2/20/21 USWNT vs Brazil 3 pm Sun FS1, Milan Derby Sun, UCL Tues/Wed

USWNT vs Brazil 3 pm Sun on FS1

She Believe’s Cup action was pretty good on Thursday night as the US ladies were really given a tough game by 8th ranked Canada as almost 1 million tuned in to view – the largest ever for a non World Cup women’s game on FS1 .  While the US had more shots (29-8) and more corners (13-5)  and more possession (65-35) it was honestly Canada who had the best chances at scoring until the US made subs in the 70th minute or so.  US GK Alyssa Naeher who had not faced a legit shot in like 3 games – had to come up with 2 solid saves to protect the US net.  While I thought Lynn Williams at right wing was a monster in the first half – almost scoring on 3 or 4 chances – the rest of the US offense just was not on cue.  Horan was decent – but with only 1 speedy forward in Williams – we just couldn’t break thru and get a good shot on net.  That all changed in the 70th minute when left winger Christen Press came on for Rapino, Alex Morgan came on for Lloyd and perhaps most importantly Rose Lavelle came on for Macario at midfield.  Rose showed her excellence immediately scoring 8 minutes later.  The offense just seemed to open up with the addition of these 3 stars and the US really coasted to the 1-0 win from there.   

Brazil destroyed Argentina 4-0 Thurs so the battle with Brazil on Sunday will probably be our most difficult game overall.  It will be interesting to see who Coach A – rotates in after he was clearly disappointed in the showing by his team vs Canada.  Interesting that Coach Andonovski will look to extend his record best 14-0 start vs the former US Coach Pia Sundhage now Brazil head coach – who of course lead the US to 2 World Cup wins. 

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): Kasey Krueger, 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) –out injured.

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

Sun Feb. 21 USA vs. Brazil 3 PM ET FS1
Feb. 21 Argentina vs. Canada 6 PM ET FS1
Wed Feb. 24 Canada vs. Brazil 4 PM ET

USA vs Argentina 7 pm ET on FS1

Games to Watch on TV

Christian Pulisic is reportedly unlikely to play due to injury when Chelsea takes the field against Southampton at 7:30a on NBCSN. Antonee Robinson has not started the last couple of matches for Fulham after leading the team in minutes since his introduction. The club face Sheffield United in a battle of relegation threatened teams.  Giovanni Reyna did not make it off the bench for Borussia Dortmund in their 3-2 win over Sevilla in Champions League play on Wednesday. But we look for him to return Sat at 12:30 on ESPN+ when Dormund face Schalke and American forward Hoope.  Reyna has started three straight league games for the club, though the personal and team results in those competitions have been uninspiring. This is the first full season for the young man, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he was running into some issues with fatigue, but the club has a good chance to pick up points when they face last place Schalke.

Sunday’s big games are all behind the firewalls – as ESPN+ has the Milan Derby at battle of 1st vs 2nd as AC Milan and Zlatan (who scored his 500th goal last week) take on Inter Milan Sunday at 9 am. Peacock has all the EPL games Sunday including West Ham hosting Tottenham at 7 am, Aston Villa vs Leicester City at 9 am and Arsenal vs Man City at 11:30 am.  It’s a US v US matchup in the Bundesliga, as Chris Richards and Hoffenheim face Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen on Sunday at noon on ESPN+. The two clubs have worked their way to middle of the table and are tied on 23 points, though they are only five points ahead of the relegation playoff position. Sargent has been a regular start for Bremen, while Richards has not started every match but has worked himself in very quickly since joining Hoffenheim from Bayern Munich.  Timothy Weah picked up the goal in Lille’s 2-1 loss to Ajax in Europa League play. The team will look to hold on to their first place Ligue 1 position when they face Lorient at 11:05am Sunday on beIN Sports  and Fanatiz. Finally 3rd place PSG will host 4th place Monaco at 3 pm on beIN Sport.  Of course Champions League is back Tues/Wed – Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid on Tuesday on CBS Sports Network along with Lazio vs holder’s Bayern Munich both at 3 pm on CBSAA.  While Wed gives us Borussia Monchengladback vs Man City and Italian’s Atalanta vs Real Madrid at 3 pm both on CBSAA.  Tough news for US forward Jordan Morris who was stretchered off his game Sat for Swansea.

 GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat,  Feb 20

7:30 am NBCSN               Southampton vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

10:15 am beIN Sport         Atletico vs Levante

12:30 pm NBC                   Liverpool vs Everton  

12:30 pm ESPN+              Schalke (Hoppe)  vs Dortmund (Reyna)

Sun   Feb 21

7 am Peacock                     West Ham vs Tottenham

9 am ESPN+                       AC Milan vs Inter  1 vs 2 Italy

9 am Peacock                    Aston Villa vs Leicester City

11:30 am Peacock             Arsenal vs Man City

12 noon ESPN+                  Hoffenheim (Richards) vs Werder Bremen(Sargent)

3 pm beIn Sport                PSG vs Monaco

3 pm Fox Sports 1        USA Women vs Brazil She Believes Cup

6 pm FS1                             Canada vs Argentina women

Tuesday, Feb. 23

Lazio vs. Bayern Munich, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)  

Atletico Madrid vs. Chelsea (Pulisic), 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access/CBS Sports Network)

Wednesday, Feb. 24

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Manchester City, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)  

Atalanta vs. Real Madrid, 3 p.m. ET (CBS All Access)  

4 pm FS1                             Canada vs Brazil women

7 pm Fox Sports 1        USA Women vs Argentina She Believes Cup

US Ladies

U.S. women bracing for ‘unpredictable’ Brazil test  Jeff Carlisle ESPN  
U.S. women’s soccer team narrowly defeats Canada in SheBelieves Cup

Rose Lavelle delivers for USA women in SheBelieves Cup win over Canada

Lavelle’s late laser drives USWNT past Canada in SheBelieves Cup 

Black History Month: Christen Press, what did you do?!
Lynn Williams moves forward in quest to make U.S. Olympic team at SheBelieves Cup

Revealed: how the pay gap at US Soccer goes all the way up the ladder
Crystal Dunn looks to do more
US Players Getting Tired overseas?  

 US MEN

US Players on TV this Weekend S&S

Koeman: U.S.’s Dest switched off against Mbappe

American Youngsters Richards and Weah Shine in Europa League Action

Doyle: Current USMNT depth chart for midfielders & forwards

Tuchel: No decision made on Pulisic future  ESPNFC
Transfer news: American striker Hoppe on PL radars

Transfer news: USMNT’s U21 GK CJ Santos to Burnley


Is there reason to be worried about Christian Pulisic at Chelsea? (video)
Tuchel on Pulisic omission: He will be important
Tuchel defends latest Pulisic omission
US Men’s Olympic Qualifying Schedule Starts Mar 18

                                                     

UCL

Mbappe and Haaland show that their time is now

Pirlo’s ‘clueless’ Juve under-fire after Porto flop
Pirlo says lacklustre Juventus handed Porto victory ‘on silver platter’

Juve lay another first-leg egg in the Champions League with loss to Porto
Mbappe leads PSG to statement win as Barca malaise deepens
  Gabriele Marcotti
Mbappe hat-trick stuns Barca to put PSG in sight of quarter-finals

3 Things We Learned PSG Pound Barca 4-1
Liverpool seize control over RB Leipzig in Budapest

‘Salah, Jones 8/10 for superb showing in Liverpool’s win over RB Leipzig

Job only half done’, Henderson warns Liverpool
WORLD
Haaland strikes late as Dortmund and Leverkusen drop points

Serie A: Inter leapfrog AC Milan for top spot; Juventus fail to capitalize

Lukaku ‘firing on all cylinders’ as Inter go top of Serie A
Zlatan Scores 500th Goal

EPL 

MLS

Reports: Thierry Henry to Bournemouth? Here’s the latest
Seltzer: Top 10 Americans in MLS for the 2021 season

 

 .S. women preparing for ‘unpredictable’ Brazil test in SheBelieves Cup – Andonovski

Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

United States women’s manager Vlatko Andonovski said he is looking forward to playing an “unpredictable” Brazil side in the second match of the SheBelieves Cup for both teams.Brazil currently tops the tournament standings on goal difference over the U.S. following their 4-1 win over Argentina on Thursday and the Americans’ 1-0 win against Canada. With the U.S. facing Argentina in its final game of the tournament, Sunday’s match will likely decide who claims the top spot.– But the tournament is more about preparation for the Tokyo Olympics later this year, and Andonovski feels Brazil will provide a unique challenge for his team.”There is no certain pattern that we can say, ‘Okay, this is what they’re gonna do every time,'” he said on a Zoom call with reporters. “That’s what makes Brazil special, that they’re so unpredictable that we’re gonna have to overcome those challenges or come up with solutions in the split second. I’m actually looking forward to see how our team [will] react.”Marta remains one of Brazil’s main threats, with Andonovski noting that the scouting folder on six-time The Best FIFA Women’s Player award is “pretty thick” given the player’s longevity. She’s joined by North Carolina Courage forward Debinha in leading Brazil’s attack.”She’s an incredible player,” said Andonovski about Debinha. “Her creativity and ability to change and play in between the lines in the middle of the field, but also make runs behind the line and in the side games is incredible. I think she’s one of the best players in the world.”Andonovski had previously spoken of how disappointing the U.S. team’s performance was in its win over Canada on Thursday. That said, he highlighted how the U.S. took 29 shots and had 27 open play crosses. He also noted that many of his players are very much still in preseason mode given that the NWSL season won’t start until April 9 with the Challenge Cup.”They’ve not played, they haven’t had the touches with their teams. They haven’t had regular games on a weekly basis,” he said. “OK, once it all comes in play, I’m not worried about it. As long as we’re creating opportunities, we’re moving in the right direction, because the execution will come.”With the U.S. playing three games in seven days over the course of the tournament, Andonovski will have to juggle his lineup to a degree. One change he hinted at was that Rose Lavelle, scorer of the game-winner against Canada, will see more of the field.Lavelle does have a history of injury, but Andonovski said he’s not worried about the midfielder’s health based on what he’s seen.”We’re not worried at all,” said Andonovski about Lavelle. “She’s playing hard, she’s training hard, so we’re excited to have her here. And I think we’re going to see the best of Rose as we’re going forward.”

U.S. women’s soccer team narrowly defeats Canada in SheBelieves Cup

Kevin BaxterThu, February 18, 2021, 11:13 PM With one loss in the last five years, the women’s national team has grown accustomed to teaching whatever lessons are learned during its games. But Thursday in Orlando, Fla., it got schooled by Canada in a sloppy SheBelieves Cup match the U.S. was fortunate to escape with a 1-0 victory.“We’re going to go back and try to learn from this,” coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “That’s a good learning opportunity for us; that good teams are going to punish us.”The only goal came from second-half substitute Rose Lavelle, who latched onto a loose ball after a Christen Press free kick and pushed a shot through a crowd at the near post in the 79th minute. That spoiled an otherwise spectacular effort by Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé, who took over for injured starter Kailen Sheridan in the 11th minute and made nine saves.At least the U.S. got those shots on target. The Americans took 29 shots, but most of those either went over or around the goal or were deflected by Canadian defenders.“I don’t know if rusty is the right word,” Andonovski said. “When we create 10 opportunities to score and we score one, I’m disappointed.”Canada, ranked No. 8 in the world, hasn’t beaten the U.S. in 20 years, and with several starters unavailable because of injuries and club requirements, that streak seemed safe. But playing its first game under new coach Bev Priestman, Canada was not intimidated by the top-ranked Americans, testing U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher three times.That’s as many saves as Naeher had made in her last three international games combinedThe tournament will continue Sunday with the U.S. playing Brazil, a 4-1 winner over Argentina in Thursday’s first game. Marta, who plays in the NWSL with Orlando, opened the scoring for Brazil with a penalty-kick goal in the 30th minute.Canada will play Argentina in Sunday’s second game. USA vs Brazil: what to watch for Solve that midfield chaos, don’t let Debinha do Debinha things to you. By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Feb 20, 2021, 1:01pm PST So you started off your SheBelieves Cup having the weaknesses of your high press exposed. If you’re Vlatko Andnovoski, that’s a fantastic thing because that’s the whole point of this tournament before the Olympics: figure out the problems, tweak the tactics, test the personnel. Andonovski had this to say in a press call before the game against Brazil: In terms of Canada, something that jumps out is the lack of [our] execution. I mean, lack of finishing. We went through everything that we wanted to do. And I felt like we executed our principles very well, we were able to create 28 shots, 27 crosses in open play. So we created six goalscoring opportunities off of the process, we created the other seven or eight opportunities in open play that we could have scored a shot, but we didn’t. Yes, it was disappointing, maybe at the moment, but we got to know that these players are in the offseason still… They haven’t had touches with their teams. they haven’t had regular games on a weekly basis. And once that all comes into play, I’m not worried about it. As long as we’re creating opportunities, we’re moving in the right direction, because the execution will come pretty soon. And now he’s got Brazil to further break down his plans, and if he wanted someone to put pressure on his midfield in particular, he couldn’t have asked for a better suited team. Brazil is coming into this game with a relatively confident 4-1 win over Argentina. And as one might expect, Marta and Debinha both did plenty of heavy lifting for their country, with Debinha often the architect of their attack. Andonovski: We’re gonna have to solve their free flow in the middle. We know that Marta has an ability to drop in the middle to create overload. Debinha, I said earlier, she has an ability to drop in the middle to create overload. So there’s going to be problems and challenges that they’re going to present that will create for us, that we’ll have to overcome. And there is no certain pattern that we can say, okay, this is what they’re going to do every time. On the US side, Andonovski will be looking for better challenges from his players and better connection with the ball. Perhaps we’ll have some starter rotation; it might be nice to see Christen Press start over Megan Rapinoe, who looked like she ran out of gas after about 30 minutes. Before the game, Press talked about complementing Crystal Dunn on the left and how Dunn winning her 1v1s both offensively and defensively frees Press to go forward, which the team needed against Canada.It might also be nice to see more time for Alex Morgan. Morgan looked like you’d expect for a player who hasn’t had consistent time, a half-step off on her timing. But she looked dangerous nonetheless, and with more minutes to dig in, she could get a real confidence-boosting goal under her belt to get her fully back into the swing of things for the NT.On the other side of the field, Andonvoski said that he wants Midge Purce to get used to right back. “With the national team, with her club team, if she has an opportunity to play there, that’s what she needs,” he said. “We could see in the game against Canada that she did an incredible job when she was in the attacking half or when we were in possession. I thought that she would help us advance forward, came up with some good crosses, combination with Lynn [Williams].” But Andonvoski also pointed out that one big difference in this game is that Purce will likely be pitted against Marta, making her lockdown ability much more crucial and an area in which he will be looking for growth from her.As for that midfield test, Lindsey Horan will absolutely need to bring more of her second-half energy from the game against Canada and crisp up distribution while not getting frustrated and involved in rough fouls. Catarina Macario may also be asked to really help pressure her own left side of the pitch, either bypassing Marta or forcing her out of position to add to Brazil’s numbers there, leaving some space for Purce to operate.Where Canada was slightly chaotic and plenty physical, the US will probably want this game to settle down a bit and rely more on good execution. USWNT vs. Brazil, 2021 SheBelieves Cup: Scouting Brazil Marta and Debinha are in Orlando, but who else makes the engine go?By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Feb 19, 2021, 10:00am PST The United States Women’s National Team will take on Brazil in their second match of the 2021 SheBelieves Cup on Sunday in Orlando. Both teams top the standings with 3 points, with both securing victories Thursday night. In looking at Brazil, they have some of their veteran players back along with some new faces that look to get into the rotation under coach Pia Sundhage. Their roster has had a few changes since it was announced in late January. Last week, Fabiana tested positive for COVID-19, so she was replaced by Kathellen, while Luana and Formiga were denied a release by their club, Paris Saint-Germain, last weekend. They were replaced by Geyse and Valéria. The 25-person roster for Brazil: Goalkeepers (3): Bárbara (Kindermann), Aline Reis (Granadilla), Letícia (Benfica) Defenders (8): Tamires (Corinthians), Camilinha (Palmeiras), Tainara (Palmeiras), Rafaelle (Changchun Zhuoyue), Bruna Benites (Internacional), Jucinara (Levante), Antônia (Madrid CFF), Kathellen (Inter Milan) Midfielders (7): Andressinha (Corinthians), Júlia Bianchi (Palmeiras), Andressa Alves (AS Roma), Marta (Orlando Pride), Adriana (Corinthians), Chú (Palmeiras), Ivana Fuso (Manchester United) Forwards (7): Ludmila (Atlético Madrid), Debinha (North Carolina Courage), Bia Zaneratto (Wuhan Xinjiyuan), Christiane (Santos), Giovana (FC Barcelona), Geyse (Madrid CFF), Valéria (Madrid CFF) A Seleção got off to a great start in the tournament yesterday by defeating archrivals Argentina 4-1. Marta and Debinha opened up the scoring for the Brazilians, while Adriana and Geyse both got their first international goal.  Brazil likes to get out into open space, where their players can create scoring opportunities with pace and agility. Brazil was able to create some chances in what was a physical game, and they tested the Argentine keeper with crosses into the box and trying to free Debinha and Marta on the break.When they do that, they are left open to the counter attack and there are huge holes created by players who move forward. A couple of times during the match, Brazilian goalkeeper Aline Reis came way off her line to clear balls back towards the offensive end because the defense had gaps from so many players moving forward.While they may be testing out some new players to the team (11 players have less than 10 caps), you have some players on their last cycle – like Marta, Christiane, and Tamires – that are looking to make one last Olympics roster. There is quite a bit of depth, but they will be missing Formiga and Luana against the United States. The depth becomes much younger, and it will be a tall task for Brazil to ask them to control the tempo against the best team in the world. Still, they have the pace, creativity, and passing to give any team fits. And, if they can string it together, they will get chances and test the American defense routinely in an effort to steal the win.Brazil takes on the USA Sunday at 3:00pm ET, with coverage on FS1 and TUDN. SheBelieves: USA beats Canada 1-0 in tight-ish game There were some real hold-your-breath moments in this one, but the US came good in the end.  By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Feb 18, 2021, 6:56pm PST  Stars and stripes Starting XI: Alyssa Naeher, Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Margaret Purce, Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Catarina Macario, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Lynn Williams It was a slightly clunky first half from the United States as they took on northern neighbors Canada. If the thought was that Canada would be easy pickings due to a depleted roster, the thought was quickly dispelled due to the US’ own occasionally plodding midfield and loosey-goosey crossing and set pieces.The US started out with their usual high pressing, gaining possession and position very early, looking really galvanized particularly through Crystal Dunn. Canada looked shaky, their goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan clearing a ball directly into Carli Lloyd’s legs, then Desiree Scott giving away an early foul right outside the 18-yard box for tackling Carli Lloyd. Megan Rapinoe’s free kick went into the Canadian wall, though.Midge Purce also got in on the action; she and Dunn put in a real shift trying to execute their wide responsibilities, with Dunn often setting the play from the left touchline looking for targets from the forwards. They certainly attacked with their usual relentlessness, but not with precision, though some of it was also Canada’s determined, physical defending.The US midfield wasn’t quite as mobile or involved in the play, kept at range by Canada, often containing Canada’s own midfield to keep them penned in, but not able to pressure Canada’s center into giving way or coming too far out of position.Canada’s goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan was forced to come off early with some kind of non-contact injury, but though her substitute Stephanie Labbé looked shaky in her first few touches, the US wasn’t able to capitalize on a wobbly keeper. The US had a great opportunity in the 20’ as Carli Lloyd cleverly rainbowed the ball over her head to Lynn Williams, who made a near no-look pass knowing that someone would be running into space. That was Catarina Macario arriving late and slipping past the defensive line punched up around Lloyd and Williams, but her showt was high and wide.The game began to descend into chippiness, with Canada physically sticking tight to US players as part of their concentrated defensive efforts. The US earned several set pieces through pressure, not letting Canada out of their third, but wasn’t able to convert any chances. The line of confrontation began shifting towards the midfield, with Lindsey Horan doing more on the defensive side of the ball. But as the US wasn’t able to neatly close down these midfield forays, Canada nearly scored a quick one in the 38’ as no one picked up Janine Beckie on the far post for a cross.The game really devolved near the end of the half, with Williams testing Labbé with shots at range, and a goalmouth scramble in stoppage after a bobbled shot that still didn’t yield a goal. The half ended at 0-0.The US started the second half with no changes. Things immediately got physical again as both sides threw their bodies into ball challenges. Julie Ertz pushed high to try and help press on Canada’s players turtled up in the center, but even when the US was able to slip their playmakers the ball, they were all defended very tightly.The fullbacks, often relied upon to win their 1-v-1 battles to create scoring chances, weren’t winning enough of them. Neither Purce nor Williams was finding much joy against Allysha Chapman. But conversely Lindsey Horan turned up the dial on her own physical intensity, playing ballwinner against all comers, cutting off players or simply tracking them down as they attempted to break away from her at speed. The US had a snafu in the 59’ as a Dunn giveaway let Nichelle Prince run freely at the center backs. Prince managed to angle her run to just about beat Dahlkemper and Sauerbrunn, but fluffed her final ball, making some kind of abortive pass instead of shooting, letting the US off the hook. Then another giveaway, this time with Prince trying to drop the ball off for late-arriving Janine Beckie, whose shot selection was subpar and denied by Alyssa Naeher.In the 63’ the US made a triple sub, pulling Rapinoe, Lloyd, and Macario for Christen Press, Alex Morgan, and Rose Lavelle. All three made a definite impact, Press able to help dominate the wide channel on and off with Dunn, Morgan providing an unpredictable and sometimes untrackable target in front of goal, and Lavelle opening up the midfield with her movement on and off the ball.In the 69’ Dunn toyed with her defender, got around her, and crossed the ball for a Morgan header that was just wide of the post. The game opened up nearing the 75’, the US making mistakes in midfield that allowed Canada to pick up turnovers and push back towards the US defensive end. But then in the 79’ Lavelle broke through with an extremely nice angled shot, picking up a loose ball that wasn’t cleared off of a free kick.It was to be the only goal of the night.In the 82, the US made their last three subs, pulling Dunn, Horan, and Purce for Casey Kreuger (nee Short), Kristie Mewis, and Emily Sonnett. Mewis had some nice pickups in midfield, looking to play direct to Press and Morgan. And why not, when the two of them were fresh and full of running.The game ended at 1-0. Still, there wasn’t necessarily sense that it was as close a game as the tight result might indicate. Yes, Canada had some heartstopping chances, but as Vlatko Andonovski emphasized after the game, these came from US mistakes and not necessarily from Canada tactics.“If you look at the chances that they created, the chances that they had, was after we lost the ball in the middle. It wasn’t because they broke us down, we lost the ball in the middle and they went straight down towards our goal,” said Andonovski after the game.“It’s a great learning opportunity,” he said. “Regardless of how we did, we’re going to go back and try to learn from this because I thought [Canada] were very disciplined, they were very aggressive in the middle of the field in the central channel, and they were able to create turnovers in regards to how we were trying to build. Obviously that’s a great learning opportunity for us to know that good teams are going to punish us or will create opportunity or make mistakes in that.”Next up: USA vs Brazil on February 21 at 3 PM ET. The game will air live on FS1 and TUDN. USMNT’s Morris stretchered off in Swansea match vs. Huddersfield 1:07 PM ETESPNUnited States international forward Jordan Morris was stretchered off with a leg injury in Swansea City‘s 4-1 loss to Huddersfield Town on Saturday.Morris, who came on as a substitute at half-time, left the game in the 66th minute after landing awkwardly.Swansea did not give any official details about the injury.”It does not look good, does it? I don’t know the extent of it but we have our fingers crossed for him,” Swansea manager Steve Cooper said after the match. “We will know more in the days to come, but it did not look a good one, that’s for sure.”He will travel back with us, he is currently in a knee brace and on crutches.”We will get the best attention to him as soon as possible.”Morris, 26, joined Championship club Swansea on loan from the Seattle Sounders in the January transfer window.He made his Swansea debut in a 3-1 win over Rotherham on Jan. 30.In better news for the U.S., American midfielder Duane Holmes scored his first two goals since his return to Huddersfield, helping his side to an important win as they seek to avoid relegation from the Championship. Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel on Christian Pulisic future: ‘No decisions’ made for summer James OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC Thomas Tuchel has said he wants Christian Pulisic to stay at Chelsea but admitted “no decisions” have yet been taken over the club’s summer plans.The USMNT international has started only in the FA Cup fifth-round win at Barnsley on Feb. 11 during Tuchel’s six-game tenure. Pulisic is a doubt for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Southampton, and although the 22-year-old has also recently missed Chelsea’s victory at Sheffield United due to personal reasons, a lack of game time has fuelled speculation he could leave the club this summer. However, when asked at a news conference whether the forward still had a future at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel replied: “Yes, today, clearly yes, but it is not only my point of view. We have to see. For me, clearly yes because Chelsea bought Christian for a reason, for his quality, for his potential, and it is our job to bring out the best in him.”He proved in many weeks that he has the level to be a Chelsea regular player, to have a big impact in this club. It’s a challenge now to hold this level, to improve and to maintain the level and keep improving.”Pulisic, who has a contract until 2024, has struggled with persistent injury problems since arriving at Chelsea in the summer of 2019 but particularly after a hamstring injury suffered in last August’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.Former Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard revealed the club were exploring specific training programmes amid fears Pulisic was struggling to cope with the rigours of regular first-team football.Although Tuchel did not necessarily share that view, he said Pulisic is unlikely to be risked to avoid another “cycle” of fitness problems.”We are not concerned, we are not worried, but the physical, medical department is on that,” he added. “Now we have little issues in the calf. He stopped training yesterday before it becomes an injury.”So I would not say it is an injury; at the moment it is risk management to not be injured. That relies on his history of having injuries, so we do not want to enter the same cycle.”It is sometimes like this, and the main thing for Christian is to stay positive, keep the head up and, like I said before, be ready because he can have a big impact when he starts and he can have a big, big impact when he comes off the bench with his intensity.”There are absolutely no decisions made for the summer. There is simply no time for that at the moment, and this is not the moment now. There is today no need to think about it.”Thiago Silva has not recovered from a thigh problem and will miss the game against Southampton, but Tammy Abraham was expected to train on Friday afternoon despite limping off in Monday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle with an ankle problem. Kai Havertz is also fit after shaking off a knock.   The Unexpected Rise of Another U.S. Teen Abroad Matthew Hoppe was a relative unknown before a scoring binge in the Bundesliga. Now the 19-year-old American finds himself keeping company with a more heralded cast of prospects—all while trying to save his storied club from relegation. BRIAN STRAUS  FEB 16, 2021  SI    No. 43 isn’t really a conventional soccer number. It’s a free safety’s number, a NASCAR number, a number that looks slightly out of place in a sport where jerseys with lower digits predominate.That stems from the sport’s black-and-white days, when the 11 eligible players were numbered 1 to 11 and positions often had numerical designations. The center forward wore No. 9. Consider how far 43 is from 9, and you’ll have a sense of how far Matthew Hoppe once was from leading the line for a big German club—a club that’s counting on him to help deliver a miracle.Hoppe was unexpected, just another young, relatively unknown American toiling at the fringes of a European club. He was a project. But Schalke 04 was a team in crisis, falling to the foot of the Bundesliga and in need of fresh legs and a spark. When Hoppe was called up to the senior side for the first time in late November, having scored just one goal in 15 games for the reserves, he found the No. 43 shirt waiting for him. No one asked what number he preferred. He didn’t think to tell anyone. He was at the bottom of the roster. Expectations were modest.“I was brought up pretty abruptly,” Hoppe says. “I walked into the locker room for the game, and there was No. 43. It was 43. I had a few numbers growing up and I didn’t really care much at that point, because I’d had so many.”He might want to consider keeping this one. It’s been seen around the world and now is part of club lore, thanks to a stunning hat trick in January that helped Schalke avoid German soccer infamy. Hoppe, a 19-year-old from Yorba Linda, Calif., has risen from unheralded reserve to joint top on Schalke’s goal-scoring chart. Two weeks ago, he signed his first professional contract, tying him to the grateful club from Gelsenkirchen until the summer of 2023. Unwanted by his local MLS outfit and overlooked by junior U.S. national sides at every age group, Hoppe has provided his desperate, 116-year-old German team that spark.“I think after I got my first goal, I felt like I was about to cry,” he says. “I think it took me a few days and even a few weeks just to process the whole thing. I still look back and watch all the clips and it gives me a special feeling. … I think it changed my life.”Saturday is the 158th competitive Revierderby, the grudge match between Schalke and its eternal rival, Borussia Dortmund. Berlin is Germany’s capital and Munich hosts its top team, but the industrial Ruhr valley in the west is the spiritual home of German football. And the Ruhr revolves around the Revierderby, the coal (Schalke) vs. steel (Dortmund) turf war between clubs situated just 20 miles apart.There will be an American on each side. Dortmund has Gio Reyna, the son of two former U.S. national teamers. France’s renowned L’Equipe just named him one of the top five U-20 players in the world. Reyna, 18, was a U.S. U-15 international and the star of New York City FC’s academy teams while father, Claudio, a National Soccer Hall of Famer, was the MLS club’s sporting director. Gio made his senior U.S. debut the day before his 18th birthday. He has pedigree to spare and has been pegged for stardom for years.And Schalke has Hoppe, who was cut from the LA Galaxy academy after a single season and who, if not for his successful 2019 tryout in Gelsenkirchen, probably would’ve enrolled at San Diego State. The soccer team there has made a single NCAA tournament appearance in the past decade. Four months ago, only the most dedicated followers of U.S. prospects knew who Hoppe was.The odds that he might share a field with Reyna in 2021, and the odds that he’d catch the eye of U.S. national team coach Gregg Berhalter, were incalculable until recently. But that’s the beauty of the global game. One never knows where the next breakthrough player might be hiding.In Hoppe’s case, after being dismissed from the Galaxy academy, it was with the Irvine Strikers, a competitive youth club in Orange County, Calif. He got his first taste of German soccer during a two-week tour, and then at 16, he earned an invitation to play at Barcelona’s affiliate academy in Casa Grande, Ariz. There, Hoppe switched permanently from attacking midfielder to striker. Tall, aggressive and blessed with an appetite for thankless running, Hoppe developed into an elite target forward, and he was among the U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s leading scorers. In the summer of 2019, Hoppe returned to Germany for a couple of trials. Schalke wouldn’t let him leave until he’d signed an academy contract. It was San Diego State’s loss.Gelsenkirchen once was the heart of European coal production. Schalke’s club culture is infused with mining, from the player tunnel at the Veltins-Arena, which is designed to resemble a mine shaft, to the Knappenschmiede academy, which has been one of the country’s most productive. “Knappenschmiede” translates very roughly into “where young miners are forged.” Schalke is accustomed to labor-intensive development. It fits the culture. Players are stars when they leave, not when they enter. Manuel Neuer, Mesut Özil, Leroy Sané, Julian Draxler and U.S. midfielder Weston McKennie are among the graduates.“We are famous for hardworking men,” Schalke technical director Peter Knäbel says. “We love this attitude—the coal miners. Maybe you don’t fulfill every technical criteria when you come, but you invest. You go on. You are positive, natural, direct. We love these people in our region—to be open-minded, to be interested in learning. It really matches with the west part of Germany.”Hoppe fit in. He’s relentless and voracious, motivated by shortcomings rather than intimidated by them. After scoring five goals in 20 appearances for Schalke’s U-19 team, Hoppe was sent back to California at the onset of the pandemic.“I was expecting to be home two to three weeks, and then I ended up staying home for four months,” Hoppe says. “I would train every day, two to three times a day. I’d wake up at six in the morning every day to train with a small group of people. It was so my body would have some time to recover throughout the day. And yeah, I was able to come back [to Schalke] sharper than I’d ever been and fitter than I’d ever been. I don’t think I’ve worked harder in my whole life than those four months.”Upon his return, Hoppe earned a promotion to Schalke II, which plays in Germany’s regionalized fourth division. But there was something in the air over Gelsenkirchen last fall. While Hoppe struggled to score, the senior team nosedived. At the end of November 2019, Schalke was in third place in the Bundesliga. It finished the 2019–20 season in 12th. A year later, in November 2020, it was in 18th—dead last. Head coach David Wagner, a former U.S. national team forward, was fired after two games. His replacement, Manuel Baum, was let go in December. When Christian Gross was appointed two days after Christmas, Schalke was 0-9-4 and already facing the prospect of relegation.Schalke is a big club. It advanced as far as the UEFA Champions League round of 16 five times in the 2010s. On Deloitte’s most recent annual list of the top revenue-generating teams on the planet, Schalke ranked 16th. Relegation typically is an unthinkable impossibility at clubs like that. But circumstances have been unkind at Schalke, which was deep in debt and flirting with bankruptcy following the summer 2020 resignation of longtime chairman Clemens Tönnies and the deep impact of the pandemic, which eradicated match-day revenue. Several players, including McKennie, were sold or loaned out in an effort to boost the books. As the 2020–21 season unraveled, there were disciplinary issues with a few important senior players.It was into this storm that Hoppe was thrust. And it was because of this storm that he got his chance.“If the first team was winning all its games, I think Matthew would’ve never had the chance to go up,” says Schalke II GM Gerald Asamoah, a club icon who played for Germany in the 2002 World Cup final. “He had the chance to move to the first team to train with them, and he performed well. The situation with the first team is not good, so the young guys have a chance to move up when they do their best in my team.“Matthew is a player. You can put him on the field and he just runs,” Asamoah continues. “He’s a fighter. He was a fighter and he’s fast, and I think the position where we are with the first team, we needed such a striker who is fast, who will find space to run inside, and Matthew was the one who did it well. So that’s the reason why he got the chance, opening spaces for the other players.”Nobody expected goals. Schalke needed a player to stretch the field, someone who might make the opposition sweat a bit when the ball turned over, and Schalke looked to create a chance on the counter. That role requires immense fortitude, because a lot of those runs are for naught and because there’s often not a lot of help. It demands fitness and character.“This is a boy who has incredible ambition, a great commitment and clearly only has Schalke on his mind,” Gross said of Hoppe shortly after taking over. “He wants to do everything he can to get us out of this situation, really an exemplary professional. Although he is still young, he doesn’t shy away from doing a huge amount of work.”In a time of crisis, Schalke could live with Hoppe’s lack of experience and professional refinement. The club was impressed with his work rate and level of fitness and commitment, Knäbel said, and at its lowest point, it still could rely on what it had always done well—mining talent, polishing it and preparing it to flourish with the first team.Hoppe made his Bundesliga debut in the No. 43 jersey on Nov. 28 as Schalke lost, 4–1, to Borussia Mönchengladbach. He was on the bench for the next four matches (appearing in three) and then started again at Hertha Berlin on Jan. 2. That 3–0 defeat extended Schalke’s embarrassing Bundesliga winless streak to 30 games (0-20-10), dating back to the point when the wheels started to fall off toward the end of the 2019–20 campaign. The record, set in the mid-1960s, was 31, and it was held by a small club called Tasmania Berlin that now plays in Germany’s fifth tier. TSG Hoffenheim would visit the Veltins-Arena on Jan. 9. Ignominy awaited.“The biggest pressure that I ever had in my 30-year career is to be relegated, to have the knockout match for playing for relegation. There you play also for everybody who’s working in the club. This is the biggest negative pressure that you have. For sure there is a lot of pressure to play the final of a World Cup. But what can you lose? You can only win,” Knäbel explains.“But I never felt a pressure in the middle of the season like this day [against Hoffenheim],” he continues. “The word that I have in my head is ‘shame.’ It would have been the biggest shame [to match the record]. It made it a match where everybody was looking, and you could see it was really a lot of pressure.”Somehow, Hoppe avoided the worst of that pressure. He’d been informed, certainly, but the Bundesliga was new to him. German football was new to him. He hadn’t lived through that history. Had the club’s original plan been followed, he’d still be down with the reserves. Expectations remained modest. He was a Hail Mary. It was the winless streak that opened the door and so in a way, the Hoffenheim game was like a World Cup final. Hoppe could only win.“I think the pressure in our youth team was huge for Matthew, because we expected more from him. But now being in the first team, nobody’s expecting something from Matthew because everybody knows he’s from the second team,” Asamoah says. “Now he doesn’t have any pressure on him. He’s just doing what he loves, and he’s not putting any pressure on himself. He just goes out on the pitch and does his best.”Informed of Asamoah’s assessment, Hoppe said it rang true.“I think that does play a major role in it. When you’re given this opportunity, nobody expects anything out of me and I just do whatever I want to try to impress the fans and the coaches,” he says. “I think when I got the chance, my head was free and, not only that, I was able to just put all my focus and all my energy into training and into the games. And that was able to translate into goals.”They came quickly, before Hoppe or anyone else could really take a breath and assess the magnitude of what was happening. Schalke and Hoffenheim were scoreless in the 42nd minute when Moroccan midfielder Amine Harit, one of the players who’d been suspended in November, slipped a through ball to Hoppe in the left channel. The finish was exquisite—a first-time, left-footed chip over Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann that required immense composure and confidence.Hoppe had ignited. In the 57th minute, Harit and Hoppe connected again, this time on a pass that split Hoffenheim’s center backs. Hoppe timed his curling run perfectly, accelerated and rounded Baumann with ease. Schalke led by two. The best of the lot came six minutes later as Harit, again, found Hoppe, again, running smartly behind the Hoffenheim defense. Hoppe beat Baumann with the outside of his right foot as he raced by, then slid on his knees in celebration while flashing the ‘hang loose’ sign. The Californian had become the coal miners’ hero.The match ended, 4–0, the streak was snapped and Hoppe couldn’t suppress his smile as he conducted a short postgame interview. The Schalke staff played “California Dreamin’” over the stadium speakers.“I don’t know how to feel,” Hoppe said. “I’m excited. I am happy that the team got the win and that I was able to contribute to it.”Hoppe became the third U.S. player to score a hat trick in one of Europe’s big five leagues, following Clint Dempsey (Fulham) and Christian Pulisic (Chelsea). He was the youngest Schalke player to accomplish the feat in Bundesliga play and the third-youngest player ever to notch a hat trick in the top divisions in Germany, England, France, Italy or Spain, according to Diario AS.Hoppe took his uniform home, along with a match ball signed by his teammates. He received congratulatory messages from Berhalter and U.S. compatriots around Europe. In Turin, where he now plays for reigning Italian champ Juventus, McKennie uploaded a video showing him celebrating boisterously in his living room.“That was the day of Matthew Hoppe when he saved our asses, or however you can explain it,” Knäbel says. “He avoided this shame for the whole club.”Hoppe’s momentum continued through the next two games. At Eintracht Frankfurt on Jan. 17, he outran a defender to a looping ball and, from an acute angle, hammered a shot through the goalie’s legs. Three days later against Köln, he beat the goalkeeper to a loose ball in the penalty area and finished with his right foot.Both goals leveled the score. Schalke lost both matches.In under two weeks, Hoppe had surged to an unforeseen and startling level of renown. He was on the cover of kicker, Germany’s leading sports magazine, and was named the Bundesliga’s rookie of the month. Media requests were flooding a last-place club. Two weeks ago, Schalke rewarded him with that first pro contract.“I’m living my dream. It’s actually happening,” Hoppe says.But dreams don’t last, and Hoppe and Schalke have had to wake up to some stark reality. After he scored five goals in three games, opponents knew what was coming. Hoppe’s quick, alert and decisive play had been scouted and planned for. He’s continued to start but now hasn’t found the net in the past five matches. Since the Hoffenheim game, Schalke is 0-4-2 in league play, and it was eliminated from the DFB-Pokal by VfL Wolfsburg. Heading into Saturday’s Revierderby, Schalke is 1-14-6 and nine points out of 16th place and a berth in the season-ending relegation playoff. It needs a miracle. It may be unfair to the 19-year-old, but it’s tough to imagine how that miracle might happen if Hoppe doesn’t find another groove.“Everybody expects more from Matthew, because we now know he can score goals, but I think we still know he’s a young player,” Asamoah says. “He needs his time. We don’t want to put pressure on him. But we now know we’ve found a striker, a young guy, who maybe in the next years can help Schalke 04 to be what we were. We don’t put pressure on him, but we keep hoping he keeps doing what he did.”Knäbel adds, “Now the race has started, because you know the analysis departments of the other clubs, they are really big and they know everything about you. You are calculated. You are analyzed. And then you have to develop your game.”In a way, that will be the real test—to perform when everyone is watching. Hoppe took the world, and his own club, by surprise. But Dortmund and relegation loom, and Schalke has signed veteran center forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, a Dutchman who played for the club during the Champions League years, to mentor and compete with Hoppe.”It’s not a fluke that he scored five goals recently,” Huntelaar told the club’s website. “He makes good runs. His mentality is great. He has a wonderful future ahead of him if he keeps it up.”If he keeps it up.That’s the measuring stick at the highest level. That’s the demand. And it’s what Berhalter is looking for as he plans for a busy 2021, when the U.S. will have Concacaf Nations League, Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying matches on the docket.“We don’t need to get ahead of ourselves,” the U.S. manager said last month. “I think that a player establishes himself by continuing to perform at this level that he is at. So it’s great to see him reach these heights, and now he needs to maintain it. And if he does that, I’m sure he’ll get an opportunity with the national team.”Hoppe said his approach won’t change. His rise was fueled by focus, fitness and humility. He paid attention to what he wanted and not what he didn’t have. With the attention, the exposure and the contract come expectations. Under the shadow of relegation comes pressure. For Hoppe, the changes must remain external.“I notice it but I try not to think about it too much. I just try to stay under it,” he says. “That’s what everyone says: Keep everything the same and don’t do anything different. Don’t try and change anything too much.“There’s obviously that pressure there,” he adds. “But you can’t think about it. You just have to focus on what you have to do and that’s all you can do. If you start thinking too much and overthinking and your head’s not clear, you can’t do what you need to do. That happens sometimes in football. You just have to do your best to keep moving forward and not thinking about it.”In the end, this is what Hoppe wanted. His appetite whet on those tours with Irvine Strikers and the Barcelona academy, he dreamed of playing in Europe—with all the trappings, both positive and pressure-packed. He said he enjoys it when someone recognizes him at the grocery store, and he can’t wait until fans return and he can experience the legendary atmosphere surrounding Schalke’s games. The prospect of relegation is part of the package.“Even though it’s difficult and hard at times, it’s what every player kind of dreams of, you know? To be able to get an opportunity like I had and be able to just play,” Hoppe says.No matter how the season turns out, Hoppe likely will have provided its highlight. He’s not a Schalke legend. That comes with sustained excellence over time. But the club’s most dedicated fans will never forget him. He was the one who saved their asses, who with a bolt from the blue rescued them from suffering an historic indignity. Asamoah and Knäbel both struggled to come up with a coherent explanation for how such a modest player, who’d scored once for the reserves, delivered so spectacularly at that moment.Knäbel decided he was O.K. with that ambiguity. Even during this season of suffering, Hoppe’s outburst was something to savor.”Is it not the thing that makes this game so lovely and so interesting?” Knäbel asks. “It’s not about mathematics. It’s about emotions. We tried to explain it, but leave it like it is. Leave the player, leave the game, its little secrets. We want to analyze everything, to explain everything and how it works. But it works. I’m so happy for him. All members of the academy are so happy for him. We should leave it like this and not over-explain everything.” US men’s national team depth chart for midfielders and forwards | Armchair Analyst February 12, 20213:11PM EST    Matthew DoyleSenior Writer  MLS.com  https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.6e189c4f2b6d88c453045806323cdcf3.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-0&lang=en&screen_name=MattDoyle76&show_count=false&show_screen_name=true&size=m&time=1613752086999 Here’s Part 2 of the US men’s national team depth chart. As I wrote in Part 1 (defenders and goalkeepers), this is mostly my perception of how head coach Gregg Berhalter sees things, though with a few personal preferences thrown in. And I’ll reiterate this point: It’s my guess that every single player who gets on the field in World Cup qualifying over the next 16 months will come from the below list, because the time for experimentation is over. The door is not entirely shut — nobody would’ve had Matthew Hoppe on any list three months ago — because attackers are different than defenders and defensive midfielders, but it’s shutting. And if you’re going to burst through, it’s going to take something special on the level of what Daryl Dike and Chris Mueller pulled off last year. But even that might not be enough. The US roster is pretty stacked. Ok, enough preamble. Let’s go: Defensive Midfielders Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)Johnny Cardoso (Internacional) So it’s already complicated. Adams has played exclusively at right back and right wingback for Leipzig in 2021 — you’d have to be some sort of genius to have seen that coming — and has only played in the “quarterback” midfield role sparingly. I think there are obvious reasons for this, with the biggest being that he struggles to receive, turn and play forward, especially when in traffic. That is a crucial part of being a defensive midfielder in a modern, possession-heavy system, and it’s the weakest part of Adams’ game. The other parts of Adams’ game are so strong that he’s the clear No. 1 anyway. His ball-winning is elite, his athleticism is elite, his shielding is very good and his front-foot defending — basically, his defensive IQ and reading of the game — is world class. World Class. That both stops counterattacks and creates turnovers in good spots, and since the US have been more of a pressing team since the start of 2020, and since the US have gone from a 3-2-2-3 attacking shape to a 2-3-2-3, Adams is pretty clearly the choice here. Yueill‘s skillset is the polar opposite. He is brilliant at receiving the ball in traffic, with his back to goal, then turning and spotting the exact pass that the situation calls for. He does, however, lack the range and bite that Adams has, and while he’s improved a ton in terms of shielding the back-line, his front-foot defense is a work in progress: https://www.mlssoccer.com/iframe-video?brightcove_id=6226756860001&brightcove_player_id=default&brightcove_account_id=5530036772001 Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The improvement curve is good, though. And it’s worth noting that even against a team as poor as Trinidad & Tobago last month, the US build-up kind of fell apart once he came off. I used to joke that the US needed cloning technology so that we could start Adams at RB, DM and one of the CM positions, but I think now what we need is some sort of genetic fusing tech, because if we could combine Adams and Yueill into one player we’d have the world’s best d-mid. As it is, though, this is a very strong start to the depth chart. It drops off a bit with Cardoso, the 19-year-old Brazilian-American who’s battled injury and illness and has seen his role with Internacional reduced substantially since September. But he’s still very much in the rotation and looked competent as hell in his US debut in November, so I’m not particularly worried. THE NEXT GROUP: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) Bradley looks cooked to me and he removed “US men’s national team” from his social media profiles — which is usually a tell — but it’s not out of the question that he’d play a part in qualifying given the schedule crunch. He can’t really move anymore, but is still a superb distributor of the ball. YOUNGSTERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: James Sands (NYCFC) If he could stay healthy, I’m pretty sure he’d have a couple of caps by now. Sands might not be Berhalter’s style, though, as he’s an old-fashioned destroyer who shies away from hitting line-breaking passes. If he takes that step this year for NYCFC, he could jump into the top three.Andres Perea (Orlando City SC) Perea struggled in his full international debut last month and might not be a true No. 6, but he’s young and full of upside, and Berhalter recruited him for a reason. I’m curious to see where he plays for Orlando this season.Owen Otasowie (Wolves) I almost included him on the center back depth chart since I think that’s his long-term spot. Otasowie’s reads are fairly slow and his body positioning is straight-up weird for a defensive midfielder, and while he’s not old (he just turned 20) he’s not precisely a kid anymore. He needs to find a spot and start getting minutes.  · Central Midfielders Weston McKennie (Juventus)Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy)Yunus Musah (Valencia)Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg)Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids)Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders) I used to break this list up into “central midfielders” and “attacking midfielders,” delineating between the responsibilities of a No. 8 and a No. 10. But that is pretty useless now, since it’s clear that Berhalter prefers to play with two advanced central midfielders who both attack and defend. How they split responsibilities has more to do with their individual proclivities and strengths, as well as who’s playing winger and fullback on their side of the field, than it does with anything structurally inherent to Berhalter’s system. So I’ve been thinking of them as “free 8s” or “8.5s.” Neither is a true 8, though either can be if the situation calls for it. Neither is a true 10, though both are expected to do No. 10 things when the US are on the front foot. I do have it in my head, though, that certain guys are better as a right-sided free 8 and other guys are better on the left. Lletget, for example, does well when inverted, while Aaronson is a much more linear player who’s at his best on the right side. Either one could play either position, which goes for the rest of the guys on this list as well, but when they’re paired together, it’s pretty clear who would function on which side. From where I sit, that would likely mean McKennie as the right-sided, box-arriving free 8 and Lletget becomes more of a tempo-setting, inverted free 8 on the left in the current first-choice XI. Musah was great for the US last autumn, but man has he struggled in La Liga: https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=MattDoyle76&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1359316128896610305&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mlssoccer.com%2Fpost%2F2021%2F02%2F11%2Fus-mens-national-team-depth-chart-midfielders-and-forwards-armchair-analyst&theme=light&widgetsVersion=889aa01%3A1612811843556&width=550px He also hasn’t officially committed his future to the US, but I’m pretty certain he will. That will be a good thing no matter how brutal Valencia are to watch this season. Aaronson has hit the ground running for Jesse Marsch in Austria, though I will have questions about his ability to find and control the game until he shows an ability to find and control the game. You can’t be a low-usage player as a free 8 no matter how dynamic you happen to be in other areas. Acosta’s faced the same usage issues through his career, but he’s worked his way back into the picture thanks to a strong 2020 with Colorado. Roldan has looked tentative in his last few US caps and nowhere near as dynamic off the ball as he often does with the Sounders, and I suspect he’ll soon be below some of the other guys I’m about to mention. But it’s worth keeping him on the list here because 1) Berhalter’s kept him in the frame, 2) he can play multiple positions, and 3) he’s a beloved teammate. That matters a lot. THE NEXT GROUP: Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf) I maybe should’ve listed Morales as a d-mid instead, but he plays a more advanced role at the club level and has usually played a more advanced role in his caps under Berhalter. Even though it seems like he’s been around forever, he’s still just 30 years old.Julian Green (Greuther Furth) Speaking of having been around forever, Green is having his finest pro season at the age of 25 playing as a shuttler in the Clovers’ 4-4-2 diamond. He hasn’t been called in since Berhalter’s been in charge and I genuinely don’t think he will be any time soon, but Berhalter name-checked him in a recent press conference as a player they’re monitoring, so here he is. YOUNGSTERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas) If he can stay healthy, he will push into the depth chart, and eventually push into a starting role. He covers a ton of ground, wins duels at an absurd, Ozzie Alonso-esque clip, is super press-resistant and his passing vision is just… https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=MattDoyle76&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-2&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1161845929152045056&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mlssoccer.com%2Fpost%2F2021%2F02%2F11%2Fus-mens-national-team-depth-chart-midfielders-and-forwards-armchair-analyst&theme=light&widgetsVersion=889aa01%3A1612811843556&width=550px But the “if” part of staying healthy is huge, and he’s 21 now. He’s got to get healthy, get out there and stay out there. Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas) When Tessman came on against T&T he was in one of the more advanced roles, but he might be better-suited as a Yueill-type regista instead. Either way he has the talent to push up and into the gameday 18.Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids) Bassett is probably the best box-arriving, accent run central midfielder in the pool (other than maybe McKennie). His timing getting into the box is a weapon in Berhalter’s system, but he’s got to show he has the other pieces — comfort on the ball in traffic, availability in build-up, defensive awareness — nailed down before he rises up the ranks.Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers) I was genuinely surprised to see Williamson sent home from camp before the T&T game given how strong a season he had in Portland, and how multi-faceted his game is. He carries the ball exceptionally well, is smooth receiving in traffic, and works hard defensively. I am certain we will see him in a future camp.Bryang Kayo (Wolfsburg II) I have generally avoided putting pure prospects on this list (sorry to all you Moses Nyeman stans) because I don’t think a pure prospect is going to push in over the next year, but I’m making an exception for Kayo. The 18-year-old has now been to two US camps and has been promoted up to Wolfsburg’s second team. He is gifted both technically and athletically, and if he pushes through to the Wolfsburg first team by the end of this season, I won’t be at all shocked to see him earn a role with the full USMNT.Caden Clark (RBNY) This one might be a reach since the 17-year-old Clark has barely figured for the US even at the youth levels, but he was dominant in the USL Championship and outstanding in MLS last year. If his 2021 is reminiscent of Aaronson’s 2020, into the pool he goes. Though it’s perhaps slightly more likely he’d end up going into the pool as an inverted right winger. · Left Wingers Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)Jordan Morris (Swansea City)Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids)Chris Mueller (Orlando City) You’ve probably noticed already that I made the executive decision to only list guys at one spot, even though the reality is they’re in play for at least two (or sometimes more) different positions. Sergino Dest, for example, is my current first choice at both right and left back. But in my prior column, he was only listed at right back. The same is true for Pulisic and Morris, who are Nos. 1 & 2 at both right and left wing. If there were a game tomorrow they would be the starters, and that’s been earned over a number of years via their play for club and country. And that means even during downturns in form — as Pulisic is now experiencing in West London — let’s not kid ourselves about whether he’s written on the team sheet in pen. He is. Morris isn’t, but I still think he’s got the inside track on the other starting winger job (I look forward to the avalanche of Gio Reyna stans in my mentions once this is published). The big surprise of last month’s camp was that Lewis beat out Mueller, who’d been so good over the course of 2020. Lewis scored damn near this exact same goal vs. the Soca Warriors: https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=MattDoyle76&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-3&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1284308553507823617&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mlssoccer.com%2Fpost%2F2021%2F02%2F11%2Fus-mens-national-team-depth-chart-midfielders-and-forwards-armchair-analyst&theme=light&widgetsVersion=889aa01%3A1612811843556&width=550px He also has pretty close to the same skillset as Morris. Mueller is more well-rounded, and probably more comfortable and effective playing on the right (as he does for Orlando), but he made a compelling pitch as a left-winger vs. El Salvador. THE NEXT GROUP: Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas) Saucedo emerged for Pumas in a big way, but has struggled with injuries over the past six months. The 24-year-old is maybe less of a pure winger than Berhalter likes, but if he plays well in Liga MX he could be a factor.Djordje Mihailovic, CF Montreal) Mihailovic, like Saucedo, is less of a pure winger and more of a wing playmaker. He’s been in and out of US camps over the past two years, and it’s entirely conceivable that he could play a role for the US this cycle. I just think it’s unlikely to be a large one. YOUNGSTERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Uly Llanez (Heerenveen) It seems as if Llanez, who started and scored vs. Costa Rica last year, is on his way out of an unhappy and unproductive loan at Heerenveen, and due a return to the Wolfsburg reserves. He’s still just 19, but there has been zero professional progress (I think it’s fair to say there’s been professional regression, to be honest) over the past year.Richie Ledezma (PSV) One of my favorite players from that great 2019 US U-20 team, Ledezma was just breaking into the PSV first team and had just earned his first US appearance before doing his ACL. I like him better long-term as a No. 10, but given Berhalter’s system and Ledezma’s lack of defensive presence, it’s more likely that when he returns to fitness, he does so as an inverted winger. · Right Wingers Tim Weah (Lille)Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)Paul Arriola (Swansea City) Weah is finally approaching full health after three hamstring tears over the course of 12 months, and that means he’s approaching the top of the depth chart as well. In all honesty, I think you could make a case for him as the starter at any of the spots* in the front five — he’s that smart and that talented. (*) Including forward, which is where he’s most often been deployed for Ligue 1-leading Lille. That’s right, folks, there’s an actual title race in France this year! But for the sake of this exercise, I’ve got him at the top of the right wing depth chart. I don’t think he’d start over Morris (or maybe even Reyna) if the US had a massive game tomorrow, but it wouldn’t shock me and I certainly wouldn’t hate it if he did. The dude is just so precise and unselfish in his movement: https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=MattDoyle76&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-4&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1357077731498995713&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mlssoccer.com%2Fpost%2F2021%2F02%2F11%2Fus-mens-national-team-depth-chart-midfielders-and-forwards-armchair-analyst&theme=light&widgetsVersion=889aa01%3A1612811843556&width=550px One thing to understand here is that excellent off-ball movement is additive no matter the team, the scheme or the score. Weah is perhaps the best player in the entire pool off the ball, and he brings a ton of skill on it to boot. Reyna has hit a wall, as have Dortmund. After coming out of the gates with 2g/4a in his first five games, he’s registered just 2g/2a in the subsequent 24 while bouncing between central midfield and left wing, and struggled in his two US appearances in November. Growing pains happen to basically every teenager, so I don’t think folks should sweat it too much. I also don’t think anyone should have him atop any depth charts at the moment, though. Placing Arriola third is rough on him given how he’s performed under Berhalter, but good players get pushed down the ladder when the pool fills with more talent. THE NEXT GROUP: Tyler Boyd (Sivasspor) Remember when it seemed like Boyd would be the big recruiting win of Berhalter’s tenure? Things sure have changed quite a bit, and not really in a good way for Boyd. He moved to Besiktas ahead of the 2019/20 season and while it seemed like a dream move at first… nope. He just could not put the ball in the net, which eventually cost him both his starting job and his spot on the roster. He just started a loan at Sivasspor, and while it seems unlikely he’d work his way back into the US mix, it’s not impossible. YOUNGSTERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Konrad De La Fuente (FC Barcelona) The 19-year-old has made a trio of appearances for Barca, playing 26 minutes. He’s spending most of his time with Barca B, where he’s not exactly lighting it up — just 1g/0a in about 600 minutes. He seems pretty far away from any first-team role, but kids can level up out of the blue and he is still, in fact, a kid. If that happens and he’s suddenly getting regular Barca minutes, he’ll get regular USMNT minutes, too.Benji Michel (Orlando City SC) Michel is a lot like Morris in that he’s a forward who’s really learning to play winger, and has done so well enough to at least earn a camp. He didn’t get onto the field vs. T&T and he seems pretty far from the first-team, but he’s on the radar at the very least, and stranger things have happened. Center Forward Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC) You know and I know that if there was a must-win game tomorrow, Gyasi would start as the No. 9. That will bother a lot of people and I have certainly been guilty of some Gyasi slander in the past, but he has evolved: https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=MattDoyle76&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-5&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1283956196672712705&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mlssoccer.com%2Fpost%2F2021%2F02%2F11%2Fus-mens-national-team-depth-chart-midfielders-and-forwards-armchair-analyst&theme=light&widgetsVersion=889aa01%3A1612811843556&width=550px The man is never going to be Berbatov in his link-up play — hell, he’ll never be Sargent or Altidore, for that matter — but he’s risen to functional levels, and in terms of just knowing the dance steps and timing of Berhalter’s system, no one in the pool is better. Put him out there with those wingers and those central midfielders, and he will score. And if he’s not scoring it’s because he’s making hard runs to drag defenders away from the top of the box which opens space for other guys to score. If Sargent did that — if he knew the steps that well — he’d already be No. 1 on the list. He’s the most naturally talented forward the US has produced since Jozy, but like Jozy he’s not particularly good off the ball. That goes a long way toward explaining his paltry finishing totals in the Bundesliga. How much longer will Jozy have a spot on this list? It’s likely down to fitness. He got the start in the most important game of the Berhalter tenure thus far (the Gold Cup final vs. Mexico) and was the best US player through 45 minutes. But by the hour mark, he was off. That was almost two years ago. He’s 31 now and spent the bulk of last season looking like a guy who’s logged a lot of miles and can’t go 90. Maybe that changes in 2021. THE NEXT GROUP: Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas) Is he a 9 or not? Berhalter clearly thinks so, and in two caps Ferreira’s given ample evidence that Berhalter is correct. I have questions about his athleticism at the international level, but for now the bigger questions will come at the club level. They are “what position does he play?” and “will he even get on the pitch?”Daryl Dike (Barnsley) The big man STRUGGLED in his US debut last month, but I’m giving him a mulligan. Like Sargent and Altidore he’s not particularly dynamic off the ball, which is something he’ll have to work on — be it in England, or in the US.Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers) Ebobisse was pretty obviously beaten out by Ferreira and Dike in the most recent camp. As with Ferreira there are questions about his best position long-term (though unlike the Ferreira situation, I think there’s a pretty clear answer with Ebobisse: He’s a center forward).Nico Gioacchini (SM Caen) Gioacchini’s a true target-man who is both physical and fearless. He hasn’t exactly lit up Ligue 2, but he’s getting regular playing time and looked solid for the US vs. Panama.Aron Johannsson (Lech Poznan [reportedly]) I don’t think there’s any chance Johannsson actually pushes his way into the picture, but as with Green I’m including him on the list since Berhalter name-checked him last month. YOUNGSTERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC) I wasn’t sure where to list Ayo since “we might lose him to Canada” isn’t a large group. So I’ll list him here since… we might lose him to Canada. I hope we don’t, as Akinola has thus far been the most clever and consistently goal-hungry in his movement of the youngsters (and almost all of these guys on the forward depth chart are really young) thus far.Matthew Hoppe (Schalke 04) Five goals in three games! The first American with a hat-trick in the Bundesliga! Hoppe did the damn thing, but now the challenge is to keep doing it. His goalscoring record for Schalke’s developmental sides was not good, and there is a reasonable amount of concern that his outburst was a flash in the pan. That said, his off-ball movement is sharp and I think it’s generally wise to trust forwards who make good runs.Sebastian Soto (Norwich City U-23s) Berhalter did Soto a solid and got him enough appearances to earn a work permit, which means he’s got a chance to earn his way up to the Norwich first team. Until that happens, I don’t really expect him to figure into Berhalter’s plans again.Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas) Pepi, who just turned 18, might have a higher upside than any other forward in the pool. And that’s why he’s here — there’s a part of the multiverse where he wins the starting job for Dallas, bangs in 20 goals, and pushes his way into the picture. He’s got that type of talent.

Whitley: For Florida soccer coach Becky Burleigh it was more than just about winning David Whitley  Gainesville Sun  

A letter was sent to a search committee at Florida in 1994. The school was starting a women’s soccer program and needed a coach. A longshot candidate wanted to make her case.”I am intrigued with the possibilities involved in creating a new program and would be committed to making the University of Florida one of the top programs in the country,” she wrote.Twenty-seven fast years later, Becky Burleigh can say “Mission accomplished.”Actually, she could have said that 20 years ago. Seemingly in a blink, the Gators were national champs.And seemingly in a blink, it’s about to end.Burleigh, 53, announced her retirement two weeks ago. She’ll step down after the spring season, which begins next week.The announcement was a surprise, but not a shock. After two decades of kicking butt, UF’s program has struggled lately.COVID-19 has split this season into halves, and the Gators went 2-7-1 in the fall. Discontent arose, but the grumbling was awkward. It’s hard to call for a beloved queen to be kicked off the throne she built.  I couldn’t tell you what went wrong or whether it could have been fixed. But Burleigh can tell you what one of the problems was: Emotional energy.”If you feel like you cannot consistently bring that every single day and do it enthusiastically, then it’s time to let somebody else do that,” she said. “That’s what a team deserves, especially at this level.” https://3912d23a357ba500a287f0a9c8da84ba.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html She’s been enthusiastically doing it since she was barely old enough to order a drink. Burleigh was 21 when she became head coach at Berry College.Coaching is all-consuming, especially when you do it the Burleigh Way. She doesn’t just concentrate on the X’s and O’s, she’s a mother, professor, counselor, confidant and cheerleader.”She means a lot more to us than just a coach,” midfielder Syd Kennedy said. That’s the difference between winning and success. Any successful coach has to win games. But winning games does not necessarily equate to success.That comes from making the people not just better players and coaches, but better people. It comes from giving countless Rotary speeches, helping charities and making your city a better community.Burleigh was raised in Tarpon Springs, but had never set foot on Florida’s campus until she showed up at the athletic offices for her interview.”The vibe was young and exciting and people were getting after it,” she said. “And then you see the resources.”Athletic Director Jeremy Foley offered the 26-year-old Burleigh the job. She said yes. He stuck out his hand and said, “Welcome to the Gators.”And the rest is women’s soccer history.In just four years, the Gators were hoisting the NCAA Championship trophy. They went 26-1 and beat North Carolina 1-0, snapping the mighty Tar Heels’ 70-match unbeaten streak.That’s the same North Carolina that pounded Florida 9-0 two years earlier. Burleigh knew the Gators weren’t ready, but they needed to learn from the best.hose early bumps forged relationships that went beyond the soccer pitch. Proof came when players told her they’d ordered her a birthday present.”I was thinking it was like a sweatshirt,” Burleigh said.It was a dog named Copa. He was eventually joined by another yellow Labrador named Cody. Then came Buddy, Rose, Large Marge and Lucy.”All rescues,” Burleigh said. “All mutts.”All loved their owner so much they hated to see her go to work in the morning. A lot of times, they went with her.The sight of a dog wearing goggles and sitting in the sidecar of Burleigh’s scooter became one of Gainesville’s charms.Ah, those scooters.Burleigh figured out early that parking was a problem on campus. She started scooting to work, only to discover there also was no scooter parking.In fact, you’d get a ticket for parking a scooter at a bike rack. Burleigh got her share.”I tried to befriend the parking people,” she said. “Didn’t work. Those people are hardcore.”She eventually ordered a sign she’d hang above her scooter.”Parking for Soccer Coach’s Scooter Only.”It was fake, but it worked for a couple of years. Somehow, it’s hard to imagine Urban Meyer appealing a ticket before the UF parking politburo.”They didn’t rescind any of the tickets,” Burleigh laughed, “but they at least appreciated the effort.”Burleigh’s always had an innate need to expand herself, to try new things. Even if the program was still winning like it’s 1996, the tug to move on would have been hard to ignore.So as she rides her Vespa into the sunset, how do we measure the only coach Florida women’s soccer has ever known? It’s partially by the 14 SEC titles and 22 NCAA tournament berths and 507 wins. But it’s also by the emotional energy Burleigh brought every day.It’s by the life problems she helped players work through. It’s by the bonds she forged. It’s by the smiles she spread.And it’s by all the misty-eyed people who’ve approached her the past couple of weeks.”It’s like you’re going to a funeral, but you’re not dead,” Burleigh said. “They’re going to say a lot of nice things about you.”There are a lot of reasons for that. Perhaps the biggest is that Burleigh wasn’t just a winner at Florida.She was a resounding success.— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun’s sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com.

Crystal Dunn’s time arrives to be one of American soccer’s top stars

Dunn has long been one of the U.S. team’s top players, but she has become especially marquee lately — perhaps because everyone knows she’s not going to move up from left back any time soon. Crystal Dunn on the ball during a U.S. women’s soccer team game against Colombia last month.John Raoux / AP by Jonathan TannenwaldPublished eb 13, 2021 It’s nothing new that Crystal Dunn is one of the U.S. women’s soccer team’s best and most popular players.But something about Dunn’s status right now feels a little more emphatic, a little more intentional. You see it in sponsors’ ads, in the national team’s social media posts, and in the many other ways an athlete is seen as a star these days. Her status will only grow in the coming months, as she gets ready for the Olympics and makes her club debut with the NWSL’s Portland Thorns, the league’s biggest team. It’s also nothing new that Dunn is one of the U.S. team’s most forthright players. But she hasn’t always been forthright on a subject she cares about a lot: her distaste for playing left back with the national team. Those who know her well, from her club coaches to teammates and media members, have long been aware of it. (That group includes this reporter, to whom Dunn called left back “my secondary position” in an interview after the 2019 World Cup.) Only recently has Dunn been willing to really put it out there — and the biggest breakthrough came just last month. In an interview with Forbes, she said she wants to be a midfield playmaker for her country “because it is a position that not a lot of Black women play.”“Playing at a 10 [creative role] means that I am now combating the stereotypes of being fast, physical, and strong,” Dunn said. “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.”Why did Dunn decide to finally let loose now? She reflected on that in a news conference Saturday ahead of Thursday’s SheBelieves Cup opener against Canada (7 p.m., FS1, TUDN) “I think I’ve always given the very soft answer of, ‘Yeah, I don’t like playing left back, you knw, but I’m a team player,’ and all of that is so true,” she said. “But I think it’s also important people realize what I deal with on a daily basis is very much different than most players, you know.”Dunn played an attacking midfield role for her former club, the North Carolina Courage. She is expected to have a similar job in Portland. She said she feels “more myself” in that position, “playing freely, getting involved in the attack, and just, you know, expressing myself in the way that I’ve always thought was the ay I should be expressing myself.”But she also wants to make sure she’s a role model as a team player.“As much as I am proud to represent my country, be on this team, you know — right now considering myself a starter, but always competing to stay on the field and remain a starter, I think people need to know that, you know, I’ll do what it takes to be on the field, even if that means that I am not particularly happy inside,” Dunn said. “But I do think of the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is winning an Olympic gold medal, wanting to be a part, and being impactful on the field. And if that’s at left back, then that’s at left back.” Crystal Dunn, center, on the ball during a U.S. game against England last March.John Raoux / AP She also knows the bigger picture includes the fact that attacking midfield is the national team’s most stacked position. Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan and now Catarina Macario are vying for starting jobs in the center; Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Christen Press are the leading wing creators.Then comes the biggest roadblock of all. Dunn is the best left back in the national team pool, and it’s not close. In fact, the competition is so far behind that there isn’t a clear No. 2.Casey Krueger (née Short and recently married) has come close to the status, but has never seized it. Emily Sonnett, a longtime centerback and right back, played some left back against Colombia last month. And while Emily Fox has a bright future, the No. 1 pick in this year’s NWSL draft hasn’t played a pro club game yet. Meanwhile, Dunn keeps excelling. In fact she has gotten even better in the role under current U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski, whose playbook gives her considerable latitude to join the attack. She even got to play left wing some last month, which got plenty of attention. (Andonovski said afterward he knew how happy she’d be.) Crystal Dunn (19) celebrates with Lindsay Horan (9) and Julie Ertz (8) after Horan scored a goal against Colombia on Jan. 22.Alex Menendez / Getty Images / TNS “I think he really understands that a lot of us do play slightly different roles sometimes in club [teams] and with the national team, and I think he’s allowed people to feel as free as possible in that role,” Dunn said. “For me, obviously being an outside back, I’m like, yeah, I get it, gotta defend, but I’m also like, I’m trying to get involved in that attack, like, you know? And I think he understands that.”However Dunn’s role evolves in the future, this much is certain: Her role as one of the U.S. national team’s most prominent players is only going to grow. And she will continue to not hold anything back.“I think I am the one to push those boundaries and say, you know, we need to change the narrative of only white women play this sport, only white people play this sport,” she said. “I want to be very clear that whether it is me who is ever considered a face of women’s soccer, that really isn’t my goal, but my goal is for the Black women coming after me to feel like they even have a chance to be the face of this sport.”

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