6/14/19  US Women World Cup vs Chile Sun 12 noon on Fox, US Men prepare for Gold Cup Tues, Copa America Starts Tonight, Full TV Game Schedule

Since I wrote the following the night after the USA Dismantled Thailand 13-0 – the story has captured both the nation and the world.  I have heard the arguments on both sides and sorry but I stand by what I say below.  Now because of the huge win and controversy around it – I do expect the Women’s World Cup ratings to soar even higher in the next few weeks – especially Sunday at noon as the US face Chile on Fox.

US Women Embarrass Thailand and Themselves with 13-0 win in WC

I have had to check myself this week after the US Men’s loss last weekend and now after the demolition job done by the #1 Ranked US Women on Thailand.  Listen I have no issue with a 7 to 8 to zero victory in a game like this.  But 13-0 and celebrating like you won the World Cup each time – even our Dam Coach was in on it.  I am ok with sending a message especially after France spanked you in your last competitive match on the road 3-1 last January.  But 13-0 is ridiculous against a tiny – outmatched nation like Thailand.  If this was Sweden or Germany  – an established power – I might understand.  But what the heck do you get out of embarrassing a country where you could name the score.   We actually pulled 2 defenders, went to a back 3 and put on 3 more forwards/wingers with the score 6-0 in an attempt to score more goals!  I could see that for practicing being behind and having to score a goal or 2 late.  But then they kept going – 9, then 10, then 11 – seriously!  And it was Morgan, Rapinoe, Lloyd – all established veterans scoring?  Why?  It’s not like all countries are equal in Women’s soccer – some like Thailand are just lucky to get to the World Cup – as they try to build excitement and respect for the women’s game in their country – just to be punked around by the US?  Alex Morgan scores 5 goals ?  So What? Save that for when it counts.  I for one was embarrassed and humiliated by the reaction of the US players and coaches.  Of course, I have been beaten that bad in sports so I know what it feels like – and when my teams won that big – it was with severe restrictions like all defenders and GK up front and use your left foot only and everyone must touch the ball before we shoot.  Seriously – since when did SPORTSMANSHIP become un-American?  We are lucky someone didn’t take out Rapinoe or Morgan with a dirty tackle.  I honestly think this sets the US up for 1st in Group F and a LOSS in the Quarterfinals to home-squad France, who looked just as impressive without the embarrassing score line, on opening day.  And the Entire World will be on their feet screaming for that to happen after this display of punkhood by the US.  Sorry Soccer Fans – I am glad we won – and I want the US  Women (I refused to call them ladies after that classless display) to do well – but I can’t help but think we acted like total punks in our first win.  No Wonder everyone hates the US!  Good Luck USA  – but I have to admit I am really embarrassed to be an American Soccer Fan today.  Thanks, but NO THANKS – Learn some Humility, and Sportsmanship before claiming you are champions!

The US Women play another outmatched team Chile on Sunday at 12 noon on Fox.  Chile hung strong with Sweden for the first 75 minutes before losing 2-0 after a long lightning delay in their first-round match.

Now overall – I have really enjoyed watching this Women’s World Cup so far – there have been mostly competitive and close games even with so many new teams in the World Cup this time.  Can’t wait to see the third round games – and the next rounds on Fox and Fox Sports 1 – who is doing a great job delivering these games with proper pregame and post game coverage.  I sure do miss Fox Sports having Champions League.  World Cup tonight every night at 10 pm or 10:30 has been solid and they replay the day’s games every night on FS1, FS2 and Fox Soccer – in case you miss the games.  Great to not have to pay a fee to watch soccer in America (ESPN+ or TNT)!  Oh and the Commercials have been pretty good too! Hulu Germany’s Ad, USA Fox David vs Goliath, Nike’sCoca-Cola

Gold Cup Starts Sat thru July 7  

The busy slate of soccer continues this weekend as both the Gold Cup and Copa America get underway this weekend.  Fox Sports will have all the Gold Cup games starting Saturday night as Canada will open with Martinique Sat at 7:30 pm on FS2, followed by Mexico vs Cuba at 10 pm on FS2.  The US will face Guyana on Tuesday night at 10 pm on Fox Sports 1. Full Gold Cup Preview  in what better end up as Mexico vs the United States.  Of course Jamaica found a way to knock out Mexico’s third string team 2 years ago – but this year its Mexico who should be on top with the US and new coach Gregg Berhalter hoping to get his banged up US Squad there as well.   Must see early games are 6/19 Wed Canada vs Mexico FS 2 10:30 pm, Sat 6/22 8 pm on FS1 – USA vs Trinadad and Tobago for the 1st time after beating the US to knock us out of the World Cup.

US U20s bow out of World Cup in Elite 8

Our U20’s lost a heart-breaker 2-1 to Ecuador the South American U20 champion in the Quarterfinals – marking the 3rd straight time the US was knocked out in the Quarters of the U20 World Cup.  I was disappointed the US did not find a way to win this game especially as Ecuador lost to South Korea thanks to a great Goalie.  South Korea will face Ukraine at 2 pm on FS2 Sat.  Still overall I thought Tab Ramos did a fine job coaching this team (I would love to see him move up to the U23s now!), the US out-possessed most teams in the tourney and really had a solid attack – we just couldn’t finish enough.  But we really outplayed Ecuador and France – now it will be exciting to see what’s next for the U20 stars like PSG’s Tim Weah, Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal, Hannover’s Sebastion Soto (4 goals) and Chris Gloster, Bayern’s Chris Richards and when they might join the full USMNT.

Copa America Starts Today thru July 7

A full preview on Copa America as Brazil will host the tourney for the first time in 30 years.  Chile will look to defend back to back titles, while Messi and Argentina will look to finally grab silverware for his country for the first time.  Of course, much is also expected of Brazil on home soil – despite Neymar being out injured. Brazil gets started tonight vs Bolivia at 9:30 as all the games in the US are on ESPN+.  Must see games are tomorrow 6/15 at 6 pm Argentina vs Colombia on ESPN+, Mon 6/17 Chile plays Japan at 7 pm on ESPN+,  while Tues 6/18 gives us Brazil vs Venezuela 8:30 pm.  (how good is that Venezuela team that destroyed the US 3-0 last week really?)

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

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150



USA Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden
  • Sun, July 7 3 pm ET, Fox Women’s World Cup Finals from France

Fri, June 14

8:30 pm ESPN+ Copa – Brazil vs Bolivia

Sat, June 15

9 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Netherlands vs Cameron

12 noon Fox Sport 1                U-20 WC Final

  • 3 pm FS2 WWC Canada vs New Zealand
  • 3 pm ESPN+ Venezuela vs Peru  Copa America
  • 6 pm EPSN+ Argentina vs Colombia Copa America
  • 7:30 pm ESPN+ Loudoun United vs Indy 11
  • 7:30 pm FS2 Canada vs Martinique GOLD CUP
  • 10 pm FS2 Mexico vs Cuba GOLD CUP

Sun, June 16

9 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Sweden vs Thailand

12 noon Fox               WWC USA vs Chile

3 pm ESPN+                            Uraguay vs Ecuador COPA

6 pm Fox Sport 2                    Haiti vs Bermuda Gold Cup

8:30 pm FS1                            Costa Rica vs Nicaragua Gold Cup

Mon, June 17

12 noon Fox Sports 1              WWC China vs Spain

12 noon Fox                            WWC South Africa vs Germany

3 pm Fox                                                 WWC Nigeria vs France

  • 3 pm FS 1 WWC Korea vs Norway

Tues, June 18

3pm Fox Sports 1                    WWC Italy vs Brazil

3 pm Fox                 Sport 2                    WWC Jamaica vs Australia

7:30 pm FS1                            Panama vs T&T Gold Cup

8:30 pm ESPN+                       Brazil vs Venezuela Copa

10 pm FS1                   USA Men vs Guyana Gold Cup

Weds, June 19

3pm Fox Sports 1                    WWC Japan vs England

3 pm Fox Sport 2                    WWC Scotland vs Argentina

8 pm FS1                                 Cuba vs Martinique Gold Cup

8:30 pm ESPN+                       Argentina vs Paraguay – Copa

10:30 pm FS1                          Mexico vs Canada Gold Cup

Thurs, June 20

12 noon Fox Sports 1              WWC Cameron vs New Zealand

12 noon Fox                            WWC Netherlands vs Canada

3 pm FOX                             WWC USA vs Sweden

3 pm FoxSport 1                    WWC Thailand vs Chile

7 pm ESPN+                            Uruguay vs Japan Copa

7:30 pm FS1                            Nicaragua vs Haiti Gold Cup

9:30 pm ESPN+                       Costa Rica vs Bermuda Gold Cup

Sat, June 22

11:30 am Fox Sports 1            WWC Round of 16 1B vs 3

3 pm Fox                                  WWC Round of 16

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          Peru vs Brazil

5:30 pm FS1                            Guyana vs Panama Gold Cup

7 pm ESPN+                 Indy 11 vs Atlanta United 2

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Cincy vs LA Galaxy

8 pm FS1                     USA Men vs Trinadad & Tobago – Gold Cup

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

NWSL. You can stream every game live on Yahoo Sports.

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

US Women – World Cup

Pack Mentality – How US Geared Up for month in France

Hays: USWNT makes opening statement with record win

USWNT Was right to Run Up the Score – Dan Wetzel USA Today

Canadian Broadcaster Receives Death Threats after criticizing US Goal Celebrations  US Players Not Sorry for Celebrating Goals – Doug McIntire Yahoo Sports

US Routs Thailand – 13-0 questions of Sportsmanship – SI – Grant Wahl

Solo Criticizes US for Goal Celebrations – Yahoo sports

Hope Solo Not Thrilled with Goal Celebrations – the Guardian

Alex Morgan Building Up to this Role – ESPNFC

US Game Report – US Soccer

Germany’s Star Midfielder out with Broken Toe

Reactions After First Round of Games – SI

SI – WWC Predictions

Handball Rule under the Spotlight using Var

US Men Gold Cup

ESPN Gold Cup Preview –Can US get to Finals with Mexico ?

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter Q&A: Pulisic’s best position, beating Mexico in the Gold Cup and moving on from World Cup failure

Gold Cup Preview – Forbes

Group C – Breakdown

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019: Group B Preview – Stars and Stripes FC

Berhalter sees Gold Cup as ‘learning process’

Berhalter, U.S. have myriad problems to solve before upcoming Gold Cup

U.S. national team roundtable: Should we be worried about their Gold Cup chances?

Tyler Adams to Miss Gold Cup

Concacaf Rankings: Who’s best in the region?

USMNT Gold Cup mission: “Time to start winning” Video

Gold Cup Breakdown – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Berhalter on Adams, Gold Cup: “We’re here to win”

Donovan – US No Longer Kings of CONCACAF ESPNFC

Martino has Mexico firing ahead of Gold Cup as players highlight positive changes

CanMNT meet Martinique as Gold Cup curtain raises

Mexico duty ‘makes you tired mentally’ – Guardado

Gold Cup Home on ESPNFC

U20’s post Mortem – What’s Next for U20 Prospects – Matt Doyle MLS.com


Group games: vs. Guyana (6/18, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Trinidad and Tobago (6/22, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Panama (6/26, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 24  SPI chances of winning: 43.4 percent

Why they’ll go far: This Gold Cup represents a full clean slate for the U.S. team since their World Cup qualifying disaster, and the new generation of U.S. players will be keen to stake their claim and erase the nightmare of the past 20 months. There is Champions League quality in midfield with Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic, plus head coach Gregg Berhalter can count on having one of the deepest squads at the tournament to counter the injuries and suspensions that are sure to come.

Why they won’t: The U.S. suffered from poor center-back play in World Cup qualifying, and there are still plenty of question marks over whether Long, Ream and Miazga can get the job done. If Brooks isn’t 100 percent, he can be really bad. Injuries are also a worry up top. Altidore’s track record of health is not the best, and who exactly will be scoring the goals for the U.S. has yet to be answered.

Player to watch: Christian Pulisic

Best XI (4-4-2): Zack Steffen; Tyler Adams, Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, Antonee Robinson; Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Weston McKennie, Paul Arriola; Jozy Altidore, Gyasi Zardes


Scheduling Snafu’s with 3 Tourney Finals including Ladies World Cup Final on July 7 – Shows disregard for Women by FIFA – – Yahoo

Copa America Preview

Copa America 2019 Rankings: Who Needs to Win the Competition the Most?


Doyle: Sorting out a slimmed down Week 15 in MLS

2019 U.S. Open Cup Bracket

2019 MLS Ambition Rankings: Who Is Keeping Up in League’s Arms Race?

Elfath given whistle at FIFA U-20 World Cup final

Austin FC break record for season tix deposits


Great Saves in WWC Lydia Williams vs Italy’s Laura Guiliani

Argentine Keeper Correra big timed Japan

Women’s World Cup Top Saves Sunday

South Korean Keeper Gwang-Yeon got them to U20 WC Finals

MLS Saves of the Week

Dutch Keeper Yann Sommer saved in Nations League

Manuel Neuer German GK embarrasses forward with footwork

Indy 11

Preview Sat Night game with Loundon United

Three Things Week 14

Indy 11 Extends Unbeaten Streak to 6 with 3-0 Win at Memphis

Defender Hackshaw to Represent T&T in Gold Cup

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

 Women’s World Cup 2019: U.S. women make opening statement with record rout of Thailand

6:54 PM ETGraham HaysespnW.com

REIMS, France — The last team off the field four years ago in Canada, when it hung around amid the confetti to celebrate its third world championship, the United States was the last contender to take the field in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.The Americans looked like a team that was tired of waiting.Paced by a record-matching performance from Alex Morgan, whose five goals equaled Michelle Akers’ for the most by an American in a World Cup, the U.S. women routed Thailand 13-0 on Tuesday. The final tally set a record for the most prolific offensive performance in tournament history.Playing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Stade Auguste-Delaune that sounded and looked as if it were watching a game in Portland, Oregon, or New York rather than the north of France, the United States took the game to Thailand from the opening whistle.

Morgan nets five in U.S. women’s record rout of Thailand

In addition to Morgan’s five goals, Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis each scored twice, and Lindsey Horan, Carli Lloyd, Mallory Pugh and Megan Rapinoe added single goals.By the end, the U.S. women weren’t competing against an overmatched Thailand as much as against what France did to electrify this nation last Friday in the tournament’s opening game. First and last, those were the command performances. It’s hard to argue the United States didn’t one-up the hosts.

Alex Morgan makes the stage hers

Earlier in the week, a French journalist asked Morgan how she felt about being the most popular non-French women’s player in France. As beloved as the home team is, she might have won over even a few of the locals Tuesday.Morgan has talked openly about the disappointment she felt with her own performance in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but she nearly matched the entire U.S. goal output in that tournament with her quintet of goals against Thailand. Better still, some of her best moves on the night came with the ball at her feet while trying to set up teammates. She was fully integrated into an attack operating at something close to its peak. That isn’t a coincidence.”To tie Michelle Akers’ record is obviously incredible,” Morgan said. “But even more than that, I think that this was such a great team performance for us. We were able to execute on so many chances that we had, and we showed just how diverse our attack really is. And we know that every goal counts in the group stages, and that’s why we had to keep going.”

How many goals is too many goals?

The U.S. women had the game comfortably in hand a few minutes into the second half, when Mewis made it 4-0. The game was long since settled by the time Mewis and Lavelle scored within two minutes of each other to make it 7-0 with more than 30 minutes to play.Still, on and on the United States came, wave after wave, creating chances and goals until the U.S. women had topped the 11-0 record win Germany put on Argentina in the 2007 World Cup.But to put blame on the United States ignores two obvious points. First, the Americans didn’t make the rules under which the number of goals scored is part of deciding the outcome of the tournament. Goal differential counts. The U.S. women want to win their group. Unlike just about any other sport, they have a vested interest in running up the score.And second, it isn’t the United States’ fault it can’t clear its bench. It is allowed three subs. It used three subs.”If this is 10-0 in a men’s World Cup, are we getting the same questions?” U.S. coach Jill Ellis asked at repeated queries about the score. “I think a World Cup, it is about competing, it is about peaking, it is about priming your players ready for the next game.”But beyond that, why is it the obligation of the U.S. team to act in the interest of a creating a picture of a falsely level playing field. Why shouldn’t FIFA or the Asian Confederation get blamed for not doing more to promote the women’s game in places where it lags behind?Are we really going to blame players for celebrating a goal, in many cases in their first World Cup, instead of looking at the underlying reasons for the disparity in the first place?It’s understandable that Thai players looked stunned and embarrassed after the game, far from the joyous scenes after they beat Ivory Coast in their World Cup debut four years ago. It is unfortunate for them. But it’s also competition. Both sides of it.”Obviously, we have the utmost respect for everyone we play,” Rapinoe said. “But it’s the World Cup, and that’s part of it. That’s part of growing the game and growing the pool.”   Here is a breakdown of the U.S. women’s total shot location (40), goal placements (13) and key numbers from the match:

  • The Americans’ 13 goals against Thailand were the most in a game in men’s or women’s World Cup history.The United States men’s national team has scored 12 World Cup goals in the past 6,202 days.Alex Morgan is the just the second player in Women’s World Cup history to score five goals in a single game. Michelle Akers was the first in 1991.

The kids are all right

Lavelle: USWNT made a statement in World Cup opener

The United States is the oldest team in this year’s World Cup, thanks to a core of veterans already in their 30s (a group that will include Morgan by the time the World Cup ends). But it’s also a team that featured six players making their World Cup debut in Tuesday’s starting lineup.None of them looked nervous. And the midfield looked positively precocious.With Julie Ertz starting in the back line in place of Becky Sauerbrunn, the entire midfield of Horan, Lavelle and Mewis started in their first World Cup game. All helped fuel the U.S. attack, well before each got on the score sheet. With Horan looking a lot like former standout Lauren Holiday in the deep midfield, sending passes around the field like a quarterback, Mewis and Lavelle brought their own considerable attacking skills to bear.”It gave us all a good feeling to know that we could contribute at this level,” Mewis said. “I know that for all of us, this has been a dream for so long. And to be able to contribute to the team out there and feel like we were doing something right felt really good.”It might also reveal something that after scoring a goal and drawing gasps of approval from many in the stands with some of her footwork, Lavelle wasn’t ready to bask in the praise.”I just think I didn’t connect some of my passes,” Lavelle said. “And I don’t think I was as clean, technically, as I should be.”There is always next time. And there will be many next times for this group of midfielders.

The opener the U.S. women needed

The camera on the world feed found Hope Solo a few times, the former U.S. goalkeeper in the arena, working as an analyst for the BBC. Solo’s recent criticism of U.S. coach Jill Ellis was the closest thing to a dark cloud over this team entering the opener. In making it all about the coach, Solo also boosted the idea that this was a team without its own identity, a team without the strong personalities to win anyway. Well, this looked like a team the United States is going to enjoy watching — and in many cases, getting to know in the coming weeks.

“I don’t know if we need to really make a statement,” Rapinoe said. “We’re us — I feel like it’s always on our backs anyway. … But yeah, we wanted to have a good performance and have a good feeling, obviously. We know the competition will be much stronger from here on out and, hopefully, once we get to the knockout stages.”The United States was always going to win this game, probably comfortably. But in making sure of success by playing so aggressively early — in a tournament in which many top teams have struggled to squeeze out wins — this U.S. team created breathing room for itself.

Ertz buys time for Sauerbrunn

Sauerbrunn, a veteran defender, was held out because of a minor quad injury, but team officials said before the game that she was at 95%, and the decision to sit her (she was in uniform and available) was precautionary. The U.S. women don’t play again until Sunday, giving her five extra days to recover. Without saying as much, the message was essentially that someone who played every minute in the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympics could have played in a game in which the United States needed its defense.And no, there wasn’t a lot of defending for Ertz or anyone else to do. Yet, in anchoring a back line that had more than 300 collective caps — but only a fraction of them as defenders — Ertz looked the part of veteran leader after coming on as a young sensation in 2015. And in acting as the go-between for instructions from the bench and shifting to a holding midfield role at times, allowing the U.S. women to play out of a 3-4-3 for stretches, she highlighted this team’s versatility.The U.S. women are better with Sauerbrunn. They’re also better for knowing they have a darn good deputy.

All signs still point to a showdown with Sweden

It looked for much of the evening elsewhere as if Chile might copy fellow South American entry Argentina in springing a group-changing surprise. But where Argentina was able to hold on for a draw against Japan on Monday, Chile conceded two late goals after a weather delay and lost to Sweden in Group F.That means the U.S. women and Sweden are still on track for a group finale that will settle who finishes first (and takes a road that could lead through Paris and a quarterfinal against France). And with the goal differential it built up Tuesday, the United States could enter the finale knowing a draw would be enough to top the group.Sweden again goes first Sunday, playing Thailand in Nice. The U.S. women then play Chile in Paris.

No place for orange slices: Why USWNT was right to run up score against Thailand

Dan Wetzel  USA TODAY Columnist  Yahoo SportsJun 11, 2019, 10:07 PM

The United States women’s national team opened the World Cup on Tuesday by defeating Thailand 13-0.The most disappointing aspect of that result is that it wasn’t 14-0 — an early goal by Alex Morgan was disallowed due to a questionable offside call.Morgan still netted five goals, tying a World Cup record. Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis had two each. Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd all added one. It was a complete beatdown, the largest margin of victory in World Cup history.And for everyone complaining it was too lopsided or unsportsmanlike or unfair … please, this is the World Cup, not some rec league where everyone gets a snack bag and an orange slice afterward.“This is a world championship,” said U.S. coach Jill Ellis.Thailand obviously isn’t at the level of the United States, the favorite this month in France. That’s unfortunate. Women’s soccer is still a developmental sport around the globe, mainly because national governing bodies have refused to invest in it. Maybe getting crushed — and witnessing just how beautifully women’s soccer can be played — will spark some soul searching back in And, yes, the U.S. is richer than Thailand. But this is also about will, not just money. The American men have all the resources they could ask for, yet they can’t play dead in a cowboy movie.To criticize the women for being too good and arguing they needed to make the final score “look good” for Thailand not just ignores the rules of World Cup play, but is a complete insult to every athlete on the field — on both teams.First off, this is group play. The top two teams will advance to the knockout stage. The Americans want to win the group and get, presumably, an easier draw in the knockout stage. Goal differential is the first tiebreaker.To stall the offense and win by a more “respectable” 5-0, for example, would put the U.S. at a decided disadvantage. Sweden, the other Group F contender, could just beat Thailand 13-0, or even 8-0, when they play. Then Sweden could have gone into its final preliminary stage game against the United States knowing that all they needed was a tie to win the group because the Americans went soft on Thailand.That would be a huge strategic advantage for Sweden, and thus a disadvantage for the U.S. In turn, by staking out a plus-13 goal differential in this game, should Sweden not be able to match the U.S. firepower against Thailand, then the Americans would have that advantage.The Americans didn’t make the rules, they are just playing by them. FIFA is clear — score goals. Lots of them.What about pulling all the starters? Well, first off, talent runs 23 deep on the U.S. roster, so that would only help so much. Lloyd, the hero of the 2015 World Cup, was a sub on Tuesday. That’s how good the U.S. is.Regardless, in World Cup games, teams are allowed just three substitutions, so eight starters are going to be out there no matter what. Again, those are the rules.Every other complaint ranges from patronizing to pathetic.Should the U.S. have not played as hard in an effort to somehow spare Thailand’s feelings? Well, why would anyone think the Thai players are so emotionally fragile that they couldn’t handle a lopsided scoreboard?This isn’t youth sports. These are grown women. They can deal with disappointment as well as the men.

Likewise, it’s absurd to think it would be less embarrassing if the United States just passed the ball around and didn’t shoot (and thus score) late. How so? Thailand would know the Americans were taking pity on them and didn’t see them as worthy competition. It would be humiliating.“I think that to be respectful to opponents is to play hard,” Ellis said.Afterward, some Thai players spoke about the honor of playing the best in the world, despite the result. Thailand celebrated when it qualified for the World Cup even though it knew it would be overmatched against quality sides. Just getting here was the accomplishment.  When you’re a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament, you want your chance at Duke. You don’t want Coach K to tell Zion Williamson to go easy because maybe you are so dumb you won’t notice and thus feel like you actually are equals. No one would ever suggest such a thing.  Finally, there were complaints the U.S. players shouldn’t have celebrated their goals because scoring was so easy.Except, scoring a goal in the World Cup is never easy.  It might not have been difficult against Thailand in the second half, but that was just a single moment of the play. Just getting here required years and even decades of sacrifice and work from each and every American player (and their families, coaches and teammates through the years).To score in the World Cup is an accomplishment any serious player dreams about. For Pugh, Lavelle, Horan and Mewis, these were their first-ever World Cup goals. To say they shouldn’t celebrate the accomplishment or suggest it holds less value due to the opponent is to dismiss all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get here.Yes, the game was a massacre, but that’s what happens sometimes in sports. These American women aren’t here to go easy on anyone. They aren’t here to consider hurt feelings. That would be insulting to everyone involved.They are here to win and they’ll inspire a generation of girls around the globe by playing exactly how they did on Tuesday: full-throttle, unapologetic and with both power and creativity.They played the beautiful game, beautifully. It was something to behold, not condemn.

USWNT doesn’t see their 13-goal deluge as unsportsmanlike, and neither does a Thailand player

Doug McIntyre  Yahoo SportsJun 11, 2019, 7:36 PM

REIMS, France — The United States women’s national team hung a World Cup-record 13 goals on Thailand to open their title defense on Tuesday. And no, they were not about to apologize afterward for running up the score against a clearly overmatched foe, for a variety of reasons.Reason No. 1?“This is a world championship,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said flatly in her post-match news conference. “I think that to be respectful to opponents is to play hard. As a coach, I don’t find it my job to go and harness my players and reel them in because this is what they dreamt about. This is it for them.”The margin of victory was the largest at any previous World Cup, men’s or women’s. It was undoubtedly humiliating for the Thais, who are making only their second World Cup appearance this summer. There’s no getting around that.But the Americans had lots to consider beyond the feelings of their opponents or the fans watching, first and foremost goal differential. In a group that includes Sweden, which knocked the U.S. out of the 2016 Olympics and were the only team to take a point off the eventual champs in Canada four years ago, that tiebreaker could be the difference between finishing atop their foursome (one that also includes Chile) or not.“Goal differential matters,” said defender Kelley O’Hara, who helped open the floodgates when she set up the first of Alex Morgan’s five tallies just 12 minutes into the contest. “At the end of the day, you can’t feel bad for scoring as many goals as possible.”Perhaps the biggest reason to keep piling on had to do with momentum. Tournaments more often than not are won by the hottest team, not necessarily the best one. After the host country France, unanimously considered the Americans’ biggest challenger, beat South Korea 4-0 in the competition opener, the U.S. wanted to make a statement by coming out of the gates strong. “You play players who get hot,” Ellis said. “And if you can get as many hot as you possibly can, feeling good, feeling the back of the net, that’s so important. Those feelings are what can help you through the tournament in terms of the next game. We have to come out and play as hard as we possibly can every single game. This will be an incredibly hard World Cup. This is only game one.So Ellis was thrilled with the performance of Morgan, who scored just once in 2015, and just as pleased to see second-half substitutes Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd both score after coming on. “That was the message going in for me,” Lloyd said. “Just keep the foot down on the pedal.”Most of the questions to both Ellis and her players revolved around the lopsided scoreline, or if the Americans should’ve emphatically celebrated the six strikes that came after the 70th minute. “I’ll be honest,” Ellis said, “I sit here and I go, if this was 10-0 at a men’s World Cup, are we getting the same questions?”“It’s how you want to start a tournament,” she continued. “You want to have that feeling. It’s having players feel good about their game. It is about building momentum, it is about getting that first game under your belt. It kind of lights a little bit of a fire in terms of confidence, for sure.”That’s not to say the U.S. didn’t have sympathy for Thailand. After the final whistle, the Americans could be seen consoling their counterparts.“Thailand’s goalkeeper [Sukanya Chor Charoenying] had some good saves, and in the first half their team was organized,” said Lloyd, who tied a record by scoring in her fifth straight Women’s World Cup game. “Hopefully they continue to hold their heads high.”Meantime, Morgan made a point of having a quick word with Thai-American striker Miranda Nild who, like the U.S. headliner, starred at the University of California.“She said to keep my head up, and that this is only the first game. It was really sweet,” a visibly emotional Nild said. “We’re a developing program, we all know that. With this game under our belt, it will give us more knowledge going forward.”As Nild was being ushered away by a Thai team staffer, a reporter asked if she thought the Americans had been unsportsmanlike.“No,” she said.

Scoring 13 against Thailand was great, some of the US celebrations were not

Hope Solo

Carli Lloyd’s sympathy with the Thai goalkeeper was a far better expression of what the US team are about than any choreographed celebrations @hopesoloWed 12 Jun 2019 11.30 EDTLast modified on Wed 12 Jun 2019 15.20 EDT

Should the US have taken their foot off the pedal against Thailand? Absolutely not. When you respect your opponent you don’t all of a sudden sit back and try not to score. This is the World Cup and all you can do is play with heart, with passion, and with intensity. Doing that is showing the opposition respect.The 13-0 victory over Thailand on Tuesday was a comprehensive performance from the Americans. Every player looked fit. Every player looked like she had technical ability. They played as a team. They were good on set pieces. They looked like they were having fun. I loved seeing Rose Lavelle, Tobin Heath, and Kelley O’Hara combine so well. Alex Morgan displayed what a great player she can be.

The US scored 13 against Thailand but we still don’t know if they can defend

It was tough for me to watch some of the US goal celebrations – which have come under criticism – considering the scoreline. You do want the game to be celebrated and you do want to see players having fun but at the same time I thought some of the celebrations were a little overboard. A few seemed planned out and I do know some players spend a lot of time thinking about celebrations for the fans. It’s not always necessary. We haven’t won the World Cup yet. My favorite celebrations capture the rawness of the moment and are filled with spontaneous emotion. When that happens you actually see how much passion there is in the sport and how much pride the players have.

FacebookTwitterPinterest— Carli Lloyd expresses sympathy to Thailand’s Sukanya Chor Charoenying and Taneekarn Dangda after Tuesday’s game.

That said, one of the classiest things I saw was Carli Lloyd going directly to Sukanya Chor Charoenying, Thailand’s goalkeeper, after the game. Carli put her arm around her and supported her as they walked off the field. Thirteen goals on a goalkeeper has to be incredibly tough. As a goalkeeper, I don’t know how you deal with that many goals. I’ve had five scored past me and that was a heavy blow. I never wanted to feel that way again and it took me a long time to get over it. It is something that I have never forgotten.I would love to give some advice on how to deal with it but really you just have to suffer. Struggle helps us grow in life and soccer is similar. You have to feel the pain and find a way to get through it. Unfortunately, you have to go through it yourself. The goalkeeper is on her own. I hate to say that but it doesn’t matter what anyone says to you and it doesn’t matter who tries to comfort you. Goalkeepers have to deal with it ourselves. It does take time. It is hard and it is painful and we have to face it.I felt bad for the Thailand team in general, especially when I saw some players physically dejected and actually give up. That’s not good. By the end of the game they had nothing left and that was hard to see. The difference between the US and Thailand – who made the Asian Cup semi-finals just last year – is complicated and like the chicken and the egg. Do you open up the World Cup to grow the game? Or do you grow the game and then open up the World Cup? I think you have to first invest in the women’s game before you get to the World Cup but unfortunately that’s not what a lot of the federations around the world have done or do.

So what did we learn about the US from the game? We already knew that we can score goals and that we have a variety of ways to score goals. We already knew how skilled these individual players are. We did learn that the young players managed any nerves very well and that they can be fun to watch. The younger players certainly got their feet wet and got some World Cup experience. That will help them going into the next match against Chile.But what we still don’t know is if the US have a sound defense when they get tested. What we need to know is if some of these big name players – who did do really well against Thailand – can do it against the better teams. This American side is the best attacking team in the world, individually. I want to see all the players perform as they did against Thailand when it really matters and it really counts.

Adams withdraws from U.S. Gold Cup squad

8:07 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

United States defender/midfielder Tyler Adams has withdrawn from the Gold Cup with a groin injury, U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday.FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon has been tabbed to take his place on the roster.”Following further evaluation in New York City, the 20-year-old has been diagnosed with acute on chronic groin issues that will require a minimum of 6-8 weeks recovery period,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement. The announcement is a huge blow for U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter, who is feeling some heat following two poor performances in Gold Cup tune-up losses to Jamaica and Venezuela.Adams was expected to take on a hybrid role in Berhalter’s system, playing as a right-back, but stepping into central midfield when the U.S. is in possession. Yet the RB Leipzig man missed a six-week stretch from the beginning of April until mid-May due to an adductor injury, and though he returned for a pair of games at the end of the campaign, including Leipzig’s 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final, he was deemed insufficiently recovered to participate in the Gold Cup.  Adams had been scheduled to arrive at the U.S. camp on June 11. Now Berhalter will have to cope without one of his most important players. San Jose Earthquakes defender Nick Lima has filled the right-back/central midfield role in a few friendlies, but it remains to be seen if Berhalter will stick with the system when the U.S. opens the tournament against Guyana on June 18. Meanwhile, Cannon, 21, has made two appearances with the U.S., but none under Berhalter.He made his international debut in a 1-1 draw with Peru last October and followed that with another start against Italy a month later. Following his professional debut in 2017, Cannon has made 56 appearances for Dallas in all competitions, scoring one goal.

2019 Gold Cup ultimate preview: Can anyone topple Mexico or the U.S. this summer?

Jun 11, 2019ESPN staff

You have to go back to the 2000 Gold Cup to find a winner who isn’t Mexico or the United States, but 2019 sees both of those sides enter the tournament with more questions than answers, and they’ll be hunted down by teams full of dynamic young talent threatening to upend the order in North and Central America.The U.S. enter the tournament as defending champions, but all has not gone well for the Stars and Stripes since lifting their continental crown in 2017. After failing to qualify for last summer’s World Cup, the Americans jettisoned their second manager of the 2018 cycle and ushered in a new coach in Gregg Berhalter and a new generation of players to restart the program. (So far, the results have been less than promising.)Mexico, meanwhile, have a new coach of their own in Gerardo “Tata” Martino. While the former Atlanta United, Argentina and Barcelona manager inherited a much more stable situation than what awaited Berhalter north of the border, Martino must cope with a Gold Cup squad shorn of its biggest players, whether through injury or personal reasons.

ESPN FC’s Arch Bell dives into the biggest questions facing the U.S. and Mexico, a primer on some of the tournament’s biggest challengers and a team-by-team guide to all 16 teams hoping to make a run for this summer’s Gold Cup.

Jump to: U.S., Mexico vs. the rest | Key players | Must-see days and matches | Team-by-team guide

Key storyline: Can anyone stop U.S. or Mexico?

It’s not often that Mexico and the United States enter a major tournament with new coaches, but here we are with Martino, who has just a few friendlies under his belt with El Tricolor, and likewise for Berhalter.

Despite no Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Hector HerreraCarlos VelaHirving Lozano and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, Martino has the more talented squad and the expectations are always that Mexico wins this tournament. But with so many players turning down call-ups — MLS MVP front-runner Vela in particular — Martino is feeling some heat. It hasn’t affected them yet, as Martino’s a perfect four-for-four in games since taking over, but the stress of official tournament play is its own beast.Even without the aforementioned attacking players, Mexico still have the most talent in this tournament and are in good shape to win their eighth Gold Cup. Albeit just friendlies, El Tri have responded nicely to Martino with 13 goals in four friendly wins against Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela and Ecuador.- Full Gold Cup fixtures schedule

At the back, they are well stocked with Hector MorenoDiego ReyesCarlos Salcedo and others. Rodolfo Pizarro has enjoyed an excellent season at Monterrey and will bolster a midfield that includes Andres Guardado, Edson Alvarez and Jonathan dos Santos. Jimenez will be the man up top; it’ll take a near-perfect match to eliminate them.

It will be different for Berhalter. With the U.S. in a new cycle and the wounds still fresh from not qualifying for Russia 2018, U.S. fans will be keen to see how their team plays. While not winning the tournament would be disappointing, an attacking brand of soccer from a young U.S. team would be a decent consolation, though warm-up defeats to Jamaica and Venezuela have fans wondering what the best- and worst-case scenarios might be this summer.

There is an intriguing unknown surrounding the Gold Cup hosts at the moment. Berhalter has called upon plenty of experienced players, such as midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Jozy Altidore, who are well-acquainted with lifting the Gold Cup trophy. He’s also counting on two players from his former club, Columbus Crew, in key positions, with Wil Trapp expected to anchor the midfield and Gyasi Zardes the back-up option at striker.

Defensively, center-back John Brooks failed to be healthy in time, meaning things look a little shaky all of a sudden: a back four of Nick LimaMatt MiazgaAaron Long and Tim Ream conceded three times to Venezuela in the first halfin their final tune-up. It’s not all bad, of course: Tyler AdamsWeston McKennie and Pulisic is a dream midfield trio that U.S. fans are pining to see, and this Gold Cup could be the start of something special. If Berhalter can find the right combo at the forward position, like finding a partner for Altidore, the U.S. can feel good about their chances.

– Carlisle: U.S. have many problems to solve before Gold Cup
– Berhalter: U.S. won’t scrap tactics after latest loss
– Martino’s first six months: The good, bad and ugly

Outside of Canada’s Cinderella conquest in 2000, no one from outside the “big two” of Mexico and the U.S. has ever won. Of the remaining teams, the first one that springs to mind is Costa Rica. Even without Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who withdrew from contention for the fourth consecutive Gold Cup, the Ticos have the ingredients to go all the way. One has to go back to the “Snowclasico” of 2013 to find the last time the U.S. beat Costa Rica with Navas in goal.

Other teams that could flirt with a deep run are Canada and Jamaica. The young talent is there for Canada with Alphonso Davies, while Jamaica were finalists in 2015 and 2017. The Reggae Boyz are a difficult out for anyone and did just stun the U.S. 1-0 in a tune-up at D.C. United’s Audi Field.

Beyond that, one team capable of a shock this time around is Curacao. They were three-and-out in 2017, but all three matches vs. Jamaica, Mexico and El Salvador were very close affairs. With a team boasting players from the top two divisions in the Netherlands, Curacao shredded opponents for 22 goals during CONCACAF Nations League qualifying to finish fourth in the table and punch their ticket again to the Gold Cup.

Taking coach Remko Bicentini’s team lightly would be a mistake.

Players to watch: Jimenez, Pulisic, Davies

Christian Pulisic: Ever since the infamous Trinidad and Tobago loss, Pulisic has hardly been seen in a U.S. uniform, with five appearances since October 2017. Without question he is, or should be, the leader of the U.S. team.

And so, the 2019 Gold Cup serves as Pulisic’s first chance to put his stamp on the U.S. team and dominate their CONCACAF opponents. The U.S.’s opener against Guyana on June 18 will mark 20 months since the team’s last official competitive match, and after a strong finish to the Bundesliga season with Borussia Dortmund, a good Gold Cup would be the right way for Pulisic to launch into his Chelsea career.

Raul Jimenez: With Hirving Lozano likely out and no Hernandez or Vela, Wolves striker Raul Jimenez will be the guy that Martino will rely on to supply the goals.

– Marshall: Martino has Mexico firing ahead of Gold Cup
– Marquez: Times have changed for El Tri stars

Jimenez excelled in his first season in the Premier League, scoring 13 goals in 38 league matches. He served as a substitute in last summer’s World Cup, coming off the bench in two matches, but after his fine season in England and at age 28, he is poised to take the Gold Cup by the scruff of the neck. His big, physical stature will suit him nicely against the big CONCACAF center-backs he’ll encounter.

Alphonso Davies: Davies had his international breakout two years ago in the 2017 Gold Cup, when he finished tied as the tournament’s top scorer with four goals at the age of 16. Now with a half-season of experience at Bayern Munich under his belt following his move from the Vancouver Whitecaps, it’s all there for Davies to be one of the top players at the tournament and lead Canada on a deep run.

Must-see days and matches

June 19, Mexico vs. Canada, Group A: This can be the game that Canada shows it is a major player in the region. There is talk about Davies, but fellow young attackers Jonathan David and Cyle Larin will be undaunted going against an experience Mexican defense. Canada’s history against Mexico is not good — they were drilled by El Tri 3-0 and 2-0 in a pair of 2018 CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers — but that was the pre-Davies era.

Mexico will, of course, enjoy the majority of fan support, but if they begin to struggle, the whistles and jeers will rain down. With so many key attacking players missing, the lack of goals could increase the pressure Mexico feels and anything outside of a decisive win will be heavily criticized.

June 20, Nicaragua vs. Haiti, Group B: For two teams that rarely faced each other up until a few years ago, this has become a bitter rivalry. The genesis came in March 2017 when the Pinoleros and Les Grenadiers squared off in a two-legged playoff for a berth in the 2017 Gold Cup. Haiti looked to be in control after winning the first leg at home 3-1 and was holding Nicaragua to a 0-0 draw heading into the final 10 minutes of the second leg. That’s when Juan Barrera exploded for three goals to stun the Haitians.

Twenty months later they faced off in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying and Haiti had the last laugh with a 2-0 win in Nicaragua.

June 22, United States vs. Trinidad and Tobago, Group D: Do we really need an explanation here? In April at the Gold Cup draw at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, an audible “oooohhh” was heard when these two teams were placed into the same group. Yes indeed: it’s the rematch of that October 2017 World Cup qualifier when the Soca Warriors dashed the Yanks’ World Cup hopes with a shocking 2-1 win in Couva. Most of the players have moved out of the U.S. frame in the time since — five players have carried over from that night in Couva in Bradley, Altidore, Pulisic, Paul Arriola and Omar Gonzalez — but there will be a lot of pressure for the U.S. team to deliver. Perhaps former U.S. international Landon Donovan put it best when right after the draw he told a pair of reporters, “Well, I know I’d be ready for that game …”

Team-by-team Guide


Group games: vs. Haiti (6/16, 6 p.m. ET), vs. Costa Rica (6/20, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. Nicaragua (6/24, 6:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 175
SPI chances of winning: 0.1 percent

Why they’ll go far: Opponents would be unwise to count on an easy three points against Bermuda. After a poor start to Nations League qualifying, losing 3-1 to Aruba, Bermuda closed the four-match slate in very strong fashion with a 1-0 home win over El Salvador and then a comeback 3-1 win away to the Dominican Republic. Led by QPR forward Nahki Wells, Bermuda will be playing without pressure given their low expectations. Midfielder Zeiko Lewisand forward Justin Donawa are also proven goal scorers.

Why they won’t: Their defense faces a trial by fire given that it’s mostly comprised of amateur or semi-professional players. They performed admirably against El Salvador but rainy conditions last November in Hamilton helped slow down the Cuscatleco strike force. Whether they can contain the likes of Campbell, Nazon and Barrera will be a big question mark.

Player to watch: Nahki Wells

Best XI (4-5-1): Dale Eve; Donte Brangman, Dante Leverock, Jaylon Bather, Calon Minors; Roger Lee, Willie Clemons, Reggie Thompson-Lambe, Lejuan Simmons, Zeiko Lewis; Nakhi Wells


Group games: vs. Martinique (6/15, 7:30 p.m. ET), vs. Mexico (6/19, 10:30 p.m. ET), vs. Cuba (6/23, 6 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 78
SPI chances of winning: 2.8 percent

Why they’ll go far: The joys of youth. Davies and David are two exciting, talented players who can carry Canada to at least their first semifinal since 2007. Plus, there is enough experience to rely on with midfielders Samuel Pietteand Junior Hoilett. While most eyes will be focused on Mexico and the U.S., Canada can swoop in and make some noise. El Tri might get the best of them in the group stage, but the two could meet again in the semifinals.

Why they won’t: Yes, this is a different Canada but it is mostly inexperienced in big-time international matches. Two years ago they limped to a 2-1 quarterfinal defeat against Jamaica, and outside of some pretty easy fixtures in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying, this new core of players hasn’t been tested. A poor response to the first sign of adversity could make for a quick exit.

Player to watch: Alphonso Davies

Best XI (4-3-3): Milan BorjanDoneil HenryMark-Anthony KayeDerek CorneliusZachary Brault-Guillard; Samuel Piette, Jonathan OsorioScott Arfield; Junior Hoilett, Lucas Cavallini, Alphonso Davies


Group games: vs. Nicaragua (6/16, 8:30 p.m. ET), vs. Bermuda (6/20, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. Haiti (6/24, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 38
SPI chances of winning: 12.4 percent

Why they’ll go far: Costa Rica don’t have the luxury of Navas in goal, but they showed in 2017 that a deep run can be made without Navas when they fell in the semifinals. Spearheading the Tico attack is forward Campbell, who was on fire in Liga MX with Leon, with two goals in the Liguilla and three during the month of May.

Why they won’t: There are plenty of questions surrounding the Costa Rica midfield. Bryan Ruiz and Celso Borges boast loads of experience but there’s a huge gap between those two and the others. Their MLS-heavy defense with players like Kendall WastonGiancarlo Gonzalez and Francisco Calvo struggled at last year’s World Cup.

Player to watch: Joel Campbell

Best XI (5-3-2): Leonel Moreira; Giancarlo Gonzalez, Kendall Waston, Ronald MatarritaKeysher Fuller, Francisco Calvo; Celso Borges, Allan Cruz, Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell; Mayron George

CUBA, Group A

Group games: vs. Mexico (6/15, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Martinique (6/19, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Canada (6/23, 6 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 174
SPI chances of winning: 0.5 percent

Why they’ll go far: The Cubans are no strangers to Gold Cup competition. This will be their ninth appearance in the past 12 Gold Cups. They’re coming off a very good Nations League qualifying campaign in which their lone loss was to Haiti. Luis Paradela and Yordan Santa Cruz give Cuba a one-two punch that can do damage.

Why they won’t: Any time Cuba is in the U.S. in official competition, there is always the risk of player defections. Such was the case four years ago when a slew of players and a coach defected, leaving Cuba shorthanded. In a tournament like the Gold Cup where depth is the key, the defection situation always leaves them vulnerable and hampers any chance of a deep run.

Player to watch: Luis Paradela

Best XI (4-4-2): Sandy Sanchez; Erick Rizo, Yosel Piedra, Yasmany Lopez, Dariel Morejon; Roberney Caballero, Andy Baquero, Daniel Luis, Yordan Santa Cruz; Arichel Hernandez, Luis Paradela


Group games: vs. El Salvador (6/17, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Honduras (6/21, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. Jamaica (6/25, 8 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 82
SPI chances of winning: 0.6 percent

Why they’ll go far: This is not a team lacking for weapons. Rangelo Janga hit six goals in the Nations League but won’t be at the Gold Cup. Not to worry, as other key contributors like Leandro Bacuna (three goals), Gevaro Nepomuceno(four goals) and Edson Hooi (three goals) will be present. With the large majority of their players plying their trade in the Netherlands’ top two divisions, Curacao have the talent to make a deep run. Premier League veterans Cuco Martina and Bacuna will be undaunted going against the likes of Jamaica, Honduras and El Salvador.

Why they won’t: Curacao is still not very well-versed in the nuances of the CONCACAF game. They lost all three group-stage matches in 2017, albeit by narrow margins; if they get behind in a group stage match, they’ll need to keep their composure. Honduras and El Salvador are well acquainted with the art of frustrating opponents when ahead.

Player to watch: Leandro Bacuna

Best XI (4-4-2): Eloy Room; Cuco Martina, Shermar MartinaDarryl Lachman, Jurich Carolina; Shanon Carmelia, Leandro Bacuna, Michael Marina, Edson Hooi; Gevaro Nepomuceno, Gino van Kessel


Group games: vs. Curacao (6/17, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Jamaica (6/21, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Honduras (6/25, 10:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 71
SPI chances of winning: 0.6 percent

Why they’ll go far: El Salvador has made it to the quarterfinals in three of the past four Gold Cups and will be plenty familiar with their group opponents. The Cuscatlecos defeated Jamaica 2-0 in Nations League qualifying and also faced the Reggae Boyz and Curacao two years ago in the 2017 group phase. With Nelson Bonilla and playmaker Gerson Mayen, El Salvador have the goods to win the group and potentially reach a first-ever semifinal.

Why they won’t: El Salvador have long had the problem of errors and mishaps at key moments completely wiping out their strong soccer. They can play a very good first half and then unravel in a 15-minute span, especially against superior sides. The defense can sometimes lack discipline and a lack of depth in midfield could hurt, especially if they come up against the U.S. in the quarterfinals. A clash of egos between coach Carlos de los Cobos and LAFC striker Rodolfo Zelaya means that the latter won’t be called, which is a shame considering Zelaya was El Salvador’s best player in the 2017 Gold Cup.

Player to watch: Nelson Bonilla

Best XI (4-5-1): Henry HernandezBryan TamacasIvan ManciaRoberto DominguezJonathan Jimenez; Oscar Ceren, Darwin CerenNarciso OrellanaJaime Alas, Gerson Mayen; Nelson Bonilla


Group games: vs. United States (6/18, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Panama (6/22, 5:30 p.m. ET), vs. Trinidad and Tobago (6/26, 6:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 175
SPI chances of winning: 0.01 percent

Why they’ll go far: Nobody is expecting anything from Guyana so if any team has the impetus to stun their group stage rivals and put a charge into the tournament, it’s the Golden Jaguars. Led by former Birmingham City legend and Jamaica international Michael Johnson, Guyana have a core of players who play in England’s Football League, plus Philadelphia Union defender Warren Creavalle knows the U.S. team well. Forwards Sheldon Holder and Emery Welshman each fared well in Nations League qualifying and will be called on again in the Gold Cup.

Why they won’t: There simply isn’t the quality and depth for Guyana to make a serious run. They might be able to steal a point against Trinidad and Tobago or Panama, but overall the outlook is grim.

Player to watch: Emery Welshman

Best XI (4-5-1): Akel Clarke; Kadell Daniel, Sam Cox, Terence Vancooten, Ronayne Marsh-Brown; Anthony Jeffrey, Callum Harriot, Neil Danns, Keanu Marsh-Brown, Elliot Bonds; Emery Welshman

 HAITI, Group B

Group games: vs. Bermuda (6/16, 6 p.m. ET), vs. Nicaragua (6/20, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Costa Rica (6/24, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 100
SPI chances of winning: 2.5 percent

Why they’ll go far: Haiti will come into the Gold Cup feeling plenty confident about their chances of advancing far. Les Grenadiers topped CONCACAF Nations League qualifying with a perfect 4W-0D-0L record, 19 goals scored and just two conceded. The Haitians boast one of the region’s most in-form strikers in Duckens Nazon, who scored six goals in just two Nations League matches. Four years ago, Haiti proved a tough opponent for anyone they came up against. Derrick Etienne of the New York Red Bulls also provides strength in attack.

Why they won’t: There are still some vulnerable spots in the Haiti starting XI, specifically in midfield, where there just isn’t a lot of experience or depth. While Haiti’s talent can compensate for any midfield shortcomings against the likes of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Nations League, teams in the Gold Cup won’t be as forgiving. In a group in which a spot in the knockout round could come down to goal difference, Haiti’s lack of midfield depth could rear its head.

Player to watch: Duckens Nazon

Best XI (4-3-3): Johny Placide; Alex Junior Christian, Mechack Jerome, Ricardo AdeCarlens Arcus; Charles Herold Jr., Bryan Alceus, Wilde-Donald Guerrier; Duckens Nazon, Frantzdy PierrotMikael Cantave


Group games: vs. Jamaica (6/17, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. Curacao (6/21, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. El Salvador (6/25, 10:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 61
SPI chances of winning: 2.3 percent

Why they’ll go far: Honduras are no strangers to reaching the final stages of the Gold Cup. In 2009, 2011 and 2013 the Catrachos made it to the final four and head coach Fabian Coito will be expected to return them there in 2019. The attack is very promising in the form of Girona’s Anthony Lozano and Houston Dynamo duo Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. Elis in particular looks primed to take the next step at the international level.

Why they won’t: Honduras certainly does not lack for experience but the aging legs of Maynor FigueroaEmilio Izaguirre and Brayan Beckeles could exact a toll when the knockout round comes around. There are also questions in midfield. FC Dallas man Bryan Acosta looks a surefire starter, but after that Coito has to decide whether to go young or stay with age and experience.

Player to watch: Alberth Elis

Best XI (4-4-2): Luis Lopez; Emilio Izaguirre, Maynor Figueroa, Henry Figueroa, Brayan Beckeles; Michaell ChirinosLuis GarridoDanilo Acosta, Alberth Elis; Alexander Lopez, Anthony Lozano


Group games: vs. Honduras (6/17, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. El Salvador (6/21, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Curacao (6/25, 8 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 56
SPI chances of winning: 1 percent

Why they’ll go far: Been there, done that. Jamaica have defied the oddsmakers and reached the last two Gold Cup finals with a strong defensive team and opportunistic scoring. Head coach Theodore Whitmore, who constructed the team’s 2017 run, is back in the fold as are many of the protagonists from that team, like goalkeeper Andre Blake, left-back Kemar Lawrence and forward Darren Mattocks. There’s also the intangible of Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey, who finally accepted the call-up in May and will represent his place of birth despite reports he was trying to get eligibility to play for England. It remains to be seen how he’ll fit in just yet.

Why they won’t: At age 35, Watson does not have the speed and quickness of past years and that will be a concern. Also, Jamaica struggled to score goals in the final two games of Nations League qualifying, mustering just a pair of goals against Suriname and then being held scoreless at El Salvador. Mattocks and Cory Burke have their fair share of doubters.

Player to watch: Darren Mattocks

Best XI (4-4-2): Andre Blake; Kemar Lawrence, Damion LoweAlvas PowellMichael HectorDevon WilliamsJe-Vaughn WatsonRicardo Morris, Leon Bailey; Darren Mattocks, Cory Burke


Group games: vs. Canada (6/15, 7:30 p.m. ET), vs. Cuba (6/19, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Mexico (6/23, 8:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: N/A
SPI chances of winning: 0.0 percent

Why they’ll go far: Not a lot is expected of Martinique so they’ll hopefully be able to enjoy themselves in the U.S. this summer. Martinique performed quite well in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying to claim their Gold Cup berth, joining Haiti and Canada as the only teams with a 4W-0D-0L record. Two years ago, they put a major scare into the U.S. in a tough 3-2 group-stage loss thanks to Kevin Parsemain‘s two goals. He’ll be back leading the line and will be keen to make the bigger boys in the group sweat.

Why they won’t: While Martinique could spring a surprise and get a result against Mexico or Canada, they could also very well go three losses and out. Most of the players on the Martinique squad play in the country’s amateur league, while all their opponents play in some sort of professional capacity. Squad depth will also take a toll.

Player to watch: Kevin Parsemain

Best XI (4-4-2): Loic Chauvet; Sebastien Cretinoir, Yann ThimonJordy Delem, Samuel Camille; Christophe Jougon, Wesley Jobello, Stephane AbaulKarl Vitulin; Kevin Parsemain, Gregory Pastel


Group games: vs. Cuba (6/15, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Canada (6/19, 10:30 p.m. ET), vs. Martinique (6/23, 8:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 18
SPI chances of winning: 30.7 percent

Why they’ll go far: In every Gold Cup, the teams with the most depth rise to the fore. Playing every three to four days during a U.S. summer takes its toll, but Mexico have the deepest squad going into this tournament, especially in defense and midfield, and that should manifest itself in the knockout rounds. Mexico also boast one of the best goal scorers in the tournament in Jimenez and a sound tactician like Martino should be the thing that gets El Tri across the finish line first.

Why they won’t: If Jimenez gets hurt, Mexico could suddenly find themselves in a striker crisis, with Vela, Lozano and Hernandez already out. There is always a level of drama and off-field distractions that Mexico must contend with, and if El Tri are not up to their best in the group stage, the pressure from media and fans alike could lead to a toxic atmosphere that can’t be overcome.

Player to watch: Raul Jimenez

Best XI (4-3-3): Guillermo OchoaLuis RodriguezNestor Araujo, Carlos Salcedo, Jesus Gallardo; Edson Alvarez, Jonathan dos santos, Andres Guardado; Roberto Alvarado, Raul Jimenez, Rodolfo Pizarro


Group games: vs. Costa Rica (6/16, 8:30 p.m. ET), vs. Haiti (6/20, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Bermuda (6/24, 6:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 129
SPI chances of winning: 0.04 percent

Why they’ll go far: For the second consecutive time, the Pinoleros are in the Gold Cup, and the lessons learned in 2017 — in which they lost all three games in somewhat close fashion — can be applied to this year’s edition. If they can keep things close in their opener against Costa Rica, there’s no reason why they can’t win their other games. Leading the way is Barrera, the national team’s all-time leading scorer with 17 goals. Coach Henry Duarte also has the experience of 2017 under his belt.

Why they won’t: Things could just as easily break the other way for Nicaragua. A lopsided loss to the Ticos could sink their efforts in the following two matches. There was also a 2-0 home loss to Haiti in Nations League qualifying, so questions will be asked if Nicaragua can overcome that mental hurdle when the two sides meet in the second match. Ghosts of 2017’s failure could come back to haunt.

Player to watch: Juan Barrera

Best XI (4-3-3): Justo Llorente; Josue QuijanoManuel Rosas, Luis Fernando Copete, Oscar LopezMarlon LopezLuis Galeano, Juan Barrera; Bryon Bonilla, Renato PunyedJorge Betancur

 PANAMA, Group D

Group games: vs. Trinidad and Tobago (6/18, 7:30 p.m. ET), vs. Guyana (6/22, 5:30 p.m. ET), vs. United States (6/26, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 74
SPI chances of winning: 2.7 percent

Why they’ll go far: Despite the retirements of national-team stalwarts like Blas Perez and Felipe Baloy, Panama still have many familiar faces from teams that know how to battle in this tournament. New York Red Bulls’ Michael Murillo is one of the best defenders in the region, while in attack Montreal Impact man Omar Browne, who torched Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League, will be one to watch, along with forward Gabriel Torres. Also back in the fold is manager Julio Dely Valdes, who led Panama to the 2013 final.

Why they won’t: One can’t help but think that Panama is going to suffer a post-World Cup hangover for a while. Reaching the World Cup was such a momentous accomplishment, but with so many leaders leaving the team, it might take getting a few lumps in this Gold Cup for the Canaleros to fully adjust to being back in a new cycle. Also, outside of Torres, there isn’t really a proven goal scorer in the squad.

Player to watch: Gabriel Torres

Best XI (4-4-2): Luis Mejia; Michael Murillo, Harold CummingsFidel Escobar, Erick Davis; Alberto QuinteroArmando CooperAnibal GodoyJose Rodriguez; Edgar Barcenas, Gabriel Torres


Group games: vs. Panama (6/18, 7:30 p.m. ET), vs. United States (6/22, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Guyana (6/26, 6:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 93
SPI chances of winning: 0.4 percent

Why they’ll go far: After missing the 2017 Gold Cup, Trinidad and Tobago are back in the fold with a squad that boasts good experience in defense and midfield. Joevin Jones of the Seattle Sounders, Alvin Jones and Daneil Cyrusanchor the back, while Khaleem Hyland and Kevan George are two midfield stalwarts. Outside of Joevin Jones, what do those other four have in common? They all have experience beating the U.S. in competitive fixtures.

Why they won’t: While the sight of Alvin Jones may spook some of the U.S. players — he was the one that scored that long-range golazo on Tim Howard — the Soca Warriors don’t exactly have a scorer they can turn to in a time of need. Kenwyne Jones is now retired, and with this forward pool held scoreless in their past three friendlies, the jury is still out.

Player to watch: Joevin Jones

Best XI (4-4-2): Marvin Phillip; Alvin Jones, Makeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus, Joevin Jones; Kevan George, Nathan Lewis, Khaleem Hyland, Kevin MolinoShahdon WinchesterLester Peltier


Group games: vs. Guyana (6/18, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Trinidad and Tobago (6/22, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Panama (6/26, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 24
SPI chances of winning: 43.4 percent

Why they’ll go far: This Gold Cup represents a full clean slate for the U.S. team since their World Cup qualifying disaster, and the new generation of U.S. players will be keen to stake their claim and erase the nightmare of the past 20 months. There is Champions League quality in midfield with Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic, plus head coach Gregg Berhalter can count on having one of the deepest squads at the tournament to counter the injuries and suspensions that are sure to come.

Why they won’t: The U.S. suffered from poor center-back play in World Cup qualifying, and there are still plenty of question marks over whether Long, Ream and Miazga can get the job done. If Brooks isn’t 100 percent, he can be really bad. Injuries are also a worry up top. Altidore’s track record of health is not the best, and who exactly will be scoring the goals for the U.S. has yet to be answered.

Player to watch: Christian Pulisic

Best XI (4-4-2): Zack Steffen; Tyler Adams, Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, Antonee Robinson; Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Weston McKennie, Paul Arriola; Jozy Altidore, Gyasi Zardes

2019 Copa America ultimate preview: Will Messi win this wide-open tournament on Brazil’s home turf?

1:06 PM ETESPN staff

Brazil will host the Copa America for the first time in 30 years, with a tournament that is full of drama. Chile will look to defend back-to-back crowns, the Selecao will seek redemption on home soil, and Lionel Messi returns to Argentina for another chance at silverware with the senior national team.

ESPN FC’s Tim Vickery spells out the biggest storylines of the tournament and assesses all 12 teams taking part in this summer’s Copa America, with all matches streaming live in the U.S. on ESPN+.

Jump to: Key storylines | Key players | Must-see days and matches | Team-by-team guide

Key storyline: This year’s Copa is wide-open

South American national teams have not been in competitive action since last year’s World Cup. Those teams that failed to make it to Russia have had nothing but friendlies since October 2017, but the silly season comes to an end with a bang in Brazil. It’s time to get serious.This summer’s Copa begins a new competitive cycle in South America, which will run all the way to Qatar at the end of 2022. Many new coaches are facing their first real challenges — of the 10 South American nations, six will be playing for points for the first time under their current coaches — and plenty of new players have been introduced. Whatever happens, when the story is written of the South American teams at the next World Cup, events in Brazil 2019 will form part of the narrative.The traditional powerhouses also have plenty of questions. The hosts’ being without Neymar has caused some anxiety, but frankly, they might perform better without him. Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus, fresh off fine seasons for Liverpool and Manchester City, respectively, will get the chance to definitively lead the line.Argentina have Messi back and fully engaged in the cause, but the squad around him — 15 of the 23-man squad have fewer than 15 international caps — is always a concern. He has often struggled when having to “do it all himself,” but this raw squad lacks the muscle memory of back-to-back defeats in the Copa final, both times to Chile. It might breed a sense of fearlessness that spurs them forward. Plenty of scrutiny will fall on interim boss Lionel Scaloni in what amounts to his first full-time management role, having previously been a national team assistant under Jorge Sampaoli and at Sevilla.Then there’s the issue of timing. Usually, the road to the World Cup starts very soon after the Copa America, but because Qatar 2022 will be played at the end of the calendar year, the qualifiers have been pushed back, and as a result, some of the urgency has been removed from the Copa. Beyond Argentina and their caretaker at the helm, Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay played their first games under new coaches as recently as March. Having so many “undercooked” teams will open plenty of room for surprises.Making things most intriguing is the choice of invited teams. Japan and Qatar take part in 2019, and it will be fascinating to observe their progress. Japan are a vastly better team than the one that performed poorly on their previous Copa appearance 20 years ago, and Qatar have proven that they have some quality, having beaten Japan earlier this year in the final of the Asian Cup. Playing in that competition could make the guests more battle-hardened than some of their opponents, making it a tough competition to predict.

– Vickery: With Neymar out, time for Brazil to step up
– When is the Copa America?
– Full Copa America fixtures schedule

Layered across all the present-day intrigue is the history and emotion of the Copa America itself. It is football’s oldest continental competition, a reflection of the extraordinary speed with which the game took hold in the south cone of South America in the first few decades of the 20th century. The tournament was contested for the first time in 1916, and in the early years, it was held as often as possible, often on an annual basis. This gave rise to an extraordinary improvement in standards and the development of a new style of play.

Both innovations became clear to a European audience when Uruguay caused a major upset by cruising to the gold medal in the 1924 Olympics, with a balletic game that astonished the crowds. Four years later in Amsterdam, they did it again, with Argentina winning silver. By then it was clear: There had to be a football competition open to all comers, amateurs and professionals alike, to find out who really was the best. And so the World Cup was born, staged in Uruguay in 1930, just 14 years after the little country organised the first Copa America. Uruguay won that competition too.

Jesus, James and Messi: Players to watch

Gabriel Jesus: Destined to be the solution to Brazil’s puzzling centre-forward problem, Jesus drifted out of form at the wrong time. After he scored so freely in qualification, it all went wrong in Russia 2018. The young Man City forward suffers the stigma of being a Brazil No. 9 who failed to score a single goal in a World Cup, and coach Tite later regretted not dropping him.Jesus was left out of Brazil’s first post-World Cup squad and spent the rest of the season as a backup option to Roberto Firmino, but he seems to have turned it around at the right time. With five goals in the past three games, Jesus should begin the Copa as the starter up front, where the pressure will be on him to carry his form into the tournament.

James Rodriguez: The breakout star of the 2014 World Cup, James will surely enjoy returning to the scene of his greatest triumph. He has endured a frustrating five years. Unable to be the main star in Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Real Madrid, he was loaned out to Bayern Munich, where he failed to shine, and now he faces an uncertain future. With the national team, though, there is no doubting his importance to the cause, something made obvious by the tameness of Colombia’s performances when he was injured during Russia 2018.

James clearly relishes his status with the national team, and on the evidence of the FIFA dates in March, this has not been altered now that Carlos Queiroz has taken over. He will probably be given a free role in the Copa, able to wander across the attacking line, causing problems to the opposing defence and reminding everyone of the brilliance of his 2014 displays.

Lionel Messi: Football fans are starting to realise that every Messi performance takes us closer to the end. It’s an added bonus, then, that some of those games will take place with Argentina.Following the disaster of the 2018 World Cup, when Argentina lost in easy fashion to eventual winners France, it was not clear that Messi would play for his country again. He sat out international duty until March, but now it is clear that he’s willing to enter one final cycle in a bid to win a senior title with the national team.There is a Copa on home soil next year, but the book will surely close with the 2022 World Cup. With this in mind and with Argentina currently coached by a caretaker, it would have been understandable if Messi had decided to take the summer off. Instead, he’s willing to put himself on the line once more, which adds an extra layer of interest to the competition.

Must-see days and matches

June 15, Argentina vs. Colombia, Group B: An excellent clash to light up the first Saturday of the Copa (live on ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET). Ever since Colombia’s astonishing 5-0 win in Buenos Aires back in 1993, this has been one of South America’s most entertaining matchups. Added spice comes from the fact that the pair will be co-hosting next year’s Copa and are engaged in a tug-of-war to decide which country will have the biggest knockout games, including the final.

Argentina, of course, have won two World Cups, but of the South American nations that have never won the World Cup, Colombia are probably the most likely to do so. This, then, in Salvador’s excellent Fonte Nova stadium, is a meeting of heavyweights.

June 17, Chile vs. Japan, Group C: Chile go into this game as reigning champions after finally getting their hands on the trophy in 2015 and winning again in New Jersey a year later. It is harsh on a team that is rebuilding, but the pressure is on them. The class of 2019 have a lot to live up to.

Equally, it will be intriguing to see how Japan perform (live on ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET). Back in 1999, in their previous Copa adventure, they were novices. They have since played the past six World Cups and should arrive in Brazil with no trace of an inferiority complex. Oh, and they’ll have no lack of support, either; they begin their campaign in the city with the world’s largest number of Japanese immigrants.

June 18, Brazil vs. Venezuela, Group A: Merely making up the numbers as recently as 20 years ago, Venezuela are now a serious force and underlined their progress with a convincing win over Argentina in Madrid. They have beaten Brazil in a friendly and held them to draws in competition, but at the senior level, they have never won a match against Brazil with points at stake. Convinced that the current side will take them to their first World Cup, they are now aiming high (live on ESPN+, 8:30 p.m. ET).

Brazil, meanwhile, will be under pressure. Can the Venezuelans take advantage? In one corner, the five-time world champions; in the other, the team with no tradition. It will be fascinating to see whether the outsiders have a shot.

Team-by-team Guide

Every game of the 2019 Copa America will be on ESPN+ in the U.S. this summer (all kickoff times ET).


Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 11
SPI chances of winning: 13.96 percent

Why they’ll go far: The good news, signalled by his return to the national team in March, is that Messi is back in a bid to win a senior title with his country. The Barcelona genius, plus the likes of Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria, still has plenty to offer, and over the past few months, there has been some pleasing development from midfielders Giovani Lo Celso and Leandro Paredes.

Argentina, then, can call on some dazzling individual talent — enough to give them a puncher’s chance. The 2018 tournament was such a shambles that expectations have fallen, which might prove to benefit Scaloni’s side.

Why they won’t: Going into a major tournament under the command of a caretaker coach is frankly bizarre. It has to do with the facts that Scaloni is cheap — the local FA had to dig deep to pay off Sampaoli — and that World Cup qualification doesn’t get underway until next March. In fact, it would almost be a problem if Argentina were to win the Copa: How could they get rid of Scaloni after landing the first senior title since 1993?

Uncertainty over the future, then, is clearly a problem. Although a more pragmatic side have been defending better since the World Cup, the headaches remain. There will surely not be a repeat of the ill-advised three-centre-back formation that collapsed against Venezuela in March. For all the wealth of attacking riches, there is a dearth of top talent at the other end of the field. In his first eight games in charge, Scaloni had a look at seven goalkeepers, which is surely excessive, and Argentina’s wait for a centre-back of undisputed quality shows no sign of coming to an end.

Player to watch: Lionel Messi

Best XI (4-3-2-1): Esteban AndradaRenzo SaraviaNicolas OtamendiGerman PezzellaNicolas Tagliafico; Giovani Lo Celso, Leandro Paredes, Roberto Pereyra; Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria; Sergio Aguero



Group games: vs. Brazil (9:30 p.m. ET June 14), vs. Venezuela (9:30 p.m. ET June 18), vs. Peru (4 p.m. ET June 22)

FIFA rank: 63
SPI chances of winning: 0.6 percent

Why they’ll go far: The last time Bolivia made any impact on the Copa was in 1997, when they reached the final — on home ground. Away from the extreme altitude of La Paz, it is hard to find too many strong points. Perhaps the main one is precisely the lack of expectations.

Bolivia are traditionally seen as sacrificial, but on a number of recent occasions, they’ve surprised complacent opponents. There is some evidence that coach Eduardo Villegas can field a dependable defensive unit, and the longer their matches stay goalless, the more chance that their opponents might overreach and leave themselves open to the counterattack.

Why they won’t: Bolivian football has yet to replace the fine generation of talented players who got them to the 1994 World Cup, and to the absence of genuine quality, they can add an absence of preparation time. The chaotic Bolivian FA keep chewing up and spitting out coach after coach, and the latest man in charge, Eduardo Villegas, was appointed in February. Bolivia could find themselves outgunned both technically and physically.

Player to watch: Marcelo Martins

Best XI (4-2-3-1): Carlos Lampe; Marvin Bejerano, Luis Haquin, Adrian Jusino, Diego Bejerano; Raul CastroLeonel JustinianoAlejandro ChumaceroSamuel GalindoLeonardo Vaca; Marcelo Martins



Group games: vs. Brazil (9:30 p.m. ET June 14), vs. Venezuela (9:30 p.m. ET June 18), vs. Peru (4 p.m. ET June 22)

FIFA rank: 3
SPI chances of winning: 65.78 percent

Why they’ll go far: As tournament hosts, there is no chance of Brazil using the 2019 Copa to experiment. They have to win the trophy, as they did on all four previous occasions they staged the event. Coach Tite, then, is not holding back. He is going with the best of what is available to him.

There will be plenty of experience; midfielder Fernandinho and right-back Dani Alves have been recalled, as much for their dressing room wisdom as for their many virtues on the pitch. Willian has been called in to replace the injured Neymar, and there is no room for the likes of Lucas Moura or Vinicius Junior. The emergence since the World Cup of Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta gives the side extra options in the final third.

Why they won’t: The survivors of the 2014 World Cup campaign need no reminding that home advantage can turn into a handicap. Playing in front of their own expectant and volatile fans brings plenty of pressure.

This team is still finding their way. Tite confessed that selecting this squad was harder than naming his World Cup 23. A year ago, Brazil cruised through qualifying to Russia, but now, there are a few uncertainties. Post-World Cup performances have been disappointing, with Tite aware that he has yet to find the right blend. This is especially true in the centre-forward position. Since the World Cup, Firmino has been first-choice, but Brazil have so far been unable to knit his attributes into a team pattern, and much needed training time has been hit by Liverpool’s winning run to the final of the Champions League.

Player to watch: Gabriel Jesus

Best XI (4-1-4-1): Alisson; Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago SilvaFilipe Luis; Casemiro; Richarlison, Arthur, Fernandinho, Coutinho; Gabriel Jesus


CHILE, Group C

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 15
SPI chances of winning: 2.97 percent

Why they’ll go far: After 99 years of waiting, Chile finally won the Copa on home ground in 2015. A year later another triumph, this time without home advantage, probably rates as the greatest moment in the history of the national team. All of this means that the class of 2019 will be highly motivated; they go into the tournament as defending champions and will fight hard to retain their crown.

Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda has pedigree — in the Copa Libertadores, in the World Cup and in youth development — making him a qualified name to oversee this next stage in the team’s development. In little more than a year in charge, his results have been mixed, but he has been working hard to find a blend and might have hit on something in March, when he tried a back-three formation in a friendly against the U.S.

Why they won’t: Almost all of Chile’s golden generation came through the 2007 Under-20 side. They have all aged together and ran out of collective steam in the tail end of the Russia 2018 qualifiers. The big question — a problem for all of the lesser South American nations through the years — is how to replace them. There is a lack of top-quality talent coming through, and Chilean clubs are performing poorly in continental competitions.

Player to watch: Alexis Sanchez

Best XI (3-5-2): Gabriel AriasGary MedelGonzalo JaraGuillermo MaripanMauricio IslaArturo VidalEsteban PavezCharles Aranguiz, Oscar Opazo; Alexis Sanchez, Nicolas Castillo



Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 12
SPI chances of winning: 6.56 percent

Why they’ll go far: With a sizable population and a football-crazy fanbase, Colombia are a long-term bet to one day add their name to the list of World Cup winners. Having qualified for and occasionally lit up the past two tournaments, they can claim to be moving in the right direction, and with Portugal’s Carlos Queiroz, they have a coach with global pedigree and massive experience. He has already proven his capacity to adapt his methods to the players at his disposal.It will be fascinating indeed to see what he makes of the current Colombian squad, filled as it is with players of technical and physical prowess. It is also a squad that, after two World Cups, has lost any inferiority complex. They should enjoy the support of Colombia’s traveling army, such a feature of international tournaments since the 2011 Copa in Argentina.

Why they won’t: For all his experience, Queiroz has never worked in South America before. There is an obvious danger, then, that he will still be finding his feet in the Copa and that the tournament will come a little too early for his team to be anywhere near their best.There is also a worrying dependence on a number of key individuals. The disappointing nature of last year’s World Cup elimination highlighted the importance of James Rodriguez, and there is a lack of top-class cover for keeper David Ospina, himself not always the most reliable last line of defence. Playmaker Juan Fernando Quintero, so impishly brilliant in Russia, will miss out through injury.

Player to watch: James Rodriguez

Best XI (4-4-2): David Ospina; Santiago AriasYerry MinaDavinson SanchezCristian BorjaWilmar BarriosMateus UribeJuan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez; Duvan ZapataRadamel Falcao



Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 59
SPI chances of winning: 1.1 percent

Why they’ll go far: Hernan Dario Gomez was not a universally popular choice to take over as national team coach, but the man has undoubted pedigree. From Colombia in 1990 to Panama last year, he is dripping with World Cup experience, which includes taking Ecuador to their tournament debut some 17 years ago. He returns to an Ecuador side that has developed some of the characteristics that he encouraged: They are an athletic, physically imposing side that will seek to close the game down through the middle and launch quick and powerful breaks down the flanks.When it works — as it did in November’s 2-0 win away to Peru — Ecuador can be an impressive sight. Gomez seems to have made some progress in tightening up a defensive unit that fell to pieces in the closing stages of the Russia 2018 qualifiers.

Why they won’t: In his previous spell in charge, Gomez confessed that he did not take the Copas of 2001 and 2004 particularly seriously — he has continually played down the importance of this year’s tournament. No one, he says in his defence, stops him in the street to ask about the Copa America. Qatar 2022 is the big subject. And so he makes no secret of his priority — World Cup qualification — or the fact that he believes his team will not be fully prepared until next year.

Moreover, there is a lack of outstanding quality, with some of the players from the 2014 World Cup now aging and in decline. There is a worrying dependence on Enner Valencia for goals. Gomez will have half an eye on the Under-20 World Cup, in which Ecuador are thriving as reigning South American champions, in the hope that such potential can soon break through.

Player to watch: Enner Valencia

Best XI (4-5-1): Alexander Dominguez; Pedro Pablo Velasco, Gabriel AchilierRobert ArboledaBeder CaicedoCarlos GruezoAntonio ValenciaJefferson Orejuela, Jhegson Mendez, Ayrton Preciado; Enner Valencia


JAPAN, Group C

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 26
SPI chances of winning: 0.82 percent

Why they’ll go far: They’re fundamentally tough to break down. The backline might be young but looks solid without the ball and confident with it. This tournament also comes at a perfect time. Just as Qatar want to toughen up ahead of 2022, Japan are looking toward the Tokyo Olympics next summer. It’s no surprise, then, that 18 out of the 23 are 22 years of age or under. Nobody at home expects or demands success in the Copa; it’s an important staging post in a long-term preparation plan, which should give the players the freedom to express themselves.There is some experience in the shape of goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima in goal, Gaku Shibasaki in the middle and Shinji Okazaki in attack, but the focus will not be on these French, Spanish and English-based stars, as there is talent elsewhere. Takefusa Kubo has just turned 18 and is eligible to return to Barcelona, but Real Madrid and PSG are interested in the midfielder’s silky skills. He has the confidence to shine in South America, and then there is Shoya Nakajima. All in Japan know that the 24-year-old can make the team tick going forward — he was signed by a Qatari club for €35 million in February — but now is the time to show on a wider stage.

Why they won’t: There is a worry about where the goals will come from. Okazaki has a fine international goalscoring record, but if he struggles in South America, it’s asking a lot for the likes of Daizen Maeda and Ayase Ueda (the latter still a university student) to make the step up.

Take out the sprinkling of veterans, and there’s zero senior international tournament experience in the squad, which means they’re heading into the unknown. Finally, Japan have a poor record against South American opposition in competitive games, losing all four World Cup meetings before last June, when an early sending off and penalty against Colombia led to that long-awaited win.

Player to watch: Gaku Shibasaki

Best XI (4-2-3-1): Eji Kawashima; Tomoki IwataTakehiro TomiyasuYuta NakayamaDaiki SugiokaKo Itakura, Gaku Shibasaki; Takefusa Kubo, Shoya Nakashima, Tatsuya Ito; Shinji Okazaki



Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 36
SPI chances of winning: 0.86 percent

Why they’ll go far: In this year’s Copa Libertadores, all three Paraguayan clubs topped their groups, often finishing ahead of rivals with far greater financial resources. There is a clear lesson here: Never underestimate the Paraguayans. Their teams have an innate ability to dig deep, to add up to more than the sum of their parts.Replacing the generation that reached the 2010 World Cup quarterfinal has not proven easy, but on paper, at least, the current group has the potential to form the strongest team since then. They will come to Brazil in the hope of setting out on the right foot on the road to Qatar 2022.Why they won’t: After Colombia’s Juan Carlos Osorio lasted just one game in charge, former Argentina centre-back Eduardo Berizzo has come in to coach the side. He comes well qualified, but there are two problems. The first is he has only just taken over. The other potential problem is Berizzo’s idea of play. He wants his team to defend high up the field and take the initiative in the game. This is alien to the traditional Paraguayan style of heroic deep defence. The difficulties of implanting a new style and mentality were apparent in March, when both times the team was poor and half-hearted in the first half. It’s also still not apparent where his side’s goal threat will come from.

Player to watch: Miguel Almiron

Best XI (4-2-3-1): Junior Fernandez; Bruno ValdezFabian BalbuenaGustavo GomezSantiago ArzamendiaRichard OrtizMatias RojasDerlis Gonzalez, Juan Rodrigo Rojas, Miguel Almiron; Federico Santander


PERU, Group A

Group games: vs. Brazil (9:30 p.m. ET June 14), vs. Venezuela (9:30 p.m. ET June 18), vs. Peru (4 p.m. ET June 22)

FIFA rank: 21
SPI odds of winning: 1.14 percent

Why they’ll go far: Peru are essentially taking to Brazil the same squad that went to Russia last year, ending a 36-year World Cup drought. This should certainly be a positive. With few exceptions, the squad is a young one, full of players who have yet to hit their peaks. It was fascinating to watch them grow together, picking up confidence under the calming influence of Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca. They made massive strides toward the end of the 2018 qualifiers, and despite group-phase elimination in Russia, they gave eventual champions France a tough game and could fly home with heads held high — plus the knowledge of being able to write more chapters together.Now, then, they enter the era of consolidation, the time when they show that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the next few years. Centre-forward Paolo Guerrero is back and reinvigorated after his harsh drugs ban, and Peru should be in a much better state of preparation than some of their opponents and so are entitled to aim high in Brazil.

Why they won’t: Coach Gareca might well be disappointed by the lack of renewal in his squad. It’s good that he can keep his players together, but a little more competition for places would be no bad thing. Domestic Peruvian football, though, is not throwing up a glut of quality. There is always the danger of complacency setting in.Results since the World Cup also raise a question. It is always unwise to read too much into friendlies, but their lack of consistency, though, is striking. Are his men mentally strong enough to achieve good results on a regular basis? Has their 4-2-3-1 formation become too predictable?

Player to watch: Yoshimar Yotun

Best XI (4-2-3-1): Pedro GalleseLuis AdvinculaMiguel AraujoAnderson SantamariaMiguel TraucoRenato Tapia, Yoshimar Yotun; Andre CarrilloChristian CuevaEdison Flores; Paolo Guerrero


QATAR, Group B

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 55
SPI chances of winning: 0.12 percent

Why they’ll go far: Qatar are on a roll, are full of confidence and have nothing to lose. Wins over Switzerland and Ecuador (and a draw with Iceland) in 2018 suggested that there was something happening, but then the Maroons took the Asian Cup by storm in January, lifting the trophy by scoring 19 goals and conceding once. Such form means that the opener against Paraguay is winnable and then anything can happen. This is a national team that feels like a club, and this could be Qatar’s biggest strength, coupled with the possibility that they will be underestimated.They also play an appealing style. Their counterattack was too good for the likes of South Korea and Japan earlier this year, and they displayed a ruthlessness in front of goal that has been all too rare in Asian football over the years. Almoez Ali scored a tournament record of nine goals, a tally that was supported in some style by the relentless assists from Akram Afif. These youngsters, two of 10 in the squad who are 22 or under, will relish this chance to show how good they really are.

Why they won’t: It is one thing to win the Asian tournament in Abu Dhabi, a 45-minute flight from Doha, but competing in Brazil is completely different. Qatar could not have moved further out of their comfort zone if they had tried, even if that is the point of participating for a team that craves tournament football. Qatar have not traditionally travelled that well and have little experience playing teams from South America and even less actually playing there.The entire squad is based in the Qatar league, one of the better tournaments in the Middle East but one that lacks intensity and pressure. South America could be a real shock to the system. Equally, it remains to be seen how that system functions against the likes of Messi. In the UAE, Korea and Japan were frustrated by a team they expected to beat and lacked a plan B when the first was not working. The likes of Argentina and Colombia are likely to be a little more savvy. Qatari hands will be full with the conditions, the physical challenge and the skills of the opposition.

Player to watch: Almoez Ali

Best XI (5-3-2): Saad Al Sheeb; Ro-Ro, Bassam Al-Rawi, Tarek Salman, Assim Madibo, Abdelkarim Hassan; Hassan Al-Haydos, Boualem Khouki, Abdulaziz Hatem; Almoez Ali, Akram Afif



Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 6
SPI chances of winning: 5.92 percent

Why they’ll go far: Statistically the best South American side in last year’s World Cup, Uruguay progress with a serenity and a promise that have enthused coach Oscar Washington Tabarez, even at the age of 72, to extend a spell in charge that stretches back to the start of 2006. At the heart of the Tabarez project has been the use of the youth sides, and especially the Under-20s, to prepare the next generation.

In the run-up to Russia, Uruguay freshened up their lineup with a new crop of talented midfielders who changed the characteristics of the team. Instead of relying on a combination of resilience and quick breaks, the newcomers added the possibility of controlling possession and dictating the tempo of the game. A year on, the likes of Rodrigo BentancurLucas Torreira and Federico Valverdeare older, wiser and presumably better, and this offers real hope that Uruguay will be contending for titles.

Why they won’t: Tabarez has been able to count on a handful of stalwarts, and some genuinely world-class players have put in more than a decade of service. But on the evidence of the past club season, time could be catching up with them. Luis Suarez appears to have lost some of his pace, his strike partner Edinson Cavani has run into injuries, and captain and centre-back Diego Godinis looking vulnerable.

Youngsters are also coming through, but the process of transition — substituting some of the best players in the history of the Uruguayan national team — will be a delicate affair.

Player to watch: Luis Suarez

Best XI (4-4-2): Fernando MusleraMartin Caceres, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin, Diego Laxalt; Rodrigo Bentancur, Lucas Torreira, Matias VecinoNicolas Lodeiro; Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez



Group games: vs. Brazil (9:30 p.m. ET June 14), vs. Venezuela (9:30 p.m. ET June 18), vs. Peru (4 p.m. ET June 22)

FIFA rank: 29
SPI chances of winning: 0.71 percent

Why they’ll go far: The only South American side never to have played in a World Cup, Venezuela are confident that the road to making their debut in Qatar will start in Brazil this summer. They have certainly been moving in the right direction, as highlighted by the comprehensive 3-1 win over Argentina in March.

Coach Rafael Dudamel now has a fascinating blend; some of the youngsters who reached the final of the 2017 Under-20 World Cup have come through well, such as excellent goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez, and are forming a team with more established stars such as midfield stalwart Tomas Rincon and fearsome centre-forward Salomon Rondon. They attack with pace down the flanks, and Dudamel has tried to make a point of tightening up the defence — the weak part of the side in the last qualification campaign — with the addition of more pace at the back.

Why they won’t: Venezuela are moving into uncharted waters. How will they cope with the heightened expectations brought about by their progress? They had a brief flirtation with such a situation toward the start of the decade; a win over Argentina in the early stages of Brazil 2014 qualifiers set off hopes that Venezuela might be on the verge of the breakthrough, which would soon be dashed, as the team were unable to score enough goals to keep them in the hunt.They should be much better prepared now, though Dudamel is concerned by his side’s over-dependence on the counterattack. Against opponents less open to the counter, can Venezuela dictate the tempo of the game with controlled possession in midfield?

Player to watch: Salomon Rondon

Best XI (4-3-3): Wuilker Farinez; Roberto RosalesYordan OsorioMikel VillanuevaLuis Mago; Tomas Rincon; Jhon MurilloYangel HerreraJunior MorenoDarwin Machis; Salomon Rondon


By IndyEleven.com, 06/13/19, 8:00PM EDT   The Boys in Blue take to the road to face Loudoun United FC in a series first match-up

Indy Eleven Gameday Preview
Indy Eleven at Loudon United FC – #LDNvIND    Saturday, June 15, 2019 – 7:30 P.M. ET    Audi Field  |  Washington, D.C.

Local/National TV: N/A



Indy Eleven 3:0 Memphis 901 FC | Saturday, June 8

Indy Eleven extended its undefeated streak to six after defeating Eastern Conference expansion side Memphis 901 FC 3-0 on the road last Saturday. A first-half goal from forward Thomas Enevoldsen and second-half heroics from midfielders Kim Do-heon and Tyler Pasher handed the Boys in Blue their first victory on the road since April 20. Indiana’s Team also kept its seventh clean sheet of the season following Memphis’ scoreless performance.

#MEMvIND:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

Loudoun United FC 1:2 Louisville City FC | Saturday, May 22

Loudoun United FC fell to defending USL Championship champions Louisville City FC 2-1 on the road last weekend. Loudoun forward Griffin Yow’s 49th minute strike wasn’t enough to overcome the two first-half goals Louisville put past the visiting side. The goal was Yow’s third in five appearances for the club, trailing only Kyle Murphy by one goal.

#LOUvLDN:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats


  • Saturday night’s fixture between Indy Eleven and Loudoun United FC will be the first meeting between the two teams.
  • Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr earned his first USL Championship minutes last Saturday at Memphis, replacing Evan Newton in the 72nd minute.
  • The Boys in Blue are undefeated in their last six matches (GF: 6/ GA: 1), claiming 12 out of 18 points with five clean sheets.
  • Indy hasn’t conceded a goal on the road in the last 110 minutes of USL Championship play since New York Red Bulls II’s Tom Barlow scored in the 69th minute on April 28.
  • Last Saturday’s 3-0 win at Memphis is the fourth time that Indy Eleven have recorded three goals during a match in 2019, all of which have resulted in wins on the road.
  • The Boys in Blue currently have a 4W-2L-0D record on the road, having scored 14 goals and conceded seven.
  • Indy forward Dane Kelly played for Loudoun United FC’s Major League Soccer affiliate D.C. United in 2018, making just one regular season appearance for the club.
  • Loudoun defender Peabo Doue has faced Indy multiple times since 2017, having played for Jacksonville Armada (2017; NASL) and North Carolina FC (2018).
  • Forward Andrew Lubahn is no stranger to facing Indiana’s Team, having faced the Boys in Blue in the 2016 U.S. Open Cup with Louisville City FC, five times in 2017 with San Francisco Deltas (NASL), and three times in last season with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.


After spending a short stint on Indy Eleven’s injury list, Kenney Walker is back and better than ever. The 30-year-old has become quite the playmaker for the Boys in Blue, as he leads his teammates in assists (4) and is currently tied for second most in Eastern Conference. The midfielder has created 12 scoring opportunities so far this season, which equates to an average of one assist out of every key pass.Just as he’s found his teammates in scoring positions, Walker has also begun to find the back of the net. The Wickliffe, Ohio native opened his scoring account with a long distance screamer that sparked the comeback in Indy’s 2-1 win against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on June 1.


Major League Soccer FC Dallas youth academy product Connor Presley has started 10 of Loudoun United FC’s 11 matches played through the start of the season, subbing off twice and playing a total of 863 minutes for the expansion side so far. In that time, the Austin, Texas native has converted two goals out of the seven shots he’s taken and earned USL Championship’s Goal of the Month award in May.Presley has proven that his presence can be felt no matter where he’s at on the pitch. As of now, the 20-year-old leads his team in tackles (25), tackles won (17), duels (144) and duels won (53). Though the midfielder’s passing accuracy sits at a touch over 71 percent, he’s played a team-high 12 key passes and tallied a single assist.


Saturday night’s fixture at Audi Field, home of Loudoun’s MLS affiliate D.C. United, will feature veteran striker Enevoldsen squaring off against United’s rookie Griffin Yow.Enevoldsen added goal #3 to his Indy Eleven scoring account last Saturday at Memphis 901 FC after netting the first of three for Indy in the 31st minute. The 31-year-old curled his shot around Memphis’ ‘keeper and off the far post following a one-on-one duel against 901 FC defender Jacob Hauser-Ramsey. In addition to scoring, the Danish striker is currently tied with teammate Ayoze for the most chances created with 22 on the season.Much like Enevoldsen, Yow netted his third goal of the season and Loudoun’s lone goal in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Louisville City FC. The 16-year-old cut around LCFC’s Alexis Souahy before rocketing the ball into the net from outside the 18-yard-box, earning a Goal of the Week nomination. In just 380 minutes of play, the D.C. United Homegrown loanee is now Loudoun’s second highest goal scorer, trailing forward Kyle Murphy by one, and has managed to find the back of the net every 126 minutes on average. Indy Eleven will continue its away swing this Saturday in the team’s first-ever meeting against expansion side Loudoun United FC. Kickoff for the contest at Audi Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m., and the match will be streamed live online via ESPN+.


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