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

GAMES ON TV 

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

USA

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’

INDY 11

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

Indy Falls to 4th in League Power Rankings

THE WEEKLY WRAP: WEEKS 5 & 6

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

OUIMETTE EARNS FIRST TOTW NOD IN 2020

Indy Eleven Teams with Red Cross for August 13 Blood Drive

INDY ELEVEN ANNOUNCES CONTRIBUTION TO THE BAIL PROJECT

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/

Goalkeeping

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

EPL

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.”

TRANSFERS

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.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN SUFFERS RARE HOME DEFEAT VIA 0-1 LOSS TO SPORTING KANSAS CITY II

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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