8/28/20 – Messi to Leave Barcelona?, Community Shield Sat ESPN+ 11:30, Nations League on ABC/ESPN Sept 3-8, Bayern Wins Champions League, CFC players make HS teams!

Yes you read the headline right – The world’s best player-Lionel Messi has told Barcelona, the club he has been at since he was a kid, he want’s to leave.  The penultimate “home grown” player who has carried Barcelona to such great hights as THE BEST PLAYER in the World today has officially given up on the ineptitude and screwups of the Catalan giant’s board of directors and he’s ready to give it a go elsewhere.  Where is the best place for him to land is debatable. Man City with Pep in charge has the edge for now, but PGS, Inter Milan and perhaps even Man United or Chelsea could enter the picture.  I still wonder if Barcelona won’t do whatever needs to be done to convince him to stay – but wow!  My favorite rumour so far is Messi to Man City for 3 years followed by a 2 year stint at NYCFC in MLS. 

Indy 11 home vs Louisville Sat Sept 5

Our Indy 11  return home next weekend Sat Sept 5 against Louisville FC in a must win game at 7 pm at the Luke and on Wish TV + ESPN+. The 11 lost 1-0 at Louisville Wed despite some great saves by GK Evan Newton.   Despite the setback, Indy Eleven (6W-3L-1D, 19 pts.) maintains a three-point lead over Louisville (5W-3L-1D, 16 pts.) in the tightly packed Group E standings that also includes Saint Louis FC sitting on 14 points.

Champions League & Europa League Champions Crowned

The longest ever Champions League season came to a roaring end Sunday as Bayern took the 1-0 win over PSG to claim their 6th UCL Title as over 2.6 million watched in Spanish and estimated over 1 million more in English. Bayern became the first team to not lose 1 single match in the Champions League on route to their first final and win since 2016.  In reality though it was Bayern Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who saved the day with 2 incredible kicksaves 1 in each half to save the day for Bayern.  The first half was up and down as each team would attack and the other would counter attack – forcing both world class keepers into multiple saves.  But in  a game that was expected to be high scoring with 2 of the highest scoring teams in the world, misfires were the theme of the day.  Bayern would wrestle more control in the 2nd half in way to a lovely header goal by former PSG man and Parisian Kingsley Coman to score the winning goal.  Bayern Canadian Leftback Alpohonso Davies formerly of MLS Vancouver was strong and helped keep forward Mbappe at bay.  Gotta give credit to new Bayern Coach Hansi Flick as he took a squad that was floundering in 3rd place in the German Bundesliga back in the fall and turned it into a jugernaught and Champions League winner winning 29 of their last 30 matches overall including a perfect 11-11 in Champions League – A feat that had never been done (albeit under different circumstances).

As exciting as the UCL Final was the Europa League final between Sevilla and Inter Milan was even better as Sevilla and head man Lopetigue pulled off the late winner in the last minutes of a thrilling 3-2 victory over the favored Italians.  Both teams played well and the action was up and down the field but in the end Sevilla claimed their 5th? ??Europa league title to become again kings of Europa play. 

Nations League Coming to ABC/ESPN Sept 3-8

With the European Championships cancelled this summer due to Covid – the EUFA Nations League will take center stage with a bevy of broadcasts Sept 3-8 including a rare double header on ABC TV Sept 5th with England and Portugal games featured. 

Thurs Sept 3

2:45 pm ESPN2                              Germany vs Spain

2:$5 pm ESPN3                              Ukraine vs Switzerland

Fri,  Sept 4 

2:45 pm ESPNnews                     Italy vs Bosnia 

2:45 pm ESPN+                              Netherlands vs Poland

Sat,  Sept 5 

12 noon pm ABC                           Iceland vs England

2:45 pm ABC                                   Portugal vs Croatia

Sun,  Sept 6  

2:45 pm ESPN News                    Germany vs Switzerland

Mon  Sept 7 

2:45 pm ESPN News                    Czech Republic vs Scotland

Tues,  Sept 8  

2:45 pm ESPN 2                             Denmark vs England

US WC Qualifying Games Announced + Weston McKinney to Juventus

Wow Weston Mckinney has signed on loan at my favorite Italian Club Juventus with an option to buy!  Huge news for the just turned 22 year old American midfielder.  If he can break the starting line-up at Juve that will be huge and impressive.  I sure hope Mckinney can wrangle some playing time but a huge chance to prove his worth at a superclub is worth it in my mind!   

CONCACAF announced the 8 team knockout stages last week and the US looks fairly well positioned to make the WC 2022.  Qualifying will begin next year and of course US coach Greg Berhalter will have a new younger generation of players many starting overseas to help.  Our under 23 group right now looks mighty strong – sure hope we qualify for the Olympics next summer so we can see many of these players competing!  In the meantime the discussion turns to where we should play our big games – notably Mexico.  I have heard the calls for Kansas City or Orlando and the popular one now in Minnesota’s new digs.  But honestly how can anyone think any place other than Columbus – and the new downtown stadium with Grass – should be the spot.  The original home of 2-0 Dos a Cero is still the place where the US has dominated Mexico – (without letting many of their fans in).  Just because Klinnsman was stupid enough to play a back 3 for the first time ever – in a game we barely lost 2-1 despite the horrible personel and lineup decisions made by Klinns.

Carmel FC Players Galore Make High School Teams /

So excited to have so many players from our Carmel FC Club make their respective high school teams this fall. Carmel FC is excited to share the list of current players that have made their respective High School teams this fall. Based on the unique relationship with the Carmel Clay School system, through Carmel Dads’ Club, one of our goals is to continually develop our players to play for Carmel High School. Due to the policies of travel soccer and high school athletics some of our players do come from other communities. We also see players leave our program for other clubs due to these policies. In the end, our goal is to place as many current (and past) players in their respective High School programs. Congratulations to these current Carmel FC Players:

Men’s Program
Cade Turton – 03 Gold – Carmel High School Varsity
Richard Monsey – 03 Gold – Carmel High School Varsity
William Latham – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Varsity
Carson Benton – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity
GK Charles Featherson – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junio Varsity
Evan Wirth – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity
Aaron Young – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity
Max Ledingham – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman
Kal Rohrbach – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman
Robert Hammond – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman
GK Ryan Bartley – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Freshman
Kevin Russo – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman
Nathan Struve – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Freshman
Andrew Thomson – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman

Jude Shattuck – 04 Gold – Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity Gold
Alex Sosa – 04 Gold – Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity Gold
William Hagel – 05 Gold- Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity Purple
Armen Chapman – 06 Gold – Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity Gold
Landon Huber – 05 Gold – Noblesville High School Varsity
Beck Hunter – 05 Gold – Westfield High School Junior Varsity
Oliver Smith – 05 Gold – Westfield High School Junior Varsity

An additional 16 Carmel High School players are past Carmel FC players. Congrats to those men too!

Women’s Program
Cana Duckworth – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Blue
Lucy Floyd – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Blue
GK Chloe Fouts – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Blue
Olivia Gardner – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Blue
GK Claire Bartley – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Elyse Foutty – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Audrey Jackson – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Elizabeth Kenney – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Maya Mason – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Riann O’Leary – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Lilie Pelletier – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Sophia Rosenthall – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Gabrielle Siegel – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Phoebe Wheeler – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold

Emma Broach – 06 Blue – Brebeuf Jesuit Junior Varsity
Lilly Franciosi – 06 Gold – Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity

An additional 28 Carmel High School players are past Carmel FC players. Congrats to those women too!  Especially proud of our former and current Carmel FC Goalkeepers (bolded above) –  In fact the starting Girl’s Varsity Erin Baker and Back-up Goalie Bethany Ducat, along with JV Chloe Fouts and 9th grade Claire Bartley.  On the CHS Boys side Varsity Starter Henry Geisel is a former Carmel FCer, along with current Carmel FC’ers Charlie Featherson for JV, and Ryan Bartley for 9th grade!  Congrats all!

CHS Girls Soccer Invitational

The 2nd ranked Carmel Greyhoud ladies with plenty of former Carmel FC players including all-state Goalkeeper Erin Baker host 2 of the top ranked teams in the state the following Sat, Aug 29 as they host 13th ranked Avon at 9 am and 12th ranked Fishers at 7 pm at home. 

Games to Watch this Week

Hard to believe the EPL is back already with the Nations Shield match between Arsenal and Liverpool this Sat at 11:30 am on ESPN+ (not sure why not on ESPN??).  Of course the French Ligue 1 fresh off having 2 teams in the final 4 of Champions League is the first Euro league back with games Fri/Sat/Sun of this week on beIN Sport see Preview on the OBC. European Nations League gets underway Sept 3 thru 8 on ESPN with can’t miss games like Germany vs Spain Sept 3 2:45 pm on ESPN2, England vs Iceland Sat 12 noon on ABC and more.  MLS gives us New England vs NY Red Bulls Sat 8 pm on FS1, and Seattle vs LAFC at 10 pm on  Sunday on FS1 along with Atlanta vs Miami Wed at 7 pm on FS1 and Portland vs LA Galaxy at 10:30 pm ESPN+. 


Fri, Aug 28

11 am beIN Sport                         Lyon vs Dijon  French League 1

 Sat, Aug 29

11:30 am ESPN+                           Arsenal vs Liverpool – Comm. Shield

8 pm FS1                                          NE vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm ESPN+                                 Atlanta vs Orlando MLS

Sun, Aug 30

9 am beIN Sport                           Metz vs Monaco  French League 1

2 pm CBS All Access, Utube     Women’s Champions League Final

3 pm beIN Sport                           Brest vs Marseille French League 1

10 pm FS1                                        Seattle vs LAFC 

Wed, Sept 2

7 pm FS1                                          Atlanta vs  Inter Miami MLS

10:30 pm ESPN+                           Portland vs La Galaxy  MLS

Thurs Sept 3                                   Europes Nations League

2:45 pm ESPN2                              Germany vs Spain

2:$5 pm ESPN3                              Ukraine vs Switzerland

Fri,  Sept 4 

2:45 pm ESPNnews                     Italy vs Bosnia 

2:45 pm ESPN+                              Netherlands vs Poland

Sat,  Sept 5 

12 noon pm ABC                           Iceland vs England

2:45 pm ABC                                   Portugal vs Croatia

7 pm ESPN+, Wish           Indy 11 vs Louisville FC

Sun,  Sept 6  

2:45 pm ESPN News                    Germany vs Switzerland

8 pm FS1                                          Inter Miami vs Nashville

10 pm ESPN2 or +                         Seattle vs Portland  

Mon  Sept 7 

2:45 pm ESPN News                    Czech Republic vs Scotland

Tues,  Sept 8 

2:45 pm ESPN 2                             Denmark vs England

Sat, Sept 12                       EPL and German Bundesliga Start

Messi + World Soccer

Messi told Barcelona he wants to leave, and this is why they should let him go  22hGraham Hunter

Messi tells Barca he wants to leave
How social media reacted to Messi news

Everything you need to know about the Community Shield. What’s the deal with the name?7hMark Ogden
Raiola: Pogba staying at Manchester United, contract negotiations coming

Agent: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, AC Milan continue negotiation

Ligue 1 preview: Can PSG avoid a Champions League hangover?  2dJulien Laurens


McKinney to Juventus on Loan

There is Something Different about this New Golden Generation – Doug McIntyre  

Where should the USMNT play home matches in The Ocho?
Where should the US play Mexico in QC Qualifier – Charles Boehm

USMNT’s Berhalter on summer transfer targets McKennie, Aaronson, McKenzie

Steve Cherundolo becomes Germany U-15 assistant coach
Jonathan Klinsmann heads to LA Galaxy







Indy 11 Sponsor – Grab a bite at these local spots – https://www.thedistricttap.com/ & https://www.rosatispizza.com/location/carmel-in/ 

MLS is pulling fans into stadiums, but TV audiences remain underwhelming

Hernández: MLS, TV should take heat for making Galaxy and LAFC play in extreme weather

Galaxy break out of funk by beating rival LAFC, which loses Carlos Vela to injury
Carranza scores twice, Inter Miami beats Orlando City 3-2
Atlanta finally scores, Martinez brace beats Nashville 2-0
Toronto beats Vancouver 1-0, extend unbeaten streak to 17
DC United plays FC Cincinnati to scoreless draw

European Nations League Back Sept 3-8 

ABC/ESPN to Show Nations League Matches

Champions & Europa League Finals

Bayern’s triumph built upon Flick’s influence, refusal to panic  18hGabriele Marcotti  ESPNFC

– Laurens: PSG rue missed chances as UCL glory slips away

Rising star Davies ‘hungry’ for even more Bayern success

Alphonso Davies promised on Sunday that Bayern Munich would continue their quest for domination after being crowned European champions for the sixth time.

Bayern defeat PSG to become European champions for sixth time

Bayern Munich became kings of Europe for the sixth time on Sunday as Kingsley Coman’s goal gave them a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League final in Lisbon, completing a fantastic season for the German giants and leaving their opponents still searching for the trophy they covet more than anything.

PSG old boy Coman comes back to haunt former club

Kingsley Coman spent a decade at Paris Saint-Germain, coming up through the club’s academy and making four senior appearances, but it was his goal which condemned the French giants to defeat in Sunday’s Champions League final.

PSG boss Tuchel backs Neymar and Mbappe after final loss

Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel defended his 400 million euro strike force of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe after they were unable to find a way past Bayern Munich in their 1-0 Champions League final loss on Sunday.

Flick delights at ‘crazy’ growth of treble-winners Bayern Munich

‘It feels terrible, but we are building something,’ says PSG’s Herrera

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Ander Herrera admitted losing the Champions League final 1-0 to Bayern Munich was tough to take but insisted the mega-rich French club cannot put 

Paris-born Coman’s ‘heartache’ after crushing PSG’s Champions League dreams

Kingsley Coman admitted on Sunday that he felt “a little heartache” after his goal ended his boyhood club Paris Saint-Germain’s dreams of conquering Europe.

Player ratings: PSG v. Bayern Munich

The Bayern – PSG player ratings, as the Bavarians won their sixth Champions League title in club history.

Lewandowski ends Champions League as top scorer

Robert Lewandowski ended the 2019/20 Champions League season as the tournament’s top 

3 things we learned as Bayern beat PSG in UCL final

Bayern Munich – PSG was a tight, captivating UEFA Champions League final and here’s what we learned.

AP Interview: UEFA head considers retaining single-leg games

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin will hold talks about retaining the single-game eliminator format that has been used to complete the pandemic-disrupted Champions League and Europa League seasons, although it could only be used for semifinals. “I have to say that this system of one match seems more interesting to me than the other system with two legged matches,” Ceferin told the AP ahead of Paris Saint-Germain playing Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Champions League is Odriozola’s FIFTH trophy of 2019-20 in TEN games

Bayern Munich win the Champions League: How social media reacted to the Bavarians being kings of Europe

Sevilla return home triumphant with Europa League trophy
End of the line? Conte and Inter at a crossroads after one season


Goalkeeper gaffe gifts winning goal in NY derby
FPL Draft – Goalkeeper Rankings and Analysis

Messi told Barcelona he wants to leave, and this is why they should let him go

5:32 PM ETGraham HunterSpain writer 

It’s incredible to think about, but there’s precedent for Barcelona and Lionel Messi to end up in court over their latest battle, which escalated Tuesday when Messi informed the club that he wants to leave after nearly 20 years of service. That the positions adopted by both parties — the wounded genius vs. the modern version of the Keystone Kops — mean that unless someone blinks, they’ll end up back there again is astounding.From Josep Bartomeu through departed football “brain” and sporting director Pep Segura, plus the hapless Quique Setien, his assistant coach Edu Sarabia and now the surviving “technical secretary,” Ramon Planes, I can’t quite imagine how they have the gall to look themselves in the mirror tonight, tomorrow or in the coming months. They have, cumulatively, taken Leo Messi’s love and devotion for the club that he has made great and pretty much soiled it.However, here we are. The fact is that my argument, given that it involves accurate historical precedent, good guidance, maturity and vision, will probably be ignored by Bartomeu and his acolytes, but here goes nothing.The unhappiness and discord between the two sides, plus the club’s continuing ineptitude, mean that it is time for Messi to leave Barcelona.

— Messi tells Barca he wants to leave
— How social media reacted to Messi news
— Hunter: Barca’s humiliation is of their own making
— Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+

When Joan Laporta’s board decided in 2008 that Messi was “too important” to the velvet revolution that was taking place at Barcelona, now that they’d promoted a B-team coach named Pep Guardiola to the first team, for him to be allowed to tilt at the Olympic football gold medal for Argentina in Beijing, the conflict was drawn-out, ill-judged and ill-tempered, and it ended with a ruling in the club’s favour by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the definitive legal jurisdiction.

Back then the club’s president, who has always been an arch-critic of this board and their leader, Bartomeu, was in a situation that felt, to him, as “rock and hard place” as the current one does to those in power at Camp Nou. With a couple of trophy-less years, an atrophied squad and the risk, which in 2008 felt like a huge risk even to Guardiola, of promoting an untested boy wonder at the expense of a proven winner such as Jose Mourinho, Laporta desperately wanted the new season, which included having to qualify for the Champions League, to begin with Messi in the first team — not at risk of injury in China.Guardiola took one of the all-time great risks of modern football and, just in the door as the big boss, defied his employers, told Messi he must go to China, argued Laporta into unhappy acceptance and then reaped the benefits when the proud Argentinian dazzled at the Olympics, won the gold medal and returned to explode like football’s version of a mighty atom for the following 12 years.Admittedly, if Barcelona now abandon their right to point at Messi’s contract, which lasts until the end of next June, and avoid a legal battle to enforce their contractual superiority, it isn’t as if Messi is going to go away for a few weeks, only to surge back full of gratitude. This, if he leaves, is the end — in playing terms at least. But Messi’s “burofax” to the club Tuesday asks not simply that he be allowed to leave, i.e. via a club purchasing him at a reasonable rate, it suggests that he still has access to a “get out of jail free” clause in his contract that actually expired in May.

Should “Team Messi” choose to argue that idea in court, Barcelona are currently committed to fighting back. As such, I think my comparison to the acrimonious summer of 2008 holds.What Pep Guardiola witnessed in 2008, even when Messi was just 21, was a guy who was broken, vastly down in the dumps and likely to carry a grudge. Guardiola saw it, understood it and made a massive wager that whatever happened in the Olympics that year, it could barely be worse than depriving Messi of something he not only deserved but also knew he deserved.What’s the scenario for Barcelona’s power brokers in 2020 if they force Messi to stay against his will or, worse, go to court to enforce their right not to grant him liberty or liberty at a fair price?The pragmatists who say “No one is bigger than the club, even if it’s Messi” can be discarded as knowing absolutely zero about this situation or its protagonists. Messi, unhappy, at half-effort, negotiating midseason with a host of clubs, perhaps stripped of the captaincy and locking antlers with a new, hard-nosed, lacking-in-subtlety coach such as Ronald Koeman, is a disastrous prospect.Not that he should be allowed to go simply because he’ll sulk, of course; I’m not advocating that. He should be allowed to go because he deserves to be maximising his last couple of magnificent years in a competitive, demanding atmosphere in which daily excellence is demanded of every single employee. More than that: He should be allowed to go, either for free or for a token price because Messi is so massively above your common or garden superstar that the footballing public — by which I mean fans, fellow players, coaches, media, sponsors and any single constituency that loves our sport — deserve to see him thriving, happy, devastating, committed, successful and tested for the next three or four years.The next 12 months, especially if this board remains in post until the mandatory elections next summer, promises to be, for Messi, a waste of golden time.What makes all of this so much more disastrous for Barcelona and anyone who cares a jot for the club is that the board has been staring into oncoming headlights, like a particularly dopey and stubborn rabbit, for many months. To lose one superstar, Neymar, because of a complete inability to either interpret a situation or do anything about it, can be regarded as careless, but to repeat the pattern with the greatest player ever is simply ineptitude on a gargantuan scale. By that I mean that when, in October 2016, Neymar rejected a contract improvement, which would have meant a vastly increased buyout clause (up from the €222m that was written in his contract), Barcelona’s board seemed completely unaware of the fact that this was a clear message: “I INTEND TO LEAVE IN THE NEXT SUMMER TRANSFER MARKET.” Capital letters intended.

Right up until PSG deposited the €222m at La Liga offices in Madrid and whisked Barcelona’s playing genius off to the French capital, the Camp Nou hierarchy continued to behave like the Emperor with “new clothes.” Everyone else knew they had been denuded, but they were boasting of wearing peacock-feathered suits. That this scenario is repeating, just three years later, and with an all-time powerhouse talent (and asset) such as Messi defies belief. In fact, if there were football justice in the world, it should be a criminal offence, even if it resulted only in probation or tidying up roadside litter.hen Messi’s people negotiated his contract renewal in 2017, they bargained hard enough that they achieved a clause stating that every summer, from May 2018 onward, he’d be allowed to leave for free if he simply told the club before the end of May that he wanted to quit.Again, how much clearer did the Camp Nou executives need it to be that it was already in Messi’s mind that a time, like this week, might come when the club’s ineptitude and the self-interest of certain office holders would force him to say, “I’m too good for you. I’m leaving.” From the moment Messi’s entourage left Bartomeu’s office in 2017, Bartomeu and his acolytes should have been using just about every working hour to put in place players, strategies, habits, decisions and attitudes that guaranteed Messi was happy and would remain at the club until he retired. Instead, they’ve performed so badly that they’ve sickened the guy. They’ve made him discard both his love and loyalty of FC Barcelona — things he has declared repeatedly and pugnaciously.It’s akin to the pope declaring himself an atheist or Manchester United fans voting Leeds their second-favourite team.

Messi tells Barcelona he wants out: How social media reacted

Barcelona was always Koeman’s dream job. But will this be a nightmare assignment?
Barca’s humiliation was their own fault, yet they didn’t see it coming

There will be a tumult of angry opinions to follow. Everything from “Messi is disloyal” and “he can’t dictate terms to the club” to “President Bartomeu must resign” and “immediate elections are vital!” But let’s not lose sight of the fact that this man, irrespective of which club you love, has lit up our lives over the past 15 years.Messi is up there, at least, with Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer — name your sport, name your legend. Messi matches them. In fact, I defy you to argue that your life hasn’t been better, brighter, jauntier, more fun after watching Messi during his time at Barcelona. Don’t let that be obscured.Two of the few things that the skeptics have thrown at Messi have been his preference, until now, for being a one-club man, an argument against him that I’ve always found spurious. Only the greats excel when they pass their entire careers in one place, doing the same things but remaining utterly imperious.Then there’s the World Cup thing. No, he hasn’t won it, but yes, the Champions League is now a far more important, far more prestigious tournament, and the nonsensical idea that Maradona won his World Cup single-handedly has been a boring trope.However, no one will deny that Messi yearns for that trophy — as much to prove his love and dedication for Argentina, I believe, as to satisfy any personal lust for glory. Right now, I’d bet anything that the way in which Barcelona, on Monday, discarded Messi’s best friend in football, Luis Suarez, had an influence in his making this move so rapidly. But I’d also bet that what lies at the heart of his disgust with standards at the Camp Nou is his desire to train and play at an ultra-competitive football club every week between now and when Argentina, hopefully, compete for the 2022 World Cup — his last, I’d guess, as a competitive international footballer.Where to next: Manchester City? PSG? Inter Milan? Inter Miami? I don’t know what his preference is, but this move hasn’t happened without him, mentally at least, choosing where he’d like to be when the season starts again.Man City? Well, it’s a safe haven and in a league he’d love, albeit that I’m sure Guardiola, given his wish for City to press teams high, would actually be the author of a City move for Messi. That would be down to the owners, and who could argue with their intentions?PSG: If they could unite Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria in the same team, then by god anyone not transfixed by that prospect needs help.Inter Milan: Not the right league, not the right club, but that’s an outfit that has tried so, so hard over the years to get Messi.Inter Miami: No, just no. The city and the project might interest him, but the standard, of teammate and of opposition, doesn’t fit what he needs right now.Anyway, he has a big match to win first, one in which, if they have any decency, Barcelona’s board will save themselves tens of millions of euros by gracefully conceding and saying, “We screwed up, Leo. We accept it’s time for you to leave. Thank you, good luck and god bless.”Sadly, though, the Camp Nou Keystone Kops are more likely to run around crashing into one another and letting the situation get worse, not better.

There’s something undeniably (and quantifiably) different about this USMNT ‘golden generation’Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsAug 18, 2020, 12:25 PM

Back in late February, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, former United States men’s national team and current New England Revolution coach Bruce Arena was sitting in a hotel lobby, discussing the USMNT player pool, when it was suggested to him that the current crop of American youngsters beginning to break through at the highest levels of the sport marked an unprecedented development in the country’s soccer history.“You’re completely wrong,” Arena said. “You don’t think we ever had young players playing in clubs in Europe? We’ve had good players before. Players from other countries are getting sold to big clubs, they’re not having parades over it.“You idiots hype up every kid that steps on the field as the next star,” he added, speaking of the media. “It’s ridiculous.”Arena, of course, is the wise-cracking Brooklyn-born coach who took the USMNT within a whisker of a World Cup semifinal in 2002 — the USMNT’s best showing in the event in the last 90 years — and also the man who was at the helm in 2017 when an aging American squad failed to qualify for the planet’s greatest sporting party for the first time in more than three decades. In other words, he’s seen it all, including countless prodigies who in some cases failed to become even journeymen pros, let alone world beaters.Yet in the almost-three years since the catastrophe in Couva, Trinidad and Tobago, where an unthinkable loss to the hosts ushered in the lowest moment in program history, a number of blue-chip talents have emerged as regular contributors in some the best leagues in the world, an obvious sign of hope for the future.Christian Pulisic, 21, was nominated for the Premier League’s best young player award following his often spectacular first season with English titan Chelsea. Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna, the 17-year-old son of two-time U.S. World Cup captain Claudio Reyna and former U.S. women’s national teamer Danielle Egan, became the youngest American ever to appear in the UEFA Champions League a few days before Arena spoke to Yahoo Sports.

And last week, 21-year-old Tyler Adams scored the most significant goal ever by an American at club level, one that gave RB Leipzig a last-gasp 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid and sent it to Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal against Paris Saint-Germain. If he plays in that match, as expected, Adams will become just the second Yank to appear in the final four of Europe’s top club competition, after DaMarcus Beasley with PSV Eindhoven in 2005.Three players does not equal a golden generation, to be sure. But there are other promising signs. Another 21-year-old, Schalke’s Weston McKennie, has been a starter in the German Bundesliga for three seasons and has played in the knockout stage of the Champions League. Striker Josh Sargent, just 20, already has almost 40 Bundesliga appearances under his belt. And last September, 19-year-old Ajax fullback Sergino Dest became one of just two American teenagers to start a Champions League match, joining Pulisic, who did it with Dortmund at 17.This? This is entirely new. With all due respect to Arena, the U.S. has never had this many players, this young, playing regularly with top-flight European clubs as relevant as some of the ones mentioned above. The country has had good players before, but it’s never had six of them between the ages of 17 and 21 who are key players for teams competing in the Prem, Bundesliga or Champions League.Arena is right to preach caution with young players. Even diehard USMNT fans might not remember or know that Manchester United, during its height in the 1990s and 2000s, was home to young Americans Kenny Cooper, Jovan Kirovski, John Thorrington, Jonathan Spector and Tim Howard. Only Howard ended up playing more than a handful of games for the club. Cooper, Kirovski and Thorrington never cracked the first team or made a U.S. World Cup roster.More recently, prospects such as Joe Gyau, Julian Green and Matt Miazga saw minutes with Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Chelsea, respectivekly, before eventually finding their level in lower leagues.“What people don’t realize is the big clubs in the world invest millions and millions of dollars into these players hoping that one out of 10 make it, or one out of 20,” Arena said. “It’s a crapshoot.”It’s true. Perhaps the biggest reason the U.S. failed to qualify for Russia 2018 was because of the so-called lost generation of U.S. players born in the early- to mid-’90s who failed to pan out as many hoped, as difference-makers in their prime able to bridge the gap between a then-teenage Pulisic and aged veterans like Howard and Clint Dempsey.But with Pulisic, Adams and Reyna leading the way as regular contributors with three of Europe’s most prominent teams, this new cohort of U.S. players has already hit some uncharted data points. That’s all it is for now; what happens day-in, day-out over the next decade — not least their ability to stay healthy — will ultimately determine their legacies.But hey, every golden generations has to start somewhere.

MLS is pulling fans into stadiums, but TV audiences remain underwhelming

The Guardian•August 25, 2020


The ties between the MLS Is Back Tournament and TV were undeniable. The mid-season tournament, designed to keep the league rolling during the Covid-19 pandemic, was by its very nature a TV product right down to its hosting at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. No fans in the stands didn’t mean no fans watching.

In fact, with almost every other major sports league in the United States put on ice over the early part of the summer this was a chance for MLS to dominate the airwaves. The NBA would eventually join MLS in gathering in Florida, but there was nearly a month between the start of the MLS Is Back Tournament and the resumption of the basketball season. Soccer had Walt Disney World to itself for weeks.

Despite all this, MLS’s viewing figures over July and August left some underwhelmed. The final between Orlando City and the Portland Timbers drew an audience of 394,000 on ESPN platforms (as per Steven Goff of the Washington Post), making it the third most-watched game of the MLS Is Back Tournament after the opener between Inter Miami and Orlando City (503,000) and the group stage match between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders (408,000).

The average TV audience for the tournament charted at 226,000 per game (not counting streaming and Spanish-language viewership), a figure lower than the league’s average TV audience for the 2019 season as a whole (260,000). If this was MLS’s big chance to make a mainstream impression, it did not pan out.

MLS claims the Orlando tournament was successful in attracting younger and Latino viewers to the league, with a large proportion of the audience classed as new viewers. “The tournament also afforded us the opportunity to try many new things and experiment with programming windows we had never tried before – including matches at 9am on weekdays,” Angela Alfano, senior director of corporate communications at MLS, told the Guardian.

The league also says gross viewership was up 70% for July 2020 compared to July 2019 and that primetime figures were up. These figures, however, can’t mask how MLS has long struggled to get a grip on TV. For all that the league has enjoyed undeniable growth over the last decade or so, television remains something of a final frontier. A significant barrier stopping MLS from becoming a truly major sports league in North America.

The current TV rights package with ESPN, Fox and Univision is valued at a combined $720m over eight years with the deal up for renegotiation in 2022. This works out at $90m a season, meaning MLS isn’t even the most lucrative soccer league in the United States – NBC pays $166m annually to broadcast the Premier League. In commissioner Don Garber’s own words, MLS’s package is “upside down compared to all the other leagues,” with local markets stronger for the league than its national audience.

Until now, MLS has relied on its expansion into new markets to grow its TV audience, but progress has stagnated. Austin, Charlotte, Sacramento and St Louis will all welcome MLS fans as expansion locations over the next three years, but recent trends suggest the league shouldn’t expect any significant uptick in its TV audience. While MLS’s average attendance ranks as the third highest in North American sports leagues, behind only the NFL and MLB, its broadcast revenue pales in comparison (even the NHL’s current national TV deal is worth $200m a season).

One of MLS’s greatest strengths as a central organisation has been its ability to stay nimble in its pursuit of a younger, more diverse demographic. The league’s drive into downtown areas in recent years has been the purest manifestation of this and now teams are following broadcast trends by handing live rights to streaming services. “With the youngest audience in professional sports, we are uniquely positioned to deliver content in an ‘always on’ or ‘anywhere, anytime’ environment,” Alfano said. Just this week Amazon Prime Video became the Seattle Sounders’ streaming partner, with Los Angeles FC’s home games broadcast live on YouTube TV.

But at a time when such streaming services have still to truly work out how to package and sell live rights, MLS has been left in a difficult position. There is not a sports league on the planet right now pondering what its broadcast future holds, with declining ratings across the board for live sports. It’s up to MLS to figure out where it can thrive in that landscape.

“I do believe in the new world, the new streaming over-the-top world, media companies are going to need Major League Soccer as sports content, more in the future than they even have in the past,” Garber told CNBC earlier this year, but what’s to stop MLS being squeezed out in the “new world” the commissioner speaks of just as they have in the old world?

Related: Will MLS and Liga MX merge to form a North American behemoth?

It may take something truly drastic for MLS to reach the next level in terms of its TV reach. A merger with Liga MX has been mooted recently, with Garber even calling a league including American, Canadian and Mexican clubs the “ultimate dream.” Having said that, LigaMX is already popular in Mexico, and the US, and may not feel it needs to link up with US and Canadian teams.

Promotion and relegation, the creation of a true soccer pyramid, could also move MLS into a new era, but those franchise owners who have paid hundreds of millions for a seat at the top table might not take too kindly to being shunted down to the kids table. They have invested in a closed circuit. It seems implausible that MLS could make such a fundamental change to its structure, at least in the short to medium term.

MLS can take comfort from the fact that they are not the only major sports league to have struggled for a TV audience this summer. Nielsen numbers show the NBA’s viewership since its restart in ‘The Bubble’ is down 13% compared to before lockdown. Many assumed fans would flock back to live sports having gone so long without them, but the encounter between the LA Clippers and the LA Lakers on opening night of the NBA’s return drew the lowest audience (3.4 million) of any Clippers-Lakers game so far this season.

Increasingly, it appears MLS is approaching a crossroads and nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the shaping of the league as a TV product. 2022 and the new TV deal negotiated to start then will reveal a lot about where MLS stands. If there is no real progress by then, either in the growth of TV audiences or in the money pulled in through rights, MLS may have to consider taking a different route.

Premier League schedule: Chelsea, Christian Pulisic meet champions Liverpool in first home match

Doug McIntyre Yahoo Sports•August 20, 2020

Chelsea and Christian Pulisic won’t have to wait long to get a crack at the champs.

Upon Thursday’s unveiling of the 2020-21 Premier League schedule, the Blues and their American talisman learned that just five days after opening the new season at Brighton and Hove Albion on Sept. 14, they would welcome title-holding Liverpool to Stamford Bridge.Chelsea will take on at least one high-profile foe in each subsequent month for the rest of the calendar year, culminating with a Boxing Day match against Arsenal Dec. 26. Chelsea will travel to Manchester United Oct. 24 before hosting north London rival Tottenham Nov. 28.Pulisic is still working his way back from the hamstring injury he suffered after scoring Chelsea’s only goal in a FA Cup final loss to Arsenal earlier this month. He was a revelation for Frank Lampard’s squad last campaign — the 21-year-old’s first in the EPL after four years with Borussia Dortmund — especially during the season’s stretch run in June and July following an unplanned three-month shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.- ADVERTISEMENT –

It’s not clear if Pulisic will be ready to go by the time the Reds come to town; Lampard said Aug. 8 that the winger could miss “the first one or two games” of the new season. Pulisic had perhaps his best game for Chelsea in last month’s loss to Liverpool, scoring and adding an all-planet assist after slaloming through defenders in just 31 minutes off the bench at Anfield.On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter said that was recovering well by all accounts.“I talked to Christian,” Berhalter said. “The leg is doing really well, it’s recovering, it’s healing and he’s in good spirits. The club is focused on getting him back as soon as possible.“We have a lot of confidence in Chelsea, a lot of confidence in their medical staff and a lot of confidence in Christian. He’s a guy that has exploded on the scene in this last year in the Premier League and it has been great to watch.”Pulisic scored nine goals and set up seven more in 25 league appearances despite dealing with several nagging ailments last term, helping Chelsea to a fourth-place finish and the coveted Champions League berth that comes with it. Afterward, he was nominated for the Premier League’s Young Player of the Season award that was ultimately won by Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.Despite establishing himself in Lampard’s first-choice lineup by the end of last season, Pulisic will have to continue to excel to keep his place with the summer arrival of former Ajax attacker Hakim Ziyech.Chelsea’s full 2020-21 Premier League slate is as follows:

Neymar, PSG left to rue missed opportunities as Champions League glory slips through their fingers

It is 12.40 a.m. and Thiago Silva is the first Paris Saint-Germain player to get off the bus at the Myriad hotel in Lisbon city centre, for the last time. Unlike in his dreams, though, the captain is not holding the Champions League trophy. Instead, he heads to the entrance of the hotel, mask on his face, AirPods in his ears, white plastic bag with his match shirt in his hand… and he seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. After eight years, Silva has played his last game for the club. He will leave with great memories, but without the Holy Grail.

The rest of the squad and the technical staff follow him, like a funeral march. Thomas Tuchel is there, in the middle of the pack, still on his crutches. Outside, the fans who turned up to welcome their beaten heroes are singing “thank you, Paris, thank you.” It is little comfort for the Parisians after they lost a cruel final. Hardly any of them acknowledge the supporters. Neymar does. He is the last player to get off the coach and he offers a wave.

Inside the Myriad, a late dinner is ready but most players go straight to their rooms. They won’t be able to sleep. How could you? Ever since referee Daniele Orsato blew the final whistle, signalling a 1-0 win for Bayern Munich, the key moments have been replayed in their heads over and over. Had they taken their chances? Could they have defended better for Kingsley Coman‘s winning goal? What if Marco Verratti been fit to start? So many questions, so few answers.


Bayern’s triumph built upon Flick’s influence, refusal to panic

Bayern Munich win the Champions League: How social media reacted to the Bavarians being kings of Europe

Bayern’s historic numbers: 43 goals, 35 GD, 11/11 wins, 6 UCLs, 2 trebles

– UCL is Odriozola’s FIFTH trophy of 2019-20 in TEN games


There are also a lot of regrets, of course. In the changing room after the final whistle, the comforting words of coach Tuchel, sporting director Leonardo or president Nasser al-Khelaifi, who told the players after the game that they were proud of them, were scant consolation. Neymar had tears in his eyes. The Brazilian was sat next to Kylian Mbappe on one side, with Silva on the other. Both tried to comfort an inconsolable player. So far in Neymar’s career, big finals had been his forte, particularly in winning the Copa Libertadores (2011), Champions League (2015) and Olympic Games (2016). This time he came up short, and his display was disappointing. He looked lost when trying to rescue the game alone as the clock counted down.

PSG had big chances to make this final their own. They had to be super clinical. Instead, they were left to rue missed opportunities. What maybe hurts most is that it was their two superstars, their two princes, who misfired. First Neymar and then Mbappe, one early and the other one late in the first half. They could have become kings of Europe right there, but Manuel Neuer was a colossus in the Bayern goal.

On the opposite side of the room, Mauro Icardi is also quiet. The Argentine didn’t even get off the bench, just like in the semifinal against RB Leipzig, and just like in both legs of the round-of-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund. A €60 million player sat on the bench. The big difference was that in this game, PSG really needed him.Instead, Tuchel chose Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the saviour in the quarterfinal against Atalanta. It was a decision that seemed to defy reason. If the coach’s tactical approach was effective for the first hour, his decisions after Bayern scored were questionable. Angel Di Maria should not have been substituted. Icardi should have come on.

Rumours soon resurfaced — though they have never been far away — that Tuchel would be sacked. Officially, the line is that he will be on the PSG bench next season (or should we say this season, considering the 2020-21 Ligue 1 campaign kicked off on Friday night?). It would be harsh, considering he has just taken PSG to a first Champions League final in the club’s history and after winning the domestic treble. He should get the chance to build on this.There are plenty of positives to take from this extraordinary 2019-20 season, even if they seem so far away right now. This team finally is a team. PSG took a Bayern side that thrashed Barcelona 8-2 in the quarterfinals right to the wire. They have showed great togetherness and with some additions to the team, they can come back stronger. When the best player for the opposition is their goalkeeper, the performance of your own team has to come with great credit.But there are things to fix. When Thomas Meunier agreed to join Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer, he also opted out of the Champions League mini-tournament. That proved to be a huge blow because Thilo Kehrer, who had to fill in, was simply a centre-back playing as a right-back. With Silva now departed, PSG need a op-class centre-back to replace him. Even if Marquinhos drops back into defence, that leaves a gaping hole in defensive midfield.Leonardo will have to be clever and shrewd. It won’t be about signing a big name, it will be about signing the right name.More important is that Mbappe and Neymar remain at the club. The club is hoping to open talks over extending their contracts, which both expire in June 2022. But rumours of big-money moves to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively won’t go away. That PSG are on the right path might help persuade the two forwards to sign.The disappointment and the frustration for the whole squad right now will be huge, but they will return home with their heads high. They made their club, their fans and their community proud. They have little time to reflect, however, as on Saturday they are due to face Lens away as their Ligue 1 title defence begins. Tuchel and his players will have to overcome their Lisbon hangover quickly and switch their focus to the league. Champions League finalist or not, no one will give them a pass domestically.For now, this will be seen a huge missed opportunity, but PSG must hope that it is the first of many and not just an isolated moment.


By Indy Eleven Communications, 08/27/20, 12:00AM EDT  Despite Four Saves from GK Evan Newton, Indy Sees Group E Lead Over Archrival Shrink to Three Points

https://www.youtube.com/embed/vyKRZE6lBGE #LOUvIND Post-game Quote Sheet – August 26, 2020

Indy Eleven fought stifling heat and a surging Louisville City FC squad tonight at Lynn Family Stadium, ultimately dropping a hard-fought 0-1 result in the latest installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest rivalry. Indy Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton made four big stops on the night, but Louisville City captain Paolo DelPiccolo’s second half tally was enough to push the home side to a third straight victory.Despite the setback, Indy Eleven (6W-3L-1D, 19 pts.) maintains a three-point lead over Louisville (5W-3L-1D, 16 pts.) in the tightly packed Group E standings that also includes Saint Louis FC sitting on 14 points. While the Kentucky side holds a game in hand on Indy Eleven, Indiana’s Team has the advantage of hosting five of its final six games at home – including two against LCFC – while Lou City has to close with four of seven on the road after restarting the 2020 campaign with an eight-game homestand at its new home ground.“I think we played pretty decent in spells, even in the one where we lost the goal. We were disappointed by the chances we didn’t take as well as we could have, not hitting the target or not making their goalkeeper make a save,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “With where we are at now in the season, we have set ourselves up in a good spot with a lead in the group and almost all of our games at home to finish out. Sometimes when you have a disappointing result like tonight it’s good to see that team again the next time out, so we’ll recharge our focus and our energy and look forward to seeing them at our place next weekend.”Coming off his USL Championship-record 50th career shutout 11 days ago against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Newton picked up where he left off, guarding his left post three minutes in to turn aside a near post effort by Corben Bone. Lou City striker Napo Matsoso put Newton on notice nine minutes in with a floated effort from the corner of the area that drifted just wide left of frame.Eleven forward Andrew Carleton was buzzing around the field to start the match, and a 19th minute sequence that began with his clean sliding tackle from behind on Bone in Indy’s defensive third led to him leading a dangerous chance at the other end. While LCFC ‘keeper Ben Lundt pounced on Carleton’s dangerous cross deep inside the six yard box, the effort seemed to awaken the Eleven attack, as chances by forward Nick Moon and defender Carl Haworth, making his return from an injury that saw him miss the last five contests, came in quick succession just a minute later.While Lou City held much of the possession in the middle of the half, a 24th minute free kick service by Oscar Jimenez that was punched clear by Newton on his line marked the only real danger. A nifty build-up through Carleton and midfielder Tyler Gibson’s back-heel in the 33rd minute set up an onrushing Tyler Pasher, who dragged his effort from 25 yards just wide of the right post, leaving the Eastern Conference’s leading scorer wanting. The first half hydration break followed, as did mostly chances from distance by Louisville that didn’t threaten goal in the final 10 minutes of the stanza, sending the rivals to the halftime break scoreless.While the second half struggled to come to life, Moon provided a spark in the 55th minute with a low effort from 20 yards that trailed just wide of the right post. Just after the hour mark it was Cam Lindley creating danger on the endline for Indy, his service finding Carleton near the penalty spot for a first-time shot that LCFC center back Alexis Souahy slid over to block inside the six.It was a similar play to that one for Louisville City FC that finally moved the scoreboard in the 61st minute. Forward Antoine Hoppenot’s cutback through traffic found a streaking DelPiccolo 10 yards out for a redirect into the left-side netting that Newton could do nothing about, putting the home side up 1-0. Indy looked to counter quickly just two minutes later, but Haworth’s header off a Carleton free kick was gathered by Lundt. Newton showed up big a minute later by using both hands to bat away a strong shot by Bone, and he did the same on Hoppenot’s near-angle blast in the 70th minute.The 80th minute looked to bring the chance Indy Eleven had been hoping for when Moon’s through ball split two Louisville defenders and put Pasher behind the backline, but Lundt’s charge off his line cut down the angle, forcing the Canadian attacker to send his chance just wide right.As the match passed the stated five minutes of stoppage time, Indy Eleven had one last desperate attempt at an equalizer, and controversy ensued after Lundt rose to snag a long free kick into the area, only to bring the ball down on the head of Indy substitute forward Jeremy Rafanello. Fellow sub Ilija Ilic deposited the loose ball into the back of the net, but the play was whistled dead before the finish for a foul the visitors didn’t think was warranted, launching heated disapprovals by the Eleven both on the bench and the field. The match itself would be whistled dead 90 seconds later, resulting in a Louisville win – and even more anticipation for a rematch in 10 days’ time.Said reunion will happen on Saturday, September 5, when the LIPAFC rivalry heads north up I-65 to Lucas Oil Stadium for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff. Tickets for the match are going fast but still available at www.indyeleven.com/tickets, and those who cannot be there in person can follow the action live on WISH-TV, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

 USL Championship Regular Season – #LOUvIND

Louisville City FC  1 : 0  Indy Eleven

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 – 8:00 p.m. ET

Lynn Family Stadium – Louisville, Ken.

Attendance: 4,8

2020 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (6W-3L-1D, 19 pts., 1st in Group E)

Louisville City FC (5W-3L-1D, 16 pts., 2nd in Group E)

 Scoring Summary:

LOU – Paolo DelPiccolo (Antoine Hoppenot) 61’

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Tyler Gibson (yellow card) 37’

IND – Karl Ouimette (yellow card) 74’

IND – Neveal Hackshaw (yellow card) 90+7’

 Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton; Neveal Hackshaw (captain), Mitch Osmond, Karl Ouimette; Cam Lindley (Jeremy Rafanello 87’), Drew Connor (Kenney Walker 78’), Tyler Gibson, Carl Haworth (Conner Antley 78’); Tyler Pasher, Andrew Carleton (Ilija Ilic 78’), Nick Moon

IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Felicien Dumas

 IND Stats: Shots: 7, Shots on Goal: 1, Possession: 45.3%, Passing Accuracy: 74.7%, Passes: 391, Fouls: 10, Corners: 0, Offsides: 3

Louisville City FC (4-3-3, L–>R): Ben Lundt; Oscar Jimenez, Alexis Souahy, Sean Totsch, Pat McMahon; Paolo DelPiccolo (captain) (Wes Charpie 78’), Speedy Williams, Corben Bone (Jonathan Gomez 88’); Antoine Hoppenot (Cameron Lancaster 88’), Luke Spencer (Brian Ownby 56’), Napo Matsoso

 LOU Substitutes: Chris Hubbard (GK), Jason Johnson, Jimmy Ockford

LOU Stats: Shots: 9, Shots on goal: 5, Possession: 54.7%, Passing Accuracy: 80.3%, Passes: 471, Fouls: 7, Corners: 4, Offsides: 2

Ligue 1 preview: Can PSG avoid Champions League hangover? Do Monaco have the right formula?

Aug 26, 2020Julien LaurensCorrespondent

French football doesn’t do things like everyone else. When the other big leagues restart their season, Ligue 1 doesn’t. When others don’t allow fans, Ligue 1 does. The French top flight started its 2020-21 season last weekend despite one of its teams (Lyon) reaching the semifinals of the Champions League and another (Paris Saint-Germain) falling to Bayern Munich in the final.Despite another inevitable exodus of players — Houssem Aouar, Mbaye Niang, Memphis Depay, Mike Maignan, Gabriel, Moussa Dembele, Victor Osimhen to name only a few who could leave or have already left — Ligue 1 and its new fortune from TV rights money is gearing up for another exciting campaign. Here’s what to look for as the new campaign kicks in.

Teams to watch

Can Paris Saint-Germain avoid a Champions League hangover? Who can catch them? After seven titles in the past eight years, Paris are once more the massive favourites to be crowned champions. However, it also looks like this season could be far more dangerous than any before. PSG are still full of regrets after their Champions League final defeat against Bayern Munich last weekend. How will they get over it? Will they get over it?

In a campaign congested with fixtures, they will have to get straight into their rhythm while also dealing with the extra pressure now on them in Europe.

Do AS Monaco finally have the right formula? After years of shambles and disarray, along with many managers and sporting directors, Monaco have changed everything again this summer. Out went Robert Moreno, in came Niko Kovac. Paul Mitchell has also arrived to run the recruitment, and hopes are high.

The 2017 champions drew their first game of the campaign against Reims 2-2, but they showed some promise. They have great young players like Youssouf Fofana and Aurelien Tchouameni, as well as experience with the likes of Wissam Ben Yedder, Stevan Jovetic and even Aleksandr Golovin. They should certainly do better than the ninth-place finish they achieved last season.

Same story, new hope in Lyon? This summer should be like the last one, when Nabil Fekir, Tanguy Ndombele and Ferland Mendy all left the club. This time, it should be Aouar, Depay and Dembele’s turn. Lyon sell and rebuild; it’s what they do, and already there is another wunderkind in the pipeline in 20-year-old midfielder Maxence Caqueret. They have fresh hope and belief born from their run to the Champions League semifinals.

Rudi Garcia is more popular among fans than ever, and the club will invest in his squad so they can erase from their memory the

Do Lille have another good cycle in them? For the second summer in a row, Lille have lost their best player. Nicolas Pepe went to Arsenal in August 2019 for €72 million and Victor Osimhen joined Napoli in August 2020 for €81m. Year after year, Lille produce good teams and good results. They finished fourth last year while navigating a Champions League campaign as well.

Sporting director Luis Campos has worked his magic again this summer, with the arrival of Jonathan David, Isaac Lihadji, Eugenio Pizzuto and Sven Botman all so promising.

Players to watch

Will the fourth time be the charm for Neymar? His numbers in Ligue 1 since he arrived three years ago are incredible, really. At 28, he is the best player French football has ever seen, and it’s a privilege to have him in the league for a fourth year. His objective, like PSG’s, will be the Champions League, but let’s hope that he lights up Ligue 1 with his talent, too.

Is this Mbappe’s final season in Paris? Like Neymar, his contract with Paris expires in June 2022 and until he extends it (which the club is hoping for), there will be a question of whether this could be his last season in Ligue 1. The 21-year-old could win a fifth title in a row and will try to improve on his ratio of a goal every 87 minutes in the league last season.

Will Ben Yedder carry Monaco? He did everything he could last season, finishing as top scorer with 18 goals and seven assists, but the team’s ninth-place finish was disappointing. Ben Yedder, 30, will have to carry them again this year. He is their primary finisher and with the Euros rescheduled for next summer, this is a big season for him if he hopes to get a France call-up.

Thauvin, Marseille’s old-new signing: Before the really bad ankle injury that kept him out all of last season, Florian Thauvin had been Marseille’s best player. Now the 27-year-old is back and will feel like a new signing for l’OM. Without him, they had a great season last year and if he can get back to his best, the 2018 World Cup winner will make them so much stronger.

Young players to watch

Eduardo Camavinga, MF, Rennes: At 18, he is arguably the best in the world in his age group and position. His vision, technique, skills, maturity, pace and strength make him a phenomenon in central midfield. Rarely will you see a talent like him, and he will take Ligue 1 by storm again this year.

Adil Aouchiche, MF, Saint-Etienne: He left PSG on a free to join Saint-Etienne, where he was promised far more game time. Already the star of France’s youth teams, the 18-year-old playmaker showed great things in preseason and his wonderful technical ability should shine through this season.

Amine Gouiri, FW, OGC Nice: Lyon let him go to Nice for only €8m this summer, which raised eyebrows, and then he scored twice on his debut against Lens last weekend. The 20-year-old striker has incredible potential and Lyon might regret selling him so early.Axel Disasi, DF, AS Monaco: The 22-year-old centre-back had a great season with Reims last year and was highly coveted this summer. He chose Monaco and scored on his club debut… against Reims. He is impressive defensively and has amazing determination.

New signings to watch

Seko Fofana, MF, Lens: He was one of the revelations in Serie A last season with Udinese, scoring in their win against Juventus for example. The 25-year-old will be the boss of this newly promoted Lens team with his power in midfield.

Morgan Schneiderlin, MF, OGC Nice: After 12 years in England with Southampton, Manchester United and Everton, the France international, 30, is back home. He was seduced by the Nice project and brings his experience, intensity and physicality to an upwardly mobile team.

Jonathan David, FW, LOSC Lille: He and Alphonso Davies make up the crown jewels of Canadian football. After a great season with Gent, many clubs were after him but Lille beat them to the punch. His pace, skills and finishing make the 20-year-old a superb prospect.Pape Gueye, MF, Marseille: He was one of the best midfielders in Ligue 2 last season with Le Havre, who made him captain despite only being 20 at the time. He really impressed with his left foot and his workrate on the pitch. Marseille pulled off a great coup in convincing him to make the step up.

Managers to watch

Patrick Vieira, Nice: Last season’s sixth-place finish didn’t tell the whole story about the job Vieira did on the French Riviera. He struggled at times and it was hard to make out his philosophy, but he kept going and the season was ultimately a positive one in the end. He has to do better in terms of performances and quality of football this year.

Andre Villas-Boas, Marseille: In his first season at the club, he overachieved and brought Marseille back into the Champions League after a six-year absence. He almost left in the summer because of many disagreements with ownership, but the players convinced him to stay.

Julien Stephan, Rennes: The youngest manager in Ligue 1 at 39, he just completed two almost-perfect seasons with Rennes: the team qualified for the Champions League last season and won the French Cup the previous year. He has the talent to do it again, and maybe go one better this time around.

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).Claude Puel, Saint-Etienne: The former Leicester City manager has changed everything at Saint-Etienne. He got rid of most of the older, more experienced players to start a new cycle with young and exciting talents like Fofana, Aouchiche and Yvan Neyou. His gamble has to pay off, though.

The race for the title

https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html It will be very hard to compete with PSG and their superior squad throughout a long and congested campaign. Marseille will want to confirm their excellent 2019-20 season was no fluke, Lyon and Monaco want their revenge while Lille, Nice and Rennes will want to keep being the troublemakers. Saint-Etienne under Puel and Bordeaux under Jean-Louis Gasset will hope they can do better than last year

Top three predictions: PSG, Marseille, Monaco.

The fight against relegation

It will be another fascinating battle at the bottom of the Ligue 1 table this season. The two promoted teams, Lens and Lorient, have strengthened their squad really well and look promising. Metz managed to stay up last year, but they could struggle more this time like Brest and Dijon.

Bottom three predictions: Brest, Dijon, Metz.

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8/21/20 – Champions League Final Sun 3 pm TUDN, CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access, Europa League Final Fri 3 pm CBS Sports Network, El Traffico Sat 6 pm Fox, MLS Rivalry weekend, Indy 11 at Louis Wed.

Champions League Bayern Munich vs PSG 3 pm Sunday TUDN, CBSSN

I have heard a bunch of people say these Champions League Quarterfinal games have been among the best and most exciting ever with the one game knockout style of play.  We got great upsets as Lyon bested Man City and RB Leipzig knocked out Atletico and Atalanta was minutes away from deposing of PSG.  But honestly back to back 3-0 yawners is what we got for the Semi-Finals as both PSG and then Bayern Munich – absolutely dominated play and each won 3-0 in games that had little excitement – and were blowouts.  Its why I think NCAA hoops is great – but rarely does the best team really win. The thing about Champions League with a game in each team’s home stadium – is normally the better team wins. If they somehow tie or lose on the road they come home for what is normally a stirring win to close things out.  Not always – but normally the Champions League Final 4 are very competitive games.  Either way we do have a competitive final as Bayern Munich will face a PSG that has spent millions trying to get past the Quarterfinals and finally has a chance to lift the trophy.  Two powerhouse teams with world class strikers in Mbappe and Neymar for PSG and Lewandowski, Mueller and Gnabry for Bayern.  Both have great keepers in Nuerer, and Navas (if he’s healthy to return) – it should be one heck of a game Sunday at 3 pm on CBS Sports Network (why not CBS? Who knows – Andy Griffin shows to air I am sure). PSG has won nine of the last 10 French league titles, but the European Cup is the trophy it really wants. Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Mauro Icardi and all the team’s other stars were signed to bring the prize to Paris — and the club’s Qatari owners — for the first time ever.  While PSG is the nouveau riche, Bayern is European royalty. The eight-time reigning German champions have won the European Cup five times, most recently in 2013. And as Alphonso Davies, Thomas Müller and prolific scorer Robert Lewandowski have shown, they don’t mind steamrolling every team in their path. Bayern have scored 15 goals over their last three games, highlighted by the historic 8-2 demolition of Barcelona.  Great Preview Stories below on the Ole Ballcoach !  I like Bayern 3-2.

Europa League Sevilla vs Inter 3 pm Friday TUDN, CBS All Access

Sevilla will look for their 6th Europa league trophy vs a resurging Inter Milan on Friday at 3 pm on TUDN and CBS Sports Network and of course (streamed on CBS all-access).  Sevilla slipped by Man United 2-1 to slide into their first final since winning 3 straight times from 2014-2016.  For Inter Milan its their first final since 1998.  Sevilla is aiming for its sixth Europa League title, and it would be the third with the club for captain Jesús Navas.  Inter hasn’t won a trophy of any kind since the 2011 Club World Cup despite its status as an Italian heavyweight. This squad has the firepower to do it in playmaker Lautaro Martínez and striker Romelu Lukaku, who has four goals in his last three games.  Also huge news that CBS All Access will be showing the Women’s Champions League Finals starting this Saturday – see details on the Ole Ballcoach. 

UCL round of 16 hits U.S. viewer high

Saturday’s FC Barcelona-Napoli UEFA Champions League round of 16 match averaged 1.1 million viewers on Univision and TUDN, the largest audience on record for the round of 16 on U.S. television. Meanwhile, Manchester City-Real Madrid averaged 571,000 on UniMas and TUDN Friday, ranking sixth all-time for the round.English-language coverage aired on CBS Sports Network, which is not Nielsen-rated.

MLS on Fox Sat 6 pm El Traffico

Rivaly Weekend starts – and there won’t be any fans in the stands to watch, but there will be a big TV stage on Saturday at 6 pm on FOX for Carlos Vela’s return to LAFC after he skipped the MLS tournament to be with his pregnant wife. The stage will be big for Diego Rossi, too, after he was the MLS summer tournament’s top scorer.  Unfortunately, Galaxy star forward Javier Hernández is out injured (right calf), but fellow Mexican headliner Jonathan dos Santos (groin) will play. Sunday night 10 pm we get the Cascadia Cup with Portland hosting Seattle on Fox Sport 1.  It’s one thing to watch sports in empty stadiums, but a Cascadia Cup game at an empty Providence Park will be truly surreal. No game in MLS is more defined by its raucous atmosphere. So the players will have to create their own fireworks, especially Portland playmakers Diego Valeri and Sebastián Blanco, and Seattle forwards Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz.

Indy 11 at Louisville Wed

Our Indy 11 get a much needed break this weekend after disposing of Pittsburgh last weekend 1-0 at the Luke.  The Eleven travel to Louisville for a 7 pm match on Wish TV+ ESPN+ Wednesday before returning home Sat Sept 5 for a repeat again them at 7 pm at the Luke.

CHS Girls Invitational

The 2nd ranked Carmel Greyhoud ladies with plenty of former Carmel FC players including all-state Goalkeeper Erin Baker are off to a good start after posting 2 victories this week – they travel to 17th ranked Guerin Catholic in Westfield on Sat night before hosting 2 of the top ranked teams in the state the following Sat, Aug 29 as they host 13th ranked Avon at 9 am and 12th ranked Fishers at 7 pm at home. 

Story Behind the Legendary Champions League Anthem
The Champions League anthem which debuted in 1992 is one of the most iconic anthems in all of sports.  I thought I would dive in a bit to its history and how it was done.  The UCL anthem has words in French, German and English – below are the actual words. 

English version of what is sung

They are the best teams
They are the best teams
The main event
The master
The best
The great teams
The champions
A big meeting
A great sporting event
The main event

The master
The best
The great teams
The champions
They are the best
They are the best
These are the champions
The master
The best
The champions


Fri, Aug 21 

3 pm TUDN, CBSSN                     Europa League Finals  Inter vs Seviilla

Sat, Aug 22

3 pm beIN Sport                           Lille vs Rennes – Ligue 1 Starts

6 pm Fox                             LAFC vs LA Galaxy – MLS

7 pm ESPN+                                    Atlanta vs Nashville

8 pm ESPN+                                    Miami vs Orlando

Sun, Aug 23

3 pm TUDN,  CBSSN      Champions League Finals PSG vs Bayern Munich

10 pm FS1                                    Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders MLS

Wed, Aug 26

10 pm ESPN+                                 LA Galaxy vs  Seattle Sounders MLS

7 pm ESPN+ , WishTV                      Louisville FC vs Indy 11

Sat, Aug 29

11:30 am ESPN+                           Arsenal vs Liverpool – Comm. Shield

11 am beIN Sport                         Rennes vs Montpellier

8 pm FS1                                          NE vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm ESPN+                                 Atlanta vs Orlando MLS

Sun, Aug 3010 pm FS1                                        Seattle vs LAFC 


Story behind the Champions League Anthem
Video Story behind the Champions League Anthem
Champions League Anthem with words on screen
A Superclub UCL Final With All the Fixins–Even the Ugly Ones
Champions League final 2020: Comparing Bayern’s treble-winning class to today’s crop
PSG stars’ unity pledge in Verratti’s restaurant takes them to UCL final
Bayern must tighten defence against PSG in Champions League final, warns Flick
Against Bayern You Can’t Miss your Chances Lyon – SI
Neymar and attacking stars align for PSG in pursuit of Champions League glory
Gnabry’s stirring display is perfect Euro recipe for Bayern Munich

Champions League run weakens German resistance to ‘proud’ RB Leipzig
Numbers: Di Maria level with Messi; free-scoring PSG equal Real Madrid

Barca’s humiliation was their own fault, yet they didn’t see it coming
4dGraham Hunter

Gnabry and Lewandowski fire ruthless Bayern into Champions League final

American Tyler Adams scores winning goal in the 88th minute for RB Leipzig to beat Atletico Madrid

USMNT’s Adams helps Leipzig upset Atletico late

Is Guardiola’s UCL drought a sign he’s no longer a genius?

 Europa League

Sevilla vs Inter Preview
Inter are ready for greatness – Lautaro Martinez
Inter breeze past Shakhtar to set up UEL final vs. Sevilla
Future uncertain but Conte within sight of Inter silverware
Sevilla knock Man United out of Europa League
Solskjaer on Europa exit: Manchester United “will have to learn”

Inter’s ‘LuLa’ partnership fired up to end wait for trophy

Lukaku, Lautaro lead Inter back among the European elite

‘Records there to be broken’ as Lukaku extends run

De Gea shrugs off criticism, says he is still safe pair of hands


Its Ok to be Excited About this current US Team – Doug Mcintyre
• USWNT’s Lavelle joins Man City
US Coronvirus leads to UNWNT Players leaving NWSL for Europe
Ream, Berhalter react to USMNT back Robinson’s possible Fulham 
Official: Antonee Robinson signs with Fulham
Weston McKennie: USMNT star holding out for PL move

Breaking down the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying schedule

USMNT’s Berhalter on World Cup qualifying, player transfers

US could open WCup qualifying in Trinidad, site of ’17 loss
US Players On TV this WEekend


Top Saves UCL Round of 16 + 8

Best Saves of the QuarterFinals – Europa League

Best Saves in MLS History

Spurs sign Hart on free transfer


• Koeman to coach Barca, Messi staying
• Sources: Arsenal agree €22m Gabriel deal
Spurs sign Hart on free transfer
Lazio: Lost respect for David Silva

Will Koeman’s dream job be a nightmare assignment? 2hGraham Hunter
‘Return of a legend’ – Koeman officially named new Barcelona coach

Barcelona sack Setien, Koeman favourite to take charge

Koeman downplays need for Barca ‘revolution’

Will Messi leave Barcelona? If so, would he leave for Argentina, MLS or a team with Ronaldo?
Where could Messi Go ?  



 Indy 11 Sponsor – Grab a bite at these local spots – https://www.thedistricttap.com/ & https://www.rosatispizza.com/location/carmel-in/ 
Galaxy acquire winger Yony González and goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann

Sevilla – Inter Milan: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

icholas MendolaNBC Sports•August 19, 2020

Sevilla – Inter Milan is a story of silverware seekers, as the Serie A side seeks its first trophy since the 2011 Coppa Italia while their La Liga rivals aim for a sixth UEFA Cup this century.

Team news: Sevilla – Inter Milan

A report in Italy says Antonio Conte will not change his Starting XI for the fifth-straight match, as the red-hot Serie A side bids for a first trophy since 2011.

Sevilla is healthy and primed as well after beating Manchester United despite providing plenty of work for goalkeeper Bono. The Spanish side dismissed another Premier League side, Wolves, in the quarterfinal round.

What they’re saying

Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui on facing Inter: “Inter will force us to play an extraordinary game. They are a team of a magnificent level, a team made to play in the Champions League who finished one point behind Juve in Serie A and has magnificent players and an experienced coach.”

Inter boss Antonio Conte on the task at hand“We have to play with the desire to win and bring the trophy back to Italy and to bring a trophy back to Inter. Sevilla will have the same idea, so we have to show that we’re the better team. For me, it’s always important to be able to say to the lads, at the end of the game, that we don’t have any regrets. If we’re the better side, we’ll lift the trophy. If not, we’ll have given our all, and we’ll applaud our opponents.”

Odds: Sevilla – Inter Milan – Full UEL, UCL odds

Sevilla is +235 to win the match, with Inter Milan a bit ahead at +125.


Sevilla has a lot of weapons but Inter Milan has the star power at striker and hunger to end a relatively-long trophy drought for a club of its ilk. Look for Christian Eriksen and Romelu Lukaku to be celebrating silverware after a 3-1 win sends silverware to Milan.

Inter Milan vs. Sevilla Europa League final: Players to watch and tale of the tape ahead of Friday’s matchup Here’s what to know about each team entering the final in Cologne, Germany

By Roger Gonzalez   6 hrs ago2 min read CBS Sports Network

Two teams remain in the UEFA Europa League, and they’ll meet in the final on Friday as Inter Milan take on Sevilla. Inter were one of the favorites to win the competition after entering in the round of 32 following their elimination from the UEFA Champions League. Don’t discount Sevilla, who are five-time champions and not afraid of playing the big dogs, proving so in their semifinal win over Manchester United.But how did each team get here, how do they line up, who should you keep an eye on, and who has the edge? Let’s have a look. 

How they got here

With Europa League play picking back up in August, Sevilla beat Roma (3-0), Wolverhampton (1-0) and Manchester United (2-1) to make the final. Meanwhile, Inter Milan beat Getafe (2-0), Bayer Leverkusen (2-1) and Shakhtar Donetsk (5-0). 

Tactical breakdown

Inter like to line up in a 3-5-2 with wing backs, meaning their back line can shift from three to five at any moment. That wing back formation gives them a ton of width, and they love playing crosses into the box. The stars of the team are strikers Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, who combined for over 50 goals this season. They both scored twice in the semifinal win over Shakhtar. Sevilla are a side that typically use a 4-3-3 formation and are more compact in the middle. They do get wide in attack with fullbacks in Jesus Navas and Sergio Reguilon who love to get forward, allowing their attackers to stay more centrally. They use quick passes and their speed to create havoc in attack, while also possessing creativity in the middle in Ever Banega. 

Player to watch

For Sevilla, it’s probably Banega. This will be his last match for the club, and he’s the engine in the middle. He not the player he once was, but his ability to shield off defenders buys him time to ping clever balls forward. Inter’s is Lukaku because of his scoring threat. His first touch may be questionable at times, but he can score in a variety of ways and matches up well with the physical backline of Sevilla. 

Who has the edge?

Goalkeeper: Sevilla’s goalkeeper, Bono, is a fantastic, underrated shot-stopper. He saved some many golden chances against Manchester United, but Samir Handanovic of Inter is a star. He’s experienced as he approaches 300 matches with the Italian side and will be as motivated as ever to win his first major trophy. He’s just so sturdy in goal. Edge: Inter Milan

Defense: Both clubs have strong defenses, and while Sevilla are quicker and younger, Inter are more experienced. In a major final, give me experience with Diego Godin leading the way. Edge: Inter Milan

Midfield: They’re so different, but both have some ballers who can take over a game. Don’t discount the lesser known names in the middle of the park for Sevilla. Joan Jordan is a fantastic player who is only getting better, while Inter have Christian Eriksen off the bench. Edge: Tie

Forwards: This is the easiest one. One of these teams has Lautaro and Lukaku, and the other doesn’t. Lucas Ocampos is a fine player who has made a name for himself, but the combo of speed and size of Inter’s attack is just so superb. Edge: Inter Milan

Manager: Antonio Conte is the more experienced and successful manager, but Julen Lopetegui has fit in so well at Sevilla. While Conte has a loaded team, Lopetegui has done more with less, making this quite even. Edge: Tie.

PSG – Bayern Munich: How to watch UCL final, start time, team news, odds

Andy EdwardsNBC SportsAug 20, 2020, 2:38 PM

Bayern Munich – PSG looks set to be a thrilling UEFA Champions League final matchup on Sunday (start time, 3pm ET), featuring the “been there, done that” five-time European champions from Germany and the big-spending have-nots with all the French glory they could ever want but nothing from Europe’s biggest stage.Bayern were most recently crowned champions of Europe in 2013, when they topped fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium. Perhaps no side has been as dominant, or made it look so easy, as Bayern have done since the knockout rounds resumed two weeks ago. Whether they were embarrassing Barcelona 8-2 in the quarterfinals, or hammering Chelsea and Lyon, no side has finished a game or a two-leg tie fewer than three goals down.Not only have PSG never won the Champions League or the old European Cup, but they had never even been to the semifinal final round of Europe’s preeminent competition prior to knocking off RB Leipzig on Tuesday. Sunday’s showdown in Lisbon is set to be the culmination, in victory or defeat, of eight years of obscene investment by owners Qatar Sports Investment for the express purpose of winning the Champions League.Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Bayern Munich – PSG, including how to watch on TV in the USA and how to follow all of the action live.

How to watch, stream Champions League: Leipzig – PSG

Date: Sudnay, August 23, 3pm ET kick off
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
How to watch: CBS Sports Network
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com

What they’re saying: Bayern Munich – PSG

Bayern manager Hansi Flick on needing to improve defensively: “Lyon fought hard and made things hard for us, we know PSG have quick players and we will have to organize our defense differently. Paris are a great team, they fought their way into the semi-final and then reached the final. We know they have quick players, but we know our biggest strength is putting our opponents under pressure.”

PSG winger Angel di Maria on the historic occasion: “We’re very happy. It’s a first for the club. We worked hard and played a great game. We want to make history for the club. We succeeded tonight and we’re in the final, that’s very important. We have to continue like tonight to make our dream come true.”

Odds and ends – Full Champions League odds

Unsurprisingly, Bayern are favorites for the final (+105), but it’s hardly expected to be a landslide with PSG checking in at +230. The draw (+285) is the greatest outlier amongst the odds, with the expectation that someone will be crowned champions of Europe after 90 minutes.


If ever we are to be treated to an exciting final with the potential for goals galore, Bayern Munich – PSG must be the one. Bayern have scored 15 goals in three games since the UCL resumed play, and PSG are as attack-happy as any side in the world. As the kids are saying these days, the sides have no chill. This feels like Bayern 3-2 PSG.   Massive, massive advantage to Bayern.

A Superclub Champions League Final With All the Fixins–Even the Ugly Ones

Bayern Munich and PSG are two rich and powerful star-laden clubs that have dominated their domestic competitions and have similar vulnerabilities. The connection, particularly PSG’s, to Qatar’s sportswashing cannot be forgotten amid the fanfare, though.JONATHAN WILSONAUG 20, 2020   SI 

The Champions League final will be a meeting of two superclubs, both of which have a very superclub way of playing. Both are used to dominating: Bayern Munich has won a domestic double, winning the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal titles. Paris Saint-Germain has won a domestic treble, claiming the Ligue 1 title and Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue trophies. Both are superb on the ball. Both attack with abandon. And both, unused to being properly and regularly tested, are defensively vulnerable. In that sense, this is the perfect modern final.But Bayern and PSG are not the same. Bayern has won five European Cup/Champions League titles before. It has won eight Bundesliga titles in a row. It has won more Bundesliga titles than every other German club put together. It is a club that represents pure capitalism, ruthlessly exploiting its dominant market position to the extent that when it pillages its rivals for their best players, the reaction tends to be little more than weary resignation at the natural order of things.PSG, though, represents something far more sinister. Founded in 1970 to try to give the French capital a team to compete with the might of Saint-Etienne, Marseille and Reims, it was taken over in 2011 by Qatari Sports Investments. It’s a subsidiary of the Qatari Investment Agency, the body established by the Qatari state in 2005 to manage the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund. No less than Manchester City, PSG is nakedly an agent of soft power, part of a broader attempt to popularize and enhance the image of the state through sport–of which hosting the 2022 World Cup is the centerpiece. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Barcelona’s Jennifer Hermoso (10) led Spain’s national team against the United States at last year’s World Cup, and battled Tobin Heath (17) in this year’s SheBelieves Cup.

Sevilla vs. Inter Milan

Friday, 3 p.m. (CBS Sports Network, UniMás, TUDN)

The spotlight shifts to the men Friday afternoon for the Europa League final in Köln, Germany. Sevilla is aiming for its sixth Europa League title, and it would be the third with the club for captain Jesús Navas.

Inter hasn’t won a trophy of any kind since the 2011 Club World Cup despite its status as an Italian heavyweight. This squad has the firepower to do it in playmaker Lautaro Martínez and striker Romelu Lukaku, who has four goals in his last three games.

Saturday, 2 p.m. (CBS All Access)

This is the most intriguing of the four women’s Champions League quarterfinals.

Arsenal has an outstanding attack with prolific Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema, Dutch playmaker Daniëlle van de Donk and English striker Beth Mead. Miedema — who has 60 goals over the last two years for Arsenal — and van de Donk also starred on the Netherlands squad that played the U.S. in last year’s World Cup final.

PSG forward Marie-Antoinette Katoto is one of France’s most underrated players, despite having scored 68 goals over the last three seasons for the club. She’s flanked by compatriot Kadidiatou Diani and two promising young Canadians, Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema. The midfield is anchored by Brazilian legend Formiga, who’s still great at age 42.

Vivianne Miedema, right, has scored 60 goals for Arsenal and 18 goals for the Netherlands over the last two years.
TESS DERRY / PA VIA AP Vivianne Miedema, right, has scored 60 goals for Arsenal and 18 goals for the Netherlands over the last two years.

Lyon vs. Bayern Munich

Saturday, 2 p.m. (CBS All Access)

Lyon, the biggest team in women’s club soccer, is the overwhelming favorite to win a historic fifth straight Champions League title. No team in the world has more stars on its roster, from towering French centerback Wendie Renard to German playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsán to Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg. Then there’s England’s Lucy Bronze, Japan’s Saki Kumagai, France’s Amandine Henry … and the list keeps going.

So of course Lyon is favored to win this game. But keep an eye on Bayern’s 21-year-old German midfielder Giulia Gwinn. She’s a rising star who’s already a major national team player.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: rivalries and returns

Ligue 1 returns along with a full slate of MLS action.

By jcksnftsn  Aug 21, 2020, 7:00am PDT

MLS returns in earnest with a rivalry weekend, which should lead to some entertaining matchups. Ligue 1 kicks off their 2020-21 season as well this weekend, which could lead to the long awaited return of Timothy Weah to the field with Lille. Here’s what you can catch this weekend:


Given the amount of MLS teams with at least one potential USMNT connection following all the games behind the paywall (literally every MLS game that’s not on network TV) is a bit more than we can bite off, so we won’t be regularly running down all these games. However, since all of Friday’s action is on ESPN+ (free trial here if you need it), here’s a quick look (all times Eastern):

Looking through the paywall:

  • FC Cincinnati v D.C. United at 7:30p on ESPN+. Bill Hamid is the most likely USMNT candidate in the short term playing for either team, but D.C. United’s Ben Olson has indicated that he may rely a bit more on young players such as Moses Neyman and Griffin Yow this season.
  • Minnesota United v Sporting Kansas City at 7:30p on ESPN+. Gianluca Busio saw some minutes in the MLS is Back tournament for Sporting Kansas City, while Chase Gasper was a surprise at LB for Minnesota and Mason Toye also saw some time.
  • Houston Dynamo v FC Dallas at 8p on ESPN+. FC Dallas have quite the group of potential USMNT players to watch, including Reggie CannonPaxton PomykalJesus Ferreira, Ricardo Pepi, Tanner Tessman, and Edwin Cerrillo, but the team is off to a slow start with a loss and a scoreless draw against Nashville in their opening two matches.
  • Toronto FC v Vancouver Whitecaps at 8p on ESPN+. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Marky Delgado started Toronto’s midweek 3-0 win over Vancouver. Ayo Akinola who was a bright spot in the tournament missed the match with a hamstring injury.


Lille v Rennes – 3p on beIN Sports

Timothy Weah, who had a nightmare start to his time with Lille, is reportedly nearing his long-awaited return, though there are still questions about what role, if any, he will play this weekend. Weah suffered an injury just two matches into the 2019-2020 season and attempted a return in February, only to again be taken down by a hamstring injury just ten minutes into his time on the field. It’s been a hard year for Weah, but he appears to have maintained a positive attitude and a hunger to get back out on the field.

Lille will be facing a Rennes side that finished the abbreviated season in fourth place. Theoson Jordan Siebatcheu, who remains eligible to play for the United States (though there have been no real signs of bringing him in), played just 65 minutes for Rennes in their last 13 matches of the season.

Other Notes:

  • Ajax play a friendly against Red Bull Salzburg at 10a on ESPN Deportes. Sergiño Dest remains with the club and will likely see roughly 45 minutes.
  • PSV Eindhoven and Eintracht Frankfurt also have a friendly scheduled at noon on ESPN Deportes. Timothy Chandler may see the field for Frankfurt, while Richie Ledezma and Chris Gloster have yet to break through for PSV.
  • Los Angeles Football Club and the LA Galaxy meet in the latest edition of El Tráfico at 6p on Fox. The Galaxy will be looking to avoid a repeat of their embarrassing 6-2 loss to LAFC in the MLS is Back tournament. 19-year-old Julian Araujo is the most interesting player to keep an eye on, though Sebastian Lletget is probably closer to a USMNT call-up.
  • Sebastian Saucedo and Pumas UNAM face Tigres UANL at 8p on ESPN Deportes. Saucedo started Pumas UNAM’s most recent match, a scoreless draw with Mazatlan.


Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders – 10p on FS1

MLS is Back champions Portland Timbers face the Sounders late on Sunday in what should be an entertaining match. Jeremy Ebobisse and Eryk Williamson were key players for Portland throughout the tournament, with Ebobisse scoring four goals to pair with an assist and Williamson seemingly popping up all over the place. The Sounders were easily handled by LAFC in the first round of elimination games, but Jordan Morris did pickup a goal and two assists in the group stages.

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8/18/20 – Champions League Semi’s Tues/Wed 3 pm TUDN, CBS All Access, US Tyler Adams goal sends RB Leipzig to Semi’s vs PSG today.

You can certainly can’t argue that the one game elimination style Champions League that the pandemic has forced has given us some exciting soccer and some incredible upsets. RB Leipzig scoring late with US star Tyler Adams scoring the winning goal (1st of his career for Leipzig) in the 88th minute was amazing.  See here – American Tyler Adams scores winning goal in the 88th minute for RB Leipzig to beat Atletico Madrid.

PSG scored 2 goals in the last 10 minutes to beat Atalanta and Man City was then handled by Lyon on Saturday 3-1 in another stunner.  Of course Bayern Munich’s dismantling of Barcelona 7-2 has lead to the firing of the Barca head coach and Sporting Director with more turmoil to come I am sure.  Will Messi stay or win he go??  Either way it leaves us with a battle of huge money fed teams in PSG and RB Leipzig facing off today at 3 pm on FUBO TV, TUDN and  (streamed on CBS all-access).  Tomorrow we get Bayern Munich vs upstart Lyon same time, same channels.  Again I got the Free month trial so I could watch these games on CBS All Access in English.  I will admit the 1 hour pregame and 1 hour + post game shows are fantastic with Kate Abdo leading the panel of former stars.  It’s the best pre and post game I have ever seen – much like we handle the NFL normally.  Great to see – I just wish it was on CBS Sports Network so everyone could see it on TV.  By the way the games are being re-played each night on CBSSN if you would like to wait and watch at 9 pm each night.  Great Preview Stories below on the Ole Ballcoach !  I like Bayern 3-1 and PSG in a tight one 3-2 over RB Leipzig – though wouldn’t it be fun to see an American Tyler Adams in the Champions League Finals. 

UCL round of 16 hits U.S. viewer high

Saturday’s FC Barcelona-Napoli UEFA Champions League round of 16 match averaged 1.1 million viewers on Univision and TUDN, the largest audience on record for the round of 16 on U.S. television. Meanwhile, Manchester City-Real Madrid averaged 571,000 on UniMas and TUDN Friday, ranking sixth all-time for the round.English-language coverage aired on CBS Sports Network, which is not Nielsen-rated.


Tues,  Aug 18

3 pm FuboTV,                      RB Leipzig vs PSG Champs League Semis

Weds,  Aug 19

3 pm FuboTV,                      Bayern Munich vs Lyon Champs League Semis

Fri, Aug 21

3 pm FuboTV, TUDN, CBSSN   Inter vs Sevilla Europa League Finals

Sun, Aug 23

3 pm FuboTV, CBSSN         Champions League Finals

10 pm ESPN?                       Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders MLS

Champions League

Fans are biggest losers in ugly CL matchup

The Champions League semifinal matchup between Paris-Saint Germain and RB Leipzig is tough given how both teams represent the dark side of the sport.Who do you root for? »
Champions League semifinal preview: PSG, Neymar too good for Leipzig? Can Lyon stop mighty Bayern?

Champions League stage set for Neymar to prove he’s one of the best
UEFA Champions League semifinals: Paris Saint-Germain vs. RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich vs. Lyon offer intrigue

Yahoo DFS Soccer: Tuesday/Wednesday UCL Picks

Key battles for UEFA Champions League semifinals

American Tyler Adams scores winning goal in the 88th minute for RB Leipzig to beat Atletico Madrid

USMNT’s Adams helps Leipzig upset Atletico late
Leizpig’s Nagelsmann faces Tuchel reunion after besting Mourinho, Simeone

Qatar versus Red Bull — a Champions League semi-final for the 21st century

‘Greedy’ Bayern wary of Man City-slayers Lyon

Is Guardiola’s UCL drought a sign he’s no longer a genius?

Mbappe mocks Ligue 1’s ‘farmers league’ label after Lyon reach UCL semis

 Europa League
Solskjaer on Europa exit: Manchester United “will have to learn”

Inter’s ‘LuLa’ partnership fired up to end wait for trophy

Lukaku, Lautaro lead Inter back among the European elite

‘Records there to be broken’ as Lukaku extends run

De Gea shrugs off criticism, says he is still safe pair of hands

Barcelona sack Setien, Koeman favourite to take charge

Champions League semifinal preview: PSG, Neymar too good for Leipzig? Can Lyon stop mighty Bayern?


fter a dizzying, dramatic slate of quarterfinals in Lisbon, Portugal, that saw last-second drama (PSG vs. Atalanta), historic scores (Bayern Munich 8, Barcelona 2) and a pair of serious updates (RB Leipzig over Atletico MadridLyon knocking Man City out), we’re down to the final four in the UEFA Champions League. Two games pitting Ligue 1 sides against Bundesliga opposition are up next, as Lyon face Bayern and RB Leipzig look to end PSG’s date with destiny.Which teams are likely to move on to the final? Which players could be decisive in either contest?

Here’s your preview for the semifinals.


RB Leipzig

Master vs. Apprentice

When Julian Nagelsmann was forced into premature retirement as a young central defender at Augsburg in 2008, it was his then-coach, Thomas Tuchel, who nudged him down the coaching path. Under Tuchel, Nagelsmann (still on the Augsburg payroll) started scouting and then took his first steps into coaching as an assistant with 1860 Munich U-

Key players

Naglesmann’s approach is all about transitions and the speed of turning defence into attack. Dayot Upamecano, their towering centre-back, was magnificent against Atletico Madrid and neutralized the threat of Diego Costa with ease. Upamecano will have his hands full trying to stop Neymar and Mauro Icardi.

– Hamilton: Adams the hero as Leipzig beat Atletico

With Werner at Chelsea, the pressure is on Leipzig’s forwards to deliver. Yussuf Poulsen will be their go-to striker, but Marcel Sabitzer is integral. The Austrian attacking midfielder has 16 goals and 11 assists to his name, and Leipzig will need him to be at his most creative vs. PSG.

Why they will win

Leipzig have a fearless mentality. In short, the bigger the opponent, the greater the opportunity. They are defensively solid, and through the brilliance of Naglesmann’s tactical approach, they can switch from a 3-4-3, to a 3-4-1-2 or a 4-2-3-1 in the blink of an eye. The players have an inherent understanding of their roles and are equally confident in moving out of position to plug gaps. They are so hard to break down, with Kevin Kampl integral to their system as he hovers in front of the back three snaffling out any potential attacking threats.

Why they will not win

They have one thing going against them, and it’s a big one: the absence of Werner. He scored 34 goals for them this season and was the heartbeat of their rapid attack. While they’ve already moved to sort that for next season with the signing of Hwang Hee-Chan from Salzburg, on Tuesday night they will need players to once again step out of the Werner shadows and embrace the spotlight. — Tom Hamilton

Paris Saint-Germain


Mbappe & Neymar will have to be ‘special’ to make UCL final

Frank Leboeuf says PSG have “many question marks” heading into their Champions League semifinal vs. RB Leipzig.

This is Neymar’s time to shine

When you think of the PSG version of Neymar in the Champions League, you think of inconsistency and an inability to deliver, having missed their last two exits from the competition because of injury. In the round of 16 against Dortmund, Neymar was equal parts brash and brilliant. Against Atalanta, he was wasteful in front of goal but never stopped trying to crack the Serie A side’s defenses. Apart from Lionel Messi, no one else can dribble past people like him and can own a game like he did against the Italians. He was the only creative touch against them. He was PSG’s attacking system alone.

– Laurens: PSG end their Champions League curse
– Marcotti: Atalanta’s story is far from over

The French champions relied on him against Dortmund in the past 16 and he delivered with two goals. They relied on him against Atalanta and he carried them, assisting the first goal and with a second assist on the second. They will rely on him again on Tuesday against RB Leipzig. Will he take them to the final? That’s why they signed him. That’s why he left Barcelona. He has two more games to get to the top of Europe, like in 2015 with Barca, but this time, he would be the main man doing it like he wanted it.Key players

Neymar will of course be the leader, but Kylian Mbappé will be his faithful lieutenant, the duo resembling a footballing version of Batman and Robin. The French prodigy is back in the semifinal of the Champions League three years after reaching it with Monaco in 2017. At the time, he was 18 and had taken Europe both by storm and by surprise. This is a different, better KMB, and he is where we expect him to be. Like against Atalanta, his pace and his partnership with Neymar will cause havoc in the Leipzig defence.

Then there is Marquinhos, the best hybrid centre-back/holding midfielder in the world. No other player can do both jobs as well as him. He will be key for PSG once more, as he will have to protect his back four from the waves of Leipzig attacks as well as providing the right balance in transition for his team. At 26, he is also a real leader even if he doesn’t wear the armband; he told his teammates not to panic against Atalanta when they were 1-0 down and to not give up when the clock was ticking down.

Why PSG will win

The Parisians are giants both in terms of their star power and their financial might. They’re the haves against Leipzig’s have-nots, and they’re on a mission. Before the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and before they faced Dortmund in the last 16 second leg, with a 2-1 deficit to overturn, they made a pact as a group to go all the way. They believed this was their season, and they’re proving it so far.

Better yet, their individuals are in top form, unlike in previous seasons. Neymar, Mbappé, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva form a winning spine capable of carrying this team to the final. They have too much brilliance for Leipzig to combat, especially given Neymar’s form. That brilliance extends to the coaching battle: Tuchel knows Nagelsmann better than anyone else and he will be ready to win the tactical battle against him, especially to beat Leipzig’s press.

Why PSG will not win

The expectations are massive. Having waited 25 years for this opportunity, not reaching the final four of the Champions League/European Cup since 1995, the pressure could be crippling. PSG don’t usually cope well with this kind of stress, having crashed out of this competition in the quarterfinals or earlier in each of the past seven attempts. Despite boasting the likes of Mbappe, Neymar, Edinson Cavani and even Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Champions League has been truly beyond their grasp.

The French champions are not used to facing a team like Leipzig that plays with so much energy, intensity and movement. It will be tough for them to keep up with all the runs from the wing-backs, the forwards and the midfielders.

Based on the latest training sessions, it looks like Tuchel will revert to his favourite 4-4-2 formation for this game, which would be a mistake, as it would play into Leipzig’s hands, especially in midfield where PSG risk to be totally outplayed. The other risk is that if things start going wrong and if Leipzig take the lead, Neymar or Mbappe will try to do their thing on their own and it will be counterproductive for the team. — Julien Laurens


If Leipzig can keep PSG’s attacking riches at bay, they will book their place in the Champions League final with a 2-1 victory. — Tom Hamilton

PSG is stronger individually but Leipzig is better collectively. However, in a game like this, I think individual talent will prevail. PSG will win 2-1. — Julien Laurens

https://thepodium.espncreativeworks.com/poll/5f382527022c320028975676/5f38255b022c320028975681 size=1 width=”100%” noshade style=’color:#A5A6A7′ align=center>



The secret to Lyon’s success: This was never on the cards. Never, at any point this season, did something about Lyon’s game make you think they would be on the verge of something so special in the Champions League. Yet, here they are. They managed to defy adversity and negativity all season, even weathering the premature end to the Ligue 1 season caused by the coronavirus outbreak across the globe.

Coach Rudi Garcia and his players created a fantastic team spirit, a sense of togetherness and a mental strength that has taken them 90 minutes from the Champions League final. They also found the perfect tactical system for them — a 3-5-2 that suits most of their top players. In this formation, they’re hard to break down and hard to beat. They are solid in midfield, crowding out opponents, they’re disciplined in the tackle and they can play on the counterattack.

The FC crew debate if the better team won the Champions League tie between Man City and Lyon.

The other secret is the emergence of a remarkable midfield three. In Houssem Aouar, Lyon already had a gem on their hands. This could be his last game for the club if a bigger team comes for him this summer, but Aouar has been a wonderful technical leader. He is the total package: can create scoring chances, retain possession under pressure and advance with the ball through tackles even in his own half.

– Olley: Guardiola outthinks himself vs. Lyon

Next to him, Lyon have unearthed a real star in the making in Bruno Guimaraes. The Brazilian was already praised in his country but quite unknown in Europe. Not anymore, as the holding midfielder was superb against Juventus and Manchester City. The third and last musketeer in the Lyon midfield is the youngest and the new kid on the block, Maxence Caqueret, 20, who plays with the maturity of a 30-year-old. Everything is clean with him, and he puts so much pressure on the opposition too.

Key players

In addition to the aforementioned Houssem Aouar, Bayern must heed the threat created by Memphis Depay, who arguably shouldn’t even be playing. When he injured a knee before Christmas, he and club officials thought that his season was over. On Wednesday, he will lead his team as the captain into one of the biggest games in Lyon’s history. He wants to make his second chance count.

Equally, this is a great opportunity for Depay to show how far he’s come since his disappointing spell at Manchester United. He was young then, and probably not ready after leaving PSV. At Lyon, he’s found himself again. Whether he plays at a false nine or a second striker, his influence on the team’s game is huge. He is the boss of this team — its guide and its soul. For Lyon to beat Bayern, they will need a great night from him and a great partnership with Karl Toko Ekambi, who complements him well up front with his runs.Why Lyon will win

No one expected them to get this far, and they will keep doing what has worked so far against Juventus and City: defend deep with a back five and play on the counter. It should be effective if Bayern stick with their high line, giving Lyon opportunities and room to run in behind. There will be lots of space there for Depay, Toko Ekambi and the wing-backs to exploit. In midfield, the three young Lyonnais should cope with the pressure from Bayern’s midfield.

Why Lyon won’t win

Did you see what Bayern did to Barcelona? Make no mistake, Lyon are facing the favorites to win it all. There will be no shame in losing against a better side, one that has the experience in midfield to block Lyon’s trio. Stopping Alfonso Davies and Robert Lewandowski could also be very difficult and could cost them the game with an early goal. — Julien Laurens

Bayern Munich

Is this Bayern’s trophy to lose?

Where do you go after you’ve already scored eight against Lionel Messi & Co.? That’s the challenge facing Bayern Munich: how to keep it going. Having secured a spot in Champions League immortality with that once-in-a-lifetime result, they know it’ll count for nothing unless they back it up with two more wins and the trophy.

Oliver Kahn, the great Bayern Munich goalkeeper, is now on their board and said recently that the club needs to win the Champions League “more often.” (Their last title: 2012-13, when they beat Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund 2-1.)

– Marcotti: Bayern’s brilliance, not Barca’s woe, the story
– Hunter: Barca’s humiliation is their own fault

“I look at the future and it is not enough to win the Champions League title one time every 10 years,” he continued. Well, there’s the challenge to Hansi Flick’s side and a sign of their ambition. The Bundesliga title — as others like Maurizio Sarri at Juventus found after clinching Serie A — is no longer enough to satisfy the hunger of ambitious boardrooms. But this is now Bayern Munich’s Champions League to lose.

They have been magnificent all season, dominated the Bundesliga and far away lead the Champions League standings for expected goals, or xG (31.38), have averaged 4.3 goals per game and are second behind Manchester City for expected assists, or xA (19.67). They have incredible depth — just look at their bench against Barcelona, as they were able to bring on Kingsley Coman and Philippe Coutinho to strengthen their grip on the match — and the world’s best striker in Robert Lewandowski. Then they have unsung heroes such as Joshua Kimmich, the box-office talent of Davies and the ever-calm Manuel Neuer between the posts.

Key players

You can pick anyone from Bayern’s remarkable squad, but it’s hard to look past their brilliant raumdeuter (or, literally, “space interpreter”) Thomas Muller. The attacking midfielder was out of the picture under previous manager Nico Kovac, but Flick’s introduction saw Muller return to centre stage and he has been outstanding for Bayern this season. He is their glue: always the link man in attack (he has registered 21 assists this term) and also chips in with his fair share of goals. He has a wonderfully unique style and the deftest touch on the ball; with freedom in attack, he’s so difficult to mark.

Alongside Müller, Bayern will also need David Alaba to be on form in the heart of their defence. The 28-year-old has formed an impressive partnership with Jerome Boateng, but he will need to be on song to halt the likes of Depay and Moussa Dembele. He was vulnerable against Barcelona, and though it didn’t cost Bayern in the end, he’ll need to rebound quickly for the challenge of Lyon.Why Bayern will win

When you have Lewandowski in the team, you fancy your chances, but Bayern are far bigger than just one man. Their motto “Mia san Mia” roughly translates to “we are who we are” and is the lifeblood of their identity — everything flows through this, and they put so much emphasis on team harmony and a collective will. Flick manages the club through encouragement, rather than an authoritarian approach, and the players have responded.

Boateng, their impressive veteran centre-back, has previously spoken of how Flick has brought the fun back to Bayern and the players are clearly thriving. They dominated the Bundesliga, winning their eighth straight title by 13 points, and have Champions League winners in the squad in Müller, Neuer, Alaba and Boateng. In short, they know how to win.

Why Bayern won’t win

Lyon won’t be overawed by Bayern, after the French side polished off Man City, and will target the German champions’ centre-backs, looking to push and pull Boateng and Alaba out of position. Both defenders are vulnerable to pace given Bayern’s propensity to play a high line; if the likes of Davies and Kimmich are isolated upfield, there could be room for Depay & Co. to exploit. — Tom Hamilton


I think that Bayern will be too good for Lyon. I can see the Germans winning 3-1. — Julien Laurens

Bayern Munich will come through with a 4-2 victory, Lewandowski will score and Müller will have an outstanding game. — Tom Hamilton

PSG vs. RB Leipzig: Which team do you want to lose in the Champions League semifinal more?

Ryan BaileyYahoo SportsAug 17, 2020, 6:08 PM https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.html?screen_name=RyanJayBailey&show_screen_name=false&show_count=false

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that this season has been very strange. It is, therefore, appropriate that we have ended up with a curious Champions League final four

In a European campaign defined by the coronavirus pandemic pause and a single-elimination denouement in Lisbon, we have arrived at the most diverse range of semifinalists in decades. None of the finalists in the last six years of the competition are still in the competition, and it’s the first time since the 1992 Champions League rebrand that the semifinals have not featured a team from England, Spain or Italy.Tournament favorites Bayern Munich — who didn’t even appear to be playing at their best during their 8-2 humiliation of Barcelona — are the only “heritage” team who may be expected to attend the final stages of Europe’s premier domestic competition. Lyon, who finished seventh in Ligue 1 this season, were able to get the better of moneyed powerhouse Manchester City to secure their second-ever semifinal berth. Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, are in the semifinals for the first time since 1995, when star striker George Weah led them deep in the competition. The current President of Liberia earned the Ballon d’Or for his efforts in that campaign. At the time, Neymar was 3 years old.And the final four is rounded out by RB Leipzig, who are making their debut at this stage in the competition, having being established as a club with taurine-fueled propulsion in 2009.With such a broad and unexpected range of teams, competing in an urgent format, this season’s Champions League group stage is a treat for neutral fans. But those without a dog in the fight have a difficult decision to make when it comes to Tuesday’s semifinal between Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.The reason? It’s hard to know who to hate more.Has there ever been a Champions League knockout game between two teams who are so thoroughly maligned by the soccer community?Let’s start with the case against RB Leipzig. On the surface, the East German side may hold appeal for the American fan: They are funded by Red Bull, which is familiar to MLS supporters for rebranding the New York/New Jersey MetroStars team in 2006. They play an exciting brand of soccer that isn’t built around megastars, and are guided by 33-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann. They’re also a touchstone club for USMNT fans thanks to midfielder Tyler Adams, who scored the winning goal in the quarterfinal.

RB Leipzig are, however, by far the most hated team in Germany. For many, they represent the antithesis of what a club should be, and a damning encapsulation of corporate “modern soccer.”

Not only were they started by a multinational company — which is looked down upon in the European game, as teams are traditionally built by local communities — but they purchased the rights from fifth-tier side SSV Markranstadt to obtain their league license. Yes, they bought a place in the German league while putting another club out of existence.

RB Leipzig’s name technically stands for “RassenBallsport Leipzig,” but it is clear that they exist, at least in part, to market an energy drink.

A Borussia Dortmund fan who participated in a mass boycott of an RB Leipzig match in 2016 explained why many are irked by Leipzig’s origin story. “Dortmund makes money, but we do it in order to play football,” the fan said. “Leipzig plays football in order to sell a product and a lifestyle. That’s the difference.”

This is such a sticking point in the German soccer community that “11Freunde,” the biggest soccer magazine in Germany, is refusing to cover Leipzig’s Champions League run.

The East Germans are also heavily criticized for the manner in which they have flouted German soccer rules that are intended to keep clubs democratically controlled by their members. The “50+1 rule” ensures that fans own a majority of the stakes in teams, with very few exceptions. RB Leipzig have bent the rules to restrict their membership to less than 20 people, most of whom are Red Bull executives. 

German fans make no secret of their hatred for the side that’s ascended from the fifth tier to the semifinals of the Champions League in a little over a decade. In addition to boycotts, Leipzig are regularly treated to unwelcoming banners on away trips, and their fans are referred to as “customers.” Union Berlin held a silent 15-minute protest in their first-ever Bundesliga match in August 2019, as Leipzig were their visitors. In 2016, Dynamo Dresden fans threw a severed bull’s head onto the field to greet their energy drink-funded guests. 

The open disdain for Leipzig is clear on a domestic level, but it is probably eclipsed by PSG on an international level. Like Leipzig, the Parisians are a young club, having only started in 1970. The Ligue 1 side enjoyed success in the 1990s, but were elevated to the very top tier of the game when they were purchased by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in 2011.PSG have spent over a billion Euros since their takeover, and have become virtually unassailable in their domestic league, winning seven of the last eight Ligue 1 titles. The malice directed at them, however, isn’t due to the amount of money they spend. It’s the source of the money, and what it represents. 

The club is fully backed by a Gulf state that is frequently criticized for denouncing basic human rights. PSG stands accused of being a tool of political “soft power,” whereby Qatar aims to increase its appeal and standing in the western world via its megastar-laden soccer team. 

Of course, the Parisians are not the only team to benefit from state backing: Manchester City enjoy a similar arrangement with Abu Dhabi. And they are far from the only team in the world to have risen to power thanks to finances obtained from potentially dubious and allegedly unethical sources. Isn’t that right, Chelsea fans?

For many, however, PSG’s combination of problematic funding, a lack of history and a healthy dose of hubris form a particularly unedifying combination.  

Thus, Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal is the Battle of the Maligned Monoliths. 

It is not Paris against Leipzig; it is Political Influence against Rampant Commercialism. 

It may be possible for the neutral fan to appreciate the quality of the product on the field, but it will be more challenging to pick a side to back. 

But whether we like it or not, the game and its machinations are changing before our eyes. And one of these teams is heading to the Champions League final.

Yahoo DFS Soccer: Tuesday/Wednesday UCL Picks

Schuyler Redpath

RotoWire.comAug 18, 2020, 3:39 AM



Robert Lewandowski, FCB at LYN (€30): Lewandowski continues to put up video-game like numbers, bagging a goal and an assist in Bayern’s 8-2 thrashing of Barcelona and registering 25 points. He’s three goals away from equaling Cristiano Ronaldo‘s single-season record, and with Bayern heavily favored to advance, it would not be surprising to see him make a run at the record in the semifinal versus Lyon.

Neymar, PSG at RBL (€28)Neymar had his way, for the most part, in PSG’s 2-1 win over Atalanta in the quarterfinals, yet he only came away with an assist despite firing off seven shots. He drew a ridiculous nine fouls and created four chances, highlighting his ability to rack up fantasy points regardless of whether he gets on the score-sheet. Expect the Brazilian superstar to play an integral role in seeing PSG through to the final.

Thomas Muller, FCB at LYN (€21): Muller was in fine form in Bayern’s quarterfinal win over Barcelona, scoring two goals and adding an assist for 27 points. It feels a bit like chasing points here, but on a short slate and with Bayern overwhelming favorites to advance, Muller’s salary is within reason to plug him in as part of a Bayern Munich stack.


Angel Di Maria, PSG at RBL (€25): Di Maria is set to return from suspension for Tuesday’s UCL semifinal against RB Leipzig. The versatile attacker will be a welcome spark after the French side were shut out for 90 minutes before scoring two goals in the dying minutes to advance. He stands over a share of set pieces and his 10 goals and 18 assists on the season show just how involved he is in the PSG attack.

Joshua Kimmich, FCB at LYN (€22): Kimmich got in on the fun with a goal and an assist in Bayern’s 8-2 shellacking of Barcelona. He topped 22 points in that one, and as Bayern’s primary set-piece taker, he comes with a reliable floor and big attacking upside.

Christopher Nkunku, RBL vs. PSG (€10): Nkunku has scored more than three fantasy points just once in this season’s UCL, but we’re going back to the well with him here thanks to his bare minimum price. He typically splits set pieces with defender Angelino (€18), and he turned in 13 assists during the Bundesliga campaign, so it’s not a complete dart throw. More than anything, he opens up funds to fit in the big names.


Alphonso Davies, FCB at LYN (€18): Davies showed why he’s considered one of the best young prospects in the world with a dazzling display in the quarterfinal win over Barcelona. He tallied an assist and seven points, and frankly, that point haul just doesn’t do his performance justice. The Canadian sensation is constantly getting forward and making things happen on the left wing, and there’s no reason to think we don’t see more of the same in the semifinal versus Lyon.

Jerome Boateng, FCB at LYN (€12): Boateng doesn’t offer much from an attacking perspective, but I’m okay with using him here as a cheap inlet to the Bayern Munich defense, one that has by far the best clean sheet odds on the slate.

Thilo Kehrer, PSG at RBL (€12): Kehrer is another value defender play to help make way for the big dogs. He doesn’t get involved on the attacking end very often, but with PSG favored to get the job done, there’s a chance he collects enough points on the defensive end to make value.


Anthony Lopes, LYN vs. FCB (€10) : We took a shot with Lopes on the last slate, and he paid big dividends with six saves and 11 points in staving off Premier League powerhouse Manchester City. There’s no doubt this is a risky play after watching Bayern Munich score eight goals on Barcelona, but the opportunity for bulk save points will surely be there. If he can parry enough opportunities away to offset any goals allowed, Lopes could come up with another serviceable score at minimum price.

8/13/20 – Champions League Thur-Sat 3 pm TUDN, CBS All Access,  Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm vs Pittsburgh, MLS reg season to start  

Champions League is Back  Thur-Sat 3 pm

Oh my goodness you American Tyler Adams – scores winning goal in 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid to send RB Leipzig to Semi-Finals vs PSG.

See American Tyler Adams score winning goal in the 88th minute for RB Leipzig to beat Atletico Madrid

Man Wednesday’s game was out of this world – and shows once again why Champions League football is so very fun to watch.  In these 1 game neutral location scenarios the chance for upsets is ripe – and little Italian wanna-be Atalanta was thinking just that up 1-0 vs giant French bohemouth PSG.  Honestly Neymar makes more than the entire salary of Atalanta – but here they were about to knock out the favorites – a PSG side that has not gone past the Quarterfinals in forever.  Again and again Neymar shot wide, low, to soft or just over the frame.  A recovering Mmbape was inserted in the 2nd half –and again the shots came but Atalanta and their valiant keeper ____- stood tall.  Finally in the 88th minute – PSG broke thru- a Neymar missed shot bouncing to teammate who finished to tie it at 1.  Just 5 minutes later in stoppage time Neymar found Mmbape who found forward Choupa-Moting for the tap in and PSG miraculously survived – making the Semi-Finals for the first time.  They’ll await the winner of RB Leipzig and my Atletico Madrid who faceoff today at 3 pm on FUBO TV, TUDN and  (streamed on CBS all-access).   Friday we get the showcase game of Barcelona vs Bayern Munich at 3 pm, while Saturday features Man City vs Lyon and Memphis Dupay at 3 pm.  CBS all-access does have Free Month option – so its time to pony-up and at least try the Free Trial option for this month to see how CBS is going to handle Champions League and Europa League.  All the games are available on the all access.  I like Atletico Madrid along with Bayern Munich.  I will admit the pre and post game UCL coverage is well done on CBS All Access–much more like NBCSN and the EPL than TNT and that joke set they had last year.  Who will win? Also Sunday Man U fans they face Sevilla at 3 pm with a trip to the Europa League finals on the line.

Indy 11 – Home Sat 7 pm vs Pittsburgh

Indy Eleven’s Tyler Pasher scored late to secure a 1-1 tie at Louisville over the weekend.  Their first draw of 2020 allowed Indy Eleven (5W-2L-1D, 16 pts.) to extend its Group E lead to six points over second-place Saint Louis FC (3W-3L-1D, 10 pts.). Indy Eleven remains the top points earner in the 35-club USL Championship, now sitting two points clear of fellow Eastern Conference side Tampa Bay Rowdies.  Head coach Martin Rennie was named USL Coach of the Month for August, after leading his team to 5 victories in its opening 6 games.  The 11 return home this Sat Aug 15 vs the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.  Tickets are available for the7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or calling 317-685-1100.

Christian Pulisic Named to EPL Young Player of the Year List

Really cool that American youngster Pulisic has been named to the Young Player of the Year Award in the EPL this season the  inaugural presentation of the award presented to the Premier League’s best player aged 23 or younger.  If it was only for since the return I would say Pulisic would be a shu-in but obviously over the entire season chances are Trent Alexander Arnold of Liverpool or Anthony Martial at Man United will finish ahead. The list of nominees is a who’s who of some of the world’s most exciting young talents, including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jack Grealish, Dean Henderson, Anthony Martial, Mason Mount, and Marcus Rashford. Still after a slow start that included injury – for Pulisic to finish with 11 goals/10 assists in just 34 games played is pretty impressive. More impressive is Chelsea’s offense was literally stuck in reverse without him on the field.  Hopefully he recovers soon and is back on track at Chelsea within a few games of the start in September.

MLS Returns to In Market Games with fans after Portland Win vs Orlando

The MLS is Back month long tourney wrapped up with an exciting Final as Portland outlasted upstart Orlando City FC 2-1 on Tuesday night on ESPN.  There was some exciting soccer over this month including some morning games and lots of national TV time on both ESPN and Fox Sport 1 coupled with some high scoring and exciting games overall.  While certainly not with the hoopla of the NBA still I think MLS made some inroads on the casual sports fan.  MLS now plans to return to in market games with limited fans in the stands – which will make them the 2nd US sports league to do so (behind the USL of course with teams like the Indy 11).

Champions League

See American Tyler Adams score winning goal in the 88th minute for RB Leipzig to beat Atletico Madrid

Key Matchups in Champions League Games

Champions League 2019-20: 11 things you already forgot happened

Bayern Munich turn up heat on Champions League bid against Barcelona   

Will we get a new champ? | 

Depay’s redemption 

 Why Bayern are confident 

Key players | 

Atletico perfect for this competition 
Messi 9/10, De Jong 8/10 as Barca reach Champions League quarters

Lyon haunt Ronaldo as Juventus’ shortcomings are all too clear

Bayern Munich’s Davies a Star for Canadian Soccer

Once an afterthought, Solskjaer has Man United focused on Europa League glory

Neymar sets 2 UCL records vs Atalanta

PSG keeps it late to land UCL semi final spot

Watch: Pasalic scores golazo vs PSG


Pulisic’s first year at Chelsea: The U.S. star’s highs and lows since dream move

Pulisic On List for Young Player of the Year Award in the EPL

Report: USMNT’s Robinson to sign for Sheffield United


Juventus hope Pirlo can be a ‘Ronaldo Whisperer’ after Sarri mess

David James expects ‘really good battle’ for England number one jersey at Euros
Predicting the 2020-21 Premier League standings

GK Gigi Buffon Talks Battling Depression


Indy Eleven Teams with Red Cross for August 13 Blood Drive




Buy Tickets

Indy 11 Sponsor – Grab a bite at these local spots – https://www.thedistricttap.com/ & https://www.rosatispizza.com/location/carmel-in/ 


Official! Inter Miami sign World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi

Chase for MLS Cup: How all 26 teams shape up for season restart

Champions! Mabiala, Zuparic goals give Portland the trophy

Orlando’s Nani: Everyone saw who was better on the field

Boehm: 10 things we learned from the MLS is Back Tournament

Wiebe: MLS is Back gave us exactly what we needed

Blanco takes home MLS is Back Player of the Tournament award

VOTE NOW for the Save of the Tournament

Blake takes home MLS is Back Golden Glove honors


Thur,  Aug 13

3 pm FuboTV,  CBSAA             RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid (Champs League)

Fri, Aug 14

3 pm FuboTV, TUDN, CBSAA   Bayern Munich vs Barcelona (Champs League)

Sat, Aug 15

3 pm FuboTV, TUDN, CBSAA   Man City vs Lyon (Champs League)

7 pm ESPN+MyindyTV      INDY 11 vs Pittsburg – Lucas Oil

Sun, Aug 16

3 pm FuboTV, TUDN,CBSAA Man United vs Sevilla (Europa League)

Mon, Aug 17

3 pm FuboTV, TUDN, CBSAA  Inter vs Shakhtar Donetsk (Europa League)

Tues,  Aug 18

3 pm FuboTV,                                Champs League Semis

Weds,  Aug 19

3 pm FuboTV,                                Champs League Semis

Fri, Aug 21

3 pm FuboTV, TUDN, CBSSN   Europa League Finals

Sun, Aug 23

3 pm FuboTV, CBSSN                  Champions League Finals

10 pm ESPN?                                  Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders MLS

Champions League quarterfinal preview, predictions and the sleeper team to watch (hint: Atalanta)


After the last 16 wrapped up over the weekend and several big teams bowed out early — Juventus even changed managers after losing to Lyon — we are down to the final eight, competing in Lisbon, for the 2019-20 Champions League.The format has been altered in light of the coronavirus pandemic, with the traditional “two-legged” home-and-away structure for the quarterfinals and semifinals replaced by a simple one-and-done knockout through to the coronation of a winne. There are no more away goals or aggregate scores; instead, we get 90 minutes for a winner to emerge (or, if that doesn’t happen, another 30 minutes of extra time followed by a penalty shootout).Which teams have the best shot of advancing to the semifinals? Which players could be key in settling the quarters? Will Bayern cruise to the trophy, or will a brand-new team win it in 2020?Consider this your guide to the quarterfinals.

Jump to: Will we get a new champ? | Depay’s redemption | Don’t sleep on Atalanta | Why Bayern are confident | PSG’s best, and worst, chance to win | Key players | Atletico perfect for this competition | Picking the winners

Will we have a brand-new champion this season?

It’s a numbers game, isn’t it? You have eight teams left. Only two, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, have won it before, and as luck would have it, they play each other on Friday night, which means three of the four semifinalists, come what may, will be sides who have never lifted the European Cup.

Beyond that, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest we’ll get a new winner, starting with the fact that the format and circumstances are entirely unprecedented. These are single-leg, straight knockout games, and they tend to be less predictable than the standard home-and-away affairs. Everything, of course, is behind closed doors, and everyone will be in a bubble in Portugal. Most of these teams are accustomed to the former, but not the latter, as during their domestic seasons post-lockdown they were still living at home. We’re in uncharted waters here.But does that mean an underdog will triumph? Not necessarily. Whoever emerges from the heavyweight Bayern vs. Barcelona quarterfinal will still be a favorite. And while neither Paris Saint-Germain nor Manchester City have won it before, given their spending over the past decade and the fact that they’ve been Champions League knockout-stage regulars, you wouldn’t describe either as an underdog.Those four clubs are all in the global top six when it comes to spending on salaries, so it’s not particularly romantic, but it’s fair to say that while the others aren’t exactly “superclubs,” they aren’t all minnows either. Atletico Madrid have reached the final twice in the past decade, but they revel in the ugly, street-fighting underdog status, partly thanks to Diego Simeone, partly because they share a hometown with the game’s ultimate blue loods, Real Madrid.

Leipzig have been in the German top flight only since 2016 and this is only their second Champions League participation, but theirs isn’t quite the romantic upstart tale, which is why so many traditional fans dislike them. Or, more accurately, they might admire their state-of-the-art scouting, entertaining football and high-energy style, but lament their heavy reliance on corporate sponsorship. They’re underdogs of a different sort, more like outcasts.Never fear, though — Atalanta and Olympique Lyonnais fit the underdog tag to a tee. The former’s wage bill is less than a tenth that of PSG, whom they face on Wednesday. But they’ve punched way above their weight the past few seasons, playing an all-out attacking style that has seen them outscore almost everybody in Europe’s top five leagues.As for Lyon, because the French league was abandoned in March, they’ve played only two competitive games in the past five months. They also had a rough domestic campaign, changing managers in the fall and finishing seventh. Nevertheless, they managed to knock out a heavyweight, Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Juventus, in the round of 16. If you want to root for the (relatively) little guy, go for one of those two. — Gab Marcotti

Depay finds redemption as Lyon’s leader

When Memphis Depay left Manchester United for Lyon in January 2017, it was as much to do with the Dutch forward’s commitment and attitude as his performances on the pitch which, for a £25m signing, were consistent only in terms of their mediocrity. Louis van Gaal, United’s manager at the time, believed he could mould Depay into a team player, having worked with him during his spell as Netherlands coach, but when the then-21-year-old reacted to being dropped to the reserves by turning up for the game in a Rolls Royce while wearing a cowboy hat, it was clear that he had some growing up to do.

United proved to be the wrong club at the wrong time for Depay, but moving to Lyon has been his salvation and the 26-year-old will lead the French team’s Champions League assault in Lisbon having come of age with Les Gones.Depay was handed the captaincy by coach Rudi Garcia earlier this season — a remarkable turn of events to those who knew him at Old Trafford — but a cruciate ligament injury suffered in December halted his progress at Lyon, threatening to both end his season and force him out of Euro 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, which led to both Ligue 1 and Euro 2020 being canceled, has inadvertently led to Depay being able to return to action, however, and his penalty in the round of 16 second-leg tie against Juventus in Turin proved to be the decisive goal that sent Lyon through to the quarterfinals on the away goals rule.Lyon will now face Manchester City in Estadio Jose Alvalade on Saturday and Depay will go into the game knowing he already has haunted his former club’s neighbours in the Champions League. Back in September 2018, Depay created the goal for Nabil Fekir for Lyon’s shock 2-1 group-stage win at the Etihad before providing the assists for both of Maxwel Cornet‘s goals in the 2-2 draw in the return game in France two months later.City were probably expecting to face another former United No. 7 (Juve’s Ronaldo) in the quarterfinals, but they should not feel a sense of relief that it will be Depay instead.

Unusually for United, they insisted on a buy-back clause in the deal that took Depay to Lyon three years ago. They knew what he was capable of in the right circumstances and he has clearly found himself in Lyon. — Mark Ogden

Why Atalanta are this season’s sleeper team

If footballing aesthetics are your thing, then Atalanta are playing arguably the most beautiful football in Europe at this point in time. But speak to those who have followed the club for years and they’re pinching themselves that their beloved Atalanta, so often the outsiders in every competition, are considered genuine Champions League contenders.

Having lost their Champions League opener 4-0 away at Dinamo Zagreb, they somehow edged through the group before dispatching Valencia 8-4 on aggregate in the second round, a pair of games that gained added notoriety in light of the coronavirus pandemic. This is all very new for the Nerazzurri faithful. Though they finished third in each of the past two seasons, they were traditionally a more midtable Serie A side, operating on a low budget and the equivalent of easy prey for other bigger footballing vultures. Their last major trophy was in 1961 when they won the Coppa Italia, but they’re now the envy of much of Europe, perhaps this season’s “neutrals’ favorite” as Ajax were in 2018-19.

Atalanta’s 3-4-1-2 formation is focused on overloading their opponents, with the midfielders there to dictate exactly which areas of the pitch they need to be playing in. It creates both space and opportunity — their speed in transition involves shifting the point of attack from left to right, and vice versa, creating space in the middle of the pitch for the brilliant roaming Alejandro “Papu” Gomez, Josip IlicicLuis Muriel and Duvan Zapata. This tactical trickery is to manager Gian Piero Gasperini’s immense credit; he has moulded this team so the players can interchange positions in the blink of an eye, while making them structurally elusive to stop consistently.

This season, Atalanta scored the most goals in Serie A (98, third most in Europe’s top five leagues), had the most shots on target and third-most chances (535 — behind Manchester City and Napoli). In short, they will give PSG a real run for their money with a squad that cost £94m, less than half what their opponents paid for Neymar.

But equally, this is unknown territory for them. They’ve never been in the Champions League before this season, and they’re only a couple of injuries away from trouble — they are already potentially without Ilicic for the PSG game due to personal reason. While many pundits expected them to bow out gracefully, Atalanta are quietly adamant they will be a force come the final throes of this competition. The scariest thing for PSG? Atalanta have nothing to lose.

“We can beat anyone over a single leg,” said Atalanta midfielder Remo Freuler. “We believe in our chances, of course, otherwise we wouldn’t even bother going to Lisbon.” — Tom Hamilton

Bayern’s tournament to win?

Steve Nicol is surprised Bayern Munich dominated Chelsea despite time off after their Bundesliga season ended.

Bayern Munich are second-favourites to lift the trophy, and when you talk to those who were part of the 2013 class that won the Champions League, you’ll learn about two key factors that must swing in your favour if you are to conquer Europe.

Firstly, according to Bayern Munich centre back Jerome Boateng, you need “a little bit of luck.” Then you need to have a “strong mentality,” with everyone pulling in one direction. He thinks of Liverpool last year: “They were a little family sticking together.” But while Bayern are now in unison, earlier in the season they were a disconnected bunch.

Boateng was one of the club’s more experienced players, like Thomas Muller, who, back when the 2019-20 season was still in its infancy, found himself on the periphery of the squad under previous manager Niko Kovac. They were contemplating life away from Bayern, but now, under Hansi Flick, as Boateng reflects on winning his eighth straight Bundesliga and their Champions League aspirations, he smiles as he talks about his coach.

“He [Flick] brought back the joy for us as a team to play football, to have fun,” Boateng says. And they play like they’re having fun, too: lightning-quick fullbacks, ridiculously talented midfielders, wingers sprinting infield to attack the middle and then Robert Lewandowski, arguably the most prolific striker in world football, leading the attack.

But do not underestimate the importance of Boateng and that partnership with Manuel Neuer. The experienced centre-back has seen it all in a rich and varied career, and he possesses a level-headed personality that gives the impression he is internally evaluating all potential influencing factors in the remaining rounds of the Champions League. He personally feels fitness will be king, with Bayern ideally playing four games in 15 days through to the final.

“At the end, whoever wins will say, we won the Champions League with this kind of little tournament, it was different but we made it,” Boateng says. “I think every season of course has its own story and to win this Champions League … it’s really hard work and it’s special.” — Tom Hamilton

Why this is PSG’s best chance to win it … and worst time to try

Frank Leboeuf says Kylian Mbappe will make the final call on playing in PSG’s Champions League match.

Thomas Tuchel has been at PSG for only two years, but on Wednesday night, he neatly explained the dynamic between the club and the Champions League.”Every time we get close to a Champions League game, something negative happens. I don’t know why,” the German said. Through the years, even going back to the pre-QSI era, PSG’s European campaigns have often been jinxed by injuries, suspensions, mistakes, pressure and the stress of sky-high expectations. This season is no different.If you look at the season as a whole and where the team is now, with the progress made in the past 12 months, how Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have been playing, how they finally have a top goalkeeper in Keylor Navas, there’s a lot of optimism that this could finally be the year. The draw was kind to them. The one-legged games will take away all the ghosts of the humiliating remontadas they suffered last season against Manchester United at home in the last 16, and in 2017 away at Barcelona at the same stage. Over 90 minutes, the French champions are certainly capable of beating anyone. We saw it when they destroyed Barça 4-0, Bayern 3-0 and Real Madrid 3-0 in the past three years.With their Brazilian superstar and their French prodigy, they have two of the best players in the world, each capable of winning a game on their own. Neymar has never been happier in Paris; he finally feels at home, and the club is hoping that they could renew his deal, just like they did Mbappe’s. The atmosphere inside the dressing room is also the best it’s ever been. That’s why, collectively, they have become better on the pitch too.They still naturally rely a lot on the individual brilliance of Neymar and Mbappe, but the impact that Angel Di Maria had this season, the output of Pablo Sarabia and the creative talent of Marco Verratti have made the team stronger as a unit. And in Mauro Icardi, they have one of the best finishers in the game if he gets the service he needs.Strong defensively, balanced in midfield, exceptional offensively and with a manager who hopefully would have learned from his mistakes of last season, with great momentum after winning a domestic treble and a favourable draw: all the lights should be green for PSG. And yet, it’s the worst time for them to finally win this Champions League.The decision taken by the French league to stop Ligue 1 while the rest of Europe’s top leagues eventually concluded safely means that the Parisians have played only two competitive games in five months.Equally, PSG will struggle even more because they won’t have their strongest side out. First, Mbappe was the victim of a mistimed but horrible tackle from Loic Perrin against Saint-Etienne. He is a huge doubt for Wednesday’s game. After losing Neymar from January and February onward in the past two seasons, PSG really wanted to avoid losing another of their stars. Without the Frenchman, this is a totally different team given the added pressure on Neymar. Then defender Thilo Kehrer hurt his back and broke a bone in his ear, Layvin Kurzawa is out (hamstring) and to top it all, Verratti injured his calf at training last week and should miss the quarterfinal. Even if Mbappe and Verratti can play, they won’t be 100 percent for the game and it will be a much weaker PSG side as a result.On top of that, the club was hoping that the out-of-contract trio, Thiago SilvaEdinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier, would stay to finish the season; PSG were also hoping to keep the very promising Tanguy Kouassi at the club. Only Silva will be there to face Atalanta. Kouassi left on a free transfer to Bayern Munich, while Cavani and Meunier declined the offer of a two-month extension. If you add that Di Maria is suspended, it means that PSG have gone from high hopes and ambition to gloom and pessimism.All the recent setbacks and bad news will certainly make their life harder. But considering PSG are a club that’s never ceased to amaze, both in good and bad ways, you can never say never. — Julien Laurens

Players who should make a difference in the quarterfinals

Alejandro “Papu” Gomez, FW, Atalanta: Although highly respected in Italy, the creative Argentine attacking midfielder still hasn’t quite achieved the worldwide recognition he deserves. Gomez is a technically brilliant player, full of lovely little touches and layoffs, with the ability take on opponents in wide and central areas, set up teammates or finish with a thunderous shot. Perhaps somewhat underappreciated due to never having played for one of the established Italian giants, Gomez has earned only four caps for his country.Now, at 32, Gomez is playing the football of his life, and Atalanta’s chances of causing an upset against PSG rest heavily on their inspirational captain.

Emil Forsberg, MF/FW, RB Leipzig: Once regarded as one of the most exciting, up-and-coming players in the German Bundesliga, the Swedish winger/attacking midfielder hasn’t quite managed to push on from his excellent 2016-17 season when he topped the assist charts with an impressive 22. Even so, Forsberg is still an outstanding footballer, and while Timo Werner has grabbed the headlines (and since gone to join new team Chelsea), the 28-year-old does have the technical ability and touch of class to make a valuable contribution — be it a brilliant cross or a well-executed direct free kick — when it matters the most.

He scored Leipzig’s first-ever Champions League goal (vs. Monaco in 2017-18) and will need to have a big game as a possible fulcrum in Leipzig’s attack.

Renan Lodi, DF, Atletico Madrid: The left-back had the most traumatic of La Liga debuts when he was sent off before half-time against Getafe in August last year. Then followed a period of inconsistency and frequent displays of defensive frailty, but Diego Simeone stuck with the young Brazilian. Renan Lodi is no longer a weak spot and has since established himself as a regular in the Atletico Madrid side. The 21-year-old masters both phases of the game; he loves defending (and an old-fashioned tackle), is able to deliver crosses from advanced positions and is smart and technically gifted enough to engage in combinational play. He was man of the match in the Champions League home leg against Liverpool. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen

Is this Atletico Madrid’s year?

Does it heighten your suspicion that Atletico might be the “shock” winners of this redesigned tournament if you know that under Simeone, they’ve never lost a knockout Champions League tie or match unless Ronaldo’s been in the other team? If nothing else, it should certainly heighten your appreciation of the Argentinian coach.Of course, Atleti lost two finals to Ronaldo-inspired Real Madrid teams, plus a semifinal and a quarterfinal. Then, last season, it was Ronaldo’s hat trick for Juve that dumped Los Rojiblancos out at the first knockout stage.So is the fact that Ronaldo and Juve flopped last week and aren’t in Lisbon a hint that nothing can stand in Atleti’s way now?

That has to be too big a conclusion given Simeone still has a fitness concern over a key player, Thomas Partey, and ongoing calibration required to get the best out of his decent array of attacking players. The likelihood, you’d say, is that he doesn’t double down on his post-lockdown idea that Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa don’t work well enough as a starting pair. Meaning, in all likelihood, that Costa is preferred up front, potentially with Marcos Llorente as his partner. In fact, there’s a good chance that this is his starting XI against RB Leipzig: Jan OblakSantiago AriasStefan Savic, Jose Giménez, Renan Lodi; Angel Correa, Koke, Saúl, Yannick Carrasco; Costa, Llorente.

Realistically, Atleti are one of those sides who lose something with the absence of a home crowd. The brand-new Wanda Metropolitano might not be quite as rabidly passionate as the Calderon was, but those fans are special, and they help. The huge plus for Atleti in one-off matches is that they’re awfully hard to beat, starting with a keeper in Oblak who often plays like he’s the best in the world in that position. There have been three Champions League/European Cup finals for Atleti and three terrible “sob” stories thanks to two extra-time equalisers from opponents to deny victory, and a heartbreaking penalty shootout loss. This might just be the panacea year. — Graham Hunter

Picking the winners

Last, but not least, we have predictions! Which teams will be left standing in Lisbon? Here are our best guesses.

PSG vs. Atalanta (Wednesday): Before the coronavirus stoppage, PSG had been one of the three most dominant teams in the Champions League field thus far, generating 19 points from eight matches (third best) with an average goal differential of +2.0 per match (second best). EloFootball.com ranks them third in Europe, too. But March was a long time ago, and Atalanta played a lot of matches, at a solid level, this summer. If the layoff, and Mbappe’s absence, don’t matter, PSG is a solid favorite.

RB Leipzig vs. Atletico Madrid (Thursday): This is a stylistically fascinating matchup, and it might be the most statistically tight, too. FiveThirtyEight gives RBL a 52% chance of advancing, while Atletico has a slight edge per EloFootball. Atleti’s form was better after the summer restart, though, and while Leipzig should be formidable again next season, they haven’t yet had an opportunity to replace new Chelsea addition Timo Werner. That alone probably tips the scales in favor of the 2014 and 2016 finalists.

Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona (Friday): Despite the seemingly nonstop existential crisis around Messi and co, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Barcelona. But Bayern has played like one of the top two teams in Europe for much of the past nine months, while Barca has been merely very good. Bayern had the best post-restart goal differential among the top leagues, and they have yet to suffer a single blemish in the Champions League. They would be favored against anyone except maybe Manchester City, and it’s no different here.

Manchester City vs. Lyon (Saturday): Here’s your David vs. Goliath matchup. FiveThirtyEight ranks Manchester City and Lyon as the No. 1 and No. 40 teams in Europe, respectively. For context, Lyon ranks between Everton and Sheffield United, two teams that were outscored by Man City by a combined 8-2 in four Premier League matchups this season. City have had an attention span problem this year, suffering about one baffling loss per month during the Premier League season, but that’s really the only thing you can reference to think Lyon’s got a chance. — Bill Connelly

Key battles in Champions League quarterfinals

Joe Prince-WrightNBC Sports•August 11, 2020

The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals take center stage this week and we’re going to select one key battle which should determine the outcome of all four games.With Manchester City the favorites against Lyon, a massive clash between Barcelona and Bayern Munich, plus intriguing ties between Atalanta and PSG, plus RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid, the final few games in the 2019-20 Champions League campaign will be so tight to call.In the next few days the Champions League quarterfinals will excite as the mini tournament in Portugal begins.Man City beat Real Madrid 4-2 on aggregate to reach the last eight and Pep Guardiola’s boys will be confident but wary after Lyon dumped out Juventus in the Round of 16. Bayern v. Barcelona should be all-out attack, while Atletico v. Leipzig will be full of grit and Atalanta and PSG could end up 6-5 to either team as two free-flowing attacks collide.Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, and there will be one heck of a show over the next few days.Below is a look at the key battles, as well as how to watch and follow all of the Champions League quarterfinal fixtures in the USA.

Atalanta – PSG: Marten de Roon v. Ander Herrera

Yes, that Marten de Roon from Middlesbrough. The Dutch midfielder has been a sensation at Atalanta and does most of the dirty work for Gomez, Zapata et al. to score boat loads of goals. His battle in the engine room against Ander Herrera will be crucial. Marco Verratti is out injured and that is a big blow, especially with Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria out too for PSG. Neymar and Icardi will be looking for the midfield to give them the ball as much as possible and if that happens, PSG could run riot. That said, if De Roon can win that battle with Herrera, Atalanta’s attackers can cause PSG’s defense big problems. Whoever wins the midfield battle will win this game. It should be tight and full of goals. Enjoy.

RB Leipzig – Atletico Madrid: Dayot Upamecano v.Diego Costa

This should be an epic head-to-head. Costa loves the one-on-one scraps and Upamecano is among the finest center backs in Europe right now. The young Frenchman doesn’t get bullied often but Costa will have a good go. Costa has hardly been prolific in his second spell at Atletico but he so often sets the tone for their scrappy displays under Diego Simeone. Leipzig like to play a back three at times and that could leave space for Costa to run at Upamecano. This will be intriguing. Watch out for Costa to put down his marker early on with elbows and everything else flying at Upamecano.

Barcelona – Bayern Munich: Lionel Messi v. David Alaba

Okay, so, we know how Jerome Boateng v. Lionel Messi went before. Somewhere, somebody is still using that gif of Boateng tangling his own legs like spaghetti as Messi bamboozled him to score at the Nou Camp. So it’s probably best if versatile Austrian star David Alaba goes up against Messi. It’s likely that Alaba will play at the back but he should basically mark Messi, and when (or if, because this is Messi) he gets the ball back he has the quality to start attacks. Bayern and Barcelona both score plenty of goals but defensively they have to improve if they’re going to win the Champions League this season.

Manchester City – Lyon: Aymeric Laporte v. Memphis Depay

Everyone is tipping Man City to beat Lyon easily, but that’s what everyone said about Lyon against Juventus. Memphis Depay is a real threat up top and Lyon usually do very well against Man City. Pep Guardiola needs Aymeric Laporte to be at his very best and it is likely he and Fernandinho will again line up together at center back. Laporte will line up on the left and Memphis will start on the right side of Lyon’s central strikers, so this will be a battle to look out for. Laporte has class but his pace is sometimes questioned and if City leave him exposed on the break, Memphis can take advantage of those situations.

Juventus Takes a Romantic Gamble in Hiring Andrea Pirlo as Manager

Andrea Pirlo’s managerial experience is limited to nine days as Juventus U-23 coach. So why was he installed as senior team manager within hours of Maurizio Sarri’s ouster?


That Maurizio Sarri would be sacked if Juventus failed to progress past Lyon to reach the Champions League quarterfinals was widely expected, but when his dismissal came on Saturday, it didn’t change the sense of profound weariness at what football has become. He had, after all, won the league this season, but that for Juventus is no longer enough. This is the joyless truth for the modern elite: league titles have become so familiar that they mean almost nothing in themselves.Far less anticipated was that Andrea Pirlo would be announced as his replacement within hours of Sarri’s ouster, with Juventus seemingly not considering any of the alternatives who may be available. It is, frankly, an extraordinary decision, one that smacks of a romantic punt on a club legend made more through hope than any carefully considered plan. “Today begins a new chapter of his career in the world of football,” said a club statement. “As it was said about a week ago: from Maestro to Mister. From today he will be the coach for the Juventus people, as the club has decided to entrust him with the technical leadership of the first team, after having already selected him for Juventus Under-23. Today’s choice is based on the belief Pirlo has what it takes to lead, from his debut on the bench, an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes.”It feels at the moment as though every club wants their own Pep Guardiola. They want their own former player, somebody steeped in the traditions of the club, who can do what Guardiola did in 2008 at Barcelona, taking over the club in a first senior coaching role and leading it to new heights. It’s one of the major reasons Manchester United appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Chelsea appointed Frank Lampard.But Guardiola was appointed after an exceptional year in charge of the reserve side. It was a gamble, but one based on serious evidence. Solskjaer was appointed after winning championships in Norway. Even Lampard had a moderate level of success in his season in charge of Derby County in England’s second tier (before he, too, replaced Sarri). Pirlo has had nine days in charge of the Under-23s. Those first training sessions must have been sensational.All of that raises its own questions. When Pirlo was appointed Under-23 coach, was he already being considered for the senior job? Were Juve directors already thinking they could shuffle him into the role if Juve was embarrassed by Lyon? Or is this a decision made on a whim in the past week, by directors whose actions have been increasingly erratic over the past couple of seasons?It’s only been a year, of course, since Max Allegri was deposed after winning five league titles in a row, supposedly because his football was deemed less likely than Sarri’s to bring the Champions League title that Juve craves more than anything. And perhaps it was. But the decision would have been more convincing if Sarri hadn’t been expected to produce the free-flowing football of his Napoli side with Cristiano Ronaldo’s static individualism up front. Ronaldo remains a phenomenon, but to include him in the team is to accept that everything has to go through him, and that is not the Sarri way.Pirlo was a cerebral player. The assumption is that the understanding of the angles of the game he demonstrated on the pitch will translate to tactical acuity from the bench, although that doesn’t always follow. His air of calm composure, similarly, leads to the assumption he will not have any problems with the more political aspects of the job. But all of that is unproven.And whoever is in charge has to deal with the Ronaldo issue. He was the first of the board’s gambles to try to bring a first Champions League title to Turin since 1996, brought in at immense cost despite his being 33 at the time, under the assumption his goals and his capacity to perform at key moments were what Juve was missing. He has not disappointed, but his presence restricts how his side can play. To use late-period Ronaldo effectively, a club has to do what Zinedine Zidane did at Madrid and effectively build a team to service him, taking few risks and sitting deep in midfield.Yet at the same time, the board seems to hanker after something more modern and progressive. Ronaldo is 35. He’s not getting any more mobile. He has no place in an expansive team. Nobody has any idea what sort of football Pirlo may favor–there is quite literally no evidence from which to draw–but it may be that the twin demands of Juventus’s board are irreconcilable.

Christian Pulisic nominated for Premier League Young Player of the Season

He’s up for an individual award.   By Brendan Joseph  Aug 7, 2020, 12:23pm PDT  Stars and Stripes

Christian Pulisic has the opportunity to take home an award to commemorate his fantastic debut season in England. The Chelsea superstar was nominated for TAG Heuer Young Player of the Season. The award is decided by a fan vote, which can be performed here. Voting ends on Monday, August 10th.This is the inaugural presentation of the award presented to the Premier League’s best player aged 23 or younger. The list of nominees is a who’s who of some of the world’s most exciting young talents, including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jack Grealish, Dean Henderson, Anthony Martial, Mason Mount, and Marcus Rashford.After a slightly underwhelming start to his time at Stamford Bridge, Pulisic received praise for adjusting to the league and taking over matches. “He’s got that confidence now, that arrogance,” said broadcaster and former player Don Hutchison. “There’s not many people in the Premier League that can take the ball at their feet and take players on and dribble past people with ease like Christian Pulisic does. It’s difficult to compare him [to Eden Hazard], because they’re both their own characters, but they’re quite similar. I don’t think Hazard in his first season at Chelsea was as good as maybe Pulisic was this season. He’s certainly on the right path to being close to Eden Hazard’s level.”The Hershey, Pennsylvania native contributed 11 goals and 10 assists in 34 appearances across all competitions despite missing several months due to injury. He began his career with Borussia Dortmund, where he rose to fame as one of the Bundesliga’s top young prospects. He moved to England in a record $73.1 million transfer deal.Unfortunately, his fantastic year ended on a down note. The 21-year-old attacker suffered a hamstring injury after scoring a goal in Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Arsenal in the recent 2020 FA Cup Final. According to manager Frank Lampard, it’s serious enough that he will likely miss the beginning of next season.“It’s going to be touch and go for the start of the season,” Lampard told the media. “Six weeks probably gets into the start of the season, but we have to treat the injury right. In the big scheme of things, when Christian reflects on his first season, he should be very happy with his improvement levels. He’s had the most goals and assists in his career, and that’s in his first season in the Premier League. We’ll get him fit and get him ready. If he misses the first one or two games, we’ll have a firing Christian and hopefully as hungry as he looked after restart.”Despite the setback, 2019-2020 was an incredible Premier League debut for Pulisic. Based on Lampard’s praise, it should be the first of many prolific seasons as he continues to break records and fulfill his potential to become one of the greatest American players. Winning this award, while not essential, would be a unique achievement signaling that he’s well on his way.

Pulisic’s first year at Chelsea: The U.S. star’s highs and lows since dream move to Premier League

Aug 7, 2020Tom HamiltonSenior Writer

When Christian Pulisic looks back on his first season in the Premier League, there will be a mental circle around one date: Oct. 26, 2019. That was the night he may finally have felt he belonged in a Chelsea shirt, finally showing the promise and talent he knew he had to give for his new club, as he scored a breathtaking hat trick against Burnley. First Chelsea goal, first hat trick all ticked off in three wonderfully worked strikes.While that night served to quiet the doubters and alleviate some of the pressure a $73 million price tag can place on young shoulders, Pulisic also used it as a springboard. From arriving at his new club without a meaningful break, carrying the pressure of personifying a watershed moment for American soccer and moving to another new country, the trio of goals in his perfect hat trick (left foot, right foot, header) gave him the chance to push on.But in this never-ending campaign in which weeks and months have merged into one exhausting year of football, Pulisic will have to forensically analyse the past year to make any sense of it. It was a spell of injuries, stunning goals, unforeseen postponements and dazzling dribbling — the Burnley game was where he stuck his stars and stripes flag into the ground.Prior to that night at Turf Moor, there were whispers at the stop-start beginning to his Chelsea career; now, a year on, those doubts have been replaced by overtures of praise. Pulisic might hate the wonderkid monikers, and probably quietly bristles at the “Captain America” nickname, but he has certainly made the Premier League sit up and take notice, finishing his debut season making the shortlist for Young Player of the Year.The challenge now is doing it consistently. This is the story of Pulisic’s first season in the Premier League.

The arrival at Chelsea

When Pulisic’s move to Chelsea was announced back in January 2019, the $73m (£58m) fee smashed the previous record for a U.S. player, when Wolfsburg paid Hertha Berlin $19.4m for defender John Brooks in 2017. ESPN’s Taylor Twellman heralded it as a “watershed moment for the American soccer player,” but there were others who wondered if this move might have come a season or two early.

The agreement saw Pulisic, then 20 years old, spend the rest of the 2018-19 campaign on loan at Borussia Dortmund before moving to London. Former U.S. international Landon Donovan was concerned that Pulisic would find game time limited at Stamford Bridge. “If you are not playing games, you are getting worse,” he told ESPN. His fears were hardly alleviated by then-Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri’s original take on Pulisic’s signing; when asked about his future winger, Sarri responded by saying he “didn’t know anything about [the] Pulisic [transfer]” until the day before it was announced.

At that time, Chelsea were then still trying to keep hold of superstar Eden Hazard, who was already into the “meet the parents” stage of his long courtship with Real Madrid, and Pulisic was playing out his final hits for Dortmund. It was a tough final five months for the American at Dortmund: injuries didn’t help his cause while Jadon Sancho was starting on the wing. The German press was merciless, too: Bild said Chelsea’s decision was “madness” and that they’d bought a player who was “positionally limited” and had “stagnated.”

– Connelly: The numbers that show Pulisic’s impact
Pulisic arrived at Chelsea in late May 2019, talking up how excited he was to be training alongside Hazard. “Any player would be dumb not to want to be in the same team as him [Hazard],” Pulisic told the BBC in May. But by June 7, Hazard had joined Real Madrid for €100m (£88.5m), Chelsea had been hit with a one-season transfer ban, Sarri had departed for Juventus and Frank Lampard had taken over as manager.And then, as soon as Pulisic arrived at Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham, he was off to the Gold Cup with the USMNT. There, he ended up being named Young Player of the Gold Cup, helping his team to the final. Rather than taking a proper break, he was back on the plane to Japan after a week off to link up with Chelsea on their preseason tour — an attitude that pleased his new manager.”It’s how I would have been [coming back from holiday early],” Lampard said. “It is a huge move for him to a big club and he is a top young player who will only go one way. It was important we start the season as well as we can. I know we have injuries but we will need him. I have not met him, I have spoken to him, but it was a good impression.” Privately, sources have told ESPN, Lampard was wary of overloading the new signing and conscious of managing Pulisic’s fatigue upon his arrival with his new team.Pulisic remembers boarding the team coach for the first time and how nervous he was, pinching himself at what he was achieving. “I remember thinking ‘I’m at Chelsea … this is insane,'” he said — his emotions quickly overtaken by the quiet bus that welcomed him as his jet-lagged teammates caught up on sleep.”I go and sit on the bus and nobody even noticed me. Nobody said anything. There were maybe one or two guys who said ‘hey hello’ and I was like what’s going on here?” Pulisic told his former U.S. teammate Jermaine Jones on the 13&Me podcast. “Those first couple of days of training, I was nervous. You know how it’s like when you move to a new team. They’re nice guys off the field, but to earn that respect, you have to show on the field you have that ability — that’s just how it works.”By Day 3 of their preseason camp, Pulisic had started to show some of his lethal finishing in training and was striking up friendships with his new teammates.

Getting settled at Stamford Bridge

Lampard’s first Chelsea side was to be, out of circumstance, built on youth. The transfer ban meant he would look to the club’s emerging talent and Pulisic, 21, was part of a burgeoning group of bright prospects that included playmaker Mason Mount, midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi, striker Tammy Abraham and defender Fikayo Tomori.

As the new season started, though, Pulisic found himself largely named on the bench.”Maybe my confidence wasn’t fully there, I wasn’t fully ready for the whole thing,” Pulisic said in June to Sky Sports, looking back at his start. His debut came in Chelsea’s 4-0 loss at Manchester United. He made his first start three days later in Chelsea’s European Super Cup clash with Liverpool — Chelsea would lose 7-6 on penalties — and grabbed his first assist in the process, teeing up Olivier Giroud‘s opening goal.”There’s more to come from Pulisic. We must remember his age, he’s only 20,” Lampard said after the match. “It took him a bit to get into the game, but when he got into it we saw what a player he is and that’s a good sign for the club.”It would be a frustrating couple of months. Pulisic was adjusting to the physicality of the league, and also battling the knock-on effects of an intense summer for club and country. His first Premier League start came against Leicester on Aug. 18, and his first topflight assist came vs. Norwich on Aug. 24. But in September he was an unused substitute in three straight league matches and once in the Champions League — only an appearance in the 7-1 thrashing of Grimsby in the Carabao Cup would break the run of bench duty, where he’d managed just one assist on a day when even the kit manager would have fancied scoring.Pulisic said at the time he was “frustrated” and had to “grind” this time out; Lampard wanted Pulisic to prove himself in training in order to get a chance on the field. It was a slow process: against Valencia on Sept.17, 2019, Mount picked up an early injury and Lampard went for Pedro instead as replacement. But as he remained patient, Pulisic took his opportunities when they were given to him, notching an assist against Southampton on Oct. 6 when he set up his former Dortmund teammate, Michy Batshuayi.All the while, as he kept a lid on his own frustration, others started to talk on his behalf, speculating about how he was feeling about the move and whether it was a bad call.Looking back now with hindsight, Pulisic’s former USMNT manager, Jurgen Klinsmann, got it spot on amid the speculation: he said at the time Pulisic would need to bring his “elbows out” and be “patient.” Pulisic remembers trying to second-guess Lampard, wondering why he wasn’t getting the starts he wanted, but had to frequently remind himself of the importance of moderating his own expectations. “I wasn’t going to go in and score a hat trick immediately,” he later said. “I didn’t start [as many games as I wanted] so I was thinking, OK new team, so it’s about staying strong in your head and realising everything wasn’t going to come instantly,” he told the 13&Me podcast.

Then Burnley happened.

“It’s about patience and timing, man, and once you get that feeling and confidence, then everything changes — then next game, goal, next game, goal, next game, assist — you have to stay level-headed and be ready for your time,” Pulisic said.It was the perfect hat trick and showed exactly why Chelsea bought Pulisic. “It was meant to be, it was my day,” he’d later tell NBC when looking back on the hat trick. His critics were silenced.”I know what a good player he is — I see that first-hand,” Lampard said of Pulisic after that hat trick. “There are things he has to learn and improve because he’s just turned 21. It’s the same with all young players. There are things that he’s going to work on, and I think he knows it. He knows that I’m driving that daily in training. The way he’s trained in the past few weeks, and the impact he’s had when playing, he’s said to everyone, ‘Here I am’ and what talent he does have. I’m really pleased for him.”It’s what we need from all our attacking players; to be a threat, to play like that, have a ruthless edge about how they finish and he showed the full package.”

Building — and rebuilding — momentum

Christian Pulisic addresses his role at Chelsea next season after Timo Werner and Kai Havertz joined the club.

Pulisic’s November was impressive. He made it five goals in three league games with a close-range finish against Watford and he nodded in another vs. Crystal Palace, the anchor of Chelsea’s youngest-ever starting XI in their Premier League history. A hip injury saw him miss out on USMNT duty, but he scored against Valencia at the end of the month and was starting to show his lethal, evasive running, drifting in off the wing, turning defenders on their heels and creating space.

December was more a stop-start month, and then on Jan. 4, 2020, Pulisic picked up a thigh injury that was meant to keep him out of action for at most four weeks. It would rule him out for far longer. Chelsea tried to get Pulisic back at the end of January and then again in mid-February, when he was back training with the under-23s, but the thigh injury took longer than expected to heal.”Of course you miss him,” Lampard said in mid-February. “He’s a quality player and he was having a really good patch pre-Christmas. Others have to stand up too, but we’ll be happy when he’s back.” And then the world was stopped by COVID-19.

Pulisic used the break as an opportunity to return home to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and recharge surrounded by friends and family. But rather than staying sat on the sofa, he’d wake early for the Chelsea Zoom training sessions and then spend the afternoons delivering food packages for feedingamerica.org or helping the local hospital. The time, as he later told Sky Sports, gave him an opportunity to make sure he was “100 percent fit and ready to go.” When he checked back in at Cobham ahead of the restart, Lampard described him as “hungry” and was impressed by the “real desire about him” and “sharpness in his game.”Captain America was ready for liftoff.

On June 21 in Chelsea’s first Premier League match since the restart of the season, Pulisic came off the bench to score an equaliser at Aston Villa, drifting in at the far post to knock home Cesar Azpilicueta‘s cross. Four days later he scored the opener against Manchester City, running through the City defence from his own half and calmly slotting the ball past Ederson. (The goal, and ensuing Chelsea win, cemented the Premier League title for Liverpool.)

Pulisic was named man of the match against Leicester in the FA Cup three days later, and won a penalty and a free kick with nifty footwork in Chelsea’s defeat to West Ham at the start of July. The Hazard comparisons were becoming more frequent, and as he twisted and turned Watford on July 4 and won a penalty, he cemented his spot in Chelsea’s starting lineup. He grabbed his eighth Chelsea goal against Crystal Palace on July 7, and after a dismal team performance against Sheffield United, he teed up Giroud’s winner at home against Norwich on July 14.

Sat in the stands watching Pulisic that night, you saw a calmness about him. As he warmed up prematch, largely on his own, he looked assured, joking occasionally with teammates but resembling an Olympic sprinter loosening up before exploding out of the starting blocks. He looked at home, no longer the nervous newcomer. Norwich manager Daniel Farke, who coached Pulisic at Borussia Dortmund II from 2015 to 2017, described him as “top class” and “worth each and every pound” Chelsea spent on him.”Christian will have a bright future and will be a world-class player one day and this is the best way to develop in this direction,” Farke said.Later that week, Lampard was asked by ESPN about Pulisic’s form, and he revealed they had done work on the training pitch to improve the winger’s physicality. “I’ve seen real improvement in his all-round game,” Lampard said. “Coming to the Premier League is very difficult because of the physical nature of the league. We have to remember how young Christian is and also the summer that he had.

“I think he found those physical demands pretty strong in the beginning and now you’re seeing him deal with those better. A lot of that is a credit to himself and how he’s approached it — he’s worked with our strength and conditioning coach Adam Burrows, who’s fantastic, but they’ve worked together — so it’s Christian who has to take on that responsibility, and he has.”Physically that’s helped him, but it’s also just his talent is coming through. Looking forward, I want to see more of what he’s shown in recent times, which is goals and assists, because that’s what the best in the world do in that position. I feel he has the capability to do that as he improves and that can be the edge as his game moves on levels.”Pulisic’s form also made good viewing for USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter.”You see now that he’s picking the ball up in space, in pockets and just being really aggressive going at defenders, dribbling defenders,” Berhalter said on July 24. “It’s not just only on the sidelines, now he’s getting it towards the middle of the field and he’s had some really positive effects taking players on.”And then getting used to his teammates and his teammates gaining trust in him. If you watch the games, you can see the dramatic shift and how his teammates relate to him, that they actually look to him. Whereas times in the beginning, you’re thinking, ‘Wait, why don’t they pass him this ball?’ Now, they get the ball and their first glance is to him. And you know he’s really grown to be an important part of that team, and it’s been fun to watch.”When Pulisic arrived at Chelsea, winning the respect of his teammates and Chelsea’s supporters was all he wanted.

The turning point vs. Liverpool

The game that made even casual fans sit up and take notice came at Anfield against the recently crowned champions, Liverpool. Pulisic didn’t start, but he changed the game after coming on as a 59th-minute substitute. In the space of 14 minutes, he helped Chelsea battle back from 4-1 down to 4-3. To set up Abraham for an easy finish, he danced past Trent Alexander-ArnoldFabinho and Joe Gomez before squaring for Abraham, and then grabbed a superb goal for himself. The U.S. star drifted into the penalty box off the right flank, collected a beautifully weighted cross from Hudson-Odoi, cushioned the ball on his chest, took two tiny touches to dodge past Alexander-Arnold and then rifled a shot past Alisson.It gave a sign of his immediate talent, but equally showed what he could offer next season and beyond for Chelsea and the USMNT.Though Pulisic said he was uneasy about any comparisons with Hazard, aware of the incredible legacy he’d left at Stamford Bridge over seven sparkling seasons (including two league titles and two Europa Leagues), Lampard was seeing similarities between the two.”I was here for Eden’s first year and it is not easy coming to the Premier League, and for Eden in that first year it was [all about] adapting to the Premier League,” Lampard said after the Liverpool game. “Christian has had his moments of that, but in midseason he had a really good patch and then since the restart, he has been in incredible form. Only the injury he picked up in the Norwich game has kept him out of the semifinal when he’s flying.

“He is so young and he has such natural talent and he creates goals and scores goals. He is a big player for us so I’m delighted to see him come through fit. Clearly he will be a big player in these next few games for us and going forward as well.”

And then came the FA Cup final, where Pulisic started brilliantly, scoring a lovely worked goal and then as he attacked again in the second half, his hamstring went. He was helped off the field, distraught and watched on as Arsenal went on to lift the trophy.

But once he recovers, it’ll be back into training and continuing that process of nailing down a first-team spot. He’s already training with new teammates Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner; with rumours continuing around Chelsea’s pursuit of Germany‘s next big thing, Kai Havertz, it won’t get any easier for Pulisic. But Lampard’s preseason challenge to Pulisic will be to improve his number of goals and assists — that’s what eventually set Hazard apart, and Pulisic has the capability to achieve similar numbers.

Pulisic is a reluctant trend-setter and wary of the weight on his shoulders as the record-breaking American in the Premier League, but he’s comfortable in his own shoes and showing the world why Chelsea paid $73m for him. The pundits who questioned the purchase at the start of the season are now putting him in the world-class bracket, but above all, Pulisic’s biggest achievement, on a personal level, is that he now feels at home at Chelsea and has earned the respect of his teammates.The next Hazard? No, Pulisic is making a name for himself in his own right.

Juventus hope Pirlo can be a ‘Ronaldo Whisperer’ after Sarri mess

Aug 10, 2020Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Saturday’s announcement that Juventus were hiring Andrea Pirlo as first-team manager made shockwaves, but it’s not the first time they’ve picked a former club legend with no experience as a number one.

Ciro Ferrara was appointed with two games left in Juve’s 2008-09 campaign, and he stuck around the following season. Barcelona had promoted a young youth-team coach named Pep Guardiola the previous summer, and things had turned out rather well: it was very much en vogue at the time. Ferrara never turned into an Italian Pep and lasted until his sacking in January 2010.If you want to draw parallels between his appointment and Pirlo’s, there are plenty. Each became a legend at another club (Napoli in Ferrara’s case, AC Milan in Pirlo’s) before joining Juve in mid-career. Both worked for Sky Italia. Ferrara was an assistant with the Italian national team, Pirlo agreed to be part of Roberto Mancini’s staff only to then pull out due to prior sponsor commitments. Both were 41 years of age when they were appointed to the Juventus job. ADVERTISEMENTThis is not to say Pirlo’s tenure will end up like Ferrara’s. That was a different Juve, with different men in charge and different circumstances; this one has won nine straight titles, that one was fresh off promotion to Serie A and emerging from the Calciopoli scandal. Rather, it’s to note that while Pirlo’s appointment may have taken many off guard, we’ve been here before — and in Gianluigi Buffon‘s lifetime, no less.The vibe coming from Juve, however, obviously isn’t about Pirlo emulating Ferrara. It’s about him following in the footsteps of another great who was elevated without significant prior experience: Zinedine Zidane. Zidane’s name comes up repeatedly in conversations with people familiar with Juventus’ thinking. It’s not a perfect parallel — Zidane had been retired for 10 years when he replaced Rafa Benitez in January 2016, but he had held various assistant and youth-team gigs at the club — but Zidane and Pirlo share qualities that Juventus value.

Both are generally quiet, thoughtful men, the sort who lead by example on the pitch but also the sort who, when they do speak, people tend to listen to. Both reek charisma, a sort of understated cool that goes beyond their (however immense) achievements on the pitch. Both have worked under and absorbed the teachings of top coaches, both pragmatists and dogmatics, and both, it is thought, lean towards the former while entirely understanding the latter.And both are seen as Ronaldo whisperers.Just as Zidane’s appointment in 2016 hinged on his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo and the belief that he could best harness the Real Madrid No. 7’s talents (after some decidedly stormy moments under Benitez), so too is this choice about the Portuguese superstar. It couldn’t be otherwise. He has two years left on a contract, which — when you factor in wages and amortization — will cost Juve some $185 million. He held up his end of the bargain this season, scoring 37 goals in all competitions, including two against Lyon when they were knocked out of the Champions League on Friday.For better or worse, Juve are committed to him. They’ve put all their chips on CR7 and there’s no turning back, so they had might as well give him the best possible platform to succeed — incidentally, one of the reasons, though by no means the only one, Maurizio Sarri is gone. The coach who built his entire team play and reputation on “the collective” tried to reinvent himself as something else to accommodate Ronaldo — and failed. Juventus were neither fish, nor fowl — just a group of individuals. With this version of Ronaldo on the pitch, “Sarriball” was impossible and the milquetoast, watered-down football Sarri produced himself was ineffective.Can Pirlo do better? What Juve are hoping for is that he channels the credo of the coaches who shaped his career. Starting with Carlo Ancelotti, who made the journey from dogmatist to pragmatist and, starting in his Milan days, always believed that you fit your formation and style of play to the personnel available and not the other way around. This is also pretty much what Zidane did after taking over from Benitez.In some ways, it’s really Juve’s only option. This is not a team that can be rebuilt, let alone revolutionized, right now, nor should it be. They are stretched financially and their eggs are in the Cristiano basket. But there’s more than enough for Pirlo to work with.

Wojciech Szczesny has turned into a very good goalkeeper. At center-back, Matthijs De Ligt and Merih Demiral (now that he’s fit again) will continue to grow, and you can squeeze another year or two out of Leonardo BonucciAlex Sandro can be solid on the left. Up front, Paulo Dybala was Serie A’s player of the year for a reason, Ronaldo is still productive and a difference maker, and you get the added benefit of a force of nature like Dejan Kulusevski to freshen things up.

However, major surgery is required in midfield, where it’s not clear who got the better of the ArthurMiralem Pjanic swap and the Panini-sticker collection of high-priced free agents (Sami KhediraAaron RamseyAdrien Rabiot) have been a disappointment in the past few years. That will be his biggest challenge.

But Pirlo has something else on his side, and it’s another reason why he was chosen over more-accredited alternatives like Mauricio Pochettino or Simone Inzaghi: time and goodwill. Juve fans greeted Sarri with all the enthusiasm you might muster for a trip to the dentist. His mystique was all about the football on the pitch, and considering it was atrocious at Juve, all he had left to muster the troops was his charisma, which ranks somewhere between that of a tax accountant and a can opener.Juventus have always seem themselves as a “results-first” club, but given the emptiness of this last Scudetto — their ninth in a row — there is reason to believe that many are willing to trade a season of growth and perhaps a run in the Champions League for yet another grind to the top of Serie A, especially if it’s as joyless and soulless as this year’s. Pirlo will get that benefit.The other reason Pirlo was appointed is rather more cynical. A Pochettino (or even an Inzaghi) would have demanded investment, and maybe even some flexing of muscle towards the senior stars, most of whom are too old or too well paid to shift — you’ll recall even Sarri tried to offload Dybala. Pirlo, in his very first job, is unlikely to do that. He will have been told what’s realistic and what’s not and accepted it.(If you really want to get even more cynical, there’s a Plan B some Juve fans have long dreamed about. Zidane’s contract in Madrid expires in 2021. He may extend it, he may have zero interest in returning to Turin, but at least there’s an option to pursue down the road that you wouldn’t have if you were tied down to a massive multiyear deal for a Pochettino or even the return of Massimiliano Allegri.)Pirlo may or may not become a great manager. What’s pretty evident is that either way, we likely won’t find out in his first year at the club. There are too many hurdles, too many handicaps, too much inherited baggage to judge him fairly, no matter what he does.From Juve’s perspective, that’s not a bad thing. Best-case scenario: he turns into a bearded version of Zidane, quietly but firmly getting his superstars to punch their weight and putting the players first. Worst-case scenario: Juve downshift for a season or two, without taking a major hit financially, the high-priced underachievers finally leave and they lay the foundations for a rebuild with a different manager.


By Indy Eleven Communications, 08/12/20, 1:00PM EDT

Led Indiana’s Team to Five Victories in First Six Games of 2020 Campaign

Indy Eleven’s Martin Rennie has been voted the USL Championship’s Coach of the Month for July, earning the award after leading his side to five victories in its opening six games of the 2020 Championship season across March and July.Now in his third season at the helm for Indy, Rennie has built one of the leading contenders to reach the 2020 Championship Final. After a comeback victory against Memphis 901 FC in March, Indy won four consecutive games to start the season, including a thrilling late road victory against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on July 22. Indiana’s Team capped the month with a 4-1 victory against Hartford Athletic to finish with the most points of any side through the end of July. “I’m very happy to receive this award on behalf of the players and staff at Indy Eleven,” said Rennie. “The players did an amazing job of keeping fit and focused during the months of lockdown, and as a result were able to start the season well on their return. I think everyone in the league is happy to be playing, so let’s keep it going and make the most of 2020.”“On behalf of the organization, I want to congratulate Martin on this well-deserved recognition,” said Indy Eleven President & CEO, Greg Stremlaw. “To lead our squad to the top of the table under such unique and challenging circumstances is a testament to his approach and professionalism and our players’ commitment to excellence. We look forward to seeing where he and our entire technical staff can take the squad during the rest of the season.”Rennie received 68 percent of the vote to take the first monthly award of the season. Hartford Athletic’s Radhi Jaïdi and Saint Louis FC’s Steve Trittschuh finished tied for second on 13 percent, with Trittschuh having led his side to victory in three of its opening four games, including STLFC’s first road victory against Louisville City FC in its history, and Jaïdi recording victories in three of the club’s first four games in its second season.The USL Championship’s Coach of the Month award is voted upon by the USL Championship National Media Panel and the USL Championship Technical Committee, with each group responsible for 50 percent of the overall vote.


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

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8/7/20 – Champions League Fri/Sat CBSSN, Pulisic scores before Injury, Indy 11, MLS Back Finals Tues ESPN, Casillas Retires

Champions League is Back  Fri/Sat 3 pm

Champions League next Friday and Saturday, Aug 7 + 8.  Two Games on CBS Sports Network with the others on FUBO TV, TDUN, (streamed on CBS all-access).  I know they will be on fuboTV as Man City hosts Real Madrid up 2-1 on CBSSN along with Juve hosting Lyon tied at 1 on Friday at 3 pm, while Chelsea (sans Pulisic) will travel to Bayern Munich down 3-0, and Barcelona hosts Napoli tied at 1-1 on Sat at 3 pm on CBSSN to wrap up Round of 16 play.  The Round 0f 8 – will be held in Lisbon, Portugal with single elimination Playoff games played starting next Wed – Sat. on Fubo TV and CBS All Access.  CBS all assess does have Free Month option – so I guess its time to pony-up and at least try the Free Trial option for this month to see how CBS is going to handle Champions League and Europa League.  All the games will be available on the all access.  Many predict Man City as the favorite this year. I like Atletico Madrid along with Bayern Munich –(though we’ll have to see how the 1 month layoff treats them in this win or go home format).

GK Casillas Retires

Real Madrid’s legendary Goalkeeper Iker Casillas hung up the gloves this week.  The former Real Madrid captain Casillas won every major honour possible with Madrid – including five LaLiga titles and the Champions League on three occasions, while he also became a two-time European Champion and a World Cup winner with Spain. Casillas played 725 matches with Madrid’s first team over 16 seasons, winning 19 titles. He joined the club at age 9.The Best Spanish Goalkeeper of all-time and one of the best in the world!  Casillas had a heart attack last May while training with Porto and never actually returned to game play this season. Sure would be nice to see them honor him during the UCL game on Saturday.

MLS is Back Finals Are Set – Tues 8:30 ESPN

It will be the upstart Orlando City vs the Western Power Portland Timbers for the MLS is Back Championship on Tuesday night ESPN at 8:30 pm.  Orlando continued its impressive run under new coach Oscar Pareja Nani scored 2 first half goals to help them defeat Minn United 2-1.  Portland will look to maintain the west’s dominance over the east after their 2-0 win over Philly.  Again if you haven’t tuned in – this has been exciting and somewhat high scoring soccer from the Orlando Wide World of Sports.  The MLS went into the buble in early July and came thru with no Covid reports after the games got underway.  Now it sounds like the plan is to return to normal in season games as home starting in a couple of weeks.  It will be interesting to see how that works, as they look to return at least some fans for the home matches.

Indy 11

Indy Eleven tasted defeat at home for the first time in over two years, suffering a shocking 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City II at the Luke Sat night.  Despite the loss, Indy Eleven (5W-2L-0D, 15 pts.) remains solidly in first place in the Group E standings with a six-point cushion over Saint Louis FC, while Sporting KC II (2W-3L-0D, 6 pts.) drew even with Louisville City FC in third place courtesy of a fruitful road trip that saw it take wins in Kentucky and Indiana three days apart.  The result snapped a pair of remarkable regular season home streaks for Indy’s Team that ranked second in USL Championship annals, a 28-match home unbeaten streak (dating back to July 7, 2018) and an 11-game winning streak (dating back to July 20, 2019)..  It was their 5th game in 14 days and the Indy 11 honestly looked tired.   The 11 head to Louisville Saturday night for a 7 pm game on MyindyTV and ESPN+.  The 11 return home next Sat Aug 15 vs the Pittsburg Riverhounds.  Tickets are available for the7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or calling 317-685-1100.

Pulisic youngest US Goal Scorer in FA Cup History before Injury ends his Season

For about 20 minutes Saturday in the FA Cup Final at Wembley – all of England and much of the World could see what we American’s have come to know – Christian Pulisic is for real = and might have well be the best player on the field early on.  His constant running at defenders left Arsenal backpeddling early as Chelsea scored early off a beautiful combination pass and leave from Girould to Pulisic who slotted it in the left corner past the keeper for an early lead.  Chelsea’s chances at victory ended as Pulisic pulled up lame on a pulled hamstring as he made another dart towards goal just after halftime.  He managed somehow to get off a half shot despite the injury in what would be Chelsea’s best second half chance at scoring.  Without the elusive Pulisic the Chelsea attack just didn’t look the same.  Word is Pulisic will of course miss Champions League this week vs Bayern Munich – but will hopefully be recovered by the time the next EPL season starts up in Sept.  Congrats to Fulham and US player Tim Ream as they won the Championship playoff to advance to the EPL next season after a season away.  Of course who can forget those old Fulham-America teams with Capt Brian McBride?

Passing of Shooting Camp Legend – IU’s Ken Snow

I forgot to include this earlier in the month – but here is a great story on legendary Indiana Hoosier scorer Ken Snow from local online pub www.soctakes.com. Snow passed away in late June at the young age of 50 after a battle with COVID-19 like symptoms.  Snow had run shooting camps around Indy including at Carmel Dad’s Club and Carmel FC for years.  He even allowed my Goalkeepers from GK camp to jump in goal a few times for training purposes.  Our soccer community will miss him!

Lots of Carmel FC Players make High School Squads

Huge Congrats to All those making high school teams this past week at CHS and other schools across the area!  Remember if you didn’t make the team – please don’t give up on soccer – Carmel Dad’s allows late registration for Rec Co-Ed High School or of course if you are playing Carmel FC – we have fall season options available.

Ken Snow –Hoosier Scoring Legend and Shooting Camp Star Leaves legacy – SOCtakes.com


Thurs,  Aug 6

1 pm CBS All Access                     Leverkusen vs Rangers Europa League

3 pm CBS All Access                     Wolverhampton vs Olympiakos

8 pm ESPN2                                    MLS Semi-Final

10 pm FS1                                        Tijuana vs Tigres Liga MX

Fri  Aug 7

3 pm FuboTV, CBSSN                  Man City vs Real Madrid (Champs League)

3 pm Fubo TV                                Juve vs Lyon (Champs League) (streamed Free on CBS all-access).

Sat Aug 8

3 pm Fubo TV                                Bayern Munich vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  (Champs League)

3 pm Fubo TV, CBSSN                 Barcelona vs Napoli (Champs League)

7 pm ESPN+MyindyTV      INDY 11 @ Louisville FC

Tues,  Aug 11

8 pm ESPN                          MLS is Back Tourney Final

Wed,  Aug 12

3 pm FuboTV,                                Atalanta vs PSG  (Champs League)

Thur,  Aug 13

3 pm FuboTV,                                RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid (Champs League)

Fri, Aug 14

3 pm FuboTV,                                (Champs League)

Sat, Aug 15

3 pm FuboTV,                                (Champs League)

7 pm ESPN+MyindyTV      INDY 11 vs Pittsburg – Lucas Oil

Tues,  Aug 18

3 pm FuboTV,                                Champs League Semis

Weds,  Aug 19

3 pm FuboTV,                                Champs League Semis

Sun, Aug 23

3 pm FuboTV, CBSSN                  Champions League Finals

Champions League

Champions League, Europa League fixtures schedule

Champions League Predictions

Injured Chelsea trio set to miss Champions League clash against Bayern Munich         
Bale left out by Zidane for Man City test

Man City v. Real Madrid preview: Team news, start time, odds, prediction

CBS All Access + CBS Sports Network to show Champions + Europa League Matches

Aguero will miss Man City’s Champions League clash with Madrid, Guardiola confirms
Mbappe Injury puts PSG Champs League Hopes in Jeopardy

Valverde, De Jong and Llorente could be the difference for Spain’s giants in UCL

Barca Faces More Problems Ahead of UCL Tie

MLS is Back Final Tues

Championship Preview

Alexi Lalas Wraps Up MLS Is Back Video

Boehm: Orlando City Continues Run

Doyle: For Portland, the beauty (and the victory) is in the variety

Boehm: Gio is a tournament master and other PHI v POR takeaways

Best celebrations at MLS is Back? They belong to Timbers coach Savarese

Portland advances! Blanco, Ebobisse headers the difference

Garber gives update on regular-season resumption in home markets

Hey Son’s of Ben – You are No Timber Joey! Pretty clever though !

MLS Finals Bracket

Life inside the MLS Bubble

Onyewu praises courage of Black Players for Change


Pulisic Watch: Goal, hamstring injury in FA Cup final

Rating Pulisic’s first Premier League season
Christian Pulisic issues injury update

US U20 Forward Soto’s Move to Norwich a Chance to Reignite Career
Chris Richards’ journey from Dallas to Munich: ‘I knew I’d be balling at Bayern’


RECAP | Indy Eleven Suffers Rare Home Defeat via 0-1 Loss to Sporting Kansas City II

Indy Falls to 4th in League Power Rankings


RECAP | Indy Eleven Suffers Rare Home Defeat via 0-1 Loss to Sporting Kansas City II


Indy Eleven Teams with Red Cross for August 13 Blood Drive


Indy Eleven Signs Trio to USL Academy Contracts

Buy Tickets

Indy 11 Sponsor – Grab a bite at these local spots – https://www.thedistricttap.com/ & https://www.rosatispizza.com/location/carmel-in/


Spain and Real Madrid legend Casillas retires

Farewell Casillas Real and Spanish Great GK

Casillas 100 Great Saves

Great Saves at Madrid

Iker Tribute video 

MLS Dribblin Moves Gone WrongoalKeeping


Top 25 Goals of Season

Premier League start date ‘too early’ for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard

How Spurs, Arsenal and Leicester can catch up with Liverpool

How Chelsea can catch Liverpool and contend again for Premier League title

How Man United can catch Liverpool and contend again for Premier League title

How Man City Can Catch Liverpool

Ogden: Grading all 20 Premier League teams for 2019-20

Solskjaer confirms Sanchez permanent Inter move
Do Man United need to sign Jadon Sancho?

History will not repeat itself, vows Fulham boss Parker

Fulham return to Premier League promised land after play-off glory

Fulham return to Premier League after beating Brentford in ‘World’s Richest Game’

Fulham used to be Fulham-America as lots of US players made names there including this one
Premier League announces substitution, VAR decisions

Reflecting on a legend: The life of Ken Snow – Katheryn Knapp SocTakes.com

Every generation has one: a player who stands above all others; a player who people come to see; a player who is more than just a player. In the late 1980s, Ken Snow was that player for Indiana men’s soccer.Kenny, as those who knew him called him, was one of a kind. He could visualize the game. He was crafty and creative. He dodged defenders easily. And he scored goals. He scored goals with ease. He was small and sneaky. He was technical and precise. He made it look simple.“He was the best without question,” former IU head coach Jerry Yeagley said. “He had a gift where the game slowed down in front of the goal. He became calm. Most of his finishes were passes, toe pokes, a bender. They were off-speed goals.”Opponents wanted to shut him down. His teammates fed off his energy and work ethic. And the young kids in the stands or at IU Soccer Camp idolized him. Ken Snow was the reason the stands would fill up on game day. Snow ended his tenure at IU as the all-time leading scorer with 84 goals and 28 assists (196 points). To this day, no one has topped that feat.“I would sit up high and just watch him play,” current IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “His movement and sophistication — you had a deep appreciation for him. I was old enough to understand that.”Snow passed away June 21 at the young age of 50 after a battle with COVID-19-like symptoms. His family and friends are mourning the loss of a legend gone too soon. And a whole new generation will miss out on learning from one of the best.“Todd and I watched all those games,” Yeagley family friend Omar Alani said. “It was adults versus kids. Kenny, he wasn’t big. He didn’t have ripping muscles. He wasn’t a great athlete. He could score from anywhere. He could chip at any angle. He would put a corner flag right next to the goal. He would practice his free kicks. He got it in every time. It was amazing. If my son was playing soccer, I couldn’t think of anyone better to teach him to score than Kenny Snow.”Snow grew up playing the game and learning all its secrets. He practiced non-stop with his younger brother, Steve. They focused on the little things. They perfected finishing. And it showed.“He and Steve from what I understood, they had a goal in the backyard,” Todd Yeagley said. “They played and finished all the time. That’s where he honed his craft. His vision and composure in and around the goal was just different. You’re never going to make an average goalscorer great. It’s something you learn from a young age. The daily battle with his brother definitely helped his game.”And it didn’t end there. Snow was often the first one at practice and the last one to leave, spending time perfecting the little things.“He was a soccer junkie,” Jerry Yeagley said. “He hung out after practice to work with the intricacies of the game. He was the last one to leave.”Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Snow made a name for himself starring for Hoffman Estates High School from 1983-86. He scored 128 goals in 74 matches, ranked no. 17 all time for most goals scored in Illinois High School Association history. Steve and Ken rank No. 1 and No. 2 in IHSA history for the most consecutive matches scored in. Steve scored in 49 straight matches, while Ken scored in 47.Snow lit up the nets for the Hoosiers from 1987-90. The first four-time All-American kicked off his career with a bang, scoring 28 goals in his freshman campaign, topping the record of 27 goals in a season previously held by Robert Meschbach (1980) and Armando Betancourt (1981).“Any inch a defender gave him, he would take and make them pay,” Alani said. “We would be invited to play in pick-up games. It was like shooting hoops with Steve Alford or playing catch with Peyton Manning.”Snow turned up the heat again in 1988. He kicked off the season by tallying four goals in IU’s annual Adidas Classic, topping North Carolina 2-0 and UCLA 2-1. Midway through the season, Snow tallied a hat trick in IU’s 3-0 win over St. Louis. Snow tallied 22 goals in 1988, leading the Hoosiers to the Final Four. IU hosted the tournament and earned its third national championship, topping Portland and Howard by 1-0 scores.“He was a great friend and a great person,” former teammate Ken Godat said. “He was always known as a fun guy. He was as smart as can be. He was a brain. On the field he was creative, crafty and all finesse — no power about it. He was always chipping, bending, dinking it in, doing something creative. He was a marked man. The year we won it he had 22 goals as a marked man. That’s impressive. He was an amazing player.”Ken and Steve played one year together at Indiana in 1989. In that year, their teammates witnessed magic. The Snow brothers sparked a 7-2 win over Harvard on Sept. 24. Ken recorded a hat trick in the first half, adding a fourth goal in the second half. Steve scored once and assisted on two of Ken’s goals. The duo combined for 12 points in the win.“When his brother was there, they could always find each other,” Godat said. “They always had a sense of where the other one was. Steve was strong, the opposite of Ken.”Snow ended the 1989 campaign with 20 goals and 1990 with 14. He won both the MAC Player of the Year Award and Hermann Trophy in 1988 and 1990. Players around the country knew who he was and idolized him.“I was excited when I found out Ken was my coach,” former Hoosier J.T. Cerroni said, reflecting on his IU soccer camp experience. “He is so much more than awards, records and accolades. He taught me how to get that half step and turn the defender. He taught me how to get that perfect angle. He was very analytical. He was always thinking. He knew exactly how to get away from his defender. He knew how to get the ball into the back of the net. I learned so much from him.”In 1988, Snow added two U.S. men’s national team caps to his resume. He played professionally from 1991-99, spending most of his indoor career with the Chicago Power. He played in 140 games for the Power, netting 151 goals. Snow played his best indoor soccer during the 1994-95 season, where he scored 56 goals in 40 games. Snow had a couple of trials with Major League Soccer teams, the Kansas City Wizards and Chicago Fire, but failed to make the cut. He hung up his cleats in 1999.“He was a natural goalscorer,” former Power general manager and Fire president and GM Peter Wilt said. “That’s what made him special. In the first preseason for the Fire we were desperate for another forward. I pushed Bob Bradley to bring him in. He was trying so hard, but he just couldn’t score. It was down to him and Ante Razov. By the time he finally did score, it was too late. Ante had pretty much made the team. If Kenny would have gotten on a hot streak, he might have had a great MLS career.”Snow remained active in the soccer community, with youth soccer camps in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. Snow’s camps focused on shooting and goal scoring. His camp website, com, emphasized that “players at every position need to be able to shoot the soccer ball.” His summer 2020 camps were postponed due to COVID-19.“He worked with young kids on finishing,” Jerry Yeagley said. “He was very smart, very intelligent. He was a hero, a role model. Basketball kids looked up to Steve Alford. Kenny was the one that people wanted to be like. People loved Kenny and loved watching him. People came to our games to watch Kenny.”It’s simple and tragic. Snow is a legend. He is a legend that left his mark on the game of soccer, and all who knew him. And sadly, he is a legend that was taken too soon.Follow Kathryn on Twitter: @Katknapp99.

IU soccer all-time great, goal-scorer extraordinaire Ken Snow dies at 50

Zach Osterman Indianapolis Star

BLOOMINGTON – Ken Snow, the most-prolific goal scorer in IU history and a throwback to an era when college and indoor soccer dominated the sport domestically, died last weekend of Covid 19. He was 50. Originally from suburban Chicago, Snow’s name is littered across Illinois prep and IU record books. In a college program decorated with legends across six decades, he sits on the short list for best all time. “You get one or two players in your career that were as special as he was,” said hall-of-fame coach Jerry Yeagley. “We were very fortunate to have Kenny Snow.”  Ken Snow was the Hoosiers’ first four-time All-American, playing for Yeagley. Snow still holds IU career records for points (196) and goals (84), and his 28 goals in the 1987 campaign are a single-season best as well. He is the only Hoosier to have won the MAC Hermann Trophy, awarded annually to college soccer’s most-outstanding player, twice. Speaking to IndyStar on Monday, Yeagley said simply: “He was the finest attacking player, the best attacking player that I coached in my 41 years.” “He had that unusual ability or gift that when the play got in the final third, in front of goal, things slowed down for him,” Yeagley said. “There are certain athletes every sport where you hear that. That was Kenny. He’s not rushed like most people are in that situation.“He could toe poke, he could chip, he could bend the ball. He did whatever it took to beat the keeper. In today’s world, he would’ve been one and done.”When he first arrived for that freshman season, in 1987, IU’s coaching staff believed Snow might make the travel squad — that he might prove good enough as a freshman to warrant a reserve role and a spot on the bus for away games. By the end of it, he’d set the program’s single-season goals record.

“When Kenny arrived, I remember the first week, I said, ‘Well, he might make the traveling squad, as a freshman,’ because a lot of them didn’t,” Jerry Yeagley said. “The second week, ‘Yea, he’s going to be a traveling squad member.’ It took him about three weeks for me to think, ‘This guy is going to be our top attacker.’”Todd Yeagley was in high school in Bloomington throughout Snow’s college career. As he got older, Yeagley — himself an eentual Hermann Trophy winner — began joining open training sessions and pickup games with his father’s teams. They gave him an up-close understanding of what made IU’s all-time leading goal scorer so special. “His decision-making and his technique in and around the final third was different from most American players,” said Todd Yeagley, IU’s current coach. “He’s not that fast, not that big, not that strong, but he just had a soccer sense. He had another gear when he needed it.”Snow never matched the goal return of that freshman season, but he also never finished a season with fewer assists than the five he clocked in 1987. A credit, his teammates say now, to a savviness that extended beyond simply putting the ball in the net. Indeed, Snow finished his IU career with 28 assists, still good for joint-15th all-time.“He just was one of those very few guys that when the ball came to him in the attacking third, you didn’t see it again until it left his foot and was passing the goalkeeper,” Big Ten Network and Columbus Crew analyst Chris Doran said. “He was magical in that sense.”In another era, that one season would have opened a door to Major League Soccer, or even to Europe. Snow likely wouldn’t have made it to his sophomore year. But the sport was different in American then. The old North American Soccer League had folded and the MLS was yet to be born. Indoor soccer was the primary professional option domestically. “We would’ve had him for a year, or two at the most, in today’s world,” Jerry Yeagley said. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t the attraction and the money in the professional leagues then that there is now.”Snow relied on guile and what Todd Yeagley described as “an edge.” While his brother, Steve, who played at IU in 1989 before heading overseas, could be a more physical forward, Ken Snow’s determination saw him through. That, and a great striker’s innate knowledge of where the goal was.

“He was a killer on the field,” former IU goalkeeper Juergen Sommer said. “One of the best finishers I’ve ever seen in and around the 18-yard box, around the goal. The guy just knew how to score goals.”Ken Snow never needed to see much of the ball.Once, facing Sigi Schmid’s UCLA on the road, IU heard Schmid had given his team one order above all others: Don’t let Ken Snow score. “I think Kenny had maybe five touches and he scored two goals,” Jerry Yeagley said.Years later, when former teammate John Trask and Ken Snow both found their way to coaching, they talked about transferring their on-pitch experiences to the bench. Snow would walk his teammate through his approach to forward play, Trask realizing he’d only appreciated the physical side of Snow’s gifts.“You can literally say he was a genius at understanding the physics of goal scoring,” Trask, now head coach at Wisconsin, said. “When he started talking about why he did certain things, it made so much sense, but no one else knew it. How did he?”

Todd Yeagley, who played four years at Indiana before a seven-year career in the MLS, never saw a striker chip the goalkeeper more often. Good in the air and with both feet, Ken Snow rarely needed to rely on power. He was capped twice by the U.S. men’s national team. In 2000, Soccer America named him to its All-Century team.“A lot of those goals he scored were unique,” said former teammate Kenny Godat. “Everything was a chipper or something cheeky. Off-speed shots, benders and stuff. Rarely did he hit just a total cannon.”Off the pitch, Snow could be reserved, but opened up around friends. He had a head for mathematics and an analytical side that never shut down, and he enjoyed a good time. “He was a blast to be around, always looking for fun, always having fun,” Godat said.Indiana reached the College Cup twice in Snow’s career, winning a national championship in 1988 before falling out to Santa Clara in the national semifinal in 1989. His goal return waned through his college career, opposing teams paying him increasing attention, but his impact never did.“Everyone knew of Ken Snow,” Todd Yeagley said. “That’s when his passing and his movement opened up other guys to get key goals and assists. Ken loved scoring, but he loved winning more. No doubt, without Ken Snow on that ’88 team, that team does not find their way to a national championship.”After college, Snow began an indoor soccer career that included stops in six different cities. He was most prolific playing in his hometown of Chicago.Snow flirted briefly with the MLS in its infancy but never stuck, spending the majority of his professional career playing indoors. In retirement he remained active in the sport, running the Ken Snow Goal Scoring Camp, which offered camps in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. “Ken was a lot like a pitching coach. He was a finishing coach. He could teach the game within the game, both mentally and technically,” said Sommer, who played all four years with Snow, roomed with him for two and traveled with him to national team events. “All the little attention-to-detail items and tricks of the trade, Kenny, he was a specialist. He was one of the best in the country at it.”The camp’s website claims more than 100 alumni in college and at least 25 playing professionally.And Snow’s site biography outlines a career the likes of which his former coach and teammates believe, with increased parity in college and a route to the professional game more readily available now, American soccer may never see again. Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.

Injured Pulisic vows to be ‘back in no time’ after hobbling out of Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat

Stats Perform News•August 3, 2020

Christian Pulisic has vowed to be “back in no time” after suffering a hamstring injury in Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.The United States international opened the scoring at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, with another impressive finish added to his ever-growing collection.  He looked to be in again early in the second half, but pulled a muscle as he raced into the box and poked an effort wide of the post as he crumpled to the turf.Pulisic was clearly in pain before he got his shot away, with it immediately apparent that he was going to be in no position to continue.

With Cesar Azpilicueta and Pedro also picking up knocks on a testing afternoon for the Blues, Frank Lampard ultimately saw his side downed by a double from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.The 2-1 reversal represented a disappointing end to the domestic 2019-20 campaign for Chelsea and Pulisic, but there are plenty of positives for them to take from a season that delivered a top-four finish.They do not have to wait long either before returning to action, and Pulisic is hoping that he will soon be back in contention.He posted on Instagram when reflecting on the cup final and looking to the future: “Gave it everything we had. Wasn’t our day. Thank you guys for your support I’ll be back in no time”Lampard, whose side have the second leg of a Champions League last-16 clash with Bayern Munich to take in on August 8, told reporters of the ailments his players picked up against Arsenal.

He said: “I don’t know the full extent of the injuries, but I know the hamstrings with Azpi and Christian – they have to be scanned and assessed over the next few days. They clearly won’t be fit for next week [against Bayern].”Chelsea trail that contest 3-0 on aggregate and appear to be in a position to start planning for 2020-21, with the new Premier League season due to get underway on September 12.Lampard believes that may be too soon after what has been an elongated campaign this time around, with the Blues boss saying: “It’s not ideal if we carry on against Bayern and possibly go further.“The players need a break; they need to be given a break to play at the level of the quality product that the Premier League is. Worst case scenario, if we don’t go through against Bayern, the 12th seems too early to start playing again.“The players need a break. That is why we are pulling two hamstrings and having players pull out before this. I would like to think the Premier League will look seriously at that and look at the start for next season. I think we deserve it, as a Premier League club competing in the Champions League.”

Pulisic Watch: Goal, hamstring injury in FA Cup final

Joe Prince-WrightNBC SportsAug 4, 2020, 12:14 PM   [ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Pulisic, 21, scored a superb opener at Wembley as he dazzled for Chelsea early on but right at the start of the second half he raced clear of the Arsenal defense, again, but appeared to injure his right hamstring badly before he took a shot.

Frank Lampard gave a Pulisic injury update after the game and said that the USMNT star would not be fit to play in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg game at Bayern Munich next Saturday. Lampard also confirmed that Pulisic will have a scan on his injured hamstring to determine the severity of the damage.

Here’s a close look at a superb display for Pulisic which ended in injury.

2nd minute: Found on the ball and plays it back to Rudiger. Chelsea looking to play the ball direct early on.

7th minute: GOALLL! Finds Giroud centrally, then surges forward and finds Mount on the left.  A cross from Mount is flicked to Pulisic by Giroud and he dinks home over Emiliano Martinez. Pulisic becomes the first USMNT player in history to score in an FA Cup final.

9th minute: Man, is he up for this. Pulisic puts Bellerin under pressure and wins the ball back for Chelsea.

11th minute: Lovely feet from Pulisic as he ran past two Arsenal defenders and at another two, before hitting a shot right at Emiliano Martinez.

14th minute: A nice flick to Giroud who didn’t quite read it. Lovely creativity.

20th minute: Picks up the ball on the left and is calm and composed on the ball. Always looking to drift inside.

31st minute: Cuts in from the right and flies past two players but Alonso fouls and the attack is over. Chelsea struggling after Arsenal’s equalizer.

38th minute: Found by Kovacic and plays it wide as Chelsea try and possess the ball after losing captain Azpilcueta to injury, who had given away the penalty kick Arsenal equalized from.

41st minute: Almost gets away but Arsenal stop him. A real nuisance.

45th minute: Tackled by Kieran Tierney, as Arsenal win a free kick right on the edge of the box but it is flashed wide.

47th minute: Right at the start of the second half he accelerates towards goal and is away from the Arsenal defense, but he pulls up in agony with a right hamstring injury before getting a shot away which is just wide. Somehow he still had a shot despite being in agony.

48th minute: Pulisic is in agony as he is helped off the pitch and Pedro replaces him. A dream start to the FA Cup final ends in agony for the American. Chelsea and USMNT fans everywhere will be waiting anxiously to hear the latest Pulisic injury update.

UPDATE: Pulisic went straight down the tunnel and was seen late in the second half as the other Chelsea players sat in the stand and watched their team.


Champions League power rankings: As the competition restarts this week, who has the best chance to win?


Ryan BaileyYahoo Sports•August 4, 2020

With Europe’s premier domestic competition restarting this weekend in a condensed, single-elimination format, FC Yahoo ranks the remaining contenders.

12. Chelsea

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea has spent the entire season proving the doubters wrong. With a transfer ban, a hole where star player Eden Hazard used to be, a slew of untested youth products and a manager with no experience at top-flight level, the Blues finished in fourth place and reached the FA Cup final.However, they are an incredible long shot to reach the quarterfinal stage of this contest in Lisbon. Lampard’s side must visit Bayern Munich on Saturday, carrying a 3-0 deficit from an uninspired outing in the first leg at Stamford Bridge back in February. Not only is a comeback highly unlikely against a Bayern side that’s looked imperious since the restart, but the task is made more impossible by an injury list that includes Pedro, Willian, N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Christian Pulisic, the American star who’s been terrific this summer.There’s a reason Chelsea is the rank outsider with the bookmakers (they’re a phenomenal +20000 to win it all with BetMGM).With apologies to Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s chances of winning the Champions League this season are pretty slim.

11. Lyon

Lyon heads to Turin on Friday with the advantage over Juventus, thanks to a surprise 1-0 win at the end of February that represented the Ligue 1 side’s first Champions League knockout victory in over eight years.That win, however, was likely down to Juventus’ lack of chance creation, rather than their own domination (they had just 36% possession in that home game). Aside from a handful of friendlies, Lyon’s only competitive game since March was last weekend’s loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue final.Rudi Garcia’s team finished the shortened season seventh in the league, and they were inconsistent in the Champions League group stage. If Lyon somehow manages to fend off Juventus, they will certainly fall to either Barcelona or Napoli in the next round.

10. RB Leipzig

After leading the Bundesliga at the end of January, RB Leipzig fell off in the second half of the season. They failed to win a single home game after the restart, with the exception of a resounding 3-0 win over Tottenham that secured a quarterfinal berth against Atletico Madrid. This represents their deepest-ever run in Europe’s top domestic competition.Julian Nagelsmann’s side has looked less dynamic in recent months and will be hampered by the absence of their top goalscorer Timo Werner, who was sold to Chelsea. (The Blues will not be able to field him either.)The Germans are in the “weaker” side of the draw, and a date with either Atalanta or Paris Saint-Germain awaits in the quarterfinals. However, given their recent form and the sale of their star striker, a deep run seems unlikely.

9. Barcelona

uffice to say, this has not been Barcelona’s year. They ceded the league title to Real Madrid with a series of disappointing post-restart draws, they crashed out of the Copa del Rey in the quarterfinals, and they churned out a constant stream of chaos off the field.Anything is possible if Lionel Messi is having a good day, but it would be fitting for Barca to finish the season with nothing to show for it. They are fifth favorites to win the tournament outright (+900 at BetMGM), but that seems far too generous for a team that finished the season at a low point, who seem to have trouble with Quique Setien’s high press, and who have an inconsistent midfield that will be without Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal. A rumored switch to a 3-5-2 formation does not speak to their stability and confidence. A home win against Napoli this weekend may be possible, and even a 0-0 draw will see them through. However, it is likely that Bayern Munich will be waiting in the quarterfinals, where Barcelona’s European quest will almost certainly conclude.

8. Napoli

Since the restart, Napoli has looked strong, finishing Serie A with a comprehensive win over Lazio last weekend. Manager Gennaro Gattuso’s side also claimed the Coppa Italia, with impressive post-lockdown wins over Inter Milan and Juventus.However, they must score at the Nou Camp on Saturday to stand a chance of progressing, and incisiveness in front of goal has not been a strength lately. An injury to striker Lorenzo Insigne certainly does not help matters. Napoli has also kept only two clean sheets in the league since the restart, which might present an issue when coming up against Messi and his Catalan friends.Gattuso’s team has the quality to upset Barcelona, and there has seldom been a better time to do so. But they do not have the quality to overcome likely quarterfinal opponents Bayern Munich.

7. Juventus

Juve may have secured its ninth successive league title, but not in overly impressive fashion. Maurizio Sarri’s men won only two of their final eight league games.Relieving Max Allegri of his managerial duties after winning five straight league titles indicates the Italian giants’ ambition. They’ve reached the Champions League final twice in the past five years, but still haven’t won the competition since 1996.As majority owners, the Agnelli family has taken drastic measures to win Europe again, such as gambling on a blockbuster deal for Cristiano Ronaldo. All attacking play funnels through the Portuguese superstar, who will need to help overturn the first-leg deficit against Lyon before a taxing quarterfinal against either Manchester City or his former employer Real Madrid.Juventus is favored to advance past Lyon, but stands at a justifiably long +1600 with BetMGM to win the tournament.

6. Paris Saint-Germain

The perennial French champions are ranked in the top three of this tournament by most bookmakers. They may not have played a league game since March, but PSG has won two domestic cups in recent weeks and possesses one of the best squads in Europe.However, they fall down these rankings due to the lack of competitive games in recent months, injury concern for star striker Kylian Mbappe, and a recent tendency to falter when the going gets tough in the Champions League.In quarterfinal opponent Atalanta, PSG faces one of the most thrilling and entertaining teams in the world right now. If they manage to clear that hurdle, Champions League juggernaut Atletico Madrid will likely await at the semifinal stage.

5. Real Madrid

It may surprise some to see Real Madrid so high up these rankings. After all, they head to the Etihad Stadium on Friday trailing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City by a 2-1 scoreline. The bookmakers place them as ninth favorites in a field of 12 (+2200 to win the tournament with BetMGM).Having watched Real Madrid in recent months, this is baffling. They have powered their way to the La Liga title, often with clinical and narrow wins. With Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the back, Casemiro in the middle and Karim Benzema up front, their team has one of the best spines in the game.And most crucially, this is a team designed to win European tournaments. Zinedine Zidane has done it three times as manager in the past five seasons.It’s odd to call Real Madrid a dark horse, but if they can turn around their tie with Manchester City, they can very easily win this tournament.

4. Atletico Madrid

Much like their more celebrated city counterparts, it is never wise to underestimate Atletico Madrid.Atleti has continually featured in the latter stages of this tournament and booked a quarterfinal with RB Leipzig by virtue of eliminating reigning champions Liverpool in their own backyard.Furthermore, Atleti hasn’t lost since February. Diego Simeone’s charges are heavy favorites to progress past RB Leipzig and will find themselves potentially in the final (once again) after 90 minutes against either PSG or Atalanta.They may not have the defensive fortitude of seasons past, but discount Los Rojiblancos at your peril.

3. Atalanta

Hang on, what on earth is Atalanta doing so high in the rankings of a competition that seldom allows a smaller team to creep into its latter stages? Atalanta’s home stadium is so modest that they play Champions League home games at the nearby San Siro. Their crest looks like a shampoo label. But in their first-ever Champions League campaign, Atalanta is the team the big boys secretly fear. They scored a staggering 98 goals in 2019-20, with seven players on the roster scoring 10 or more goals. They press high and furiously, they can unlock any defense, and their passing combinations can be dazzling. They are daunted by no one.  Their matchup with Paris Saint-Germain is poised to be the highlight of the quarterfinals, such will be the firepower on display. Nobody could have possibly predicted the Italians would come this far, so who says they can’t go further? It’s 2020, and stranger things have happened.

2. Manchester City


Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are favorites to win the Champions League, just as they were for most of last season. They hold a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the tournament restart, they closed out the Premier League season in style with 21 goals in their final five matches, and they resoundingly defeated UEFA on the Away Lawyers Rule in the Court of Arbitration. Only an inexplicable FA Cup semifinal defeat to Arsenal blots their record in recent weeks.City is magnificent, they are in good form and Guardiola is long overdue an appearance in another Champions League final. There is, however, one team that is likely to stop that from happening.

1. Bayern Munich

Although they have very famously suffered at the hands of Chelsea in their home stadium in this competition, Bayern Munich will gently brush away the Blues when they conclude their Round of 16 tie on Saturday.After that, one must feel sorry for any other team that gets in their way. The Bavarians are on a 17-game winning streak, they are looking to complete their second treble in eight years, and they boast striker Robert Lewandowski, who is the Champions League’s top scorer with a mere 51 goals in all competitions this season.Bayern have been breathtaking under Hansi Flick and they are Europe’s most in-form team. A monthlong break in competitive action may work to their disadvantage, but a team that always seems to come back stronger after the German midseason break will likely take the time off in stride.This tournament is Bayern Munich’s to lose.

MLS is Back Tournament Final: Early preview of Portland Timbers vs Orlando City on August 11

August 6, 202011:15PM EDTMLSsoccer staff

Few will dispute that the MLS is Back Tournament has provided a final pitting the two best teams in the competition.  The Portland Timbers were the first to reach the championship match after a 2-1 semifinal win over the Philadelphia Union and they’ve been good value throughout this tournament. Although they didn’t arrive in Orlando as a popular favorite to win it all, they’ve definitely looked the part and played like a team that deserves to be recognized among the league’s elite in 2020. At no point have they looked outmatched in a competition that has seen them go toe-to-toe with fancied sides like LAFC, LA Galaxy and NYCFC.In the final they will meet the surprise team of the tournament in Orlando City, who knocked off Minnesota United in the semis. The Lions’ turnaround under new head coach Oscar Pareja has come much sooner than expected and they have played the tournament on the front foot. Pareja was always hoping to use this event as a game-changer: a way to rid the team of the pressure and burden that came with five MLS seasons in which Orlando failed to make the postseason. Mission accomplished after this run to the final. There will be an injection of renewed belief in the organization and the fanbase no matter the result. The stakes on August 11 are clear: One team will walk away with a Concacaf Champions League place, a trophy and chunk of prize money to boot. Here’s an in-depth look at the matchup:

Portland Timbers vs. Orlando City SC

Tuesday, August 11 (8:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN, TVAS2 in Canada)

The MLS is Back Tournament will culminate in an intriguing final between two teams that are mirror images in many respects, managed by coaches who are uncompromising in their beliefs.

It’s a sixth tournament final in eight seasons as a pro head coach for Portland’s Giovanni Savarese, who has excelled in building yet another tightly-knit group that can successfully execute a game plan to slow down any opponent. Savarese, who earned his first MLS head coaching role with the Timbers in 2018, will match wits against one of the most successful managers in recent MLS history who is looking to lead his new club to its first silverware in MLS. Orlando City, an expansion side in 2015, have never made the MLS Cup Playoffs or advanced to a final during their five years in MLS.

Portland Timbers

The Timbers have been convincing from the very start of the tournament with strong group stage showings against both LA clubs and Houston to finish top in Group F. Their moment of adversity came in the Round of 16 when they were pushed to a penalty kick shootout by FC Cincinnati, and they haven’t looked back since with decisive victories against NYCFC and Philadelphia to reach the final. Their style has been ruthless and effective throughout their run. The Timbers’ compact tactical structure—starring trusty midfield failsafe Diego Chara—has made them difficult to break down, and their attacking talent has delivered on the other end. Jeremy Ebobisse (4 goals) and Sebastian Blanco (3 goals) have been the stars with club legend Diego Valeri and new star striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda providing world-class quality in support.

Orlando City

The Lions were just as convincing as the Timbers during their matches and were also rarely outplayed. That’s saying a lot for a team that had to go through the likes of NYCFC (No. 1 in the East in 2019), LAFC (Supporters’ Shield winners in 2019) and Philadelphia (semifinalists at MLS is Back) to reach the final. It’s been a remarkable shift in mentality for a team previously accustomed to expecting the second shoe to drop. It’s been very different under Pareja: Orlando have put matches on their own terms using a fairly consistent starting XI throughout the competition. That familiarity has allowed them to grow and build momentum as the tournament has progressed with multiple players coming up with the big play. Team captain Nani has owned several of those moments, setting the tone for a team that plays with purpose and conviction.

Series History

Orlando City have the all-time edge over the Portland Timbers. As inter-conference opponents, the Timbers have faced Orlando City once in each of the last five seasons since the Lions joined the league in 2015. Orlando (3W-1L-1D) have the advantage with a 10-7 edge in goals scored across the matchups:More pertinent to this matchup might be the head-to-head meetings between Savarese and Pareja, who formerly coached FC Dallas. There are just two of them and they both came in 2018: a 1-1 draw on March 24 in Dallas and a 0-0 result on September 29 in Portland.


Armchair Analyst: For Portland, the beauty (and the victory) is in the variety

August 6, 202012:38PM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

It was easy to think of a typical pattern of play for last year’s Portland Timbers. They would get on the ball, try to transition. If it was on they were deadly; if it wasn’t, they were dead meat. They’d eventually get both fullbacks upfield and one of the other — but usually right back Jorge Moreira — would end up launching a cross toward the penalty spot.Those are low-percentage plays, and worse, they often turn into counterattacks going in the other direction. That’s how Minnesota United annihilated the Timbers way back at the end of February, at the start of this weirdest of MLS seasons.The Timbers left that version of themselves in February, it turns out. They bunkered their way to a home win in Week 2, then four months later as MLS is Back kicked off, they were an entirely new, entirely balanced team. One that — I’m not even kidding here — has been good at basically everything this tournament. This team that could only hurt you one way in 2019 has now discovered how to beat you on the break, via their occasional-but-often-deadly press, on set pieces and even via possession. They are getting numbers forward without taking unnecessary risks with their fullbacks, and that means they are scoring goals from patterns of play that did not exist for them in 2019:Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Union wasn’t about that, of course. Wednesday’s win was about being smarter and more opportunistic on set pieces, and getting a bit of luck when Sergio Santos went NASA with his first-half PK.But being lucky is good, and it’s especially good to be both good and lucky. Those are two boxes that it’s always nice to have checked in any kind of tournament. Beyond that, the Timbers are now also deep and multi-faceted, and while they weren’t quite clean enough on the ball through midfield to entirely take the Union out of the game, it says something about this Portland side that they didn’t have to be. Because they are so good at finding the cracks and controlling the game state — they have scored first in five of six games and have trailed for just 57 minutes over the past month — their margins have grown. They don’t actually have to control the game.And so because of that; because they can beat you so many ways, and with players like Diego Valeri or Jaroslaw Niezgoda (or both) off the bench; because they have the odds-on tournament MVP in Sebastian Blanco; because Jeremy Ebobisse and Eryk Williamson have come of age and come out of nowhere, respectively; because the defense and Steve Clark in goal have hung on just tight enough, and because Diego Chara is still Diego Chara, the Timbers are into the final.Truth be told, they deserve it.

Sebastian Soto’s move to Norwich City a chance to reignite his career

Aug 2, 2020Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

A wild and disappointing season has ended on a positive note for Sebastian Soto.The United States youth international completed his transfer to Norwich City on Tuesday, allowing him to exit what had become a difficult situation with 2. Bundesliga side Hannover 96. Because Soto didn’t qualify for a work permit, a loan move is needed, and is still to be completely hashed out. But Soto is pleased to latch on with the Canaries.”I’m truly humbled and happy and excited that this is my next step,” Soto told ESPN via phone. “And the path that [Norwich] had spoken to me about and the plan that they have for me was just great. I was so attracted to it. Norwich has such a good history with young players.”Coming off of a 2018-19 campaign that saw Soto, 20, break into Hannover’s first team and score four goals for the U.S. at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Carlsbad, Calif., native hoped to make even more progress in 2019-20.But a confluence of factors resulted in a lost season. Soto’s refusal to sign a new contract combined with the usual competition for places meant that first-team minutes were going to be hard to come by. So it proved, as he made just two early-season appearances that totaled 16 minutes. But even playing time with the reserve team was scarce, with Soto playing in just three matches in the fourth-tier Regionalliga.”I think all I can say about last season was it’s all an experience, man,” he said. “I guess that’s how football is. I just have to learn from what happened, and nothing against Hannover or anything, but I just have to look forward.”


On top of those disappointments, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the league season was shut down for a time, and the Olympics were delayed for a year. The Tokyo games were looked at as a way to salvage a disappointing season. With that opportunity delayed, it made maintaining something close to match fitness an immense challenge.”I think, especially people that are close to me, knew that I did a lot on my own because I knew the future was coming and I knew something new is gonna come, so I had to be ready,” he said.”[COVID-19] was just something unpredictable. It’s tough being an athlete and having a long pause like that. But luckily in Germany, it was not as long as maybe other nations and we got back into it, and we were able to finish the German season. At the same time, I took advantage, staying in shape, staying as sharp as I could heading into the new season, because it’s just it all came really fast to be honest.”The move to Norwich, at first glance, looks less than optimal. The Canaries finished in last place and were relegated from the Premier League this season, and Soto’s inability to secure a work permit means that he will need to immediately leave Carrow Road and join another European club on loan.But Norwich has had success developing young players and has made use of loans in order to give players experience, with Todd Cantwell (at Fortuna Sittard) and Ben Godfrey (at Shrewsbury Town) the most notable examples. Given the limited minutes Soto saw this season, playing time is of utmost importance at this stage of his career.”All the conversations were extremely positive, from the sporting director, to the coaches, to everyone at the club, the staff was all really positive,” he said. “And I think the biggest thing they told me was that I needed to get experience, which is what this loan is all about, ultimately.”Making the most of his loan spell carries with it even more weight than it might otherwise. With the U.K. leaving the European Union in January, the expectation is that the rules for obtaining a work permit will become less strict. At the least, players from the EU won’t automatically qualify for a work permit, making it more of a level playing field.Soto played on the wing during the early part of his youth career, only for then-Real Salt Lake academy director Martin Vasquez to convert him into a center-forward. He has played in that position ever since, and off the ball movement, his ability to link up with teammates as well as finish his chances — like he did against France at the U-20 World Cup — has kept him in that spot. That doesn’t look likely to change with Norwich.”I think they do see me as a striker, but they also want to take advantage of my having good feet and going into good spaces,” said Soto. “But ultimately, they see me as someone who’s going to score goals.”After a difficult season, Soto is eager to get that opportunity once again.

Goalie Iker Casillas officially announces end of his playing days

Tales Azzoni, Ap Sports Writer Updated 11:09 am CDT, Tuesday, August 4, 2020

MADRID (AP) — Former Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas officially announced the end of his playing days on Tuesday, more than a year after his last match.

The 39-year-old Casillas was with Portuguese club Porto but hadn’t played competitively since a heart attack in May last year.“What is important is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not the destination to which it takes you,” Casillas said on Twitter. “With hard work, you will always arrive where you want. I can say, without a doubt, that it has been the path and the destination that I’ve always dreamed about.”In a long letter, Casillas said announcing his retirement was one of the “hardest” and “most difficult” days of his career.

His contract with Porto ended after the team defeated Benfica last weekend to win the Portuguese Cup. He didn’t play but celebrated with his teammats and lifted the trophy.

Casillas joined Porto in 2015 after helping Real Madrid win five Spanish league titles and three Champions League trophies. He also helped Spain win one World Cup and two European Championships.

Porto former goalkeeper Iker Casillas, center with hat, joins the players celebrating on the pitch at the end of the Portuguese League soccer match between FC Porto and Sporting CP at the Dragao stadium in … more

Real Madrid called Casillas “one of the biggest legends of our club and of world football” and “the best goalkeeper in the history of Real Madrid and Spanish football.”“Today one of the most important footballers in our 118 years of history calls it a day as a professional player, a player we love and admire, a goalkeeper who has made the Real Madrid legacy bigger with his work and exemplary behavior both on and off the pitch,” Real Madrid said in a statement. “He was formed here and defended our shirt for 25 years, becoming one of our most emblematic captains of all time.”Casillas played 725 matches with Madrid’s first team over 16 seasons, winning 19 titles. He joined the club at age 9.With Porto, Casillas won two Portuguese league titles, in addition to the Portuguese Cup and a Super Cup.He played 167 matches for Spain and won the Under-20 World Cup.“You’ve always been an example to be followed on and off the field,” Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for everything.”Former Spain and Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos posted a photo of him receiving a kiss on the cheek from Casillas during a game.“Soccer thanks you, my friend,” Ramos said. “A legend forever.”Several clubs and players from other teams also sent messages honoring the former goalkeeper.“They say competition makes us better than others but not perfect faced with ourselves. Maybe this futile pursuit of perfection is what made us who we are,” former Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. “#Grac1as Iker, without you, everything would have been less meaningful.”Casillas this year contemplated running for the presidency of the Spanish soccer federation but withdrew his candidacy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Farewell Iker Casillas, the saint who brought us saves, tears and clashes

Goalkeeper with a treasure trove of trophies from Real Madrid, Porto and Spain has retired but it will not be the end of his story

Barry Glendenning @bglendenningThu 6 Aug 2020 08.30 EDTLast modified on Thu 6 Aug 2020 15.00 EDT5

Iker Casillas kisses the trophy after Spain’s 2010 World Cup final victory over the Netherlands. Photograph: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

Put it down to the luck of the Irish. Specifically, the bad luck. Pitted against Spain in the second round of the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea, with their best player, Roy Keane, walking his dog on a Cheshire golf course thousands of miles away, nobody gave Mick McCarthy’s side a prayer. Despite this, God appeared to be smiling on the boys in green, the sides level at one goal apiece at full-time and an uncharacteristically out-of-sorts Spain reduced to 10 men for the additional half-hour through injury. Ireland pressed and probed, smelling blood, with Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and Niall Quinn wreaking havoc up front. They failed to score, a visibly exhausted Spanish rearguard somehow keeping them at bay.A thoroughbred surrounded by donkeys that day, Iker Casillas had kept his team in the game with a series of fine saves including a penalty from Ian Harte and one particularly eye-catching block at the feet of Robbie Keane. Spot-kicks from Kevin Kilbane and David Connolly in the shootout didn’t take much stopping but he repelled them anyway and at just 21 years of age his canonisation was complete: “Saint Iker” was among us. “He isn’t human,” wrote one excitable Spanish columnist in AS. “The day he came to earth, light shone down upon his house like it did at the gate of Bethlehem when Jesus Christ arrived in the world. He’s immune to pain, mistakes and bad luck.”

Real Madrid and Spain legend Iker Casillas announces his retirement

Immune? Not entirely. As a child he either forgot or didn’t bother to submit a quiniela coupon for Spain’s equivalent of the football pools, only for all 14 of his father’s predictions to come in. His mistake having cost somewhere in the region of £1m, it is not difficult to imagine that particularly large slice of bad luck resulting in some sort of physical or emotional pain.His fortune changed dramatically as a 16-year-old when he was summoned from the classroom to sit on the bench for Real Madrid, improved further when he replaced the injured César Sánchez during a Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen and began bordering on the outrageous when he earned his place in Spain’s 2002 World Cup side when the first-choice goalkeeper Santiago Cañizares severed a tendon while “trapping” a bottle of aftershave with a foot. “Luck?” Casillas mused in a 2004 interview with the Guardian. “Maybe. But if you let in three, what’s the point? You have to take advantage.”And how. After more than 1,000 senior appearances for Real Madrid, Porto and Spain, Casillas announced his retirement this week, his trophy cabinet a bulging treasure trove. One World Cup. Two European Championships. Three Champions Leagues. Five Spanish league titles. Two Copa del Reys. Two Uefa Super Cups. One Club World Cup. One Portuguese title.Of course not every day was a good one and like many saints, Casillas became a victim of persecution. Although renowned for his modesty, generally mild off-field manner and mantra of “never, ever forgetting where you came from”, he has a touchy, spiky side and his patience was tested to its limits by the pernicious dressing-room influence of José Mourinho. The pair clashed repeatedly and matters came to a head when Casillas was left out of the first team amid rumours of his involvement in dressing-room leaks, which he denied, and a particularly bitter player revolt.“There needs to be a little more respect to Iker, he’s well loved,” said his teammate Pepe, following a stinging public assessment of the goalkeeper by their manager. “What the coach said was not the most appropriate. Iker is a player who is part of Madrid. He’s an institution, both in this club and in Spain.” The Portuguese defender was dropped for his insubordination. “His intelligence and maturity have made us always respect each other and years later we have even been able to cultivate an honest friendship,” said the fabled authority on maturity that is Mourinho upon hearing of Casillas’s decision to hang up his gloves.Five years ago, sitting alone and visibly distressed in the media room at the Santiago Bernabéu, the player tearfully announced he was leaving Real for Porto after 25 years at the club. At a press conference so excruciating the Spanish club invited him back to do it again the next day in a futile attempt at damage limitation, he thanked the fans for “unconditional support” that had been anything but in a preceding season often soundtracked by jeers and whistles. Tellingly, he failed to thank the club president, Florentino Pérez, with whom his relationship had disintegrated.“He has suffered psychological pressure and they treated him differently to other players,” said his mother, Mari Carmen, who accused Pérez of drumming her pride and joy out of the club. “I have watched him suffer for many years. It is Florentino who is pushing him out because he wanted to end his career at Real Madrid.” Pérez denied that.Casillas has not played since a heart attack in 2019 and in February announced his intention to run for president of the Spanish Football Federation before withdrawing his candidacy because of the coronavirus. Apparently determined to swap his uniform of garish short-sleeved shirt for a blazer, in a comical and slightly sad development he is reported to be in advanced talks regarding a return to Madrid to work as a special adviser to the president widely considered responsible for his ignominious exit.“The important thing is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not the destination to which it takes you,” he wrote in the statement announcing his retirement. One suspects that for Saint Iker, a much-loved icon who has had his fair share of good and bad luck, there will be plenty more twists and turns in the road.


By Indy Eleven Communications, 08/01/20, 10:30PM EDT

Result Ends Two-Year Undefeated Streak at Home in Regular Season Play at 28 Games, One-year Home Winning Streak at 11 Games

#INDvSKC Post-Game Quotes – August 1    #INDvSKC Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center

Indy Eleven tasted defeat at home for the first time in over two years, suffering a shock 1-0 loss at the hands of Sporting Kansas City II at Lucas Oil Stadium.Despite the loss, Indy Eleven (5W-2L-0D, 15 pts.) remains solidly in first place in the Group E standings with a six-point cushion over Saint Louis FC, while Sporting KC II (2W-3L-0D, 6 pts.) drew even with Louisville City FC in third place courtesy of a fruitful road trip that saw it take wins in Kentucky and Indiana three days apart.The result snapped a pair of remarkable regular season home streaks for Indiana’s Team that ranked second in USL Championship annals, a 28-match home unbeaten streak (dating back to July 7, 2018) and an 11-game winning streak (dating back to July 20, 2019).“Obviously disappointed to lose our first game in Lucas Oil for over two years. It’s been a great run of mainly winning, a couple ties here and there. Tonight, I feel like we looked tired. We’ve played five games in 14 days. We created enough chances tonight to win the game, put in a great effort. All the guys put everything into the game, so it’s disappointing we couldn’t be a little more clinical in front of the goal.”

The opening of the match was quite an even one, both sides’ defenses allowing little across a first half hour that lacked rhythm. Making his first start of the 2020 season, Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr was forced into heavy work for the first time 31 minutes in, when he went low to smother Fredlin Mompremier’s hard effort from the left corner of the penalty area.Indy Eleven earned its best look of the stanza coming out of the hydration break in the 35th minute, when two more players earning their first 2020 starts – midfielders Kenney Walker and Felicien Dumas – linked up, the former chipping the latter into the left side of the area. Sporting KC II goalkeeper and Floyds Knobs native Brooks Thompson – making his second start in two weeks in his home state – did well to guard his right post on the 10-yard effort, looking big and deflecting out for a corner. The half ended without any more significant threats on frame, a statistically even first 45 minutes concluding as it started, 0-0.Rennie would go to his bench for a pair of halftime subs, bringing Ilija Ilic on in attack for Nick Moon and Drew Conner in for Walker in the middle of the park. The onset of the second half saw Pasher popping up in dangerous areas, his header to meet Dumas’ pinpoint diagonal ball near the penalty spot in the 49th minute a prime example. The chance ultimately missed wide of frame, but served as a harbinger of what the USL Championship’s Golden Boot leader could offer in attack.Rennie would bring on two more veterans to push for the full three points just before the hour mark with the introductions of wingers Matt Watson and Ayoze, the latter making his first appearance since suffering an injury against Sporting KCII two weeks prior.It was a Sporting Kansas City II substitute, Enoch Mushagalusa, that would set up the game’s first tally in the 70th minute, his cutback pass from the left endline finding the foot of Daniel Barbir, who placed his chance from the top of the area perfectly into the upper right corner past Farr at full stretch to give SKC the shock lead.While Indy would carry the possession from there on out, a true moment of danger would be delayed until the 84th minute when Ilic slipped Pasher into the right side of the area, only to see the Canadian fire his chance over the crossbar. The onslaught on SKC’s goal picked up in the 86th minute, but Thompson was on the spot – and on his line – when he stopped consecutive efforts by Andrew Carleton and Ilic near the six.Seven minutes of announced stoppage time was music to Indy’s ears, and Indiana’s Team continued to ramp up the pressure, beginning with defender Neveal Hackshaw’s header off an Ayoze corner than rang the crossbar in the opening minute of extra play. Carleton just missed from long distance one minute later, followed by defender Paddy Barrett steering another header towards goal, but the looping chance off Conner’s service hit the top netting. Thompson’s slide tackle of Watson in the 95th minute at the edge of the area drew calls for a point to the spot, but the center referee deemed the challenge clean, and that marked the final chance for the Eleven to equalize.“Now we need to get a little bit of rest and recover. The guys are on their knees basically. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, where guys were off for three months, they don’t get any preseason friendlies, hardly any training, and immediately we have to play five games in 14 days, including going to Saint Louis and Pittsburgh.” Said Rennie. “I think we’ve stood up to it really well. Overall, very pleased with the players and what they’ve done.”From here, Indy Eleven heads on the road for two of its next three contests, beginning with the first installment of a crowded Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest calendar over the next six weeks. The LIPAFC rivalry renews next Saturday, August 8, with Indy’s first visit to the new Lynn Family Stadium set for an 8:00 p.m. ET kickoff that can be followed live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+ and Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com.

Indy Eleven’s next home match follows on Saturday, August 15, when Indiana’s Team will welcome Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC to Lucas Oil Stadium (for a piece of league history). Tickets remain available for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff, and fans that can’t make it to the corner of Capitol & South can follow on WISH-TV, ESPN+ and Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSKC
Indy Eleven  0 : 1  Sporting Kansas City II
Saturday, August 1, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

Attendance: 5,409

2020 USL Championship records
Indy Eleven (5W-2L-0D, 15 pts., 1st place in Group E)
Sporting Kansas City II (2W-3L-0D, 6 pts., 3rd place in Group E)

Scoring Summary:
SKC – Daniel Barbir (Enoch Mushagalusa) 70’

Disciplinary Summary:

SKC – Jahon Rad (yellow card) 50’

SKC – Christian Duke (yellow card) 76’

IND – Ayoze (yellow card) 88’

IND – Mitch Osmond (yellow card) 90+7’
Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Jordan Farr; Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett (captain), Mitch Osmond; Felicien Dumas (Ayoze 59’), Tyler Gibson, Kenney Walker (Drew Conner 45’), Conner Antley (Matt Watson 59’); Tyler Pasher, Cam Lindley (Andrew Carleton 77’), Nick Moon (Ilija Ilic 45’)


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