Indy 11 Move back to the “Mike” – Carroll stadium at IUPUI
Count me among those who is happy to see our Indy 11 moving back to the Mike – sorry but as nice as Lucas Oil is – its simply too big for a USL soccer team. Even 20K was just swallowed by the enormity of the 60K+ stadium. The Mike while not as nice – seems full with 10-15K in attendance – and that’s important. Plus when I walked around the Mike – I always saw someone I knew –never happened at Lucas Oil. Now I would love to see a game or 2 at Lucas Oil – maybe the opener or Louisville? But overall I am all in on the move back to the Mike and back into the BYB section behind the goal !! Not sure how I feel about New jerseys with Puma – I just got last season’s jersey finally.
US Men beat T&T 7-0
Well T&T is not good – but 7-0 is pretty impressive against anyone. Man the US U23s really showed up today as FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira’s welcome party included a hand in 5 of the 7 goals – scoring 2 and assisting on 3 more from a tucked #9 slot. Jonathan Lewis was also super with 2 goals on the night from the left wing spot. The backline included 3 U23s with Same Vines at left back and Atlanta center back Miles Robinson looking especially strong. Even new GK Matt Turner got in the act – saving a PK late – as he battles for the #2 spot behind Steffen. Overall the US got lots of contributions from over 10 U23 players as we got to see what our Olympic qualifying team in March will probably look like. Man I would love to see us get to the Olympics and then bring back our European players like Pulisic, Adams, McKinney, Reyna and more to try to bring home the gold. Doubt that will happen but qualifying in Mexico next month would be huge.
US Men Overseas
Good to see Barca right back Serginio Dest is back in the starting line-up after fighting injuries over the past few weeks. Sad to see Pulisiic’s role change at Chelsea with the new coach there – a half time sub performance last game where he supplied an assist was follow with a 70th minute sub vs Tottenham where he had a couple of chances but couldn’t quite connect. That has been Pulisics luck this year – close but no cigar. The current formation doesn’t look to favor a player like Pulisic with literally 7 defensive minded players in a 5 – 2 – 2 – 1. Perhaps he can snag that left mid slot but replacing Mount seems unlikely. Jury is still out. Exciting to see 2 American’s now on Swansea City in the Championship – Seattle’s Jordan Morris and DC United’s Paul Arriola as they push for promotion – currently in 2nd (games on ESPN+). Also U20 Prospect Bryan Reynold’s signing with Italy’s Roma is huge! I think after the success from Dest and especially McKinney dominating at Juve – that teams around the world now have their eyes on young prospects in the US. Sad to see Center Back from NY Red Bulls Aaron Long not get the call from Liverpool and turned down on a flip to a Championship squad. I know Long would have cleared that long ball on the goal they gave up to lose this week.
US Ladies Back to Camp – She Believes Cup in 2 weeks
My is this US ladies team deep. Good to see both Alex Morgan and Christen Press return to the squad and it makes the She Believe’s Cup coming up in 2 weeks 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!
Full She Believes Cup squad:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 4), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 65)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 2/0), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG; 63/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 27/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 107/24), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 133/2), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC; 4/1), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 179/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 48/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 105/20), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC;88/20), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG; 48/13), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnaise, FRA; 2/1), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 18/3), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG; 70/21)
FORWARDS (6): Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 296/123), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 170/107), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG; 139/58), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 170/54), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 1/0), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 31/10). (Tobin Heath out 12 wks)
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 ON TV
(American’s in parenthesis)
Sat, Feb 7
7:30 am NBCSN Aston Villa vs Arsenal
9:30 am ESPN+ Schalke (Hoppe) vs RB Leipzig (Adams)
12 ESPN+ Juventus (McKinney) vs Roma
12:30 pm NBC Fulham (Robinson) vs West Ham United
3 pm NBCSN Man United vs Everton
Sun, Feb 7
6:30 am ESPN2 Benevento vs Sampadoria
7 NBCSN Spurs vs West Brom
9 am NBCSN Wolverhampton vs Leicester City
9:30 am ESPN+ Hoffenhiem (Richards) vs Frankfurt
11:30 am NBC Liverpool vs Man City
1 pm FS2 Palmeiras (Brazil) vs Tigres (Mexico) FIFA Club World Cup
2:!5 Peacock Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Sheffield U
3 pm beIn Sport Real Bettis vs Barcelona (Dest)
Mon, Feb 8
1 pm Fox Sport 1 Al Ahly vs Bayern Munich (Europe) FIFA Club World Cup
3 pm beIN sport Atletico Madrid vs Celta de Vigo
Tues, Feb 9
1 pm NBCSN Wolverhampton vs Arsenal
2:45 pm ESPN2 or + Inter vs Juventus (McKinney)- Coppa Italia
3:!5 pm ESPN+ Man United vs West Ham FA Cup
Weds, Feb 10
12:30 pm ESPN+ Swansea City (Morris, Arrialo) vs Man City FA Cup
3:!5 pm ESPN+ Everton vs Tottenham FA Cup
Thurs Feb 11
10 am pm FS2 3rd place Fifa Club World Cup
1 pm Fox 1st place FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP FINAL
3 pm ESPN+ Barnsley vs Chelsea (Pulisic)
USA Men beat T & T 7-0
US Pounds T&T with mostly U23s – SI Avi Creditor
Is Dest as good at Barca as USMNT fans hoped? Bill Connelly
Morgan, Press return to USWNT for SheBelieves
WSL: USWNT stars Lavelle, Press score goals for City, United
– Alex Morgan back with Orlando Pride after COVID-19 scare
– Japan withdraws from SheBelieves Cup, replaced by Argentina
– USWNT’s Tobin Heath out 10-12 weeks after suffering ankle injury
Club World Cup participants – can anyone stop Bayern Munich?
Inter seek Fiorentina lift, Juve and Roma battle for third spot
Three talking points from the Premier League
Liverpool sign center backs Davies, Kabak on deadline day
Christian Pulisic relishing false nine role under new Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel
Christian Pulisic has revealed Thomas Tuchel’s plans to deploy him as a false nine in the German’s Chelsea revolution.Pulisic has been reunited with the man who kick-started his senior career at Borussia Dortmund as Tuchel has taken the Stamford Bridge helm.The USA forward stepped off the bench and conjured a cute assist for Marcos Alonso’s stunning volley as Chelsea drove past Burnley 2-0 in Sunday’s Premier League clash in west London.Tuchel must find a way to maximise Chelsea’s abundant attacking talent, with misfiring forward Timo Werner a continued concern.Pulisic impressed in his roving role off the bench against Burnley however, and has now lifted the lid on how Tuchel could look to blend him into the Blues’ heady attacking mix.“It’s a kind of a false striker,” Pulisic told Chelsea’s official website.“It’s been good so far. We’ve got a new outlook on things, we have had a really good win so it’s been a positive start.“It’s been some crazy times recently and just to get a win left all the guys in the changing room really excited.“We have had a lot of fun in training and there are smiles on faces which is good to see.”Tuchel swept into west London last week to replace the sacked Frank Lampard, with Chelsea’s record goalscorer dismissed after less than 18 months in charge.Former Paris St Germain and Dortmund boss Tuchel has linked back up with Pulisic, and his old PSG defender Thiago Silva with the Blues.Chelsea laboured to a goalless draw with Wolves last Wednesday, but Sunday’s 2-0 win over Burnley offered hope for a return to more positive and clinical attacking play.The Blues will take on bitter rivals Tottenham in north London on Thursday, bidding to push themselves closer towards the Premier League’s top four.And Pulisic insists Tuchel’s men are excited about taking on Jose Mourinho’s Spurs.“It’s a good time to play them coming off a good result for us,” Pulisic added.“We’re feeling confident. We’re really excited. It’s a good chance to make a statement and most importantly really build some momentum. We know what a good result against a good team could do for us.”
BACK HOME AGAIN! INDY ELEVEN RETURNING TO MICHAEL A. CARROLL STADIUM IN 2021
By Indy Eleven Communications, 02/03/21, 1:00PM EST Indiana’s Team to Call IUPUI Venue Home Until Completion of Eleven Park Project
Indy Eleven is ready to go “Back Home Again” for the 2021 season, as Indiana’s Team today confirmed it will return to IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium for the squad’s fourth campaign in the USL Championship – and eighth year of play overall – beginning this spring.Indy Eleven will utilize Carroll Stadium as a short-term venue solution until its future home of Eleven Park is completed in the coming years. Indy Eleven recently announced the location for the transformative Eleven Park stadium and neighborhood development project will be revealed by the end of March.“Indy Eleven would like to thank IUPUI and Indiana University for their cooperation and partnership,” stated Greg Stremlaw, Indy Eleven President & Chief Executive Officer. “During our first tenure at Carroll Stadium, the environment our fans created gave their Boys in Blue one of the best home-field advantages in all of American soccer. We look forward to helping our supporters recreate that magic once again as we await the construction of the world-class home they deserve in Eleven Park.”A limited number of new Season Ticket Memberships for the 2021 season at Carroll Stadium are available now and start at only $170. Learn more and purchase by visiting indyeleven.com or calling 317-695-1100.Season Ticket Members from Indy Eleven’s 2020 season are encouraged to check their email inboxes in the coming days for details on how they can renew their memberships for the upcoming season.Additional ticketing options will be made available in the coming weeks upon the release of the squad’s 2021 schedule. USL Championship confirmed last week that its 31 squads would launch their seasons around May 1, with “floating start dates” slated to occur between April 24 and May 15.
More information on Indy Eleven’s return to Carroll Stadium can be found via a new FAQ now live at IndyEleven.com. In addition, the organization is continuing to work on a comprehensive COVID-19 Safety Plan for events at Carroll Stadium that will be in accordance with all local, state, and national health and safety guidelines; because of the continuous nature of updates on this front, the plan will be announced closer to the season start date.“We knew late in 2020 that finding another venue for 2021 could become necessary because of pandemic-related scheduling flexibility needed at Lucas Oil Stadium throughout this year,” Stremlaw continued. “Carroll Stadium provides our club the best option for success both on the field and in the front office. We look forward to working with IUPUI again in the coming years and cannot wait to see the passion – and smoke – coming from the stands once the season kicks off.”Indy Eleven called Carroll Stadium home for its first four seasons of play from 2014-17, encompassing the team’s entire tenure in the North American Soccer League (NASL). Multiple current members of the “Boys in Blue” also familiarized themselves with “The Mike” during the fall of 2019, when Indy Eleven hosted a pair of games in the USL Championship Eastern Conference Playoffs, including the club’s first USL Conference Championship appearance.In all, more than 620,000 fans and supporters filed into Carroll Stadium for a combined 70 regular season, postseason, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and exhibition contests between 2014-2019, adding a new and electric atmosphere to Indianapolis’ thriving sports scene along the way. Indy Eleven made history at the venue in 2014 when it became the first American professional American soccer team to sell out the entirety of its Inaugural Season. That year’s average attendance of 10,485 actually surpassed the team’s official venue capacity that season thanks to an overflow crowd of 11,048 at its Inaugural Match on April, 12, 2014 – a mark that also stands as the largest crowd for an Eleven game at “The Mike.”
Is Dest as good at Barcelona as USMNT fans had hoped? The numbers suggest the answer is ‘yes’
The full-back position has typically been one of sturdy competence for the United States men’s national team. At right-back, you’ve been witness to the Steve Cherundolos and Timmy Chandlers of the world; the pickings have been a bit slimmer at times on the left, but players like DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson have still brought professionalism and occasionally exciting play to the position. There’s sturdy professional upside, and there’s Jordi Alba– or Dani Alves-level upside: In Sergino Dest, the USMNT now has a starting Barcelona full-back in its player pool.Dest’s rise from Ajax youth prospect to Barcelona starter took place in what felt like milliseconds. Let’s take a look at what kind of player he is becoming and what he might have to offer for the U.S. and manager Gregg Berhalter.
First, the timeline:
Born in the Netherlands to an American father and Dutch mother, Dest made his Ajax B-team (Jong Ajax) debut as a 17-year-old in October 2018, less than two months before Berhalter was hired to lead the USMNT. By the following July, Dest had been promoted to the senior squad; he would play in 20 of 25 Eredivisie matches for the Dutch powerhouse in 2019-20, plus 10 of 12 Champions League and Europa League matches.Having represented the United States at both the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2017 and the Under-20 World Cup in 2019, Dest officially committed to playing for the United States early in the 2019-20 season and has since made five appearances for his country. He played most of last fall’s friendlies against Wales and Panama, completing 86% of his passes with eight ball recoveries.By this point, you could say his status within America’s first-choice lineup had been fast-tracked. Having already played in the Champions League before his 19th birthday, he had moved to Barcelona before his 20th. Despite rampant budget issues, the Blaugrana acquired him on Oct. 1 for more than €20 million and quickly plugged him into the lineup. He’s played in 15 of 20 La Liga matches and played the full 90 minutes in five of six Champions League group-stage matches.
Although he has split his minutes between right- and left-back for the national team, Dest has been deployed primarily on the right at Barca, either because that’s where manager Ronald Koeman thinks he’s most capable or because Alba remains a mainstay at left-back. Dest has logged a goal and an assist, but his primary job has been to move the ball from the second level of the defense to the third. Turns out he’s quite good at it.
(The above shows where he tends to make the most plays and progressions and, no surprise for a Barcelona player, he spends most of his time way up the pitch.)
The full-back position is a tricky one to evaluate in a statistical sense, as it depends so comprehensively on the system at hand. But comparing him to other full-backs and wing-backs in Europe’s big five leagues, we figure out both his strengths and his specific duties pretty quickly.Among the 150 big-five full-backs and wing-backs with at least 750 league minutes this season, Dest’s pass completion rate (90.4%) ranks first, as does his completion rate into the attacking third (90.0%). No, these have not been long-distance passes, and yes, a lot of these passes have gone to Lionel Messi, which is to say they are high-percentage opportunities. But his accuracy and his speed on the ball get the ball where it needs to be almost every time. He’s also in the 99th percentile in completion rate from the middle third (92.8%) and in the 93rd percentile from the defensive third (82.6%).Dest has been excellent at retaining possession — his 12.1 possessions lost per 90 minutes are in the 95th percentile — and he is more than willing to attempt one-on-ones (3.1 take-ons per 90, 55% success rate). Stylistically, he fits nicely with the Kyle Walker or Ferland Mendy type of full-back. Or yes, Alba himself.One major reason for his high completion rate in attacking positions: He doesn’t attempt crosses. He ranks in the 24th percentile in cross attempts (1.9 per 90) and in the 14th in cross completion rate (10.5%). This is part of Koeman’s general approach: Barcelona attempt only 14.6 crosses per 90 minutes, third lowest in La Liga. This promotes ball retention and through short passing patterns, take-ons and, yes, Messi, Barcelona still lead the league in chances created.
For a possession-heavy team like Barcelona, the most direct effort in defense is not allowing the opponent to have the ball. Dest is brilliant in that regard, and that’s good, because he has room to grow in the actual defense department. He ranks in the first percentile — the very bottom, in other words — with 9.1 defensive interventions (defined as ball recoveries, tackles, interceptions, clearances, blocked shots and aerials won in the defensive third) per 90 minutes. He averages 5.1 ball recoveries per 90 (38th percentile), but only 0.4 pass interceptions (first percentile). He’s good for the occasional tactical foul, but he was not acquired for his tackling ability, which is still very much a work in progress.All of this fits with Barcelona’s defensive profile at the moment. Like plenty of possession teams, the Blaugrana get caught a decent amount on counterattacks; they are seventh in La Liga in shots allowed per possession (0.10), but they’re sixth worst in xG allowed per shot (0.13). Dest’s stats appear to very much be a product of the system, for better and worse. When asked to apply more pressure, it seems like he can — he averaged 11.2 defensive interventions per 90 last season with Ajax and 13.4 with Jong Ajax the season before.Still, Koeman wants to build from the back and hog the ball, and Dest is a lovely piece in this regard.
Berhalter wants to do these things, too. Since the start of 2020, the U.S. has played five friendlies, three against vastly overmatched CONCACAF opponents (Trinidad & Tobago, Panama, El Salvador) and two against more solid foes (Wales, Costa Rica). Against the former, they romped by a combined 19-2; they struggled offensively against the latter, beating Costa Rica 1-0 and drawing 0-0 with Wales.- The U.S. overwhelmed the three overmatched foes with pressure and possession. They possessed the ball 64% of the time, completed nearly 88% of their (mostly short) passes, made more than 50 ball recoveries in each match and allowed just 9.3 passes per defensive action. (For context, only three big-five teams have allowed fewer than 9.3 PPDA so far this season: Leeds United, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.)- Against Wales and Costa Rica, the offense disappeared, but the principles remained: 61% possession, 88% completion rate, 49 ball recoveries per match and a frantic, Ajax-like 8.6 PPDA.
Berhalter is doing a solid job of establishing his intended principles — granted, against mostly sketchy competition — and he’s doing it despite having yet to really narrow down the player pool. In these five matches, for instance, he’s played 11 different full-backs for at least a handful of minutes — everyone from potential regulars like Dest, Boavista‘s Reggie Cannon and the Colorado Rapids‘ Sam Vines, to less-tested youngsters such as Atlanta United’s George Bello and the LA Galaxy‘s Julian Araujo.It’s exciting, then, to think about what might be possible with a stable, truly first-choice lineup. It’s also exciting to realize that, in addition to Dest, the possession-and-pressure theme is pretty constant with the teams a lot of the members of this potential first-choice lineup play for.
– Winger/attacking midfielder Christian Pulisic — Chelsea: The Blues’ possession rate has been more than 60% for Pulisic’s entire tenure, and new coach Thomas Tuchel, who worked with Pulisic at Borussia Dortmund, is a PPDA true believer.
– Winger Giovanni Reyna — Borussia Dortmund: BVB have the highest possession rate (62%) in the Bundesliga and are second in PPDA (10.3), and despite having just turned 18, Reyna has already logged more than 1,500 Bundesliga minutes with the club.
– Midfielder Weston McKennie — Juventus: McKennie arrived with new manager Andrea Pirlo, who is quickly turning Juve into a modern possession club: they’re second in Serie A in possession rate (58.6%) and first in PPDA (9.9).
– Defensive midfielder Tyler Adams — RB Leipzig: The Red Bull machine has quickly become an avatar for modern soccer, and flagship Leipzig are currently both excellent (Adams scored the winning goal to send them to the Champions League semifinals last season) and possession dominant.
– Goalkeeper Zack Steffen — Manchester City: Steffen played for Berhalter’s Columbus Crew SC and has now made eight appearances for Pep Guardiola’s Man City. Safe to say, he knows what’s required of the modern sweeper keeper and play-out-of-the-back intentions.
Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest highlights and debate the biggest storylines. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).Plenty of others in the player pool are employed by either heavy-possession or heavy-pressure sides: defenders like John Brooks (VfL Wolfsburg), Cannon (Boavista), Chris Richards (TSG Hoffenheim on loan from Bayern) and Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), midfielders like Julian Green (Greuther Furth) and Brenden Aaronson (FC Salzburg), attackers/wingers like Jordan Morris (Swansea on loan from Seattle Sounders FC), Timothy Weah (Lille), Konrad de la Fuente (Barca), etc.
The lineups the United States field when the real matches begin — Olympic qualifying in March, the CONCACAF Nations League finals in June, the Gold Cup (and perhaps the Olympics) in July, World Cup qualifying in the fall — will boast an increasing amount of not only young talent, but also tactical familiarity.
Dest will almost certainly be a huge part of Berhalter’s plans. When he signed with Barca, he told ESPN, “You want to play every game against the best opponents and see where you’re at right now with your development. I think there’s enough room for me to improve, but I am on a good [path] and I like these games.”
With each level he’s advanced — from the Dutch second division to the Dutch first division to La Liga — his pass completion rates have improved, and his expected assist totals have remained steady. He might not be Alba or Alves yet, but he’s meeting the challenge. That should be very good news for both his and the USMNT’s future.