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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