So I watched the game a 2nd time before writing down my thoughts. Let’s start with the good – listen the US men out-possessed Mexico 53-47. Yes you didn’t read that wrong – the US had more possession of the ball than Mexico. Mexico – THAT has never happened before -heck we are normally like 35-65 – versus Mexico. Heck 70 minutes into this match – it was 0-1 on 1 incredible play by Mexico. And this was without Altidore and Bradley, still two of our best players (thanks MLS – for not recognizing the International Break Again– IDIOTS!)
So you can see what Berhalter is trying to do. He’s trying to possess not just kick and run and play defense with 10 behind the ball. Listen Mexico is better than us right now – better players, better manager – but I truly think our U23s are better than Mexico’s And if our kids can keep getting better – and play and start in Europe – we have a chance to catch up. While I like the possession – I am not sure we are good enough to play out of the back ALL of the time. I am not sure Steffen can do it honestly – if he’s going play this way – he may need to find a keeper that is better with his feet. Steffen is really good and is probably our best keeper right now – but his footskills are just average – and I am not sure he can play this style. Especially without dmids that will protect him rather than leaving him out to dry.
Interesting overall game – again we were in the game until the 70th minute – but unlike the Gold Cup – I didn’t feel the US had ANY chance to actually win this game. We had maybe 2 shots on goal – 1 off a corner – (Morales post ball) – in the Gold Cup I thought we outplayed them completely in the first half before finally getting outplayed and losing a close one in a game when we outshot them overall. This time – Mexico had more shots, more chances, more corners and even though we had more possession – we really didn’t threaten the goal very often. (Of course Zardes stinking up the forward position is nowhere close to what Altidore can do – and did vs Mexico in the Gold Cup. How our coach didn’t start Josh Sargent tonight is mindblowing !! Zardes is a Joke at the international level and has to be the 4th or 5th best forward option for us – why ???
I have given Fox Sports credit for coverage in the past – especially after the Women’s World Cup – but they screwed this one up big time. After the US took an butwhipping at the hands of our hated rival Mexico – someone needed to explain what the heck happened post-game. So what does Fox do? Flip 30 seconds after we lose to stupid Baseball WhipAround. Seriously? Listen Fox I know you lost Millions when the US didn’t make the World Cup -but if you are going to cover the US team – you have to have a postgame show? Hell on FS 2 or Fox Soccer or something? This was inexcusable and made the 3-0 loss to our hated rivals even worse. Either cover the sport or Don’t Fox – Don’t HALF-A__ it though.
Tuesday night we’ll see if the US can bounce back vs a very good Uraguay team. Hate to see Pulisic and McKinney and Steffan heading back to Europe before this game but I also understand its important to keep them starting at their club teams – especially in a friendly. Still the chance to play this kind of competition doesn’t come along all the time for the US and I hate to see us not take advantage to have our best players playing. We’ll see how we do Tuesday night at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1 again. Hopefully we’ll show a little more fight tonight!
Indy 11 Host Games Wed/Sat this Week @ 7 pm
Indy Eleven fell to Charleston Battery on Sunday evening 0-1, the team’s first loss since July 27 on the road to Nashville SC. Battery midfielder Romario Piggott notched the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute off a strong counter attack with a low shot just out of Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton’s diving reach. The fixture is also the first time the Boys in Blue have been shut out since losing to Nashville, having scored at least once in each of the last five matches. Despite finishing the game with 71% possession and 17 shots, the Boys in Blue couldn’t muster the equalizer. Next Games are Wed, Sept 11 vs Ottawa at 7 pm at Lucas Oil followed by Hispanic Heritage night next Sat, Sept 14. 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.
I am purposely not writing about MLS this week in protest of them playing games during the international break.
Not a lot of good games on this weekend – maybe RB Leipzig vs Mayern Munich on Sat at 12:30 on FS1. A couple of good games in MLS –
3:30 pm FS1 Portland Timbers vs DC United
6 pm ESPN Seattle Sounders vs NY Red Bulls
Of course Champions League Group Stage Games start next week – no idea what channel they might be on TNT for 1 Game per day?
3 pm Dortmund vs Barcelona
3 pm Benefica vs RB Leipzig
3 pm Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Valencia
3 pm Napoli vs Liverpool
1 pm Olympicos Piraeus vs Tottenham
3 pm Atletico Madrid vs Juventus
3 pm PSG vs Real Madrid
3 pm Shakhtar vs Man City
Shane’s Player Ratings for US Game vs Mexico
Coach Gregg B – Manager – 4 – hard to find much to like on this night. His subs were late, his player choices questionable and his system for this game – I don’t know – but it didn’t work. Oh and his rotating Captain – once again the guy who he makes captain Played Horrible – Zack Steffan was the captain and played possibly his worse game in a US Jersey. Same for Trapp and Pulisic and McKinney in other games. Still missing Adams and was hindered without Altidore and Bradley.
GK Zack Steffen, 4 – Steffen’s worse game in a US Jersey – too bad it happened on a night when his hero Tim Howard was presented his Framed Jersey for his many years of service and 3 World Cups. Steffen was horrific with his feet making multiple miss-touches and bad passes. He was responsible for the 2nd goal and could have done much better on the 3rd goal as well. Will be interesting to see hopefully Gonzalez on Tues vs Uruguay.
DF Reggie Cannon, 6 — Held things up well enough on the right – Cannon did well not to stand out. Should have probably been marking Chicarito on the 1st goal but was pulled to the front post player when Zimmerman didn’t back off properly and got stuck in no-mans’ land.
DF Walker Zimmerman, 5 – Ok – had his moments – but also did not cover anyone on the first goal as the backside central defender – he got caught in no man’s land 3 feet in front of the front post – HORRIFIC position for a Center Back – would have like to have seen Brooks in there. Zimmerman can’t hang at this level.
DF Aaron Long, 6 — Is cementing himself as a key member of this squad. Made some solid plays to keep it close. Might have done better on the 3rd goal.
DF Sergino Dest, 5 – Just ok – so he’s 18 years old – and for a kid he played ok – Handled many of his defensive duties well but he was OUTRIGHT EMBARRASSED by a Corona nutmeg for Mexico’s opening goal. Did push forward well and seemed ot have some chemistry with Pulisic – other than their shared giving up the first goal.
MF Christian Pulisic, 7 – The Chelsea star has his moments and was the best player on the field for the US – made some really good runs but did not find that final pass for his teammates and barely got a shot on goal. Oh and he has to take the penalty kick – just has too. He’s the best player on thethis team – its time for him to step up and act like it. He’s no Landon Donovan (yet) – but it’s a bit early for him to achieve that level of play in this game just yet.
MF Weston McKennie, 5 – I like his toughness and he has some moments – but he also delivered a HORRIBLE ball back to Steffan and it was HIS FAULT the US gave up the 2nd goal. Listen he’s ok – but I don’t think he turned and headed up field more than twice all game – someone in the midfield besides Pulisic has to turn and relieve pressure – that’s something McKennie has not figured out how to do yet.
MF Wil Trapp, 3 – Ok this guy is horrible and should not be playing for the US NATIONAL TEAM PERIOD!!! He can’t carry Bradley’s jockstrap much less take his spot on the field. THIS IS Berralter’s folly – not sure if he has pictures on the coach or what – but this guy has got to go.
MF Alfredo Morales, 6 — Chaotic but brought the kind of energy the US Needs in the middle – could probably player a disrupting role as a dual #6 -he did not back down to the typically dirty Mexican team.
FW Gyasi Zardes, 1 — ok this is beyond a joke now – this guy shouldn’t start for his MLS team much less the National Team. He has no business on this squad. I know Josie was unavailable – but my gosh – there have to be 10 other guys better than Zardes for the forward slot. Seriously – Gregg playing his BOYS from Columbus has to STOP!!! He touched the ball maybe 1 time in the offensive half the entire time he was in the game. Sargent came in the game and in 10 minutes on the field did more than Zardes has done in 3 games up top. Zardes can simply not play at this level !!
.FW Tyler Boyd, 4 – Really disappointing show from him – after the great start against the minnows in the Gold Cup I am not sure he can hang at this level – it was just 1 game but we need a lot more from him. I am not sure “(not growing up in America – that he truly understands what this game means – he certainly didn’t play like it) his sub DID!
DF Miles Robinson, 5 (on for Zimmerman, 58 minutes) — The Atlanta United FC product got a well-deserved debut but man he showed he is NOT READY for this level of play!! Not sure the center backs are anywhere close to average and Miles didn’t prove to be an improvement. We gave up 2 goals in his 20 minutes on the pitch.
FW Jordan Morris, 7 (on for Boyd, 58 minutes) – I thought Morris was one of our best players on the night – made run after run after coming on for Boyd and won the penalty that should have given us a goal. Gave the kind of effort required vs a Mexico – had best start Tues!
FW Josh Sargent, 5 (on for Zardes, 67 minutes) – Interesting start – horrific that our coach did not start him tonight and didn’t bring him on until 20 minutes were left. His impact was felt immediately upon coming on the field and he had a couple of chances. Surprised he took the PK – he didn’t take it that well – too bad.
GAMES ON TV
Tues, Sept 10
2:45 pm ESPN2 England vs Kosovo(Euro Qualifiying)
2:45 pm ESPN+ France vs Andorra (Euro Qualifiying)
8 pm FS1 USA vs Uruguay
9:30 pm Fox Desportes Hondurus vs Chile
10 pm Univision, FUBOTV Argentina vs Mexico
Weds, Sept 11
7 pm MyindyTV Indy 11 vs Ottawa
7 pm ESPNNews Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL
Fri, Sept 13
2:30 pm FS2 Dusseldorf (Steffan /Morales) vs Wolfsburg
Sat, Sept 14
7 am beIN Sport Real Madrid vs Levante
7:30 am NBCSN Liverpool vs New Castle United
9 am ESPN+ Fiorentina vs Juventus
9:30 am FS1 Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen
10 am NCBSN Tottenham vs Crystal Palace
12:30 pm NBC Norwich City vs Manchester City
12:30 pm FS2 RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich
3 pm beIN Sport Barcelona vs Valencia
Sun, Sept 15
9 am NBCSN Bournmouth vs Everton
9 am ESPN+ Fiorentina vs Juventus
11:30 am NBCSN Watford vs Arsenal
12:30 pm FS1 Paderborn vs Schalke (McKinney)
3:30 pm FS1 Portland Timbers vs DC United
6 pm ESPN Seattle Sounders vs NY Red Bulls
10 pm Fox Sports 2 LA Galaxy vs Sporting KC
Tues, Sept 17
3 pm Dortmund vs Barcelona
3 pm Benefica vs RB Leipzig
3 pm Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Valencia
3 pm Napoli vs Liverpool
Wed, Sept 18
1 pm Olympicos Piraeus vs Tottenham
3 pm Atletico Madrid vs Juventus
3 pm PSG vs Real Madrid
3 pm Shakhtar vs Man City
Salzburg is 6-0 to start the league campaign, and has scored 27 goals while conceding just four.
Gregg Berhalter insists USMNT is progressing, but ugly Mexico loss ramps up scrutiny
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When Gregg Berhalter was hired to coach the United States men’s national team last December, more than a year after the USMNT failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in over three decades, one of the biggest questions was if the possession-based playing style he preferred was compatible with the players he had at his disposal.Those questions came roaring back to the fore following Friday night’s embarrassing 3-0 loss to blood enemy Mexico, for good reason. The U.S. had no answer for El Tri’s high press, which forced the Americans into error after error. And had Mexico been a bit more ruthless, the score line could’ve been even worse.“As you can see,” attacking standout Christian Pulisic said afterward, “we still have a lot to work on.”Yet in his testy postgame press conference, Berhalter insisted that he was actually happier with Friday’s performance than he was two months ago, when the Americans lost the Gold Cup final to this same Mexican team on a late Jonathan dos Santos goal.“I see where the narrative is going now, it’s ‘Why are we playing the way we’re playing?’” Berhalter said. “The second is, ‘We don’t have the players to do it.’ That’s what all of you guys are thinking. And to me, it’s about developing players. We’re making progress. That’s not going to be your narrative right now, and I understand that. But internally, we believe we’re making progress.”Long-suffering fans of the national team could be forgiven for not seeing it that way. For the progress Berhalter was referring to wasn’t about the actual execution of his plan, but rather that his players didn’t abandon it, even after it became painfully clear, in this match at least, it wasn’t working., it’s admirable that Berhalter wants to stick to his principles. It’s also fair to wonder if it’s the right thing to do. For a program that is desperately trying to restore its reputation as a hard-to-beat team that consistently punches above its weight, getting routed at home by its biggest rival isn’t a sign that things are improving.Berhalter’s system is complicated enough that players are studying it while with their club teams. “You have to,” said midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who along with Pulisic was one of the Americans’ few bright spots against El Tri. When the team actually gets together, there are only a few days of training to make sure everybody is on the same page. It’s not easy.“It’s the hardest thing in the world,” Pulisic said after Friday’s defeat. “You have short periods to train, and it’s hard to teach a real system and be very specific with it.”The cold reality is, it seems to be impacting the Americans’ confidence against Mexico.“We still play with fear against them,” Pulisic said. “That is what I can’t really live with. So that needs to change.”It didn’t help that starters such as Tyler Adams, Jozy Altidore, John Brooks, Michael Bradley and DeAndre Yedlin were unavailable because of injuries or club commitments. And Mexico’s roster for this match was arguably stronger than the one that beat the U.S. in the Gold Cup.El Tri’s all-time scoring leader Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was back after missing the regional championship, and sure enough an unmarked Chicharito ended up nodding home the eventual game-winner just 21 minutes into the contest. But dos Santos, Marco Fabian and other veterans didn’t even dress for the match, and it was hard to shake the feeling afterward that the U.S. basically beat themselves.“We could’ve played to our forward a little bit more, play a little bit more direct, change it up a little bit. Obviously the scoreline is what it is, but we played the way we wanted to play,” said U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen, whose mixup with midfielder Alfredo Morales led to the back-breaking second goal in the 78th minute. “When I get the all, I gotta have at leat two options. It’s all based off movements and the way the [other] team is pressing. And yeah, at times it’s a little sketchy.”“It’s a tough system and we’re playing very tough teams right now,” said defender Aaron Long. “It’s easy to just kick long in these games and play direct and maybe get a better result or get more chances, but if we want to be a team that plays out of the back — and that’s what we want to do — then these are the best games to try it.”This was only a friendly, of course. No points were on the line. But the U.S. program is still not in a position where it can afford to shrug off a lopsided defeat to of all foes Mexico.Several U.S. players talked this week about how they want to improve the perception of American soccer. It’s clearly a responsibility they’ve discussed and take seriously. But the public will judge this team first and foremost on results.“I’m not going to say ‘Listen guys, there’s going to be growing pains and you should expect losses,’ because they shouldn’t,” Long said when asked what message the performance sent to already-cynical USMNT supporters.Something will have to change if the U.S. is to get a better outcome against FIFA No. 5 Uruguay on Tuesday in St. Louis.“There needs to be a lot more movement and a lot more creativity within the team and just confidence when we go out and play against good opponents,” said Pulisic, who will miss the match against Uruguay as he and five of his teammates return early to their clubs.“We have to go out there and play like we’re good enough to be out there and be confident and play without thinking twice about it. That’s how it needs to be. And that’s just not where we’re at right now.”
Player Ratings: USMNT struggle to make grade in friendly loss to Mexico
September 7, 20191:40AM EDT Greg SeltzerContributor
The hosts raced out of the blocks terrifically thanks to about 20 minutes of gutsy ball movement, but a Javier Hernandez goal ended the fun and completely changed the tenor of the match.The Nats had their positive spells of play here and there, but never fully recovered and missed the chance to gain quick revenge for their Gold Cup final loss to Tata Martino’s swarming crew.
Zack Steffen (3) — There’s no reason to fault the netminder on Mexico’s opener or capper, but his distribution was rather spotty even before he gifted their back-breaking second with a horrid pass up the middle. Steffen is a fine ‘keeper, but damaging decisions with the ball at his feet have become a concerning trend now.
Reggie Cannon (4.5) — The FC Dallas youngster picked some good moments to get forward, but was ineffective when the delivery moment of truth came. Though Cannon also had his moments defensively, a few dangerous crosses did emanate from his corner.
Walker Zimmerman (5) — While he committed no major errors at the back, one would expect the LAFC defender to come up with more stops, especially when the opponent spends a large portion of the game swarming the US end. More distressingly, there were simply too many risky, errant passes coming off his boot.
Aaron Long (3) — It was an off night from the Red Bulls center back, to say the least. On the first Mexico tally, Long wandered into no man’s land, forcing near post cover from Zimmerman that left tons of goalmouth space for Chicharito to exploit. He was also ineffectual when the team needed an intervention on El Tri’s third and uncharacteristically whiffed on a couple of clearances. Finally, no one needs him rushing out to commit a yellow card foul on a player facing the crowd next to the sideline near midfield.
Sergino Dest (5) — Like the team as a whole, the debutant was pretty terrific during the first 20 minutes. Dest showed no fear in handling business up and down the flank, and even drew a decent save from long range. After getting ruthlessly nutmegged on the opening goal play, he faded a good deal. Still, it was a fairly encouraging first US outing.
Wil Trapp (3) — When he’s not pinging diagonal leads to speeding wingers, the Columbus skipper struggles. Trapp did not do that in this game, which only makes his defensive frailties stand out all the more. His biggest demerit comes for neglecting to pick up the Hernandez run on Mexico’s first. It was a big no-no.
Alfredo Morales (4.5) — Back in the team after a long absence, Morales certainly came to play. He was stuck in all night, and definitely had some solid episodes. The problem is, he’s a lot better as a disrupter around or across the midfield stripe than he is in his own end. With that being the case, the limitations in his passing game tend to stick out like a sore thumb.
Weston McKennie (4) — Stop me if you’ve heard this before: we need more consistent activity on and near the ball from the Schalke talent. McKennie made zero defensive stops in the middle of the field and did not drive play forward as much as he usually does.
Tyler Boyd (5) — It’s hard to ding the Besiktas winger too much because he went long stretches without seeing the ball. Even so, Boyd was much more of a possession facilitator/track-back helper than an attacking headache for the opponent in this one. Just because the volume of touches drop, there’s no need for his aggression to do the same.
Christian Pulisic (4.5) — The Chelsea ace had a threatening look about him early, and contributed some strong pressure valve work throughout the contest. That said, he was oddly hesitant in the final third over the last hour. The bigger problem, though, was repeated instances of checking out defensively on Mexico advances down his side, such as on the first goal.
Gyasi Zardes (5.5) — Some may gripe over the Columbus striker’s performance, but there’s not a whole lot he can do when the team doesn’t get him any touches within, say, javelin-throwing distance of the goal. They weren’t even trying to use him for hold-up play. To his credit, Zardes did work his tail off defensively.
Coach Gregg Berhalter (3) — I could air a few objections about construction of the lineup (and the selection, for that matter), but let’s instead focus on in-game decisions. The match started well enough, but there was never a real tactical reaction from the boss after Mexico pushed their pressure line deep into the US end and grabbed the opening goal. Yes, it was a friendly and the players need to drill things. But Berhalter needs to drill things, too, like game management and putting your charges in an ideal position to succeed.
Miles Robinson (6) — I’m not going to fault the debutant defender for his step into traffic on Mexico’s jailbreak for the third goal, as some might. From my view, there was nothing overly constructive or calamitous in Robinson’s half-hour-and-change on the field.
Josh Sargent (5) — The sub striker pitched in with a few nice link touches, but he has to do better than a weak penalty try to the direction the ‘keeper is already cheating.
Sebastian Lletget (6.5) — Not everything he tried worked, but the LA Galaxy man provided nearly as many true moments of impact as all three starting midfielders combined. Lletget’s excellent entry pass led to the spot kick.
U.S. ratings vs. Mexico: Pulisic 7/10, plenty of subpar performances in heavy loss
Sep 6, 2019 James TylerSenior Editor, ESPN FC
The U.S. always hates losing to Mexico, but even the most ardent of supporters could find little fault with Friday night’s 3-0 defeat at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez opened the scoring with a sharp, predatory effort following Jesus “Tecatito” Corona‘s cheeky nutmeg of U.S. debutant Sergino Dest to set up room for a well-weighted cross. The U.S. struggled to get back into the game, but well and truly folded after the second-half substitutes began coming on. Zack Steffen‘s careless giveaway led to Erick Gutierrez‘s fine, low strike for 2-0, but late on, the the hosts chasing, substitute Uriel Antunafinished yet another counterattack to put the result beyond doubt.There is little time for reflection as the U.S. travel to St. Louis next, where the Americans will face Uruguay on Tuesday, yet they need to seize what moments they have in order to assess what went wrong against Mexico and Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who remains perfect since taking over as El Tri manager.
Forget the result: It was a narrow defeat, but some players who figure to be vital in the 2022 World Cup cycle got valuable experience against the kind of team the U.S. must match up with in order to reach that fabled next level. Mixing Dest, an under-20 standout, in with the senior side was a nice boost, and it was good to see the continued rapport between Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman at the back. After all, a strong center-back partnership can make a big difference in tournament play.
Beyond that, there was a subtle uptick to the Americans’ style of play; it felt like they’d received their homework prematch and set about applying the new principles at every opportunity. Whether playing out from the back — very much the hip trend for top clubs in Europe — or applying clever pressure on Mexico in certain areas of the field, it’s clear Gregg Berhalter is trying to do something new and different with this squad.
It’s always nice to see new things, but the panicked nature of many U.S. possessions when the ball was at Steffen’s feet or those of a nearby defender showed there’s a way to go. Also, the midfield was constantly bypassed with ease by Mexico from start to finish; the Mexico players were consistently quicker to intercept wayward passes or seize upon heavy touches.
Still, it feels harsh to call these things a negative, because they at least show a willingness to evolve. And that enhancement will be most welcome in the future if the U.S. can strike the right balance.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — It feels as though Berhalter is moving at a glacial pace with implementing changes, but there is something to his U.S. team that looks a little different even if the end product is just as uneven was it was under his predecessors. Like a good coach should, he won’t dwell too much on a handful of individual errors no matter how glaring, given that it’s to be expected in a new system and with a new group of players.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Zack Steffen, 4 — Struggled at times with his distribution, looking for risky passes out from the back at times when a more simple approach would have been smart. Failed to recover to deny Hernandez with the opening goal, and then his continued efforts to play it out from the back resulted in a woeful pass from which Gutierrez scored. Needs to be better about knowing when to be adventurous and when to play it safe, else his swashbuckling attempts to reinvent the goalkeeper position will do much more harm than good.
DF Reggie Cannon, 6 — Held things up well enough on his flank. The best defenders are rarely seen because they just do their jobs. Cannon did well not to stand out.
DF Walker Zimmerman, 6 — Fine defensive play. Managed to keep his cool in the 25 minutes of the first half following the opening goal when it seemed like Mexico could score four or five.
DF Aaron Long, 6 — Typically steady but lost Hernandez for the opener. Is cementing himself as a key member of this squad.
DF Sergino Dest, 5 — A genuine mixed bag. There’s obvious potential here given his ascent at powerhouse Ajax, but there are also a lot of obvious edges to his game that will require refining over time. Showed genuine positivity and purpose on either side of the ball, which is a plus. Yet he lacked positional awareness at times with regard to off-the-ball runs. Handled many of his defensive duties well but he was humbled by a Corona nutmeg for Mexico’s opening goal.
MF Christian Pulisic, 7 — Another extremely busy performance from the Chelsea star and undisputed leader of this side. Hurled himself into more than one 50-50 challenge, fought for every ball and showed little restraint when it came to trying to unsettle Mexico on the ball or forcing his opponents to think quickly in transition. Yet he can’t do it all alone.
MF Weston McKennie, 6 — Always plays on the front foot, something that the U.S. sorely needs in midfield against tough opponents. Had a couple of positive, promising moments with the ball at his feet. Unafraid to shoot but rarely caused trouble from 25-30 yards out.
MF Wil Trapp, 5 — It feels like he’s constantly in over his head. I can’t put my finger on why that might be. Lost the ball a lot and in dangerous positions, something you can’t do as that defensive midfield “pivot” upon whom much of the transition play falls.
MF Alfredo Morales, 6 — Chaotic but brought the kind of energy that can benefit the U.S. in midfield. Battled hard, disrupted Mexico on more than one occasion and also provided a bit of bite. A real character that this team needs. Seeing him get under the skin of more than one El Tri player brought a smile to my eye.
FW Gyasi Zardes, 3 — It’s time to try some other options up front. There are certainly alternatives to the long-serving Crew striker, who touched the ball just six times in a woeful first half. (Only one of those touches could be judged to be inside the Mexico half, too.) So much of a striker’s performance is down to the team play around him, but even then, Zardes failed to find himself in threatening positions or in situations where he could receive the ball and make something happen.
FW Tyler Boyd, 4 — It seems like an eternity ago that USMNT fans were freaking out over the New Zealand-born striker’s FIFA switch to represent the Stars and Stripes. And yet, his brace in the Gold Cup against Guyana might have been misleading. Barely involved in the final third, went searching for the ball a number of times to little avail and failed to link play with his passes, something you can’t go without if you’re playing with two up front. There has to be cohesion but so far, Boyd looks a bit lacking.
DF Miles Robinson, 5 (on for Zimmerman, 58 minutes) — The Atlanta United FC product got a well-deserved debut and grappled well enough. Fortunate with one dangerous giveaway close to the U.S. net in his first five minutes of action, but his inexperience showed with Mexico’s late goals. Still, when his team is chasing the game as the U.S. needed to, few defenders would fare better when outnumbered.
FW Jordan Morris, 5 (on for Boyd, 58 minutes) — Hustle and bustle. Worked hard to get in the position to win a late penalty.
FW Josh Sargent, 5 (on for Zardes, 67 minutes) — Not the best game state in which to show his skills, but he battled gamely all the same. Wasted a late penalty with a weak effort that could have added some shine to a streaky evening for the U.S. men.
DF Daniel Lovitz, 5 (on for Dest, 67 minutes) — Existed.
MF Sebastian Lletget, NR (on for Trapp, 77 minutes) — Was on the field.
MF Jackson Yueill, NR (on for Morales, 90 minutes) — Came on as a late injury cameo.
PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HOSTS EASTERN CONFERENCE FOE OTTAWA FURY FC IN MID-WEEK CLASH
By IndyEleven.com, 09/09/19, 8:30PM EDT
Boys In Blue Return Home to Host Canadian Club for First Time in 2019
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. ET Lucas Oil Stadium | Indianapolis, Ind.
SETTING THE TABLE:
Indy Eleven: 15W-5L-5D, 50 pts., 4th in Eastern Conference
Ottawa Fury FC: 10W-7L-9D, 39 pts., 8th in Eastern Conference
LAST TIME OUT:
Charleston Battery 1 : 0 Indy Eleven | Sunday, September 8
Indy Eleven fell to Charleston Battery on Sunday evening 0-1, the team’s first loss since July 27 on the road to Nashville SC. Battery midfielder Romario Piggott notched the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute off a strong counter attack with a low shot just out of Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton’s diving reach. The fixture is also the first time the Boys in Blue have been shut out since losing to Nashville, having scored at least once in each of the last five matches. Despite finishing the game with 71% possession and 17 shots, the Boys in Blue couldn’t muster the equalizer.
Atlanta United FC 2 3 : 2 Ottawa Fury FC | Saturday, September 7
Ottawa Fury FC’s third loss in a row came at the feet of Atlanta United FC 2 in the Peach State last Saturday. ATL forwards Andrew Carleton and Patrick Okonkwo gained the high ground with strikes in the 17th second and 26th minute, respectively. Ottawa nullified the host’s lead with a penalty from Wal Fall in the 39th minute and closed the gap in the 70th minute with a goal from Hadji Barry, only to concede the game-winner to ATL’s Carleton two minutes later. The trio of goals allowed brings Fury FC concession count to eight goals in its last three matches, converting just two through the winless streak.
- While Indy Eleven enters Wednesday in fourth place on the crowded Eastern Conference table with 50 points, a win would move the Boys in Blue level with first-place New York Red Bulls II and leapfrog past both the Tampa Bay Rowdies (52 pts.) and Nashville SC (51 pts.).
- Wednesday reunites Indy Eleven and Ottawa Fury FC, which were “Class of 2014” mates when they entered the North American Soccer League together six seasons ago.
- The Canadian club has long been a thorn in the side of Indiana’s Team over the last six seasons. Indy owns a 2W-6L-3D all-time regular season record against Fury FC.
- Ottawa is the only Eastern Conference foe the Boys in Blue have yet to face in 2019. The two sides will wrap up their season series on Wednesday, October 2 at TD Place Stadium.
- Indy Eleven dropped the season series against Ottawa in its first USL Championship campaign in 2018, losing 0-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 4 and settled for a scoreless away draw on August 18.
- Last year’s Independence Day loss to Ottawa was the last time Indy fell at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy is currently on a 21-game undefeated run at home, tying the club’s previous record set between the 2015-17 seasons.
- The Eleven’s current home run is now tied with Rochester Rhinos for the fourth longest home undefeated streak in USL Championship history. Ahead of Indy on the list is Richmond Kickers, 2012-14 (30 games); Charleston Battery, 2014-16 (28); and Orlando City SC, 2011-13 (25).
- It’ll be a reunion of sorts Wednesday evening for four of the Boys in Blue. Indy’s Tyler Gibson and Karl Ouimette once shared the pitch with Ottawa’s Nana Attakora and Maxim Tissot during their single-season stint with San Francisco Deltas (NASL) in 2017. Additionally, Indy’s Dane Kelly and Tyler Pasher appeared on the same roster as Fury’s Kevin Oliveira during the trio’s 2016 season with Swope Park Rangers.
INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF MATT WATSON
When facing a tough stretch of games in a short span, it always helps to have an experienced veteran who can positively impact his teammates both on and off the field. For Indiana’s Team, that veteran is captain and midfielder Matt Watson. The 34-year-old has made 23 appearances, six of which have been starts, in 25 games for the Boys in Blue.With age comes experience, as Watson has played 387 games in his 13-year professional career. After starting the majority of games in his first season with Indy Eleven, the captain now plays a super sub role with the ability to play almost any position in Head Coach Martin Rennie’s system. The Englishman lurked in the center of the pitch for the majority of 2018, but has added play along the outside of Indy’s midfield and backline to his repertoire this season. Despite the rotation, Watson remains effective in all roles, having completed 80% of his passes, won 70% of his tackles and has contributed a goal through the 2019 campaign (so far).
OTTAWA FURY FC PLAYER TO WATCH | FW CARL HAWORTH
Watson might not be the only veteran present on Wednesday night. Ottawa Fury FC forward Carl Haworth will most likely feature in the Canadian Club’s starting XI come kickoff. Haworth, now in his 10th year of professional play, is no stranger to facing the Boys in Blue, something he’s been doing since both team’s inaugural NASL seasons in 2014. The 30-year-old has racked up 153 appearances for Ottawa and scored 24 goals.Eight of those 24 career goals have come in the 2019 USL Championship season, a statistic that lands Haworth as the team’s joint leading goal scorer. Much like Indy’s Watson, the forward has the ability to play multiple roles when called upon, showing his versatility on the pitch. Pending Ottawa’s game plan, Haworth may field as a forward in an attempt to break down a seemingly impenetrable Indy home defense or as an outside back in an effort to contain Boys in Blue midfielder Tyler Pasher.
MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY WING PLAY VS. OTTAWA BACK THIRD
Playing on the road doesn’t appear to favor Ottawa Fury FC. The side holds a 3W-5L-5D record on the road, a distant cry from its 7W-2L-4D home record. Moreover, the Fury is currently on a three-game losing streak, with the last two defeats coming away from home and the team continuing its away stint in Indianapolis this Wednesday evening.The last loss came against Atlanta United FC 2 in a match where attacks down the flanks plagued the Canadian side and all three goals allowed came from wing play. The first acted as a quick breakaway down the left flank in the 17th second, the fastest goal scored in ATL UTD 2 history. The second goal came from an early cross into the six-yard box off the right flank in the 26th minute to trail 2-0. Lastly, the final concession came in as a cross from the right flank that caught Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving off his line and edged Atlanta into the lead once more to secure three points.Indy has thrived on wing play in 2019. With a pair of arguably the league’s best wingers in Tyler Pasher and Ayoze, the Ottawa back third will need to be aware of their positioning and ready for balls played into the box. In the last two home matches against New York Red Bulls II and Charlotte Independence, the Boys in Blue played in a total of 26 crosses. Forward Dane Kelly’s header that toppled first-place NYRBII last Wednesday was the result of a ball played in early from the flank. Not only will Ottawa need to be prepared for crosses, but also pacey runs from the flanks into the box by Pasher and shots from distance courtesy of Ayoze.Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium for its first of two matches this week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night on Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.
RECAP | DESPITE DOMINANT EFFORT, INDY ELEVEN FALLS 1-0 AT CHARLESTON
By IndyEleven.com, 09/08/19, 9:45PM EDT
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Boys in Blue Control Run of Play but Fall Short in Game Postponed by Hurricane Dorian
Indy Eleven saw its five-game undefeated streak snapped on the road tonight via a 1-0 defeat at the Charleston Battery. Despite holding distinct advantages in possession, (71%-29%), shots (17-8) and shots on goal (6-1) on the evening and playing with a man advantage for much of the second half, Indiana’s Team could not capitalize in attack, suffering just its second shutout loss in 25 outings this season.Tonight’s match was delayed one day from its scheduled Saturday kickoff due to Hurricane Dorian’s pass through the Carolinas late in the week. The result kept Indy Eleven (15W-5L-5D, 50 pts.) in fourth place in the crowded Eastern Conference standings. However, the Boys in Blue still sit within a win of and hold at least two games in hand on all three teams in front of them – New York Red Bulls II (53 pts.), Tampa Bay Rowdies (52 pts.), and Nashville SC (51 pts.).
“It’s a disappointing loss for us. We dominated most of the game and we hardly gave up any chances and we ended up losing 1-nil,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The big thing is that we feel as though we should’ve taken more out of the game than that. We had quite a lot of chances and hardly gave any up. It’s not what you would expect from a game where you have that much of the ball and that much territory of the game.”The Battery began the proceedings with a trio of set pieces in the opening 10 minutes, but none of those opportunities, nor forward Jarad van Schaik’s 20-yard blast from the run of play, were put on frame. Indy’s attack flipped a switch in the 15th minute, when forward Dane Kelly was put in alone by Macauley King’s through ball, only to see Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky come up with a 1-v-1 save. Kelly recovered the rebound and cycled a cross to the far post that was headed on by debutant midfielder Nico Perea, whose shot was also stopped by Kuzminsky at his right post.Kelly was unfortunate to not take advantage of a miscue between Charleston defender Taylor Mueller and Kuzminsky in the 32nd minute, the two Battery backliners’ collision at the top of the area leaving the net wide open. However, Kelly took the chance early with another defender bearing down, the resulting shot dribbling just inches wide of the right post. Rather than sulk, the play seemed to spark the Jamaican striker, who ripped a more conventional shot from the same spot barely wide just two minutes later.Indiana’s Team felt hard done to give up the lead in the last five minutes of the half. In the 41st minute, forward Eugene Starikov had a case for a penalty kick when Kuzminsky slid in and made contact on the Eleven striker as the two converged on Kenney Walker’s ball played into the area from midfield. However, the referee instead gave Indy a corner kick, a short play that broke down and turned into an 80-yard breakaway for Charleston midfielder Romario Piggott, who finished low and left past Eleven netminder Evan Newton. The Battery’s lone shot on goal of the match would indeed be enough to send the home side into the locker rooms up 1-0, although Eleven defender Ayoze’s free kick from 25 yards at the death of the half certainly put that into question after missing just wide.It was another Ayoze ball, this time off a corner kick, that nearly led to an Indy equalizer three minutes into the second half, but defender Karl Ouimette’s crashing header inside the six was sent high. Straight after that play it was the Battery nearly scoring on the other end, but Eleven midfielder Tyler Gibson’s intervention at the right post was enough to keep Piggott from poking home for his second. In the 53rd minute it was Indy midfielder Matthew Watson making his presence known after entering late in the first half for an injured Walker, his 25-yard blast dragged just wide left, and a minute following it was another Ayoze service setting up Kelly, whose header, like Ouimette’s, was sent over the crossbar.Ayoze made more things happen in the 57th minute, when the Spaniard entered a 50-50 challenge against the Battery’s Kyle Nelson that drew a second yellow card against the Charleston rookie midfielder for a high boot, giving the visitors a man advantage for the last half-hour plus change.While Indy Eleven predictably began to boss the possession after the red card, the next truly dangerous chance would fall against to Piggott in the 70th minute, his shot from 20 yards out bouncing just wide of Newton’s left post. Starikov was twice frustrated by Kuzminsky on headers 90 seconds apart, first in the 76th minute when the Charleston ‘keeper tipped the Ukrainian’s attempt wide off the post, followed by an open shot from eight yards that went right to Kuzminsky on his line.Repeated crosses into the danger zone by Indy Eleven would go wanting over the last quarter-hour plus six minutes of added time, the increasing frustration boiling over in the 94th minute when a scrum inside the six yard box on yet another service saw the teams trade shoves and a yellow card issued to substitute striker Gabriel. That would be the last gasp for the visitors, who were shutout for just the second time in their last 15 matches dating back to early June.“We were pretty much on top anyways, but what the red card did was really made them sit back and bunker in. When a team does that, we’ve got to be a little quicker and creative in our play. That would be the one thing I think we need to take from tonight,” Rennie explained. “Also, making sure that when we’re being that dominant, that we’re decisive around the box, more creative in our movement and more confident in taking people on. When we do that, more chances will come.”Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium with a pair of games this week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night on Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.
Charleston Battery 1 : 0 Indy Eleven
Sunday, September 8, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. ET MUSC Health Stadium – Charleston, S.C. Attendance: 1,359
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