8/20/21 MLS All Star Game Tues FS1, American’s Pulisic and Reyna score, Indy 11 split games, US Carli Llyod Retires, International Cup Sat Eve ESPN


What to Watch This Weekend

CBS starts a three-season run as the home of Serie A this weekend on CBS SportsNetwork and Paramount+, Plus the Bundesliga on ABC at 12:30 as new American sensation LB Joe Scally starts for Monchengladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen , MLS on Fox Columbus vs Seattle 5:30 pm on Sat, and the Portland Thorns vs. Lyon in the Women’s International Champions Cup final Sat eve 10 pm on ESPN2.  Mon/Tues is MLS All Star Week – as the skills challenge is Mon night followed by the MLS All Stars vs the Liga MX (Mexican) Allstars on Tuesday night at 9:30 pm on FS1.  Of course Chelsea faces Arsenal Sat but without American Christian Pulisic who scored in the start last weekend – as he’s got Covid.  Sunday Serie A kicks off on CBS Sports Network as Udinese hosts Weston McKinney and Jueventus at 9:30 am. 

Portland Thorns vs. Lyon ICC Cup Final Saturday, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Women’s International Champions Cup semifinals were both electric games. Lyon knocked off reigning European champion Barcelona, 3-2, and the host Portland Thorns beat the Houston Dash in a penalty kick shootout after coming back from 2-0 down to force a 2-2 tie.So the final will pit the NWSL’s biggest team against Europe’s perennial superpower, the record seven-time Champions League winner — including five straight from 2016-20 — that Barcelona dethroned last spring.Portland will have its Olympic stars back, and Lindsey Horan will be in the spotlight amid reports she’s joining Lyon in January. But manager Mark Parsons might be tempted to give playing time to two youngsters who were heroes of the semifinal. Rookie goalkeeper Shelby Hogan made three saves in the shootout, and 15-year-old midfield phenom Olivier Moultrie scored the last goal of regulation with a free kick.Houston and Barcelona will meet in the third-place game earlier Saturday (7:30 p.m., ESPNU).  Of course huge news that US Forward Carli Lloyd is retiring after this season. She will play the next few games for the US in September and finish out the season with Gotham of the NWSL. 


MLS All Star Game – Tuesday Night 9:30 pm FS1 – USA MLS vs Mexico Liga MX All Stars

Hype Video

All Star Team Roster   

Captain Roldan! Sounders star Cristian to lead MLS All-Stars vs. Liga MX




Friday, Aug 15 

10:30 pm       LA Galaxy s San Jose   ESPN2

Saturday, Aug 21

7:30 am          Liverpool vs Burnley Peacock

9:30 am       Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs Hertha ESPN+ 

9:30 am       Dortmund (Reyna) vs Freiburg ESPN+

9:30 am         Inter vs Genoa Serie A – Paramount +

10 am             Aston Villa vs New Castle NBCSN

10 am             Man City vs Norwich (Stewart) USA

12:30              Brighton vs Watford NBC

12:30 pm     Bayer Leverkusen vs Monchengladbach (Joe Scally) ABC

3 pm               Minn United vs Sporting KC  ESPN

3 pm               Saint Etieeene vs Lille (Weah)

4 pm              Barcelona (Dest) vs  Athletic Bilbao ESPN+

5:30  pm      Columbus Crew vs Seattle Sounders FOX

7 pm               Indy 11 vs  OKC  home ESPN+

10 pm             Portland Thorns vs Lyonnnais (ICC Championship) ESPN

Sunday, Aug 22  Italian Serie A kickoff

7 am               Lyonnais vs Clermont  France beIN Sport

9:30 am         Udinese vs Juventus (McKinney)  CBS Sports Network  

9 am               Wolverhampton vs Tottenham NBCSN

11:30 am      Arsenal vs Chelsea (Pulisic) NBCSN

5 pm              Sporting KC II vs Indy 11 ESPN+

8 pm NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC – FS1

Monday, Aug 23 

11:30             West Ham vs Leicester City NBCSN

2:45 pm       Sampadoria vs Milan (Ibra) Paramount+

9 pm              MLS AllStar Skills Challenge  FS1

Wedsday, Aug 25

3pm               West Brom vs Arsenal League Cup  ESPN+

3 pm               Salzburg (Ar0nson) vs Brandby UCL Paramount+

9:30 pm       MLS AllStars vs Liga MX All Stars – FS1

Friday, Aug 27

2:30 pm         Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hoffenhiem ESPN+

6:30 pm         Columbus Crew vs Cincy ESPN

10:30 pm       Orlando City vs Inter Miami ESPN

Saturday, Aug 28

10 am             Man City vs Arsenal Peacock

12 noon          Liverpool vs Chelsea (Pulisic) NBC

7 pm               LAFC vs La Galaxy  EL TRAFFICO FOX

7 pm              Indy 11 vs Real Monarchs ESPN+ TV 8


US Men

What to Watch this Weekend – American’s Overseas
Pulisic tests positive for COVID-19, out of Arsenal-Chelsea

VIDEO: USMNT’s Aaronson scores late Salzburg winner in UCL qualifier

Pulisic, Reyna kick off new club season with goals
USMNT youngster Otasowie moves from Wolves to Club Brugge

Dortmund’s American MF Reyna Scores in 5-2 win

Pulisic Watch: How did USMNT star perform v. Crystal Palace?

Christian Pulisic has a good problem at Chelsea
Scally left NYCFC a prospect, now he’s holding his own vs. Lewandowski
  Jeff Carlisle

USMNT teen Scally goes 90 at left back, Gladbach holds Bayern Munich 

 Q&A: Trailblazing U.S. coach Matarazzo on his Bundesliga journey


Three things we learned from Norwich City – Liverpool; video highlights      
Chelsea to unleash Lukaku on underachieving Arsenal

Revitalized Spurs look like top-four contenders

New-look Tottenham defeated in Conference League opener

Solskjaer tells Pogba to back up lavish praise

Fulham remain top of Championship with Millwall win

Top five PL goals and saves from Matchweek 1



What to Watch this weekend
Five new faces to watch in Serie A

Inter’s turbulent summer leaves Serie A crown up for grabs

Serie A schedule 2021-22, standings, odds

Italian Euro 2020 winner Locatelli joins Juventus

Tammy Abraham joins Roma in $47 million move

What last season’s stats tell us about 2021-22 in Europe’s top five leagues
Lewandowski scores twice as Bayern beat Dortmund in Super Cup

Can anyone stop Bayern? Breaking down every Bundesliga team for 2021-22

What to Watch this weekend


US Ladies

USWNT legend Lloyd retiring; will play in 4 upcoming friendlies for U.S.
The secret to Carli Lloyd’s brilliant career? Her magnificent fury

Carli Lloyd announces retirement plans after fourth Olympics with USWNT

USWNT star Carli Lloyd content as she announces she’s retiring at the end of this year

Where does retiring Carli Lloyd rank in all-time USWNT lore?

Carli Lloyd announces retirement, ends historic USWNT career

USWNT remains FIFA’s No. 1-ranked team despite bumpy Olympics — but it’s getting close

USWNT announce fall friendlies against Paraguay & South Korea
USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe ‘thinking’ about retirement – but still needs more time

CONCACAF launches new W Championship, W Gold Cup to increase women’s international matches

NWSL Preview | Weekend matches on August 21st and 22nd
Olivia Moultrie’s first professional goal leads the Thorns to the WICC Finals

Soccer: Former Afghan women’s captain tells players to burn kits, delete photos

Taliban return causes anguish for Afghan female football pioneer



Americans at home: MLS still exists, it does

3 points Changes Everything – Columbus vs Seattle

California Classico

Weekend Cheat Sheet: Your guide to Week 21, Heineken Rivalry Week edition

Seattle Sounders’ Raul Ruidiaz wins second-straight MLS Player of the Week

“Not performing well enough”: Austin FC face harsh realities after third-straight loss

Goalkeepers say no! Check out the best saves from Week 20


Borussia Monchengladbach’s Scally left NYCFC as a prospect. Now, he’s holding his own vs. Lewandowski

9:00 AM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Back in June, Joe Scally paid a visit to his former club, New York City FC. The reunion allowed him to catch up with old friends and former coaches; after all, it had only been six months since he had completed his move to Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach — who play Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday (12:25 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+) — and yet NYCFC sporting director David Lee, who had watched Scally progress through the club’s academy system, had already noticed a change.”[Scally] looked more grown up,” Lee told ESPN. “He looked bigger, he looked stronger. Just that six-month transition — I think sometimes, we forget that with young people, whether you’re going off to college or you’re doing something else, you leave your parents and you’ve got to fend for yourself all of a sudden, and you just grow up quickly. He certainly developed even further physically, which is pretty remarkable.” In the opening weeks of the club season, Scally’s growth has been on full display. With starting left-back Ramy Bensebaini out injured, Scally — a right-back by trade — was drafted in to replace him and has made nary a misstep, excelling in both a DFB-Pokal victory over Kaiserslautern and last Friday’s 1-1 draw against the star-studded lineup of reigning champions Bayern Munich.”It was crazy,” Scally told ESPN from Germany. “Just like a dream.”Given his play in the cup match, he was pretty sure he was going to start against Bayern, which brought on a special set of nerves given the players he’d be going up against, including Robert Lewandowski and Leroy Sane.It helped that Scally’s family was visiting, allowing him to relax, and he was certainly composed once the opening whistle blew. He recalled how an early exchange with Lewandowski — in which Scally bodied up the forward, forcing him to kick the ball out of bounds — helped set the tone for him early.”It was like, ‘I just got the ball from Lewandowski, who is someon I’ve watched forever and is one of the best forwards of all time,'” Scally said. “Knowing that gave me so much confidence going into the rest of the game.”That performance caught the attention of USMNT U-17 teammate and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna, who texted Scally with his congratulations. He was far from the only one.”My whole phone was blowing up,” Scally said. “I could just keep swiping. It was great.”Even more impressive has been the rapidity with which he has settled into life in Germany.Adapting quickly to a new country, a new language and a different soccer culture is always an impressive feat. It’s an experience that takes a player completely out of their comfort zone. But the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made that challenge an order of magnitude more difficult. The relationships with teammates are more difficult to foster given the reduced opportunities for hanging out at the training ground. Even outside of the team setting, the protocols kept interactions with the public to a minimum, reducing the chances to get more comfortable with the language. It’s easy to become isolated.It was an experience that brought into focus everything that Scally had left behind. An ankle injury that he sustained prior to his departure for Germany slowed his initial progress as well.”It was definitely tough,” he said. “The first month I think was very hard just because I left my family, my girlfriend, my friends, everyone behind. And it just happened like in a split second. You think that the day will never come, that you’re leaving everyone, and then it just happens.”Scally’s father John added, “Thank god for FaceTime. Because of COVID, you practice, you couldn’t even hang out with the players… you have to just go back to your apartment and that was it. So that’s really good that he got through it. He’s a very mature 18-year-old.”Getting on the field helped speed up the acclimation process. Once the ankle injury was behind him, the defender quickly established himself in Gladbach’s second team, making 15 appearances in the 2020-21 season. He also trained regularly with the first team, and while the speed of play and thought was a challenge at first, he soon gained the respect of his new teammates. His early success gave him peace of mind, as well that conviction he’d made the right decision to head to Europe.”When you do really good, it gives you more confidence, makes you happier,” Scally said. “So I think right after that first practice with the first team, in my first game, that’s when everything really started accelerating.”It helped that his longtime friend, Reyna, was nearby. Their apartments are 45 minutes away from one another, and even when they couldn’t see each other in person, there was the video game connection. While Scally rules at Mario Kart, Fortnite is Reyna’s domain, especially when Reyna’s younger brother Joah is involved.”They’re both so much better than me,” said Scally with a laugh. “When we’re playing Fortnite, when I die or when I go down, they’ll just never pick me up because they’re better off without me.”When Scally finished the 2020-21 season, he took a couple of weeks off in West Palm Beach, Florida before returning home to Long Island. It was there that he started training for the new season, a regimen that required a special kind of discipline.Father John is co-owner of the Village Idiot Pub in Lake Grove, New York. The establishment is a two-minute walk from Scally’s home, and the lure of some of the more sinful items on the menu was tough to resist. His siblings, Drew and Anna, did little to make their brother’s adherence to a diet easy.”My brother and my sister, they would always get the wings and shove it in my face,” Scally said. “From time to time, of course, I’d have to get it, but they make a really good grilled chicken with Frank’s hot sauce. I was just fine with that and it was so good.”Scally’s biggest weakness? Fried Oreos. “They had that with vanilla ice cream,” he said. “That was the hardest thing on the menu, not to get.”Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, Scally had a new manager to impress in Adi Hutter. All the more reason to lay off the fried Oreos and report to preseason in good shape. He did just that, and as some injuries in the backline piled up, Scally put himself in the frame for first-team minutes. Two games in, he’s repaid his manager’s faith, and against Bayern, Scally kept Sane very quiet.”I have to pay Joe Scally a huge compliment,” Hutter said after the Bayern match. “He made his Bundesliga debut against Bayern Munich today, aged 18, right-footed on the left side against top players, and he rewarded me with an absolute class game.”Lee said he has noticed that tactically, Scally has shown improvement. More specifically, his decisions in terms of positioning when Gladbach don’t have the ball, knowing when to press an opponent or stay connected to the center-back have all been sharpened.”You’re playing against top-level players, and if you make the wrong decision, you can get punished,” said Lee. “I think he made, for the vast majority, just some really fantastic decisions throughout the game and that helped them to get good results and performances that they’ve had in the first games.”

With Bensebaini working his way back to full fitness, it won’t be a surprise if Scally soon finds himself back on the bench, but he’s aware that it doesn’t pay to look too far ahead. All he can do now is make himself as indispensable as possible to Hutter and his staff.”If I keep doing good and the coach has as much trust in me, maybe I stay or I go to the right side and I start,” Scally said. “So whatever happens, I always trust the coach and trust his decisions and will always keep working for the team.”Given how the first weeks of the 2021-22 season have gone for Scally so far, his growth over the remainder of the campaign will be worth watching.

MLS Allstar Week and Game Tues/Wed,

After losing his first game last weekend on the road 1-0 –American Jesse Marsch and his Red Bull Leipzig rebounded in a powerful 4-0 win in their home opener against fellow American coach Pellegrino Matarazzo   and Stuttgart.  Stuttgart had won their first game to lead the table after week 1. This first ever battle between US coaches in a foreign league

8/13/21 USA Men Ranked in Top 10 – players start Euro seasons, EPL/Germany/Spain Kickoff this weekend, Messi joins PSG


US Men in FIFA Top 10

Fantastic to See the US men ranked in the top 10 for the first time in like 10 years – huge wins over Mexico twice in both Nations League with our starters and the undefeated run to the Gold Cup Championship with our B team including a win over Mexico’s A team with our B/C team no doubt helped along with the close game with the Swiss in Europe.  Of course funny to see Mexico 2 spots above us – but you could say the same Italy and Argentina being ranked below Belgium after wins this summer in the European Championships and the COPA.  Either way having the US back on the radar is huge.  Remember you heard it here first – our golden young generation is bound for the Quarterfinals in Qatar in 2022 followed by a Semi-Final run at home in 2026 – so says the OBC! 

Of course a bunch of American’s overseas will start their season’s this weekend see the full update here. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic came of the bench for the blues when Ziyech got hurt in Wednesday’s SuperCup game vs Valencia.  He actually had some good plays and was unlucky not to score in the final seconds of Extra Time.  He did take the 6th penalty kick in the Shootout and netted it to keep Chelsea in front in their 1-1 (5-4 win over the Spanish side.)  We’ll see if he gets the start Sat vs Crystal Palace at 10 am on the Peacock. 


English Premier League, German Bundelisga, Spain’s La Liga all start this weekend

Of course the European leagues kicked off today – with new EPL entrant Brentford knocking off Arsenal 2-0 at home in their first home game in 75+ years as members of the EPL.  The Championship team last season won the playoff over Darrel Dike’s Barnsley to advance to the Premier League – GOTTA LOVE THE EPL – there is not a more competitive league in the world than the EPL.  Of course the EPL will be on NBCSN, NBC and Peacock pay service this season, while the German Bundesliga has moved from Fox Sports to ESPN+ unfortunately.  Spain’s La Liga has moved from beIN Sport to ESPN+ as well – making the Plus – must buy TV – as they also have MLS and USL and the Indy 11.  Italy and Renaldo and of Juventus will start next weekend and will play on CBS Sports Network and Paramount + – who also has Champions and Europa League.  France with the newly minted Champions League favorites PSG with Messi, Mbappe, and Neymar play their games on beIN Sport. 


As Spain’s La Liga moves to ESPN+ and makes their debut on ABC Sunday as Barcelona faces Real Sociadad at 4 pm – the league is in as much flux as it has ever been.  Perennial winners Barcelona and Real Madrid – two of the most successful teams in the World – are both struggling to make ends meet after the pandemic – have had massive exits this summer and might struggle to hold in the top 4.  My Atletico Madrid returns almost intact after winning the league last year and should be favorites this year but they haven’t won back to back titles in 70 years.   Barcelona still has American Serginio Dest – but things will not be the same without Messi. I would love to see one of the minnows of La Liga knock the big boys off – maybe Sevilla or Valencia (Europa League kings).  Preview here

Germany’s Bundesliga is always Bayern Munich, Dortmund and everyone else.  But it will be exciting to see how American Coach Jesse Marsch and Tyler Adams do at Red Bull Leipzig – this is the first big gig for an American coach ever – and it will be great to see how Marsch does and if Tyler Adams will play the holding #6 midfield slot America so desperately needs him to play.  They finished 2nd last year and get started on Sun at 9:30 am on ESPN+ vs Mainz.  Of course America’s abound thru-out Germany and Dortmund’s Reyna should start up front Saturday at 12:30 on ESPN+ when they play Frankfort and Timmy Chandler, that follows John Brooks last season’s 4th place finisher Wolfsburg hosting Bochum at 9:30 am on the plus.  Preview Here     

Finally England’s EPL gets started this weekend – with what I think is the world’s most competitive and compelling league.  Sure we only have like 3 American’s in the league right now – unbelievable in my opinion.  Of course I root for the EPL teams who have American’s so Chelsea with Pulisic, Zach Steffan of course at Man City – fresh off a solid run last weekend in their loss to Leicester City and newcomer Josh Stewart just signed by Norwich.  We’ll see if he can break his way into the line-up after his 10+ million dollar transfer.  As for the season – Man City and Chelsea just have too much money in my mind – they will battle it out up top while Liverpool and Man United try to sneak in to the top 3.  I like Leicester City and Everton to round out the top 6 Europa League spots – but we’ll see.  Preview Here   This weekend we get Liverpool and Norwich at 12:30 on NBC Saturday after Man United and Leeds United at 7:30 am on NBCSN and Leicester City and Wolverhampton at 10 am.  Sunday gives us the top game of the weekend as Tottenham will host Man City as the Harry Kane drama continues – should be thrilling theater Sunday at 11:30 am on NBCSN. (why NBC doesn’t pick this up I have no idea!!)


Huge congrats to all those players who made high school rosters last week and are getting ready for their opening games this weekend.  Special congrats to our Carmel FC current and former Goalkeepers for making their teams at Carmel High School, Guerin and others.  On the girls side all 6 goalies came thru our program – as Aubre Empie and Bethany Ducat are on varsity, while Chloe Fouts and Claire Bartley made JV Blue and Mary Grace Knapp and Paulina Cernovi made 9th Grade.  On the CHS boys side Charlie Featherson is on Varsity, while Ryan Bartley made JV.  The CHS boys are home Thursday at Murray vs Noblesville, while the Highly ranked girls host games at Murray Sat at 11 am vs Hamilton SE, Mon Pike at 6:30 pm and vs Guerin next Fri at 7 pm. 

I promise I will get back to the Indy 11 and MLS next week  – oh MLS huge games this weekend as Saturday night we get Minnesota United hosting the LA Galaxy at 6 pm on FOX and Sunday night – Portland hosts Seattle in the Cascadia Cup at 9:30 pm on FS1 – this is always a huge matchup between hated rivals both near the top of the table !!



Friday, Aug 13

2:30 pm         Mgladbach vs Bayern Munich Germany  ESPN+

3 pm              Brentford vs Arsenal NBCSN

Saturday, Aug 14  EPL, Bundelsiga, La Liga Kickoffs

7:30 am          Man United vs Leeds United NBCSN

9:30 am         Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs Bochum Germany ESPN+ 

10 am             Liecester City vs Wolverhampton NBCSN

10 am             Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Crystal Palace Peacock

12:30             Norwich vs Liverpool NBC

12:30             Dortmund (Reyna) vs Frankfort ESPN+ .

3 pm              PSG (Messi) vs Strasbourg  beIN Sport

6 pm              Minn United vs LA Galaxy  FOX

7 pm               Indy 11 vs  OKC  home ESPN+

7 pm               KC vs OL Reign NWSL Paramount +

Sunday, Aug 15  – EPL, Bundelsiga, La Liga, Kickoffs

7 am               Angers vs lyonnais  France beIN Sport

9:30 am         RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Mainz Germany ESPN+ 

9 am               New Castle United vs Westham NBCSN

11:30 am        Celta Vigo vs Atletico Madrid Spain ESPN+

11:30             Tottenham vs Man City (Steffan) NBCSN

2 pm              Barcelona (Dest) vs  Real Sociadad ABC

4 pm               Atlanta United vvs LAFC ESPN

9:30 pm       Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders Cascadia Cup FS1

Tuesday, Aug 17  –

2:30 pm       Dortmund (Reyna) vs Bayern Munich  German Supercup  ESPN+

Wednesday, Aug 18  –

7 pm              Loudon United vs Indy 11 ESPN+

8:30 pm       Lyonnais vs Barcelona (Women’s Supercup) ESPNU

10 pm            Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash (Women’s Supercup) ESPNU

Friday, Aug 15 

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

3 pm               Brest vs PSG (Messi, Neymar) France beIN Sport

10:30 pm       LA Galaxy s San Jose   ESPN2


US Men

U.S.’s Marsch more confident than ever at Leipzig

American’s On TV this Weekend

American Coach Jesse Marsch takes over for RB Leipzig

USMNT’s Dest: Barca feels ‘weird’ without Messi   ESPN

Weston McKinney Video – the 18

The US is Ranked in Top 10 in FIFA Rankings –but below Mexico?  S&S  


Ian Darke’s team-by-team Premier League preview
Premier League 2021-22 kit power ranking: Which club wins title of most stylish?
  Chris Wright

EPL Preview – SI – Jon Wilson

Tottenham Season Preview

Manchester United Season Preview
Leicester City Season Preview

Brentford Season Preview

Chelsea outlast Villarreal in penalties to win UEFA Super Cup

Kepa the hero as Chelsea edge out Villarreal to win Super Cup


Messi and PSG: A drama in five acts

What does Messi’s Signing Mean for France Games on TV?  

Messi Biggest Story on last days of Olympics – Dan Wetzal Yahoo Sports



What comes next for USWNT after underwhelming Olympics?
Gators soccer legend Becky Burleigh named Orlando Pride interim head coach



Which Spanish La Liga Team should you Root For now that Messi is Gone?  

La Liga in Flux as Real Madrid and Barca Struggle

Barcelona to air on ABC TV during opening LaLiga weekend of ESPN’s 8-year-deal

Can anyone stop Bayern? Breaking down every Bundesliga team for 2021-22
erek Rae

Messi in Paris, Van Dijk fit, and more: 24 things we’re excited to see in the 2021-22 European season


Who Will Win the Premier League Title? Follow the Uncapped Money.

As a new season starts, it’s very much looking like a title race between the two clubs who have the means to grossly outspend the competition.JONATHAN WILSONAUG 12, 2021 Crisis? What crisis? As the rest of European football has felt the pinch of the pandemic, Premier League spending—at least for three of the very biggest clubs—has gone on unchecked with Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United all doling out in excess of £100 million on players, and with the possibility of more to come. As Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan struggle to complete the sales that would allow them to bring in any new blood, this summer has been a startling assertion of the Premier League’s financial might.There are good reasons for that—a more equitable division of broadcast revenues than elsewhere (although the biggest clubs are trying to change that) helps everybody, and also ensures a level of competition, which in turn has been a factor in making the Premier League the most watched league in the world—but they must come with caveats. The most obvious of them is that the money spent by Chelsea and Man City has very little to do with the league.It felt apt that the four Champions League semifinalists last season were Chelsea, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. In March, Madrid lost an appeal in the European Court of Justice against a ruling that it had received illegal state aid. Man City and PSG are effectively owned by Abu Dhabi and Qatar, respectively, and Chelsea is owned by an oligarch. Madrid now is in trouble, but none of the other three is dependent on football for an income, even if Chelsea has made significant efforts to be self-sustaining.And that, of course, was a key motivation behind the Super League proposal in the spring: An established elite realizing it was struggling to keep up with arrivistes who did not operate under the same financial constraints, forced into action by the exacerbating effects of the pandemic. All that matters then is how strict the financial regulations in your country are, and the Premier League’s are relatively lax, even if there is an ongoing wrangle with Man City that has already lasted more than two years.The club has already spent $139 million on Jack Grealish, with a possible deal in the $200 million range for Harry Kane still on the wish list. With Sergio Agüero gone and Gabriel Jesus seemingly out of favor, the need for Kane would seem more pressing, but Grealish offers something a little different, a dribbler with a sense of anarchy who could perhaps help to break open tight games. That said, anarchy is not often something usually associated with Pep Guardiola sides, and there is the potential for tension.Chelsea is spending a similar figure on Romelu Lukaku in the hope that he will correct its one obvious failing after the arrival of Thomas Tuchel: Struggling to convert possession and domination into an abundance of goals. If he can, Chelsea should be City’s main rival for the Premier League title. Chelsea did beat City three times in the second half of last season, across three competitions, but the doubt is whether it has quite the depth of squad to sustain a title challenge over the course of a full season.Given its debt, Man United’s spending has been more of a surprise: $100 million on Jadon Sancho and $56 million on Raphaël Varane. That perhaps is a reaction to the fan protests against the Glazer family ownership that characterized the end of last season and at the very least expresses a confidence about the financial future of the club that must in part be linked to the decision to roll over the existing domestic broadcast deals for an additional three years without tender.The two signings fill obvious gaps in the squad, and United should be stronger than it has been at any time since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013. This now is a test of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s management and whether he is capable of constructing a coherent attacking plan beyond playing on the break. With what he’ll have at his disposal, there can be no excuses.Then there is Liverpool, which has lost Georginio Wijnaldum to PSG and whose only signing so far has been center back Ibrahima Konaté. The Reds will have Virgil van Dijk back from his ACL tear, though, and surely can’t be as badly afflicted by injuries as it was last season (although left back Andy Robertson already is ruled out to start the season with an ankle ailment). The drop off in the contributions of Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino last season must be a concern, but if they can rediscover their form, then Liverpool could also be a title threat again after scraping to a top-four finish last season.”We are not blind. We see what others are doing. We just have to be able to beat them. We will try to do that,” manager Jürgen Klopp recently said.But unless trying is enough for Liverpool, or unless Solskjaer can achieve something remarkable with his new assets, this still feels like a battle between City and Chelsea—the two reigning Champions League finalists, the two clubs who exist outside usual financial constraints.

Difficult days for Real Madrid and Barça plunge La Liga into uncertainty

Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos are gone, while Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid will fancy their chances of back-to-back titlesSid Lowe@sidloweThu 12 Aug 2021 13.00 EDT S   ESPN FC

Zinedine Zidane was the first one out, so early it feels like a lifetime ago. Then Sergio Ramos departed, the full-time whistle finally catching up with him. Now Lionel Messi has gone, flying back into Barcelona to find the contract he had come to sign was no longer there. Arguably the three most significant men in Spanish football over the past decade, along with Cristiano Ronaldo, all gone in a single summer. And Ronaldo had already left three years earlier.This week, Ramos contacted Messi to say he could stay at his place if he liked. There was always respect there – well, not always – but it still feels a bit weird, after all those confrontations. Between them, they have played 1,449 games for the biggest clubs in Spain or anywhere, but no more. They have won 15 La Liga titles and eight Champions Leagues. No one has played more clásicos, 45 each. Symbols of the greatest rivalry of all, now they’re teammates. The captain of Real Madrid and the captain of Barcelona have both joined Paris Saint-Germain.


Lionel Messi to PSG: the inside story of how a stunning deal was done

Read moreThese are difficult days for La Liga. Raphaël Varane went too and Bryan Gil, the excitement surrounding a kid who is different ended early. Luka Modric is 35, Luis Suárez 34, and Karim Benzema 33. Sergio Agüero has arrived but he is 33, injured and still not registered. Eden Hazard is, well, no one is really sure what he is yet. It may be natural to look around at what’s left and ask: is that it? Worse, on the eve of the season and a fortnight from the close of the transfer window, Spanish fans could be forgiven for hoping that’s it. Don’t take anyone else, please.

Or, in Barcelona’s case: please do. It is not just that the captains of Madrid and Barcelona have gone to PSG, it is that they have gone for free. It is not just that they went, it is that they went even though they didn’t want to. And why it happened. Barcelona’s likely salary cap this year – the limit that led to their loss – will be set at a level below Premier League clubs, and not just the biggest ones. Their financial difficulties are a full-blown crisis, the president, Joan Laporta, talking about the risk to their viability, even Messi’s departure not enough. On Sunday their season starts: right now their signings Memphis Depay, Eric García and Agüero can’t play.Barcelona’s case is extreme, their debt more than €1bn, and shouldn’t be seen as a measure of the health of the league. Yet it is true that the pandemic hit hard and the financial strain is felt across Spain, particularly at the big two, still clinging grimly to the Super League. Last summer, Real Madrid did not make any signings for the first time since 1980. This summer, only David Alaba has signed, and he came on a free to replace Ramos. Carlo Ancelotti rejoined partly because he understood and accepted the limitations.One potential solution came last Thursday when the league voted to sell 10.95% of its commercial business over the next 50 years to the investment fund CVC in return for €2.7bn. That would provide interest-free loans for clubs now, and many need that.The league promised that accepting it would have meant keeping Messi, probably thinking they had Laporta in a corner. But Madrid and Barcelona do not see it as a solution. Laporta described it as “mortgaging” the club, and Madrid insisted that the valuation was too low and have announced legal action to prevent it from going ahead.Despite that heavyweight opposition, the majority of Spanish league clubs approved the deal on Thursday . The league confirmed 38 of the 42 clubs from the first and second divisions in Spain voted in faour of the deal. The league and CVC gave the four clubs who voted against the deal the option to opt out, meaning they would not benefit from the new funds and would not relinquish a percentage of their future revenues. Athletic Bilbao also opposed the agreement. The fourth club that voted against the deal was not disclosed.There is a curious, almost amusing disconnect in the two clubs who championed the European Super League because football was dying claiming La Liga is not sufficiently valued and La Liga, which insisted it was in fine health, saying that those clubs are overvaluing its earning potential. More importantly, there is a bitter, open war for control of football whose consequences are uncertain. The Super League – a super league, at least – has not gone away. Plotting continues, an assault on power prepared. Barcelona, Madrid and Juventus met just as Barcelona backed out on Messi.

La Liga lost him too – a victim of its own rules on financial fair play, its greatest ever asset gone in the pursuit of a greater good, although right now it feels doubtful that such a thing exists. There was delirium in Paris and a hint of depression on the other side of the Pyrenees, two days before the new season.It was left to Messi himself to offer some optimism. “In the end what matters is the teams: Barcelona and Madrid are still there, so are Sevilla, Valencia, Atlético, big clubs,” he told El País. “The club has always been there despite players going. La Liga is still a big, important competition. Players go but the clubs remain. Real Madrid and Barcelona are going to find it hard but the big stars are going to return to Spanish football.”That may take a while, Messi suggested, but others remain. This week, Gerard Moreno hid inside the Villarreal mascot’s suit, pulling off his gigantic head to reveal that he had renewed his contract. Offers from elsewhere rejected, a couple of days later he produced another wonderful performance to take Chelsea to penalties in the European Super Cup final. Villarreal are Europa League holders, the seventh time in 10 seasons that a Spanish club has won the trophy, a reminder of the quality and reason for continued faith.Still around, too, are Iago AspasJoaquín Sánchez (at 40, for goodness sake) and João Félix; Papu Gómez, Mikel Oyarzabal, Comandante José Luis Morales. Modric, Suárez and Benzema are veterans but far from finished, last season showed. Toni Kroos continues to carry around his own personal patch of pitch. Ansu Fati is returning to fitness, Gareth Bale is returning.Rayo Vallecano, the team from barrio, are back. And Mallorca, who have Daniel Sturridge on trial. So are Espanyol, whose timing turned out well: relegated and promoted again during the pandemic, their fans hadn’t seen them play in the second division in 25 years and they still haven’t. And that’s the most important thing: the fans are returning, ground capacities ranging from 20% to 40% for now.

There’s plenty for the fans to see still, the emotional attachment, the identification, still deep. This weekend Pedri, the summer’s great revelation, may play despite only just returning from the Olympics. It would be his 74th game in less than 12 months. Hazard has another chance, hope still not extinguished. And then there’s Antoine Griezmann. Sometimes it seems that people forget how good he is. His sister warned him that if he went to Barcelona no matter what he did he would remain in Messi’s shadow. Could this be his moment, at last?Look at Barcelona’s likely XI and it impresses. Time for some optimism amid the gloom perhaps, a structural and a sentimental dimension to consider: the pressure will be huge and some supporters blame the men who remain for the departure of the player they least wanted to see go, but could Griezmann and his teammates – Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembélé particularly come to mind, maybe even Philippe Coutinho – finally have the balance of obligation and opportunity they need? Could the exposure be good for them, no place to hide, responsibility theirs? Some of them believe so: not all were so sorry to see Messi depart.

Standing before them and Madrid are Sevilla, perhaps offered a unique opportunity to fight for the title, and of course Atlético, seeking back-to-back titles for the first time in 70 years. Some consider them favourites, getting on with adding Rodrigo de Paul (and possibly Rafa Mir) to a settled squad with margin for improvement. Although others departed, Diego Simeone renewed for three more years. There wasn’t much noise but there should have been. When it comes to that opening statement, Spanish football’s most significant over the last decade, he is the one missing: Simeone has to be there, the ultimate competitor. And that, in the end, is the point of it all.

“We’re the champions,” Simeone told his players in training on Wednesday, “and they’re going to come and bite our arses.” All week, in the wake of Messi’s tearful departure, a question has floated in Spain: what now? Now, we play.

8/6/21 USA Women win Bronze, Canada Takes Gold, Brazil faces Spain for Men Gold Sat 7:30 am NBCSN, US Men Win Gold Cup 1-0 vs Mexico, Messi to leave Barcelona

Wow lots of news this week – the US ladies lose to Canada then claim the Bronze as Canada go on to beat Sweden in PKs to take the gold in the Olympics, the US Men’s B/C team beats Mexico’s A team 1-0 in the Gold Cup to win back to back trophies vs Mexico for the 1st time in a decade, and Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona after 21 years with the club.  Oh and the French League starts this weekend with America’s Weah playing for French champion Lyon Saturday 11 am on beIN Sport.  The EPL season kicks off next weekend – but Leicester City will face Man City in the Community Shield this Saturday at 12 noon on ESPN+, and Christian Pulisic and Champions League Champs Chelsea will face Europa Champ Villiareal Wed at 3 pm in the SuperCup on CBSSN.  Honestly I am not ready for the European Season to kickoff – as I recover from this full summer of soccer but I guess I will be ready by next week. 

US Men Win Gold Cup vs Mexico (2nd straight Trophy vs El Tri)

The US Men upset Mexico last weekend in the Gold Cup Final – 1-0 as the US B/C team found a way past Mexico’s A team.  It was truly a gritty performance as the US youthful defense and Goalkeeper of the tourney Matt Turner shut out El Tri’s offense.  Centerback Miles Robinson put in a Player of the Game Performance as he made save after save after save on defense before finally heading in the 117th minute winning goal in ET.  And of course Kellen Acosta at the #6 as his performance vs Mexico – might have been the best dmid performace for the US in years.  For American head coach Gregg Berhalter its time to give him the credit for what he is putting together.  The US Men with our European starters like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKinney, Adams, Steffan and took the youngest team to the nations league final and beat Mexico 2-1 last month when Pulisic buried his PK in the last 5 mintutes.  Now with only 1 starter from that weekend starting in the Gold Cup final – a team that was the youngest we have ever fielded for a major tournament that did it again with an impressive 1-0 win late in extra time.  Now just to confirm – this team only included 3 players who were on that roster from the nations league – in fact this was for the most part a MLS only squad – as defenders like Atlanta’s Miles Robinson, NYCs James Sands, Colorado’s Sam Vines and Shaq Moore laid claim to more playing time moving forward as they held the youngest backline to play a tourney in a while thru-out the Gold Cup.  After all the pain from not qualifying for the World Cup in 2018 – its plain to see the US Men’s National Team is Back.  With a former national team player at the helm – Coach Berhalter has turned things around for this US team.  He’s giving over 50 players a run – and is building both a group and a program that is on the verge of taking over CONCACAF once again.  Not since the Donovan/Beasley/Dempsey days when the US ran off dos a cero wins over our neighbors to the south has the US been the best team in our Region.  But after this past 6 weeks of results – its plain to see that the US Men might well be back on track to make that claim – 2 trophies back to back – something no other US men’s team has done.  So cudos coach – I have often questioned the line-ups and sometimes the formations – but there is no doubt the US is on the right track!!    So who moved themselves up the list to be considered when World Cup Qualification starts labor day weekend?  I think Miles Robinson moves into the starting line-up with John Brooks on the back line – his speed and anticipation a perfect compliment to a bigger yet much slower John Brooks.  I think Sam Vines makes roster on the left side and give Antonee Robinson of Fulham competition.  Not sure Shaq Moore or James Sands on the back line will quite make the next camp – but they are truly players to watch moving forward. Staying in the back – Matt Turner proved this Gold Cup that he deserves a serious look at the #1 Gloves over Steffan.  Turner made some saves this tourney that Steffan simply doesn’t make. It will be interesting to see – but Turner is certainly now solidified in the top 3 at GK with Zach Steffan at Man City and Ethan Horvath now at Nottingham’s Forrest.  Assuming neither of our European based GKs can earn starting slots – Turner – who goes 90 every game for New England – might just be our best bet in tough matches.  

Moving up the field – Kellyn Acosta – finally showed during the knock out rounds and vs Mexico that he can hold down the Dmid #6 slot if Adams is injured.  Jackson Yueill proved this is simply over his head and 17 year old Gianluca Busio showed he has potential in the future – but is not ready yet.  (He just signed to play in Italy – so lets follow that progress).  I thought Eryk Williamson of Portland was also solid in the final vs Mexico – I love that he attacked the goal and constantly went forward rather than backwards.  We’ll see if that gets him more time.  Of course Roldan solidified his spot with multiple assists this tourney as a super sub.  I thought Arriola and Lletget were just average but – you know Lletget is always going to start for coach – so go figure.  Up front I thought Matthew Hoppe was the biggest winner – as his play at the wing spot – (he’s an underneath forward for Schalke) was impressive.  He really reminds me of a mix of Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey.  He was my man crush this tourney – and I can’t wait to see him maybe get a shot at the #9 slot eventually.  Speaking of the #9 – we all hoped Dike would claim the spot this Gold Cup – but in the end he showed he’s just not ready yet.  He’s still young – 1 year as a pro and has a lot to learn still – but his hold up ability, his strength in the box, knowledge of proper passing and movement –were simply not there. He’s no Altidore.  Heck Zardes proved he’s still in the running as well.  Giochinni had some fine moments – including the game winning assist to Zardes vs a very good Qatar team – but he’s also just not there to be a #9 just yet.  He certainly hustles as much as anyone on the field.  I suspect it will be Josh Stewart up front but I am sure excited to see a battle in that slot.  Overall it’s a really exciting time to be a US Soccer fan.  The men’s team is Back  – just 1 month until World Cup Qualifying starts – and what I think will be a quarterfinals run in the next World Cup. The Golden Generation has arrived!

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 edges Australia 4-3 in Bronze Medal Game

So the US ladies bounced back from their horrific loss to Canada by finally finding some offense in a 4-3 win over Australia.  Coach A started Rapinoe, Press and Lloyd up front and they rewarded him with 2 goals each by Lloyd and Rapinoe.  It was the first start for Rapinoe – and just like I said why she should have started all along – she scored and with humph.  Her galicto from the corner spot was spectacular but not better than her off the volley strike from the top of the box on a miss clear by the kiwis.  Its because she’s a big game player that I thought she should start the big games – coach A may have well loss the Gold Medal because he didn’t start her on that wing for the big games.  Anyway – happy to see the US win the Bronze at least.  No small feat – though this team was good enough to win the Gold and they know it.  Interesting times ahead as the average age of this team was like 29 years old.  This might be the last we see of Rapinoe, Lloyd, Heath, Saubruan, maybe even Alex Morgan who was 2 full steps behind this tourney.  Its time to start working in more kids – the question is will Coach A be around to start that movement?  I thought he was thoroughly outcoached this tournament – utterly unprepared for the Sweden debacle and not much better vs Canada or Australia.  I don’t know who else they would turn to with just 2 years until the next World Cup. But the rest of the World is getting better – the US – We are getting older.   

Congrats to Canada on the Gold Medal win – Carmel FC coaches Tom Baker and Carla Baker are Canadian and Coach Carla is a Canadian Hall of Fame Goalkeeper – so thrilled for them!!


Saturday, Aug 7

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

9:30 am    Beach Soccer – USA vs Japan (USA Network)  

11 am  Lyon (Weah) vs Brest French League 1 (beIN Sport)

12 noon Leicester City vs Man City Community Shield (ESPN+)

Sunday, Aug 8

8:30 am Fulham (Ream, Robinson) vs Middlesbrough ESPN+

11:30 am Coventry vs Nottingham Forest (Horvath) ESPN+

12:30 pm  Real Madrid vs Milan  ESPN

3:30 pm  Barcelona vs Juventus (ESPN+)

7:30 pm     Indy 11 @ Atlanta United ESPN+

Wednesday, Aug 11

3 pm Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Villarreal CBSSN

Friday, Aug 13

2:30 pm Mgladbach vs Bayern Munich Germany  ESPN+

3 pm Brentford vs Arsenal NBCSN

Saturday, Aug 14  EPL Kickoff

7:30 am  Man United vs Leeds United NBCSN

10 am  Liecester City vs Wolverhampton NBCSN

10 am  Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Crystal Palace Peacock

12:30   Norwich vs Liverpool NBCSN

12:30 Dortmund (Reyna) vs Frankfort ESPN+ .

7 pm     Indy 11 vs  OKC  home ESPN+


Olympics Women

Canada’s longtime goalkeeper dominated penalty kicks and sudden death to win gold in her final major tournament

Julia Grosso’s Penalty Kick Gives Canada its First Gold Medal in Women’s Soccer

Canada wins Olympic Gold after epic penalty shootout v. Sweden

Brazil vs. Spain will be a battle of football philosophies

Olympics-Soccer-Alves and Brazil have sights set on more gold
Brazil to play Spain in men’s Olympic soccer gold-medal game

Superb Asensio puts Spain into Olympic football final against Brazil

Mexico’s gold medal quest ends in penalty shootout loss to Brazil


European Signings/Departures?

Barcelona cannot afford to keep Messi, says club president

Man City’s Kane interest over if Spurs won’t negotiate: Guardiola

PSG appear most likely destination for Messi as Man City close door on move

Finances don’t add up, but can Barcelona and La Liga afford not to keep Messi?

Barcelona announces Lionel Messi will leave club; reported 5-year deal didn’t get done
Report: USMNT’s Josh Sargent close to completing Norwich move

Sergino Dest turns down multiple big money offers – report


US Women
U.S. women’s soccer takes bronze, but there’s ‘some soul-searching’ ahead

How did the USWNT fall short of Olympic gold? Rating the many theories
Caitlin Murray ESPNFC
Opinion: Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe are game-changers again, possibly one last time

Is this last run for these ladies ?

End of a Generation – USA Today
USWNT gets its bronze medal as Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe each score twice in likely international finale

USA coach Vlatko Andonovski fiddled but his players burned at the Olympics

USWNT stunned by Canada in semifinals at Tokyo Olympics, will play for bronze medal

– Report: USWNT lose to Canada in Olympic semifinals
– Murray: USWNT devoid of chemistry in semifinal exit
– Undefeated: How Scurry’s save opened path for Franch


US Men

Report: USMNT’s Josh Sargent close to completing Norwich move
Gold Cup review: U.S. win, Mexico woe and other tournament takeaways

US strength in depth and Canadian promise: what we learned from the Gold Cup

Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner’s unlikely rise to stardom

U.S. men’s national soccer team defeats Mexico in Concacaf Gold Cup final, collects second trophy in two months

UMNT C Team stands for Champions – sBI
Gold Cup grades: Which USMNT youngsters helped their stock most?

Player Ratings

Player Ratings SBI  


Chicharito, Vela will lead MLS All-Stars against Mexico stars

Galaxy to feature statue of former star Landon Donovan at Dignity Health Sports Park




USWNT reasons for Olympic struggles: Rating impact of roster age, rotation, tactics, no crowds and more

Aug 4, 2021Caitlin Murray ESPNFC 

Why has the No. 1-ranked U.S. women’s national team struggled so much at the Tokyo Olympics? Not even the players and staff seem to know.

“I don’t know,” Carli Lloyd said after the USWNT’s 1-0 upset loss to Canada in the semifinal. “I don’t know in this moment. It happens, you know? You can’t win them all.”


Coach Vlatko Andonovski was at a similar loss on Monday, telling reporters, “I don’t really know,” before adding: “I guess we’re going to have to go back and dig a little deeper and find out what is it that didn’t go the way we wanted.” Without any clear-cut explanations for why a team that dominated its way through a World Cup two years ago suddenly looked so disjointed and ineffective at the Tokyo Olympics, plenty of outside theories have floated around.Here is a look at some of the top theories and our ratings (10=super likely, 1=unlikely) of how likely it is that each actually contributed to the USWNT’s loss:

The USWNT’s roster was too old: 5/10

It’s easy to look at the average age of the USWNT’s roster at the Olympics and point to that as the problem. All of the USWNT’s primary attackers are over the age of 30, except Lynn Williams, who is 28. The USWNT’s two biggest clutch players, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe, who were heroes in previous tournaments, are 39 and 36, respectively, and both are clearly a step slower than they once were.But there’s other important context. First, being the oldest team in a tournament hasn’t hurt the USWNT before. The USWNT had the oldest squads at both the 2015 World Cup and the 2019 World Cup, and they won both. It’s lazy to say that a team isn’t good just because it’s old.More importantly, the USWNT’s problem in Japan wasn’t its older players. Did Lloyd and Rapinoe have good tournaments? No. But how do you explain, for instance, the uncharacteristic struggles of Samantha Mewis, the 28-year-old central midfielder who many analysts have considered to be the best player in the world?

Basic execution of the soccer fundamentals — like dribbling and passing — was sloppy, and that happened all the way up and down the roster. As Rapinoe — the most honest and blunt player on the team — said after the tournament-opening Sweden loss, the U.S. was “doing dumb stuff, like not passing the ball, not trapping the ball.” After the loss to Canada, her assessment was nearly the same: “Too many errors from us, again. The space was there for us to play in, and we just couldn’t get into it — too many touches or an errant touch.”To be fair, the Olympics is a particularly grueling tournament because of how few rest days the IOC gives players between games. Having some younger players to take on more minutes and workload could have helped, but with more substitutions available than normal, Andonovski went out of his way to rest his players as much as possible. As Alex Morgan said, the USWNT had the freshest players in the tournament due to the rotations.Still, Andonovski may have found some benefit in bringing more younger players to the tournament — and then actually playing them — but it would’ve been less about their age than… (onto the next category…)

The selected players were too complacent: 7/10

When a team has won a World Cup in the unrelenting fashion the USWNT did in France in 2019, it would be tempting for any new coach to run it back. Andonovski already knew these players could succeed together in the pressure cooker of a major tournament, but what the USWNT seemed to lack more than pure fitness was desire.The players, of course, will tell you they wanted it. The veterans wanted to go out on top as they (likely) end their careers. The younger players wanted to win their first medal in an Olympics. Yet it’s hard not to notice that the one field player who had a standout performance in the entire tournament was Lynn Williams, who notched a goal and an assist against the Netherlands.Williams is playing in her first major tournament, one of the only players on the entire roster to do so. Under both Andonovski and previous coach Jill Ellis, Williams has not been the USWNT’s best attacking player — there’s a reason why she didn’t make any tournament rosters under Ellis and why she originally made the Olympic roster as an alternate — and yet she played in Japan like she had a lot more to prove than anyone else.That also raises the question of why a player like Catarina Macario didn’t have the chance to play a bigger role in the tournament, even as a substitute. She’s talented and has proved herself to be capable of competing at the highest level, but she was only named to one matchday squad (the 6-1 win over New Zealand). If Andonovski had told her he trusted her to take over a game and do her thing, could she have helped unlock an opponent like Canada, which wasn’t committing to attacking in that fateful semifinal? We’ll never know.With the Olympics being pushed back a year, Andonovski arguably had the time to break away from merely copying-and-pasting the World Cup roster and finding some players hungry to make their mark. At a minimum, it would’ve pushed the veterans harder as they fought to keep their spots going into the tournament, but it could’ve yielded some more dynamic options for Tokyo.

Andonovski rotated the starting line-ups too much: 10/10

In any tournament where a bunch of games are packed into a short period of time, a coach has one of two ways to approach it: consistency for the sake of chemistry, or rotation to keep the players fresh for each game. Andonovski clearly leaned toward rotation. Perhaps he was mindful of his roster’s age, or perhaps he just knew that playing a game every three days is a lot for players of any age.Rapinoe wondered after the semifinal if rotation was a problem but then dismissed it.”It just didn’t click for us,” Rapinoe said. “I don’t know if it was just roster rotations a lot. I know it’s a tough tournament, trying to save people. But our bench is deep as hell, so I don’t think we can really put it on that. I can’t quite put my finger on it; I’ve tried, I’ve been thinking about it the whole tournament. We just didn’t have that juice that we normally do.”If the concern about rotations is a drop-off in quality, Rapinoe was right to dismiss that. The substitutes for the USWNT are as good as its starters, and the USWNT never loses individual quality by rotating players. But as a collective, that’s a different story, and the USWNT’s biggest problem in Japan has seemed to be a lack of chemistry.While we can’t see what’s happening behind the scenes to build that chemistry, we do know that there wasn’t much consistency in games. Look no further than an unprecedented nine goals called offside throughout the tournament as tangible proof that the players just weren’t on the same page.”There was a lot of rotation, so in a way I think we had the freshest legs of any team,” Alex Morgan said after the semifinal. “But [other teams] also had the consistency in the line-ups. So that’s what you have to weigh in tournament like this. It’s very different than a World Cup. There were more substitutions than there’s ever been, so it’s very different.”It’s unclear if Morgan was hinting that the higher amount of allowed substitutions meant that less rotation should have been needed; it would have been a good point, too. With five substitutes, it probably wasn’t necessary to introduce five different starting line-ups in five games. If Andonovski had stuck to more consistent starting line-ups, he could have made better use of his substitutions to make sure impactful players were coming into games, instead of just taking players off for the sake of it.

The USWNT got too distracted by its lawsuit or politics: 0/10

Anyone who claims that the USWNT struggled in Japan because they were too distracted by social justice is someone who clearly does not watch the USWNT and has never watched the USWNT. These are people who should be laughed at or ignored.The USWNT has historically been one of the most dominant teams in sports, period, and they’ve done it all while constantly fighting for better treatment and better pay. Seriously, there’s a whole book about it, but you don’t even have to look back any further than the 2019 World Cup. The USWNT filed their equal pay lawsuit only months prior, Megan Rapinoe got into a fight with Donald Trump (which he started, for some reason), and both the USWNT and Rapinoe crushed their competition.The evidence is clear: the USWNT has won more tournaments while caring about social justice than not.

The USWNT didn’t lose enough before the Olympics: 7/10

Fans of the USWNT are very accustomed to winning. So accustomed, in fact, that a single loss is enough to set off calls to fire a coach, which has created a culture where it can be difficult for coaches to experiment and take the risks that result in losses.But losses are good. Jill Ellis has said that losing games before the 2015 World Cup allowed the team to win the trophy, and she thinks the USWNT probably wouldn’t have gone as far without those losses. It’s easy to see why, too: defeats force a hard self-examination of weaknesses and shake away any feelings of complacency.– Olympics medal tracker | ScheduleComing into the Olympics, Vlatko Andonovski had never lost a game with the USWNT, and the team was riding a 44-game unbeaten streak when it arrived in Japan. Where, then, was any serious introspection going to come from? What would have prompted players to look in the mirror and dig a little deeper? It appears the answer is that those things went missing in Japan.

The lack of crowds hurt the USWNT’s mentality: 6/10

Americans will follow the USWNT anywhere. During the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, Reims, a quaint city known for its champagne production and Gothic architecture, looked like an American resort town at the start of the tournament. As soon as the USWNT left, the throngs of traveling American fans did too, following the USWNT from city to city across France. The players admitted that every match in France, except the quarterfinal against France, felt like a home game.But no Americans have followed the USWNT to Japan.Due to the pandemic, the USWNT’s games have been mostly played in empty, dead-silent stadiums. The players have insisted it’s not a big deal — they’ve gotten used to it during the pandemic. But the truth is, if fans were allowed in Japan, no other non-host team would have as much support as the USWNT. It’s hard to measure the impact of it, but ask any athlete: fans add that extra push, and for the USWNT, that extra bit of swagger to put on a show.”With it being a major tournament without fans, we know that energy and everything is gonna come from us,” Rose Lavelle said during the group stage. “It comes from every single player and staff member, so that’s something we’ve been emphasizing too.”But it clearly hasn’t worked, and there’s no substitute for a stadium of mostly USWNT fans. The lack of fans may only be one piece of the psychological difficulty of the past 16 months during the pandemic, but it’s an important piece.

The world has ‘caught up’ to the USWNT: 4/10

If the question were whether there were other teams in Japan capable of beating the USWNT, then there is a 100% probability that it was a factor in the USWNT’s loss: teams like Sweden and the Netherlands were favorites, along with the USWNT, before the tournament even started. But if the question is whether the world has “caught up,” meaning the field has been somehow significantly more difficult than in years past, that’s a lot less likely.The fact is, women’s soccer has been growing at a rapid pace for several years now, and there have been very good teams capable of beating the USWNT all along. The 2019 Women’s World Cup was easily the most difficult in history — more teams looked like title contenders than ever — and just because the USWNT won it in impressive fashion, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t tough.Sure, it’s possible the USWNT’s failure to reach the gold-medal match in Tokyo will signal a new shift in women’s soccer where the USWNT never reaches a final again. But that seems highly improbable unless the USWNT disbands tomorrow.In truth, there are several teams that can win any major tournament, and that number is indeed growing, but the USWNT reaching a final is never a given. It wasn’t a given in 2016, when the USWNT got knocked out in the quarterfinal at the Rio Olympics, and it wasn’t a given in 1995, 2003 or 2007, when the USWNT didn’t reach the finals of those World Cups either.

The USWNT’s run wasn’t actually that terrible: 5/10

Looking at the USWNT’s performances, rather than the results, is certainly disheartening. By the players’ own admissions, they looked bad, both as a collective group and as individuals. For fans, the team on the field was unrecognizable at times.But reaching the final four of a major tournament isn’t terrible, all things considered. The USWNT has only failed to get that far once in the team’s entire history, and that was at the 2016 Olympics with a loss in the quarterfinal. That arguably puts the Tokyo Olympics in line with the USWNT’s expected results.”This was my eighth tournament, and they’ve all been different,” Lloyd said after the loss to Canada. “They’ve all had a different storyline, they’ve all started and finished in a different fashion, some have been pretty, some have been ugly and some we’ve just scraped by. This one, we didn’t get by.”It’s easy to forget that the USWNT won a World Cup in 2015 playing rough soccer for most of the tournament. The first few games looked so bad that pundits and former USWNT players were questioning why coach Jill Ellis hadn’t been fired already. The USWNT grew into its later games — something this team couldn’t do in Japan — but it was far from invincible.Sometimes in past tournaments, the ball seemed to bounce the USWNT’s way, even when they weren’t playing well. The USWNT had no such luck in this go-round, and sometimes luck makes all the difference.

Gold Cup review: U.S. Men win, Mexico woe and other tournament takeaways

Aug 3, 2021ESPN

The Gold Cup is complete, and after a topsy-turvy, 120-minute battle in Las Vegas on Sunday night, Gregg Berhalter’s U.S. team walked away deserving winners over rivals Mexico and made it two trophies out of two attempts over their neighbors this summer, having won the CONCACAF Nations League at the beginning of June.

With the trophy won, the confetti swept away and the players slowly heading back to rejoin their club teams around the globe, ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Eric Gomez and Kyle Bonagura reflect on the tournament’s highs and lows, as well as wondering if it’s no longer just a competition for U.S. and Mexico to dominate.

Biggest takeaway from the competition?

Jeff Carlisle: The U.S. player pool is deeper than originally thought. Heading into the tournament, there were a lot of question marks about certain positions and while a few still linger — namely who is going to claim the starting striker spot — more questions were answered. Miles Robinson looks like a player who can be a real contributor at center-back. Kellyn Acosta is a solid backup for Tyler Adams in defensive midfield and given Adams’ difficulty with injuries, could very well be called upon to play. Goalkeeper Matt Turner can give Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath a run for their money between the posts, too.

Berhalter also has the luxury of identifying players who can excel in “supersub” roles, be it a midfielder like Cristian Roldan or an outside-back like Shaq Moore. It all gives Berhalter something of a selection puzzle when it comes to naming a roster for World Cup qualifying, which begins in September, but he has many more options than he had before and that is a positive development.Eric Gomez: In the coming weeks and months, the generational shift will emerge as a huge talking point for both the United States and Mexico.

Several of Gregg Berhalter’s young champions, like Matthew Hoppe, Robinson and Turner have likely played themselves into the USMNT World Cup qualifying rotation after their stellar performances. On the other side, Mexico fans can only look on wistfully towards the under-23 team playing so well in Tokyo. They will rightfully wonder what their fortunes would have been like if the Olympic side had suited up instead of the groggy, aging group we saw throughout the Gold Cup.

Moving forward, it seems more and more like this summer served both teams as a long audition for qualifiers. The United States will revel in adding in players to their established mix of young stars, while Mexico will scramble to swap out pieces of an aging core.

Kyle Bonagura: From an American standpoint, the whole point of the roster construction was to identify players who could play roles during World Cup qualification and not only did goalkeeper Turner showcase he’s talented enough to be relied on, he made a strong case to be the No. 1 as well. Other players improved their stock, too, but because of the nature of the position — only one guy plays — it was Turner’s performance that could have the most impact on a first-choice starting XI.

Steffen has been viewed as the locked-in starter for a while now, but after Horvath came up clutch in the Nations League final and Turner’s run through the Gold Cup — the New England Revolution stopper didn’t allow a single goal from the run of play in six matches — Steffen’s standing should no longer be a given. Especially considering that when qualifying begins in September, Steffen will likely still be in a backup role at Manchester City, while Turner (and possibly Horvath) will have been getting consistent playing time.

Is anyone going to challenge the USA and Mexico moving forward?

Carlisle:Canada looks to be the team best-positioned to threaten the U.S./Mexico hegemony. The Reds had already made some noise in the CONCACAF Nations League when they defeated the U.S. at home. Then, they arrived at the Gold Cup without two of their best players (Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David) before being depleted further when forward Ayo Akinola went down with a torn ACL. And yet Canada pushed both Mexico and the U.S. to the limit, losing both matches by a single goal.Tajon Buchanan was already looking like an immense talent at the club level with the New England Revolution. Now he’s showing the same at international level. Stephen Eustaquio impressed, too. When Canada gets its full team together, it could prove formidable indeed.

Gomez: Canada is already there. As was the case with Mexico and the USMNT, Canada was without several of their biggest stars for the Gold Cup. However, they showed they’re deeper than ever and boast an electric group of young talent — Buchanan was a revelation, rightfully winning the tournament’s Best Young Player award — who will challenge to make their first World Cup since 1986.

Meanwhile, Central America is also experiencing a changing of the guard, yielding an interesting preview of what’s to come in World Cup qualifying. Costa RicaPanama and Honduras have lost quite a bit of steam, while El Salvador was a welcome surprise under manager Hugo Perez. Beyond the three North American countries, La Selecta will challenge Jamaica for the playoff spot and make life difficult for every opponent along the way.

Bonagura: Even without its two best players, Canada advanced to the semifinal, where it had its chances to beat Mexico before losing at the death. So, the short answer is: yes. Canada is on the rise and will be a tough opponent for the United States and Mexico for years to come. Canada hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1986, in Mexico, and the expectation this cycle should be for that to change.There is lots of progress to be made, but this generation of Canadian players has the potential to change how Canadian soccer is viewed in CONCACAF and beyond.

Biggest surprise or biggest disappointment of the competition?

Carlisle: El Salvador is another team that looks like it is moving in the right direction. Manager Perez — a former U.S. international, mind you — not only has Los Cuscatlecos more organized, but taking more risks as well, and to good effect. El Salvador was another team that provided a difficult test to not only Mexico, but also reigning Asian champions, Qatar. El Salvador won’t be a pushover by any means when the Octagonal begins in September.

In terms of disappointment, while Costa Rica claimed top spot in their group with three wins, it looks like a team caught between generations, and were soundly beaten by Canada in the quarterfinals. How long can players like Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz carry the load? The start of World Cup qualifying should give us an answer.

Gomez: Tata Martino. After losing the Nations League final to the United States in June, Mexico’s manager found himself caught between a rock and a hard place. Knowing his player pool would be diminished as the under-23 team played the Olympics, Martino felt pressure for the first time in his stint as El Tri manager.Whereas the United States opted to rest all of its main talents, Martino felt he needed to bring as strong a team as he could to the Gold Cup to make up for his previous loss and risk further fatigue. The result was predictable. The Gold Cup is already as near to a zero-sum competition as there is for Mexico, and after Hirving Lozano went down with injury during the tournament’s opening game, even more pressure was mounted on the Argentine coach to deliver a trophy, which ultimately never came.Bonagura: Costa Rica might have gone 3-0 to win its group, but at no point during the tournament did it look like a team capable of making a threatening run in the knockout stages. The 2-0 loss to Canada in the quarterfinals was not an upset by any stretch.Part of Costa Rica’s uninspiring showing can probably be chalked up to introducing a new coach without any time to prepare, but it’s hard to look at the aging roster and come up with many good reasons to expect things to improve significantly in qualifying. This is a country that reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2014 and is but a shadow of what it once was.

Player who impressed you the most?

Carlisle: Miles Robinson. The U.S. center-back should have been named the player of the tournament. (That honor went to Mexico’s Hector Herrera instead.) Not that it matters that much to him as he’ll gladly settle for being part of the Gold Cup championship team, but Robinson was dominant in every game, putting out constant fires and delivering composure on the ball.In the final, Robinson even showed off his ability to carry the ball forward into the attack. And he was central to a U.S. defense that conceded but one goal — a penalty kick, at that — the entire tournament.Will it be enough to break into the U.S. starting lineup? There is an open slot alongside John Brooks, and Robinson’s mobility could make him an ideal replacement for the injured Aaron Long. There is competition as well, though, and Mark McKenzie and Matt Miazga won’t give up without a fight, but Robinson’s emergence was the most positive development for the U.S. in the Gold Cup.

Gomez: While Canada’s Buchanan was spectacular throughout the Gold Cup, Qatar’s Almoez Ali continued his prolific run with his national team, raising many eyebrows along the way.

The 24-year-old striker won the competition’s Golden Boot award and displayed a mix of speed and skill that enthralled observers and rankled defenders throughout. Ali walks away as the only player to win the top scorer award at both the Asian Cup and CONCACAF’s premier national team competition.Lastly, it would be a glaring omission not to talk about Turner’s amazing goalkeeping throughout the Americans’ title run. Especially in the knockout stages, the New England Revolution man looked unbeatable. He’ll definitely remain at the top of Berhalter’s list for any game where Manchester City’s Steffen is unavailable.Bonagura: Setting Turner aside, I think there are two players who really played their way into the United States’ World Cup qualifying conversation: Matthew Hoppe and Robinson. Robinson was deserving of Player of the Tournament honors by being the guy we see regularly in MLS and Berhalter likely comes away from the last month with confidence he can slot him next to Brooks.With that understood, I found myself more impressed by Hoppe. Not because he was more impactful than Robinson, but because we got to see a version of him that didn’t get to regularly emerge at Schalke. While breaking through as a 19-year-old in the Bundesliga was impressive, it was tough to get a good read on how he could potentially fit into the USMNT because Schalke was truly horrific. Their basic inability to progress the ball with any regularity rendered him obsolete more often than not.In the Gold Cup, Hoppe’s confidence and willingness to take people on stood out, and he’s earned a spot this fall.

Berhalter’s USMNT “C team” made the C stand for champions

By Ives Galarcep | August 2, 2021 1:00 pm ET  https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.f88235f49a156f8b4cab34c7bc1a0acc.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-1&lang=en&screen_name=soccerbyives&show_count=false&show_screen_name=true&size=m&time=1628293730937

It didn’t matter much that we had known for months what Gregg Berhalter was planning to do with the rosters for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup. The complaints still came when his experimental squad for the Gold Cup was unveiled.

The immediate complaint was that it made little sense to call in what was seen as a USMNT C team, especially with Mexico announcing a close to full-strength team, complete with European-based stars Hirving Lozano, Hector Herrera and Edson Alvarez.

Berhalter and the team never bought into the idea that this American team was a C team — with a B team presumably consisting of those European-based players who didn’t make the cut for Nations League and had their clubs balk at a Gold Cup call — but as it turns out it actually was a C team, only the C stands for champion.

Berhalter took a team loaded with players who had never competed in an international tournament and made them believers. He gave youngsters prominent roles and let them battle through adversity, and he convinced the veterans on the squad to buy into what he was doing.

The result was a tournament run few could have envisioned when that roster was first revealed, which was understandable because few could have seen so many players blowing away expectations.

Followers of MLS already knew Miles Robinson was a quality defender, but few were aware he had the talent to be a USMNT starter. Now they know.

Matt Turner had been the subject of plenty of buzz in MLS in recent years, but for non-MLS followers, the Gold Cup was the first chance to see a player some believe can challenge Zack Steffen for the first-choice goalkeeper role. That idea sounds far less crazy than it did a month ago.

Kellyn Acosta had already provided a tease of his impressive ability in the Nations League final, and carried that momentum into the Gold Cup, where he silenced any lingering questions about which player is the best option as Tyler Adams’ backup in the defensive midfield role.

Even fewer non-MLS followers were aware that James Sands was such a poised and technically-gifted central defender at the age of 20, and now they are aware that he is legit and a real threat to make the World Cup qualifying roster.

USMNT fans who follow Americans Abroad closely were already aware of Matthew Hoppe after his breakout season with Schalke, but the full fanbase hadn’t had a chance to see him up close, and now they know he is a legitimate and versatile attacking threat.

Those are just some of the players who fully embraced the opportunity presented by Berhalter, and rewarded him with tournaments that not only led to a trophy, and precious win against Mexico, but also leaves their coach feeling that much better about the depth of his player pool.

That as, after all, the main goal of the Gold Cup, because there is nothing more important to the USMNT program than ensuring a successful World Cup qualifying campaign, and Berhalter saw the tournament as a chance to identify and develop some new options.

That is where the ‘house money’ theme was born, because no matter what happened in Sunday’s final, Berhalter would be heading home with the knowledge he had found several players that had proven their mettle and worthiness to be included on the World Cup qualifying squad.

Berhalter wasn’t satisfied though. He believed his team had come together in a way that beating Mexico wasn’t impossible, and after leading a full-strength USMNT to a dramatic win over El Tri in June, Berhalter had detailed knowledge of Mexico’s strengths and weaknesses.

That is what led the USMNT to high-press Mexico at every opportunity, never letting El Tri get comfortable, and consistently testing Mexico’s own transition defense with consistently quick counterattacks.

Mexico still had its chances, and might have grabbed a first-half lead if not for Matt Turner’s heroics and the stellar play of Robinson and James Sands in central defense, and if not for some poor finishing by Mexico, but there was a feeling that when the halftime whistle blew one team looked rattled and one team looked energized.

Make no mistake, Mexico’s players felt the pressure of winning a final they were expected to win easily, and the pressure of doing so in a sold-out stadium where close to 90 percent of the fans in attendance were urging them on.

That it was the USMNT that kept pushing the issue late in the match and in extra time, and the Americans who finished strong despite facing a more accomplished collection of players, makes Sunday’s loss all the more bitter for Mexico and head coach Tata Martino, who has to deal with the ignominy of being the first El Tri coach to lose back-to-back finals to the United States.

While Martino suddenly finds himself no longer enjoying his honeymoon period as Mexico coach, Berhalter celebrated his birthday on Sunday with his second trophy of the summer, bragging rights over the coach some fans had wished was hired instead of him, and with another group of players riding the confidence boost that comes with winning an international trophy.

It’s a safe bet Berhalter and his team will enjoy celebrating their title in Las Vegas, before going back to their respective teams, while Berhalter prepares for his biggest challenge, qualifying for the World Cup.

Even with two trophies on the mantle, and two wins over Mexico, Berhalter knows that none of that will matter if he doesn’t lead the USMNT through a successful — and impressive — World Cup qualifying campaign.

After Sunday’s win, and after his work turning a “C team” into champions, there is a lot more reason to believe Berhalter is up to the task.