC scores a lot of goals, at least in the Eastern Conference. That number is 12 goals (for those of you wondering), which is the second-most goals scored in the Eastern Conference through Week 7, behind only New York Red Bulls II’s 13 tallies.Time to crunch some numbers. Statistically, Indy Eleven are going head-to-head against the strongest offense in the Eastern Conference. Steel have taken 57 shots, put 26 on target and converted 12 into goals. Having nearly one out of every two of shots on target go in can’t be the most frustrating aspect of the game for Bethlehem Head Coach Brendan Burke. Bethlehem’s offense also plays unselfish soccer, as the side has assisted on seven goals in 2019. Forwards Kacper Przybylko and Faris Pemi Moumbagna will most likely lead the charge up front, as the two are the leading goal scorers on the team with three and two goals respectively.Indy Eleven’s backline, tasked with keeping the two forwards at bay, has conceded five goals in four matches during the 2019 season. The back third has helped ‘keeper Evan Newton keep one clean sheet while technically running a three-back system (although the wingers certainly pitch in on that side of the ball). Indy has enforced a high press to try and keep opponents in check when on the ball and created turnovers in the opposition’s half. It’s hard to give up chances on goal when the other team struggles to keep consistent possession and string passes together in your final third. Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barret, Karl Ouimette and Alex Crognale have been the consistent faces featured in Coach Rennie’s back line and can be expected to martial the back third of the pitch come Saturday’s matinee fixture on the banks of the Delaware River. Just because you’re not traveling with the team doesn’t mean you should miss any of the action! All USL Championship 2019 regular season matches are available at your fingertips on ESPN+. New users can click here to start a free seven-day free trial.


By IndyEleven.com, 04/16/19, 12:00AM EDT

USL Championship’s All-time Goal Leader Opens His Indy Account with Pair of Tallies

Indy Eleven (3W-1L-0D) returned to USL Championship play in spectacular fashion after a 15-day break with a 3-1 win on the road against Swope Park Rangers (0W-3L-1D). A brace and an assist from Eleven forward Dane Kelly helped extend the winning streak fo Indiana’s Team to three games, resulting in nine points from the team’s first four fixtures of 2019.   “Overall, I think it was a very good team performance and a really good night for us,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “It is really hard for us to go to a team like Swope Park Rangers, who have had a lot of success in the USL [Championship], and have a game like that.”It took only 67 seconds for Indy Eleven to climb on top, Kelly taking advantage of a failed back pass by Swope Park defender Camden Riley to give the visitors a lightning fast lead. Kelly swooped in and rounded Rangers (and ex-Butler Bulldog) goalkeeper Eric Dick with his first touch and with his second rolled home from a tough angle, the Jamaican opening his account with equal hustle and ease.The Boys in Blue doubled their lead not five minutes later, left back Ayoze creating the opportunity with a 30-yard run into the final third and a perfectly-weighted chip to Kelly, who deftly one-touched into the path of Thomas Enevoldsen. Dick got a hand on the Danish striker’s low shot, but not enough of one to keep it from crossing the goal line, the 2-0 Indy advantage within seven minutes quickly putting the home side on its heels. Kelly nearly had a quick brace 11 minutes in, but his chance from 15 yards was sent right to the Rangers ‘keeper.The one-way traffic by Indy would even out around the quarter-hour mark, and Swope Park would earn their first quality chance in the 23rd minute on a set-piece just outside the Eleven area – one that was easily corralled by Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton.Rangers would get one back in the 26th minute with midfielder Alexsander doing the heavy lifting, his 50-yard run straight up the center of the field ending with a ball that put Wilson Harris behind the Indy back line. One-on-one with Newton, Harris slotted home from left of goal to cut the Indy advantage in half, and it could have been evened up in the 29th minute had Macauley “Macca” King not have swooped across the penalty area to knock away a squared ball headed towards Felipe Hernandez.“We were a little bit late on our pressure a couple of times and they opened up,” Rennie said. “We could’ve reacted a little bit better once that happened, but it was really about one of the only shots they had on goal. Overall, we can’t be too disappointed in that, but there were a couple of things we can learn from.”Indy Eleven would take the momentum back at the half hour, Ayoze again creating havoc in the 31st minute with a ball to the six that Kelly had poked away before he could redirect. Seconds later, Indy midfielder Tyler Pasher lashed a shot inside the area that forced Dick into a save. Swope Park would see the last dangerous chance of the opening half in the 36th minute, but Newton made his finest save of the evening by punching away the in-swinger that found its way to the Indy netminder through traffic.The second half came to life in the 51st minute with Riley trying to atone for his early mistake with a shot from distance that missed a couple of feet past the right post. Two minutes later it was Ayoze helping to put Indy Eleven on the board once again, the Spanish maestro springing a 70-yard ball over the top that put Enevoldsen free on the left end line. The Dane’s cross to the penalty spot was deflected but still found Kelly, who turned and fired home a left-footed rocket to again give Indy a two-goal cushion.“It helps a lot with Dane’s confidence, especially having two goals and an assist on Thomas’ goal,” Rennie commented. “Thomas also scored, so two attackers got three goals between them. It definitely builds confidence and that’s really important for a striker. It nice to see them rewarded for the hard work they’re putting in.”In the 61st minute, Eleven defender Alex Crognale nearly increased the lead with a strong header off a corner, but Dick made a one-handed save, pushing the ball over the bar from point-blank range. The rest of the half saw Indy largely content to drop numbers and keep Swope Park at bay – which largely worked other than shots from distance that Newton had covered regardless. Kelly would have a few chances to finish off his hat trick on counter attacks, most notably in the 85th minute when Dick thwarted the USL Championship’s all-time goal king with a kick save after cutting off the angle.Indy Eleven’s April away swing continues this Saturday, April 20, when the Boys in Blue travel to the Philly area to take on Bethlehem Steel FC. The matinee kickoff from Talen Energy Stadium – the home of MLS side Philadelphia Union – in Chester, Penn., is set for 4:00 p.m., and the match can be seen exclusively via streaming video on ESPN+.  Indy Eleven return to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., followed by a second home match three days later against North Carolina FC at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Regular Season
Swope Park Rangers 1:3 Indy Eleven
Monday, April 15, 2019 – 8:00 p.m. ET

Children’s Mercy Park – Kansas City, Kansas
Scoring Summary:IND – Dane Kelly (unassisted) 2’

IND – Thomas Enevoldsen (Dane Kelly) 6’

SPR – Wilson Harris (Alexsander) 26’

IND – Dane Kelly (unassised) 53’

Disciplinary Summary:

SPR – Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal (Yellow card) 30′

IND – Dane Kelly (Yellow card) 33’
IND – Alex Crognagle (Yellow card) 41’

SPR – Jerome Ngom Mbekeli (Yellow card) 61’

Indy Eleven lineup (5-3-1-1, L–>R): Evan Newton (GK); Ayoze Garcia, Neveal Hackshaw, Alex Crognale, Paddy Barrett (C), Macauley King; Tyler Gibson, Nico Matern (Do-Heon Kim 77’), Tyler Pasher (Matt Watson 60’); Thomas Enevoldsen; Dane Klly (Alioune Diakhate 88’)Indy Eleven Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Lucas Farias, Mitch Osmond, Karl Ouimette
Swope Park Rangers lineup (4-1-4-1, L–>R): Eric Dick; Alexsander, Camden Riley, Graham Smith (C), Mark Segbers; Wan Kuzain (Ayyoub Allach 78’); Jerome Ngom Mbekeli, Gedion Zelalem, Felipe Hernandez, Killian Colombie (Will Little 68’); Wilson Harris (Sean Karani 45+1’)Swope Park Rangers Substitutes: John Pulskamp (GK), Mohammed Abualnadi, Kaveh Rad; Rassambek Akhmatov

Indy Eleven to host USOC match at Sellick Butler Bowl

April 17, 2019by Kevin Johnston  www.Soctakes.com

INDIANAPOLIS — After hitting the road and losing to vastly inferior competition in the past couple editions of the U.S. Open Cup, the Indy Eleven have decided it’s time to take one of the oldest soccer competitions on the planet a little more seriously.The Eleven will host a 2019 U.S. Open Cup second-round match at the Sellick Bowl on the campus of Butler University, the team announced Wednesday. The winner of the May 8 first-round clash between NPSL side AFC Ann Arbor and Lansing Ignite of USL League One will visit Indy either May 14 or 15 at a to-be-determined time.

It’s unclear if the Eleven, should they win their second-round game, will attempt to host their third-round match in Indianapolis as well. Such a scenario seems plausible, though the team’s Wednesday release didn’t state such.The 22 clubs that advance to the third round will all play May 29. MLS teams enter in the fourth round.If history is any indicator, Indy supporters should welcome the return to the club’s past USOC mindset, one in which spending a few extra bucks almost always turned out more positively than being a miser.In 2017-18, Indy — unwilling to take on the additional costs associated with hosting a USOC match — settled for away dates for its USOC entry-round matches. The results were utterly embarrassing.Indy flamed out on the road against the Michigan Bucks 1-0 in the second round of the 2017 tourney. And in 2018, Indy again fell 1-0 to an amateur side in the second round, this time venturing south to get eliminated by Mississippi Brilla FC.Things have generally gone far, far better for the Eleven in the USOC when hosting through the third round. They lost at home 2-nil to Louisville City FC in the third round of the 2015 tournament, but advanced to give MLS sides a run for their money in their own buildings in the fourth round on two other occasions after hosting and winning home matches to get there.In 2014, Indy lost 2-1 in the fourth round at Columbus Crew SC. Two years later, the Chicago Fire had to go to penalties to sneak by the Eleven after their fourth-round matchup yielded a 1-1 scoreline after 90 plus extra time.The moral of the story: Mostly good things occur when the Indy Eleven host mid-round USOC matches, and rather humiliating things tend to happen when they don’t. The Eleven will certainly hope for the former when they take the pitch May 14 or 15 at the Sellick Bowl.Stay tuned for more information on Indy’s opponent, the exact date and kickoff time in the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup.

MLS to expand to 30 teams; St. Louis, Sacramento to make formal bids

8:43 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

LOS ANGELES — MLS intends to expand to 30 teams, with teams 28 and 29 requiring an expansion fee of $200 million, commissioner Don Garber announced Thursday following a Board of Governors meeting.Garber said the board had authorized his office to advance into exclusive discussions with St. Louis and Sacramento with an eye toward those two cities being the 28th and 29th teams.MLS currently has 24 teams and has already confirmed expansion teams in Austin, Miami and Nashville to join the league in the coming years.”In the last 10 years we’ve been experiencing unprecedented growth for a major league in North America,” Garber said. “Expansion has been a key driver of that growth, and it really is a great measure of the enormous enthusiasm and the commitment that our fans have in markets both new and old to support our league and our players and to see the sport grow.”Garber said the ownership groups from both cities will make formal presentations to the league’s expansion committee in the coming weeks. Part of the process will involve getting to know the respective ownership groups, both of which have investors who are relatively new to the process. Garber hopes a final decision on both cities would be made before the All-Star Game in Orlando in late July.”We’ll be asking them for their formal and final plans for a commitment of corporate support, the final composition of their ownership group, and detailed economics on their funding of both their team operations and their stadium plans,” Garber said.While the league has said at times that it would stop expanding at 28 teams, the announcement was not a surprise. Garber said the strength of the Sacramento and St. Louis bids was part of what drove the Board to decide to expand to 30 teams.Sacramento’s hopes of landing a team were boosted in January when billionaire Ron Burkle became the new lead investor in the Sacramento Republic soccer team. The team currently plays in the second-tier United Soccer League.Burkle is a co-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins with a net worth estimated at $2 billion by Forbes magazine.The St. Louis group includes World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh and the Taylor family, owners of the rental car company Enterprise Holdings.In a statement released Thursday, the Sacramento Republic said: “Today is a monumental step in the process and we are closer than ever to reaching our goal of bringing Major League Soccer to Sacramento. There isn’t a better fit for MLS than our city, and today’s announcement is a testament to the strength of Sacramento’s bid, and most importantly, to the faith and devotion of Republic FC fans. We will continue our ongoing communication with the Commissioner and with MLS and look forward to finalizing all next steps to deliver MLS to Sacramento.”In terms of the number of teams at which the league will stop expanding, Garber didn’t commit to a definitive number.”I don’t know that we have a firm handle yet on what the final number of teams in the league ought to be,” Garber said. “We have a lot of work to do to determine what the future state of MLS is in 10 years and in 20 years. We continue to believe that there are many, many cities across the country that could support an MLS team, with a great stadium and a great fan base and great local ownership that will invest in the sport in their community.”Garber added that MLS will “take our time” on team 30, though it remains in discussions with the likes of Phoenix, Las Vegas, Detroit and Charlotte.”We don’t want to be unbalanced, but at the same time I think we do need to take a bit of a deep breath and onboard the teams that are going to be coming in over the next number of years,” he said.Garber lauded the bids of Sacramento and St. Louis but also stressed that both ownership groups still had work to do. Garber said that Sacramento needed to finalize its corporate sponsorship as well as some elements of the stadium plan. St. Louis needs to finalize its stadium plan as well, but Garber’s expectation is that both cities will get their respective bids over the line.”I’ve got confidence in both markets,” Garber said. “We wouldn’t be here today without the confidence of our ownership group to try to put all the elements in place to give them the opportunity to finalize the deal.”

MLS clubs to receive solidarity payments after league agrees to follow FIFA rule

7:55 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Major League Soccer clubs will be compensated for the costs of developing players from its youth academies who opt to sign their first professional contract with foreign clubs after the league announced on Thursday it will begin complying with FIFA regulations relating to training compensation and solidarity payments.The decision means MLS clubs will now receive compensation for players they develop, which could reach well into six figures. They will also receive a cut of transfer fees when those players are transferred to clubs in a different country. Conversely, MLS clubs will have to pay these fees to foreign clubs when it pays a transfer fee for incoming players.”We have been making increasing investments in youth development, and that investment has accelerated over the past few years,” said MLS executive vice-president of player relations and competition Todd Durbin of the announcement. “We intend on continuing to make that investment and we want to grow that investment. But in the event that a player that we developed decides to sign overseas, we believe that we should be able to recoup the value of that investment.” Solidarity payments are paid whenever a player is transferred to another club prior to the end of their contract, and that transfer involved moving to another country — a “change of association” in FIFA, according to world soccer’s governing body.Five percent of the transfer fee is paid to the youth clubs responsible for the player’s development between the ages of 12 and 23. The rules also stipulate that when a player signs their first professional contract with a club in a foreign country, or is transferred to a club in a different association, the professional club is obligated to pay training compensation to the youth clubs that developed the player between the ages of 12 and 21. Training compensation is also due when a player is transferred to a club in another country up until the season of his 23rd birthday.

Q&A: What does the decision mean for MLS clubs?

Not everyone is happy with the move by MLS, however. The MLS Players Association, as well as the players’ agents, view training compensation and solidarity payments as a glorified tax whose amounts have the potential to kill deals.In a statement provided to ESPN FC, the MLS Players Association said the league’s announcement was “a step backward for the development of soccer in the United States and Canada” and called it an effort by MLS to inhibit player choice.”Despite claims to the contrary, this move is not about improving youth development,” the MLSPA said. “Rather, it is simply about trying to force players to sign with MLS by limiting opportunities abroad.”The MLSPA added: “The fact that training compensation and solidarity payments are paid elsewhere in the world under applicable FIFA regulations is an indefensible justification for MLS’s change in position on these issues. The league routinely ignores regulations that protect players under contract with MLS — like those requiring guaranteed contracts, prohibiting unilateral options and limiting the length of contracts — yet is now attempting to rely upon these same regulations to limit opportunities for players in youth academies.

“We will review these changes, including the Consent Decree entered into by the U.S. Federation on this subject, and will explore all of our options with other stakeholders.”The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) had forbidden the implementation of training compensation and solidarity payments, which FIFA introduced within its Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP) in the aftermath of the 1995 Bosman decision that granted free agency to players at the end of their contracts.Among their reasons were fears that RSTP violated child labor laws or would result in litigation on anti-trust grounds by various stakeholders, including the MLS Players Association. The USSF had also in the past contended that a consent decree contained in the court case Fraser vs. MLS — which stipulated that MLS would not require a transfer fee to be paid for out-of-contract players — prevented it from enforcing RSTP.The USSF contends that at a meeting of stakeholders in 2015, opposing viewpoints among youth clubs, professional leagues, and players’ unions left the organization caught in the middle.”Since that time, U.S. Soccer has maintained a position of neutrality on the issue of training compensation and solidarity payments and, accordingly, will not be a party to enforcement of those regulations,” a USSF spokesperson told ESPN FC.The spokesperson added, “We will, however, continue to pass through any claims made by clubs as required by FIFA regulations. This position remains the same regardless of the affiliation of the club making the claim.”The decision is a philosophical shift for MLS and could amount to a considerable financial benefit for its clubs. MLS has never paid or received training compensation and solidarity payments. But as the league’s clubs began developing their own youth academies — investing tens of millions of dollars annually — it ran into situations where academy products were signing their first professional contracts with foreign clubs. Elsewhere in the world, the academy would have been compensated, but because RSTP was not adhered to in the U.S., the MLS clubs received nothing in return.One example came in 2016 when current U.S. international Weston McKenniespurned his youth club, FC Dallas, to sign with Bundesliga side Schalke 04. The money invested in McKennie’s development was never recovered and the deal removed some incentives for Dallas to make investments in youth development, leaving some clubs questioning MLS’s overall commitment to youth development.Deals like McKennie’s will not be reexamined by MLS, but if McKennie is transferred to a team outside of Germany, Dallas — and not MLS — would be eligible to receive the entire solidarity payment as a return on player development.t while MLS is set move forward in the area of training compensation and solidarity payments, the future is less certain for U.S. youth clubs that operate outside of MLS.In recent years, some clubs had taken the matter of solidarity payments to FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC). A case involving the 2014 transfer of U.S. international DeAndre Yedlin from the Seattle Sounders to Tottenham Hotspur sparked a filing from one of Yedlin’s youth clubs, Crossfire Premier. A decision on the case is expected in the coming days.Two other cases — one filed by the Dallas Texans regarding Clint Dempsey‘s 2013 transfer from Tottenham to the Seattle Sounders, and another from Sockers FC Chicago regarding Michael Bradley‘s transfer from Roma to Toronto FC in 2014 — were denied by FIFA’s DRC last month, for reasons that weren’t made public.

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