8/30/19  Indy 11 Tonite & Home Wed,  EPL Arsenal vs Spurs Sat 12:30 NBC, USA vs Mexico next Fri, Carmel Girls 2 Games Sat 

Shane Best  The Ole Ballcoach

Champions League Draw Set + Defender Van Dyke Wins Player of the Year   

The Champion League draw was made this week and the EPL teams certainly seem to have an easier road as the Spanish teams are going to be hugely challenged.  We’ll review more as we get closer to the First leg kick-offs of Group Stage play on Sept 18. Cool to see what could be a record # of Americans in Champions League this season.

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiakos, Red Star Belgrade

Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta

Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk

Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague

Group G: Zenit St. Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon, Leipzig

Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille

US Men’s and Women’s National Teams Play Next Week US Ladies vs Portugal Tues 8 pm ESPN2/US Men vs Mexico Fri Night 8 pm FS1

Great to see 50,000 fans poured into Philly’s stadium to celebrate the US Ladies as they pounded Portugal 4-0 Thursday night. They face each other again on Tuesday night at 8 pm on ESPN2.  Friday night its USA vs Mexico in NJ on Fox Sports 1.  Fantastic to see so many young US Players called in as the U20s fresh off their fine World Cup Run this past summer – are finally putting new comers on this team.   See the Full Roster and write ups below.

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas; Brad Guzan, Atlanta United; Sean Johnson, New York City FC; Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

Defenders: John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany); Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas; Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands); Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes; Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls; Daniel Lovitz, Montreal Impact; Tim Ream, Fulham (England); Miles Robinson, Atlanta United; Walker Zimmerman, LAFC

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy; Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany); Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew; Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Forwards: Corey Baird, Real Salt Lake; Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey); Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders; Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England), Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany); Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

MLS Derby Weekend was Spectacular

Well soccer fans if you took my advice and watched some MLS soccer this weekend during rivalry week you were treated to some fantastic action.  Seattle and Portland started things off with a well played 2-1 win for Seattle at Portland.  NYCFC upset the Red Bulls in the Hudson River Darby, Columbus shut down Cincy at Cincy 2-0 and el TRAFFICO was well El Traffico.  Yes I stayed up until 1 am watching the LAFC vs LA Galaxy and it did not disappoint.  This game could well be the most intense rivalry in soccer and perhaps in sports in America right now.  LAFC is vying to be the most successful team in MLS history –it has a chance to break the single season record as the best MLS team in history.  Despite all their success however – the 1 team they have never beaten is the LA Galaxy – and Zlattan Ibrahimovich is a big reason.  He scored 2 goals in the first 10 minutes to put the Galaxy out in front before a second half surge and goal by MPV favorite Carlos Vela tied it at 3-3.  The emotion in the stands as a full house looked on screaming and chanting the entire game was inspiring.  It was drama and injuries and weird calls and all around great soccer.  MLS may not have the quality yet of the EPL or La Liga or the German Bundesliga but we have some established rivalries now that are second to none.  MLS is getting there – the quality of play is much better, the crowds and fans are inspiring and this weekend of Derby’s exemplified everything that is great about soccer in America.  Keep watching US Soccer fans – we are getting there!  And speaking of getting there – Atlanta United captured their second cup of the season with a 2-1 win over Minn United in the US Open Cup this week.  Along with last season’s MLS Cup win, and the Campeones Cup win over Mexico’s top team, that’s now 3 in a row for the 3 year old club.  Games this week on national TV Sunday eve feature playoff position battles in the Western Conference as Seattle hosts the LA Galaxy at 6:30 pm on Fox Sports 1 followed by league leading LAFC hosting Minn United at 10:30 on FS1.  Saturday Carmel High Grad and former US National team player Matt Hedges for Dallas FC will host Cincy on ESPN+ at 7:30 pm.


American Christian Pulisic notched his first assist and played well overall in Chelsea’s first win of the season 3-2 at Norwich. (See full details here) Pulisic moved to the right wing with Pedro out injured and put in a workman performance as he continued to show blazing speed in his attacking runs at the goal.  His assist set up Chelsea’s 2nd goal as he left a ball for Mount who scored his second of the season.  Pulisic just missed a shot wide late in the 2nd half.  Its been great seeing Pulisic start and feature for the Blues – hopefully he can hang on to a starting spot as he adjusts to life on the big stage in the EPL.  Looking ahead to this last weekend of play before the international break – we only get 1 match among top 6 squads at Arsenal hosts a reeling Tottenham on Sunday at 11:30 am on NBCSN.  Sat’s EPL slate is Southampton hosting Man United at 7:30 on NBCSN, followed by Chelsea and American Christian Pulisic hosting newcomer Sheffield United who stands in 10th place in this first season back in the EPL in 3 decades at 10 am on NBCSN.  The Sat 12:30 NBC features Burnley hosting league leader Liverpool and Player of the Year Defender Virgil Van Dyke.

Indy 11 Fri Night @ Louisville on WISH8 TV and Wed at Home 7 pm vs NY Red Bulls2

Friday’s away installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest will mark the beginning of Indy Eleven’s busiest stretch of games in club history, a 10-game, 36-day gauntlet that will see Indiana’s Team make up the several games in hand it has on its fellow Eastern Conference elite.  Indy Eleven will then return to Lucas Oil Stadium next Wednesday, September 4, when it will look to even its club-record 21-game home unbeaten streak in a pivotal contest against East-leading New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

Carmel High and CFC GK

The #1 Ranked Ladies Carmel High Soccer team will host two topped ranked teams this weekend – Sat at 9 am vs #1 2A Ranked Cathedral and Saturday at 7 pm vs #13 Fishers. Be sure to head to Noble Romans in Carmel to support the team in between as they support the Catherine Peachey Fund.  With the holiday on Monday – Carmel FC Goalkeeper Training will just be on Thursday next week at Shelbourne.  No Monday GK Training at Badger!!


Fri, Aug 30

2:30 pm FS 2                                         MGladbach (Johnson) vs RB Leipzig

2:45 pm bEIN Sport                          PSG vs Metz

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+          Louisville vs Indy 11

Sat, Aug 31

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Southhampton vs Man United

9:30 am FS1                                            Bayern Munich vs Mainz

9:30 am FS2                                            Schalke (McKinney) vs Hertha BSC

10 am NBCSN                                        Chelsea (Pulisic)  vs Sheffield United

11 am beIN sport                               Osasuana vs Barcelona

12 noon ESPN+                                     Parma vs Juventus

1 pm bein Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Burnley vs Liverpool

12:30 pm FS1                                        Union Berlin vs Dormund

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Juventus vs Napoli

3 pm beIN Sports                               France vs Spain (Ladies)

7;30 pm ESPN+                                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Cincy

10:30 pm ESPN+                                 Portland vs Real Salt Lake

Sun, Sept 1

9 am NBCSN                                           Everton vs  Wolverhampton

9:30 m FS1                                              Werder Bremen vs Ausburg

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Arsenal vs Tottenham 

12 noon FS1                                           Frankfort vs Dusseldorf (Steffan)

3 pm beIN sport                                  Villarreal vs Real Madrid

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars 

6:30 pm FS1                                           Seattle vs LA Galaxy 

10:30 pm fS1                                        LAFC vs Minn United 

Tues, Sept 3

1 pm ESPN2                                       USA Ladies vs Portugal

WEds, Sept 4

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+          Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls2

Fri, Sept 6

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Germany vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifiying)

8:30 pm Fox Sports1                USA vs Mexico

Sat, Sept 7

12noon ESPN+                                      England vs Bulgaria (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  France vs Albania (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Serbia vs Portugal (Euro Qualifiying)

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Cincy vs Toronto FC

10:30 pm ESPN+                                  Portland vs Sporting KC

Sun, Sept 8

2:45 pm ESPN News                                                 Sweden vs Norway (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Finland vs Italy (Euro Qualifiying)

Mon, Sept 9

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Northern Ireland vs Germany (Euro Qualifiying)

Tues, Sept 10

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    England vs Kosovo(Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Andorra (Euro Qualifiying)

1 pm FS1                                               USA vs Uraguay


USMNT roster: Josh Sargent, Alfredo Morales, Brad Guzan return for Mexico/Uruguay friendlies

Doyle: US future is here with September roster

Berhalter: It’s a process to get kids to progress

Americans Abroad: Weekend roundup

Matt Miagza injured early in Reading win over Huddersfield

18 MLSers named to latest US U-23 roster

US U-17 roster called up to prep for World Cup

US Ladies Win 4-0 in front of 50K in Philly


Emery could go for goals and pick Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe against Tottenham
Salah penalty ‘very soft’ – Emery defends David Luiz

Palace stuns wasteful Manchester United at the death

 Weekend Review: Are Tottenham getting stale?
– O’Hanlon: Should we be worried about “superteam” Man City?
– Jones: Sheffield United prove heart can beat talent

Lampard wants Kante to skip France’s Euro 2020 qualifiers

Chelsea Player Ratings – Pulisic a 6


Josef approaching a Messi world record

How Seattle Plans to Corral Zlattan and Pavon

Week 26: How the West playoff race is shaping up

Bogert: 5 big questions heading into the weekend

MLS Power Rankings after Rivalry Week

Tim Howard returns home one last time
The hype is real! Ibrahimovic and Vela help provide another instant classic as El Trafico remains best in MLS

Report: Atlanta United interested in NWSL expansion franchise


UEFA Champions League group-by-group draw
– Van Dijk beats Messi, Ronaldo to UEFA POTY award 
– Cantona delivers unique acceptance speech

Ranking UCL draw: Which PL team was handed best group?

American’s in Champions League

Live, Europa League: Wolves, Celtic, Rangers one step from group stage

Marcotti’s Muzings From Around the World of Soccer – Gab Marcotti – ESPNFC

Rodríguez returns but Real Madrid held in home opener

Serie A: Milan stunned; Roma draw in six-goal thriller (video)

Juventus news: Maurizio Sarri leaves Matthijs De Ligt on the bench as Juventus begin season with win

Juventus opens Serie A with 1-0 throw-back win at Parma

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview vs Louisville City Fri Eve on ESPN+

Drew Conner Named to USL Champ Team of the Week

Indy 11 Sign New MF Nico Perea

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 

USMNT roster: Josh Sargent, Alfredo Morales, Brad Guzan return for Mexico/Uruguay friendlies

Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsAug 28, 2019, 11:01 AM

.S. men’s national team fans clamoring for fresh faces ahead of next week’s friendly-in-name-only match against rival Mexico and another exhibition against Uruguay Sept. 9 won’t be disappointed by Gregg Berhalter’s latest roster — even if some of the names on the coach’s list aren’t new.The USMNT boss called up 26 players on Wednesday ahead of the two tilts. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic headlines the squad, which did not include veterans Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley or injured quartet Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga, Tim Weah and DeAndre Yedlin.But fellow vets Brad Guzan and Alfredo Morales were summoned for the first time under Berhalter, teenage striker Josh Sargent returned after being overlooked for the Gold Cup earlier this summer, and former youth national teamers Sergino Dest, Paxton Pomykal and Miles Robinson received their first senior invites.Here’s the full roster:

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas; Brad Guzan, Atlanta United; Sean Johnson, New York City FC; Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

Defenders: John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany); Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas; Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands); Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes; Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls; Daniel Lovitz, Montreal Impact; Tim Ream, Fulham (England); Miles Robinson, Atlanta United; Walker Zimmerman, LAFC

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy; Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany); Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew; Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Forwards: Corey Baird, Real Salt Lake; Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey); Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders; Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England), Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany); Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

The 20-year-old Pulisic has played as a midfielder in most of his 31 international appearances, but he’s listed as a forward this time around, suggesting a more advanced role.

“He’s a great attacking player and we want to put him in position to affect the game,” Berhalter said.The coach also indicated that Guzan, a veteran of two World Cups, would’ve been summoned earlier this year — Berhalter’s first at the helm — but wasn’t because of conflicts with his club team.“Brad is a guy that I have a ton of respect for – respect for his career, but more importantly, respect for what type of guy he is,” Berhalter said. “He’s a guy that we tried to get involved in January camp and Atlanta had some Champions League games that took precedent there, but we’re excited to bring him back.”The last of Morales’s 13 caps came in 2016. But he’s been excellent through two Bundesliga matches this season, scoring a goal against Bayer Leverkusen over the weekend.“He’s done such a good job with Fortuna Dusseldorf, not only through the first two Bundesliga games, but we’ve seen reports from preseason where he’s been an outstanding player,” Berhalter said of Morales. “It’s nice to give a guy a reward like that – an opportunity because of how he’s performing at his club.”

Armchair Analyst: At long last, USMNT’s future begins to arrive

August 28, 20195:39PM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

There has been a lot written, most of it justifiable, about the “Lost Generation” of talent in US men’s national team age groups. The 1990-through-1994 birth years were relatively barren in comparison to the four five-year cohorts that had directly preceded it, the ones that had produced the likes of Claudio Reyna, Eddie Pope and Brian McBride, or Clint Mathis, Carlos Bocanegra and Tim Howard, or Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley, or Michael BradleyJozy Altidore and Benny Feilhaber.Those guys had all played huge roles not just at every World Cup from 1998 to 2014, but in qualifying for them. Those guys above, and dozens of others, had had what it took to get results in Honduras, never lose against Caribbean teams, protect home field against almost all comers, and grind through the Hexagonal time after time after time.We all know that didn’t happen for the 2018 World Cup, and we all know there are myriad factors as to why (I still say that coaching, both at the beginning and at the end of the Hex, was the biggest reason). One of the more determinative was lack of top-end talent in that entering-its-prime, 1990-94 birth year cohort. Guys like DeAndre Yedlin, Jordan Morris and Bobby Wood have been good players for the US, and others in that group – John Brooks, Gyasi ZardesSebastian Lletget – have made contributions at various stages throughout their national team careers including, at times, during the last qualifying cycle. But none of those guys, individually or collectively, raised the team to where it needed to go, and that remains a big reason why the USMNT watched last summer’s World Cup from home.When there were moments of desperate need in previous cycles there always seemed to be at least one or two players entering their prime who were ready to step onto the field in a qualifier and announce themselves by winning a huge game. Mathis and Josh Wolff in the first Dos-a-Cero way back in 2001 were and are the very best example, but are just one of many (Pope vs. Mexico in 1997; Pablo Mastroeni when Chris Armas went down; even Mix Diskerud vs. Mexico in what was to be the final Dos-a-Cero in 2013 all come to mind). Maybe Lletget would’ve been that guy if he’d been able to stay healthy, or maybe it could’ve been Morris or Aron Johannsson. Maybe if Walker ZimmermanNick Lima and Aaron Long had been identified and progressed through the system earlier the defense wouldn’t have been as fragile, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. There is probably a slice of the multiverse where that is true.But not here. Not for us.Regardless, that’s all looking backwards. And the point of this is that, since the loss in Couva, the US fanbase as a whole has looked forwards, and done so with the great hope that the subsequent age-groups would produce more top-end talent and fill the US roster with players who would make the 2018 cycle’s failures seem like an aberration rather than the start of a trend.Given the success of the three cohorts following the Lost Generation (the 1995/6es, the 1997/8s and the 1999/2000s) at the last three U-20 World Cups – the US have made it to the quarterfinals in each of them, the only nation who can claim as much – there’s been reason for optimism. Given that players from those cohorts have steadily matriculated from youth national teams to professional starters and, in increasing numbers, full USMNT regulars, the reasons for optimism seem to be founded on more than just age-group dominance. Given that there were more players from those teams and those cohorts knocking on the door over the past few months in the aftermath of this summer’s Gold Cup, it seemed logical to hope that more help was on its way.And now, with this roster, it’s here. Gregg Berhalter has called in a lot of familiar faces, but he’s also turned on the faucet and begun what most USMNT fans expect will be a steady trickle of young, exciting, dynamic talent into the team. They will have to prove they can do the job, but if they’re doing so already for Ajax, or for FC Dallas, or under Matias Almeyda, or playing against Club America, is there a reason to think they can’t do the same for the US? If Reggie Cannon, at age 20, can step on the field in the Gold Cup final against Mexico and more than hold his own, what’s to stop his club teammate Paxton Pomykal from doing the same against El Tri in a friendly? If Miles Robinson put the clamps on Las Aguilas‘ $20 million attack in the Campeones Cup, why not expect him to do the same against the rest of Concacaf, for both club and country?

The first eight months of 2019 were Phase 1 of the Gregg Berhalter era. He established his team’s principles of play, he put three of his biggest young stars – Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Zack Steffen – in position to be the core leaders of the team going forward, he bid adieu to a cadre of veterans, and he got his team to really compete for the Gold Cup title, though they eventually came up short of winning it.Now it’s onto Phase 2: Adding more of that next young group of players, integrating it with the core group, getting them minutes in friendlies and Concacaf Nations League, and building both depth and cohesiveness throughout the roster. Everything over the next 12 months is about preparing for World Cup qualifying, which begins at this time next year.This is the part we’ve all been looking forward to, for almost two years. It’s finally here.

A few notes on the roster

  • The inclusion of Sergino Dest, a dynamic, 18-year-old,  attacking fullback for the US U-20s this past spring and for Ajax this summer – he’s already played for the Dutch giants in the Johan Cruyff Shield, then twice in league play and twice in Champions League qualifying – comes as a sigh of relief for many who worried Dest would abandon the US for the Netherlands (he’s a Dutch-American dual national) should his home country come calling. These friendlies don’t cap-tie him, but he’s been a core part of the US youth teams for the past four years, and this call-up looks like a prelude to next month’s Nations League games, which wouldpermanently cap-tie him.

It’s not a done deal yet but it’s trending in that direction.

  • To paraphrase a take on the roster expressed to me by three different folks: The best part of this group (aside from Dest accepting the call-up) is that Pulisic is listed as a forward and not a midfielder. I thought it was a worthwhile experiment this summer to play Pulisic in the middle as a No. 10, but he doesn’t offer enough defensively or in possession to play that spot against the likes of Mexico, and keeping him central robs both him and the team of his best feature: His dynamism as a winger either bursting into the open field or cutting inside to combine.
  • With Pulisic likely playing on the wing, the big question will be about how the midfield lines up. My guess is that this will be Pomykal’s chance to debut in that left-sided No. 10 role – the one that Pulisic played this summer. While Pomykal’s not an elite chance creator from that spot, he’s super clever about his combination play and movement, and should sort of naturally interchange with Pulisic (who, as mentioned, loves to cut inside).

If you think back to this summer, Pulisic and Paul Arriola – the left winger in the Gold Cup – spent a ton of time swapping spots during the run of play. And while Pomykal isn’t elite at creating chances from Zone 14, he actually is when he flares out wide:

I don’t just have “hopes” for how these guys work together; I have expectations.

  • With Tyler Adams injured and Bradley not called in, it seems like Wil Trappis going to get another look at d-mid. Alfredo Morales – who, at 29, is one of the oldest players on the roster – is another factor at that spot, though he more often plays as a roving destroyer rather than as a sit-and-protect orchestrator as Berhalter prefers.
  • Don’t take the absence of Bradley and Altidore to mean that we’ve seen the last of those guys in Red, White & Blue. Toronto FCare in the midst of a playoff race and have two games during the international date, so Berhalter was probably doing the Reds a solid by letting those two guys stay with their club.

I do wonder if Seattle‘s Morris and Cristian Roldan will join the camp late, as they’re also in a playoff race and have a game on September 7.

  • In addition to Pomykal and Dest, it’s likely that their U-20 teammate Tim Weah would’ve been here had he stayed healthy, but he picked up a knock recently for Lille. It’s still not clear where Weah’s best spot is in the short-term, but long-term my guess is he’s a winger in Berhalter’s system.
  • Another member of the U-20s I’d have liked to see in this camp is FC Dallas’s Brandon Servania. He’s been excellent all summer, and given how thin the US are at d-mid, I’d argue it would’ve made some sense to give him a call. Servania isn’t an Adams-level prospect at the spot, but he’s shown the ability to do some stuff on both sides of the ball:
  • Pulisic, Morris, Corey Baird(who’s played very well over the past six weeks) and Tyler Boyd (who’s starting for Besiktas) should be the group on the wing. Arriola withdrew from the camp due to family considerations, as reported by Steven Goff of The Washington Post.

Up top, Josh Sargent and Zardes are the only center forwards on this team. Sargent hasn’t played much for Werder Bremen so far, but it shouldn’t matter – he’s got to get the bulk of No. 9 minutes in these games.

  • Guys from the post-Lost Generation age-group on this roster:
  • 1995s: Steffen, Jesse Gonzalez, Roldan
  • 1996: Baird
  • 1997s: Robinson, Jackson Yueill
  • 1998s: Pulisic, McKennie, Cannon
  • 2000s: Sargent, Dest
  • Yedlin, Matt Miazga and Duane Holmes, like Adams and Weah, probably would’ve been here but for injury.

Here’s the full roster:

Pos. Player Club
GK Gonzalez, Jesse FC Dallas
GK Guzan, Brad Atlanta United
GK Johnson, Sean New York City FC
GK Steffen, Zack Fortuna Düsseldorf
D Brooks, John Wolfsburg
D Cannon, Reggie FC Dallas
D Dest, Sergino Ajax
D Lima, Nick San Jose Earthquakes
D Long, Aaron NY Red Bulls
D Lovitz, Daniel Montreal Impact
D Ream, Tim Fulham FC
D Robinson, Miles Atlanta United
D Zimmerman, Walker LAFC
M Lletget, Sebastian LA Galaxy
M McKennie, Weston Schalke 04
M Morales, Alfredo Fortuna Düsseldorf
M Pomykal, Paxton FC Dallas
M Roldan, Cristian Seattle Sounders
M Trapp, Wil Columbus Crew SC
M Yueill, Jackson San Jose Earthquakes
F Baird, Corey Real Salt Lake
F Boyd, Tyler Besiktas
F Morris, Jordan Seattle Sounders
F Pulisic, Christian Chelsea
F Sargent, Josh Werder Bremen
F Zardes, Gyasi Columbus Crew SC

Champions League draw reaction: Premier League clubs happy; difficult for Spain’s big three Ross Dyer rank Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool in terms of who got the hardest group draw in the UEFA Champions League.

Aug 29, 2019Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

The draw for the UEFA Champions League group stage took place in Monaco on Thursday and, as ever, threw up some intriguing story lines. Mark Ogden picks his highlights and makes some predictions.

Jump to: Group A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H

English clubs get it easy

It is the luck of the draw, but while the likes of Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid got groups with heavyweight rivals, the Premier League’s quartet will all be happy with their outcomes.

Tottenham landed Bayern Munich, but will expect to overcome Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade, while Liverpool and Manchester City will expect to coast through as group winners and Chelsea are favoured to take Group H.

– Full group-stage fixture schedule 2019-20

Another year, another Man City vs. Shakhtar clash

The two clubs were paired together in the group stage for the third successive season, so it might take an imaginative publicity campaign to tempt supporters to turn out for this fixture again. City’s executives will be happy to land yet another group lacking big-name glamour, but their fans might have wished for a bit more star quality.

Group F is the most difficult

Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter were drawn together in Group F, alongside Slavia Prague, whose cheerful directors chuckled at the prospect of three huge games in the Czech capital. It will be different for the hierarchy at the other three, however, with concerns over missing a top-two spot due to the strength of competition.

Messi and Ronaldo get along

In recent years, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have sat stony-faced with each other, as they wait to discover who has won the Player of the Year and Forward of the Year awards. This time around, the pair were laughing and joking — mainly at Eric Cantona’s speech — before the prizes were announced. Messi claimed best forward, but both missed out to Virgil van Dijk for the big one.

Eric Cantona

Having been given the UEFA President’s Award, convention dictated that Cantona give an acceptance speech. Dressed in jeans, creased shirt and flat cap, the former Manchester United forward made the most of his moment by quoting Shakespeare and discussing science and the ageing of cells, before closing by saying “I love football.” All of which left the audience utterly bewildered.

‘ class=”imageLoaded lazyloaded” data-image-container=.inline-photo v:shapes=”_x0000_i1025″>Matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League is on Sept. 17 and 18. Getty

Group A: PSG and Real Madrid go through

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid meet in heavyweight clashes and while both will expect to progress to the round of 16, the story of this group is likely to be about which team finishes top and earns a seeding in the knockout stages. Finishing second could lead to a nightmare draw against another Champions League big-hitter. Galatasaray and Club Brugge, meanwhile, will enjoy a tough battle for the Europa League spot that comes with third place.

B: Bayern Munich and Tottenham go through

Bayern and Tottenham will be favourites to qualify, but both must be wary of slipping up in hostile arenas when they travel to Athens and Belgrade for clashes with Olympiakos and Red Star. Red Star beat Liverpool 2-0 at home last season and are the dangerous outsider in this group; they could upset Spurs if last season’s runners-up fail to rediscover consistency. Olympiakos can be tough to beat at home, though they are something of a soft touch on the road.

C: Man City and Dinamo Zagreb go through

This group is basically a case of who will finish runners-up behind City, who are many observers’ favourites to win the Champions League. Shakhtar have the most recent pedigree in the competition, but Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta will believe they can reach the knockout stages. Champions League debutants Atalanta may suffer from losing home advantage by playing at the San Siro in Milan rather than their 21,000-capacity stadium in Bergamo.


D: Juventus and Leverkusen go through

Juventus and Atletico Madrid, who met in last season’s round of 16, are the two to beat in this group, but Bayer Leverkusen could separate them. Juventus have strengthened in the summer, but questions hang over Atletico following the departures of Antoine GriezmannRodri and Diego Godin. Diego Simeone remains at the helm and has signed Portuguese wonderkid Joao Felix, but Leverkusen will be a tough nut to crack; Lokomotiv Moscow could also challenge for second.

E: Liverpool and Napoli go through

Reigning European champions Liverpool meet Napoli again, having played out two big encounters in last season’s group stage. Salzburg and Genk look to be making up the numbers, so Liverpool’s encounters with Napoli should decide who tops the group. Only a last-minute save by Alisson at Anfield stopped Napoli from dumping Liverpool out at the group stage a year ago, so the Italians will fancy their chances.

F: Barcelona and Inter go through

The most eye-catching group of all features three previous winners — Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter — slugging it out for two places. Barca will expect to finish top, but Dortmund could beat them. Inter, meanwhile, are still an unknown quantity under Antonio Conte, but the nerrazzuri have plenty of quality so don’t take your eyes off this group. Slavia Prague make up the numbers.

G: Lyon and Leipzig go through

Zenit St Petersburg’s Twitter feed joked prior to the draw that the Russian champions were the top seed that everyone wanted to get. Benfica, Lyon and Leipzig were the lucky clubs in each pot and while this group might lack glamour, it is perhaps the most competitive, with all four teams having a chance to qualify. Lyon made it to the knockout stages last season and will be favourites.

H: Chelsea and Valencia go through

Europa League winners Chelsea will be delighted to get an Ajax team weakened by the departures of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie De Jong, as well as a Valencia outfit that scraped in as Spain’s fourth qualifier and Lille, who finished a distant second to PSG in France. Chelsea, with Christian Pulisic signed to replace Eden Hazard, are in transition under Frank Lampard, but should top this group.


Premier League W2W4: Arsenal primed to take derby spoils against Tottenham

Nick MillerESPN.com writer

Ten clubs find themselves with one win, one draw and one loss after three games, making the 2019-20 Premier League picture as clear as mud. Nick Miller tries to make sense of the madness ahead of matchday four.

Jump to: The folly of Man United’s summer | Spotlight on Gracia | Bruce still fighting Rafa’s ghost | Time for the Toffees to unleash Kean

Who will cut through the chaos in north London?

The north London derby arrives this Sunday with two teams in differing sorts of chaos and flux.Arsenal have begun the season in reasonable fashion but are still figuring out what they are, still unpicking the problems left by the last, neglectful days of Arsene Wenger’s reign, a team with a promising attack and an unpredictable defence but one that is arguably on the upswing.For Tottenham, is this the beginning of the end of the Mauricio Pochettino glory days? Maybe. Logically speaking, it shouldn’t be a surprise, the only surprise being those glory days have lasted this long. They have looked tired and bereft of ideas in their last three fixtures, which is troubling considering these are the opening few weeks of the season.Pochettino said after their defeat to Newcastle last weekend that his squad were “unsettled,” with doubts over the futures of Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, among others, which could explain a few things.In some respects, it might be a relief for them both that they are playing each other this weekend. For a day they can forget the weighty business of wider context, of where both clubs are headed, and instead just concentrate on the frantic, self-contained world of the derby.Then again, it might be impossible to do that, so the question then becomes: Who will best be able to cope with the uncertainty around their clubs to win this game?

The folly of Man United’s summer becomes clear

The sight of Anthony Martial limping around the Old Trafford pitch last weekend was alarming for Manchester United fans, but also inevitable. Of course he’s going to suffer an injury at some point, an injury which lays bare the paucity of resources available to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and by extension the strangeness of their summer transfer business.

The departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez without signing a replacement have left United with a pretty bare cupboard when it comes to strikers, with Martial and Marcus Rashford their only two senior options through the middle. Next on the list is Mason Greenwood, still only 17 and very promising, but not at the stage of his career when a club like Manchester United should be relying upon him.United had better hope that Martial is miraculously fit for this weekend’s trip to Southampton, or else the mistakes they have made will be laid out for all to see, in glorious technicolour.

Could this be it for Gracia?

Watford, as you will know, are not shy about sacking managers. The Pozzo family — the club’s owners — have got through nine of them in seven years at Vicarage Road, so maybe the big surprise is arguably that Javi Gracia has lasted this long; never mind their solid league form last season and reaching the FA Cup final.But the Pozzos do not just sack for the sake of it. They’re decisive and ruthless when they think a problem is more trouble than it’s worth, which is probably why reports have been circulating that Gracia’s position is in danger. Watford have lost their first three games of the season, as well as losing the last three of last season, and since around November last year have basically been in little better than relegation form.It may seem harsh to the outside world, but this is how Watford have operated for the last few years. If Watford lose at Newcastle on Saturday, it might be enough for them to conclude Gracia is not the man to stop the rot, and make a change.

Bruce needs another win to convince the Newcastle crowd

In the other dugout at St James’s Park will be another man with a point to prove. The extent to which Steve Bruce is disliked among the Newcastle fans is probably overstated: They will give their new manager a chance of course, but they will need to be convinced pretty quickly that he is a worthy successor to Rafa Benitez.

Of course, the only way he will do that is with more victories to follow the excellent 1-0 win at Tottenham last weekend, but it will be interesting to see how they play at home against a struggling side, as opposed to at a team expected to make all the running. Being the underdog and winning is one thing, but setting a side up to play on the front foot and be the protagonists on the pitch is another entirely.

If Bruce can pull this off too, he’ll go a long way to convincing the faithful that he’s their man. But the midweek defeat at home to Leicester in the Carabao Cup hasn’t helped his cause, and they need to bounce back.

Will Kean start for Everton?

It has been an indifferent start to the season for Everton. They have a win, a draw and a defeat to their name, but haven’t been convincing in any of those three games and what’s more, they haven’t been scoring goals. They have just one from 270 minutes of football so far, Bernard‘s winner against Watford in their second game.The good news for Marco Silva is it’s not as if his team aren’t creating chances: They’ve taken 34 shots so far, placing them in the middle of the Premier League’s chance creators. It’s good news because that statistic suggests they’re creating chances but not converting them, a slightly easier structural problem to solve than if they weren’t carving out those opportunities.With that in mind, you would think Moise Kean has a great chance of starting an Everton game for the first time, against Wolves on Saturday. The Italian has shown flashes of encouraging play during his three substitute appearances so far, and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin having not scored since March, surely the time is right to see what Kean can do against Premier League defences.

Americans Abroad: Weekend roundup

Joel SoriaNBC Sports•Aug 26, 2019, 12:12 AM


Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham stole the show in Chelsea’s victory, but Christian Pulisic recorded his first Premier League assist.

In Germany, although in different competitions, Alfredo Morelos and Terrence Boyd opened their scoring accounts. Also in Germany, coming on as a substitute, Timmy Chandler assisted late in Eintracht Frankfurt’s loss. 75 minutes into his Austrian Bundesliga debut, Erik Palmer-Brown was shown a straight red card and sent off.Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic played 84 minutes and recorded his first Premier League assist, setting up Mason Mount for Chelsea’s second goal in their 3-2 victory over Norwich City.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — The fullback remains sidelined as he continues to recover from a groin injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson started and went all 90 minutes for the Latics in their 3-1 loss to Geoff Cameron‘s QPR.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old started but came off in the 10th minutes due to a reported hamstring injury in Reading’s 2-0 against Huddersfield Town.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain was sidelined for Hull City’s 3-1 loss to Bristol City due to injury.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The defender didn’t feature for QPR – on the field or on the bench – for the first time this season, having played at midweek.

Tim Ream, Fulham — 90 minutes and a start for the 31-year-old in Fulham’s 2-1 loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Earlier this week, Ream extended his contract at Craven Cottage until 2021.


Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — Wright is starting to fall in VVV-Venlo’s pecking order. On Sunday, the 21-year-old was not called off the bench in his team’s 2-1 win over FC Utrecht.

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Ajax are inactive this weekend.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback didn’t play in FC Emmen’s 2-1 loss to Willem II.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Lille are inactive this weekend.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — On Sunday, the Washington D.C. native came on as substitute and played 45 minutes in Rennes’ 2-0 win over Strasbourg.


Weston McKennie, Schalke — Early signs indicate McKennie will, once again, be a vital piece at Schalke. On Saturday, the midfielder started and played all 90 minutes in his side’s 3-0 to Bayern Munich.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen and Morales started and went all 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 3-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen. Morales was Fortuna’s lone bright spot, scoring his first goal of the season.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen — The 19-year-old stayed on the bench in Werder Bremen’s 3-2 loss to Hoffenheim.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson, who didn’t start last week, started and played 81 minutes in Mönchengladbach’s 3-1 win over Mainz.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — In his first minutes of the new season, Chandler recorded an assist in Frankfurt’s 2-1 loss to RB Leipzig. The fullback played 13 minutes on Sunday.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t feature for Leipzig as he continues to deal with a reported“complicated” injury.

Honorable Mentions:

Erik Palmer-Brown, Austria Wein – Palmer-Brown’s stint in Austria is off to a poor start. In his league debut, the defender saw a straight red card in the 75th minute.

Terrence Boyd, Hallescher FC – Meanwhile in Germany, all things indicate that Boyd is feeling comfortable. The ex-Toronto striker scored a goal and played 82 minutes in Hallescher FC’s 3-0 win over Unterhaching in Germany’s third division.

Pulisic watch: How did USMNT star perform for Chelsea at Norwich?

Joe Prince-WrightNBC Sports•Aug 24, 2019, 9:40 AM


Saturday was a big day for USMNT star Christian Pulisic in the Premier League, as he played a pivotal role in Frank Lampard securing his first win as Chelsea’s boss with the Blues beating Norwich City 3-2.

Pulisic, 20, grabbed an assist and a hockey assist in the first 17 minutes as the Chelsea winger caused Norwich all kinds of problems as he drifted off the right flank time and time again.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The Pennsylvania native needed a big display with Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi both fit and fighting for his spot out wide on the left but with Pedro out injured in the warm up, Pulisic played really well on the right and went 84 minutes.

Here’s a look at how Pulisic performed against Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday.

1st minute: Pulisic lines up on the right wing after Pedro is injured in the warm up and Ross Barkleyreplaces him in the lineup.

3rd minute: Launches himself into three tackles in quick succession, winning the final with a perfect sliding lunge.

4th minute: Controls a long pass across the pitch, runs at Norwich’s defense and plays in the overlapping Cesar Azpilicueta. His cross is volleyed home by Tammy Abraham to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead.

6th minute: Norwich attack down Pulisic’s side and get behind Azpilicueta, as Pukki crosses for Cantwell to make it 1-1.

11th minute: Pulisic pops up centrally but Norwich win the ball box just before he bursts into the box.

13th minute: Slides into a tackle and is getting through a lot of defensive works with Buendia drifting inside from Norwich’s left.

14th minute: Links up well with Mateo Kovacic on multiple occasions with clever passing and flicks. He is starting to drift inside a lot more.

17th minute: Pulisic pops up centrally, again, and slots in a perfect pass to Mount who slots home to put Chelsea 2-1 up. Pulisic grabs his first Premier League assist.

23rd minute: After making a surging run down the right, moments later he slips as he tries to wriggle free from a defender in the box.

29th minute: Pulisic gets on the ball and plays in Jorginho in the box. All the Italian midfielder has to do is slot home, but he makes a mess of it.

33rd minute: After Norwich’s Teemu Pukki made it 2-2, the home side have the momentum. Pulisic launches into a fine tackle on Lewis and is dropping deeper and deeper to help his team defend.

36th minute: Azpilicueta whips a cross into the box and Pulisic jumps high but the ball is just flicked away from him.

38th minute: His cross to the back post misses everyone and drifts out of play.

39th minute: Falls down in the box under pressure as he tries to control a looping pass.

44th minute: After a lovely darting run inside, Barkley picks him out and he twists and turns in the box. Eventually gets a shot off which is blocked.

45th minute + 2: Pulisic again wriggles free centrally and sets up Barkley who smashes way over the bar.

47th minute: Races free into the box and slams a shot into the side-netting with Abraham waiting for the pass. Should have done better with the finish. Didn’t look confident at all when taking the shot on.

55th minute: Tammy Abraham flicks the ball around the corner to Pulisic but Lewis wrestles him off the ball. Moments later Pulisic is tackled by Lewis.

61st minute: Cuts inside from the right and plays the ball to Mount who sets up Emerson who fires an effort right at Krul.

66th minute: Wins a foul just outside of his own box as his fantastic battle with Lewis continues.

71st minute: Loses a tackle on the edge of the box as Norwich push for an equalizer after Abraham put Chelsea 3-2 up. Godfrey hits the crossbar from a corner soon after.

75th minute: Tracked back as Buendia controlled a flashed in a dangerous cross. Good defensive work.

79th minute: Again, fine work down the right and a ball cut back to the edge of the box is dummied by Mount and Barkley’s shot is blocked.

80th minute: Pulisic is found by Kovacic in the box and his cross to Giroud is scrambled clear by Norwich.

84th minute: Subbed out and replaced by Willian. Gets a pat on the back from Frank Lampard and a warm ovation from the Chelsea fans.

USA sets friendly attendance record during 4-0 win over Portugal

On a Thursday night!

By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Aug 29, 2019, 6:10pm PDTAll sharing options

Starting XI: Adrianna Franch, Tierna Davidson, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Sonnett, Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Morgan Brian, Christen Press, Carli LloydTobin Heath

There were some changes but not as many as you’d think to a line up dealing with several ongoing injuries. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle, and Kelley O’Hara were all unavailable for the USWNT’s friendly against Portugal in Philadelphia, while Ali Krieger was dealing with a family commitment. That meant starts for both Tierna Davidson and Emily Sonnett, which was somewhat surprising given the availability of Crystal Dunn and Casey Short.Still, defensive choices didn’t seem to be too detrimental to the United States, as they opened up the first half with a goal in the 4’. Tobin Heath cleaned up a a ball dropped across face of goal by Christen Press and the US followed that up with plenty of midfield and forward pressure to keep Portugal pressed back. The midfield added numbers high at times, putting four and five players into Portugal’s back line, while also forcing turnovers to interrupt any attempt from Portugal to make a foray forward.The US doubled their lead in the 18’ after Carli Lloyd earned a corner with her thwarted attack on goal from a steep angle. Press took the corner and literally dropped the ball on an unmarked Morgan Brian’s head at the far post. Brian barely had to move to pop the ball into the back of the net.Portugal contracted a bit after that, looking afraid to get suckered out of position, giving the US some easy opportunities to play wide and drop balls into the box. But they also turned up their defending, swarming any player with the ball in the 18. That left room for the US to operate out of the midfield, with Horan, Ertz, and even Press picking up the ball in space and looking up, but Lloyd wasn’t able to pounce as required on forward passes.The second half started with three subs, as Heath, Davidson, and Dahlkemper came out for Jess McDonald, Sam Mewis, and Crystal Dunn. Dunn went to left back and Ertz dropped into the back line, letting Mewis take over central midfield.Lloyd made up for any missed opportunities in a hurry, scoring in the 52’ as a long McDonald throwin deflected into her path. Lloyd’s stabbing kick was good enough to make it 3-0.The United States made another substitution en masse in the 60’, pulling Brian, Sonnett, and Horan and putting in Mal Pugh, Allie Long, and Casey Short. Lloyd dropped back, making it a Mewis – Long – Lloyd midfield.The US took a while to adjust to all the changes, getting tangled up a bit in midfield with their ball movement. They got stuck trying to move the ball out of the back with sloppy passing, but eventually crisped up again.Christen Press had a goal ruled out in the 78’ as a switch to McDonald put her into space for the cross. Unfortunately, as the ball deflected off the goalkeeper’s hands, it hit Press and was ruled a handball. The US was unbothered, making it 4-0 anyway in the 82’ as Carli Lloyd took that wide right space for herself, juked her defender, and hit Allie Long near post. Long dropped her head smartly to deflect it in.Press had another go in the dying minutes of the game, bringing the ball down in the box and setting herself up for a shot, but the ball hit the post. It was an unlucky moment for Press, who was a handful for defenders all night long whether she drifted wide or moved central.Portugal had a late push forward, trying to exploit space behind with Dunn pushed high, but the US defended it out and finished the game at 4-0.For all that the US had the occasional issue working their way through Portugal’s defensive shell, particularly while trying to reorganize themselves after group substitutions, they looked just fine, particularly given that many of them are sorely in need of a rest that they’re just not going to get as NWSL approaches playoff season (that sound you hear is Rory Dames yelling in the distance for Julie Ertz to sit out even 45 minutes). The midfield again showed off their ability to fluidly adapt, with Ertz, Mewis, and Horan drifting in and out of each other’s spaces. Action from the fullbacks was varied – to be expected, given Davidson being shuffled out of her more familiar central role. But Sonnett and Short were active on the wings; it was particularly nice to see Short getting good minutes and showing her ability to work in the current system.In the end it was a win with no injuries in front of a record friendly crowd of 49,504 on a Thursday night in Philly and the team can inch ever-closer to a (hopefully) restful offseason.


Boys In Blue Gear Up for Second Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest of 2019

#LOUvIND Gameday Preview   Indy Eleven at Louisville City FC
Friday, August 30, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. ET   Louisville Slugger Field  |  Louisville, Ken. 
 Local/National TV: WISH-TV, ESPN3


Indy Eleven: 14W-4L-4D, 46 pts., 4th in Eastern Conference

Louisville City FC: 12W-7L-6D, 42 pts., 7th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings


Indy Eleven  1 : 1  Louisville City FC | Saturday, June 29

The first edition of the 2019 Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest ended in a 1-1 stalemate at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy opened the scoring in the ninth with a goal from midfielder Tyler Pasher, but an impressive, equalizing direct free kick from Louisville midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo 10 minutes into the second half left Indy goalkeeper Jordan Farr flat footed.


Indy Eleven  3 : 1  Charlotte Independence  |  Sunday, August 25

Indy Eleven claimed three points in a 3-1 victory over Charlotte Independence on Sunday night after a second-half brace from midfielder Drew Conner sent fans home happy. Charlotte struck first in the 15th minute after an unlucky deflection off Niki Jackson from a free kick found the back of Indy’s net. However, Indy defender Karl Ouimette leveled the scores just before the half. Come the second half, Conner netted his first professional goal in the 53rd minute and a cheeky second 30 minutes later to secure the win.


  • A victory on Friday night would see the Boys in Blue climb as high as second place in the Eastern Conference. Indy Eleven currently sits within a win of both the second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies (49 pts.) and third-place Nashville SC (48 pts.) – and holds three and four games in hand on those clubs, respectively.
  • Friday marks the second of two scheduled 2019 editions of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (or LIPAFC, for short).
  • After their June 29 draw at Lucas Oil Stadium, the all-time regular season series is deadlocked at 1W-1L-2D each. Last year’s regular season series was split 1W-1L-1D, Indy Eleven taking the opener at home 1-0 on May 5 before crossing the Ohio River for a 2-2 draw on August 5 and a 0-1 defeat in the regular season finale on October 13.
  • It was LCFC capturing the most important LIPAFC fixture of 2018, a 4-1 win at Louisville Slugger Field in the USL Championship Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that began their march to a second consecutive USL Cup title.
  • In addition to last year’s meetings, the border rivals also met twice in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action in back-to-back years at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium. Fittingly, the games were split, Louisville City upsetting the Boys in Blue 2-0 in the 2015 USOC Third Round and Indy Eleven capturing a 2-1 win in the same round the following year.
  • Indy Eleven leads the USL Championship with only 17 goals allowed. The Boys in Blue are also third in the Eastern Conference in clean sheets recorded with 10 and tied for fourth in the entirety of the league, trailing by only one in each category.
  • First-year Indy Eleven forward Ilija Ilic spent 2015-2018 with Louisville City FC, making 75 appearances and scoring 17 goals for the Kentucky-based team. Ilić, one of Louisville City FC’s inaugural signings, tallied 13 of his 17 goals and 10 assists in a record 32 games in his breakout season last year.
  • Ilic and teammate Macauley King, as well as LCFC’s Niall McCabe, played collegiately for Young Harris College, a Division II school based in Young Harris, Ga.
  • Louisville Defender Shaun Francis made two appearances for former USL Premiere Development League side Indiana Invaders in 2008. Since joining Louisville, the defender has made 12 starts in 13 appearances for the club.


Midfielder Drew Conner had himself a game last Sunday night in his first start since signing for the Boys in Blue on August 13. The former Chicago Fire homegrown product scored his first professional goal and added another for good measure against Charlotte Independence in a 3-1 win at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The midfielder also completed an outstanding 96% of the passes he played against Charlotte, showing the 25-year-old not only knows how to put the ball in the back of the net, but can swiftly move up the pitch, as well. If that wasn’t enough, Conner created two more scoring opportunities for his teammates during his 87 minutes on the pitch, making him all the more dangerous in Indy’s attacking third. What other possible attribute could the versatile Conner bring to the table, you ask? He’s not shy to get stuck in either, which could help the visitors set the tone in an importantrivalry game.


Back on July 28, both midfielder Luke Spencer and striker George Davis IV got the start in attacking roles in a 3-0 loss at Loudoun United FC – one that apparently didn’t sit too well with Head Coach John Hackworth. In the four games since, both players have entered every game as second half subs – and both have contributed a pair of goals, including a game-winner.So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, with red-hot team leading scorer Magnus Rasmussen suspended for Friday’s fracas due to yellow card accumulation, Hackworth’s hand will be forced, meaning one of the two recent “super subs” will likely be back in the starting XI. Whichever one it is will have plenty of motivation to keep his spot, and therefore might be an extra handful for Indy’s stingy defense.


Coach Martin Rennie is starting to rely on Lucas Farias to man his right flank more and more as we march into the latter half of the 2019 USL Championship season. In the first outing against Louisville, the man tasked with keeping tabs on Farias was midfielder Oscar Jimenez.The two squared off as attacking outside backs in each team’s system. In the first match against Indy, Louisville played a 3-5-2 formation that saw each player act as an attacking wing back. Since the end of June, Farias has been a prominent figure in Indy’s starting XI, appearing seven times on the right side of the midfield, with the last four consecutive appearances in the starting lineup. The Brazilian has racked up three assists when Indy has had homefield advantage, but playing on the road doesn’t appear to bother him too much. In his most recent away fixtures against North Carolina FC and Nashville SC, the 25-year-old completed 90% of his passes and created one chance.Jimenez has been an iron man in the Louisville backline, starting all of his 25 appearances and only being subbed off three times. He lined up on the same wing as Farias on June 29 and created five chances compared to that of Farias’ lack of key passes. Neither attacking back was able to complete a hefty number of passes, as the aggressiveness of the last match disrupted the flow of the game, seeing six yellow cards even distributed to both teams. In his last three matches, Jimenez has continued to flex his ability to distribute, recording one assist on 10 chances created. The 29-year-old leads his team by leaps and bounds in that category, having created 80 chances this season. Friday’s away installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest will mark the beginning of Indy Eleven’s busiest stretch of games in club history, a 10-game, 36-day gauntlet that will see Indiana’s Team make up the several games in hand it has on its fellow Eastern Conference elite.Indy Eleven will then return to Lucas Oil Stadium next Wednesday, September 4, when it will look to even its club-record 21-game home unbeaten streak in a pivotal contest against East-leading New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.


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8/23/19  MLS Rivalry Weekend, EPL Liverpool vs Arsenal Sat 12:30 NBC, Indy 11 Home Sun 6 pm, Italy Season Starts

Italy becomes the last major European league to kick off their season this weekend as Juventus and Renaldo look to carry the baton for Italian teams into the Champions League season.  My favorite Goalkeeper Gigi Buffon has returned to his longtime home at Juve – this time as a backup – (yeah 3 weeks I give it till he startsJ).  Here is a quick Serie A Preview  here – but I look for Juventus to of course win the league – the battle will be for the Champions League spots among Napoli, Inter and AC Milan,  and more.  Of course all the games will be on ESPN+ with the occasional game on ESPN2 or News. 

Huge Congrats to US Keeper Zach Steffan who was Glorious in First Start in Germany he made no fewer than 10 saves in his first start for Dusseldorf – even stopping a sure goal from fellow US youngster Josh Sargent.  This week Steffan and Dussledorf travel to Bayer Levekusen at 9:30 am on FS1.  Later Sat US Dmid Mckinney will be in the spotlight at his Schalke travels to Bayern Munich Sat at 12:30 on Fox Sports 1 as Bayern looks to avenge their opening game tie.   US starlet Christian Pulisic will look to bounce back this weekend for Chelsea at 7:30 am on NBCSN vs Norwich, while Man U hosts Crystal Palace at 10 am and a solid top 6 matchup – as Liverpool hosts Arsenal at 12:30 pm on NBC.  Of course I will be keeping an eye on American players across the world as the seasons oversea’s get started.


The Playoff picture comes into focus this weekend as Rivalry Weekend kicks off with no fewer than 4 Championship Caliber Games on National TV this weekend.  Great piece on the Crazy fans in MLS as ESPN features some of the top MLS stadium experiences – that could rival many in Europe.  The fun starts Friday on ESPN with Orlando City looking to break their Atlanta United curse (8pm ET), followed by a Cascadia clash between Portland and Seattle (10 pm ET) with both teams looking to secure their playoff positions. Last but certainly not least, Hudson River Derby rivals New York Red Bulls and New York City FC clash Saturday in the Big Apple on ESPN 2 (7pm ET).  Finally and perhaps the BEST of them all is El Traffico between MLS best team LAFC with Vela and the LA Galaxy with Zlatan Ibrahimovich who has never lost to LAFC –  Sunday night at 10 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Hey you European Soccer Snobs – (you know who you are) do yourself a favor and tune in tonight or tomorrow or Sunday to MLS – you might find like me – that the overall play has really improved and the TV experience is truly magnificent at some of these new temples of Soccer in America.  Oh and if you haven’t seen this yet – Carlos Vela with a Magic goal – (with a proper Goal Call by an American!!)  Was the goal maybe the best ever in MLS history – the boys at MLS Soccer discuss.

Indy 11 @ Home Sun 6 pm

I had a chance to head out to the Indy 11 win last Sunday night a solid 2-1 win over new MLS to be team St. Louis.  The Boys in Blue (13W-4L-4D, 43 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference) will return to USL Championship action Sunday night at 6 pm vs Charlotte Independence on Aug. 25 (“Red Out” Summer Celebration). Tickets for those 6:00 p.m. contests at Lucas Oil Stadium remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.  The games will be on MyIndyTV and ESPN+ as well.

Pack the House Night for #1 Ranked Carmel Carmel Girls Friday night 7 pm

Pack the House night is this Friday Night, 8/22 at Murray Stadium at Carmel High School as the CHS battle Guerin High.  Here’s a quick Season preview  ton’s of former Carmel FC girls on that squad – including All State GK Erin Baker.  Congrats to former Carmel FC Goalkeepers Gabe Moorman and Henry Giesel for making the boys varsity team – Moorman helped lead #24 ranked Carmel to a 1-1 tie with #15 ranked Noblesville last night.  If you would like to have your team be Ballgirls for the Defending State Champion Girls team please reach out to Tom Baker at Tom@embarkto.com.

CFC Goalkeeping Training with myself and Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr will be Monday at Badger 6-8 pm and Thursday at Shelbourne 6-8 pm.


Tues, Aug 27

3 pm TNT                                              Crevena Zvedzda vs Young Boys  UCL

8 pm ESPN+                                            Atlanta United vs Minn United (US Open Cup) 

Thurs, Aug 29

7 pm Fox Sports1                             USA Ladies vs Portugal

Fri, Aug 30

2:30 pm FS 2                                         MGladbach (Johnson) vs RB Leipzig

2:45 pm bEIN Sport                          PSG vs Metz

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+                Louisville vs Indy 11

Sat, Aug 31

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Southhampton vs Man United

9:30 am FS1                                            Bayern Munich vs Mainz

9:30 am FS2                                            Schalke (McKinney) vs Hertha BSC

10 am NBCSN                                        Chelsea (Pulisic)  vs Sheffield United

11 am beIN sport                               Osasuana vs Barcelona

12 noon ESPN+                                     Parma vs Juventus

1 pm bein Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Burnley vs Liverpool

12:30 pm FS1                                        Union Berlin vs Dormund

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Juve vs Napoli

3 pm beIN Sports                               France vs Spain (Ladies)

7;30 pm ESPN+                                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Cincy

10:30 pm ESPN+                                 Portland vs Real Salt Lake

Sun, Sept 1

9 am NBCSN                                           Everton vs  Wolverhampton

9:30 m FS1                                              Werder Bremen vs Ausburg

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Arsenal vs Tottenham 

12 noon FS1                                           Frankfort vs Dusseldorf (Steffan)

3 pm beIN sport                                  Villarreal vs Real Madrid

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars 

6:30 pm FS1                                           Seattle vs LA Galaxy 

10:30 pm fS1                                        LAFC vs Minn United 

Tues, Sept 3

1 pm ESPN2                                       USA Ladies vs Portugal

WEds, Sept 4

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+          Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls2

Fri, Sept 6

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Germany vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifiying)

8:30 pm Fox Sports1                         USA vs Mexico

Sat, Sept 7

12noon ESPN+                                      England vs Bulgaria (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  France vs Albania (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Serbia vs Portugal (Euro Qualifiying)

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

MLS – Rivalry Weekend

Best goal in MLS history? Inside Vela’s worldie

Wiebe: No need for hype, MLS rivalries are real

Doyle: STL, Rivalry Week & more in the mailbag

Seattle vs. Portland: History behind the rivalry


Robles: “No excuses” as RBNY run rivalry gauntlet

What a golazo! Matchday Central on Vela’s stunner

Wayne Rooney sent off early in Atlantic Cup

Meet the deadliest derby players in MLS history

Wondo: Breaking LD’s record brought me freedom

Warshaw: Why Montreal made their surprising change

Check out Nashville SC’s new stadium renderings

Soccer-MLS awards expansion franchise to St. Louis

What to know about soccer history in St. Louis

Twellman: MLS in St. Louis will “surprise” people

Actor McConaughey joins MLS expansion team Austin FC as part owner


US Players Playing on TV

US Keeper Zach Steffan was Glorious in First Start in Germany

Why Christian Pulisic chose Chelsea over Man United

Predicting the USMNT September call-ups

Adams expected to return to training with RB Leipzig in ‘two or three weeks’

USMNT’s Green flying high with new manager, new position


USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

NC Courage gets to Final with Lyon in Women’s ICC Cup


Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks Joe Prince-Wright reveals his score predictions for the 10 PL games this week

Arsenal nowhere near good enough to challenge Man City and Liverpool for title – Parlour

Kroenke talks Arsenal transfer success despite no UCL


Why Juventus’s dominance isn’t a problem for Serie A

Serie A Preview – ESPNFC

Serie A 2019-20 preview: Juventus has strengthened, but so have their rivals

Messi ‘made me better player’, says Ronaldo


Most Valuable Keepers in the World Today (missing Buffon and Coach Jordan Farr)

US Keeper Zach Steffan was Glorious in First Start in Germany

Loris Saves Spurs vs Man City

Chelsea’s Kepa Great double Save vs Liverpool

USL Save of the Week

Great PK Saves

Manuel Neuer Training

NWSL Save of the Week Kailen Sheridan Sky Blue

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview of Charlotte Game at Home Sunday

Indy 11 – 3 Things

Indy 11 – 2-1 over St Louis

Indy 11 Signs pair of South American Strikers

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


Girls soccer: Carmel expects another competitive season


Soccer seasons don’t get much better than the one the Carmel girls team had last year. The Greyhounds had a brilliant campaign in 2018, finishing with a 20-1-2 record and the school’s 10th IHSAA state championship. Carmel won the Class 3A final in overtime 2-1, with Kelsie James scoring the winning goal.So what will 2019 bring for the ‘Hounds? It’s likely there will be more success, as Carmel has what coach Frank Dixon calls “a very experienced team” with 10 seniors and seven juniors. That includes seven starters from last season’s state championship team.The list of returners starts with James, now a senior, who was Carmel’s leading scorer last year with 11 goals and 10 assists. The defense will be experienced too, led by goalkeeper junior Erin Baker, who was named to the All-State team last season. Baker totaled 45 saves and only allowed four goals to the Greyhounds’ opponents during the entire season.Carmel will have the majority of its returners in the midfield, with three starters coming back: Seniors Cassidy Eckstein and Morgan Parker and junior Susie Soderstrom. The other two returners were defenders, senior Olivia Fray and junior Claire Bonnici.“We graduated the right side of our back four as well as our starting defensive midfielder so we will be working on defensive organization and communication to start the season,” said Dixon. “One of those defenders was the Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year and she was very big in our attack so we will need to try to replace that production also.”That Player of the Year was Emily Speidel, now playing at Western Kentucky. Dixon said his team currently has five players who are verbally committed to continuing their soccer careers in college.
“With all the experience, I believe this team has the potential, if the players work as a team, to be very good,” said Dixon.
Carmel will begin its season Friday by hosting Guerin Catholic.“It should be another competitive year for the Greyhounds,” said Dixon.  Lots of former Carmel FC girls on this roster – including all-state Goalkeeper Erin Baker.

Seniors: Emma Antoine, Abby Dickerson, Cassidy Eckstein, Olivia Fray, Gracie Gilbert, Mia Glass, Kelsie James, Naomi Mann, Morgan Parker.
Juniors: Brooke Bailey, Erin Baker, Claire Bonnici, Carly Jessup, Olivia Johnson, Riley Pennington, Susie Soderstrom.
Sophomores: Lauren Bailey, Saliyah Brady, Emily Roper, Tamara Smith.


USMNT Aug 23-25 viewing guide and open thread

By jcksnftsn  Aug 23, 2019, 8:00am PDTPhoto by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

It’s rivalry week in the MLS and there are a number of regional match-ups throughout the weekend, including six on national TV. Add to that another seven nationally televised games being played across Europe and you have a weekend full of viewing options for people trying to find a glimpse of USMNT players in action with their club teams. Here’s what you can watch:


Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders – 10p on ESPN

Portland and Seattle face off late Friday in Portland in what seems sure to be an exciting match between Western Conference playoff contenders and pacific northwest rivals. It’s apparently Seattle’s turn to win as the teams have alternated victories their past five matches with Portland winning most recently in July.

Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan will see the field for Seattle who are coming off a 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy while Jorge Villafana and Jeremy Ebobisse are likely to see time for a Portland team coming off a 2-0 loss to Atlanta.

Other Notes:


Fortuna Dusseldorf v Bayer Leverkusen – 9:30a on FS1

Zack Steffen will look to follow up his man of the match performance last weekend with Fortuna Dusseldorf when the team meets Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday morning. It was a fantastic start to the season for Steffen as his 10 saves led Dusseldorf to a 3-1 win over Werder Bremen in their season opener. Steffen will look to build on that this week when the team meets Bayer Leverkusen who are coming off a 3-2 win over SC Paderborn. Also joining Steffen will be Alfredo Morales who went 90’ in the teams opener last weekend.

Other Notes:

  • Christian Pulisic will look to rebound from a rough outing when Chelsea face Norwich Cityat 7:30a on NBCSN.
  • Fabian Johnson has been seeing regular minutes as a sub for a Borussia Monchengladbach team that has top four aspirations this season. They play Mainz 05 at 9:30a on FS2.
  • Weston McKennie and Schalke will need to create some offense if they’re going to keep up with Bayern Munich when the teams meet at 12:30p on FS1.
  • New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls meet at 7p on ESPN2. Keaton Parks has been seeing regular minutes for NYCFC, for the Red Bulls keep an eye on Aaron Long.


Hertha Berlin v Wolfsburg – Noon on FS1

John Brooks and Wolfsburg got their 2019-20 campaign off to a solid start last weekend with a 2-1 win over FC Koln and will look to build on that this weekend when they take on Hertha Berlin. Brooks had a nearly injury free season last year but was unfortunately injured towards the end of the season and forced to miss the Gold Cup. Thankfully Brooks is back to full health and looking ahead to another solid year in the Bundesliga.

Other Notes:

  • RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt meet at 9:30a on FS1. Tyler Adams is still 2-3 weeks from a return from his adductor injury but Timothy Chandler should be available for Eintracht Frankfurt though he has seen limited minutes for the club thus far this season.
  • DeAndre Yedlin also continues to recover from injury and will not be available when Newcastle meet Tottenham at 11:30a on NBCSN,
  • FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew meet at 6p on FS1 with Gyasi Zardes and Wil Trapp likely to see time for Columbus.
  • FC Dallas and the Huston Dynamo play at 8p on FS1. Paxton Pomykal leads the way for Dallas who’s youth movement also includes Brandon Servania, Edwin Cerrillo, Reggie Cannon, Jesse Gonzalez, and perhaps even Ricardo Pepi.
  • In the nightcap the Los Angeles Football Club and the Los Angeles Galaxy face off at 10:30p on FS1. Walker Zimmerman continues to lead the LAFC defense while Joe Corona will likely see time for the Galaxy.


Serie A Preview: Juve remain favourites, but Napoli, Inter poised to pounce if Sarri experiment backfires

12:57 PM ETTom WilliamsESPN.com writer

After a three-month hiatus, Serie A returns this Saturday, starting with Juventus at Parma, while every game in Italy’s top flight can be seen live in the United States on ESPN+ this season.On the eve of the 2019-20 campaign, there is hope for all 20 clubs and questions abound: Will Juve win a ninth consecutive Scudetto? Who will qualify for the Champions League? Can Mario Balotelli keep his hometown club Brescia from being relegated?Tom Williams is here to answer those questions and examine all of the calcio storylines to watch in 2019-20.

Serie A is still Juventus’ to lose

If Juventus fans will be closely scrutinising how their team adapts to life under new head coach Maurizio Sarri over the opening weeks of the new Serie A season, the same will be true for supporters of their expected title rivals, Napoli and Inter Milan.

Sarri, who might miss Saturday’s opening fixture against Parma after being diagnosed with pneumonia, was brought to Juventus to take the club to the next level. After eight successive Serie A titles, won by an average of more than nine points, mere domestic dominance will no longer suffice. The former Napoli coach is expected to inject panache into the somewhat perfunctory football that was Juve’s calling card under Massimiliano Allegri and end the club’s 23-year wait for a third Champions League crown.

It is no small order, but he has plenty of resources at his disposal. Juve saw off competition from various super clubs to sign centre-back starlet Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax and have bolstered their midfield with free transfers Aaron Ramsey from Arsenal and former PSG ace Adrien RabiotCristiano Ronaldo, last season’s Serie A Player of the Year, has had a full year to acclimate to life in Italy and is chasing a sixth Ballon d’Or. Although Juve must adapt to an unfamiliar coach, so too must Inter, AC Milan and Roma.

If everything clicks, the Scudetto will be Juve’s to lose. But if Sarri experiences any of the teething problems he encountered during his solitary season at Chelsea, where the fans never took to his vision or style, the chances of Italy crowning a first champion other than Juve since Allegri’s Milan took the spoils in 2011 will significantly increase.


Who can strike if Juve slip?

Runners-up last season, Napoli have enjoyed a more tranquil summer than their major rivals, with Carlo Ancelotti remaining at the helm and the club quietly conducting some impressive transfer business. Kostas Manolas, a €36 million capture from Roma, looks set to form what could become one of Europe’s most imposing centre-back partnerships alongside Kalidou Koulibaly, while Mexico winger Hirving Lozano will add dynamism and directness in attack — and soften the blow of losing to Arsenal for Nicolas Pepe.

Stream soccer on ESPN+: Serie A, MLS, Nations League, FA Cup and more (U.S. only)

Napoli failed to replicate 2017-18’s captivating title charge last season due to their inability to win the big games. They lost twice to Juve in the league, were eliminated by Milan in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals and crashed out of the Europa League against Arsenal, having previously failed to advance out of a Champions League group with PSG, Liverpool and Red Star Belgrade. But Ancelotti believes Napoli’s serene summer could give his side an edge.”Napoli will get to the start of the season quite tried and tested,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We don’t need to experiment in our play in order to become more fluent. That may give us a small advantage over our rivals, who have changed something.”If Napoli are banking on stability, an offseason of clear-minded evolution at Inter has left Nerazzurri supporters dreaming of a first league title since Jose Mourinho’s 2010 treble.Inter head into the new campaign with a management team that knows exactly what it takes to win the championship, after former Juve CEO Beppe Marotta brought in former Juve coach Antonio Conte to replace Luciano Spalletti. A born winner, Conte’s task is to infuse Inter with the kind of uncompromising mentality he instilled at Juve, where he won three Scudetti in a row, and with Chelsea, who stormed to the Premier League title in his first season in England.Conte’s preferred 3-5-2 system will benefit from intelligent additions in every department: the wily Diego Godin bolstering the defence, young Italy internationals Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella bringing craft and guile to midfield, and Romelu Lukaku, a €80 million acquisition from Manchester United, furnishing the new coach with the kind of battering ram striker he adores in attack. With Radja Nainggolan (loaned to Cagliari) and Ivan Perisic(loaned to Bayern Munich) gone and divisive former captain Mauro Icardi expected to follow, Inter will also hope to avoid some of the internal conflicts that hampered them in 2018-19.”I don’t have a magic wand, but it’s up to me to show the way, and it’ll be important for everyone to follow this path,” Conte said earlier this summer. “A spirit of sacrifice, ferocity, passion and a great desire to work hard will be required if we want to have a season where we’re one of the key players, as is our intention.”


The race for Champions League qualification

Conte’s return to his homeland maintains Serie A’s quota of tigerish former Italy midfielders, following Gennaro Gattuso’s departure from Milan in the wake of last season’s disappointing fifth-place finish. Former Sampdoria coach Marco Giampaolo will look to add some sparkle to the Rossoneri’s football, and with no European commitments to worry about, after Milan were excluded from the Europa League due to Financial Fair Play infringements, he will have plenty of time to hone his signature 4-3-1-2 system.Ismael Bennacer, signed from Empoli after starring in Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations triumph, is an eye-catching acquisition in midfield, while young Portuguese forward Rafael Leao, bought from Lille for €35 million to replace the outgoing Patrick Cutrone (Wolves), will form a new-look strike partnership with Krzysztof Piatek, who hopes to put the curse of the Milan No. 9 shirt to bed after inheriting the jersey following his impressive start to life at San Siro last season.Sixth last term, Roma are looking to new head coach Paulo Fonseca and a youthful squad to find calmer waters after a turbulent few months in which the Giallorossi parted ways with a coach (Eusebio Di Francesco), a sporting director (Monchi) and two club legends in Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi. Simone Inzaghi remains in charge across town at Lazio, where last season’s Coppa Italia winners will attempt to improve on an eighth-place showing, despite modest dealings in the transfer window to date.Then there is last season’s surprise package, Atalanta, who were guided to a superb third-place finish by Gian Piero Gasperini. They must contend with the distraction of the first Champions League campaign in their 111-year history, which seems certain to take a toll on the squad over the first half of the season at least.

Other storylines to watch

The other clubs bidding to upset the established order include Sampdoria, where Di Francesco is now in charge, Walter Mazzarri’s water-tight Torino and Bologna, who are likely to benefit from widespread neutral support following head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic’s leukemia diagnosis. The former free-kick maestro, who steered Bologna to safety last season after arriving in January, has been watching training sessions and friendly matches from his hospital bed and delivering team talks via Skype.Brescia, promoted from Serie B alongside Lecce and Verona, have generated plenty of column inches following Mario Balotelli‘s decision to sign for his hometown club. The striker, who spent the second half of last season at Marseille, is motivated by the ambition of claiming a spot in Italy’s squad for Euro 2020, but national coach Roberto Mancini — who knows the 29-year-old better than most — has warned him to not expect any special treatment.”I love him, but I can’t do anything for him. He must remember that he’s in the prime of his career and that he still has so much to give,” Mancini told La Gazzetta. “It’s all about how much he wants it.”


By IndyEleven.com, 08/22/19, 5:45PM EDTShare bBoys In Blue Look to Continue Hot Form at Home in Second Match-up vs. Charlotte Independence

Sunday, August 25, 2019 – 6:00 P.M. ET  Lucas Oil Stadium  |  Indianapolis, IN       


Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23   Radio (Spanish): Exitos Radio 1590 AM


Indy Eleven: 13W-4L-4D, 43 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference

Charlotte Independence: 5W-10L-10D, 25 pts., 12th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings


Indy Eleven 3 : 2 Charlotte Independence | Friday, March 15

The Boys in Blue staved off two late goals at Charlotte Independence to secure a 3-2 victory in Week Two of USL Championship play. Goals from midfielders Macauley King and Tyler Gibson, in addition to a third from forward Thomas Enevoldsen, were enough to maintain the lead and begin a four-game winning streak.


Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Saint Louis FC  | Sunday, August 18

Indy Eleven’s relationship with late-game drama continued to burn bright after an 81st minute goal from forward Dane Kelly grabbed another three points last Sunday, lifting the undefeated run at Lucas Oil Stadium to 19 games. In-form midfielder Tyler Pasher scored the game’s opening goal, and his ninth of the season, in the 67th minute before Kelly doubled the lead. Forward Eugene Starikov also returned to the field for the first time since March 30, and new signee Drew Conner made his debut for Indy.

Charlotte Independence 1 : 3 Nashville SC  | Saturday, August 17

Charlotte Independence fell to Nashville on Saturday night after midfielder Enzo Martinez’s equalizer in the 23rd minute was nullified by a pair of second-half goals by Nashville’s Daniel Rios and Kharlton Belmar. The loss extends Charlotte’s winless streak to five (0W-3L-2D), with their last victory dating back to a 2-1 win over Saint Louis on July 13.


  • Indy Eleven has an all-time record of 2W-0L-1D against Charlotte Independence, scoring five goals and allowing three goals in the three meetings.
  • Indy has a chance to extend its 19-game home undefeated streak (12W-0L-7D) to 20 on Sunday, with the possibility of equaling the longest such streak in club history coming against the team, Charlotte Independence, it began against on July 7, 2018.
  • Indy Eleven remains undefeated through 11 games at home in 2019 (7W-0L-4D). The Boys in Blue have scored 12 goals while allowing just three,and have recorded eight clean sheets.
  • A victory on Sunday night could see the Boys in Blue jump as high as a three-way tie for second place in the Eastern Conference standings. Indy Eleven (43 pts.) enters the weekend with three games in hand on the Tampa Bay Rowdies (46) and a whopping four games on Nashville (45), North Carolina FC (46) and New York Red Bulls II (50).
  • Sunday night’s match will feature the two most prolific scorers in USL Championship history in Indy Eleven forward Dane Kelly (72 goals) and Charlotte Independence forward Jorge Herrera (71 goals). Kelly broke the tie for the title he held for most of this season with last weekend’s game-winner versus Saint Louis FC.
  • Indiana’s Team is level with Tampa Bay Rowdies for least goals conceded in the league, allowing just 16 goals in 21 games while recording a total of 10 clean sheets, which sees the side tied for third most across both USL Championship conferences.Charlotte’s Aaron Maund will return to Indiana after spending 2008-11 in the Hoosier state playing collegiately with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, in addition to spending one year with former USL Premier Development club Indiana Invaders in 2011. Goalkeeper Brandon Miller also spent the 2010 PDL season with the Invaders.
  • The Independence will also feature former Major League Soccer heavyweight Dominic Oduro, who made 346 MLS appearances during his 12-year career in first division American soccer.


When not on international duty, Neveal Hackshaw has been the man tasked with handling the left side of Head Coach Martin Rennie’s backline. The Trinidad & Tobago international has been Rennie’s go-to defender, playing every minute of the 17 starts he’s received in his first year with the team. He’s been a prolific defender since signing for the Boys in Blue, working in tandem with the likes of Paddy Barrett and Karl Ouimette to keep the opposing attack at bay.The 23-year-old’s transition from the midfield to the back third has also contributed to his excellent passing numbers. Hackshaw has completed 81% of his passes this season in addition to contributing two goals. He’ll be tasked with keeping forwards Jorge Herrera and Dominic Oduro quiet on the flanks against Charlotte on Sunday.


Enzo Martinez’s 23rd minute equalizer was Charlotte’s lone goal against Nashville SC in the previous loss to the Tennessean side. Normally though, the 2016 and 2017 All-League First Team member acts as the team’s creator rather than goal scorer.Martinez leads Charlotte with six assists through 23 appearances. The 28-year-old leads his side in chances created as well, supplying 44 scoring opportunities for his teammates, nearly 10 more than the next in line. The Boys in Blue back third will have to keep an eye on Martinez come Sunday, as he created two chances, one of which led to a goal, in their previous meeting.


Sunday night’s fixture will feature a marquee matchup between the USL Championship’s all-time leading goal scorer in Indy forward Dane Kelly and the runner up to the title in Charlotte’s Herrera.In his last time out, Kelly broke his 13-game goalless streak when he toe-tipped the winning goal past Saint Louis FC ‘keeper Tomas Gomez in the 81st minute. The goal was the Jamaican’s fifth of the season. putting him back atop the all-time goal scoring chart in league history with 72 regular season goals to his name. His pace and power in the final third make Kelly difficult for centerbacks to track and contain, as he showed against Saint Louis when he bodied off captain Sam Fink and applied the finishing touch to claim the full three points. Kelly has a bone to pick with Charlotte, after he hit the crossbar in the first meeting between the two sides.A goal for Herrera on Sunday night would bring the Columbian back on level terms with Kelly for most goals scored in all-time Championship play. The 38-year-old has netted six times in 2019, making him the side’s second highest goal scorer behind Oduro. In his last three games, he’s contributed to three goals, scoring one and assisting the other two. Herrera will look to keep in form going against the Boys in Blue, but may find it difficult as he failed to put a single shot on target the last time he faced Indiana’s Team.Indy Eleven will look to continue its climb up the Eastern Conference standings this Sunday, Aug. 25, when Indiana’s Team plays host to Charlotte Independence (5W-10L-10D, 25 pts., 12th in East). Kickoff for the team’s “Red Out Night” contest – for which fans are encouraged to wear their favorite red gear to Lucas Oil Stadium – is set for 6:00 p.m. (live on WISH-TV 8), and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.


8/16/19  CFC Night at CHS Boys Game Thur night 7 pm, Germany & Spanish Seasons Start, EPL Man City vs Spurs Sat 12:30 NBC, Pulisic’s Chelsea vs Leicester Sun 11:30, Ladies ICC Sun, Indy 11 Home Sun 6 pm

Two more leagues kick off their season’s this weekend as the Bundesliga with plenty of American’s vying for playing time like Tyler Adams at RB Leipzig and starts and Weston McKinney at Schalke, John Brooks at Wolfsburg, GK Zach Steffen at Dusseldorf, and Josh Sargent at Werder Bremen.  La Liga kicked off Friday with a stunning loss by Barcelona at Athletic Club (with an injured Messi on the bench). Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will try to take advantage on the Catalan’s misstep checkout the season preview here.  The EPL got off to a good start last week –as most of the favorites won and Man United dominated Chelsea at Old Trafford. American Christian Pulisic struggled in his sub appearance in the opener at Old Trafford losing 4-0.  But in the EUFA Supercup vs Liverpool Wed – the 20 year starred as he started and had a beautiful assist for the opening goal – and a questionable offsides on his own goal just minutes later.  You could argue he was the best player on the field in the first half as Chelsea took the 1-0 lead into the half.  Of course Liverpool battled back – Pulisic came off in the 70th minute and the Reds won the game in PKs after 120 minutes.  But the 1-1 loss was certainly a huge turnaround performance for the Blues and should set them and Pulisic up for the home opener vs Leicester City on Sunday at 11:30 am on NBCSN.  The highlight game of the weekend features a top 4 showdown as Tottenham is hosting 2-time Champs Manchester City Saturday at 12:30 on NBC.  That’s after Liverpool host Norwich at 10 am on NBCSN.  Of course I will be keeping an eye on American players across the world as the seasons oversea’s get started.

Women’s Soccer ICC Sunday Night on ESPN2 & News

The Ladies Game takes Center Stage again Sunday afternoon as the Women’s ICC featuring 4 of the top Club Ladies Teams in the World will be on ESPNnews and ESPN2.  At 5 pm Man City faces Atletico Madrid on ESPNNews.  In the final Lyon will face the North Carolina Courage in a Winner take all Final at 7:30 pm on ESPN2.  Lyon – the European champions brings the who who of World Cup teams – Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, Dzsenifer Marozsan and Ada Hegerberg. Of the course NC counters with US stars Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Lynn Williams and Jessie McDonald.


See what happens when the best teams play?  Finally Atlanta United (the defending MLS Cup Champs) got to represent the US in a match against LigaMX Champion Club America to  win this week’s Campeones Cup. The Five Stripes (Atlanta) outlasted Club America to win the one-game annual clash between the league champions of MLS and Liga MX that debuted last year. They’ll host Minnesota United for the Open Cup final at Mercedes-Benz Stadium later this month, and are odds-on picks to secure a high seed in the East side of the MLS postseason bracket come fall – could the be in line for a Treble?  Amazing what this now 3 year old team has done in MLS – they average over 55K per game in the city that has embraced soccer and MLS like few others.  Sat night we get a Revitalized LA Galaxy and Ibra hosting Seattle at 10 pm on ESPN2 with 4th place in a tight playoff race on the line!!  Sunday we get Atlanta United traveling to Portland in a rematch of last Season’s MLS Cup Final – at 10 pm on Fox Sports 1.  The playoff picture continues to take shape in this week 24 and of course the news that St Louis will be awarded the next MLS Francise L

Indy 11 @ Home Sun 6 pm

The Indy traveled to Detroit for a mid-week friendly and took home a 1-0 victory as Carmel FC Goalkeeper Coach Jordan Farr notched his 3rd shut-out of the season. (Here’s a great save). He’s given up just 1 goal across 4 starts and two sub appearances.  The Boys in Blue (12W-4L-4D, 40 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference) will return to USL Championship action with a pair of Sunday evening affairs the next two weekends against Saint Louis FC on Aug. 18 (Faith & Family Night) and Charlotte Independence on Aug. 25 (“Red Out” Summer Celebration). Tickets for those 6:00 p.m. contests at Lucas Oil Stadium remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.  The games will be on MyIndyTV and ESPN+ as well.

Carmel FC Night at Carmel High School Game Thurs 7 pm

Carmel FC night is this Thursday Night, 8/22 at Murray Stadium at Carmel High School as the CHS Boys battle Noblesville.   Carmel FC players (girls and boys) wearing their blue jersey’s will get Free Admission for the game.  Kickoff is 7 pm at Murray.  If you are a Carmel FC coach looking to have your team be a ballboy for the boy’s season please reach out to club Prez Jeremy.slivinski@cdccarmelfc.com.  If you would like to have your team be Ballgirls for the Defending State Champion Girls team please reach out to Tom Baker at Tom@embarkto.com.

CFC Goalkeeping Training with myself and Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr will be Monday at Badger 6-8 pm and Wednesday 8/21 (not Thursday this week) at Shelbourne 6-8 pm.

Man U exposes Chelsea’s Defensive Flaws – Jon Wilson SI

Pulisic must impress quickly at Chelsea to shutdown unfair Hazard Comparisons Mark Odgen EPSNFC

Soccer-Bullet point previews of Premier League matches

UEL Roundup: Wolves thrash Pyunik, and more

It was another stellar performance from Wolves to advance in the Europa League.

·         Klopp applauds performance of referee Stephanie Frappart and UEFA Super Cup officials

A team of female officials took charge of the UEFA Super Cup for the first time on Wednesday and Jurgen Klopp was impressed.

Liverpool Super Cup hero Adrian injured by fan who crashed team’s on-field celebration  


DaMarcus Beasley has some fixes for American soccer

How US Star Pulisic did in First Game – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Pulisic Family Adjusts to being at Chelsea –Grant Wahl SI

Should Nagbe be back in the USMNT fold?

Markgraf hired as USWNT GM; Stewart promoted

U.S. planning bid to host 2027 Women’s WC

American Defender Chris Gloster Signs With PSV Eindhoven

 U.S. U20 star Mendez makes jump to PSV rival Ajax
U.S. youngster Araujo could make switch to Mexico

U20 Star Soto being approached by Chile

NWSL Record Crowd of 25K Sees Portland beat NC 2-1 on ESPNNews



Germany Bundesliga Season Preview

LA Liga – Spain – Season Preview

Transfer grades: Rating every major signing from Europe

UEFA postpones Champions League talks as clubs, leagues row



Week 24 Questions

What 2 Watch 4

Can Atlanta United win a treble this year?

Larentowicz: Campeones Cup was a “spectacle”

Warshaw: ATL bring the swagger to Campeones Cup

Breaking down ATL’s Campeones Cup win  Video

Inter Miami FC: How the franchise is shaping up

Zlatan, Galaxy get back in the winning groove

TFC, Impact through to CanChamp final

St Louis to be awarded next MLS Francise


Indy 11

Preview of Sunday St Louis Matchup

Indy 11 beats Detriot FC with Farr in the Net

Indy 11 Signs pair of South American Strikers

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

OC teen becomes youngest male to sign professional soccer contract in US


Fri, Aug 16

2:30 pm FS2                            Bayern Munich vs Hertha German Bundesliga Starts

3 pm beIN Sport                     Atheltic Club vs Barcelona (La Liga Starts)

Sat, Aug 17

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Arsenal vs Burnley

9:30 am FS1                                            Dortmund vs Ausburg

9:30 am FS2                                            Werder Bremen (Sargeant) vs Dusseldorf

10 am CNBC                                           Aston villa vs Bournmouth

10 am NBCSN                                        Southampton vs Liverpool

11 am bein Sport                               Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Man City vs Tottenham

12:30 pm FS1                                        MGladbach (Johnson) vs Schalke (McKinney)

7;30 pm ESPN+                                    Cincy vs NYCFC

10 pm ESPN2                                         LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

Sun, Aug 18

9 am NBCSN                                           Shelfield vs Crystal Palace

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Leicester City

12 noon FS1                                           Union Berlin vs RB Leipzig (Adams)

1 pm ESPN News                                 Skye Blue (NY) vs Reign NWSL

4 pm beIN sport                                  Atletico Madrid vs Getafe

5 pm ESPN News                                 Women’s Man City vs Athletico Madrid – ICC 3rd place Game

6 pm  My Indy TV                Indy 11 vs St Louis

7:30 pm ESPN News                                                 Women’s ICC North Carolina vs Lyon – Champ Game

10 pm FS1                                                                        Portland vs Atlanta United  

Mon, Aug 19

3 pm NBCSN                                           Wolverhampton vs Man United

Thur, Aug 22

3 pm NBCSN                                           Sporting KC vs Min United

Fri, Aug 23

2:30 pm FS 2                                         Koln vs Dortmund

3 pm NBCSN                                           Aston Villa vs Everton

8 pm ESPN                                               Orlando vs Atlanta United

10 pm ESPN                                            Portland vs Seattle Cascadia Cup  

Sat, Aug 24

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Norwich vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  

9:30 am FS1                                            Bayer Leverkusen vs Dusseldorf (Stefan)

10 am NBCSN                                        Man United vs Crystal Palace

12 noon ESPN+                                     Parma vs Juventus

1 pm bein Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Liverpool vs Arsenal  

12:30 pm FS1                                        Bayern Munich vs Schalke (McKinney)

7;30 pm ESPN2                                    NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC

10 pm ESPN+                                         Toronto vs Montreal  

Sun, Aug 25

9 am NBCSN                                           Bournmouth vs Man City

9:30 m FS1                                              RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Frankfurt (Chandler)

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Spurs vs New Castle (Yedlin)  

12 noon FS1                                           Hertha Berlin vs Wolfsburg (Brooks)

1 pm ESPN News                                 Skye Blue (NY) vs Reign NWSL

3 pm beIN sport                                  Barcelona vs Real Betis

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars  

6 pm  My Indy TV                Indy 11 vs Charolotte

6 pm FS1                                                   Cincy vs Columbus (Ohio Derby)  

8 pm FS1                                                  Dallas (Hedges) vs Houston

10 pm FS1                                                                        LA FC vs LA Galaxy – El Trafico  

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

‘Pulisic has it all to become as good as Hazard’ – Ex-Chelsea striker thrilled with U.S. star’s Super Cup showing

Chris Burton04:53 8/15/19


The United States international impressed again during a showpiece event in Turkey and is being backed to fill a creative void for the BluesChristian Pulisic has an air of Arjen Robben about him, says Tony Cascarino, with the American being tipped to fill the void created by Eden Hazard’s departure from Chelsea.The United States international playmaker has linked up with the Blues in a £58 million ($70m) deal.Big things are expected of him, with the 20-year-old boasting more top level experience than most players of his age.Added pressure has been placed on his shoulders following Hazard’s summer switch to Real Madrid, with Chelsea seeking a creative spark in the final third.

Pulisic’s early efforts bode well, with the youngster earning plenty of plaudits, and he is considered to boast the potential which will allow him to fill some big boots in west London.Former Blues striker Cascarino told The Times after seeing the U.S. star tee up Olivier Giroud for the opening goal in a UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool: “Christian Pulisic looks like he will be a very dangerous player for Chelsea.“Jurgen Klopp had been interested in the young forward and you could tell he was wary of his threat as he changed his defence to counter him, selecting Joe Gomez at right back instead of Trent Alexander-Arnold.“Gomez is a better defender than his team-mate but it still wasn’t enough to stop the United States international at times.“I don’t remember a young Eden Hazard being as quick and direct and there’s no reason Pulisic can’t develop into a player of Hazard’s standing.“Pulisic reminds me of Arjen Robben, you cannot stop him one-on-one because you don’t know which way he’s going to go and his pace is devastating.“He will be a massive asset for Frank Lampard this season.”Chelsea need Pulisic to make the impact expected of him in 2019-20.With the club operating under the constraints of a two-window transfer ban, new boss Frank Lampard has been unable to bolster his ranks.He is still looking for a first competitive victory as Blues manager, with the current campaign having opened with a humbling 4-0 reversal away at Manchester United and a penalty shootout setback against Liverpool in Istanbul.Lampard and Pulisic will take in a first Premier League game at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when they play host to Leicester.

Pulisic must impress quickly at Chelsea to shut down unfair Hazard comparisons

9:58 AM ET  Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Christian Pulisic will have woken up on Monday morning knowing precisely what awaits him in the Premier League with Chelsea. After a bruising welcome to English football on Sunday as a substitute during Chelsea’s 4-0 defeat at Manchester United, the only positive spin for the United States forward is that the magnitude of his challenge is now crystal clear.

During a 32-minute debut for his new team following his summer arrival from Borussia Dortmund — having spent the last six months of last season on loan at the German club after completing a £57.6m transfer in January — Pulisic was left floored by a Paul Pogba bodycheck and forced to chase lost causes as United raced away to complete their emphatic opening weekend victory.

While manager Frank Lampard made the worst start of any Chelsea boss for over 40 years, Pulisic was given a glimpse of how tough it could be for him to make his name at Stamford Bridge.The midfielder is expected to make his first competitive start for Chelsea against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup final in Istanbul on Wednesday and it’s unlikely to get any easier against the European champions. He struggled to make any impact against United’s new right-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, at Old Trafford, and he will face another daunting opponent when he comes up against Trent Alexander-Arnold in Turkey.At 20, Pulisic clearly needs time to adapt to his new surroundings, and under Lampard he will be given that space to acclimatise, develop and realise his undoubted potential. But Pulisic’s biggest problem is one that he cannot control, and that is never a good place to start.Rightly or wrongly, the young forward will be compared to Eden Hazardwhenever he takes to the field as a Chelsea player, which is unfortunate considering that the Belgian almost single-handedly carried the club to two Premier League titles and other major honours during his seven years at the club, prior to his £88.5m summer move to Real Madrid. This is a Chelsea team in clear transition, with a new manager, and already under pressure to deliver; for Pulisic, the challenge feels greater given the price tag and the departure of the Blues’ enigmatic Belgian.Hazard was Chelsea’s go-to-guy when they needed a moment of inspiration to get the team out of a hole. He didn’t always deliver, but more often than not, he came up with the goods when it mattered. In 245 Premier League games, he scored 85 goals and racked up 54 assists. He also struck fear into opposition defenders and, crucially, gave his teammates the belief that no cause was lost while he was on the pitch.When Chelsea sealed the deal for Pulisic in January they knew that, barring an unlikely change of heart, Hazard would be leaving for Madrid at the end of the season. With the club being hit by a two-window worldwide transfer ban by FIFA following an investigation into the recruitment of foreign players under the age of 18, Chelsea ensured that they had a replacement for Hazard before their star man headed off to Madrid.But Pulisic is not there to directly replace Hazard. This is a new Chelsea team going in a new direction rather than one trying to replicate what worked last season but with new players. Pulisic is a young forward with the potential to shine in the Premier League. He is not blessed with the robustness that enabled Hazard to cope with the physical challenge of English football and is still, quite clearly, a talent in the making rather than the finished article.f course the comparison to Hazard is inevitable; Chelsea sold a forward (Hazard) for big money and replaced him with another forward (Pulisic) for big money. However, Sunday’s brief cameo at Old Trafford highlighted their differences.Chelsea were 1-0 down when Pulisic replaced Ross Barkley on 58 minutes, with Lampard deploying the American on the wide left in an effort to put more pressure on United’s back four. Had it been Hazard entering the fray, United would almost certainly have assigned a player to shadow him closely, but they did not make any changes to deal with Pulisic because there was no need. The game quickly passed the U.S. forward by as United upped the tempo and took advantage of Chelsea’s absences — in particular, their best defender, Antonio Rudiger, was out injured — to score three more goals. Pulisic ended the game looking like a man who had just spent half an hour in a washing machine.Pulisic will feel more at home at Stamford Bridge, where the smaller pitch will enable him to be more effective but he needs to make an early impression on his own terms, for his own sake, to avoid being regarded as a shadow of the man he replaced.Hazard also had quiet games at Old Trafford, but he made amends soon enough by delivering a big contribution when it mattered. That is Pulisic’s challenge. In a team going through a difficult transition, the American must be allowed to become his own man and make his own impact at Chelsea.

EPL- W2W4: Eriksen must play in Spurs’ big clash vs. Man City


Peter Crouch addresses the dominance of Manchester City and Liverpool in the English Premier League title race. (1:21)

2:56 AM ETNick MillerESPN.com writer

The Premier League is back and this weekend has plenty of talking points. Nick Miller runs us through some of the biggest storylines.

Eriksen indispensable for Spurs

In the end a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa last Saturday was perfectly satisfactory for Tottenham, on the face of things: three points, their big new signing Tanguy Ndombele excelled and Harry Kane notched up a pair of goals. Job well done, congratulations lads.But there were things to concern Spurs fans, most specifically the curious omission of the apparently un-injured Jan Vertonghen from not just the starting XI but the match day squad, and the absence of Christian Eriksen. For the 64 minutes that the Dane remained on the bench against Villa, Spurs looked ponderous, occasionally devoid of ideas about how to unlock a stout defence, even leaden. As soon as he came on, that all changed and they scored three goals. In the short-term the situation is rectified easily enough — he will surely start in this weekend’s big game against Manchester City — but looking further down the line it might be concerning that Spurs are seemingly so reliant for creativity on a player who, unless something significant changes in the coming months, won’t be around this time next year.Of course, Giovani Lo Celso could turn out to be brilliant and Ndombele could pick up some of the slack and Dele Alli isn’t fit yet and so on and so forth, but it’s a little uncomfortable for Spurs that they apparently need Eriksen so much.


Who will play for Manchester City?

Pep Guardiola has a slightly different problem to Mauricio Pochettino. After their frankly fairly tedious, routine evisceration of West Ham last weekend, Guardiola essentially admitted that he had picked Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus for that game to ensure that Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero don’t get complacent. It was almost a pleasing bonus that both men played superbly, Mahrez in particular instrumental in most good things City did.So the question for Guardiola is: who will he select for a rather stiffer task than the Hammers on a Saturday lunchtime? Will he go for the tried and trusted Aguero and Silva, or the hungrier duo of Mahrez and Jesus? To a point, it doesn’t really matter that much, as City’s options are now of such high quality that it barely makes any difference who the individual bricks in the wall are, it only matters that they perform. And, going on the basis of last weekend (not forgetting Kevin De Bruyne, looking back to his best after last year’s injury issues), everyone is performing to an incredibly high standard.Whoever Guardiola picks: good luck, Tottenham.


Adrian’s remarkable story at Liverpool

It was barely a couple of weeks ago that Adrian didn’t have a club, released after spending a season on West Ham’s bench. He was training with Union Deportiva Pilas, a team from the outskirts of his hometown Seville, who play in the Spanish sixth tier. Then Simon Mignolet went to Club Brugge, Liverpool needed a goalkeeper quickly, Alisson did something nasty to his calf and suddenly Adrian is saving the winning penalty in the European Super Cup.

These are the odd, hazy days in a story like this, where strange things are possible, but soon enough Adrian will be deep in the weeds, and he’ll have to deal with the more prosaic business of keeping goal for Liverpool over the next few weeks. Assuming he can recover from an ankle injury sustained by one of his own fans, he should be doing that at Southampton this weekend, where his new team were given an awful fright last season as they chased the title. When the slightly surreal afterglow of Istanbul fades, it will be interesting to see how Adrian fits in with Liverpool’s defence for a longer period of time. Or perhaps we’ll be saying the same thing about Andy Lonergan next week.

Chelsea must turn good performances into a result

The broad consensus has been that Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have played well in both of their games so far this season, even if they won neither and lost the first handsomely. Little bits of luck in both the Premier League opener against Manchester United and the Super Cup loss against Liverpool would have made the difference to both results, and Lampard would be striding into this weekend’s game against Leicester with a big smile on his face.

He probably doesn’t need to worry too much. Chelsea have arguably performed above expectations so far, which seems odd given they lost one game 4-0 and threw away a lead in the other before going down on penalties, but given the broader circumstances, with an already inexperienced squad impacted by injuries, Lampard will probably be quite pleased.However, being pleased is all very well, but they do need to turn that into something tangible. If they don’t beat Leicester it probably won’t mean much in the general context of the season, but a win would serve as some sort of affirmation that they are doing something right, and thus give them something off which to propel into the rest of the season.

Will the promoted trio continue to be positive?

It’s a similar story with the three promoted clubs, after appearing in their first games back in the big boys’ league. Sheffield United grabbed a good point at Bournemouth, Aston Villa had Tottenham sweating and while Norwich’s defence was weak against Liverpool, the way they attacked at Anfield was at least encouraging for the season ahead.Which is great, and congratulations to them all, but now all three have games at home against teams that should not, to say the least, put the fear of God into them. Sheffield United have Crystal Palace, Villa host Bournemouth and Norwich welcome Newcastle.If there was one theme that ran through the three newbies’ opening day performances then it was positivity: to different extents, all three played their own games with conviction, and weren’t cowed by the prospect of facing established top flight teams. That will hopefully give them confidence that their approaches can work in the Premier League, and that they will continue in this vein.

Kante 8/10, Pulisic 7/10 but Chelsea suffer penalty shootout defeat in UEFA Super Cup

6:50 PM ETJames Capps

penalty-shootout defeat against Liverpool (2-2 after extra time) will be a tough one to take, but Frank Lampard can take plenty of encouragement from his side’s display in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul. After Sunday’s 4-0 season-opening loss to Man United, this was a much-improved display in nearly every way.


N’Golo Kante‘s return to fitness gave the Chelsea midfield a huge injection of energy and quality, while Christian Pulisic showed he has the potential to at least fill some of the void left by Eden Hazard‘s departure. There were also encouraging signs defensively, with the Blues looking much more compact at the back.


Despite an excellent performance, Chelsea came out of the game empty-handed, which could cause some heads to drop in the Blues camp. Tough tests lie ahead, and experienced heads will need to ensure there’s no Super Cup hangover in the weeks to come.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Lampard’s inclusion of Kante gave the Chelsea side a much-needed lift following a deflating defeat at Manchester United on Sunday, and the decision to start Pulisic over Mount was rewarded with an excellent full debut by the American.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 6 — The Spaniard was unconvincing for Liverpool’s equalizer when he failed to get two hands on a loose ball to allow Sadio Mane an easy finish. Redeemed himself, however, with a stunning double-save to deny Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk late in the second half, but will be disappointed to have not saved a couple of Liverpool’s spot-kicks in the shootout.

DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 — The experienced full-back looked much more assured this time around than at Old Trafford at the weekend. Good work up the field from Pedro numbed the threat of Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson, allowing the Chelsea man to have a relatively untroubled evening.

DF Andreas Christensen, 6 — He was on hand to provide an important header away to deny Mane a tap-in at 0-0, and enjoyed a surprisingly comfortable first half before Liverpool began to get a grip on the game.

DF Kurt Zouma, 6 — Zouma has an air of clumsiness about him, but his no-nonsense approach to balls in behind meant he avoided any hairy moments in the penalty area. Could’ve won it at the death in normal time but headed over.

DF Emerson Palmieri, 7 — The Chelsea left-back will be surprised at how little he was tested by a Liverpool attack that was nowhere near its fluent best. Going forward the Brazilian offered plenty of support in attack and capped off a decent night with a successful penalty in the shootout.

MF N’Golo Kante, 8 — An outstanding display from the World Cup winner on his first start of the season. The Frenchman was at his energetic and destructive best early on to help absorb Liverpool pressure, and grew more and more influential as an attacking force as the game wore on.

MF Jorginho, 7 — The Italy international saw plenty of the ball throughout, and his quick distribution helped his side bypass a lacklustre Liverpool midfield press. He expertly slotted away his extra-time penalty with his signature run-up, before doing the same again in the shootout.

MF Mateo Kovacic, 6 — A quiet game in comparison to his midfield colleagues, and the Croatian will be hoping to have a much bigger impact on games as the season progresses.

FW Pedro, 7 — The 32-year-old’s movement and flexibility gave Liverpool a host of problems across the Reds’ back line, and he was at the heart of everything good about Chelsea’s attacking play.

FW Christian Pulisic, 7 — Chelsea’s new winger will be extremely pleased with his first start in a Blues shirt. Pulisic started brightly, culminating in a great driving run through the Liverpool half before providing the pass for Olivier Giroud to finish for the opening goal. After that, he continued to provide a threat before being subbed on 74 minutes.

FW Olivier Giroud, 7 — The centre-forward was feeding off scraps as Liverpool dominated the opening quarter of an hour, but soon began to enjoy much better service from his midfield, before clinically taking his chance from Pulisic for the opener.


FW Mason Mount, 6 — Always a willing runner, and carried the ball well as the game became stretched. Drew a superb one-handed save from Adrian in extra time, and fired a brilliant penalty into the top corner during the shootout.

FW Tammy Abraham, 5 — Won the Chelsea penalty in extra time, before somehow missing a glorious chance of his own at 2-2. The unfortunate one to miss the vital penalty in the shootout.

DF Fikayo Tomori, N/R — Didn’t catch the eye one way or another after replacing Christensen near the end of regulation.

MF Ross Barkley, N/R — Failed to make an impact as an extra-time sub for Kovacic, but confidently dispatched his penalty.


Gemany Preview -Why you should watch the Bundesliga: Is this the year Bayern finally slip and Dortmund win it all?

11:37 AM ETMusa OkwongaESPN.com writer

This year’s Bundesliga season is upon us and so it seems only right to identify some intriguing themes for the coming months. With Bayern Munich having just advanced to a seventh successive championship, the Bavarians look like the obvious favourites for this year’s title, but that doesn’t account for some interesting developments elsewhere in the division, and nor does it give the full story of German football’s top flight.Without further ado, here are seven intriguing storylines for you to watch (and a bonus one, just for fun).

1. Is this the year Bayern finally slip?

It is strange to refer as a club between eras when they’ve just won the league title and then added two World Cup winning full-backs to their squad, but that’s Bayern Munich for you.The champions have signed Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, from Atletico Madrid and VFB Stuttgart respectively, but questions remain. How will they cope with the loss of retired Arjen Robben, so often a reliable insurance policy off the bench in tight games? Will they be able to fend off a vengeful Dortmund?Niko Kovac will enter his second season in charge, which is in itself something of an achievement given the continual criticism he faced last year. However, he seems to enjoy the respect of his players even as they stumbled out of the UEFA Champions League. Bayern’s focus must be on regaining the continent’s top prize, but they must be very careful not to take their eye off matters at home. (The bookmakers currently have them as odds-on favourites to retain the title, with Dortmund a distant second in the betting.)

2. Dortmund’s unfinished business

To paraphrase the 1984 hit single by Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three, “the youth, the youth, the youth is on fire.”Jadon Sancho scored one and set up the other to give Borussia Dortmund a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup — Germany’s traditional season opener — to confirm his status as one of the best forwards in Europe, young or otherwise. Sancho, 19, was a key force in Dortmund’s championship pursuit last season, a pursuit so sustained that it was easy to forget just how young they were: this season’s squad has an average age of 25, so you can expect more of the same. (Related: watch out this season for the occasional cameo from 16 year-old Gio Reyna, son of former U.S. international Claudio.)Last time around, all Dortmund lacked was experience in key moments and they’ve since added that in the form of returning club legend, centre-back Mats Hummels. Most notable is the arrival of Julian Brandt, fresh off an eye-catching spell at Bayer Leverkusen. Last season, Dortmund found the net only times fewer than Bayern; with Brandt on their staff, a prodigious provider of assists and a reasonable goalscorer, they have a good chance of outscoring last season’s champions.

3. The Nagelsmann era begins at RB Leipzig

The finest signing of the German transfer window was arguably not a footballer at all; it was the unveiling of Julian Nagelsmann, one of the most coveted coaches in Europe, at the helm of the RB Leipzig project.Though Leipzig have attracted much criticism for their big-spending approach and corporate overlords, something that’s still a novelty in the Bundesliga, their progress remains inexorable: since being founded in 2009, they’ve soared from the fifth division up to the top, finishing second, sixth and third in three seasons among the giants. They had the best defensive record in the German top flight last season, and Nagelsmann believes that they can be contenders for the title. For that to be the case, though, he must galvanise his team’s attack, which has seen no major additions this summer.RB Leipzig scored only 63 times in the league last season, 26 fewer than Bayern and 19 fewer than Dortmund. Nagelsmann will back himself to increase that output, given that his over-performing Hoffenheim team scored 70 times, the third-highest total last season. A front line featuring a mix of Timo WernerYussuf Poulsen and Emil Forsbergcertainly has goals in it; the only question is, how many.

4. The arrival of Union Berlin

Union Berlin are playing their first-ever season in the Bundesliga since the original club was founded in 1906, which naturally means an intensification of their rivalry with Hertha Berlin, a longstanding Bundesliga side across the city.  Uersfeld: Inside Union Berlin’s promotion party

It’s a clash of contrasts: Hertha in the west against Union in the east, the wealthy incumbent against the working-class upstart. Yet Union are keen not to let inexperience cost them and have already assembled a squad of players with sufficient accomplishments at the highest level. The most eye-catching name is by far Neven Subotic, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, who played over 250 games for them in one of the most successful periods in their history; but Christian Gentner, a veteran and former captain of VFB Stuttgart, will also add some Bundesliga nous.

5. The rise of Kai Havertz

When one of the greatest footballers in history says that you could one day follow in his footsteps, you pay attention.Lothar Matthäus, the first and only German to be named FIFA World Player of the year, recently stated that one day Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz could receive the same accolade. The German game loves a breakout star, reserving a special affection for its young players — just look at Sancho last season — and Havertz looks like being the next to find fame on the international stage.

At 20, the playmaker scored almost one goal every two games last season (20 in 42 matches), already has three caps for Germany and is the youngest ever to play 50 games in the Bundesliga.

6. Getting streetwise at Paderborn

How will newly promoted Paderborn adjust to the challenges of the Bundesliga? They have the division’s smallest stadium — with a capacity of 15,000, some 7,000 fewer than Union Berlin — and few stars in their squad, while just selling two of their leading goalscorers. Coach Steffen Baumgart will therefore have a particularly tough task on his hands but has made a commitment to keep his team up by playing attacking football.Some cause for comfort is that the two players who scored in perhaps Paderborn’s most noteworthy win last season, a 4-1 win in mid-May over fellow promotion challengers SV Hamburg, are still at the club. Sebastian Vasiliadisand Christopher Antwi-Adjei, who both found the net twice in that startling victory, have been joined this summer by Rifet Kapić, who showed some promising touches in preseason.The odds are against them but given the swaggering manner of their promotion (they scored 76 goals in 34 matches) you suspect that may be just how they like it.

7. Wolfsburg, a club hungry on two fronts

Last season was a strong one for VFL Wolfsburg as a club but left plenty of room for growth. In the 10th year since they won their only Bundesliga title, their men’s team finished sixth in the Bundesliga. Meanwhile, their women’s team clinched the league and cup double but were eliminated at the quarterfinal stage of the UEFA Champions League by eventual winners Lyon.Winners of this trophy in 2013 and 2014, they will look to go yet further this year and spearheaded by Pernille Herder, Europe’s player of the year in 2018 and the Bundesliga’s top scorer last season, they are well-placed to do so. This summer, the men’s team has looked very good in preseason, most notably with a fine 2-0 win over PSV Eindhoven, and with the additions of Joao Victor they should score more of the goals that would raise them towards the league’s very elite.

And finally… someone is learning German

It would not normally be major news that a 56-year-old man is about to take up intensive German classes, but it is news when that man is Jose Mourinho.The former Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United boss revealed this information in an interview with Sky Sports, saying that he would be going to two or three lessons a week from September onwards. He also emphasised that he would persist with the language despite its difficulty, that he would be patient in awaiting the right job and that he would only consider a position in one of Europe’s top five leagues, in a club befitting his level.Leaving us to connect the dots as he so obviously has, that would suggest that Bayern Munich are one club that may be particularly high in the former Man United manager’s esteem. It will be interesting to see how long Mourinho will wait and whether, once he becomes more explicit in his ambitions, Bayern will be at the tip of his tongue.

SPAIN- Atletico won the summer transfer window but will they pip Barcelona and Real Madrid to La Liga?

:49 PM ETGraham HunterSpain writer

The 2019-20 La Liga season kicks off this weekend and much of the attention will be on the top three teams fighting it out for the title. Graham Hunter gets you ready for the new campaign with a look at how their offseasons unfolded.

Jump to: Will Felix be La Liga’s star? | Can Atletico’s new arrivals shine? | Did Real do bad business? | Neymar a distraction for Barcelona?

Atletico Madrid have won the summer, hands down.Diego Simeone’s team having sold over €300 million of talent and brought in over €240m of young, hungry replacements (to date) means that even if either of their La Liga arms-race rivals managed to land Neymar before the window closes on Sept. 2, Barcelona sheepishly pick up the silver medal, with Real Madrid not only third (where they finished the last two La Liga campaigns) but frantically trying to convince everyone that bronze looks awfully similar to gold.

If only there were a trophy to show for it. The transfer-related tag of “Summer Champions” signifies about as much as the increasingly heard but slightly risible tag of “Winter Champions” for those who sit top of the table when the Christmas break arrives.Nevertheless: a job well begun is a job half done, right? So let’s give more than just kudos and a patronising pat on the back to Atleti. They faced what looked like a horrendous challenge, haemorrhaging a mix of experience, winning mentality, club legends and two superb young bucks in Rodri and Lucas Hernandez. Yet their judgment, efficacy of market management, speed of work, ability to spot the revelation of this transfer window (or indeed many previous), Joao Felix, and their net spend of around €8m — if you factor in the €60m arrival of Rodrigo from Valencia — suggests that Atleti have spat in the eye of adversity.Whether it wins them La Liga remains to be seen, but a summer that could have left them fighting an uphill battle now sees them muscular, nimble and potentially able to punch above their weight. This season in Spain is going to be xciting, a real smackdown between the three giants of La Liga — Barca, Real and Atletico — so here are some talking points.play

Will Joao Felix be La Liga’s star?

Felix is only 19, still rather slender and will find it testing to work with Atletico manager Diego Simeone and coaches Mono Burgos and Oscar Ortega. Felix is a La Liga debutant with initiation songs to sing, pranks to put up with, and image-management by the club imposed on him so that expectations are dampened after his €126m arrival.Yet, this is a kid blessed with such extraordinary talent, such chutzpah, acceleration, positional wit and an exceptional eye for goal that his Atleti teammates are already instinctively looking for him whenever they have the ball. Every single player in that squad has taken one look and said: “We have signed a diamond — let’s get him on the ball.”– When does the 2019-20 La Liga season start?
If the composer George Frideric Handel were still alive, Atleti would be commissioning him to compose a second Hallelujah chorus. They have found their Messiah.No matter his talent, a player of Felix’s age, carrying such a weight of expectation and responsibility, will encounter bumps along the road in his first complete season in La Liga. That said, the move remains extraordinary for a number of reasons. With Madrid and Barcelona involved in what is both an unseemly and, arguably, unnecessary squabble for Neymar’s grossly expensive services, don’t they both look stupid for missing the chance to purchase Felix? The answer is a resounding “YES!”Moreover, Atleti somehow managed to agree with Benfica, the player and his agent, Jorge Mendes, a payment plan where they only have to splash out in the region of €40m (down payment, agent payment, sell-on payment to Porto where he originated) before the rest is paid over the course of his contract. If Felix performs well enough to help Atleti reach at least the Champions League semifinals, the forward could earn his new club the entire remainder of the fee within nine months. That. Is. Utterly. Astonishing. Business.

Can Atletico’s other new arrivals replace those who left?

Losing Rodri (€70m to Manchester City) and Lucas (€80m to Bayern Munich) are blows Atletico would have wanted to avoid, but the club have long known they would need replacing at some point.At the back, even though Diego Godin — who left for Inter this summer — was bedevilled by errors last season, it’s worth waiting to evaluate the loss of his personality and “win at any cost” attitude. But for Atleti to add the tall, tough Felipe from Porto, as well as the talented Mario Hermoso, for €30m less than Bayern were forced to pay for Lucas, is spectacular.Kieran Trippier’s move from Tottenham came out of the blue, but while he might not be as attentive to details and defensive concentration as Simeone likes, his attitude and crossing ability should give A+ service to what should be a thrilling Atleti front line.None of Renan LodiHector Herrera or Ivan Saponjic make you fret for Atleti’s investments, while Marcos Llorente, signed from hated rivals Real Madrid, is a fine facsimile of Rodri. They aren’t identically talented but Llorente was under-priced at €30m, brims with energy, industry and athleticism, is a superb professional and looks ready to make Atleti’s central midfield punishingly hard-working.Then there’s the “other Rodri,” Rodrigo Moreno. If Atleti wrap up a €60m move for this athletic, relentlessly team-minded striker, who has been playing winning international fotball with Koke and Alvaro Morata since they were all kids, it’s the icing on the cake.Atletico have had one hell of a summer. But it’s not over yet. Spain’s transfer market closes on Sept. 2 and there’s still time for huge change, though they are already looking in better shape than their rivals.The fact that several key veterans chose to leave at the end of their contracts had threatened disaster, but it can now be construed as advantageous. Madrid and Barca are replete with players on high wages they’d like to ship out but who are refusing to budge. Not Atleti.

Has Real Madrid’s spending addressed their needs?

Atleti’s rapier-like approach to business contrasts starkly with Real Madrid’s blunderbuss style. Yes, they’ve splashed out (at the time of writing) €305.5m (gross, not net) and there’s quite a lot of “rock ‘n roll” glitz to boast about with the likes of Eden Hazard. But have they specifically reinforced the things that went awry last season? Have they done what coach Zinedine Zidane wanted this summer?In short, no. And an utterly horrific 7-3 thrashing imposed on Zidane’s team by Atletico at the ICC tournament in July suggests that Real might not even be favourites in their own city, let alone for the La Liga title.Left-back Ferland Mendy was indeed a Zizou choice, and has sparked Marcelo‘s competitive instincts, but at €48m it’s not good that Mendy is already out with a thigh injury. Centre-back Eder Militao may turn out to be an ideal buy, but Zidane has been flitting uncertainly between four at the back and a 5-3-2/3-5-2 system, so we’ll see how quickly the €50m 21-year-old (a €40m+ profit for Porto just 12 months after buying him) can bring security at the back.

Rodrygo and Kubo (an 18-year-old Japanese starlet who was initially part of FC Barcelona’s academy until their FIFA ban was imposed) ooze promise, thrills and a sprinkling of the magic dust of international marketing allure, yet will struggle to make a real impact until they gain a bit more experience.Hazard adds the pedigree — unquestionably a talent of gargantuan proportions — but why on earth did the €100m winger turn up for work at his new club, one that is in turmoil, in the kind of preseason shape that would have been acceptable in, say, 1978? It’s not Madrid’s fault but it’s certainly emblematic of dipping standards.And finally, €60m striker Luka Jovic will score goals but looks well short of having the build-up play and savvy that Madrid will need against the elite group of Liga and European clubs they measure themselves against. He’s that mythical breed of striker who “only” scores goals. An odd, expensive signing.The players who have arrived all add their own parts of youth, athleticism, hunger and energy — valuable commodities in what was a moribund Madrid squad last season — but there are still more weaknesses in the business that club president Florentino Perez and his right-hand man, Jose Angel Sanchez, have managed to conduct since May.

Gareth Bale, with the Premier League and Chinese transfer markets now closed, has stayed put — despite Zidane admitting in public that “it would be best” if the Welshman left — and is likely to stay unless PSG accept him in part exchange for Neymar or he’s sent out on loan.

Thus far, there has been no move for Man United midfielder Paul Pogba either. Whether the controversial World Cup winner is or isn’t the cure for Los Blancos’ midfield ills, Zidane is wedded to the idea of buying him and has been infuriated by Perez’s failure to secure that deal.

If Neymar arrives, it will be like salt in the wound. Thus far, Real’s best midfield options are Luka ModricToni Kroos and Casemiro, which although still full of class, is bemusing. Slow, sometimes disinterested, porous, unable to control possession, lacking athleticism and physicality all last season, it’s remarkable that (attempts to sign Pogba aside) no corrective action has been taken to strengthen the midfield.

Will Barcelona be distracted by Neymar pursuit?

Judging them by their own, well-publicised objectives for the close-season, Barca could award themselves a complacent pat on the back, a glass of cava, exchange mutually appreciative smiles among their football executives — and then their rivals could laugh up their sleeves at the Camp Nou finances.Barcelona’s self-set task sheet was: add competition at left-back, augment possession-control and passing in midfield and then, a year late, add French flair up front. Junior Firpo, Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann (was there really any doubt where he was going?) tick those boxes.Throw in some measurable progress from their young talents (Jean-Clair TodiboCarles Alena, Ricki Puig and Carles Perez) and the outward signs are decent. However, even with the departures of MalcomAndre GomesMarc Cucurella and Denis Suarez, Barcelona need to sell … and profitably.RafinhaPhilippe Coutinho and Juan Miranda must be calculating how long it’ll take them to unpack their training ground lockers, while if the right price were offered for Arturo Vidal then the Camp Nou bean-counters would produce their abacuses in Olympic time.

The club has vastly strained its financial muscle for three reasons. 1) expensive contract extensions; 2) investment in the Camp Nou renovation project; 3) President Josep Maria Bartomeu’s public promise that his parting gift (before summer 2021, which is the latest there can be elections to determine his successor) will be another lengthening of Lionel Messi‘s contract.Messi craves Champions League victories, not because Cristiano Ronaldo has more of them but because he’s a natural-born competitor who has also suffered a series of brutal European disappointments in recent years at the hands of Atletico, Juventus, Roma and Liverpool.If Bartomeu wants “Team Messi” to look indulgently on the opening of contract negotiations, he’ll do well to re-patriate Neymar. Messi, whether you concur or not, believes that his Brazilian pal will add incisor teeth to Barca’s European bite (Luis Suarez hasn’t scored a Champions League goal away from home for nearly four years and hit the net only five times in the last 29 UCL matches).

However as long as PSG keep insisting on cash only for Neymar, whether that sum is €120m or €220m, Barcelona can’t afford to buy him back. I believe it’s that simple. Nor, it seems increasingly clear, can they persuade Ivan Rakitic or his Sevilla-born wife that the footballing life (and climate) is anything but worse any further north than Barcelona. PSG want the Croatian, but like Bale at Madrid, he’s not keen to depart.

All of which leaves both Barcelona and Madrid desperately thrashing around for a means to secure a Brazilian they can’t afford, didn’t budget for and who’ll also cost them dearly in terms of existing playing staff (Vinicius Jr., Isco, Karim Benzema and Rodrygo at Real; Ousmane Dembele and Coutinho at Barca) who’d be required to drop to the bench or leave altogether.Meanwhile, over at Atletico, Felix may still only hint at the potential to reproduce what Neymar has achieved in his career, but the Portuguese is impressing with a new cadre of athletic and hungry teammates around him.Atleti win the summer. Now, can they add the La Liga title?Hold tight, this battle has the potential to be immensely entertaining, explosive, and potentially embarrassing for some.


NWSL-record crowd gets what it came for in Thorns’ win

Aug 11, 2019Graham HaysespnW.com

PORTLAND, Ore. — It wasn’t the largest crowd ever to watch a professional women’s soccer game in this country, but it was the largest crowd that knew what it signed up for.The 25,218 people who filled Providence Park on Sunday afternoon to watch the Portland Thorns play the North Carolina Courage, the largest crowd in NWSL history and second largest in any of three attempts at a domestic league, weren’t there for what women’s soccer could be. They weren’t there for the potential.They came because a game between these two teams matters.They weren’t here to celebrate the World Cup that the United States won last month. They came because the NWSL Shield, handed out to the regular season’s best team, is very much up for grabs, with Portland taking the lead after Sunday’s 2-1 comeback win. Not to mention the trophy to be handed out at the conclusion of the playoffs.With rosters across the league finally at full strength after a summer of comings and goings, the race to the finish is on in the NWSL. That finish has never mattered more. The league has never mattered more. Which is why every team in the league is trying to figure out how to be the best version of itself.”The team that integrates their World Cup players and their international players and whomever else best throughout July and throughout August,” Portland’s Meghan Klingenberg said before the game, “is going to be the team that comes out on top at the end of the season.”It took North Carolina all of four minutes to find at least some chemistry between those who have been around all summer and the newly returned. The reigning NWSL player of the month, Kristen Hamilton, chased down a Lynn Williams pass that pulled her wide on the right side. Hamilton’s cross from the end line caromed off a charging Williams in front of goal, Portland defenders slower to react than Williams, and fell to Crystal Dunn’s feet. The defense again a step slow to react, Dunn had an extra beat to settle her feet and send the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.Dunn spent much of the summer, of course, focused on denying goals rather than scoring them, playing outside back for the U.S. throughout the World Cup. But her return to North Carolina, interrupted last week by the opening game of the U.S. victory tour, meant pivoting back to the attacking role that she has filled so well throughout her NWSL career.

“It’s day by day,” Dunn said this weekend. “For me, there’s some good days and some bad days. But I think that’s just what comes with it. I always think I am fit for the job. My career has always allowed me to embrace that role, but it’s not easy. It takes a week, maybe two weeks — hopefully not more than that.”It might be less pronounced for others, but that’s the adjustment that most World Cup players are making as they return to the league, where they rarely play an identical role. That was certainly the case for Portland’s Adrianna Franch, who didn’t play a minute as the third goalkeeper for the U.S. in the World Cup but Sunday faced a barrage of 20 shots en route to 10 saves.On the other side of that equation, the players left to mind the fort during the summer have grown accustomed to life without those players on the national team. Go back to the opening goal and the role Hamilton played. It was fitting that she helped set up Dunn, because much as Dunn seized her opportunity to shine during a World Cup year in 2015, Hamilton has made as much of this summer as any player in the league — her player of the month honors evidence of that.”I think you can attribute where she stands to the World Cup,” North Carolina coach Paul Riley said. “She might not have got that opportunity had Jess been there the whole time. It worked in her favor. This is a life-changing, career-changing thing that can happen in the World Cup, and it’s changed her career, I think. She’ll go on to bigger and better things.”The same goes for Portland’s Midge Purce. It wasn’t a coincidence that after the Thorns looked discombobulated through long stretches of the first half, the tide turned when Purce and Australian World Cup returnee Hayley Raso entered the game as halftime substitutes. The goal that leveled the game at 1-1 was officially an own goal, bouncing in off North Carolina keeper Steph Labbe in the 56th minute. But it was Purce, challenging for the ball, who was responsible for the traffic that knocked Labbe off balance as she jumped to go after Elizabeth Ball’s cross.Dunn’s coach with the Washington Spirit in 2015, current Portland coach Mark Parsons, said he envisioned a similar role for Purce this season — that she would play out wide in the early going and then take over the No. 9 role as the team’s striker when World Cup duty decimated the roster. Now the World Cup stars are back and Purce still looks mighty comfortable in the that role.”Midge has done a great job of grabbing the game by the neck and not letting go — and I mean that in the most positive way,” Klingenberg said. “I don’t think that Midge scores or assists every game, but she causes havoc for the other team. And because she causes havoc, it allows our other players to get on the ball and produce goals. So even if she isn’t getting in on the action, she’s still making her mark. That’s the mark of a really sophisticated player. I think that Midge didn’t have that last year, but since she was able to get those minutes … and develop into the player that she is, that she’s really done a great job making herself indispensable.”The challenge for the weeks to come is fitting all of those pieces together, ensuring Dunn and Hamilton have chemistry together or that Purce reads Tobin Heath and Christine Sinclair well.That cohesion wasn’t there Sunday, not for all 90 minutes. Both teams scrambled, with the game not decided until after a second North Carolina own goal and a series of last-ditch saves from Franch.Considering a loss would have dropped the Thorns off the pace set by North Carolina and Chicago, with the top two finishers in the regular season earning the right to host semifinals, Sunday’s result was especially valuable for the hosts. But the result was only the short-term objective. Building for October is the bigger goal.”When we see consistent high-level performance with results, I think that’s when you can say it’s there,” Parsons said. “Because we have the talent, we have everything we need to succeed. When things are clicking, we’re rolling. … We’re getting there slowly. I hope [we get there] very, very soon. If in the next week everything came together perfectly, great.”But I predict there’s a few more games like this where it’s wild, it’s chaos.”The only game in a women’s pro league that outdrew Sunday’s contest was the very first game in the WUSA, the first attempt at a pro league that launched in 2001 in the afterglow of the 1999 World Cup. People showed up then because of what they hoped women’s soccer could become.They showed up Sunday because, certainly in this soccer-mad city, women’s soccer became that.It became a place where the title the Thorns and Courage chase isn’t merely an afterthought.”I feel like the league, in and of itself, is so important,” North Carolina’s Sam Mewis said. “It’s a place for so many people to play. I don’t feel like it has to be a feeder league for the national team anymore. I think being in the NWSL is a huge deal. A lot of times that gets overlooked when you don’t get into the national team, because I feel like that is a goal for everybody.”But I kind of want to start looking at the NWSL as totally separate. And playing [in the league], that’s what people want to do.”


By IndyEleven.com, 08/15/19, 6:15PM EDT


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The Boys in Blue Look to Extend Year-Long Home Undefeated Streak to 19 Sunday Night


Indy Eleven vs. Saint Louis FC    Sunday, August 18, 2019 – 6:00 P.M. ET   Lucas Oil Stadium  |  Indianapolis, IN       


Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23

Radio (Spanish): Exitos Radio 1590 AM

In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Honda



Indy Eleven: 12W-4L-4D, 40 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference

Saint Louis FC: 6W-7L-8D, 26 pts., 11th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings



  • Indy Eleven looks to capture its first victory against Saint Louis FC in regular season play this Sunday. Indy has an all-time record of 1W-1D-1L against the Missouri club, defeating and drawing the side in two pre-season friendlies played in 2015 and 2016 in addition to a loss at the start of the 2019 USL Championship campaign.
  • A victory would boost the Boys in Blue back into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference with 43 points, while still having three games in hand on the current clubs leading Indiana’s Team in the table.
  • Indy Eleven has the chance to extend its undefeated home streak to 19 games come Sunday night, a streak that stretches back to July 7, 2018, following a 2-1 victory over Charlotte Independence.
  • Indy’s defense at home has been nearly impenetrable. The Boys in Blue have given up two goals in 10 games at home en route to recording eight clean sheets inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
  • Indiana’s Team leads the entire USL Championship in fewest goals allowed with 15 total concessions, and is second in the league and Eastern Conference in clean sheets recorded with 10.
  • A few new Boys in Blue could be available for selection Sunday night in forwards Gabriel Rodrigues and Cristian Novoa and midfielder Drew Conner.
  • Conner spent the 2016 USL season with Saint Louis FC on loan from Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire. The former Fire homegrown signing made 12 appearances with Saint Louis FC before being recalled back to the MLS ranks for the 2017-18 seasons.



Walker’s first assist came in the opening game of the 2019 USL Championship season against Saint Louis FC back on March 9. The former FC Cincinnati midfielder assised defender Neveal Hackshaw in scoring his first goal as an Indy Eleven player from a well-placed corner kick in the 61st minute. Walker went on to record two more assists the following two games before being sidelined for a short period with injury.The 30-year-old has been a consistent presence in the midfield, completing 81% of his passes through 17 appearances in his first season with Indiana’s Team. He’s moved the ball, and did so especially well against Saint Louis, completing 88% of his passes in Week One.



Grief, the squad’s joint-leading scorer forward, will look to add to his current five-goal tally against Indiana’s Team this Sunday. The 29-year-old has been an aerial force for Saint Louis through his 19 appearances, as every goal the six-foot-two-inch forward has scored has ricocheted off his cranium.  The Boys in Blue will have to mark Greig tight during dead ball situations and when lofty crosses are played into the box. The forward leads his team in aerial duels won, winning 102 of the 170 he’s battled in. Greig failed to cross the goal line in the last outing against Indy, but was able to record the assist on Saint Louis’ winning goal.



In the first meeting between Indy Eleven and Saint Louis FC, young forward Josh Penn ran rampant down Saint Louis’ flanks. Penn showed flashes of brilliance with his skill and nearly scored the game’s opening goal, even grounding the outside back he faced with a stutter step leading up to the on-target attempt.Now, Saint Louis will have to deal with experienced winger and midfielder Tyler Pasher in the role that Penn played at the start of the year. Pasher leads Indy in scoring with eight goals to date, three of which have come as bursting runs down opposition flanks at the expense of Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Charleston Battery and most recently against Loudoun United FC. Pasher’s been deadly when placing shots on target, scoring half the 16 shots he’s put on frame.The man in the middle of the Saint Louis defense tasked with containing the pacey Canadian is center back Sam Fink. The 26-year-old dominates Saint Louis’ defensive statistics, leading his side in every major category. He’s also tied with Greig for goals scored (5) after converting a penalty in the last match against Charleston – and that doesn’t count the clutch late goal he tallied in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play to down MLS side FC Cincinnati in dramatic fashion. The captain, now in his fourth season with Saint Louis FC, has been incredibly dependable for his side this season, starting every match and being subbed off in only one appearance.Indy Eleven (12W-4L-4D, 40 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference) will return to USL Championship action with a pair of Sunday evening affairs the next two weekends against Saint Louis FC on Aug. 18 (Faith & Family Night) and Charlotte Independence on Aug. 25 (“Red Out” Summer Celebration). Tickets for those 6:00 p.m. contests at Lucas Oil Stadium remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.


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8/9/19 EPL Season Kicksoff, US Christian Pulisic plays at Man U Sun 11:30 on NBCSN, MLS Rooney leaving DC United faces LA Galaxy Sun 7:30 pm on FS1,

Ok soccer fans – so the EPL Season kicked off Friday afternoon with European Champions Liverpool destroying Norwich 4-1 on opening day.  Full game line-ups on Saturday and especially on Sunday at 11:30 am when Chelsea and New American startlet Christian Pulisic is expected to make his regular season debut with Chelsea when they take on fellow top six challengers Manchester United in a match that could set the tone for both teams heading into the season. Chelsea finished the 2018-19 season in third place in the EPL, but due to their incoming transfer ban, they have seen several key players depart including Eden Hazard and David Luiz. Pulisic is the most notable addition to the squad for the upcoming season. The general movement would suggest that the club could have a hard time maintaining their Champions League position under first year manager Frank Lampard. Manchester United finished the 2018-19 campaign in sixth place in the Premier League, and they would like to push themselves back into top four relevance this season. But, it remains to be seen whether Ole Gunnar Solskjær is really the manager to be leading them and whether the pieces they’ve assembled this season, with the loss of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan and the addition of Harry Maguire from Leicester City, will be enough to get the job done.  It all goes down Sunday right after New Castle United and US defender Deandre Yedlin host Arsenal.  So I guess I need to make my picks for this season.  I think Liverpool will finally win the English Premier League for the first time in 30 years – however they won’t win Champions League – out in the round of 4 or maybe 8?  I think Man City will make the run to the final 8 at least in Champs League but will give up the title chasing UEFA honors.  Tottenham will finish 4rd in my mind – as they kept everyone and made a good late addition to the squad.  The battle for the 4th Champs League spot should be epic with Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and perhaps a retooled Everton making that push.  I think Arsenal might well be the team – but I am of course will be rooting for American Pulisic and Chelsea to claim that spot.  I think Pulisic will have to score double digit goals and double digit assists for that kind of run to happen and while that would be awesome for US Soccer I just don’t know.  (Not since Dempsey was starring at Fulham has an American scored more than 10 goals in a season.) I am still worried that Pulisic might get injured – the EPL is a really rough league – much rougher than the Bundesliga.  Here’s hoping he has success – this new Chelsea fan will be watching!


So plenty of MLS teams made some interesting pick-ups on transfer deadline day this week – as LAFC, LA Galaxy and others made big signings.  The biggest move however was DC United’s Wayne Rooney’s announcement that he is leaving to become player coach at Derby County after the MLS Season ends.  That leaves us with probably our only opportunity to see the two legends Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovich for LA Galaxy clash the Sunday, 7:30 pm ET on Fox Sports 1.  Also huge news as Carmel High Grad and former Carmel High Soccer star Matt Hedges is set to tie the record for most starts for Dallas FC this weekend.

Carmel FC

So Carmel FC Goalkeeping Training returns this week with Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr.  We plan to be at Shelbourne on the upper school fields Thursday 8/15 starting at 6 pm U10-U12, 7 pm U13-U15.  CFC Coaches please send me new names and contact info if you have new Goalkeepers this season.  Congrats to all those players who made high school teams this past week at CHS or Guerin or University and good luck on the season.  For those who may not have made the team – please reach out to Carmel Dads about Recreating soccer last second additions as soon as you can.  The recreation high school games start next weekend.


Carmel High Grad and former Carmel High Soccer star Matt Hedges is set to tie the record for most starts for Dallas FC

Former Carmel High Ladies Grad Emily Speidel Wins Gatorade Player of the Year

American Youngster Pulisic could become an instant start at Chelsea – Doug McIntyre Yahoo Sports

Americans Abroad: EPL Season Preview Stars and Stripes

All Rise for Chelsea vs Man United Sun 11:30 am on NBCSN

Ian Darke’s EPL Predictions

What if the USMNT played in the Premier League? S&S

Ranking the EPL Kits Worst to Best

Premier League Season Preview – Arsenal

Liverpool have to bolster depleted squad’ – Lack of movement surprises Houghton

Premier League fixtures 2019-20 in full 


USMNT Viewing Guide for Watching your Favorite US Player S&S

Americans Abroad: EPL Season Preview Stars and Stripes

Chelsea’s Pulisic not Your Wonderboy Anymore


– Kuper: Why De Ligt chose Juventus
– Horncastle: How did Juve become the best at free transfers?


Americans at home: Checking back in on all of your favorite Americans in MLS

What to Watch For ESPNFC

Tale of the Tape: Two legends face off in D.C.

Ring: ATL-NYC always one of the best games in MLS

Atlanta United to host Club América in second-annual Campeones Cup – Onefootball

MLS and Liga MX announced that Atlanta United will take on Club América in the Campeones Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on 14 August.

Atlanta United to host Minnesota United or Portland Timbers in USOC final – MLSsoccer.com

– Vickery: Pavon boosts Galaxy’s attack in hopes of Europe move
– Carlisle: Why Rooney’s Derby move diminishes his MLS legacy

Indy 11

3 Things Week 22

11 Beat NC to Stay 3rd in East

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


Fri, Aug 9

3 pm NBCSN                           Liverpool vs Norwich City EPL Starts

Sat, Aug 10

7:30 am NBCSN                                    West Ham vs Man City

10 am NBCSN                                        Bournemouth vs Sheffield United

11:30 am bein Sport                                                Marseille vs Reims (France Ligue 1)

12:30 pm NBCN                                   Tottenham vs Aston Villa

4 pm ESPN+                                            Barcelona vs Napoli Friendly

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Columbus vs Cincy

Sun, Aug 11

9 am CNBC                                              Leciester City vs Wolverhampton

9 am NBCSN                                           Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs Arsenal

11:30 amNBCSN                                  Man United vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

12:30 pm ESPN+                                 Juventus vs Atletico Madrid  ICC

3 pm beIN Sport                                 PSG vs Nimes

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs North Carolina  NWSL

4 pm ESPN                                                                       Atlanta United vs NYCFC

7:30 pm FS1                                           DC United vs LA Galaxy

10 pm FS1                                                                        LAFC vs NY Red Bulls

Weds, Aug 14

3 pm TNT?                                               Liverpool vs Chelsea (Pulisic) – UEFA Super Cup

8 pm Fubo TV/UD                              Atlanta united vs America (Campeones Cup)

Fri, Aug 16

2:30 pm FS2                            Bayern Munich vs Hertha German Bundesliga Starts

3 pm beIN Sport                     Atheltic Club vs Barcelona (La Liga Starts)

Sat, Aug 17

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Arsenal vs Burnley

9:30 am FS1                                            Dortmund vs Ausburg

9:30 am FS2                                            Werder Bremen (Sargeant) vs Dusseldorf

10 am CNBC                                           Aston villa vs Bournmouth

10 am NBCSN                                        Southampton vs Liverpool

11 am bein Sport                               Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Man City vs Tottenham

12:30 pm FS1                                        MGladbach (Johnson) vs Schalke (McKinney)


International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

Premier League preview: Why Christian Pulisic can become an instant Chelsea star

Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsAug 5, 2019, 10:35 AM

Welcome to Yahoo Soccer’s Premier League Starting XI. This lineup of stories will get you ready for the upcoming season as we count down to kickoff on Friday.

For American fans of the English Premier League, this season has a little bit of extra spice. A United States-born field player — Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic — will for the first time ever head into the new campaign as a surefire starter for a top-end club in the world’s most popular circuit. Better yet, from the looks of things so far, it appears he is up to the challenge.When we first learned last January that Pulisic would be leaving German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund for the biggest stage in the club game, the move was met with tempered enthusiasm. Sure, the $73 million price tag that almost tripled the previous record for a U.S. national teamer and spoke to how highly the 20-year-old attacker was regarded by one of the game’s richest teams.This was Chelsea, though, where current superstars like Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne were chewed up and spit out before their talent was nurtured by Liverpool and Manchester City, where they blossomed into world-class attackers. It was fair to wonder how much Pulisic would actually play at Stamford Bridge.

So when then-Blues manager Maurizio Sarri said he didn’t know the club was about to complete the deal for Pulisic — a quote was both taken out of context and lost in translation — the idea that Chelsea might not be the best fit for The Great American Hope took hold. Seven months later, though, those fears appear overblown.While success for the basketball-loving Pulisic isn’t a slam dunk, he seems significantly better positioned to do well immediately than he did when he first signed. Sarri is gone, having been replaced by club legend Frank Lampard. Lampard may have just one season on the sidelines under his belt — he led second-tier Derby County to the brink of Premier League promotion in May — but he’s probably a better fit for Pulisic than the 60-year-old Italian. Lampard’s first language obviously is English, and the former star midfielder, who retired just three years ago, knows from personal experience the pressure Pulisic will face coming of age under the bright lights of the British game.  Plus, Lampard seems to like him. Pulisic endeared himself to his new boss immediately by cutting short his post-Gold Cup vacation to join up with the team in Asia. Lampard rewarded him by starting the Hershey, Pennsylvania native in all but one of Chelsea’s preseason matches, including its last four. Pulisic has played well, too, scoring his first two goals and adding an assist for his new club in last week’s friendly win over Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg.  At this point, it’s clear that Pulisic will be in the starting lineup when Chelsea kicks off its 2019-20 campaign on Sunday in the highest-profile fashion possible: a trip to 76,000-seat Old Trafford to face Manchester United, the team Pulisic grew up idolizing an ocean away.  It should go without saying that both Lampard and Chelsea’s demanding fans will insist on production from the start. But this move has been a long time coming for Pulisic, who will celebrate his 21st birthday next month. He knows what’s expected. He always wanted to play in England, to return to the country where he spent a year of his life as a boy thanks to his father’s job.  The change of scenery appears to have energized him so far. Pulisic’s early performances suggest a player determined to prove he can excel in the sport’s most cutthroat circuit. He’s been playing as a left forward, a position he excelled at in Dortmund. And even if it does take Pulisic a few months to fully settle, a FIFA transfer ban confirmed in May will prevent the club from simply replacing him midseason.  Sure, constant comparisons to longtime Blues playmaker Eden Hazard, who left the club for Real Madrid this summer, are inevitable. And Stamford Bridge, despite Russian owner Roman Abramovich’s endless supply of cash, remains a famously dysfunctional place. Things can always go sideways.  Based on how the stars are aligning, though, Pulisic could well excel with the Blues.

Americans Abroad: EPL Season Preview

Christian Pulisic leads a small contingent of just 3 Americans in the English top flight.

By Alex Showell  Aug 5, 2019, 7:00am PDTChristopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019-2020 English Premier League season kicks off this week and United States Men’s National Team fans will want to keep a close eye on the three Americans playing in the league. Christian Pulisic will attract the most attention, as he will likely prove to be integral to Chelsea’s chances of success. DeAndre Yedlin will also be a vital contributor to his club, but NewcastleUnited could be in for a fierce relegation battle. While Cameron Cater-Vickers is still at Tottenham, he seems to have no path to the Starting XI and will hopefully be heading out on loan. Here’s a closer look at what to expect for Pulisic, Yedlin, and Carter-Vickers.

Christian Pulisic

Club: Chelsea

Age: 20

Position: Right/Left Winger

Last Season: Christian Pulisic is by far the most notable American playing in the Premier League this season. Christian Pulisic completed an approximately $71 million transfer to Chelsea in January but was loaned back to Dortmund for the end of the 2018-2019 season.

The young superstar contributed seven goals and six assists in thirty appearances (all competitions) for Borussia Dortmund, but he had a frustrating season. Pulisic fell down the depth chart and suffered from several injuries. He was not as his best but showed glimpses of his incredible skill.

Upcoming Season: Pulisic is expected to be a starter every match and will look to fill the void left by the departure of Eden Hazard (who joined Real Madrid). If he could he contribute 10+ goals and assists, that would mark an excellent season for the guy who will turn 21 in September. However, this may be too much to expect from a young player who will be adjusting to a new league. As a team, Chelsea will look to advance to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages and qualify for next season’s tournament (by finishing in the Premier League top four).

The London-based club have experienced an offseason full of upheaval. Star player Eden Hazard and manager Maurizio Sarri (who joined Juventus) have departed, FIFA has handed the club a transfer ban and club legend Frank Lampard has been appointed as the new manager. Pulisic will look to guide the club to a top-four finish and improve upon his previous season, but this could be quite difficult.


DeAndre Yedlin

Club: Newcastle United

Age: 26

Position: Right Back

Last Season: DeAndre Yedlin had an inconsistent season for a Newcastle side that finished 13th in the Premier League table. He made 29 appearances (in all competitions), scoring one goal and adding two assists.

Upcoming Season: Expect Yedlin to be a consistent starter. He and the Magpies will face a brutal relegation battle. Fans are understandably fed up with owner Mike Ashley, who has spent little money on the club and seems to have no intention of selling it.  The departure of manager Rafa Benitez and the hiring of Steve Bruce makes it seems like Newcastle will be in for a long season. Given the difficult circumstances, Yedlin performing at the same level as last season would be a success. However, it’s nearly impossible for defenders to excel individually when their teams struggle.

 Cameron Carter-Vickers

Club: Tottenham Hotspur  he was loaned to Aston Villa on Thursday !

Age: 21

Position: Centerback

Last Season: Cameron Carter-Vickers had a solid season for Championship side Swansea City, making thirty-three appearances in all competitions. He struggled to break into the squad during the first half of the season but became a regular starter by January.

Carter-Vickers demonstrated impressive poise on the ball and a decent passing ability however, his tackling leaves much to be desired.

Upcoming Season: As of now, Carter-Vickers is still on the books at Tottenham. Tottenham has an excellent chance to make a deep run in the Champions League and will be challenging for the title. However, don’t expect Carter-Vickers to play much of a role.  He will hopefully be sent out on loan shortly, or otherwise will be spending a season on the bench. He is buried on the depth chart behind Toby AlderweireldJan Vertonghen, and Davinson Sanchez. Carter-Vickers is a solid, but still raw defender who needs more playing time to further his development. Another loan to a Championship side would provide an excellent opportunity.


*While Kyle Scott plays for Newcastle United, both Transfermarkt and Wikipedia list him as a member of Newcastle’s U-23 side. It’s unlikely he appears in the Premier League this season, but he may feature in a few cup matches.  What kind of seasons are you expecting from Pulisic, Yedlin, and Carter-Vickers?

Ian Darke’s Premier League predictions: It’s Liverpool’s year

Aug 8, 2019Ian DarkeESPN.com writer

On the eve of another Premier League season full of intrigue, optimism runs high everywhere … well, almost everywhere. But before a ball is kicked, there are more questions than answers even for the usual suspects in the top six (and check the bottom for my final verdict on the Top 4 and relegation battle).The smart money says it will be Manchester City and Liverpool running away at the top again. Both have been relatively quiet in the summer market. As talented as City are, you wonder if their focus might switch to the prize that has eluded them, the Champions League, when push comes to shove this season. That might just open the door to a Liverpool team who will bring manic intensity to their quest to end a long league title drought going back to 1990. Yet the heavy summer workload on their famous three strikers — Mohamed Salahand Sadio Mane played in the African Cup of Nations for Egypt and Senegal, respectively, while Roberto Firmino represented Brazil in the Copa America — makes you wonder if the Reds should have bought extra cover.

Arsenal will surely be full of goals now that £72 million winger Nicolas Pepe is joining the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, but the club has not done enough to fix a leaky defence — they signed David Luizfrom Chelsea, but as we all know, he is often a howler waiting to happen — and need to improve their performances away from home.

Meanwhile, how will Chelsea cope without Eden Hazard (who decamped for Real Madrid) in Frank Lampard‘s debut season as a Premier League manager? For starters they’ll need Christian PulisicMason MountCallum Hudson-Odoiand Tammy Abraham to deliver … and deliver fast.

Even with the excellent midfield addition of Tanguy Ndombele and 19-year-old left winger Ryan SessegnonSpurs’ squad still looks a bit too thin to bridge the 27-point gap between them and champions Manchester City last season. 

Manchester United have beefed up their defence with Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. But there are still issues with Paul Pogba, who has been linked to Real Madrid, though he remains at Old Trafford (for now). United also sold Romelu Lukaku to Inter, and while the Belgian international is hardly a world-beater, he does score goals — a responsibility that will fall on the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and out-of-form and out-of-favor Alexis Sanchez. It’s against this backdrop that we’ll learn if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a good enough manager to turn the club around in the post-Alex Ferguson era, something David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho failed to do.

Manchester United should also be concerned with the clubs chasing them. Take Leicester, which enters its first full season under Brendan Rodgers and will be well worth watching. Could they challenge for a Top 6 spot? Don’t rule it out with the likes of Youri Tielemans and James Maddison supplying marksman Jamie Vardy in front of goal.

West Ham, irritatingly inconsistent last season, have made a couple of big signings and could finish in the Top 8.

Everton have signed the exciting Juventus teenager Moise Kean, but will miss Idrissa Gueye in midfield. With a posh new stadium on its way, it’s vital that the Toffees find themselves at least in contention for a cup.

Wolves were superb last season, but needed to boost their squad depth more with a busy Europa League workload this time around.


Why did Prem teams spend less this window?

Why were Chelsea given a transfer ban?

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace’s fate may depend on whether they keep their match-winning winger, Wilfried Zaha, while Watford have a streetwise mid-table look about them.

Manager Steve Bruce inherits the poison chalice at Newcastle, where turmoil is a way of life under owner Mike Ashley. Bruce needs new £40m man Joelinton to be a hit, otherwise Newcastle might find themselves in a relegation fight again.

Southampton were galvanised by manager Ralph Hasenhuttl last season, and if Nathan RedmondDanny Ings and James Ward-Prowse all perform well, they might surprise.

Eddie Howe always keeps Bournemouth clear of trouble, the football equivalent of defying gravity, and with Callum Wilson and David Brooks around that trend is likely to continue. Likewise, you sense that Sean Dyche’s band of brothers at Burnley have too much grit to go down.

But it might be tougher for Brighton, where Graham Potter takes over from Chris Hughton. There’s a desire to play sexier football, but do they have the players to do it? Doubtful.

What of the three promoted clubs? Norwich must hope the top scorer in the Championship, Teemu Pukki, raises his game even higher, and the club has several good youngsters. But staying up? It will be tough.Chris Wilder has managed in all four divisions, so he won’t be daunted by the Premier League Sheffield United. It’s whether he has enough quality at his disposal to stay afloat.

Aston Villa have splashed the cash, but their shrewdest moves might be signing under-rated keeper Tom Heaton for £8m and keeping their playmaker Jack Grealish.

Predictions are there to make fools of us, but I reckon this is Liverpool’s year to win the title (I expect City to come in second, followed by Spurs in third and Arsenal grabbing that last Champions League spot) with Brighton, Norwich and Sheffield United leading contenders for the drop. Top scorer? If he stays fit, look no further than Harry Kane at Tottenham.

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is not your wonderboy anymore

Aug 2, 2019Sam BordenESPN global sports correspondent

Christian Pulisic is but 20 years old and the number of effusive words already written about him is staggering.

His classic speed. His majestic acceleration. His touch, which allows him to keep the ball so close to his feet that defenders can only trip or wave at him as he flies past. The near clairvoyance with which he finds space amid a thicket of defenders near the goal. The way he shoots, like an archer. The way he sets his jaw, like a bouncer.

To be clear, the enthusiasm is warranted. Christian Pulisic is the most talented player in American soccer history. And, should he pull it off, what he is about to do — that is, play for Chelsea in the English Premier League — will be one of the most impressive feats in American sports history. Yes, Tim Howardplayed for Manchester United, but he was a goalkeeper; and yes, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan made the move to the EPL as well, but they debuted at smaller clubs in Fulham and Everton.

Pulisic is different. By joining Chelsea, he is the first American aiming to star for one of the game’s largest clubs. Nearly half the population of the planet watches the Premier League, more than 3 billion people a season. If Pulisic, a young, fresh-faced American, succeeds — if he scores and dazzles and captivates fans in the U.S. and Europe and China and India and all over Africa — it changes the calculus on him. His ceiling isn’t Landon Donovan anymore. It’s Lionel Messi.

On a dank day in Dortmund, Germany, this spring, I meet Pulisic at a restaurant in the city center. He is dressed Euro-casual, in tight jeans and a black hoodie. I notice the sweatshirt right away because it has words written in circles on the sleeves.”It’s from the Uninterrupted guys,” he says. “LeBron started this thing with ‘More Than an Athlete,’ and they sent me one.”Pulisic typically has presented himself as more quiet than brash, but knowing the move he’s about to make, the sweatshirt makes me wonder if something has changed. It wouldn’t be crazy. Science tells us that if a person picks up two objects at the same time and they have identical weights but different sizes, the larger object is the one that will actually seem lighter. (It’s true: Try it with an iPhone and a Kindle.)This phenomenon has to do with the incredible power of human expectations: We expect the bigger thing to be heavier, so it feels lighter. In sports, the work of becoming a legend is the same either way, but if you make it look bigger, then actually doing the lifting might feel easier. Many superstars have done it this way: Tiger Woods when he said “Hello, world”; LeBron when he welcomed comparisons to Michael Jordan before he was out of high school.So maybe Pulisic has decided he wants the attention and limelight and microphones that will come at Chelsea. Maybe he is ready to stand up and make a grander statement on, say, pay equity in soccer or the development model in the United States. Maybe he wants to speak.”You’re part of it then?” I ask Pulisic about Uninterrupted. His forehead crinkles. His eyes drop.”Um, not like part of it,” he says. “I support it, I guess you could say.” Later, he explains that the fame and the platform might be the bit about his Chelsea move that most challenges him, because he doesn’t particularly like being famous.Fair enough, I tell him, except he just made a career move that guarantees the greatest scrutiny an American soccer player has ever received. He sighs.”It’s definitely one of the hardest parts of my life,” he says, stressing that he really does appreciate having fans who support him and really does understand why people stop him for a selfie or an autograph.”I just hope people realize it’s tougher for some of us,” he says. His voice lowers. “At times, you just want to be alone.”

I have schnitzel, Pulisic has a salad, and then he leads me through the Borussia Dortmund locker room at the team’s stadium. He stops in front of his locker and explains, with a touch of wistfulness, that when he saw his jersey hanging there for the first time in 2016, it was the “coolest thing in the world.”Outside on the field, standing in front of the towering south stand where 25,000 fans crowd together to form the so-called Yellow Wall during games, he almost giggles as he reminisces about the noise in the stadium after a goal.”You hear the stadium announcer yell ‘Christian!’ and then everyone yells your last name back,” he says, cocking his head as though it is echoing right now. “I mean, scoring a last-minute goal in front of this wall, and you see the beer flying everywhere and …”His voice trails off. Leaving for Chelsea might have been a fairly straightforward business decision for Pulisic, but the departure from Dortmund is difficult. Dortmund was a haven for Pulisic, a place to develop his game and discover how he wanted to present himself as an athlete. In soccer terms, Dortmund was Pulisic’s boyhood home.Club scouts found him when he was 15, smitten after watching Pulisic play at a U.S. youth national team tournament in Turkey. They saw then what Chelsea officials see now: a soft, silken touch more European than American. For Dortmund, which has a renowned youth development academy, he seemed a perfect fit.”We only sign players from foreign countries if we’re extremely confident that he’s becoming a player for the professional team,” Lars Ricken, Dortmund’s youth coordinator, tells me at the team’s training facility, adding that he sees Pulisic as one of the club’s biggest success stories.Pulisic arrived in Germany from Hershey, Pennsylvania, when he was 16. He initially struggled with school — to this day, he says, he’s still not sure what classes he attended at first since he didn’t understand a word of German at the time — but blossomed quickly on the field.Many soccer analysts say success at the highest levels of the sport comes down to millimeters. If the space between the ball and a player’s foot is much wider than that, he isn’t truly in control of it. Pulisic’s gap, even as a teenager and even when he was sprinting, was minuscule. He was called up to Dortmund’s first team in less than a year. “We don’t buy stars,” Ricken says now, with obvious pride. “We build them.”Pulisic became the youngest non-German to ever score in the Bundesliga (he celebrated by dabbing). Then he became the youngest Dortmund player to ever play in the Champions League. He appeared in 127 games over four seasons for Dortmund and helped the team win the German Cup in 2017.Along the way, he hung on to plenty of his American tendencies — “I remember him driving like two hours to Frankfurt to get burritos sometimes,” says Dortmund winger Jacob Bruun Larsen, his former roommate — but he also worked to connect with the city and the fans. Instead of sloughing off the language barrier, he embraced it, practicing his German to the point where he was able to do interviews on television. His grammar wasn’t perfect, but the effort endeared him to the team’s supporters.They loved that he tried, loved that he put his head down and grinded in the blue-collar image of Dortmund players who came before him. He trained rigorously and diligently. He battled against juggernaut Bayern Munich. He scored important goals, like the gorgeous lob over Benfica’s goalkeeper in the Champions League. He also suffered through one of the worst weeks in the club’s history. In 2017, as the team traveled from its hotel to the stadium, its bus was struck by explosives planted by a deranged fan.

Pulisic has rarely spoken about that episode, and his eyes soften as he recounts the fear he felt when the windows of the bus exploded and rockets of glass flew everywhere. “We were just going to a normal game, like always, and there was just a really loud bang,” he says. “It was so loud, I couldn’t hear anything. I was confused.”

He pauses. “I just remember [Dortmund goalkeeper] Roman Burki next to me grabbed me and pulled me under the table because he probably recognized what was going on before I did. We were just so scared.”

Pulisic looks away, his voice slowing down. “And then I hear Marc screaming. … He was right across from me. … And I see blood. … And he’s yelling for the doctor. And everyone’s screaming at the bus driver, ‘Driver, keep going!'”Marc Bartra, a defender, was struck by the glass and had shards embedded in his arm. He underwent emergency surgery that night. There were no other serious physical injuries among the players, but the emotional fallout from the episode was significant. Pulisic was 18, living on his own in Germany.e had to deal with knowing someone had tried to kill him and his friends. He had to deal with staying at the same hotel before another game. He had to deal with getting back on the team bus without feeling his skin crawl. He had to figure out how to process it.It was a hyperintense event within a hyperspeed maturation. Pulisic learned how to shop for groceries in Dortmund, how to cook for himself in Dortmund, how to get ready for work each day in Dortmund. After the bus attack, he learned how to confront his own demons and move on from a nightmare in Dortmund.”I’ve changed a lot,” he says at one point, “a lot on the soccer field but maybe even more off the field.”As we walk back up from the locker room, he looks around and says, “In a lot of ways, I grew up here.”

Pulisic decided to leave Dortmund on Jan. 2. Chelsea shipped $73 million to the German club, making Pulisic the most expensive American player sold in soccer history. (It’s not close either: Defender John Brooks is second after his $22.5 million jump from Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg in 2017; Dempsey’s shift from Fulham to Tottenham in 2012 cost Spurs only $9.6 million.)

To Pulisic, the move is part of a progression, the obvious next step on his path. It is natural to him, expected even. In fact, the most animated I see him get over the course of our conversations is when I mention how he has often been called a “wonderboy” by broadcasters and fans and analysts, a term that was originally flattering but now seems to strike him as borderline demeaning.”The reason I just don’t like to hear it anymore is because I feel like now I’ve been a part of this enough,” he says. “And I think I’ve earned my spots in teams and shouldn’t just be looked at as just a prodigy.”He takes a breath. “I don’t see myself as that label anymore. It’s just not how I feel.”Pulisic is 20. Kylian Mbappe, star of France’s 2018 World Cup win, is also 20 and isn’t called a wonderboy or a prodigy — he’s just a superstar. At this stage of his career, Pulisic says, he doesn’t want to be compared to other players his age; he just wants to be compared to other players.

That, I assure him, will happen quickly and often in the Premier League. But Pulisic will always reckon with a different contextual comparison because of his nationality. It doesn’t especially matter that Mbappe is French when considering his value as a player; France has produced plenty of international stars and will produce more. Pulisic, though, is playing as the face (and legs and feet) of American soccer. If he fails, it isn’t clear when another American will have a chance like this.That reality is no doubt part of why the initial reaction to Pulisic’s Chelsea move, at least from outsiders, has been tempered with a fair bit of caution. While Chelsea is a club teeming with stature and success, it is nonetheless known as one of Europe’s great powder kegs. Its owner, Roman Abramovich, is a notoriously erratic Russian oligarch who has made 14 managerial changes in 16 years and has cultivated a culture of turnover at Chelsea that a former team employee once described to me as a “combustible nightmare.”

What that means for Pulisic is that he will be playing under (no surprise) another new Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard, who was a longtime star player for the club but has only one season of coaching experience. Pulisic also will be charged, at least in part, with replacing Eden Hazard, a Belgian wizard who is generally considered one of the 10 best players in the game. (Hazard left Chelsea for Real Madrid after seven seasons.)Add in a transfer ban that means Chelsea isn’t allowed to sign more players for a year — ratcheting up the heat on the current crop even more — and it creates a set of circumstances that are, as Donovan says when we meet up this spring to talk about Pulisic, “concerning to me.”Donovan had a solid spell playing abroad himself, but he really built his legacy on his work with the U.S. national team and in Major League Soccer. Pulisic’s task, he says, is something far greater. “I can see it being a massive home run for him,” Donovan says. “[But] Chelsea spends a lot of money on a lot of players. They have money forever. They can spend $70 million to bring in Pulisic, and if it doesn’t work right away, it’s no problem. They can move on to the next player.”He shrugs. “He’s not going to be afforded as much leeway if things don’t go well as he would at a different club.”Stu Holden, a former national team forward who played with Bolton Wanderers for four years, says the same, calling Chelsea a club with “rich history and tradition” that is also “unstable” and “a bit of a mess.”Even Jurgen Klinsmann, the German legend and former U.S. national team head coach who gave Pulisic his first international call-up, isn’t totally sold. He praises Pulisic for “jumping into the colder water” but then adds, “I thought maybe another one or two years in Dortmund wouldn’t have been wrong.”What they are all expressing, in one way or another, is the uncomfortable certainty that it will not be enough for Pulisic just to shine with Chelsea; he will have to shine quickly. As Donovan says, there is little doubt about Pulisic’s place when it comes to the U.S. national team — “For the next decade, he’s going to be the most important player” — but it is not so easy to say the same for Chelsea.Could Pulisic step right in and thrive? Absolutely. Lampard says Pulisic is the kind of player “who wants to take people on, the sort of player the fans are going to like,” while longtime defender David Luiz says he believes Pulisic “is going to have a great future with us.” And maybe it really will be that easy. But could Pulisic struggle or get injured or find himself on the bench or out on loan to some smaller club? Could we look up next spring and wonder where he went? The list of talented young players who went to England and had that result isn’t exactly short.Nevertheless, Pulisic seems undaunted. He talks about normal nerves and overwhelming excitement and confidence and verve, delivering the sort of steely assurance that is both accepting and dismissive at the same time. Even when I mention the notoriously harsh British news media, he barely wavers.Pulisic sees this move in soccer terms and little else, and that perspective is probably both healthy and correct. Even the notion that his nationality matters, that being American might help Chelsea sell a few (thousand) more jerseys in the U.S., might be overblown. Chelsea signed Pulisic for the same reason any club signs any player: They think he can help them win. They see his creativity and his ability to play far up the field in Lampard’s expected formation. They see the way he chases in the attacking third and the way he pings passes from sideline to sideline.”I know what kind of player I am,” Pulisic says. “And they know exactly the same.”Could he have waited? Could he have stayed in Dortmund? Could he have held out for a situation that didn’t involve an unpredictable Russian owner and a superstar whose departure dials up the pressure? Maybe. But it’s also hard to say that with a straight face.”Nobody would turn down that offer, right?” Donovan says.Done with being compared to his own potential, Pulisic is going to Chelsea to stand on his own. “I know I’m ready for this,” he says.The game ended on an October night in 2017, and Christian Pulisic saw an assistant coach walking toward him. His throat was sore from shouting. It was steamy at the stadium in Couva, Trinidad, the air hanging heavy. The rain-soaked field was so waterlogged, he heard the squish of the coach’s shoes.The United States had just lost a game it should have won, a game in which it needed only a tie to qualify for the World Cup. Pulisic didn’t know whether other teams might have bailed out the Americans by losing too. He looked at the approaching assistant hopefully.”We’re not going,” the coach said. Fast. Blunt. Brutal. Pulisic rocked back. In the locker room, team staffers rushed to move out the champagne and beer that were supposed to be part of the celebration. On the field, Pulisic crouched down and cried.He had scored. He had pushed. He had run. He had never considered, not for a second, that it wouldn’t be enough. He had never considered, not for a second, that he wouldn’t be playing for his country in the biggest tournament in sports.As he changed out of his uniform, teammates cried around him. On the flight the next morning, there were wet eyes again. The wound from that evening blistered over and lingered, jabbing at Pulisic for weeks.”It was,” he says now, “the worst night of my pro career, by far.”Nearly two years later, though, the images from that night’s failure — Pulisic burying his head in his hands, pulling his jersey over his eyes, tears streaming down his face — seem blurred by time and circumstance.In July, instead of going on the post-Gold Cup vacation that many other top players take, Pulisic joins his Chelsea teammates in Japan on a preseason tour. He signs autographs and takes selfies with fans outside the team hotel. He makes an appearance at a local store with Lampard. He laughs during pre-practice stretching with Luiz. He juggles a ball while wearing a new style of studs that have his name splashed across the heel. The coverage, not surprisingly, is breathless: There are articles about his jersey number (he picks 24) and even a full recap, with video, of a thundering goal he scores during a practice drill.On the field, Lampard eases Pulisic into the group. He comes on as a substitute and plays a half-hour against a Japanese team, making a few good runs without real result. A few days later, against Barcelona, he is a dervish, whipping runs from both sides and showing no fear as he goes up against the world’s most celebrated side. In Austria a week later, he gives Chelsea fans an early glimpse of what’s to come: He wins a penalty, pulls off a glorious nutmeg and scores two goals, showing off his superior touch as Chelsea goes up 3-0 inside 28 minutes.

These are only friendlies. The real run of show begins next week, when Pulisic officially enters the most watched soap opera in the world. The fans will be thrumming, Lampard will be stalking the touchline and supernovas like Paul Pogba will be on the opposite side, whizzing along at breakneck pace and demanding a level of excellence from Pulisic that he has never needed to reach so often. It will be fierce. It will be ambitious. It will be daring. “I’m going to go in there,” he says, “and play with my same attacking style. I think I’m going to fit in really well.”

Two years ago, after that awful Trinidad game, a belief like that felt so far away. At 19, it was hard to be patient, and Pulisic left that night frustrated and antsy, wanting to know how the loss would affect the U.S. team, wanting to know what all of it meant for his chances to move to a bigger club. Two years ago, he wanted to know if his moment would ever come.


Wiebe: Can anyone stop LAFC? Plus four more questions ahead of this MLS weekend

August 9, 20191:57PM EDTAndrew Wiebe Senior Host and Producer

A couple housekeeping notes before we get to your regularly scheduled Week 23 preview.First, I think The Movement is the best thing we do at MLSsoccer.com. It’s an intoxicating mixture of the game, the people who love it, the culture that surrounds it and the curiosity and empathy soccer can inspire in all of us. Calen Carr puts his heart and soul into the show, and I cannot recommend the latest episode – Football & Faith: Being Muslim in MLS – enough.Second, I got the lowdown on Wayne Rooney’s decision to swap D.C. United for Derby County from The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer and the full rundown of MLS transfer deadline day from former Montreal Impact technical director Adam Braz on Thursday’s Extratime. Now’d be a good time to choose a segment to listen to before you continue on.

Now, onto the five questions:

Can anyone stop LAFC?

The New York Red Bulls will give it a try on Sunday to conclude Week 23 (10 pm ET | FS1 — Full TV & streaming info). Only the Portland Timbers have won at Banc of California Stadium this season, and that was in the U.S. Open Cup. In other words, good luck!  Honestly, just give LAFC the Supporters’ Shield already and be done with it. They’re the league’s best team, and it’s not particularly close. They’ve got a 10-point advantage on the East-leading Union with two games in hand, a 13-point head start on Atlanta with one game in hand and a 14-point lead in the West. They’re on pace to shatter every MLS record for single-season dominance. Bob Bradley won’t let them get comfortable, either. Shield first, then MLS Cup. Let’s put it this way, I will print this column out and eat it if they aren’t lifting the Shield come Oct. 6 (or more likely even sooner). I do not think LAFC will be stopped, in the regular season at least.  I, like most of the MLS All-Stars I talked to in Orlando, always make time to watch Bradley’s team play. The Red Bulls have plenty going on, too. Here’s what I’ll be watching come Sunday night:

Which Adama Diomande will we see? Christian Ramirez is gone. Time for the dominant Diomande from a year ago to come back and give LAFC yet another best-in-class goal threat. In case you weren’t paying attention, the 29-year-old is starting to get there (four goals, two assists in the last five games). Prior to that, though, he’d scored once since March 10. Add a rampant Diomande to Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi and LAFC are liable to start dropping five spots on everyone.

Will Aaron Long be distracted by his own transfer saga? Long is a “foundational piece” for the Red Bulls. He wants to move to Europe. The Red Bulls don’t want to sell him. These things happen. Thing is, the scoreline can start adding up quickly against LAFC if you’re even a little bit preoccupied by anything other than Vela and Co. Long’s a professional, and I don’t for one second question his effort. He’s human though, just like the rest of us.

How could you miss Zlatan vs. Wayne Rooney?

You can’t. This is probably our only opportunity to see the two legends clash in MLS (Sunday, 7:30 pm ET | FS1 — Full TV & streaming info), barring an unlikely (but not impossible) MLS Cup matchup. Unlike LAFC-Red Bulls, which East Coasters will have to stay up to watch, you won’t even have to sacrifice any sleep. Make time.I already wrote about Rooney and D.C. United this week. My hope is that with his future set, Rooney returns to his MLS best and drags Luciano Acosta along with him. Having Ola Kamara to lead the line ought to put LuchoRoo in more comfortable positions. Last fall was special, and I want one more taste of the dynamic duo before we bid adieu to the both of them, assuming Acosta signs elsewhere as a free agent. It may not happen. D.C. have won twice since May 12.As for the Galaxy, I’ve got nothing but respect and admiration for general manager Dennis te Kloese. He stayed patient, he got creative and he made sure Cristian Pavon ended up in Los Angeles. As Matt Doyle pointed out this week, he’s still got a team that mostly looks “meh” and remains over reliant on Zlatan, which isn’t the worst thing in the world if we’re being honest.Then again, said Zlatan-reliant team missed the playoffs last year – sorry to bring up Decision Day, Galaxy supporters – and truthfully nobody is safe in the Western Conference other than LAFC.Either of these teams could win MLS Cup. Either could end up the biggest collective disappointment of 2019. Either Zlatan or Rooney could do something that goes down in MLS history. Only one way to find out. Just watch the game.

Will New York City FC take advantage of their games in hand?

Same question, different team every year. Over in the Western Conference, the Timbers are in the same boat, only they play 10 straight home games.Thursday was touch and go. The blue side of New York would have dropped points to Houston had Taty Castellanos, he of seven goals and three assists in just over 1,000 minutes at the age of 20, not delivered late to seal a dramatic home win in a weather-delayed match at Yankee Stadium.Those were an important three points in New York City FC’s quest for at the very least a home game in the playoffs. It was, by definition, one of their games in hand, a midweek match in which no other teams played. They’ll have three more home midweek matches the rest of the way, all opportunities to climb the table in exchange for less turnaround time for weekend games.Now, you’ve still got to win games in hand to make them count, and then you’ve still got find a way to recover for Saturday and Sunday and get resutls there too when the schedule starts getting busy.This Sunday will be a good test for the rest of the campaign. Can NYCFC bounce back? Did Torrent manage his roster well? The good news is that he was able to rest the likes of Maxi Moralez and Anton Tinnerholm ahead of Sunday’s trip to Mercedes Benz Stadium (3:55 pm ET | ESPN — Full TV & streaming info).

Which players will I have my eye on?

Xavier Arreaga (Seattle Sounders) – I’m not able to watch a game casually and tell you in great detail about the actions of one player. I have to be more intentional about it. There’s no Chad Marshall (or Roman Torres) to bail the Sounders out anymore. They need Arreaga to come good. So far, in four starts, he’s made big plays and also allowed some. I’m planning on watching the 24-year-old Ecuadorian closely on Saturday when the Sounders host Teal BunburyGustavo Bou and the Revs. He’s part of the club’s long-term spine, after all.Dom Dwyer (Orlando City) – More on the Lions below. Here’s what Doyle wrote in his Tiers of MLS column this week: “Live by the mercurial striker, die by the mercurial striker. The season’s probably done, but if Dom suddenly gets hot (he’s entirely capable of scoring 10 goals in their last 10 games), then we could still see this team in the postseason.” I’m rooting for Dwyer to make it interesting in the East.Darwin Quintero (Minnesota United) – Is it just me, or does Quintero look a bit …  disinterested? Apart from the U.S. Open Cup, in which he leads the tournament in scoring, the Colombian has two goals and two assists in MLS play since April 19. The heady days of March are long gone. Quintero doesn’t seem comfortable with the players and movement around him. If Minnesota are going to keep climbing upward and perhaps even make some noise in the playoffs, they need Quintero to rediscover his 2018 form, starting Saturday in Dallas.

What’s the must-watch ESPN+ game of the weekend?

Easy one for me: Toronto FC hosting Orlando City on Saturday at 7:30 pm ET. Why? It’s a true six-pointer, of which there will be many the rest of the way.If Toronto FC win this one and some results go their way, they’ll jump the line and be a win or two away from the possibility of hosting a first-round match in the playoffs. That’s good! This team has enough talent, including an influx of TAM players this summer, to credibly believe they can challenge for their second MLS Cup in three years.If Toronto lose it, the gap between 7th and 8th could grow to four points, depending on the Revs’ result in Seattle … and the Reds would be tied with Orlando on 32 points. That’s bad! There’s already pressure on Greg Vanney, and the prospect of another year outside the playoff field (with one extra place available) would be a bitter pill to swallow.For Orlando, the pressure’s not as high, but it’s not nonexistent.The Lions have never made the playoffs. They just lost at home to a rival they’ve still never beaten in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal. Josef Martinez laughed at them on Insta stories. The non-playoff consolation prize is dead, and a bunch of guys are playing for their jobs. Teams below the line can’t wait around for results to come their way. Time to go for it.Enjoy the weekend! We’ll see you after LAFC-RBNY (or Monday morning on your work second screen) to wrap up Week 23 on Matchday Central.

Wow this is dead on spot – I mentioned this last week – after watching the LAFC vs LA Galaxy and Portland vs LA Galaxy last week and LA vs Atlanta this week -the Play in MLS has been tremendous while the ICC games have been – well exhibition games.  Not sure they felt that way in the past – but they feel that way now in the 3rd season the ICC and I the tix simply aren’t worth the hundreds of dollars they are charging to see these great teams play Exhibition matches.  The ICC needs to go back to have a Championship and trophy of some sort – and they have to lower the ticket prices – or people are not going to go.  Also they need to go to new locations across the country – hopefully to fields with natural grass.


There has been a lot of soccer star power visiting the United States recently, whichever way you look at it.  Reigning Champions League winner Liverpool danced its way onto American shores, and even played in the first ever soccer game at Notre Dame Stadium. Real Madrid, winner of the three previous editions of Europe’s finest club competition, was also here, playing in the International Champions Cup.  There was the German Bundesliga champion, Bayern Munich, and runner-up Borussia Dortmund (which knocked off Liverpool in that aforementioned Notre Dame matchup), English Premier League notable Arsenal and a collection of leading Italian, Portuguese and Mexican clubs. There was even a Madrid derby between Real and hated neighbors Atletico that produced 10 goals, four of them for Atletico’s brilliantly unpredictable Diego Costa, in a 7-3 win.

Yet once soccer thoughts turned away from this summer’s Women’s World Cup, an upset of significant standing took place in the States. Despite all the celebrity-studded visitors from overseas playing preseason matches around North America, Major League Soccer has provided the most relevant and noteworthy examples of the beautiful game for the past few weeks. “Our teams are giving our fans genuine, competitive, high-quality soccer,” MLS commissioner Don Garber told me by telephone. “We are not paying too much attention to the (exhibition games).”

Whereas the arrival of top European teams, especially those from the English Premier League, was greeted with great excitement in past years, the tide seems to have turned – sharply. To wit, this summer, there were only 11 ICC games in the U.S., down from 17 in 2018. Instead, American fans have flocked to their domestic league.  (its because those Exhibition Games cost too dam much too-OBC)



The Notre Dame game between Liverpool and Dortmund was half-full, with an attendance of 40,361. When Mexican giant Chivas took on Portugal’s Benfica at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, only 15,724 turned up. And even the best game on paper, Real against Bayern, did not sell out Houston’s NRG Stadium, with 60,343 in attendance. Overall, attendance for the 11 ICC matches played in the U.S. was down 35% from 2018 and 47% from its peak in 2016.
While ICC attendance slumped, MLS, by a happy coincidence, produced some of its most exciting and remarkable games of the campaign.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick and then provided a swath of headline fodder by taunting a rival assistant after spearheading the LA Galaxy to a memorable 3-2 victory over crosstown foe LAFC in mid-July. Last Friday, that league-leading LAFC side outdueled defending champion Atlanta United 4-3 in a thriller that saw six of the goals scored in an exhilarating 18-minute spell.

And fans are turning out for MLS games. The Galaxy victory over LAFC was played before a capacity crowd of 27,000 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA. LAFC has averaged more than capacity of 22,000 for its 10 home games this season at Banc of California Stadium. Atlanta United FC leads MLC in attendance with an average home crowd of 53,000. “The days when watching a European game and an MLS game felt like two different sports are long gone,” Chan Walker, a Los Angeles data analyst and soccer fan told me. Walker watched Bayern Munich v. Arsenal, then saw that Galaxy/LAFC game three days later.  “The big European teams are still stronger but when they come over here it is hard to believe the players truly care about the outcome,” he added. “The MLS games are fiercely fought and highly compelling. I have to be honest; the MLS experience was a lot more fun and felt a lot more real.”



Walker’s comments summed up the most common knock on the preseason exhibitions — that they are just that, exhibitions. Key players are often rested or play limited minutes. Reserve and youth players are given a chance to prove themselves, and, in extreme cases, the lineups carry virtually no correlation to the true strength of the squad. Meanwhile, MLS has stood out this summer through a combination of skill, top-notch competition, and sheer passion — a passion that has become the hallmark of the season.

MLS does have an exhibition of its own this week, of course: the MLS All-Star Game pitting a composite team of the league’s best players against Atletico. The game will be played Wednesday in Orlando and will be broadcast on FS1.  Garber likes his league’s All-Star experience compared to either the NBA or NHL version or the NFL’s Pro Bowl. Atletico will use a full-strength lineup, and Garber believes the contest can provide further evidence of MLS’ increasing strength. “It is a celebration of all the good things about our league, the competitiveness and strength of our players — and featuring an excellent opponent,” Garber added. “Someone like Zlatan could play in any league in the world. He is showing that week-in, week-out, and we have a lot of players who are performing at an incredibly high level.”

MLS continues to look toward expansion, even with the franchise fee having risen to $200 million. Now in its 24th year with 24 teams, the league will feature 27 clubs by 2021 with more likely on the way.

MLS isn’t the NFL or the NBA, and neither is it one of the top European soccer leagues. But it is here, it is growing, and it is stronger than ever. Outshining this summer’s latest batch of touring celebrity teams is the latest piece in the puzzle – and an important one.



Here’s what others have said…

John Cross, Daily Mirror: “It feels very different now. There isn’t the same feel about it. In the past you could sense the excitement, there would be lots of fans lining up outside training. Maybe it is too much of a good thing. When the Premier League teams go to Asia, there is still that fanatical kind of welcome. And when you have big names like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and [former England forward] Wayne Rooney doing big things in MLS, that is going to generate attention.”

Alfredo Relaño, Diario AS: “The International Champions Cup, which started out aspiring to be the main football attraction of the summer, is starting to feel a little flat. I can see some clubs have started to turn their back on it — among them, Barça and Manchester City, champions of LaLiga and the Premier League, two of the biggest and best leagues in the world — the best leagues for many. What Charlie Stillitano envisaged would be the biggest annual sports showpiece event of the summer — which on the sly, would also serve as a veiled endorsement for the creation of a mooted European Super League, now seems to have wilted.”

Ryan Bailey, Yahoo! Sports“It no longer has the feel of a competitive tournament. Although there is a points table for the tournament, which technically determines a winner (Tottenham finished first last year), the lack of a final takes away the facade of competitiveness. The International Champions Cup is no longer a ‘cup.’ It is a collection of loosely related friendlies.”

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