10/10/19  US Men Begin Nations Cup Play Fri 7 pm vs Cuba on FS1, Playoff Bound Indy 11 on Road Sat,  MLS Playoffs Set, Euro Qualifying

Its time for the US Men to show what new coach Berhalter has taught them over the past 10 months – as we take on Cuba tonight on FS 1 at 7 pm and Canada on Tuesday at 8 pm on ESPN2.  Hard to say – but new coach Berhalter has a plan and he appears to be sticking to it.  Not sure we have the player quality to play out of the back and possess all game –but he seems heck bent on doing it.  I do think the US has perhaps its strongest set of U23s  – really U20’s since the Donovan/Beasley/Bocanegra group. I love that our coach wants to possess the ball and take it to teams rather than absorb pressure and counter attack.  Its going to take some time and but I like the idea of expecting to play better teams hoping to dominate or at least be even on possession.  Now we can see if the US can dominate possession and destroy these 2 light weights in our CONCACAF Region – honestly playing Nations League games against this poor quality competition DOES NOT HELP the US or Mexico or Costa Rica – and not being able to play strong South American or European teams is going to hurt in the long run.  I suspect almost no one will be watching tonight – which can’t help TV ratings for FS 1 or ESPN as well.  But it is what it is – in Europe Nations League has been pretty cool – in our Region – well we’ll see. Or perhaps no one will watch and we won’t see.  Hey at least our US Ladies are still World Cup champions – best of luck to the winningest US Coach Jill Ellis as she moves on to the next Chapter in her life.  Will be interesting to see who the US gets to take the new head spot next as we head to the Olympics next summer.

Indy 11

Our Indy Eleven will close out its regular season slate over the next two matches, starting with a huge top-five fixture this Saturday at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be live locally on MyINDY-TV 23 and online via ESPN+.  After this Saturday’s crucial top-five clash at Tampa Bay, Indy Eleven will close out its sixth and most successful regular season in club history this Wednesday, Oct. 16, against Swope Park Rangers, at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff for Fan Appreciation Night, presented by Community Health Network Foundation, is set for 7:00 p.m. (live on ESPN+ and MyINDY-TV 23). Tickets remain available for as little as $15 by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

MLS Playoffs Start Oct 19

I missed MLS Decision day as teams battled for Playoff positions that final Sunday of the season.  Remember this year – the first round playoff games are 1 game affairs at the home of the higher ranked team – so positioning really matters.  Lose 1 and you are going home.  So the LA Galaxy last home loss sends them to expansion side Minnesota United for their first round game!  Other intriguing matchups include Philly hosting NY Red Bulls and Seattle traveling to FC Dallas and Carmel Alum Matt Hedges.

GAMES ON TV

Thur, Oct 10

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN3                Netherlands vs Northern Ireland (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN3                Russia vs Scotland  (Euro Qualifying)

9 pm Fubo TV , Univision                Haiti vs Costa Rica (Concacaf Nations League)

Fri, Oct 11

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN+               Czech Republic vs England (Euro Qualifying)  

2:45 pm Fubo TV,ESPN 2               Iceland vs France  (Euro Qualifying)  

7 pm Fox Sport 1, FuboTV,              USA vs Cuba (Concacaf Nations League)

9 pm Fubo TV , Univision                Bermuda vs Mexico (Concacaf Nations League)

Sat, Oct 12

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN+                Norway vs Spain (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm Fubo TV,ESPN+                 Italy vs Greece (Euro Qualifying)

7 pm ESPN+                                       Tampa Bay vs Indy 11

Sun, Oct 13

12 pm Fubo TV, ESPN3                    Belarus vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm ESPN                                  Wales vs Croatia  (Euro Qualifying)  

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Estonia vs Germany (Euro Qualifying)

Mon, Oct 14

2:45 pm ESPN +                               Bulgaria vs England  (Euro Qualifying)  

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 France vs Turkey (Euro Qualifying)

Tues, Oct 15

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN+                Lichenstien vs Italy  (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm Fubo TV,Univision            Sweden vs Spain (Euro Qualifying)

7 pm ESPN2, FuboTV                    Canada vs USA (Concacaf Nations League)

9:30 pm Fubo TV , Unimas              Mexico vs Panama (Concacaf Nations League)

Sat, Oct 19

7:30 am NBCSN                                Everton vs West Ham

9 am ESPN+                                       Juventus vs SPAL

9:30 am Fox sports2                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Wolfsburg

10 am NCBSN                                   Chelsea vs New Castle United

10 am beIN Sport                             Atletico Madrid vs Valencia

12:30 pm NBC                                  Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

12:30 pm FS2                                   Dortmund vs Borussia MGladbach (Johnson)

3:30 pm Fox Sport 1                      Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas (MLS PLAYOFFS)

7 pm ESPN+                                      Indy 11 vs Swope Park Rangers (home)

10 pm ESPN Des/ESPN+                 Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers (MLS Playoffs)

Sun, Oct 20

11:30 am NBCSN                            Manchester United vs Liverpool 

12:30 pm FS1                                   Hoffenheim vs Schalke (McKinney)

3 pm Fox Sport 1                           Philly vs NY Red Bulls (MLS Playoffs)

8:30 pm ESPN                                 Minnesota United vs LA Galaxy (MLS Playoffs)  

USA

What’s the best USMNT XI for games v. Cuba, Canada?

US Must show they have turned corner under Berhalter –Jason Davis – ESPNFC

Gregg Berhalter explains the USMNT’s role in player development

US star Pulisic confident in form despite Chelsea benching

– CONCACAF Nations League: All you need to know

— Pulisic keen to prevent Chelsea woes from carrying over

— Kuper: Should Dest pick the U.S. or the Netherlands?

Without Jill Ellis What’s Next for US Ladies – ESPNW

– Ellis’ winning legacy? Giving USWNT a bigger voice
– U.S. draws with South Korea in Ellis’s final match

GK

Great Saves by US Keeper Zach Steffan for Dusseldorf

Dutch Keeper Van Sari is Women’s GK of Year – WC Save

Great Save  of Zlattan shot

Nice to See Navas Starting Again now for PSG

De Gea vs Kasper Schmiechel Great Saves

Hugo Lloris Great Saves for Spurs

MLS Playoffs

All 14 Playoff Teams Could Lift the MLS Cup – ESPNFC

MLS Cup playoffs 2019: All you need to know
— Marshall: Vela’s goals record lives up to the hype of a prodigy

Indy 11

Which Indy 11 Team Shows up for the Playoffs – Indy Star – Kevin Johnson

Indy 11 Preview of Tampa Bay Game Saturday

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

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

 

EPL and World

Argentina surges back for draw with germany

World Rankings

Pulisic not Throwing Fit not giving up at Chelsea – SB Nation

Pulisic needs to Get Nasty at Chelsea – Klinnsman Says – Goal.com

Breaking Down Pulisic’s competition at Chelsea –NBCSports

What’s the best USMNT XI for games v. Cuba, Canada?

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports 22 hours ago  [ MORE: Pulisic previews Cuba, Canada ]

Christian Pulisic will be eager for minutes after a testing few months at Chelsea, while DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Miazga are back from injury and Michael Bradley is back in the squad after being left out last month.Injuries have once again limited Berhalter’s options (Tyler Adams, John Brooks, Alfredo Morales and now Jozy Altidore are all missing) and that provides plenty of chances for youngsters and a few more for experienced veterans. This could be the last chance for a few of the former.Below we select the best possible XI for the U.S. in their games in Washington D.C. and Toronto, and provide some analysis on the current squad situation.

USMNT’s best possible XI v. Cuba, Canada

—– Steffen —–

— Yedlin — Miazga — Ream — Lima —

—- McKennie —- Bradley —-

—- Boyd —-  Lletget —- Pulisic —-

—- Sargent —-

Analysis

Zack Steffen has been playing well in the Bundesliga and should get the nod over veteran Brad Guzan, while Yedlin will likely slot back in at right back with Sergino Dest not in this squad and his future with the USMNT uncertain. Matt Miazga and Tim Ream have travelled together from England to the U.S. and could provide a good partnership at center back, although Aaron Long will be knocking on the door and Walker Zimmerman would have but his nasty injury rules him out of these games. Brooks will also come straight back into the lineup when he returns from injury. Left back remains a problem area for Berhalter and San Jose’s Nick Lima will once again be the most likely starter in that position after being solid enough in recent games.

In midfield Berhalter will likely go with two more defensive-minded players and with Adams out injured, Weston McKennie and Michael Bradley are the most likely to play in the deeper roles.  Of course, Adams could come back in at right back, but we’d all rather see him in the engine room… Wil Trapp and Christian Roldan will be pushing for those spots too, and it would be nice to see Sebastian Lletget play in a more advanced role in lieu of any true No.10’s in this USMNT squad.

Going forward Christian Pulisic should remain on the left wing, his best position, instead of trying to shoehorn him into a central position. Yes, he could get on the ball more there, but he’s better taking players on in one-on-one situations and cutting inside to cause havoc. Josh Morris, Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola will line up on the other flank and it’s really a toss of a coin between those three right now. Up front the USMNT don’t have many options but Josh Sargent could get the nod after racking up plenty of minutes for Werder Bremen in recent weeks. Gyasi Zardes has become a scapegoat among U.S. fans during recent struggles and if Altidore didn’t have to pull out of this squad due to injury, he probably would have started up top centrally. Morris can also start centrally too and he’s looked decent in recent USMNT cameos.

U.S. must use Nations League to show it has turned the corner under Berhalter

Oct 10, 2019Noah DavisESPN

WASHINGTON — On Friday night, the United States men’s national team opens its CONCACAF Nations League campaign at Audi Field. The opponent? Cuba, the 178th-best team in the world and 25th-best team in CONCACAF, according to the most recent FIFA rankings.It’s a game the Americans should not just win but dominate. They’ve done so in the past, posting a 3-0 record and a plus-14 goal differential over the past three home matches against the island nation. “It’s an athletic team, they have a standard level of technical ability and they will present some challenges,” U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter said of the opposition. “For us, it’s about speed of play, breaking them down and trying to get the ball in front of goal as quickly as possible.”Sure, but anything other than a lopsided scoreline will be a failure, full stop.The same, frankly, could be said of Tuesday’s game at BMO Field in Toronto. Canada is a quickly improving side, bolstered by a growing investment in the youth levels of the country’s Major League Soccer teams and beyond, a handful of stars playing abroad, and a developing soccer culture.That said, Canada still remains well behind the U.S. in all facets of the sport. This isn’t the time to eke out a victory. It’s a time to control the ball, create chances, finish them, get six points. This is about reestablishing an air of inevitability surrounding the results of matches against lesser CONCACAF foes.

To help him do so, Berhalter has called in arguably the most complete roster he has had during his now 10-month tenure as coach of the national team. DeAndre Yedlin is back for the first time since March, and newly pain-free after an 18-month saga that ultimately required groin surgery. Matt Miazga is here, too, as is D.C. United’s own Paul Arriola. There are absences — John Brooks (will he ever get healthy?), Jozy Altidore (hurt again, disappointingly), and Tyler Adams (how much can we judge this team without one of the best players at one of the most important positions?) — but even so, it’s a squad that should be able to play how the coach wants, and show more progress in terms of mastering “The System” to build on the last year-and-a-half.So let’s talk about Arriola.”What comes to mind when I think of Paul is his relentless attacking,” Berhalter said. “He just goes and goes and goes, and that has a cumulative effect on the opponent. We think with him being able to repeat his high-speed running puts us in positions to create goal-scoring opportunities.”On one hand, yes, this is true. The D.C. United winger has a remarkable ability to make things happen, tallying three goals in 11 national team matches so far this season, putting in dangerous crosses, and generally running riot on the flank. He has been effective, for sure.On the other, there’s little elegance to his game, as he is largely about straight lines, verticality, work rate and repeated sprints. MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle called it “attritional soccer,” which is a perfect phrase. This is not meant to be a criticism. Much of the traditional success of U.S. Soccer is a direct result of attritional soccer: wearing down opponents, playing together, leaning on good goalkeeping and being relentless and fit. Getting away from attritional soccer cost the Americans a spot in the 2018 World Cup.Yet isn’t the hope that the team moves beyond attritional soccer and finally get to a better place? That’s part of the excitement, the forward progress fans desperately want. Cuba (and to a lesser extent Canada) are perfect opponents to see how far along this project is. One player who can help get them there is Sebastian Lletget, a creative visionary fighting for the No. 10 spot.”I’ve had a good go at it so far,” the LA Galaxy playmaker said. “There is a lot of good competition in that position. That’s the fun part. You’re playing for a spot, and I think there’s room in there for me or for a lot of guys.”The hope is that he he gets it, and hope Christian Pulisic plays out on the wing where he can create (a major part of Berhalter’s system is getting his most dynamic attacker alone in pockets of space). Hope Jackson Yueill, another young guy with vision, makes a leap and presses for time. Hope that Josh Sargent, who with Altidore out should get more opportunities up top, continues to develop into his generation’s lethal finisher. Berhalter likes what he has seen from the 19-year-old, who responded well after being left off the Gold Cup roster over the summer.”He has gained confidence [at Werder Bremen],” the coach said. “They’ve been playing him sometimes on the wing and in different positions. For Josh, it’s just a matter of two things: him getting rest and being fresh in his mind, and him attacking. Him saying, ‘I want something. How am I going to go about getting it?'”“I want something. How am I going to go about getting it?” If you were thinking about a motto for the U.S. men’s national team over the next 12 months, you could do worse than that refrain.

 

Gregg Berhalter explains the USMNT’s role in player development

Doug McIntyre,Yahoo Sports Tue, Oct 8 12:47 PM EDT

Last week, United States men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter went on SiriusXM show Counter Attack and, in response to a question from co-host and former U.S. defender Janusz Michallik about the USMNT’s role in making players better, gave the following answer:“We’re not responsible for developing players — the responsibility for the most part falls to the clubs,” Berhalter said. “We’re not together that often that we can really develop a player.”On the surface, it was a perfectly reasonable reply. Most national team managers, who only get to work in-person with their squads for three or four 10-day windows per year outside of international tournaments such as the World Cup, would say some version of the same. Context is also important. The quote came as some impatient U.S. fans had been clamoring for the promotion of several youth national teamers who have yet to make a mark professionally.Berhalter’s words were still interesting, though. Because since he accepted the challenge 10 months ago of trying to steer the U.S. program back to respectability after its epic failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the former Columbus Crew boss has often spoken of trying to improve the quality of the American players, both individually and as a group.“To me, it’s about developing players,” Berhalter said, explaining why his team insisted on playing though Mexico’s eight-man press during last month’s 3-0 friendly loss in New Jersey.During a conversation with Yahoo Sports on Monday, Berhalter took the time to drill down on what could be seen as conflicting messages.“I think the starting point for me is looking at the level of the player and saying, ‘Is this player a national team-level player right now?’” Berhalter said. “If the answer is no, I’m not going to be able to get him to the national team standard. He’s going to need to do that through playing games with his club.“If the answer is yes,” Berhalter continued, “now it’s about the specifics of developing him within our system, what he still needs to work on despite already being a fantastic player.”In other words, you can’t make a national team player. But you can make a national team player better.The example Berhalter used after the Mexico game was midfielder Weston McKennie, a 21-year-old Champions League veteran with Schalke in the German Bundesliga. Schalke plays differently than the U.S. does, and as a result, Berhalter asks McKennie to do different things.For other players, the transition to the national team is smoother because their roles don’t really change when they travel between club and country.“Sergino Dest plays the same way with Ajax,” Berhalter said, speaking of the 18-year-old Dutch-American defender who won’t participate in the CONCACAF Nations League match Friday against Cuba [7 p.m. ET, FS1] in Washington, D.C., or at Canada next week. “Even though he’s young, it’s relatively easy for him to pick up what we’re doing.“You have other guys like Weston that don’t necessarily play like that with their clubs. But because they’re high-level players, you would expect that they can take on information, take on concepts. That’s why they got to the level they’ve gotten to.”Like most of his teammates, McKennie struggled against El Tri’s relentless chasing. Berhalter is hoping that the experience pays off this month, especially against Canada. While the Cubans will likely sit back defensively, allowing the U.S. to control the match, Canada’s hopes of reaching the final round of World Cup qualifying for the first time since 1997 could hinge on the Oct. 15 contest in Toronto. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they approach the game,” Berhalter said.If Canada comes out hard, the U.S. will be prepared, or at least more prepared than they were last month. Berhalter pushed back against the notion that his system is too complex to implement during short international windows.“The difficulty learning the system, I think that’s a little bit exaggerated,” he said. “It’s just time together and layering. We’re focusing on certain concepts in one camp and then we’re building in the next camps. It has a multiplying effect where the guys will be able to understand it as we go.”Competition also raises an athlete’s level, the international game providing exposure to different coaches, teammates, stakes, styles and experiences.For Berhalter, that process doesn’t stop when a particular camp ends. He and his staff remain in frequent communication with players. They’ve also been actively working with their clubs, sharing information so that both teams and the player benefits.“It’s a collaboration,” Berhalter said, admitting that some clubs are more open to it than others. “When a guy is at a high level, we want to work on specific things with him, together with his club, to get him better. I’m the type of coach that wants to create an environment where we’re always looking to improve. We make a concerted effort and say, ‘OK, this guy is a top-level player. How do we make him a world star?’“That,” he added, “I think is development as well.”

US star Pulisic confident in form despite Chelsea benching

BEN NUCKOLS,Associated Press 13 hours ago

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Christian Pulisic said he won’t let his benching with Chelsea affect his play for the U.S. national team as it prepares for a match against Cuba, pronouncing himself in peak form despite scant playing time of late.”I feel the best I ever have. I feel very confident in my game. I’m not going to let any of that affect me,” Pulisic said Wednesday before training with the national team at George Mason University, where both of his parents played college soccer. “I feel very strong, and I’m really looking forward to this game Friday.”The 21-year-old midfielder has been mostly a spectator in his first season in the Premier League, limited to two appearances since August: a League Cup start against fourth-tier Grimsby Town on Sept. 25 and a 10-minute substitute stint versus Southampton in the EPL on Sunday during which he contributed an assist. Pulisic arrived at Chelsea in the offseason for $73 million from Borussia Dortmund.Pulisic has previously voiced frustration with his playing time under Chelsea manager Frank Lampard but declined to elaborate on those feelings.”I’m here now to be focused with the U.S. national team, so that’s really all that’s on my mind right now,” Pulisic said.The United States will play Cuba on Friday in Washington and then visit Canada in Toronto on Tuesday, its opening two matches of the CONCACAF Nations League.While he’s been a role player with Chelsea, Pulisic is the undisputed star of the rebuilding U.S. team, which is trying to recover from its failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup in Russia. He said he’s looking forward to seeing what 18-year-old midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who was added to the roster last week, can bring to the squad.”It’s fun to play with these younger guys,” Pulisic said. “He’s younger than me, right? Yeah, he’s much younger. … I don’t see myself as young anymore, but whatever.”For this week of practice, Pulisic will be in the shadow of his mother, Kelley, and his father, Mark.”My dad texted me after the first training. He’s like, ‘I scored 38 goals on this training field, and your mom scored 10,” Pulisic said. “It’s great, it’s cool to see where they used to play. I haven’t really been here, so it’s exciting.”

Can Atlanta repeat? Why all 14 playoff teams could lift MLS Cup – and why they won’t

10:57 AM ETArch BellU.S. soccer writer

Decision Day has come and gone, leaving Major League Soccer’s 14 postseason-bound sides with nearly two weeks to contemplate their paths to MLS Cup glory. In the regular season’s afterglow, playoff hopes will never be higher for many, which is why we’ve detailed precisely why each team can win MLS Cup … and, similarly, why each can’t.

Western Conference

 

1. LAFC

Next playoff match: 10:30 p.m. ET Oct. 24 vs. Minnesota or LA Galaxy (watch live on ESPN)

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Why they will win MLS Cup: The league’s best player, Carlos Vela, makes sure there is no letdown and leads the league’s best team to the title.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: The lack of a second striker and an opponent savvy enough to cut off the Eduard Atuesta-Vela connection lead to a nightmare scenario for Bob Bradley’s men.

 

2. Seattle Sounders

Next playoff match: 3:30 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. FC Dallas

Why they will win MLS Cup: Seattle is well versed in the postseason panorama and has the firepower in Raul RuidiazJordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro to do something special.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A team that has been plagued by defensive issues, poor road form and inconsistency simply can’t last.

 

3. Real Salt Lake

Next playoff match: 10 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. Portland (watch live on ESPNEWS)

Why they will win MLS Cup: The attacking trident of Jefferson SavarinoAlbert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach get on a roll, and Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando turn back the clock to 2009.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: RSL’s inconsistency rears its head at the wrong time to end a season overshadowed by off-the-field controversy.

 

4. Minnesota United

Next playoff match: 8:30 p.m. ET Oct. 20 vs. LA Galaxy (watch live on ESPN)

Why they will win MLS Cup: Their “us against the world” mentality, on top of a solid defense, takes Adrian Heath’s men on a surprising Cup run.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Ten road losses this season suggest that winning back-to-back away from home in the biggest games of the season is too big an ask.

 

5. LA Galaxy

Next playoff match: 8:30 p.m. ET Oct. 20 at Minnesota (watch live on ESPN)

Why they will win MLS Cup: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede is a threat to score anytime he has the ball, and with Cristian Pavon in the mix, the Galaxy have the offensive weapons to take down anyone.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A poor record away from home and a tendency to switch off and commit errors in defense make it only a matter of time before the Galaxy get sent packing.

 

6. Portland Timbers

Next playoff match: 10 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Salt Lake (watch live on ESPNEWS)

Why they will win MLS Cup: Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco. The Argentine playmakers are as formidable as any in the league, and Blanco in particular has turned it up a notch the past month. Plus midfield warrior Diego Chara and the experience of coach Giovanni Savarese give Timbers fans every reason to believe.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Valeri’s contract status is looming uncomfortably over the team, and Savarese has yet to figure out how to shake his team’s inconsistent form in 2019.

 

7. FC Dallas

Next playoff match: 3:30 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Seattle

Why they will win MLS Cup: Luchi Gonzalez’s young pups will be playing with no fear and have nothing to lose in this postseason. It’s just the type of attitude that can wreak havoc on opponents.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Their lack of experience can also work against them in a hostile environment, such as trying to hang on to a result in the last 15 minutes in a full house on the West Coast.

Eastern Conference

 

1. New York City FC

Next playoff match: 7 p.m. ET Oct. 23 vs. Toronto or D.C.

Why they will win MLS Cup: No team is cooler when pressured by opponents, thanks to one of the league’s best midfields, which lays the groundwork for a title run.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Jozy Altidore and Toronto FC have a habit of making life difficult for NYCFC and could prove to be the roadblock even before a date with high-powered LAFC.

— Stream MLS games LIVE on ESPN+

 

2. Atlanta United

Next playoff match: 1 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. New England

Why they will win MLS Cup: They know how to get the job done, and with a healthy and hungry Josef Martinez, a second straight crown is theirs for the taking.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: The mental lapses have been there too often this season, and in a single-game elimination format, that proves costly.

 

3. Philadelphia Union

Next playoff match: 3 p.m. ET Oct. 20 vs. New York Red Bulls

Why they will win MLS Cup: Their balance from back to front is a big asset, and Kacper Przybylko has become the goal scorer this team desperately needed.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Teams will look to take Przybylko out of the equation, and the lack of a second scorer will limit the Union.

 

4. Toronto FC

Next playoff match: 6 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. D.C.

Why they will win MLS Cup: One of the hottest teams in the East boasts the experience to win MLS Cup and has the firepower up front with Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A spotty road record all season means that this 4-seed can’t string together the wins away from home to lift the trophy.

 

5. D.C. United

Next playoff match: 6 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Toronto

Why they will win MLS Cup: On his way out the door, Wayne Rooney will deliver his best soccer since arriving in the nation’s capital and replicate countryman David Beckham’s feat of leaving MLS as a champion.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Ben Olsen’s reluctance to start Luciano Acosta and the resurfacing of late summer defensive woes rear their heads in the postseason.

 

6. New York Red Bulls

Next playoff match: 3 p.m. ET Oct. 20 at Philadelphia

Why they will win MLS Cup: With postseason expectations lower than in previous seasons, the Red Bulls ride a pressure-free playoffs all the way to the promised land.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A defense that gave up a lot of goals to the league’s top teams can’t maintain a high enough level through four matches.

 

7. New England Revolution

Next playoff match: 1 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Atlanta

Why they will win MLS Cup: Led by five-time MLS Cup-winning coach Bruce Arena, the Revs ride the playmaking of Carles Gil and the scoring boots of Gustavo Bou to a stunning title run.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A team that still struggles to put together a consistent 90 minutes will see its postseason end fairly quickly.

‘Pulisic needs to get nasty at Chelsea’ – Klinsmann convinced USMNT star can thrive in England

Goal.com Mon, Sep 30 9:28 AM EDT

Christian Pulisic needs to get nasty at Chelsea, says Jurgen Klinsmann, with the United States international more than capable of proving his worth in the Premier League.Those at Stamford Bridge are still waiting on that potential to be unlocked, with a marquee arrival in west London yet to deliver on a consistent basis.That has led to Pulisic slipping down the pecking order under Frank Lampard, with the 21-year-old back on the bench for a 2-0 win over Brighton on Saturday.Questions are being asked of whether a promising talent who burst onto the scene at Borussia Dortmund is capable of handling the demands of life in English football.Klinsmann, who has worked with Pulisic in the USA set-up before, remains convinced that the talented playmaker can come good.The former Tottenham striker has, however, offered some words of advice, telling ESPN: “You never know it’s the right fit unless you do it.”Christian did well to say: ‘I’m going to throw myself in another cold water, go over to London and throw myself in the Premier League, and I have to fight through the system there’. So that’s what he’s in.”He’s a very special player, he’s tremendously talented, but this is a big step, because Borussia Dortmund was also basically the club where he got formed into a professional player.”He came out of the youth system there, he moved himself up, he had all the support within the club and now going to London – also to one of the biggest clubs in the world – you’ve got to bring your elbows out.”Klinsmann added, with Pulisic having taken to airing his frustration over a lack of playing time for Chelsea: “He will go through a phase now where more and more he needs to bring his elbows out to fight himself through the system there.

“Can he do it? Yes, absolutely he can do it, but you need to be patient, too, sometimes you forget he’s a very young player.”You’re basically in a daily competition. Maybe in Dortmund he knew: ‘I established myself already within the club to be a very special player. I get my minutes in, I get my games in, I’m a starter most of the time’.”You don’t have that automatic assurance at Chelsea. At Chelsea it goes from game to game, week to week. You’re basically in training and you have to tell the coach: ‘I’m in, I’m going to start this game’. So it’s a little bit more cold, it’s a bit more nasty.”What I mean with the elbows is that you have to become nasty in order to make yourself a starter.”Pulisic initially impressed upon his arrival at Chelsea, but has not started a Premier League game since August 31 and has seen only 90 minutes of game time in the Carabao Cup during September.

Breaking down Pulisic’s competition at Chelsea

Kyle Bonn,NBC Sports Mon, Sep 30 12:01 PM EDT

 

Christian Pulisic has gone three Premier League games without seeing the field. An unused substitute again at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea topped Brighton 2-0 on Saturday, the 21-year-old told NBC Sports that his lack of playing time is “very frustrating” and that “it is tough for me right now.”Frank Lampard is under no obligation to play the American despite his hefty $73 million price tag on the move from Borussia Dortmund over the winter. With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the performances of his competition at Chelsea and determine whether the Blues boss is making the right decision in keeping Pulisic on the bench.There seems to be at least four other attacking players above Pulisic in the depth chart: Experienced international wingers Willian and Pedro, and youngsters Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Here’s a closer look at each player’s season so far.

Mason Mount

The 20-year-old England youth international has exploded onto the scene this campaign, forced into the rotation due to Chelsea’s transfer ban. He has taken his chance marvelously, proving a massive threat to opposition defenses on the ball. The sample size is still small, but Mount is currently rated as WhoScored’s 14th best player so far this season with an impressive 7.45 rating. He has delivered three goals thus far, and has produced over two key passes per game and just under two successful dribbles per game.Lampard has begun to deploy Mount more centrally, pairing him in midfield with Ross Barkley and allowing him to venture forward. He created three chances against Brighton last time out and won the penalty that saw Jorginho put Chelsea in front just after halftime. There is no doubt that in his current form, Mount should be starting every match for Chelsea at this point, and Pulisic can have no qualms about sitting behind the fellow youngster.

Pedro

Since arriving from Barcelona in 2015, Pedro has been a versatile player that has seen significant time under a host of different Chelsea managers who have all noticed his value. Playing as a true winger, a central creative force, or a wing-back in various formations, Pedro has been able to contribute in a number of ways.This season, Pedro has been of decent quality. He started slow against Brighton last time out but ended up with a solid overall performance, testing the goalkeeper a few different times and creating opportunities for his teammates. Still, that was his first league appearances since August and he was withdrawn for Hudson-Odoi after an hour. Lampard doesn’t seem to fully trust the Spaniard. His appearance in the lineup against Brighton instead of Pulisic was probably the most surprising given his lack of playing time thus far, but he proved a valuable asset.

Willian

While a hamstring problem carried over from summer international duty limited him early in the season, the 31-year-old Brazilian has seen significant playing time over the last month. Racking up three straight 90-minute showings in a row in league play, Willian is a trusted servant for Frank Lampard early on. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat difficult to determine why.Aside from the demolition of Wolves in which he was brilliant, the performances have been quite spotty for Willian thus far. While his passing accuracy is 80 percent this season, a closer look shows a host of square passes well outside the box that inflate that total. Against Brighton, Willian added little creativity, especially in the first half when Chelsea as a whole struggled to produce much of anything. Still, he came away with the game’s second goal, a tight-angled strike out of basically nothing that was deflected in and punished poor one-on-one marking and even worse goalkeeping.Another key part of Willian’s game is his defensive contributions which often can neuter his overall attacking threat. He came away from the Brighton with four completed tackles on the right flank, an impressive total for a winger. A look at his performance in the loss to Liverpool shows he was pinned back by his defensive duties for much of the game, and when he did get forward he was unable to produce much, completing just two of his six attempted passes in the penalty area and failing to come away from the match with an official chance created. Willian is a good squad player, but he hasn’t exactly dazzled in the early going. His fans will say he’s never been a dazzling player, and that’s a fair retort.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Just having returned from an Achilles injury, the 18-year-old is clearly a fabulous talent. With the Blues having rejected Bayern Munich’s advances. There’s a feeling of obligation to play Hudson-Odoi now that Bayern has been rebuffed to confirm the club’s commitment to his future. Still, there’s a reason he sees the field. In 30 minutes against Brighton, he picked up an assist and proved valuable defensively, completing two tackles in two attempts and completing 21 of 24 passes. It wasn’t an inspiring passing chart, but Chelsea was playing with a lead the entire time.Plenty remains to be seen here how he gets on after returning from injury, but as a huge talent that has already broken into the England senior squad, there’s little reason to think he won’t see a lot of the field.

The verdict:

This is a difficult one to analyze as aside from Mason Mount, there are plenty of question marks remaining among those in front of Pulisic on the depth chart. Willian and Pedro are older, experienced players who don’t light up the field but managers love them for their dedication to the team effort and game plan, while Hudson-Odoi has plenty to prove on his way back from injury but figures to be given the chance to do so.Given the unknowns, there’s no reason to think Pulisic can’t work his way back up the ranks. Chelsea is clearly committed to youth this season, and there is plenty of incentive to develop Pulisic into a regular contributor given his promise, his age, and the club’s financial commitment. Eventually, it’s logical to think Willian and Pedro will be phased out in favor of the younger attacking players.Let’s also remember, Christian Pulisic isn’t the only good player struggling for time at Chelsea. Jorginho has proven an improved asset at Stamford Bridge, while Kante has also struggled with injury, the improved play of Jorginho has enabled Lampard to be careful with the French midfielder, confirming Kante missed the Brighton squad with a hamstring problem that left Chelsea to be cautious. Had Jorginho not been playing so well, Kante may have been risked.While it’s natural to panic over Pulisic’s small workload early on – and certainly frustrating for the player given his phasing out at Dortmund at the hands of Jadon Sancho – it’s not time to push the big red button. Lampard has clearly told Pulisic to improve his training, and nobody but the team knowns what goes on there. All we can judge is what happens on the field, and until someone at Chelsea struggles greatly and deserves to be replaced, it’s tough to see a way back in for Pulisic in the short-term.

Which version of Indy Eleven will show up for playoffs?

Kevin Johnston, Special for IndyStarPublished 1:28 p.m. ET Oct. 6, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – A Sept. 14 home win against Bethlehem Steel FC had the Indy Eleven feeling on top of the world. With 56 points at the time, the Eleven had sewn up a spot in the USL Championship playoffs and were every bit a contender for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, tied with New York Red Bulls II atop the standings.But it’s hard to put a finger on this 2019 Indy Eleven group. Four games later, they were still sitting on 56 points.Consecutive road losses to Birmingham, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Ottawa quickly quieted Indy’s top-seed aspirations and, in fact, even left the team with work to do to secure a home playoff match. To confound matters, an Indy player was sent off with a red card in three of the four losses.Saturday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indy finally halted its four-game skid while extending another streak in the process. The team moved its home unbeaten run to 24 matches by taking out Memphis 901 FC 3-0 before 13,134 supporters. More importantly, Indy — now in second place and three points back of first-place Pittsburgh — is back in the mix to secure at least one home playoff fixture, if not more.“We needed it,” Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr confessed. “Like, it was a need tonight, to get three points. The clean sheet is an added bonus, but right now the boys needed a win and we were just champing at the bit to get home. Being here, in front of this crowd, probably the most we’ve had since the opening night, is just perfect. We honestly, literally, right now can’t do it without the (supporter’s group Brickyard Battalion). This was much needed and refreshing for all the boys.”Aerial services proved Memphis’ undoing, especially early. Despite the relative lack of height in Indy’s starting attack, Memphis defenders were consistently out-timed and out-jumped on dangerous crosses into their own box. Indy’s first and second tallies came from winning balls in the air.Indy’s first tally came on an in-swinging corner kick by Kenney Walker. Dane Kelly flicked the ball on with his head at the near post, allowing Cristian Novoa to head it home at the back post, his first goal with the club. The second came on an Ayoze cross and Karl Ouimette header from the run of play.“I thought our delivery on our set plays was very good and our movement was good on those,” Eleven coach Martin Rennie explained. “In addition to that, I think we had a number of other chances… We had good movement, good balls in. I think we are still trying to find that right mix, but tonight we found it well.”Indy’s third strike came from a familiar source in leading-scorer Tyler Pasher. He settled a pinpoint long ball from Paddy Barrett and cut right toward the end line as Memphis defender Liam Doyle overplayed his dangerous left foot, then nutmegged goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell with a right-footed shot from a difficult angle.Farr drew the start in net for Indy after regular starting goalkeeper Evan Newton picked up an injury late in Indy’s previous match. Farr produced a nice diving stop on a hard-hit volley among his three saves.“I feel very confident (when Farr plays),” Rennie said. “We have two great goalkeepers and they’ve done an excellent job all season long. I think that Jordan has been focused and ready for his chances, and I thought tonight he did everything that he was asked to, and he made it look fairly comfortable.” The Eleven will host the Swope Park Rangers on Oct. 16 in their final home game of the regular season. Before that, they’ll travel to face Tampa Bay next Saturday. Two more matches, then it’s onto the playoffs.After all the strange ebbs and flows of the 2019 season, the million-dollar question remains: Which version of the Indy Eleven will show up for the playoffs — the team that just lost four straight on the road while earning three red cards, or the team that hasn’t been beaten at home in over a calendar year?“It got us out of a big ol’ rut,” Farr said of the Memphis win. “A four-game losing streak, you never like it. I mean, you never like to have that.”

MATCH PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN CONTINUES FIGHT FOR TOP OF THE TABLE AT TAMPA BAY ROWDIES

By IndyEleven.com, 10/10/19, 7:45PM EDT

 

Boys In Blue Head to St. Petersburg for Final Regular Season Away Contest

Indy Eleven at Tampa Bay Rowdies 
Saturday, October 12, 2019 – 7:30 P.M. ET
Al Lang Stadium  |  St. Petersburg, Fla.    

 

FOLLOW LIVE:

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click for a free 7-day trial)

Radio (Spanish): N/A

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

 

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 18W-9L-5D, 59 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Rowdies: 16W-7L-9D, 57 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

FIRST 2019 MEETING:

Indy Eleven 0 : 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies | Wednesday, May 1

The first meeting between age-old rivals ended in a stalemate in Week 9 of the USL Championship season. The Boys in Blue put on a sturdy defense display and kept the Rowdies from registering a single shot on goal after an early red card forced defender Paddy Barrett from the match. Indy secured a point from the shutout and kept the club’s home undefeated streak alive.

#INDvTBR:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

LAST TIME OUT:

Indy Eleven  3 : 0  Memphis 901 FC  |  Saturday, October 5

Indiana’s Team extended its home undefeated streak to 24 games after a 3-0 win against Memphis 901 FC. Indy forward Cristian Novoa netted his first goal since joining the team in August in the 13th minute, with midfielder Dane Kelly recording his fourth assist in the process. Two additional goals from defender Karl Ouimette and midfielder Tyler Pasher helped Indy leapfrog to second place in the Eastern Conference.

#INDvMEM:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

Loudoun United FC 2 : 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies  |  Friday, October 4

Tampa Bay Rowdies road record dropped to 8W-4L-4D after a 2-0 loss to 14th-place Loudoun United FC. Two second-half goals from Loudoun’s Alioune Ndour and Gordon Wild were enough to hand the Rowdies their seventh loss in 2019, keeping the race for a top four finish in the Eastern Conference tight heading into the last final two games of the regular season.

#LDNvTBR:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

#TBRVIND STORYLINES

  • Indy Eleven and Tampa Bay Rowdies are long-time rivals, dating back to both teams’ North American Soccer League (NASL) days. The two teams’ inaugural match-up was on April 19, 2014, and ended in a 1-1 draw.
  • Indy’s all-time record against the Rowdies sits at 3W-2L-7D, with a goal differential of +2 (16GF/14GA). The only year the two sides didn’t meet was 2017.
  • The first meeting between the two clubs in the 2019 USL Championship took place on May 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium and ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
  • If the Boys in Blue win on Saturday, Indiana’s Team could regain a share of first place in the Eastern Conference with a Pittsburgh loss at Saint Louis FC and either a loss or tie by Nashville SC at home against North Carolina FC.
  • Saturday night’s match-up will feature the second-best defense in the USL Championship in Indy Eleven (27 goals allowed) and the third best in Tampa Bay (30 GA). The clean sheet race remains close as well, as the Boys in Blue have recorded 13 shutouts (3rd in East; T-4th across the league) and Rowdies 11 of their own (6th in East; 9th across the league).
  • Forward Cristian Novoa scored his first goal since joining Indy Eleven last weekend against Memphis 901 FC, netting the game’s opening goal in the 13th minute.
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti is no stranger to facing Indiana’s Team. Guenzatti spent 2013-16 with New York Cosmos alongside Indy Eleven’s Ayoze. Guenzatti leads the Rowdies’ scoring charge with 17 goals to his name, setting a new modern era single-season goals record for the club. Additionally, his 17 goals puts him second in the Eastern Conference goals chart (behind only Nashville forward Daniel Rios’ 18) and third in the USL Championship.
  • Indy Eleven Assistant Coach Juan Guerra is no stranger to the Florida-based team. Guerra spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Rowdies, tallying three goals and one assist in 45 appearances during the club’s NASL era.
  • Indy Eleven’s Neveal Hackshaw was named to the Trinidad & Tobago Men’s National Team roster ahead of Thursday night’s 2019 CONCACAF Nations League fixture against Honduras at Hasely Crawford Stadium Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.  At the time of writing, the 24-year-old was available as a substitute on the bench. Hackshaw made his 11th full international appearance for Trinidad & Tobago back on June 23, when he went the full 90 minutes against the United States in CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage action at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | DF KARL OUIMETTE

Karl Ouimette’s performance against Memphis 901 FC at home last Saturday was enough to secure a bench spot on USL Championship’s Team of the Week. The defender contributed on both ends of the pitch, putting up stellar defensive numbers and scoring the second goal of Saturday’s contest, his second of the season.The Canadian was a wall in the back third, racking up the most clearances and tackles of the game with five and four, respectively, and helped lead Indy to its 13th clean sheet on the season. Ouimette brings peace of mind to teammates when in the backline according to captain Matt Watson, who has played in front of the 27-year-old for the majority of the season.

TAMPA BAY ROWDIES PLAYER TO WATCH | FW SEBASTIAN GUENZATTI

Indy’s defense will need to be at its best come Saturday night, when Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti comes to town. The 28-year-old is in the thick of a breakout season, currently leading the scoring charge for the Floridian team with a franchise record-breaking 17 goals. Guenzatti, the Eastern Conference’s second highest goal scorer, sits just four goals off the top spot in the league-wide Golden Boot race, raising the stakes for the striker ahead of the final two matches of the regular season.

Guenzatti registered four of Rowdies’ 14 shots against Indy at Lucas Oil Stadium on May 1, but like the rest of his teammates, was unable to test Eleven ‘keeper Evan Newton with an on-target attempt.The pressure to create in front of net by Guenzatti has the potential to increase on Saturday night with the possibility of the Rowdies being without midfielder Dominic Oduro and runner-up goal scorer Juan Tejada. Oduro was subbed off 25 minutes into Tampa’s previous game against Loudoun. The 22-year-old Tejada, who has scored 10 goals in 2019, was subbed off at halftime two matches ago against Louisville City FC and has not clocked in any playing time since. Guenzatti will need to find form after struggling to put a single shot on frame against Loudoun United FC, as he faces the second-best defense in the East in Indy.

Indy Eleven will close out its regular season slate over the next two matches, starting with a huge top-five fixture this Saturday at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be live locally on MyINDY-TV 23 and online via ESPN+.

After this Saturday’s crucial top-five clash at Tampa Bay, Indy Eleven will close out its sixth and most successful regular season in club history this Wednesday, Oct. 16, against Swope Park Rangers, at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff for Fan Appreciation Night, presented by Community Health Network Foundation, is set for 7:00 p.m. (live on ESPN+ and MyINDY-TV 23). Tickets remain available for as little as $15 by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

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