6/26/20,  Liverpool Wins EPL, Aus/NZ to Host 2023 WWC, NWSL Kicks off Sat 12:30 CBS, Pulisic Scores for Chelsea again,  Indy 11 restart 7/11, MLS 7/8

Wow – what to start with this week?  Well of course Liverpool clinching the EPL Title earlier than anyone is the first order of business.  Chelsea’s win over Man City where US Star Christian Pulisic started, scored and was perhaps the best player on the field, led to Liverpool clinching the title.  Huge for Liverpool as this championship club has finally returned to glory under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp.  He promised and has now delivered both last season’s Champions League title and this year’s EPL title – their first in 30 years.  My buddy and fellow Carmel FC coach Bill “Anfield” Spencer is why I became a Liverpool fan and boy is he happy today!!  Congrats to all you Liverpool fans – You’ll Never Walk Alone!  Ok I can’t go further without mentioning Christian Pulisic and his return to grace at Chelsea after injuries plague his last couple of months of play.  The refreshed Pulisic is back to looking like his old self making darting runs down the left wing and delivering some fantastic passing and now scoring along the way.  I am hopeful Pulisic will find his place and help keep Chelsea in the hunt for Champions League play next year as they now have a 5 point cushion over Man U for 4th.

NWSL Starts Sat 12:30 CBS/2023 WC to Australia/NZ

On the Women’s side of the game – the NWSL becomes the first US Sport back this Saturday as North Carolina faces the Portland Pride at 12:30 pm on CBS.  Not to soapbox – but US Women’s soccer fans – if you want to see the ladies games on broadcast TV – now is the time to watch and be vocal. Post on social media that you are watching – CBS has only agreed to show the first game of the tourney and the final on CBS.  The others are on CBS online and CBS SportsNetwork which many folks don’t have.  But maybe if millions tune in to watch on Saturday – maybe CBS will include at least more weekend games in the future.  Speaking of future – huge congrats to Australia/New Zealand for winning the rights to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.  Not sure what time the US games will be on – as they are like 12 hours in front of us – but we’ll see what happens.

Indy 11 Return July 11, MLS July 8

Great news that the Indy 11 and USL will return on July 11 with a 16 game regular season followed by a single elimination playoff.  This World Cup style return should be fun for players and fans alike.  More details coming.  MLS is still on track to return with some solid ESPN coverage when its season kicks off July 8th from Orlando.  Morning 9:30 am games will be on ESPN, with late night evening games split between Fox Sports 1 and ESPN.  Hopefully this will help MLS get a better foothold in the US Sport pecking order if they do this right.

US – 10th Anniversary of Goal – Goal – GO USA

This past Monday was the 10th anniversary of Landon Donovan’s last second goal (92nd minute) vs Algeria in what some think is the greatest moment in US Soccer history from 2010’s World Cup advancing as group winners.  Lots of Stories below.

Here’s the call from Ian Durke for that Goal

But this call by the Legendary Andres Cantor in Spanish Really Brings it to Life

Reaction from Across the US


Fri  June 26

3:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus vs Lecce 

Sat,  June 27 

7:30 am NBCSN                                  Aston Villa v. Wolves, 7:30 a.m. NBCSN

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hoffenhiem

9:30 am FS2                                        Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich

12:30 pm ESPN+                                 FA Cup Norwich City vs Man United

12:30 pm CBS                                 North Carolina vs Portland Thorns NWSL                 

Sun, June 28

5 pm CBSSN                                        Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Sun, June 28 

8  am ESPN                                         Sheffield United vs Arsenal. FA Cup

11 am ESPN or +                                 Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Leicester City FA Cup  

11 am ESPN+                                      Milan vs Roma

1:30 pm ESPN+                                   FA Cup New Castle vs Man City

Monday, June 29:                            Crystal Palace v. Burnley, 3 p.m. NBCSN

Tues,  June 30


3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Brighton v. Man United, 3:15 p.m.

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Athletico Madrid

Wednesday, July 1:                         Arsenal v. Norwich, 1 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, July 1:                         West Ham v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN

Thursday, July 2:                              Sheffield United v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. 

Thursday, July 2:                              Man City v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN, 

Wed, July 8                                         MLS Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | 12:30 pm CBS

OL Reign vs Sky Blue FC | July 1 10 am | CBS Sports Network,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash| July 2 10 am  | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS


NWSL Challenge Cup’s biggest storylines as U.S. team sports return

NWSL Challenge Cup provides good look at future of USWNT -5hBill Connelly

How USWNT Roster is Taking Shape for 2023 World Cup – ESPNFC

Australia and New Zealand chosen to host 2023 women’s World Cup
A tournament of firsts: 2023 women’s World Cup will break new ground

How Australia and N.Z. won the right to host Women’s World Cup  21hJoey Lynch

LIVERPOOL WINS EPL, Pulisic Scores Again
Klopp delivers on Liverpool promise

Liverpool win Premier League

Liverpool’s Robertson praises ‘father figure’ Klopp

Liverpool’s overwhelmed Klopp leaves interview in tears of joy

Liverpool players past and present celebrate on social media

Dalglish hails ‘fantastic’ Klopp as Liverpool end 30-year title wait

Coronavirus: the final twist in Liverpool’s Premier League title tale

Earliest Premier League champion: Is Liverpool fastest to clinch?

Lampard on Pulisic: He has so much talent
Pulisic Watch: How USMNT star performed v. Man City

Watch Christian Pulisic goal that gave Liverpool Premier League title

Pulisic shines as Chelsea solidify their hold on fourth

Pulisic scores 7/10 in return for Chelsea

Inside the EPL Bubble of Calling Games in a Ghosttown – Ian Darke ESPNFC


ESPN Remembers – USA Greatest World Cup Moment Ever in last Second Win vs Algeria

The Day Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey Lifted a Nation World Cup 2010- June 23

Here’s the call from Ian Durke for that Goal

But this call by the Legendary Andres Cantor in Spanish Really Brings it to Life

Reaction from Across the US

Yedlin Reconsidering Future with USMNT

Comparing US English Call to Spanish Call

Bremen (Stewart), Hamburg both fighting for final chance of Bundesliga football next season

Gio Reyna Dubbed the American Dream after his deft assist to Haaland for Dortmund

Reyna’s Assist

US Players Overseas Last Week Wrap –

MLS –returns July 8

MLS Tourney Schedule Revealed

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

Power Rankings: The favorites ahead of eMLS Cup

Indy 11- Returns July 11

USL Unviels 2020 Season Format

USL to allow 5 sub rule

Club Statement on Black Lives Matter

USL Set to Resume Season July 11

Indy 11 Special to Support Healthcare Workers

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

NWSL Challenge Cup’s biggest storylines as U.S. team sports return

10:00 AM ETGraham HaysESPN.com

This was supposed to be the summer in which the National Women’s Soccer League built on the global success of last year’s World Cup. A chance to show off how eight years had nurtured a league that mass audiences could and hopefully would soon appreciate on its own merits.

But what might have been the next step for women’s soccer in this country is now more like a first step for sports in general in the United States, as the NWSL becomes the first league in a team sport to return to competition amidst the very much ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 NWSL season has, in all likelihood, morphed into the NWSL Challenge Cup, the monthlong tournament that will play out in the Salt Lake City area.

This is not a perfect arrangement. It wasn’t perfect before Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe opted out of the event over concerns about the pandemic, as all players had the right to do without penalty. It wasn’t perfect even before Orlando Pride withdrew en masse, the team unable to travel to Utah after 10 positive COVID-19 tests among players and staff.

But even without some stars on the field and without fans in the stands, this won’t be a summer without soccer. So after months of talk about how sports might return, let’s spend at least a little time looking at some of the stories that will shape this unique eighth season.

How does the Challenge Cup work?

It is probably worth starting with a quick refresher on exactly what we’re talking about. It helps that the format wasn’t all that complicated even before Orlando withdrew from the event.

There are now eight teams involved in the tournament, and every team is guaranteed to play at least five games. There aren’t specific groups in the preliminary phase, which begins June 27 and concludes July 13, but it works on the same basic premise as the group stage of any major tournament. With Orlando absent, all eight teams will advance to the knockout rounds. So the opening phase is now only about seeding and getting time on the field after the long layoff.

The league initially considered placing higher stakes on this phase of the tournament, with only four teams advancing and knockout play beginning with the semifinals, but settled on this as the wiser choice for players and teams coming out of three months of limited activity.

Teams may carry as many as 28 players. All players will be allowed to dress for games.

There will be no extra time played in any games in the tournament. Knockout games still tied at the end of 90 minutes will go directly to penalty kicks. As is the norm across the soccer world at the moment, teams will be able to make five substitutions during games (which can be made in no more than three stoppages). Yellow cards will be erased after the quarterfinals, but any player who picks up two yellow cards in the preceding games will be suspended for a game.

The quarterfinals will be played July 17 and 18, with the semifinals on July 22 and the final on July 26. The semifinals and final will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium, home of the Utah Royals and Real Salt Lake.

What hasn’t changed in the NWSL?

As you might have noticed, the world looks quite a bit different than it did three or four months ago, let alone when NWSL teams last took the field in real games in October.

One smidgen of familiarity amidst all of that change, at least when it comes to women’s soccer in this country, is that everyone is still chasing the North Carolina Courage.

Well past the plucky upstart that North Carolina coach Paul Riley still occasionally — and endearingly — tries to claim as an identity, the Courage are back-to-back NWSL champions and three-time reigning Shield winners as the regular-season champions. And at least on paper, they enter the Challenge Cup as strong as they were a season ago, when their goal difference was better than that of the other three playoff teams combined and they routed Chicago 4-0 in the final.

Midfield mainstay McCall Zerboni moved on to Sky Blue and Heather O’Reilly eased gracefully into retirement. But the Courage added Hailie Mace, the uberversatile No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft. The U.S. national team contingent of Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald, Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams are all on the Challenge Cup roster, along with Brazilian rising star Debinha, who was in the top 10 in goals and assists a season ago.

Rather than any sign of the standard slipping, the challenge remains finding a team to rise to it as the Courage seek to add to their collection of trophies.

Why is the Pacific Northwest still the center of attention?

Even as the Courage set the standard and Salt Lake City becomes the geographic hub for a summer, the Pacific Northwest remains central to the league’s identity.

The region has always been the league’s heartland, from the crowds, star power and wins in Portland to the success of Laura Harvey’s Reign in the early years and Vlatko Andonovski’s stopover en route to the U.S. women’s national team. The Pacific Northwest always matters.

Even without Heath and Rapinoe in the weeks ahead, it still does.

Reign FC is now OL Reign, the name a reflection of a potentially paradigm-shifting business model that saw French giant Olympique Lyonnais take a majority ownership stake. Previously among the models of independent ownership under Bill Predmore, who remains CEO, OL Reign is now a test case for the kind of European investment that has long been rumored from clubs like Barcelona and Manchester City. These days, that will also make it a test case for the effects of the coronavirus economy on such investment in women’s soccer.

Without Rapinoe, new coach Farid Benstiti must prove able to debut as smoothly as Andonovski did following Harvey. But befitting the new international ownership, bringing in new signings or loanees Alana Cook (PSG), Shirley Cruz (PSG), Adrienne Jordan (Birmingham City) and Yuka Momiki (NTV Beleza) makes for an intriguing start.

The offseason changes in Portland have nothing to do with the boardroom and everything to do with a restructuring on the field. The Thorns didn’t just tinker around the edges. They went for the renovation, trading U.S. national team defender Emily Sonnett among other moves in an effort to stock up on a youth movement led by No. 1 overall pick Sophia Smith. And with the demise of U.S. Soccer’s short-lived development academy program and college athletic departments facing coronavirus-related budget chasms, Smith isn’t just a talented young goal scorer. After leaving Stanford following just two seasons, she represents at least a toe in the water of an entirely different model of player development increasingly steered by NWSL clubs.

Yet even without Heath and after dispatching Australian rising star Ellie Carpenter to Lyon in recent transfer, the Thorns hardly tore things down to build from scratch. Christine Sinclair is on board for the tournament, and Portland also brought Becky Sauerbrunn home in a move that erases a weak spot. Win now and win later. That has always been Portland’s NWSL remit.

What is holding back the challengers?

Utah Royals appeared on the verge of showing off the league’s new system of allocation money when it was reported in April that the team was close to signing Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan and France’s Sarah Bouhaddi away from European giant Lyon.But as Utah now welcomes the rest of the NWSL to its home turf for the Cup, that megadeal appears to have been scuttled or at least put on long-term hold. The imports certainly won’t be around this summer. And even worse for the immediate future, Utah won’t just be missing Sauerbrunn, traded to Portland, but also Press, who cited COVID-19 concerns in opting out.Those personnel issues further underscore why North Carolina will be so difficult to dislodge. Every potential challenger has its own pressing issues. Some of those are pandemic-related — such as Press and Rapinoe electing not to participate in the Challenge Cup.Some are injury related. With a fresh start for Mallory Pugh and a remarkable rebuilding job under general manager Alyse LaHue, Sky Blue looked fast-tracked for playoff contention — no small feat for a franchise so recently a dysfunctional mess. New additions Midge Purce and McCall Zerboni still make this an interesting team in the Challenge Cup. But without Carli Lloyd and Pugh due to injuries, the revival may continue at a more measured pace.

Other issues come from the natural ebb and flow of any league even in normal times. The closest challenger a season ago and still a model of management stability, Chicago nonetheless must replace two-time reigning MVP Sam Kerr, who signed with Chelsea. If offseason addition Kealia Ohai is a significant part of that answer, the rest of the roster remains loaded.But that is still a big “if” when it comes to replacing someone like Kerr.Washington still has Rose Lavelle, Andi Sullivan and first-round pick Ashley Sanchez among its many youthful assets. But the very act of trading Pugh — envisioned as a franchise centerpiece when signed out of high school — is proof of how difficult it is for a team to move from potential to the playoffs, let alone championships.Like Sky Blue, and like Orlando before its withdrawal, Houston hopes to accelerate a rebuilding plan. And a knockout tournament may be more conducive to highlighting potential — all it takes to make an impression is one good day rather than season-long consistency.If the question is who can topple North Carolina, it’s not a promising sign that most of the challengers have more questions of their own than answers.

How could the Challenge Cup reshape 2021?

Instead of mere months to prepare for his first major tournament as coach of the U.S. women’s national team, Andonovski now has another year in which to get ready.

That is good news for someone whose almost obsessive commitment to preparation and scouting helped make him such a success in the NWSL and earn his current position.

That’s all the more true now that Andonovski will actually have at least a month of soccer to evaluate. Whether or not the Olympic audition process is wide open, there is at least a chance for players to make their case for 2021.

Granted, all the same constrictions of an 18-player roster remain. Andonovski already had enough depth chart congestion to ensure some World Cup winners would miss the Olympics. And now instead of an arguably long-shot candidacy a couple of months after giving birth to her first child, Alex Morgan will presumably be something close to a roster lock. That is one less spot.

But for emerging players like defender Mace, the former No. 2 overall pick who now joins North Carolina after beginning her professional career abroad, or Washington defender Tegan McGrady, it’s one more year of development. Perhaps even two-time reigning Hermann Trophy winner Catarina Macario, who gets another year to sort out her citizenship status and will be a professional by next summer, has time to get in on the discussion through a college season, whatever shape that takes, or national team camps later in the year.

The Challenge Cup is also an opportunity for veterans like Chicago’s Morgan Brian and OL Reign’s Allie Long to show Andonovski they have more tournaments to play. Both were part of the World Cup winners last summer but did not participate in Olympic qualifying earlier this year. And it’s a chance for Chicago’s Casey Short, Washington’s Sullivan and North Carolina’s Williams — all part of qualifying after missing the World Cup — to further enhance their cases.

How will the league handle the coronavirus during the tournament?

In his role as part of the league’s medical task force, Dr. Daryl Osbahr said when the NWSL announced the Challenge Cup that positive tests for COVID-19 were inevitable. And indeed, the league announced the first such test last week, without naming the player. Osbahr also said he hoped the protocols in place could forestall an entire team needing to shut down.

That obviously didn’t happen in Orlando, a reminder of how challenging it is to play team sports amidst a pandemic.

The league has been transparent about its health protocols for the tournament. Any positive test, asymptomatic or otherwise, triggers a sequence that includes quarantining the player in question and conducting contact tracing and testing for the rest of the team.

Players who test positive but remain asymptomatic can return to the training facility for light training and team meetings after 10 days and full training after 14 days.

Players who test positive and also show symptoms will receive local medical evaluation and hospitalization as necessary. They are prohibited from any exercise for 14 days and can resume light exercise only after seven days without symptoms and after an array of tests, including an electrocardiogram and echocardiogram.

Individuals who are deemed to have high-risk contact with anyone who tests positive will also be quarantined and players will be prohibited from returning to practice for 14 days.

Whether or not any plan is sufficient for current circumstances is difficult to predict. Numerous European soccer leagues have restarted in recent weeks without widespread problems, including the women’s league in Germany where Wolfsburg just wrapped up a title. But in this country, even putting aside the Pride for a moment, entities from professional baseball teams to colleges have paused workouts or shuttered facilities in response to positive tests.

And as in Orlando, geography might not help. According to data from The New York Times, Salt Lake and neighboring Utah counties are among those areas in the state experiencing an increase in cases over the past two weeks. The cities of Herriman and Sandy, where all games will be played, are in the southern portion of Salt Lake County just north of Utah County.

Pulisic, Willian help Chelsea expose Man City weakness to seal Liverpool’s Premier League title

6:46 PM ETJames OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

The inevitable is delayed no longer: Jurgen Klopp’s side may not be able to celebrate the club’s first title in 30 years with their supporters but they can enjoy a tour as champions with more dates than some theatre runs in London’s West End.Liverpool’s margin of victory with seven games to spare is a testament to their unrivalled mixture of class and consistency. It is also evidence of City’s defensive fallibility and the yawning chasm the chasing pack must make up to create more of a contest next season.The most encouraging thing for Chelsea is that, while this performance merely reinforced where City have fallen short, the home side produced evidence that they could bridge the gap and mount a sustained title challenge. Injured at the start of 2020, Pulisic watched during the league’s three-month lockdown as Chelsea quietly went about bolstering their attacking power. The American international arrived last summer as the heir to Eden Hazard‘s throne, a £58 million ($64m) lifeline for a club unable to sign players due to a transfer ban, yet a year later has watched as the club strengthens in the positions he wants to make his own.

Pulisic might have been alarmed further by being left out of the starting line-up at Aston Villa upon the resumption of play, but an equalising goal there preceded a place in the XI against City and he was not about to waste the opportunity.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard targeted the acquisitions of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner after bemoaning Chelsea’s wastefulness in front of goal. It is why the club continue to monitor Bayer Leverkusen‘s Kai Havertz, whose signing — if completed — would further alter the forward line.The onus is therefore on those in situ to respond and Pulisic did just that on Thursday, capitalising on an error to give Chelsea the lead after 36 minutes. When Benjamin Mendy passed the ball into space rather than to Ilkay Gundogan, Pulisic took the chance to run at goal.There was plenty to do from inside the centre circle in his own half, but a change of pace enabled him to breeze past Mendy and burst clear. Maintaining that unrelenting speed, Pulisic then curled a right-foot shot from the edge of penalty area, beyond Ederson and into the corner. The whole run comprised six touches. Composed, clinical, confident. Everything Lampard wants from his attacking players.”I wanted to protect [Pulisic] a bit against Villa, see if he could make an impact,” Lampard said. “I always planned to start him against City because I know what he can bring in these sort of games and he brought it. He did really well. He needs to keep working. He’s a young player but with so much talent, he can get better and better.”The opening goal came at a time when the hosts were just starting to find ways around the City press. Lampard shouted his orders from the touchline, coaching his players through practically every moment of those intense phases after Pep Guardiola’s side initially appeared likely to pass Chelsea into submission on a hot evening in London.The second half followed a similar pattern. City began strongly in search of an equaliser, albeit blunted by the lack of a potent centre-forward in Sergio Aguero‘s absence. Guardiola opted for Bernardo Silva as a false nin but abandoned the plan 10 minutes after the break, introducing Gabriel Jesus and  It was Kevin De Bruyne, however, who hauled City level with a 55th-minute free kick of such irresistible power and placement that Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could only fall to his knees in response after the ball flew past him.

Knowing they need a win to delay Liverpool’s party, City continued to live dangerously at the back. Pulisic almost scored a second after rounding Ederson and steering a shot goalward, but Kyle Walker somehow scrambled it off the line.

Chelsea’s substitutes, amassed in the bottom tier of the East Stand next to the dugout, cried for video technology to intervene, but referee’s Stuart Attwell’s watch did not buzz. With 12 minutes to go, though, VAR intervened in decisive fashion.Willian burst clear down the right and found substitute Tammy Abraham, whose shot was saved by Ederson. As Pulisic and then Abraham tried to force the ball over the line, Fernandinho shovelled the ball away with his left arm.Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and a host of other guests every day as football plots a path through the coronavirus crisis. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).Attwell missed it, but Craig Pawson at Stockley Park did not. In a week that saw Lampard hail Willian’s professionalism and impact on younger players, the Brazilian international stepped up to slot home the winning penalty that consigned City to their fate and left Chelsea savouring a vital win in pursuit of Champions League football.Willian has won five major honours with Chelsea but news he had extended his contract until the end of the season got a mixed reaction, even more so the possibility of signing a new deal to stay beyond that. Six years on from writing the epitaph to Liverpool’s title challenge with a goal in Chelsea’s win at Anfield, though, the winger landed the decisive blow in the Anfield club’s maiden Premier League success.”I’m delighted with Willian this season,” Lampard said. “The players look up to him. He’s a senior professional within the group but he has quality, he has work ethic and it was a continuation of his form for big parts of the season.”Chelsea are addressing their flaws, though whether that improvement can extend to titles challenges remains to be seen. City, albeit starting from a higher level, have to do the same.

Full match schedule and TV info unveiled for MLS is Back Tournament

June 24, 20203:00PM EDTMLSsoccer staff  Mark your calendars: MLS revealed the schedule and TV info for all 54 matches of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando.

The tournament kicks off on Wednesday, July 8 with a Group A doubleheader: Orlando City SC face Florida foes Inter Miami CF (8 pm ET), followed by Chicago Fire FC taking on Nashville SC (10:30 pm ET). Both matches will air on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and TSN in Canada.

TV broadcasts

ESPN will oversee all game production for MLS broadcast partners throughout the tournament, delivering produced feeds of all matches, including unique and experimental technology. Each broadcast partner will use their own on-air talent and graphics packages.

  • USA: All 54 matches will be televised nationally on ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1, and TUDN. All ESPN/2 matches will also be streamed live on the ESPN App. FOX/FS1 matches and TUDN matches will be streamed on the FOX Sports App and TUDN App, respectively. In addition, the 10 matches that are broadcast on TUDN exclusively in the US will be streamed in English on the @TUDN Twitter handle.
  • Canada:TSN will carry every match, including streaming on the TSN App. TVA Sports will provide French-language coverage of all three Montreal Impact group matches along with select additional matches, including streaming on TVA Sports App.
  • World:The tournament will also air around the world via the league’s international broadcast partners.

Breakfast with MLS

A total of seven matches will take place at 9 am ET, all of which will air be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes in the U.S. and on TSN in Canada. The first morning match will be played on July 9 when New York City FC face the Philadelphia Union.

Rivalry Matches

Here are the dates and TV info for the marquee rivalry matches during the Group Stage presented by Heineken:

  • July 8: Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF (ESPN, TSN @ 8ET)
  • July 11: Atlanta United vs. NY Red Bulls (FOX, TUDN, TSN @ 8ET)
  • July 11: FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC (FS1, TUDN, TSN @ 10:30ET)
  • July 12: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids (ESPN, TSN @ 10:30ET)
  • July 15: Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC (TUDN & Twitter, TSN, TVAS @ 8ET)
  • July 18: LAFC vs. LA Galaxy (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN @ 10:30ET)
  • July 20: Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (TUDN & Twitter, TSN @ 10:30ET)


The group stage will take place over 16 consecutive days with each group match counting toward the 2020 regular season standings. All clubs will have at least four full days between matches.

The Knockout Round presented by Audi will take place as follows:

  • Round of 16:Four straight days of doubleheaders (July 25-July 28)
  • Quarterfinals:Doubleheaders on July 30 & August 1
  • Semifinals:August 5 & August 6
  • Final: August 11 (8 pm ET)

June 23, 2010: The day Landon Donovan lifted a nation

10 years later, the moment still carries the day.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jun 23, 2020, 8:16am PDT

June 23, 2010. It’s a day that will live forever for fans of the United States Men’s National Team. Everyone knows where they were for the final group stage match for the USMNT in the 2010 World Cup: their first ever match against Algeria, with a spot in the Round of 16 very much in doubt.Sitting on 2 points after draws against England and Slovenia, the USMNT needed a win. England and Slovenia were playing each other at the same time, and while a England draw or loss would help in the event of a draw, any loss would see the USMNT leave South Africa much earlier than they wanted.So, on an abnormal Wednesday morning just a couple days into summer, we all called in sick to work or took an early lunch break. For me, I said I had a doctor’s appointment and that they had to run a bunch of tests. For those who weren’t lucky enough to be in Pretoria that day, we gathered in front of television sets and big screens in bars, restaurants, homes, parks, and plazas. We were dressed in red, white, and blue. We were hoping for the opportunity to advance out of the group that British media declared “E.A.S.Y.” when it was set at the World Cup draw. We would have to wait over 90 minutes from the start of the whistle for that hope to turn into reality.

Rewatching the game last night, for the first time in several years, brought me back to that day. I was at Molly Malone’s in Washington, DC, crammed into the second floor of the bar with the American Outlaws DC Chapter, which I helped start. My boss thought some doctor was checking my vitals and my blood pressure. I didn’t need a doctor to know my blood pressure was through the roof, just like the rest of the bar. We didn’t know what was coming at that point in time, and watching the match again last night brought me right back to the ups and downs of emotions we all felt during that match.How many times did we yell in frustration or clap our hands in anger when we came thisclose to scoring seemingly dozens of times? Whose hearts dropped into their toes when Algeria hit the crossbar in the first few minutes of the match? Did you become as apoplectic as I did when Clint Dempsey scored in the 21st minute, only for it to be wrongly called offside?

How many sitters did we miss during that match? 5? 10? 1234123423? Somehow, those numbers seemed small as the frustration built every time a ball went from 2 yards in front of the net into the stands. The hope faded little by little. We returned our minds to that Dempsey goal that was wrongly called back, thinking back to Maurice Edu’s goal that was wrongly called back against Slovenia, and we realized that the United States were about to be sent out of the World Cup because two referees jobbed us.

We knew that Jermaine Defoe had scored in the 23rd minute against Slovenia, so the chips were really against us. Only a win would suffice. We couldn’t rely on a goal from Slovenia, and we knew we couldn’t rely on the referees. We had to score a goal, free and clear, no take backs. Only, that goal never came. We entered the 89th minute and frustration turned to anger, at Bob Bradley and the guys for not getting it done.

We enter stoppage time, and 4 minutes are announced on the clock. We get another wave of hope. “LET’S GO BOYS!” “COME ON, COME ON!” “WE NEED THIS!” We enter the 91st minute and Algeria is pressing with the ball, and a small cross gets sent into the box and a short header by Algeria is handled by goalkeeper Tim Howard.

He immediately throws it forward to a sprinting Landon Donovan down the right side of the field. The crowd starts buzzing. The bars, homes, plazas all start buzzing as they see Landon Donovan sprinting down the right flank. They see the USMNT have numbers as Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey run up alongside him. Donovan passes the ball to Altidore, who dribbles towards the endline. “SEND IT IN!” Altidore sends the low cross towards the front of the goal, Dempsey tries to nutmeg Algerian goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi, but it bounces off him and pops out a few yards. A second seemed like a lifetime for all of us as we held our breath. “Not again,” we thought.

And then out of the right corner of our eye, everyone sees Landon Donovan…

He DID it. Landon Donovan scores. We listen to the call from Ian Darke and you try to hold back the tears. Here’s the call from Ian Durke for that Goal

If you watch the reaction of Andres Cantor, any tears you were holding back were set free: But this call by the Legendary Andres Cantor in Spanish Really Brings it to Life

Bedlam. Elation. Jubilation. Exhilaration. Ecstasy. We all react to the new shot heard ‘round the world. Some are with hundreds or thousands of our new best friends, some are at home by themselves. But, the bedlam, the elation, the ecstasy speaks all languages:

We all remember where we were. We remember who we were with. We remember the hugs, the kisses, the high fives, the beer thrown in the air. We remember how every player celebrated: Landon Donovan running with arms outstretched, sliding into the corner with his team jumping on top of him, taking the corner flag with them. Jozy Altidore jumping on top of the dogpile, followed by Jay DeMerit doing a full somersault on top of that. Tim Howard just patting the ground in front of his goal like he was replacing a divot, his emotions racing. Bob Bradley just running down the sideline, arms in the air triumphant, his staff emotional, fans in the stands jumping up and down, in disbelief of what they had just seen.

How could anyone process what that meant? At that moment, we had that euphoria and then realized we had 2 minutes or so left in stoppage time. Forget our hearts being in our throats, every single second was our hearts in our hands while we were squeezing it tighter and tighter. Finally, after what seemed like a decade, the final whistle sounds. We pause to look at that score: USA 1-0 Algeria. We look at the other match score: Slovenia 0-1 England. We were through. Not only that, we had won the group. An incredible wave of emotion. We were soaked in beer, sweat, tears, and maybe a few bruises from our celebrations.10 years ago today…we saw our moment. Landon Donovan provided a goal that lifted a nation. We all could fly that day. It’s the greatest moment in USMNT history, and that moment is forever etched in the history books:  Donovan 90+1’.

Donovan’s World Cup goal against Algeria 2010: The oral history of the most famous moment in USMNT history

Landon Donovan, USMNT midfielder 2000-2014: I’m thinking in my head like, “I just gotta cheat up the field as much as I can.”

It’s almost like [Tim Howard] had been surveying the field before he got the ball. In case he did get the ball, get his hands on the ball, he was ready. And so when he grabbed it, I knew there was a lot of space in front of me. So I took off in that moment, and he threw it perfectly.

At that moment, my thought was just make the right decision, because I’ve been in situations like that thousands of times in practice or in games. So I wanted to get the ball out in front of me, so we’re putting pressure on them quickly. And then when Jozy [Altidore] peeled out to the right, Edson [Buddle] peeled out to the left and Clint [Dempsey] was running centrally, and instinct kind of takes over at that point. Get it out to Jozy and I knew he was gonna put it in a good spot from there, and then it was crash the goal and put them under pressure.

There are not many forwards in the history of our country who would have run that hard to get across the goalie and put himself in position like Clint did. In the moment, I don’t think there’s any chance that the ball is going to end up anywhere other than in the back of the net, because once [Altidore] rolls it in front, I’m thinking through Clint or Edson or an own goal, somehow that ball’s gonna end up in the goal or at least close to the goal.

I was directly behind Clint, but I actually can’t even see the ball. And so their interaction happened and then [the ball] rolled out. I didn’t even know. I wasn’t thinking about timing my run, my momentum was carrying me into the box and then that’s where the ball ended up.

In the 91st minute of the United States’ World Cup group-stage finale against Algeria on June 23, 2010, in Pretoria, South Africa, Donovan pounced on that ball, scoring the goal that would send the Americans into the round of 16 after their 1-0 win and set off a cultural phenomenon, putting the U.S. men’s national team into the collective consciousness of the country like never before.   Ten years later, ESPN spoke to Donovan, his teammates, members of the media, fans, and those whose soccer careers were in part shaped by that moment. This is the story of that night in Pretoria, South Africa, the most historic moment in USMNT history.

Editor’s note: The text has been edited for length and clarity. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Noah Davis, Jason Davis, Arch Bell and Austin Lindberg contributed to this report.

Jump to: The ghost foul | The buildup | The game | The worry | The goal | The reaction | The celebration | The aftermath

The ghost foul

The U.S., arguably, should not have been in the position it found itself in against Algeria.

A welcome 1-1 draw against England in its opener positioned the Americans well to advance from the group. The Three Lions were widely expected to top Group C, and a point on the board, with encounters against Slovenia and Algeria to come, put Bob Bradley & Co. on course to reach the knockout rounds.

But a controversial 2-2 draw against Slovenia dampened that enthusiasm. A phantom foul called on Maurice Edu while he volleyed home a Donovan free kick cost the U.S. two points, and instead of heading into the group finale on top of the table and needing only a draw vs. Algeria to reach the round of 16, it now had to win.

Maurice Edu, USMNT midfielder 2007-2014: I’m still at a loss of words about how to describe what the hell went wrong during that play. I know I’m not fouling him because I’m ahead of him and now he’s trying to catch me. So I literally go through the box uncontested and Landon couldn’t have played a better ball, it hits me in stride, left foot, boom, goal. I’m not top 10 on SportsCenter, I’m No. 1! In the moment, I went back to being a kid, kicking a ball around the house, the commentary, “Mo gets the ball, it’s the last minute of the World Cup, he shoots, he scores!” So this was my moment, this was that moment.I hear the whistle blow and I’m like, “What the hell?” Everyone is up in arms, protesting, going crazy, Clint, Landon. They were arguing with the referee, who had no answer for us then, had no answer for us after the game and to this day he probably has no answer. If that goal counts, that’s probably the greatest comeback in U.S. soccer history.I look at it and think, “F—, that sucked, that was my moment, that was my goal, that was my place in history.” But you know what, it led to an incredible moment in the Algeria game and now you’ve seen what it’s made for.

Donovan: I saw it go in, but I didn’t know what happened. So at that moment, you just have to assume that something happened because I didn’t know any different. The only thing is the reaction of our players, looking around like, “Who are you calling that on?” Nobody can figure out who they are calling. And so I think it’s myself and Michael [Bradley], we go to the ref and I don’t think he only spoke French, but we were just trying to figure out like, “Can you just tell us what the call was and who you’re calling it on?” and he didn’t want anything to do with it. Maybe it was a language thing. It seemed like he made up his mind before the play that he was going to call a foul. I have known referees to do that if they feel that they got a previous call wrong. It just seemed like he had made up his mind. And you know, it wasn’t until later watching the replay that I realized that there was no foul, and actually if you’re going to call a foul, it should have been against a Slovenian player on a few of our guys.

Tim Howard, USMNT goalkeeper 2002-2017: The infamous shirt tug where everyone is like they’re in a WWE wrestling match. I don’t know what the referee saw. To be in with a shout of winning that game, and to show the perseverance and battle back said a lot about our team.

Bob Ley, ESPN 1979-2019: I was at that match, and I go back and I still look for that foul that took away [Edu’s] goal in much the same way that I look for how much Michael Ballack was offside in 2002. I still give him s—. “Ah Bob, you’re such an a–hole.”

Jonathan Bornstein, USMNT defender 2007-2011: We thought we got robbed. But, you know, very quickly, you’ve got to move on. It’s out of our hands now. Let’s focus on what we can control, and that was the next game. And so I think that’s kind of something Bob always instilled in us, that kind of, control what you can control and let go and don’t ponder on what happened in the past.


Alexi Lalas, ESPN 2009-2014: What people sometimes fail to realize is, we only had two points going into that third game. There was a real good chance we could have lost that game to Slovenia. But obviously, Michael scored, and we actually could have won it. But you had already seen a comeback-kid type of mentality that they had. But now you’re right back where we started in that you lose the game and we bomb out in the group stage. So from a drama and entertainment perspective, we were psyched to get this type of game and now we just needed them to perform.

Julie Foudy, ESPN 2006-present: I was at our ESPN studios in Johannesburg. You have hundreds of people in this room thinking, “Geez, we could be going home here.” And you obviously want the team to be successful, but you’re also thinking how much work has gone into a production like this and all the people that are over there, and you definitely want Team USA still in it, right? So, I think that’s always the interesting juxtaposition of, you are clearly so invested because it’s Team USA, but you’re also invested because you want the sport to grow and you realize, without USA in it, it’s a much different sell.

The buildup

So the U.S. headed to Pretoria for its game against Algeria, needing a win to ensure its progression to the knockout rounds. The result of Slovenia vs. England, kicking off simultaneously in Port Elizabeth, would have a huge bearing on how the group would shake out, but the Americans controlled their destiny: win and they’re in.

Donovan: All you can ask for, for a team like ours, is going into the third game with a chance to advance, right? Like, when you go into the tournament, that’s your thought process. If you’re one of the top five or six teams in the world, you want to be qualified by the third game. But for us, we wanted to go into the third game with a chance to get through and we felt like we were playing the weakest opponent in our group, and they needed like some crazy results to happen. I think they didn’t really have a chance to advance so there was excitement, optimism, but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. So I think we felt good heading into that game.

Howard: We had played in big games. We beat Spain at the Confederations Cup, best team in the world. We were up on Brazil in the final 2-0. OK, it didn’t go our way, but we had played in big games as a team. And so I think when it comes to World Cup, particularly if you’re with a U.S. team, all bets are off. So if you can put yourself in a position to go into that third game where your destiny is in your hands, that’s all the U.S. team could have asked for. Even if we had gotten a better result in the Slovenia game, we couldn’t just lose. It was all to play for and we felt confident we could do it.

Steve Cherundolo, USMNT defender 1999-2012: We still felt confident that we could make it out of the group, but I think we also felt the pressure was added on because people were expecting us to make it out of the group, and we felt the same. So we felt good, we felt confident, but we also knew that Algeria had some weapons as well and they were a good team. All the pressure was on us. We were no longer the underdogs, which is what normally we were.

DaMarcus Beasley, USMNT midfielder/defender 2001-2017: I know that everyone was more relaxed than what I thought the team would be. I wasn’t starting, so you kind of look around the locker room, see people’s mannerisms and their faces, and that’s one thing I do remember, is that the team didn’t seem rattled. Knowing that we needed to win, I think the team was confident in how we were playing throughout the tournament.

Bornstein: I remember the overall attitude of the team being very positive. We had previously played against teams like England, who we took a point from, we thought going into the Algeria game was a definite opportunity for us to prove something to the world.

The game

The game began with Algeria coming out motivated, striking the crossbar in the early exchanges. But the U.S. recovered.

Dempsey had a goal controversially ruled out for offside, then hit the woodwork. Altidore missed a chance with the net gaping.

Herculez Gomez, USMNT forward 2007-2013: It was crazy because at first it was Algeria. One in hits the crossbar, we get saved. But then I was out supplying a lot of pressure. I had a shot at like 30 yards out that caught the keeper by surprise. I had another shot that I hit straight into the keeper that I should have done way better with. I had a cross shot that ended up on Clint’s foot that he scores and it’s a legitimate goal, that’s called offside. So I thought we were knocking.

Lalas: I was more impressed with Algeria than I was the other two teams in the group, to be quite honest with you. They were sons of b—-es. And I say that in a good way, they were badasses. I wasn’t prepared for how badass they were.

The worry

The missed chances begin to add up. As the count of wasted opportunities rises, the clock continues ticking away. Time is running out to get three points from the game, and with it, a place in the round of 16.

Jozy Altidore, USMNT forward 2007-present: I’ll never forget, there was a play where I think I’m in, and I go down the side and I cross the ball, and they sail it clear. Clint comes and opens his hips up to go far post, rings the post and it comes back, and I thought for sure he scores the rebound, and he put it over. It was a tough bounce, to be fair. It’s not an easy finish. At that point, I was thinking to myself, “Wow, is it going to happen? We may not get through.”

Beasley: It was, “Are we going to sneak one in like we usually do? Are we not? Is this going to be a game where we almost had it and we didn’t? And we lost it?” And we started thinking about, “Oh man, the game before, we should’ve won that game.” So you start thinking about what could’ve happened to not be in the situation that you’re in. If we would’ve scored that one goal [vs. Slovenia], we wouldn’t even be in this situation right now.

Gomez: I thought it was there for the taking. But as the game progressed, then this feeling of, “Oh man, this could be our last game” started settling in. And it’s a World Cup game, so everything’s magnified. Everybody’s on edge. It almost feels like these moments are bigger than they really are, because at the end, it’s just a game, right? Maybe nine out of 10 times you play that at a neutral site and we blow Algeria out, maybe. But in this game, it was close. They were in it. It could have been anybody’s game, any moment could’ve changed it. And it came down to the very end of the show.

Ian Darke, ESPN 2010-present: Did you honestly have a feeling that [the U.S.] were going to get that goal? Not really, not deep in your heart. And you’re thinking, “Well, this is quite a damp ending for the World Cup campaign,” because as the group stood going into the 91st minute, they were going out of the World Cup having played reasonably well and they could have gone out without losing a match.

Ley: [ESPN analyst Steve McManaman] and I were both mesmerized, and so I got up from behind the desk, and I am just walking around like my wife is in labor — in the old days, you’re not in the birthing room. I have never been so nervous in my life.

Donovan: There was this real professional understanding that in the last 10 or 15 minutes, the attacking players had to cheat and we had to roll the dice. Like, if we gave up a goal and lost 1-0 vs. tying 0-0, it didn’t matter, we’re out either way. So we had to take chances. And I think people don’t realize how stressful that is for a backline and Michael and Tim to deal with basically 5-on-5 at the back and 5-on-5 at the other end for 10 minutes or so. And they just held down the fort and allowed us to kind of get wave after wave and keep trying to break them down and find the goal to win it.

Altidore: When you’re down, you just have this sense of going until you reach the goal. Especially when you need a goal. That’s kind of where we were at. We were still just trying to get after it. We wouldn’t stop. We had time. We just kept going, we just tried to be relentless in our approach of trying to create that one more chance to win the game. Because I think up until that last seize of the ball, we believed. And I think that played a huge part.

The goal

And then it happened.

In the first minute of stoppage time, the U.S. conceded a golden opportunity, as Adlene Guedioura delivered a cross to the back post where two Algerian attackers were unmarked. Rafik Saifi got his head on the ball, but he could only direct it straight into Tim Howard’s hands.

The goalkeeper immediately pushed forward and threw the ball into the path of a sprinting Donovan, who was already at midfield. Donovan continued his run, playing the ball to Altidore wide right, who squared a cross for Dempsey, whose shot was courageously saved by Rais M’Bolhi. But, thankfully for the U.S., Donovan followed the play and buried the rebound.

Bornstein: I think you can take it back to their chance right before Tim catches the ball. It could have been a very dangerous opportunity. I mean, they get a cross in and the guy’s alone in the box and he gets a free header off. Luckily, it goes straight to Tim’s hands. I think all of us on the bench, you know, when you’re looking at them inside of our box and you’re thinking “No, no, no, just get it out, get it out.” Tim catches it and everyone kind of stands up because he immediately throws it just like a bomb, like a quarterback to a wide receiver. And leads him perfectly running full speed, [Donovan] takes a great touch forward. And we’re already inside their half within 30 milliseconds. I think everyone at that point, at least for me, we’re all like, “This is it.”

Howard: There had been a series of getting the ball, rolling it out, throw it out, getting us on the front foot and attacking. So that was kind of the mode I was in for much of that second half. And then Landon, as he does, it just seemed like that was a connection that I made 1,000 times. He opens up wide, he wants the ball, he gets on his horse and then me being able to find him in an open lane, it just kind of seemed second nature. So he was just flying and I felt in that perpetual motion stage. [Dempsey] was getting ready to get moving, everybody seemed to be flowing toward the goal.

Darke: I remember, and I’ve obviously seen it a few times since then, Howard having the ball and I remember I sort of injected an extra urgency into my voice at that point, thinking, “This is now or never, it’s got to all come from this.” And I remember Howard throwing a great throw almost at the halfway mark on the right to Donovan and suddenly the move was on. Suddenly that Algeria defense seemed to just maybe look a little bit disheveled and disorganized, maybe for the first time. And you just have a feeling something could happen here. And then it looked like the frustration was going to continue because Dempsey’s shot got blocked, and you thought, “Ah, that’s it.” But there was that moment, you saw it was dropping to Landon Donovan, and that he had a magnificent chance. The rest is history, as they say. Banged it in the net, and then the mass celebration by the corner flag and my somewhat hysterical commentary. I had no idea what I’d said at the time, but eventually I did get the impression that people quite liked it, which is always good for a commentator.

Altidore: Landon would always tell me, “When I get it, just take off running.” So I just took off when I saw him taking off, we all took off when we saw the opportunity. It was a good throw by Timmy. They caught us. We’re cheating a little bit to try to stay in a good spot, to stay forward, you don’t want to break down. And it just worked out to be the perfect counter, the perfect play where we caught them. And then, actually, when I look back at it, Landon’s on for me to give it back to him. If I disguise it well enough, I can cross it back to him and he can also tap it in. And it’s crazy, but I was not paying attention to that. I just saw Clint arriving, and I saw he was open, and there was a window. And when Clint missed that, I was thinking, “No, another big chance!” And then Landon was there at the doorstep, following the play, staying with it, and then the rest is history, as they say.

Foudy: And the thing about Landon’s goal too, which is so iconic to Landon, is one, he starts it with that counter. And then you see he shows himself to Jozy, so he kind of holds, but he doesn’t stay there. A player without that ability to see what’s being done, I’d have been like, “OK, he didn’t use me, I’m good.” He gets in a position where he knows he’s going to get some type of deflection. And, in the 91st minute, to sprint — which he did, pretty much three quarters of the length of that field — and then to carry that run through so he’s in a position to make it look easy, that was everything of what Landon was about. And people miss that, they just see him at that end position. There’s so many people who wouldn’t have gotten to that position. I’d have still been at the mid-strut, “Yeah, I’m good.”

Howard: Credit to both Landon and Clint. They’re always smelling it, they’re always on the front foot. Landon doesn’t just play the ball and stop, and think, “This is going to be in the back of the net.” He continues his run.

Altidore: Landon was doing his Landon thing, man. Popping up in the right place at the right time.

Edu: When I look back at that play, it’s commitment from a group of players who said, “This isn’t it for us.” When it happens, it’s like, “Cool, last-minute goal,” but when you watch it back, there were so many plays along the way, so many steps on the way when it could have gone wrong. Maybe Landon takes the play off, maybe Tim doesn’t see Landon, maybe Clint doesn’t make the run in the box, maybe Jozy doesn’t go wide to get the cross. There are so many steps along the way when it could have gone wrong, but it didn’t because it was a group of committed players.

The reaction

After 91 minutes of nerves, of pressure building with each passing moment, Donovan’s goal triggered a release of emotion throughout the team. He found himself at the bottom of a dog pile in the corner flag consisting of most every player on the field and a good number of substitutes as well.

A handful of the team were so exhausted from the match that they couldn’t muster the energy to sprint to the attacking third and join in on celebrations, instead embracing one another at the center of midfield.

Donovan: I’ve been under a dog pile and it gives me serious anxiety, like real anxiety. I went to the corner, I saw Stu running down to meet me from the bench, and I’m like, with my momentum, there’s no way I wasn’t gonna slide because I was running so fast. But if you watch closely, right at the end, there is a minute where I’m like, “Oh f—,” because I realize what’s coming. I get like serious anxiety being there. Within about three seconds, and I don’t know if anyone heard it because everyone was yelling, I’m like, “Guys, get up! Get up! Get up! Please get up!” I’m just trying to get them off me because I didn’t want to hyperventilate.

Cherundolo: As soon as I saw the back of the net move, I looked over to the assistant referee. The flags did not go up, the goal is definitely counted. I looked for Tim and Jay and [Carlos Bocanegra] because it was too far to get up to Landon and at that point we were dead tired. I looked to anybody close to me who I could grab and hug. Because then we knew, “All right, this is it. This is our day. We did it.”

Darke: I don’t think that you can plan for that, and maybe you shouldn’t, either. Maybe I had a few words that I was going to say if the USA had gone out, you might prep that. But really something as dramatic, like a 10 on the Richter scale, an explosive moment like that, where one minute you’re out of the World Cup and the next millisecond, you’re top of the group, nobody can plan for that. So whatever came out, came out. It was instinctive and I’m a great believer that the best lines of commentary are exactly like that and happened in that way. I don’t know what made me say, “Go, go, USA!” I’m not American, as you well know. It’s just something that came out I thought that captured the mood.

Ley: I vividly remember it was like an out-of-body experience, like almost vibrating with excitement when the goal went in. It was like, “Oh, my God.” It’s like, “This is big. Don’t overstate it, don’t step on it.” I guess we didn’t screw it up. It was well received. As Ian has said so many times, he didn’t know where the “Go, go, USA!” came from. That’s a ringtone for some people still 10 years later. Ian doesn’t quite beat out my favorite John Lennon guitar licks.

John Harkes, ESPN 2006-2011: When it went in, I think I lost my headset and I couldn’t even communicate, so I couldn’t call anything. When I put it back on to speak, I just remember it cutting it out again so people couldn’t hear me making the commentary, and Ian had to speak again because my thing had gone out. We jumped on each other and it was all the camera guys around us. It was an amazing moment.

Andres Cantor, Futbol De Primera Radio: When I do the goal call before Bora [Milutinovic] and Marcelo [Balboa] speak, I was losing air. I never felt like I was going to faint, but I felt lightheaded because of all the euphoria and yelling and energy. And when I say, “Donovan the best player in U.S. history,” it doesn’t come off clean, it’s not what I wanted to say and I couldn’t find the words. At that moment I was on the verge of being breathless so I had to be quiet and recover.

Chris Kyak, fan at a watch party: At least half of us in there in that bar that day dropped to our knees [after Dempsey’s shot was saved] and weren’t even looking at the TV — I don’t even think I remember seeing the goal live. I remember seeing it in replay nonstop, minutes later. The people in [the bar] were probably on a pile-on. Beers were flying everywhere. I believe that was one of the first times the bar utilized plastic cups, knowing that something may have happened that day, whether it was good or bad.

Benny Feilhaber, USMNT 2007-2017: I think my favorite thing about that is how I had zero involvement in the entire build-up of that play and how much it meant to me. I think that’s a great representation of our team because there was no selfishness with that team, we wanted one thing and everyone wanted the same thing and it didn’t matter who was able to get the glory and you saw it in that moment.

Altidore: It’s like the things you say in your backyard when you’re playing around. Last minute of the game, for all the marbles! And to have that play come off and be able to have it and look back on it for the rest of our lives, it’s amazing. It’s a beautiful moment.

The celebration

The celebrations following that game became legend unto their own. Former President Bill Clinton was at the match, making his way to the dressing room to join in the festivities. Former NFL star Reggie Bush was there, too.

Upon their return to the hotel, U.S. Soccer had arranged for players’ families to be there waiting, and organized a reception complete with singing and dancing, including the hotel staff.

Howard: President Clinton was in there with the Secret Service and at one point we were drinking beers and everybody’s excited and guys are taking their boots off. Carlos [Bocanegra] asked for everyone’s attention and asked President Clinton to come to the center, and he waxed poetically about what Bill Clinton meant to us and to be a part of our group and to Carlos personally, and he asked him if he’d have a beer with us. And [Clinton] looked over his shoulder, took off his jacket, rolled his sleeves up, popped open a beer. It was a pretty cool moment because not many people can say that they have that opportunity.

Beasley: It was chaos as soon as we got in [the dressing room]. We were jumping and yelling and cheering. Everybody was happy. We celebrated. And, obviously, when Clinton came in the locker room, it was great for him to meet everybody and congratulate everybody, so that was really cool. But yeah, we celebrated a little bit, because it wasn’t so much us celebrating because we went through, it was how we did it. The 90th minute, basically the last play of the game, we had a do-or-die situation for us to go through to the next round, and we did that. So, I’m sure if we would’ve won the game say 4-0, it would’ve been different.

Gomez: I know that we’re a very patriotic country any time it’s the U.S. vs. the rest of the world. The country gets behind it. But it’s one thing to be there, it’s another thing to get together at a conference room in a hotel and have the president of the United States call you on speaker phone. He’s talking to you, he’s naming Timmy by name, he’s naming Landon, he’s congratulating us. That’s a surreal thing. It’s surreal when Bill Clinton, an ex-president of the United States, comes into the locker room and he’s sharing a Budweiser with you. When Reggie Bush, probably at one of the heights of his career, is in the locker room and he shakes your hand and he tells you how much a fan he is, it’s just surreal moments.

David Ridenhour, fan at the game: It was just minutes of pandemonium after [the goal], and then as soon as they blew the final whistle, we stayed in the stadium for probably 20 or 25 minutes and watched the players go around the field. As we were leaving, there was a group of probably 1,000 U.S. fans that were still inside the stadium gates, and for 15 or 20 minutes we just sang and danced and partied.

Donovan: Maybe we did [overcelebrate] a little bit. It’s not like we were getting hammered that night. But it’s so difficult to advance out of your group at a World Cup, and when you put in so much time and effort, it’s hard not to celebrate. It really is. Life is short. You can’t blame people for wanting to celebrate in that moment and appreciate it because once that moment is over, it’s gone forever. I don’t blame guys, especially you’ve got people like the former president in there, you have to appreciate and enjoy the moment.

The aftermath

The celebrations crossed the Atlantic at a rapid pace. The stoppage-time win over Algeria became a “Where were you when …” moment in this country’s sporting history.

That was compounded by the rise of social media, and the emergence of videos from watch parties across the U.S. They were featured in ad campaigns, they were picked up by morning shows and on the tongues of late-night hosts.

Walker Zimmerman, USMNT defender 2017-present: I think I was at a soccer tournament and at a restaurant or bar in between games with my mom just watching the game. It was an out-of-body experience while watching that final sequence go down. Everyone is holding their breath, ball goes in and you erupt and you say, “I don’t know any of these people around me, but I’m enjoying it.”

Donovan: We went back to the hotel, we went to bed. In the morning when I went to breakfast, [press officer Michael] Kammarman actually said, “Hey, dude, you got to see this” and he showed me that same video, and it was like, “Holy s—.” It was really powerful for those of us who have been in this game for a long time and never seen people care about soccer like that. And I think quickly after that, it started to sink in because it was like interview here, interview there, this person’s calling me, that person’s calling me. People had jumped on the bandwagon really fast.

Michael Kammarman, USMNT press officer 2001-present: At a World Cup, it’s always hard when you’re inside the team bubble to have a real sense of what the response is like back in the United States. We already had a large contingent of U.S. media in South Africa, and certainly there were a ton of media requests for Landon after the game, but what really hit home were the videos showing the reactions of fans around the country. Those took on a life of their own, and it was one of the first times that had really happened in sports. Landon came into the Studio 90 office and watched that awesome compilation video, and that was a real eye-opener for us on how big this was back home; you could see in that game and the week that followed that the focus of people in the United States was on the U.S. men’s national team in a way it probably had never been before.

Bornstein: I was roommates with Benny Feilhaber and we had learned about [the videos] just because people were telling us, “Oh my God, did you guys see the reaction?” So we watched them, like, immediately afterward. I remember watching them almost right after, then again and again and again. It was so motivating, to be honest, to see how the American people, all the fans reacted inside bars, inside homes, wherever they were. It was like everyone was in the same moment at the same time. It’s something that I’ll be able to share with my kids and hopefully grandkids for years to come.

Foudy: We’re in Johannesburg, so we have no idea what’s happening back in America, but it gave you a sense of the magnitude of that moment, and what it meant to soccer in our culture, which is something we’ve always had to convince people is a part of our culture. As a soccer player, they always say, “No, it’s not us. People aren’t passionate about it, it’s not in our blood like it is in other countries.” And that moment, I was like maybe it is! Look at us!

Lalas: It’s a wonderful piece of Americana and a piece of our soccer history.

Zimmerman: Gregg [Berhalter]’s first camp in January two years ago, we were doing a roommate questionnaire where at the end of a meal you had to stand up and share the answers to questions about your roommate, and one of the questions was, “What was your most memorable U.S. soccer moment?” It seemed like half of the team alluded to this goal as the most exciting and pivotal moment that they had witnessed in U.S. soccer history.

Lalas: That’s the defining moment for a player who’s had plenty of them. That’s the one that people will remember. And when I say people, I mean people that aren’t even involved in soccer.

Inside the Premier League bubble: A surreal ghost town where you have to bring your own sandwiches

11:23 AM ETIan DarkeESPN.com writer

So what is it like inside the bubble in the Premier League’s new biosecure world? My first experience of it, at Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal on Saturday, felt like being airlifted onto the set of a sci-fi movie.To get anywhere near the smart Amex Stadium in the first place you needed to have filled in a fair bit of paperwork to indicate you had no symptoms of the coronavirus, had not recently arrived from abroad and were not in a vulnerable category. On arrival, I was instructed to stay in the car and wear a mask (the club had provided one in their blue club colours, complete with a Seagulls logo). Then you had to wind down the window for a temperature check. I was declared healthy and allowed to park.Normally on a match day you would be among thousands of fans as you arrived, and swap banter with fellow commentators and media people while having a cup of coffee or tea and a bite to eat in the media room. But apart from Brighton club staff in those blue masks, there was almost nobody around the deserted stadium perimeter and that media room was closed, like all the food outlets. You had to bring your own sandwiches and refreshment. It felt like a sad and surreal ghost town.

The stadiums are divided into zones, with the players and officials and essential medical staff kept apart from everyone else in the red zone. All these people are tested for coronavirus twice a week, with anyone found to be positive ordered to self-isolate. First in the Bundesliga and now the Premier League, that has ensured a safe environment for the leagues to restart.All media are in the amber zone and are not allowed anywhere near the pitch or tunnel areas. My microphone and headphones were wrapped in a sanitised bag for use exclusively by me. All the other wires and equipment had been scrubbed clean.Behind the masks, there was a chance for a socially distanced chat about possible lineups with fellow commentators Jonathan Pearce, of the BBC, and Jim Proudfoot, who was working on the broadcast of the game sent out by the Premier League to the whole world. Normally we would put the finishing touches to our match preparation in the media room, and go down to the tunnel area where there may be the chance of picking up a vital morsel of information about players and tactics. Now that is impossible. I had to go straight to the outdoor commentary position, so just as well it was a warm sunny day on the south coast of England.When Arsenal arrived, I was able to phone a contact in that red zone who informed me that Gunners manager Mikel Arteta was likely to make a few changes; Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe among those expected to play, and Rob Holding was sure to get a rare outing in defenceThe conversation turned to the tricky travel logistics for away teams in this strange new world. The Premier League have advised clubs to make their journeys on match days to avoid the risk of transmission during overnight stays in hotels. Arsenal had taken some flak for flying up for Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester City as late as 5 p.m. for an 8 p.m. kick-off. They were accused of cutting it fine, and harming the players’ preparation.

But think about it. What are clubs supposed to do? Travel early and be left kicking their heels for hours in a faraway town? They cannot follow their normal routine of a sleep and prematch meal at a local hotel without breaking the guidelines. For this game, I learned that Arsenal had eaten at their training ground north of London in late morning and then made the 90-minute trip in two coaches to maintain social distancing on board. It is hardly ideal, but the away teams are facing a dilemma.And so to the game itself. The piped-in crowd noise may not be to everyone’s taste, but, for this commentator, at least it helps create a more authentic feel and buzz. Otherwise, no matter how good the game, it can feel like a reserve match with the players’ shouts echoing around a cavernous arena. TV broadcasters are giving viewers a choice, and most are opting to watch with the sound effects on.The clubs have done a fantastic job in dressing up the stadiums with attractive, colourful canvas covers for the empty seats, and Brighton have cardboard cutouts of 1,500 fans and famous ex-players sitting in their East Stand. They are doing their very best to make it feel like home, and managers are staging a lot of training sessions at the ground to get the players accustomed to the new environment.I think they need to tweak the drinks break idea. They are only necessary on a very hot day. It was farcical to see it in the pouring rain in Friday evening when Tottenham hosted Manchester United. The new five-substitute rule, meanwhile, is a nightmare for commentators. By the last 10 minutes, half the outfield players have changed. It is almost like a different game. I understand the increased risk of muscle injury after such limited preparation, but five subs makes it feel like a friendly.Clearly some teams are more rusty than refreshed. The restart is proving traumatic for Arsenal, with two defeats and a stack of injuries already. Brighton led the fight against staging matches at neutral grounds and it paid off with a dramatic late 2-1 win over the Gunners on home turf.Sad that their fans were not there to see it. As commentators we are privileged to be there to tell the story for those denied entry. It is good to have football back. And as weird as our “new normal” is inside the stadium bubble, it beats calling Bundesliga games off TV pictures from your office at home!


Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

6/19/20  EPL Returns Huge Game today, MLS Tourney July 8, Carmel FC Tryouts Mon afternoon 6/22

So the EPL  is back which of course means that bad calls not overturned by VAR is back.  Yes in the first game back – Aston Villa gave up a goal to Sheffield United (well the GK fell into the goal with the ball) but evidently Goal Line Technology didn’t work (the ref pointing to his watch to say no).  However anyone who could see the replay VAR – it was painfully obvious it was a goal. Hell the keeper knew – he looked up and just threw the ball out and thanked his lucky stars.  I have no problem with it being missed on the field – it was a bang bang play with his own player pushing him into the goal – but the replay was obvious.   If VAR isn’t going to fix this – a 1-0 win turning into a 0-0 tie – costing Sheffield 2 pts in the table moving them down from 6th to 7th possibly.  Just Ridiculous.  Somehow VAR works just fine in almost all countries in the world – except in the EPL?  The “  “ biggest league in the world somehow can’t figure out how to use friggin replay.  Come-on guys get a clue.  Technology – ah dah.  Awesome news that the Champions League is returning with an elite 8 single game elimination tourney in Lisbon, Portugal in August.   The NWSL becomes the first pro team sport in the US to return to play on June 27th and I am thrilled that the opening game will be on Saturday at 12:30 I think on CBS.  However the rest of the entire tourney being limited to CBS online –($6 a month) really ticks me off.  With NO American Sports on TV – why not play more games on CBS – or at least CBS SportsNetwork – which has literally NO live sports programming now?  Why not show the games on that network and online for those who do have CBSSN.  And why not put a game or two on CBS on the weekends – maybe if Saturday’s TV Audience shows up for the 27th 12:30 game CBS might change their minds.

Turning to the field – my favorite GK Gigi Buffon at the ripe young age of 42 – was his normal legendary self in the Copa Italian Final as Juventus was playing Napoli.  Buffon made a spectacular save at the end of the first half and again in extra time down the stretch as he made back to back saves – to keep the goose-egg on the board for Juve.  However in the shootout Juve’s first 2 shooters blew it and Juve and Buffon lost 4-2 on PKs.  A heartbreaking end for what might have been the legend’s last shot at an Italian Cup.

This Weekend Top Games

Tottenham will host Man United in a huge game with Champions League implications today at 3:15 pm as the Spurs welcome leading scorer Harry Kane back from injury.  The only other sort of big EPL game of the weekend has Everton hosting league leading Liverpool in the Mersyside Derby Sunday at 2 pm on NBC.  Great to finally see NBC getting a decent game for a change!! Of course we’ll see if Christian Pulisic gets time off the bench for Chelsea when they travel to Aston Villa with American youngster Indiana Vassilev on Sunday at 11:15 am on NBCSN.  Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig travel to Dortmund and hopefully a well Gio Reyna on Sat at 9:30 am.   Congrats are due to German Champions Bayern Munich who won their 8th straight title.   Of course La Liga, and the Serie A have a full weekend and next week of games on tap.   Full TV Schedule online

Carmel FC Tryouts

Tryouts for kids from U8 -U18 are Monday, June 22.  Carmel FC is a community-based club who has put tons of kids on the local high school teams at Carmel High, Guerin, University and more.  Click here for more info about CFC TryoutsTo register for tryouts/evaluations use the following link:  GotSoccer Registration
Date: June 22, 2020 for all Players
Location: Badger Fields

Times are by Birth year (These are tentative and subject to change)
Birth Years 2011 to 2014 at 5:00pm to 6:00pm 
Birth Years 2010 to 2008 at 6:15pm to 7:30pm
Birth Years 2007 to 2002 at 7:45pm to 9:00pm

To register for tryouts/evaluations use the following link:  GotSoccer Registration

Can’t make June 22nd?  Email Juergen Sommer to schedule a time on one of the following dates for supplemental tryouts.
– Tuesday June 23rd
– Monday June 29th
– Monday July 6th


Champions League Moves Finals to Portugal for Elite 8 Single Elimination Rounds
Champions League knockout tournament in Lisbon confirmed

Europa League Return Set as World Cup style Final
Bundesliga: Takeaways from Week 31

Werner Coming to Chelsea from RB Leipzig – ESPNFC

Premier League return: the issues to resolve
Premier League restarts with goal-line howler as players take knee

Tottenham v Man United preview: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Premier League returns with social issues high on the agenda

Premier League return: Previews of all 20 teams

Statement on Aston Villa v Sheffield United VAR, Goal Decision System error


Bruce Arena Weighs in on Anthem Playing and Qualification for US Team
2020 Golden Boy award shortlist announced
– 2 US Players on List

Eric Leiija to leaves Hull City during Break

Eric Wynalda Fired as Las Vegas Lights Coach

Biggest Threats to USWNT Throne – ESPNFC

Kevin Durant joins ownership group of MLS’ Philadelphia Union

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

Indy 11

Club Statement on Black Lives Matter

USL Set to Resume Season July 11

Indy 11 Special to Support Healthcare Workers

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

Raising Their Voyce: Zack Steffen, Legion FC’s Crognale Team on New Initiative

Louisville FC Training Facility Plans Released

From the Pitch –Birmingham’s Asst Coach Talks BLM


Legendary Gigi Buffon

Great Saves Last Week

Best Keeper Saves Last Year’s Champions League

Spectacular Saves from Champions League Past

Evolution of the GK Position

Christine Endler Chile/PSG Great Saves 2020

Workouts You Can Do at Home 1

Workouts at Home 3


Fri,  June 19 

1 pm NBCSN                                     Norwich vs Southampton  

1:30 pm beIN  Sport                         Granada vs Villareal

3:15 pm NBCSN                                Tottenham vs Man United

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Sevilla vs Barcelona

Sat,  June 20 

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Watford vs Leicester City

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs Frieburg

9:30 am FS2                                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

10 am NBCSN                                    Brighton Hove Albion vs Aresnal

12:30 pm NBC                                    Wet Han vs Wolverhampton

Sun,  June 21

9 am NBCSN                                    New Castle (Yedllin) vs Sheffeld United 

11:15 am NBCSN                            Aston Villa vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

2 pm NBC                                         Everton vs Liverpool 

4 pm beIN Sport                               Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid

Mon,  June 22

3 pm NBCSN                                     Man City vs Burnley 

1:30 pm EPSN+                                  Leccee vs Milan 

3:45 pm EPSN+                                  Bologna vs Juventus

Tues,  June 23

1 pm NBCSN                                     Liecester City vs Brighton

3:15 pm NBCSN                                Tottenham vs West Ham

6 pm beIN Sport                              Barcelona vs Athletic Club

Wed ,  June 24

1 pm NBCSN                                     Man United vs Sheffield United 

3 pm NBCSN                                     Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Thurs ,  June 25

1 pm NBCSN                                     Southampton vs Aresnal

3:15 pm NBCSN                               Chelsea vs Man City 

Fri  June 26

3:45 pm ESPN+                                  Juventus vs Lecce 

Sat,  June 27 

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Aston Villa v. Wolves, 7:30 a.m. NBCSN

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hoffenhiem

9:30 am FS2                                        Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich

12:30 pm ESPN+                                FA Cup Norwich City vs Man United

12:30 pm CBS                                      North Carolina vs Portland Thorns NWSL      

Sun, June 28

5 pm CBSSN                                         Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Sunday, June 28:                       Watford v. Southampton, 11:30 a.m. NBCSN
Monday, June 29:                            Crystal Palace v. Burnley, 3 p.m. NBCSN
Tuesday, June 30:                            Brighton v. Man United, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, July 1:                         Arsenal v. Norwich, 1 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, July 1:                         West Ham v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday, July 2:                    Sheffield United v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday, July 2:                    Man City v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN, *

Wed, July 8                                                            MLS Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | 12:30 pm CBS

OL Reign vs Sky Blue FC | July 1 10 am | CBS Sports Network,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash| July 2 10 am  | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS

Champions League knockout tournament in Lisbon confirmed

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports•June 17, 2020

The dates and details have been confirmed for a UEFA Champions League straight-knockout tournament held in Lisbon, Portugal in August to conclude the 2019-20 competition.UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin announced the news Wednesday, as the tournament will take place from August 12-23. The Champions League was halted on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic.The quarterfinals and semifinals will be one-off games instead of the usual two-legged format, while the remaining last 16 games will be played on August 7-8 either at home stadiums or either Porto or Guimares in Portugal if that is not possible.

Below are the Champions League dates, schedule and venue details for how the tournament will work, as UEFA also said they will make a decision in early July about whether or not fans will be allowed to attend. Ceferin said the coronavirus pandemic in Europe is ‘changing rapidly’ and UEFA will adjust accordingly in the coming weeks.The UEFA Champions League 2020-21 tournament will continue as planned, with the 2021 final now in Istanbul (the original 2020 final host), with Saint Petersburg the hosts for the 2022 final, Munich 2023 and Wembley 2024.All games will kick off at 3 p.m. ET for the remainder of the Champions League this season.

UEFA Champions League tournament schedule

August 7-8: Round of 16 second legs

Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (3-0)
Juventus v. Lyon (0-1)
Man City v. Real Madrid (2-1)
Napoli v. Barcelona (1-1)

August 12-15: Quarterfinals

Teams already qualified: Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig

August 18-19: Semifinals

August 23: Final

Venues to be used

Estadio da Luz, Benfica
Estadio Jose Alvade, Sporting Lisbon
Estadio do Dragao, Porto
Estadio D. Afonso Henriques, Guimares

Champions League set to resume in August as Lisbon plays host to remainder of tournament

Goal.com•June 17, 2020

UEFA has announced that the Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be held in Lisbon between August 12-23.The competition is set to resume following an extended break due to the coronavirus pandemic with four of the eight Round of 16 second-leg ties still left to be played.The remaining second-leg matches will be played on August 7-8, with a decision still to be made on whether they will take place at the home team’s stadiums or in Portugal.Paris Saint-Germain, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid and RB Leipzig have already solidified their place in the quarter-final round, which will take place between August 12-15 at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica and the Estadio Jose Alvalade.The semi-final round will be held on August 18-19 with the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica hosting the finale on August 23.With the condensed schedule, all remaining rounds will be played as single-leg ties with extra time and penalty kicks to decide winners.Istanbul, which was originally selected host this year’s final, will now host in 2021 with St. Petersburg hosting in 2022, Munich in 2023 and London in 2024 as host cities have seen their duties pushed back by one year.The Europa League, meanwhile, will be played as a straight knock-out tournament in  Germany, with Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen serving as hosts.In addition to the continuation of club competitions, UEFA confirmed that the 12 original host cities for Euro 2020 have been confirmed as venues for the rescheduled tournament in 2021.“I am delighted that we are able to resume almost all of our competitions. I am confident that we will not have to endure the fans’ absence for long and that they will be allowed into stadiums sooner rather than later,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.“UEFA took a bold decision when it decided to postpone EURO 2020.  But in doing so, we created the space which has allowed domestic club competitions across the continent to resume, where possible, and play to a conclusion.  While the game has suffered huge difficulties as a result of the pandemic, those blows would have landed much harder if we had not shown leadership in those early days.“The football community has worked together and shown tremendous unity during this unprecedented crisis. I would like to thank FIFA, our sister confederations, national associations, clubs, leagues, players and the relevant authorities for their continuous support and commitment and I am convinced that we come out of this crisis stronger and with closer links than ever before.

Bayern’s eighth straight Bundesliga title is both incredible and a problem

When it comes to underscoring Bayern Munich‘s dominance over German football, you can pick your poison. There’s the fact that the Bundesliga was formed in 1963 and the Bavarians have won it more times (29) than every other German team combined. There’s the fact that the Meisterschale they won Tuesday night is their eighth consecutive league title, and they won their previous seven by an average of 14.6 points. There’s the fact that since the Bundesliga moved to three points for a win 25 years ago, Bayern have recorded seven of the eight highest points totals in history in each of the past seven seasons. (Assuming they win one of their final two games, they’ll make it eight of nine.)

But perhaps the most remarkable fact is that they’ve dominated (again) despite so many things not going according to plan. For the second time in three years, they fired their manager in midseason, replacing him with an experienced assistant who hadn’t actually been a No. 1 since 2005.

They suffered injuries in key roles: their record signing, Lucas Hernandez, made only nine league starts, and their second-most expensive signing, Corentin Tolisso, only seven. Niklas Sule, who was supposed to partner Hernandez, suffered a season-ending injury in October. Philippe Coutinho — who is costing them close to $30 million a year in wages and loan fees and was supposed to play a critical role — turned out to be a bust, lasting 90 minutes in a league game only twice since early October. And, until last month, their goalkeeper and captain, Manuel Neuer, was in contract limbo, refusing to extend his deal after they locked down his long-term replacement, Alexander Nubel.

And they still won the title with games to spare.And before we hear the old cliche about the paucity of the competition, consider that RB Leipzig are Champions League quarterfinalists and Borussia Dortmund, who finished just two points back last season, invested heavily in the summer adding Julian BrandtThorgan Hazard and Mats Hummels, and doubling down in January with the arrival of Emre Can and Erling Haaland.There are two ways to read this and, yes, both can be true.

The first is that Bayern’s title is a prodigious feat because of the adversity the club had to overcome. Hindsight is 20/20 and we take things for granted, but think of the number of times we’ve heard about the importance of managerial stability, about avoiding injuries, about getting the big decisions right, about spending money wisely. Well, Bayern overcame all that, going on a prodigious tear that saw them take 52 of a possible 54 points since December. Credit manager Hansi Flick, credit the players, credit the strength and determination and winning culture of the club … whatever you like. But please credit them, because winning when so much goes wrong — whether it’s your fault (Niko Kovac, Coutinho) or whether you’re just unlucky (Sule, Tolisso, Hernandez) — is something special.But the other thing worth noting is that this is not normal. And, in fact, it hasn’t been normal in the history of football until very, very recently.

European football isn’t like U.S. pro sports. There’s no pretense or expectation of a level playing field; there is an acceptance that some teams are bigger and better resourced and, therefore, will win more. And winning more creates a virtuous cycle in which they earn more money and buy better players and continue winning. Yet if a team goes through as much adversity — both external and self-inflicted — as Bayern went through this season, you reasonably expect a closer finish.Not anymore — and it’s obviously not just a Bundesliga issue. Paris Saint-Germain have won seven of the past eight titles in France, while in ItalyJuventus are competing for their ninth in a row. Barcelona or Real Madrid have won La Liga in 14 of the past 15 seasons. Even in the Premier League, where the size of the TV deal means there are more wealthy clubs, only twice in the past five seasons has a “Big Six” team finished outside the top six.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve heard all this before. A combination of factors — from globalization to the boom in commercial rights, from the growth of broadcast revenue to the Bosman rule — have led to unprecedented polarization. And this has led to the scratching of heads and a search for fixes from salary caps and luxury taxes to super leagues. Heck, you can read my own modest proposal here.A lot of this is based on two assumptions that come from opposite sides of the spectrum. One is that this is somehow morally and ethically unfair and damages the spirit of competition, which is at the heart of the concept of sport. The other is that there’s a commercial imperative to make leagues exciting and hard fought, and that some semblance of parity is good for business: After all, a league where the same guys win year after year gets boring.Both arguments have their merits, but both ignore the reality. At the risk of sounding cynical, the moral/ethical/sporting argument has little traction. The big clubs have a stranglehold on institutions at every level. From UEFA to the Premier League right down to Greece and Scotland, the big clubs dominate with the argument that they bring in most of the money so they ought to get the lion’s share of the revenue. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, of course, but nobody is going to point that out. Especially not now, as leagues are increasingly independent of federations.As for the “bad for business” argument, the problem is simple: It hasn’t been. Germany is a perfect example. Bundesliga revenue has nearly doubled since 2012, when the current period of Bavarian hegemony began. Attendance has remained constant. Empty seats are a rare sight … obviously, before the pandemic.

Fans care about their teams and are willing to pay to see them. And while it necessarily doesn’t mean they’re happy with the lack of social mobility, it’s not enough to keep them away.There’s another wrinkle here, one that strikes deep at the differences between U.S. sports and European football — particularly the Bundesliga where, with a few exceptions, there is no single owner looking for a return on his investment. Sure, maybe the league could be more profitable with a different revenue-sharing model that gave more teams a chance to win. But when instead of an owner chasing profits, there are merely club boards whose sole goal is to reinvest everything in the club, there’s less of an urgency to milk the cow. Breaking even is more than enough.Obviously this isn’t the case everywhere and there are owners who pay themselves dividends out of club profits (the Glazer family at Manchester United are the obvious example). Elsewhere, there are others who extract money from the club in less transparent (and sometimes less salubrious) ways. But generally, the imperative is the same: Owners make their money, if they make it, when they sell the club, through capital appreciation. And their immediate return — a bit like the people who invest in thoroughbreds or America’s Cup teams — is through fame, networking and a seat at the table with other billionaire owners and private-equity guys.The reality is that two of the main drivers for a more level playing field — fans and owners — simply aren’t as strong in European football in general, but in the Bundesliga in particular. So we might as well get used to the idea of Bayern firing their manager, seeing three starters miss most of the season, spending lavishly on a superstar who turns out to be a dud and still winning the league by double digits.

USWNT’s biggest threats to the Women’s World Cup throne

On a match-for-match basis, France might have been the best team in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Jun 11, 2020  Bill Connelly  ESPN Staff Writer

In 14 combined Women’s World Cups and Olympic women’s soccer tournaments, the United States has failed to make at least the semifinals only once, losing in the quarterfinals to Sweden in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Its record is impeccable, and considering the Americans have won the past two World Cup finals by a combined 7-2, it’s safe to say they aren’t preparing to relinquish their best-in-the-world crown anytime soon.With each passing year, however, women’s soccer grows more tactically advanced. Based on how teams have played recently, and how their rosters are taking shape for 2023, let’s take a look at the 10 teams most capable of knocking the USWNT from its throne three years from now.

1. France

FIFA ranking: Third

2019 World Cup: Quarterfinals

On a match-for-match basis, France might have been the best team in the 2019 World Cup. In four matches against teams that made at least the knockout rounds, the French women averaged an expected goal (XG) differential of plus-1.62, far better than any other team in the past three tournaments. They dominated possession and were easily the most disruptive squad, averaging 13.4 possessions started in the attacking third against knockout-round teams. Opponents averaged only 5.3. If “field position” were a soccer term (and it should be), France would be a field-position master.Going by the box score, the French also probably should have beaten the U.S. in the quarterfinals. Megan Rapinoe’s early goal meant the U.S. was happy to let France possess the ball (60% of the time, with 347 completed passes compared to the 188 for the U.S.), and it could have easily backfired. France finished the 2-1 loss with double the shot attempts (20-10) and a 1.8-1.1 XG advantage. Sure, the French were at home, but at worst they were the USWNT’s equals.While a few key players might be in danger of aging out of the player pool — midfielder Gaétane Thiney (currently 34) and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi (33) — and longtime midfielder Élise Bussaglia has already retired, France has a young and dangerous core: forwards Valérie Gauvin (24) and Kadidiatou Diani (25), attacking midfielders Delphine Cascarino (23) and Grace Geyoro (22), etc. Plus, they have the best club team in the world to call on for reinforcements. Of the 27 players to have seen action for France in the past two years, eight play for four-time defending Champions League winner Lyon.

2. England

FIFA ranking: Sixth

2019 World Cup: Fourth place

Speaking of expected goals, the tally from the United States’ 2-1 victory over England in the World Cup semifinals was England 1.8, U.S. 0.8. The U.S. went up in the 31st minute, then held on for dear life for an hour straight. Ellen White saw a goal overturned by VAR in the 69th minute, Alyssa Naeher saved a Steph Houghton penalty in the 84th minute, and the outcome was uncertain all the way to the final whistle.It was England’s second consecutive heartbreaking loss in a World Cup semifinal — it fell to Japan in 2015 via an own goal in stoppage time — but it was also a reminder of how close England is. Over the past two years, 75% of its national team minutes have gone to players who will be between the ages of 28 and 35 in 2023. While Manchester City stars White (31), Houghton (32) and Jill Scott (33) are the veterans, they should still have something to offer, and the reinforcements — Lyon’s Nikita Parris, Arsenal’s Beth Mead, Chelsea’s aptly named Bethany England — will be entering their prime.Increased investment in the Women’s Super League in England can only help. Seventeen English players have logged at least 700 minutes for the national team in the past two years, and while three play for Lyon (Parris and fullbacks Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood), 12 play in the Super League, including six from Manchester City and three from newly crowned champion Chelsea. As this league improves, so will the competition level for national team candidates.

3. Germany

FIFA ranking: Second

2019 World Cup: Quarterfinals

Easily the second-most successful country in the history of women’s soccer, Germany is, like its men’s team, really good at hanging around. In 14 total World Cups and Olympic tournaments, the German women have reached at least the semifinals nine times. It was jarring to see them knocked out by Sweden in the quarterfinals last year.They, too, could take a peaking team to the next World Cup. Of the 12 players who have logged at least 500 minutes for the national team in the past two years, 11 will be between the ages of 28 and 33 in 2023. That’s pretty much exactly where you want to be, even if it means there might be some heavy roster churn after ’23.While they’ve got key contributors playing for Lyon (midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan) and Paris Saint-Germain (midfielder Sara Däbritz), they are also able to call on two very good club teams for depth: 37 players have logged time for the national team in the past two years, 11 play for Bayern Munich and eight play for a Wolfsburg team that is currently running rampant through both the Frauen-Bundesliga and Champions League (four wins and a 22-0 scoring margin in the first two knockout rounds). Forward Alexandra Popp, midfielder Svenja Huth and defender Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh are all Wolves and all in their prime.

4. Netherlands

FIFA ranking: Fourth

2019 World Cup: Runner-up

The Netherlands have overachieved its statistics of late, but it’s hard to ignore the simple fact that the Dutch won the 2017 Euros and reached the 2019 World Cup finals. Sure, they didn’t have to face France, England or Germany last summer, but the record is still awfully impressive for a rising team that didn’t even qualify for its first World Cup until 2015.Also impressive: Vivianne Miedema. The Arsenal forward has already scored 69 goals for her country and 203 goals in her club career, and she’s 23. Arsenal teammate Daniëlle van de Donk has been a mainstay for club and country and is still only 28, and they have excellent 27-year-old wingers in Lyon’s Shanice van de Sanden and Barcelona’s Lieke Martens.So if the Dutch have big wins and big stars, how are they not higher than fourth? For starters, their XG margin while winning the 2017 Euros was only plus-0.27 per match, seventh best in the tournament. Against knockout-round teams in the World Cup last year, it was minus-0.01. That’s not much margin for error. They also don’t appear to have the depth of the teams above them here, leaning on a smaller player pool for most of their minutes.Still, with Miedema the Dutch will contend.

5. Canada

FIFA ranking: Eighth (tie)

2019 World Cup: Round of 16

Canada has easily the strangest player pool among contenders. Over the past two years, only one player currently aged between 26 and 30 (defender Shelina Zadorsky) has logged serious minutes. Quite a few mainstays, such as forward and captain Christine Sinclair, might age out of the player pool soon. But the roster is littered with players who have both carved out national team niches and signed with big clubs: Manchester City’s Janine Beckie (25), Lyon’s Kadeisha Buchanan (24), PSG’s Ashley Lawrence (24) and Jordyn Huitema (19), OL Reign’s Rebecca Quinn (24), etc. Talent shouldn’t be an issue.No one dominated the ball like Canada at the 2019 World Cup — against teams that made the knockout rounds, the Canadians averaged 61% possession and took 6 more shots per match. Against Sweden in the round of 16, they had 59% possession, completed 132 more passes and attempted three more shots, but four of them were blocked and only one was on goal. Sweden didn’t manage much more than that but scored the lone goal. It was a missed opportunity.

6. Australia

FIFA ranking: Seventh

2019 World Cup: Round of 16

No contender has given more minutes recently to younger players than Australia. Of the 12 players to log at least 500 minutes in the past two years, eight are 26 or younger. That includes best-player-in-the-world candidate Sam Kerr (26) and fullback Ellie Carpenter, who has led the Matildas in minutes over these past two years despite just recently turning 20.Maybe this means Australia won’t be ready for true title contention until 2027, when this group is in peak age range and younger, and high-upside players such as Montpellier’s Mary Fowler (17) are further developed. But depth appears decent, and Kerr — the ESPYS winner for the best international player in 2018 and 2019 — makes the Matildas dangerous at all times, even if she’s been battling injuries since joining Chelsea this past fall. A large majority of their minutes go to players in the National Women’s Soccer League, but only a couple play for the same team. That makes familiarity and continuity tricky, but the upside is high.

7. Sweden

FIFA ranking: Fifth

2019 World Cup: Third place

Like Germany, Sweden always hangs around. The Swedes reached four World Cup semifinals and have only once failed to advance out of group play. They perhaps overachieved their stats last year in reaching the finals — they had a minus-0.3 XG differential per match — but they took only great shots (79% of them were in the box, easily the most in the tournament), blocked shots and crosses and scrapped like a veteran team should.They might be a little too veteran. Of the nine players who have logged at least 800 minutes for Sweden in the past two years, six will be at least 33 in 2023. There are interesting young players in the pipeline — Wolfsburg attacking midfielders Madelen Janogy (24) and Fridolina Rolfö (26) and Chelsea fullback Jonna Andersson (27). But while Sweden’s got talent and a track record, it might find itself between generations in 2023.

8. Japan

FIFA ranking: 11th

2019 World Cup: Round of 16

Japan has a strong women’s league to call on — the Nadeshiko League employs 10 of the team’s top 11 recent minutes-earners (eight play for either Nippon TV Beleza or INAC Kobe Leonessa). And like Canada and Australia, the Japanese women have already begun to get a look at their future: 18 players have logged at least 370 national team minutes in the past two years, and 12 are 24 or younger.

As far as known quantities, though, the lineup is a bit of a mess. Forwards Yuika Sugasawa and Mana Iwabuchi have been productive, but a large cast of midfield candidates hasn’t. Among players who are in the prime age range, only Lyon center back Saki Kumagai is a truly known entity. Having lots of young options is great, but some of them have to become key contributors — and quickly.

9. Norway

FIFA ranking: 12th

2019 World Cup: Quarterfinals

One of the sport’s early powers, Norway’s women have, of late, been most notable for who doesn’t play for them. For the past three years, they have been without Lyon striker and 2018 Ballon d’Or Féminin winner Ada Hegerberg. Only 24, she has already scored 220 goals in 182 appearances for the best club in women’s soccer. She would immediately make Norway a top-eight team at worst. (At least she would once she’s recovered from her current ACL injury.) She quit the national team in 2017 in protest of poor support of the women’s squad, so her future with the squad is uncertain.

What-ifs aside, Norway still has dynamite midfielders in Chelsea’s Guro Reiten (25) and Wolfsburg’s Ingrid Engen (22). Strikers Caroline Graham Hansen, Isabell Herlovsen and Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland are decent Hederberg stand-ins. It beat Australia to reach the World Cup quarterfinals last year, and the core roster should enjoy solid continuity in 2023.

10. Spain

FIFA ranking: 13th

2019 World Cup: Round of 16 (best finish)

In terms of raw talent, Brazil should probably hold a spot on this list. But it is still alarmingly reliant on 42-year-old Formiga and 34-year-old Marta, and an iffy home league means it has players in basically every league in the world. It’s hard to get home for international matches, and the Brazilians have played 49 players in the past two years. Even with former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage in charge, it’s going to be awfully hard to build a strong, familiar squad.

Instead, Spain gets the final spot. It had the second-best possession rate in the most recent World Cup (61%), attempting 177 more passes and creating 7.3 more chances per match than opponents. The Spanish women gave the U.S. fits in the round of 16, too, before falling via a late Rapinoe penalty.

Finishing was an issue. Against teams that made the knockout rounds, they averaged just 1.1 XG per match and actually scored 0.3 per match. Midfielders Virginia Torrecilla and Alexia Putellas will assure that the possession game remains strong, and 21-year-old Athletic Bilbao winger Lucía García has massive potential, but Spain needs a little more bite to move further up this list.

BACK TO WORK for Indy 11

By Spencer Sharpe, 06/17/20, 10:30AM EDT

Indiana’s Team Returns to Training at Grand Park Sports Complex

Indy Eleven took the field on March 7, kicking off the 2020 season with a match away to Memphis. It was a resounding 4-2 victory and laid down a strong benchmark for what was to come.  In the three months since, they have not taken the field again.As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country, sports became one of the many institutions put on standby as the nation tried to flatten the curve.In the interim, both the staff and players of Indy Eleven found themselves in limbo, awaiting a return to training and a chance to be back on the playing field.

“Obviously having that preseason, get one game under our belt and then suddenly have this big break was a bit weird,” Eleven captain Matt Watson said. “That’s something I’ve never experienced before in my career.”New signing Nick Moon shares that sentiment. As a younger professional, he got his first taste of action with Indy in that season opener, appearing off the bench and tallying two assists on his debut. Unlike many others on the squad and as a newcomer to Indianapolis, Moon does not have the commitments they do. As such, his lifestyle has become quite different.“[I] basically just have training, games, traveling, all that stuff is what I spend most my time, or my energy doing,” Moon said. “It’s such a weird time.”In recent weeks, that training portion has become more prevalent, as Indiana’s Team has returned to its home at Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield. Adhering to a strict set of safety protocols might seem like the most obvious change, but another difference to get used to has been having to train for a team sport as individuals – just one of several steps to check off in anticipation of when the season restarts.“The league set up a lot of different points that we have to align with,” Head Coach Martin Rennie said. “Since we’ve been back in practice it’s been really good to see the players.”Even though the players are back to soccer activities, training is not quite what the squad is used to. Split into groups of 10, based on roommates and those that live close to each other, the players are doing what they can to stay fit and focused on the resumption of the USL Championship season, with a provisional start date currently set for July 11.Simple, non-contact drills have replaced the typical five-a-side and 11v11 scrimmages the players would normally be engaged in. More shooting practice, more passing and more technical work is getting done in this time.“The shooting’s been fun though,” Watson said smiling. “I’ve had a lot of fun [shooting].”Rennie says that even though it is small groups, it is better than the individualized workout regiments the players were doing previously at their respective homes. Watson says that he prefers it to having to work-out by himself. “It’s good to get back out there, see the boys more,” Watson said.Rennie recently spoke to Soccer Saturday host Greg Rakestraw, expressing his happiness about the return to training.“It’s a really positive step forward,” Rennie said. “It’s fun to be a bit more involved in the training. We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”Though the players have been apart, Rennie believes the squad has done well to stay motivated during this time. Now back in practice, that motivation is being used to get back in the swing of things.“We have to make the most of the situation that we have,” Rennie said.Before the shutdown, the squad took the necessary steps to keep fit and so the transition has not been as rough as it could have been.“Obviously, we did a lot of work in preseason on the tactics and the team shape and so it shouldn’t take us too long to refresh everybody’s memory. Everybody is itching to get started,” Coach Rennie told the radio show.Come mid-July, Indiana’s Team will be prepared to continue their challenge for the USL Championship Cup.


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6/12/20 EPL Returns Wed, MLS Tourney July 8, Italian Cup Fri/Sat 2:45 pm, La Liga/Bundesliga weekend games

We welcome back English, Italian and Spanish Soccer this weekend and next week.  Italian Cup action starts today- Semi’s with Juventus and Renaldo hosting Milan on ESPN+ at 2:45 pm Friday and Napoli facing Inter at 2:45 on Saturday – the finals are Wed at 2:45 .  La Liga (Spain) returned Wed and features Barcelona 4 pm on Sat and Real Madrid at 4 pm on Sun both on beIN Sport.    Wed we get the EPL back with Man City facing Arsenal at 2:30 pm on NBCSN along with some decent games next weekend.

MLS Returns July 8

MLS has announced their return with an MLS is Back World Cup Style Tournament starting July 8 in Orlando Disney World Area.  Round of 16 games July 25-28, will be followed by Quarter Finals July 30,  Semi-Finals Aug 5/6, and the Final Aug 11 on ABC.   It looks like most of the games will be televised many on ESPN networks and the remainder on ESPN+, the Winner will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League 2021 and MLS will return with regular season after that.  Nice to see the draws holding local rivalries in place.  We’ll get El Traffico LAFC vs LA Galaxy, A Cascadia Cup Clash between Seattle and Vancouver, The Canadian Classic Toronto FC vs Montreal, The Rocky Mountain Cup of Colorado vs Sporting KC and the newly minted Hell is Real Derby between Columbus and Cincinatti.  Great to see all the Rivalries on hand – hopefully MLS will use this to help bolster the sport – as the only major league men’s sport playing in Early July.  Of course NWSL- the ladies return June 27th on CBS Sports Network at 3 pm with their World Cup Style Tourney from Salt Lake City Utah.  Full Tourney breakout below.

This Weekend US Players in Germany

Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig travel to Hoffenhiem at 2:30 on FS2 Friday, while Sat gives us Dortmund and Gio Ryna still getting tons of playing time traveling to Dusseldorf 930 am on FS1 – where Morales came off the bench for 30 min last week and US Starting Keeper Zack Steffen is getting closer returning.  Timmy Chandler continues to start for Frankfurt and he’ll feature vs Hertha Berlin on Sat at 9:30 on FS2.  Sunday gives us Schalke and Weston McKinney vs Leverkusen at noon on FS2.  McKinney should return to start after sitting last game for yellow card accumulation.

Carmel FC has returned to Training !

Tryouts Confirmed for June 22

Anyone looking to workout 1 on 1 with Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr – can email him direct at farrjordn13@gmail.com   Not sure when CFC GK Training might return with new Corona Virus guidelines.


Fri,  June 12  

2:30 pm Fox Sport2                            Hoffenheim vs RB Leipzig (Adams)  

3:45 pm ESPN +                                  Serie A (Italy) Cup – Juventus vs AC Milan

4 pm beIN  Sport                                Valencia vs Levante

Sat, June 13

9:30 am FS1                                        Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Dusseldorf

12:30 pm FS2                                      Bayern Munich vs Mgladbach  

2:45 pm ESPN +                                  Napoli vs Inter Milan Copa Italia –

4 pm beIN  Sport                                Mallorca vs Barcelona

Sun, June 14 

8 am beIN Sport                                 Athetic Club vs Atletico Madrid

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Manz vs Ausburg

12 noon Fox Sport 2                            Bayer Leverkusn vs Schalke (Mckinney)

1:30 pm beI N Sport                           Real Madrid vs Eibar

Tue  June 16  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                          Mgladbach vs Wolfburg

2:30 pmFS2                                         Bremen (Stewart) vs Bayern Munich

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Leganes

Wed, June 17                                      EPL Returns

Wed,  June 17  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                          Frankfurt (Chandler) vs schalke (McKinney)

1 pm NBCSN                                       Aston Villa vs Sheffield United

2:30 pm NBCSN                                  Man City vs Arsenal

2:45 pm ESPN+                                   COPA ITALIA FINAL 

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Osasuna vs Atletico Madrid

2:30 pm FS2                                        Dortmund vs Mainz

Thurs,  June 18

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Real Madrid vs Valencia

Fri,  June 19 

1 pm NBCSN                                       Norwich vs Southampton  

1:30 pm beIN  Sport                           Granada vs Villareal

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Tottenham vs Man United

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Sevilla vs Barcelona

Sat,  June 20 

7:30 am NBCSN                                  Watford vs Leicester City

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Bayern Munich vs Frieburg

9:30 am FS2                                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

10 am NBCSN                                     Brighton Hove Albion vs Aresnal

12:30 pm NBC                                     Wet Han vs Wolverhampton

Sun,  June 21

9 am NBCSN                                       New Castle (Yedllin) vs Sheffeld United 

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Bayern Munich vs Frieburg

9:30 am FS2                                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

11:15 am NBCSN                                Aston Villa vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

2 pm NBC                                           Everton vs Liverpool 

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid

Mon,  June 22

3 pm NBCSN                                       Man City vs Burnley 

1:30 pm EPSN+                                   Leccee vs Milan 

3:45 pm EPSN+                                   Bologna vs Juventus

Tues,  June 23

1 pm NBCSN                                       Liecester City vs Brighton

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Tottenham vs West Ham

6 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Athletic Club

Wed ,  June 24

1 pm NBCSN                                       Man United vs Sheffield United 

3 pm NBCSN                                       Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Thurs ,  June 25

1 pm NBCSN                                       Southampton vs Aresnal

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Chelsea vs Man City 

Fri  June 26

3:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus vs Lecce 

Wed, July 8                                         MLS Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash | July 1 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Orlando Pride | July 5 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,


 When will Europe’s top leagues start and finish: all you need to know

US Players Weekend Viewing Guide

Home advantage a thing of the past in empty stadiums 8hTom Hamilton

Serie A is back: Everything you need to know  27mGabriele Marcotti

EPL Teams with Toughest Road


U.S. Soccer repeals ban on kneeling during anthem

Beasley: You get taught certain things as a Black kid in America

Is Pulisic’s spot at Chelsea in Danger as New Players Arrive?  ESPNFC

How the USWNT became a dominant force 3dBill Connelly   

U.S. international Johnson to leave Gladbach


Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Is Back with Tourney – all we know – ESPN

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

MLS Provides Details on Olrando Tourney in July

MLS won the CBA talks, but lockout threat left players angry 8hJeff Carlisle

Wiebe: What MLS is Back means in our changed world

Chris Duvall: “We’ve still got a long way to go”

MLS Hopes to be Back with Fans in Stands in August? – ESPNFC

Q&A: How the NWSL plans to restart on June 27

Indy 11

Club Statement on Black Lives Matter

USL Set to Resume Season July 11

Indy 11 Special to Support Healthcare Workers

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

Is Pulisic under threat at Chelsea as Werner and Ziyech prepare to arrive at Stamford Bridge?

5:00 AM ETJames OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

Christian Pulisic recently claimed that “nobody even noticed me” on his first day with the Chelsea squad. As the Blues’ summer transfer strategy begins to take shape, he could be forgiven for wondering if that is still the case.The coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainty in the financial planning of many clubs, but Chelsea are so far taking a purposeful and proactive approach to their decision-making.

Timo Werner‘s imminent acquisition was a smart piece of opportunism after Liverpool hesitated in meeting the RB Leipzig forward’s release clause. The subsequently swift agreement on a five-year contract worth up to £200,000-a-week is a further sign of their resolute will to challenge for the Premier League title.Werner will join Hakim Ziyech, a £38 million signing from Ajax, but Chelsea are not done there. They are actively pursuing another attacking player with Kai Havertz now the most likely candidate, as senior figures at Stamford Bridge act in the belief Borussia Dortmund‘s Jadon Sancho is destined for Manchester United. A loan move for Barcelona‘s Philippe Coutinho remains possible, but Havertz is seven years younger and available for a similar permanent fee — around £75m — a fact that has also not gone unnoticed by United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

– Ogden: Chelsea, United make moves to challenge Liverpool, City

There is no guarantee Chelsea will be able to sign another attacking target, but the mere fact they are pursuing several targets highlights Frank Lampard’s dissatisfaction with his current options — a situation that could make Pulisic feel like the forgotten man all over again.Lampard has repeated one clear message in video sessions with the first-team squad at Cobham: move the ball quickly. The 41-year-old has rotated formations between 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-2-1 during his maiden season in charge of Chelsea but, no matter how they line up, Lampard views speed in transition as vital to success. It is a key reason why Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi were preferred in attack while Olivier Giroud was made to wait an eternity for his chance; both players are more mobile, able to stretch defences by running in behind and opening up more space for wingers coming in off the flank.Lampard has long wanted an upgrade in his preferred mould: a quick, incisive forward whose sharp movement will create almost as many opportunities for his teammates as it will for himself. He also needed a proven track record in front of goal. Werner and Lyon‘s Moussa Dembele fit the profile, the former proving an easier deal to conclude.And so, with Ziyech’s arrival already confirmed, suddenly two of the three attacking positions in Lampard’s preferred 4-3-3 shape appear occupied. Indeed, Werner could even play off the left with Abraham through the middle. Pulisic already faces a fight to prove himself part of Lampard’s first-choice lineup even without Havertz, Sancho or Coutinho joining the club. Such competition for places is inevitable at a top club targeting silverware, but the impending overhaul completes a turbulent first season in England for Pulisic.Last summer, the winger decided to cut short his postseason holiday to just one week — despite representing the United States in the Gold Cup — in an effort to ingratiate himself to Lampard. First contact with his new teammates — when boarding the bus in Japan for a preseason training session — came through bleary, jet-lagged eyes. Pulisic may have felt that “nobody even noticed me” in that underwhelming welcome, but players quickly warmed to a softly spoken yet fiercely determined American with obvious talent in abundance.It is worth remembering that Pulisic signed for a manager he never actually played for. Maurizio Sarri was sacked in June and sources have told ESPN there was only the briefest of conversations between the Italian and his new £58m acquisition upon his arrival in London. Pulisic was unveiled prior to the Europa League final, at a point when Sarri already knew he would be leaving the club and therefore never manage the U.S. international at Stamford Bridge.Pulisic had to deal with both the uncertainty of a new, as yet unidentified, manager and the immediate task of replacing the colossal presence of Eden Hazard, who was set for Real Madrid after seven years in west London. Settling into the English capital was easier than arriving at Dortmund at just 16. There was no language barrier to overcome, but with a price tag exacerbated by Chelsea’s inability to make any further signings because of their FIFA transfer ban, expectations have been high from the outset.

He threw himself into preseason training, but concerns over fatigue and his robustness for the intensity of Premier League action led to a slow start. After a promising full debut in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool, Pulisic featured in just three of the club’s opening nine league games and none between Aug. 31 and Oct. 26. Burnley were the victims of his pent-up frustration on a cold evening at Turf Moor when he announced himself in English football with a superb hat trick.”I felt I’d done okay up to that point but I hadn’t really shown everything that I could do, so going into that game, I did have a chip on my shoulder,” Pulisic later recalled.Lampard could not hide his delight after Chelsea’s 4-2 win. “He’s going to be a big, big player for us,” said the Chelsea head coach. “He showed a lot of that today and now let’s see him go.”The Burnley outing marked the first of 12 successive starts across three different competitions as Pulisic hit a rich vein of individual form. However, Chelsea lost five times during that run as Lampard began to lament a cyclical problem: profligacy in front of goal. It wasn’t a failing laid solely at Pulisic’s door, but Lampard bemoaned the wastefulness of his attacking players with such regularity that by February he described himself as a “broken record” on the subject.This is the root of Lampard’s desire to reinvent Chelsea’s attack. With Willian and Pedro almost certain to leave when their contracts expire at the end of the season, Lampard has seen an opportunity for a changing of the guard. Werner is 24, Ziyech turned 27 in March. Abraham is 22, Mason Mount — who has played on the left wing and as a No. 10 — is 21, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is just 19. Aged 21, Pulisic can be at the forefront of this new era, but his prominence within it is in greater doubt than first appeared.Much will depend on Lampard’s preferred system in future. Lampard has opted for 4-3-3 in 15 of Chelsea’s 29 Premier League games this season. The pursuit of Havertz hints at a greater use of a No. 10 and a 4-2-3-1 shape in future. Pulisic can play there or off the flank.”I do really like playing on the left wing and also in that 10 spot essentially behind the forward,” he said. “I’d say those are my two favourite positions.”Yet rather than building a team around Pulisic in the same way Chelsea did for the player he replaced — Hazard — Lampard is keen for greater versatility and interchangeability of positions to make his team far less predictable than those irritating home defeats suggested. Werner’s ability to play off the left is a useful characteristic in that regard, also allowing Lampard to accommodate both him and Abraham should he so choose.An intriguing subplot in the coming weeks — and potentially months — is Abraham’s ongoing contract talks. He has two years left on his remaining deal, but having enjoyed a breakthrough season as Chelsea’s No. 9, he will understandably seek reassurances over his future role following the signing of Werner, who was convinced to join Chelsea partly on the basis he would be a first-team regular.Pulisic has no such contractual concerns to leverage any unhappiness. Instead, he simply has to deliver on his undeniable potential by becoming the “big, big player” Lampard previously forecast.

DaMarcus Beasley: You get taught certain things as a Black kid in America

June 10, 20201:09PM EDTJonathan SigalContributor

US men’s national team all-time great DaMarcus Beasley recently joined former teammate Jimmy Conrad for an interview on the latter’s Twitch channel, where they shared an honest conversation about race in America.Specifically, Beasley described the conversations his father had with his sons about how to act. His father grew up in Savannah, Georgia and experienced racial tensions first-hand.“We had those conversations and you had to act a certain way,” Beasley said. “He would say, ‘Make sure you don’t have anyone in your car that you don’t know, make sure you don’t wear your hat backwards if you wear a hat, make sure your hair is always cut, make sure you look presentable whenever you’re around people and outside doing whatever.’ Those things you get taught as a kid, growing up black in this country.”Before retiring as a Houston Dynamo defender last year, Beasley enjoyed a 20-year professional career that started with the Chicago Fire in 2000 and spanned more than 500 games for club and country, with stops at PSV Eindhoven, Manchester City, Glasgow Rangers, Hannover 96 and Liga MX side Puebla. He encountered players of all race and backgrounds, but diversity was difficult to find during his Fort Wayne, Indiana upbringing.“I only had three Black teammates through that whole process, throughout my whole soccer career in Fort Wayne,” Beasley said. “So, I didn’t really see color back then.”Eventually, Beasley went off to U.S. Soccer’s residency program in Bradenton, Florida. At that juncture, it was inspiring to see other Black players at the same level: “It was great to see and finally be with someone that looked like you and knew how hard it took to get there and to be able to joke a certain way, to get the jokes we’re kinda used to it.”For more from Beasley on race in America, his distinguished career and more, check out the entire interview here.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: things are getting interesting

There are some tight races to avoid relegation and qualify for European competition.

By jcksnftsn  Jun 12, 2020, 8:00am PDT

We remain focused on the Bundesliga this weekend, where four matchdays remain and positions are starting to be finalized, relegation is looming ever more threateningly, and the pressure of every match is clear. There will be five Bundesliga matches of USMNT significance broadcast nationally in the United States, along with two additional games on Fox’s more exclusive packages with significant European or relegation implications.


Hoffenheim v RB Leipzig – 1:30p on FS2

Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig have a three point advantage in securing a Champions League birth over Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach who are tied with 56 points. Leipzig could have pulled five points clear in the race for the European competition, but playing with ten men for half the match after Dayot Upamecano was sent off, the team gave up a goal at the death against last place SC Paderborn last weekend. Tyler Adams started the match in a central midfield role and played the full 90, but was moved to right back as the team shifted things around following the loss of their central defender. The team’s pattern since the return to break has seen Adams start every other match while coming on for 30+ minutes when he begins on the bench.

This weekend, the team will face Hoffenheim, who are currently in seventh place, within two points of Wolfsburg for Europa League qualification. Hoffenheim have picked up eight points over the past four weeks thanks to a soft schedule that has seen them face three of the bottom four and 12th place FC Köln.


Fortuna Düsseldorf v Borussia Dortmund – 9:30a on FS1

Fortuna Düsseldorf and Alfredo Morales seemingly have more to play for on Saturday given their tenuous position in the relegation battle. Currently, Düsseldorf sit in 16th place, which is the relegation playoff spot. The team is 3 points behind Mainz 05 for guaranteed safety and 3 points ahead of Werder Bremen for guaranteed relegation to the second division. Morales came off the bench last weekend and played 24 minutes in the team’s 2-2 draw with Hoffenheim, who played nearly the entire match down a man. Zack Steffen is reportedly close to a return for Düsseldorf, but it remains to be seen if the team (perhaps with some “advice” from parent club Manchester City) will bring him back down the stretch or let him ride out the season to avoid any potential aggravation.

Düsseldorf’s opponent this weekend is second place Borussia Dortmund, who currently sit 7 points behind Bayern Munich for first place and 7 points ahead of ‘Gladbach and Leverkusen for 5th place. While not mathematically eliminated from either direction, such a move would be shocking and their fate could be determined this weekend. Giovanni Reyna continues to look for that first start, and it would be a bit surprising if he doesn’t see one down the stretch. Still, he continues to see regular minutes which, in and of itself, is a significant accomplishment for a 17-year-old at one of the top clubs in Germany.

Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt – 9:30a on FS2

Timothy Chandler started and went 90 minutes for Eintracht Frankfurt in their midweek loss to Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the dfb Pokal. Chandler came off the bench last weekend in the teams 0-2 loss to Mainz. The team has little to play for down the stretch, being 10 points from European qualification and 10 points above relegation. Chandler has seen a consistent role with the club in the second half of the season, though lately the starting opportunities have been more difficult to come by.

Eintracht faces Hertha Berlin this weekend, who are 3 points ahead of them and sit at 9th in the table. Seven points back of Wolfsburg, Hertha also seem unlikely to make a move for the Euro spots, but the club had been on a very impressive stretch picking up 10 points in the first 4 games since resuming play before losing 1-0 to Borussia Dortmund last weekend.

Looking through the paywall:

  • John Brooks and Wolfsburg look to solidify their Europa League position when they face a SC Freiburg team that is just four points behind them at 9:30a on Fox Soccer Plus.
  • Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen face Paderborn at 9:30a on Fox Soccer Match Pass in a match that is absolutely critical if they are to avoid relegation.


Schalke 04 v Bayer Leverkusen – Noon on FS2

Weston McKennie missed Schalke’s 1-1 draw with Union Berlin last weekend due to yellow card accumulation. While a 1-1 draw with the 14th placed team might not seem significant, it did snap a four game losing streak for Schalke. It was just the team’s 5th point in their last 12 matches, and they are looking for their first win since January. The lack of results has seen Schalke drop from a European contender to 10th place. This won’t get any easier this weekend as they face fifth place Bayer Leverkusen, who are looking to crack the top four and a Champions League berth.Let us know what you’re watching this weekend as the Bundesliga rolls on.

MLS is Back Tournament draw sees LAFC, LA Galaxy picked together

4:21 PM ET  ESPN

Major League Soccer held its draw for the MLS is Back Tournament as the league prepares to return to action at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 8 in Kissimmee, Florida.The Eastern Conference portion of the draw saw Canadian rivals Toronto FC and Montreal Impact drawn against one another in Group C and 2018 MLS Cup champions Atlanta United paired with the Columbus Crew, FC Cincinnati and the New York Red Bulls.On the Western Conference side of the draw, defending MLS Cup winners Seattle Sounders were the seeded team in Group B and were paired with Cascadia rivals Vancouver. In Group F, LAFC was picked alongside the LA GalaxyHouston Dynamo and Portland Timbers.The tournament will consist of a group stage with each team playing three matches, followed by a knockout stage. The final will be played Aug. 11. The teams were drawn into six groups, with the top two teams in each group, plus the four best third-place finishers, qualifying for the round of 16.


June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida
July 8: Group stage begins
July 25-28: Round-of-16
July 30- Aug. 1: Quarterfinals
Aug. 5-6: Semifinals
Aug. 11: MLS is Back Tournament Final

GROUP A (Eastern Conference)
1. Orlando City SC*
2. Inter Miami CF
3. New York City FC
4. Philadelphia Union
5. Chicago Fire
6. Nashville SC

GROUP B (Western Conference)
1. Seattle Sounders*
2. FC Dallas
3. Vancouver Whitecaps
4. San Jose Earthquakes

GROUP C (Eastern Conference)
1. Toronto FC*
2. New England Revolution
3. Montreal Impact
4. D.C. United

GROUP D (Western Conference)
1. Real Salt Lake*
2. Sporting Kansas City
3. Colorado Rapids
4. Minnesota United

GROUP E (Eastern Conference)
1. Atlanta United*
2. FC Cincinnati
3. New York Red Bulls
4. Columbus Crew SC

GROUP F (Western Conference)
1. LAFC*
2. LA Galaxy
3. Houston Dynamo
4. Portland Timbers

* denotes seeded team in each group

All of the group stage matches will count in the regular-season standings, with the winner of the tournament earning a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, regardless of whether it is a U.S. or Canadian club. The first match pits MLS’ Florida teams Orlando City and Inter Miami in Group A against one another, with a total of 54 matches played over the course of the tournament.Teams will begin to head to Orlando starting on June 24, though arrival dates will vary because most teams will prefer to train in their home facilities. Teams must arrive no later than seven days before their first match.In addition to matches that count in the regular-season standings and the Champions League berth, players will have the opportunity to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool.”We are pleased to team up with Disney to relaunch the 2020 MLS season and get back to playing soccer,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said on Wednesday. “The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play.”MLS has been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic since March 12, when the regular season was just two matches old.

MLS is Back Tournament: What we know about player testing, groups, schedule

5:10 PM ET  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Major League Soccer’s plan for getting back on the field is now official, almost three months after the 2020 season shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The return will come in the form of a World Cup style competition to be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World. The competition, called the MLS is Back Tournament, will begin with a group stage followed by knockout rounds.

Plans for this competition have been in the works for almost the entirety of the shutdown, and they didn’t come to fruition until some tense negotiations with the MLS Players Association over a new collective bargaining agreement had been concluded. All told, the players gave up over $100 million in economic concessions.

With the plans now in place, here’s what you need to know — and the things we still don’t know — about MLS’s return.

– MLS is Back Tournament: Full draw includes LAFC vs. LA Galaxy
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

What will the tournament look like?

The league’s 26 teams were divided into six groups. There was one six-team group in the Eastern Conference — thanks to Nashville moving from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference — along with two four-team groups. The Western Conference consists of three four-team groups.

As the host city, Orlando was seeded in Group A, with Atlanta United, Toronto FC, LAFC, the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake comprising the remaining seeded teams. The games will begin on July 8, with each team playing three matches. (Fans in the United States will be able to watch games live on ESPN networks.) The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout stages, with the final being played on Aug. 11. (Full game schedule is TBC.)

What are some of the highlights from the draw?

Several top rivalries were drawn together in the group stages on Thursday, with LAFC and LA Galaxy ending up the highlight of Group F alongside Portland Timbers and the Houston Dynamo.

Defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders were drawn against their rivals in the Pacific Northwest, the Vancouver Whitecaps, in Group B while the team they defeated in the 2019 final, Toronto FC, were drawn in Group C against fellow Canadians Montreal Impact as well as D.C. United and the New England Revolution.

The two Florida teams, Inter Miami CF and Orlando City SC, were also drawn together in Group A alongside Philadelphia Union, New York City FC, Chicago Fire and Nashville SC in the tournament’s only six-team group.

The kickoff times are weird. Why is that?

At first glance, the schedule certainly seems bizarre. The games will be held at 9 a.m. ET, 8 p.m. ET, and 10:30 p.m. ET (2 p.m. GMT, 1 a.m. GMT and 3 a.m. GMT). The reasoning is simple: it will avoid playing games in the midday blast furnace — average high temperatures are 92 degrees, with an average low of 78 degrees — that is high summer in Florida.

How many people will be inside the bubble? And can they leave?

All told, there will be 1,200-1,500 inside the bubble, which will (mostly) consist of the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee. These include players, coaches and support staff, as well as league personnel. The players and staff from hometown club Orlando City will also be inside the bubble. Leaving the hotel for anything other than team- and/or league-approved events is prohibited for as long as that player’s team is in the tournament.Teams will head down to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World starting on June 24, but each club has some flexibility in terms of arrival time. Those teams operating in locales with loosening stay-at-home orders will opt to stay in their home markets as long as possible, helping to limit time spent away from families. That means it may be July before some teams arrive in Orlando.It’s expected that six to eight teams, usually those subject to more stringent local restrictions, will opt to get to Orlando closer to June 24.What if a player goes stir-crazy and leaves? In a subsequent interview with ESPN, Garber conceded that “the bubble is not airtight.” But in terms of the steps to be taken if a player decides to go out on the town, the protocol on that is still being crafted.In a bid to prevent players from breaking the bubble, Garber said, “There will be a significant amount of player-engaged activities that our group is now working with Disney on.”That said, discipline will be required. “We’re going to need our collective commitment to ensure that we’re not leaving that environment in any way because that’s only going to threaten the health of themselves and everybody around them,” Garber told ESPN.


What about on the field during game days?

Game days will see personnel divided into three tiers based on the level of testing they’ve undergone. The top tier includes players, coaches, club officials, referees and medical staff. Pool photographers, broadcasters, league staff, VAR staff, communications staff and the stretcher crew will fit into Tier 2. Tier 3 will be comprised of media, non-rights holder TV crews, photographers and a club’s digital staff.Tier 3 personnel will not be subject to testing for COVID-19. The league is considering having a limited number of media inside the bubble, which would require them to undergo testing. All told, 183 people will be on or close to the field for matches, with the number increasing to 189 for the opener and final. (More on testing further down.)

Have the players signed off? How do they feel about it?

The players have agreed to go, but there are definitely mixed emotions. On the one hand, players are eager to get back on the field; on the other, they don’t want to be away from home for six weeks to do it. The bitterness from the CBA negotiations — in which the league threatened to lock out the players — remains. Safety is an issue as well.”Players are going to show up. I think players are going to compete, and, we’ll do that part of it,” said Minnesota United midfielder Ethan Finlay. “But there’s a lot of ownership that these teams are gonna have to take because, frankly, we’re taking a bit of a safety risk, not just on the health and safety side but with fatigue. Injury risk is going to go up probably dramatically.”Guys understand that and know that, but they’re also willing to do it because of the circumstances that we’re in.”

Does every player have to go?

Exceptions will be made, but on a very limited basis. Players with an underlying medical condition that might make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 must get permission from the team medical staff to go to Orlando. A player might also be excused if their partner is pregnant, a situation that applies to both the LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and LAFC’s Carlos Vela, the reigning league MVP.

A recent report in the L.A. Times indicated that Hernandez would take part in the tournament. Vela’s status is still to be determined.

How often will there be testing?

All individuals deemed “essential members” of a team’s delegation will be tested both prior and after traveling to Orlando. Prior to travel, these tests include two Polymerase Chain Reaction (“PCR”) tests 24 hours apart. Players will also undergo a baseline serology (antibody) test as part of a physical exam that also includes a temperature check and the completion of a screening questionnaire.Players, coaches and support staff will be tested every other day for two weeks after arriving in Florida. Those individuals, as well as referees, will then be tested regularly, including prior to each matchday.

What other steps is MLS taking to prevent players and staff from contracting COVID-19?

In conjunction with leading health experts, MLS has created guidelines and best practices to help reduce risk and prevent spread of the coronavirus. These include wearing face coverings, social distancing, general hygiene (avoid touching face, wash hands frequently, avoid sharing food, bottles, towels or equipment, etc.), as well as disinfecting surfaces. These guidelines will be extended for matches.Players, coaches and officials are asked to exercise care when spitting or clearing their nose during games, and those sitting on the bench are required to wear masks and practice social distancing to the maximum extent possible. Players involved in the game are asked not to exchange jerseys or kiss the ball.The Walt Disney World Resort and the Swan and Dolphin Hotel will be providing enhanced cleaning of all venues and enforcing appropriate capacity management and other social distancing guidelines.

Is everyone at the complex getting tested?

The definition of “essential personnel” doesn’t include everyone. Individuals working at the hotels and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will undergo self-temperature screenings and a standardized screening questionnaire, but they will not be tested. A positive response to the daily questionnaire or a temperature check above 100.3 degrees must be reported, and the individual in question will be isolated immediately and PCR testing will be performed.The lack of testing would seem to create a vulnerability in the “bubble” that MLS has created, but Garber said he isn’t worried.”Those staff/people will not be coming in close contact with our players,” Garber said. “And if they were going to be in close contact, we would manage it through a different protocol. So we’re all going to be living in a world where we’re not going to be able to test every person that comes in contact with each other or comes in contact with us as we go on with our lives.”

What happens if someone tests positive?

Prior to traveling to Orlando, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will not travel and will be isolated and overseen by club medical staff. Contact tracing will also be triggered to identify close contacts. Individuals whose test reveals they had a previous COVID-19 infection may travel to Orlando if they are no longer symptomatic.If an individual tests positive while in Orlando, an isolation protocol will be implemented for the player along with contact tracing.In terms of what would happen if there were multiple positive tests, Garber said there is no specific protocol in terms of the tipping point that would cause the tournament to be suspended or canceled.”It’s why we’re so focused on regular testing and ensure that we do what we need to do to keep our players safe,” said Garber.

Given that the NBA will be in that location part of the time, what level of collaboration was there between the two leagues and Disney?

In the wake of the pandemic, sources tell ESPN that MLS has been in close contact with other sports leagues, collaborating on such issues as human resources, legal issues and security. That includes the NBA. Garber and NBA commissioner Adam Silver have a collegial relationship that sees them meeting every few months. That level of contact has increased given the upheaval the sports world has undergone.But in terms of the Orlando tournament, Garber told ESPN.com that there has “not been a lot of contact” between MLS and the NBA. Rather, the conversations have been with Disney executives in a bid to make sure the tournament runs smoothly.”We’ve been negotiating and dealing with Disney and our hotels to determine what our needs are operationally,” Garber told ESPN.com. “I haven’t had those conversations, but our staff has with Disney to ensure that we are able to both be accommodated in a very large resort and that both leagues’ needs are being met.”

Will these games count toward the regular-season standings?

Yes and no. The group stage games will count in the standings in the standard sense — three points for a win, one point for a tie — while the knockout stage games won’t count at all.So what’s to stop teams from putting all of their efforts into the group stage and none thereafter? A purse of $1.1 million should do the trick, though we don’t yet know the breakdown of how this money will be allocated. The winner of the tournament will also secure a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League.

What about the regular-season sch=dule after this is over?

MLS is hoping that by the time the tournament ends on Aug. 11, restrictions around the country will have loosened up enough that games can be held in a team’s home stadium. Those games are likely to happen without fans, though Garber offered hope that if the situation improves enough, fans might be able to attend games before the season is done.”Whether or not we’ll have any markets with fans is also uncertain, but we’re also hearing about different guidelines that have been established state by state where there’s even a possibility that some fans might be able to attend games,” Garber said.The hope is that the league will get an extra 18 games in after Orlando, which would make for a 23-game regular season. That’s about two-thirds of a normal league schedule. One scenario has MLS Cup being played in mid-December, but the situation remains fluid.

Assessing the USWNT one year after it won the 2019 Women’s World Cup

Jun 4, 2020Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the United States’ victory in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup — its second straight and fourth overall — it is a good time to look back at how this team has come to top the sport and where its largest vulnerabilities lie moving forward.

Let’s study as well and celebrate a decade of dominance. To do this, I’ll be calling on data from the past three World Cups plus other tournaments and recent friendlies at which Opta data was collected.

Looking back

After allowing a 117th-minute goal to Homare Sawa and losing in a penalty shootout in the 2011 World Cup final, the U.S. ruled the rest of the decade. In two Olympics (plus qualification) and two World Cups (plus qualification), the USWNT won 37 matches, drew just twice and lost only once, in a 2016 Olympic quarterfinal shootout versus Sweden. It scored 170 goals in these matches (4.3 per match), allowed 15 goals (0.4 per match) and won the two World Cup finals by a combined 7-2. And since the SheBelieves Cup began in 2016, pitting four of the world’s best teams in a round-robin competition, the U.S. has more titles (three) than losses (two).

It is fair to say the U.S. dominates women’s soccer to a degree unmatched by any team in men’s soccer. How does that domination take shape on the stat sheet? In what areas of the game has this team asserted its superiority?

Shot quality

In the 2019 Women’s World Cup, seven of 24 teams averaged at least 14 shot attempts per match. Six of them — Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, Spain and Sweden — averaged 16.2 shots and 1.5 goals per match. The seventh, the U.S., averaged 18.4 shots and 3.7 goals. The average goals-to-shots conversion rate in the tournament was 11.1%; the USWNT’s was 20.2%. While the U.S. averaged 2.95 expected goals (XG) per match, it averaged 3.71 actual goals, a difference of +0.76, the highest in any of the past three World Cups.That is probably unsustainably high. For one thing, this sample includes the team’s 13-0 pasting of an overwhelmed Thailand. For another, while the difference between goals and XG is certainly part skill, it’s also part randomness. Outliers will regress toward the mean. That said, it was also part of a trend. The U.S. enjoyed a +0.26 difference between goals and XG in 2015, too, and has been around +0.44 for other recent tournaments and friendlies.To the extent that skill is at play instead of randomness, it comes down to shot quality. In 2011, 34% of the USWNT’s shots were on target. In 2015 and 2019, it was 44%. In 2011, 60% of its shots were taken inside the box; in 2015, it was 72% and in 2019, 74%.

USWNT Goals-To-Shots Conversion Rates, Last Two Years

Carli Lloyd 90 87% 19 21%
Alex Morgan 80 84% 15 19%
Megan Rapinoe 54 48% 12 22%
Tobin Heath 37 68% 10 27%
Christen Press 59 75% 8 14%
Lindsey Horan 50 74% 7 14%
Mallory Pugh 27 82% 7 26%

The combination of brilliant crossing and strong positioning from forwards such as Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Mallory Pugh, with incredible long-distance accuracy from wingers like Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath, has given the U.S. the most consistent and deadly striking ability in the world.Two other areas of play deserve mention here: crosses and set pieces.Crosses can end up as a Hail Mary option when an attack hasn’t produced anything better, but in the right hands — say Rapinoe’s, Heath’s or Christen Press’ — they can be a direct route to success. The U.S. has slowed its use of crosses through the years — from 25.4 per 90 minutes in the 2011 World Cup to 18.4 last year — and simultaneously increased their effectiveness, from a 28% completion rate in 2011 to 34% in 2019. (The average completion rate at the 2019 World Cup was 25%.)Over the past two years in a U.S. shirt, Rapinoe, Heath and Press have combined for a completion rate of 35% on crosses, with Crystal Dunn not far behind at 29%. In fewer attempts, Pugh (36%), Tierna Davidson (47%) and Lindsey Horan (46%) have also been deadly. Obviously it helps to have players the caliber of Lloyd and Morgan on the end of these passes, but the quality of service has been impeccable.

It’s the same story with set pieces. Each of the past three World Cups produced an average of about 0.3 goals per match from set pieces; the U.S. improved its average from 0.3 in 2011 to 0.6 in 2015 to 0.9 in 2019. And it’s the same cast of characters involved: Rapinoe, Heath and Press serve up the chances when a pass is required, and Horan (six goals from set pieces), Lloyd (five) and Morgan (three) finish them off.

Ball control

When you’ve got a team as talented and athletic as the U.S., a lot of management comes down to keeping the players motivated and getting them ready to scrap.

USWNT Hustle Board

CATEGORY (PER 90 MIN.) 2011 WWC 2015 WWC 2019 WWC
Ball recoveries margin +4.2 +4.9 +14.3
Possessions won in attacking third (A3) 12.5 4.7 10.3
Possessions won in middle third (M3) 38.6 29.0 37.1
Poss. won in M3/A3 margin +8.6 +6.4 +21.4
Pct. of opponents’ shots blocked 26% 26% 31%

The current player pool is the scrappiest yet. Lavelle, Ertz, Dunn and Horan have all averaged between 7.1 and 7.3 ball recoveries per 90 minutes over the past two years (in a smaller sample of appearances, Morgan Brian has averaged 8.2), and the U.S. absolutely dominated loose balls at the most recent World Cup. Its plus-14.3 margin for ball recoveries per match was easily the best in France (second-best: France at +9.8).The U.S. also created a lot of opportunities to collect loose balls. Despite teams rapidly improving in terms of possession play and ball control between 2011 and 2019, the U.S. won nearly as many balls in the attacking third last year as it had eight years earlier. And over the past two years, Heath, Rapinoe, Pugh, Sonnett and Brian have all averaged between 5.1 and 5.7 possessions won per 90 minutes in the attacking third.The pressure often begins the moment you earn possession and never ceases. While 44% of U.S. possessions reached the attacking third in both 2015 and 2019, for opponents it was 33% in 2015 and 25% in 2019.


In a small sample, a team’s save percentage can portend upcoming improvement or regression. If it’s particularly high, it’s going to fall (and vice versa), no matter your talent level.That makes it pretty difficult to judge U.S. goalkeepers. Not only is the World Cup a small set of games to begin with, but American goalkeepers have rarely been challenged. Thanks to both defensive pressure and blocked shots, they faced the second-fewest shots on goal per match in 2019 and fourth fewest in 2015. Still, they’ve aced the tests they’ve been given. Alyssa Naeher recorded an 80% save percentage in the 2019 World Cup, while Hope Solo hit 75% in 2015 and 77% in 2011. The overall average was in the mid-to-high 60s in each tournament.Looking at a larger sample of U.S. matches (tournaments and friendlies) from 2017 to 2020, the team’s average save percentage was 74%. Even accounting for small samples and potential regression to the mean, it’s safe to assume that U.S. goalkeeping has been, at worst, consistently above average.Since this is an individual position and is therefore reliant on singular talents over depth of athleticism, it will be interesting to see whether the pattern continues moving forward. Over the past three years, only three keepers have seen action in U.S. matches: 32-year-old Naeher, Ashlyn Harris (34) and Adrianna Franch (29). Maybe Naeher remains atop the depth chart through the next World Cup cycle, but if or when players like the Washington Spirit’s/Sydney FC’s Aubrey Bledsoe (28), the Houston Dash’s Lindsey Harris (26) and Jane Campbell (25), OL Reign’s Casey Murphy (24) or the Chicago Red Stars’ Emily Boyd (23) become options, they’ll have a high bar to clear.


As good as the USWNT has been, we probably shouldn’t pretend it is invulnerable. As dominant as the U.S. appeared for much of the 2019 World Cup, it was still tied with Spain in the 75th minute in the round of 16 before being granted a semi-controversial penalty kick. The USWNT was still outplayed by France for much of its high-profile quarterfinal match. And both England in the semifinals and France outdid the Americans from an XG perspective.In other words, the U.S. still needed good fortune. Every team does. But the competition was awfully tight at the top, and it will probably get only tighter moving forward.

Possession Rates At The 2019 Women’s World Cup

Canada 62.7% 60.7%
Spain 60.9% 57.5%
England 59.7% 57.4%
France 58.6% 56.6%
Australia 60.6% 56.6%
Germany 56.7% 56.0%
Netherlands 57.0% 54.8%
Norway 50.5% 52.0%
United States 56.9% 50.8%

The main reason? Ball control. Obviously the possession game isn’t the only way to win in soccer — holding on to the ball doesn’t mean much if you don’t get anything out of it — but there’s a reason why every rich club in men’s soccer is trying to play it.In the World Cup last summer, six teams possessed the ball a higher percentage of the time than the U.S. Looking only at games against teams that advanced to the knockout rounds (so, filtering out matches against teams like Thailand), the U.S. was ninth in possession. It was 12th in pass attempts per 90 minutes against this pool of teams. Its number of solo possessions increased compared to 2015, and its average passes per possession decreased.While the defense remained excellent against all comers, the U.S. attack mostly vanished against the best teams in the tournament. France averaged 2.3 XG per match against knockout-round teams, but the U.S. averaged only 1.9. Its aerial and duel win percentages sank — a sign that the Americans’ physical dominance was wavering in some ways — and the USWNT struggled to control games against other strong teams.Mind you, the USWNT was still elite in the finishing department, still excellent at set pieces (like Rapinoe’s strike that put the U.S. up on France), still brilliant at defending and goalkeeping (recall Naeher’s late penalty save or Becky Sauerbrunn’s goal-line clearance against England), still better than its opponents in terms of ball recoveries and still, by far, the most talented and athletic team.While now-retired coach Jill Ellis was known far more for her elite player-management skills than her tactical brilliance, there are plenty of signs that certain nations, especially in Europe, are catching up. As the game continues its rapid advance, as investment continues to grow in other countries, as the player pool continues to grow more talented worldwide, and as the coaching also continues to develop, the tactical bar for winning big will likely continue to rise. We’ll see what Ellis’ successor, Vlatko Andonovski, has in store in that regard.


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6/6/20,  MLS Avoids lockout-returns in July, Indy 11 back July 11, La Liga back Wed, German games

Huge news that the USL and Indy 11 have set a provisional return date to resume the 2020 season of July 11.    Exact details on format and schedules is expected to come out in the coming weeks.  But great to hear our soccer team is back to training and preparing to resume the season!

The MLS also is back after the owners threatened a lock-out if the players didn’t agree to new terms.  Nuts – but calmer heads prevailed and the MLS and the player association agreed on a new deal to get the season underway in July in Orlando.  Full tournament details have not been announced but great to see MLS returning hopefully with some evening ESPN games on the docket! (who am I kidding – they will put them on ESPN+ – but a guy can hope right) 😊.  The initial TV schedule has been released for the NWSL return in late June (see in the OBC) – good to see the games on CBS Sports Network at least – many cable networks have that station – though you may have to search for it.

Carmel FC has returned to Training !

Tryouts Confirmed for June 22

Anyone looking to workout 1 on 1 with Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr – can email him direct at farrjordn13@gmail.com   Not sure when CFC GK Training might return with new Corona Virus guidelines.

Event: Indiana Soccer All-Star eCup Series & State Tourney
Date: June 11th – July 9th, 2020
Registration Link: https://gyo.gg/lg/indiana-soccer-all-star-series-summer-2020/
Registration Closing Date: June 18th, 2020 at 7:00 pm Eastern.
If you are having trouble please email Shawn at: shawn@harenadata.net or Gus at gus@soccerindiana.org  For more information please visit: https://www.soccerindiana.org/soccer-ecup/


Sat, June 6  

9:30 am Fox Sport2                          RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Paderborn

9:30 am FS1                                        Beyer Leverkusen vs Bayer Munich

12:30 pm FS2                                      Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Hertha

Sun, June 7  

7:30 am Fox Sport1                         Werder Bremen (Sargent) vs Wolfsburg (John Brooks)

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                           Union Berlin vs Schalke (Mckinney)

12:30 pm FS 1                                    Ausberg vs Koln

Thurs,  June 11 

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Sevilla vs Real Betis (LA LIGA RETURN)

Fri,  June 12  

9:30 am Fox Sport2                            Hoffenheim vs RB Leipzig (Adams) 

Wed, June 17                                      EPL Returns

Sat, June 20                                        Serie A (Italy) Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash | July 1 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Orlando Pride | July 5 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

La Liga state of play, schedule for remainder of 2019-20 season

Serie A fixtures set for remainder of 2019-20 season

EPL Schedule Release

Top European Leagues Return soon
Germany won’t punish players for George Floyd protests

Bundesliga: Takeaways from Week 29


Why EPLs Return Project is Set Up for Failure – Ryan Bailey Yahoo Sports
Behind the numbers: Reported Chelsea signing Werner

Liverpool Might Clinch Title at Home
Chelsea season restart preview

Season restart preview: Arsenal

Newcastle fans angered by lack of refunds


US  Soccer Players Lend chime in on Enough is Enough Video
USMNT’s Steffen, Adams express solidarity with Floyd

DeAndre Yedlin echoes grandpa’s heartbreak over George Floyd’s death

McKennie: I have to stand up for what I believe in

USWNT’s Rapinoe won’t compete in NWSL tournament


MLS, players reach CBA deal, avoid lockout

Why MLS Summer Tourney May Not be a Good Idea
MLS players union ratifies agreement clearing way for return in early July

MLS boss: Virus to cost us $1bn in revenue

– Davis: Beckham, Miami still waiting for home game
Barcelona star Antoine Griezmann has MLS on his soccer bucket list


By Indy Eleven Communications, 06/04/20, 3:30PM EDT  Following Board of Governors Vote, USLC Set for Provisional Return Date of July 11

In conjunction with the United Soccer League, Indy Eleven is pleased to announce that the USL Championship Board of Governors voted on Thursday in favor of returning to play for the 2020 season, with a provisional start date set for July 11.

While additional information on competition format, scheduling, broadcast and other important details will be made available in the coming weeks, it’s important to note that the league’s return to play will be conducted in strict alignment with all local and state public health guidelines. USL HQ also remains in regular dialogue with the USL Players Association on all matters concerning player health and wellness protocols and looks forward to continuing those discussions.“The Indy Eleven organization is energized by today’s news that our promising 2020 USL Championship season will continue,” stated Greg Stremlaw, Indy Eleven President & CEO. “We want to thank the United Soccer Leagues, USL Championship Board of Governors and numerous other organizations and advisory boards for the collaboration and consultation that resulted in this important decision.“As exciting as today’s positive news is, it is merely a starting point, and we look forward to our continued contribution to the discourse that will determine the structure of the 2020 season,” continued Stremlaw. “Everyone at Indy Eleven looks forward to providing best-in-class examples of how USL Championship clubs can work with local health and government agencies to ensure our return to games is done in a safe and responsible fashion for our players, staff and fans.”To Indy Eleven and USL supporters across the country, we are grateful for your support throughout this process and look forward to being back in action with you all soon.

MLS lockout avoided as players, league ratify bargaining agreement to 2025

Jun 3, 2020  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

The MLS Players Association approved a proposal from MLS related to economics in 2020, as well as a modified collective bargaining agreement, the union announced on Wednesday.The approval of the proposal avoids a lockout that had been threatened by MLS and enables the league to soften the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The league has been shut down since March 12.”MLS Players today ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, which will run through the 2025 season,” the MLSPA said in a statement. “Today’s vote also finalizes a plan to resume the 2020 season and provides playrs with certainty for the months ahead. It allows our members to move forward and continue to compete in the game they love.”

The approval now opens the door for the league to return to the field next month with a tournament to be held at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. (ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Co.) The teams are expected to arrive in Orlando, Florida, in three weeks. “We recognize that we are all moving forward — as players, as fans, as societies, as a world — into a future that looks much different than the one we envisioned a few months ago,” the MLSPA added. “There are problems we face collectively that are both more urgent, and more important, than competing on the field.”We are grieving, we are fed up, we expect change, and we expect action. This change won’t come on the field, but it will come partly through the force and determination of all who seek justice and equality. We hope our return to the field will allow fans a momentary release and a semblance of normalcy.”We are committed as a group to doing all that we can — both as leaders in our sport as well as leaders in our communities — to help carry our countries, our communities, our league, and our sport forward.”A union source told ESPN that the total amount of economic concessions is over $100 million. It includes an across-the-board salary cut of 7.5% that isn’t retroactive and is set to kick in for the May 31 payroll period. Players will have the option to delay the salary cut until after the Orlando tournament, but the total amount of the cut will be the same. Performance and individual bonuses will be capped at $5 million for this season.Both sides had agreed to a framework on a new CBA in February following the expiration of the previous deal, but it wasn’t ratified by either side, providing MLS with an opening to renegotiate some of its terms. The alterations to the CBA involve the introduction of a force majeure clause in which either side can back out of the deal in the case of a catastrophic event like a pandemic.MLS had been trying to have the clause tied to specific attendance numbers in case a second wave of COVID-19 struck North America later this year, but the players succeeded in pushing back against that form of the clause. The approved version allows either side to back out of the deal with 30 days’ notice if the CBA becomes economically unfeasible. A revenue sharing plan tied to a new broadcast rights deal set to begin in 2023 has also been modified. The original terms would have resulted in 25% of the broadcast rights fee that was $100 million above 2022 levels being funneled into each team’s salary budget. The two sides agreed to reduce the percentage in 2023 to 12.5%. The percentage would return to 25% in 2024.The salary bumps spelled out in the CBA will now be delayed by a year so that 2020’s terms will cotinue into 2021, while 2021’s original terms will be moved to 2022, and so on until the end of the deal. The length of the CBA has now been extended by one year, until Jan. 31, 2026.

Why the MLS summer tournament plan may not be a good idea

Caitlin Murray,Yahoo Sports•June 3, 2020

As sports leagues in the United States race to see which one can schedule a return date first, Major League Soccer has an opportunity. With competitors like the NBA and NHL looking at still-unconfirmed returns in July, swift action could leave MLS as the only major North American men’s sport with live games on television.MLS and the MLS Players Association announced Wednesday they had reached an agreement to restart games soon, reportedly as early as June 24. The agreed-upon plan would see MLS host a knockout tournament in Orlando, Florida, while players are sequestered at Disney World resorts and regularly tested for COVID-19.This format raises questions about logistics and safety that the league is apparently addressing. But there’s another question to ask: Is it worth it for MLS to host this tournament at all?

Why MLS’s chief selling point won’t be on display

It’s easy to see why MLS wants this. While the league has played second-fiddle to the ones considered the major sports in America, this plan could offer prime-time TV slots and eyeballs MLS would otherwise never have access to. If the TV ratings for a documentary about Michael Jordan and a golf exhibition featuring non-golfers like Tom Brady are any indication, Americans are starved for sports content. Just imagine. Bored fans who have never watched soccer outside of World Cups and Olympics will tune in to MLS for the first time. Mainstream sports talk radio hosts and columnists, desperate for something new to talk about, will latch onto MLS.The NBA isn’t looking at a return until July 31, and the NHL may not resume until August. MLB was looking at June 30, but negotiations between the league and players have gone poorly so far. “Unlike the other leagues where their fan bases are deeply mature and have been around for generations, our absence from the sports scene made it really crucial for us to get back,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said Wednesday.His implication was that no one will forget those other leagues exist, but MLS risks losing relevance as long as it doesn’t play games. If MLS can hog the spotlight for itself, no matter how briefly, it would be a much bigger boost to the relatively young soccer league than its well-established competitors. Perhaps Garber is right. But there’s a flipside here. MLS’s most compelling aspects won’t be on display – not at what Alejandro Bedoya called a “luxurious prison” – and newcomers will be sampling a degraded product.Unlike the NFL, NBA and MLB, MLS can’t claim it’s the best league in the world at its given sport. If someone wants to watch the best soccer, they will tune into the English Premier League or a handful of other leagues around Europe. What MLS has going for it is a robust supporters culture unlike anything traditional American sports offer.The fans, perhaps more than the players, are MLS’s unique selling proposition. The Timbers Army may deride the league for using footage of their stunningly elaborate tifo displays and smoke-filled chants, but it’s easy to see why these images are favored. They’re captivating and create an intoxicating, electrifying atmosphere in which it’s easy to be swept up. Mercedes-Benz Stadium never looks like a more fun place to be than when Atlanta United and its supporters are in the house. (Sorry, Falcons.But those fans aren’t going to be in Orlando. Whether the venues are quiet enough to hear a pin drop or the “home” teams get to pick their own playlists to serve as the soundtrack, any American who thought soccer lacked excitement is not going to be swayed by an awkward makeshift quarantine tournament“We’ll have more cameras on this broadcast than would be on a typical ESPN, Fox or Univision game,” Garber said. “There’ll be more access to audio and views in these broadcasts that would be in a typical game, and we’ll be able to utilize some technology to be able to deliver value to our teams that we’re experimenting with in these broadcasts.”If MLS and its broadcast partners get creative enough, technical enhancements may help. But there is no replacement for real-life fans and genuine passion – and casual watchers tuning in to MLS for the first time won’t get to see any of that.

Does MLS risk alienating fans who already love soccer?

The bigger worry for MLS may not be traditional American sports fans. The biggest risk may be with soccer fans, the ones who wake up early on weekends to watch the Premier League in droves but don’t attend MLS games in their own backyard.These are the fans – often derided as “eurosnobs” – who love soccer but won’t give MLS the time of day because they deem it a far inferior product. They aren’t entirely wrong. MLS isn’t close to the EPL but those fans aren’t exactly right, either. The “retirement league” jokes no longer apply as MLS’s stars get younger and more exciting, and MLS’s quality has grown massively in the past five years. MLS, under normal circumstances, can feature some worthwhile soccer in front of packed crowds.Yet the Orlando tournament figures to be MLS’s worst version of itself. The players will be coming off a much longer and more stagnant layoff than usual, and their “preseason” will be shorter too. Getting players game fit will be a challenge, and the threat of injuries is always present.To put it bluntly, the product on the field might not be very good, and first impressions matter. No one is going to watch subpar EPL games and decide that EPL isn’t good. No one will watch the NBA without fans and decide it’s boring. In Garber’s own words, fans are “deeply mature” in their view of those leagues.If a fan tunes in to MLS for the first time, what are they going to get? And if it’s not good enough, what is the likelihood that was MLS’s only shot and that fan will never give it another try? It’s a risk.That’s not to say there isn’t potentially a huge upside for MLS. Garber said Wednesday that MLS will take a billion-dollar revenue hit due to the pandemic. That’s a lot of money for any league, and MLS needs to do anything it can to claw back those losses.There’s also the potential to build partnerships at a time when everyone is looking for a way to weather this pandemic together.MLS’s proposed plan reportedly includes doubleheaders with morning games as well as evening games, and MLS could find itself being broadcast in untapped and sports-starved markets in Asia and Europe. Stateside, meanwhile, MLS’s current broadcast deal ends in 2022, and by working with ESPN and its parent company Disney to launch this tournament when ESPN needs content, that could build equity for the next round of broadcast negotiations.But the downsides are plentiful, too.

An MLS summer tournament without some big stars?

Reports indicate some star players can opt out of MLS’s tournament if they have legitimate concerns around COVID-19, such as a significant other who is pregnant.Both LAFC’s Carlos Vela and the L.A. Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez fall into that category, and it’s a good bet neither will be there. Vela was the league’s MVP and top scorer last year.MLS players are required to play in the tournament in Orlando, Garber said, but he added there will be exceptions for special circumstances without outlining them. Depending on what those exceptions are, other star players may also not be in Orlando. MLS can’t make a compelling case when its best players aren’t there. This also brings up another group of soccer fans MLS should strive to court during its quarantine competition, but may not be equipped to: Spanish-speakers.Liga MX games, not to mention El Clásicos between Barcelona and Real Madrid, routinely dominate soccer TV ratings in the United States, while the top-rated MLS games get fractions of the audience.The country’s most sizable soccer audience speaks Spanish and cares more about teams in Mexico and Spain. MLS has historically struggled to reach these fans, which is why the league continuously looks for ways to partner with Liga MX.Players like Vela and Chicharito are important for that outreach. But those players may not be in Orlando, and others might not be, either.Regardless, it appears MLS isn’t letting what it lacks hold this plan back. There may be no fans, missing stars and so-so soccer. But MLS does have a live sports product it can put on TV. In the age of COVID-19, that may be all MLS needs. Whether it’s the right decision for the long term or tarnishes an MLS brand that is still struggling to solidify its identity, time will tell.

Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports and her book about the U.S. women’s national team, The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer, is out now. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.

2020 NWSL Challenge Cup details have been announced

CBS All Access will host all the matches of the preliminary round (and more) which will feature the North Carolina Courage

By Kudzi Musarurwa@kudzim88  Jun 5, 2020, 8:05am EDT

The 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup is almost upon us and the National Women’s Soccer League revealed the preliminary round schedule for the tournament, which will begin in late June and end in late July. The NWSL will also be the first professional league in the United States of America that will return to play since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.The North Carolina Courage are set to kick off the preliminary round on June 27 against Portland Thorns FC, a team they have faced twice in the NWSL Championship. The team will then play the Houston Dash on July 1, the Orlando Pride on July 5 and then end the round against Utah Royals FC on July 12.The Courage will look to once again dominate proceedings and can send out a signal to the rest of the league with an opening day win against the Thorns. The match should not be expected to be the highest of quality due to the lack of play all the players have had this year but the rivalry between the two teams means that players will be looking to play hard throughout the 90 minutes. The Courage then have a game against a Houston Dash side that will be an unknown quantity at this stage. The team has seen a lot of reshuffling and players trades so how the Dash will look to set up will not be known until they play their first match. The Pride are a team the NC Courage have had no trouble playing against in the past and that does not look like it could change at this tournament. While the Courage have remained a strong and deep team, Orlando have not shown that they are a better outfit than they were last season. This could be a big score win for the Courage. However, the last match the Courage play is against the Royals who have given North Carolina problems in the past. Utah have seemingly found a way to slow down the Courage attack but with the departure of Becky Sauerbrunn, the Courage may have an easier time of it this year against the Royals.All the matches are set to be played at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah and should be available live on CBS All Access (in the United States and Canada) and the league’s Twitch channel (for international viewers). Matches are also set to be re-aired on the CBS Sports Network as well. The times for the preliminary round have not been announced yet but will be expected to be released over the coming weeks. The quarter finals will then play out over July 17 and July 18, the semi finals on July 22 and the final slated for July 26.

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash | July 1 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Orlando Pride | July 5 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,