11/14/19 US Men face Canada Fri 7 pm ESPN2, Cuba Tues 7:30 pm FS1, International Games Thur-Tue, Seattle Wins MLS Cup, Indy 11 fall to Louisville

US Men vs Canada Friday 7 pm ESPN2

Nations League play returns this Friday night on ESPN2 at 7 pm as the US Men’s National Team will look to pay back Canada for the loss last month in Toronto. The US will be home in Orlando for this critical Nations League match which could determine if Canada or the US Advances as the top seed.  Of course the US will be missing talisman Christian Pulisic who was injured scoring in his 3rd straight game for Chelsea over the weekend.  Pulisic scored another header giving him 5 goals and 3 assist on the season for Chelsea.  The US will also be missing starting GK Zach Steffan, who was hurt for German side Dusseldorf last weekend.  Look for Brad Guzan of Atlanta United to take the gloves this week for the huge games along with the return of centerback John Brooks, who is back from injury for Wolfsburg.  Sergino Dest, fresh off pledging his allegiance to the US over the Dutch, looks to be cup tied in a starting role on defense as well this week.  I certainly hope to see D-mid handled by Alfredo Morales who has returned from injury for Dusseldorf and played so well vs Mexico a few months back.  His bite in the middle could lead to good things as we wait for Tyler Adams to return from injury. (Bradley is hurt from the MLS Title game and Will Trapp stinks).

As I see it this is a HUGE game for US Manager Gregg Berhalter, who does he put where, and how does the US play in what many see as a must win game for the new manager.   There were whispers that a 2nd straight loss to Canada (a team we hadn’t lost to since 1986) could end the tenure of the US headman, but GM Earnie Stewart shot those down.  It doesn’t mean the US doesn’t need to win this game and big on Friday night.   I still think the big issues with US soccer are at the top – all the way down.  Still not sure Tab Ramos, who took our U20s and U23’s to the Quarter Finals of the last 3 WC’s shouldn’t have gotten a shot at least at the interim role.  Anyway hopefully the US shows up with some pride and dominates Canada at home the way we need to.

 The 23-man USMNT roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Sergiño Dest (Ajax), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)

 MLS CUP – Seattle Wins !

Wow as a longtime Seattle Sounders Fan – (someday I will get to that stadium!) – it was fantastic to see not only a win – but the extreme jubilation with 70,000 fans – the largest to crowd to see a sporting event in Seattle on hand.  Yeah the game was just ok – as Toronto dominated the first half – only to have Seattle strike back in the 2nd with a lucky off the defender goal.  Toronto dominated possession, but without Altidore up front to finish – they simply could not get a solid shot on goal.  And when they did Sounders GK Steffan Frie was up to the task. A 2nd goal on the counter attack followed by a third sent the crowd into a frenzy before Altidore finally subbed in late to make it 3-1 the final and Championship #2 to Seattle in the last 4 years.  Great to see the TV #s come back strong – as over 2 million watched on TV on an NFL Sunday on ABC.  Great to not only have the game on Network TV again – but to have a high scoring game that fans tuned into as well.  MLS is on the rise, the new playoff format with 1 game win or go home formats combined with more story lines and better TV viewership can only mean good things for the league as #s on ESPN+, Fox Sports and ESPN were up this year. Also ending the season in November rather than early December has to help.  With new cities like Nashville, Miami, Austin and more on the horizon – the future is looking for MLS.  Me  I am happy to see a city like Seattle that embraces their Sounder’s and soccer get to raise the Cup in their home stadium.  Someday Seattle – I will be amongst your masses !  Oh late note – sorry to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not returning to MLS and the LA Galaxy next season – he was a big personality and gave people someone to dislike or at least played the role of BAD GUY as well as anyone in the history of the league. Not sure El Traffico will be the same without him – I know the league will not.

Indy 11 Fall At Home in Eastern Finals

Disappointment city for our Indy 11 – as they let their 1 goal lead slip in the 94th minute in route to a 3-1 Championship game loss to Louisville at home Saturday afternoon.  A pretty good Indy 11 crowd – bolstered by over 1500 traveling Louisville fans was on hand to see the excitement.  The Indy 11 took a 2nd half lead on Tyler Pasher’s goal.  Louisville however kept the pressure on and when a questionable 4 minutes of extra time was added – Louisville capitalized on a 94th minute goal off their 3rd corner in extra time. Louisville scored 2 goals in Overtime including a horrible call when 11 GK Jordan Farr was whistled for a penalty on a perfect slide out to protect his goal.  The PK was the 3rd and final goal for Louisville as they now move on to their 3rd  USL Championship Final on Sunday night at 7:30 pm on ESPN2. (ah what could have been).  For the Indy 11 a disappointing finish to a really good season. I will have more wrap up next week.

US Ladies Wrap-Up Year with 2 Big Wins

The US Ladies wrapped up the year with a huge 6-0 win Costa Rica after surviving Sweden 3-2 last week.  A Good start for new coach Andonovski as he made some needed tweaks that seems to have helped the US team. He worked in some new players and some old stalwarts -like Carli Llyod (3 goals) really stood out in this looser, more attacking approach. The Olympics are right around the corner – so the US Ladies will look to continue tweaking things.  Lots of games during this international break England, Spain, Germany, Italy will be on ESPN+ a couple of times for Euro Cup Qualifying, Brazil faces Argentina in a Friendly Fri at noon on beIN Sport and of course the 2 huge US Games. 


Carmel FC would like to offer its youngest members, U8-U14 Boys and Girls, the chance to participate in the first ever Pass, Shoot, and Play Fall Clinics this SATURDAY ONLY – Nov 16th at Murray Stadium.  The sessions will focus on enhancing players’ basic abilities such as foot skills, passing, touch, and shooting featuring different perspectives and tips from our diverse and experienced coaching staff.  Coaches from throughout the club have volunteered to make this clinic a completely FREE opportunity for your player to experience a new, unique training environment with other members from around the club!  The schedule will be as follows:


Saturday, November 16

  • U8s through U10s from 12 – 1 PM
  • U11s and U12s from 1 -2:30 PM
  • U13s and U14s from 2:30 – 4 PM

Please RSVP in this link if your player is interested in participating http://carmeldadsclub2016.org/81dd903881283f0fe6f402d9ac64aba4.form


Fri, Nov 15

12 noon beIN Sport           Brazil vs Argentina (friendly)

2:$5 pm EPSN+                                 Boznia vs Italy

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Spain vs Malta

7 pm ESPN2                        USA vs Canada (Nations League)

10 pm FuboTV, TUDN   Panama vs Mexico

Sat, Nov 16

12 noon EPSN3                                 Russia vs Belgium

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Germany vs Belarus

Sun, Nov 17

9 am  ESPN News                            Luxenberg vs Portugal

12 noon  ESPN+                               Kosovo vs England  

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Albania vs France

5 pm Fox Sports 2                           U17 World Cup FINALS

7:30 pm ESPN2                  Louisville City vs Real Monarchs  USL Championship Game

Mon, Nov 18

2:45 pm ESPN News                        Ireland vs Denmark

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Italy vs Armenia

TUes, Nov 19

2:45 pm ESPN2                                 Germany vs Northern Ireland

7:30 pm Fox sport 1          Cuba vs USA (Nations League)

7:30 pm FuboTV, TUDN                   Mexico  vs Bermuda

Sat, Nov 23 

7:30 am NBCSN                                West Ham vs Tottenham

9 am ESPN+                                       Atalanta vs Juventus

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                       Dusseldorf (Morales & Steffan) vs Bayern Munich

9:30 am Fox Soccer                         Schalke (Mckinney) vs Werder Breman (Stuart)

10 am NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

12:30 pm NBC                                  Man City vs Chelsea (pulisic)  

3 pm beIN Sport                               Real Madrid vs Real Sociadad

Sun, Nov 24

9 am beIN Sport                               Monaco vs Bordueaux

11:30 am NBCSN                              Sheffield United vs Man United

12 noon FS1                         Hoffenhiem vs Mainz


Is Berhalter the Right Guy for the US Head Job – ESPNFC – Jeff C

How Will US Line-up vs Canada?  -yahoo sports

What’s at Stake – especially for Canada

Stewart on Berhalter: “What I’ve seen today, I’m a pleased man”

Stewart assures Berhalter safe as USMNT boss – Jeff C ESPNFC

Doyle: Latest USMNT roster has one job

Berhalter: “I can guarantee” vastly improved display vs. Canada

U.S. Soccer to honor RunDMB on Friday

Zach Steffan to Miss US Nations League Games with Injury


USWNT put 6 past Costa Rica in friendly

Andonovski purposeful, thoughtful with early USWNT tweaks

Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian, Williams inspire US Past Costa Rica

Rose Lavelle, Lynn Williams shine bright in 6-0 USWNT win

US Women beat Sweden 3-2 in Andonovski’s Managerial Debut

Match Stats vs CostaRica

MLS Finals

Sounder’s Cement Love Affair with Seattle after MLS Cup Home Win

Sounders take down Toronto to win 2nd MLS Cup

Sounders’ MLS Cup triumph reward for team that took its chances

Seattle Takes Rubber Match vs Toronto – Avi Creditor – SI

Sounders Step Up in Decisive Moments to Win MLS Cup – Grant Wahl SI

Toronto ‘our own worst enemy’ in MLS Cup – Vanney

Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey Reaches the Cup Final Again – Grant Wahl – SI

Monchengladbach pay seven figures for NYCFC teenager

Zlatan’s best goals of 2019

Doyle: Zlatan leaves Galaxy without conquering

He’s back: Thierry Henry is the Impact’s new head coach

Indy 11

Indy 11 Stunned by Louisville in Final – Indy Star – Kevin Johnston

Indy 11 Defender makes 1st Team

Indy 11 Loses Heartbreaker in Conference Finals 3-1


Pulisic Watch: How U.S. star is doing at Chelsea, game by game

Premier League Player Power Rankings

Unstoppable Liverpool, not VAR, the story as Reds make title statement vs. City

Mourinho declares title Liverpool’s barring injuries

Pep’s shallow squad |

Liverpool’s title to lose |

Emery is throwing stuff at a wall |

Foxes better than Claudio’s heroes |

West Ham sweating on Fabianski |

Luckiest moment of the weekend |

A final word on VAR … again

Power Rankings – Liverpool stay top ahead of Juventus

Arsenal and Emery are regressing in real time  3dGabriele Marcotti Getty


European Cup Qualification

– Qualifying tables | Upcoming fixtures

Euro 2020 qualifying: All you need to know

Who will take part in the playoffs? | Finals draw seeds and pots

USA vs. Canada: Here’s what’s at stake in the Nations League rematch

November 12, 20195:43PM ESTDylan ButlerContributor

There will be a lot on the line for both the US men’s national team and Canada when the teams meet up Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN) at Exploria Stadium.By virtue of a historic win at BMO Field a month ago, Canada hold first place in Nations League Group A with a perfect nine points heading into its final group stage match.  A win or draw would put John Herdman’s squad into the tournament’s final four and earn them valuable points in the FIFA rankings as they seek to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup.Following the 2-0 victory in Toronto a month ago, Canada moved into a top-six spot among Concacaf teams where they need to be in June 2020 to ensure a spot in the Concacaf Hexagonal for FIFA World Cup qualifying. But there is little room for comfort, with El Salvador, Curacao and Panama all within striking distance.“The USA have their motivations for this match, but for us it is another cup final, another game that could decide our fate for qualification to the Hex, so we will give absolutely everything we have to move this country one step closer to achieving that goal,” Herdman said.Canada have already secured a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup by guaranteeing a place in the top two teams in the group. The US have also effectively sealed their qualification, given their huge goal-differential advantage over bottom-placed Cuba.A USMNT win would pull them within three points of Canada heading into the final group stage match against Cuba on Nov. 19. Canada currently have a +4 goal differential advantage over the USMNT.

How will the USMNT line up versus Canada?

Nicholas Mendola,NBC Sports 15 hours ago

No Christian Pulisic.  No Tyler Adams.  No Timothy Weah. No Michael Bradley, Matt Miazga, and no Zack Steffen, either.  Ugh.Still, the United States men’s national team will be favored to get a home decision over Canada on Friday as the CONCACAF Nations League begins its final two match days of the group stage.How will Gregg Berhalter line up his team without so many key components?

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan is probably going to get the start here, and he won’t kill the team, but we’d love to see Sean Johnson get a chance to improve on his 100% clean sheet success rate across two tournament caps for the U.S.

Back line: It would be insane if Sergino Dest didn’t start at one of the full back spots given his election of the USMNT over the Netherlands. Also insane would be not starting a finally-healthy John Brooks.After that, it seems likely Berhalter will opt for Aaron Long to pair with Brooks. If his left back option is Dest, then it’ll be DeAndre Yedlin at right back (or Reggie Cannon). If Dest is on his preferred right side, than Daniel Lovitz may get a look over Tim Ream on account of the speed in Canada’s attack.

Midfield: Might Berhalter pull back an attacker and use a four-man midfield against the Canucks? Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales will take two spots, and it seems pretty likely Jackson Yueill will get the chance to be a deep-lying playmaker with McKennie and Morales running their shorts off to make his life easier. We suppose Berhalter could opt for Wil Trapp over Yueill. It’s possible. A little too possible.

Attack: Josh Sargent is going to get the center forward spot, and it would be wild if Jordan Morris doesn’t join him. Then it’s down to Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola, exciting versus a bit safer. And Arriola would give him more of a midfield presence than the forward-thinking Boyd.Here’s how we think Berhalter starts in Orlando:


Yedlin — Long — Brooks — Dest


Morales — McKennie

Morris — Sargent — Arriola

Is Berhalter right for the U.S. men’s national team? 10 burning questions for the USMNT in 2019

3:13 PM ET   Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

On a conference call with the media on Tuesday, U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart had a Chip Diller moment. Despite some poor results by the U.S. men’s national team, including a humbling loss to Canada, Stewart said Gregg Berhalter’s job as manager is safe no matter what the results of the next two games are, and that the U.S. was making progress.It’s Stewart’s duty to back the work of Berhalter, of course. He hired him, after all. But Stewart’s assessment flies in the face of reality. Even if the U.S. gets the wins it needs against Canada on Friday (7 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN2) and Cuba four days later, and thus advances to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Nations League, the team has at best treaded water and more accurately taken a step backward in 2019. The insistence on playing out of the back seems misguided. The competitiveness that was once the U.S. team’s hallmark has nearly evaporated. Most sobering of all is the fact that while the U.S. roster has plenty of good players, outside of Christian Pulisic, there are few — if any — great players. There aren’t any Clint Dempseys or Landon Donovans coming to this team’s rescue. That last aspect isn’t Berhalter’s fault, but it does magnify mistakes, and there have been a few.Here are 10 questions that need answering for the U.S. as it goes forward.

1. Is Berhalter the right man for the job?

It’s looking more and more like he isn’t. New England Revolution manager Bruce Arena was right when he said in October that Berhalter was running the national team like it was a club team. Berhalter has been stubborn in terms of his style despite the scant time he gets with the team, but Stewart is clearly intent on keeping him on board for the foreseeable future.

The U.S. manager’s chances of survival hinge on his willingness to find a pragmatic streak. Soccer is a results-driven business; Berhalter needs to win any way necessary rather than insisting on his ideal way of playing. Sure, the U.S. reached the final of the Gold Cup, but that was a case of the Americans dispatching teams that they should beat on a regular basis. Against the likes of Mexico, other than the first 25 minutes of the Gold Cup final, the U.S. has come up well short, and last month’s defeat to Canada revealed that his side continues to lose ground to its regional competitors. Berhalter needs to accept the realities of what the player pool is handing him and regroup.

2. What have we learned about Berhalter’s approach?

So far Berhalter has been too rigid in his tactics and squad selection. The September friendly against Mexico was a case in point, when he praised his side for continuing to play out of the back even as it became evident that the U.S. didn’t have the ability to play through El Tri‘s press. There needs to be a mix of playing direct and indirect, depending on what the opponent gives you. Against an Uruguay team that was content to sit back, the U.S. wisely engaged in a patient buildup. Against Canada, the U.S. was guilty of some brutal giveaways in its own half that led directly to goals.Then there’s the broader question of whether the U.S. has the personnel — and perhaps more importantly, the time — to implement what Berhalter is asking of his players: to control the game by way of long spells of possession and unbalancing opponents to create goal-scoring opportunities through the individual brilliance of Pulisic and utilizing the wings. Against run-of-the-mill CONCACAF sides, it does. Against better teams, it doesn’t. This isn’t a surprise. It sums up the state of the U.S. team going back 40 years. Berhalter and the U.S. need to show more flexibility in terms of their style.

3. Does Berhalter know what his first-choice XI is?

Only in bits and pieces. I’d say roughly half of the starting lineup in his preferred 4-3-3 has solidified, while the remaining positions are open with varying degrees of competition. Some of that is health-induced, with the absence of Tyler Adams especially problematic. Here’s a stab at a starting XI assuming Berhalter has a full complement of players to choose from:

Zack SteffenDeAndre YedlinAaron LongJohn Brooks, Sergino Dest; Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic; Jordan MorrisJozy AltidorePaul Arriola.

4. Which players form his core?

Steffen is the entrenched starter in goal. Brooks, health permitting, will take up one of the center-back spots, while Yedlin has reclaimed his position at right-back. McKennie, Adams and Pulisic have to be on the field in some form or another, although they haven’t all been in camp together enough for Berhalter to settle on how that will be done.McKennie thrives as a No. 8 with his box-to-box running. Adams is the midfield engine adept at breaking up plays and his passing has improved to the point of him being able to link defense and attack. Pulisic is the creative linchpin, although he could use some help in this area.

5. Which positions are still unsettled?

Left-back remains a sore spot, with Dest looking to be shoehorned into that position even though he plays on the opposite flank for Ajax. The center-back situation is more solid, with Long, Tim Ream and Walker Zimmerman in contention to play alongside Brooks, although why Matt Miazga did to not get called in this time — despite playing regularly for Reading in England’s Championship — remains a mystery.In the absence of Adams, Berhalter is still looking for the right balance in midfield, especially in terms of which player (or players) sits in front of the back line. Michael Bradley remains an option, but his advancing age (32) demands that Berhalter look at other possibilities. Alfredo Morales, who plays with a bite that in large part is missing from this team, could be a solution, but he’s not exactly youthful at age 29. That merely highlights the fact that Adams can’t return to health soon enough.Altidore is still the best option as the lone striker, but health remains an issue for him. Based on the Gold Cup, he also doesn’t seem to have the faith of Berhalter, leaving Josh Sargent as the heir apparent. On the wing, Morris has made steady progress this season, while Arriola and Tyler Boyd are still in contention.

6. Is Berhalter getting the most out of Pulisic?

Not yet he isn’t, and it’s still not clear what Pulisic’s best position is in Berhalter’s setup. Pulisic has excelled playing out on the wing for Borussia Dortmund and now Chelsea, looking dynamic when he cuts inside from wide positions. But for the U.S. there’s a question of whether he can get the ball with enough frequency in that spot and whether the USMNT can afford to have him so isolated. Playing as one of two advanced central midfielders, Pulisic has looked promising at times, and this approach ought to be looked at again. It gives him a bit more freedom within the U.S. side to find space, whether its centrally or out wide.There’s also the question of how much Pulisic is chafing at how he’s being used. He showed visible frustration when he was subbed against Canada. No player wants to come out, ever, but against Canada, Pulisic’s insistence that he wasn’t feeling ill — as Berhalter stated — hints that player and coach aren’t always on the same page.

7. Which players should be shown the door?

In many ways, this process has already started. Wil Trapp, as good as he is on the ball, hasn’t shown the necessary physicality to excel with the national team, and his playing time has decreased as a result. Gyasi Zardes is everyone’s favorite whipping boy, and his playing time has largely been a function of Altidore’s injuries. But at this stage, he should make way for others.

8. Which players should get more chances?

There has been plenty of clamoring to see more of the U20 squad that reached the quarterfinals of last summer’s FIFA U20 World Cup. Berhalter has established a standard whereby players have to be getting minutes with their first team in order to get called up. I have zero problem with this. Too often in the past, players with minimal club achievements have been called into the national team, often to their detriment.Despite fans’ enthusiasm for a youth movement, a better development path for these players is to cut their international teeth with the U23s and focus on qualifying for the Olympics. It’s a tournament that is often derided as being far down the totem pool in terms of international cachet, but it’s still international experience, and can provide an important step in terms of the international game.However, one player who should be exempt from the above line of thinking is Paxton Pomykal, who has shown in 2019 that he’s deserving of additional opportunities. Injuries late in the season meant he hasn’t been able to build on his initial call-up in September, and he recently had surgery to repair a core muscle injury. But his skill on the ball would seem to suit what Berhalter is asking for. The potential, composure on the ball and playmaking ability of the Philadelphia Union’s Brenden Aaronson makes him another to watch.If the likes of Ulysses Llanez and Alex Mendez break through at Wolfsburg and Ajax respectively, by all means call them into the senior squad. The same can be said for Richie Ledezma at PSV. Until then, they should be left to develop with their clubs.In the absence of Pulisic, Sebastian Lletget is one player who ought to get some more looks. He’s crafty on the ball, and can pop up for the occasional goal, although there wasn’t enough of that last season for the LA Galaxy. So far, he hasn’t gotten all that many minutes when Berhalter has had first team available. If the U.S. manager is really intent on playing Pulisic out wide, Lletget may be the key to making that work. If Pulisic and Lletget are installed in these roles, Sargent could be suited for being the connection in front of goal given his skill set.Sargent is one player who needs to see the field more often given his all-around game and Altidore’s health issues.

9. What’s the U.S. team’s most glaring deficiency?

Depth or creativity, take your pick, although one tends to bleed into the other. The biggest problem with the attack is that there is no one to take the creative load off of Pulisic. If no one emerges to provide a secondary attacking outlet, then the Pulisic can expect a steady stream of tactical fouls.

10. What must Berhalter and the U.S. do better in 2020?

Besides everything? First, find the aforementioned pragmatic streak. The U.S. has historically been at its best when it has known its limitations and played within them. That’s not to say that playing a more expansive style can’t be tried, but it shouldn’t be the only club in the U.S. team’s stylistic bag.Find a dedicated place for Pulisic to play and then build the attack from there. And pray that Adams returns to health.The U.S. also needs to rediscover its competitive streak. The Canada game in October was embarrassing in terms of how badly the U.S. was outworked. If the U.S. is to make any progress at all in 2020, that trait needs to return in abundance.

Earnie Stewart: USMNT has made progress under Gregg Berhalter

1:31 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart indicated that Gregg Berhalter’s job as men’s national team manager is safe, no matter what the results are in the upcoming Concacaf Nations League matches against Canada and Cuba.Berhalter has come under fire recently for some poor results, namely a 3-0 friendly defeat to rivals Mexico back in September in which the U.S. was thoroughly outplayed, as well as a 2-0 loss to Canada in the Nations League last month. The latter defeat makes Friday’s rematch against the Reds in Orlando a must-win if the U.S. is to progress in the competition.

– Watch U.S. vs. Canada live at 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2
– CONCACAF Nations League: All you need to know

Speaking on a conference with reporters, Stewart was asked directly if Berhalter’s job was safe, no matter what the results are against Canada and Cuba, Stewart said, “We’re looking at the future, so yeah. When I evaluate Gregg and the coaching staff, and what I’ve seen today, I’m a pleased man. An individual result is not going to change that. I think that answers the question in itself.”Stewart admitted that the performance against Canada “wasn’t good enough”, but he believes the U.S. men have made progress in the last year.”I do think there’s been progress, I really do,” he said. “What we’ve seen in the Gold Cup is that in Concacaf we have a really good level, and that we can play the game we want to play. Getting to a place where we can do that over 90 minutes, that’s the place we need to get to. That progression is there, except against teams like a very good team in Mexico and a very good team like Uruguay, it becomes a little bit more difficult.”Berhalter has also come under criticism for implementing a possession-based, play-out-of-the-back style. The U.S. has at times struggled to implement this approach, leading to concerns that it doesn’t necessarily fit the collective skillset of the player pool. Stewart believes he seen enough positive moments that the approach is the right one.”Our players showed that they can perform at a really, really high level. The question is not so much, can these players do that, because they’ve already shown that they can. What I would say is we need to do that over 90 minutes, and that’s something that we’re constantly talking about. How can we get there? How can we progress to have enough players to keep that an maintain that for 90 minutes.”Stewart’s optimistic outlook extends to qualification for the 2022 World Cup.”I have no fear that we’re not going to qualify for the World Cup,” he said. “I’m very, very confident about that.”Stewart also hit back against what he called “conspiracy theories” about the process in which Berhalter was hired. Berhalter’s brother Jay is currently the USSF Chief Commercial Officer, and there have been suggestions that he had an unhealthy influence on Stewart during the coaching search, especially given the fact that just two candidates were interviewed.Stewart was also asked about the role that the Hispanic community plays in the U.S. program. Hispanics are not well represented in the USSF hierarchy, and a newly created a 59-person youth soccer task force that outside of USSF president Carlos Cordeiro, doesn’t contain a single Latino member.”When we put it together, we were just looking for the best people, it’s as simple as that,” said Stewart, speaking generally about Hispanic representation.”There’s not other stuff that goes on or anything like that. Is the Hispanic community an important part of the U.S. and U.S. Soccer? Yes, I truly believe that. Should there be representation? I believe that as well. That is hopefully what the future will also entail and what that will look like. But it’s also about the quality of people that you bring in and everything. It’s an important part of our heritage, it’s an important part of our community, so that should also be represented within the USSF. And I don’t believe anybody within the USSF thinks differently than that.”

Anything less than revenge win over Canada is unacceptable, say United States

November 12, 201912:47PM ESTAustin DavidContributor

ORLANDO, Fla. — Over the past few weeks, a number of billboards sprung up around the city of Orlando advertising the US men’s national team’s Concacaf Nations League match against Canada on Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN), with the word “payback” written on top.After the team’s disappointing 2-0 loss to Canada in October, this game has been billed as a revenge game by many. Now, with the team facing a must-win home match against their northern neighbors, the players seem to feel the same way.“I don’t like to put that pressure, but in reality, it is,” defender Reggie Cannon said on Monday. “We lost and now it’s time to step up and respond to the challenge that we’re placed in. We dug ourselves in this hole but we can definitely get out of it.”That self-imposed pressure is one that seems to resonate through the entire team. With some frustrating performances and results over the last few months, the USMNT are eager to show their fans just what they’re capable of and put on a show for the Orlando faithful.

United States vs. Canada

Friday, November 15 at 7:00pmExploria StadiumGET TICKETS

“You use that game to learn from and get better,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “We certainly weren’t good enough on the night and we need to make sure that when we step on the field, come Friday night, we give ourselves the best chance to get three points.”Building off the performance in October, head coach Gregg Berhalter felt that his team lacked intensity against Canada, a part of the game he’s hoping his players not only learned from but also build on.“I can guarantee you that it will be a different-looking game on Friday,” Berhalter said. “Sometimes it takes a fire getting lit under you to get that response and we’re always striving a mixture. We want that super-high intensity but we also want to be able to pick teams apart and play our way.”With the team missing two of their star players in Zack Steffen and Christian Pulisic, others will need to fill their shoes with a next-man-up mentality, as they hope to rectify the result of the previous game and produce a better performance in a match the US must win handily if they are to retain any hope of winning Group A of CNL League A and advancing to the new competition’s knockout stages.“Nothing less than a win is going to be good enough,” Guzan said.

Armchair Analyst: Berhalter’s latest USMNT roster has one job

November 12, 20192:14PM ESTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

There was justifiable anger, frustration and despair from the US national team fanbase last month following a humiliating and one-sided 2-0 loss at BMO Field to Canada in the Concacaf Nations League.It was a very, very bad loss. Not because Canada are a bad team – the US have lost to much worse teams this past decade (Guatemala, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago) – nor because the stakes were particularly high (the losses to those above teams all came in World Cup qualifiers, and Jamaica won in the 2015 Gold Cup semifinals as well).What made it bad was how slow and defensively disorganized the US were all over the pitch, and how soft and uncompetitive the US were in central midfield. Michael Bradley and Cristian Roldan were put in a no-win situation by Gregg Berhalter, asked to play 2-v-4 basically all night against Canada’s box midfield. But even so they were just overrun by their Canadian counterparts. Sam Piette and Liam Fraser are good players, but they are not prime Arturo Vidal and Charles Aranguiz.Against the US, they looked like it.  So here’s a list of things that I want to see from the USMNT for these upcoming Nations League games, in which they host Canada in Orlando on Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN) and then travel down to the Cayman Islands to face Cuba next Tuesday (7:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN):

1. Change the defensive shape

At some point it has to be recognized that the 4-4-2 mid-block is too passive, too prone to losing numerical superiority in central midfield, and too simple to game plan against (hence Canada’s box midfield). Berhalter has to put another guy in there.I’m open to seeing how the US look defensively in a 4-2-3-1 with a double pivot. Or Berhalter could invert the triangle and go with a single pivot in a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1. Either way, it’s time to get more numbers there.

2. Change the defensive function

Can you think of a single dangerous transition moment from the past half-dozen games? Can you remember a single time the US won the ball and then just immediately vamos‘d into the attacking third?Neither can I. The US plan under Berhalter is to bottle teams up in that mid-block, force a turnover, and then methodically go about breaking them down with the ball.When you can do that, that’s good! But if everybody already knows you’re doing that, and is planning to stop you from doing that, and you don’t have a Plan B, then that’s bad! That’s how you get absolutely punked by Canada!ore than anything else, the modern game is about transition moments. The US in 2019 do not do transition moments. It is weird, and it is worrisome, and it is wearing me out. Win the ball and run.

3. Return the Punking

Canada out-toughed, out-swaggered, out-coached and out-Concacaf’d the US in October. It was a pure beating, a one-sided lesson in aggression, game-planning and will.And if you’re a member of the USMNT, a national team that had not lost to Canada for 34 years prior last month’s embarrassment, you can not let that stand. You have to go out there and, first and foremost, win the rock fight. Yes, soccer is a game of high strategy and subtle tactics and nuance and beauty, but at its heart it will always be a physical competition. Those Barcelona teams that played the most gorgeous soccer anyone’s ever seen? To a man they’d push you in front of a bus if they thought it would give them an edge. To a man they went out there not just with the desire to play their game and impose their tactical will, but to dominate and demoralize their opponents.The US have too often looked like they were going through the steps of an academic exercise, just processing information and forgetting that there was a sporting competition happening around them (or maybe “to them” is a better way of putting it). Tata Martino had El Tri just press the US into oblivion back in September, and John Herdman simply wouldn’t let the bedrock principle of the academic exercise – Bradley’s long diagonals to the flanks – be a thing.The US got punked. The players played soft, confused and frustrated.

Here’s the XI I’d like to see:

Morris/Sargent .Arriola

Mckennie Yueill


Dest, Brooks, Long, Cannon


A few notes:

  • Jordan Morrislooked exhausted after MLS Cup, but with Christian Pulisic officially ruled out, he will have to step up for the USMNT, while Tyler Boyd is an off-the-bench option.
  • Bradley is officially out after turning his ankle in MLS Cup, which means it’s Jackson Yueillor Wil Trappas the regista.

I have my doubts about Yueill’s ability to do some of the physical work required of a No. 6 – he’s become good at winning the ball in a scrum, but isn’t one to cover much ground or inflict much pain (yet) – but I think this is a fairly easy call. If he does well, great! If he doesn’t… well, at least it’s a useful data point for evaluating a young, high-upside player in the pool.

  • A more traditional look would have Alfredo Morales as the No. 6 with Weston McKennie and Yueill as dual No. 8s. You could also talk me into Sebastian Lletgetas the more advanced, left-sided CM, McKennie as the No. 8 and either Morales or Yueill on the bench.
  • Yes, I went with Reggie Cannonover DeAndre Yedlin. As with Roldan and Bradley, there has to be accountability for a performance as poor as last month’s. Plus Yedlin’s defensive inattentiveness has not lessened over the years.
  • Tyler Adams and Timothy Weah have returned to training. Zack Seffen, Paxton Pomykaland Miles Robinsonwill be healthy come January. Richie Ledezma is on the verge of breaking through into the PSV first-team squad. Duane Holmes continues to impress at Derby County. Bobby Wood is playing actual minutes again, maybe. And the U23s – who also have a camp this week – are stacked.  Help is on the way.

Most to gain (or lose) from decisive USMNT matches

By Nicholas MendolaNov 12, 2019, 4:23 PM EST

The United States men’s national team will not be changing coaches regardless of the scores against Canada and Cuba this month, giving added incentive to 23 men called into the team to get the job done.Long- and short-term injuries continue to open the door to players well past Gregg Berhalter’s top 23, even deeper considering the concurrent U-23 camp and the coach’s apparent disinterest in some other players still performing well in Europe.Christian PulisicZack Steffen, and Michael Bradley picked up injuries that won’t allow them to join the team, while Timothy Weah and Tyler Adams have just restarted training with their clubs after long injury absences. Miles Robinson is still absent after being injured at the last camp and missing Atlanta’s playoff runThrow in Berhalter’s decision not to call up Matt Miazga, Duane Holmes, and Julian Green to go with Jozy Altidore‘s lack of fitness, and you’ve got another month for some players to surprise (We haven’t even mentioned Antonee RobinsonCameron Carter-Vickers and Richie Ledezma are at a loaded U-23 camp).Edit note: Maybe we need to write up a Top 50 USMNT depth chart this evening or soon…

Chase Gasper and Corey Baird were sent home from camp ahead of the European arrivals, so here are the players whose fortunes could hinge on delivering for a coach who needs it. Make no mistake about it: Earnie Stewart’s vote of confidence means the coach is going nowhere, but anyone who helps Berhalter score a berth in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals will take a place near his heart.

Who’s gotta carpe sabbati? Read on…

Sebastian Lletget ,Jackson Yueill, Cristian Roldan (in that order) — We probably wrote something similar to this last month, but future camps without Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic, and Weston McKennie are only going to happen if all are (again) injured or there is absolutely nothing on the line against Jamaica’s B Team.

Include Bradley’s absence and you’ll get an even deeper understanding of why who is chosen alongside McKennie and (probably) Alfredo Morales for this big match against Canada is a big deal. Lletget is 27 and Berhalter hasn’t shown a lot of love for him despite bringing a unique skill set and decent performances when he’s been given time on the USMNT pitch. Roldan might be the best non-prospect American player in MLS. Yueill is just 22, but again there are a lot of absent players ahead of him. We’re not included Wil Trapp in this discussion because he’s clearly a Berhalter favorite.Out-fight Scott Arfield and out-fox Jonathan Osorio, and give Berhalter a reason to keep calling you into the fold.

The goalkeepers — There’s no reason to expect Zack Steffen to lose his first XI spot through injury, especially given his status as a Bundesliga starter on loan from a Champions League outfit — Oh, and he was Berhalter’s club No. 1, too! — but at some point these goalkeeper call-ups and their performances will determine who will be Nos. 2 and 3 for qualifying and for, probably, the 2022 World Cup.

Jonathan Klinsmann, Ethan Horvath, and Brady Scott aren’t here, and boy did Leicester City’s Chituru Odunze open some eyes during the U.S. flame-out at the U-17 World Cup.

So here’s Brad Guzan, the presumptive No. 1 in a post-Tim Howard world who proved presumptions aren’t foolproof.

Only two of Sean Johnson‘s eight caps were not friendlies, and both were Gold Cup clean sheets (six years apart). Might he get a chance in Orlando?

And Matt Turner is new here after an outstanding 2019 season in MLS. You can bet Berhalter rang up a respected Bruce Arena to get plenty of info before calling in the New England Revolution’s No. 1.

Aaron Long — This isn’t about gaining a spot on the squad, as the 27-year-old Long looks like a mainstay for Berhalter, rather a steady place in the XI. Miazga not being here could’ve been heard as a clarion call to the center backs who were called up.

Long has struggled in his past few months wearing the national team shirt, and a healthy John Brooks is an automatic starter. That leaves one spot, a pivotal one given Berhalter’s preferential formation, and Walker Zimmerman is a better passer than Long. This is a big camp for proving whether the Red Bulls man is a starter or security blanket.

Seattle’s home MLS Cup win cements Sounders in the city’s rich sporting legacy

Kevin PeltonESPN Senior Writer

SEATTLE — Seattle’s 3-1 win over Toronto FC to claim MLS Cup 2019, in front of a sellout crowd of nearly 70,000 fans on Sunday, was the culmination of a love affair between the city and the Sounders a decade in the making.

It’s easy to forget, in the wake of the successful expansion launches of Portland, LAFC and particularly Atlanta — which won MLS Cup in front of a similar sellout crowd last year and has surpassed the Sounders as the attendance leader — just how unbelievable Seattle’s support once seemed. When the Sounders played their first Major League Soccer game 10 years ago, no team in league history had averaged 30,000 fans per match. The Sounders broke the MLS record in their inaugural season, and again in each of the next four before eventually peaking at more than 44,000 fans per game in 2015.None of that was predictable in 2009. At the time, the big question in Seattle sports circles was whether the excitement over the Sounders’ debut could last. After all, it’s common for expansion franchises to see their attendance decline in Year 2. The WNBA’s Seattle Storm, for example, saw their average decrease by almost a third during their second season. And though the Storm have carved out an important place in Seattle’s sports scene, winning three championships of their own, they’ve still yet to reach that inaugural attendance again.Several factors helped the Sounders not only maintain, but actually improve their fan support in Year 2 and beyond.First, the timing of the team’s debut on the MLS stage couldn’t possibly have been better. Without question, 2008 was the most miserable year in Seattle sports history. The University of Washington fielded the only winless FBS team. MLB’s Mariners lost 100 games for the first time in 25 years. The NFL Seahawks, just three years removed from reaching the Super Bowl, bottomed out at 4-12. And, most painfully, the NBA SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City after 41 years in Seattle.Though the Sounders could never replace the history lost with the Sonics’ move, their arrival helped fill a void in the Seattle sports landscape and the Sounders took full advantage by nailing the expansion process. Even their one misstep — the team originally excluded Sounders, part of Seattle’s soccer heritage dating back to their NASL participation from 1974 to 1983, from a fan naming vote — only ended up increasing excitement when they reversed course.Second, the atmosphere created by Sounders supporters made CenturyLink Field an experience unlike almost any in American professional sports at that point, with the Emerald City Supporters in the south stands leading chants for the full 90 minutes. That made Sounders matches more entertaining for casual fans and the home stadium a fortress for the team, rather than depressingly cavernous like other NFL stadiums used by MLS teams.Thanks in part to their home crowd, the Sounders won — and kept winning. From Day 1, they’ve consistently been one of the best teams in MLS. They’ve reached the playoffs in all 11 of their seasons, a new league record. And while it wasn’t until Brian Schmetzer’s promotion to head coach in 2016 that the Sounders were able to break through in the postseason and reach MLS Cup, they claimed the US Open Cup three consecutive years starting in their inaugural MLS season and added a fourth in 2014.Still, none of that — not even the MLS Cup the Sounders did win on the road in Toronto in 2016 — could compare to the enthusiasm hosting MLS Cup generated in Seattle.– Replay MLS Cup: Seattle Sounders 3, Toronto FC 1 (U.S. only)  “This week was a week I will not forget,” majority owner Adrian Hanauer, who led the group that brought the Sounders to MLS, said in the winning locker room. “Starting 10 days ago with Toronto knocking off Atlanta and realizing, ‘Holy crap, we’re going to host an MLS Cup,’ I made a concerted effort to appreciate it and breathe it all in a little bit, because that’s not really in my nature.”The first two Sounders wins en route to the MLS Cup, over FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, were modestly attended by Seattle standards with 37,000-plus fans. The combination of the Sounders’ improbable upset over Supporters’ Shield winner LAFC in the Western Conference finals and the opportunity to win a league championship at home — something only the Storm, among the city’s major pro sports teams, have done — put them in the front of Seattle sports fans’ consciousness and made the Sounders a hot ticket. When MLS Cup tickets went on sale nine days ahead of the match, the building sold out within 20 minutes, guaranteeing both the largest attendance ever for a sporting event at CenturyLink Field as well as the largest to watch soccer in the state of Washington. On resale sites, tickets were running more than $200 just to get in the door.For Sounders forward and Seattle-area native Jordan Morris, the chance to play for a trophy in his hometown was a unique experience.”I got emotional before the game because I was thinking about that,” said Morris, whose father is the team’s chief medical officer. “I was here at the first game 10 years ago, and now I’m on the field playing for a championship. It’s pretty special.”Hanauer had a similar feeling a few hours earlier, when he reached Pioneer Square and saw fans already gathering hours before the match. More than anyone, he knows the hard work, planning and luck it took to get to this point.”You’re never quite sure how it’s all going to shake out, but obviously you want to play for championships, you want to win championships,” Hanauer said. “Doing it in your home city, where you were born and raised, it’s pretty special to see the joy that you give fans and how beloved these players and coaches are. It’s pretty cool.”Sports moves communities and brings people together. To see what this group of players and coaches was able to do for this community, for those 69,000, for the hundreds of thousands watching on TV and giant watch parties, it’s awesome. It’s great for the city.”

Seattle Steps Up in Decisive Moments to Win MLS Cup Rubber Match vs. Toronto

For a second time in four seasons, the Sounders have won MLS Cup, and based on how the club is structured, they’re not finished making noise.GRANT WAHL19 HOURS AGO

SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC 3-1 to win the 2019 MLS Cup final on Sunday, sending a sellout crowd of 69,274 at CenturyLink Field into a frenzy. With second-half goals by Kelvin Leerdam, Víctor Rodríguez and Raúl Ruidíaz, Seattle won its second MLS championship and first at a final in front of its rabid home fans. Jozy Altidore scored a late goal for Toronto.Here are three quick thoughts on the game:

Seattle won the rubber-match despite being dominated in possession

This was a better game than either of the previous two finals these same two teams played in 2016 and ’17, but the biggest surprise of Seattle-Toronto III was Seattle having only 35% of possession and looking to counter much more than anyone had expected coming into the game. Toronto didn’t park the bus by any means and actually played the better soccer for much of the game. Alejandro Pozuelo was fantastic at times on the ball in the Seattle half, but Toronto never created enough truly dangerous chances despite all that possession and suffered for it. When it came down to it, Toronto also didn’t have anyone quite as good in the decisive moments as Seattle’s Nicolás Lodeiro, whose brilliant pass to Víctor Rodríguez set up the second Seattle goal—and the team’s second MLS Cup title in four years.

Michael Bradley played like a man with $6.5 million on the line

The fact of the matter is that Bradley plays like someone with his hair on fire all the time anyway (if he had hair), but with a Toronto win reportedly set to trigger an extra year of his contract at $6.5 million, Bradley was everywhere on Sunday. Has there ever been a bigger single-game win bonus in the history of the sport? Bradley orchestrated the Toronto build-up when TFC had the ball, and whenever Seattle had a counter it was Bradley who would race back and try to put out the fire. Bradley’s range was incredible in this game, and you would have to think that even with the loss he’ll come back to Toronto next year and continue to play a major role—even if it’s at a lower salary number than it would have been with a victory in the final.

If we’re deciding to name eras, this may well be the Seattle Era in MLS

This was obviously the third Seattle-Toronto final in the last four years, and while Toronto’s 2017 team makes a great case as the best single-season team in MLS history, the best teams are the ones who can reign over a period of several seasons.AWith its second win over Toronto in a final, Seattle now has a better claim to this era than TFC. What’s more, this Seattle run may not be over. Sounders pillars Lodeiro and Ruidíaz are nowhere near the end of the line, the roster put together by GM Garth Lagerwey is stacked, and now the Seattle homegrowns (which have been winning age-group titles for the last two years) could really start impacting the team starting next season. f the Seattle championship era started in 2016, the end-date on this era has yet to be decided.

Let’s call it what it is: MLS Cup has been cruel to Toronto FC

Joey Gulino,Yahoo Sports 18 hours ago

  • Michael Bradley and Toronto FC have had a ridiculously hard time solving Seattle in MLS Cup finals. (Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports)

SEATTLE — You-know-who said it. You know what he said.Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t factor into Sunday’s MLS Cup final whatsoever. But his comments on how the league determines a champion – “I think the system is s***” – rang loud back in August.They ring even louder now thanks to Toronto FC.Three times, Toronto has met the Seattle Sounders with a championship on the line. Three times, Toronto has a strong claim to being the better side.One time, they hoisted the trophy. That’s it.“That’s how it goes,” TFC captain Michael Bradley said. “Nobody’s feeling sorry for themselves. It’s frustrating. … On these days, things hang in the balance, and you need a little bit of quality, skill, a break, a little bit of luck. By and large, that’s what opens these games up.”By and large, that’s not what Toronto has gotten.Sunday’s 3-1 scoreline was unflattering of the bravery the Reds displayed on the road for the third time in as many games this postseason. They’d already gone to Eastern Conference top seed New York City FC and won. They did the same against defending MLS champion Atlanta United in the conference final.With 69,274 fans stuffed into CenturyLink Field, almost all of them rooting vociferously for the Sounders, Toronto was the aggressor for the first half and beyond. Their exchanges were crisp, their ideas clever, their lack of a goal verging on obnoxious.There wasn’t one chance that necessarily stood out as unfortunate, just the entire run of play.“It’s frustrating, because I thought we were fluid,” TFC coach Greg Vanney said. “I thought generally we had good organization. I thought they didn’t have a great answer for some of our movement and some of the ball circulation.”By the time Seattle’s goal arrived in the 57th minute, officially credited to Kelvin Leerdam but thoroughly attributable to TFC defender Justin Morrow’s deflection, the game changed completely.Toronto broke it open. They just did it against themselves.“I thought it was a gut punch, just in terms of how we played,” said striker Jozy Altidore, who battled back from injury to come on as a substitute. “We dominated the game. It’s shades of 2016 a bit.”What happened in 2016? Oh nothing, just Toronto FC bossing the run of play with zilch to show for it, thanks to Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s heroics and the wrong spin of a penalty shootout wheel.A year later, when the Reds returned to MLS Cup with arguably the best team in league history, they dominated the Sounders again but didn’t score until Altidore’s 67th-minute strike, and didn’t feel truly comfortable until an insurance goal in stoppage time.Then came Sunday. Three games. Well over 300 minutes of play. Nearly 500 more passes attempted, and still a higher percentage of passes completed. An aggregate of nearly 60 percent possession. Toronto even registered nearly as many shots on goal (23) and Seattle registered shots period (24). “It doesn’t matter,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “You put the ball in the back of the net, you’re dangerous in attack, and that’s how championships are won.”He’s right. That’s how soccer works sometimes. The most important statistic is MLS championships, and that reads Sounders 2, Toronto FC 1.There’s an art form to winning when you don’t have as much of the ball, when you live on the back foot. When, to borrow Zlatan’s terminology, the “s***” system works in your favor.“They’re a team that knows how to counter,” Altidore said. “They know how to absorb pressure, create. They’ve been doing it a number of years. Credit to them, they did it again to us tonight. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”This run for Toronto FC will do nothing to quiet one of the sport’s signature debates in America. No, these Reds did not win the Supporters’ Shield, but their superiority over vast stretches still goes unrewarded, much like how the regular season champion isn’t just hot at the right time, but all the time.Take nothing away from the Sounders. Toronto FC isn’t.Cruelly for them, that’s not all they’re leaving Seattle without.

Premier League review: Manchester City’s depth is a problem, despite their financial might

Nick MillerESPN.com writer

nother wild weekend in the Premier League is done and dusted. We get you caught up on the action with the Weekend Review.

City’s depth is becoming a problem for them

Instinctively it feels slightly absurd to suggest one of Manchester City’s weaknesses is their strength in depth. After all, on Sunday £60 million worth of Riyad Mahrez didn’t make it off the bench and Gabriel Jesus would start every game for about 98 percent of other teams on the planet. But in specific areas, City’s squad is shallow, it cost them the game against Liverpool and it could cost them the Premier League title.


The most obvious place to start is in goal, where Claudio Bravo wasn’t quite the calamity he was in the Champions League against Atalanta (36 minutes, no saves, one goal conceded, one red card) but he was terrible in a more low key way, letting in three goals that, for at least two if not all, you thought “Ederson would’ve saved that.”

Maybe Bravo would be a safer bet with some proper defenders in front of him. The decision not to recruit a centre-back when Vincent Kompany left in the summer seemed odd at the time, but looks even worse now. Perhaps City thought they could muddle through with Aymeric Laporte and someone beside him, but when the Frenchman was struck down with his knee injury, their options looked bleak. Guardiola has always been fond of playing midfielders in defence, but he’s learning pretty quickly that it’s not always a good idea.

And then there’s left-back, a position that Guardiola has never really nailed at City but is proving particularly tricky this season. To illustrate the point Benjamin Mendy wasn’t injured for Sunday’s game, but Guardiola preferred to give Angelino just his second league start, which turned out to be a pretty thankless task. Asking the Spaniard to deal with Trent Alexander-ArnoldJordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah — probably the toughest right flank in the world to face — was ambitious, and went about as well as you’d expect.

All of this was a big reason for Man City’s 3-1 defeat at Anfield. Sure, Liverpool got a little lucky, but they also exploited City’s weaknesses ruthlessly and as a result are nine points ahead with a third of the season gone.

Liverpool can’t throw this away from here … can they?

Since three points for a win was introduced in 1981, only three teams have been eight points or more ahead after 12 games: Manchester United in 1985-86 and 1993-95, and City in 2017-18. The first United side collapsed pretty soon afterwards and finished fourth, but the latter two strode on and won the title at a canter.

“Other people will 100 percent say that from now on Liverpool can only lose it,” said Klopp, who had a similar lead with Borussia Dortmund in 2010-11 when he won his first title there. “That’s a very negative approach, but you can see it like this. But we don’t care.”

The question now is how Liverpool deal with being such emphatic front-runners, given how they stumbled after taking a big lead last season. Klopp, as with most things, seems aware of that.

“It’s not important because who wants to be first in November? You want to be first in May. The pressure is not there yet,” he said. “It will come, but at the moment it’s just opportunity.”

Emery is throwing stuff at a wall, but not much is sticking

Unai Emery has now said after three straight games, none of which Arsenal won, that for at least some of the match his team followed the plan and carried out his instructions. After the 2-0 defeat to Leicester on Saturday, you could sort of see what he was getting at, because Arsenal weren’t too bad in the first-half. But surely anyone with even a little self-awareness would realise that continually saying that the team were doing what you tell them to, but not winning, will make you look like an idiot.

A charitable interpretation would be that he’s trying to take the heat off the players, but there isn’t much charity in the Arsenal fanbase at the moment. They have won just two of the last 10 league games, two away games of any description all season, and Emery is showing the telltale sign of a floundering manager by throwing formations and team selections at a wall and seeing what sticks.

But not much is sticking, and it just looks like Emery is guessing at this stage: Brendan Rodgers observed that, as far as he could tell, Emery had only used the 5-2-1-2 system deployed on Saturday once before, in last season’s Europa League final. You will probably recall that Arsenal lost that one 4-1.

If Leicester win the title again, it would be better than the first

To give a small illustration of the work Rodgers has done at Leicester, they were a whopping 32 points shy of second place when he took charge of his first game last March. Now they are second, with broadly the same players, a point above City going into the international break and one of the most exciting teams to watch in the Premier League.

Implausibly, they’re very much in the title race again, and you could feasibly argue that A: This team is better than the one that won the league in 2015-16, and B: If they managed it again this time, it would be a better achievement due to the higher calibre of opposition they’re facing.

West Ham are praying for Fabianski’s return

If a player’s value is determined by the difference in quality between them and their replacement, then Lukasz Fabianski might be the most important player in the Premier League.

It probably wasn’t a great sign when his back-up Roberto played in West Ham’s Carabao Cup game against League One Oxford United and conceded four times. The man with the neck tattoos has very much continued that form since replacing the injured Fabianski in the Premier League side.

With Fabianski in goal this season West Ham conceded eight goals in six-and-a-half Premier League games, five coming in one game against Manchester City, which happens. Since Roberto took the gloves they’ve let in 12 in five-and-a-half games, winning none of them, the latest being the 3-0 defeat at Burnley this weekend where Roberto was responsible for at least two of the goals conceded.

The current third-choice is David Martin, who had a solid enough career in the Football League before joining the Hammers in the summer — surely he can’t be much worse than Roberto. In the meantime, expect Manuel Pellegrini to use the international break to take Fabianski to Lourdes and dip his entire body in holy water.

Luckiest moment of the weekend

On the weekend when his side moved another place higher, to fifth in the Premier League with a draw against Tottenham, it’s worth reminding ourselves that when Chris Wilder arrived at Sheffield United in 2016, his team had failed for a fifth season to escape League One, finishing in a limp 11th place.I’m tired of talking about VAR,” Wilder said, after his midfielder John Lundstram’s big toe apparently meant he was offside and ruled out a goal for the Blades.”The main talking point for me was seeing my team go toe to toe with a team that got to the Champions League final last year.”Damn right, and Tottenham can consider themselves fortunate to have got away with a point.

Hislop: VAR has become a ‘monstrosity’ in Premier League

After a day of more VAR controversy, Shaka Hislop says the way it’s been implemented in England is “not working”.

VAR oscillates between one extreme and another

With apologies to Wilder, a quick word on VAR — pun intended. It feels like the ways the system is being implemented this season are oscillating wildly from one extreme to the other. A couple of weeks ago we had a few penalties very softly overturned after weeks of none, and now after most people agreed that reviews were taking too long, some came in the Liverpool vs. City game that were so quick it was doubtful they actually watched the incidents properly.

There is a middle ground to all of this, guys. It doesn’t have to be one extreme or another. That, or scrap VAR completely. That would work too.

Late Comeback Leads Louisville City FC to 3-1 Win over Boys in Blue

Indy Eleven was a minute away from qualifying for its first USL Championship Final, however, it was back-to-back defending league champion Louisville City FC that would have the final say in a 3-1 victory after added extra time in front of 7,171 fans at IUPUI Carroll Stadium.Indy forward Tyler Pasher pushed the home side forward midway through the second half with a goal that looked as if it would stand as the match-winner. And it would have until the fourth of as many minutes of stoppage time, when LCFC striker Antoine Hoppenot stunned the crowd with a shot off a corner kick that snuck through traffic, pushing the match to 30 minutes of added extra time. In the first extra session it was Magnus Rasmussen giving the visitors the lead four minutes in, while Luke Spencer’s conversion from the penalty spot seven minutes from time sealed the result for the defending champs.The defeat ended the most successful season in Indy Eleven’s six-year history, as the Boys in Blue notched club records in regular season wins (19), standings points (63) away wins (6), and home wins (13), while also adding its first two victories in USL Championship play. Despite the numerous accomplishments achieved across the season, Indiana’s Team will head into the offseason thinking about the opportunity that was in front of it this afternoon at Carroll Stadium.“The reality is we’ve done really well this season. The club has come forward a long way,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We put ourselves in a great position to host the Eastern Conference Final.”It was Indy Eleven who would create the most opportunistic looks of the first 15 minutes as neither side gave the other an early edge. A pair of crosses from Pasher nearly connected with forward Dane Kelly and midfielder Kenney Walker, respectively, but neither materialized into shots on goal as the tug of war for the Eastern Conference Final got off the ground.Fans would wait 36 minutes before the game’s first true chance would present itself. Indy midfielder Macauley King played a lofted ball into the box after a Walker effort on goal had been blocked. King’s cross would find Kelly at the penalty spot, where the Jamaican snapped a header that forced Louisville ‘keeper Chris Hubbard into an impressive, acrobatic tip save.Six minutes later, King connected with a header from a Walker corner that nearly gave the Boys in Blue the lead, but the effort glanced inches wide of the right post. Indy continued the pressure 60 seconds later when Pasher drove into the Louisville box before laying a driven cross down for a teammate, but Hubbard would coolly collect, his action ending a tight first 45 minutes.The first chance of the second half came from out of nowhere a minute in, as Indy defender Paddy Barrett nearly caught Hubbard off his line with a lofted ball from midfield, but the LCFC ‘keeper scampered back to get both paws on the ball to steer it wide. Two minutes later, a deep corner connected with Louisville defender Paco Craig, whose headed effort softly glanced past the post. Indy generated a chance from a corner as well seven minutes later, but Karl Ouimette was unable to redirect fellow defender Ayoze’s service on frame.Despite a flurry of Louisville corners, it was a quick counter by the Boys in Blue that broke the deadlock 67 minutes into the match. A lofted back-heel flick by Kelly over Louisville’s backline freed Pasher into space. The Canadian took one large touch forward before slotting home a low, left-footed effort, giving Indy the upper hand down the stretch.Louisville began pressing harder in search of an equalizer, which they nearly found in the 81st minute. Indy ‘keeper Jordan Farr was caught in no man’s land after an awkward clearance that turned into a shot from Louisville’s Abdou Mbacke Thiam. The chip hung in the air for what seemed an eternity before clonking off the cross bar and away from the net, keeping Indy’s lead alive at 1-nil.  Louisville substitute George Davis IV tested Farr again six minutes later after the forward played a whipping cross into the box, forcing Farr to into an aerial save. From there, Indiana’s Team launched a counter that freed Pasher for a clean look on goal in the Louisville box, but the Canadian’s effort flew over.Despite Indy’s best efforts to hold onto the lead, Hoppenot leveled the match in the 94th minute after a corner was cleared to the waiting midfielder. Hoppenot sent in a one-time effort that glided through a box full of players and somehow into the back of the net, sending Louisville’s sizable away support into a frenzy – and the match into extra time at one all.Four minutes into stoppage time Louisville took their first lead of the match, set up by a back heel flick from Thiam that connected with Rasmussen in the Indy box. Rasmussen took one touch before passing the ball into the bottom left corner of Farr’s net, keeping the momentum squarely on the side of the visitors.Indy almost drew level in the 101st minute after a darting run from Pasher resulted in a cross for Indy substitute Ilija Ilic, who would settle and send an effort on net only to see a Louisville defender block the equalizer attempt.Louisville earned their chance to put the game away after a being awarded a dubious penalty in the 111th minute after Farr collided with LCFC’s Brian Ownby in the box. Spencer stepped up to take the penalty in the 113th minute, which he placed in the top right corner to secure the insurance goal.Louisville went on to withstand Indy’s attempts from there on out, bringing an end to the Eleven’s impressive postseason run and a home undefeated streak across all competitions that spanned 27 games dating back to last July.“Those players have done us proud,” Rennie said. “We’re going to keep improving and make sure we’re right up there at the top.”

Louisville City through to 3rd-straight USL Cup final after topping Indy Eleven in thriller

Kevin Johnston, Special for IndyStar   Published 7:11 p.m. ET Nov. 9, 2019 | Updated 7:46 p.m. ET Nov. 9, 2019

Louisville City FC’s Magnus Rasmussen celebrates his game-winner against the Indy Eleven in the USL Eastern Conference finals at Carroll Stadium. (Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski/Indy Eleven)

INDIANAPOLIS – Louisville City FC has already proven itself as a juggernaut in the USL Championship entering 2019. Now, the club might be approaching dynasty status.LouCity will host the USL Cup final with a chance to make it three titles in a row after downing the Indy Eleven 3-1 in dramatic fashion Saturday afternoon at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium.And about that word “dynasty,” LouCity attacker Brian Ownby has thoughts on it.“We want to be considered that,” he admitted. “I think (our goal is) — starting from the beginning of this club — to reach this point every year. So, we’ll start talking about that hopefully after we get another win in the USL Cup. But we’re going to enjoy this one tonight and start preparing for the next.”It took Louisville City some brilliance in the desperate waning moments of the match to send it to extra time before the visitors tacked on two more goals to close the door on Indy’s season.With about a minute remaining in stoppage time, Louisville City stunned the crowd at Carroll Stadium with an equalizer from outside the box. Antoine Hoppenot found some space and ripped a shot through heavy traffic that avoided all bodies and limbs on its way into Indy’s net.“I think I need to be in a better position when that shot comes in,” confessed Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr. “Granted, I don’t see it until it’s right in front of me, but I think my positioning needs to be better.”Before the late stunner, the often-dangerous left foot of Tyler Pasher opened the scoring for Indy. He blasted in a flicked pass from Dane Kelly in the 67th minute, a goal that seemed destined to put Indy through to the final until Hoppenot’s heroics. “We thought we had the game won,” Eleven manager Martin Rennie said. “Pretty much the last kick of the ball we lose a goal, so that was really disappointing. I didn’t feel like it was four minutes of stoppage time. There were no injuries and there were only four subs. So, there shouldn’t have been that long and that could’ve made a difference in the game.Magnus Rasmussen quickly gave Louisville a 2-1 lead in the first few minutes of stoppage time, then Luke Spencer converted a penalty after a questionable foul call on Farr to settle the scoreline at 3-1.The loss also snaps Indy’s home unbeaten streak at 27 games across all competitions.While LouCity departs Indianapolis with the spoils, the Eleven can find solace in putting together their best campaign since 2016. That year, Indy made the NASL title game but fell in penalties to the New York Cosmos. But that league only had 12 teams; the USL Championship boasts 36 squads.Louisville City will host the SLC Monarchs, winners of the Western Conference, in the USL Cup final next Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Mark & Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium and on ESPN2.

Euro 2020 qualifying: Who will reach the finals?

Nov 14, 2019Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

Euro 2020 kicks off in June next year and 20 of the 24 places at the tournament will be secured this month. Here is a look at the latest qualifying permutations and scenarios. hich is based on UEFA Nations League performance.Ten nations have sealed their place so far.

Czech Republic

JUMP TO: Who will take part in the playoffs? | Finals draw seeds and pots


Nov. 17: Bulgaria vs. Czech Republic, Kosovo vs. England

England have qualified and need a win in Kosovo to guarantee they are seeded in the draw.

Czech Republic have also made it to finals, while Kosovo will take part in the League D playoffs.


Nov. 17: Luxembourg vs. Portugal, Serbia vs. Ukraine

Ukraine have qualified but may need at least a point in Serbia to secure a place among the seeds for the finals draw.

Portugal will be through if they can win in Luxembourg.

Serbia must win at home to Ukraine and hope Portugal fail to beat Luxembourg. Serbia are guaranteed a playoff if they finish outside the top two.


Netherlands control their own destiny after beating Northern Ireland. Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Nov. 16: Germany vs. Belarus, Northern Ireland vs. Netherlands
Nov. 19: Germany vs. Northern Ireland, Netherlands vs. Estonia

Netherlands will qualify for the finals if they avoid defeat in Northern Ireland on Nov. 16. Even if the Dutch suffer a defeat, leaving the two nations level on points, they would remain favourites with Estonia to play at home while the Irish travel to Germany.

Germany are level with the the Dutch on 15 points, but second on head to head. They will qualify if they win at home to Belarus next time, and Northern Ireland do not win. A point would also see them to the finals if the Irish are beaten.

Northern Ireland are three points behind but all 12 have come against the group’s lesser lights. To have a chance of qualifying automatically, Northern Ireland will now surely have to win at home to Netherlands and in Germany, and hope one of their rivals drop surprise points.

There is an unlikely scenario where all three nations finish on 18 points, which means it would come down to head-to-head goal difference as each team would have beaten each other once and lost once.


Nov. 15: Denmark vs. Gibraltar, Switzerland vs. Georgia
Nov. 18: Republic of Ireland vs. Denmark, Gibraltar vs. Switzerland

Republic of Ireland remain on top of the group from Denmark on head to head. They only have one qualifier remaining, at home to the Danes, and are guaranteed to qualify with a win as long as Switzerland do not draw one of their two remaining games.

If Switzerland do draw a game (and win the other), and Denmark beat Gibraltar, the three teams will finish on 15 points and they will also be level in the head-to-head mini-league, meaning it comes down to goal difference in games between the three teams. In this scenario, Ireland will have to win by two goals to qualify at Denmark’s expense; Switzerland would be guaranteed to qualify.

If Denmark get at least a point against Gibraltar, they would be then assured qualification with a point in Dublin. They cannot qualify if they lose to Ireland and Switzerland win both matches.

Although Switzerland sit outside the top two, they are now firm favourites to qualify. They are sure to go through with four points from games against Gibraltar and Georgia. Their injury-time second goal against Ireland means they no longer have to win both matches.

Denmark and Switzerland are both sure of a playoff, should they need it.


Nov. 16: Azerbaijan vs. Wales, Croatia vs. Slovakia
Nov. 19: Slovakia vs. Azerbaijan, Wales vs. Hungary

Croatia lead on 14 points, and will be guaranteed qualification if they at least draw at home to Slovakia on Nov. 16 — their final qualifier.

Second place is held by Hungary on 12 points, and they too have only one match remaining, away in Wales. If Slovakia fail to beat Croatia, Hungary would be guaranteed to qualify with a win in Cardiff.

Slovakia sit third on 10 points, and while they face the difficult trip to Croatia, the final fixture is at home to Azerbaijan, who have only one point. Win both games and they will qualify. If Slovakia do not win in Croatia, they will still be guaranteed to qualify if they beat Azerbaijan and Wales draw at home to Hungary.

Wales only have eight points and must win both their matches to have a chance, the first being away to Azerbaijan. They must also hope Slovakia fail to win one of their matches. If Slovakia and Wales finish level on 14 points, Wales will qualify on the head-to-head rule.

There is a combination of results (it would need Slovakia drawing at home to Azerbaijan) that leaves the three teams tied on 14 points. In this eventuality, it would be 1. Croatia, 2. Wales, 3. Slovakia.


Spain clinch qualification for Euro 2020 with a late equaliser against Sweden. Getty

Nov. 15: Norway vs. Faroe Islands, Romania vs. Sweden
Nov. 18: Sweden vs. Faroe Islands, Malta vs. Norway, Spain vs. Romania

Spain have secured their place, but the real battle follows behind as Sweden sit in second, one point ahead of Romania with Norway a further three points behind.

Sweden should only need a point in Romania as they have Faroe Islands to play at home on the final day, but need a victory to absolutely confirm it on Thursday.

It means Romania know they must beat Sweden to be in contention. If Romania win against Sweden and in Spain, qualification is guaranteed. If draw their final match in Spain, they would need to have beaten Sweden 1-0 or by two goals or more to be second on the head to head. Because Sweden play Faroe Islands, it is very unlikely they are able to qualify if they lose to Spain.

Norway must beat Faroe Islands and Malta, plus hope Romania-Sweden is a draw and that Romania get no more than a draw in Spain, and Sweden lose to the Faroes. Again, the Sweden-Faroes fixture effectively rules that out.

Sweden and Norway have a guaranteed playoff should they need it.


Nov. 16: Slovenia vs. Latvia, Israel vs. Poland, Austria vs. North Macedonia
Nov. 19: North Macedonia vs. Israel, Latvia vs. Austria, Poland vs. Slovenia

Poland are through and Austria are almost there too, five points clear of Slovenia and North Macedonia with two games left to play. They will qualify with a point at home to North Macedonia. Even if they lose the first game, a point in Latvia then will almost certainly see them in the finals.

North Macedonia must win in Austria to stay in contention, then beat Israel at home and hope Austria lose in Latvia (who do not have a point). If Austria draw in Latvia, North Macedonia would need to have overturned the 4-1 head-to-head deficit with Austria in their meeting.

Austria and North Macedonia would both be guaranteed a playoff.

There’s only slim hope for Slovenia, who must win at home to Latvia and away to Poland plus hope Austria lose both their games, and North Macedonia fail to beat Israel.

Israel have a similar situation to Slovenia. They must win at home to Poland and in North Macedonia, and need Austria to lose both fixtures as well as Slovenia fail to win a game. They are almost sure of a playoff.


France are assured of a place at Euro 2020. Getty Images

Nov. 17: Albania vs. France, Andorra vs. Turkey

France and Turkey have both qualified for the finals, while Iceland will be in the playoffs.

France have a chance of being seeded in the finals draw should they win in Albania.


Nov. 16: Russia vs. Belgium

Nov. 19: Belgium vs. Cyprus, San Marino vs Russia

Belgium and Russia have qualified, while Scotland will take part in the League C playoff path.

Belgium need a point in Russia to top the group and line up a likely place among the seeds in the finals draw.


Nov. 15: Armenia vs. Greece, Finland vs. Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Italy
Nov. 18: Italy vs. Armenia, Liechtenstein vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece vs. Finland

With eight wins out of eight, Italy are through to the finals but may need one more point to be seeded in the finals draw.

Finland are almost there and will qualify for their first-ever finals with a win at home to Liechtenstein, or if Bosnia fail to beat Italy that day.

Bosnia and Herzegovina must beat Italy and Liechtenstein and hope Finland pick up no more than one point (second match is vs. Greece), and also must hope that Armenia do not win both matches. Bosnia lose the head to head with Armenia, and if the three teams finish level on 16 points it will be Finland who advance to the finals. Bosnia are guaranteed a League B playoff.

Armenia‘s defeat to Finland all but ended their hopes. They must win both remaining games, their final group match being away in Italy, and hope Finland lose both matches.


The best-performing nations from the UEFA Nations League who do not qualify automatically for Euro 2020 will get a playoff place.

There will be 16 teams in the playoffs, with four in each from a UEFA Nations League path.

The winners of the two one-legged semifinals will meet in the final for a place at Euro 2020.

The playoff system is explained in greater detail here.

The UEFA Nations League rankings are below.

As it stands, the teams in bold would enter the playoffs. Romania would likely be drawn into the path of League A because, as hosts, they require a playoff route to the finals that does not include another host and Scotland, as Nations League group winners, have the right to take the League C path.

There would be a draw to decide which of Bulgaria and Israel takes the remaining slot in the League C path.

*Guaranteed to take part in playoffs

League A: Portugal, Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Germany, Iceland

League B: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland

League C: Scotland*NorwaySerbia, Finland, BulgariaIsrael, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania

League D: Georgia*MacedoniaKosovo*Belarus*, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta, San Marino

It means the playoffs, at present, would look like this:

Switzerland vs. Bulgaria/Israel/Romania
Iceland vs. Bulgaria/Israel/Romania

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Northern Ireland
Wales vs. Slovakia

Scotland vs. Bulgaria/Israel
Norway vs. Serbia

Georgia vs. Belarus
North Macedonia vs. Kosovo


The draw will be held on Saturday, Nov. 30 in Bucharest, Romania. The draw ceremony will begin at midday ET (6 p.m. CET) and is expected to last 50 minutes in total (with 20 minutes for the draw itself).

– Euro 2020 finals draw: All you need to know

As it stands, based on teams in automatic qualifying positions, the draw pots would be:

Pot 1: Italy, Belgium, Ukraine, England, Netherlands, Spain
Pot 2: Poland, France, Croatia, Republic of Ireland, Russia, Germany
Pot 3: Denmark, Czech Republic, Portugal, Turkey, Austria, Sweden
Pot 4: Finland, Hungary, Switzerland, Bosnia, Scotland, Georgia

*Highest-ranked nations are used for the playoff winners in this illustration.

One team from each pot would be drawn into the six groups.


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