1/29/21 US Men vs T&T Sun 7 pm FS1, US Players Scored 4 goals last week in Europe, US Ladies Win

Indy 11 GK Evan Newton to MLS Vancouver

Great news that Indy 11 Goal Keeper Evan Newton is getting his MLS shot with the White Caps this season.  Hopefully that means former Carmel FC GK coach and my friend Jordan Farr will get a shot at the starting slot this season for our Indy 11!  Indy 11 fans can tune in to the USA vs T&T game Sunday night at 7 pm on FS1 and see Indy 11 defender Neveal Hackshaw playing for his native T&T.

US Men vs T&T Sun 7 pm on FS1

Expect a fairly young and somewhat inexperienced team to take the field for the US this Sunday as they face Trinidad and Tabago Sunday eve on FS 1 at 7 pm from Orlando.  Of course at home even this US 3rd team with a bunch of U23s filling the sub spots should be ok vs T&T.  I expect to see a fairly experienced back line of Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman (both battling for 1 starting spot on the A team alongside Brooks) in the middle along with Sam Vines on the left in front of 25 YO MLS New England stalwart but US newcomer Matt Turner between the pipes.  I suspect Altidore will start up front at the 9 along with Orlando’s Chris Mueller (Scorer of 2 goals last time out) I hope.  In the midfield, I expect Jackson Yueill to continue his quest for a spot at the #6 along with Sebastian Llleget, Seattle’s Roldan and hopefully a newcomer on the wing.  Will be interesting to see Orlando’s Dike up top presumably in the 2nd half as a #9 for Altidore. The average age of the roster will be 23 years, 302 days, while averaging just 10 caps. 

 Interesting that Liverpool might be looking at US defender Aaron Long – wow would that be cool.    Interesting story on Joe Biden and his love and support of the US Soccer Teams. 

USMNT DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):

GOALKEEPERS (3): Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union; 0/0), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; 1/0), George Bello (Atlanta United FC; 0/0), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 18/3), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC; 0/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC; 2/0), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; 2/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 13/2)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 24/2), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 17/4), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Andres Perea (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 19/0), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas; 0/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 8/0)

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 115/42), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 34/6), Daryl Dike (Orlando City SC; 0/0), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas; 1/0), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; 6/0), Chris Mueller (Orlando City SC; 1/2)

US Ladies beat Colombia – She Believes Cup in late Feb. 

My is this US ladies team deep.  The US ladies put up 6 goals this time vs an improved Colombia as the US made 6 changes including an entire change on the backline, including GK.  Megan Rapino lead the way with the brace – and 2 newcomers scored as 20 year old Catarina Macario,  and US defender allowed to play her natural forward spot Midge Purce scored their first goals in the Red, White and Blue.  It was also great to see Crystal Dunn allowed to move up to winger/forward rather than her recent right back in the 2nd half.  I honestly think Dunn could play any spot along with forward/midfield and either outside back spot on this team if needed.   Great to see the depth and it makes the She Believe’s Cup coming in late Feb vs Canada, Brazil and Argentina must see – just to try to figure out which 18 players will be headed to the Olympics this summer.  We hope!  

Updated schedule:  She Believes Cup

Feb. 18 Brazil vs. Argentina 4 PM ET
Feb. 18 USA vs. Canada 7 PM ET  FS1
Feb. 21 USA vs. Brazil 3 PM ET FS1
Feb. 21 Argentina vs. Canada 6 PM ET
Feb. 24 Canada vs. Brazil 4 PM ET
Feb. 24 USA vs. Argentina 7 PM ET  FS1

Games to Watch this Weekend

Saturday gives us the biggest game of the weekend at 12:30 pm on NBC as Arsenal will host 2nd place Manchester United. This after Everton vs New Castle United at 7:30 am on NBCSN and Man City vs Sheffield at 10 am.  A battle of US forwards in Germany Sat on ESPN+ at 9:30 am as Schalke and new wonder American Hoppe travel to Werder Bremen and Josh Stewart coming off his 2nd goal last weekend.  Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig look to bounce back from a loss to relegation fodder Mainz when they face Bayer Leverkusen in a top three matchup at 12:30p on ESPN+.  Magical Weston McKennie and Juventus look to continue their push up the Serie A table when they face Sampdoria at Noon on ESPN+.

West Ham (5th) hosts 4th place Liverpool Sunday on the dreaded Peacock at 11:30 am.  Chelsea and US Christian Pulisic play at 7 am Sunday on Peacock.  Christian Pulisic started on the bench but didn’t seem to bothered by the situation midweek in the teams draw with Wolverhampton. It was Thomas Tuchels first match in charge and the manager would come out after the match to give some pretty positive feedback for Pulisic and describe the decision as “unfair” to him. But he knew what Pulisic could do and needed to see some of the others on the pitch to see what they bring.  John Brooks and Wolfsburg face Freiburg at Noon on ESPN+ Sunday. Wolfsburg have won their past two matches and worked their way into fourth place in the Bundesliga standings.  Finally Barcelona will host Athletic Club at 3 pm on beIN Sport – Sergino Dest is still injured and not expected to play however. 

GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat,  Jan 30

7:30 NBCSN                      Everton vs New Castle

10 am NBCSN                    Man City vs Seffield United

10 am ESPN+                     Swansea City (Morris soon?) vs Nottingham Forest

9:30 am ESPN+                  Bayer Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg (Brooks)

12:30 pm NBC                  Arsenal vs Man United  

3 pm beIn Sport                  Villarreal vs Real Sociedad

Sun, Jan 31

7 am Peacock                     Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Burnley  

9 am ESPN2                        Atlanta vs Lazio

11:30am Peacock            West Ham vs Liverpool

7 pm FS 1                           USA Men vs T&T

Tues,  Feb2

1 pm NBCSN                      Wolverhampton vs Arsenal

2:45 pm ESPN2 or +        Inter vs Juventus –  Coppa Italia

3:!5 pm NBCSN                 Man United vs Southampton

Weds,  Feb 3

1 pm NBCSN                      Burnley vs Man City

3:!5 pm NBCSN                 Liverpool vs Brighton

Thurs  Feb 4

12:30 pm                            TigresUNAL vs Ulsan Fifa Club World Cup

3 pm NBCSN                     Tottenham vs Chelsea

Mon, Feb 9

4 pm FS1                            Fifa Club World Cup Bayern Munich vs ?

USA Men vs T&T Sun 7 pm FS1

Altidore a highlight at USMNT camp – Berhalter

US Forward Altidore Still in the Running – SI Brian Straus

Scouting T&T

US Keeper Matt Turner Back Story – Yahoo soccer 

Matt Turner Happy to Be with US Team – MLS.com

Altidore Not Too Old – Gregg Doyle

Bogert: Liverpool monitoring RBNY’s Aaron Long?
VIDEO: McKennie goal adds to banner week for USMNT youngsters

VIDEO: USMNT’s Josh Sargent scores screamer for Werder

VIDEO: USMNT MF Tyler Adams scores his first Bundesliga goal

American’s Oversea’s Players of the Week  S&S  

Stats on US Players overseas last week S&S

Galatasaray and DeAndre Yedlin reportedly reach transfer deal

Around the World US Players
Bogert: Liverpool monitoring RBNY’s Aaron Long?

FIFA sets late-2021 target to pick 2026 World Cup cities

Biden Has Always Supported US Soccer and Still Does – SI Brian Straus

USA Ladies

USA vs. Colombia recap: double debut goals! Stars and Stripes
Catarina Macario fulfills a dream, scoring a goal in U.S. women’s win over Colombia

Megan Rapinoe Scores Twice as USWNT Beats Colombia, 6-0 SI  

Catarina Macario is on her way to becoming the USWNT’s next big star

Meet Catraina Macario – Philly Inquirer – The Goalkeeper

Crystal Dunn – should be a star on this US team

Argentina Replaces Japan in She Believes Cup Next Month

 EPL


Premier League status report on all 20 teams
  Mark Ogden
Pep ‘delighted’ by, ‘more than happy’ with USMNT’s Steffen at Man City
Everton denied as Pickford howler rescues Leicester
Liverpool end barren run as Tottenham lose Kane to injury
De Gea’s mistakes put dent in Man United’s title charge  21hMark Ogden
Swansea City unveils USMNT star Jordan Morris on loan with option to buy

How will Lampard being fired impact Pulisic at Chelsea?
Manchester United expose Liverpool’s urgent need to strengthen at centre-back

Thomas Tuchel: Meet the high-maintenance ‘mad genius’ Chelsea have turned to

Thomas Tuchel must be more than just a football brain to succeed in the Premier League
Ministry of silly walls: Why players lie down to defend free kicks
FA Cup draw: 5th round fixtures revealed

 

World
Atletico, Bayern surge clear but game on in France: European talking points

Milan wavering, unfinished business for Messi – what to watch in Europe this weekend
Bayern Munich Benefits From Bundesliga Challengers’ Blips
 Buffon pleased to be breaking stereotypes with NFL great Brady

MLS to Resume Apr 3

Gregg Berhalter weighs in on Jordan Morris to Swansea City
Chris Mueller says young Lions have chance to shine with USMNT
Neville ‘right man’ for Miami job: Beckham
Sounders sign Schmetzer to multiyear contract extension
Schmetzer ready to lead new-look Sounders following extension
New Five Stripes coach Gabriel Heinze arrives in Atlanta
Report: Caden Clark finalizing transfer to RB Leipzig
Why Phil Neville? Beckham, Mas on why he’s the right choice for Miami
Can Neville help Miami quieten those underwhelmed by the MLS franchise?
Jeff Carlisle
SuperDraft Grades: Rating every team’s picks
MLS players present proposal in hopes of avoiding lockout

INDY 11

MLS’ VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC ACQUIRES GOALKEEPER EVAN NEWTON VIA TRANSFER
NEVEAL HACKSHAW TO REPRESENT TRINIDAD & TOBAGO NATIONAL TEAM IN FRIENDLY AGAINST UNITED STATES
NEVEAL HACKSHAW TO REPRESENT TRINIDAD & TOBAGO NATIONAL TEAM IN FRIENDLY AGAINST UNITED STATES
Indy Eleven Signs Ghanaian Midfielder Gershon Koffie
https://www.indyeleven.com/2021-season-tickets

 

USMNT’s Berhalter praises Altidore, excited for Morris at Swansea

Jan 25, 2021c Jeff Carlisle U.S. soccer correspondent ESPNFC

United States manager Gregg Berhalter praised the play of forward Jozy Altidore, saying the Toronto FC striker has had a “great” January camp with the USMNT.

The U.S. is currently training in Orlando, Fla. after first training in nearby Bradenton at the IMG Academy. The U.S. will face off against Trinidad & Tobago this Sunday, with Altidore among those included in the 25-man roster.

– USMNT to-do list: Find striker, build depth behind stars
“For Jozy it’s been a great camp. He’s been participating really well. He’s been pushing hard,” the U.S. manager told reporters via a Zoom call. “We had to pull back a little bit in this last week, but we’re building him back up this week. You see that he has the experience, he has the maturity.”Altidore’s playing time at club level has been limited due to a variety of injuries over the course of the past three seasons, playing in 48 of 91 possible league matches. Earlier this month, Berhalter stated that “the consistency of [Altidore’s fitness] is going to be important,” in terms of what the forward will be able to contribute to the U.S. in 2021. On Monday, Berhalter added he appreciates the veteran presence that Altidore provides as well.”I think it’s nice to have veterans around because they know they can talk to the younger players,” Berhalter said. “But they also know what the national team is about and they know the history of the national team and that’s important. So, Jozy has been good, it’s been great having him in camp.”But Berhalter also said he wanted players that are motivated, and that applies to every player, including Altidore.”We want players that are striving to be starters. We don’t want players that are comfortable playing a substitute role,” Berhalter said. “We want them pushing to be starters but the competition is good for the team.”One player that won’t be available for selection against T&T is winger Jordan Morris, who left camp to complete his loan move to English Championship side Swansea City. Berhalter indicated he was in favor of the move, saying Morris is “going to be in good hands.””This is what Jordan was striving for,” said Berhalter about the loan. “And for Jordan, this is an opportunity now to help his team potentially get promoted and that’s a great achievement in soccer. The automatic promotion is one thing, and the [promotion] playoff game is the most expensive game in the world, right? So this will be a great challenge for Jordan, [and a] great challenge for the club of Swansea, to see if they can get into the Premier League this year.”One certainty to come out of Sunday’s match will be that a goalkeeper will make his international debut. All three keepers on the U.S. roster — the New England Revolution‘s Matt TurnerSan Jose Earthquakes keeper JT Marcinkowski, and the Philadelphia Union‘s Matt Freese — have yet to appear for the U.S. But based on Berhalter’s comments, Turner, who also was called up for the January camp in 2020, appears to have the inside track to start against the Soca Warriors.”Matt certainly has improved. I think it’s night and day, compared to him [in the] last January camp,” said Berhalter. “He had, I think, the reflexes last January, but now his whole game has imroved and you can see he’s gained confidence and that whole season behind him has really improved him. He’s looking sharp.”In the games, he’s made some big saves and that’s really a hallmark of what we know Matt to be able to do is the big save ability. And then he needs to continue to work with his feet, continue to improve the build up from the goalkeeper, but he’s doing a great job. We really happy with him.”

US men’s national team vs. Trinidad and Tobago: Three things to watch for | Armchair Analyst

January 28, 202110:54AM EST  Matthew DoyleSenior Writer

The US men’s national team host Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday (7 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN) in both teams’ first friendly of 2021. As is the tradition with these January camp games, neither side will be at full strength because this is not a FIFA-mandated international date. Teams are not required to release players, and thus if they’re in season, they don’t.That means there’s even less to learn than in the typical friendly. It does not mean, however, that there is nothing to learn. Just as in the final three friendlies of 2020 — a scoreless draw at Wales followed by complete stompings of Panama and El Salvador — we can get a sense of how head coach Gregg Berhalter wants his team to play, who’s showing an ability to play that way, who’s moving up the pecking order in the fight for sports and so on.

1. The midfield shape in possession

Since Berhalter’s taken over he’s tinkered with the US’ midfield shape a decent bit. Some of this is based upon the opponents, in that against weaker teams he’s had the US in what I’d consider to be a pretty aggressive 4-3-3 with dual attacking midfielders getting VERY advanced and one lone regista tasked with both shuttling the ball from back-to-front and shielding the backline. At other times — notably 12 months ago vs. Costa Rica — it was more of an asymmetrical 4-2-3-1 with something of a double pivot as one of the more attacking midfielders (Sebastian Lletget on that day) dropped deeper for extra dirty work. Three months ago vs. Wales it was the familiar 4-3-3, but also kind of different in that Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah seemed to have a more egalitarian sharing of responsibilities. Four days after that against Panama, Adams was something close to an old-fashioned destroyer while Musah and McKennie pushed higher.It is good and smart to be flexible. Berhalter’s come up with looks that are both distinctive yet similar while playing out of roughly the same shape. That portends a high level of in-game (and in-tournament) tactical flexibility.

2. Yueill pushing up

I’m assuming we’ll see the “regista” version of Berhalter’s 4-3-3, and I’m also assuming Jackson Yueill will get the start as the No. 6. He’s played that role a bunch over the past two years for club and country, and mostly been very good. He is a natural distributor and his work in shielding the backline has grown considerably.He is not yet, however, a natural presser. Berhalter asked him to do a lot of that in the win over El Salvador, to mixed results:

https://www.mlssoccer.com/iframe-video?brightcove_id=6226756860001&brightcove_player_id=default&brightcove_account_id=5530036772001 That compilation’s just from the first 20 minutes. You can see him winning the ball and winning fouls, and on the final clip, his pressing creates a goal. In between those, he was twice a half-step slow, which could have turned into breakout opportunities against better opponents.This is a very Adams-y way to use the defensive midfielder — Adams is the best pressing player in the pool and one of the best in the world. He creates turnovers, and even for teams heavily invested in positional play (as the USMNT under Berhalter are), turnovers are the lifeblood of the modern game.Yueill is never going to be Adams in that phase of the game, but he’s improved a bunch since early 2019. It seems like he’ll have to improve even more if he’s going to solidify his spot in the d-mid pecking order.

3. Daryl Dike, make your case

Berhalter said it last year: Jozy Altidore is still probably the most talented No. 9 in the pool. I do not think that assessment is wrong.

He also said Altidore’s fitness issues have held him back, and that’s clearly not wrong, either. Altidore is 31 now and spent most of 2020 looking like a shell of his former self to the point where it wasn’t just, “Is he going to be fit enough to play 90 minutes?” It was, “Is he going to be fit enough to make an actual run?” Quite often the answer was no.The good news from the US perspective is there’s suddenly a glut of young, high-upside center forwards vying for the job of Jozy’s successor*:Josh Sargent was the anointed one, and to be fair to him, his goals per 90 while with the US has been good (just don’t pay too much attention to who those goals have come against), but his goals per 90 for Werder Bremen has been abysmal.Nico Gioacchini debuted in that win over Panama with a brace, though he hasn’t exactly been lighting it up in Ligue 2.Sebastian Soto also debuted with a brace in that same game. He scored for fun in the Dutch second tier, but bear in mind it’s the Dutch second tier (he’s on his way to Norwich in the Championship now, for what it’s worth).Matthew Hoppe burst onto the scene this month with five goals in three games for Schalke. He’s yet to make an appearance for the US at any level, and it’s not exactly clear his hot streak will continue.Ayo Akinola burst onto the scene last summer with a hat-trick against D.C. United, then just kept scoring — including a goal in his debut for the US last month. This month he happens to be with the Canadian men’s national team.(*) Calling any of these guys “Jozy’s successor” is a bit of Gyasi Zardes erasure, but I do think it’s reasonable to hope one or more of these guys ends up being a better USMNT No. 9 than Zardes. The sixth member of this group is young Daryl Dike, who was superb for Orlando City last year and is in his maiden voyage as a national teamer. It’s a good bet he’ll get at least 30 minutes, though I would hit the “over” if you wanted to slap the line there. The other guys have all made compelling cases in one way or another, and now it’s Dike’s chance to do the same.

Jozy Altidore Is Still Here for the USMNT

Altidore hasn’t featured for the U.S. in 18 months, and the national team is trending younger, but he’ll be the first to remind you that 31 is still young and that he has plenty more to offer. Brian Straus – SI

Thirteen years—that’s a solid career. To overcome the competition, the distractions, the passage of time, injuries and so many other potential hurdles to play for that long at the very highest level requires a lot of talent, a ton of perseverance and a dose of good fortune. Few manage it. Those who do have every reason to feel content.We have an innate sense of an average athlete’s top-tier lifespan, of how long his or her biological clock should permit competing at a world-class level. It’s how coaches and GMs know when to start scouting for replacements. It’s why we marvel at the likes of Tom Brady and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who’ve each shattered that ceiling. And it’s why, in this era of emerging talent and fresh faces on the U.S. national team, it might seem to some like Jozy Altidore, who earned his first senior cap way back in 2007, should be moving on.It feels like he’s been around forever. Altidore has transcended eras, along with five head coaches. He’s the ninth-most-capped player in program history and if the USA had qualified for the 2018 World Cup, it would have been his third. As the generation that peaked in Brazil then fell three years later in Couva fades away, succeeded by a cohort that’s making unprecedented waves at the sport’s most prestigious clubs, Altidore remains the one who’s still hanging on, refusing to take his leave or cede his place to the passage of time.He’s doing it by sticking with what got him this far, while reminding us that being around forever doesn’t mean you’re old. Altidore got an early international start, earning his first cap a few days after turning 18. He’s still only 31 and believes he’s still very much in his prime. “I think this is interesting,” he said from Florida, where he’s the eldest member of the patchwork U.S. team preparing for Sunday’s friendly against Trinidad & Tobago. “In MLS and U.S. soccer, we love to call players like myself old. But if you look in Europe, some of the very best performers are older than me. And so, I just think that’s a very MLS and kind of a U.S. journalist’s mentality, this notion that I’m all of a sudden old, when [Robert] Lewandowski is 30-something.”Lewandowski, the FIFA player of the year, is 32. Ibrahimovic is 39 and Cristiano Ronaldo is 35. Indeed, it’s possible to play, and even dominate, at the highest level well into one’s 30s. But Altidore’s recent past hasn’t been dominant. He recovered well from the World Cup qualifying setback in 2017 and helped power Toronto FC to an unprecedented treble that was finished off by the club’s first MLS Cup title (he scored the game-winner). But there was hardship along the way, as he was booed and jeered by fans scapegoating him for the Couva disaster. A particularly ugly incident occurred at Red Bull Arena, the home of his first pro club and close to where he was born.“I’m a villain in my own country, and I accept it,” he told Sports Illustrated a couple of years ago.Altidore started only 12 MLS matches for TFC in 2018, and he didn’t play for the USA again until the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. But he told Sports Illustrated this week that his commitment to the national team and his interest in representing his country never wavered, even if others’ confidence in him did.“It’s been the greatest joy of my career to put on the national team shirt,” he said. “There’s disappointment and tough moments, but it’s been the biggest pleasure for me. It remains that way, and those challenges happen. It’s how you bounce back from it, and how you respond as a soccer nation, as a federation and as individuals. It’s always been a great joy for me and that hasn’t changed today.”So after another difficult season with TFC, during which his club was forced to base itself in Connecticut for two months and he tallied only two goals in 14 total appearances, Altidore committed himself to the USA’s three-week camp. Most of the men called in were U-23 players preparing for Olympic qualifying, and on Sunday evening at Orlando City’s Exploria Stadium, Altidore will have almost as many caps as the rest of the 25-man roster combined. This exercise was not beneath him, however. He wants to play a key role in the busy international year ahead, and sees each and every chance to prove himself at this level as an opportunity that can’t be passed up.“It’s an invite into the national team,” he said of this month’s camp. “You don’t pick and choose when you play for the national team. So to have the opportunity to receive a call-up is an honor. I still get the same excitement I did when I was 18. January camps aren’t very easy, but like I said, it’s the national team and when the national team calls, if you’re able to go you want to go.”He wanted to go, and he’s clearly wanted. Injuries have been Altidore’s biggest issue. It’s never been a question of ability.

“What I would say is just looking at the striker position in general, I think you have Jozy Altidore, who is probably still the most talented that we have in that position, but he’s got fitness issues,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter told MLS’s Extratime podcast in October. “He’s still an amazingly talented player, so our goal there is to keep working with him.”Indeed, striker remains the primary spot at wch the national team’s next generation has yet to really break through. Gyasi Zardes is the only other experienced veteran, while the likes of Josh Sargent, Nicholas Gioacchini, Sebastian Soto and now Matthew Hoppe are trying to make their way abroad. Berhalter also has looked at Daryl Dike, Chris Mueller, Ayo Akinola and others over the past year, perhaps hoping one might eventually develop the skills and presence that Altidore has when he’s at his best. That version of Altidore, the one who’s the national team’s third all-time leading goal scorer, probably remains the USA’s brightest prospect at the position.Berhalter said this week that while it took a few days for Altidore to get fit, his work ethic, experience and maturity have been an asset during a camp featuring so many younger players. And as for Altidore’s hopes for the year ahead, Berhalter said, “In general we want players that are striving to be starters. We don’t want players that are comfortable playing a substitute role. We want them pushing to be starters. We think the competition is good for the team, and anyone we bring in hopefully has the potential to be a starter on this team. That’s why they’re included in the squad.”Ask Altidore to look ahead, however, and he’ll have none of it. He’s not thinking about a 2021 that’ll feature the inaugural Concacaf Nations League finals, a Gold Cup and then the start of World Cup qualifying. Playing in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where he’ll be newly 33, remains more of an amorphous aspiration. His career, from his early start with the Red Bulls to his record-breaking transfer to Villarreal, and from that memorable Confederations Cup semifinal goal against Spain to the injury that knocked him out of the 2014 World Cup, shows that absolutely nothing is predictable. There is no pattern. He’s played just 264 national team minutes since Couva, the equivalent of about three games in three years. Yet he is in position to remain a vital part of Berhalter’s plans–not because of or despite his experience or age, but because he’s capable of deserving it that day. That’s how he’s approaching this camp and this year. “I don’t expect anything. There are no gimmes,” he said. “It’s not like you’re on the national team now and that means you’re on the team next year. It’s you’re on the team today, and you try to make the most of that opportunity. You try to give as much as you can to the team and the guys around you, and that’s what it is. For me, this year and going forward, I’m just living in the present and I’m taking it one day at a time, because nobody knows what’s going to happen now, in two weeks, in three months, in the next two years. It’s an honor to be here and I’m trying to give my best every single day.”

Why Swansea City is the right move at the right time for Jordan Morris | Steve Zakuani

January 23, 20211:04PM ESTSteve ZakuaniContributor

The reports became official Friday, with Jordan Morris joining English Championship side Swansea City on loan for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. The move certainly creates a hole in Seattle’s lineup, though there’s an exciting opportunity for the US men’s national team forward to prove himself overseas after thriving for his hometown club.From a selfish standpoint, I’d have loved to see Morris stay in Seattle so I could continue to enjoy watching him as a fan and covering him as an analyst. His growth in the last 18 months has been nothing short of extraordinary. Don’t get me wrong, he’s always been good. From the first time I saw him play at age 15 when he participated in a first-team training session during my days with the Sounders, I could see that he had some special qualities. Those qualities are still among his strong points today – raw pace and power – but he has added so much more to his game. What most stood out during the 2020 season was his composure in front of goal. He found himself in the same positions he’s always gotten himself into, but there was a different demeanor when he was 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper. He looked assured, relaxed and certain that he was going to find the back of the net. And more often than not, he did. Fans will talk about his goal against San Jose in the 7-1 win because of the great run from the halfway line, but I will always remember it for the finish. It was further evidence of a player that learned how to slow the game down in the final third and apply the right finish. San Jose’s unique defensive scheme also played a significant role, too.That wasn’t always the case with Morris, especially early on when he often looked rushed and short of confidence in front of goal. He has gotten better each year and that’s why I think the next logical step is to test himself abroad. There’s simply nothing left for him to do in Seattle. He knows he can run past any MLS defender he wants, lead the team to trophies, score and assist almost at will when he’s on top form and that he’s essentially guaranteed double-digit goals if he stays fit. He can do all of that on autopilot in MLS, and so the next challenge is leaving the comforts of home and trying to elevate himself to a new level. Had Morris stayed in Seattle for all of the 2021 season, I’d have had no problem with it. I’ve come to understand that every athlete is motivated by different things. Some want nothing more than to test themselves at the highest level possible, regardless of circumstance or situation, while others want their off-field life to be a certain way before they decide to look for new challenges. Neither way is better than the other, the only important thing is for the player to be comfortable in whatever they choose. That’s why I love this move for Jordan – it was his choice. Had he gone to Werder Bremen right out of Stanford, he’d have done it more to appease the “you have to test yourself in Europe” cowd than for any personal reason. As it turns out, the decision to stay home was the right one. He’s learned what it means to be a pro; how to win and lose; how to add tweaks to his game; and he’s done all of that while being physically close to family and friends who have supported him as he’s grown into his career. He’s also won two MLS Cups and totalled 35 goals and 20 assists in 105 games. Now, after achieving all of that, he’s going to Europe while playing the best soccer of his life and carrying a wealth of experience that he simply didn’t have when he left college. I fully expect him to be a success at Swansea. Of course it’s going to depend on the tactics, his role, what he’s asked to do, how his teammates connect with him and how quickly he can get up to speed. But in terms of ability, I have no doubt that he can succeed there. His skill set can translate to any league in the world as long as his team plays to his strengths. Playing alongside Nicolas Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz, he’s learned how to combine and play quick passes when he comes in from wide areas. It’s not enough to be a winger that can only go back and forth, you have to know when to come inside and connect passes to keep your opponents guessing. He has also learned how to be dangerous without the ball and how to find the balance between being direct and being more subtle in the final third — all traits that will serve him well in the Championship. The only way this move doesn’t work out is if he gets injured or if Swansea make no attempt to play to his strengths. Anything short of that and I expect Swansea fans to enjoy what we’ve been enjoying in Seattle for the past few years – a player who’s constantly improving and, when at his best, is almost always the most dangerous man on the pitch.

 

Catarina Macario, Megan Rapinoe star in USWNT’s 6-0 rout of Colombia

by Julia Poe, Orlando Sentinel, Posted: January 23, 202

ORLANDO, Fla. — A mix of veteran and young U.S. women’s national team stars combined for a blowout 6-0 victory over Colombia on Friday, capping January camp with two friendly wins for the Americans.

The match opened with a bang when 22-year-old Catarina Macario netted the first goal of her international career in the third minute. That goal was the payoff of years of work on and off the field for Macario. The Brazilian native became a U.S. citizen in the fall while formally applying to change her national team affiliation.

The switch was approved last week, allowing Macario to debut on Monday night and notch her first goal on Friday. Orlando Pride captain Ali Krieger assisted the goal with a high-arcing cross from outside the box, which Macario tapped into the net with her first touch.

Macario’s goal was followed by a brace from star Megan Rapinoe, who returned this week after nearly a year away from the pitch during the pandemic. Rapinoe netted her first goal with a backside shot that ricocheted off a defender, showcasing her signature flair with an air guitar celebration.

Catarina Macario is on her way to becoming the USWNT’s next big star

The veteran closed the half with a penalty kick to give the Americans a 3-0 lead. The U.S. continued to pour on the pressure in the second half, making way for Lynn Williams and Lindsey Horan to add goals.

Midge Purce closed the match by netting her first international goal, leaping to flick a header into the net to stretch the lead to six goals.

The U.S. previously beat Colombia 4-0 on Monday night. The Americans’ high press continued to overpower their opponent, forcing the Colombians onto their heels for most of the match. U.S. outshot Colombia 33-2, forcing keeper Sandra Sepulveda to make five saves to prevent a wider deficit.

The matches are the first step of gearing up for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. The Times of London cited an anonymous source stating Japanese government officials expected the games to be canceled, but numerous officials refuted the report Friday and the games are still scheduled to be staged despite the challenges presented by the difficult to contain coronavirus pandemic.

The Americans will return to Orlando to host the SheBelieves Cup at Exploria Stadium in February.

USAWNT vs. Colombia recap: double debut goals!

Catarina Macario is everything you dreamed of and more, Midge Purce gets on the scoresheet, and this team is definitely hurtling towards more excellence.

By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Jan 22, 2021, 7:29pm

Starting XI: Jane Campbell, Emily Sonnett, Tierna Davidson, Alana Cook, Ali Krieger, Sam Mewis, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Megan Rapinoe, Catarina Macario, Lynn Williams

It took Catarina Macario just under three minutes to score both the first goal of the night and her first career goal in a United State jersey. Ali Krieger made her run on the right, bounced in a nice cross, and Macario shook her defender to tap it in to make it 1-0. It wasn’t quite a forecast of things to come but it was close, as the United States continued what they started in game one, peppering the Colombia defensive third with plenty of crosses from the left and right and a handful of direct balls up the middle, with a sprinkling of Sam Mewis carrying the ball out of deep while the front line pushed ahead of her for good measure.The Macario show didn’t end there, particularly as Lavelle played and stayed high ahead of Mewis and formed an exciting and unpredictable duo at the top of the box. But there was also Macario dummying a run onto a pass, leaving it behind while she peeled defenders off the passing lane to allow Lynn Williams to run into free space, or her small unselfish touches in the box trying to set up her teammates, or her ability to hold the ball and put it onto her shooting foot with two or three players in her face.The US also continued their work on pressing out of possession, only having to drop quickly a few times off of lost one-v-one battles or intercepted passes. Colombia certainly kept their heads up, looking to close down those passing channels and try to pick out an errant ball and quick counter. But the US defended well as a group, and center backs Davidson and Cook did good jobs playing into the team’s strategy regrouping on the back line, then having a center back look for the play through the central channel, usually picking Mewis as their option to move things forward.The second goal came in the 35’ as Rapinoe picked up the ball in the box, took a shot, and had it deflect off a defender to skip inside the post, just past Sandra Sepulveda’s outstretched hands. Rapinoe would make it three in the 43’ as Colombia once again had a penalty called on them, this time for a tussle that brought down Sam Mewis in the box. Rapinoe buried it nicely low in the corner.To the very end of the half, Macario, Lavelle, and Williams were engaged in fast, fun interplay, moving off of the ball and one another to open up the Colombian defense and put each other either in crossing or shooting position.The second half started with no changes to the lineup. Colombia tried to up the pressure somewhat, but the US stuck tot heir plan, finding a nice opportunity through Cook playing a direct ball to Macario, who won her player battle and picked up Rapinoe in the wide channel. Rapinoe switched the field, where Krieger was waiting to set up yet another cross.Lynn Williams opened up the second half scoring in the 60’, heading in a nice little serve from Sam Mewis. Then came the first slew of subs in the 62’, with Rapinoe, Macario, and Lvaelle off, and Crystal Dunn, Carli Lloyd, and Lindsey Horan on. In an extremely exciting moment, Dunn went in as a forward and not a fullback and drifted between that position and center mid for the rest of the game.

Unfortunately, shortly thereafter Sam Mewis went down with what looked like a painful left ankle injury. She limped off the field by herself and was later seen icing her ankle, as well as walking after the game, but still with a limp. Kristie Mewis subbed in for her, with Midge Purce also coming on for Lynn Williams in the 76’. That made a forward line of Dunn – Lloyd – Purce, which absolutely did not help Colombia in feeling less wide pressure or having to defend fewer crosses.In the 79’ the United States used their last sub to take off Krieger and bring on Emily Fox at left back, switching Sonnett over to the right side. The game lost a little coherence mid-half, stopping and starting play with corner kicks and throw ins, but the team adjusted again, with Horan taking on box-to-box support and Dunn drifting central as needed. Kristie Mewis added to the crossing action when she wasn’t also crashing the box, adding to the pressure on Colombia’s defense. Purce in particular dug into her attacking role, taking the ball endline over and over on her end, and making nicely-timed runs as a target for crosses from the left side. Eventually, Purce made good on all those runs, scoring her first USWNT goal in the 86’ as she skipped in a header off a ball from Lloyd.The game ended at 6-0, another healthy reminder that the USWNT has an extremely versatile bench and that Vlatko Andonovski has a vision for each of his players and has them working together on a clear plan.After the game, Andonovski said that even though this was a lopsided game, they would be drawing information from both the defense and offense. “We can evaluate the defense when we’re in possession of the ball. How much are they helping in the build up, are they able to find our six, are they able to find our tens, penetrating passes, advancing forward. There’s so many things,” he said. “Working from the October camp on, we started tweaking the way that we’re defending a little bit. It seems like we’re moving in the right direction. The stats show that we’re moving in the right direction. I still feel like there are things we can get better at. But on the other side I feel like we’re able to create more opportunities.”He also complimented the performances of Dunn and Purce, saying that Dunn in particular was always a strong possibility to come in as a forward in one of these games, and that possibility got even bigger after the injuries to Mal Pugh and Sophia Smith. “The thought that Crystal may play forward started way back even when we selected the roster,” he said. “I had the idea and Crystal texted me as soon as the rosters came out with a little smiley face, that she saw that the roster is a little bit unbalanced, a little bit more defenders and less forwards.”He added, “We know that Midge is a good forward. There’s no doubt that she’s a good forward. obviously we saw something in her that may help us or help her become a good fullback and we’re going to continue working as we go forward but when we need a forward, obviously she’s good enough and showed that she can do a good job there.”Catarina Macario also spoke to media after the game. On the dynamism of her partnership with Lavelle, she said, “Rose and I were talking about this yesterday, how we really like playing with each other. I think the coaches know our characteristics and so they didn’t necessarily have to say anything out of the norm, like oh you guys play with each other. It was more a natural thing to happen. I know that she played me a few good balls – great balls, but my finishing wasn’t that well today, and so I hope that I can repay her the next time.”Macario also said that after her first cap, she was asked (Macario implied with a smile that it was a very strong ask) by her teammates to give a speech in the locker room. “I just told them how surreal it was, how unbelievable it was, the fact that I was actually playing with the people that I grew up watching,” she said.The United States is next scheduled to play in the SheBelieves Cup, starting on February 18 in Orlando, Florida.

What’s Soccer Pro Crystal Dunn’s Next Chapter? Fighting For The Recognition She Deserves

Alana GlassContributor   SportsMoney   I cover women in sports  FORBES C

Crystal Dunn is a recognized member of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team, but she is not the face of women’s soccer. After 105 caps and seven years as a professional athlete, Dunn is setting out to change that.“With my versatility and being one of the few Black women on the U.S. Women’s National Team, what I would have loved to see happen earlier, which I still hope will happen, is to be recognized as a face of women’s soccer,” said Dunn during a video interview from Portland where she signed a multi-year contract with the National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWLS) Thorns last October.“I am recognized as a player on the national team, which is great. But what I would like to see shift is the whole idea that this sport is predominantly White or that it is a White person’s face that is the face of women’s soccer. I have earned the right to be posterized and be a part of huge campaigns and lead the way for women’s soccer and not feel like I am just a player.”After narrowly missing the 2015 World Cup, a determined Dunn would not leave making a future roster up to chance. She responded to the snub by letting her performance on the pitch do the talking. That season, she was the NWSL’s top scorer and earned the league MVP honor.By 2019, Dunn secured a spot on the squad and solidified a starting role – a defensive one, that is.What largely gets overlooked is that her identity as an outside back – where she has mastered the art of defending and attacking – is not her natural position. Instead, Dunn’s instinct is to play as a midfielder where she has the freedom to be creative, technical and savvy.Playing and training for two different positions is physically and mentally draining, yet somehow Dunn manages to handle both roles with ease and grace. And for American football enthusiasts, her balancing act is the equivalent of asking someone to suit up as a defensive back and running back – that just does not happen! Still, Dunn has firmly accepted both challenges.“I never wanted to be a versatile player,” said Dunn. “Most people want to be great at something. If you are a striker, you want to be known for scoring goals, assisting and creating goals. For me, I did not get the luxury of working on one quality. I have to be good at scoring and creating goals and good at defending.”In the quarterfinal World Cup match against the French women’s national team, Dunn took on the career-defining assignment of defending Les Bleues most dangerous attacker, forward/winger Kadidiatou Diani.Before a sellout crowd in Paris’ Parc des Princes stadium, Diani, who is considered the “Neymar” of Paris Saint-Germain’s women’s club team, targeted Dunn. And France, believing that they could expose Dunn’s inexperience, soon discovered that her well-timed tackles, deflected crosses and swift recoveries would leave the Parisian striker scoreless.“I was nervous about playing a position that I did not deem my favorite or best position. I believed in myself, but of course, outside noise creeps,” Dunn explained while reflecting on the thrilling 2-1 victory.“I look back, and it is probably one of the best performances I have ever had as an outside back because Diani was killing the World Cup. She was scoring many goals. She was the perfect combination of what makes a dangerous striker, which is powerful, technical, savvy on the ball and ruthless.”Coming out of the tournament, Dunn’s stellar performance should have lifted her to stardom. She should have fielded lucrative endorsement deals or posed for magazine covers. Easily, the type of treatment one would expect after winning on the world’s biggest stage – right? Instead, her accomplishments on the pitch barely made a blip on the radar.“I did not feel the buzz that I thought I’d feel after coming off of winning a world championship. And that’s when I started to feel like I’m not branded the way I need to be branded. I’m not marketed the way I needed to be marketed,” Dunn said.“Then with everything that happened with George Floyd’s death due to police brutality is when I realized as a Black woman in this sport, I need to take back some control.”Dunn firmly grabbed the reins of her career late last year by requesting the Thorn’s trade and signing with the sports agency, Disrupt the Game. And so, in an hourlong conversation, Dunn explained that in her next chapter, she is betting on herself, unapologetically speaking her truth and setting out to crush the stereotype that Black women in soccer are just fast and strong athletes.This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Looking back at the 2019 World Cup victory, do you believe that you received ample recognition for your role on the team?

Absolutely not is the short answer. What was great, my teammate, Megan Rapinoe, speaking out [about me] in her interviews and being asked probably about her performance. She took the time to acknowledge my performance and said that we might not have won that game without me playing the way I played. It meant a lot to me, and more of that needs to happen. I know people get caught up talking about themselves, but soccer is a team sport. Not enough is spoken about the qualities of defenders.

You have mentioned wanting notoriety. What would more notoriety look like for you? What would it mean to be given more of the spotlight?

I would love for brands to feel like it is time to move forward towards more diversity in soccer. I hope that this sport, one day, does become everyone’s sport. There are more of us in this sport. There is a bit of diversity, but ultimately, it does not feel like it is everyone’s sport. It does feel predominantly White suburbia’s. People from the middle and upper-middle class can play this sport, but there is not much room and opportunity for those who do not fit that ticket.

When I look at my career, I have made strives. Every year I’m proving more and more that I am a top player every season. My stats are aligned with elite players every year, and then when I get to the end of the year, it does not translate into more endorsements, or it does not translate into how I am viewed on the National team. I am waiting for that shift. I am waiting to have a solid season, and then by the end of the year, all my hard work translates into more opportunities, more involvement with brands, more fans or more followers.

I can only imagine what your existence has been like – going from being the only Black girl on your team to now among a handful of women. All you’ve ever wanted to do is be a top performer. But you’ve endured challenges that others don’t have to go through. And for the rest of the world, soccer is everybody’s sport.

The French Women’s National Team is so diverse. Even the men’s national team is a mixed bag. There are so many Black men – and in midfielder positions – known for being creative and technical. They have the cognitive ability to solve problems, and it is a similar position to the quarterback in the NFL. For a long time, Black quarterbacks were an anomaly.That is why I’m so passionate about wanting to be seen as a ten because it is a position that not a lot of black women play it. Black women, I would say, are mostly center backs, outside backs, and wide forwards. Playing at a ten means that I am now combating the stereotypes of being fast, physical, and strong. I am passionate about wanting the world to see more Black women, especially in the roles that don’t fit the stereotypes that have been placed on us; that goes against everything that people have seen and use to describe Black athletes.

Let’s touch on the evolution of U.S. Soccer and the Black Lives Matter movement. Where does the relationship stand, and what is your role?

I fully believe that the world will not go back to what it was like before George Floyd. Unfortunately, this man had to lose his life in front of the world in a horrific way. People had to see that to believe and understand that this is the reality of Black people in America. We are stepping into another season, and I would love for people to wake up and say Black Lives still Matter. It is a new year, but it is the same until racism is completely taken out of society. We made progress, but how do we move forward?We started the Black Women’s Player Collective that started as a support group for the Black women in the league who feel like they do not have the support and representation on their teams. They can go to this group and share experiences and talk about things they might not feel comfortable

Catarina Macario is on her way to becoming the USWNT’s next big star (from October)

by Jonathan Tannenwald, Posted: October 9, 2020  

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At 1:14 a.m. Friday morning, an earthquake struck American soccer.Just a few hours after Catarina Macario was called into her first senior U.S. women’s national team training camp, the Brazil-born Stanford playmaker made even bigger news. She had acquired U.S. citizenship, starting her on the path to officially join the team she has long dreamed about.The national team has been waiting to welcome her, too. Insiders and outsiders alike have rated her for years as one of the program’s elite prospects. But everyone had to wait for her to become a citizen.“We’re very happy and excited for her — for her to start a new chapter in her life, first and foremost, and then in her career,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said Friday afternoon.

Macario, 21, has lived in the United States since her family moved to San Diego in 2011. She was born in São Luís, Maranhão, a city on Brazil’s northern coast, and grew up in the nation’s capital Brasilia. She played the country’s national sport with as much flair as her male counterparts, but at age 12 was told she could no longer play on boys teams.

Knowing her potential, the family took a gamble. Catarina, her father and her brother went to California while her mother, a surgeon, stayed home to provide financial support. The language barrier and other issues made their new life difficult, but Catarina’s soccer skills shone through and caught the attention of college powerhouse Stanford. The school that produced Christen Press, Kelley O’Hara and Andi Sullivan wanted to make Macario its next star.

To say Macario took off is an understatement. With a skill set combining a playmaker’s touch and a striker’s finish, she racked up 63 goals and 47 assists in 68 games over three years. She won national championships in 2017 and 2019, and has won the last two MAC Hermann trophies — college soccer’s Heisman.

“Anyone who has seen Catarina play in college can tell that she’s a special talent,” Andonovski said. “She’s incredibly skillful, can score in many different ways, and is just fun to watch. She’s got a flair, she’s very creative, and she’s got the ability to create chances and score goals that anyone would welcome on a team.”

Macario has had plenty of big-time teammates. The 2017 squad featured Tierna Davidson, who won a World Cup two years later, plus Sullivan, Paris Saint-Germain’s Alana Cook, and the Washington Spirit’s Jordan DiBiasi and Tegan McGrady. Last year’s team had Sophia Smith, whom the Portland Thorns made this year’s No. 1 NWSL draft pick.

» READ MORE: How a Union assistant coach helped Stanford build the U.S. women’s soccer team dynasty

Davidson and Smith left college early, and Macario could have too. But she chose to stay to further her education. The NWSL would have to wait, and fans gave thanks that the league was stable enough to be able to.

While Macario was pursuing a degree, she was also pursuing U.S. citizenship. She got a green card six years ago, and was on track to become a citizen late this year or early next. The moment came this week, and fans erupted on Twitter as if they’d seen her score a goal.“I’m very excited about her personally, and I know that this means a lot because she has put a lot of effort individually” into getting citizenship, said Andonovski, who’s also a naturalized immigrant. He was born in North Macedonia in 1976 and came to this country in 2000 to play indoor soccer for a pro team in Wichita, Kanasas.“I know it is stressful at times, but it is very fulfilling,” Andonovski said. “The moment you apply for citizenship is the moment when you decide to say, ‘I want this to be my home, I want this to be my country, and I want to be American.’ The moment you get the papers is when you feel like you’ve been accepted, and you’re wanted to be part of this country.”A key piece of the process is a change in FIFA’s rules for players who move countries. The governing body used to require five years of residence beyond a player’s 18th birthday, which would have kept Macario waiting until October of 2022. to be precise. Now the rule simply requires five years of residence, period, for players 18 or older.Andonovski said Macario is in the process of getting a U.S. passport, and U.S. Soccer will soon ask FIFA to approve Macario’s eligibility. When that happens, she’ll immediately be in the race for a spot on next year’s Olympic team. And the notoriously small 18-player roster will become that much harder for everyone else to make.“Hopefully, what she has demonstrated in the college game, she can demonstrate on the national team level, because we know it takes a little bit more to be a special player at that level,” he said.A few minutes later, Andonovski said the words that U.S. fans have waited so long to hear: “I think that she will be ready for Tokyo.”As with any marquee prospect, it’s sometimes necessary to slow down the hype train. But everyone who has watched Macario up close believes she’s the real deal. And you can be sure that the earthquake felt by American soccer fans had aftershocks in the Netherlands, France, England and Australia — the nations that have the best shots at dethroning the U.S. in the coming years.

Biden and the Beautiful Game

Joe Biden has helped inaugurate an MLS club, been to three World Cups, had a say on equal pay and, as the new POTUS, will play a part in 2026 World Cup preparations. Here are the tales from his time around the highest levels of soccer.

BRIAN STRAUS  JAN 20, 2021For four years—through a World Cup in South Africa, a season in Germany, three years in Mexico and around two dozen national team matches across the U.S., Europe and Latin America—DaMarcus Beasley kept the coin in his toiletry kit.He placed it there after receiving it as a gift at the conclusion of a White House visit—it seemed as good a place as any to store it for a while—but then never had a reason to take it out. It remained mixed in with his grooming supplies, transported between hotel rooms and locker rooms and back, out of some mix of habit, superstition and inertia.“Every once in a while you clean out your bag, your toothpaste is done or whatever, but I always kept the coin in my bag,” Beasley said.In May 2010, Beasley was part of a U.S. national team delegation that was welcomed by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington, D.C., where they’d share a few words and take a few pictures before heading to South Africa for the World Cup. It was supposed to be a quick visit but the U.S. Soccer Federation went all out anyway, embroidering team jackets for the players and staff to wear and fitting everyone with brand new dress pants and shoes. “I told the team prior to that, ‘Guys, this doesn’t happen. You don’t usually go to the White House for a visit until you win something, and we’ve got two presidents and a VP,’ ” then U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said. “That doesn’t normally happen.”Photos were shot, pleasantries were exchanged and Obama and Clinton took their leave. The rest of the group was milling about, waiting for their bus when Biden, who was still hanging around, was approached by U.S. team trainer Jim Hashimoto and press officer Michael Kammarman. Like Biden, Hashimoto and Kammarman were University of Delaware alumni. Biden was happy to reminisce for a few minutes, and he then asked what the team was up to. The plan was to board the bus and head straight back to Philadelphia, where there was training that afternoon and then an exhibition game against Turkey two days later.No, Biden meant, what are they up to right now?Waiting for the bus.

There was Biden’s opening. Within moments, the national team was off on an impromptu tour of the West Wing that included the Oval Office, the Roosevelt Room and a once-in-a-lifetime group chat in Biden’s own office. As they left, Biden gave each member of the U.S. delegation a gold-and-blue vice presidential challenge coin as a memento of their unplanned time together.“He told the story about what the coin means. Just in layman’s terms, basically if you go into any bar—it started at military bars—and you put it in front of a higher rank, they have to buy you a drink,” said Beasley, the quick and skillful midfielder who was on his way to a third World Cup. “We thought that was so cool. That would probably never happen, because we don’t know if we’d ever be in position to even experience that, just putting the coin on the bar table in front of a general and have them buy you a drink. But just Biden telling the story about what it meant was pretty cool.”Biden had made the secret and exalted—these rooms that were the seat of such power and these traditions of people who represented the country in such serious and symbolic ways—seem accessible and familiar. That struck a chord with Beasley.“So that’s why I kept the coin. I just kept it because maybe it gave me luck,” he said. “I had it in my bag because of the story he told. You get a gift from the White House, from the vice president, you just keep it in your bag.”Beasley never intended to keep the coin among his toiletries for four years. He wasn’t planning on playing in a fourth World Cup—no American man ever had. And he certainly didn’t imagine that Biden would become such a familiar presence, someone whose path kept intersecting with U.S. soccer’s throughout his eight years as vice president and then again as he pursued the top job in 2019–20. It turned out that Beasley and Biden running into each other in a bar, so to speak, wasn’t that far-fetched.
Family was the catalyst for Biden’s first significant soccer moment as vice president. Beau, who died in 2015, was good friends with a local developer named Rob Buccini. Buccini’s company was involved in the construction of the Philadelphia Union’s stadium in Chester, Pa., and he became a minority investor in the new MLS club. While the arena was being finished, the Union’s first few home games in the spring of 2010 were scheduled to take place at the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field.“Beau actually was a fan of the game, God rest his soul, and he came to Philadelphia Union games. Beau and Rob were Delaware guys and grew up together and had a relationship,” recalls Union founder and former CEO Nick Sakiewicz. “Buccini’s suite was two doors down from mine, and whenever Beau was in Rob’s suite I’d go over and say hello to them. We’d have soccer conversations, and [Beau] was pretty knowledgeable.”Sakiewicz and his staff were busily preparing for their inaugural home game against D.C. United, for which they’d sold nearly 35,000 tickets, when he got a call from Buccini.“‘He said, ‘I think Beau can pull this off.’ And then we just kind of went into overdrive,” Sakiewicz says.The vice president was coming.The security logistics were significant, and that included the closure of exits off I-95. When Joe Biden took the field alongside Natalie, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter and MLS commissioner Don Garber, there still were thousands of fans waiting to get inside.

By then, Sakiewicz had enjoyed the chance to chat a bit with the VP.“He was very talkative, like in the staging area before we went out to midfield,” Sakiewicz says. “He was very conversational about soccer. He knew the sport was exploding in the U.S. He said he watches the U.S. men and women, and we talked about the women’s national team, because they’re so successful. He said how great it was to have an MLS team playing in Chester. He knew all about the stadium, about the redevelopment that we were trying to spark on the riverfront. I was really surprised how knowledgeable he was about the project. He called it the stadium in his backyard.”Biden wasn’t as comfortable, however, with actually kicking a soccer ball. The idea was to have him join Philadelphia soccer legend Walter Bahr, a member of the famous 1950 U.S. World Cup team, at midfield, and then pass the ball to Union captain Danny Califf. “He was like, ‘I don’t know. I’m not used to kicking things. I’m usually throwing things,’ ” Sakiewicz says. “So we were showing him. ‘Use the side of your foot. Don’t use your toe’—kind of giving him some advice about how not to make a fool of himself.”In the end, as comfortable as he is in the spotlight, Biden deferred to Natalie. His five-year-old granddaughter did the honors. Sakiewicz, now the commissioner of the National Lacrosse League, has the ball she kicked on a shelf in his office.Biden didn’t stay for the game, and even though the fans waiting outside missed the Union’s first home goal, which Sébastien Le Toux scored in the fourth minute, the Frenchman obliged by scoring two more in a 3–2 win.“[Biden] was awesome. When he came into the stadium, he shook hands and gave everyone big congratulatory hugs. He was awesome, and his family was awesome,” Sakiewicz says. “We were honored to have him there. It was absolutely the cherry on top of the cake. It was a long slog, bringing that team to Philadelphia.”Just six weeks later, Biden was chatting with Hashimoto and Kammarman and inviting the U.S. World Cup squad to take its improvised West Wing tour. There, he was much more in his element. If you want to put Biden at ease, don’t ask him to kick a ball—ask him to hold court. He’s clearly someone who’s energized by being around others. He’s comfortable talking to just about anybody, and it should come as no surprise that he’s interested in athletes. Football and baseball helped shape and embolden Biden as a young man growing up with a stutter.“As much as I lacked confidence in my ability to communicate verbally, I always had confidence in my athletic ability,” he wrote in his 2007 memoir, Promises to Keep. “Sports were as natural to me as speaking was unnatural. And sports turned out to be my ticket to acceptance—and more. I wasn’t easily intimidated in a game, so even when I stuttered, I was always the kid who said, ‘Give me the ball.’ ”

So on that day in May 2010, Biden had a couple dozen world-class athletes at his disposal, and he was going to make the most of it. He invited the team into his office, asked them all to take a seat and proceeded to engage them for what Gulati estimated was about 30 minutes. Photos show the players bunched together in the room, standing along the edges or crammed onto one of the two sofas in the center. Assistant coach Mike Sorber somehow wound up in Biden’s desk chair.“We just chitchatted. We just talked. We talked about the World Cup,” Beasley says. “I think a couple guys asked him a couple questions. He was very personable, very warm, very open, and very cool. You could tell why him and Obama are very good friends. They kind of have that same personality with people—with people they don’t even know.”Biden asked a couple of his guests where they went to college before realizing that by then, gifted young players were turning pro before heading off to school. He told the team all about how the West Wing functions and what the vice president does. He referenced the U.S.’s rough go at the 2006 World Cup and expressed hope that 2010 would be better. Then he sent them on their way with the coins, telling them he’d be seeing them again soon.“When you go to the White House, everybody’s excited. You don’t want to make a mistake. You don’t know how to act. You’re in a historic place, not just in America but in the world,” Beasley says. “So to be there and for him to take his time and really be a normal—not the vice president of the United States but just be a normal human being and sit down and talk to us—that was memorable.”Soon they all were off to Africa—the World Cup team to its base camp in Irene, just south of Pretoria, where it would prepare for its tournament debut against England, and Biden to meetings in Egypt and Kenya before heading to Johannesburg. There, Biden visited the U.S. Consulate and met with South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, with whom he joked about the prospect of a South Africa–U.S. World Cup final. Biden attended the opening match between the hosts and Mexico. And then the next morning—the day of U.S.-England—he joined Gulati for a meeting with FIFA president Sepp Blatter.“A big part of the reason he came over was to help us pitch for the [2022] World Cup,” Gulati says.Obama had been planning to go himself, but he stayed behind to deal with the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that April. So Biden went to South Africa instead and found himself face to face with Blatter, who in some ways was as powerful as a head of state. FIFA’s Executive Committee would vote for the 2018 and 2022 hosts six months later.“We talked at length about what the United States had to offer the World Cup and what the World Cup had to offer the United States,” Biden said in a video produced by the White House. “I’m hopeful that we have a real clear shot that by the end of this year, getting picked as the site of one of the next two World Cups.”Blatter, Gulati and Biden convened in Blatter’s room at the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton, a ritzy suburb of Johannesburg.“None of Blatter’s people came. So it was just the three of us up in his suite,” Gulati says. “And Biden was pitching the World Cup for us. He was fantastic at doing it. All the little things when you’re trying to be friends with someone—you touch them on the knee. Blatter said, ‘Well, I have only one vote.’ [Biden] basically said, ‘Yeah, but the referee is very important in all of this.’ ”Biden was just as quick on his feet once the meeting was over.“We’re leaving, and we’re running into a few people along the way. [Franz] Beckenbauer, we run into on the elevator,” Gulati recollects. “And then we get to the lobby, and there’s people in the lobby, and [Biden is] just phenomenal. He stops. He starts talking to people. Everything you hear about him and the way he is, he starts talking to people he doesn’t know. He goes over and talks to the woman at the registration desk. ‘So where are you from?’ Just engaging in a way that politicians can if they’re warm and personable.”That evening in Rustenburg, a small city about 75 miles northwest of Johannesburg, Biden asked if he could meet with the national team ahead of its match against England. That typically isn’t done. Locker room visits are for postgame. But Biden was a friend, so coach Bob Bradley made an exception. Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, made their way down to the depths of the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, and the vice president delivered a few words to the team. The Bidens then returned to their seats and watched the Americans tie the favored English, 1–1, before going on to win their first-round group for the first time in 80 years.Biden would miss out on the next two significant American soccer events. He intended to go to Zurich in December 2010 to help Clinton make the U.S.’s final case to host the 2022 World Cup, but he was unable to make the trip. Biden’s ability to work a room probably wouldn’t have mattered, as Qatar won a vote that remains shrouded in suspicion. FIFA has since overhauled its system for awarding World Cup hosting rights, the Executive Committee was disbanded and, in 2015, Blatter himself was suspended from all FIFA activities for six years for offenses unrelated to the 2022 bid.The U.S. suffered another wrenching defeat in Biden’s absence in the summer of 2011, when the women’s national team blew two leads to Japan and then fell on penalty kicks in the Women’s World Cup final in Frankfurt, Germany. Jill Biden and Chelsea Clinton were there, however, and the future first lady said a few words to the devastated American players back at the team hotel that evening. “Vice President Joe Biden,” Gulati yelled over the din of the celebrating locker room inside the Arenas das Dunas.Thanks to a resolute defensive performance and a stunning, 86th-minute header from 21-year-old defender John Brooks, the U.S. defeated Ghana, 2–1, in its 2014 World Cup opener. That victory in Natal, Brazil, not only put the Americans on course to reach the second round, it cleansed the palate of devastating losses to the Black Stars at the 2006 and 2010 tournaments. The nemesis was defeated. Spirits were soaring.“We’d beaten Ghana. The team’s excited, and you’ve got the vice president of the United States there, so it’s pretty cool,” Gulati says.Biden and his entourage—including granddaughter Maisy—entered the locker room and congratulated the team. Biden saw coach Jürgen Klinsmann standing nearby and immediately joked that when Clint Dempsey scored the U.S.’s first goal shortly after kickoff, Klinsmann seemed happier than Biden was after the 2008 election.Biden began to make his way around the room. Beasley, who’d just played 90 minutes at left back, had to think fast. The players hadn’t known Biden was coming. Beasley rifled through his toiletry kit.“Mr. Vice President,” he said.Biden turned.“I want to show you—I still have the coin from last time.”It was Beasley’s second moment of triumph that day.“I had the coin in my hand, and I was kind of nervous. I was trying to get his attention,” he recalls. “It was so surreal. He was right in front of me, and I didn’t know how to interrupt him from talking. I didn’t know how to approach the vice president of the U.S. How do you do that? It made it easier because it wasn’t a formal setting. He was talking, going around, shaking hands and this and that, and then he finally got to my area.”Biden seemed overjoyed.“Well, I owe the drink,” Biden exclaimed, before putting his arm around Beasley for a photo.“He wasn’t thrown off by it. He has a quick wit. It was great. It was really great,” Beasley says. “You couldn’t have written a better script for that moment for me, how I had the coin and how it happened and winning the game and how it all ended—a really cool moment.”As Biden left, he turned toward Beasley.“Hey man, any time you want to collect,” he said. “I owe you!” https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/G8pBqsYPZjE ***

There were more celebrations the following summer as the U.S. women exorcised their World Cup final demons and thrashed the Japanese, 5–2, in Vancouver.Biden was there at BC Place with his wife, several grandchildren, Sasha Obama and National Soccer Hall of Fame members Mia Hamm and Cobi Jones, among others. Although the Bidens were brought down to the field following the game, interaction with the team was postponed until October, when the USWNT and U.S. Soccer officials visited the White House. Obama was the primary MC that day, but Biden was in attendance. He greeted the players privately and was presented with a national team jersey.Biden’s tenure as VP was coming to a close, but his relationship with the world champion women would strengthen during his subsequent run for president. Meanwhile, Jill Biden had one more unplanned run-in with the American men in the fall of 2016, when her trip to Cuba coincided with a historic friendly staged in Havana. Hurricane Matthew had devastated parts of the Caribbean in early October, and, although the players and coaches could travel, Gulati’s flight was canceled. He was able to improvise, however, thanks to U.S. Soccer’s connections at the White House. A few phone calls were made, and Gulati was on his way to Andrews Air Force Base for a flight to Cuba aboard Air Force Two.Jill Biden visited the team at its Havana hotel, said a few words and then attended the USA’s 2–0 win over Cuba.***

Between Biden’s visit to Vancouver and the start of the 2020 presidential primaries, Megan Rapinoe had evolved from women’s national team star to FIFA Player of the Year and social justice icon. She was the 2019 Women’s World Cup Golden Ball winner, and, as an outspoken advocate for racial and gender equity, she became the most recognizable face of the WNT’s equal pay crusade.In April 2020, Rapinoe hosted Joe and Jill Biden in a lengthy Instagram Live conversation, during which Jill Biden showed off her partially-dyed purple hair “in solidarity with pay equity,” and Joe Biden said, “You made me a hero,” with a signed WNT jersey he could present to his granddaughter.The men’s national team is the vehicle through which a president or VP can relate to more of the world. But the women’s national team possesses the star power at home.Rapinoe offered to be considered as Biden’s eventual VP nominee, to which Biden responded, “You would have to take a pay cut to become vice president.”Rapinoe answered, “You know I’m not into that!”Biden said, “You should get the same pay your colleagues, that men get. Not a joke. We’ve been hollering about that for a long time.”A few days later, a U.S. federal judge dealt a massive blow to the WNT’s year-long pursuit of relief, declaring via summary judgment that the U.S. women didn’t face discrimination from U.S. Soccer and by some measures had been paid more than the men. In addition, in dismissing a significant part of the lawsuit, the judge found that the WNT had rejected a contract similar to the one signed by the MNT.Left with only a dispute over select working conditions to litigate, the WNT began the process to be able to appeal and vowed to keep fighting.Then Joe Biden emerged with a stunning show of support.U.S. Soccer didn’t respond at the time. Gulati’s successor as president, Carlos Cordeiro, had resigned in March because of sexist language used by attorneys working for the Federation. The new president, former WNT star Cindy Parlow Cone, along with new CEO Will Wilson, pledged to overhaul the governing body’s relationship with its most successful team and work harder to find common ground.There wasn’t much teeth to Biden’s threat. U.S. Soccer doesn’t receive federal funding for its national teams or other programs, and any public money that might support the staging of the 2026 World Cup would be related to the sort of spending that any big event would require, like local security. FIFA and U.S. Soccer executives met several times with members of President Donald Trump’s administration during the bidding process to secure the required visa and tax guarantees.But the power of Biden’s message contributed to a public relations battle that U.S. Soccer knew it was losing, regardless of what happened in court. Parlow Cone and her colleagues are well aware that making things right isn’t just about the letter of the law.“We want President Biden and all Americans to know that we are committed to equal pay and working together with our women’s national team players,” Parlow Cone said in a statement. “We’ve offered them the same compensation as the men’s national team for the games that we control, but haven’t been able to come to an agreement due to their requirement for us to pay the difference in FIFA World Cup prize money, which we don’t control.“We’re doing everything we can to find a new way forward with our women’s national team players,” she added. “We truly want to work together, and our hope is we can meet soon to find a final resolution on this litigation. If we can come together and collaborate, we can have a much bigger impact in growing women’s soccer not only here in the United States, but across the world.”Having a friend in the White House also means having someone who’s going to call you out and keep you honest.”It feels good to know we have a supporter of soccer and our team in the White House,” Rapinoe said in a statement. “From the interactions I’ve had with him, I can tell he’s a man of great empathy and has an innate drive to help people and do his best to try to heal this country. From the World Cups in 2015 to 2019 and his continued support of our fight for equality, we feel his support for our game and I’m hoping we can win something big so we can visit the White House.”Preparation for the 2026 World Cup, which will take place in 16 cities across North America (including 10 in the U.S.), has been delayed by the pandemic. FIFA visits to potential host markets were postponed last year. Most of the help required from the federal government will be logistical, and Gulati, who still sits on the FIFA Council (the larger Executive Committee replacement), says most of it likely will be handled via an interagency coordinator—someone who can get the right person from Treasury or Homeland Security on the phone. Someone from Biden’s administration will fill that role.“It’s not Biden sitting and negotiating what the tax rules are going to be,” Gulati explains. “That means him saying to the right people, ‘Hey, let’s get this done but don’t go overboard,’ or ‘Let’s get this done no matter what.’ ”A number of people involved with the incoming administration have some connection to soccer, starting with chief of staff Ron Klain, who’s a friend of Gulati’s, a fan and the father of a former Harvard player. There’s confidence that World Cup organizers will have a sympathetic ear at the highest level.“Ever since the bidding process for the FIFA World Cup 2026 began, the governments and member associations of Canada, Mexico and the USA have been extremely supportive in their eagerness to host what will be an amazing event for the whole world,” FIFA said in a written statement.“The FIFA President would like to express his sincere congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and would be honored to meet him at the earliest possible opportunity. As Mr. Biden is a soccer fan himself and someone who believes in the unique power of sport to bring people together, FIFA is greatly looking forward to a fruitful cooperation with Mr. Biden’s administration and to continue the excellent working relationship with the governments, member associations and local organizers of all three host countries.”

Beasley won’t be on the field in 2026. He finally retired at the end of the Houston Dynamo’s 2019 MLS campaign and now, at 38, he’s working on bringing a USL League One (third tier) pro team to his hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind.The coin is on a shelf at his home in Houston.“After that, I put it in my house so I wouldn’t lose it. I stopped carrying it, now that I met Joe,” he says. “It had served its purpose. I don’t need to wait until I meet another official or military person. It served its purpose. Now it’s with my other memorabilia, safe and sound.”He’s right. He doesn’t need the coin. Biden’s promise is right there on video. The only potential problem is that Biden is going to be pretty busy for at least the next four years, and Beasley isn’t yet sure how he’s going to collect the drink he’s owed.“I’ve got to win something so I can get to the White House,” he says. “I like tequila, so hopefully there’s some tequila in the Oval Office.”

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1/22/20 USWNT vs Colombia Tonight 7 pm ESPN2, US Men next Sun 7 pm, McKinney wins Trophy with Juventus, FA Cup Weekend

Games to Watch this Weekend

With FA Cup this weekend –not a ton of big games to watch this weekend – most of them will be next week.  Of course Man United and Liverpool do battle again – after their disappointing 0-0 draw last week  – this time in FA Cup Action on Sunday at 12 noon on ESPN+.   We also get Genoa traveling to Juventus and American MF Weston McKinney (fresh off winning his first major trophy – the Italia Supercup Wed) on Sunday morning on ESPN2 at 6:30 am.  (Set that recorder).  Sunday also gives us a chance to see new 19 yo American forward Hoppe (scorer of 5 goals in 3 games) as Schalke will host Bayern Munich on Sunday at 9:30 am on ESPN+.   Weekday action in the EPL next Wed has Everton vs Leicster City at 3 pm on NBCSN, and Tottenham vs Liverpool Thurs 3:15 pm on NBCSN.  (see full schedule in the OBC)

US Ladies vs Colombia Tonight 7 pm ESPN2

The US ladies finally took the field again for the first time in forever.  It was nice to have Rapino and Llyod back on the forward line as both had assists to Sam Mewis helping her to her first hat-trick for the US.  In fact it was an all Mewis affair as her sister Kristie – came off the bench to score – giving the Mewis’s 4 goals on the night.   Colombia certainly had a young squad and did not put up much of a fight  – especially on the offensive end.  But Colombian veteran GK Sepulveda was spectacular in holding what could have been 8-0 to just a 4-0 scoreline for the US.  The ladies should face a stronger team tonight, Friday, Jan 22 at 7 pm on ESPN2.  It was great to see Catarina Macario – the Brazilian who flipped to the US this week.  Having come to the US at 12 and playing for Stanford for 3 season’s  (where she was player of the year last year) she’s on her way to Lyon in France where she’s headed to one of the top teams in the world.  She looked good and will certainly have an increasing role for this US team and could become its next superstar.  I look forward to seeing her perhaps start Friday night in the middle as I suspect coach will play a lot of new players in this second game.   Last time to enjoy before the She Believe’s Cup coming in late-Feb.   

US Men – play next Sun 7 pm on FS1.

So maybe the US does have a new Hoppe after 19 year-old American forward Matthew Hoppe became the first American to score a hat trick in the German Bundesliga for Schalke in just his 5th game?   Then the next game he scored again, the following game again – that’s 5 goals in 3 games and ties him for the goal lead in Jan with Bayern’s World Player of the Year Robert Lewandowski.  I think its time for a call up to the US team for him like soon!!  Interesting to see Seattle and US winger Jordan Morris is evidently going on loan to Swansea who is in the running for advancement in the Championship in England (2nd division).  I would like to think with starters now at Chelsea, Juventus, and Barcelona that someone in the EPL or Germany would take a flyer on one of the best wingers on the US National team.  Perhaps he can help Swansea get back in the EPL – and at least be seen by bigger European teams.  Cool story here on American’s in Europe.  The US Men and U23s are still training and will face Trinidad and Tabago on Sunday, Jan 31 at 7 pm on FS1.  

FA Cup on ESPN+

The  FA Cup is back and Chorley from the 6th division will host EPL squad Wolverhampton TODAY at 2:45 pm on ESPN plus.  Other giant killer games include Crawley Town of the 4th division traveling to Bournemouth at 10 am on Saturday and 4th tier Cheltenham Town hosting the mighty Manchester City assumably with US GK Zach Steffan in Goal at 12:30 Sat.  and 4th Tier Wycombe Wanderers hosting Tottenham on Monday at 2:45 pm.  Of course the big game is Man United vs Liverpool at 12 noon on ESPN+ Sunday.  Me I will be rooting for the little guys vs the EPL squads – Yes Gotta love the FA Cup!

GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Fri,  Jan 22

2:45 ESPN+                       Chorley vs Wolverhampton FA Cup

2:30 pm ESPN+                 Dortmund (Reyna) vs M’Gladbach

3 pm beIN Sport                PSG vs Montipellier

7 pm ESPN2 USA Ladies vs Colombia

Sat,  Jan 23

                              (FA Cup Games on ESPN+)

7:15 ESPN+                         Southampton vs Arsenal FA Cup

10 am ESPN+                      Bournemouth vs Crawley Town

10 am ESPN+                      Swansea City (Morris soon?) vs Nottingham Forest

9:30 am ESPN+                   Bayer Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg (Brooks)

12:30 pm ESPN+               Cheltenham Town vs Man City

3 pm Peacock                       Aston Villa vs New Castle United (Yedlin)

3 pm beIn Sport                     Alaves vs Real Madrid

Sun, Jan 24

6:30 am ESPN2                    Juve vs Bologna 

7 am EPSN+                         Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Luton Town FA Cup

9:30 am ESPN+                   Schalke (Hoope) vs Bayern Munich

12 noon ESPN+                  Man United vs Liverpool FA Cup

3 pm EPSN+                         Everton vs Sheffield Wednesday

3 pm beIn Sport                   Atletico Madrid vs Valencia 

Mon,  Jan 25

2:45 ESPN+                         Wycombe Wanderers vs Tottenham FA Cup

Tues,  Jan 26

2:45 pm ESPN2 or +         Inter Milan vs AC Milan  Coppa Italia

Weds,  Jan 27

1 pm NBCSN                      Chelsea (Pulisic ) vs Wolverhampton

2:45 pm ESPN2 or +         SPAL vs Juventus –  Coppa Italia

3:!5 pm NBCSN                Everton vs Leicester City

Thurs  Jan 28

3 pm NBCSN                     Tottenham vs Liverpool

Sun, Jan 31

7 pm FS1                            US Men vs Trinidad and Tobago

USA Women


Secret to U.S. women’s soccer team’s success? Intense internal competition
LA Times
Sam Mewis hat trick helps USWNT past Colombia
USWNT vs. Colombia, 2021 friendly: What we learned  By Donald Wine II
Mewis Sisters Power USWNT’s 2021-Opening Rout of Colombia  BY MOLLY GEARY SI

– Sauerbrunn named new USWNT captain
– USWNT’s Dahlkemper completes move to Man City
– Macario files FIFA switch to rep USWNT

Trinity Rodman is ready to make her own Rodman legacy in pro soccer   Kathleen McNamee

USA MEN

SSFC Spotlight: Matthew Hoppe an overnight sensation in Schalke  By Brendan Joseph S&S
How USMNT prospects adapt to life in Europe and what their clubs do to help
dESPN
USMNT to play Trinidad & Tobago to conclude January Camp Jan 31 7 pm FS1
Americans at home: The pros and cons of Jordan Morris moving to Swansea City
USMNT 2021 to-do list: Find a striker, build depth behind stars
USMNT’s Aaronson scores in FC Salzburg debut
U.S., Mexico set for Olympic qualifying in March
Orlando’s Perea flips to USMNT from Colombia
A few minutes with Aaronson |
 Stock watch: Hoppe, Musah, Yedlin, Green | 
Scouting report: Otasowie

WORLD

FA Cup: How to watch Manchester United – Liverpool, 15 other ties
Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten home run ended by Burnley

Surging Man City to be without De Bruyne for 4-6 weeks

Why Chelsea aren’t Giving up on Lampard Yet
What’s wrong with Liverpool? Maybe not as much as you think

Title-chasing Leicester suffer Vardy blow

Borussia Dortmund face a critical month, yet another rebuild. How did they fall behind?
 
5hStephan Uersfeld and Tom Hamilton

Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey conquerors have budget under $1m a year  12hChris Wright
Milan and Inter continue duel for top spot, Roma set for Spezia rematch

King size: keeper sets world record for long-range goal

USWNT could win Olympic gold if they can balance experience with next generation – Julie Foudy ESPNFC

:46 PM ET. Thankfully, eventually, we found a way.

– Sauerbrunn named new USWNT captain
– USWNT’s Dahlkemper completes move to Man City
– Macario files FIFA switch to rep USWNT

I can’t even imagine how many times in 2020, the current national team must have yelled, building character! or, perhaps, something more colorful. With the pandemic came the shut-down of leagues and, then, the shut-down of sports, the closure of fields, parks, gyms… all the things you need in your profession to help maintain your game. So the players did what any motivated athlete does… they figured out a way to make it work, safely. They went overseas to play, they played in an NWSL bubble, they picked up games and training where they could.Thankfully, eventually, they found a way.If you need any further proof on if they passed the test of adjusting and adapting to 2020, look no further than their game in the Netherlands on Nov. 27 last year. It was a replay of the 2019 World Cup final and, it’s worth noting, against a very good Dutch team that had many players in professional leagues who had continued to keep playing (more consistently than the US, that’s for sure) in Europe after much of the continent brought sports back.I thought the U.S. team would understandably look rusty and tire quickly, having very few players who were fit enough to last 90 minutes. Instead, we saw the USWNT run the Dutch off the pitch. And now, as 2021 greets us with a huge Faustian laugh (wait, that is not how it was scripted), the big question — WHERE IS THE TEAM? in the continuum of growth given the challenges of 2020 — has been answered.

The bigger question, in my opinion, leading into the Olympics in July is: how do you sprinkle in some youth into this veteran group? Or maybe you don’t. But I would argue that it’s the most important decision that coach Vlatko Andonovski has to weigh in these coming months.Carli Lloyd turns 39 at the start of the Olympics. Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn will turn 36 right before the Olympics. But it is not their ages that matter, of course; it’s always what accompanies the number in terms of the training environment and conditions they’re in.Carli Lloyd has missed much of 2020 from a playing perspective due to injury. Megan Rapinoe has also barely played in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, and as she said recently, “I was not ready for competitive games because I did not have a consistent training environment with teammates.” She spoke of “needing a longer runway”. And equally important, her body just needed a rest.There is a reason why no Women’s National Team has ever won the World Cup and then won the Olympics the very next year. It is super-tough turn. The players are exhausted. Maybe, dare I say, this Olympic delay allows for rest that actually makes the team better because two of their biggest superstars were allowed to physically & mentally recharge. Or, maybe not because the time off was too long. These next three months will tell us everything.Can Lloyd and Rapinoe come back after such a long layoff with the same force and game-changing ability? With only 18 players on an Olympic roster (compared to 23 for a World Cup), it’s hard to make the argument that you would take them at less than full fitness. And if you don’t take them, which young players can fill the void? Are these younger players ready for the big stage? How does that affect the dynamic of this team? So many questions to be answered.The great news is the fact there are some very talented young players who have the potential to break into that 18 player Olympic roster. Just to name a few…

– Catarina Macario, the Stanford superstar who moved from Brazil to the United States when she was 12 years old, was told on Jan. 13 that she is now eligible, as a U.S. citizen, to play for the United States of America.This is a player who scored at will at Stanford (she led the nation in goals and assists in 2019), led them to a national title in 2017 and 2019, and was twice the Mac Hermann Trophy winner for best collegiate soccer player. She will not conclude her senior season at Stanford as she just signed with Olympique Lyonnais in France.

– Sophia Smith, also from Stanford University, was drafted as the top pick by the NWSL’s Portland Thorns in 2020 and dominated the youth national teams. A broken ankle her freshman year at Stanford in 2018 slowed her career a beat, but Sophia made it known she was back and healthy after being named the 2019 College Cup MVP.  

Also clearly in the mix of younger players still in college or fresh out …

– Emily Fox of UNC, who just got drafted as the #1 NWSL pick by expansion team, Racing Louisville
– Jaeline Howell, a junior from Florida State, who helped lead her FSU team to a national title in 2018
– Naomi Girma, a junior at Stanford, who was recently voted US Soccer Young Player of the Year

It’s a great problem to have if you are Coach Andonovski, but hard decisions await. Buckle up!

USWNT vs Colombia, 2021 friendly: What we learned

The Mewii are unstoppable ! Stars and Stripes By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jan 19, 2021, 8:29am PST

The United States Women’s National Team opened 2021 the way they played throughout 2020: breezing to victory. Their 4-0 victory over Colombia at Exploria Stadium last night was an expected result for the best team on the planet, but it was how they played (and a standout performance on the Colombian side) that gave us something to take and hopefully see how they improve when the two teams meet again on Friday.

The Mewii are on fire.

The last 5 goals for the USWNT have gone like this: Kristie Mewis, Samantha Mewis, Samantha Mewis, Samantha Mewis, Kristie Mewis. Samantha Mewis followed up her incredible 2020 campaign, where she was U.S. Soccer’s Women’s Player of the Year, by nabbing a hat trick against Colombia. It was a natural and perfect hat trick, scoring the first goal with her left, the second with her head, and the third with her right foot (We here don’t care that the 3rd was via penalty). Mewis has somehow improved from the final part of 2020, where for Manchester City and the USWNT she has starred.However, the other person on the team that has been on fire lately has been Kristie Mewis, who came on as a substitute last night to score the 4th and final goal of the night. Since she was called up to the USWNT for their friendly against The Netherlands back in November, she’s been terrific off the bench. She scored the 2nd goal against the Dutch, starting the Mewii connection of power.In a year that’s super important to determine who will be a part of the 18 players and 2 alternates that head to Tokyo for the Olympics this summer, Kristie Mewis has given every reason why she should be on that plane. And, the love between the two has, in a way, made them both play loose on the field. It’s a joy to watch, and I hope we get a lot more of both Kristie and Samantha on the field in 2021.

The high pressure is suffocating and exciting.

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski said before the match that the team intended to play with a high pressure, and golly did they do just that. Samantha Mewis scoring inside the first 5 minutes of the match was a testament to the relentless high pressure that the team had on both offense and defense. It was suffocating to Colombia’s attack, and their defense couldn’t handle the pressure. It also made it so the American defense and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher needed other ways to entertain themselves for the vast majority of the match.The U.S. outshot Colombia 22-0 (11 on target). The USWNT controlled possession 64% of the time, and the only reason it wasn’t higher was because they were taking all those shots. They had 80% pass accuracy while limiting Colombia to only 62% pass accuracy. The pressure never let up, and it created a ton of scoring chances for the Americans. They could be crisper in the attacking third with those shots, and they probably can’t be as aggressive against a better team. Still, it’s clear that the team will be effective at putting incredible pressure on a defense with success.

Sandra Sepúlveda was the player of the match.

No offense to Samantha Mewis, but Colombian goalkeeper Sandra Sepúlveda was the MVP of the entire match. She made some incredible saves on the night to keep her team in it as long as possible, and he was dazzling on the night. The relentless pressure that the USWNT placed on Colombia made Sepúlveda incredibly busy on the night. She had 7 saves in total, and her play caused more shots to go just wide or over the bar that didn’t necessarily count in the save column.The USWNT wasn’t as sharp on the offensive end as they could have been, but their frustration was assisted by Sepúlveda’s performance. She stood up to the high pressure relatively well compared to the rest of her teammates, and the USWNT will have to figure out how to finish against Sepúlveda should she remain in goal for the Colombians on Friday night.

We are right to be excited about Catarina Macario’s debut.

The most exciting moment of the evening, outside of the goals, was the debut of Catarina Macario. Macario debuted at the start of the second half, coming on as a substitute for Megan Rapinoe. She was employed as the 11, which is something that Vlatko Andonovski admitted was not a part of his game plan. A knock picked up by Sophia Smith in warmups caused Andonovski to switch up his plans and place Macario in that spot. But, you could see why everyone has been highly anticipating the debut of the first naturalized American to play for the USWNT.Her creativity at times leaves you breathless, as if you know she’s about to do something special. She may not have scored, but you can see the talent and the potential in her, and she belonged on the field. We will see how she continues to integrate with the team on the field, but it’s clear already that she could become the next superstar for the best team on the planet.The next match for the USWNT will be a rematch against Colombia on Friday. Coverage begins at 7:00pm ET on ESPN2.

Sam Mewis’ hat trick, Catarina Macario’s debut highlight USWNT’s 4-0 win over Colombia

by The Associated Press, Updated: January 19, 2021

  •  

ORLANDO, Fla. — Having collected her first career hat trick, the celebration continued for Samantha Mewis as she cheered on her big sister Kristie.

Samantha Mewis scored three goals and Kristie added another to give the United States a 4-0 exhibition victory over short-handed Colombia on Monday.

“I’m just so proud of Kristie. I think it’s so cool to watch her success here and to have her here,” said Samantha Mewis, the reigning U.S. Soccer Player of the Year. “I feel so lucky that we both get to be here and it’s just been so much fun.”

The U.S. extended its unbeaten streak to 33 matches. The defending World Cup champions have a 49-game undefeated streak on home soil.

The teams were set to play at Exploria Stadium again on Friday.Rapinoe served up a perfectly placed cross to Samantha Mewis in front of the goal in the fourth minute. The younger Mewis, who plays for Manchester City of the FA Women’s Super League, scored again in the 33rd minute. She converted a penalty kick early in the second half to complete the hat trick before subbing out.

Kristie Mewis, who came in as a sub in the second half, scored in the 86th minute. It was her third international goal.

The television broadcast caught Samantha’s enthusiastic applause in the stands after her sister’s goal. Kristie has earned call-ups to the national team recently following her standout play for the Houston Dash.

“It’s the first game of 2021, we wanted to start the year off on the right foot. We definitely had been preparing hard for this game so it feels good to come away with a win as a team,” Samantha said. “Then to have some individual success and then to see Kristie score a goal as well, it was just so much fun and I really am just so proud of her.”

Catarina Macario came off the bench for the second half, making her first appearance for the national team. Macario, who was born in Brazil, became a U.S. citizen last fall and recently received approval from FIFA to play for the Americans.

Macario decided to forgo her senior season at Stanford and sign with French powerhouse Lyon.

» READ MORE: NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird faces heat over complex draft rules and Catarina Macario joining Lyon

Catarina Macario, left, made her long-awaited U.S. national team debut.

Colombia was without three players — midfielders Daniela Montoya, Diana Carolina Ospina and defender Carolina Arias — who were in isolation because of COVID-19 tracing protocols. A fourth player, midfielder Ana Gabriela Huertas, had inconclusive test results and was ruled out of the match. Those players could be available on Friday.

“I thought we did a good job but at the same time I want to give credit to the Colombian players for doing a great job in the one-v-one duels,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “When we were putting pressures on individual duels I thought that was the only area we could have done a little bit better.” Andonovski announced before the game that defender Becky Sauerbrunn would take over as team captain. In recent years, the captain’s armband was passed among a group of veterans, including Rapinoe and Lloyd.Andonovski, who replaced Jill Ellis after she stepped down following the 2019 World Cup victory, is 12-0-0 as the U.S coach.

How USMNT prospects adapt to life in Europe and what their clubs do to help

  • ESPN

Joe Scally is one of three young Americans to make the move from the U.S. to Europe this January. Brenden Aaronson went from the Philadelphia Union to FC Salzburg, his former teammate Mark McKenzie signed for Genk, and Scally completed his move to Borussia Monchengladbach having signed for them just over a year ago. Scally packed five suitcases for his move from New York to the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. He had everything covered, from his XBox One to clothes for all seasons, along with various keepsakes, but he forgot one key item: pancake mix. Meanwhile, McKenzie is still trying to work out how to get his prodigious shoe collection (100 pairs and counting) over to Belgium.

Jump to: A few minutes with Aaronson | Stock watch: Hoppe, Musah, Yedlin, Green | Scouting report: Otasowie

United States youth international right-back Scally signed for Borussia Monchengladbach from New York City FC more than a year ago, in December 2019, but he had to wait until this month to join them following his 18th birthday on New Year’s Eve. On Jan. 3, he waited until the last possible moment to wave goodbye to his family and girlfriend at the departure gates of John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens and flew to Monchengladbach to complete the move that had been a year in the making.Scally had never lived away from home before — he discovered early on that he could master eggs for breakfast, but struggled to put together lunch and dinner. His current specialty is sausage and pasta, cooked in an air fryer. “I throw in some sauce as well,” he told ESPN.For now, Scally is living on the Borussia Monchengladbach campus, which houses their stadium and training ground. They have four apartments in the on-site hotel for new players; from there, the club’s player liaison officers will help them find permanent accommodation. Scally plans to live alone, but find somewhere in the city center big enough to welcome his family and partner once COVID-19 lockdown regulations are eased.

Mark McKenzie was introduced as a Genk player last week after joining from the Philadelphia Union. YORICK JANSENS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

An hour away across the Belgian border to the west, McKenzie is settling into life at Genk. He FaceTimed his family as he picked out his apartment and has picked up a car — a Mercedes C-Class. “It’s definitely a step up from my old Honda Accord,” McKenzie told ESPN. He has a photographic memory, meaning he’s comfortable in navigating his new home city, but he still leans on his team manager Wout Maris for some essential local knowledge.

“I’m trying to understand the rules of driving out here and what those are, I think that’s been the biggest adjustment in trying to navigate the speed,” McKenzie says. “Wout was very explicit in stating they have speed sensors everywhere! Watch your speed so you don’t get hit with tickets.”

For Scally, the move to Gladbach was a long time coming. As he played out his final season at NYCFC with his transfer confirmed, his teammates called him “Monchengladbach” in training.

“My focus was on NYCFC, but at the back of my mind I had a little thing, like there was a bigger year coming,” Scally told ESPN. His training plan was tweaked slightly to align it closer with Gladbach’s — he’d do more hang cleans in the gym. And as the months until his move ticked away, he kept in close contact with one of his best friends: Giovanni Reyna at Borussia Dortmund.

“I’ve been talking to him a lot about the living, the play, all this type of stuff,” Scally says. “Especially now as I’m only an hour away from him, I’m able to see him so it makes it a lot easier. He told me in the beginning it’ll be hard, but it gets better … and it’s great.”

Americans in Europe

ESPN highlights the biggest stories around United States stars plying their trade overseas, bringing inside information to their successes and struggles, sitting down with some of the national team’s top players, and scouting the next generation of Americans breaking through across Europe.

Scally has enjoyed the adjustment period, telling ESPN that introduction to life at Gladbach has been “very, very welcoming. The players have taken me under their wing and helped me a lot.” He’s spoken most to Oscar Wendt, the Sweden defender who’s friends with NYCFC full-back Anton Tinnerholm, and 18-year-old midfielder Rocco Reitz. Then comes the training: it’s a higher intensity than what he’s used to, but he’s relishing the chance to get stuck in.

Over at Gent in the Belgian First Division A, center-back McKenzie has found that the intensity of training naturally forces him to take his game to the next level. “I’m trying to ultimately push myself, but also push my teammates, make their jobs, make their lives harder,” McKenzie says. “The thing here is, the processing has to be fast, you’ve got to know what you’ve got to do before you get the ball. Your awareness, where you’re at on the pitch.

“As center-backs, the runs and the interchange between the attackers, and the positions, I think in all those areas, the tempo and the intensity has climbed up a notch.”

Scally has two immediate things on his to-do list. First, he needs to learn German. “It’s tough… I’m starting lessons as I need to learn the language. Most of the guys on the team speak English so it hasn’t been hard but the coach, when he does practice, speaks in German.” And second? He needs to source a different video game console. “Everyone here has PlayStation… the guys on the team were like, ‘We don’t play XBox.’ It’s all FIFA, Fortnite, Call of Duty … I’m good at FIFA.”

Scally is just one of 50 U.S.-qualified players in Germany‘s top three divisions and has followed the path many others have taken from the States to the Continent, or from other countries, to settle in the Bundesliga. At German side TSG Hoffenheim, 16- to 18-year-olds can choose between boarding school and host families. “We like pairing them with host families as it helps them stay grounded and adjust,” says Hoffenheim’s head of international operations, Tony Mamodaly. “But every player is different. Some guys are 16 and are like 25, and others are 22 and have never cooked in their life before.”

Scally turned 18 on New Year’s Eve and was able to complete his move from NYCFC to Borussia Monchengladbach, where he’s already settling in nicely. Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Once the player goes through into the senior setup — or for those new arrivals signed as first-team players — the club has two player liaison officers available alongside the team manager, including one who’s there for the Brazilian players they sign.

“They take care of apartments, logistics and help them settle in,” Mamodaly says. “They give [new signings] recommendations on the best areas to live and also take care of their health insurance. One of the most important things is communication: We want them to be part of the team so they need to speak the language.” Hoffenheim have in-house teachers and a collaboration with Anpfiff ins Leben — an organization that helps young people prepare for the future, both professionally and personally — to help the players adjust.

“We try to help the kids develop as athletes, but also human beings and use sports as a tool to access life,” Mamodaly says.

Hoffenheim are also home to 16-year-old Las Vegas-born midfielder Lucas Tamarez, as well as 19-year-old winger Quincy Butler from Sacramento, California. “We really try to be there for our guys 24/7,” Mamodaly says. In the words of our team manager, we can give them the wings but they need to learn to fly themselves.”

Scally’s still waiting for his cooking to round out, but he’s settled into life at Gladbach, with a steady routine of training and then FaceTiming his family and girlfriend every day. He’s loving life in Germany and is looking forward to his debut, but he’s missing his pancakes. “I can’t find the mix anywhere,” Scally says. “I asked Gio about it and he actually made the same mistake, so he brought it back from home. So I need to find that.”

And while McKenzie has a few pairs of his 100-strong shoe collection with him, he’s trying to work out how to get the rest over. “It’s definitely going to be quite interesting in trying to get my precious cargo from home sent out here,” McKenzie says. “But I got a few of my ‘gem’ pieces with me, just to make my next place feel a little bit like home.” — Tom Hamilton, with additional reporting by Jeff Carlisle and Stephan Uersfeld

A few minutes with … Brenden Aaronson

Aaronson moved to Salzburg with arguably the most hype of any MLS player moving overseas since Alphonso Davies left the Vancouver Whitecaps for Bayern Munich, where he’s gone on to become one of the best left-backs in the world, if not the best. There’s no doubt about it: There is a large contingent of fans in the U.S. more interested than ever in the Austrian Bundesliga.

So, fresh off scoring on his Salzburg debut in a 6-0 friendly win over second-division side Vorwarts Steyr, Aaronson sat down with ESPN’s Sebastian Salazar to talk about his move to Europe.

Stock watch: Assessing the ups and downs of Americans abroad

Matthew HoppeSchalke 04 — On the rise: Hoppe’s breakout has been a curious one. The 19-year-old Californian had never been a particularly proficient scorer in Schalke’s junior ranks, to the point that some at the club were unsure whether he’d make it at senior level, sources told ESPN’s Stephan Uersfeld, but he had a reputation for his hunger and his ferocious training. Injuries in the forward line gave him his shot, and in addition to the height and speed he brings to Schalke’s front line, Hoppe has demonstrated clinical finishing to net four goals in six Bundesliga appearances.

Now that he’s a known quantity, he won’t be able to take opponents by surprise anymore, increasing the pressure on his shoulders, which will only grow following the arrival of club-legend striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Yunus MusahValencia — Trending down: After lighting up La Liga in the opening months of the 2020-21 season, Musah has fallen back to earth. But as he is just 18 years old, “falling back to earth” is only relative to his prodigious beginnings — starting just two of Valencia’s past eight games. According to ESPN’s Sid Lowe, that has little to do with any regression from the New York-born midfielder and everything to do with the return to form and fitness of Goncalo Guedes and Denis Cheryshev, along with the emergence of Thierry Correia pushing Daniel Wass back into midfield.

The circumstances of a thinned squad gave Musah the platform to take off, and the circumstances of teammates now fit and in form has taken it away — for the time being, anyway.

DeAndre YedlinNewcastle United — On the rise: In the first three months of Newcastle’s season, Yedlin had played just 180 minutes, all in the Carabao Cup. In 10 games since the start of December, he’s started six and come off the bench in two more. Steve Bruce seems to be taking a right-back-by-committee approach this season, but at present, the former Seattle Sounders FC standout has the hot hand. Ultimately he may still leave the club when his contract expires this summer — this run of form will only increase the number of interested parties — but his departure may no longer be the foregone conclusion it once appeared to be if he keeps getting minutes for the mid-table Magpies.

Julian Green, Greuther Furth — On the rise: When fit, Green has always been a starter for Furth, but this season has seen him hit new heights, with sources telling ESPN’s Stephan Uersfeld that the team’s shift from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 — which has meant Green moving from a wing position to a No. 8 role — and fully grasping manager Stefan Leitl’s methods in his second season in charge of the 2. Bundesliga club firmly in the race for promotion.

Green, who made his U.S. debut six-and-a-half years ago, is still only 25 — and has never given up hope of returning to the national team.

Scouting report: Owen Otasowie

One year and a week after making his senior debut for Wolves in a 4-0 Europa League win against Besiktas, the 20-year-old made his full Premier League appearance against Burnley on Dec. 21. Although he was taken off by Nuno Espirito Santo after an hour, Otasowie displayed some good runs, showed off his deft first touch and was not short of confidence.On the evidence of the night at Turf Moor, the American may still need some matches to deal with the pace of the traffic in the centre of a Premier League midfield, as he was caught in possession on a number of occasions. But since then, Otasowie has been given a few more minutes coming off the bench: in fact, he could’ve marked the new year as an unlikely hero had he managed to direct his injury time header under the bar against Brighton right before the final whistle in the 3-3 draw.

The New York City-born midfielder, who collected his first USMNT cap with a late substitute appearance against Wales in November, is easily recognised by his imposing physique and neat ball control. Whether he’ll end up as a holding midfielder or a box-to-box No. 8 is still a subject of discussion, but he clearly has the characteristics to make a career in both roles: he usually has a measured and precise passing game, takes up intelligent positions and is hard to knock off the ball when he sets off on forward runs, though he’s still prone to overdo this aspect, and can end up running into blind alleys. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen

1/15/20 USWNT vs Colombia Mon/Fri 7 pm, USMNT New Hoppe?, Chelsea vs Fulham 12:30 Sat NBC, Man U vs Liverpool Sun 11:30, Inter vs Juve Sun 2:45

Games to Watch this Weekend

Big games this weekend in the EPL mostly on Peacock unfortunately as 1 & 2 Man United and Liverpool do battle Sunday at 11:30 am with Aston Villa facing Everton at 7 am on the Peacock. We also get Inter hosting Juve and US mid Weston McKinney Sun at 2:45 pm on ESPN+.   Sat gives us Dortmund and US mid Reyna hosting Mainz in Germany at 9:30 am on ESPN+ while Wolfsburg and US defender host RB Leipzig and middy Tyler Adams also at 9:30 on ESPN+, while Pulisic and Chelsea travel to Fulhum America and US defender Robinson at 12:30 pm this time on NBC .   

USA

The US ladies have 2 games this week vs Colombia from Orlando Monday night at 7 pm on FS 1 and Friday, Jan 22 at 7 pm on ESPN2.  It will be interesting to see the mix of new vs old players – assuming this is a tune-up for the She Believe’s Cup coming in mid-Feb.    So does the US have new Hoppe after 19 year-old American forward Matthew Hoppe became the first American to score a hat trick in the German Bundesliga for Schalke in just his 5th game?   While its wonderful –obviously the kid needs to find the net consistently for club before he will be called up to the US team – still great to see! 

FA Cup

Enjoyed watching the FA Cup last weekend – especially Chorley from the 6th division taking out the youth team of Derby County to advance to the next round where they will host Wolverhampton next Sat.  My favorite was probably the people sitting in their Gardens and on their front porches watch Mourino and Tottenham as they played at Marine near Liverpool.  Pretty surreal scene –with no fans in the park – but watching from their yards instead.  Gotta love the FA Cup!

GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat,  Jan 16

9:30 am ESPN+                    Wolfsburg (Jones) vs RB Liepzig (Adams)

9:30 ESPN+                          Dortmund (Reyna) vs Mainz

10 am NBCNS                     Leeds vs Brighton

12:30 pm NBC                     Fulham (Robinson)  vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  

3 pm Peacock                       Leicester City vs Southampton 

Sun, Jan 17

6:30 am ESPN2 ?                  Napoli vs Fiorentina 

7  am Peacock                      Aston Villa vs Everton 

9  am NBCSN                       Sheffield United vs Tottenham 

9:30 am ESPN+                    Bayern Munich vs Freiburg

12:30 am Peacock               Liverpool vs Man United

2:45 pm ESPN+                Inter vs Juve (Mckinney)

2:45 pm ESPN2                Barca (Dest) vs Athletic Bilbao SuperCup Final

Mon, Jan 18

3 pm NBCSN                       Arsenal vs New Castle (Yedlin)

7 pm FS1                              US Women vs Colombia  

Tues, Jan 19

2:30 pm ESPN+                    Dortmund (Reyna) vs Bayern Leverkusen

3:15 pm NBCSN                  Leicester City vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

Wed, Jan 20

3:15 pm NBCSN?                Man City vs Aston Villa

3:15 pm ?                             Fulham vs Man United

2:45 pm ESPN2                    Juventus (McKinney) vs Napoli Coppa Italia 

5:15 pm beIN Sport             Santos vs Boca Juniors – Copa Libertadores

Fri, Jan 22

2:30 pm ESPN+                    M’gladbach vs Dortmund (Reyna)

7 pm ESPN2                         US Women vs Colombia  

Sat,  Jan 23

                              (FA Cup Games in England 10 am ESPN+)

10 am ESPN+                      Chorley vs Wolverhampton FA Cup

10 am ESPN+                      Man United vs Liverpool FA Cup

9:30 am ESPN+                    Bayer Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg (Jones)

Sun, Jan 24

6:30 am ESPN2                    Juve vs Bologna 

9:30 am ESPN+                    Schalke vs Bayern Munich

3 pm beIn Sport                    Atletico Madrid vs Valencia 

USA

Americans Abroad – SI Avi creditor

Schalke’s Hoppe becomes first American to score Bundesliga hat trick
Meet the Bundesliga’s next U.S. sensation: Schalke’s Hoppe
  or-Kristian Karlsen

Megan Rapinoe: Capitol Siege Showed America’s ‘True Colors’BY JENNA WEST
For USMNT, National Upheaval Makes Representing the Country Complex BY BRIAN STRAUS

Klinsmann: Young USMNT stars’ UCL experience can boost World Cup hopes

Berhalter: We’ll have to get “creative” with rosters in “jammed” 2021

What’s Jozy Altidore’s future with the USMNT?

Orlando’s Perea USMNT eligible after FIFA approves switch from Colombia

USMNT legend Cherundolo says he’s talked to MLS teams about coaching role

Guardiola praises Steffen after another start, clean sheet for Man City

EPL


Manchester United-Liverpool Preview

Why Man United’s rise to Premier League summit under Solskjaer is a big deal
  Gabriele Marcotti
Liverpool vs. United title race is box office but Man City are team to watch

Are Chelsea’s summer signings to blame for club’s woes?

Spurs too reliant on Kane, Son to be considered contenders
Chelsea-Fulham Preview

Wayne Rooney retires to become permanent Derby manager

World

How PSG plan on reuniting Messi with Neymar
Ter Stegen 10/10 as Messi-less Barca reach Supercopa final

Bilbao to face Barca in Super Cup final after ousting Real Madrid

Athletic knocks out Madrid to reach Super Cup final vs Barça

Barcelona presidential elections postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions, club confirm

MLS

Indy 11 forward Tyler Pasher signs with MLS Houston Dynamo

Official: Toronto name Chris Armas head coach

Extratime: Are Portland strong enough to compete for CCL?

Jordan Morris: I’m open to “the right opportunity” for European move

Man United top the Premier League under Solskjaer, the ‘company man,’ and it’s a big deal

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Jan 11, 2021Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

It was ugly, cold, wearying, full of incidents and ultimately resolved by a piece of individual brilliance, but when referee Kevin Friend blew his whistle after seven minutes of injury time (including three minutes of time added on to the time added on), there was one over-arching takeaway. Manchester United were top of the Premier League in January.Not joint-top, not pretend-top, not goal-difference top, not top-if-they-win-their-games-in-hand-top, but top-top.You have to go back all the way to 2013 (and the end of the Sir Alex Ferguson Era) to find the last time United were this high at this stage of the season. That’s a long time ago. Seven-and-a-half seasons without being top after the turn of the year… the last time the club suffered a longer drought of that kind was in the 1970s — which, you may recall, was also when they were relegated.What does it mean?Here, you drift into psychology and intangibles. It’s easy to define what it does not mean. It does not mean they will win the Premier League, or even that they’re first or second favourites to do so. (That would be Man City and Liverpool.) It does not mean they’re particularly good, or they will be particularly good in years to come, or that the successful title-winning side that United fans dream of will look much like this one. But it does mean that a psychological barrier has been broken, and it’s something Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can leverage to his — and United’s — advantage.It’s also, to some degree, a vindication of the club’s decision to turn to him to replace Jose Mourinho and, effectively, bringing things in-house by hiring a former player who “understands” the culture at Man United rather than another pedigreed coach from elsewhere, And, in that sense, it’s not dissimilar to the choices big corporations make when their boards turn to new leadership.When a multinational needs to replace its CEO, it has two options, broadly speaking. It either promotes from within, doubling down on its corporate culture, or it brings in a fresh approach, turning to a proven executive who can act as a disruptor and shake things up for the better.The club’s four managerial appointments post-Sir Alex fall fairly neatly into either category. While David Moyes had no formal United connection, he was very much a “continuity candidate.” He was hand-picked by Sir Alex, he had spent the previous 11 years coaching 30 miles away at Everton, and he included club stalwarts Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville in his coaching staff.Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal (who came after Moyes) had won a combined 15 league titles and three Champions Leagues when they were appointed. They were brand names, and they were proven; they were “disruptors” in the good sense, the tech startup sense. They were there to change a culture for the better. It’s no coincidence that after being sacked, both did what superstar CEOs do when they’re brought in with great fanfare to turn a company around, only to be shown the door a few years later: they complained about an unwillingness to change, a lack of support internally and entrenched structures that made progress impossible.Whether they were right or wrong isn’t the point of this column and, in any case, has been endlessly debated elsewhere. The point is that after hiring back-to-back bosses with fancy résumés who were brought in to tell the club what they didn’t necessarily want (but maybe needed) to hear, United did a 180 with Solskjaer. After the “disruptor,” enter the “company man.”

Match-winner Pogba sends United top ahead of Liverpool showdown

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It’s not a knock, by the way. Carlo Ancelotti, with his three Champions League crowns, freely and proudly describes himself as a “company man” too. And that’s how Jan Aage Fjortoft, who played with him at international level and has known him for a quarter of a century, described Solskjaer when we had him as a guest on the Gab + Juls show this Monday.

Solskjaer’s public persona — earnest, unfailingly polite, avoiding confrontation — is that of an on-message corporate suit. Behind the scenes, no doubt, he can crack the whip — nobody sticks around in coaching if they don’t occasionally play the bad cop — but more than anybody, he has “toed the party line.”Take United’s transfer business. Goodness knows he’d have plenty to moan about there. Take Paul Pogba‘s future (undecided) in the last 18 months of his contract, Jadon Sancho still playing for Borussia DortmundBruno Fernandes arriving six months late, losing a center-forward like Romelu Lukaku without bringing in a replacement until January (and then, when the replacement arrives, it’s Odion Ighalo) … the list goes on and on. But he doesn’t. And it suits the club’s powers-that-be (Ed Woodward and his close-knit advisers, as well as the Glazer family) just fine.y

If you’re a cynic, and many were at the time, you might have read Solskjaer’s appointment and subsequent long-term contract as the club taking the easy way out. Liverpool and Manchester City were in the ascendancy; trying to close the gap quickly would have been expensive, stressful and probably futile. So you peddle some tropes about United DNA and hire a guy whom everybody likes (or, at least, nobody dislikes), is fully invested in club culture and won’t create headaches or controversy.

is that overly cynical? Maybe. But as Fjortoft himself hinted, Solskjaer is under no illusion about why he got the job and that it wasn’t his body of work as a coach that secured it. The most important thing is that now that he’s there, it doesn’t matter why he was chosen: he will rise or fall based on results, and because results have been mixed, he’s endured the weekly spin cycle. United DNA! #OleOut! Top of the league! PE Teacher!The best Solskjaer can do is keep going. He’s not a “big idea” coach like Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola — if he is, we haven’t seen it — and he’s not as charismatic as Mourinho or Diego Simeone. He’s a man-manager who executes schemes that are basic, but effective, when executed properly and who looks to put his most talented players in situations where they can do the most damage. Zinedine Zidane won three Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles doing just that at Real Madrid.Of course, Zidane had more charisma, a better-run club with a more recent history of success and, crucially, better players at his disposal. But that’s the model Solskjaer’s United seems to be pursuing, whether it’s because it’s the path of least resistance after Van Gaal and Mourinho or whether they truly believe it’s the best option.That sort of model is built upon sporting capital and credibility.By restoring United — even if it turns out be only for a short while — to the top perch, Solskjaer has taken a big step forward, taking pressure off himself (and off those who appointed him) and buying himself time. Time to work and make a difference. It’s one of the most precious commodities a manager can have.

Meet Schalke’s Matthew Hoppe: The Bundesliga’s next U.S. striking sensation

Jan 12, 2021

  • Tor-Kristian Karlsen

It was always going to take something special for Schalke 04 to avoid equalling an embarrassing record at the weekend. The club had not won in the Bundesliga for almost a year, a total of 30 matches, and failure to beat Hoffenheim would have seen them equal Tasmania Berlin’s league record (set back in 1965-66) of 31 games without a win. Thanks to Matthew Hoppe, they avoided such ignominy.

Hitherto a relative unknown, the 19-year-old American scored an astonishing hat trick (the first by a U.S. player in the Bundesliga), which gave Schalke a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim and even lifted them off the foot of the table.

In only his third start for the club, the striker became an overnight sensation, so here’s the lowdown on the Bundesliga’s newest star.

Where has he come from?

Having just turned 18, Hoppe sealed his move to Schalke on July 1, 2019 following two prolific years playing with the Arizona-based U.S. Barcelona Residency Academy in the (now defunct) U.S. Soccer Development Academy league.

fter joining up with U.S. international midfielder Weston McKennie (who has since moved on loan to Juventus) in Germany, Hoppe spent his first year playing for Schalke’s U-19s, for whom he scored three goals in 17 games, before being promoted to the club’s second team, which plays in the fourth level of German league football, ahead of the current campaign.

Though he only had one goal in 16 games in the Regionalliga West for Schalke II before making the step up to the first team, Hoppe has since amassed 302 minutes across six games in the Bundesliga and DfB Pokal. And, of course, he has three goals.

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Will this be a flash in the pan for Matthew Hoppe?

Kasey Keller and Steve Cherundolo debate whether or not his hat trick is a sign of things to come for Matthew Hoppe.

Position

Given his physical profile and skillset — Hoppe is 6-foot-2 tall, athletic and powerful — he moulded into an out-and-out centre-forward once he reached his mid-teenage years and after scoring nearly 60 goals in two seasons prior to leaving the U.S., it was clear that position was his best chance of making a career as a professional, on either side of the Atlantic.

That said, he was occasionally utilised on either side of midfield for Schalke II and, while his performances in Schalke’s youth and second team showed promise, his form gave no indication of the incredible impact to come against Hoffenheim.

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Matthew Hoppe recounts ‘amazing’ La Masia experience

American Matthew Hoppe explains what it was like to train with Ansu Fati and Konrad de la Fuente at La Masia.

Strengths

With such little first team experience — or even any meaningful record from high-level youth football, and no appearances to date for the U.S. national teams at youth level — it’s still early to make any strong predictions about where Hoppe’s career is ultimately heading.

However, while a memorable hat trick (and all the media attention it brings) could heap pressure on some young players, the California-born youngster seems to have the mental side of his game in order. New Schalke coach Christian Gross was quick to point out his excellent attitude after his stunning performance against Hoffenheim. Indeed, it was precisely that mentality which made Gross opt for Hoppe to start such an important game.

Tor-Kristian Karlsen

Tor-Kristian Karlsen is a Norwegian football scout and executive and is the former chief executive and sporting director at AS Monaco. He will write regularly for ESPN on the business of soccer and the process of scouting.

That praise is echoed by those who have kept a close eye on Hoppe throughout his early career; his dedication, humility and willingness to learn are second to none and those qualities translate into industry and graft on the pitch.

Hoppe’s enthusiasm is contagious; no ball ever seems lost and his off-the-ball running is executed with conviction that, along with his ability to time runs on the right side of the offside line, proved vital against Hoffenheim. Unlike many strikers, he’s happy to close down opponents, tackle and do his pressing duties.

Whereas many 19-year-olds appear gangly and skinny, Hoppe is neither. His body strength appears well-developed, though it will be interesting to see if his potential to dominate in the air can be backed up with good heading technique.

On the evidence of the Hoffenheim game, Hoppe looks to have rediscovered his finishing skills from youth football. The opening goal — a delightful chip with his weaker left foot (he also scored another with his left) — was not only exquisite in its execution, but a bold and confident way for a teenager to finish off an attack.

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Klinsmann: Matthew Hoppe’s heroics are a fairytale story

Jurgen Klinsmann heaps praise on Matthew Hoppe after the American teenager’s heroic hat trick for Schalke.

Weaknesses

It goes without saying that Hope needs time to develop the facets that can help him become a well-rounded, complete centre-forward. His timing in the air is still a work in progress, while his first touch will also improve as the Schalke coaching staff teach him the value of holding the ball up, helping the team and causing a nuisance even when he’s not facing the goal

What’s next?

Having cited Tottenham’s Harry Kane as his earliest inspiration and becoming an admirer of Bayern Munich‘s Robert Lewandowski and, especially, Borussia Dortmund‘s Erling Haaland since arriving in Germany, Hoppe models himself on these talented, industrious stars.

With size and power, his fearless approach and startling impact mean it is inevitable he will be compared to Haaland especially. And if he can continue to show the work ethic and level-headedness of the Norwegian striker, despite his new-found celebrity, Hoppe has a chance of going on to achieve great things.

Jurgen Klinsmann: Champions League challenges USMNT young stars and boosts World Cup hopes

  • Jurgen Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann won the World Cup and European Championship with Germany during a glittering career in which he played for InterTottenham and Bayern, among others. As a coach, he led Germany to a third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup and managed the U.S. men’s national team from 2011-16. In addition to a column for ESPN.com, he appears as a pundit on FC Daily.

With the World Cup less than two years away, it is an exciting time to be a fan of the U.S. men’s national team, which is developing the core of a team that can make a run in the tournament’s knockout stage.

In the last 12 months, several players moved to clubs at the very top level in Europe and the experience they will get, playing in the best leagues and in the best competition in the world — the Champions League — is good news for the national team.

Christian Pulisic was at Dortmund and then joined Chelsea last year; since then, Giovanni Reyna has followed in his footsteps in GermanyWeston McKennie has moved to JuventusSergino Dest is at Barcelona and Tyler Adams plays for RB Leipzig.

None of these players is older than 22 and that is another major change from past generations of American players, who went to Europe after establishing themselves in Major League Soccer or playing at college. It is wonderful to see a lot of youngsters being courageous and giving it a shot at an earlier age than before.

– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– FC 100: Pulisic, Dest make the cut in 2020

Youth systems, academies and MLS deserve credit for their work with young players in this country. They learn a new culture in Europe, but Pulisic and Reyna, for example, have skillsets that were developed in America at 10, 11, 12, 13 years old. The success of U.S. U-17s and U-20s, which consistently get to youth World Cup knockout games, shows the talent that exists.

And the path to Europe continues to appeal; we hear good things about Bayern Munich‘s Chris Richards, who moved from FC Dallas, while this week Joe Scally signed for Borussia Moenchengladbach from New York City FC.

Germany is a good destination because there is open-mindedness to give youngsters playing time, but opportunities exist across Europe. Brenden Aaronson, for example, has gone from Philadelphia Union to Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, where he finds huge support from his coach — and fellow American — Jesse Marsch.

So how do you make the best chance to succeed at the top level? It is important to have good people surrounding you to help adapt to a new environment; Reyna is a good example, as his dad, Claudio, played in Europe and his mother — Danielle Egan — represented the U.S. women’s national team.

You have to be open-minded, ready to learn and fight for a spot every day and understand that, sooner or later, “I have to kick someone in front of me out.” If you have a setback, like an injury or a coaching change, understand that you have the ability to prove yourself all over again. It is natural for players to think about their own situation, which is why that support network is super important.When you get a chance, take it! Reyna got his first Bundesliga minutes less than one year ago and has made himself a key player for Dortmund. Like Pulisic, he can play in different positions and that is a good thing because the chance increases to influence games; instead of being expected to score, there is opportunity to assist, pass well and create chances.

With young attacking players, change of pace is always an important characteristic. I saw it with Christian the first time I watched him when he was 15 or 16 and said this kid not only has very good technique, but he can ‘jump’ players in a split-second. Giovanni is very similar, though he is taller and has a different flow to his movement. Dest can also go by players in the first few yards.

Klinsmann: Matthew Hoppe’s heroics are a fairytale story

Jurgen Klinsmann heaps praise on Matthew Hoppe after the American teenager’s heroic hat trick for Schalke.

The Champions League restarts next month and is almost like a feeder system for a successful World Cup, which is why the big European countries, plus Argentina and Brazil, are contenders every four years.

Being involved in tactically advanced games will test their abilities, but also teach leadership and character qualities needed to negotiate the late rounds of a tournament. Without sustained competition in CONCACAF, American players must figure out a way to deal with World Cup knockout games, to reach and go beyond the fifth game, into semifinals and finals.

Playing every year in the Champions League will give you that knowhow, and that is why what I have seen developing over the last couple of years is so exciting. You are a child of your environment and if your environment is Barcelona, every year it is about titles; it is the same with Chelsea, Dortmund and others. At Juventus, McKennie plays for a team that has won the league nine seasons in a row!

At big clubs, expectations are clear and you live them every day. Now they must be transferred to the national team, so it is not enough to settle for getting out of a World Cup group and having everyone tell you that that is a success.

For USMNT, Representing the Country Amid Upheaval Remains a Complex Endeavor

With recent events thrusting the U.S. into the world’s spotlight for the wrong reasons again, the USMNT confronts what it means to represent the country at a time of upheaval.

BRIAN STRAUSJAN 12, 2021

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It’s a new year, but not much has changed. The coronavirus shows no signs of abating despite the advent of a vaccine. There’s scandal and chaos at the highest levels of government. And the U.S. men’s national team, still incomplete and unable to gather in full, trains under the shadow of it all, saddled with both the honor and complexity of representing the USA in 2020 and now 2021.

In November, when coach Gregg Berhalter convened a camp of players based in European leagues, it marked the national team’s first time together since the pandemic pause and the social justice reckoning sparked by George Floyd’s death. There had been long discussions about what it meant to represent a country in upheaval, especially on a squad that’s so diverse.

Together, they came up with a message and a commitment: “Be The Change.” It was emblazoned on anthem jackets for the friendlies against Wales and Panama, and it was adopted as a sort of team credo. It was not only a call to action. It was a reminder that as an extension of their country, national team players could take it upon themselves to set the example. That credo didn’t expire once they returned to their clubs, Berhalter said Monday, and it remains relevant as the annual January camp kicks off in Bradenton, Fla.

This is a different group of players, just like the December camp in South Florida was a different group players. It’s been 14 months since Berhalter had access to his entire player pool at once, and that pool now looks quite different. This time, he’s invited 12 senior-squad players based at MLS clubs along with 27 candidates for the U.S. U-23 national team that’ll contest the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament in March. In the meantime, they’ll all keep one eye on the friendly that’ll conclude the camp at the end of the month. An announcement—the opponent is likely to be Serbia—is expected in the coming days.

John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

It’s a complex setup for a complex time, both on the soccer calendar and in real life. Berhalter and his players are thinking about representing the USA at the Olympics, the Concacaf Nations League finals, the Gold Cup and in World Cup qualifying, and they’re also thinking about representing a country that’s just experienced a contested presidential election and the shocking assault and riot at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

When addressing the issue Monday, Berhalter stressed the importance of continuing the conversations and commitment that started last fall.

“I think there is a conversation to be had. We haven’t had it yet. But I think [like] with anything, our efforts don’t stop when the year ticks over. The efforts need to be consistent and they need to keep going, and the way I see this is, this is a low point for us. There’s a lot of room to improve as a country,” he said.

“It’s something where we can all be better examples,” he continued. “We can all be better citizens, and when you’re watching that, it doesn’t jive at all with what we know America to be. It’s not who we are as a country, and it’s disappointing to see, but all we can do is be good examples and continue our efforts in trying to be change and trying to make change. I think that’s the important message to the team, is that our work isn’t done just because the year changed. We need to keep going and persevere with all of our efforts.”

It remains to be seen whether the team will make a statement on game day. There are still two and a half weeks of training to go. But veteran forward Jordan Morris said Monday that the team is already talking about the bigger picture.

“Obviously we all realize how horrific those events were, and we all understand that there’s a need for change in this country in a lot of ways. And I think the big thing for us, and I’ve talked to the guys about it a little bit, is hopefully our goal as a national team is to be a positive representation of what that change can be and how we need to move forward,” Morris said.

“I think it’s also, in these hard times, we hope to be as a team, hopefully a positive light. Because I know that these times are super challenging and there’s so much going on, so much stress with those events—like I said, just absolutely horrific. So we’re hoping that as a group this year we can be a positive light.”

One way to be a positive light is to be successful on the field. Such is the nature of sports. Negotiating the 2021 schedule will require cohesion on multiple levels, as Berhalter and his staff seek to make up for lost time while building multiple squads—a U-23 team for the Olympics, senior sides for the Nations League and Gold Cup and then, ultimately, the first-choice team that’ll set out on the road to Qatar in September. The first big month on the calendar is March, when the senior team will play friendlies inside a FIFA international window while the U-23s head to Mexico (most likely) for the Olympic qualifiers.

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After failing to qualify for the previous two Olympics, U.S. Soccer is doing what it can to give this current crop of U-23s every opportunity. They’ll get a couple of weeks with coach Jason Kreis in Bradenton, and then a handful will join the 12 senior players for the Serbia friendly.

“We do have two groups in camp, and we’re split for most of the camp,” Berhalter explained. “Meals are split. Team building activities are split. But at training is one time where we can actually compete together, and that’s where we are working together to make numbers and we’re able to focus a little bit more on our 12 [senior] players. But the whole group is there. The whole group is working together, and it’s great for both coaching staffs to be able to assess the players and see some of the comparisons in camp.”

Morris, 26, said setting an example also could happen in small ways, as the veterans look to help steer the younger players toward the Olympic spotlight.

“It’s super exciting to see all the young talent,” he said. “A big goal of this camp for us as senior players is helping the Olympic team get ready as well, because it’s a big competition for them coming up. I know when I was coming up as a younger player, having the veteran guys in camp and being able to learn from them was super important. So we’re hopeful we can kind of do the same for the younger group that’s here.”

Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

When it’s over, Berhalter will have seen his European-based stars for a camp, most of the best in MLS for a camp, and then his Olympic hopefuls (with some senior seasoning) for a camp. That’s a tough way to build chemistry, but the scheduling is out of U.S. Soccer’s control. The bonus is that after a 10-month break in 2020, Berhalter should have a sense of the talent at his disposal. He can start thinking about what the Olympic, Nations League, Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying rosters might look like. When connections among players can be forged, all the better.

“The idea is to keep everyone engaged, everyone on the same page and everyone up to speed with what we do and how we want to play,” Berhalter said. “Because we’ve seen these two groups. … I think we’re able to tie that together nicely and really have a good idea of the player pool. I think that’s what it comes down to, just having a real good understanding of what the player pool looks like so when we need to make the difficult decisions when it comes to [World Cup] qualifying, we get it right.

“But in terms of Nations League, Gold Cup, those are two events where there’s trophies awarded and we want to compete to win them,” he added. “There’s no question about it. That will give us one final opportunity before qualifying to test guys and put them under pressure to perform.”

Be successful and “Be The Change.” It’s no easy task. Morris said that for the players, it begins with small things, the day-to-day work during and after training, when skills are enhanced and bonds are strengthened.

“Every camp is an opportunity to learn and continue to get better and I think also, building a brotherhood here,” he said. “I think that’s a big thing we talk about, is building a brotherhood. We know going into an important year, it’s important that we’re all together, all on the same page. So every opportunity that you have, especially in a longer camp like this, just to be around the guys, it’s awesome.”

BY

 BRIAN STRAUS

1/8/20 US Teams announced, FA Cup Weekend, Leipzig vs Dortmund Sat 12:30

FA CUP

So the eyes get big young kids eyes full of wonder as England’s FA Cup enters round 3 this weekend on ESPN+.  It’s the little guys vs the Giants – The EPL Powerhouses like Liverpool and Tottenham vs the neighborhood team with teachers and butchers and bar hands vs the multi-billion dollar clubs. Imagine Indy 11 taking on Seattle or even worse Liverpool or Barcelona.  That’s what we get and more this weekend.  The games I will have my eyes on Sat 7:15 am Chorley vs Derby County and Sunday 12:30 Marine hosting Tottenham on ESPN+.  If ever a tie summed up the FA Cup, is is the one that will send Premier League giants Tottenham and their charismatic manager Jose Mourinho to Marine on Sunday. The Merseyside club play in the Northern Premier League North West Division, four rungs below the Football League (7th division), and a team which includes a binman, teachers and supermarket workers has already worked its way past Barnoldswick Town, Frickley Athletic, Runcorn Linnets, Nantwich Town, Chester, Colchester and Havant and Waterlooville. Coronavirus restrictions which mean the game will take place behind closed doors have cost Marine around £100,000 in lost revenue, prompting them to stage a virtual raffle in which first prize is the opportunity to take over as manager for a pre-season friendly.

Marine’s hopes of causing an upset may be remote, but National League North Chorley (5th division) may feel they will never have a better chance of claiming a Sky Bet Championship (2nd division) scalp and a place in the fourth round. Derby County will send a team of Under-23 and Under-18 players to Victory Park on Saturday with manager Wayne Rooney, his staff and their entire first-time squad bubble self-isolating after nine positive Covid-19 tests. The Magpies have already put League One duo Wigan and Peterborough out of this season’s FA Cup. (See the big games on the FA Cup Schedule in The Ole Ballcoach.     Other decent FA Cup games worth watching are Arsenal vs New Castle and US mid Deandre Yedlin on Sat 12:30 ESPN+, and Man City vs  Birmingham Sun at 9:30 am on ESPN+ with US GK Zach Steffan between the pipes.  US and Man City GK Zach Steffan makes game saving beauty.

Games to Watch this Weekend

With the England in FA Cup play this weekend the attention turns to Germany and Italy where some big games are on hand. In Germany RB Leipzig with Adams in the #6 slot will face Gio Reyna and Dortmund at 12:30 pm on ESPN+ with 2nd spot in the table on the line for the Red Bulls and 3rd for Dortmund.  At 9:30 am 3rd place Bayer Leverkusen will host Werder Bremen and forward Josh Stewart.   Barcelona and US right back Serginio Dest will travel to Grenada at 12:30 pm on beIN Sports, while Osasuna hosts Real Madrid at 3 pm on beIN Sport.  Sunday Juve and Aron McKinney travel to Sassuolo at 2:45 pm on ESPN+, while the early morning wake-up Sunday features a battle between 2nd place Inter hosting 3rd placed Roma at 6:30 am on ESPN2.     

USA

The US Men’s and Ladies teams have announced rosters for their annual January camps and games at the end of the month for US Based players. The ladies are of course missing their European club players like Mewis, Heath and of course Alex Morgan is out with Covid.  The ladies will convene and then have 2 games vs Colombia from Orlando on Jan 18 and Jan 22 at 7 pm.   The Men have announced a smaller full roster along with a full U23 Squad that will battle represent the US in the Olympics this summer.  The men are planning a game in late Jan as well. 

 

U-23 USMNT DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB):


GOALKEEPERS (3): JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), Brady Scott (Austin FC)


DEFENDERS (10): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), George Bello (Atlanta United FC), Chris Gloster (PSV Eindhoven/NED), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake), Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew SC), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)


MIDFIELDERS (6): Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC), Bryang Kayo (Wolfsburg/GER), Andrés Perea* (Orlando City SC), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)
FORWARDS (7): 
Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Daryl Dike (Orlando City SC), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC), Djordje Mihailovic (Montreal Impact/CAN)

 U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM – JANUARY TRAINING CAMP ROSTER BY POSITION:


GOALKEEPERS (4): Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)


DEFENDERS (10): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Fox (UNC), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)


MIDFIELDERS (8): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Jaelin Howell (Florida State), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG), Catarina Macario (Stanford), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)


FORWARDS (5): Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

They play Columbia Mon Jan 18, 7 pm on FS1 and again on Fri, Jan 22 at 7 pm on ESPN2. 

GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Fri, Jan 8

2:30 pm ESPN+                    M’Gladbach vs Bayern Munich (Carter)

2:45 pm ESPN+                   Aston Villa vs Liverpool (FA Cup)

Sat,  Jan 9

7 am ESPN+                         (FA Cup Games in England 7/10 am, 1 & 3 pm)

7:15 am ESPN+                   Chorley vs Derby County  FA Cup

9:30 am ESPN+                    Bayer Leverkusen vs Werder Bremen (Stewart)

12:30 pm ESPN+                 Arsenal vs New Castle United (Yedlin) FA Cup

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

3 pm ESPN+                         Man United vs Watford FA Cup

Sun, Jan 10

6:30 am ESPN2 ?                            Roma vs Inter 

8:30 am ESPN+                    Man city (Steffan) vs Birmingham City  FA Cup

9:30 am ESPN+                    Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Morecambe FA Cup

12 noon ESPN+                   Marine vs Tottenham FA Cup

2:45 pm ESPN+                     Juve (McKinney) vs Sassuolo

Wed, Jan 13

3:15 pm NBCSN?                Aston Villa vs Tottenham 

2:45 pm ESPN+                    Juventus (McKinney) vs Genoa Coppa Italia

5:15 pm beIN Sport             Santos vs Boca Juniors – Copa Libertadores

Fri, Jan 15

3:15 pm NBCSN?                Fulham (Robinson)  vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  

Mon, Jan 18

7 pm FS1                              US Women vs Colombia  

Fri, Jan 22

7 pm ESPN2                         US Women vs Colombia  

USA Ladies
Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and 25 others called up for U.S. national team

Soccer-Morgan ruled out of U.S. training camp after positive COVID-19 test

US Ladies Called in For Jan 18 + Jan 22 Games

 

USA Men

 Doyle: Explaining the two USMNT rosters
US U23 and Senior Teams Announced for Jan Training  S&S
U 23 USA Team Announced  Brian Straus SI
US Olympic football hopefuls gather before qualifying
US and Man City GK Zach Steffan makes game saving beauty
Guardiola heaps praise on USMNT’s Steffen

 

WORLD
Serie A: USMNT’s McKennie scores as Juve takes down Milan; Inter, Napoli fall

PSG held by Saint-Etienne in Pochettino’s first match
Ranking the EPL Clubs
Three things we learned from Manchester United – Man City
Klopp: Liverpool cannot promise center back addition because of pandemic
Milan teams regroup as Roma, Juventus close gap in Serie A

Dortmund hunt win at high-fliers Leipzig to rejoin title race

FA Cup third round: How to watch, start time, stream link, preview, odds
What to Watch in Spain this weekend
MLS
MLS proposes 2-year CBA extension to players, no salary cuts

LA Galaxy hire former star Vanney, coached Toronto to MLS treble

Wiebe: Three things Vanney needs to do to return Galaxy to MLS elite
Report: Phil Neville in talks with Inter Miami

Boehm: What’s next for Inter Miami?
Official: Union Homegrown McKenzie transfers to Genk
Matt Besler joins Austin FC as free agent
Bob Bradley to receive lifetime achievement award
BoGetting closer: Pitch installed at Cincy’s West End Stadium
Behm: Why RSL turned to once fierce rival Mastroeni to revive fortunes

 

INDY 11

·        INDIANA’S OWN RECE BUCKMASTER SIGNS WITH INDY ELEVEN
·      DEFENDER KARL OUIMETTE RETURNS TO INDY ELEVEN

 

Premier League Club Power Rankings, Vol. III: Manchester Rising

Nicholas MendolaThu, January 7, 2021, 10:54 PM EST

We’re still not halfway through the Premier League season, and the balance is not going to return to the matches played column any time soon.So the irregular litmus test that is our Club Power Rankings rolls on without worry.

[ MORE: Previous power rankings – November | Vol. I – Oct ]

Buckle up, we’ve had two months since our last run through the league, and one of those months held most of the Festive Fixtures.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: 2020-21 Methodology

As a reminder, ProSoccerTalk is using a different method to ranking teams this season, at least until everyone’s played each other once.

Here are our considerations:

  • Form — Winning and losing in three recent matches plus notable injuries
  • Sense and strength matter — If the champs lost two-straight hard luck matches and a relegation candidate got 2 weird VAR breaks to win, we note the big picture over the little.
  • The table — Of course it matters.
  • Head-to-head — The results better be notable if a head-to-head loser goes above a team that beat it recently.
  • Numbers > Luck— Did a wicked deflection or bad bounce make a dominant side fall to a poor one? Let’s look at xG, shots, chances, possession, and other indicators.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Vol. III

20. Sheffield United

October: 17
November: 20

Why? You serious, Clark?

19. West Bromwich Albion

October: 18
November: 18

Why? Sam Allardyce has been in charge for four matches. He’s drawn Liverpool and got angry that anyone would infer they had fortune smile on them. He’s lost the other three games in blowout fashion and basically said his players aren’t good enough and that his “never been relegated” record is basically because his clubs have bought him better players than were there when he got there.

18. Brighton and Hove Albion

October: 13
November: 14

Why? The world’s biggest head scratcher. The anti-Burnley (see below). Graham Potter’s Seagulls are winless since a Nov. 21 defeat of Aston Villa, and they’ve won the xG battle in five of those eight matches.

They’ve now had the following matches on their xG record:

  • Lost 2-3 to Man United (xG advantage 2.98-1.58)
  • Drew 1-1 with Liverpool (xG advantage. 2.31-0.28)
  • Lost 2-1 to Southampton (xG advantage 2.03-1.35)
  • Drew 1-1 v Sheffield United (xG advantage 2.90-1.04)

It’s wild.

17. Fulham

October: 20
November: 17

Why? The table matters, and the table spot stinks, but four-straight draws before COVID came to Craven Cottage in large numbers. No one really wants to play Scott Parker’s hard-fouling bunch and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is one of the division’s most overlooked players.

16. Burnley

October: 19
November: 19

Why? A huge tree falls in the forest, leaving a massive tree-shaped dent in the cold, wet ground and bouncing to the side. It fills with water to finish off any of the Aesthetically-pleasing flowers that survived impact. Sean Dyche signs that dead tree. The worst-passing team in the league with the fourth-worst shots-per-game and possession, winning more aerials than anyone else, and completing fewer dribbles than anyone else, are still going to find a way to stay in the PL. Have won the xG battle just twice since the start of November but have a 4W-3D-2L record in that span. BURNLEY. Let’s see how they look post-takeover.

15. Newcastle United

October: 16
November: 16

Why? If you’re going to try and get by with a manager like Steve Bruce, someone players will play for but also be left unprepared when things go off-script during the flow of the game, you need a dominant midfielder going box-to-box. With apologies to passing maestro Jonjo Shelvey, industrious Isaac Hayden, and buzzing bee Matty Longstaff, that’s not there right now. Also, the COVID-19 absence of Allan Saint Maximin is terrible on so many levels. Bring us our entertainers!

14. Crystal Palace

October: 11
November: 11

Why? Where would they be without Wilfried Zaha? Well, they are 5W-2D when he scores or assists, 1W-2D-4L when he doesn’t, and have lost both matches without scoring when he doesn’t play.

13. Leeds United

October: 5
November: 15

Why? They are who they are — Very entertaining and great to have in the league but maddeningly inconsistent. Incredible numbers: Leeds have 24.89 xG and 22.95 xGA from open play alone (no set pieces, corners, or penalties). Those numbers would put them ninth amongst all teams in all scenarios for goals scored and give them the eighth-worst goals conceded. Tighten it up (but also, don’t).

12. Wolves

October: 14
November: 6

Why? Out-performed Tottenham in a 1-1 draw just after Christmas but have been unconvincing in nearly every game since Raul Jimenez was injured. Decent against Villa and had a nice period versus Manchester United, but they don’t look like the Wolves we’ve come to love (and fear).

11. Arsenal

October: 9
November: 10

Why? Turns out playing Alexandre Lacazette more as if he was an really good finisher more times than not is a good idea. It’s the lone reason for the rebound but it’s up there. And Thomas Partey should be back soon.

10. West Ham United

October: 7
November: 12

Why? Back-to-back strong defensive performances against good attacks in Saints and Everton. Don’t be surprised if David Moyes is getting Manager of the Year talk in the press if the Irons handle their business in a run of Burnley, West Brom, and Palace, the first two at home.

9. Aston Villa

October: 2
November: 9

Why? Very much in the top-end discussion. But given a chance to prove that their four-match unbeaten run had restored their early-season power, Villa was outplayed by Chelsea in a 1-1 draw and Manchester United in a 2-1 loss. Work to do.

8. Chelsea

October: 6
November: 4

Why? Followed up a nine-match unbeaten league run by taking four of 18 points. Frank Lampard’s public face and words has been confusing and he better hope his players have a better idea of what he’s trying to do than the rest of us have been able to figure out after 17 games. That City loss was a wake-up call for plenty of people who believed Chelsea had made it back.

7. Southampton

October: 15
November: 5

Why? The defeat of Liverpool was solid and deserved but also a bit fortunate, too. They’ve allowed one goal from their last four, and it was to Man City, but they’ve also scored one goal in that stretch. Up ahead? Leicester, Leeds, Arsenal, Villa, and Manchester United. That’s a proving ground!

6. Tottenham Hotspur

October: 3
November: 1

Why? There are valid individual excuses for all of the matches of their recently-ended four-match skid but combined they don’t work. Villa, Sheffield United, and Liverpool are next. Better find 5-7 points there if you want to be in the title fight, and at least one better come at home to the reigning champions.

5. Leicester City

October: 8
November: 3

Why? It’s challenging to get a feel for the ceiling of Brendan Rodgers’ men. Are they the team that bossed Palace and drew or the one that looked meh at Newcastle but found the requisite winner? There are numbers that scare us: Outscored 9-0 on corner kicks and set pieces. Ten goals from penalties. And of their surface-level extremely impressive 23-11 advantage in goals from open play? It shrinks to approximately 17-15 in terms of expected goals. Look out.

4. Everton

October: 1
November: 7

Why? Carlo Ancelotti has taught the Toffees how to win a different way since James Rodriguez was injured. He returned in a 1-0 loss to West Ham, and Everton had four-straight before that while allowing just one goal from a gauntlet of Chelsea, Leicester City, and Arsenal (then Sheffield United).

3. Liverpool

October: 4
November: 2

Why? The Reds are winless in three PL outings for the first time since May 2018, and this the first time the Reds have scored just one goal in three matches since Sept. 12, 2015. That said, Liverpool out-attempted West Brom 17-5, Newcastle 11-8, and Saints 16-7, holding 78, 74, and 68 percent possession in those games. They simply didn’t score enough. That was enough to have some claiming Pep Guardiola had lost his touch earlier this season, so it’s one thing or the other here. We bet it’s unlucky.

2. Manchester United

October: 12
November: 13

Why? A 10-match unbeaten run in the league is nice, but we’re more interested in how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men responded to taking zero of six points from the final two UEFA Champions League group stage matches by collecting 14 of 18 points in the Premier League by a combined score line of 14-7. That seven, though. And winless against the traditional Big Six despite all four matches coming at home.

1. Manchester City

October: 10
November: 8

Why? Unbeaten in seven league matches while conceding a total of two goals, City has also beaten Manchester United and Arsenal away in the League Cup and blasted Marseille in the UEFA Champions League. Since allowing eight goals in season-opening matches against Wolves and Leicester City, Pep Guardiola’s men have allowed multiple goals just once while kept 14 clean sheets in 23 matches across all competitions. Now if they can keep Sergio Aguero healthy…

Guardiola heaps praise on USMNT’s Steffen

Joe Prince-WrightFri, January 8, 2021, 9:24 AM EST

USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen has received glowing praise from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.Steffen, 25, has stepped in admirably for usual first-choice goalkeeper Ederson in recent games. The Brazilian star tested positive for COVID-19 in late December and has been self-isolating ever since.After making his Premier League debut at Chelsea in a 3-1 win last week, Steffen starred in City’s 2-0 League Cup semifinal win against Manchester United at Old Trafford Wednesday, pulling off a fine save from Bruno Fernandes early on.“He [Steffen] has settled incredibly well to the dynamic of the group. He listens in training. He made an incredible save in the first half from Bruno Fernandes, but his other actions, like with the ball, he did really well,” Guardiola said.How much will Steffen play in the second half of the season?

Steffen will play in Man City’s FA Cup game against Birmingham City on Sunday, and that will be his seventh appearance of the season for City.It is likely he will play in the FA Cup in the remaining months of the 2020-21 season and that could mean another five outings for Man City, if they reach the final and Ederson doesn’t come in for the final few FA Cup games.That experience would be invaluable for the young American goalkeeper.Even if his future doesn’t lie with being the number one at Man City (Ederson, 27, is probably one of the top five goalkeepers on the planet) he has proven he can play at the Premier League level and a loan move to a midtable PL club is surely his next move.Spending last season on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga clearly helped his development and as well as making fine saves, his always-impressive distribution has also improved.The USMNT need Steffen to being playing regularly and the way he’s stood in for Ederson proves he will be doing that for another team in the Premier League, or in another of Europe’s top leagues, next season.

5 talking points ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup third-round ties

Damian Spellman, PAThu, January 7, 2021, 8:27 AM EST

Aston Villa

The magic of the FA Cup will be alive and kicking this weekend, with the big guns entering the competition during third-round weekend.There are both all-Premier League clashes and classic David and Goliath showdowns among a fixture list which has thrown up a series of talking points.

Fairly cross on the Mersey

Premier League champions Liverpool have become accustomed to sweeping almost all before them in recent seasons, but will head for Aston Villa on Friday evening smarting. The Reds have not won in three games after failing to beat both West Brom and Newcastle before losing to Southampton. They have not gone four matches without a victory since September-October 2018, when they were defeated in League Cup and Champions League ties by Chelsea and Napoli respectively and drew with the Blues and Manchester City in the league. They have been to Villa Park already this season – and lost 7-2.

Mourinho heads for tier eight

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho takes his side to non-league Marine (Mike Egerton/PA)

If ever a tie summed up the FA Cup, is is the one that will send Premier League giants Tottenham and their charismatic manager Jose Mourinho to Marine on Sunday. The Merseyside club play in the Northern Premier League North West Division, four rungs below the Football League (7th division), and a team which includes a binman, teachers and supermarket workers has already worked its way past Barnoldswick Town, Frickley Athletic, Runcorn Linnets, Nantwich Town, Chester, Colchester and Havant and Waterlooville. Coronavirus restrictions which mean the game will take place behind closed doors have cost Marine around £100,000 in lost revenue, prompting them to stage a virtual raffle in which first prize is the opportunity to take over as manager for a pre-season friendly. Imagine if Mourinho won it.

Chorley not?

Marine’s hopes of causing an upset may be remote, but National League North Chorley (5th division) may feel they will never have a better chance of claiming a Sky Bet Championship (2nd division) scalp and a place in the fourth round. Derby County will send a team of Under-23 and Under-18 players to Victory Park on Saturday with manager Wayne Rooney, his staff and their entire first-time squad bubble self-isolating after nine positive Covid-19 tests. The Magpies have already put League One duo Wigan and Peterborough out of this season’s FA Cup.

Emphasis on U-23s, Olympic Qualifying Group

Jozy Altidore is back as part of a smaller USMNT squad, while a more comprehensive look is being given to the U-23 players in the pool.

BRIAN STRAUS JAN 5, 2021   SI

To kick off a uniquely busy year, the U.S. men’s national team will conduct a pair of uniquely busy January camps that start Saturday at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.With up to five competitions scheduled over the next 11 months—the Concacaf Nations League, Gold Cup, World Cup qualifying, Olympic qualifying and the Olympics themselves—USA coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff face the prospect of putting together multiple rosters while evaluating player availability and form across multiple continents.To that end, he capped 42 players in only four games in 2020, the same number that appeared across 18 matches the year before. And on Tuesday, he unveiled two January camp squads—one of 12 senior players who will prepare for a to-be-announced friendly against Serbia (most likely) at the end of the month, and another of 26 U-23 players who will train with coach Jason Kreis ahead of the Concacaf Olympic qualifying competition that’s expected to happen in Guadalajara in late March. On Jan. 24, several U-23s will move up to fill out the remainder of the senior side.“This is an important year for our national team programs, and we are looking to maximize every possible opportunity,” Berhalter said. “For the senior team players, this is an opportunity to continue to develop as a group and build on the foundation of a busy and challenging year. Being alongside our U-23 team gives that group a chance to prepare for Olympic qualifying while further integrating into our culture and game model.”John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty ImagesLike previous January camps, the roster(s) are dominated by MLS players who are out of season. There are two European-based players on the U-23 list—defender Chris Gloster from PSV Eindhoven and midfielder Bryang Kayo from Wolfsburg. Olympic competitions aren’t included in FIFA’s international calendar, meaning clubs aren’t required to release players for them. Even though a significant portion of Berhalter’s first-choice team is Olympic eligible—he fielded 28 U-23 players in 2020—there’s a good chance they won’t take part. Chelsea isn’t going to allow Christian Pulisic to just run off for a few weeks during the stretch run of the Premier League campaign, for example. So it’s likely the bulk of the Olympic qualifying roster will come from MLS.Berhalter will then have to juggle his senior team between the Nations League (June) and Gold Cup (July) as he prepares for the start of World Cup qualifying in September.The most intriguing selection among the senior players is veteran striker Jozy Altidore, 31, who hasn’t played for the USA since the 2019 Gold Cup. He had two goals and one assist in 14 games for Toronto FC last season. Berhalter also is continuing his pursuit of dual-national players who aren’t yet committed or tied to the USA. LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo, Orlando City midfielder Andrés Perea and Orlando striker Daryl Dike are among the U-23 selections who remain eligible for multiple national teams. This month’s camp will mark the first time since March 2020 that Kreis has been able to bring the U-23s together, and it probably will be the last before the Olympic qualifiers. They’ll train separately in Bradenton between Saturday and Jan. 24.“With Olympic qualifying approaching quickly, this training camp is a great opportunity to prepare ourselves and evaluate some new faces,” Kreis said. “While 2020 was a very challenging year, it was impressive to see so many U-23-eligible players make major strides on the field. Some of them have been involved with the senior team over the last few months and it’s exciting to now get our players and staff back together in camp alongside Gregg and his group as we prepare for a very important qualifying tournament.”Here’s a look at the two January camp squads:

SENIOR ROSTER

The only newcomer on the senior list is LAFC right back Tristan Blackmon. New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner has been called up before but remains uncapped. Sebastian Lletget was the only player to appear in all four 2020 friendlies.Notable omissions include Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes, who’s been a staple under Berhalter, underwent a minor medical procedure and isn’t fit, and D.C. United goalie Bill Hamid, who started last month’s 6–0 exhibition win over El Salvador.

GOALKEEPERS

Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS

Tristan Blackmon (Los Angeles FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS

Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)

FORWARDS

Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Chris Mueller (Orlando City)

UNDER-23 ROSTER

Eight of the 26 players have been capped by the senior team and nine were involved in last month’s camp that preceded the El Salvador friendly. There’s also considerable youth—seven players will be age-eligible for the 2024 Olympics as well.Two noteworthy dual-nationals who Berhalter called up in December are not on this month’s lists. Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola, 20, accepted an invite from Canada to join its January camp, which, ironically, also is taking place in Bradenton. Akinola scored against El Salvador.Also absent is Galaxy forward Efrain Alvarez, 18, who played for the USA U-15s and then Mexico’s U-17s before accepting Berhalter’s invitation last month. Alvarez was ineligible to play against El Salvador because he hadn’t filed a one-time change of association. Likewise, Perea is unable to play this month because he previously represented Colombia at the FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cups.Meanwhile, the absence of 21-year-old Philadelphia Union center back Mark McKenzie, a 2020 MLS Best XI selection, suggests a transfer to Europe may be imminent. Similar reports surrounding FC Dallas right back Bryan Reynolds—some of which link him to Juventus—weren’t sufficient to keep him off Kreis’s list, however. His FCD teammate, midfielder Tanner Tessmann, is set to train with Bayern Munich following camp, according to ESPN, as part of a relationship between the clubs that already resulted in Chris Richards’s move to the German champions.

GOALKEEPERS

JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), Brady Scott (Austin FC)

DEFENDERS

Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), George Bello (Atlanta United), Chris Gloster (PSV Eindhoven), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake), Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids)

MIDFIELDERS

Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United), Bryang Kayo (VfL Wolfsburg), Andrés Perea (Orlando City), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS

Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Benji Michel (Orlando City), Djordje Mihailovic (Montreal Impact)

Armchair Analyst: Explaining the two USMNT rosters for January

January 5, 20213:04PM ESTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

The US men’s national team dropped two rosters on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the annual January camp. One of the rosters is composed solely of players age 24 and older, and the other is — you’ve probably already guessed it — for players 23 and younger.The message here is clear: the older guys are mostly there because they’ve shown that they’re core players, to one degree or another, for the full national team, and any player who fits that bill can expect to get their ticket punched at least once or twice in 2021, which is likely to be the busiest year in USMNT history. There could be as many as 21 full international games on the schedule this year at last count.Just as clear is that the younger guys are in camp not for full USMNT reasons, though a few of them are already regulars, but specifically for Olympic reasons. And hence this is being run as two separate and distinct camps — Gregg Berhalter’s in charge of the olds and Jason Kreis is in charge of the youngs — which is not usually the way.“This is an important year for our national team programs, and we are looking to maximize every possible opportunity,” Berhalter said is a press release. “For the senior team players, this is an opportunity to continue to develop as a group and build on the foundation of a busy and challenging year. Being alongside our U-23 team gives that group a chance to prepare for Olympic Qualifying while further integrating into our culture and game model.”A quick run-down for those who are a little bit confused about Olympic stuff (if you’re not confused, just skip a bit):

Q: “Why the age cut-off?”

A: Olympic qualifying is for the U-23 age group, which means only players who were born on January 1, 1997 or later are eligible.

Q: “Aren’t some of those guys are 24 now, Matt?”

A: You’re correct. Very good math on your part. But the Olympics were among the whole raft of things that were postponed last year, and rather than push the age cut-off to January 1, 1998 and keep it as purely U-23, FIFA made the (IMO good) decision) to keep the same age cohort eligible even though they are now, technically, no longer U-23s.

Q: “If that’s the age cut-off, then why aren’t Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Gio Reyna, Sergino Dest, Tim Weah, Reggie Cannon, Chris Richards and Josh Sargent here?”

A: You need to relax. This is not a FIFA-sanctioned international window, and there is no way to force or compel teams that have actual games right now to release players for this camp. It has been this way for as long as there has been a January camp.

MLS teams aren’t playing games right now, so MLS players are here. There are also a couple of Europe-based guys who’ve yet to break through to the first team and are in their respective youth teams, and let’s tip our hats to Wolfsburg and PSV for being cool and letting those guys head to Florida. 

Q: “What’s the point, then?”

A: Well, you know what else those clubs aren’t required to release those players for? Olympic qualifying! FIFA does not mandate clubs release players for youth tournaments, and both Olympic qualifying and the Olympics itself are considered to be youth tournaments. And as it stands, other than maybe Richards, there is zero chance any of the young Yanks Abroad making headlines in Europe are going to be released for Olympic qualifying. ZERO. You will not see them, and it’s not the USSF’s fault or Gregg Berhalter’s fault or Jason Kreis’s fault. It’s just how the rules are.

MLS teams have the right to refuse to release any of their players as well, by the way. But MLS teams have almost always played nice with the USSF over these types of things, and I would expect the vast, vast majority of potential call-ups to have damn near a permanent green light from their clubs.

Q: “So that means…”

A: Yes, you appear to have once again done the math: That means come Olympic qualifying, the bulk of the team is going to come from this group. Pulisic is not walking through that door, and McKennie’s not walking through that door, and Sargent’s not walking through that door, and Yunus Musah and Owen Otasowie and Johnny Cardoso* aren’t walking through that door.

(*) I could maybe see it happening with Johnny, to be fair, but it’s a long shot.

So what you’re looking at with the U-23s is damn near a complete Olympic qualifying roster, save for one or two spots, and January is likely to serve as a cut-down camp. So let’s start there:

GOALKEEPERS: J.T. Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake), Brady Scott (Austin FC)

As I see it, it’s likely a two-man race between Marcinkowski and Ochoa. Marcinkowski was largely very good for San Jose after claiming the starting job mid-season — though he did struggle in the playoffs — while Ochoa disappointingly only got one game for RSL this past year, but probably has the higher upside.

Scott beats out Jonathan Klinsmann for the third spot on the depth chart.

LEFT BACKS: Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids), George Bello (Atlanta United), Chris Gloster (Jong PSV)

I have them in this order for a reason. Vines generates an order of magnitude less buzz than he should given his performances for club and country:

Bello, on the other hand, has generated more buzz than his play has warranted, though the delta between “actual buzz” and “deserving buzz” narrowed considerably given his play over the second half of Atlanta United’s season, and he is on the radar of almost every big club in Europe. If the improvement curve he showed this autumn is real, he will be sold for many, many millions of dollars within the year.

Gloster got that European move but hasn’t been able to make it sing. He’s not been a regular contributor for Jong PSV in the Dutch second tier, and chances are the New York Red Bulls academy product will be on his way back to MLS sooner or later.

RIGHT BACKS: Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas), Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake)

Reynolds is still learning the finer defensive aspects of the game, having only switched to fullback from winger about 18 months ago, but he is an attacking force of the sort that the likes of Juventus and Roma pay attention to (and eventually pay lots of money for). Araujo is the opposite — a natural defender who’s still figuring out how to add value on the overlap and in the final third.

Herrera seems to be there making up the numbers, but don’t rule him out: He is probably the best two-way player of the three at the moment, and is the only one of the six fullbacks on the roster who has experience playing both RB and LB. That matters for depth reasons during small-roster, short-rest tournaments.

CENTER BACKS: Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution), Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew)

Pineda, a ball-playing converted central midfielder, was one of the most pleasant surprises in the league this past year, though Kessler probably topped him in the “pleasant surprise” category. Both guys walked right into the starting lineups for their teams and added value on both sides of the ball. What separates Kessler a bit is that he did it in the playoffs. This was superb:

Kessler’s defensive nous created transition moments for the Revs all year long. The modern game is all about transition moments.

Keita was not a starter for Columbus, but earned a good chunk of playing time and like both Pineda and Kessler, he can ping a pass and open up the game. What makes him stand out is that he does that with his left foot, and is the only left-footer among this bunch.

Robinson took a massive step backwards in 2020 for Atlanta, but was rightfully on the MLS Best XI in 2019 and has the tools to get back there. Unlike the other guys at this camp he’s not really a ball-playing center back, but defensively he can be — has been — better than any of them.

I am surprised that Justen Glad and Auston Trusty aren’t here. And obviously Mark McKenzie would be here if he wasn’t about to be sold to Genk.

REGISTAS: Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas)

Okay, so here’s where I’m going off course a little bit. Usually I list the central midfield cohort as “defensive midfielders,” “central midfielders” and “attacking midfielders,” and usually there’s a certain amount of delineation amongst the group as to make it sort of intuitive to spell it out like that.

That’s not the case here, so I’m just going to list Yueill and Tessmann as what I’ll expect them to be: tempo-setting, game-dictating, deep-lying, playmaking midfielders. Their job isn’t to press and win the ball back, but to shield the backline and dictate the team’s shape on both sides of the ball.

Yueill’s done this job well for both club and country. Tessmann, who like Ochoa, Bello, Araujo and Reynolds, is also age-eligible for the 2024 Olympics, was superb at this for Dallas this past year.

Both of these guys can push higher as more traditional No. 8s, and in fact that was Yueill’s role for most of the final two months of this past season. But I don’t think that’s how they’ll be used this month.

Am I surprised Aidan Morris isn’t here after his outstanding MLS Cup performance? Yes. 

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS: Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Bryang Kayo (VfL Wolfsburg), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United), Andres Perea (Orlando City)

Williamson was awesome as a two-way No. 8 for the Timbers this year, a revelation who was essential in their switch from “counter a bunch and cross way too much” to “actually use the ball to break teams down.” He was fun:

It’s a safe bet he would’ve played a role in last month’s thumping of El Salvador had he been healthy.

Kayo is an uber-talented two-way central midfielder who’s yet to break into Wolfsburg’s first team, and has been released for the January camp for the second straight year. That’s good — it’s nice of Wolfsburg to play nice — but it’s also bad, since it shows that he’s not really in their immediate plans. Wolfsburg are notoriously slow about progressing kids up the ranks and into the first team, for what it’s worth.

Dotson has spent a lot of time playing as a d-mid and a right back, but is probably best understood as a two-way, destroying central midfielder for this camp, as his lack of passing range would prevent him from playing the regista role in the way that Kreis (and hence Berhalter) would want.

It’s interesting that Perea, the Tampa-born son of a former Colombia international, is in his second straight US camp. He is not eligible to play until/unless he files a one-time switch. Maybe that’s in the works?

As mentioned, there are no real attacking midfielders with this group. Brenden Aaronson’s off to Salzburg and Cole Bassett, who was rostered vs. El Salvador but did not play, isn’t here (which shocks me, but there are whispers in the wind that he’s off to Europe to train). Neither is young Caden Clark, which surprises me at least a little bit (he was originally scheduled to go to Leipzig this month, though that fell through).

WINGERS: Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Djordje Mihailovic (Montreal Impact), Benji Michel (Orlando City), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes)

I’ve been beating the Lewis drum forever, and while he’s delivered in spurts and earned himself a new contract, he’s yet to earn a starting spot for club or country, at any level. The talent to do so is obvious, and there is no time like the present.

Mihailovic had something of a breakout season for Chicago playing largely as a playmaking, inverted left winger, which is a role I sort of expect to see him in for this camp. That said it wouldn’t shock me at all if he’s actually used as an attacking midfielder for this camp.

There is no question as to where either Michel or Cowell will play: On the wing, where they can drive forward off the ball and make hard, direct runs at goal. Michel is six years older than Cowell and naturally is more polished, but Cowell — the youngest player in this camp — has an attention-grabbing level of fearlessness and flair. I don’t expect him to make the final roster, but it wouldn’t shock me if he did.

FORWARDS: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas)

I think USMNT fans are more excited about Dike than about Ebobisse, and I get it. Dike’s got a combination of touch, soccer IQ and off-the-charts physicality that is unique. There is a reason I made multiple videos about him this year:

I do think, though, that if Ebobisse had been used as a center forward for the past two years in Portland he’d be a regular 20-goal scorer. A big part of it is he’s figured out how to get the one-touch goals that any center forward needs, and a big part of it is that, as with Dike, when the ball’s on his preferred foot he wallops the crap out of it. Striking the ball clean is a damn good trick!But the big thing with Ebobisse is that he’s dominant in the air in a way, at this point, that Dike is not. Set pieces played an outsized role in determining success at the international level and in tournament play (just go back and watch Portland’s MLS is Back Tournament run), and I can’t just look past that.That said, I’m happy with either choice.I am somewhat surprised to see Jesus Ferreira here given how significant his struggles were for Dallas this past year and how he doesn’t really fit a clear role for the way Berhalter’s teams play. Yes, he was pretty good last year against Costa Rica as a false 9, but it’s not like the US blew the Ticos off the pitch that day.For those wondering: Ayo Akinola is with Canada. He would have to file a one-time switch to play for them.


And now here’s the full roster. As per the USSF press release, “The senior team group, consisting of players aged 24 and older, will train alongside the U-23 USMNT through January 24, at which point several U-23 players will be elevated to the full USMNT roster in advance of a planned match at the end of the month.”

GOALKEEPERS: Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Johnson has been a mainstay for Berhalter and Turner is here for the obvious reasons. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t get his first US appearance.

CENTER BACKS: Aaron Long (RBNY), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC), Tristan Blackmon (LAFC)

Long is probably still the first-choice CB partner for John Brooks, though his grip on that spot is at least somewhat tenuous. Zimmerman has been in the mix since Berhalter’s first game in charge, and has obviously kept himself in the mix with a superb 2020 season.

Blackmon is the only surprise inclusion of the over-24 crowd, the only player in this group who’s still purely a prospect, and the only field player who’s uncapped. He’s primarily been a right back for LAFC, but take a look at the current RB depth chart for the USMNT — Dest, Cannon, DeAndre Yedlin, Reynolds, Araujo, Herrera, etc — and then tell me if you think Blackmon is here for that spot or for his likely eventual conversion to center back.

And so the fact is there are no actual fullbacks on this roster. Daniel Lovitz had a very good season for Nashville and Chase Gasper was excellent for Minnesota but they are not going to be ahead of Vines or Bello this month. I think Nick Lima‘s mostly been very good when he’s played for the US, but pushing Reynolds, Araujo or Herrera up for the friendly against the as-yet unnamed opponent.

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS: Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)

Lletget’s almost certainly going to start this friendly, and is in contention to be a starter for the full national team no matter who’s called in. People are going to hate that sentence, but it’s true.

Acosta and Roldan are more than just making up the numbers, but as I see it both are more likely to be part of the Gold Cup squad this summer — which is likely to be a B team — than the A squad for World Cup qualifiers or grabbing a role as one of the three overage players at the Olympics should the US qualify.

They could, of course, begin to change some minds with standout performances this month.

Note that neither Michael Bradley nor Wil Trapp got the call for this camp. As with Lovitz and Lima, it seems like they’ve been sorted down the list a bit.

WINGERS: Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Chris Mueller (Orlando City)

Morris and Arriola are proven at the national team level several times over. Mueller is not, though he made quite an impression with two goals and two assists in his first US appearance last month.

“Yeah, but it’s only El Salvador!” is not a worthwhile sentiment to me, by the way. Part of being a great team is beating the brakes off of bad teams, which is something the US hadn’t done for a long, long time. Then they whupped Panama 6-2 in November and whupped El Salvador 6-0 in December, and Mueller was the Man of the Match in that one. He belongs here, and will have a chance to prove he can compete with or even usurp Morris and Arriola at this camp.

FORWARD: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)

This feels like Jozy’s last ride. Berhalter made it clear last year where he stands on the veteran, who is by far the most experienced player at this camp, when he said Jozy’s still the most talented forward in the pool (true) but that his constant fitness issues have compromised his position on the depth chart.n the past you could say “yeah, but…” and point to any number of things, including Jozy’s ability to open the game up with his passing, his ability to physically dominate opposing CBs and thus allow for easy outlets when the midfield is overrun, and his ability to put the ball into the net even when injured. But both Ebobisse and Dike do those first two things, and as for the third… an injured Altidore scored in the 2019 MLS Cup. A coming-off-an-injury-and lacking fitness Altidore did this in the 2020 playoffs:He’s just 31, so there’s a chance he hasn’t hit the end of the road. He’s going to have to prove it, though, because I don’t think the likes of Dike and Ebobisse are going to be just sitting around, waiting their turn. Nor are Sargent, Nico Gioacchini and Sebastian Soto, none of whom are at this camp but all of whom will, I’m sure, be watching.There is no Gyasi Zardes this month after the Crew striker underwent a minor medical procedure, according to a US Soccer spokesperson. While he would have been there if fit, at the same time, what more could Berhalter learn from his inclusion? Gyasi knows how to play the center forward role in damn near the exact way Berhalter wants, and just had a very long year in which he logged a lot of hard minutes. Giving him a few more weeks to recover, and then giving game time to either Jozy or one of the kids makes sense.This is what could’ve happened had Jozy made that run, by the way:Let’s hope those are dance steps that Ebobisse and Dike show they know as well.

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