7/29/21 USA Men vs Qatar tonite Gold Cup Semis 7:30 pm FS1 , US Ladies vs Dutch Fri 7 am USA

7/30 US Men vs Mexico Sunday 8:30 pm FS1 

WOW the 2nd half of the US 1-0 win over Qatar was fabulous.  The 85th minute goal by sub Zardes from sub Giochinni had been building up for the 20 minutes prior to the goal as Berhalter’s subs we spot on.  Roldan, Cannon and Zardes really made a difference in the final 20 minutes of the game as they put huge pressure on the Asian Cup Champions.  Listen this Qatar team is good – the best team in Asia – winners of the Asain Cup 2 years ago – tons of experience – the leading scorers and assist men in the Gold Cup.  But when Qatar missed the PK early in the 2nd half – the young US team grew up and found a way to win it.  GK Matt Turner stood on his head and kept the US in the game – in the first half with 3 SPECTACULAR Saves –  as the US gave up way too many shots in the first half. (He’s making his bid to put the pressure on Coach to consider him as a starter come Qualifying time especially if he can keep the US in the game vs Mexico.  (Listen Turner starts and plays 90 minutes every game for Philly – so having him start over 2 guys sitting on the bench in Horvath and Steffan may not be so crazy).  But back to this game – I thought Hoppe was really good again tonight in his 80 minutes along with Sam Vines at left back.  Dike, and Arriola just didn’t work up top.  Hopefully Dike is hurt – because he did not look good.  (I love that Coach B started him again because he’s giving his young guys chances to get better- but he’s not ready yet.)  Zardes was great off the bench along with Giochinni – both might deserve starts vs Mexico or perhaps Hoppe at the #9.  For the US this was the youngest/least capped team to ever start a Gold Cup game period – much less a Semi-Final with a berth vs Mexico on the line. 

Now can this team beat Mexico?  Wow – Mexico has brought their A team and coach Tata Martino is under a lot of pressure right now – honestly if he loses – they might fire him.  I think Mexico has too much against our very young B/C team.  But if the US can keep it close – 2-1 loss maybe?  That would be huge – and if Matt Turner stands on his head in Vegas – in what will be a 80/20 Mexican ROAD GAME then Berhalter will have really proven he’s making some serious progress on building the US program back up.  Remember the US has not lost on US soil in 13 games – but this will be THE BIGGEST test especially without our European starters.  Either way – I am fully back on board – this young, exciting US Men’s team deserves your time, deserves you buying back in again !! Go USA !! Oh and by the way tickets will be on sale soon for US Men Qualifying games in Columbus Oct 13 vs Costa Rica (Anyone wanna roadtrip??) and Cinncinatti vs Mexico on November 12. 

Here’s my starting line-up for Sunday night –


Hoppe //Arriola 




Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

US Men vs Qatar Thurs 7:30 pm FS1 

The USMNT found a way to pull off a solid 1-0 win over Jamaica last weekend moving into the Semi Final match-up with the surprise of the Gold Cup – Qatar.  Qatar is the Asian League Champion and has shown their worth in this tourney as they have 3 of the leading scorers in the tournament.  This will not be an easy game for the US men as they face off at 7:30 pm followed by Mexico vs Canada at 10 pm – the winners meet Sunday at 8:30 pm on FS1.  If the US is going to book their rematch with Mexico in the finals they will need to find a way to score more vs Qatar.  Dike started up front and continued to show he is just not ready to be the #9 for the US just yet.  His hold up play, his combinations – just not there yet.  Young forward/winger Mathew Hoppe has been another revelation this tourney – and he was borderline player of the game as he scored the goal vs Jamaica.  He reminds me of Seattle & US winger Jordan Morris with his relentless hustle and willingness to at least try to run at defenders.  He didn’t always make it thru – but it wasn’t for the lack of trying as he was actually taken down twice in the box and could have gotten a PK call along the way.  His motor is fantastic and he’s definitely adding to his name to the WC qualifying roster list with his play this Gold Cup.  Another player who was fantastic – this time at the #6 Dmid was Kellyn Acosta – he played as a true #6 and shut down no fewer than 5 attacks in protecting the young backline.  While his passing could be better – and he’s not necessarily going to release a 50 yard bomb pass ala Michael Bradley – this hustle, and defensive work – tells me he’s playing his way into the #2 slot in the dmid slot behind an often injured Adams.  Let’s see if he can keep it up and help get us into the final.  The 19 year old Busio was actually huge in the right mid slot – as his hustle and cover was key in helping Acosta protect the D.  In the back Miles Robinson was POG last weekend and has been the best defender in this tourney so far for the US.  Sands was solid next to him even if his passing was a little off this past weekend.  The US has a big chance- if they can get past a good Qatar team.  I think GK Matt Turner will be a key as Qatar will get some shots off – but the US has only given up 1 goal (a PK) this tourney and if they can keep that intact – the desired matchup with Mexico will follow on Sunday! I like the US 1-0 in a tight game.

Here’s my starting line-up for tonight –


Hoppe //Arriola 




Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

US Ladies vs Netherlands USA Network Fri 7 am Olympics Knockout Round

Well its time for the US to put up or shut up as they will face-off against the team they beat 2-0 to win the 2019 World Cup.  The worry I has is this is not the same US team.  I am not sure happened in the 0-0 tie vs Australia – other than we just sat back and settled for the tie.  I have never witnessed the US ladies – the most dominant Ladies soccer team ever sit back and not try to score.  If that was Coach A’s plan to just tie and secure advancement to the next round – I am not sure he understands what it means to be an American when it comes to ladies soccer.  I think the US is so poorly coached in this tourney that I am not sure there is any way we win the next game – much less move on to the Gold Medal game with 2 more wins.  The offense is not working, the midfield is being overrun and our defense has shown more weaknesses than anytime I can remember.  I sure hope I am wrong – but when I wake up at 7 am for the showdown with the Netherlands I will have my fingers crossed but my hopes lowered.  Here’s the team I would send out if I were coach A – and we are going to have to score this time because the Dutch will score at least 1 maybe 2 against this defense – so it will take a 3-2 to win it. I am not sure we can score that many against a good team. I see 2-1 Netherlands. Again – hope I am wrong!






US Ladies Roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars),

MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Catarina Macario (Lyon),

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

Tryouts for most High School Soccer Teams around the area are next week – good luck to everyone – especially our Carmel FC players trying out!

US Ladies –Fri 7 am NBCSN vs Netherlands

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When Berhalter went to Qatar: A camp that never was and the lessons learned

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Thursday, July 29th

7:30 pm     Gold Cup Semi – USA vs Qatar (FS1)

10 pm       GOLD CUP Mexico vs Canada FS1

Friday, July 30th  Women’s Olympics

4  am         Canada vs Brazil (NBCSN)

5 am          Great Britain vs Australia (universo)

6 am          Sweden vs Japan (NBCSN) 

7 am          USA Ladies vs Netherlands (USA Network)

7:30 pm     Orlando vs Atlanta United (ESPN)

10 pm        LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers (ESPN)

Saturday, July 31st Men’s Olympics

4 am         Spain vs Ivory Coast (NBCSN)

5 am         New Zealand vs Japan (USA)

6 am         Brazil vs Egypt (??)

7 am          South Korea vs Mexico (??)

5:30 pm   MLS – Seattle vs San Jose (ESPN+)    

Sunday, Aug 1

2:45 pm     Super Cup France Lille vs PSG (beIN Sport)

8:30 pm    GOLD CUP Final FS1

Monday, Aug 2 Women’s Olympics

4  am         Semis – USWNT/Dutch vs Canada/Brazil (USA)

7 am           Semis – GBR/Aust vs Sweden/Japan (USA)

Tuesday, Aug 3 Men’s Olympics

4  am         Semis – (NBCSN)

7 am           Semis – (NBCSN)

Wednesday, Aug6

8 pm          Indy 11 @ FC Tulsa myIndy TV, ESPN+

Thursday, Aug 5

4 am          Bronze Medal-Ladies (USA)

7 am           Gold Medal-Ladies (USA)

Saturday, Aug 7

7:30 am     Men’s Olympic Finals – (NBCSN)

Sunday, Aug 8

7:30 pm     Indy 11 @ Atlanta United ESPN+


Women’s soccer at the Olympics — Standings

Group E

Great Britain – 7 points (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Canada – 5 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Japan – 4 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Chile – 0

Group F
Netherlands – 7 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Brazil – 7 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
China – 1
Zambia – 1

Group G
Sweden – 9 points (Qualified for quarterfinals)
USWNT – 4 (Qualified for quarterfinals)Australia – 4 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
New Zealand – 0

Familiar foes: USWNT, Netherlands ready for quarterfinal clash

Joe Prince-WrightThu, July 29, 2021, 10:53 AM

For the USWNT and Netherlands, it’s simple: on to the rematch.The USWNT plays the Netherlands on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament — bringing together the two teams that played in the World Cup final two years ago in France.

The USWNT won that one 2-0 and afterward the crowd chanted “Equal Pay!” in support of the team’s legal fight for equity with the men’s national team.

This time, there won’t be any crowds and the case is before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals back home in the United States, with no ruling expected in the near future. And obviously there’s greater weight on a World Cup final than an Olympic quarterfinal.

But the game in Yokohama has taken on significance because the normally indomitable Americans showed vulnerabilities in the group stage: Notably a 3-0 loss to Sweden in the Olympic opener.

After a 6-1 rebound win over New Zealand, the USWNT played to a scoreless draw against Australia, which, while uncharacteristic for the offensively dominant Americans, got the team through to the knockout stage.

The USWNT hadn’t been shutout since 2017 before this Olympics, and now the team has been blanked twice in less than two weeks.

“I think a lot of people understand that we’re here to compete and win a gold medal and however we get there, winning is the most important thing. So, yes, fans and outsiders looking in are probably like, ’Oh, this is so different.′ You’ve never seen the U.S. do this,” defender Crystal Dunn said.

“But at the same time, it’s about executing a game plan, moving on from one round to another. And whatever tactics, plans that we have that we’re given, it’s our job as players to trust and believe in ourselves and each other and live to fight another day.”

Netherlands flying at Olympics

Instead, it’s the Netherlands that has become a high-scoring juggernaut. The Dutch scored 21 goals in the group stage — smashing the previous record of 16 set by the United States in 2012.

Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema has an Olympic-record eight goals, and that’s only from the group stage.

Miedema, who plays professionally for Arsenal, is just 25 and already the all-time scoring leader for the Netherlands with 81 goals in 99 appearances. She is also the top career scorer in the Women’s Super League in England.

The United States has played the Netherlands since the World Cup final, winning by an identical 2-0 scoreline in Breda last November. The Americans were undefeated in 44 straight matches before the loss to Sweden.

“We have an understanding of what they like to do as a team, and their style of play. However, that was a friendly game and we understand that we are in knockout rounds and everything can be completely different,” Dunn said Thursday.

“It’s about focusing on our game plan and what we’re trying to do because we can’t get caught up in thinking about ‘Oh, we played them before, so therefore, this is exactly what this game is going to be like.’ That is nearly impossible to do in the knockout round.”

In the other quarterfinal matches on Friday:

CANADA v. BRAZIL, Rifu: Another rematch, but this time of the third-place game at the Rio de Janeiro Games. Canada was triumphant in that one for the team’s second straight Olympic bronze medal, spoiling Brazil’s shot to medal on home soil.

There are many of the same faces in Japan. On Canada’s side, there’s Christine Sinclair, soccer’s all time international scorer among men and women. Brazil has Marta, the six-time FIFA Player of the Year.

Brazil is now playing under coach Pia Sundhage, who led the U.S. women to the gold medal in London in 2012. Canada’s coach in Brazil, John Herdman, now coaches the nation’s men team.

BRITAIN v. AUSTRALIA, Kashima: The Australians advanced to the knockout round as one of the top third-place teams after the group stage. This is the Matildas’ fifth trip to the Olympics and third time they’ve made it through to the quarterfinals.

Britain finished atop Group E. In a quirky rule, Britain’s Olympic teams must include Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, and all four teams must be in agreement to participate. For that reason, the only other Olympics that has included a Team GB is London 2012.

SWEDEN v. JAPAN, Saitama: The Swedes won all three of their games in Group G to advance, including that 3-0 victory over the Americans in their opener. Sweden famously knocked the United States out of the 2016 Games in the quarterfinals. The team went on to the final, but lost the gold medal to Germany.  Japan, as hosts, made the quarterfinals as one of the top third-place finishers. The Nadeshiko won the silver medal at the London Games, but did not make the field in 2016.

USWNT vs. Netherlands, 2020 Olympic quarterfinals: What to watch for

1We’ve reached the kockout stage, and our first opponent is a tough one. By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jul 29, 2021, 6:00am PDT

The United States Women’s National Team have reached the knockout stage of the 2020 Olympics, and from here on out the margin for error is gone. One loss, and they will not see through to their goal of inning the program’s 5th gold medal. Standing in their way tomorrow is the team that faced them in the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final, the Netherlands. The Netherlands arrived at this position by way of winning group F, scoring 21 goals and allowing 8 in their group stage matches. The USWNT were the Group G runners-up, scoring just 6 goals and allowing 4.The USWNT will have a tough road to the gold medal, and it starts with this quarterfinal matchup. The two teams last faced each other back in November, where the USWNT won 2-0 in Amsterdam. Now, the winner of this match will move on to have 2 chances to win a medal.

What To Watch For

  • Control Miedema. Vivianne Miedema has been the best player in the tournament so far, scoring 8 goals in the group stage. The USWNT will have to keep an eye on her and make sure she can’t engineer any offense. Of course, Miedema’s not the only Dutch player that can make you pay. Lieke Martens and Daniëlle van de Donk are also potent goalscorers that the Americans need to check. However, if they can keep Miedema at bay, that will really help the confidence of the USWNT.

Assert themselves. The USWNT has not played to their capability yet in this tournament. Tomorrow would be a great time to assert themselves and play like they are the best team on the planet. They should play with confidence, but also with chips on their shoulders. People are saying the world has caught up and that their chances of getting a gold medal, or a medal of any kind, aren’t nearly as promising as we thought. The Gals should come out ready to squash all doubt and show they are the team that needs to be feared.

Put shots on goal. The Netherlands may have scored 21 goals, but they’ve also allowed 8 so far. The Dutch defense hasn’t played particularly well, so the Americans should do all they can to light up the net with shots. Make the defense have to make plays, and eventually they will stop doing that. Goals can come. They need to have a focus on creating those scoring chances and then taking those shots.


This is a hard one to predict. The USWNT can beat anyone in the field, but they haven’t yet played like the team we expect to see on any given day. It’s another tough one, but the USWNT break through late and it’s Christen Press with the goal to win 1-0.

USWNT underdogs in Olympic quarterfinal, but players are trusting the process under Andonovski5:02 PM ETCaitlin Murray

If the U.S. women’s national team wants to win their fifth gold medal in an Olympic women’s football tournament, they need to get through Friday’s quarterfinal (7 a.m. ET) against a team that has looked like an early favorite: the Netherlands.While the U.S. is limping out of Group G with a loss, a draw and a win, the Netherlands are flying. They topped Group F with a plus-13 goal differential, and even their one draw of the group stage was a wild 3-3 shootout with Brazil, another top team competing in Japan this summer. But the shaky performances of the group stage need to be behind the U.S., because if they lose to the Netherlands, they are going home, and they will match their worst-ever finish in a major tournament.”This is where the real tournament starts,” said Alex Morgan. “You have to win and beat the best to get to that gold-medal match.”

USWNT as the underdog

Today, the USWNT finds itself in unfamiliar territory. For perhaps the first time, the USWNT arrives in an Olympic quarterfinal as the clear underdog. Dutch midfielder Danielle van de Donk told reporters that the Netherlands’ high-scoring performances in the group stage should serve as proof that “we are not afraid of America.””Somehow I feel like, save the best for last, but maybe they are not the best at all, this tournament,” she added of meeting the USWNT so early in the tournament.The U.S. has certainly gotten to know the Dutch team quite well. The USWNT beat them 2-0 in the 2019 World Cup final, and when the USWNT resumed playing after about eight months of dormancy due to the pandemic, their first game back late last year was in the Netherlands. But those meetings don’t mean much for the Americans, U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said — not because the Netherlands are expected to change their approach, but because they aren’t.”The Netherlands are not a big surprise for the simple fact that they believe in their system, and they believe in what they do,” Andonovski said. “They’re very rigid at times, which makes them who they are and as good as they are. Their system works and they’ve shown that over and over in different games.”If the USWNT is going to get past the Dutch team, they need to turn off the faucet of goals coming from Vivianne Miedema. She has been on fire, with eight goals in the group stage at a rate of one goal every 22 minutes on the field. She has already set the women’s record for the most goals scored in an Olympics prior to the knockout rounds as her team racked up 21 goals over the three matches.But what makes the Dutch team dangerous is that it’s not just Miedema the USWNT needs to worry about, in the way that all of their attention against Australia focused on Sam Kerr. Lieke Martens and Van de Donk are also two especially potent pieces of the Dutch attack that the USWNT will need to contain. The Dutch attack oozes chemistry — the attackers have an uncanny ability to read each other on the field, and they are well-drilled on set pieces, meaning the threats are varied.Limiting the Dutch attack ought to be enough on Friday; the Dutch team has shown defensive vulnerability, and the USWNT should feel confident they can score goals. In the group stage, the Netherlands surprisingly conceded three goals to Zambia, a first-time Olympic team that isn’t on the level of most of the other teams in Japan. Then they conceded twice to China, another underpowered team known more for its disciplined defensive bunkering and organization than its firepower. (The Dutch conceded eight times in the group stage, more than any other team that reached the quarterfinals.)The question is whether the Netherlands will stick to their approach from the previous games or give Andonovski the surprise he suggested he isn’t expecting.”I don’t know if they are very vulnerable: they are very good defensively and they are very disciplined and we’ve seen that in numerous occasions,” Andonovski said. “Obviously, as open as they play sometimes, they do have areas of the field that are more open, so hopefully we can take advantage of it.”

Andonovski’s tactics under the microscope

When a manager switches up how his team plays, the success or failure that follows will almost certainly be pinned on him. As former USWNT coach April Heinrichs once said: “In coaching, you’re either a jackass or a genius.”After a disastrous opening 3-0 loss against Sweden, the USWNT unleashed itself against New Zealand to run up the goal differential with a 6-1 win, but then played with a conservative — some might say “scared” — approach against Australia for a 0-0 draw. Vlatko Andonovski and his staff knew that the U.S. only needed a draw against Australia to advance, so the thought process seemed to be: why risk a loss going after a win?In the end, the USWNT clinched its spot in the quarterfinals, but the team didn’t look like the USWNT fans have been watching for years. The team that dominates and imposes itself was nowhere to be found. When told Thursday about the reaction to the USWNT’s style of play against Australia, it seemed to be news to Crystal Dunn, who said: “I’m not on social media. I have no idea what’s going on in the outside world: it’s been the best thing.”But it’s funny you say that because I think a lot of people don’t understand we’re here to compete and win a gold medal. However we get there, winning is the most important thing.”Yes, fans, outsiders looking in, are probably like, ‘Oh this is so different, we’ve never seen the U.S. doing this,’ but at the same time, it’s about executing a game plan and moving on from one round to another,” Dunn added. “Whatever tactics, plans we’re given, it’s our job as players to trust and believe in ourselves and each other and live to fight another day.”When asked about making the difficult call to rein the USWNT’s attacking instincts, Andonovski admitted it’s a bold approach and probably not what the players would prefer.”It’s not easy, and sometimes you have to sacrifice some of the things that we believe or we’ve worked on to be able to execute the game plan,” he said. “We saw that in Game 3 in the group stage — that was not something that we’ve done in the previous games, but it was a game plan and I felt like we executed it well from the defensive standpoint.”It’s not easy for the players from the tactical and technical standpoint to execute it, but they’ve done a great job,” he added. “Also, from the mental standpoint, it’s not easy, but again lots of credit to them in being ready to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful.”

Echoes of the 2015 World Cup

The prevailing memory of the 2015 World Cup for Americans may be Carli Lloyd’s goal from the midway line en route to her hat-trick in the final. But before that — and before the USWNT’s dominance — the U.S. looked to be struggling. The U.S. never lost in that tournament before they won the trophy, but they played some bad soccer early on, leading fans and pundits alike to worry the USWNT was in for a short tournament.The players stuck to a common refrain: we’re just doing what the coaches want.”We’re just following the direction of our coaches, the coaching plan, doing everything they ask of us,” Lloyd said before the 2015 quarterfinal. “At the end of the day, I’ve got full faith and confidence in everyone that we’ll find our rhythm. We’re working, we’re grinding, the effort’s there.”After the USWNT won their semifinal against Germany and finally played their best soccer of the World Cup, Megan Rapinoe echoed that sentiment: “We stuck to our game plan and stuck to what our coaches were telling us. We always stayed true to what we were doing and felt it was going to come together.”That sounds a lot like the players in this Olympics so far.”It was a tactical decision by Vlatko for us to shift defensively, play a little more conservatively and allow them to get impatient and play it long and give it back to us,” Morgan said after the 0-0 draw to Australia.”The tactics we’ve been given is what we need to execute and we trust our staff to put us in the best position to succeed,” Dunn said Thursday. “So yeah, every game is different and every opponent is different and with that comes new tactics we need to execute.”The USWNT advances to the knockout stages in Tokyo, but fails to impress in a 0-0 draw with Australia.While the players haven’t openly said it, there is a slight tinge of dissatisfaction in their comments, a wish that they could unleash themselves and show the world what they are capable of. But it’s probably fine that the players feel this way, especially if the 2015 World Cup is any guide. After all, the Olympics is a lot of games packed into a small time frame, and teams can risk burning themselves out and peaking too early if they go full throttle from the beginning.Christen Press hinted (ever so slightly) that she and her teammates would prefer to play a more attacking style, but she also made it clear she understands why the game plan worked, and that just because that’s how the U.S. played in the group stage, that doesn’t mean the knockout round will be the same.”This tournament is really tough, with the amount of games you need to play without as many days in between as other tournaments, so there has to be tactical sophistication in how we manage,” Press said Thursday. “Ultimately, when this team’s at its best, we are relentless and we are lethal.”She later added: “In the last three games you’ve seen us take different tactical approaches in the group stage, and now we’re in the knockout phase and I think that’ll look really different. The team is really hungry, and the group stage has left us feeling like we have more to give — I think that’s a great thing, it’s a powerful thing and it’s intimidating.”

USMNT-Qatar semifinal clash presents “very different” Gold Cup test

By Charles Boehm @cboehm  Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021, 12:24 PM

The US men’s national team have had to grind out results at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, edging past three of their four opponents by narrow 1-0 scorelines, all of which involved some scrappy play, and suffering, on the part of the host nation and favorites.

They’re expecting a change of pace in Thursday’s semifinal against Qatar at Austin FC’s Q2 Stadium (7:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, TUDN).

“I think this game coming up is going to be very different from all the rest,” said LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget during a Tuesday media availability. “That’s one thing you get in Concacaf, just different styles. Jamaica was a very physical team and now going against Qatar is going to be quite [the] opposite. They’re going to want to play the ball on the ground and they’re going to want to attack and throw numbers forward.”Invited to participate in the tournament as a guest team in keeping with a strategic partnership between Concacaf and the Asian Football Confederation, Qatar have turned out to pose the competition’s most prolific attack. Asia’s reigning champions banged in nine goals across their three group-stage matches and netted another three in their pulsating 3-2 quarterfinal win over El Salvador as they aim to become the first-ever invited team to win the Gold Cup.The Maroon also carry a 12-game unbeaten streak, recording 10 wins and two draws since a November 2020 setback against the Korea Republic. Their entire roster is based in Qatar and hails from the same four clubs, allowing for increased chemistry that’s rarely found on the international stage. Each layer makes the first-ever meeting between these two senior national teams only more challenging. “Qatar is definitely a great team. They’re a very offensive-minded, counter-attacking team and they’ve scored a lot of goals so far this tournament,” said Atlanta United center back Miles Robinson, one of the USMNT’s most eye-catching starters thus far. “So it’s just a matter of us sticking to our game plan and trying to stay solid defensively.”Qatar’s Almoez Ali is currently the Gold Cup’s leading scorer with four goals, one of several skillful, vibrant performers in the pass-and-move style overseen by Spanish manager Felix Sanchez, a former FC Barcelona academy coach. Conversely, the USMNT have been the stingiest side, conceding just one goal.

“We’re definitely aware of it; we definitely respect them,” said Lletget. “They’ve done really, really well overseas and now they come here and not many people know much about them and they’re doing good.“They play a very attacking [style],” he added, “so we definitely have to respect that. But I think we have a lot of tools that can hurt them, and I think we can exploit their weaknesses.”

As potent as the 2022 World Cup’s host country has been this month, the USMNT might welcome a change of pace from the rugged affair with Jamaica they survived on Sunday. And they sound highly enthusiastic about their first visit to brand-new Q2 Stadium, which has been a vibrant venue in its opening weeks and was recently announced as the site of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifier vs. the Reggae Boyz in October.“I’ve heard it’s a great stadium, a great atmosphere, I’ve heard the fans are energetic and just the stadium as a whole is really great,” said Robinson, who also said the squad is ignoring “the outside noise” about the rough edges on their performances thus far. “So I’m definitely excited to play there for the first time. We checked out the training ground today, when we were training, it’s nice. So I’m expecting big things from Austin.”It’s the first visit to Texas’ capital city for Lletget, whose LA Galaxy don’t visit Austin FC until late September.

“It’s definitely been a topic of discussion, just being in the new stadium, and everything’s just fresh,” Lletget said. “We’ve heard a lot about this place and the fans that are in the city, so we’re definitely hoping for a really good crowd.”

Expectations on USMNT, Schalke forward Hoppe continue to rise, and he continues to exceed them

Jul 28, 2021  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Time was running out for Matthew Hoppe, in more ways than one. There was little more than seven minutes left in Sunday’s Gold Cup quarterfinal between the U.S. and Jamaica, but Hoppe’s night was going to end before the full-time whistle. Nicholas Gioacchini was on the sidelines ready to replace him. The next stoppage in play would see Hoppe carry a night’s worth of frustration with him to the bench.

At which point, Hoppe, 20, made sure he went out on a high. With Cristian Roldan’s deft cross arcing across the Jamaica goalmouth, Hoppe skied at the far post, outleaping Jamaica’s Oneil Fisher, avoiding attentions of Reggae Boyz keeper Andre Blake and headed the ball home to give the U.S. men’s national team a 1-0 victory.Hoppe then exited the pitch, his job done. Nothing that happened before the goal mattered, be it the two times that Blake had stymied Hoppe’s fierce drives, or the occasional missed pass. What mattered more was the relentlessness with which Hoppe played and helped his team.”When a guy puts that type of effort in, and hangs in there and keeps going, we want to stick with him because we thought it was doing a good job and because he’s goal dangerous,” said manager Gregg Berhalter about Hoppe. He later added, “It’s also something we talked about; no space between the backline and the goalie. We’ve got to get it to the far post, and so it was a good play.”

For Hoppe, it was the latest milestone in a year full of them. Last November he made his first-team debut with club side Schalke 04. Six weeks later he became the first American to record a Bundesliga hat trick in a 4-0 win over TSG Hoffenheim, one that allowed Schalke to avoid setting a dubious Bundesliga record for longest winless streak in league history. He was soon adorning the front page of Kicker, the German soccer bible. (Hoppe made sure to grab a few extra copies.) People were soon stopping him in the street, although due to COVID-19 restrictions, neither as many nor as often as in normal times.

“A lot changed for me,” Hoppe told ESPN. “But at the same time, I tried to make everything the same, so I can just keep focusing on what I had to do because we were in a relegation battle. We didn’t have time to celebrate anything. We just had to focus and get on to the next game.”Schalke was unable to avoid the drop, but that didn’t stop Hoppe’s run of success. He impressed Berhalter enough during a U.S. training camp prior to the CONCACAF Nations League finals that he was named to the Gold Cup roster. His debut came against Martinique and now he’s bagged his first international goal, all while playing an unfamiliar position on the left wing.”I’ve been having to adapt to that, except it’s not something that’s new to me necessarily, because when I play striker, I like to move around to confuse the defenders, create spaces for myself and for other people,” he said. “So I’m used to not only stretching the backline, making runs in behind, but also dropping into the pocket to get the ball, and turning and driving at the opponent. I have what it takes to be a complete player, a complete attacker. I just have to keep developing my skills.”There is a swagger to how Hoppe plays. Outwardly, there’s no shortage of confidence given the way he attacks opponents off the dribble, and strikes the ball with venom. But in the past year, new challenges have emerged. That transition from unknown to the cover of Kicker has waylaid plenty of players. Expectations get raised. Attention increases.Hoppe admits there have been times during his career when expectations have weighed heavy. When he was at Barcelona’s residence academy in Casa Grande, Arizona, he said it wasn’t uncommon for him to throw up before games. Perhaps it was residual hurt from being cut from the LA Galaxy’s academy at age 14, or not getting called into U.S. youth national team camps. Or maybe with his dream of being a pro getting closer, he sensed what was at stake.”I’d just be so tough on myself because I expected a lot from me,” he said. Over time, Hoppe learned to make pressure his friend and not his enemy.”Embrace how you feel,” he said. ” And [it’s about] how you adapt, rather than how you react to it, you know? However you feel, that’s how you’re supposed to feel, and you’re supposed to work with it no matter what.”By the time he got to Schalke, Hoppe had become more adept at being comfortable with being uncomfortable. When he moved up to the first team, he spoke of feeling “good nerves,” the kind that didn’t cause him to freeze up, but gave him the energy he needed to excel on the field. It made each step up the ladder easier to manage, although the demands to perform never completely went away.”When I made my move to the first team, I guess there’s some pressure on me at first, things like, ‘Why are you playing this guy? Why are you letting him play forward? Why are you letting him lead the team?’ I got some goals and then eventually I just stopped letting the pressure get to me, and just decided to play.”That freedom is now emerging with the U.S. team. Berhalter noted how Hoppe took some time off following the camp prior to the Nations League, and that it has been a process for the attacker to get up to speed. Now he sees progress.”[Hoppe’s] improving with the concepts, with the position, with his fitness, the sharpness, so all these things have been progressing during the tournament in a positive way,” said Berhalter. “We know we’re asking him to play at times out of position, but it is what it is. We don’t have wingers on this team and it’s an opportunity, and sometimes that’s what you need to really make a difference.”With Schalke set to spend the 2021-22 campaign in the 2. Bundesliga, the expectation is that the club will transfer Hoppe elsewhere. Various reports have clubs from six leagues — including the Premier League quartet of Newcastle UnitedSouthamptonTottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers — showing interest in the American. One source cited AS Monaco and Eintracht Frankfurt as being among those who are chasing Hoppe.”I don’t know what the future holds,” said Hoppe. “My focus is on winning Gold Cup and getting another trophy for the USA.”And meeting increasing expectations.

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