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.

EPL

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!!

GAMES ON TV

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

 USA

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

EPL

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

MLS

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

WORLD

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.

Eredivisie

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.

Bundesliga

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.

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HEADS SOUTH TO TAKE ON LOUISVILLE CITY FC

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

SETTING THE TABLE:

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

FIRST 2019 MEETING:

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.

LAST TIME OUT:

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.

#INDVLOU STORYLINES

  • 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.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF DREW CONNER

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.

LOUISVILLE CITY FC PLAYERS TO WATCH | LUKE SPENCER … OR GEORGE DAVIS IV

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.

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY DF LUCAS FARIAS VS LOUISVILLE MF OSCAR JIMENEZ

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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