9/27/21  Champions League Tues/Wed on CBSSN, Sectional start next week for area high schools, Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm

Champions League is Back Tues/Wed

Champions League is back with Match-day 2 this week on Paramount plus and the Goalazo Show on CBS Sports Network.  The Pregame will start at 2 pm for the 3 pm kickoffs Tues/Wed with the Goalazo show – showing goals from all the games starting at 3 pm on CBSSN.  Each of the games can be watched on Paramount plus ($5 a month) as well.  Again I have been pleased with both the pregame and post game coverage on CBSSN and Paramount plus – sucks we have to pay now – but the coverage is MUCH BETTER than Peacock which doesn’t allow you to rewind at all.  Featured games on Tuesday are of course PSG and Messi vs Man City and his former coach Pep Guardiola at 3 pm.  American’s planning include TTyler Adams should be on for RB Leipzig hosting Club Brugge, and Reyna should be in for Dortmund vs Sporting both at 3 pm.  AC Milan faces Atletico Madrid as well.  Wednesday gives us American’s McKinney for Juventus and Pulisic for Chelsea  (though Pulisic probably won’t play) at 3 pm, while Brendan Aaronson for RB Salzeburg hosts Lille and Tim Weah also at 3 pm.  Young Boys American Jordan Pfuk scored last time out and will look to score again as they Atalanta in Italy Wed at 12:45 pm, while the other big game Wed in Man United hosting Villareal at 3 pm Wed. 

Indy 11 Returns home Sat vs Atlanta United 2 –7 pm & MyIndy TV 23, ESPN+

The 11 have a chance to move up the rankings though with a huge home match vs Atlanta United this Sat at 7 pm. It will be Spanish Heritage Night at the Mike.    

High School Sectionals Starting Soon

The 3rd ranked CHS Varsity girls host Sectionals starting next week at Murray Stadium.  Coming off a tough 0-2 loss at home to Noblesville last week – the CHS Girls will look to rebound during sectionals and hope for a rematch down the road.  The Carmel Boys defeated Guerin 3-0 last week as they head to sectionals at Westfield High ranked 10th in the state.   State Rankings going into sectionals.   

Champions League TV schedule

All times Eastern.

Tuesday, September 28

12:45 pm EDT

Ajax Amsterdam vs. Beşiktaş

Paramount+, Galavisión, fubo TV

12:45 pm EDT

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester City

Paramount+, Univision, TUDN, fubo TV

03:00 pm EDT

RB Leipzig (Adams) vs. Club Brugge

Paramount+, TUDNxtra, fubo TV

03:00 pm EDT

AC Milan vs. Atletico Madrid

Paramount+, TUDNxtra, fubo TV

03:00 pm EDT

Borussia Dortmund (Reyna) vs. Sporting CP

Paramount+, TUDNxtra, fubo TV

03:00 pm EDT

FC Porto vs. Liverpool

Paramount+, TUDNxtra, fubo TV  03:00 pm EDT

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Inter Milan

Paramount+, UniMás, TUDN, fubo TV  03:00 pm EDT

Real Madrid vs. Sheriff Tiraspol Paramount+, PrendeTV  3pm 

Wednesday, September 29

12:45 pm EDT

Atalanta vs. BSC Young Boys  (American Pfuk)

Paramount+, UniMás, TUDN, fubo TV  12:45 pm EDT

Juventus vs. Chelsea

Paramount+, TUDNxtra, fubo TV  3 pm

RB Salzburg (Aaronson) vs. Lille (Tim Weah)

Paramount+, TUDNxtra, fubo TV 03:00 pm EDT

Manchester United vs. Villarreal

Paramount+, UniMás, TUDN, fubo TV 03:00 pm EDT

Bayern Munich vs. Dynamo Kiev

Paramount+, TUDNxtra, fubo TV  03:00 pm EDT

Benfica vs. Barcelona

Paramount+, PrendeTV  03:00 pm EDT

VfL Wolfsburg vs. Sevilla FC

Paramount+, TUDNxtra, fubo TV 03:00 pm EDT

Zenit St Petersburg vs. Malmö

Paramount+, Galavisión, fubo TV    03:00 pm EDT

Columbus Crew v Cruz Azul, 8p on ESPN2, TUDN, Univision, fuboTV, Sling TV: Gyasi Zardes and MLS champion Columbus face Liga MX champions Cruz Azul in the Campeones Cup.


  • Atlanta United v Inter Miami, 7p on ESPN+ (free trial): Miles Robinson, George Bello, and Brad Guzan match up with Robbie Robinson.
  • CF Montréal v New England Revolution, 7p on ESPN+: Matt Turner will try to prevent more Djordje Mihailovic assists in this one.
  • FC Dallas v Sporting KC, 8p on ESPN+, fcdallas.com: The Huntsmen feature some of MLS’ best young talent, including Ricardo Pepi, Jesús Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal, and Justin Che.
  • San Jose Earthquakes v Seattle Sounders, 10:30p on ESPN+, Prime Video: Cristian Roldan and Josh Atencio, who has been impressing for the Sounders, face a San Jose squad with Cade Cowell and Jackson Yueill. Jordan Morris is edging closer to making his Sounders return.


  • Lyon v Brøndby IF, 12:45p on Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: Christian Cappis and Brøndby have a solid foe in Europa League.
  • Marseille v Galatasaray, 3p on TUDN, UniMás, Paramount+, fuboTV, Univision NOW: Konrad de la Fuente and Marseille host DeAndre Yedlin and Galatasaray in Europe League.
  • Celtic v Bayer Leverkusen, 3p on Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: Cameron Carter-Vickers will face a fast-paced Bundesliga attack in this Europa matchup.

Also in action:

  • Sturm Graz v PSV, 12:45p on Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: PSV continues their Europa campaign without Richie Ledezma.
  • Antwerp v Eintracht Frankfurt, 12:45p, Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: Timmy Chandler and Frankfurt face Antwerp in Europa League. Antwerp is without Sam Vines due to a serious injury.
  • Zorya v Roma, 12:45p on Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: Bryan Reynolds attempts to work his way into José Mourinho’s plans with this Conference League match.
  • Ferencváros v Real Betis, 3p on Galavision, Paramount+, fuboTV, Sling TV, TUDN.com, Univision NOW: Henry Wingo faces a La Liga opponent in Europa.
  • Genk v Dinamo Zagreb, 3p on Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: Mark McKenzie and Genk are at home to Zagreb in Europa.

Champions League

Guardiola and Messi meet again as PSG take on Man City
Messi set to return as PSG and Man City go head to head

Man City boss Guardiola unsure how to stop fearsome PSG attack

PSG still ‘a work in progress’ for Pochettino after Messi arrival

Rebic emerging from Zlatan’s shadow as Atletico await

Juve beat Sampdoria but have Dybala worries ahead of Chelsea visit

Liverpool need to show Champions League reaction after Brentford mishaps: Klopp
Ajax star Haller takes to Champions League in style
Simeone calls for Atletico to ‘evolve and change’

Real Madrid liberated by Ancelotti return but tougher tests await


USMNT Big Board: Will Pepi, Hoppe join Pulisic in Qatar?
Jeff Carlisle  ESPNFC
USMNT’s Weah sets up two goals for Canada’s David in Lille win 

USMNT’s Dest shines in Barcelona blowout; Fati scores on return 

Christian Pulisic remains out with injury

Miazga, Weah, Scally, Pefok, & Harkes lead mixed weekend for Yanks abroad

USMNT’s De La Fuente chasing his dream in Marseille

Looking ahead to October qualifiers: what could the USMNT roster look like?

Building an October World Cup Qualifying Roster – S&S

What the first round of World Cup Qualifying says about the USMNT

CONCACAF sets critical 2022 Summer tournament to qualify for both U-20 WC and Olympics

USWNT vs. Paraguay: A glimpse at the future  S&S

Why Do We Even Play these Games US Ladies ??   The 18 – Good Question – I didn’t watch !!

September 2021 International Friendly: USA 8-0 Paraguay – Pasta, chili, and goals S&S By Parker Cleveland

Heath Thrilled to Join Childhood Dream Team – Arsenal


Was Chelsea’s approach wrong vs. Man City? PLUS: Arsenal thump Spurs, Fati’s return for Barcelona
4hGabriele Marcotti
10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 6

Perfect Napoli reclaim top spot, Lazio squeeze past Mourinho’s Roma in derby
Fernandes vows to keep taking penalties after Villa misery

Spurs ‘lost complete control’ in loss as Tottenham ‘got smashed’ by Arsenal

Mexico star Raul Jimenez bags first Wolves goal since skull fracture

Freiburg down Augsburg to stay unbeaten in Bundesliga

MLS & Indy 11

MLS Power Rankings: Seattle cements its superiority in the West

Stam leaves Cincinnati after one win in 16

Sounders top Sporting KC, regain top spot in West

Sounders fend off conference rivals Sporting KC for the win

MLS Standings –




Gallery: Hoppenot, Lancaster tallies power LouCity to win at Indy Eleven

Christian Pulisic remains out with injury

Joe Prince-WrightSun, September 26, 2021, 5:50 AM·3 min read

|Christian Pulisic is stepping up his return from injury, but he won’t be ready for Saturday’s Premier League title clash between Chelsea and Manchester City, as Thomas Tuchel has confirmed the USMNT star’s ankle injury is not yet fully recovered.“Christian Pulisic is still out,” Tuchel said during his pre-match press conference on Friday.There is some positive news about his recovery, though, as the Chelsea winger missed the win at Tottenham but after that victory, Thomas Tuchel provided an update to ProSoccerTalk.Pulisic, 23, suffered an ankle injury in the USMNT’s 4-1 win at Honduras on Sept. 9 and has been out since.But Chelsea hope to have him back very soon.

What is the latest Christian Pulisic injury update?

Asked by ProSoccerTalk about a possible timeline for Pulisic’s return, Tuchel said that the League Cup game against Aston Villa on Wednesday would come too soon for Pulisic.Tuchel added that Pulisic is working hard at Chelsea’s training ground, and his fitness status depends on how that session went.“I think for Christian the game against Aston Villa [in the Carabao Cup in midweek] is maybe a bit too close,” Tuchel said. “I hope that I’m wrong but this is my impression. He’s not in training so far but let’s see tomorrow. Maybe if he had a good progression today, maybe it’s possible. It would be super nice for us to have him but for me it’s a bit doubtful.”However, Pulisic did not feature against Villa or against Manchester City on Saturday, as he battles to be fit for the upcoming international break.Chelsea travel to Juventus on Wednesday, Sept. 29 in a massive UEFA Champions League clash, as Pulisic will hope to take on his good friend and USMNT teammate Weston McKennie.Check out the full video above of Tuchel speaking to us post-game.

What has been going on with Pulisic this season?

The Pennsylvanian winger had only just returned from a spell out due to testing positive for COVID-19 as he then had to work his way back to full fitness.Pulisic started the 2021-22 domestic season well, as he scored a penalty kick in Chelsea’s UEFA Super Cup final win and scored in the opening day win against Crystal Palace.However, as has been the case for much of his young career, injuries have hampered his fast start to the new season and he hasn’t played for the Blues in over a month.

Good news for USMNT

Whenever Pulisic returns for Chelsea, it seems like he will be fit to play in their World Cup qualifiers in October.That is, obviously, great news for Gregg Berhalter. The USMNT face Jamaica, Panama and Costa Rica in October and they look like being pivotal clashes as the latter two nations have started well in qualifying.Pulisic wore the captains armband in two of the USMNT’s three World Cup qualifiers last month (he only played in two after missing the game at El Salvador) and is clearly the talisman for the Stars and Stripes.Even a 75 percent fit Pulisic has to start for the USMNT.

USWNT vs. Paraguay: A glimpse at the future


For the second match vs. Paraguay, we saw a new lineup, and with it, some glorious, free flowing soccer. Is this what the future looks like for the USWNT?

By Adnan Ilyas@Adnan7631  Sep 23, 2021, 12:29pm PDT

The USWNT just played two games against Paraguay in Ohio and, quite frankly, I really don’t have much to say about the two matches. The team won 9-0 in Cleveland before winning 8-0 in Cincinnati. Combined with the upcoming two matches against South Korea, such goalfests surely are an appropriate way to celebrate (or perhaps mourn) a bronze medal performance at the Olympics and the end of Carli Lloyd’s distinguished international career. But their ability to tell us much about the national team itself is unfortunately limited. With all due respect to their program, Paraguay is not a stern enough test to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the best team in the world.However, there was one thing that stood out, particularly in the Cincinnati game. Due to a mixture of injuries, rotations, and other absences, we saw a starting lineup without most of the most veteran players. Take a look of this partial list of players who either missed out entirely or only came on as a substitute:

Carli Lloyd (39)
Becky Sauerbrunn (36)
Megan Rapinoe (36)
Christen Press (32)
Tobin Heath (33)
Kelley O’Hara (33)

These are some seriously significant players. These six names have comfortably over 1,000 caps between themselves. These players have been among the defining parts of the USWNT for a decade. Yet, here was a lineup without them. This signals a point of transition. It’s not going to happen immediately, but we are going to see these players start to be phased out. It’s already starting to happen what with Lloyd’s impending retirement. And frankly, this change is needed. During the Olympics, the WNT was frequently criticized for a lack of dynamism, particularly in attack. And for all their strengths, players don’t develop that kind of energy in their mid 30s.Of course, this begs the question of who takes their place. Tuesday night, we saw Catarina Macario and Sophia Smith, both 21 years old, start and score. Joining them were Mal Pugh and Rose Lavelle, who are 23 and 26, respectively. Finally, at striker was Alex Morgan, 32. That front six was fluid and confident, able to move the ball rapidly and to seize whatever opportunity they could get, and quick to recover possession when they lost it. Where the first match was dominated by Lloyd’s offensive ability, the second saw the attacking load distributed across the team (with Lavelle particularly doing the distributing). This could very well be what the future of the team looks like.At this point, I would like to take a step back. The men’s team similarly underwent a large and rapid transition, with players in their 30s being replaced by ones in their teens and early 20s. That’s not going to happen with the women’s team; that’s just not their culture. The USWNT has always been a heavily veteran group, and that’s not changing. Sauerbrunn and Rapinoe might be moving towards the twilight of their careers, but they aren’t just going to disappear from the national team. Same for the other players in their 30s. These players will be here for years to come. And that’s to say nothing about some of the other seriously experienced players. While they didn’t feature on Tuesday, the likes of Lindsey Horan, Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, and Julie Ertz are not going anywhere, with all of them still currently in their late 20s. The USWNT is not going to suddenly and dramatically change. This is a program that slowly integrates players in and replaces key roles with players who are already established in the program.Still, that lineup in Cincinnati signals that something is changing. And it may well have even been a glimpse into the team’s future.

MLS Power Rankings: New England holds steady on top, Seattle cements its superiority in the West

11:51 AM ET Kyle Bonagura     Jeff Carlisle

1. New England Revolution

Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Revs got back to winning ways, beating Chicago 3-2 in midweek and then Orlando 2-1 as Adam Buksa scored one goal and forced an own goal on a second. Goalkeeper Matt Turner remains a penalty kick master, saving this time from Nani, but conceded a goal for the third game running in which he got a hand to the shot. A crack in the granite perhaps? — Carlisle

2. Seattle Sounders

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at San Jose, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Considering where it came on the schedule, the Sounders’ 2-1 win at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday was their biggest win of the season. Cristian Roldan and Will Bruin‘s goals give Seattle a two-point lead over SKC in the Western Conference with a game in hand. The teams play against on Oct. 23. — Bonagura

3. Nashville SC

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 vs. Orlando, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Nashville wasn’t exactly scintillating in attack in a 0-0 draw with Chicago, but on a day when both Hany Mukhtar and C.J. Sapong were rested, perhaps that was to be expected. With the point, as well as the 5-1 hammering of Miami in midweek, Nashville solidified its hold on second place in the Eastern Conference. — Carlisle

4. Colorado Rapids

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 vs. Austin, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+

A goalless draw with Toronto, the worst defensive team in MLS, feels more like a loss for Colorado, which would have ended the week in second place in the West with a win. Still, the Rapids haven’t lost in 11 matches. — Bonagura

5. Sporting Kansas City

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at Dallas. 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

With Seattle coming to Children’s Mercy Park — and having just played in the Leagues Cup final on Wednesday — Sunday was a huge opportunity for Sporting to take control in the Western Conference. Instead, things swung the other way in a 2-1 defeat. — Bonagura

6. Philadelphia Union

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Union delivered an impressive performance in beating previously high-flying Atlanta 1-0, as Philadelphia’s defense stifled the Five Stripes’ attack. After going nearly two months without a goal, Kacper Przybylko now has three in his past two games, including Saturday’s game-winner. — Carlisle

7. Atlanta United FC

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 vs. Miami, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Atlanta’s fine run of form came to a temporary halt, despite the heroics of goalkeeper Brad Guzan, in a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia. The absence of striker Josef Martinez due to “knee soreness” will be something to keep an eye on going forward. — Carlisle

8. Portland Timbers

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at LAFC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Portland remains one of the hottest teams in the league and used an emphatic 6-1 win against Real Salt Lake to move into fourth place in the Western Conference standings. The Timbers have won five games during a six-game unbeaten run ahead of stretch against three struggling teams: LAFC, Miami and the LA Galaxy— Bonagura

9. Minnesota United

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Robin Lod and Ethan Finlay both scored in a comfortable 2-0 win against Houston. Lod’s goal came just 51 seconds into the game — the Loons’ fastest strike since joining MLS in 2017 — and now the team has a pair of away games this week against D.C. and Dallas. — Bonagura

10.New York City FC

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: Sept. 29 at Chicago, 8:00 pm ET, ESPN+

It was a head-in-the-hands week for NYCFC. Just minutes from a road win against the Red Bulls, the Cityzens conceded a penalty deep into stoppage time and were forced to settle for a draw. Then they fell at home 1-0 against their rivals, despite creating numerous chances. Now NYCFC find themselves brought back into the mire of the Eastern Conference postseason race. — Carlisle

9/21/21  CHS Girls Pack the House Night tonight, Seattle vs Club Leon CONCACAF Championship Wed 10 pm ESPN2, US Ladies at Cincy Thurs Eve FS1, EPL League Cup Games this week

The 2nd ranked CHS Varsity girls host Pack the House night Monday night vs #1 ranked Noblesville at 7 pm as Carmel FC and Dad’s club kids with their uniforms get Free Admission! Lots of former Carmel FC players and both GKs will be on hand.  Arrive early and see the JV team with both former Carmel FC keepers in the net at 5 pm. 

Seattle Plays Club Leon in Vegas Wed 10 pm on ESPN2

MLS looks to finally beat La Liga’s best as the defending MLS champs will represent MLS against Mexico’s Club Leon.  The game kicks at 10 pm Wed night on ESPN2!  Go Seattle !!

US Ladies face Paraguay Tues night in Cincy on Fox Sports 1 at 7:30 pm

Not 100% sure why we face these completely overmatched countries like Paraguay – but the US ladies will do it again this Tues night as they face Paraguay 5 days after slaughtering them 9-0 last week.  Carli Lloyd scored a record 5 goals in the game as she moved into 3rd place in the all Time US ladies history in goals scored. 

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Indy 11 Returns home Sat vs Tulsa 7 pm & MyIndy TV

The Indy 11 continue the slide as a home loss to Louisville dropped the boys in blue to 6th in the Central Division at 8-11-5.  The 11 have a chance to move up the rankings though with a huge match vs FC Tulsa currently in 3rd overall this Sat at 7 pm. 


Tues, Sept 21

10 am                   Germany vs Serbia Women’s WCQ Paramount+

1:30 pm               Getafe vs Athletico Madrid  

2!5 pm                 England vs Luxemburg  Women’s WCQ Paramount+

2:45 pm               Fulham (Ream, Robinson) vs Leeds United ESPN+ League Cup

2:45 pm               Norwich City (Stewart) vs Liverpool ESPN+ League Cup

2:45 pm               Milan vs Venezia Paramount+

3 pm                     Metz vs PSG beIN Sports

7:30 pm               US Ladies vs Paraguay  FS1  

8 pm                     Indiana U vs Northwestern BTN

Wed, Sept 22

12 noon               Spetzia vs Juventus  paramount +

2:45 pm               Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Aston Villa ESPN+ League Cup

2:45 pm               Man United vs West Ham United ESPN+ League Cup

2:45 pm               Milan vs Venezia Paramount+

3 pm                     Metz vs PSG beIN Sports

4 pm                     Real Madrid vs Mallarca  ESPN+

7:30 pm               Inter Miami vs Nashville MLS ESPN+

10 pm                  Seattle Sounders vs Club Leon MLS vs Mex League Cup Final ESPN2

Sat, Sept 25

7:30 am               Chelsea vs Man City  NBCSN

9 am                     Spezia vs Milan Paramount+

10 am                   Leceister City vs Burnley NBCSN

12:30 pm             brentford vs Liverpool NBCSN

12:3o pm             Mgladbach vs Dortmund ESPN+

3 pm                     PSG vs Montpellier   beIN Sports

3:30 pm               Philly vs Atlanta United   Univsion

3 pm                     Real Madrid vs Villarreal

7:30 pm               Columbus Crew vs Montreal  ESPN+  

10 pm                   Portland vs Real Salt Lake ESPN+

US Women and Men

Rose Lavelle talks next generation of USWNT, TQL Stadium and returning to Cincinnati for Paraguay friendly

USWNT vs. Paraguay result: Carli Lloyd scores five goals as USA romps to 9-0 win

Lloyd nets 5 in win to start USWNT farewell tour

September 2021 USWNT Friendly: USA 9-0 Paraguay – Carli Lloyd puts on a show

Carli Lloyd goes off for record-tying 5 goals in USWNT blowout of Paraguay

Mallory Pugh makes statement in USWNT Return
Sargent: Norwich ‘can’t give up at all’ as Farke admits 3 points needed vs Watford

USMNT falls 3 spots to 13th in FIFA World Rankings


3 TakeAways Seattle dramatic League Cup Semi-final win over Santos Laguna

Three takeaways from Philadelphia Union’s CCL semifinal loss to Club América


Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 5

Chelsea’s Tuchel explains halftime changes, winning despite sloppiness

Tottenham vs Chelsea final score: Defenders attack as Blues wake up

Ronaldo scores, West Ham misses penalty as Man United wins


Pochettino plays down decision to take off Messi in PSG win

Icardi gives PSG win over Lyon on Messi home debut

AC Milan stalemate piles on misery for Juventus

Benzema strikes again as Real Madrid stun Valencia with late double

Wolfsburg held at home as Bayern Munich stay top of Bundesliga

Haaland double sees Dortmund hold off Union to climb to second

Indy 11





Rose Lavelle talks next generation of USWNT, TQL Stadium and returning to Cincinnati for Paraguay friendly

Pat BrennanCincinnati Enquirer

Rose Lavelle isn’t the first U.S. women’s national team star produced by the Greater Cincinnati region, nor are her’s the first USWNT sides to visit and play in Cincinnati venues.But given how bright Lavelle’s star has shone in her career, it’s hard not to link the Mount Notre Dame and Cincinnati United Premier product’s successes to the meteoric rise of soccer in Greater Cincinnati.Lavelle’s career arch has so far run parallel to Cincinnati’s soccer boom and often times made the boom larger. Her feature role in the USWNT, and especially its 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup triumph in France, has given the area a kind of soccer bona fides that few if any local products can claim to have contributed.Not surprisingly, Lavelle’s return to the region following her last national team accomplishment – a bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games – is garnering great attention. Speaking Saturday ahead of the USWNT’s Tuesday match at FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium in the second of back-to-back games against Paraguay, Lavelle said she’s never considered herself as playing a starring role in the growth of local soccer.

More:USWNT set for TQL Stadium match after dominating Paraguay

“I’ve always said I think that Cincinnati is such an underrated soccer city and I’m so glad that now, having a team here, people are seeing it and I feel like the city is getting to showcase that,” Lavelle said. “I think it’s such a great city with a lot of young talent and hopefully girls, boys from Cincinnati can see themselves in me and see that it’s possible for a Midwest person to get to this level.”Yeah, I think it’s cool. When I was growing up, I had Heather Mitts to look up to. She went to (Saint) Ursula and I was obsessed with her and I think it just made it so much more real to me that somebody from where I was from was in a place that I wanted to get to, so, yeah, I hope I can serve as that same kind of inspiration to people in this area.” Lavelle’s made multiple visits to Cincinnati since her professional career took off when she was drafted No. 1 overall in the NWSL College Draft by the now-defunct Boston Breakers. Those stops have included a September 2017 USWNT friendly against New Zealand at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, as well as a number of ceremonies honoring her contribution to the World Cup victory in summer 2019. 

U.S. Soccer in Cincinnati during the FC Cincinnati era

• Sept. 21 (7:30 p.m.) – Friendly: USWNT vs. Paraguay (TQL Stadium, hybrid grass surface)*

Now, Lavelle will help push the local game further again with Tuesday’s Paraguay match, which is the first-ever U.S. Soccer event staged at the $250 million TQL Stadium.

“I don’t know if I think of myself as having a starring role, but I am very, very excited to be able to come and play in Cincinnati,” Lavelle said. “I’m so happy any time I’m able to come home but to get to come home and kind of show off the city to all my teammates, I’m so excited about it and I know that TQL is gonna be just bumping and have the best atmosphere… I’m just gonna be glowing the whole night out of happiness.”Of playing at TQL Stadium, Lavelle added: “I think it’s so cool that soccer has a home here and it’s here to stay.”  (Of playing in Nippert Stadium previously, Lavelle said: “I think that that stadium’s so cool because it’s so big but it’s so close to the field, too. It feels such an intimate setting. You can hear all the fans that much louder because the stands go right onto the field basically. That was so fun the last time we played there.”) A U.S. Soccer media officer confirmed Saturday that ticketing for the Paraguay match had reached 21,000. The match will be staged following the USWNT’s 9-0 rout of Paraguay at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.Of course, there’s more to the Paraguay match than Lavelle. The biggest storyline to accompany the USWNT to Cincinnati is Carli Lloyd, who is using the Paraguay matches and two further friendly matches in October to draw the curtain on her historic national team career.In Thursday’s Paraguay victory, Lloyd scored five times to burst into third place on the USWNT all-time scoring list, surpassing Kristine Lilly. Lloyd’s impending departure from the national team program is widely seen as the front end of a generational transition for the USWNT, with head coach Vlatko Andonovski overseeing the turnover.  “Coming off the Olympics, we – obviously grateful to get a medal but obviously that wasn’t the medal we set out to get – I think we’re kind of out to get ready to get back out and re-prove ourselves,” Lavelle said. “I think hopefully we’ll be seeing new faces in camp because it’s always good to bring in some, like, good players who can push everyone here and push for spots. I think that’s what’s made this team so great and successful, and what makes this environment so hard. There’s always somebody knocking on the door, ready to take your spot. I think there’s a lot of really, really good players performing in the (NWSL) that hopefully will get brought in and continue to raise the level.”

Carli Lloyd scores five in United States’ runaway friendly win over Paraguay

Sep 16, 2021ESPN The United States women’s national team completely outclassed Paraguay in a 9-0 friendly win in Cleveland on Thursday night, with Carli Lloyd netting five goals in a runaway victory for Vlatko Andonovski’s side.The match marked the start of Lloyd’s farewell tour, with the U.S. veteran forward playing four matches with the national team after announcing her retirement in August.Lloyd got the start and immediately handed the U.S. the lead with a glancing header from a corner kick before firing in from close range to stake the Americans to a 2-0 advantage before the five-minute mark.Paraguay dug in to weather the U.S. pressure and did well for the next 20 minutes until Andi Sullivan tapped home at the back post and Lloyd added two more to get to four on the night and stake the Americans to a 6-0 lead at the break.The U.S. started the second half the way it finished the first — scoring goals — with Sullivan netting her second from a set piece with a flicked-on header that beat Paraguay keeper Cristina Recalde at her far post.Lloyd then added her fifth goal of the night, outjumping the Paraguay defense to power a header from a corner kick past Recalde to put the U.S. eight goals up.Tobin Heath, who joined Arsenal in the Women’s Super League this summer, came off the bench to score the ninth for the U.S., settling a long ball over the top of the Paraguay defense and easily slotting home.The match was the U.S. women’s first return to action since winning the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer.Paraguay and the U.S. will play another friendly on Sept. 21

Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

John WEAVERSun, September 19, 2021, 4:06 PM·3 min read

Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United maintained their fearsome pace at the top of the Premier League at the weekend but early pacesetters Tottenham stumbled again.Jurgen Klopp’s men beat Crystal Palace 3-0 on Saturday before United responded with a drama-filled 2-1 win at West Ham and Chelsea beat Spurs 3-0 to leave all three clubs locked on 13 points.

Manchester City squandered two points at home to Southampton in a 0-0 stalemate while Brighton continue to impress, beating Leicester 2-1 to sit fourth in the table. AFP Sport picks out three talking points from the action in the English top-flight.

Liverpool still the real deal

— Jurgen Klopp’s side enjoyed a storming end to last season as they clinched a Champions League spot, even in the absence of talismanic defender Virgil van Dijk, who was injured.

But they look even better now with the Dutchman back at the heart of their defence and senior centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip also fit again.

The Reds have conceded just once in their opening five Premier League matches — in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea — winning their other four games with an aggregate score of 11-0.

The 2020 champions had a quiet transfer window as their rivals splashed the cash and they could come to regret the departures of midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and forward Xherdan Shaqiri, particularly in light of an injury to teenager Harvey Elliott.

Liverpool do not boast the squad depth of some of their rivals but their first team is a match for anybody, with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah scoring freely.

If they can keep their main men fit they will feel confident they can win the Premier League for the second time in three years and equal Manchester United’s record of 20 top-flight titles.

Relentless Tuchel

— Thomas Tuchel can do no wrong at Chelsea.

The German transformed the fortunes of the London club in his first season in charge, taking Chelsea to their second Champions League triumph in May.

Now, with new recruit Romelu Lukaku leading the line, they are many pundits’ favourites to win the Premier League for the first time since 2017.

Chelsea did not even need goals from their forwards against Spurs on Sunday, with defenders Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger, plus midfielder N’Golo Kante, chipping in with the goals.

The Stamford Bridge side have already played Arsenal, Liverpool and now Spurs and are looking ominous but Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta urged the team to keep their feet on the ground.

“We have played some top teams and have got results in these first few games but we have to be humble,” he told Sky Sports.

Spurs, after a bright start to the season, are heading in the wrong direction after shipping six goals in their past two games and new boss Nuno Espirito Santo needs to stop the rot quickly.

Sancho seeks a role at Man Utd

— For a few short weeks Jadon Sancho was the eye-catching summer signing at Manchester United, finally through the door at Old Trafford after a protracted transfer saga.

Then came Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese superstar has hit the ground running, scoring four times in three games since his return to the club while Sancho has yet to even register an assist.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer argues that the former Borussia Dortmund man, at 21, is still learning the game.

But Sancho has not yet completed a single match in any competition for United and made minimal impact after coming on as a late substitute against West Ham at the London Stadium.

United have a galaxy of attacking talent and the England international will be keen to make his mark sooner rather than later as he tries to justify his £73 million ($100 million) fee.

Three takeaways from Seattle Sounders’ dramatic Leagues Cup semifinal triumph

By Ari Liljenwall @AriLiljenwallWednesday, Sep 15, 2021, 02:33 AM

SEATTLE – It doesn’t get much more dramatic than that.

The Seattle Sounders are through to the 2021 Leagues Cup Final after a heart-pounding 1-0 victory over Liga MX side Santos Laguna at Lumen Field on Tuesday, delivered by a last-second goal from star striker Raul Ruidiaz in the waning moments of second-half stoppage time.

The late rebound tally set off a wild celebration at Lumen Field and sets the Sounders up with a title bout against the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal between Club Leon and Pumas UNAM, on September 22 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Here are three takeaways following Seattle’s memorable finish.


A result well-earned

The final score may have been 1-0 but make no mistake, this was a back-and-forth, well-played soccer match that put quality on display from both sides.

Santos Laguna gave the Sounders everything they could handle throughout the night, especially in the second half, notably coming within inches of opening the scoring themselves in the 65th minute when Diego Valdes ripped a vicious free kick past Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei and off the post. The Liga MX side were supremely disciplined on defense, especially in transition where they managed to keep Seattle’s counterattacks at bay until the very last play of the match.Simply put, that was just a good soccer game, the type of spectacle we all hope to see whenever MLS and Liga MX sides face off, whether it’s in the Leagues Cup, Concacaf Champions League or otherwise.”That was an entertaining soccer game for me,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said after the match. “I know I was a little nervous on the bench and it was fast, but that first 45 minutes, it was like 15 minutes because the game was so fast. So credit to Guillermo [Almada], he has a tremendous team.

“I think every single person in this organization should be happy with what was in my eyes a really great result against a very well-coached, well-organized team in Santos Laguna.”


Another Ruidiaz masterpiece

We’re running out of superlatives for Ruidiaz at this point. The Peruvian standout’s goal-scoring exploits are well-known to MLS fans by now, but his propensity for scoring clutch goals is what truly makes him one of the league’s most lethal and feared strikers.

The stage simply doesn’t faze him, as has been demonstrated repeatedly since his 2018 arrival in Seattle throughout regular-season play (where he’s currently leading the Golden Boot presented by Audi race), the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and now in Leagues Cup.

As Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan noted after the match, Ruidiaz relished the opportunity to compete against opposition from the league where he previously starred for Atlético Morelia, winning a pair of Liga MX Golden Boots. Whoever the opponent is, you can bet Ruidiaz will bring that same energy and intensity in next week’s final.

“I think it’s mentality,” Roldan said at his postgame press conference. “You can see him become different when it’s a big moment. When we’re playing a Mexican side or when he has ties on the other team, there’s a little bit extra that he gives. You saw it in the LAFC game in 2019, I could see it in the All-Star game. You see it in moments like today.

“He was dangerous all game. It was unfortunate that he didn’t score another one in the first half but at the end of the day he’s a goal-scorer and he’ll find his way to score a goal.”

“This is our moment”

The Leagues Cup is still in its infancy as a tournament, but with this win, the Sounders now find themselves in position to achieve an accomplishment that has eluded them as an MLS club: Win an international tournament.

A final in Las Vegas gives Seattle a chance to make some history, both for the club and for the league, which is looking for its first Leagues Cup winner in this competition’s second edition. That, along with obvious storylines revolving around bragging rights between the rival leagues, are sure to lead conversations in both countries in the buildup to the final.

For Schmetzer, the trick will be figuring out how to maintain the balance between using this opportunity as motivation and not letting Seattle get too caught up in the moment. The veteran Sounders coach is certainly keen to not get swept up in the external narratives around the game.

“We’re caught up in the Seattle Sounders moment, that’s what we’re caught up in,” Schmetzer said. “This is our moment, it’s not Liga MX against MLS. You guys can write that story. What I’m writing is we are in another final, this organization, this club’s in another final. There are hundreds of storylines for this game: Fredy Montero started with us in 2009, he’s back and playing an important role for our success. How good is Raul Ruidiaz? There’s an easy storyline for you, that’s a layup for you.

“We did that without Nico [Lodeiro], without Nouhou today – I purposely kept those guys out because they had some soreness. This club is doing it in many different ways with many different lineups. You guys can write up what you want.”

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9/14/21  Champions League is Back Tues/Wed, Ronaldo Scores 2 in 1st Man U game/US beats Honduras Tix Avail in Columbus, USWNT Thur 7:30 ESPN2  

The greatest club competition is back as Champions League is back this week on Wednesday after some big games on Tues.  Man United was upset on the road by Young Boys on the road as American USMNT forward Jordan Pefok scored the latest goal by an American in Champions League to win 2-1 in stoppage time.  United played with 10 men for the last 60 minutes of the match as Wan-Bissaka’s 35th minute Red Card sent him off.  Ronaldo scored in his 2nd straight game – but his 1 goal was not enough for the win as he came off early.  Looking ahead to Wed’s game – I have the full line-up of games below/on the ole ballcoach.  I will be watching the golazo show on CBS Sportsnetwork as they jump from game to game and show all the goals. Of course all the games will be on Paramount plus- at just $5 per month – I broke down and got my subscription last year.  12 American’s are playing in Champions League – so I will try to keep an eye on them here in the group stages. 

USMNT Tix Available for Game in Columbus

Of course the US men are feeling better after the huge comeback 4-1 win at Honduras last week where new American forward Ricardo Pepi scored 2 had 1 assist and had a hand in all 4 goals at the #9 – all in the 2nd half.  He along with Center Back Miles Robinson and forward/mid Brendan Aaronson solidified their spots moving forward without doubt!  It was a huge win without Reyna, McKinney, Zardes and keeper Steffan who were all out.  The win puts the US in 3rd place as they return to play in mid October.  In fact tix are still available for the USA vs Costa Rica at Columbus on Wednesday October 13 at 7:30 pm. 

United States Ladies vs. Paraguay

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The U.S. women head to Cleveland for their first game post-Olympics. Most of the players from that squad are on this roster, but four are injured: Alyssa Naeher, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis and Megan Rapinoe. Christen Press also opted out to focus on her mental health.  Andi Sullivan, Sophia Smith, and Mallory Pugh have been called in. Pugh will be in the spotlight, having failed to make the Olympic team due to a drop in form. She has played well in the NWSL for the Chicago Red Stars, and playing well here would help improve her standing with the national team.

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Deadline: First-come, first-served

Cute shot I found online Bears – playing soccer

US Men

Young Boys vs Manchester United final score: Undone by an American

USMNT World Cup qualifying: Is the team on track? Berhalter safe?

USA vs. Honduras, 2022 World Cup qualifying: Man of the Match

What the first round of World Cup Qualifying says about the USMNT By Parker Cleveland

USA v Honduras, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What we learned A tale of 2 halves.

USMNT overcome horrendous first half to pick up first World Cup qualifying win at Honduras

Wild window ends with Pepi leading the USMNT to a big 4-1 win in San Pedro Sula

USMNT storms back in Honduras for much-needed World Cup qualifying win

US Women

U.S. Soccer offers men, women identical deals
2hJeff Carlisle

USMNT, USWNT asked to equalize WC money

USWNT’s Press to take time out from soccer

Arsenal secure USWNT’s Heath on free transfer

USWNT September friendly roster released

Champions League

UEFA Champions League wrap: Juve, Bayern roll; USMNT’s Brooks sent off

Lewandowski at the double as Bayern outplay Barca again


This is it: Messi gets set for PSG Champions League bow

Mignolet takes heart from previous meeting as he prepares to face Messi

PSG boss Pochettino ‘excited’ to see Messi, Neymar and Mbappe

Liverpool face toughest Champions League group, says Klopp

Milan dreaming big ahead of Champions League return at Anfield

Ibrahimovic out of Milan’s Champions League return at Liverpool

Champions League final pain a ‘motor’ for Man City, says Guardiola

Haaland-inspired Dortmund braced for ’emotional’ test at Besiktas

Unpopular Leipzig still no match for Man City, PSG’s petrodollars

Marsch’s Leipzig maybe ‘not ready’ to face Man City

Tuchel tells Chelsea to recreate ‘addictive’ Champions League win

Lukaku fills Chelsea’s striker void

Azpilicueta: ‘We feel stronger’ than UCL champions: Pulisic, Kante injury updates

EPL and World
10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 4

Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

Ronaldo’s instant impact at Manchester United

Ronaldo’s Return Exceeds Expectations
Pep Guardiola lauds Manchester City win at Leicester

Bundesliga wrap: Haaland, Wirtz star in 7-goal thriller; Bayern rolls Leipzig

Lewandowski strikes again as Bayern sweep aside Leipzig

Young Boys vs Manchester United final score: Undone by an American 

WATCH: Ronaldo’s 1st Man United Champions League goal since 2009

Soccer on TV: The UEFA men’s Champions League group stage kicks off this week

Brenden Aaronson is one of 12 Americans in this season’s men’s UEFA Champions League group stage. He could make his debut in the competition Tuesday.  by Jonathan Tannenwald   Sep 14, 2021

Seattle Sounders v Santos Laguna, 10p on ESPN2, TUDN, fuboTV, Sling TV: Cristian Roldan is likely to feature for Seattle in this Leagues Cup semifinal, while Jordan Morris is back in training. Santos Laguna would normally feature young Mexican-USA striker Santi Muñoz, but he is on loan at Newcastle.

Champions League on Paramount+

Besiktas vs Dortmund

Wed 12:45 pm  Reyna is still out with an injured knee – but his team will start their campaign.  Paramount+)

The Golazo Show

Tuesday and Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET; Thursday, 12:45 p.m. ET. (CBS Sports Network, Paramount+)

Liverpool vs. AC Milan

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET (Paramount+, TUDN.com)

These giants of England and Italy have only ever met in Champions League Finals: 2007, won by Milan, and 2005, won by Liverpool with one of the great comebacks in soccer history. It seems hard to believe that this will be their first-ever meeting between these historic clubs in the group stage.

Inter Milan vs. Real Madrid

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET (Galavisión, Paramount+)

While Liverpool and Milan get reacquainted, Inter and Real will be saying, “Us again?” It’s the second straight season the two meet in the group stage, and Shakhtar Donetsk is in the same group again, too. Inter will not have forgotten that it finished last in the group last season, thanks in part to a 2-0 home loss to Real.

Manchester City vs. RB Leipzig

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET (Paramount+, TUDN.com)

Jesse Marsch’s first Champions League game as Leipzig manager is a beast: a trip to a stacked Man City team that’s among the favorites to win it all this season.

Club Brugge vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET (Univision 65, TUDN, Paramount+)

PSG signed Lionel Messi to help them win the Champions League, and the entire world knows it. With Manchester City and Leipzig in the same group, both games against Brugge are must-wins. US player Owen Otasowie has made the bench for Brugge once, but has yet to play. They host Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe in their Champions League opener.


Philadelphia Union v Club América, 9p on FS1, TUDN, fuboTV, Sling TV: The Philadelphia menagerie of teenage American hopefuls hosts Las Águilas in the CCL semifinal second leg, trailing 0-2 after the reverse fixture at Estadio Azteca. Youngsters include Anthony Fontana, Leon Flach, Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan.


Rennes vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Thursday, 12:45 p.m. ET (Paramount+, TUDN.com)

Harry Kane and Tottenham would much rather be in the Champions League, or even the Europa League. But they almost failed to qualify for the Europa Conference League. Spurs lost the first game of a qualifying playoff at Portugal’s Paços de Ferreira before winning at home in London, 3-0.

Rapid Wien vs. Genk

Thursday, 12:45 p.m. ET (Paramount+, TUDN.com)

Mark McKenzie could get his first taste of the Europa League as Genk travels to Austria’s capital.

Leicester City vs. Napoli

Thursday, 3 p.m. ET (UniMás, TUDN, Paramount+)

In terms of big names, this is the biggest of this week’s Europa League games. A lot of eyes in the U.S. will be on Napoli’s Mexican winger Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, to see if he can lead the Italian visitors to a win in England.

  • Galatasaray v Lazio, 12:45p on TUDN, Paramount+, fuboTV: DeAndre Yedlin and Galatasaray begin their Europa League campaign at home against the Serie A side.
  • Lokomotiv Moscow v Marseille, 12:45p on Paramount+, fuboTV: Konrad de la Fuente and Marseille make the long journey into Russia as they begin Europa League.
  • Real Betis v Celtic, 12:45p on Galavision, Paramount+, fuboTV, Sling TV: Cameron Carter-Vickers scored a nice goal via deflection for Celtic at the weekend. He’ll get his first taste of Europa League action away to Betis, as his parent club Tottenham could only manage the Conference League this season.
  • Rapid Wien v Genk, 12:45p on Paramount+, fuboTV: Mark McKenzie and Genk make the trip to Vienna as they open the Europa League.
  • Brøndby v Sparta Prague, 3p on Paramount+, fuboTV: Christian Cappis and Brøndby were unceremoniously dismissed from Champions League contention by Brenden Aaronson and Salzburg. They now begin Europa League business at home against the Czech side.
  • Roma v CSKA Sofia, 3p: Bryan Reynolds and Roma get Europa League proceedings on their way.

United States vs. Paraguay

Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The U.S. women head to Cleveland for their first game post-Olympics. Most of the players from that squad are on this roster, but four are injured: Alyssa Naeher, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis and Megan Rapinoe. Christen Press also opted out to focus on her mental health.

Andi Sullivan, Sophia Smith, and Mallory Pugh have been called in. Pugh will be in the spotlight, having failed to make the Olympic team due to a drop in form. She has played well in the NWSL for the Chicago Red Stars, and playing well here would help improve her standing with the national team.



USMNT World Cup qualifying roundtable: Team on track? Berhalter safe? Players with stock up / down?

The United States men’s national team finished the opening round of World Cup qualifying on a high note with a win at Honduras after drab draws against El Salvador and Canada. Amid mounting injuries and off-pitch drama, the team learned tough lessons as it seeks to book its spot at Qatar 2022. ESPN looks back and breaks down the big issues.

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How do you feel about the results and the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying position?

Jeff Carlisle: If you’d told me before the start of the window that the U.S. would get five points from El Salvador (away), Canada (home) and Honduras (away), I would have been disappointed. But given where the team was at halftime of last night’s match in San Pedro Sula, being down 1-0 having been outshot 11 to 3, that mark is acceptable. The fact that out of six halves played, the U.S. performed well in only one of them is a concern as the search for consistency continues.

But the U.S. is tied for second place in the Octagonal, and while there are still some issues that have to be sorted out in terms of injuries and personnel, the Americans have a real opportunity in the October window to solidify that position. Seven points from Jamaica (home), Panama (away) and Costa Rica (home) should be the minimum obtained.

7dSam Borden

Kyle Bonagura: Prior to the first game against El Salvador, a five-point window would have seemed disappointing. That perspective changed significantly after the U.S. began the second half of the third match, against Honduras on Wednesday night, trailing 1-0 and on just two points in the standings. A loss to Honduras would have been disastrous; instead the U.S. emerged tied for second in the group (with Canada and Panama), behind only Mexico.

From a points and standings perspective, the U.S. is good shape. The way the team played, however, wasn’t exactly inspiring or confident. Until the four-goal barrage against Honduras in the second half, Gregg Berhalter’s side failed to generate consistent scoring chances, and that lack of ideas is a big reason for concern. Part of that can be attributed to the young team’s lack of familiarity from having rarely played together, but this is World Cup qualifying — there isn’t time to grow as a team; it’s about getting results.

Bill Connelly: It could have been much worse, and until the 75th minute in Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, it looked like it would be. From a pure math point of view, you probably need to average about 1.7 points per game to feel comfortable about qualification, and if you round up, the U.S. did hit that target.

But considering the level of competition in this trio of matches — no Mexico, no Costa Rica, plus Canada at home — this was a massive missed opportunity for the U.S. to build a bit of a cushion for itself. The Americans eventually wore Honduras down, nabbed three points and cleared the “bare minimum” bar.Dan Hajducky: Honduras victory notwithstanding, there’s still an urge to defy the edict of author Douglas Adams (of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame) and panic. However lofty the ranking, the U.S. is the 10th-best team in the world according to FIFA. Eking out ties against El Salvador and Canada, being outplayed and outcoached for half a game by Honduras — all ranked 59th or lower — is just not good enough. There’s time to correct course, but can Berhalter do it? Will Berhalter even get to?

This is still the most talented pool the USMNT has ever seen, but right now the results and statistics aren’t really good enough to be in Qatar, let alone compete there. Some of that is down to injuries, but squad selection, tactics and ultimately, execution have been suspect thus far. The turnaround in Honduras is a start; it was only the second time in USMNT’s World Cup qualifying history that the men have won after trailing at halftime. That USMNT? That should be the standard.

Is Berhalter the right man for the coaching job?

Carlisle: Yes, though even if the U.S. had lost on Wednesday, I don’t think he’d be fired. With the compressed schedule, there’s simply no time to change coaches with the qualification cycle in full swing. USSF sporting director Earnie Stewart isn’t the kind of guy to make knee-jerk changes to his technical staff, either, as was shown during his stint with the Philadelphia Union. However, there are some concerns.

Berhalter’s penchant for overthinking things tactically revealed itself on Wednesday night’s game, when he overreached by throwing James Sands and George Bello in at the deep end of a road World Cup qualifier. But give him credit for junking what wasn’t working in terms of personnel and formation and making the changes he needed to make, as those changes turned the game around. It’s a reminder that in these windows, there’s value in keeping things simple.

He also made the right call in sending Weston McKennie home. It sent the proper message to the group in terms of accountability, and the fact the U.S. won strengthens his position. The pressure has eased, at least for the moment.Bonagura: There’s a lot to like about the culture Berhalter has fostered and the results it has yielded over the past two years. The United States is unbeaten in its past 18 matches against CONCACAF opposition — including wins against Mexico in a pair of finals over the summer — and has generated at least some goodwill. That’s why it would have felt like an overreaction had Berhalter’s job truly been on the line after just three qualifying matches.

The obvious problem with changing a coach at this stage is that it guarantees nothing (see: Bruce Arena, 2017), though that doesn’t mean Berhalter is the right long-term choice, either. The team didn’t play to the sum of its parts in this window, and that’s on him.

Connelly: The bar for qualification is still pretty low for the U.S., and the Americans will probably clear it. But these matches rang some alarm bells. For three years, Berhalter has attempted to install his vision of a possession game, but he hasn’t been able to deploy it effectively in matches that genuinely matter (basically: World Cup qualifiers and any match against Mexico).

The U.S. found success against Mexico this summer with an old-school “directness and killer goalkeeping” recipe, but wasn’t able to retain the ball as he clearly wants to do. In the first three qualifiers, the U.S. (a) abandoned the possession game entirely against both El Salvador and Honduras, and (b) created no threat whatsoever from it against Canada.Bad luck with personnel certainly didn’t help. Christian Pulisic lost some form while out with a coronavirus diagnosis, Zack Steffen was out, Giovanni Reyna and Sergino Dest got hurt, and McKennie got sent home. (Plus, Daryl Dike was out of form.) That’s an incredible amount of attrition in a short time.

But it also illustrated just how strange Berhalter’s overall roster selection was. Without McKennie, he had no other midfielder capable of reliably moving the ball into the attacking third — for the 1,034th time, I must ask why Julian Green isn’t involved — and while McKennie and Reyna each created three chances in one match, Pulisic was the only other player who managed to create more than two in three matches.

Creativity is a must when your pool of center-forwards is lacking, and creativity was almost completely lacking. There was some misfortune, it’s true, but with maybe the deepest pool of talent the U.S. has ever had, Berhalter had to improvise both a lineup and a formation in the first genuine must-win (or close to it) the U.S. has faced in four years.

Hajducky: A friend, 20 minutes into the Honduras match, compared watching Berhalter’s men to a crash in slow motion. The #BerhalterOut discourse seems to have mellowed since halftime on Wednesday night, but questions about his job security are legion and well-founded.

In this Octagonal, the U.S. men are CONCACAF’s last and first-ranked teams, respectively, in percentage of touches in the left- and middle-attacking thirds. They also led, by a wide margin, in possessions lost. Translation: Predictable. And, arguably worse, substitution management was baffling until Honduras, when three halftime subs — Antonee RobinsonSebastian Lletget and Brenden Aaronson — yielded four second-half goals.

While injuries have limited both pool and starting XI selection, formations have been puzzling — and far too defensive-minded — and the McKennie situation has a whiff of impending calamity. It all feels a bit like the trash compactor scene in “Star Wars.” But, for the moment, the walls have stopped closing in and we should be grateful the cavalry arrived in time.

Which players deserve a place on the plane? Who demonstrated they do not?

Carlisle: Let’s start with those whose stock fell. John Brooks was supposed to be a steadying, veteran presence during qualifying. He was anything but in these two games, raising doubts once again about his ability to cope with the difficulties and idiosyncrasies of CONCACAF. Josh Sargent is another. He looked lost out on the wing against Honduras, but even when he plays centrally, he rarely looks dangerous. He has logged minutes because no one else has really grabbed hold of the No. 9 spot, but that looks to be changing.

Ricardo Pepi, meanwhile, is the first striker in some time to really seize his opportunity. Sure, he has work to do in terms of his hold-up play, but he can sniff out chances and creates havoc in the box too. Antonee Robinson is another player whose stock went way up. The big reason Sergino Dest has played left-back is there didn’t seem to be any other options. There is now with Robinson, whose mobility allows him to get into the attack and put in dangerous crosses, as witnessed by his assist against Canada. His defending has improved as well.Bonagura: The most obvious is Pepi, the 18-year-old FC Dallas striker. After scoring the winner against Honduras and being involved in all three other goals, he presumably went from debutant to starting No. 9. Aaronson has also proved to be a valuable option on the wing, and his emergence should make it easier for Reyna to move into central midfield, where he’s playing for Dortmund this season.

Robinson staked his claim to be the locked-in starter at left-back, which had been one of the biggest questions facing the team. After standout performances in the Gold Cup, Atlanta United center-back Miles Robinson and New England goalkeeper Matt Turner have both continued to excel.

Connelly: Beyond the obvious — Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Reyna, McKennie, Dest — it’s hard to say that anyone definitively snared a spot in this batch of matches. You could make the case for Turner, but he’s just shaky enough in build-up play that it wouldn’t be completely surprising if Berhalter still preferred Steffen. Obviously Pepi’s debut was lovely, but if you’re giving an 18-year-old a permanent spot in the lineup because of one good match, that speaks more to your own depth issues than anything else.

Hajducky: All aboard the Pepi train! Could he be the No. 9 the Stars & Stripes have long pined for? It’s early, but should his form continue, Pepi belongs in Qatar, and he might well have broken the MLS’ all-time outgoing transfer record by then. Aaronson is a shoo-in at this point, and it should also be noted just how ascendant Turner has been. Zack Steffen is still the No. 1 stonewall, but the chasm isn’t quite as vast, considering Turner’s leapfrogging of Ethan Horvath.

The most disappointing? Depends whom you ask. McKennie seems like both the fiery, bullish leader necessary of U.S. men on the field and entirely too immature off it. The moment has proved to be too big for Sargent, too, but for me, the biggest letdown has been Brooks. Both the Canada and Honduras goals were conceded due to his glaring defensive errors: a man-marking blunder and an overcommitment that left his teammates out to dry.

In light of injuries and illness, does the USMNT have enough depth?

Carlisle: Yes. If you had told me beforehand that the U.S. would win last night’s game without McKennie, Dest, Reyna, Steffen and Pulisic (for part of it, anyway) I wouldn’t have believed you. The players who turned last night’s game around weren’t European stars, but rather guys like Pepi, Aaronson, Robinson, Sebastian Lletget and Cristian RoldanMark McKenzie, in tandem with Miles Robinson, quietly put in a very effective shift as well. Turner’s play in goal was such that Steffen wasn’t missed.

It gives Berhalter a puzzle to solve ahead of the October window, but it’s the kind of problem any manager wants to have. It should also help avoid any complacency that might set in.

Bonagura: Regardless of the quality of the performances, depth remains one of the team’s strengths. Aside from maybe Mexico, no other team in the region could have weathered going without that many key players as Jeff mentioned above.

Connelly: We knew forward depth would be an issue in this cycle, especially without Dike, and it very much was. But the midfield issues — as in, the total lack of a cohesive buildup when McKennie was out — were alarming. Either the U.S. has poor depth there or, more realistically in my view, Berhalter’s midfield selections were dramatically out of whack. I would hope he brings in a completely different set of options there in October, and then we can decide whether it’s a depth problem or a selection problem.

Hajducky: It’s sort of hilarious that we’re talking about depth concerns; a year ago, we weren’t sure there’d be enough room on the field for all their emerging talent. But Jamaica is almost a full month away and three of the next four qualifiers are home games.

It would be shocking if the U.S. came out as flat in October, given Berhalter’s struggles and the home-field advantage. And make no mistake about it: This is a big moment for McKennie, no stranger to a captain’s armband. Does he make amends, hold himself accountable and reclaim his place as the team’s fulcrum? Pulisic might be the face and hope of men’s U.S. Soccer, but McKennie is its engine. The USMNT’s success hinges on McKennie firing on all cylinders.

What do you want to see from the October fixtures?

Carlisle: Assuming they’re healthy, reward the players who performed well in this window. Keep performers like Pepi, Turner and Aaronson, plus the Robinsons, in the lineup. And please keep Adams in the center of midfield. The U.S. is a better team with him in the middle, period.

And not that the U.S. has control over this, but a bit more health would be nice. Hopefully, the likes of Pulisic, Dest and Reyna can recover. If this window revealed anything, it’s how demanding triple-fixture windows are and the degree to which they can tax a squad. (Honduras found this out the hard way last night.) Getting some guys back to health will help the U.S. maintain some momentum.

Bonagura: It’s not so much what I want to see as whom I want to see: Yunus Musah. He provides a toughness and bite in central midfield that the team lacked outside of Adams over the past three games. His ability to progress the ball in an advanced midfield position was sorely lacking and would free up the wingers to work in more space. With McKennie’s status up in the air, a midfield trio of Reyna, Musah and Adams is very intriguing.

Connelly: Wins! It’s three more matches against Not Mexico, and the U.S. needs at least 5-7 points from the next nine to keep feeling good about its trajectory. Beyond that, though, I’d like to see a squad selection from Berhalter that acknowledges and adjusts for this week’s struggles. If his first-choice lineup is fully available again, then the backups he selects might not matter as much, but it would be good to see that he understands where things nearly went very wrong this time around.

(I’d also like to see an actually cohesive identity — it suddenly vanished — but baby steps. Start with the squad selection.)

Hajducky: More of Pulisic playing like a man possessed, for starters. We don’t know how serious the knock is that he suffered against Honduras, but the Chelsea forward has been transcendent of late. Four years after World Cup heartbreak, he’s no longer the baby-faced future; he’s the now, playing with confidence earned from that Champions League title with his club and not shirking from the weight of America’s soccer future on his oft-battered shoulders. But that’s a no-brainer.

I’m also all-in on the Pepi hype. There’s poetry in the U.S. scouring the globe for a true No. 9 and Pepi having just sprouted out of Texas, fully formed and lethal. Meanwhile, I’d love to see what Dike and Weah could create together when healthy, and also see Steffen get some quality minutes.

Will Berhalter be more discerning in squad selection, formation and tactics? Can the cornerstones get healthy by then? Can the second half of Honduras become the default pace and grit that this team kicks off with? How will the McKennie affair be resolved? Four weeks is somehow both an eternity and a blink of an eye.



9/8/21  US Ties Canada plays huge game tonight vs Honduras 10 pm CBSSN, Indy 11 at home vs Sporting KC 2 Sat

US Ties Canada 1-1

Ok so the concept on World Cup Qualifying is you win your home games and tie a few road games and you are good to advance to the World Cup.  The US failed to qualify for the 2018 WC after losing their first home and away games to Mexico and Costa Rica.  Now the US faces the prospect of having to steal a win tonight at Honduras as 10 pm on CBS Sports Network.   Listen we have 2 points after a tie at home to Canada.  Now Canada is good now – but they aren’t better than the US.  Of course with the US missing Reyna (injury), McKinney (discipline), and Dest (injured ankle) things we destined to dicey with Canada.  They have the best player in North America in Alphonso Davies – the Bayern Munich man ran down our left side like we were standing still and embarrassed both Dest and Yedlin multiple times.  I thought Adams did a fine job of keeping him from killing us in the 1st half – but that second half run after we scored 8 minutes earlier was vintage Canada.  The issue I had was Brooks who stood and watched Laurin tap in the goal 3 feet in front of him.  Just horrific defending – which makes me wonder if he should be replaced by Zimmerman on the left inside with Sands in the middle much like he played in the Gold Cup.  I doubt coach Gregg will pull his top rated defender however – so perhaps a 3 center back line-up with Brooks/Sands or Zimmerman with outside high back – would allow us to tuck a little more and counter attack.  Leaving lots of room for Pulisic and Aaronson to run at the defense.  For this reason I like Sargeant up top – but would love to see the kid Pepi come in around the 65th minute or so – we need goals – why not !!  





Robinson/Brooks/Sands/Miles R/Yedlin


Of course huge news on Weston McKinney – who broke Covid protocol when he spent the night out of the hotel bubble and then sneaked someone (a girl) into his room on another night.  Again – Weston McKinney is a huge leader on this team and it sucks that he not only let down his team – but also the entire damn country.   Now I assume he’ll be back in the next group of games in October – but his action probably lost the game to Canada and he needs to own up to that !!   Tonight – I just don’t see how the US pulls off this must win game tonight?   Yes we have won there 2 times in the past.  But I am hoping for a 1-1 tie tonight.  I will be so happy with a 2-1 win.  Either way – we CAN NOT LOSE TONIGHT.  We need at least a tie and 3 points after 3 games with a lot to do in October. 


GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 16/5),

Indy 11 Home Sat Night at the Mike vs Sporting KC 2 – 7 pm TV 23

The Indy 11 struggled to a 2-1 loss Sat night vs Atlanta United.  They travel to FC Tulsa for a midweek game on ESPN+ at 7 pm tonite.  This Sat Indy 11 host Sporting KC 2 at 7 pm on TV 23 for Faith and Family Night. 

Carmel Boys Pack the House Night – Fri Night vs Columbus North High

The Carmel Boys are 3-2-1 on the season and ranked 11th in the state and they host pack the house night on Friday night !!

GAMES OF THE WEEK (World Cup Qualifying)

Wed, Sept 8

7 pm               Costa Rica vs Jamaica Paramount+

7:30 pm         Canada vs El  Salvador Paramount +

9 pm               Panama vs Mexico Paramount+

10 pm            Honduras vs USA CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

Thurs, Sept 9

7 pm               Colombia vs Chile Fubo

7:30 pm         Argentina vs Bolivia Fubo

8:30 pm         Brazil vs Peru  Fubo

5 pm               Equador vs Chile Fubo

Fri, Sept 10

3 pm               Lorient vs Lille – France beIN Sport

7:30 pm         Atlanta United vs Orlando City FS1

10 pm             Tiajuana vs Santos Laguna FS2

Sat, Sept 11

7:30 am          Crystal Palace vs Tottenham NBCSN

930am            Leverkusen vs Dortmund ESPN+

10 am             Leicester City vs Man City  Peacock

10 am             Blackpool vs Fulham (Ream + Robinson) Champ

12 noon          Napoli vs Juventus  paramount +

12:30 pm       Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Aston Villa NBC  

12:30 pm       Leipzig vs Bayern Munich ESPN+

3:30 pm         Colorado vs LA Galaxy Univision

7 pm Indy 11 vs Sporting KC 2 TV 23

7:30 pm         Atlanta United vs Orlando City FS1

10 pm             Tiajuana vs Santos Laguna FS2

Sun, Sept 11

9:30 am         Frankfort vs Stuttgart

11:30 am        Leeds vs Liverpool  

12 noon          Milanvs Lazio  Paramount +

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Sale opens: Now

Deadline: First-come, first-served


How will USMNT line up for must-win WCQ in Honduras?

Amid a lackluster WCQ start and McKennie’s dismissal, USMNT faces pivotal game in Honduras

Analysis: USMNT stumbles in qualifying following 1-1 home draw to Canada

Pulisic, USMNT eye ‘results’ after McKennie exit
U.S. soccer braces for hostility, gamesmanship during World Cup qualifier in Honduras

What can we learn from the USMNT’s World Cup qualifier in Honduras?

United States men’s national soccer team not panicking after drawing with Canada in World Cup qualifying

Opinion: USMNT off to a disappointing start, but it’s not time to push panic button. Yet.
USA Today   Jeff Carlisle
Berhalter defends McKennie sanction ahead of Honduras clash

Reports: Weston McKennie disciplined for breaching USMNT’s COVID-19 bubble twice

USA vs.Honduras, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What to watch for S&S By Donald Wine II

United States v Canada, 2022 World Cup Qualifying: What we Learned

USA vs. Canada, 2022 World Cup qualifying: Man of the Match

2022 World Cup Qualifying: USA 1-1 Canada – a disappointing result as the Americans fail to win at home
USMNT’s McKennie sent back to Juventus for rules violation; Reyna out

Player ratings: USMNT held to draw by Canada in World Cup qualifying

Player Ratings :  
USMNT can’t capitalize on chances, plays to draw with Canada in World Cup qualifier

USA keeper Steffen tests positive for Covid-19


FIFA ‘regrets’ chaos at abandoned Brazil v Argentina match
Uproar as Brazil v Argentina clash abandoned following Covid controversy

Uproar as Brazil v Argentina clash suspended following Covid controversy

Italy set new unbeaten record as Germany thump Armenia

Indy 11




Here We Go Again?

The USMNT Ties Canada 1-1 At Home, Brings Back the Insecurities of Failing to Qualify for World Cup 2018

   Grant Wahl Sep 6 13 4

SMNT coach Gregg Berhalter needs a win in Honduras Wednesday (Artwork by Dan Leydon for Fútbol with Grant Wahl)

Welcome to Fútbol with Grant Wahl — a newsletter about soccer. You can read what this is about here. If you like what you see, consider forwarding it to some friends. You can also click the button below to subscribe. And if you do like it, consider going to the paid versionThis story is free since we just launched, but future stories like it will be behind the paywall due to the resources required producing quality soccer journalism. I also wrote My 3 Thoughts on the USMNT-Canada game at the final whistle. You can subscribe for free to the Fútbol with Grant Wahl Podcast, including our USMNT-Canada breakdown with Landon Donovan and Chris Wittyngham, in partnership with Meadowlark and Le Batard and Friends.NASHVILLE — During the first half of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifier against Canada on Sunday, the enormous video screens at Nissan Stadium showed a red-cheeked home supporter as he poured beer into a quart-sized cup, reared back and proceeded to empty the entire container down his throat. All told, it took about 15 seconds, and if we’re being honest there was some talent involved here. The crowd of 43,028 gave him a rousing ovation in one of the U.S.’s hardest-partying cities—never mind that the game was still going on—and as I watched I couldn’t help but think of Weston McKennie.Weston McKennie?You know him. He’s the USMNT’s mayor of fun times and good vibes, one of the coolest guys on any team he’s on—even when that team is Italian powerhouse Juventus. This is often the case with American soccer players in Europe. Injuries may have cut short Oguchi Onyewu’s time at AC Milan, but he was one of the coolest guys on the team, someone who’d hang out with Ronaldinho. It’s a measure of McKennie’s surpassing coolness that even Onyewu was impressed not long ago when McKennie revealed on the former’s podcast that he has a live-in personal photographer in Turin.The 23-year-old McKennie is a delightful guy. I know this from first-hand experience. His teammates love him. And he’s a good midfielder, enough so that Juventus paid an €18.5 million ($22.3 million) transfer fee for him last season. But there are now multiple examples that McKennie’s love for social interaction can cost his team when he should know better. During a tight Serie A race last spring, McKennie and two Juve teammates (Paulo Dybala and Arthur) were fined and suspended a game by the club after the American hosted a dinner party that broke Italy’s Covid protocols. And on Sunday afternoon, U.S. players were informed at a pregame team meeting that McKennie would be suspended for the Canada match that night. Coach Gregg Berhalter declined to specify the reasons, but McKennie posted on Instagram that he had violated team Covid protocols and apologized for his actions.  “It’s not an ideal situation, because he’s such an important player and important character to this team,” said the U.S.’s Tyler Adams on Sunday night. “He brings obviously what he does on the field, but even off the field in how close he brings the team together … it’s obviously very disappointing.”

The U.S. ended up tying Canada 1-1, a result that left the Yanks with just two points after their first two World Cup qualifiers and brought back painful memories of the U.S.’s failure to make it to World Cup 2018. McKennie was hardly the only figure at fault for the two dropped points at home, but his case strikes me as similar to that of the fan being cheered by the entire stadium for chugging a quart of beer on the Jumbotron for 15 seconds in the middle of the game. Yeah, beer’s great. So is being social. But there’s a time and a place, and there are priorities. 

Like, you know, the game.

Christian Pulisic looked exhausted. He had just played his first match in 23 days, after testing positive for Covid-19 three weeks ago, and he had gone the full 90 minutes after it wasn’t even certain he would play at all ahead of Sunday. But it was still hard to tell how much of his weariness was mental as he thought back to the World Cup qualifying campaign four years ago.

“We wanted to win both of these games, absolutely,” he said on Sunday night. “But this is the position we’re in now. I remember the last qualifying [campaign] losing both our first two games. So this is what it is now. We have plenty of games left to play in this qualifying, you know. It’s almost like a season. We still have a long way to go. So our heads are going to stay up.”Brenden Aaronson had put the U.S. ahead 1-0 in the 56th minute after a terrific passing sequence capped by Antonee Robinson’s assist. The lead held for just six minutes, until Alphonso Davies broke free down the left side, whooshed past the U.S. defense and laid off to Cyle Larin for the equalizer. The crowd went silent.

Pulisic’s postgame comments indicated he thought the U.S. would have been better off trying to shut up shop after the opening goal, but he didn’t see it happening. “After we score our first goal we need to be able to win a game like that 1-0 at times,” Pulisic said. “I think whether that’s making adjustments or sometimes even having to defend a bit more, it’s tough to say. I don’t think we changed a whole lot, but we got beat, and they score and that was tough. Then in the end we just didn’t have enough to get a winner.”

I asked Berhalter after the game about his thought process for waiting until the 83rd minute to bring on his first second-half subs. He said he felt among his attacking players, forward Jordan Pefok was still being somewhat effective with his physicality, while Aaronson had been solid with his counterpressing. “I can understand how it looks like we should have acted quicker, 100 percent,” Berhalter said. “In this situation, we’re looking at the performance of the guys and trying to figure out who we’re going to take off the field.”

“I remember the last qualifying [campaign] losing both our first two games. So this is what it is now. We have plenty of games left to play in this qualifying, you know. It’s almost like a season. We still have a long way to go. So our heads are going to stay up.” — Christian Pulisic

Ultimately, the U.S. had 72 percent of possession but just two shots on goal, the same as Canada. Pulisic talked about needing to find new ideas to break down Canada’s compact 5-4-1 formation. Berhalter said he wanted faster ball movement. And Adams, who just a few days ago said he wanted this to be a nine-point week, contemplated his leadership challenge over the next two days to get a crucial three points in Honduras—which would bring the U.S. to five points for the week.

“We’ve got to have a long look in the mirror and really establish what our goals are here,” Adams said. “Obviously, three points in Honduras is what we’re looking to do. But what do we need to do in the game to get the best out of the team and every single player? Because it’s not going to be just the starting 11 and 11 good performances. We need 16 good performances. And the subs that are coming in, how can they change the game? How can we get the best out of every single player? So we need to challenge ourselves.” 

The U.S. won’t have Gio Reyna, who’s out with a hamstring injury. Sergiño Dest (ankle sprain) may be out as well, and Berhalter said it remained to be seen if McKennie would be reinstated by Wednesday. Anything less than a win will leave Berhalter on the hot seat.

There have been a few bright spots for the U.S. this week, none more so than goalkeeper Matt Turner.

Why has the 27-year-old Turner, who plays for MLS’s New England Revolution, become a kind of American soccer folk hero? A lot of it has to do with his remarkable story. As a teenager in northern New Jersey whose main sport was baseball, Turner didn’t start playing club soccer seriously until he was 16, ancient for a youth player. The only college in any division to offer him a scholarship was Fairfield in Connecticut, where he had a solid performance his last two years but was most famous for the play that cost him his starting job as a sophomore, a terrible own-goal that was named the No. 1 play in ESPN SportsCenter’s Not Top 10 in 2013:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ec4TNK2laeg?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0 Turner wasn’t selected in the 2016 MLS draft, but an agent got him a tryout with New England, and he earned a contract offer. After two seasons playing on loan with the Richmond Kickers in the lower-league USL, Turner won the Revolution starting job in 2018 under then-coach Brad Friedel, one of the greatest keepers in U.S. history. And after some fits and starts that season, Turner has over the past three years become a shot-stopping phenomenon unseen in the history of MLS.

In the modern game, the goalkeeper position is about much more than just shot-stopping, personified by Germany’s Manuel Neuer and his innovation of the “sweeper keeper” role, in which he starts the attack with his passing skills and ventures far from goal to snuff out danger in the space behind his defenders’ high back line. 

“I’ve been the fan who was tweeting about the games. I’ve been that guy. I joke around saying I’m the People’s Keeper. I’ve been in the Blind Pig in New York City before it closed down, watching EPL in the mornings and national team games at night. So I’ve seen and heard all of it.” — Matt Turner

But guess what? Shot-stopping is still a really big deal, even in the modern game. And the data shows that Turner is a savant. As John Muller of 538 noted recently using data from American Soccer Analysis, Turner has saved over 25 goals more than expected going back to the start of 2018 (including the postseason), while the second-best MLS keeper over that time (Seattle’s Stefan Frei) is far behind with less than 13. 

Berhalter is an unapologetic data wonk, so much so that he even knocked me out of my old role hosting soccer panels at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference earlier this year. (Let’s be honest: They made an upgrade.) You had better believe that Berhalter knows Turner’s analytics profile. “In terms of data, when goalies outperform expected goals, it’s always something you like,” Berhalter said the day before the Canada game. “And Matt has been doing that all season long with New England Revolution, and that means he can make the big save, and that’s what you want in goalkeepers.”Turner, for his part, says he doesn’t try to overthink his shot-stopping ability. “It’s hard for me to even describe because it always came very naturally to me,” he told me in a recent interview. “Technically speaking, I think the biggest piece would be just to make sure you’re set. Make sure your feet are on the ground when the ball’s being struck. Be brave. Make sure your head is forward. If you’re diving and you’re landing on your back, or you’re just flinging your legs out, you’re going to make fewer saves in my opinion than you would if you were [leaning] forward with your hands forward.”

His baseball history, Turner argues, played a role in his rise as a soccer shot-stopper. “From a timing perspective, and an ability to react right and left, I think baseball was huge for me,” he says. “I always say that I think some baseball outfielders would be very good goalkeepers, because you see the catches they make. They’re not afraid to throw their body around, not afraid to dive and slide. Their timing, their jump on the ball, their read is all really good.”

From a national-team perspective, though, Turner started the summer as no better than the No. 3 goalkeeper behind Zack Steffen of Manchester City and Ethan Horvath, now of Nottingham Forest. But Turner seized his opportunity during the Gold Cup. With Berhalter not calling up the U.S.’s top European-based players, Turner was magnificent, conceding only one goal across six games and being chosen the tournament’s top keeper as the U.S. won the trophy. 

When Steffen developed back spasms last week, Berhalter chose Turner to start the first World Cup qualifier in El Salvador over Horvath (who hasn’t been the first-choice keeper at Forest). Turner kept a clean sheet and made a good save on Eriq Zavaleta’s set-piece header in the second half. “Matt performed really well in the game,” Berhalter said on Saturday. “I was most impressed, I think, with his calmness. It wasn’t an easy environment, but he really made everything look easy. There was one play in the first half where the ball got away from him and went out for a corner kick. Other than that, I think he was flawless. He caught the balls, came out on crosses, his distribution was good. So for me, it was a good performance.”

In a one-on-one interview on Saturday in Nashville, Turner was still struggling to put his rise to World Cup-qualifying starter in perspective. “It’s crazy, absolutely,” he said. “I want to be the guy in the goal. I’ve felt like I’ve grown into it, and I’ve done well in MLS over the past four seasons. I haven’t given much of what’s happened to me this whole summer too much thought yet. I kind of leave that for the offseason. Being present and grounded right now is something I’ve found so much power in, and it’s helped me to find consistency in my game as well.”During his whirlwind qualifying week with the USMNT, Turner took comfort from talking on the phone with his girlfriend, Ashley Herron, a consultant, nonprofit founder and former New England Patriots cheerleader; his longtime friend Vinny Macaluso (“Yeah, Vinny from Jersey,” Turner cracked); and his New England teammate and former roommate, centerback Andrew Farrell. “He’s been like my rock,” Turner explained. “If I can’t sleep and it’s the middle of the night, I can call Andrew, and he’s there for me. He keeps me going if I’m wavering in nerves and knows exactly what to say to me.”“If I can’t sleep and it’s the middle of the night, I can call Andrew, and he’s there for me.” Matt Turner relies on his New England teammate and former roommate Andrew Farrell for one club teammate Turner didn’t talk to heading into Sunday’s game was Tajon Buchanan, a rising-star winger for Canada. As Turner and the U.S. prepared to try to shut down Buchanan and fellow attackers Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Junior Hoilett and Cyle Larin, Turner and Buchanan (whose New England team is running roughshod over the rest of MLS) went radio-silent with each other.“It’s funny, Tajon and I pretty much talk almost every single day, and we sit next to each other in the locker room back with the Revs, but as soon as we leave for our national teams we pretty much don’t talk,” Turner said with a laugh. “We have a great relationship, but I think neither one of us would want to put the other one in a tough spot where you’re like, ‘Oh, so how are you guys playing?’ So I think we just sort of respect the boundary and the space, and it’s all good.”

The world works in mysterious ways, Turner thought to himself last week, but it has a way of rewarding you for your efforts over a long period of time. Turner couldn’t help but reflect on all the tryouts and trials he went on earlier in his soccer career. Some of them worked out, some didn’t, whether they were for high school, or college, or even the pros. But they helped last week when he was suddenly finding himself playing in the USMNT’s most important games with different centerbacks for the very first time: Tim Ream in El Salvador and John Brooks against Canada.

“I think the most important thing is just communication on and off the field,” Turner said. “It’s nice to get to know people. I went to so many different tryouts—you know my story. The biggest thing was I was always trying to make a team and put forth good performances with people I’ve never played with before. Learning their names quickly and how to communicate with them and how to adapt to the circumstances as quickly as possible—I think that’s definitely been a strength of mine.”

“Andrew Farrell has been like my rock. If I can’t sleep and it’s the middle of the night, I can call Andrew, and he’s there for me. He keeps me going if I’m wavering in nerves and knows exactly what to say to me.” — Matt Turner

On Sunday, Turner was one of four MLS players among the 11 starters on the U.S. team. He knows there’s a section of the USMNT fanbase that thinks no MLS players should be on the field for the Yanks in World Cup qualifiers. But he doesn’t see the point of dividing the team, nor does he feel like he’s carrying the banner for MLS. 

“Whoever goes out there and gets the job done, you just have to say they got the job done,” he said on Saturday. “It shouldn’t be hate or love. I’ve been the fan who was tweeting about the games. I’ve been that guy. I joke around saying I’m the People’s Keeper. I’ve been in the Blind Pig in New York City before it closed down, watching EPL in the mornings and national team games at night. So I’ve seen and heard all of it. I think you just have to respect everyone and their story and how it came about. Until you get as close to it as I am right now, you realize that all that Euro versus domestic stuff doesn’t even matter.”

Soon enough, Turner himself might be playing in Europe. Two years ago, he secured a European Union passport from Lithuania after finding papers owned by his paternal grandfather that showed his great-grandmother had immigrated from the Baltic country. “We didn’t even know we were Lithuanian,” he says, adding that he discovered his family had changed its name from Turnovski upon arrival at Ellis Island. 

A European Union passport makes it far easier to move to a club in Europe. “I’m highly motivated to make that happen,” Turner says. “That being said, I’m in a great situation with my club right now. I’m playing well and I’m getting called into the national team. So it’s a balance of a lot of things. You can’t force these things to happen, but I would love to go play in the Premier League or a high level in the [English] Championship.”

By Sunday night, it was becoming clear that the No. 1 U.S. goalkeeper job is now Turner’s to lose. He was solid for the second straight game and made a terrific save on Larin’s shot in the first half after Dest had blundered in defense. (There was nothing Turner could have done on Larin’s goal later.) There’s a sense of calm when you have Turner in goal; even when Canada threatened, you felt like he would be able to make the save. 

Even if Steffen can get some games for Man City in cup competition over the next month, it’s hard to imagine him taking the No. 1 spot back from Turner next month.


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USA vs. Canada, 2022 World Cup qualifying: Man of the Match

CanadaBy jcksnftsn  Sep 7, 2021, 8:36am Returning home from a disappointing draw, the USMNT settled for a second straight draw that felt more like a loss to start World Cup qualifying. With quite a bit on the line and facing a Canada team coming off a home draw with Honduras, the team came out and looked active but ultimately punch-less as they dominated possession but lacked incisiveness. The player rankings were not as dire as they were following the draw-loss to El Salvador, but they weren’t exactly a ringing endorsement either.Goalscorer Brenden Aaronson was officially your SSFC Man of the Match with the highest community ranking coming in at 7.02, edging out Matt Turner (6.72), who was Thursday’s MOTM. Interestingly, three of the four substitutes received the only ratings below a 5.0. In the case of DeAndre Yedlin, the lowest rated player, this seems to be due to the community placing primary blame for the lone Canadian goal at his feet. For Konrad de la Fuente and Cristian Roldan, the ratings seem a bit harsh as they only had a handful of minutes to impact the game due to the late substitution utilization by Gregg Berhalter.We’ve made a couple of small tweaks to the ratings this week. First, we calculated the average rankings with the highest and lowest ratings removed and have included those in parentheses behind the original rating. We’re sticking with the original rating as the primary to stay consistent, but thought there might be some interest in seeing how the ratings adjust if you remove the most biased votes. Not surprisingly, the manager’s rating is the most impacted by this adjustment, as Gregg Berhalter gains over a point in benefit. The other changes in rating are not nearly as significant and the most impacted is DeAndre Yedlin, who moves from a 4.4 to a 4.7. Second, we’ve also moved the manager and referee results to the bottom.Here are all the ratings from the match, as judged by the SSFC community:

Brenden Aaronson – 7.02 (adjusted 7.01)

Matt Turner – 6.72 (6.70)

Tyler Adams – 6.65 (6.66)

Antonee Robinson – 6.59 (6.63)

Miles Robinson – 6.43 (6.44)

Christian Pulisic – 6.37 (6.30)

Jordan Pefok – 5.40 (5.50)

Sergino Dest – 5.35 (5.51)

Josh Sargent – 5.34 (5.52)

John Brooks – 5.32 (5.48)

Kellyn Acosta – 5.25 (5.37)

Sebastian Lletget – 5.15 (5.35)

Cristian Roldan – 4.81 (5.04)

Konrad de la Fuente – 4.81 (4.99)

DeAndre Yedlin – 4.40 (4.70)

Gregg Berhalter – 2.76 (3.99)

Referee Oshane Nation – 5.43 (5.77)

Player ratings: USMNT held to draw by Canada in World Cup qualifying

By Andy EdwardsSep 5, 2021, 10:24 PM EDT

The USMNT is winless after its first two games of 2022 World Cup qualifying after drawing Canada 1-1 in Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday.Brenden Aaronson gave the USMNT a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute, but Alphonso Davies sliced and diced the Yanks’ right side of defense to set up the equalizer seven minutes later.On the whole, a few individual performances were improved from the draw in El Salvador, but the team performance and the result were still well short of the necessary standard.Here’s a look at who stood out (for better or for worse) for Gregg Berhalter’s side, with some special bonus commentary (of the dissenting variety) from PST’s Nicholas Mendola (italicized)…

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GK – Matt Turner: 6 – Once again, hardly tested (just two shots on target) but typically steady when called upon. Hasn’t had to do enough to fully supplant Zack Steffen as the no. 1, but hasn’t done anything to hand him the job either.

RB – Sergiño Dest: 4 (4.5) – Dest’s poor performance against El Salvador was perhaps explainable by the fact he’s naturally a right-sided player shifted to the left to do a very specific job. Fast-forward to Sunday, Dest was on the right and he had another nightmare outing. He’s not a reliable enough to defender to play right back and he’s not dynamic or creative enough to play as a winger. Is there a place for him going forward? After starting the first two games during this window, Dest was unlikely to start Wednesday’s game in Honduras, making the injury less of a worry for the USMNT (for now).

Looking like a more-hyped version of last decade’s DeAndre Yedlin, where his defensive naivete is glaring when his attacking game is foiled. Still just 20 until November, but that promise doesn’t do anything right now vis a vis 2022 in Qatar.

CB – Miles Robinson: 6.5 – The vibes are extremely good with Robinson deployed as the right-sided center back, whether alongside Tim Ream (game 1) or John Brooks (game 2). He’s a classically tough American defender with a nose for the ball and good emergency defending instincts. As of this moment, the starting job is his to lose.

CB – John Brooks: 6 (5.5) – The defensive veteran looked like a fish out of water against the speed of Canada’s counter-attacks, but his distribution and long-range passing proved key in setting up the opening goal. Tyler Adams roaming midfield in front helps to protect Brooks’ lack of mobility, but free attacking full backs like Dest and Antonee Robinson do him no favors to his left.

A mixed bag from the undisputed best center back in the pool. Had some dicey moments and at times looked a step slow, not usually something you’ll note from the long-striding Wolfsburg back. Hit some wonderful passes, though, and is a force of intimidation for the U.S.

LB – Antonee Robinson: 7 (8) – This is the best left back in the USMNT player pool, Gregg. Play him there, every game if you have to. Defensively responsible and dangerous going forward (as evidenced on the goal).

There were 1-2 hiccups in his own end but also a lot of good tackles and that’s before we mention his terrific night going forward. Had an assist and might’ve had a goal. Has earned left back status for now.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1434690158847221761&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fsoccer.nbcsports.com%2F2021%2F09%2F05%2Fusmnt-canada-2022-world-cup-qualifying-analysis-player-ratings%2F&sessionId=e3ddd02cc34984287d9bebb554c530fb58a0de82&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1890d59c%3A1627936082797&width=500px DM – Tyler Adams: 6.5 (6.5) – Defensively excellent and in the right spot at the right time to snuff out a number of Canadian counter-attacks. As the USMNT attempts to work out the chance-creation issues at the other end of the field, Adams’ presence in consecutive games was like a warm blanket tucked under the chin on a crisp autumn night.

This could be as high as an 8 or even 8.5 if not for his silly and selfish foul on Mark-Anthony Kaye that deprived us from knowing whether Brenden Aaronson’s pinpoint pass might’ve set up an Antonee Robinson winner.

CM – Kellyn Acosta: 6.5 – Another request for Gregg: Please only play Acosta as an 8 in the future. His range of passing is far better than most people seem to realize. Given the lack of dynamism and chance creation from the other central midfielders this week, Acosta should start again in Honduras.

CM – Sebastian Lletget: 6 – Strong early as he teed Christian Pulisic up to hit the post midway through the first half, but faded as the game became more and more open.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from El Salvador 0-0 USMNT | Player ratings ]

RW – Brenden Aaronson: 7 – Scored the USMNT’s first goal of 2022 World Cup qualifying — a simple tap-in from Robinson’s cross — and tracked back to do a lot of defensive work, but couldn’t connect the midfield to the forward line quite like the USMNT needed.

LW – Christian Pulisic: 6 (7) – A mostly anonymous night for Pulisic in his first game back after testing positive for COVID-19. He played all 90 minutes, which could cast a bit of doubt over his availability for Wednesday’s game (no chance he plays the full-90 again). Nothing clicked for the attack as a whole on Sunday, and that fact was even more true for Pulisic specifically.

Did everything you want to see but score, demanding attention from Canada and delivering a number of won free kicks. Corner kick service was decent, too. Imagine him with better striker play.

CF – Jordan Pefok: 6 – Struggled to be more involved as he constantly battled three center backs for Canada, but his hold-up play was crucial in the build-up to Aaronson’s goal. Pefok brings a size and nastiness to the center forward position that no one else in the player pool possesses.

9/3/21 US Ties El Salvador 0-0 plays Canada 8 pm Sun FS1, Indy 11 at home vs Atl United 2, Argentina vs Brazil + other huge WCQ Games Scheduled

 US Ties El Salvador 0-0

Well I said before the game that 1 point and a draw at El Salvador against a tough team in a really tough environment against a coach that knows the US so well would be fine.  So why did last night’s 0-0 tie feel so bad. Man today on the call in shows – everyone is destroying us.  Hey this is the 1st game of Qualifying on the road – in a very difficult place to win.  Overall I thought the US played fine – defensively even though I questioned the line-up Coach Berhalter put out there – I thought they held their own.  Matt Turner was fantastic in goal as always though he wasn’t really tested all that much.  It was 50 / 50 possession – which on the road is tough to do.  But lets not kid ourselves  – the difference in level of talent is pretty large – though the US talent is young – we have 12 players playing on Champions League Level teams – El Salvador has none.  El Salvador started a USL player tonight for heaven’s sake.  And while their coach Hugo Perez – a mainstay as a US as an assistant coach – had an excellent plan and definitely seemed quite prepared to play us – at the end of the day we have much better players who should have won this game.  It was great to see local boy done good defender Eriq Zavaleta of Westfield and IU almost score for El Salvador on a header in the 1st half.  I am hoping former ISA Futsal Director Carlos Zaveleta (his dad) was in a attendance. 

The US outshot El Salvador and should have scored on a multitude of header opportunities but they just couldn’t find the net.  El Salvador also had chances but their shots all seemed to miss the target as well – though Turner was forced into a couple of nice saves.  Overall I thought the product in the final 3rd was missing.  What’s new for the US eh?  I thought surprise starter Conrad actually looked dangerous up top on the left – but was surprised to see Aaronson at midfield rather than left wing – Aaronson looked out of spot most of the night until pushed into the left wing late.  Reyna looked fine and had a great stretch midway thru the half when he flipped to the left side – but he just missed on a few balls. Sargent was active as the #9 – but again couldn’t find the net for the 3rd straight game as a starter.  Pefuk  was better up top when he came on for the final 20 minutes I thought – and he should have scored on a header.  I thought Adams looked good in the Dmid slot but boy did he have to cover for Dest all night long at left back – as Dest got destroyed at times.  I really think Dest has to be used on the right – and only when he has a really fast center d partner like Miles Robinson with him.  Robinson was very good at right center back and paired just fine with Tim Ream – though the aging Ream looked suspect at times.  Can’t wait to see Robinson and Brooks together in the middle vs Canada.  Canada now becomes must win – you must win your games at home !!  Canada will be on edge as they tied Honduras at home.  In fact everyone tied except Mexico who got a late goal to secure a 2-1 win over Jamaica.  Here’s the line-up I would come out with vs Canada – but Coach Berhalter will probably come out with 3 center backs or something – who knows. 








Sunday 8 pm                                   USA vs CANADA               FS 1

Wed, Sept 8 – 10 pm                      Honduras vs USA             CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

So here’s how we look after the first game. 

 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – CONCACAF Standings

4Costa Rica101
5El Salvador101
7United States101

US Stats vs El Salvador

Sunday WCQ has multiple huge games

England vs Andorra somehow gets the noon ESPN2 slot – while the best games of the day the Swiss hosting Italy and Belgium vs the Czech Republic are both on ESPN+ Sunday at 2:45 pm.  3 pm has the best game of the Day as Brazil host Argentina on Fubo TV in a rematch of the COPA Final.  Of course the US host Canada at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1 right after Costa Rica hosts Mexico in a pivotal match on CBS Sports Network at 7 pm.  (See the full schedule below)

Indy 11 Home Sat Night at the Mike vs Atlanta United  7 pm TV 8

The Indy 11 fresh off a shutout at home by Jordan Farr are one a roll with 2 straight home victories to make the move up to 5th place over – they play Atlanta United 2 this Saturday night with 4th place on the line.  Specials this weekend include $4 Beers and an $11 Beer and Dog special. 

Carmel Girls in Zionsville Tourney

The #2 ranked Carmel Girls will face the #1 team from Kentucky in the Zionsville Invitational tonight at 6 pm in Zionsville.  Head on out if you want to see some top ranked ladies soccer this weekend !



GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 16/5),

Player Ratings – MLS.com
Berhalter unhappy with USMNT lack of ‘control’ in El Salvador draw

Player ratings: USMNT held in El Salvador, World Cup qualifying

3 Things We Learns vs El Salvador –
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USMNT’s 2022 World Cup Qualifier Squad Is Most Valuable Ever


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Sonora, Reyna, Wright, & Fulham defenders highlight otherwise disappointing weekend for Yanks abroad



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Sweden down Spain to gain upper hand in World Cup qualifying
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How Ronaldo broke goal record, plus EVERY scoring record he holds
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Hollabd Scores to tie Netherlands 1-1

Canada player ratings: Richie Laryea, Alistair Johnston impress in WCQ draw vs. Honduras

Three takeaways from Canada’s World Cup Qualifying draw with Honduras

Grading every Premier League club’s summer transfer window\

Glory, glory! Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning return to Manchester United is a done deal
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 GAMES OF THE WEEK (World Cup Qualifying)

Saturday, sept 4

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+ 

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Ukraine vs France ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Montegro  ESPN+

7 pm              Indy 11 vs Atlanta United TV 8, ESPN+ @ the Mike

7:30 pm         Orlando City vs Columbus  ESPN+

Sunday, sept5

12 noon          England vs Andorra ESPN2 

12 noon          Iceland vs North Madcedonia ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Swiss vs Italy ESPN+

2:45 pm         Belgium vs Czech Republic ESPN+

3 pm               Brazil vs Argentina Fubo

5 pm               Equador vs Chile Fubo

7 pm               Costa Rica vs MEXICO CBS Sports Network, Universo

8 pm              USA vs CANADA   FS 1

Tuesday, Sept 7

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+ 

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         France vs Finland ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Turkey  ESPN+

2:45 pm         Austria vs Scotland ESPN+

Wed, Sept 8

2:45 pm         England vs Poland ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Iceland vs Germany ESPN+ 

2:45 pm         Italy vs Lithuania EPSN+

7 pm               Costa Rica vs Jamaica Paramount+

7:30 pm         Canada vs El  Salvador Paramount +

9 pm               Panama vs Mexico Paramount+

10 pm            Honduras vs USA CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

Thurs, Sept 9

7 pm               Colombia vs Chile Fubo

7:30 pm         Argentina vs Bolivia Fubo

8:30 pm         Brazil vs Peru  Fubo

5 pm               Equador vs Chile Fubo

Fri, Sept 10

3 pm               Lorient vs Lille – France beIN Sport

7:30 pm         Atlanta United vs Orlando City FS1

10 pm             Tiajuana vs Santos Laguna FS2

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Sale opens: Now

Deadline: First-come, first-served

 2022 World Cup Qualifying: USA 0-0 El Salvador – a disjointed performance and an indecisive result

Eh, it’s a point on the road  By Parker Cleveland@AekprrAcdeellnv  Sep 2, 2021, 9:13pm PDT  S & S

The USA entered the first World Cup qualifier since… you know, we all remember. It was wet and rainy and Bruce Arena was there and it wasn’t fun. Geoff Cameron was watching and looked all mad/sad about it. Not a good time. My main memory for that game was thinking that I had to write the What We Learned article and how pointless that was. Luckily, the USMNT got good at soccer in the last four years and hopefully we won’t be re-living that fiasco.Still, the team would need to go on the road in front of an unfriendly crowd and do what they could to overcome Alex Roldan. One thing was sure, anything less than 8 points in qualifying this round wouldn’t be acceptable.If there was any question about how the USMNT would approach the game, that was answered as soon as the lineup came out and Konrad de la Fuente started alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in central midfield. That’s a decision that says, I’m not too concerned about responding to what El Salvador wants to do and am looking to dictate the game from Gregg Berhalter. Also, put some respect on Tim Ream’s name.Meanwhile, Hugo Perez sent a promising El Salvador side out in a 4-4-2 featuring Greg Vanney’s nephew and a roster whose most prominent players are in MLS or play in Holland. That said, Los cuzcatlecos were coming off of a respectable showing in the Gold Cup and the home town energy would surely provide a boost against the Stars and Stripes.

In what started as a tricky fixture for the USA, the team had a difficult time creating chances. That said, the team did effectively move the ball into the attacking third though the chances were lacking. Through the first 30 minutes, the best moments of the match were created by the camera man as it seemed like the production decisions were, in close? super wide? WHO CARES JUST CUT TO CAMERA 2.The game came to life at about the half hour mark as El Salvador began to grow more bold in their pressing and the US responded by pushing forward and finding seams in the El Salvador backline. A goalkeeping error by Matt Turner gave the team in blue a corner that created a shot that nearly floated into the USA goal. The Americans tried to do lots of flicks and fancy things but nothing really looked like it would threaten the El Salvador goal and the teams went into the half at 0-0.Given the struggles in the first half, the second began with the Stars and Stripes just basically doing what they did in the initial 45 but harder and a little faster. The result was more struggle, but this time harder and faster.A trio of subs came in for the USA as Antonee Robinson, Jordan Pefok, and Kellyn Acosta entered for Sergino Dest, Josh Sargent, and Konrad.One change that did seem effective was Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson interchanging more with Reyna playing more on the left where the USA was having most of its success. That nearly paid off in the 72nd minute when GR7 floated a cross that Weston McKennie got a head to it but failed to put his shot into the net. Still, Reyna was the best player on the field and as the game wore on he continued to be the main outlet for the team as any team moves were just not coming together.Two more subs came in as Cristian Roldan and Sebastian Lletget entered for Aaronson and Yedlin when the clock hit the 79th minute. While the new additions did provide a spark, the game still lacked the decisive moment and ended in a 0-0 draw.Not the best result, not the worst, neutral.

USMNT Opens World Cup Qualifying By Drawing El Salvador

AVI CREDITORThe U.S. men’s national team’s road to redemption, in the form of a 2022 World Cup berth, began with no goals and one point away from home.The U.S. had its chances but settled for a 0–0 draw vs. El Salvador Thursday night at Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador, where the first of 14 qualifying matches took place. Weston McKennie and Kellyn Acosta missed on close-range headers late, but save for set pieces, the U.S. defense was hardly troubled in securing the point, which puts the U.S. level with six other sides in the Concacaf table.Henry Martin’s late winner gave Mexico a 2–1 victory over Jamaica at a fan-less Estadio Azteca to put El Tri atop the table, but Canada-Honduras and Panama-Costa Rica also ended in draws on the opening night of the region’s qualifying tournament.After missing the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. is focused on getting back to the grand stage—even if this group is not dwelling on what transpired four years ago. Instead, a slew of young players led by a new coach are looking to ride the momentum of having won two Concacaf trophies this summer and climbing to 10th in FIFA’s world ranking. To keep that momentum going, they had to do so without two presumed starters, with Christian Pulisic (COVID-19, fitness) and Zack Steffen (back spasms) both unavailable for the match. They’ve remained in Nashville to train before the rest of the U.S. joins them Friday ahead of Sunday’s qualifier vs. Canada at Nissan Stadium. This three-match window concludes with a Sept. 8 trip to San Pedro Sula to face Honduras.Their absences weren’t the only notables in Gregg Berhalter’s starting lineup. Center back rock John Brooks was left on the bench, with veteran Tim Ream partnering with Gold Cup hero Miles Robinson in front of Matt Turner, who earned the start with Steffen out hurt. Brenden Aaronson and Konrad de la Fuente entered the XI as well, with Pulisic out and Sebastian Lletget among the substitutes. After a raucous set of national anthems, with a crowd appearing to be significantly greater than the 29,000 cap that was supposed to be set, and with nearby fireworks blaring for the opening few minutes, the U.S. had the first early chance. DeAndre Yedlin surged forward and found Gio Reyna, who broke into the box but fired into the side netting in the third minute.A couple of minutes later, Aaronson nearly benefited from a fortuitous deflection, with the ball looping just over the El Salvador crossbar.Three minutes later, the U.S. had a chance that was eerily reminiscent of the goal that won the Gold Cup. After Konrad earned a free kick, Reyna curled in a ball to the center of the box, where Robinson headed over the bar. It was Robinson who headed home Acosta’s service on a nearly identical play to clinch the extra-time win over Mexico on Aug. 1.El Salvador provided a scare of its own in the 16th minute. Off a corner kick, center back Ronald Rodriguez was the first to meet the service and headed just wide of the mark to keep things scoreless.El Salvador was gifted another set piece in the 33rd minute and nearly cashed in on it. With Turner taking his eye off the ball on his own endline and having it go out for a corner, Alex Roldan—whose brother and fellow Seattle Sounder, Cristian, began the night on the U.S. bench—shook Yedlin and deftly lifted a right-footed chance to the far post, not missing by much.With the first half coming to a close, the U.S. had another chance to open the scoring. Konrad did well to create space for a cross from the left, picking out McKennie in the El Salvador box. The Juventus midfielder headed down for Josh Sargent, whose bouncing volley from the edge of the box went wide right of the post.Set pieces continued to be El Salvador’s best shot at breaking through, and Eriq Zavaleta, Toronto FC’s Indiana-born center back, forced Turner into a diving save with his header off a corner kick, with the U.S. goalkeeper smothering it as he went down and to his left in the 57th minute.Berhalter went to his bench for the first time in the 64th minute, making a triple substitution (teams are allotted up to five subs, across three stoppages) by bringing Acosta, Antonee Robinson and Jordan Pefok in and taking Konrad, Sargent and Sergiño Dest off.The U.S. looked livelier after the changes, and in the 72nd minute nearly went ahead. Reyna followed his own blocked shot and carried down the left-hand side before lofting in a cross for McKennie, who timed his run well. He couldn’t get his header from the center of the box down accurately, though, and it trickled wide of the post.McKennie then played provider four minutes later on another close call. Pefok did well to keep possession and slip a pass through the Salvadoran defense, with McKennie running onto it and surging down the right-hand side. His cross picked out Acosta, whose leaping header was kept out by goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez.Neither side threatened in the waning minutes, though, with both settling for the point that puts them in the middle of the pack with a long, albeit compressed, qualifying road ahead. 

Three things we learned from El Salvador 0-0 USMNT

Nicholas Mendola NBC Sports

They weren’t good.A United States men’s national team missing its best player and resting its best defender was not a good watch in a 0-0 draw with El Salvador in San Salvador to kick off its CONCACAF World Cup qualifying run.Christian Pulisic missed the match as he seemingly rebuilds fitness following a COVID-19 positive test-induced layoff, and the Yanks were anything but clinical in front of goal.Heck, they barely got there.Next up is Canada in Nashville on Sunday before a trip to Honduras.

Three things we learned from El Salvador – USMNT

1. Welcome back to nerves, second-guessing, excitement: Look, we loved the victories at the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Nations League — especially the latter — but is there anything like the anticipation, anxiety, and excitement that comes from World Cup qualification, especially an away match in front of a packed house? Unfortunately, the U.S. did very little to ease that anxiety with most of its starting lineup ineffective, but it sure was nice to open a fresh run of qualifiers.

 Being talented enough to get selected to start in a side’s first World Cup qualifier means there are gifts to be opened on the pitch, but also long periods of adjustment. It’s understandable that Konrad de la Fuente, Josh Sargent, and Brenden Aaronson would start, especially with Christian Pulisic injured, but we were left waiting for those gifts to arrive in San Salvador for most of the first hour. The kids needed further blooding but there’s a veteran front three out there (Jordan Morris, Gyasi Zardes, and Sebastian Lletget in a full-health world) who delivers a halftime lead, perhaps by two.

3. Tyler Adams is very good: The youngest player to captain the United States men in a World Cup qualifier looked the part, almost always in the right position and barely putting a foot wrong when the ball found its way to him. Unfortunately, a midfield metronome isn’t a finisher.

Man of the Match: Tyler Adams

El Salvador – USMNT recap

The U.S. might’ve had it 1-0 with an unintentional chance when a low clearance bounded off Brenden Aaronson and over the bar.

Miles Robinson’s turn to put it over the frame when Gio Reyna swept a gorgeous free kick over the pack.

El Salvador forward Jairo Henriquez nodded just over the goal on one of their three corners in the first 15 minutes, but Sergino Dest bounced a shot to the home goalkeeper moments later.

The U.S. appeared anxious with the final ball in its best moments of the first half, Josh Sargent and Weston McKennie producing some magic but failing to spot a shooting opportunity and an incisive pass to Aaronson.

Alex Roldan came close to making it 1-0 for El Salvador off a corner conceded by a falling Matt Turner, as the home team’s best work came off set pieces and aggressive pressing in the U.S. half.

The best U.S. chance saw Konrad de la Fuente reclaim his blocked cross and sweep another one over the pack. McKennie nodded it to Sargent, but the Norwich City man’s side volley bid was wide of the wrong post.

De la Fuente led a terrific run early in the second half but laid off for Sargent to have a blocked shot rather than feed an open Reyna on his right. Matt Turner had

#INDvATL Gameday Preview  

Indy Eleven vs. Atlanta United 2

Saturday, September 4, 2021 – 7:00 P.M. ET  

IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

Local/National TV: WISH-TV 8

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)  

>Radio (Spanish): Exitos 94.3 FM / exitos943.com

In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers   

LIndy Eleven: 7W-8L-5D (-5 GD), 26 pts.; 5th in Central Division

Atlanta United 2: 6W-9L-7D (0 GD); 6th in Central Division

With all four inter-divisional games ticked off the schedule, it’s nothing but Central Division showdowns moving forward for Indy Eleven starting Saturday against Atlanta. Three weekends ago, ATL UTD 2 handed Indiana’s Team one of the worst defeats in the club’s USL Championship era, but there’s more important matters at hand than petty payback – as the calendar flips to a seminal seven-game September for the Boys in Blue, it’s now all about playoff positioning …


… and you can see why, as Indy Eleven remains tucked squarely in the middle of the Central table, currently just on the wrong side of the playoff line (with the caveat of having two games in hand on fourth place OKC). The Eleven begin the month with three of four at home before finishing out with a three-game road trip, making those contests at “The Mike” against Atlanta (Saturday), Sporting KC II (Sept. 11) and LouCity FC (Sept. 18) not “must-wins” … but, to paraphrase that famed sage Meatloaf, two outta three here wouldn’t be bad – and may just prove necessary to keep pace.The good news on that front? Indy has seemingly exorcised its demons at Carroll Stadium, collecting wins there the last two times out. The includes last Saturday, when forward Manuel Arteaga bagged his team-leading fifth & sixth goals of the season in a 2-0 win over Real Monarchs SLC. With Thursday’s mutually-agreed upon departure of fellow forward Jordan Hamilton, Arteaga is now the unquestioned talisman up top heading into the stretch drive. With that now abundantly clear, you can bet Interim Head Coach Max Rogers will further solidify the team’s high-pressure tactics that are heavily influenced by the Venezuelan’s endless energy at the point of the three-man frontline.Perhaps more important the last time out was the defensive effort, which included goalkeeper Jordan Farr making four saves en route to collecting the team’s first home clean sheet in eight outings dating back to a 2-0 win over SKC II on May 22. Center back A.J. Cochran spoke after the game about the team refocusing its efforts on securing shutouts at home and just making Carroll Stadium a tougher place to play for the opposition in general. Mission accomplished the last two games, but those were also against two of the weaker attacks in the league – it will have to emerge as an even larger emphasis against an Atlanta side whose 36 goals ranks fourth most across the entire Championship.Indy’s attack will be down another option temporarily after Peter-Lee Vassell reported to the Jamaican National Team early this week ahead of the Reggae Boyz’ trio of World Cup Qualifiers; he’ll miss the squad’s next two contests and should be available for selection next Saturday against SKC. Vassell’s presence should be offset by the continued return of winger Carl Haworth, whose 86th minute cameo against Real Monarchs marked the Canadian’s 2021 debut after recovering from a preseason leg injury.And make no mistake, ATL UTD 2 will look to “run and gun” its way to success on Saturday – and “2” looks to be their magic number. Atlanta has gone undefeated in the 10 games in which it’s scored at least twice (4W-0L-6D) but has registered a rough 2W-9L-1D record when scoring once or not at all. As impressive as Atlanta’s 36 goals scored have been, the same amount of concessions (fifth most in the Championship) have made an arguably bigger mark on their season, with the Georgia side sitting three games on the wrong side of the .500 mark.Three gaudy wins over FC Tulsa (5-0), Indy (6-2) and SKC (4-1) – the last two of which have come in recent weeks – have done wonders for Atlanta’s goal differential, and that could prove important if the standings remain as tight as they’ve been. However, heavy losses the last two weekends at Pittsburgh (1-4 L) and Tulsa (1-3 L) have tipped the “GD” scales back to even and moved Atlanta’s road record to 1W-7L-3D on the season, a trend that Indiana’s Team will look to continue Saturday as it tries to make “The Mike” a true fortress for the stretch drive.


USL Championship regular season: 2W-2L-2D (8 GF/10 GA)

USL Championship at home: 2W-0L-0D (3 GF/0 GA)

Deuces are wild for Indy Eleven & Atlanta United 2, with each holding a 2W-2L-2D record in their series heading into Saturday night’s clash at Carroll Stadium. Both meetings earlier this season were contested at Fifth Third Bank Field in suburban Keenesaw, Ga., where the teams dueled to a 1-1 draw on July 7 before ATL dominated from the jump in a 6-2 win on August 8. This year’s series will end back at “The Mike” on October 2.The only two previous matchups in the Circle City yielded wins for the Boys in Blue at Lucas Oil Stadium, captain Matt Watson notching an early game-winner in a 2-0 victory on June 9, 2018, followed by Alioune Diakhate’s 84th minute goal – his first and only with the Eleven – marking all the scoring in a 1-0 triumph on June 22, 2019.


If the only thing you noticed about Koffie during his full 90 performance last Saturday were his back-to-back chances from the top of the 18 in second half stoppage time, we’re gonna take you to task a little bit. The Ghanaian was perhaps the most active player on the pitch, covering more ground than any of the Boys in Blue, completing 49 of his 57 passes (both second highest on the squad) on the evening – more than half of which (26) came in the opposing half of the field – while also winning three tackles, two interceptions, a team-high nine possessions gained, and four of his seven duels.Koffie’s active night played a big part in helping Indy Eleven own a 31%-22% advantage when it came to time spent in the final third. And during the other 47% when the ball was in the middle third? The above stats show just a glimpse of why Koffie essentially owned “Route 1” between the penalty boxes. To go along with that grit, some class as well … go back and watch his “hockey assist” on the Indy opener, his ball from midfield springing Nick Moon down the right flank to set up Arteaga’s eventual game-winner.That two-way play is exactly what Koffie was brought to Indy to deliver, and Saturday evening provided perhaps the best display of what the recently-turned 30-year-old can do in that deep-lying midfield role. An injury kept Koffie home from Indy’s nightmare trip to Atlanta last month, so it will be interesting to see how his presence will affect the rhythm of both sides’ play through the center of the pitch this time around. 


One player who might see a lot of Koffie in that middle of the park Saturday is Fortune, the 18-year-old Atlanta United Academy product who has made 15 appearances for ATL UTD 2 this season but was only officially signed by the USL Championship outfit last week. In recent weeks Fortune has been called to serve at various spots on Atlanta’s three-man midfield line … but no matter where he has lined up, his heat maps show a tendency to drift to the center channel – and if that is the case, you can be sure he’ll meet acquaintances with Koffie plenty.But therein lies the issue for Atlanta, which has seen Robbie Mertz take a more attacking presence from his spot on the midfield three. Should that be the case on Saturday, that will leave Fortune and Christian Wiley the tall task of going toe-to-toe with Moon & Co. down the right flank, especially on quick counter opportunities. Like much of ATL’s roster, while the young Fortune may favor to boldly attack, he’ll have to balance that want with the need to stay back and defend with numbers, especially if Indy can continue its recent trend of holding more of its possession in its attacking third.

9/2/21 USA Men vs El Salvador Tonight 10 pm CBSSN, World Cup Qualifying this week, US Ladies Play in Cincy


World Cup Qualifying leads the schedule this week and next as teams across the world either begin or continue the World Cup Qualifying process.  The World Cup is just over 1 full year away as Dec 2022 Qatar will host the games.  For Europe, Africa and South America the process began earlier – but for the US and CONCACAF – (our region which includes Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Hondoras, Jamaica and more the process starts tonight.   Eight teams will battle to determine which 3 teams will represent the CONCACAF in the World Cup – the 4th team plays Asia’s 4th place team to advance.  For the US – this ended in heartbreak in 2017 as our loss at Trinidad and Tobago combined with a host of other crazy outcomes knocked us out of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. 

USA vs El Salvador Tonight 10 pm CBS Sports Network + Paramount +

The Golden Generation as I have dubbed our young US contingent – which is coming off consecutive defeats of Mexico to win the title – boast of the current Gold Cup and Nations League CONCACAF Champions.  The US won the Nations League with our European contingent of players – while the Gold Cup winning team was mainly MLS players and our not regular starters (I refuse to say B team anymore).  Still World Cup Qualifying on the road in CONCACAF is unlike any other region.  The US Starts with a huge game on the road vs and El Salvador team that has improved with former US team Asst Manager under Bob Bradley Hugo Perez in charge.  El Salvador features Westfield and IU’s own Eric Zavaleta at Center Back.  Zavaleta starts for Toronto FC and played well in the Gold Cup. 

The US returns for a huge match vs Canada on Sunday at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Canada finished 3rd in the Gold Cup this summer and is certainly on the rise in the World Rankings – but the US will be expected to hold home field at Nashville on Sunday night.  The 3rd game of this round will be @ Honduras on Wednesday night on CBSSN and Paramount plus.  Thanks to Paramount + and CBS Sports Network American’s will be able to watch the Away Game US Qualifiers for the first time in years.  Last time the games were on beIN Sport which many folks don’t have.  Paramount+ will also show a bunch of the other CONCACAF qualifiers like Mexico, Canada and others – so fans can keep up if you doal out the $5 a month to sign up.  With Champions League and Europa League and NWSL – honestly I signed up last year – its worth the $5 per month.


Tonight, Sept 2 10 pm                   El Salvador vs USA          CBS Sports Network + Paramount+

Sunday 8 pm                                   USA vs CANADA               FS 1

Wed, Sept 8 – 10 pm                      Honduras vs USA             CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

It will be interesting to see how Coach Berhalter lines things up over the next week of games.  Already we know Christian Pulisic (recovering from Covid 19) and GK Zach Steffan (back spams) did not travel down to El Salvador and will probably be saved for Canada on Sunday night. 

Who does he start tonight

Josh Sargent






I like the US to win 1-0 tonight with goals by either Aaronson or Reyna. I am ok on with a tie call it 1 -1. Again we need to get a couple of wins or ties on the road and of course you must beat Canada at home.


Via FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index, here are the USA’s odds for each of the first three qualifying matches:

– at El Salvador: 42% win, 32% draw, 26% loss
– vs. Canada: 51% win, 27% draw, 23% loss
– at Honduras: 52% win, 26% draw, 22% loss

Average expected points from this group of matches: 5.2.

How to Watch

Advertised Kick-off Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific

Venue: Allegiant Stadium: Estadio Cuscatlan; San Salvador, El Salvador

Available TV: CBS Sports Network (English). Universo (Spanish)

Available Streaming: Paramount+ (App/Website), fuboTV (Free trial)

Check out all the World Cup Qualifying games on the schedule below!!


ASN analysis: Berhalter names long-awaited USMNT World Cup qualifying roster

USA vs. El Salvador, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What to watch for By Donald Wine II Stars and Stripes

USMNT’s World Cup qualifying preview: Can Pulisic, McKennie & Co. get off to winning start?

USMNT roster: Pulisic, Reyna, McKennie all in
Bonagura: USMNT has big talent, bigger expectations

Hugo Perez’s journey from U.S. playmaker to El Salvador’s coach ESPN Jeff Carlisle


Tight CONMEBOL WCQ table about to be shaken up
  im Vickery

Wahl: Why Argentina Can’t Let Go of Diego Maradona

GAMES OF THE WEEK (World Cup Qualifying)

Thurs, Sept 2

2:45 pm         England vs Hungary ESPN+  

2:$5pm          Sweden vs Spain    ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Italy vs Bulgaria ESPN+

3 pm              Brazil vs Argentina Fubo

5 pm              Equador vs Chile Fubo

8 pm               Canada vs Honduras paramount +

10pm              MEXICO vs Jamaica Univision, fubo TV

10 pm            El Salvador vs USA CBS Sports Network + Paramount+

Saturday, sept 4

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+  

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Ukraine vs France ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Montegro  ESPN+

7:30 pm         Orlando City s Columbus  ESPN+

Sunday, sept5

12 noon          England vs Andorra ESPN2  

12 noon          Iceland vs North Madcedonia ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Swiss vs Italy ESPN+

2:45 pm         Belgium vs Czech Republic ESPN+

3 pm              Brazil vs Argentina Fubo

5 pm              Equador vs Chile Fubo

7 pm               Costa Rica vs MEXICO CBS Sports Network, Universo

8 pm              USA vs CANADA  CBS Sports Network + Paramount+

Tuesday, Sept 7

12 noon          Latvia vs Norway ESPN+  

12 noon          Ireland vs Azerbajan ESPN+  

2:45 pm         France vs Finland ESPN+

2:45 pm         Netherlands vs Turkey  ESPN+

2:45 pm         Austria vs Scotland ESPN+

Wed, Sept 8

2:45 pm         England vs Poland ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Iceland vs Germany ESPN+  

2:45 pm         Italy vs Lithuania EPSN+

7 pm               Costa Rica vs Jamaica Paramount+

7:30 pm         Canada vs El  Salvador Paramount +

9 pm               Panama vs Mexico Paramount+

10 pm            Honduras vs USA CBS Sports Network, Paramount+

Thurs, Sept 9

7 pm              Colombia vs Chile Fubo

7:30 pm         Argentina vs Bolivia Fubo

8:30 pm         Brazil vs Peru  Fubo

5 pm              Equador vs Chile Fubo

Fri, Sept 10

3 pm               Lorient vs Lille – France beIN Sport

7:30 pm         Atlanta United vs Orlando City FS1

10 pm             Tiajuana vs Santos Laguna FS2

USWNT vs. Paraguay (Cincy) Tix Are On Sale Now

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Location: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Time: 7:30 PM ET

Sale opens: Now

Deadline: First-come, first-served


Opening three games.  


AT LONG LAST and after months of speculations and working towards this, Gregg Berhalter has finally revealed his first roster of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. Since the resumption of play from COVID, the U.S. national team has played in two CONCACAF tournaments – winning both – and played a bunch of friendlies just to build to this point of being prepared for qualifying.Of course, the U.S. national team will open on the road against El Salvador and that will be followed up by a home game against Canada in Nashville and then a road trip to Honduras. If the U.S. can rack up points early, it will pave the way for smooth qualification.Part of what went wrong for the United States in the failed 2018 qualification wasn’t the ending, it was the poor start – with two opening losses.Here is the roster along with thoughts on the team.


 GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 23/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 7/0)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United; 3/0), John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 43/3), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 11/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 6/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 45/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 12/0), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 9/3), James Sands (New York City FC; 6/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 64/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 17/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 37/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 14/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 29/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 24/7), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 25/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg/AUT; 7/3), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 1/0), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys/SUI; 6/1), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; 0/0), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 38/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 8/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 16/5), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 13/1)


 This is very strong roster. Is it 100%? No. There are some injuries and players left off because they haven’t played lately due to recent or possibly pending transfers. But the odds the U.S. national team or any other national team will be at 100% is very slim.What the team has right now is Pulisic, Adams, McKennie, Dest, Brooks, and Reyna on a roster. Those six players – all Champions League starters from clubs in the “Big Five” leagues of Europe – are on the team. Then you have key backups and other key contributors too.A big portion of this new qualifying formation (with eight teams, and three-game windows) is that it will be a test of depth. That is a good thing for the United States as it now has more depth than just about any team in CONCACAF.  Teams are going to be hard pressed to start players for all three games in one window – and the U.S. team can handle missing certain players at any point in time. One question many don’t seem to be asking is how opponents treat games against the United States and Mexico? Do they start their best lineups, or do they field backups while saving key players for more winnable games? That remains to be seen.Sure, there are a few quibbles some fans might make here and there with the roster. That will always be the case. But the objections are nibbling at the margins. The vast majority of the key decisions are correctBerhalter is surely very pleased with what he was able to select, and the U.S. team should feel confident heading into qualifiers.


 Calling in six central defenders (Brooks, Robinson, McKenzie, Sands, Zimmerman, and Ream) is a lot. But that has to be revealing in that Berhalter is seriously thinking about going with a three central defender formation at least some of the time in these games. Berhalter used that in the final of the Nations League and he also used it for the start of the Gold Cup – until Zimmerman was injured.The pieces seem to fit for that approach. The U.S. team has the speedy fullbacks who like to get forward – Dest, Robinson, Yedlin, Bello – plus they also have limited central midfielders.The U.S. team also has an abundance of wingers on this team – Pulisic, Reyna, Aaronson, Weah, and de la Fuente.That seems to suggest we will see (at least sometimes) a formation that is a variation of a 5-2-3 with two wingbacks joining the two central midfielders. There were also fewer central midfielders selected in proportion to the rest of the team.It’s hard to see Berhalter abandoning his typical 4-3-3 formation but he seems to be selecting a roster that gives him a chance to play a lot with a 5-2-3 formation.


 The most surprising inclusion on the roster and the one that will generate a lot of headlines the selection of Ricardo Pepi – the latest gem from the FC Dallas academy. The 2003-born forward has always been considered a top prospect in American soccer and this season he has scored nine goals in 20 appearances for FC Dallas. European scouts are starting to circle and Pepi is justifying the hype.But lately Mexico has started to recruit him hard – Mexico’s head coach Tata Martino specifically. Pepi, a native of El Paso, is eligible for El Tri and has been publicly non-committal about such a decision.Now it’s important to note that if Pepi plays in these games, he is not permanently cap-tied due to the new FIFA rules and his age. Still, it would make it very hard to switch to Mexico as he would have to wait three years (an not play for the U.S. in the meantime). For all intents and purposes, if he plays in these games, he will likely never play for Mexico.Having Pepi in this camp is a huge win for Gregg Berhalter and his staff. If they do indeed play him, they will have likely landed the top teenager American forward in several years – and doing so in the face of the U.S. team’s arch-rival.While it is certainy a bonus to secure commitments from dual nationals who are either born and/or raised entirely abroad, it is also massively important to not let homegrown developed talent slip away.


 There are few surprises on this roster. It was always expected that the overwhelming majority of this roster was going to come from the Nations League and Gold Cup winning teams from this summer. That turned out to be true. Of the 26 players on the roster, just two players were not part from either of the summer rosters. The first was Pepi, the other is Konrad de la Fuente.De la Fuente, 20, is a welcome inclusion into the team and he has impressed mightily since moving from Barcelona to Marseille in France. The Miami-area native didn’t stand out in his first caps last year – in the break following the COVID-19 shutdown – and he had a tough time at the 2019 U-20 World Cup where he was playing up a cycle.After moving from Barcelona this summer, he had a great preseason followed by a strong first couple of games to start the season.
He is significant for a few reasons – one being allowing players to play natural positions. Gio Reyna and Brenden Aaronson have been playing on the wing for the U.S. team but neither is likely to remain as a winger for his club – Aaronson plays predominantly as a No. 10 for Philadelphia and now Salzburg. Reyna has already started that central move for Borussia Dortmund.De la Fuente is a true winger. If he can play well for the U.S. team, it gives Berhalter more freedom to move Reyna and/or Aaronson into the middle.That is still a little further down the road as de la Fuente hasn’t been with the U.S. team for some time and will probably come of the bench for the coming games.


 Every roster has some tough decisions of players to leave off. This roster is no different. It’s imporant to look at the players who aren’t on this roster – as many of them could be part of the team later in this qualifying campaign. 

In addition to long-term injuries to Richard Ledezma, Jordan Morris, and Aaron Long, there were also more recent injuries to Yunus Musah, Gyasi Zardes, Daryl Dike, and Paul Arriola. While Musah returned to training with Valencia this past week, he still hasn’t even been playing in preseason games. He will instead remain with his club during the break and attempt to return to the starting lineup.

Matthew Hoppe impressed during the Gold Cup but has instead returned to a poor Schalke team where he hasn’t played – likely looking to make a transfer. His lack of games this past month likely made the decision easier for Berhalter. Plus, of Hoppe does transfer within this week, he can adjust to his new club. The inclusion of Pepi also probably gave coverage to leave Hoppe off.

In much a similar fashion, Reggie Cannon hasn’t played since the Gold Cup final and hasn’t even been part of Boavista’s matchday rosters. He’s looking for a move and could also use the time to adjust to a new club should the move happen.

Berhalter has frequently spoken highly of Chris Richards and his omission was one of the more surprising decisions for the roster. But he has only played a few limited minutes for Bayern Munich and could very well go out on loan soon – making his time better spent securing a starting job. The U.S. team’s central defense is in pretty good shape now. Richards will likely be involved with the U.S. team sooner than later, but it would better for everyone if he was in a club situation where he was starting regularly.

After being the top option for the U.S. team at the Gold Cup and securing a move to Royal Antwerp, Sam Vines wasleft off this roster and Berhalter instead went with George Bello as the other left back along with Antonee Robinson. Vines has played just once with Antwerp and is still getting adjusted. Meanwhile, Bello has been in top form recently for a rapidly improving Atlanta team.

Matt Miazga is yet another player who is adjusting to a new team – Deportivo Alaves in La Liga – and he is yet to make and appearance for them after going on loan from Chelsea. Miazga didn’t play in the Nations League games and the emergence of central defenders at the Gold Cup made the position more competitive for him. Miazga is in the picture but will have to play well in Spain to get back into the mix soon.

Eryk Williamson was somewhat of a surprising omission given that the team did not select many central midfielders and Williamson impressed at the Gold Cup in the wins in both semifinal and final. The likely reason is that Berhalter felt comfortable with Aaronson or Reyna shifting into the middle if needed. His omission, however, was more surprising than expected.

Gianluca Busio showed some promise at the Gold Cup but it was also revealing in that he needed to improve in other areas of his game. He is just getting situated with Venezia where he could debut this weekend. His club is going to be in a touch fight for survival in Serie A this year and Busio needs to adjust there so that he can contribute.

Nicholas Gioacchini: The Kansas City native was a useful player off the bench at the Gold Cup but could be on the move very soon from SM Caen.

Luca de la Torre: the Heracles central midfielder played well in the March friendlies but the fact that he missed out on the summer rosters (where he asked out of the Gold Cup) cost him here. He can still get back into the team but he needs to be strong out of the gate to start the Eredivisie season.

Julian Green: another player who just lost out because of other players raising their game. If he’s a winger, he lost out to Pulisic, Reyna, Weah, Aaronson, and de la Fuente. If he’s a forward, he lost out to Sargent, Pefok, and Pepi. If he’s a midfielder, there just wasn’t any room. He can get back into the mix, but he needs to step up even more with Greuther Furth. 

USMNT World Cup qualifying: Gregg Berhalter’s squad is strong, but watch out for El Salvador, Canada

ep 1, 2021Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

The time to exorcise demons — or try to, at least — has finally arrived. Exactly 1,423 days after a loss to Trinidad & Tobago prevented the United States men’s national team from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, qualification for the 2022 competition finally begins. The USA’s 14-game path to Qatar begins on Thursday against El Salvador in San Salvador‘s Estadio Cuscatlan and finishes on March 30 in Costa Rica.

– USMNT roster: Pulisic, Reyna, McKennie all in
– Bonagura: USMNT has big talent, bigger expectations


The first three matches of this rapid-fire schedule take place in September before things resume in October. Here are a few stats and notes to keep in mind as the competition finally begins.

The goal is 24 points

The past six CONCACAF World Cup qualification tournaments all featured six teams playing 10 matches each. While the 2018 qualification run was particularly strange — not only did the USA fail to qualify but Panama qualified with just 13 points — the dividing line has typically been around 15-17 points. Earn 17 or more and you qualify without exception. If you get 16 or fewer, you’re relying on circumstance to carry you through.

Due to the coronavirus, the format changed this time around, and now eight teams are playing 14 games each. With a couple of weaker teams in the field, there might be a couple of extra easy-win opportunities for the more high-quality countries, and that might alter the math a little. But 1.7 points per game is still a pretty high bar and would almost certainly result in a top-three finish and automatic qualification. Over 14 matches, that projects to about 24 points.This compressed sprint of a schedule means the U.S. will play eight matches between now and Nov. 16; with 1.7 points per game as the guideline, the bar for this batch is therefore 13-14 points, equivalent to four wins and one or two draws. Of course, the USA’s schedule is pretty back-loaded in terms of quality, so perhaps the early bar should be a little bit higher.World team ratings tend to separate the eight teams in the field into three approximate tiers: Mexico and the United States in Tier 1, a rising Canada and slipping Costa Rica in Tier 2, and El Salvador, HondurasJamaica and Panama in some order in Tier 3. This first batch of matches, then, features two Tier 3 road trips (El Salvador and Honduras) and a Tier 2 home game (Canada). October’s three-match swing features a Tier 2 home game (Costa Rica), a Tier 3 home game (Jamaica) and another Tier 3 road trip (Panama). Mexico doesn’t show up until the seventh match of qualifying (Nov. 12 in Cincinnati), while the USA’s first Tier 2 road trip doesn’t come until Jan. 30, 2022, at Canada.It would save everyone some anxiety, then, if Gregg Berhalter’s team kept the dropped points to a minimum out of the gate.

A first-choice(ish) lineup

It’s incredible to think about the small number of opportunities you get to use your genuine first-choice lineup in international play. In the past two years, Berhalter has been at the helm for 23 matches: 11 friendlies, six Gold Cup matches and six CONCACAF Nations League matches. He got a look at 74 different players in that span, 48 of whom played at least 100 minutes. (Only one, midfielder Sebastian Lletget, played more than 950.)

These matches have come primarily against lesser competition and rarely (if ever) in a genuine road setting, and the U.S. has performed well, winning 18 of 23 with two draws. But the heart of the roster — the quartet of attacking midfielder Christian Pulisic, winger Giovanni Reyna, midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams — played together just once in those 23 matches, in the Nations League victory over Mexico in June.

How the U.S. plays against Mexico does not typically pair up with how it plays as a favorite against a lesser team, but two other matches from this sample could be telling as we figure out what to expect over the next week: the closed-door friendlies against Wales and Panama from last November.

With Pulisic quickly trying to regain his fitness after a positive coronavirus test in August — he also didn’t travel for the El Salvador game, remaining in Nashville to train — we might not see the core foursome in action all that much over the coming week. But the trio of Reyna-McKennie-Adams should see an extended run, at least, just as it did against Wales and Panama when Pulisic was injured.The USMNT won two trophies this summer, but none of that matters now that World Cup qualifying is starting. Can they go 3-for-3 over the break? Omar Vega/Getty Images

Berhalter’s possession preferences are clear. When possible, he wants the U.S. to hog the ball, pragmatically build play from the back and apply pressure in certain areas of the pitch. He proved flexible with his tactics this summer — with a second-choice lineup, the U.S. won the Gold Cup by beating Mexico with the more vertical, counter-attacking approach preferred by American coaches in decades past. But his preferences are obvious, and with his first-choice lineup (or close to it) on the field, we should see the U.S. indeed attempting to hog the ball over these first three matches.

Against Wales, that approach provided about as much sterility as the empty stadium in which they played. The U.S. controlled 61% of the possession and averaged 6.2 passes per possession to Wales’ 3.9. It began 19% of their possessions in the attacking third, while Wales began only 3% there. But against a hunkered-down opponent, it generated almost nothing in attack. With as much of the ball as the team could possibly want, the U.S. managed just seven shots at a middling 0.11 xG per shot. Only two of the shots provided any danger whatsoever — a miss from Konrad De La Fuente in the 33rd minute and a short-range shot from Lletget in the 45th minute that was saved by Danny Ward.

The Americans did effectively limit Wales’ counter-attacking potential (just four shots worth a total of 0.34 xG), and having McKennie (90 minutes) and Adams (71) in the midfield makes a significant difference in that regard. While the goalkeeping from each of the first-teamers — Manchester City‘s Zack Steffen, the New England Revolution‘s Matt Turner and Nottingham Forest’s Ethan Horvath — was stellar, the ability to snuff out attacks before they generate shots to begin with is among the most important attributes in the sport. (Steffen also didn’t make the trip from Nashville, though Turner’s in better form.)

Against a more aggressive opponent, the U.S. thrived. Playing Panama in Austria, it faced a lot more pressure and occasionally struggled with it: Panama began 11% of its possessions in the attacking third. But the U.S. recovered quickly, allowing zero shots in those nine possessions and when it survived bouts of pressure, it created loads of opportunities. The U.S. attempted 15 shots at 0.18 xG per shot and scored six times — three times off of possessions that it began in the attacking third.

Granted, the most successful creators and attackers in the Panama match — Caen’s Nicholas Gioacchini (two goals on three shots) and PSV Eindhoven‘s Richie Ledezma (two assists on four chances created) — did not make the roster for the September qualifiers, but McKennie was an outright wrecking ball. He’ll be in uniform.


Should Christian Pulisic be captain of the USMNT?

Herculez Gomez compares Christian Pulisic to Landon Donovan as he discusses whether the 22-year-old should be the USMNT’s captain.

El Salvador and Canada can press

Combining the stats from the 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League and 2021 Gold Cup, only two teams began more possessions in the attacking third than the United States: Canada (10.3) and El Salvador (9.8).

With Bayern’s Alphonso Davies healthy and forward Jonathan David (Lille) and wingers Cyle Larin (Besiktas) and Tajon Buchanan (soon on his way to Club Brugge) all available, Canada boasts as much pure attacking speed as any team in the group. When all four of these guys were in the lineup during the preliminary World Cup qualification rounds in June, Canada outscored four opponents by a combined 15-0. Zooming out a bit and looking only at when the Davies-David-Larin trio is together, the team has won six of seven games by a combined 23-3.

Was the competition level dreadful in this sample? Absolutely. The Canadians lost to the only decent opponent on the list — 3-1 to Mexico in 2019 — but this is the most exciting young roster core Canada has potentially ever had, and only Larin is older than 22.Even if the U.S. has more overall talent, Canada can create matchup advantages you have to address. If anyone can effectively pressure an American back line that’s usually, but definitely not always, stable on the ball, it’s John Herdman’s squad. In this regard, it was a bit surprising that Berhalter didn’t bring another steady-passing midfielder into the fold for these matches — someone such as Greuther Furth’s Julian Green, perhaps, or Venezia’s Gianluca Busio.Mind you, El Salvador will also try like crazy to fluster America’s back line. This isn’t a team the U.S. has traditionally struggled with — America has won 14 of their past 16 meetings, with two draws and a scoring margin of 49-8 — but La Selecta play with energy and a strong identity, and it has brought solid results of late. El Salvador swept through six preliminary qualification matches without defeat, and although it lost a combined three times to Qatar and Mexico over the summer, each was by just a one-goal margin. Seattle Sounders right-back Alex Roldan (younger brother of America’s Cristian Roldan) and Houston Dynamo defensive midfielder Darwin Ceren give the team upside and defensive solidity, and although it doesn’t score a ton, it can frustrate the hell out of you in build-up play.

Among these first three opponents, Honduras is by far the most likely Wales of the bunch. It certainly looked the part in its 1-0 Nations League loss to the U.S. in June. Honduras created only 0.19 xG from seven shots and occupied 36% of the possession. Its primary goal was to hoof balls out of dangerous areas and bunker down, and while the Americans had all the possession they could possibly want, they didn’t find a breakthrough until Jordan Pefok’s 89th-minute goal.

Creating quality chances against packed-in defenses will be key

While opponents such as Mexico, Canada, El Salvador and Jamaica will at least selectively take the fight to the U.S., advancing stress-free through qualification will require strong execution against parked buses.On the perimeter of the attack, the USA’s quality and potential are undeniable. Reyna, still only 18, has scored 14 goals with seven assists in all competitions (for club and country) over the past 12 months, and 20-year olds Brenden Aaronson and De La Fuente appear to be thriving with new clubs — Aaronson is a pressuring machine in a pressure-friendly Red Bull Salzburg system, and De La Fuente has been exciting early in his first season with Marseille (four chances created, two assists and an 89% completion rate in the attacking third in 268 minutes). Of course, this says nothing of Pulisic, who remains the most complete attacker in the player pool even if he’s been unfortunate from an injury and fitness standpoint.Without a commanding presence at centre-forward, though, the team just didn’t have enough ideas for cracking open a stubborn defense like the one Wales features, which has been a problem for the U.S. player pool for a while now. Daryl Dike‘s emergence as a (nearly) world-class poacher in 2020-21 was intriguing, but he’s still working back toward fitness after some minor injury issues and will miss this September go-round. Berhalter did select serviceable options such as Norwich City’s Josh Sargent and Young Boys‘ Pefok, but maybe the most interesting name on the roster this time around is Ricardo Pepi.The 18-year-old has scored 11 goals in 21 matches for FC Dallas this season and recently chose the U.S. over Mexico. He’s not a commanding physical presence at 6-foot-1, 163 pounds, but he is showing massive promise. How much of a run will Berhalter give him?


Via FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index, here are the USA’s odds for each of the first three qualifying matches:

– at El Salvador: 42% win, 32% draw, 26% loss
– vs. Canada: 51% win, 27% draw, 23% loss
– at Honduras: 52% win, 26% draw, 22% loss

Average expected points from this group of matches: 5.2.

The U.S. men’s soccer team has arguably its best squad ever. Will it win on the road in World Cup qualifying?

We know so much about Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Sergiño Dest, and other American soccer stars. But there’s one thing we don’t know yet.Weston McKennie, center, is part of a new generation of U.S. men’s soccer stars who have the team aiming high in World Cup qualifying.Mark Humphrey / AP

by Jonathan Tannenwald


Sep 1, 2021

We know so much about the players on the U.S. men’s soccer team these days, or at least we think we do.

We watch them every week on our TVs, computers, phones, and every other device imaginable. We see their exploits for some of the biggest clubs in the world, in the biggest leagues in the world: England’s Chelsea, Spain’s Barcelona, Italy’s Juventus, Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, and more.

We follow their interactions with each other on Twitter and Instagram, full of jokes and emojis and videos. We presume from this that they have chemistry that will show itself on the field when they play together.

And when they have played together, they’ve shown that to be true. Less often than anyone would like, thanks to the pandemic, but this summer’s Concacaf Nations League title win showed signs of what could be.


» READ MORE: Christian Pulisic helps make USMNT’s Concacaf Nations League win an epic chapter in U.S.-Mexico rivalry

There’s one big thing we don’t know yet. What will they do when they take the show on the road in World Cup qualifying? Will all the hype from the best collection of individual talent in U.S. men’s team history translate into results? And will those results avenge the still-haunting failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and send the Americans to Qatar next year?

We can’t know until it happens. So we won’t know until the final whistle of Thursday’s 14-game qualifying tournament opener in El Salvador (10 p.m., CBS Sports Network and Universo).Brenden Aaronson, center, stretches during soccer practice for the U.S. Men’s National Team Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)Mark Humphrey / AP

The U.S. program has changed immensely since that infamous October night in Couva, Trinidad when it hit rock bottom — almost four full years ago.

More elite Americans than ever now thrive in Europe, with a record 12 U.S. players in this season’s Champions League group stage. Many, like former Union players Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, grew up with MLS teams and were sold abroad for big sums. They earned the right to displace the last generation of players, many of whom never made it to bigger stages than MLS.


Inquirer LIVE: Styling & Profiling with Damichael Cole

Of the 25 U.S. players who will be at San Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlán (which will be half-filled due to pandemic restrictions), just four were on hand in Couva: Christian Pulisic, Tim Ream, DeAndre Yedlin, and Kellyn Acosta. Only Ream is older than 30, and only Acosta — whose skill set fits a specific midfield role in the U.S. system — remains in the domestic league.

We know Pulisic is ready for what’s to come, and raring to go after a positive COVID-19 test sidelined him. Thankfully, he was fully vaccinated, so he wasn’t affected beyond having to sit for 10 days. The resulting lack of match fitness will keep him out of Thursday’s game. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, from Downingtown, is also out due to back spasms. Matt Turner will start in his place.

» READ MORE: Christian Pulisic and Zack Steffen won’t play in the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying opener

So are the other big-name youngsters really ready? Will Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest, Josh Sargent, Tyler Adams and Gio Reyna answer the bell? Will Aaronson, on a rocket-ship ascent with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, step up with Pulisic out?Christian Pulisic, right, works out during a soccer practice for the U.S. Men’s National Team Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)Mark Humphrey / AP

Adams and McKennie, who by their demeanors and central midfield roles are natural leaders, say their team is ready.

“There’s no Plan B for us — there’s only been a Plan A, and that’s obviously to qualify for the World Cup,” Adams said. “When I think about the experiences that we’ve had in the past two years, I would say as a group, how much we’ve developed, it’s ultimately for this moment right here. We’ve waited a long time for this.”


McKennie emphasized that he doesn’t feel burdened by the 2017 failure, though he knows many fans do.

“Obviously, it’s going to be in the back of our heads somewhere, but that’s not our main fuel,” he said. “Right now, we’re just trying to create a legacy of our own … We’re just looking forward to this new journey, a new cycle, and not trying to dwell on the past.”

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter knows what’s coming especially well. Fourteen of his 44 U.S. national team appearances came in World Cup qualifiers, including a 2-0 win at El Salvador in 2004. These days, he has some of the first words in practice sessions, and will have some of the last words in the locker room before kickoff.

“One thing that gives me confidence is you have guys on the team that are playing for really high-level clubs, and their expectation is to win every single game they’re in,” Berhalter said. “There’s a different sense of urgency in these games, and a lot of times, we have a target on our backs as the United States … I think we have the quality, and now it’s about, do we have the right mentality.”

After four hard years of waiting, it’s time to find out.

As World Cup Qualifying Starts, USMNT Embraces Concacaf’s Dark Arts

Winning the game within the game can often make the difference in this region’s unique cauldron, and a young U.S. team is prepared for all of it.BRIAN STRAUS  SI


Thank you for supporting journalism that matters. Enjoy unlimited access to SI.com for just $1. Members log in.As soon as Qatari captain Hassan Al-Haydos looked up and replied, “You can come celebrate with us in the corner,” Kellyn Acosta knew he’d won. The theatrics and trash talk had paid off. Al-Haydos had been broken.“I just wanted to rile things up a little bit to put him off, to give him something to think about,” Acosta recalls. “I knew I had him when he said something back. I’m like, ‘This guy for sure’s going to miss it.’ ”There were about 30 minutes remaining in a tense and tied Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal and Qatar, which was competing in this summer’s regional championship as a guest, was threatening to spoil the party in Austin. U.S. men’s national team defender James Sands appeared to trip a Qatari attacker, and after consulting the field-side video monitor, the referee awarded a penalty kick. Acosta, aware that the Americans’ Gold Cup run probably hung in the balance, closely followed the official most of the way.“I was asking him dumb questions that I already knew the answer to,” the 26-year-old Colorado Rapids midfielder and U.S. veteran tells Sports Illustrated. “I was like, ‘What happened? Was it a foul? Who got him? Is the sky blue? Is the grass green?’ Just some bulls— questions to delay it as much as possible.”When he was done with the ref, Acosta approached Al-Haydos, who was standing at the spot, just 12 yards from lifting Qatar into the lead. That’s not a long distance. Just about anyone who’s ever kicked a ball can manage it easily. All pros can pick their spots. But penalty kicks under pressure are rarely about technique. Rather, they’re a mental exercise, whether it’s a battle of wits against the goalkeeper or a test of the shooter’s self control and composure. Al-Haydos, 30, had played more than 140 times for his country and scored 32 international goals. He’s as veteran as they come. But he was new to Concacaf.Drawing on his own experience and observation of similar climactic moments, Acosta went to work, standing between Al-Haydos and the goal and then letting his mouth run.

“I was just saying, ‘You’re going to let your country down. You’re going to miss it. I’ve seen you try to chip it before. You’re wearing No. 10 for no reason. You might as well take it off. You’re just out here. They should put a cone out there instead,’ ” Acosta remembers.

Al-Haydos retorted, the ref intervened and Acosta eventually retreated, but not before getting into it with Almoez Ali, the MVP of Qatar’s triumph at the 2019 Asian Cup. Several players on both sides then became involved, and there was shoving and jawing and more delay. Almost three minutes elapsed. It felt like an eternity. U.S. goalie Matt Turner looked like he was trying to stifle a laugh.A few yards away, Sebastian Lletget could appreciate what was unfolding.“As a penalty taker, you just want to get it done,” the U.S. and LA Galaxy midfielder says. “Let me focus on what I’ve got to do. The more time you’ve got to delay, delay, the more time you have to think and doubt.”meekly over the crossbar. There would be no sprint to the corner. The score was still 0–0, but the visitors had been beaten.

“Unfortunately, I think after we missed the penalty, we changed,” Qatar coach Félix Sánchez said afterward.Acosta would celebrate with his teammates instead. Gyasi Zardes struck in the 86th minute, and the Americans were on their way to the Gold Cup final. There, despite missing its European headliners, coach Gregg Berhalter’s relatively inexperienced squad claimed the title with a 1–0 win over favored Mexico. Combined with the Nations League trophy raised in early June, the unexpected but deserved Gold Cup crown represented a significant step forward, not to mention a statement of intent.They had already reinvigorated a program that hit rock bottom after missing the 2018 World Cup. Then these young and resilient U.S. players learned to win together. Across the two summer tournaments, the Americans won eight straight games while overcoming deficits, fluctuating personnel and a decent dose of what Concacaf can throw your way (which can be a lot, literally). Acosta’s antics against Qatar were classic Concacaf. They didn’t just reveal a desperate will to win—they reflected an ability to master the game within the game.Soccer in this idiosyncratic and occasionally infuriating part of the world is often about so much more than simply playing the game. It tests a team’s resolve. And so far, Berhalter’s group has handled those extracurriculars with both grace and grit. But now comes the stiffest challenge yet—the World Cup qualifying Octagonal gauntlet. U.S. soccer’s redemption tour will comprise 14 matches over seven months, starting with three in the next seven days. It kicks off Thursday night in El Salvador, where the majority of Berhalter’s players will face a hostile Concacaf crowd—apart from Mexico fans in the U.S.—for the first time (only six of the 25 men on this week’s squad have previous qualifying experience). https://983159dc782bf6ca52b5e10a4563cea6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html Concacaf qualifiers, especially on the road, are like nothing else in soccer, and they’re a far cry from the relatively pampered and predictable routines players enjoy at their MLS or European clubs. Disparities in talent don’t mean as much once the whistle blows. The ability to endure, and perhaps return fire like Acosta did against Qatar, can make all the difference.”You cannot be scared, because you are going to lose—even against a team that’s mediocre compared to you,” Lletget warns. “I’ve been in too many games to learn that they’ll beat you if they want it more.”Acosta, who played a small part in the doomed 2018 cycle, says this U.S. team has the right amount of character and bite.“We can’t just be those nice guys on the field. ‘Oh it’s O.K. It’s O.K..’ We’re not backing down. You’ve got guys like Weston [McKennie], Gio [Reyna], Tyler [Adams], Christian [Pulisic], even myself. We don’t take s—,” he insists. “We’re not going to let people hover over us and belittle us or anything like that. We want to show them that we’re here. We’re hungry. We’re ready. It doesn’t matter what you throw at us. We’re going to be ready for the fight.”If you follow soccer in this part of the world, you’ve become well-acquainted with the phrase, “Getting Concacafed.” If you’ve been “Concacafed,” it means that you probably lost the game within the game. Whether it was the literal or figurative atmosphere, the inscrutable refereeing or a bit of opposition chicanery or gamesmanship, something knocked you off kilter or got under your skin. That’s how the playing field gets leveled. That’s how talented teams can fail.Berhalter learned about getting Concacafed during his playing days. He was involved in an infamous incident toward the end of a 2002 World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica, where a phantom handball called against him led to a decisive penalty kick and a 2–1 defeat. U.S. coach Bruce Arena and captain Claudio Reyna (Gio’s dad) protested so vehemently that they each were handed multigame suspensions. Adversity can come from anywhere in Concacaf, and it can come quickly. How you react is critical.“The games can be hectic. I think it’s just about how you accept it and how you embrace it,” Berhalter said last week. “I remember as a player loving the fact that there’s so much attention around this game and there’s so much hostility with the opponents because I always felt we could play the spoiler. That was our job, to come into these countries and ruin everybody’s day.“It’s just about your outlook,” Berhalter continued. “It’s how you go about preparing mentally for the game, and realizing that within the game there’s always going to be things that happen that you need to be prepared for.”Dealing with the referees—and opponents trying to con them—is just a small part of the Concacaf experience, which is holistic. It surrounds you. There’s altitude in Mexico City, humidity in Central America and rough field conditions in the Caribbean. Traditionally, kickoff times have been adjusted accordingly. But the game actually begins when the plane lands. Security is tight and ever-present. It’s a constant reminder that the unexpected could be just around the corner. Cameramen on motorcycles or in pick-up trucks have been known to follow the team bus from the airport to the hotel. There, the U.S. can anticipate a quintessentially Concacaf welcome.“There are so many nightmare stories that you hear,” Lletget says. “But they’re true, and it would be naive of us to expect anything less.”Just about everything is fair game, as long as it might produce the slightest advantage. In Honduras, a local paper once published a hotel floor plan in order to assist readers interested in disturbing U.S. players the night before the match. In Guatemala, a radio station staged a late-night broadcast that featured loudspeakers on flat-bed trucks across the street. In Mexico City, a band set up in the hotel atrium. Fireworks are common. There have been unsanctioned wake-up calls.It gets rougher at the stadium. The sound can be visceral, and there are fewer barriers separating players from fans who are itching to get involved. Projectiles and bodily fluids rain down. Multiple generations of U.S. players tell tales of batteries and bags of urine. In Mexico City, a fan vomited into a cup and tossed it at Landon Donovan as the U.S. star prepared to take a corner kick. In El Salvador, someone once threw a severed chicken head at DaMarcus Beasley—and that was at a youth tournament. Berhalter’s Nations League squad got a taste of that intensity during the decider against Mexico in Denver, where fans heaved bottles and cups. Gio Reyna was hit in the head.Those Nations League games in early June were an important early exam, and they proved to be a pretty accurate Concacaf appetizer. As the semifinal against Honduras remained level, it became clear that Los Catrachos were going to try and drag the scoreless match into a shootout. There was flopping, time-wasting and multiple appearances by the stretcher team. At one point, McKennie’s efforts to speed things up included tying Rigoberto Rivas onto a stretcher himself.“And the best part, as soon as they’re off the field, they just unbuckle themselves and walk back on. I think they did it seven or eight times,” Lletget says. “They knew we were beating on the door and that was the way to get to penalties and have a chance. As annoying as it is, and it just kills you inside, you have to just stay calm.”The U.S. stayed calm, and Jordan Pefok won the game with an 89th-minute header.That set up the U.S.-Mexico final, which was a circus. The game was rough, dirty at times, and tightly contested (there were several choking incidents, eight yellow cards and a red to Mexico manager Gerardo Martino). The Americans fell behind twice but took a 3–2 lead on an extra-time penalty by Pulisic. They then clinched the title when reserve goalie Ethan Horvath saved a subsequent spot kick from Andrés Guardado.Watch the video, and you can see Acosta standing closest to the El Tri veteran, repeatedly shoving Diego Lainez out of the way. Acosta had been in Guardado’s ear seconds before, honing his Concacaf craft.“I was like, ‘You’re going to let your country down. All these fans are going to start booing you. You didn’t even start the game. You’re retired,’ ” Acosta recalls.“Kellyn does have that way about him. There’s a few guys [on the U.S.] that have that cheekiness,” Lletget laughs.“It’s important that we got a little bit of a taste of that this summer,” Acosta explains. “These experiences were hard but it helped us grow.”Concacaf is gonna Concacaf. You either lament it, or you lean in. Fielding a confident side full of players who’ve already achieved notable milestones at the club level—10 members of this month’s U.S. squad will take part in this season’s UEFA Champions League and one, Pulisic, has already won it—helps when it comes to handling high stakes. The Americans should be somewhat comfortable with the expectations, attention and pressure. As for the rest—as for Concacaf—they’ll have the wisdom gained this summer, plus the warnings from colleagues like Berhalter and Acosta about what awaits on the road. The results in San Salvador and then San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Sept. 8—there’s a qualifier against Canada in Nashville in between—will reveal how ready the Americans truly are.Meanwhile, they’re going to lean in.“We can’t wait for that. That’s what this is all about,” Berhalter says. “We’ve been developing this group to be resilient, to face challenges head on, to embrace challenges, to embrace setbacks. All these [Concacaf] things are right in line with what we’ve been talking about. When I think about the level of competition our team has been playing at … the guys are ready for this challenge and this is the natural evolution of this group—to compete in events like this. We’ll take it head-on. We know it’s going to be road filled with unexpected twists and turns and we’re going to welcome that.”The effort to forge the resilience Berhalter referenced is anchored by the development of a consistent and inclusive team culture and a preference for a pressing and proactive style of play. U.S. internationals now know what to expect when they come into camp, and by almost all accounts they’re happy to be there. Acosta says it can resemble a club environment. When Berhalter claims his squad will weather the Concacaf qualifying storm—whether that’s harsh surroundings, physical play, bad bounces, wayward refereeing or something else—he’s expecting his charges to “[go] back to who you are as a team, who you are as a player.”Rely on what you’ve already learned and achieved. Lean on who you’ve become and want to be. Count on each other.”Everything we’ve been doing the past two years has been preparing them for this,” Berhalter says.Acosta and Lletget are the only two players on the qualifying squad to win both the Nations League and Gold Cup this summer. They know this U.S. group, and Lletget remembers certain moments where bonds and confidence were strengthened. During brief pauses in the furious Nations League final against Mexico, for example, Lletget said that he and his teammates would gather briefly to center themselves, offer reminders and share some encouragement.“If there was a foul or fights breaking out, we would try to come together and kind of regroup, even if it was for a couple seconds, just to look at each other and say, ‘Relax, we got this,’ ” Lletget recalls. “We had to keep checking in with each other and keep that communication going.”That unity and alertness helped the U.S. to Concacaf (the verb) Mexico as the Nations League final reached its climax. Guardado and El Tri had their own penalty kick strategy. While Pulisic was preparing to take his 114th-minute penalty and the ref was distracted, Guardado started digging at the spot with his foot, hoping to deny Pulisic a level surface.McKennie would have none of that, however, and came over to repair it. Meanwhile, Adams entered the picture to separate Guardado from both the penalty spot and Pulisic. Around the same time, Adams helped Pulisic decide where to aim. That helped calm Pulisic and once the area had been cleared, he buried his shot in the upper-right corner.“To still get help from his teammates in that situation and in that environment was, I think, a really nice story line,” Berhalter said a couple of weeks later.“Experiencing these games just kind of draws us to each other and brings us closer. … I fight for you and you fight for me. I think that aspect is huge,” Acosta says. “I’m glad that we got a taste of it early on, rather than getting a taste of it in qualifying. Now we know what to expect. When something like that happens again, I think we’ll continue to know how to act, how to embrace those things and we’ll be ready for it.”

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