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.email@example.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.
- W2W4 EPL Week 2
- Dazzling Pulisic lights up Super Cup on full Chelsea debut
- Chelsea Ratings: Kante gets 8/10, Pulisic 7/10 in cup loss
Liverpool Ratings: Mane decisive as Reds lift Super Cup
It was another stellar performance from Wolves to advance in the Europa League.
A team of female officials took charge of the UEFA Super Cup for the first time on Wednesday and Jurgen Klopp was impressed.
- Legacy secured, Jill Ellis walks away from game she loves
- 10 candidates who could replace Jill Ellis
- US Soccer hires Lobbyists in Equal Pay Dispute – jeff Carlisle ESPNFC
- ESPN+: ‘Alex Morgan: The Equalizer’
- Sergio Gomez: The ‘new Iniesta’ who turned his back on Barcelona for Dortmund
- Dortmund’s 14-year-old wonderkid Moukoko driving Germany crazy after six-goal debut haul
- Mane’s best friend! Super-sub Firmino shows he is irreplaceable in Super Cup comeback
GAMES ON TV
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
‘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
A 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 Werner, Yussuf 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.
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 Lodi, Hector 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 Modric, Toni 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 Todibo, Carles Alena, Ricki Puig and Carles Perez) and the outward signs are decent. However, even with the departures of Malcom, Andre Gomes, Marc Cucurella and Denis Suarez, Barcelona need to sell … and profitably.Rafinha, Philippe 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.
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“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.”
PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN RETURNS HOME IN SECOND MATCH-UP VS. SAINT LOUIS FC
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
SETTING THE TABLE:
Indy Eleven: 12W-4L-4D, 40 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference
Saint Louis FC: 6W-7L-8D, 26 pts., 11th in Eastern Conference
- 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.
INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF KENNEY WALKER
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.
SAINT LOUIS FC PLAYER TO WATCH | FW KYLE GREIG
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.
MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY’S TYLER PASHER VS. SAINT LOUIS’ SAM FINK
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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