10/23 El Classico, El Traffico & Man U vs Chelsea Sat 12:30 NBC lead the Weekend Games, Champ League Tues/Wed 7 American’s play!

El Classico between a reeling Real Madrid and Barcelona leads the big games this weekend as they kick off at 10 am on Saturday on beIN Sport. El Classico is the biggest club game in the world and will be watched by over 2 million people worldwide.  Manchester United will host Chelsea and American Christian Pulisic at 12:30 pm Saturday on NBC.  Ok American Soccer Fans – We’ll get a chance to see if Pulisic can help pull the American market in a real game against a marquee team like United!  Also at 12:30 pm on Sat on ESPN+ Dortmund and American Gio Reyna will host Schalke in one of the most heated Derby’s in Soccer.  And Finally on Sunday – El Traffico – as LAFC hosts LA Galaxy on ABC at 3:30 pm.  We have asked for Big Soccer games on Network TV folks – so here they are this weekend !! Will American’s tune-in to watch soccer over football? 

Champions League is Back Tues/Wed – Group Stage Matchday 2

Ah it was great to have Champions League back (even in empty stadiums).  Hugely exciting to have Champions League games with American’s not just playing but starting and playing important roles.  Pulisic started for Chelsea on the right side but was mainly held in check in the 0-0 tie at home vs Spanish Side – but US Players in prominent roles on 9 of the teams.  Gio Reyna had an assist in his game as he came on at the half of Dortmunds’ surprising 3-1 loss at Lazio. Adams played center back in a 5 man back line for RB Leipzig in their 2-0 win and of course Dest, 19, started for Barcelona in their 3-0 win.  In total a new Record of 5 American’s played Tuesday here’s how they ended up.  The best might have been GK Ethan Horvath who made a surprise start in goal for Club Brugge – he made 3 or 4 incredible saves to help them secure the 2-1 upset at Zenit.  It was his first game in almost a year as he normally backs up Belgium star Simon Mignolet who had covid.  Can’t wait to see how the American’s do this week!  Here’s the standing’s after Matchday 1.

Man is there a team more dependant on one player than Real Madrid?  In their second game without Center back and Captain Sergio Ramos – Real gave up 3 first half goals to an undermanned Shakkar team and honestly should have given up 2 or 3 more. They fought back for 2 in the 2nd half at home but the equalizer was overruled by VAR leaving Madrid with a first game lost at 3-2. The “marquee” matchup ended up being a dud as Champions Bayern Munich took control in the 2nd half at home to defeat Atletico 2-0.  (sad not to have American Chris Richards-injured, or Canadian Alphonso Davies playing.) 

I will give credit to CBS – the wrap around coverage on CBS Sports Network was pretty cool showing scores for all the games and goals and shots on replay every time one happened.  Not bad coverage.  Now if we can get the to cover the post game and pre game shows the way they are on CBS All Access all will be good.  Again AA is fine I hate that you can’t go back and watch a goal you may have missed though.  The Live only coverage with no ability to re-wind really sux for a PAID Service.  But one step at a time I suppose.   

GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat, Oct 24  

7:30 am Peacock                                Man City vs West Ham

9:30 am ESPN+                                  Bayern Munich vs Frankfort (Chandler)  

9:30 am ESN+                                    RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Hertha Berlin

10 am NBCSN                                    Fulham vs Crystal Palace

10 am beIN Sport             Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona EL CLASSICO

12:30 pm NBC                  Man United vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  

12:30 am ESPN+                            Borrusia Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Schalke

3  pm Peacock                      Liverpool vs Sheffield United  

3:30 pm ESPN+                               Inter Miami vs Orlando City SC

Sun, Oct 25

10 am NBCSN                                    Everton vs Southampton  

12:30 pm NBC                     Wolverhampton vs New Castle

3pm ABC                     LAFC vs LA GALAXY – EL TRAFFICO

3:15 pm Peacock                 Arsenal vs Leicester City

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

(American’s in parenthesis)

Tuesday, October 27

Lokotomiv Moscow vs. Bayern Munich (Richards), 1:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Inter Milan 1:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Atletico Madrid vs. RB Salzburg, 4pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Real Madrid, 4pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Porto vs. Olympiacos (Champions League Group Stag, 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Marseille vs. Man City, 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Atalanta vs. Ajax (Mendez) 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Liverpool vs. Midtjylland 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)

Wednesday, October 28

Krasnodar vs. Chelsea (Pulisic) 1:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Istanbul Basaksehir vs. PSG, 1:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Sevilla vs. Rennes 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Brugge (Horvath GK) vs. Lazio  4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Dortmund (Reyna) vs. Zenit 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Ferencvaros vs. Dynamo Kyiv , 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Juventus (McKinney) vs. Barcelona (Dest) , 4pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Man United vs. RB Leipzig (Adams), 4pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV

EUROPE


Clasico, Dortmund v Schalke – what to look out for in Europe this weekend

‘It won’t be the same’ – silent Clasico leaves fans feeling empty
Ibrahimovic defies Father Time to set up Milan’s derby victory  19mGabriele Marcotti
 USA
Americans Abroad weekend preview

Juventus confirm USMNT’s McKennie recovered from COVID-19
Americans Abroad: Pulisic returns; Reyna’s hat trick of assists; Dest debuts
Dest makes debut for Barcelona as first American player
Berhalter: Wouldn’t be happy if Sebastian Soto chooses Chile

Tobin Heath, Christen Press Manchester United jerseys outsell male counterparts
Report: Salzburg buys USMNT teen Aaronson from Philadelphia

MLS

Supporters’ Shield to be awarded following reversal of decision
LAFC vs. Galaxy: How many El Tráficos are too many for one season?

Twellman on why Galaxy are “soft” and LAFC are still most dangerous in West

Seltzer: Picking every game this weekend

Alonso: Miami-Orlando is more than a clasico, it’s a final

Zakuani: 3 things we learned from Seattle’s dramatic draw with Portland

Seattle ruin Portland’s “perfect game” but both rivals say draw is a good sign

Head injury subs in soccer moving closer to reality

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Champions League’s ultimate sleepers: RB Leipzig to win, Inter Milan to reach final, Sevilla to semis
UCL stats: Suarez’s 12 reasons to hate Bayern, Madrid’s misery without Ramos
Shock-tar! Real Madrid stunned in UCL opener
Porto boss slams Guardiola for touchline antics
Man City win UCL opener but will need to eliminate mistakes to finally reach the elusive summit
Liverpool win not ‘sunny, shiny’ football – Klopp
Liverpool’s win over Ajax steadied Klopp’s side after a rocky week
Late Hassan goal gives Olympiakos win over Marseille
Lukaku rescues late draw for Inter at home to Gladbach
Manchester City come back for 3-1 win over Porto
Zapata inspires Atalanta to comfortable win at Midtjylland
Rampant Coman stars as Bayern thrash Atletico
Liverpool hold on to win without Van Dijk
Zidane: ‘Bad game, bad night’ for Real Madrid
Eder Militao 3/10, Varane 4/10 as Real suffer shock UCL defeat to Shakhtar
Salzburg let Lokomotiv off the hook in 2-2 draw
UCL stats: Suarez’s 12 reasons to hate Bayern, Madrid’s misery without Ramos
Liverpool’s win over Ajax steadied Klopp’s side after a rocky week
Man City win UCL opener but will need to eliminate mistakes to finally reach the elusive summit
Rashford outdoes Neymar, Mbappe as Man United’s Paris hero again
    3dMark Ogden

It’s time for Chelsea to start justifying its £220m summer spending spree with results  3dJames Olley

Tuesday, 20 October 2020
FT+12:55pmZenit 1 – 2 Club BruggefuboTVGalavisionTUDN.comUnivision NO…
FT+3:00pmBarcelona 5 – 1 FerencvárosfuboTVTUDN USAUniMásTUDN.comUniv…
FT+3:00pmChelsea 0 – 0 SevillafuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…
FT+3:00pmLazio 3 – 1 Borussia DortmundfuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…
FT+3:00pmPSG 1 – 2 Manchester UnitedfuboTVGalavisionTUDN.comUnivision NO…
FT+3:00pmRB Leipzig 2 – 0 İstanbul BaşakşehirfuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…
FT+3:00pmRennes 1 – 1 KrasnodarfuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…
Wednesday, 21 October 2020
FT+12:55pmReal Madrid 2 – 3 Shakhtar DonetskfuboTVTUDN USAUniMásTUDN.comUniv…
FT+12:55pmSalzburg 2 – 2 Lokomotiv MoskvafuboTVGalavisionTUDN.comUnivision NO…
FT+3:00pmAjax 0 – 1 LiverpoolfuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…

The Future of the CCL–in 2020 and BeyondBY BRIAN STRAUS

Indy 11 Falls to St. Louis Out of Playoffs – The Game Beckons Blogspot

10/19/20 Champions League on CBS AA, CBSSN, Most US Players ever in UCL

Champions League is Back Tues/Wed – Group Stage

As the Champions League kicks back into gear  – just 2 months after the late wrap-up saw Bayern Munich raise the trophy, we get the excitement of not just great soccer – but US Players in prominent roles on 9 of the teams.  From more established players like Christian Pulisic for Chelsea, or Tyler Adams for Red Bull Leipzig, and Gio Reyna at Dortmund to Weston McKinney now at Italian powerhouse Juventus, and Sergio Dest at Spanish Giant Barcelona.  All of these players (under the age of 25) look to be starting for their respective clubs during the group stage games.  McKinney does have Covid and may miss this week’s games along with the injured Chris Richards 20 year old Right back of Bayern Munich who is also expected back by Matchday 3 at the latest.  Click for a full list of American’s suiting up in the competition.   

Of course not sure how we are watching Champions League here in the US this year – I did break down and buy CBS All Access now that I can see it using my roku stick– so I can watch the American’s play in English.  Of course if you have Univision (TUDN), Unimas and Galavisions or FuboTV you can always watch in Spanish still without having to pay the extra $5 a month in streaming costs.  Now CBS Sports Network is debuting a Wrap-Around coverage GOLAZO– (think NFL Red Zone) and I am excited to see how they handle that.  I could see watching 1 game on all Access or in Spanish and the other TV on CBSSN for GOLAZO Coverage which starts at 2:30 pm.  We’ll have to see how they handle it.  World Soccer Talk breaks it down here.   I can say that I was impressed with CBS coverage of the Final 4 and Final games last season with a 90 minute pre-game and 60 to 90 minute postgame delivered on CBS All Access.  We’ll see how they do and how CBSN SN handles their coverage as well.   Must watch games to see American’s play will include Chelsea and Pulisic vs Spanish Euro Legends Sevilla at 3 pm Tues on CBS AA and Dortmund and Gio Reyna at the same time on CBS AA.  Of course the big game is Man United traveling to 2019 Runner-ups PSG at 3 pm on Galavision and CBS AA at 3 pm.   Wednesday the only American set to play should be Alex Mendez of Ajax vs Liverpool at 3 pm on TUDN Extra and CBS AA.  The big game of the day on Wed is either Bayern Munich (with American defender Chris Richards out injured) hosting Atletico Madrid at 3 pm on Unimas and CBS AA. 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TV SCHEDULE

(American’s in parenthesis)

Tuesday, October 20 

Zenit St Petersburg vs. 12:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Dynamo Kyiv vs. Juventus (McKinney) 12:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Rennes vs. Krasnodar 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Chelsea (Pulisic) vs. Sevilla 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Lazio vs. Dortmund (Reyna)  3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Barcelona (Dest) vs. Ferencvaros , 3pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
PSG vs. Man United 3pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
RB Leipzig (Adams) vs. Istanbul Basaksehir 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)

Wednesday, October 21

RB Salzburg vs. Lokomotiv Moscow 12:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Real Madrid vs. Shakhtar Donetsk 12:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Bayern Munich (Richards) vs. Atletico Madrid 3pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Inter Milan vs. Borussia Monchengladbach 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Olympiacos vs. Marseille 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Man City vs. Porto 3pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Ajax vs. Liverpool 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Midtjylland vs. Atalanta 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)

Tuesday, October 27

Lokotomiv Moscow vs. Bayern Munich (Richards), 1:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Inter Milan 1:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Atletico Madrid vs. RB Salzburg, 4pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Real Madrid, 4pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Porto vs. Olympiacos (Champions League Group Stag, 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Marseille vs. Man City, 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Atalanta vs. Ajax  4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Liverpool vs. Midtjylland 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)

Wednesday, October 28

Kranodar vs. Chelsea (Pulisic) 1:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Istanbul Basaksehir vs. PSG, 1:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Sevilla vs. Rennes 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Brugge vs. Lazio  4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Dortmund (Reyna) vs. Zenit 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Ferencvaros vs. Dynamo Kyiv , 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Juventus (McKinney) vs. Barcelona (Dest) , 4pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Man United vs. RB Leipzig (Adams), 4pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Champions League matchday 1: Man United underdogs at PSG, will Liverpool thrive without Van Dijk?
Champions League: How to watch, odds, start time, predictions
Champ League Predictions – yahoo soccer
Leipzig to launch European campaign in front of 999 fans

Reluctant travellers Dortmund set to play makeshift defence at Lazio

Maguire out, Fernandes to captain Man Utd against PSG

USA

Look out Champions League, here comes the USMNT  6dESPN
Gio Reyna, U.S. stars on Barcelona’s and Real Madrid’s radar

McKinney to miss UCL Matchday 1 has Covid 19

Viewers’ Guide to 2020–21 UEFA Champions League

With the 2020–21 Champions League group stage set to begin, here’s how viewers in the U.S. can take in all the action.

AVI CREDITOR OCT 15, 2020 SI

Another UEFA Champions League season, another new set of viewing patterns for fans to learn and memorize.Less than two months after Bayern Munich defeated Paris Saint-Germain in Portugal to win the 2019–20 Champions League title, the quest for the 2020–21 trophy begins. And with CBS Sports taking the baton from Turner Sports a year (and a few months) ahead of schedule, English-speaking viewers will have to pivot when making plans to watch Europe’s premier club competition. Of course, there’s nothing stopping English-speaking viewers from watching in Spanish, and Univision will continue to be airing games on its platforms this season as well

With the group stage set to begin on Oct. 20–and with 10 U.S. internationals and one American manager in the mix–here’s what you need to know entering another Champions League campaign:

EMPHASIS ON STREAMING

DVERTISEMENT

CBS, like many other networks, is focused on building out its streaming app, with many viewers and cord-cutters opting to get their entertainment in ways other than just cable TV.As a result, there’s a large emphasis on CBS’s All-Access product (soon to be known as Paramount Plus), and every match—along with pre-match and post-match shows—will be available to watch wherever All-Access is available.Once again, there are two match windows per group stage match day, with two games at 12:55 p.m. ET followed by the remaining six at 3 p.m. ET. (There will be that brief period at the end of October where daylight saving time ends in Europe and hasn’t yet in the U.S., and the windows become an hour later, but 12:55 and 3 will otherwise be the standard.) CBS, which also operates CBS Sports HQ (an all-day, free streaming product on CBS’s website), will begin its gameday coverage at 11 a.m. ET on HQ and All-Access, move to a pre-match show on All-Access only at noon and then transition into matchesThe matches that Univision does not have on TV will be available either via its streaming service, TUDNXtra, or FuboTV.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ON TV

In English, CBS will be selective in its television offerings. While every match will go on All-Access, CBS adds that won’t entirely be set in stone throughout, “with select marquee matches also airing on the CBS Television Network and CBS Sports Network through the 2023–24 season.” It remains to be seen what qualifies as a “marquee match,” whether any group stage match will be deemed “marquee” and whether specific player absences play a role in the programming (i.e., if Cristiano Ronaldo, who is now in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus, misses Juventus’s first group showdown vs. Lionel Messi’s Barcelona).In Spanish, Univision will be airing “over 75” matches on TV on a regular basis throughout the competition via Univision, UniMas, TUDN and Galavision. For the first two two-part match days, four of a day’s given eight games will be on TV: two on UniMas and TUDN and two on Galavision. The remaining four will be streamed.Univision’s platforms will also feature “Futbol Central,” its pregame show that previews the upcoming matches, and “Mision Europa,” which will cover the highlights and wrap-up material.

RED ZONE MEETS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

One new wrinkle CBS is offering is a whiparound show during matches that will hop from game to game to show goals from around the continent during the window in which six games are being played simultaneously. The Golazo Show will air on CBS Sports Network and All-Access and act as either a complementary screen or a sole focus depending on the viewer’s preference (and attention span).“With multiple matches being played simultaneously across Europe, we wanted to give soccer fans a fun way to experience that excitement and see every goal from every match as well as all the key moments as they happen,” CBS Sports executive VP of programming Dan Weinberg, said in a statement. “The Golazo Show will keep fans updated throughout the day’s action with all the goals and latest results, bringing them highlights as soon as they occur while also providing expert analysis—all at a single destination.”There will also be a Golazo Pre-Match Show that kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET to run down what happened in the day’s first two games and set the stage for what’s to come in the ensuing six.Univision, meanwhile, will return with a second season of Zona Futbol, which is a whiparound show of its own. Those subscribing to participating TV providers will have access to “the best action from concurrent group stage matches as it happens. TUDN experts will guide the audience from game to game across the continent with key context and expert analysis,” according to a Univision statement.

Champions League group stage analysis and predictions: Which teams will advance?

Ryan Bailey

Yahoo Sports•October 19, 2020 https://vplayer.nbcsports.com/p/BxmELC/nbcsports_embed/select/media/kkvY6I_5ZwzP A mere 51 days after Bayern Munich lifted the 2019-20 trophy in Lisbon, the Champions League carousel starts up once again on Tuesday. Read on for Yahoo Soccer’s comprehensive guide to the group stage…

Champions League Group A

Teams: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Lokomotiv Moscow, Red Bull Salzburg

The reigning champions may have shown some fragility in recent outings — Bayern conceded an uncharacteristic six times in the three matches before the international break — but they will have little trouble topping Group A. The Bavarians won all six of their group games last season and haven’t lost at this stage since a 3-0 humbling to Paris Saint-Germain in September 2017.

Bayern, however, does not possess a sterling record against Atletico Madrid, who eliminated the Germans at the seminal stage in 2015-16 with a typically tenacious away-goals masterclass. Atleti also defeated Bayern in the group stage in the previous season.

Red Bull Salzburg were especially prolific in the group stage last year, but half of their 16 goals came from Erling Haaland, who has since moved to Borussia Dortmund

Lokomotiv Moscow, meanwhile, boast Portuguese forward Eder, but they finished rock-bottom of their group last season. Expect more of the same here. 

Player to Watch: Robert Lewandowski

Atletico Madrid’s boisterous strikers Diego Costa and Luis Suarez will certainly make headlines — for one reason or another — but Robert Lewandowski is the undoubted star of the show. Last year’s Champions League top scorer struck 10 times in the group stages, and remains paramount to Bayern Munich’s success. 

Prediction: 1. Bayern Munich 2. Atletico Madrid 3. Red Bull Salzburg 4. Lokomotiv Moscow 

Group B

Teams: Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan, Borussia Monchengladbach 

Real Madrid don’t typically struggle at the group stage, but the perennial European titans find themselves in what may be the group with the most parity. 

Los Blancos are usually well equipped to get out of any situation, but they stumbled several times in last season’s group stage, dropping points at home to Club Brugge, and in both meetings with PSG. 

When Zinedine Zidane’s side faced Manchester City in last season’s recent round of 16, they couldn’t handle the pace and press, and that does not bode well for meetings with Inter Milan and Borussia Monchengladbach, both of whom like to press high.

2020 Europa League finalists Inter Milan will be expecting to progress, and they have the tools to do so. Gladbach are the outsiders, competing in the competition for the first time in four years, but have established themselves among the Bundesliga’s elite in the interim. 

Prediction: 1. Inter Milan 2. Real Madrid 3. Borussia Monchengladbach 4. Shakhtar Donetsk

Player to Watch: Romelu Lukaku

If Inter is to make Real Madrid to drop points, their talismanic Belgian striker will have something to do with it. Lukaku scored nine times in European competitions last season, and will likely increase his continental tally this term. 

Group C

Teams: Porto, Manchester City, Olympiakos, Marseille

There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and Man City getting a comparatively favorable ride in the Champions League group stage

Pep Guardiola’s men have been the favorites with the bookmakers in the last two campaigns, and only sit behind Bayern Munich in this edition (per BetMGM). They have, however, stumbled against French opposition in recent European contests, being ousted by Lyon at the quarterfinal stage last season.

Marseille, coached by Andre-Villas Boas, finished second in Ligue 1 last season and have strengthened the squad with the likes of Luis Henrique, who arrived from Botafogo over the summer. They will be aiming for second place, and represent a banana peel for the Premier League side. 

But don’t sleep on reigning Portuguese champs Porto, who were seeded in Pot 1 and are technically the top team of the group. However, the 2004 Champions League winners sold Alex Telles and Fabio Silva to Premier League opposition over the summer, and may not be entirely competitive. 

Olympiakos were impressive in last season’s Europa League, but they may struggle to make an impact on this group.   

Prediction: 1. Man City 2. Marseille 3. Porto 4. Olympiakos

Player to Watch: Kevin De Bruyne

Man City’s midfield gem regularly delivers game-changing passes and has proven pivotal to their successes. Outside of City, Marseille will lean heavily on former West Ham star Dimitri Payet. 

Group D

Teams: Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, Midtjylland 

Liverpool’s last Champions League outing saw them suffer at the hands of Atletico Madrid at a packed Anfield, in what would become one of the finals games with a full complement of fans in 2020. All eyes will be on Jurgen Klopp’s side to see if they can regain their furious pace and cloak of invincibility that has slipped since that night in March.

Group D presents what may be the best fixture of the entire group stage: Liverpool’s pair of bouts with Atalanta. The highly entertaining Italians had the mettle and the talent to go deep in the competition last season, and their fearless press will be highly entertaining when it comes up against Klopp’s charges. 

Ajax were a hair from making the 2019 final, but their team has been mined of much of its talent since then. The summer departures of Donny van de Beek, Hakim Ziyech and American defender Sergino Dest will weaken their chances. 

As for FC Midtjylland? Sadly, the plucky Danes rank among the weakest sides in this season’s contest. 

Prediction: 1. Liverpool 2. Atalanta 3. Ajax 4. Midtjylland

Player to Watch: Papu Gomez

Liverpool may have bigger stars, but Atalanta deserve much credit for keeping their squad entirely intact this season, with the exception of departed fullback Timothy Castagne. The Italians have awesome firepower in their ranks — they scored 13 goals in their opening three league games this season — and captain Papu Gomez is more than capable of some dazzling individual skill. 

Group E

Teams: Sevilla, Chelsea, Krasnodar, Rennes

 It’s been a swashbuckling season for Chelsea so far, whose policy of “score now, defend later” remains in place. Frank Lampard has been granted several high-profile signings this summer, and should be in a good position to progress. 

Sevilla, meanwhile, face a problem: If they progress from this group, how will they win the Europa League for the millionth time? 

The Spanish side are true experts in the continent’s secondary continental contest, but stand an excellent chance of topping this group. Julen Lopetegui’s team have been reunited with Ivan Rakitic, and have already caused Barcelona problems on the domestic front this season. They are likely to have more fortitude than Chelsea — certainly from a defensive perspective.

Group E appears to have a clear dichotomy between its top two sides and the other two. Both Krasnodar and Rennes are appearing in the group stage for the first time, and will likely be battling it out for progression to the Europa League. Krasnodar have an awkward away trip to southern Russia to their benefit, but Rennes — who are enjoying a spectacular start to the Ligue 1 season — are likely to nab third place. 

Prediction: 1. Sevilla 2. Chelsea 3. Rennes 4. Krasnodar

Player to Watch: Luuk de Jong

Beyond Chelsea’s American star Christian Pulisic, Sevilla’s Luuk de Jong has certainly shown his credentials on the European stage. The Dutchman scored the winner against Manchester United in last season’s Europa League semifinals, and netted twice in the final against Inter Milan. 

Group F

Teams: Zenit Saint Petersburg, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio, Club Brugge

The headliners here are clearly Borussia Dortmund, who share many traits with Chelsea: excitement going forward, youthfulness and a tendency to capitulate in defense. Lucien Favre’s side will almost certainly progress from a relatively weak group, which may offer star striker Erling Haaland a chance to pad his stats. The group may also offer a showcase for American attacking midfielder Gio Reyna, who impressed in his debut in the competition last season.

Second spot in the group is likely to be a battle between Lazio and Zenit. The former were league title contenders last season until their form fell off a cliff after the restart — and they have been a mixed bag this term. The latter remain dominant in their native Russia, but typically fail to make a significant impact on this stage. 

Club Brugge have finished third in their respective group in the last two seasons, but will be hard-pressed to achieve such heights this time around. 

Prediction: 1. Borussia Dortmund 2. Lazio 3. Zenit Saint Petersburg 4. Club Brugge

Player to Watch: Erling Haaland

The most prolific striker in the competition not named Robert Lewandowski will be a treat to watch for his incredible finishing, outstanding positioning, furious pace and dangerously intense goal celebrations. 

Group G

Teams: Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kiev, Ferencvaros

The headline of the entire group stage is the battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. This will be the first time they have faced each other in the group stage. 

As if that prospect wasn’t mouthwatering enough, the fixtures between Juventus and Barcelona also offer a head-to-head that will intrigue U.S. fans, as Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest lock horns. 

Barca may have a better pedigree in this contest, but this campaign is uncertain for the Catalans. Manager Ronald Koeman was not able to make the summer signings he wanted, Barcelona remains a mess off the field and the 8-2 shellacking at the hands of Bayern Munich a few months ago still lingers. 

Juventus are not yet a known quantity under inexperienced manager Andrea Pirlo, but this group could be the Old Lady’s for the taking. 

Like Group E, there is a divide between the European titans and the humble challengers. Dynamo Kiev have long departed the European spotlight, while Hungarian champions Ferencvaros are likely the weakest side in the contest by some distance. 

Prediction: 1. Juventus 2. Barcelona 3. Dynamo Kiev 4. Ferencvaros

Player to Watch: Lionel Messi

Naturally, Ronaldo will be a key player in this group, but Barca will be relying on their fading talisman more than ever in this campaign. 

Group H

Teams: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, Istanbul Basaksehir

This season’s Group of Death looks particularly threatening to Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — who is already under fire at Old Trafford — must face a finalist and semifinalist from last season’s competition. Yikes. 

PSG were designed by their Qatari owners to compete in the Champions League, and they came agonizingly close to reaching their objective in August. They famously faltered against Solskjaer’s United two seasons ago, but seem like a certainty to progress. 

Leipzig is weakened by the departure of striker Timo Werner, but were able to reach the semifinals this past summer without his assistance. Julian Nagelsmann’s side may lack United’s heritage, but they have better pedigree to go further in this competition.

Istanbul Basaksehir, meanwhile, should not be entirely dismissed. Away trips to Istanbul are never easy and the Turkish champions will be looking for an upset in their group stage debut. 

Prediction: 1. Paris Saint-Germain 2. RB Leipzig 3. Manchester United 4. Istanbul Basaksehir

Player to Watch: Neymar

Kylian Mbappe is PSG’s most potent outlet for goals, but Neymar will be pulling the strings. The Brazilian has slowly phased out the theatrics and may have a handle on his temper — he will be laser-focused to bring PSG the silverware they desire.

More USMNT players at Champions League clubs can only improve World Cup prospects

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How are the players Berhalter will be relying upon for World Cup qualifying performing with their clubs? ESPN’s correspondents from around the world bring you inside information to help explain the successes and stumbles of American players around the world.

Giovanni Reyna — On the rise : Reyna has featured in all five of Dortmund’s competitive fixtures so far this season, registering a pair of goals and three assists. The 17-year-old has bonded with fellow prodigies Erling HaalandJadon SanchoJude Bellingham and Reinier, helping the latter settle into life in Germany following his loan move from Real Madrid. Sources tell ESPN’s Stephan Uersfeld that Dortmund see similarities between Reyna and Marco Reus, specifically noting the teenager’s defensive improvement and aggressiveness on the ball — just like his captain.

DeAndre Yedlin — Trending down : In Newcastle’s first seven matches of the 2020-21 season, Yedlin has made just three matchday squads — two starts in the Carabao Cup, and as an unused sub in the Premier League draw vs. Tottenham. The 27-year-old is now the third-choice right back on Tyneside, with sources telling ESPN that there are doubts about his defensive positioning. The former Seattle Sounders standout had been linked with a move away all summer, but wages proved to be an issue, sources say. If he isn’t named to Newcastle’s Premier League squad next week, he could be motivated to find a new home in January.

Tim Ream — Holding steady : It’s been a rough start to Fulham‘s return to the Premier League, with no points and 11 goals conceded in four matches. Ream has started three of those games, and another in the Carabao Cup, demonstrating his value to manager to Scott Parker. However, the Cottagers brought in two center backs on deadline day, putting the 33-year-old’s place under threat. Sources tell ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Tom Hamilton that there’s “no panic” from Ream’s camp, and that he’s prepared to compete for his place, citing the nearly 20 center backs who’ve moved to Craven Cottage during his time at the club and failed to displace the former Bolton man.

Timothy Weah — Trending down : Weah has featured in just 31 minutes of Lille‘s six Ligue 1 contests this year. Sources tell ESPN’s Julien Laurens that the French side is being cautious with the 20-year-old after a pair of hamstring injuries cost him nearly all of the 2019-20 season, his first after leaving Paris Saint-Germain. But that’s not the reason for his lack of action this term, with manager Christophe Galtier wanting Weah to play as a center forward, where Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan David are the preferred pairing atop Lille’s 4-4-2. Weah is said to be frustrated by his lack of action as the third-choice striker, but remains in good spirits and awaits his chance with Yilmaz and David netting just two league goals between them.

A few minutes with …

For most of the summer, Weston McKennie had been linked with a move to the Premier League, so it came as some shock when he joined Italian giants Juventus on loan in August. Since, the 22-year-old has started all three matches in the Bianconeri‘s young campaign, including the first two games of their Serie A title defense.The FC Dallas academy product sat down with our Matteo Bonetti to talk about his decision to move to Turin, how he’s settling into life in Italy and what it’s been like to join a dressing room full of stars he has grown familiar with through years of playing FIFA.

Scouting report

Another tremendously gifted teenager from the impressive pack of American talents in European football, California-born Ulysses Llanez has Mexican parents and was close to representing Mexico at youth levels before settling for the U.S. youth national teams. After impressing at various youth levels, he made his USMNT debut in a friendly against Costa Rica in February, playing the full 90 minutes.

A skillful, unpredictable winger with a frightening turn of pace, the 19-year-old has evidently been inspired by the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar, as demonstrated by his trickery, quick feet and ability to deceive an opponent. But he’s not merely dribbling for the pure fun of it; he’s very positive in his play, tending to look for the direct route to goal when taking on opponents — although, like most teenagers, he can be found running into blind alleys. Llanez also possesses a fearful strike on the ball with his preferred right foot (although he’s practically two-footed) and he’s always looking to pick the early pass in behind when drifting into playmaking positions in the middle of the field.

The loan move to Heerenveen should offer the American a gentle yet educational environment in which to undertake his baby steps in European senior football (Real Madrid prodigy Martin Ødegaard spent a rewarding 18 months at the same club beginning in 2017). In the Eredivisie, where he made his debut as a second-half substitute earlier this month, he will be looking to develop the defensive side of his game and get on the ball more frequently. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen

10/6/20 – International weekend – Euro’s, Indy 11 miss playoffs with 2-1 loss

TV GAMES

Wed, Oct 6

2:45 pm ESPN2                   Netherlands vs Mexico

2:45 pm ESPN+                   Portugal vs Spain – friendly

Thur, Oct 7                           

2:45 pm ESPN2                   Norway vs Serbia Euro Qualifying

2:45 pm ESPN3                    Scotland vs Israel  Euro Qualifying

Sat,  Oct 10                          Europes Nations League

2:45 pm ESPN+                   Spain vs Switzerland

2:45 pm ESPN+                   Ukraine vs Germany

Sun,  Oct 11  

9 am  ESPN+                        Ireland vs Wales  

12 noon  ESPN+                  England vs Belgium

12 noon  ESPN+                   Croatia vs Sweden

2:45 pm ESPN                     France vs Portugal

2: 45 pm ESPN +                  Poland vs Italy

2: 45 pm ESPN +                  Iceland vs Denmark

Tues, Oct 13 

2:45 pm ESPN2                   Germany vs Switzerland

2:45 pm ESPN+                    Ukriane vs Spain

Weds, Oct 14 

2:45 pm ESPN2                   Italy vs Netherlands

2:45 pm ESPN+                    England vs Denmark

2:45 pm ESPN+                    Croatia vs France

10/2/20 – Indy 11 must win Sat @ St. Louis 7 pm, Pulisic back for Chelsea 7:30 am game, US-Dest to Barcelona, High School Sectionals, Former CFC GK Erin Baker Athlete of Wk on TV8

Indy 11 Must Win Sat night to Advance

Frustrating night for our Indy 11 once again as they gave up a goal in the last minutes to lose 2-1 to Sporting KC II at home Wed.  Indy 11 (7W-6L-2D, 23 pts.) dominated play but allowed the late goal as Sporting literally had a fair # of U18s on the field.  Amazing how our 11 have struggled down the stretch.  Its sets up a winner moves on match at St. Louis (6W-5L-4D, 22 pts.) this Saturday night at 7:30 pm on MyindyTV and ESPN+.  A win or tie actually allows the eleven in the playoffs backdoor as the 2nd seed in Group E where they can look to recover that early season magic.

Bayern Munich Wins 5th Trophy in 2020

Followed up their 2-1 win over Sevilla in the EUFA Supercup with a 3-2 win over Dortmund in the German cup this week and 19 year-old American defender Chris Richards got time again at right back where he as moved up 2nd string!  Saturday at 9:30 am on ESPN+ 2 American’s play as and Gio Reyna of Dortmund will face Frieburg and Stuart and Werder Bremen host Arminia. Tyler Adams of RB Leipzig host Schalke at 12:30 on ESPN+ Sat.   

Games to Watch

Chelsea with a returning Christian Pulisic kick things off on Peacock at 7:30 am Sat followed Everton and Brighton on NBCSN.  Atletico + Villarreal are at 10 am on beIN Sport, while Leeds United hosts Man City and (GK Stephen) at 12:30 on NBC.  MLS gets a prime 4 pm FOX slot for the rejuvenated Orlando City v NY Red Bulls 2 teams battling for supremacy in the East with Columbus.  Sunday gives us Man United vs Spurs at 11:30 am on NBCSN after Fulham and Tim Ream travel to Wolverhampton at 9 on NBCSN.  Italy’s Serie A serves up another star-studded clash this weekend, and another big test for Juventus’ American midfielder Weston McKennie as they host Napoli at 2:45 pm on Sunday on ESPN+.  Napoli has a loaded attack led by forwards Dries Mertens, Fernando Llorente, and 21-year-old Nigerian Victor Osimhen.   While at 3 pm the newly minted US Defender Sergio Dest might make his debute vs Sevilla on beIN Sport.  US Players games wrap up here.

Good Luck at Sectionals Next Week

Good luck to both the Men’s and Women’s Carmel High Soccer teams heading into sectionals next week.  The #10 Ranked CHS boys who are hosting the Sectionals at home – start Wed vs Westfield and must get by 7th ranked Zionsville or #2 ranked North Central, along with 16 Pike in the sectional. The #2 ranked ladies return to action Tuesday vs Westfield and most get by #10 Zionsville, #3 Guerin and #14 North Central along the way.  Games are at Guerin Catholic Mon – Sat off Grey Road.  In case you missed it look who made athlete of the week on Wish TV 8 this week – former Carmel FC and current Carmel High GK Erin Baker – see video here.   

American players learn Champions League draw

One group awaits us all  By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Oct 1, 2020, 2:28pm

UEFA conducted the draw for the group stage of the 2020-21 Champions League. Matches begin October 20th with a double round robin, and the road to the Champions League final begins for 32 teams.

Eight United States Men’s National Team players will have their chance to play in the Champions League with their teams: Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), and Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge). Also, an American coach, Red Bull Salzburg’s Jesse Marsch, will hope to lead his team to Champions League glory.

The groups for the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League: 8 Teams in Red have American players or coaches.

Group A – Bayern MunichAtlético Madrid, Red Bull Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group B – Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter MilanBorussia Mönchengladbach

Group C – FC PortoManchester City, Olympiacos, Olympique de Marseille

Group D – Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, FC Midjtylland

Group E – Sevilla, Chelsea, FC Krasnodar, Rennes

Group F – Zenit St. Petersburg, Borussia DortmundLazio, Club Brugge

Group G – Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencváros

Group H – Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, İstanbul Başakşehir

The biggest group for American fans is Group G, which will have a big-time pair of matchups between Juventus and Barcelona, where Weston McKennie will face off against USMNT teammate Sergiño Dest. It’s also the first match between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juve in 2018. They are two matches that are perfect to be shown on CBS. Let’s see if the network boosts those matchups to network television for the country to see.Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig may have the toughest group in the field, as they share Group H with PSG, Manchester United, and İstanbul Başakşehir, who won the Turkish SuperLïg this past season. It will be a remarkable test for Adams and Leipzig to get out of that group and advance to the knockout stage.The team that looks to have the easiest road to the Round of 16 is Borussia Dortmund, who face Zenit, Lazio, and Club Brugge. Gio Reyna should be a major factor for the Black & Yellow during the group stage. For American fans of Manchester City, they hope that they can outlast Porto, Olympiacos, and Marseille so that backup goalkeeper Zack Steffen will get to see some matches. Finally, Group A could be a tough test for Jesse Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg. To squeak past Atleti or Bayern to get to the knockout stage will be difficult to do, but Salzburg will not quit. Chris Richards, who’s just starting to work his way onto the field for Bayern’s first team, could see some action in Champions League. We can all hope Bayern gives Richards that much-needed experience in a few matches in the group stage.Which matchups interest you? Which Americans do you think can make it out of the group to the knockout stage?

GAMES ON TV 

Sat, Oct 3  

7:30 am Peacock                                Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Crystal Palace 

9:30 am ESPN+                                   Werder Bremen (Stuart) vs Arminia

9:30 am ESPN+                                Borrusia Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Freiburg

10 am beIN Sport                               Atletico Madrid vs Villareal

10 am NBCSN                                     Everton vs Brighton 

12:30 pm ESPN+                                 RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Schalke

12:30 pm NBC                                Leeds United vs Man City

3  pm bein Sport                                 Valencia vs Real Betis 

3 pm Peacock                                      New Castle vs Burnley

4  pm FOX                           Orlando City vs NY Red Bulls 

7:30 pm My Indy TV 23, ESPN+   Indy 11 @ St. Louis

8 pm ESPN+                                        Cincy vs Minn United       

8 pm ESPN+                                        Dallas (Hedges) vs Columbus Crew (Zardes)

Sun, Oct 4

9am Peacock                                       Arsenal vs Sheffiled United

9 am NBCSN                                       Wolverhampton vs Fulham (Ream)

9 am ESPN+                                        Lazio vs Inter Milan

10 am beiN  port                                Levante vs Real Madrid 

11:30 am NBCSN                           Man United vs Spurs

12  ESPN+                                           Bayern Munich vs Hertha Berlin

2 pm Peacock                                      West Ham vs Wolverhampton          

2:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus (McKinney) vs Napoli

3 pm beIN Sport                           Barcelona (Dest, Konrad) vs Sevilla

2:15  pm NBCSN                                 Aston Villa vs Liverpool

9:30 pm ESPN+                                   Real Salt Lake vs LAFC 

USA

Games on TV with US Players
Christian Pulisic is healthy again, expected to make season debut for Chelsea on Saturday
Is the USMNT in danger of developing into a world-class outfit?
Englands Guardian
US Coach Marsch’s Salzburg among six to complete Champions League field

Dest becomes first US player signed by Barcelona’s top squad
Champions League groups drawn for Premier League sides, USMNT stars
For Reyna and Co., Germany is the place to be om Hamilton, Stephan Uersfeld
Move Details of McKinney move to Juve – SI
San Diego soccer team walks off pitch after opponent allegedly calls gay player an anti-gay slur

San Diego Loyal forfeits match after opposing player allegedly directed homophobic slur at Collin Martin

Inside story on a soccer team’s bold protest

San Diego Loyal midfielder Collin Martin, who was at the center of his team’s statement against homophobia, explains how it all went down.‘I wasn’t going to let it go’ »

 EPL
Premier League Pick ‘Em: Matchweek 4

Relentless Liverpool raise bar for title rivals

Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester United Preview

Man City, Man Utd ease into League Cup quarter-finals

Chelsea – Crystal Palace: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Crystal Palace-Chelsea Preview

Why you should watch Tottenham vs. Manchester United this Sunday

Arsenal reach League Cup quarter-finals after Liverpool shoot-out

 WORLD


Bayern beats Dortmund 3-2 to lift German Super Cup

Bayern win German Super Cup to lift fifth title in 2020

Lewandowski named UEFA men’s player of year

Messi and Barcelona: The inside story on how everything fell apart, and what’s next
Pogba returns to France squad for Nations League matches

Christian Pulisic is healthy again, expected to make season debut for Chelsea on Saturday

Doug McIntyre,Yahoo Sports•October 2, 2020


Doug McIntyre,Yahoo Sports•October 2, 2020

Christian Pulisic is finally healthy again after spending two months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.Chelsea manager Frank Lampard announced Friday that Pulisic would be included in the Blues squad for the first time this season on Saturday, when the London club hosts Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.Pulisic was injured Aug. 1 after scoring Chelsea’s only goal in a 2-1 FA Cup final loss to Premier League rival Arsenal. The 22-year-old American attacker appeared in 32 games across all competitive league for Lampard last term, his first in England following four years with German titan Borussia Dortmund.He scored 11 goals and added 10 assists in 2019-20, and was Chelsea’s best player after the Prem resumed in June following a three-month shutdown in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.- ADVERTISEMENT -During his pre-match press conference Friday, Lampard said that while Pulisic would dress for the game against Palace, he would not start “as his recovery from injury continues to be managed.” With Pulisic in need of match-fitness, though, a cameo off the substitutes bench is a near-certainty.But with the ninth-place Blues off to a 1-1-1 start in the Premier League, his team needs Pulisic back in the lineup as soon as possible. After Saturday’s tilt, the Blues next two league games are at home to Southampton and then away to Manchester United, where they lost 4-0 last season in Pulisic’s Prem debut.n Thursday, Chelsea was drawn into a UEFA Champions League group with Sevilla, Krasnodar and Rennes. The club kicks off Europe’s top club competition later this month.Friday’s news is also a positive development for the United States men’s national team. Pulisic has not played for the USMNT in a year, but would be expected to participate in planned friendly matches in Europe next month if healthy. The U.S. is hoping to finalize a pair of exhibitions in the U.K., with Wales and New Zealand the rumored opponents.The U.S. was scheduled to visit Wales in March, but that match was cancelled amid the health crisis.



USMNT and the Bundesliga: Why so many top young Americans choose Germany on career path

Sep 29, 2020Tom HamiltonStephan Uersfeld ESPNFC




Former USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann looks ahead to the USMNT stars involved in this season’s Bundesliga.Already at Schalke were fellow Americans Nick Taitague (promoted to the first team over the summer) and McKennie. “I think he [Weston] was an influence,” Hoppe told ESPN. “He was a big star here at Schalke, and he was willing to show that Schalke were willing to play young players and young Americans. I spoke to him a few times and he gave me some encouragement and advice. It was a good conversation.” The Future As one Bundesliga academy head told ESPN, “there is huge potential for extraordinary footballers [in Germany]. There is a huge growing rate, a huge pool of players who are all well-trained.” The U.S. 2019 Under-20 World Cup team had six players contracted to German clubs, while the last Under-17 team had Pablo Soares from Borussia Monchengladbach and Noah Jones from RB Leipzig.With the top Bundesliga clubs aware of promising American talent as young as 12 years old, the pathway is established. And with the Bundesliga’s brand as a place that trusts in youth (Borussia Dortmund’s opener against Gladbach was created by Reyna and Bellingham, who are both 17), it’s seen as a place where age is irrelevant if you’re good enough.”There’s not much politics involved,” Klinsmann told ESPN. “The coaches are usually very straightforward. If the kid understands that it’s all down to performance and they’ll get the chance, the Bundesliga’s the place to be.”Said Hoppe: “All the young players have an extreme talent and the Bundesliga’s able to offer these players an opportunity to use their talent, to tweak it, improve all the things they need to work on. It’s so wholesome [in Germany] — they need to work on their strength, their technique, their tactical ability, their mental strength — the league helps make them more a complete player.”The migration shows no signs of slowing. This summer gone, Arminia Bielefeld signed 16-year-old goalkeeper Carver Miller from DC United, while Joel Imasuen arrived at Hertha Berlin. Then Bayern and Barcelona were involved in a scramble for Dest. While some move on — like Sebastian Soto, who joined Norwich City before going out on loan to SC Telstar in the Netherlands, or Blaine Ferri, who swapped Greuther Furth for Fort Lauderdale CF in the USL — the machine keeps going.”I think there are a lot of talented players in the USA,” Hoppe says. “They just need to take the jump to Europe, they need to keep developing their game and take the risk.”

Messi and Barcelona: The inside story on how everything fell apart, and what’s next Sep 24, 202 0Multiple Contributors ESPNFC
A year ago, Lionel Messi set out his terms for staying at Barcelona. “I want to be at Barcelona for as long as possible. This is my home,” he told the Catalan newspaper Sport. “But I don’t want to have a long-term contract and to only be here because of it. I need to see that there’s a winning team because I want to keep winning things at this club. “For me, money or a clause don’t mean anything. I don’t have any intention of going anywhere but I want to keep competing and winning.”Twelve months later, Messi was refusing to train, insisting that his 20-year relationship with Barca was over, and trying to force a move to Manchester City.  That Messi, one-club man, captain and icon, would seek to leave Barcelona like this — notifying them in a now-infamous burofax that, as far as he was concerned, he had already gone — should have been unthinkable. And yet this was no spur-of-the-moment decision. We should have seen it coming.Messi had not been happy at Barcelona — with the president, the board or management — for a long time. He admitted as much in the interview that brought a temporary end to the crisis this summer: “I’ve been telling [president Josep Maria Bartomeu] that I wanted to leave all year.” Known for being a reluctant public figure, Messi speaks only when he has something to say — and at 33, he has been more vocal than ever. He was desperate to be heard. Those in charge at Barcelona didn’t listen.This is the story — told with the help of numerous first-hand accounts from sources close to both player and club — of how Messi’s nagging doubts about Barcelona eventually became impossible to ignore, and what happened next.Editors’ note: This story contains reporting from Moises Llorens, Sam Marsden, Alex Kirkland, Rodrigo Faez and Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal.

ABOVE ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS both personal and professional, Messi’s discontent stems from his desire to win. And for Messi, winning means the Champions League. Barcelona haven’t done that since 2015. They haven’t even come close. Embarrassed by Liverpool and Roma in recent years, the 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich at the quarterfinal stage of the competition last season, in August, was the tipping point. Messi is intensely aware of the impact Barca’s European failings will have on his legacy. Four Champions League titles are more than enough for mortals. But not for Messi. Several sources pinpoint one moment that best reveals Messi’s disenchantment. It came at Camp Nou in May 2019. Barca were 3-0 up in the first leg of their semifinal against Liverpool. In the 96th minute, Messi — who had scored twice — drew three defenders before squaring the ball for an unmarked Ousmane Dembele. Dembele miskicked, Alisson made the easy save and Messi fell theatrically to the floor, face down in the turf. He knew that Barcelona needed another goal — the season before, Roma erased a first-leg, 4-1 deficit to advance on away goals to the semifinals — because his teammates couldn’t be trusted to defend a 3-0 lead away from home. Six days later, he was proved right.”The last chance for Dembele was clear-cut,” Messi told reporters after the first leg. “Four goals would have been better than three.”How do you prevent those mistakes from happening again and again? One approach might involve a clear-eyed vision of the kind of team you want to construct. But Barcelona’s planning has been incoherent at best. Losing Neymar, with whom Messi loved to play, to Paris Saint-Germain was perhaps forgivable. Wasting almost €300 million on Dembele and Philippe Coutinho — both yet to come good, three years on — less so. The club failed to bring Neymar back last summer, signing Antoine Griezmann instead for a similar sum. Griezmann is a player who has failed to adapt for various reasons, including the fact his preferred position is taken by MessiA series of sporting directors — Andoni Zubizarreta, Robert Fernandez, Pep Segura, Eric Abidal and Ramon Planes — have come and gone over the past five years, all of them unable to implement an effective long-term strategy because they were never afforded the time to do so. They have all been made scapegoats by Bartomeu, sacrificed as symbols of the club’s shortcomings. Among them, they brought in a mishmash of players recruited with different ideas in mind. New signings arrived, flopped and left. Legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta departed. Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets got older.Messi waited, despairingly, for things to get better. E

VEN AS BARCELONA FAILED IN EUROPE, they at least continued to win La Liga. Manager Ernesto Valverde, despite his unpopularity among some Barca fans, won the league ahead of Real Madrid in 2018 and 2019. Messi liked Valverde. Sources told ESPN that the easygoing, diplomatic Valverde maintained relative harmony in a dressing room divided between two cliques: one, led by Messi, Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal, who were essentially happy under the coach’s laid-back regime; and another, including Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong, who would have preferred a more disciplined approach. That balance endured until January this year when Valverde was sacked — with Barca top of the league — after defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa in Saudi Arabia. He was replaced by Quique Setien, a man with no experience managing a group of players at this level. The fallout from Valverde’s firing was damaging, too. Sporting director Abidal said in an interview with Sport in February that “a lot of players weren’t happy [with Valverde] and weren’t working a lot.”Messi, in a rare moment of rage, snapped. “I honestly don’t like to do these things, but I think everyone should take responsibility for their decisions,” he wrote on Instagram. “The sporting department should take responsibility. When you talk about players, you should give names. If not, you’re tarnishing all of us and feeding things which people say and aren’t true.”Abidal touched a nerve. Messi is incredibly sensitive to the idea that he runs things at Barcelona, responsible for hiring and firing coaches and identifying transfer targets. It’s understandable, even if it’s hard to dispute the grain of truth at its heart: that Barca should do everything possible to keep their best-ever player happy.Barca had been failing to do that on the pitch; they were failing off it, too. In February, it was alleged that a company the club had hired to protect its image was behind social media accounts posting disparaging comments about current and former players. Messi and his family were mentioned. It was another blow to his already fragile relationship with Bartomeu, even if Barca continue to deny any wrongdoing in the scandal that’s come to be known as “Barcagate.”

SETIEN HAD A BRIEF AND TROUBLED SPELL IN CHARGE. From the beginning, Messi was not impressed with him despite hyped-up claims of a return to the more attacking, possession-based style of play made famous at the club by Johan Cruyff and, later, Pep Guardiola.An uneasy, six-month truce lasted until June, when La Liga returned after its pandemic-enforced break. When Barca dropped their first points in a frustrating goalless draw with Sevilla, sources told ESPN that there was a tense dressing room showdown between captain and coach as stunned teammates looked on.The top-of-the-table lead that Setien had inherited from Valverde quickly disappeared. Real Madrid won 10 games in a row, while Barca dropped points in four of theirs. Their title challenge ended with a 2-1 home defeat to Osasuna on July 16. Speaking immediately afterward, Messi didn’t hold back.Things had “all gone wrong” since January, he said, in a blatant criticism of his new coach. “We’ve been a very erratic, weak, low-intensity team. Today’s game is a summary of the season. We have to be self-critical, starting with the players but across the whole club.”

BARCELONA HAD WON NOTHING IN 2019-20, their first trophyless campaign in 12 years. Setien was dismissed. His replacement was club legend Ronald Koeman, but it was too late. Messi’s mind was made up. A first meeting between Messi and Koeman — one that saw Messi interrupt his holiday with Suarez and Jordi Alba in the Pyrenees to return to Barcelona on Aug. 20 — did not go well. Messi expressed his doubts and remained determined to leave the club.Around the same time, he called Guardiola.”Messi and Pep spoke for hours,” a source told ESPN. The pair are close and have much in common. Messi, Guardiola and Manchester City all share an obsession with the Champions League. City have never won it; Guardiola and Messi are thought not to have won it often enough.Messi knew that his options for leaving Barcelona were limited. Unlike Barca, he viewed City as having a clear strategy and an upward trajectory. The player told his former coach that he wanted to move. Guardiola said he would talk to decision-makers at City. It wouldn’t be straightforward, he warned.Messi’s flirtation with City was nothing new. In fact, City’s rebuild under their new owners over the past decade has been carried out with the aim of attracting first Guardiola and, later, Messi. There were discussions in 2014, and again in 2016. Yet City’s hopes of signing Messi this summer were dependent on them playing in the Champions League. Once their two-year ban from European competitions was lifted on July 13, they knew they would be the front-runners to sign him if he left Barca.There was never any direct contact between the clubs, nor did Messi’s camp transmit directly to Barca a desire to move to City, but sources at the Catalan club say were informed of City’s interest in signing Messi by a third party. It gave City a lot to think about. Could they afford Messi’s salary? How much would they have to pay Barca? What about financial fair play? His €700m buyout clause was impossible, even for City. There was a more tantalising prospect, though: Messi might be available for nothing.The mechanism by which they thought they could pull off a deal had existed for years. Messi’s long-term doubts led his advisers to insert a release clause in his Barca contract when it was renewed in 2017. At the end of the 2019-20 season, within a defined period, he could unilaterally rescind his contract and walk away.And so, Barcelona’s board nervously waited. In the end, the date — initially widely reported as May 31, later corrected to June 10 — fell when La Liga was about to resume. Nonetheless, when it had passed, the club were quick to brief the media. As far as they were concerned, Messi would be staying until 2021. Messi has since said he didn’t inform the club before then because they were still involved in La Liga and the Champions League; one source, though, says the fact City were banned from European football before winning an appeal also complicated his route out of Camp Nou.The original date in Messi’s contract had been drawn up to coincide with the end of the season. But with the campaign extended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Messi’s camp felt they had some wiggle room when it came to the interpretation of the clause.Sources told ESPN that the feedback Messi received from legal experts was mixed. Only one law firm out of at least four consulted, Cuatrecasas, believed the argument had a realistic chance of success. That was enough and Messi decided to go ahead. If he stood his ground, perhaps Barca would blink first.
AUG. 24 BEGAN WITH A PHONE CALL from Koeman to Suarez. In a conversation that lasted around a minute, the coach told Messi’s best friend in the squad that he was not in Barca’s plans and should look for a new club. Vidal received similar treatment. Messi’s allies were being pushed out and, in his view, disrespected. Later that day, Messi took action. On advice from Cuatrecasas, the player opted to use a burofax — a registered letter, used when legal proof of receipt is required — to inform Barcelona that he wished to leave for free, exercising his release clause. Signed by Messi, it was sent just after 7 p.m. By mid-morning on Aug. 25, the letter had arrived at Camp Nou. – Lowe: Messi, bad blood and a ‘burofax’ The first to read it, aghast, were Bartomeu and the head of Barca’s legal department, Roma Gomez Ponti. “They could not believe their eyes,” a source told ESPN. For them, there was no debate: The clause had already expired. “Put aside everything else you’ve been working on and focus on this,” Bartomeu told the club’s lawyers. Barcelona contacted two firms specialising in sports law — Costa Torrecillas & Associates and Bufete Antras — for advice. (The former had won the club a favourable judgment months earlier in their dispute with Neymar over a renewal bonus.) Both firms agreed Barca were in the right and should not give in to Messi’s demands. Despite that, sources told ESPN at the time there were board members who supported letting Messi go. Not for free, mind you, but if it meant bringing in a large fee and removing his €90m salary from the wage bill, the club might be able to dig itself out of a €300m financial hole during the COVID-19 crisis.”Messi has so much power at the club, both on a financial and sporting level,” one source said. Another, close to the dressing room, went further. “It’s the moment to sell him, it’s a historic opportunity to be able to change things. There are players who will perform a lot better without him in the team.”Those voices believed a managed departure could be beneficial, but the president would not entertain the prospect. It was €700m from a buying club, or he stays. “Bartomeu doesn’t want to be the president who agrees to the sale of Messi,” a source told ESPN, even as another source said, “it’s the best thing he could have done.”Bartomeu might have ruined his relationship with Messi — the player called him a liar, claiming Bartomeu had assured him he would let him go — but he got his wish. In the end, he won’t be the president who oversees Messi’s departure; after all, the club’s presidential elections will happen on March 20 or 21 next year, before Messi’s contract expires.
AT MANCHESTER CITY, there had been a growing acceptance that signing Messi for free was impossible, so they turned their attention to a negotiated settlement. After several days of crunching numbers, a source told ESPN that “if Barcelona let him leave for €100 or 150m, Messi will be a City player.” City were also willing to include players of interest to Barca, such as young defender and La Masia product Eric Garcia, in a deal, although ESPN was told that others, including Gabriel JesusBernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez, would not be included.All of that depended on Barca being willing to budge. Messi waited and maintained his silence, even skipping coronavirus testing ahead of a return for preseason training with new coach Koeman. Board members who’d been critical of Messi felt he should be fined for that; Bartomeu believed doing so would escalate the crisis. As Barca drafted burofaxes of their own to correspond with their absent captain, sources told ESPN that some versions specified that there would be no punishment, while others left the option open. On the morning of Sept. 2, Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, flew from Rosario, Argentina, to Barcelona for a meeting with Bartomeu that evening, but no progress was made. Bartomeu had one important thing as leverage: Messi could not stomach a legal battle. He was determined to leave, but not if the process descended into lengthy litigation. City were reluctant to take that road, too.Everything changed on Sept. 4. In an interview with Goal’s Ruben Uria, Messi announced his decision to stay. “The president told me the only way to leave was to pay the €700m clause, which is impossible, and that the alternative was going to court,” Messi said. “I would never take Barca to court because it’s the club I love.” It could have ended differently. Some at Barcelona feel that Messi’s approach — both in law and in public relations — was flawed from the start. “He didn’t choose the best communications strategy,” one source told ESPN. “If he had timed it better, he could have finished off Bartomeu and he’d be at Manchester City by now.” In this reading, Messi’s fundamental mistake was a failure to articulate his decision to leave sooner, and to speak directly to the fans — perhaps, as many other players might have done, on their social media accounts — before the burofax was sent.Others question whether the prospect of another year of an unhappy Messi is best for Barca. The No. 10 has channelled his anger on the pitch before with positive results for the team; he might do so again. But ESPN has been told that some players thought a fresh start, with a new coach and without Messi, might have been the best for everyone. SO MESSI STAYS FOR NOW, but so do his doubts, expressed so clearly and concisely when he finally spoke out. “The truth is that for a while there hasn’t been a project or anything,” he said. “They’ve been juggling things and plugging holes.”But the story doesn’t end there. Bartomeu will be gone soon and a new president is to be elected in March. He might not even make it until then if a vote of no confidence, launched on the back of Messi’s burofax, goes against him in the coming weeks. There could be as many as 10 people in the running to replace Bartomeu, too — Victor Font is one of the early favourites to inherit the role and he has said that, in addition to bringing former Barca midfield maestro Xavi Hernandez back as coach, he wants to make sure Messi stays. Not one of the candidates has said they want to build a Barca without Messi, despite the fact he will be 34 next summer.Messi has leverage. With his deal officially expiring in June, he is able to negotiate with other clubs starting in January. No legal battle, no drama, at least of the sort we’ve witnessed this past summer.Will the new president be able to convince him to renew his deal? Messi has said the club must sign young players to freshen up an aging squad. That is slowly happening, but it’s coming at the expense of his closest friends at the club: Vidal has joined Inter Milan and Suarez is headed to Atletico Madrid.So much depends on the next eight months, on how Koeman does and on who wins the elections. Beyond all that, though, it depends on one thing: on Barcelona having a winning team.



PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN LOOKS TO CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH IN REGULAR SEASON FINALE AT SAINT LOUIS FC By Indy Eleven Communications, 10/01/20, 7:30PM EDT Click Here to View the Official Indy Eleven #STLvIND Game Notes – October 3, 2020 #STLvIND Gameday Preview  Indy Eleven at Saint Louis FC    Saturday, October 3, 2020 – 7:30 P.M. ET   West Community Stadium | Fenton, Mo.  FOLLOW LIVE Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23  Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)  Radio (Spanish): Exitos 94.3 FM/exitos943.com In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers    Live stats: USLChampionship.com #STLvIND Match Center   2020 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS  Indy Eleven: 7W-6L-2D, 23 pts. (+3 GD), 2nd in Group E  Saint Louis FC: 6W-5L-4D, 22 pts. (0 GD), 3rd in Group E  A postseason berth is on the line as Indy Eleven travels west to Saint Louis FC in its 2020 USL Championship Regular Season finale this Saturday. With Indy currently in second place in Group E (23 pts.) and STL sitting right behind in the standings (22 pts.), a draw or victory will be needed for Indiana’s Team to clinch the group’s second seed and the team’s third playoff berth in as many season. The Missouri side is currently riding a two-game winless streak, a statistic that will have to change if it wants to continue playing after October 3. Sitting in third place, just one point behind Indy Eleven, Saint Louis needs all three points out of Saturday’s affair to advance to the playoffs. Any other result will see Saint Louis permanently end its USL Championship run after six season as the organization announced on August 25 it would cease operations at the conclusion of the 2020 season.  SERIES HISTORY The series history between the I-70 sharers has seen both sides evenly split regular season points since its 2019 berth at 2W-2L-1D, with both clubs registering wins when they have homefield advantage. Indy Eleven started its 2020 ledger against Saint Louis FC – and its post-quarantine restart of the 2020 regular season – on July 11 at Lucas Oil Stadium by posting a 2-0 win on the strength of second half goals by Tyler Pasher and Neveal Hackshaw. STLFC got its revenge at West Community Stadium on July 26, with Tyler Blackwood’s tally midway through the first half being good enough for a 1-0 win, despite Indy Eleven outshooting the home side 20-2 on the day. In the last outing at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 23, STLFC’s Russell Cicerone secured the lead in a chippy affair that saw the visitors end the night with nine players on the pitch, but a second-half equalizer off Hackshaw’s head brought both teams level into the final whistle. Both teams close out the season against each other in this Saturday’s regular season finale in the Gateway to the West that will see one team lock in its place in the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs.   INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: DF KARL OUIMETTE Now in his third season with Indy Eleven, Ouimette has firmly established himself into Head Coach Martin Rennie’s backline. The Repentigny, Quebec native has started all 14 games he’s appeared in this season, tied with ‘keeper Evan Newton and Hackshaw for second most minutes played this season at 1,260, trailing behind only last year’s “Ironman,” Tyler Gibson (1,295). So far this year, the Canadian has been a thorn on every opposing attack’s side, placing top three in all major defensive categories for Indy Eleven – clearances (2nd, 35), blocks (2nd, 9) and interceptions (3rd, 17). Moreover, Ouimette leads the team in duels won (93), aerial duels (87), aerial duels won (58) and tied with midfielder Drew Conner for more tackles won (17). In his last game against Saint Louis, Ouimette won 10 of the 12 duels he was involved in, in addition to winning five of his six aerial duels. The 28-year-old has a knack for blocking opposing traffic, capitalizing on opportunities to regain possession that often kickstart counterattacking runs into the opponent’s half. Look for the eight-year veteran to handle business in the defending third Saturday evening as he and the rest of Indiana’s Team fight for a postseason run.
 

SAINT LOUIS FC PLAYER TO WATCH: MF RUSSELL CICERONE Cicerone has debatably been the most dependable player for Saint Louis FC Head Coach Steve Trittschuh’s attack this season, playing in all 15 contests played this season –  starting in 14 of them – and clocking in the second most minutes played among his teammates at 1,256. Cicerone has been the bane of Saint Louis’ opponents all season. Mostly lurking around the upper right corner of opponent’s 18-yard boxes, Cicerone spends his game antagonizing defenders with an offensive onslaught. The second-year midfielder currently leads his team in shots (34) and shots on target (18), and is tied with forward Tyler Blackwood atop the scoring table with five goals. Although he hasn’t been able to assist on any goals, Cicerone leads his side in chances created (24), adding another layer of frustration for opposing defenders to carefully monitor. Last time he played against Indy Eleven, Cicerone’s 50th minute goal was enough for STLFC to come out of Lucas Oil Stadium with a point in a 1-1 draw on September 23. With Saint Louis now in a “winner takes all” scenario heading into the final weekend of the regular season, Indy defenders will need to keep level heads to minimize Ciceroni’s attacking opportunities.      RECAP | INDY ELEVEN FALLS TO SPORTING KANSAS CITY II IN REGULAR SEASON HOME FINALE By Indy Eleven Communications, 09/30/20, 11:00PM EDT Share   size=1 width=”100%” align=center> Last-Minute SKC Goal Breaks 1-1 Draw, Setting Up Showdown Between Indy Eleven and Saint Louis FC for Playoff Berth https://www.youtube.com/embed/in3r-sw8cu8 #INDvSKC Post-Game Quotes – September 30 #INDvSKC Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center Despite battling back from a one goal deficit in the first half, Indy Eleven ultimately fell 1-2 against Sporting Kansas City II in the club’s 2020 regular season home finale. Andrew Carleton’s first goal of the season closed the gap in favor of Indiana’s Team at the start of the second half, but a 95th minute goal from Sporting KC II’s Bailey Sparks in dying minutes of the game secured the three points for the visitors. Even with the result, Indy Eleven’s postseason aspirations are still alive as the club remains in second place of Group E (23 pts.) with Saint Louis FC nipping at its heels (22 pts.). Both teams will meet one more time this Saturday to wrap up the final weekend of USL Championship regular season play in a must-watch affair that will decide which team will clinch a second-seed playoff berth in Group E – Indy needing a win or a draw in order to advance into the 2020 postseason. “We are playing games where a little bounce of the ball here or there could make a big difference for us to actually go out and win these games very comfortably,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “At the moment, the ball hasn’t bounced our way for quite a few weeks, and we find ourselves in a position where we need a result in the last game of the season. That’s okay – we need to make sure that we get our heads up and get focused on how we do that. We are very capable of doing that and we have to make sure we get it done.” Indy Eleven came out the gates firing, creating four opportunities – three of which from the feet of Tyler Pasher –  in the opening 12 minutes of the night. The best of those four chances came in the eighth minute, Carl Haworth serving a low cross past two SKC defenders to Pasher near the top of the 18-yard box, who only had goalkeeper Remi Prieur in between him and his 10th goal of the season. His one-touch left-footed attempt proved unsuccessful however, as Prieur managed to push the strike wide off his fingertips. Having already been eliminated from playoff contention, Sporting Kansas City II entered Lucas Oil Stadium looking to prolong Indy’s chances to clinch the postseason early Wednesday evening. After taking a hard foul from Cam Lindley late in the first half, which earned the Carmel, Ind. native his first yellow card of the season, SKC’s Fredlin Mompremier found himself in the middle of Indy’s box in a one-on-one situation in 41st minute. A long through pass from the midfield found Mompremier along the left flank, who quickly danced right towards goal inside of the box. Mompremier’s chipped cross found the head Wilson Harris, who nodded the ball in the upper corner to give the visitors a one-goal advantage before the halftime whistle. Coming into the second half, Pasher went from looking to score to creating opportunities for his teammates. The Canadian found his way into the visitor’s box and found Carleton, who was a halftime substitution, at the top of the box. Taking one touch to settle, the 20-year-old sent a left-footed strike skidding just out of Prieur’s reach and into the bottom-right corner for his first goal of the season. Indy Eleven kept the Sporting’s offense at bay for most of the second stanza, only allowing three shots from the visiting side going into stoppage time and the contest looked as if it were going to end with the points being shared. Sparks, a late-game substitute, found himself at the top of Indy’s box, managing to find a bit of space for a right-footed attempt that went past ‘keeper Evan Newton at full extension and into the back of the net in the 95th minute for the final lead, breaking the visitor’s four-game losing streak. Indy Eleven (7W-6L-2D, 23 pts.) will have one more chance to clinch its third playoff berth in as many season this Saturday, October 3, travels to Saint Louis FC (6W-5L-4D, 22 pts.) in both team’s final game of the 2020 USL Regular Season. The 7:30 p.m. ET matchup can be followed live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.   USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSKC Indy Eleven 1 : 2  Sporting Kansas City II Wednesday, September 30, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind. Attendance: 6,039

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Former USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann looks ahead to the USMNT stars involved in this season’s Bundesliga.Already at Schalke were fellow Americans Nick Taitague (promoted to the first team over the summer) and McKennie. “I think he [Weston] was an influence,” Hoppe told ESPN. “He was a big star here at Schalke, and he was willing to show that Schalke were willing to play young players and young Americans. I spoke to him a few times and he gave me some encouragement and advice. It was a good conversation.” The Future As one Bundesliga academy head told ESPN, “there is huge potential for extraordinary footballers [in Germany]. There is a huge growing rate, a huge pool of players who are all well-trained.” The U.S. 2019 Under-20 World Cup team had six players contracted to German clubs, while the last Under-17 team had Pablo Soares from Borussia Monchengladbach and Noah Jones from RB Leipzig.With the top Bundesliga clubs aware of promising American talent as young as 12 years old, the pathway is established. And with the Bundesliga’s brand as a place that trusts in youth (Borussia Dortmund’s opener against Gladbach was created by Reyna and Bellingham, who are both 17), it’s seen as a place where age is irrelevant if you’re good enough.”There’s not much politics involved,” Klinsmann told ESPN. “The coaches are usually very straightforward. If the kid understands that it’s all down to performance and they’ll get the chance, the Bundesliga’s the place to be.”Said Hoppe: “All the young players have an extreme talent and the Bundesliga’s able to offer these players an opportunity to use their talent, to tweak it, improve all the things they need to work on. It’s so wholesome [in Germany] — they need to work on their strength, their technique, their tactical ability, their mental strength — the league helps make them more a complete player.”The migration shows no signs of slowing. This summer gone, Arminia Bielefeld signed 16-year-old goalkeeper Carver Miller from DC United, while Joel Imasuen arrived at Hertha Berlin. Then Bayern and Barcelona were involved in a scramble for Dest. While some move on — like Sebastian Soto, who joined Norwich City before going out on loan to SC Telstar in the Netherlands, or Blaine Ferri, who swapped Greuther Furth for Fort Lauderdale CF in the USL — the machine keeps going.”I think there are a lot of talented players in the USA,” Hoppe says. “They just need to take the jump to Europe, they need to keep developing their game and take the risk.” Messi and Barcelona: The inside story on how everything fell apart, and what’s next Sep 24, 2020Multiple Contributors ESPNFC A year ago, Lionel Messi set out his terms for staying at Barcelona. “I want to be at Barcelona for as long as possible. This is my home,” he told the Catalan newspaper Sport. “But I don’t want to have a long-term contract and to only be here because of it. I need to see that there’s a winning team because I want to keep winning things at this club. “For me, money or a clause don’t mean anything. I don’t have any intention of going anywhere but I want to keep competing and winning.”Twelve months later, Messi was refusing to train, insisting that his 20-year relationship with Barca was over, and trying to force a move to Manchester City.  That Messi, one-club man, captain and icon, would seek to leave Barcelona like this — notifying them in a now-infamous burofax that, as far as he was concerned, he had already gone — should have been unthinkable. And yet this was no spur-of-the-moment decision. We should have seen it coming.Messi had not been happy at Barcelona — with the president, the board or management — for a long time. He admitted as much in the interview that brought a temporary end to the crisis this summer: “I’ve been telling [president Josep Maria Bartomeu] that I wanted to leave all year.” Known for being a reluctant public figure, Messi speaks only when he has something to say — and at 33, he has been more vocal than ever. He was desperate to be heard. Those in charge at Barcelona didn’t listen.This is the story — told with the help of numerous first-hand accounts from sources close to both player and club — of how Messi’s nagging doubts about Barcelona eventually became impossible to ignore, and what happened next.Editors’ note: This story contains reporting from Moises Llorens, Sam Marsden, Alex Kirkland, Rodrigo Faez and Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal. ABOVE ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS both personal and professional, Messi’s discontent stems from his desire to win. And for Messi, winning means the Champions League. Barcelona haven’t done that since 2015. They haven’t even come close. Embarrassed by Liverpool and Roma in recent years, the 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich at the quarterfinal stage of the competition last season, in August, was the tipping point. Messi is intensely aware of the impact Barca’s European failings will have on his legacy. Four Champions League titles are more than enough for mortals. But not for Messi. Several sources pinpoint one moment that best reveals Messi’s disenchantment. It came at Camp Nou in May 2019. Barca were 3-0 up in the first leg of their semifinal against Liverpool. In the 96th minute, Messi — who had scored twice — drew three defenders before squaring the ball for an unmarked Ousmane Dembele. Dembele miskicked, Alisson made the easy save and Messi fell theatrically to the floor, face down in the turf. He knew that Barcelona needed another goal — the season before, Roma erased a first-leg, 4-1 deficit to advance on away goals to the semifinals — because his teammates couldn’t be trusted to defend a 3-0 lead away from home. Six days later, he was proved right.”The last chance for Dembele was clear-cut,” Messi told reporters after the first leg. “Four goals would have been better than three.”How do you prevent those mistakes from happening again and again? One approach might involve a clear-eyed vision of the kind of team you want to construct. But Barcelona’s planning has been incoherent at best. Losing Neymar, with whom Messi loved to play, to Paris Saint-Germain was perhaps forgivable. Wasting almost €300 million on Dembele and Philippe Coutinho — both yet to come good, three years on — less so. The club failed to bring Neymar back last summer, signing Antoine Griezmann instead for a similar sum. Griezmann is a player who has failed to adapt for various reasons, including the fact his preferred position is taken by MessiA series of sporting directors — Andoni Zubizarreta, Robert Fernandez, Pep Segura, Eric Abidal and Ramon Planes — have come and gone over the past five years, all of them unable to implement an effective long-term strategy because they were never afforded the time to do so. They have all been made scapegoats by Bartomeu, sacrificed as symbols of the club’s shortcomings. Among them, they brought in a mishmash of players recruited with different ideas in mind. New signings arrived, flopped and left. Legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta departed. Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets got older.Messi waited, despairingly, for things to get better. EVEN AS BARCELONA FAILED IN EUROPE, they at least continued to win La Liga. Manager Ernesto Valverde, despite his unpopularity among some Barca fans, won the league ahead of Real Madrid in 2018 and 2019. Messi liked Valverde. Sources told ESPN that the easygoing, diplomatic Valverde maintained relative harmony in a dressing room divided between two cliques: one, led by Messi, Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal, who were essentially happy under the coach’s laid-back regime; and another, including Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong, who would have preferred a more disciplined approach. That balance endured until January this year when Valverde was sacked — with Barca top of the league — after defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa in Saudi Arabia. He was replaced by Quique Setien, a man with no experience managing a group of players at this level. The fallout from Valverde’s firing was damaging, too. Sporting director Abidal said in an interview with Sport in February that “a lot of players weren’t happy [with Valverde] and weren’t working a lot.”Messi, in a rare moment of rage, snapped. “I honestly don’t like to do these things, but I think everyone should take responsibility for their decisions,” he wrote on Instagram. “The sporting department should take responsibility. When you talk about players, you should give names. If not, you’re tarnishing all of us and feeding things which people say and aren’t true.”Abidal touched a nerve. Messi is incredibly sensitive to the idea that he runs things at Barcelona, responsible for hiring and firing coaches and identifying transfer targets. It’s understandable, even if it’s hard to dispute the grain of truth at its heart: that Barca should do everything possible to keep their best-ever player happy.Barca had been failing to do that on the pitch; they were failing off it, too. In February, it was alleged that a company the club had hired to protect its image was behind social media accounts posting disparaging comments about current and former players. Messi and his family were mentioned. It was another blow to his already fragile relationship with Bartomeu, even if Barca continue to deny any wrongdoing in the scandal that’s come to be known as “Barcagate.” SETIEN HAD A BRIEF AND TROUBLED SPELL IN CHARGE. From the beginning, Messi was not impressed with him despite hyped-up claims of a return to the more attacking, possession-based style of play made famous at the club by Johan Cruyff and, later, Pep Guardiola.An uneasy, six-month truce lasted until June, when La Liga returned after its pandemic-enforced break. When Barca dropped their first points in a frustrating goalless draw with Sevilla, sources told ESPN that there was a tense dressing room showdown between captain and coach as stunned teammates looked on.The top-of-the-table lead that Setien had inherited from Valverde quickly disappeared. Real Madrid won 10 games in a row, while Barca dropped points in four of theirs. Their title challenge ended with a 2-1 home defeat to Osasuna on July 16. Speaking immediately afterward, Messi didn’t hold back.Things had “all gone wrong” since January, he said, in a blatant criticism of his new coach. “We’ve been a very erratic, weak, low-intensity team. Today’s game is a summary of the season. We have to be self-critical, starting with the players but across the whole club.” BARCELONA HAD WON NOTHING IN 2019-20, their first trophyless campaign in 12 years. Setien was dismissed. His replacement was club legend Ronald Koeman, but it was too late. Messi’s mind was made up. A first meeting between Messi and Koeman — one that saw Messi interrupt his holiday with Suarez and Jordi Alba in the Pyrenees to return to Barcelona on Aug. 20 — did not go well. Messi expressed his doubts and remained determined to leave the club.Around the same time, he called Guardiola.”Messi and Pep spoke for hours,” a source told ESPN. The pair are close and have much in common. Messi, Guardiola and Manchester City all share an obsession with the Champions League. City have never won it; Guardiola and Messi are thought not to have won it often enough.Messi knew that his options for leaving Barcelona were limited. Unlike Barca, he viewed City as having a clear strategy and an upward trajectory. The player told his former coach that he wanted to move. Guardiola said he would talk to decision-makers at City. It wouldn’t be straightforward, he warned.Messi’s flirtation with City was nothing new. In fact, City’s rebuild under their new owners over the past decade has been carried out with the aim of attracting first Guardiola and, later, Messi. There were discussions in 2014, and again in 2016. Yet City’s hopes of signing Messi this summer were dependent on them playing in the Champions League. Once their two-year ban from European competitions was lifted on July 13, they knew they would be the front-runners to sign him if he left Barca.There was never any direct contact between the clubs, nor did Messi’s camp transmit directly to Barca a desire to move to City, but sources at the Catalan club say were informed of City’s interest in signing Messi by a third party. It gave City a lot to think about. Could they afford Messi’s salary? How much would they have to pay Barca? What about financial fair play? His €700m buyout clause was impossible, even for City. There was a more tantalising prospect, though: Messi might be available for nothing.The mechanism by which they thought they could pull off a deal had existed for years. Messi’s long-term doubts led his advisers to insert a release clause in his Barca contract when it was renewed in 2017. At the end of the 2019-20 season, within a defined period, he could unilaterally rescind his contract and walk away.And so, Barcelona’s board nervously waited. In the end, the date — initially widely reported as May 31, later corrected to June 10 — fell when La Liga was about to resume. Nonetheless, when it had passed, the club were quick to brief the media. As far as they were concerned, Messi would be staying until 2021. Messi has since said he didn’t inform the club before then because they were still involved in La Liga and the Champions League; one source, though, says the fact City were banned from European football before winning an appeal also complicated his route out of Camp Nou.The original date in Messi’s contract had been drawn up to coincide with the end of the season. But with the campaign extended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Messi’s camp felt they had some wiggle room when it came to the interpretation of the clause.Sources told ESPN that the feedback Messi received from legal experts was mixed. Only one law firm out of at least four consulted, Cuatrecasas, believed the argument had a realistic chance of success. That was enough and Messi decided to go ahead. If he stood his ground, perhaps Barca would blink first. AUG. 24 BEGAN WITH A PHONE CALL from Koeman to Suarez. In a conversation that lasted around a minute, the coach told Messi’s best friend in the squad that he was not in Barca’s plans and should look for a new club. Vidal received similar treatment. Messi’s allies were being pushed out and, in his view, disrespected. Later that day, Messi took action. On advice from Cuatrecasas, the player opted to use a burofax — a registered letter, used when legal proof of receipt is required — to inform Barcelona that he wished to leave for free, exercising his release clause. Signed by Messi, it was sent just after 7 p.m. By mid-morning on Aug. 25, the letter had arrived at Camp Nou. – Lowe: Messi, bad blood and a ‘burofax’ The first to read it, aghast, were Bartomeu and the head of Barca’s legal department, Roma Gomez Ponti. “They could not believe their eyes,” a source told ESPN. For them, there was no debate: The clause had already expired. “Put aside everything else you’ve been working on and focus on this,” Bartomeu told the club’s lawyers. Barcelona contacted two firms specialising in sports law — Costa Torrecillas & Associates and Bufete Antras — for advice. (The former had won the club a favourable judgment months earlier in their dispute with Neymar over a renewal bonus.) Both firms agreed Barca were in the right and should not give in to Messi’s demands. Despite that, sources told ESPN at the time there were board members who supported letting Messi go. Not for free, mind you, but if it meant bringing in a large fee and removing his €90m salary from the wage bill, the club might be able to dig itself out of a €300m financial hole during the COVID-19 crisis.”Messi has so much power at the club, both on a financial and sporting level,” one source said. Another, close to the dressing room, went further. “It’s the moment to sell him, it’s a historic opportunity to be able to change things. There are players who will perform a lot better without him in the team.”Those voices believed a managed departure could be beneficial, but the president would not entertain the prospect. It was €700m from a buying club, or he stays. “Bartomeu doesn’t want to be the president who agrees to the sale of Messi,” a source told ESPN, even as another source said, “it’s the best thing he could have done.”Bartomeu might have ruined his relationship with Messi — the player called him a liar, claiming Bartomeu had assured him he would let him go — but he got his wish. In the end, he won’t be the president who oversees Messi’s departure; after all, the club’s presidential elections will happen on March 20 or 21 next year, before Messi’s contract expires. AT MANCHESTER CITY, there had been a growing acceptance that signing Messi for free was impossible, so they turned their attention to a negotiated settlement. After several days of crunching numbers, a source told ESPN that “if Barcelona let him leave for €100 or 150m, Messi will be a City player.” City were also willing to include players of interest to Barca, such as young defender and La Masia product Eric Garcia, in a deal, although ESPN was told that others, including Gabriel JesusBernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez, would not be included.All of that depended on Barca being willing to budge. Messi waited and maintained his silence, even skipping coronavirus testing ahead of a return for preseason training with new coach Koeman. Board members who’d been critical of Messi felt he should be fined for that; Bartomeu believed doing so would escalate the crisis. As Barca drafted burofaxes of their own to correspond with their absent captain, sources told ESPN that some versions specified that there would be no punishment, while others left the option open. On the morning of Sept. 2, Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, flew from Rosario, Argentina, to Barcelona for a meeting with Bartomeu that evening, but no progress was made. Bartomeu had one important thing as leverage: Messi could not stomach a legal battle. He was determined to leave, but not if the process descended into lengthy litigation. City were reluctant to take that road, too.Everything changed on Sept. 4. In an interview with Goal’s Ruben Uria, Messi announced his decision to stay. “The president told me the only way to leave was to pay the €700m clause, which is impossible, and that the alternative was going to court,” Messi said. “I would never take Barca to court because it’s the club I love.” It could have ended differently. Some at Barcelona feel that Messi’s approach — both in law and in public relations — was flawed from the start. “He didn’t choose the best communications strategy,” one source told ESPN. “If he had timed it better, he could have finished off Bartomeu and he’d be at Manchester City by now.” In this reading, Messi’s fundamental mistake was a failure to articulate his decision to leave sooner, and to speak directly to the fans — perhaps, as many other players might have done, on their social media accounts — before the burofax was sent.Others question whether the prospect of another year of an unhappy Messi is best for Barca. The No. 10 has channelled his anger on the pitch before with positive results for the team; he might do so again. But ESPN has been told that some players thought a fresh start, with a new coach and without Messi, might have been the best for everyone. SO MESSI STAYS FOR NOW, but so do his doubts, expressed so clearly and concisely when he finally spoke out. “The truth is that for a while there hasn’t been a project or anything,” he said. “They’ve been juggling things and plugging holes.”But the story doesn’t end there. Bartomeu will be gone soon and a new president is to be elected in March. He might not even make it until then if a vote of no confidence, launched on the back of Messi’s burofax, goes against him in the coming weeks. There could be as many as 10 people in the running to replace Bartomeu, too — Victor Font is one of the early favourites to inherit the role and he has said that, in addition to bringing former Barca midfield maestro Xavi Hernandez back as coach, he wants to make sure Messi stays. Not one of the candidates has said they want to build a Barca without Messi, despite the fact he will be 34 next summer.Messi has leverage. With his deal officially expiring in June, he is able to negotiate with other clubs starting in January. No legal battle, no drama, at least of the sort we’ve witnessed this past summer.Will the new president be able to convince him to renew his deal? Messi has said the club must sign young players to freshen up an aging squad. That is slowly happening, but it’s coming at the expense of his closest friends at the club: Vidal has joined Inter Milan and Suarez is headed to Atletico Madrid.So much depends on the next eight months, on how Koeman does and on who wins the elections. Beyond all that, though, it depends on one thing: on Barcelona having a winning team.