4/16/21 MLS Kicksoff Tonight, Pulisic stars in UCL-FA Cup Sat vs Man City, USWNT ties and wins,

MLS

The MLS season kicks off its 26th season this weekend with 27 teams with the new Austin FC added the season will last thru Nov 7 with the postseason in Dec.  Games start on Fox, FS1 and ABC as more and more games will be on the main networks this summer.  Of course ESPN+ continues to be the home of MLS with most games that aren’t on regular TV being featured there.  Lots of predictions and season previews below.  I always like to wait until after the first weekend to make my picks – but I see LAFC, Portland and Seattle (4 of the past 5 finals) battling it out in the West – while I like Columbus, NE and Philly or perhaps Orlando in the east.  Last Season’s top 2 teams in the West Seattle and Min United will kick things off tonight on FS1 at 9:30 pm, right after Houston with former Indy 11 striker Tyler Pasher host San Jose on ESPN+.   Sat gives us Western Favorites LAFC facing expansion newcomer Austin FC at 6 pm FOX with their exciting new partial owner –  right on right on right on – Mathew McConaghey – you have to check out some of these interviews below. He will be good for MLS!   

Matthew McConaughey Shares How Soccer Became Such a Huge Part of His Life (Exclusive) Video
McConaughey, Austin prepare for ‘100-year war’ in MLS

Matthew McConaughey on role with MLS’ Austin FC: ‘Not interested in just being a mascot’

Local teams Cincy and Chicago Fire will both play at 8:30 pm on ESPN+ as Cincy travels to Nashville and Chicago hosts New England.  Finally Sunday we get defending MLS Champs Columbus Crew hosting a rebuilding Philly Union at 5:30 pm on FS1 right after Beckem’s Miami hosts the LA Galaxy in their new stadium at 3 pm on ABC.   Interesting that no real stars were brought in this off season.  Chicago replaced the entire team which is good – they have stunk for years but I am not sure there is anyone I would say – hey I am going to drive to Columbus, Cincy or Chicago to see play like in the past.  The overall quality and competitiveness may be better, but I am not sure how many real stars we have in the league this year.  Yeah I am missing Zlatan!   

MLS CCL

A record 5 teams are advancing to the Final 8 of the CONCACAF Champions League Including Toronto FC who upset Mexican powerhouse Leon.  Toronto FC will next face Club Azul in Late April, while Toronto faces Mexican stalwart Club America. At least 1 MLS team is guaranteed into the Final 4 as Atlanta United and Philly will faceoff for a spot.  Could this finally be the year MLS wins the CCL?  Catch all the action starting Apr 27/28 on FS1 and FS2.   

US Women win 1, tie 1

The US women looked rather lackluster in their 2-0 win over France on Tuesday.  Unfortunately France did not start their best players as many had returned to Lyon for club play.  That left an un-experienced group not really reflecting the #3 ranked team in the world.  France will not be in the Olympics so perhaps a slow build for them.  Morgan started up front with Rapinoe on the left and Press on the right.  Hi-lights  Morgan was especially active up front and drew a PK before slotting her first goal of the game for the US 2nd  I am going to say that Morgan has reclaimed the #9 slot after her return from pregnancy.   The defense looked stronger with the return of Dahlkemper along with Sauerbrunn in the middle of defense.  The midfield was dominant with Mewis and Lavelle starting together for the first time.  When Horan came on and moved Lavelle to right wing – it was especially dominant.  Overall the US looked good – but this was a watered down France so hard to really gauge if we got better after Sweden overall.  I do have to say this – ESPN2 did a horrible job with the audio not matching the video for the entire daggum game.  The announcing crew was fine but the audio not matching up for 90 minutes in not excusable at any level but certainly not for the #1 Ranked US Ladies.  Come on ESPN!!  Also playing this game at 3 pm at the same time as Champions League PSG vs Bayern Munich was stupid.  1 pm, 5 pm any other time would have been fine – but even France’s starters elected to stay home and watch PSG on TV – bad planning US soccer as literally no one in the world tuned in. 

The US Ladies were fortunate to get the tie at Sweden on Sunday on Fox.  Sweden definitely took the game to the US and I would call this an equal game pretty much in possession and in shots, heck GK Naeher had to come up with 2 big saves.  The penalty call late was certainly questionable – as to OHara was in the box or not.  I think she was on the line which is in – but it could be argued either way – certainly a harsh call from Sweden’s perspective.  I thought the US was exposed on both flanks as Sweden came down the left side beating O’Hara many times.  I also thought the younger Davidson at centerback had some issues and was a weak point on the day.  Up front Williams was non-existent on the right as Christian Press looked much there when Rapinoe came in late.  Would still love to see Mewis and Lavell on the field at the same time like the World Cup.  Horan is playing fine but I think Mewis and Levell might be the best 2 in the world right now.  Again a 1-1 tie was fortunate for the US and this will hopefully serve as a good wake-up call for the US before the Olympics. 

Champions League

Wow – Champions League rarely disappoints – as another shocker with PSG and Neymar knocking holders Bayern Munich out 3-2 on Aggregate after a fine show at home with a 1-0 loss that PSG should have won like 3-1 if not for GK Nueur and the dang post 3 times.  Real Madrid completed the win over Liverpool blanking 2 year’s ago champs 0-0 at home in route to a 3-1 aggregate. Man City cheated and knocked off my Dortmund and of course the biggest story may be Pulisic’s Man of the Match play vs Porto.  It sets up an exciting Semi-Finals later this month with Chelsea vs Real Madrid and Man City vs PSG. 

Barca lose 2-1 to Real in El Classico

 I had a chance to take in the entire 2nd half of El Classico – and it was well Classic !  The hard fought 2-1 win by Real Madrid – continued to show the magic of Zidane as he once again pulled the right triggers despite missing great players in Ramos and Varane in the middle of defense.  Courtios made some great saves and Madrid survived the home game in soaking wet and 50 degree conditions. Sad to see American Serginio Dest go off after a ball bounced off him for an own goal on a free kick. This sets up a 3 way race with Atletico Madrid 1 pt up on Real and Barcelona just 2 pts off the lead with a game hosting Atletico on the final game of the season.  The title race is one with just 5 games to go. 

Games to Watch This Week

The FA Cup Semi-Finals are this weekend with Chelsea and Christian Pulisic facing Manchester City and American GK Zach Steffan on Saturday at 12:30 pm on ESPN+ – don’t ask me why this game is not moving to ABC, ESPN or some ESPN network station – Pulisic is coming off of back to back Man of the Match performances for Chelsea – has scored 3 goals in the last 3 games and was the best player on the field in their Champions League draw with Porto as he was fouled a record tying 11 times (tied with Messi).   Sunday Leicester City will face Southampton at 1:30 pm on ESPN+ all the games at Wembly of course.  I have given you the rundown on the MLS games on TV this weekend, be sure to tune in – the more we watch – the more games they will give us folks.  That Seattle Sounders vs Minnesota game should be especially exciting tonight at 9:30 on FS1.   Everton vs Tottenham today at 3 pm on NBCSN also as they battle for top 6 Europa spots. 

Saturday the Copa Del Rey finals pit Barcelona and American Serginio Dest vs Basque standout Athletic Club at 3:30 pm on ESPN+.   Sunday early morning has American Robinson and Fulham desperately fighting relegation vs Arsenal at 8:30 am on NBCSN followed closely by Serie A 3rd place Juventus and American midfielder McKinney traveling to 4th place Atalanta at 9 am on ESPN+.   Finally 9:30 on ESPN+ gives us a battle of American’s as Dortmund and Claudia Reyna host Werder Bremen and forward Josh Stewart.  All before the 3 pm MLS double header on ABC then FS1 .

Former Carmel FC GK playing for Depauw

It was fantastic to see former Carmel FC Goalkeeper Grey Collins playing his second season for DePauw University.  They faced off against the Indy 11 at home last week where he garnered his first start of the season. So proud of him and his progression at Depauw.  Grey was one of the first GK’s I started training with Carmel FC back when he was U12 and he played with the club all the way thru High School – always one of my favorites!  Good luck on the season Grey – we’ll be rooting for you!  

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Apr 16

2:30 pm ESPN+                  RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Hoffenheim

3 pm Peacock                     Everton vs Tottenham

3 pm beIN Sport                 Lille (Weah)  vs Montpellier

8pm ESPN+                         Houston vs San Jose –MLS

9:30 pm FS1                       Seattle Sounders vs Minnesota  MLS Kickoff

10 pm paramount +          OL Reign vs Houston Dash   NWSL

Sat, Apr 17

7:30 am NBCSN                  Newcastle United vs West Ham

9:30 am ESPN+                  Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs Bayern Munich                        

12:30 pm ESPN+              Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Man City –  FA Cup

3:30 pm ESPN+                  Copa Del Rey – Athletic Club vs Barcelona

6 pm FOX                            LAFC vs Austin

8:30 pm EPSN+                  Nashville vs Cincy

8:30 pm ESPN+                  Chicago Fire vs New England

Sun, Apr 18

7 am beIN sport                 PSG vs Saint Ettienne

8:30 am NBCSN                 Arsenal vs Fulham (Robinson)

11 am NBCSN                     Man United vs Burnley

9 am ESPN+                        Atalanta vs Juve (McKinney)

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

1:30 pm ESPN+                  Leicester City vs Southampton

3 pm ABC                            Miami vs LA Galaxy

5:30 pm FS1                       Columbus vs Philly

10 pm ESPN+                    Vancouver vs Portland

Tues, Apr 20

3 pm peacock             Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Brighton

6 pm Para +                        NY/NJ Gotham FC vs North Carolina Courage NWSL

8:30 pm Para +                  Red Stars vs KC NWSL

Weds, Apr 21

1 pm Peacock                     Tottenham vs Southampton

3 pm NBCSN                       Aston Villa vs Man City 

7 pm Para +                        Orlando Pride (Morgan) vs Washington Spirit NWSL

10 pm Para +                      Portland Thorns (Rapinoe) vs OL Reign NWSL

Thurs, Apr 21

3 pm NBCSN                       Leister City vs West Brom

Fri, Apr 23

3 pm NBCSN                       Arsenal vs Everton

4 pm bein Sport                 Barcelona (Dest) vs Getafe

7:30 pm FS1                       Sporting KC vs Orlando City

10 pm FS 1                          Tijuana vs Necaxa

Sat, Apr 24

7:30 am Peacock                Liverpool vs Newcastle 

9:30 am ESPN+                  Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs Dortmund (Reyna)  

10 am NBCSN                     Liverpool vs Aston Villa

11 am beIN sport              Metz vs PSG

12:30 pm NBC Chelsea (Pulisic) vs West Ham United

1 pm ESPN+                        NYCFC vs Cincy  MLS

3:30 pm Univision, TUDN San Jose vs Dallas (Matt Hedges) MLS

3 pm beINSport                  Real Madrid vs Real Bettis

6 pm ESPN                  LAFC vs Seattle Sounders

7 pm ESPN+                        Louisville vs Atlanta United 2 USL

10:30 pm ESPN+                Portland Timbers vs Houston (Pasher) MLS

Sun, Apr 25

11:30 am Peacock             Tottenham vs Man United

2 pm Cock                           Sheffield vs Arsenal

2:30 pm ABC                      Forentina vs Atalanta  –   Italy

3 pm beINSport                  Real Bettis vs Athletico Madrid

MLS Schedule

 

Eastern Conference Winners Predictions 

Western Conference Winners Predictions 

MLS Cup Winners Predictions

MLS Western Conference Preview: LAFC, Minnesota Lead The Pack While Familiar Faces Follow

MLS Eastern Conference Preview: Crew & Revs Lead Pack Of Mass Rebuilds

MLS Power Rankings

Yahoo – Season Preview

Matthew McConaughey Shares How Soccer Became Such a Huge Part of His Life (Exclusive) Video
McConaughey, Austin prepare for ‘100-year war’ in MLS

Matthew McConaughey on role with MLS’ Austin FC: ‘Not interested in just being a mascot’

DC United hires Lucy Rushton, 2nd female GM in MLS history
D.C. United to make history by hiring Lucy Rushton as club’s new general manager

Sounders undergo overhaul after another run to MLS final

Columbus Crew and Austin fC will be forever tied – SI – Brian Straus
Cincy Season PreviewColumbus Season Preview

Chicago Fire Season Preview

20 young American players to watch in the 2021 MLS season

 Toronto Shocks Leon, Philly, Advances

MLS Puts 5 Teams in the Final 8 of CCL  

 

US Ladies


USWNT explore options, show versatility vs. Sweden, France as Olympic prep continues
 Julie Foudy

US Uneven in Performance vs Sweden
USWNT gets back in win column with strong win over No. 3 France

Rapinoe, Morgan score as USWNT beats France

U.S. coach: Alex Morgan regaining sharpness

Carli Lloyd Becomes Third USWNT Player to 300 Caps
USWNT Lawsuit Settled in Part Though Appeal Over Pay Still Looms

Carli Lloyd on 2020: Worst of times, best of times as soccer star reunites with family

NWSL investigates Gorden racism allegation

 

CHAMPIONS + Europa League

 Pulisic Fouled record 18 times in Champs League game
Pulisic Watch: USMNT star fouled 11 times as Chelsea advances

Four things from the Champions League quarter-finals
Chelsea into Champions League semis for first time since 2014

Neuer blames first-leg loss for Bayern’s Champions League exit

Guardiola on Man City quadruple path: ‘It’s incredible what we’ve done’
Tuchel: Chelsea reaches UCL semis with ‘solidarity, discipline, courage’

PSG edge epic Champions League tussle with Bayern despite second-leg defeat

Three things we learned from Borussia Dortmund – Man City
Klopp on Liverpool’s Champions League exit: ‘We lost the tie in Madrid’

Hansi Flick mulling Bayern future as signs point toward Germany job

‘Happier than before,’ Neymar feels ‘at home at PSG’

3 Things We Learned – Liverpool vs Real Madrid

Barca Blame Ref on 2-1 loss to Real Madrid in El Classico

Neymar Was The Guy At The Bar Contemplating ‘Just One More Shot’ Against Bayern

Pulisic Matches Record That Messi Held For Last Decade; Chelsea Advances To Semis

US Men

Denver to host Nations League with U.S., Mexico  Jeff Carlisle  ESPNFC

Gold Cup final set at Raiders’ site in Las Vegas

Captain America –Pulisic is back – Goal.com

US new Sensational Forward D Dike interview on Men In Blazers

Pulisic, Dike, Mckennie, & De La Torre Star In Big Weekend For Yanks In Europe

Yanks Abroad: Pulisic, Dike & McKennie highlight an exciting weekend

Daryl Dike scores 8th goal in 14 league matches for Barnsley

Pulisic Watch: USMNT star fouled 11 times as Chelsea advances

Pulisic makes Chelsea Better

USMNT’s Robinson reveals pride in ‘Fulhamerica’ legacy

Barcelona open to offers for USMNT’s Konrad in summer – sources

Indy 11- season starts May 1

INDY ELEVEN 2021 BROADCAST SCHEDULE SET

INDY ELEVEN ACQUIRES MF PATRICK SEAGRIST ON LOAN FROM MLS’ INTER MIAMI CF

PRESEASON RECAP – INDY ELEVEN 2 : 0 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

FROM THE COURT TO THE PITCH

2021 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

Return to the Mike

21 New Roster

Season Tix Available

INDY ELEVEN SIGNS SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE STRIKER CAMMY SMITH

Indy Eleven Adds Bloomington Native Jeremiah Gutjahr to Roster

Hundreds of Hopefuls Attend 2021 Open Tryout

Indy Eleven & WISH-TV Extend Broadcast Partnership through 2022 Season

Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club Acquires Forward Cal Jennings via Transfer

LAFC over Columbus Crew for MLS Cup? Our 2021 predictions, MVP favorites, team-by-team talking points ESPN

The 26th season of Major League Soccer kicks off on Friday as Houston Dynamo host San Jose at BBVA Stadium (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) and after a wild season in 2020, it’s a clean slate and a reset in 2021 with a full schedule, another new team (welcome, Austin FC) and plenty of iconic players and teams with a lot to prove. And so, a little over four months since Columbus Crew SC thumped Seattle Sounders to win MLS Cup, we’re back and ready for a fun season.

– Catch MLS all season long on ABC/ESPN/ESPN+

Who is your MVP?

Carlos Vela, LAFC — Injuries slowed Vela in 2020, but now he’s healthy again and looks primed to repeat his stellar form of 2019. That and LAFC looks set to be just as aggressive going forward this season as it has in the past. Vela figures to be the prime beneficiary of that. — Carlisle

Emanuel Reynoso, Minnesota United — It’s easy to forget that “Bebelo” joined Minnesota as recently as September, because he produced two goals and 14 assists in his first 16 appearances for the club. That sort of production so early in a player’s transition to MLS is rare. He’ll be more prolific with former Boca Juniors teammate Ramon Abila now leading the Loons’ line. — Lindberg

Carlos Vela, LAFC — After a year in which his availability was limited for various reasons, the expectation is that Vela will return to something close to the form he showed in 2019, when he turned in the best individual season in league history. — Bonagura

Lucas Zelarayan, Columbus Crew — This award is Vela’s to lose and Josef Martinez is primed for a feel-good return season, but Zelarayan has what it takes to build on the late form he found last season that led to him winning MLS Cup MVP. Like defending regular-season MVP Alejandro Pozuelo of Toronto, Zelarayan will be key in creating lots of chances rather than scoring tons of goals. But is Zelarayan even the best player on the Crew roster?

Carlos Vela, LAFC — After a stop-start season due to opting out of the MLS is Back tournament and injuries, look for the Mexico playmaker to rekindle the form that saw him set the league ablaze in 2019 to the tune of 34 goals and 10 assists en route to the Golden Boot and the MVP award. — Elvin


Who are your Eastern Conference winners?

New England Revolution — Let’s face it, parity is rife in the Eastern Conference. Any one of a half-dozen teams could win. But I’m going with New England given how well the Revs played once Carles Gil returned to fitness. Manager Bruce Arena has shored up the team’s weaknesses, adding more bite in midfield with the arrival of Wilfrid Kaptoum. Arnor Ingvi Traustason has also been added for attacking depth. Health is an issue for any team, but at present, New England looks primed to make a run at the conference title. — Carlisle

Columbus Crew — Last year’s MLS Cup champs are the favorites to win the East, and will edge out New England, NYCFC and Toronto for that crown. With Lucas Zelarayan, Gyasi ZardesJonathan Mensah and Darlington Nagbe returning, and the additions of Bradley Wright-Phillips, Kevin Molino and Alexandru Matan, Caleb Porter’s side should be even better in 2021. — Elvin

Orlando City — The Lions should forget about Daryl Dike returning and will probably play without fullback Joao Moutinho for a long stretch. But if things go well for that attack — NaniMauricio Pereyra, and Alexandre Pato stay healthy while Chris Mueller and Andres Perea continue to grow — this team can definitely claim the East. — Guerra

Columbus Crew — The Crew deserve top preseason billing after their march to MLS Cup, but there are strong cases to be made for the Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC, Atlanta United, New England Revolution and Orlando City. — Bonagura

Columbus Crew — Columbus was consistently among the best teams in the league throughout 2020, culminating in a well-deserved MLS Cup. Since, Caleb Porter has added sharp-shooting Bradley Wright-Phillips, wide threat Kevin Molino and hard man Perry Kitchen. There is quality and depth that rivals any club in the league. — Lindberg


Who are your Western Conference winners?

LAFC — LAFC was an MLS Cup contender when the curtain fell on 2020, but sporting director John Thorrington did plenty to address the team’s needs, acquiring defenders Marco Farfan and Kim Moon-Hwan. This was on top of adding center-back Jesus David Murillo late last season. There’s always a chance that the likes of Seattle, Portland, Sporting Kansas City or Minnesota could rise to the top, but with Vela and Diego Rossi still on board, LAFC is poised again to make a run at the championship. — Carlisle

Minnesota United — The Loons’ infamous three-year plan culminated with a playoff berth in 2019, and they were oh-so-close to appearing in MLS Cup last season. Now, with Emanuel Reynoso having a full season under his belt, and Ramon Abila taking up the No. 9 position that had previously been a revolving door of underwhelming forwards, Minnesota has positioned itself as one of the favorites for MLS Cup in 2021. — Lindberg

LAFC — An impressive run to the CONCACAF Champions League final with their full complement of players was instructive about the heights LAFC can hit. They’re the clear favorite in Western Conference, ahead of the usual cast of characters, including Portland, Seattle, Sporting KC and even FC Dallas. — Bonagura

Portland Timbers — Like Vela and the MVP race, this is probably LAFC’s to lose. Seattle, SKC and FC Dallas will make things fun the playoffs. However, the Timbers’ veteran laden-midfield — coupled a good striker rotation in Jeremy EbobisseFelipe Mora and (eventually) Jaroslaw Niezgoda — will emerge out West.

LAFC — With Seattle losing Jordan Morris to injury, and the Portland core a year older, look for LAFC to capitalize after an underwhelming 2020 league season. Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi and Eduard Atuesta are as good a trio as any in MLS, and Bob Bradley and Co. also made a couple of nice offseason additions to address their issues at full-back. Brian Rodriguez’s future (on loan at Almeria) remains a question, as is the center-forward position, but LAFC will outgun Portland and SKC to win the West. — Elvin


Who are your MLS Cup champs?

LAFC over New England Revolution — For all of its regular-season brilliance during its first three years in MLS, getting to the MLS Cup final has eluded LAFC, but this is the year they should break through. New England, meanwhile will fall just short, making it 0-for-6 in the grand finale. — Carlisle

Minnesota United over Columbus Crew — The Loons stand to possess too many options for any opponent to successfully stop. There’s the playmaking of Emanuel Reynoso, the finishing of Ramon Abila and opposite winger Robin Lod, as well as rumored additions Franco Fragapane of Talleres and Adrien Hunou of Stade Rennes. And we haven’t even mentioned a midfield of Ozzie Alonso, Jan GregusHassani Dotson and Wil Trapp— Lindberg

LAFC over Columbus Crew — A theoretical Columbus-LAFC final would certainly deliver both in terms of star power and an entertainment perspective. LAFC, who broke records in 2019 when they were last at full strength, have unfinished business and with Carlo Vela and Diego Rossi in attack, they get over the hump and knock off the reigning champs in what would be a blockbuster final. — Elvin

LAFC over Columbus Crew — LAFC gets over the postseason bump, which will serve as an appropriate sendoff for Diego Rossi, who is overdue for a move to Europe. — Bonagura

Orlando City over Portland Timbers — A rematch of the MLS is Back tournament in 2020. Alexandre Pato and Nani play like its 2010, Joao Moutinho returns to form, Chris Mueller makes his case to stay in USMNT mix, and Orlando beat a Portland that will could face a roster reboot in 2022. — Guerra

MLS 2021 season preview: Key questions, who to watch and much more

Andy DeossaThu, April 15, 2021, 6:38 PM Major League Soccer’s 26th season is about to kick off, with the opening match between the Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes on Friday evening. The Columbus Crew are the defending champions, and everyone will be eager to take the trophy off them. It figures to be a deep field of challengers, too, with at least half the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals comprised of MLS clubs.What can we expect in 2021?

Key MLS 2021 season storylines

Can the Crew repeat?

MLS hasn’t seen back-to-back champs since the 2011-12 Galaxy. But if you look at the additions Columbus made this offseason in adding skilled winger Kevin Molino and ageless goal machine Bradley Wright-Phillips, there’s no reason to believe the Crew can’t do it. Oh, and don’t forget about MLS Cup MVP Lucas Zelarayán. This team is stacked and has a shiny new stadium to prove it in.


Who are your Eastern Conference winners?

New England Revolution — Let’s face it, parity is rife in the Eastern Conference. Any one of a half-dozen teams could win. But I’m going with New England given how well the Revs played once Carles Gil returned to fitness. Manager Bruce Arena has shored up the team’s weaknesses, adding more bite in midfield with the arrival of Wilfrid Kaptoum. Arnor Ingvi Traustason has also been added for attacking depth. Health is an issue for any team, but at present, New England looks primed to make a run at the conference title. — Carlisle

Columbus Crew — Last year’s MLS Cup champs are the favorites to win the East, and will edge out New England, NYCFC and Toronto for that crown. With Lucas Zelarayan, Gyasi ZardesJonathan Mensah and Darlington Nagbe returning, and the additions of Bradley Wright-Phillips, Kevin Molino and Alexandru Matan, Caleb Porter’s side should be even better in 2021. — Elvin

Orlando City — The Lions should forget about Daryl Dike returning and will probably play without fullback Joao Moutinho for a long stretch. But if things go well for that attack — NaniMauricio Pereyra, and Alexandre Pato stay healthy while Chris Mueller and Andres Perea continue to grow — this team can definitely claim the East. — Guerra

Columbus Crew — The Crew deserve top preseason billing after their march to MLS Cup, but there are strong cases to be made for the Philadelphia Union, Toronto FC, Atlanta United, New England Revolution and Orlando City. — Bonagura

Columbus Crew — Columbus was consistently among the best teams in the league throughout 2020, culminating in a well-deserved MLS Cup. Since, Caleb Porter has added sharp-shooting Bradley Wright-Phillips, wide threat Kevin Molino and hard man Perry Kitchen. There is quality and depth that rivals any club in the league. — Lindberg


Who are your Western Conference winners?

LAFC — LAFC was an MLS Cup contender when the curtain fell on 2020, but sporting director John Thorrington did plenty to address the team’s needs, acquiring defenders Marco Farfan and Kim Moon-Hwan. This was on top of adding center-back Jesus David Murillo late last season. There’s always a chance that the likes of Seattle, Portland, Sporting Kansas City or Minnesota could rise to the top, but with Vela and Diego Rossi still on board, LAFC is poised again to make a run at the championship. — Carlisle

Minnesota United — The Loons’ infamous three-year plan culminated with a playoff berth in 2019, and they were oh-so-close to appearing in MLS Cup last season. Now, with Emanuel Reynoso having a full season under his belt, and Ramon Abila taking up the No. 9 position that had previously been a revolving door of underwhelming forwards, Minnesota has positioned itself as one of the favorites for MLS Cup in 2021. — Lindberg

LAFC — An impressive run to the CONCACAF Champions League final with their full complement of players was instructive about the heights LAFC can hit. They’re the clear favorite in Western Conference, ahead of the usual cast of characters, including Portland, Seattle, Sporting KC and even FC Dallas. — Bonagura

Portland Timbers — Like Vela and the MVP race, this is probably LAFC’s to lose. Seattle, SKC and FC Dallas will make things fun the playoffs. However, the Timbers’ veteran laden-midfield — coupled a good striker rotation in Jeremy EbobisseFelipe Mora and (eventually) Jaroslaw Niezgoda — will emerge out West.

LAFC — With Seattle losing Jordan Morris to injury, and the Portland core a year older, look for LAFC to capitalize after an underwhelming 2020 league season. Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi and Eduard Atuesta are as good a trio as any in MLS, and Bob Bradley and Co. also made a couple of nice offseason additions to address their issues at full-back. Brian Rodriguez’s future (on loan at Almeria) remains a question, as is the center-forward position, but LAFC will outgun Portland and SKC to win the West. — Elvin


Who are your MLS Cup champs?

LAFC over New England Revolution — For all of its regular-season brilliance during its first three years in MLS, getting to the MLS Cup final has eluded LAFC, but this is the year they should break through. New England, meanwhile will fall just short, making it 0-for-6 in the grand finale. — Carlisle

Minnesota United over Columbus Crew — The Loons stand to possess too many options for any opponent to successfully stop. There’s the playmaking of Emanuel Reynoso, the finishing of Ramon Abila and opposite winger Robin Lod, as well as rumored additions Franco Fragapane of Talleres and Adrien Hunou of Stade Rennes. And we haven’t even mentioned a midfield of Ozzie Alonso, Jan GregusHassani Dotson and Wil Trapp— Lindberg

LAFC over Columbus Crew — A theoretical Columbus-LAFC final would certainly deliver both in terms of star power and an entertainment perspective. LAFC, who broke records in 2019 when they were last at full strength, have unfinished business and with Carlo Vela and Diego Rossi in attack, they get over the hump and knock off the reigning champs in what would be a blockbuster final. — Elvin

LAFC over Columbus Crew — LAFC gets over the postseason bump, which will serve as an appropriate sendoff for Diego Rossi, who is overdue for a move to Europe. — Bonagura

Orlando City over Portland Timbers — A rematch of the MLS is Back tournament in 2020. Alexandre Pato and Nani play like its 2010, Joao Moutinho returns to form, Chris Mueller makes his case to stay in USMNT mix, and Orlando beat a Portland that will could face a roster reboot in 2022. — Guerra

⚽

USWNT explore options, show versatility vs. Sweden, France as Olympic prep continues

Apr 14, 2021   Julie Foudy   Contributor, espnW.com

  • EmailAs we inch closer to the summer Olympics — dare I say, even in a whisper, that I feel confident the Games will indeed happen — I will, of course, spend a lot of time dissecting the U.S. women’s national team. Given that the roster size for the Olympics is only 18 players, my completely unscientific dissection will only intensify as we get closer to June.But I digress. Let’s go back and review the two most recent games the USWNT played in Europe: their 1-1 draw vs. Sweden in Stockholm on Saturday and their 2-0 win over France in Le Havre, France, on Tuesday.

Vlatko Andonovski, USWNT head coach, came into this two-game European swing knowing it would be the toughest test his side would face leading into the Olympics, and the U.S. came to Europe with a 15-0 win/loss record under Andonovski, the most wins by any U.S. coach to start their tenure. Until Sweden, of course. (Why does it always have to be Sweden?)Sweden had different plans for this U.S. team. Only by the grace of god (aka there was no VAR being used), the U.S. women were gifted a penalty in the late stages to salvage a draw. Instead of what should have been a free kick outside the penalty area, Megan Rapinoe instead placed the ball on the penalty spot … and we all know how that show ends.All in all, Sweden played a tremendous game. Clean, tactically solid and defensively excellent, they matched the U.S. stride for stride for most of the 90 minutes. If Kosovare Asllani & Co. had been a little more clinical in front of goal, they could have secured the win. The U.S. did outshoot Sweden 20 to 9 but just never found their rhythm. They were not as technically clean as we’ve seen them in the past, especially in the final attacking third.The good news for the U.S. (beyond equalizing, of course) is that this back-and-forth game was a wonderful (and always needed) reminder of the work that still needs to be done. Those reminders, especially when relatively bruise-free, are gifts in life.The other good news? This was the first of two games, which gave the U.S. a chance to address some of the shortcomings against France. As Andonovski pointed out after Saturday’s tie: “It is not good enough, not good enough to win the Olympics. This is a good thing for us. I don’t wake up wishing we don’t do well, but still you are exposed to something we hadn’t seen before. We will address it going forward.”

Well, address it they did. In typical U.S. fashion, the players extracted the lesson from the Sweden game and brought a renewed energy and focus to the clash with France. (One thing to remember: This was essentially France’s B-team.) They were missing six of their Lyon stars due to a recent COVID-19 outbreak at the club, meaning key players such as Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, Amel Majri, Sakina Karchaoui and Delphine Cascarino were unavailable. Yes, that hurts. They also did not start Sandy Baltimore or Kadidiatou Diani, two standouts from their win vs. England days earlier.

Baltimore came on in the second half, though Diani never saw time on the field. Also, PSG star and leading scorer in Ligue 1 Marie-Antoinette Katoto played only the first half. In fact, only two French starters remained from that classic quarterfinal clash in Paris at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Contrast that with 10 of the starting 11 for the U.S. The only starter missing for the U.S. from that game was Tobin Heath, still out with an injury. France fielded a young and talented side, yes, but not nearly the French team we are accustomed to seeing.The U.S. got off to a great early start (exactly what they didn’t do against Sweden) and were swiftly up 2-0 thanks to Alex Morgan. Morgan drew a PK in only the fifth minute, which Rapinoe of course calmly converted, and then Morgan herself finished a beautifully slipped-in ball from Christen Press in the 19th minute. From there, the U.S. never looked back.France sat in a low block most of the game, showing so little urgency in the second half that it looked as if the U.S. were the team down two goals. In full command, the U.S. even had a chance to try something they have never done before: bring in all four midfield stars together. Yes, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis, Lindsay Horan and Rose Lavelle finally got to share the field, and full disclosure: I loved it. Lavelle played up high on the right side and was very active coming inside. I’ve wondered of late whether the four could play in a diamond, or whether Horan could play as a false 9. There are lots of options, and the promising point is that it gives the U.S. another layer of versatility.

For some final good news, folks, we officially have a field of 12 teams that have qualified for the Olympics. The 12 teams, in alphabetical order, are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Great Britain, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, the USA and Zambia.Say it in a whisper… I can see the light.

USA defeats lackluster France 2-0

USA tightened up after a rough game against Sweden, but also faced a weaker opponent.By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Apr 13, 2021, 2:34pm PDT

Starting XI: Alyssa Naeher, Kelley O’Hara, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Christen Press, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe

The United States got an early momentum swing in this game as they picked up a penalty call in the 4’ for a takedown on Alex Morgan. But despite Megan Rapinoe calmly burying the ball to make it 1-0 early on, by no means did the US completely dominate the field, even with an understrength French roster facing them. They also had a lower line of confrontation at times, dropping off and picking their fights in the midfield. Andonovski could be heard at times asking them to step harder to try and expose a leaky back line.And indeed, Alex Morgan looked like she’d picked up a step since previous outings, playing the target forward at times, getting behind the defenders easily (though sometimes while offside). Morgan got the second goal for her efforts in the 19’. Christen Press dropped her a lovely through ball and Morgan simply slipped both her defenders to run on and finish.France had their own chance in response in the 22’, forcing a diving fingertip save from Alyssa Naeher. They weren’t making a lot of big shots on target, but they were able at times to give as good as they got against Crystal Dunn and force errors from her. Dunn also had some unforced errors with her passing, but she also had an incredible recovery and drive at goal in the 35’ with a hard shot on target to force the save. Then another chance from wide, this time from Kelley O’Hara on the right, making the cross for Rapinoe, who darted in from behind the defender. Her touch wasn’t quite enough to make it past the goalkeeeper.The game felt more erratic as the first half wound down, with not a ton of urgency from the Americans, who seemed content to run it out at 2-0.France tried to change it up in the second half, bringing in Sandy Baltimore as a sub, and for a while that channel on the pitch was pretty lively. The French also tried pulling the game wide right as well while looking for the switch to an open Baltimore to set her up for a cross or shot, but that wasn’t fruitful.The US tried working into the box playing off each other through the halfspaces on both sides of the field, with Rapinoe, Mewis, and Lavelle are playing each other in and making runs, but these plays often didn’t result in a shot on target.In the 63’ Rapinoe subbed off for Lindsey Horan, which, very interestingly, pushed Lavelle closer to a right forward position. Press went to left forward. Lavelle helped counteract Baltimore on the right side a bit, giving them more options to carry the ball out of pressure there. Horan at times drifted so high as to look like she was in a two-front with Morgan, trying to get numbers up and pressure the French CBs together.The US made two more subs in the 75’, with Carli Lloyd replacing Morgan in a like-for-like, and and Sophia Smith replacing Press at LF as well. Smith looked a little bit tentative out there at times, particularly when teeing up in front of goal. She was a target for Horan, who was extremely active in that left channel, forcing the ball to the touchline and looking up at who was int he box.There was a nervy moment in the 80’ when a Baltimore cross in front of goal missed Naeher and Dunn’s attempt to clear almost looked like it might have created an own goal, but she managed to get the ball away. After that, the last 10 minutes plus stoppage were a holding pattern, the US not pushing too hard, and France seemingly sitting back and waiting for their fate to arrive. The game ended at 2-0.As much as fans might have been looking for some kind of response to the US having to chase Sweden for so much of their previous game, this wasn’t the most emphatic response. Part of it might have been the opponent, a rotated French team with lots of off-the-bench players. The most interesting thing to happen was honestly the use of so many midfielders, not pulling Lavelle when Horan came on. With Vlatko Andonovski often committed to the 4-3-3, it’s been quite a conundrum having such an incredible midfield and only having three of them on at a time.After the game, Andonovski said this was something he was trying as a way to create overloads in the middle, particularly with Lavelle’s ability to come inside, giving them a 4-on-3 advantage. And it worked at times, as the US was able to clog up a lot of the midfield and limit France’s ability to look forward, while also giving Lavelle yet another area of the field in which to create trouble. Of course, any tinkering with the system needs time to gel, and so we’ll see if this experiment continues in the next round of pre-Olympic friendlies.

⚽NWSL: Chicago Red Stars owner/ESPN host Sarah Spain and NJ/NY Gotham FC general manager Alyse LaHue were fined yesterday for their tweets in support of Red Stars defender Sarah Gorden, who, along with her boyfriend, was racially profiled after last week’s season opener.

  • Why the fine? The league had issued a memo asking front office members not to comment on the investigation of the situation. Hmm…time to walk that talk, NWSL.

Denver to host Nations League with U.S., Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica

12:31 PM ET  Jeff Carlisle  U.S. soccer correspondent

The United States men’s national team will play on June 3 against Honduras in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals in the altitude of Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High, the confederation announced on Thursday.

The semifinals, featuring the USMNT vs. Honduras and Mexico vs. Costa Rica, will be held on June 3. The final and third place matches will take place three days later. The semifinal matchups were determined by the outcome of group stage play in the fall of 2019, with the four League A winners advancing. All four matches are scheduled to take place during the first June FIFA match window.The semifinals were originally scheduled for June 4 last year in Houston and the final on June 7 last year in Arlington, Texas, but were rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“The CONCACAF Nations League includes all 41 of our member associations, making it a true celebration of our football, our region and our unity as One CONCACAF,” said CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani. “The 2019 group stage was a huge success in delivering more competitive football for all men’s national teams across CONCACAF. Now we can look forward to a great final four in the outstanding facility that is Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High, and to crowning a first ever CONCACAF Nations League champion.”The CNL Finals will serve to crown the first-ever champion of a competition created to provide more competitive matches for all 41 CONCACAF member associations, and maximize the official match dates available within the FIFA international calendar.

U.S. Men’s Soccer Key Dates

Friendly vs. SwitzerlandMay 30
Nations LeagueJune 3-6
Friendly vs. TBDJune 9
Gold CupJuly 2-Aug. 1
World Cup qualifyingSept.-March ’22
2022 World CupNov. 21-Dec. 18 ’22

The USMNT’s top players will likely take part in the tournament. USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter had said previously that his Europe-based players — such as Chelsea‘s Christian PulisicJuventus‘ Weston McKennie, and Barcelona‘s Sergino Dest — would be given time off following the Nations League event and ahead of World Cup qualifying, which is set to begin in September.

The U.S. will also participate in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July, with that final set for Aug. 1 in Las Vegas.CONCACAF added that it will provide information regarding any local and federal COVID-19 protocols which will need to be observed by attending fans.

Denver and Empower Field at Mile High have hosted soccer events in the past, including matches at three CONCACAF Gold Cups in 2013, 2017 and 2019.The U.S. Under-23 men lost to Honduras, 2-1, in the CONCACAF men’s Olympic qualifying semifinal last month.

Premier League run-in: What’s the latest in the top-four battle?

The Premier League run-in is here and the business end of the season will provide plenty of drama, as always, as the countdown to the final day on May 23 is on.So, what is left to play for? Who needs what? Which teams will be scrapping away in the final seven games of the season?

Our weekly series, the run-in, keeps you fully up to date on all of the different battles going on up and down the Premier League.Below we focus on the all-important race for the top four and UEFA Champions League qualification, which is more interesting that it has been for the last decade, and perhaps longer.

This will be epic.


Premier League top-four battle: The run-in analysis

Let’s assume that runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City and second-place Manchester United (nine points above fifth place) will finish in the top four, and that leaves two Champions League spots up for grabs. Six into two does not go.

So, who else is in the mix?

There are just eight points between Leicester City in third and Everton in 8th, and the latter also have a game in-hand so that gap could close further.

Right now, upstarts Leicester and West Ham are in the driving seat but Chelsea and Liverpool are now lurking just outside the top four and Jurgen Klopp’s men have a much easier schedule, on paper, than the other top four contenders.


Leicester City
Current position: 3rd
Games played: 31
Current points: 56
Goal difference: +18
Remaining schedule: West Brom (H), Crystal Palace (H), Southampton (A), Newcastle (H), Manchester United (A), Chelsea (A), Tottenham (H)


West Ham United
Current position: 4th
Games played: 31
Current points: 55
Goal difference: +12
Remaining schedule: Newcastle (A), Chelsea (H), Burnley (A), Everton (H), Brighton (A), West Brom (A), Southampton (H)


Chelsea
Current position: 5th
Games played: 31
Current points: 54
Goal difference: +19
Remaining schedule: Brighton (H), West Ham (A), Fulham (H), Man City (A), Arsenal (H), Leicester (H), Aston Villa (A)


Liverpool
Current position: 6th
Games played: 31
Current points: 52
Goal difference: +16
Remaining schedule: Leeds (A), Newcastle (H), Man United (A), Southampton (H), West Brom (A), Burnley (A), Crystal Palace (H)


Tottenham Hotspur
Current position: 7th
Games played: 31
Current points: 49
Goal difference: +17
Remaining schedule: Everton (A), Southampton (H), Sheffield United (H), Leeds (A), Wolves (H), Aston Villa (H), Leicester (A)


Everton
Current position: 8th
Games played: 30
Current points: 48
Goal difference: +3
Remaining schedule: Tottenham (H), Arsenal (A), Aston Villa (H), West Ham (A), Sheffield United (H), Wolves (H), Man City (A)

INDY ELEVEN 2021 BROADCAST SCHEDULE SET

By Indy Eleven Communications, 04/09/21, 2:00PM EDT

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20 Local Broadcasts Include Six on WISH-TV, 14 on MyINDY-TV 23; June 15 Home Match vs. Pittsburgh to Air Nationally on ESPN Deportes, with Remaining 31 Contests Available via ESPN+

INDIANAPOLIS – Indy Eleven today finalized its 2021 broadcast calendar, which will feature six matches on WISH-TV, 14 games on MyINDY-TV 23 (WNDY), and one nationally-televised broadcast as part of the USL Championship’s 19-game slate on ESPN linear networks.  The club’s home tilt with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium on Tuesday, June 15, is one of nine Championship fixtures that will air nationwide on ESPN Deportes in 2021. Indy Eleven’s remaining 31 regular season contests – and over 700 additional Championship and USL League One matches in 2021 – will be available via live streaming video on ESPN+.

“We are thrilled to have ESPN return to Indianapolis to feature the best atmosphere in the USL Championship this June,” said Indy Eleven President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Stremlaw. “We’re proud that, once again, between WISH-TV, MyINDY-TV 23, and the ESPN family our fans will be able to follow every single minute of Indy Eleven action in 2021.”

Fans can sign up to ESPN+ for just $5.99 a month (or $59.99 per year) at ESPN.comESPNplus.com or on the ESPN App (mobile and connected devices). The Disney Bundle also provides access to ESPN+ in addition to the popular Disney+ and Hulu streaming services.

The Championship season will culminate on Sunday, November 28, with the 2021 USL Championship, set to be broadcast on ESPN or ESPN2. The contest between the Eastern and Western Conference Title-winners will also air on ESPN Deportes, with kickoff scheduled at 8:30 p.m. ET.

“This is the biggest and brightest platform we’ve ever had for our league,” said USL Executive Vice President Court Jeske. “We are thrilled at the wide selection of games, clubs and landmark moments that will appear on national television this season. It’s a special thing for our league to be able to showcase our clubs and cities across the USL Championship and League One on ESPN’s networks in addition to streaming an incredible schedule on ESPN+.”

As announced last month, WISH-TV and MyINDY-TV 23 – Indy Eleven’s founding Official Broadcast Partners – will deliver the action to local fans for an eighth straight season. The stations will combine to carry all 16 regular season home contests at “The Mike”, including six that will air on WISH-TV, starting with a June 5 meeting with Memphis 901 FC and concluding September 18 with the last of this year’s four matchups against archrival Louisville City FC.

MyINDY-TV 23 will air the remaining 10 home games plus all four away affairs on the local broadcast slate, including a June 26 clash against Louisville at Lynn Family Stadium and the squad’s regular season finale on October 30 at Memphis.

In addition to the two-hour game window, every local broadcast will be followed by the Honda Post-game Show, a wrap up of the evening’s action featuring extensive highlights and interviews with personalities from Indiana’s Team.

Visit indyeleven.com/2021-schedule for the most up-to-date schedule and broadcast information surrounding Indy Eleven’s 2021 season.

 2021 INDY ELEVEN TV SCHEDULE

Saturday, May 8 vs. FC Tulsa | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, May 22 vs. Sporting Kansas City II | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Wednesday, June 2 vs. OKC Energy FC | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, June 5 vs. Memphis 901 FC | 7:00 p.m. ET | WISH-TV

Tuesday, June 15 vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC | 8:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23 / ESPN Deportes

Saturday, June 26 at Louisville City FC | 7:30 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, July 3 vs. Birmingham Legion FC | 7:00 p.m. ET | WISH-TV

Saturday, July 17 vs. Memphis 901 FC | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, July 24 vs. Birmingham Legion FC | 7:00 p.m. ET | WISH-TV

Wednesday, August 4 at FC Tulsa | 8:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, August 14 vs. OKC Energy FC | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, August 28 vs. Real Monarchs SLC | 7:00 p.m. ET | WISH-TV

Saturday, Sept. 4 vs. Atlanta United 2 | 7:00 p.m. ET | WISH-TV

Saturday, Sept. 11 vs. Sporting Kansas City II | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, Sept. 18 vs. Louisville City FC | 7:00 p.m. ET | WISH-TV

Sunday, Sept. 26 at OKC Energy FC | 6:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, October 2 vs. Atlanta United 2 | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, October 16 vs. Louisville City FC | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, October 23 vs. FC Tulsa | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

Saturday, October 30 at Memphis 901 FC | 7:00 p.m. ET | MyINDY-TV 23

PRESEASON RECAP – INDY ELEVEN 2 : 0 VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

By Indy Eleven Communications, 04/10/21, 6:15PM EDT  Canadian Striker Jordan Hamilton Renews Acquaintances with MLS Side by Bagging Brace for Indiana’s Team in 65-minute Exhibition

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Indy Eleven used a pair of goals by forward Jordan Hamilton and a number of key saves from goalkeeper Jordan Farr to post a 2-0 win over MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The 65-minute affair was contested at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Ill.

The neutral site affair was a game with familiar faces to both fan bases. Indy Elven Head Coach Martin Rennie was the sideline boss of the British Columbian club throughout 2011-2013, when the first Canadian team in MLS history reached the Playoffs while also winning a Cascadia Cup. The stay of new Eleven midfielder Gershon Koffie in Vancouver was twice as long, the Ghanian’s tenure starting in 2012 with two seasons under Rennie’s watch and lasting into the 2016 campaign.On the opposite bench, longtime NASL and USL Championship coach Marc Dos Santos brought goalkeeper Evan Newton into the MLS ranks via transfer in late January, this after seeing up close what the number one between the posts for Indiana’s Team the last two seasons could do en route to becoming the Championship’s career leader in shutouts and saves.In the 4th minute, it was a beautiful turn by Hamilton that turned the scoreboard first.  Midfielder Nick Moon began the play with a shoulder tackle before playing a nifty 1-2 with the newest member of the Eleven, Cammy Smith, just right of the area. Moon’s first-time cross was accepted by Hamilton as he spun centrally, freeing a half-yard of space. The Scarborough, Ontario-native left nothing to chance from just eight yards out, firing hard to beat Newton and put Indy up in the early going.The Eleven continued to push the pace, the ninth minute seeing Smith put a low shot on frame that took a fortunate deflection right into the arms of Newton. Two minutes later the ex-Eleven ‘keeper was at it again, making a big stop on Koffie, who found a recycled corner from Ayoze land at his feet in the heart of the penalty area.The tide of the match turned in Vancouver’s favor for the next ten minutes, Farr making a routine save in the 12th minute and a much larger one a minute later, when he went low and looked big to stop Theo Bair’s close-range effort. The resulting corner provided more danger for Whitecaps FC, but defender Gianfranco Facchineri headed over from 10 yards.The 17th minute saw Farr make back-to-back saves, the first on a nice diving effort to his left to parry diagonally and away from dangerous traffic. The next minute saw him cut down a chance on the left endline, the Oregonian sliding in sternly – but fairly – to tackle away.Indy took back the wheel with two big chances down the right flank around the 23rd minute, both involving Moon. The first again saw Newton forced into a save, this time by the Scotsman Smith, whose shot marked the final big chance of the first 30 minutes. The Eleven earned the first chance of the second half with a jailbreak out of tight space that turned a Vancouver set piece chance into a 2-v-2 counter with Smith on the ball. His chip for Hamilton’s central run was just a hair heavy and gathered by Newton.

However, Hamilton’s second was inevitable, and he bagged his brace in the 40th on a play that began with Moon fighting hard to earn a throw-in on the right sideline. His snappy restart caught Vancouver off guard, allowing midfielder Aboubacar Sissoko to clip a short ball for his fellow Canadian to finish inside the right post from about 15 yards.Vancouver nearly got one back in the 43rd minute as Damiano Pecile put Kamron Habibullah into the left channel on a counter, but after looking to the far post he drug his near effort just outside the woodwork. On the 50th minute Smith got Moon involved again on the right side, but his cross to the six for Indy’s trialist forward was nodded out for a corner on a pivotal intervention by a Vancouver defender.The final quarter-hour until was relatively quiet until the game’s final attack in the 65th minute, when Sissoko’s chip unlocked a trio of defenders for Smith, whose shot from 25 yards whistled just high.Only three weeks remain in the Indy Eleven preseason, which winds down with exhibitions the next two Saturdays against Forward Madison FC of USL League One and fellow Championship side Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.Those friendlies will help Indy Eleven build towards the club’s 2021 USL Championship opener at Birmingham Legion FC on May 1, followed a week later on Saturday, May 8, by its home opener against FC Tulsa. Currently, the only way to save a spot for the team’s return to IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium is by becoming an Indy Eleven Season Ticket Member. Learn more out packages starting at only $170 for 17 games and secure one of the limited memberships remaining by calling 317-685-1100 or visiting the Tickets section of indyeleven.com.

2021 Spring Preseason Exhibition (65 minutes)

Indy Eleven  2 : 0  Vancouver Whitecaps FC (MLS)

Saturday, April 10, 2021 – 3:00 p.m. ET

SeatGeek Stadium – Bridgeview, Ill.

Scoring Summary:

IND – Jordan Hamilton (Nick Moon) 4’

IND – Jordan Hamilton (Aboubacar Sissoko) 40’


Disciplinary Summary:

VAN – Gianfranco Facchineri (yellow card) 60’


Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Jordan Farr; Neveal Hackshaw, Nedeljko Malic; Karl Ouimette; Ayoze, Gershon Koffie, Aboubacar Sissoko, Cammy Smith; Guest Player, Jordan Hamilton, Nick Moon


Vancouver Whitecaps FC lineup (4-2-3-1, L–>R): Evan Newton; Keishean Francois, Javain Brown, Cristian Campagna, Gianfranco Facchineri; Patrick Metcalfe, Michael Baldisimo; Kamron Habibullah, Damiano Pecile, Amir Batyrev; Theo Bair

2021 Preseason Calendar

March 23 – Indy Eleven  3 : 1  Detroit City FC (NISA)

Grand Park  | Westfield, Ind.

March 27 – Indy Eleven  5 : 0  Bridges FC

Grand Park  | Westfield, Ind.

March 30 – Indy Eleven  6 : 0  DePauw University (NCAA)

Grand Park  | Westfield, Ind.

April 10 – Indy Eleven  2 : 0  Vancouver Whitecaps FC (MLS)

SeatGeek Stadium  |  Bridgeview, Ill.

April 17 – Indy Eleven vs. Forward Madison (USL League One)

April 24 – Indy Eleven vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USL Championship)

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