5/28/21  Champions League Final 2 American’s first ever 3 pm Sat CBS, US Men Sun 2 pm ESPN2, Euro League Champ Surprises, Summer of Soccer, CFC Tryouts, Cup Results   

  

2 American’s in Champions League Final Sat 3 pm CBS – Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Man City (Steffan)

Wow, the superbowl of soccer in the world – the EUFA Champions League Final between Chelsea and Man City has 2 American’s facing off and one – Christian Pulisic (M/F) might just start.   Pulisic has started the last few games and he of course scored a goal and an Assist on the 3 goals scored in beating Real Madrid in the Semi-Finals.  Of course American Goalkeeper Zach Steffan will back up the EPL Champion Manchester City starter Edison (1 of top 3 GK in the world.)   Chelsea has beaten Man City in the League Cup Semi and in the regular season which makes it hard for me to pick them in this all important Champions League Final.  Man City will be full strength now and coach Pep Guardiola was hired to deliver this trophy 5 years ago.  Four EPL trophies later – this is the first time Man City have made it past the quarter finals – so its probably time.  I see a close game but with a misfiring offense lead by Timo Werner I just don’t see Chelsea being able to ourscore Man City.  In my dreams Pulisic provides the winning goal in a 3-2 thriller on CBS as millions in the USA watch our young starlet become a household name Worldwide.   But reality says 2 or 3 to 1 Man City to win their first Champions League Trophy.  CBS is scheduled to start pregame at 2 pm with a solid post game show to follow as well.  While I have not been thrilled with how you can’t rewind and FF on Paramount Plus – them moving the game to CBS where American’s (that’s YOU) Have to watch if we want to have huge games like this on the AIR.  The pregame crew will include former American National Team players Maurice Adu, Clint Dempsey along with Kate Abdo and the normal Champ League crew.  I am just hoping for an exciting, high scoring game with American GK Zack Steffan coming on for an injured Edison and then Pulisic playing well and scoring the winning goal is all.  (my luck he sits the bench and doesn’t come on until 75 minutes down 3-1).  Either way to imagine that American’s have a chance to have an impact on this the SUPERBOWL of Soccer in the World – the most watched club game in the world with over 400 Million expected to watch live (double the superbowl) –the Champions League Final – well it brings a tear to my eye.  Please convince your kids to sit down and watch this Saturday 3 pm CBS !  American’s talk about the impact of Pulisic for the US this weekend.

Champions League Anthem – one of the Best Anthem’s in Sports

The story behind the  Champions League Anthem  sung in 3 official languages – English, French and German.   Good version of 2021 Intro  I can’t wait to see the official opening for the the Game on CBS !!   Here’s a good commercial

The full words, as well as an English translation, can be found below and it can be seen and listened to here

US Men vs Switzerland Sun 2 pm ESPN2

The US Men have a good game lined up vs the Swiss on Sunday at 2 pm on ESPN2 as they prepare for the Nations League semi’s vs Honduras on Thursday at 7:30 pm on CBS Sports Network and hopefully Mexico on Sunday 9 pm on CBSSN and Paramount plus.  Of course Pulisic and Steffan will not be there in Switzerland but but will fly back with them to the US for the Nations League Finals.  Questions for this week

Expected Starters Sunday

Aaronson or Leggett/Sargent / Reyna

McKennie/Musah

Adams or Jackson Yueill (if Adams still injured)

Dest/Brooks/McKenzie/Cannon

Ethan Horvath

US Women’s Team Announced for Summer Sendoff Tour June 10, June 13, June 16

The roster has been announced for the USWNT Sendoff Tour in Texas starting June 10.  The games will start with the US playing Portugal at 8:30 pm ET on FS1 on Thurs June 10, followed by US vs Jamaica at 10 pm on Sunday June 13th on FS 1 and finally Wed night at 9 pm on ESPN2 vs Nigeria live from Austin.  The 3 game series features most the usuals except Tobin Heath – still recovering from injury (though she is training and will be at camp) and Julie Ertz (MCL expected back for Olympics) and Mallory Pugh.

Thur, June 10

8:30 PM ET FS1  USA WNT vs Portugal,

Sun, June 13

10 PM ET, FS1     USWNT  vs Jamaica ,

Wed, June 16

9 PM ET, ESPN2   USWNT  vs Nigeria

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Indy 11 home Wed/Sat next week

The Indy 11 travels to rival Louisville this Saturday night at 7:30 pm before reurning to the Mike with big matchups vs OKC Wednesday night at 7:30 pm on My Indy TV and ESPN+ and Saturday night 7 pm  vs Memphis 901.  Limited Tickets are still available visit here !!  Official Indy Eleven Watch Party Locations: Ellison Brewing Co. | Union Jack Pub

Carmel FC become Nike Premier Club for 2021 Season

Carmel FC is proud to announce that we have secured a multi-year deal with Nike Soccer USA! Carmel FC is now a Nike Premier Club going into the 2021/2022 season.Nike is the 1 Brand in SOCCER. Nike brings partnerships with US Soccer – National Teams, NWSL Teams, Coaching Education, Tournaments and International travel opportunities.Soccer Village – local retail partner relationship, will handle all our uniform and spirit wear needs here in Carmel. CFC Uniform items will be available at Soccer Village – FREE store delivery.

CARMEL FC  2021 Tryout and Evaluation Information

All evaluations and tryouts will be held at Shelborne Fields. 3451 W 126th St, Carmel, IN 46032.

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June 8, 2021 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2012 to 2015)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm

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June 14, 2021- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2003 to 2011)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007: 7:30pm to 9pm.
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Registration Link: Click Here To Register  Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions. 

Congrats to the 4 of the Carmel FC teams for advancing to next weekend’s President Cup and Challenge Cup Finals games at Grand Park 2009 Gold Girls, 2010 Boys Gold, 2008 Gold Boys, 2007 Gold Boys.    

Also good luck to former Carmel FC and Carmel High School Goalkeeper Erin Baker and forward Brooke Bailey as they play in the High School All American Game at 12 noon this Saturday.  Current Carmel FC Coach Tom Baker and former Carmel FC coach Carla Baker will be on hand to watch and you can see the game on the link here https://team1sports.com/prepcasts.

2021 Alumni/College Age Soccer League


High School graduates, college students, young professionals come join our soccer league this summer!

Who can play? ages 18-30, experienced, new to the sport and anyone wanting to be active and meet new people. 
When does it start/end? Mid- June through early August  Where? Shelborne Soccer Fields 3451 W. 126th Street
Cost? 105.00 (no annual fee or volunteer fee apply to this league).  Do I have to be a Carmel resident? There is no residency requirement for this program. 
Please click here to register for this league.  Registration is open now- June 12   Jerseys and socks are provided  Questions please contact the office 317-846-1663 or email info@carmeldadsclub.org

Summer of Soccer 

European Championships  June 11 – July 7  ESPN

Copa America  June 13 to July 10 FS1, FS2, Univision

Olympics US Ladies July 21-Aug 5  NBC

Gold Cup July 10 –  Aug 1 FS1, FS2

 GAMES ON TV

Weds, May 26

3 pm CBSSN                Villarreal va Man United   Europa League Final

7 pm Paramount+             Orlando Pride (Morgan) vs Portland Thorns NWSL

8 pm CBSSN                        KC vs Chicago Red Stars  NWSL  

Sat, May 29

10 am ESPN+                     Brentford vs Swansea City  Championship Playoff – Winner to EPL               

3 pm CBS + Para+        Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Man City (Steffan)  Champions League Final 

5 pm Univision                  LAFC vs NYCFC

7:30 pm ESPN+           Louisville City vs Indy Eleven

8:30 pm CBSSN                 Houston Dash vs Chicago Red Stars

9 pm Univision                  Mexico vs Iceland

Sun, May 30

12 beIN Sport                     Nantes vs Toulouse French Promotion Playoff

2 pm ESPN                  USA vs Switzerland

3 pm Para+                         NY/NJ Gotham FC vs Portland Thorns NWSL

6 pm Para+                         Orlando Pride vs KC NWSL

7 pm FS1                             Philly Union vs Portland Timbers 

Mon, May 31

12 pm ESPNU                     U21 Netherlands vs France U21 Euros

3 pm ESPNU                       U21 Denmark vs U21 Germany  Euros

Weds, June 2 

7:30 pm ESPN+           Indy Eleven vs OKC Energy

Thurs, June 3 

7:30 pm Univ+CBSSN USA vs Honduras  Nations League Semis

10 pm Para+                      Mexico vs Costa Rica

Sat, June 5

7 pm ESPN+                Indy Eleven vs Memphis 901

7 pm Para+                         NY/NJ Gotham FC vs OL Reign  NWSL

Sun, June 6

2 pm Para+                         KC vs Houston Dash NWSL

6:30 pm Para+            3rd place game Nations League 

9 pm Para+CBSSN      Finals – Nations League 

Wed, June 9

7 pm ESPN2                US Men vs Costa Rica

Thur, June 10

8:30 PM ET FS1           US Women vs Portugal

MLS Schedule

NWSL Season TV Schedule

Euro’s TV Schedule

Copa Schedule

EUROS + COPA America 2021

(all times ET; coverage starts about 30 minutes before kickoff; all games also stream on ESPN+)

Friday, June 11

Group A – Turkey vs. Italy, 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)

Saturday, June 12

Group A – Wales vs. Switzerland, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Denmark vs. Finland, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Belgium vs. Russia, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)

Sunday, June 13

Group D – England vs. Croatia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Austria vs. North Macedonia, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Netherlands vs. Ukraine, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

COPA   Argentina vs Chile  5 pm  FS2, Univision

COPA   Paraguay vs Bolivia 8 pm  FS2, Univision

USA Women vs Jamaica  10 pm (FS1)

Monday, June 14

Group D – Scotland vs. Czech Republic, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Poland vs. Slovakia, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Spain vs. Sweden, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

COPA   Brazil vs Venezuela 7 pm FS , Unimas

COPA   Colombia vs Ecuador 10 pm FS1, Univision

Tuesday, June 15

Group F – Hungary vs. Portugal, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group F – France vs. Germany, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)

Wednesday, June 16

Group B – Finland vs. Russia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Turkey vs. Wales, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Italy vs. Switzerland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

USA Women vs Nigeria 9 pm (ESPN2)

Thursday, June 17

Group C – Ukraine vs. North Macedonia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Denmark vs. Belgium, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Netherlands vs. Austria, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Copa   Chile vs Bolivia 5 pm  FS 1

Copa   Argentina vs Uruguay 8 pm FS 1, Unimas

Friday, June 18

Group E – Sweden vs. Slovakia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group D – Croatia vs. Czech Republic, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group D – England vs. Scotland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

COPA   Colombia vs Venezuela 7 pm FS 2

COPA   Peru vs Brazil 10 pm FS2, Univision

Saturday, June 19

Group F – Hungary vs. France, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group F – Portugal vs. Germany, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univ, TUDN)
Group E – Spain vs. Poland, 2:30 a.m. (ABC)

Sunday, June 20

Group A – Switzerland vs. Turkey, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Italy vs. Wales, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)

Copa   Uruguay vs Chile 4 pm FS1, Univision

Copa   Argentina vs Paraguay 7 pm FS1, Univision

Monday, June 21

Group C – North Macedonia vs. Netherlands, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Ukraine vs. Austria, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Group B – Russia vs. Denmark, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Finland vs. Belgium, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Tuesday, June 22

Group D – Croatia vs. Scotland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Group D – Czech Republic vs. England, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Wednesday, June 23

Group E – Slovakia vs. Spain, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Sweden vs. Poland, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Group F – Portugal vs. France, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Group F – Germany vs. Hungary, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday, June 26

Round of 16 (Amsterdam) – 2A vs. 2B, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (London) – 1A vs. 2C, 2:30 p.m., London (ABC)

Sunday, June 27

Round of 16 (Budapest) – 1C vs. 3DEF, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (Saville) – 1B vs. 3ADEF, 2:30 p.m. (ABC, Univision, TUDN)

Monday, June 28

Round of 16 (Copenhagen) – 2D vs. 2E, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (Bucharest) – 1F vs. 3ABC, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Tuesday, June 29

Round of 16 (London) – 1D vs. 2F, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (Glasgow) – 1E vs. 3ABCD, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)

Friday, July 2

Quarterfinal I (St. Petersburg) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Quarterfinal II (Munich) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday, July 3

Quarterfinal III (Baku) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Quarterfinal IV (Rome) – 2:30 p.m. (ABC, Univision, TUDN)

Tuesday, July 6

Semifinal I (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Wednesday, July 7

Semifinal II (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Saturday, July 10

GOLD CUP STARTS

Sunday, July 11

Final (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

MLS Schedule

NWSL Season TV Schedule

Euro’s TV Schedule

Copa Schedule

Champions League Final Sat 3 pm CBS


Pulisic, Steffen making UCL final a fitting end to a great season for U.S.
Jeff Carlisle  ESPNFC

Pulisic exclusive: U.S. star, Chelsea ‘excited to get redemption’ in FA Cup final
Ultimate Champions League preview: Storylines for Man City vs. Chelsea
ESPN

How Chelsea, Man City dominated English football and why that will continue dMark Ogden

Soccer-Five key battles in the Champions League final
Europe’s Championship Offers U.S. Soccer Hope as Pulisic Leads Way

Manchester City – Chelsea: How to watch, odds, injury news, start time, prediction

Portuguese police prepare ‘complex’ plan for arrival of Champions League fans

Tuchel earns second crack at Champions League glory with immediate impact on Chelsea

Chelsea given final boost as Kante, Mendy return to training

Guardiola on the brink of exorcising Champions League demons

‘Amazing’ Guardiola the key to Man City’s Euro run: Silva

EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL ENDS WITH 11 Penalties Taken
VIDEO: Epic penalty drama in full, as Villarreal shocks Manchester United

Villarreal edge Man Utd in epic shootout to win Europa League

Villarreal bask in ‘special’ triumph as Emery reveals penalties not practiced

Three things we learned as Villarreal beats Manchester United in UEL Final
Solskjaer bemoans fine margins after United’s Europa League loss

Manchester United player ratings v. Villarreal in Europa League final

Rebel Super League clubs won’t accept UEFA ‘coercion’

US Men

USMNT’s Pulisic, Steffen in for Nations League

McKennie, Dest lead USMNT vs. Switzerland

Scouting the Swiss

USMNT Big Board: Pulisic first on the plane to Qatar
Phillys American Midfielder Brendan Aaronson could be next
Zack Steffen celebrates Manchester City’s Premier League title

USMNT’s Weah and Lille hold on to win Ligue 1 by one point over PSG

USMNT’s Green scores, Fürth and Bochum promoted to Bundesliga

US Soccer Brings Marketing In-House After 20-Year Run With SUM

U.S. Soccer parting ways with MLS-owned SUM

US Women

US Team Set for Summer Sendoff Series

Ertz and Heath Injuries Weigh over US as they prepare for Olympics SI

 

EPL


Report: Pochettino in talks over shock Tottenham return

Leicester blow Champions League chance as Kane signs off with Golden Boot

Harry Kane does Golden Boot, Playmaker of the Season double

Chelsea secure Champions League spot despite Villa defeat

Aguero ends Man City career in style before title party

Klopp delighted by Liverpool’s ‘incredible’ third-place finish

Mane makes sure of top-four finish for Liverpool

Schmeichel Own Goal is Tough
Bale ‘knows’ where future lies but decision will ’cause chaos’

WORLD

Zidane, Conte and the Coaching Carousel That’ll Reshape Europe’s Top Tier
Antonio Conte to leave Inter Milan; Tottenham next?

Soccer-Zidane restored success to Real but seemed unwilling to rebuild

Zidane resigns as Real Madrid coach for second time

Soccer-Irresistible Inter, Juventus decline: How the Serie A season unfolded

Serie A: Ronaldo benched as Juventus sneak into UCL on final day

Ronaldo top Serie A scorer after England and Spain

Aguero close to Barcelona deal, says Man City boss Guardiola

Lille enjoy French title win but maintaining success may be impossible

INDY 11 home next Wed/Sat

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HEADS TO LOUISVILLE FOR FIRST LIPAFC FIXTURE OF

·      INDY ELEVEN FORWARD GORDON WILD NAMED TO USL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF THE WEEK FOR WEEK 5

·      USL CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP: INDY ELEVEN 2 : 0 SPORTING KANSAS CITY II

·      INDY ELEVEN ROSTERS READY FOR 2021 USL ACADEMY CUP, PRESENTED BY PUMA

 

Champions League Anthem lyrics

Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Es sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event

Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes équipes
The champions

Une grande réunion
Eine grosse sportliche Veranstaltung
The main event

Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes équipes
The champions

Ils sont les meilleurs
Sie sind die Besten
These are the champions

Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes équipes
The champions

Champions League Anthem lyrics (English)

They are the best teams
They are the best teams
The main event
 
The master
The best
The great teams
The champions
 
A big meeting
A great sporting event
The main event

The master
The best
The great teams
The champions
 
They are the best
They are the best
These are the champions
 
The master
The best
The champions

USNT weekend viewing guide: The Chaaampions

A weekend with little European action but one of incredible significance.By jcksnftsn  May 28, 2021, 12:34pm PDT

Manchester City v Chelsea FC – 3p on CBS

There will be USMNT players on both sides of this one, but let’s start with Chelsea and Christian Pulisic ,as the attacker is the more likely of the two players to actually see the field. After a smashing start to the Thomas Tuchel era, the team stumbled a bit down the stretch, losing two of their last three league matches. Still, they backed into next year’s Champions League thanks to Leicester City’s loss on the final day. Pulisic started the last four league matches for Chelsea and nine of their last ten, the exception being the club’s 2-0 win over Fulham that was sandwiched by their semifinal matchups with Real Madrid in Champions League play.  Speaking of which, Pulisic started the first leg and scored the club’s only goal as they drew in the first leg, and then he came on as a sub in the second leg and provided the assist that put the dagger in Real Madrid’s Champions League hopes. Let’s repeat that because it will never get old: Christian Pulisic tallied a goal and an assist in the Champions League semifinals as Chelsea put away Real Madrid.

Chelsea have defeated Manchester City in two of three games this season, including a semifinal win in the FA Cup in April, and most recently a 2-1 win in Manchester. But, it is City that come into the match as heavy favorites, which is not surprising given their dominance of the EPL table this season. City have lost two of their last four, including that match with Chelsea, but were already running away with the league title that they ended up taking by 12 points.  The Champions League trophy would be the third trophy for Man City this season, as they captured the league title and the EFL Cup with American Zack Steffen starting throughout. Clearly, something drastic would have to happen for Steffen to see time in the match on Saturday, but his presence on the sideline guarantees that you should be able to stick around for the post game festivities to see an American hoisting the most coveted club trophy.

Christian Pulisic, Zack Steffen in Champions League final is fitting end to great season for U.S. in Europe

Christian Pulisic (right) and Chelsea will try to upset Manchester City in Saturday’s Champions League final. (Photo by Andy Rain – Pool/Getty Images)
  • FacThe Champions League final serves as one last celebration of the European club season. And the soon-to-be-concluded campaign has been one like no other for American players.

U.S. performers have dotted some of the biggest clubs in Europe, be it Weston McKennie at JuventusTyler Adams at RB Leipzig or Giovanni Reyna at Borussia Dortmund. Americans have been hoisting plenty of silverware too, be it Timothy Weah at Ligue 1 champions LilleBrenden Aaronson claiming a league and cup double with FC Salzburg, McKennie raising the Coppa Italia or Reyna hoisting the DFB-Pokal. All told, nine different players helped win a total of 12 trophies.

ADVERTISEMENT

Which brings us to Saturday’s Champions League final. On one side will be Chelsea and U.S. attacker Christian Pulisic; on the other will be Manchester City, which includes U.S. keeper Zack Steffen, who has already become the first American to be part of a Premier League-winning side.

– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– ESPN+ viewer’s guide: Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and more

They’re not isolated examples of Americans in the competition, either. Ten such players were on Champions League rosters when the group stage began in October. Beyond Pulisic and Steffen, that group included Adams, McKennie, Reyna, Club Brugge goalkeeper Ethan HorvathAjax attacker Alex MendezBayern Munich defender Chris Richards (although he was subsequently loaned to TSG Hoffenheim) and the Barcelona duo of Sergino Dest and Konrad de la Fuente.

All of this highlights that in the 24 years since Jovan Kirovski became the first — and to date only — American man to win a Champions League medal, just about everything about American soccer has gotten bigger. There’s barely a professional game on the planet that isn’t watchable, somehow, over U.S. airwaves. On the domestic level, Major League Soccer (MLS) is up to 27 teams, while the women’s league, courtesy of the work done by the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), is looking more sustainable than ever. If one zeroes in on the men’s side, one can’t help but notice the players that the United States is producing.

– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– ESPN+ viewer’s guide: Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, FA Cup and more

They’re not isolated examples of Americans in the competition, either. Ten such players were on Champions League rosters when the group stage began in October. Beyond Pulisic and Steffen, that group included Adams, McKennie, Reyna, Club Brugge goalkeeper Ethan HorvathAjax attacker Alex MendezBayern Munich defender Chris Richards (although he was subsequently loaned to TSG Hoffenheim) and the Barcelona duo of Sergino Dest and Konrad de la Fuente.

All of this highlights that in the 24 years since Jovan Kirovski became the first — and to date only — American man to win a Champions League medal, just about everything about American soccer has gotten bigger. There’s barely a professional game on the planet that isn’t watchable, somehow, over U.S. airwaves. On the domestic level, Major League Soccer (MLS) is up to 27 teams, while the women’s league, courtesy of the work done by the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), is looking more sustainable than ever. If one zeroes in on the men’s side, one can’t help but notice the players that the United States is producing.

“I think that our players have grown,” said Kirovski, now the LA Galaxy‘s technical director. “There are players who were there before, whether it’s myself or former players that were in Europe. I think MLS has really provided a platform for some of these other kids to perform. And, really, we’ve grown. Those kids that are at big clubs? They have opportunities.”Sunday’s Champions League final marks the latest manifestation of that growth, but it’s been a long slog. U.S. players have been making their way to European climes since the late 1980s. Usually that meant heading to one of the continent’s relative backwaters; if an American latched on with a club in one of the big leagues in EnglandFranceGermanyItaly or Spain, it was usually at a team in the bottom half of the table. Then there was the age of American players. The vast majority were well into their 20s by the time they moved across the Atlantic. (Kirovski, who joined Dortmund from Manchester United‘s youth system as a 20-year-old, was an exception on both counts.)

There’s been a steady, albeit sawtooth climb ever since, though Pulisic joining Dortmund in 2016 proved to be a quantum leap. He made the move with the help of what is known in U.S. soccer circles as the “Golden Ticket” (a Croatian passport that allowed him to qualify as a European citizen), which facilitated his move when he was 16 instead of 18. That allowed Pulisic to continue his development at an age that has historically been when American players would start falling behind their global counterparts. He was soon setting league records for young players, including the youngest non-German to score in the Bundesliga and the youngest to score twice in a league match.

EDITOR’S PICKS

When Pulisic was transferred to Chelsea in 2019, it was for a whopping $73.3 million. He’s endured his share of ups and downs since, with injuries proving to be a considerable obstacle. So did the competition for places. And yet Pulisic has proved that he’s a valued member of the Blues squad, even if he doesn’t always start.teffen’s path was more traditional. After progressing through the youth ranks, including a season in the Philadelphia Union academy, he spent two years at the University of Maryland. He then spent a difficult 19 months in the reserves of German side SC Freiburg before making the move back to MLS with the Columbus Crew.Such a move was once viewed as a death knell for a player’s European ambitions. That proved not to be the case for Steffen, who built up his game again over parts of four seasons in Columbus, delivering some playoff heroics along the way. He then parlayed those performances into a move to City with a loan back in Germany with Fortuna Dusseldorf along the way.Of the two, Steffen’s path is the more encouraging for U.S. players. There can be stumbles and setbacks, tough periods to build upon one’s game, yet none of that prevents a player from ultimately succeeding in Europe. There’s more patience, and it helps too that the potential payoff is bigger. Kirovski notes that he’s getting calls from big clubs regarding prospects, a development that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago.”It’s case by case, but I think you’re going to take a risk and a gamble [on U.S. players] as a club because the talent is there,” said Kirovski. “And you’re going to miss probably more than you hit. But we’ve had success. I mean, you look at Pulisic. He’s been at Dortmund, he’s been successful. He was bought by Chelsea for a reason, because he’s developed and done well. He’s given opportunities because of his performance, nothing more.”As Kirovski looks back on his experience with Dortmund, he thinks of the team’s stars like Andreas Moller and Karl-Heinz Riedle, and how players like midfielder Paulo Sousa and defender Julio Cesar took him under their collective wing. He recalls that as he collected his winner’s medal, he “just took it all in.” He also thinks of how much time has passed.”My god, I’m really old now,” he said with a laugh.That thought is balanced by where he thinks the U.S. is heading. And come Sunday, he’ll have some company on the list of American Champions League winners.

Champions League final betting: Best plays for Chelsea vs. Manchester City

Joey GulinoThu, May 27, 2021, 5:50 PMIn this article:

Soccer finals are volatile. They’re high-stakes. Constants are hard to come by.One of the few is Pep Guardiola, and in betting Saturday’s Champions League final in Porto between Manchester City and Chelsea, that’s as good a place as any to start.

Manchester City to win (-250 with BetMGM)

Guardiola is a staggering 14-1 in his managerial career in cup finals, including a 5-0 mark with Manchester City. Granted, those prior City triumphs came in domestic cups and not the Champions League. But Guardiola has won the competition twice before, and he hasn’t lost a cup final in over a decade. When he gets to a winner-take-all scenario, he takes all.Moreover, while Chelsea has beaten City in two of their three meetings this season, their Premier League match on January 4 is the closest approximation to the striker-less City lineup we’re likely to see on Saturday, and City wiped the floor with Chelsea. It’s tricky to attach too much value to City’s defeats as well, since their loss in the FA Cup semifinals was their fifth game in 15 days at that point in the calendar, and the other loss came with Chelsea desperate for a win and City’s league title all but mathematically assured.City is probably going to win, and the result is priced as such. If you’re hesitant about backing a team but want similarly strong odds, the game being decided in regular time is -350. Nine of the last 12 Champions League finals have been decided without extra time, including the past four.

Over 2.5 goals (+115 with BetMGM)

Christian Pulisic (right) and Chelsea will try to upset Manchester City in Saturday’s Champions League final. (Photo by Andy Rain – Pool/Getty Images) Champions League finals tend to be cagey affairs, and that’s reflected in the odds. But the Champions League final has never seen Manchester City (literally).City has scored multiple goals a staggering 29 times already this calendar year, and if they don’t bag three themselves, Chelsea’s adventurousness ought to help. Manager Thomas Tuchel primarily plays with three defenders, choosing instead to throw numbers into the attack, and he’s promised a “positive” approach heading into Saturday’s final.It may take awhile for the first goal to come, but once it does, two more isn’t too much to ask.

Christian Pulisic to score in both halves (+3300 with BetMGM

Not feeling a City win? Lean into your national pride. No matter what, an American is going to win the Champions League on Saturday. One is more likely to play than the other, and while Christian Pulisic has struggled with injuries at Chelsea, he’s healthy now and has starred in big moments. He scored in the first Champions League semifinal leg against Real Madrid, and his assist in the second helped punch Chelsea’s ticket to the final. He also scored a critical goal against Manchester City last summer, and while we’re 11 months removed from that moment, it very much represents the kind of counterattacking brilliance Chelsea will likely require to score on City.The odds of Pulisic scoring in both halves are long, but that’s where the big payout lies. If you’re backing Chelsea, a safer play would be Hakim Ziyech to outscore City at +1300. He’s scored a goal in each of the last two games against City, and if Chelsea wins, a shutout thanks to its much-improved defense is arguably the most direct path.

Then again, Ziyech’s record is exactly why City could be extra mindful of him. Your call.

Riyad Mahrez to score more goals than Timo Werner (+310 with BetMGM)

Timo Werner has a reputation for missing chances. But this is more about Mahrez.

The winger has been arguably City’s best player this spring, and he’s scored in each of his last three Champions League games. He’s creative and strong on the ball, and also a tricky matchup since he plays on the right side but is left-footed. 

If Chelsea chooses to sit back, Mahrez can help unlock them with his skill, and if they frequently foray forward, he can pray upon the space left behind.

And don’t forget: You only need him to score one more goal than Werner. Just hope that Werner doesn’t pick Saturday to change his narrative.

Kevin de Bruyne to score from outside the box (+650 with BetMGM)

This might be the most tempting of all bets. De Bruyne is a masterclass free kick taker, and City scored 17 times on set pieces in the Premier League this season, while Chelsea conceded 14 times. So if the game is more open and City is fouled in an advantageous position, expect de Bruyne to get a couple good looks.

All eight goals between the two teams this season have come from inside the box, so that’s why this is priced to the nines. But this would be solid value even in the neighborhood of 3-to-1. At +650, take that chance all day.

Christian Pulisic exclusive: U.S. star, Chelsea ‘excited to get redemption’ in FA Cup final

May 14, 2021  James Olley Senior Writer, ESPN FC

There’s a word Christian Pulisic reaches for instinctively when contemplating Saturday’s FA Cup final: redemption.

Chelsea will contest the Wembley showpiece against Leicester City (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, stream LIVE on ESPN+) a little over nine months on from losing last season’s rescheduled final to Arsenal, a match in which Pulisic scored, got injured and wound up with a runners-up medal as the Gunners won 2-1.

ADVERTISEMENT”I’ve watched a bit of [that final again], yes,” he tells ESPN in this exclusive interview. “It was a game where we obviously started strong, we were able to get ahead, but unfortunately it wasn’t our day in the end.”Obviously the injury was very tough for me. But I am feeling good. I’m excited to kind of get some redemption and win it this year.”Going one step further and winning the competition would represent a landmark moment in the U.S. international’s career, making him only the third American of the modern era — after Carli Lloyd (Manchester City, 2017) and Tim Howard (Manchester United, 2004) — to win the world’s oldest club cup competition, which was first contested in 1872. (You have to go back to 1873 for the very first American: Julian Sturgis, a poet and novelist who claimed the trophy when amateur side Wanderers FC defeated Oxford University 2-0.) It would also help provide a positive conclusion to a difficult campaign featuring more than the usual amount of turbulence, even at Stamford Bridge, and one for Pulisic with roots dating back to last season’s final.Pulisic had put Chelsea in front with a smartly taken goal before suffering a painful hamstring injury while racing towards Arsenal’s penalty area in search of another. His cry of pain was there for all to hear, but he continued on a couple of strides before trying in vain to shoot.”I knew pretty much that I’d done my hamstring as I was running, but I did everything I could to try to do to get a shot off. In the end I just couldn’t physically do it,” he explained. “It was a big game, so I had to give it everything.”Pulisic was carried off, and although that moment marked the end of his final, it was merely the beginning of his problems. Last season’s game had been moved to Aug. 1 as a result of delays arising from the first wave of the coronavirus across the United Kingdom. A condensed summer break followed, but Pulisic was denied even the shorter break his teammates were afforded.”I was doing rehab the whole time. I was able to get away for a couple of days, but it was a quick turnaround because the season was delayed a bit,” he said.The 2020-21 season began on Sept. 12, but it was almost a month before Pulisic made his first appearance of the campaign, with head coach Frank Lampard admitting the club were still searching for the right training regimen to ensure the winger could be available on a consistent basis.Medical reports around Pulisic were often mixed during that span. The forward had not suffered a fresh injury, but he felt muscular tightness on more than one occasion, with doctors advising he was at risk of aggravating the original hamstring issue. The man himself admits he was pushing too hard.”I was battling. I wanted to be ready as soon as possible at the start of the season,” he said. “I wanted to go right away. In hindsight, I guess I could have taken my time a little bit more, but that’s just kind of the attitude I always have: I want to be playing.”I always want to get myself into a position where I am fit and ready to go in every game.”That battle took on a different dimension when Lampard was sacked in January, with Chelsea languishing in ninth place in the Premier League. Within 24 hours, Thomas Tuchel arrived on an 18-month contract to become the club’s 13th different permanent manager since owner Roman Abramovich acquired the Blues in 2003.Pulisic appeared to have something of an advantage, given he worked under Tuchel as a teenager; they won the DFB-Pokal together in 2016. He was an unused substitute as Dortmund beat Bayern Munich on penalties, but Pulisic had already signposted his potential: in April that year, he scored his first Bundesliga goal in a 3-0 win over Hamburg, becoming the fourth-youngest goal scorer (aged 17 years and 212 days) in the competition’s history.Tuchel left Dortmund a year later and spent two years in charge of Paris Saint-Germain before being reunited with Pulisic, who joined Chelsea in 2019 for £57.6 million.”There’s a lot of things I’ve learned, a lot of experiences I have taken from that time, so I think he has come in and probably seen a much different player, hopefully much improved,” Pulisic said.”I’ve worked on everything. Physically I’ve grown, I’m a bit stronger. I work on that a lot and all in all, decision-making, attacking-wise, everything — finishing, passing — all the skills that help me dribble past opponents and things ike that.”Obviously it’s nice that [Tuchel] knows me from beforehand. [But] I wouldn’t say it was a massive advantage.”If anything, Pulisic had to prove himself all over again. Tuchel has been in charge for 26 games, with Pulisic starting 11 of them. In a rare show of verbal emotion, he admitted to feeling “very frustrated” at being dropped for the Champions League semifinal, second leg clash against Real Madrid, having scored in the reverse fixture to give the Blues a precious away goal.Yet Pulisic insisted he has no desire to seek a move, as has been speculated in some quarters, vowing “I’m always up for a challenge. I love competing, I love the position I’m in, and I’m enjoying my time here,” but it is fair to point out that Tuchel’s system has raised fresh questions about his role. Predominantly used as a winger under Lampard — and in that guise, one of the Premier League’s top performers during Project Restart, the coda to the 2019-20 season — Pulisic now plays a more central role in Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 system.Christian Pulisic sits down with ESPN to discuss how things have changed at Chelsea since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard.”It is a different position, but I’m used to it,” he said. “It is a bit of a different system, different lineup, the way the attacking midfielders are slightly more central with the wing-backs getting forward. But similar ideas, attacking, there’s no exact way to say ‘you have to do this.’ You have to instinctively make decisions and be creative and change things up. That’s always the same.”And, of course, all this has taken place against the backdrop of a nationwide lockdown, the third of its kind in the UK. Pulisic lives alone in Wimbledon, away from his family and his hometown of Hershey, Pennsylvania. He talks regularly to his friends using the Houseparty app, listens to music ranging from rap to country and seeks solace in religion — a cross given to him by his mother ranks among his prized possessions — but it’s perhaps easy to forget the highly unusual circumstances in which Pulisic has had to try to settle in a new country. Earlier this season, he was found to still have American dollars in his wallet.”It has been very tough,” he said. “With COVID-19, being in a foreign country by myself, it is never easy, but luckily I have my teammates that I get to see every day, of course. I am good friends with them. But I’m definitely excited for things to slowly improve, and I can maybe get out and actually enjoy London for once. I feel like ever since I’ve been here, most of it has been in lockdown or with some restrictions.”It has been a while [since I’ve seen family]. My mum has been able to visit. My parents try to visit when they can, when everything is possible. I am really excited for this summer to get to see most of my family for the first time for a while.”

Although he’s coy over the details, Pulisic is hopeful at least one family member will be able to attend the final, with Wembley set to host 21,000 fans as the world returns to normal. Leicester beat Chelsea 2-0 on Jan. 19 — the penultimate game before Lampard was axed — but Chelsea will start this weekend as favourites, having won 17 of their 26 matches under Tuchel, a run that also includes a remarkable 18 clean sheets.”He has brought a lot of structure to our team, defensively especially,” said Pulisic of Tuchel. “We are definitely very solid. I think that’s been our main thing. Offensively as well, we have a lot of options. We kind of understand the system and the positions we are all supposed to play, and that’s really the difference.”They have a Champions League final against Manchester City and a scramble to stay in the Premier League’s top four to come, but first there is the chance to right the FA Cup wrongs of last year.Pulisic puts it like this: “Any time you’re in a final, you want to win it regardless of what’s happened before, but I definitely want to finish on the right end this year.”

Champions League winner: Man City or Chelsea? Guardiola vs. Tuchel, Foden vs. Mount, expert predictions

1:55 PM ETESPN

The final game of the 2020-21 season is upon us, as the UEFA Champions League will be decided this Saturday in Portugal. Will it be the all-conquering superteam that is Manchester City, as they finally win the one trophy they’ve never held? (It would also break a 10-year drought for Pep Guardiola, who last won it with Lionel Messi and Barcelona in 2010-11.) Or will it be Chelsea, who’ve beaten City twice in recent weeks (once in the FA Cup semifinal, and again in their Premier League fixture) but are enduring a horrendous run of form? (Thomas Tuchel, a losing finalist last season with Paris Saint-Germain, will also be eager to erase the sadness of defeat vs. Bayern.)

There are storylines galore as the Premier League sides prepare to do battle, but we’ve got you covered before the season finale.


Jump to: Man City’s attack | Can Tuchel win? | Foden vs. Mount | Ruben Dias the X-Factor? | Predictions


Chelsea‘s defense vs. Man City’s attack

Defensive reliability has been the bedrock of both Chelsea’s and Manchester City‘s progression to the final, with the two clubs conceding a competition-best four goals on their way to Porto. City conceded just one goal in six games during the group stage — in the opening fixture against FC Porto in October — while Chelsea shipped just two goals under Frank Lampard’s management in their group.

Ironically, the only team to blemish the records of City and Chelsea in this season’s competition has been Porto, the resident club at Estadio do Dragao, where Saturday’s final will be played. The Portuguese team are the only side to beat Chelsea in the Champions League this season, winning their quarterfinal second leg 1-0 in neutral Seville in April, and Sergio Conceicao’s side are the sole team to have denied City a victory this term when they held Pep Guardiola’s team 0-0 at home in December.In terms of goals, City have scored 25 on their way to the final with Chelsea managing 22, but Thomas Tuchel’s team may have the psychological advantage of winning their last two domestic encounters with City.

A 1-0 victory in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley last month preceded a 2-1 win at the Etihad, when Chelsea fought back from being 1-0 down to claim all three points. On both occasions, Chelsea’s pace on the counterattack proved decisive, with Timo WernerHakim Ziyech and Mason Mount all exploiting spaces in the City defence to leave Guardiola with a tactical problem to solve in Porto.

Chelsea’s prospects depend on a positive turn after fitness worries surrounding goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and midfielder N’Golo Kante. Both have been crucial in Chelsea’s run to the final and Kante’s availability, in particular, will be key to protecting the back three and stifling City’s attacking players.

While City’s defence, particularly the centre-back pairing of Ruben Dias and John Stones, is a strong point, it is the array of attacking outlets that make them so dangerous. Kevin De BruyneRaheem SterlingPhil FodenBernardo SilvaGabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres could all play a significant role on Saturday, with club record scorer Sergio Aguero always capable of deciding the game from the bench.

But the final will come down to whether Chelsea can repel City’s waves of attacks long enough to hit them on the counter, as they have done twice in the past six weeks. — Mark Ogden

Can Tuchel shake off last year’s pain and win with his new team?

Steve Nicol wonders where Chelsea’s spark will come from vs. Manchester City in the Champions League final.

If you watched Tuchel in the technical area during Chelsea’s last two games, against Leicester and Aston Villa, you would have seen him looking tense, frustrated and stressed; he seemed angry and on the edge, which made sense given how much was at stake for him personally and for the team.Chelsea’s season hinged upon finishing fourth in the Premier League. It was Tuchel’s objective when he joined the club in January, the Blues languishing in ninth at the time. On the other hand, the Champions League was not one of his targets. He wanted to do as well as possible, obviously, but the priority was to improve and to climb up the league table. Yet, this European campaign has been a fantastic ride and the German made history this year in becoming the first manager ever to reach two Champions League finals in a row with different teams.Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest highlights and debate the biggest storylines. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).This week, there is no frustration or stress. He has been more chilled-out than ever before since joining the club. Smiles were present in training — plenty of laughter, too — and he has tried all week to transmit this renewed calmness and serenity to his players. He knows all too well, after his experience last season with Paris Saint-Germain, that you can’t approach such a big game in a state of tension. Players cannot stress before such an incredible match. They have to enjoy the occasion, make the most of it and be themselves.

That’s the message Tuchel has passed on to his players. He’s still been applying pressure, of course, but positive pressure. In essence, You are 90 minutes (or a bit more) away from winning the biggest prize in club football. You have already beaten Manchester City twice in the last few weeks, in the FA Cup (1-0) at Wembley and away at the Etihad in the league (2-1) with a superb collective performance in the second half.

Since the Premier League ended on Sunday, the communication has been so positive and confident from Tuchel towards his squad. He learned a lot from losing to Bayern Munich with PSG last season, a game for which Tuchel prepared perfectly and where his team was the best over the 90 minutes, only to lose it with their lack of composure: Bayern were clinical when Paris were wasteful.

In the two games Tuchel won against Pep Guardiola and City since his arrival at Chelsea, his team was very clinical. They will have to be again on Saturday.

Apart from him, only Thiago Silva and Mateo Kovacic have been in this position before. Silva lost his Champions League final with Tuchel, while Kovacic won it three times at Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane! They have also led by example this week to make sure that everyone in this Chelsea squad is ready to go with the right mindset. — Julien Laurens

Foden vs. Mount

There are plenty of obvious similarities that tie Mason Mount and Phil Foden, a pair of playmakers who could star against one another this weekend but play alongside one another at the Euros. They are both brilliant English midfielders still years from their potential peak. They both play primarily on the left. They both are both tasked with creating some of their respective teams’ more dangerous attacking moments.

Their differences say a lot about Manchester City and Chelsea: this table shows the pair in Premier League and Champions League play in 2020-21 (per 90 minutes).

Foden Vs. Mount

STATFODENMOUNT
Touches64.972.8
Pass attempts44.350.5
Chances created1.92.4
Goals0.40.2
xG+xA0.50.43
Def. interventions7.28.6
Ground duels8.510.1
Ground duel win %5848
Carries36.438.9
Yards per carry4.85.1

Foden’s job is pretty simple to describe. In possession play, he hugs the touchline and links up with the left-back (increasingly, Oleksandr Zinchenko), midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri, plus Joao Cancelo in whatever position he’s playing from minute to minute. When there’s a “fast-break” opportunity, he becomes the Magic Johnson to Riyad Mahrez‘s James Worthy, serving the killer pass that allows Mahrez to dunk it home or, if given enough space, scoring himself with his scythe of a right leg. He attempts fewer one-on-ones than Mount, but wins a far greater percentage of them.

Since the start of 2021, City began to find form in part by allowing Foden to do a little more in the attacking department. He’s averaged 2.1 chances created and 0.54 xG+xA per 90 since Jan. 1, and the adjusted role has looked great on him.

Mount, on the other hand, creates less in the defensive box, but does more to help Chelsea get there. Since Tuchel’s appointment, Mount has created more than twice as many chances as anyone else on the team in the Premier League and Champions League — he’s got 45, while Reece James is second with 27 — and his expected assist total (which measures the likelihood that a given pass will become a goal assist, per Stats Perform) is 4.5, far higher than second-place Christian Pulisic (3.1).

In matches Mount’s played under Tuchel, Chelsea have averaged 2.4 points per game when he creates at least two chances, and 1.4 when he doesn’t. The Chelsea attack is also at its best when he’s touching the ball all over the pitch, not just along the left side. (See the below heat map from his season.)

Foden is perhaps a more dangerous player than Mount and allows City to create more vertical, high-percentage scoring opportunities. But Mount is Chelsea’s engine: if the Blues score or defeat City this weekend, he likely had a key role in it. — Bill Connelly

The rise of Ruben Dias: is he the X factor for Man City?

Just over two years ago, Guardiola was reflecting on the departure of talismanic captain and defender Vincent Kompany. “It will be so difficult to replace Vinnie,” he said. They were in essence losing the heartbeat of their defence, but in Ruben Dias, City have a new-look leader in his stead.

Guardiola has long searched for the right combinations at the back, spending in excess of £400m on defenders, with Dias, 24, the most expensive — coming in at £62m from Benfica last September. The hefty price tag raised eyebrows, especially in the midst of financial constraints due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Dias’ debut season in the Premier League has impressed to the extent he was named FWA Player of the Year and has already been mentioned by Guardiola as a future City captain.

Whether Guardiola pairs him with John Stones or Aymeric Laporte at the weekend, expect to see and hear plenty from Dias.In City’s 2-0 win over PSG in the semifinal second leg, Dias made three of City’s nine blocks — the most in any match under Guardiola — with two shots clattering straight into his nose. City’s charge to the Premier League title was built on a watertight defence that conceded the fewest goals in the top flight (32), while Dias’ transitional play also paid dividends: his pass completion rate of 93.2% is made even more remarkable by the fact he attempted more passes (2,713) than any other defender in the Premier League.

But it’s the intangible qualities that have appealed to Guardiola. When he described Dias as “undroppable” in February, he pointed to the impact the Portuguese defender has had on his teammates. “He’s not just a player who plays good, he’s a player who makes the other guys play good too,” Guardiola said. “It’s 90 minutes talking, 90 minutes communicating, 90 minutes saying what they have to do in every single action.”Guardiola also recently hailed Dias’ generosity with how he sees the game, constantly advising and filling in for his defensive partners, wingers or fullbacks. “He is a guy who in the bad moments is always ready to help and he’s a man of communication on and off the pitch,” Guardiola said of Dias in May. “He’s a leader. To be a leader is not to be given to you by the club; it comes from inside, it’s natural.

“He is always thinking what he can do better. That is why he will have success.”City have their new Kompany and with it, they have their dreams of European footballing immortality, built on the rock at the back. — Tom Hamilton

Predictions

Man City 2, Chelsea 0: City have the best team, squad and manager. Their recent defeats against Chelsea will ensure an element of doubt in the players’ minds, but they will have learned their lessons and should win this game comfortably. — Ogden

Man City 0, Chelsea 1: I think the Blues have a game suited to play against Manchester City and will cause them problems with their defensive shape and build-up play. — Laurens

Man City 2, Chelsea 0: City’s the only thing that has made sense this year. It’s their time. (It’s either this, or Chelsea winning on an extra-time, fast-break from Werner.) — Connelly

Man City 2, Chelsea 0: Two weeks ago, I’d have gone with Chelsea springing a Tuchel-inspired surprise. But following their recent dip in form, Manchester City should complete a treble on Saturday. — Hamilton

USA Prepares for Nations League Finals

Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic and Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen headline the United States men’s national team 23-player roster for the upcoming CONCACAF Nations League Finals in Denver.

The Premier League pair will take part in the Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final for their respective clubs, but will both miss the USMNT’s friendly against Switzerland in St. Gallen on Sunday as a result.

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The U.S. will then travel home to face Honduras on June 3 at Empower Field at Mile High, and if it prevails in that match, it will move on to the final set for June 6. If the U.S. falls to the Catrachos, it will take part in a third-place game that same day. Mexico and Costa Rica square off in the other semifinal matchup.

U.S. Men’s Soccer Key Dates

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

“We are excited to gather this group together as we compete to win the Nations League trophy,” USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter said. “It’s been a great year for our player pool and the unprecedented successes of winning multiple league and cup championships. Our focus now becomes continuing this success with the national team.”

Tyler Adams was among the players named to the roster despite missing the last part of RB Leipzig’s season. On a Zoom call with reporters, Berhalter said the U.S. staff has been monitoring Adams’ situation closely, but the player is so important to the team that including him was “a risk worth taking.” A player can be replaced up to 24 hours before a team’s first Nations League game.

With New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long recuperating from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, plenty of eyes are on the complement of center backs. In addition to Wolfsburg’John Brooks, Anderlecht’s Matt MiazgaGenk‘s Mark McKenzie and Fulham‘s Tim Ream have been called in, leaving Nashville SC‘s Walker Zimmerman as the odd player out.

“There is a deep pool, and we’re looking forward to seeing what these guys can do in this camp,” Berhalter said.

Also not included is forward Daryl Dike, who will eventually return to Orlando City SC after completing his loan at English Championship side Barnsley. MLS players will get an opportunity to impress later this summer at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Berhalter said that Dike will remain with the U.S. for the duration of this camp and will play in the June 9 friendly against Costa Rica. For now, Joshua Sargent and Jordan Siebatcheu will be the forward options in the Nations League.

“We based it on current form,” Berhalter said. “Jordan had an outstanding year playing for Young Boys. They won the title running away. He scored a lot of goals. We thought that his movement inside the penalty box is really good, and getting on the end of crosses is really good. And Josh is playing at a really high level. He’s playing in the Bundesliga every week, is competing, his minutes this year were off the charts.”

The roster is heavily weighted toward Europe-based players, with only four of the 23 based in Major League Soccer. Of those overseas players, nine made at least 30 appearances in a European top-flight league this season.

In terms of trophies won, nine players won a total of 12 trophies this season, a group that includes: Brenden Aaronson (Austrian League and Cup), Sergino Dest (Spanish Copa del Rey), Ethan Horvath (Belgian First Division A), Weston McKennie (Supercoppa Italiana, Coppa Italia), McKenzie (Belgian Cup), Giovanni Reyna (German DFB-Pokal), Jordan Siebatcheu (Swiss Super League), Steffen (English Premier League, English League Cup) and Tim Weah (French Ligue 1).

Detailed roster by position (club/country; caps/goals):

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 4/0), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 21/0)

DEFENDERS (8): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 40/3), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 14/0), Sergino Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 7/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 2/0), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL; 21/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 42/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 10/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 62/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 27/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 12/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 20/6), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 21/6), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 4/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 9/0)

FORWARDS: (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 4/2), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 36/15), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 4/2), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 13/5), Jordan Siebatcheu (Young Boys/SUI; 2/0), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 10/1)

Ertz, Heath Injury Statuses Hang Over USWNT as Olympics Approach

Cutting the USWNT player pool down for the Olympics is a challenge in itself, but so is preparing for the possibility that key players won’t be available.

AVI CREDITORMAY 25, 2021  SI 

For months, the biggest problem facing the U.S. women’s national team ahead of the Olympics was the kind any manager around the world would welcome. With so much talent, how do you only pick 18 players?And while that’s still the case in many ways for Vlatko Andonovski, he and the U.S. are faced with another pressing issue now, one that’s less of an enviable proposition.What if the team’s most indispensable player isn’t healthy?

Julie Ertz’s injury status is now item No. 1 on the docket as the days tick down to this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo. Ertz suffered a right MCL sprain in the Chicago Red Stars’ NWSL season-opening loss to the Portland Thorns on May 16, an injury that, all things considered, was not a worst-case scenario—at least for the national team. Ertz looks unlikely to play again for her club until after the Olympics, but she’s now in a race against time to get in game shape for a major international competition.She’s expectedly not part of the squad gathering for the “Summer Series” trio of friendlies in Texas next month, the roster for which was unveiled Tuesday. Another veteran, Tobin Heath, is also not included due to her long-term injury. Heath hurt her ankle with Manchester United in January and was supposed to be out for 10–12 weeks, but she suffered a knee injury during her rehabilitation that prolonged her recovery.Andonovski told reporters in Louisville recently that Heath was still on track for Tokyo, and while she’s not technically on the upcoming camp’s 23-player roster, she will be present as a “training player,” which suggests that she’s both close to getting back to the field and is still very much in the mix for the Olympic squad.”Because of her recovery and how well she is recovered, she was invited to come into camp as a training player, because the next step is a team environment and training with the team,” said Andonovski, who added that Heath has been doing on-field work with U.S. U-20 coach Laura Harvey. “It’s basically day by day. As she’s progressing she’ll get more and more.”While Heath brings so much to the table in terms of attacking quality, unpredictability and veteran know-how, there are like-for-like replacements that would allow the U.S. to not miss much of a step at all in her absence. In Ertz’s case, however, she’s more of a unique asset.No player in the U.S. pool can replicate the job she does in covering the space in the midfield and neutralizing opponents’ attacks while also serving as a link between the defense and attack. The aerial threat she brings on set pieces and center back cover she can provide are both qualities that are also so useful in tournament play—especially when roster versatility becomes more valuable with limited squad size. If the U.S. is a well-oiled machine, then Ertz is the engine. Andonovski allayed worst fears Tuesday, saying that when all is said and done, Ertz should be ready to go.”MCL injuries usually take time to heal, but she’ll be good and ready to play in our send-off series,” Andonovski said. “Right now, her progression is going well. She started back jogging, but we’re going to be very careful in terms of how we approach her recovery and make sure she’s 100% by the Olympics.”The upcoming games against Portugal (29th in FIFA’s world ranking), Nigeria (38th) and Jamaica (51st) are all about fine-tuning and shouldn’t realistically challenge the U.S., but then again, perhaps they come at the perfect time. With the U.S.’s needing to prepare for all scenarios, including one in which its midfield linchpin is not available, the ability to find some alternative solutions will otherwise be limited to the pair of send-off matches Andonovski alluded to, which will take place once the Olympic squad is set. Whether it’s a tactical tweak, a lineup swap or a reassessment of player responsibility, there’s suddenly another problem to solve aside from cutting what’s effectively become a 25-player pool (the Summer Series squad plus the two injured stars) to 18. “These games and the few training sessions we’ll have are just more tests, more challenges and more learning opportunities, for the players and coaches,” Andonovski said. “The three matches will certainly be important in the selection of the Olympic team, but we are also focused on the big picture and the overall body of work the players have put together over the past year or so for the national team and their clubs. During these games we’ll also focus on preparing for the Olympic group matches, so we need to balance all of that, as well as manage the overall physical load on the players.”

CBS takes its soccer coverage to a new level with the UEFA Champions League and Concacaf Nations League

The network will be bumping golf off its flagship broadcast channel Saturday and giving both events the kind of production it does for NFL playoff games.by Jonathan Tannenwald  Published   May 28, 2021

On most spring Saturdays, sports fans who turn on CBS at 3 p.m. want to watch golf. This Saturday, they won’t be able to.Instead, the longtime home of the Masters, the Super Bowl, and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will televise the UEFA men’s Champions League final for the first time. A four-hour programming block starts at 1:30 p.m., 90 minutes before Manchester City vs. Chelsea kicks off at 3. There will also be a half-hour postgame show.If you’re looking for the PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge, Phil Mickelson’s first tournament since winning the PGA Championship, you’ll have to go elsewhere — or watch soccer until at least 5:30 p.m., when the golf broadcast is scheduled to start.That’s a big statement about how committed CBS is to soccer.“We’re all about big, marquee, prestigious events, and these soccer events certainly fall into that category,” CBS Sports’ longtime chairman Sean McManus said.The scale of the production isn’t just shown by the hours given to it. CBS will have broadcast teams at its London studio (Kate Abdo, Jamie Carragher, Roberto Martínez, and Micah Richards) and at the Estádio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal, where the game will be played (Peter Schmeichel, Guillem Balagué, and reporters Nico Cantor and Jenny Chiu). Peter Drury and Rob Green will call the action.At the helm behind the scenes will be lead producer Pete Radovich, Jr. He’s a lifelong soccer fan who worked on CBS’ other flagship sports for nearly 20 years, especially the NFL. So he is well-versed in the network’s high standards.“We wanted to do what we do as CBS Sports: treat it as we would an NFL playoff game,” he said. “All the producers that do our Masters coverage, NFL coverage, Final Four coverage, that’s what we’re looking to.”

CBS’ Champions League producer lives a soccer dream, and wins fans’ praise for his broadcasts

Radovich is joined in the production room by two soccer-mad colleagues with NFL experience, Jonathan Segal and Jelani Rooks. Segal is one of CBS’ top NFL producers — he did Greg Gumbel’s games last year — and Rooks has worked on Super Bowl broadcasts.“Jonathan Segal’s a full-time producer on NFL games, calls me day one and says, ‘Whatever you need, I’m here. If I have a free minute, I’ll help you,’” Radovich said. “We had people in place that were doing the production at a super-high level and knew the sport coming in.”

Coming up next

After the weekend, Radovich, Segal, Abdo, Cantor, and Chiu will fly to Denver to debut the next big piece of CBS’ soccer portfolio: the Concacaf Nations League final four.It will be the first time the network delivers a soccer production this big on American soil, after sharing NWSL production duties with crews hired by the league. And it will be the first time the U.S. team’s top squad plays together before World Cup qualifying starts this fall.AAbdo will host studio coverage on site at the Broncos’ Empower Field at Mile High with former U.S. players Charlie Davies, Clint Dempsey and Oguchi Onyewu, and current Mexican player Janelly Farias.Andres Cordero and Maurice Edu will call the U.S.-Honduras semifinal at 6:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network), and Adrian Garcia Marquez and Marcelo Balboa will call Mexico-Costa Rica at 10 p.m. (Paramount+). Cantor and Chiu will be the sideline reporters. The third-place game and final are Sunday at 6:30 p.m. (Paramount+) and 9 p.m. (CBSSN) respectively.(Yes, that’s three Union alumni on the broadcast team — Davies, Onyewu and Edu — for U.S. games that could feature up to four area natives: Downingtown’s Zack Steffen, Hershey’s Christian Pulisic, Medford’s Brenden Aaronson, and Bear, Del.,’s Mark McKenzie.)» READ MORE: Brenden Aaronson’s U.S. soccer star is on the rise as he elevates his game in AustriaBut that’s just one piece of CBS’ soccer offering this summer. There are NWSL games on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+, the debut of Brazil’s league on Paramount+, and the return of Argentina’s league from a pandemic-enforced stoppage.Later this year, Paramount+ will add Italy’s Serie A (with games on TV, too) and Coppa Italia; the Asian Football Confederation’s continental club and national team competitions, including World Cup qualifying; and the new UEFA Europa Conference League for men’s clubs.ADVERTISEMENTThere will also be the next stages of Concacaf men’s World Cup qualifying, including six U.S. national team road games.

From zero to 2,000

Add everything up, and CBS will broadcast more than 2,000 games across 16 competitions this year, using two TV channels and a subscription streaming platform.“We’re using all of these platforms to promote, to program, and to showcase the world’s most popular game,” McManus said, a phrase that would have sent shockwaves around the industry in the past.» READ MORE: CBS lands Concacaf World Cup qualifying rights for 2022 men’s, 2023 women’s campaigns

He knows it, too. Because the story here isn’t just how much soccer CBS has acquired. It’s that for decades the network did nothing with the sport.When CBS’ flagship broadcast channel aired the first game of last summer’s NWSL Challenge Cup, it was the first outdoor soccer game there since the old North American Soccer League’s 1976 Soccer Bowl. Saturday’s game will be the ninth on the broadcast channel in 12 months. The only soccer on CBSSN before the NWSL arrived was a brief dalliance with the modern-day NASL in 2016.“It’s one of the great accomplishments that I can remember at CBS Sports, the way we ramped up as quickly as we did,” McManus said. “It’s been a really, really satisfying journey for us.”McManus has done his own share of ramping up. Long fluent in the ways of Augusta National and the NFL commissioner’s office, he has learned a lot about the world’s game.“The soccer fan is among the most discerning fans in the overall sports landscape,” McManus said. “If you had asked me a year ago whether CBS Sports was going to be a major force in the world of international soccer, I probably would have said I’m not sure. But, in less than a year, we have become a must-have destination for both casual soccer fans and the hardcore fans who follow the sport every single day.”

Brenden Aaronson’s U.S. soccer star is on the rise as he elevates his game in Austria

Aaronson’s seven goals and five assists in 25 games for Red Bull Salzburg helped win two trophies. Now he’s on the national team’s best-of-the-best squad for the Concacaf Nations League’s final four.Brenden Aaronson, right, helped Red Bull Salzburg win the Austrian Bundesliga and Cup titles in his first six months since moving there from the Union.Wolfgang Jannach / GEPA Pictures

by Jonathan TannenwaldUpdated May 26, 2021

Although Brenden Aaronson has been in Austria for only half a year, he has had years’ worth of development in his game.To watch the 20-year-old Medford native play for Red Bull Salzburg this spring was to watch him grow up in real time, adding quality and sharpness levels beyond what he showed with the Union.“In MLS, a lot of teams will sit back a little bit, but in the Austrian league you have teams that even though you’re the top team in the league, you have guys that are flying at you [in] no time,” Aaronson said. “I think the time that I’ve been here, my decision-making in the final third has just gotten quicker and faster … and I think it’s coming off really well, too.”It sure has. Aaronson registered seven goals and five assists in 25 games for Salzburg, and many of those plays were of real quality.He helped Salzburg win the Austrian league and domestic cups, and earned some shiny decorations for his new home. It also means he’s won three trophies across two countries in seven months, starting with the Supporters’ Shield with the Union. That kind of run is a rare feat for any American player.

“It’s been a whirlwind of six months for me, and it’s been a crazy time,” Aaronson said. “It’s not always easy to come over and get acclimated right away and get into the group — you’re meeting new friends and coming into a new system and all these kinds of things, and it was tough at first. … I think it was having the confidence of my teammates and my coaches, and that’s what kind of helped me push on.”Now Aaronson is set to take his talents to a new level with the U.S. national team. He’s one of 23 players on the best-of-the-best squad that will play in next week’s Concacaf Nations League final four in Denver, and before then visit Switzerland in a friendly on Sunday (2 p.m., ESPN, UniMás and TUDN).A istoric season for Americans

Also on the squad is Aaronson’s former Union teammate Mark McKenzie, who helped Belgium’s Genk win the Belgian Cup and finish second in the league — earning a berth in next season’s Champions League qualifying playoffs.So are Downingtown’s Zack Steffen, who with Manchester City this season became the first American man to ever win the English Premier League; and Hershey’s Christian Pulisic, the star of stars, who will likely play for Chelsea against Man City in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final (3 p.m., CBS, Univision and TUDN).Steffen will be on the bench as City’s backup goalkeeper, but it’s still historic that an American man will be on each side of the field in the biggest game in world club soccer. And it’s guaranteed that an American man will lift a European trophy for the 14th time this season. If Chelsea wins Saturday, Pulisic will become the 10th player on the Nations League squad to earn a winner’s medal in the campaign.Aaronson called it “an unbelievable number.” Many people who’ve been watching American soccer since before he was born have said the same.“You’re seeing where they’re playing at, and they’re winning big trophies and it’s huge — it’s a really big step in U.S. football,” he said, showing another sign of how long he’s been abroad. “I’m really excited for the group of guys, and now it’s just pushing onto the Nations League and winning a trophy with this group of guys.”» READ MORE: USWNT star Sam Mewis carries herself like she’s still fighting for an Olympic roster spot

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=PhillyInquirer&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-1&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3R3ZWV0X2VtYmVkX2NsaWNrYWJpbGl0eV8xMjEwMiI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJjb250cm9sIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1396833980884955138&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.inquirer.com%2Fsoccer%2F&sessionId=df96085618c006948785eb1bd8d6a238a062c8f9&siteScreenName=PhillyInquirer&theme=light&widgetsVersion=82e1070%3A1619632193066&width=550px The Switzerland game is more than just a warm-up contest. It’s a chance for the U.S. team’s Europe-based players to play together, and to play at altitude before heading to Denver. St. Gallen is near the Alps, and while the city’s elevation is around 2,300 feet, the U.S. team has been training in the mountains.The quick travel time from Europe to America is also intentional: It replicates what the players will experience when they come home for World Cup qualifying games starting this fall. After the Nations League games — June 3 vs. Honduras, and June 6 vs. Mexico or Costa Rica — there will be another friendly, vs. Costa Rica in suburban Salt Lake City on June 9. Then the players will finally get a well-earned summer vacation.“A lot of us haven’t done it,” Aaronson said of the packed itinerary. “It’s really tough — it’s hard on the body because you’re traveling, what, eight hours back to the United States over a flight and then you have to get another flight and then get ready for a game in three days. It’s one of the toughest parts about football and playing for your national team.”But he would never turn it down. And he knows what the whole team knows: This is the first time the U.S. men’s program’s true A-team has been together in years. The fan base wants this team to make a statement and win a trophy.“It’s always an honor, and I think that you’re going to do whatever you can to get on the field no matter what,” Aaronson said. “It’s a good kind of test, and I think we’re going to do well with it.”» READ MORE: Philadelphia’s 2026 World Cup bid meets with FIFA to pitch Lincoln Financial Field

USMNT schedule

  • Sunday, May 30: Friendly vs. Switzerland at Kybunpark, St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2 p.m. (ESPN, UniMás, TUDN)
  • Thursday, June 3: Concacaf Nations League semifinal vs. Honduras at Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, 7:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network, Paramount+, Univision, TUDN); Mexico vs. Costa Rica, 10 p.m. (Paramount+, Univision, TUDN)
  • Sunday, June 6: Concacaf Nations League final or third-place game at Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, 9 p.m. (final; CBS Sports Network, Paramount+, Univision, TUDN) or 6:30 p.m. (third-place game; Paramount+, UniMás, TUDN)
  • Wednesday, June 9: Friendly vs. Costa Rica at Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah (ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN)

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HEADS TO LOUISVILLE FOR FIRST LIPAFC FIXTURE OF 2021

By Indy Eleven Communications, 05/27/21, 6:15PM EDT size=1 width=”100%” align=center>

Indy Eleven at Louisville City FC  Saturday, May 29, 2021 – 7:30 P.M. ET    Lynn Family Stadium | Louisville, Ken.

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)  

Official Indy Eleven Watch Party Locations: Ellison Brewing Co. | Union Jack Pub

2021 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS  

Indy Eleven: 2W-1L-0D, 6 pts. (+1 GD), 5th in Central Division  

Louisville City FC: 2W-0L-1D, 7 pts. (+3 GD), 3rd in Central Division  

Take the history of Yankees-Red Sox, throw in some of the petty vitriol of Ohio State-Michigan, and finish with a splash of the begrudging respect of Balboa v. Drago (and perhaps some of the latter’s fictional leanings) and what do you get? The Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest, of course, the 2021 edition of which kicks off Saturday night on the wrong side of the Ohio River.The first of four regular season LIPAFC installments should serve as a fair test for both rivals, each of which have registered two wins in their first three contests. Those results include home triumphs last Saturday that marked each squad’s best showing of 2021 so far – Indy Eleven a 2-0 victor over Sporting KC II at “The Mike”, and Lou City a 2-1 winner over San Diego Loyal SC at Lynn Family Stadium.Indy Eleven’s three run outs so far have followed pretty different scripts – an opening win at Birmingham Legion FC led by stout defense and an opportunistic finish, a home loss against FC Tulsa that saw the squad dominate possession but eventually chase the game after failing to convert on its chances, and the win over SKC II that was the most complete effort of the early season on both sides of the ball.Last Saturday’s affair saw Head Coach Martin Rennie trot out a new-look 3-4-3 formation that allowed the new forward trio of Jordan Hamilton (goal), Manuel Arteaga (goal), and Gordon Wild (two assists) shine throughout. With Hamilton and Wild at full health for the first time in the regular season, fans got their first look at the fruits of the Eleven’s offseason attacking overhaul – and the early results were more than favorable, resulting in eight shots on goal and myriad chances both from the run of play and set pieces. Meanwhile, a high-pressure defensive approach throughout the evening saw Indiana’s Team allow only three shots – and no attempts on target until the 75th minute – en route to a second clean sheet for the squad collectively and goalkeeper Jordan Farr individually.Meanwhile, while Lou City FC has thrown out three different formations in as many contests (and even switched head coaches on the fly after its season opener in late April), its overall philosophy has not seemed to change in the slightest – dominate possession and the chances will come. LCFC has hovered near 60% possession in each match and collectively outshot the opposition 57-23 (20-8 on goal), but even with those commanding figures Lou City registered a closer-than-it-appeared 2-0 win over Atlanta United 2 and a 1-1 draw against Birmingham before last weekend’s more comfortable breakthrough over San Diego.So, what will we see when the greatest rivalry known to mankind is rekindled Saturday in Kentucky? Will Rennie stand his charges down and look to absorb Lou City’s standard possessive approach? Or bolstered by last weekend’s performance, will he release the attacking hounds in an attempt to flip his side’s recent LIPAFC fortunes? Will recently installed LCFC sideline boss Danny Cruz have some new wrinkles to show Indy up his sleeve? Or does he stick with what has kept his side undefeated at home through three times out, looking to keep th Eleven on its heels? Only the next riveting 90 minutes of the fabled LIPAFC rivalry will answer those questions.

 SERIES HISTORY VS. LOUISVILLE CITY FC:

All official competitions: 2W-7L-4D (11 GF/22 GA)

All competitions away: 0W-3L-3D (5 GF/10 GA)

USL Championship regular season: 1W-4L-4D (7 GF/12 GA)

USLC regular season away: 0W-2L-3D (4 GF/6 GA)

Forgive Indy Eleven fans if they would rather forget the “modern era” of the LIPAFC rivalry, which Louisville City has controlled over the last three seasons. Since joining the USL Championship in 2018, Indiana’s Team has garnered just one win in nine regular season meetings – and that coming right out of the gates in May 2018 courtesy of an Ayoze PK-fueled 1-0 win at Lucas Oil Stadium. Throw on top of that postseason losses to LCFC in both 2018 & 2019 and you get a 10-game overall winless streak (4 draws, 6 losses) that Indy Eleven players, coaches, fans, mascots – anyone associated with the squad, really – is desperate to see snapped.

Despite the mostly forgettable results, Indy Eleven has actually managed to bring a point back across the river from three of its five regular season meetings in Louisville, including their first match at Lynn Family Stadium last August 8, a 1-1 draw that saw Tyler Pasher equalize near the hour mark. However, things went south for the Eleven from there, with LCFC collecting wins in their final three meetings, a 1-0 triumph in Kentucky followed by two disappointing results 11 days apart at Lucas Oil Stadium (1-3 L on Sept. 5 and 0-2 L on Sept. 16).

The 2021 series will continue back in Louisville on June 26 before again renewing late in the season in Indianapolis with games on Sept. 18 and Oct. 16 at Carroll Stadium.

 INDY PLAYER TO WATCH: FW MANUEL ARTEAGA

Much consideration was given to reigning USLC Team of the Week member Gordon Wild, but we instead favor Arteaga for this weekend’s affair because … energy.

When you’re trying to flip the script in a derby, you need someone who’s going to put forth a relentless amount of energy and display a real sense of passion – and perhaps a fair amount of “bite” as well.  Someone whose effort can spark his teammates to reach a little deeper in those pivotal moments, and maybe pull a little magic out of his hat. Enter the Venezuelan striker, who has displayed the willingness to keep up constant pressure on both sides of the ball – and has not been shy to try and pull off the magnificent during his short stint for the Boys in Blue.

Plus, the dude’s gonna shoot his shot(s). Arteaga’s 12 shots from just three games are the fourth most in the Championship thus far, and he’s probably unlucky to only have two goals from his four shots on target in 242 minutes. Bottom line, Arteaga is going to look to make stuff happen, and with two of the team’s three goals to this point under his belt, he’s a pretty good candidate to keep that trend going. He also might be the best bet to be the first player other than Pasher to hit the back of the net against LCFC since the 2018 campaign, a streak spanning seven matches in the series.

 LOU CITY PLAYER TO WATCH: CAMERON LANCASTER

Speaking of someone who’s not shy to shoot … enter last season’s reigning USL Championship shot-taker Mr. Lancaster, who paced the shortened 2020 season with 58 attempts towards goal and already has 10 shots this season through three games.

After placing third on last year’s Golden Boot chart with 12 tallies, the London native opened his 2021 scoring account with the opener in Lou City’s win over San Diego last Saturday. The brash 28-year-old striker’s three goals are the most for a Louisville City FC player in the LIPAFC’s modern era, and now that he’s off the scoring schneid this season you can bet he’s itching to add to that total on Saturday night.

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