11/23 Champions League today/Wed, US Ladies Fri 11 pm FS1, MLS Playoffs continue, USL Champ Game

The US Ladies take Youngsters to Australia for Fri 11 pm game

The USWNT will take 2 young 6 foot GK’s and along with a host of new young forwards for their 2 games in Australia Friday night at 11 pm on FS2 and Again Tues at 4 am on ESPN. 

U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION (CAPS/GOALS) –VS. AUSTRALIA:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Bella Bixby (Portland Thorns FC; 0), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 7), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 0)

DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 2/0), Abby Dahlkemper (Houston Dash; 77/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 43/1), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 6/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 7/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 197/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 61/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 106/24), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 66/17), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 12/3), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 31/4), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 0/0), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 20/2)

FORWARDS (6): Bethany Balcer (OL Reign; 0/0), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 7/2), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 10/1), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 43/13), Morgan Weaver (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0)

Champions League Matchday 5

Champions League play returns with American’s stars McKinney for Juventus traveling to Chelsea Tuesday at 3 pm on Paramount plus to face teammate Christian Pulisic (fresh of this goal in 20 minutes over the weekend) winner wins their group.  Lille and Tim Weah will also host RB Salzburg and Brendan Aaronson at 3 pm Tuesday with both teams needing just a win to qualify.  Serginio Dest and Barcelona with new coach Javi will try to stay alive vs Benefica while Villarreal and Man United will battle for a the top spot at 12:45 in their group.  With two rounds remaining in the Champions League group stage, it’s all to play to reach the knockout rounds — or book a consolation place in the Europa League. Here’s the state of play across all eight groups, showing what each team needs to maintain hope of progressing.   Read it all in the Ole Ball Coach

MLS Playoffs Continue Tues

Nashville will host Orlando City in the East at 8 pm on FS1, while the Defending Champ Seattle Sounders will host Real Salt Lake at 10:30 pm on FS1.  Playoff soccer is worth the watch in MLS! Playoffs Bracket Matt Turner – NE Rev and USMNT Goalkeeper was named GK of the Year in MLS – see story below!

NWSL Washington Wins Championship in Louisville

What an exciting final it was in Louisville as the game went to extra time with USWNT defender Kelly O’hare winning the game in extratime on a fantastic header to give the Washington Spirit the win over the Chicago Red Stars 2-1.  Its been a tumultuous season for the NWSL – but the final has things looking up as a good crowd was on hand and a CBS audience looked on Saturday.  San Diego and LA bring expansion teams in for next season which should add some excitement for the league.

Indy 11 Goalkeeper’s Run Ends

Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr excelled in a 2-1 shootout loss to Orange City for San Antonio late Saturday night.  Farr stood on his head and made some fantastic saves before finally succumbing in the shootout 5-3.   Hopefully some MLS teams are taking note!  Meanwhile the USL will wrap up its season Sunday night on ESPN2 or ESPN+ with the Tampa Bay Rowdies hosting Orange County SC at 8:30 pm.  

BIG GAMES TO WATCH

(American’s in parenthesis)

Tues  11/23    UCL

12:45 pm EST              Dynamo Kiev vs. Bayern Munich  Paramount+

12:45 pm EST             Villarreal vs. Manchester United  Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Barcelona (Dest) vs. Benfica Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              BSC Young Boys (Pfuk)  vs. Atalanta Paramount+

03:00 pm EST             Lille (Weah) vs. RB Salzburg (Aaronson) Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Sevilla FC vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Brooks)  Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Malmö vs. Zenit St Petersburg Paramount+

03:00 pm EST             Chelsea (Pulisic) vs. Juventus (McKennie) Paramount+

8 pm FS1            Nashville vs Orlando City MLS Playoff

10:30 pm FS1    Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake  

Wednesday, November 24  UCL

12:45 pm EST              Beşiktaş vs. Ajax Amsterdam   Paramount+

12:45 pm EST              Inter Milan vs. Shakhtar Donetsk Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Club Brugge vs. RB Leipzig (Adams) Paramount+

03:00 pm EST             Manchester City vs. Paris Saint-Germain  Paramount+

03:00 pm EST             Atletico Madrid vs. AC Milan  Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Liverpool vs. FC Porto  Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Sporting CP vs. Borussia Dortmund  Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Sheriff Tiraspol vs. Real Madrid  Paramount+

Thursday, November 25 (Europa)

12:45 pm EST              Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Lazio Paramount+

12:45 pm EST              Galatasaray (Yedlin) vs. Marseille Paramount+

12:45 pm EST              Red Star Belgrade vs. Ludogorets Paramount+

12:45 pm EST              FC Midtjylland vs. Braga Paramount+

12:45 pm EST              Real Betis vs. Ferencvaros Paramount+

12:45 pm EST              Bayer Leverkusen vs. Celtic Paramount+

12:45 pm EST              SK Rapid Wien vs. West Ham United Paramount+

12:45 pm EST              Dinamo Zagreb vs. Genk (  ) Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Brondby vs. Lyon Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Rangers vs. Sparta Prague Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              PSV Eindhoven vs. SK Sturm Graz Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              AS Monaco vs. Real Sociedad Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Leicester City vs. Legia Warsaw Paramount+

3:00 pm EST                Olympiacos vs. Fenerbahçe  Paramount+

03:00 pm EST              Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Antwerp Paramount+

11 pm FS1          USWNT vs Australia

Sat, Nov 27

7:30 am NBCSN          Arsenal vs New Castle 

7:30 am ESPN+           Fulham (Robinson) vs Preston North End

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

10 USA                         Liverpool vs Southampton 

12 noon CBSSN?        Juventus (McKinney) vs Atalanta

11 am beIn Sport         Lille (Weah) vs Nantes

7:30 pm ESPN+          Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Louisville City USL

10 pm ESPN+              Orange City vs San Antonio (Jordan Farr Indy 11 GK)

Sun  11/28  

9 am NBCSN                Man City vs Westham 

11:30 NBCSN             Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Man Uniteded 

11:30 ESPN+               RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Leverkusen                  

3 pm ESPN+                Real Madrid vs Sevilla

3 pm ABC                    Sporting KC vs TBD   MLS Playoff

5:30 pm ESPN             Philly Union vs TBD  MLS 

8:30 pm ESPN+          Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Orange County SC

Tues  11/30   

4 am ESPN                   USWNT vs Australia

7:30 pm FS1                New England vs NYCFC   MLS Playoff

Wed 12/1

2:30 pm Peacock         Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Watford

3:15 pm  NBCSN        Everton vs Liverpool

Thurs  12/2

3:15 pm  NBCSN        Man United vs Arsenal 

PARAMOUNT PLUS Live TV, Soccer & Originals Starting price: $4.99/mo. Features Champions League, US Men’s National Team, CONCACAF WORLD CUP Qualifying, , Serie A, Europa League Free Trial

US Men

 Behind The Crest: USMNT Revives “Dos a Cero” vs. Mexico

Ricardo Pepi’s Story (video)

How US Players Did this Weekend

U.S. Overtakes Mexico as Concacaf’s Top Team in FIFA Ranking

Champions League 

Chelsea vs Juventus: How to watch, team news, odds, prediction

COVID-19: De Bruyne to miss three games

Xavi unfazed by possible UCL exit: Let me dream
Xavi’s winning Barcelona debut, Vlahovic magic vs. Milan: Weekend review
  ESPN
Villarreal vs Manchester United: How to watch, team news, odds, 

MLS

Playoffs Bracket

Orlando Readies for Nashville Matchup

Three Takeaways from Philadelphia’s playoff win over NYRB

Blanco & Reynoso: Argentine playmakers central to Portland vs. Minnesota playoff game

HIGHLIGHTS: Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United FC | November 21, 2021

HIGHLIGHTS: New York City FC vs. Atlanta United FC | November 21, 2021

HIGHLIGHTS: Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC | November 20, 2021

Seattle Sounders give update on Lodeiro, Ruidiaz, Joao Paulo fitness before RSL clash

LAFC, head coach Bob Bradley mutually agree to part ways

New England Revolution’s Matt Turner named 2021 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year

Report: Jozy Altidore to depart Toronto FC

EPL


Why Solskjaer’s Man United tenure fell apart
 
Rob Dawson
Man Utd malaise runs deeper than failed managers

Reports: Pochettino wants to become new Manchester United boss

Manchester United manager search: Who will replace Solskjaer?

Antonio Conte: Tottenham turnaround shows players are buying in

NWSL

Washington Spirit beat Chicago Red Stars to win their first NWSL championship

NWSL Ends Its Season of Reckoning With High Hopes and a Worthy Final
NWSL final: Washington Spirit a fitting champion after overcoming year of turmoil
  itlin Murray
Coach of NWSL’s Red Stars resigns amid report of emotional abuse

NWSL Final features USWNT Players

Champions League group stage: what every team needs to go through

Nov 3, 2021Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

With two rounds remaining in the Champions League group stage, it’s all to play to reach the knockout rounds — or book a consolation place in the Europa League. Here’s the state of play across all eight groups, showing what each team needs to maintain hope of progressing. Group winners and runners-up qualify for the Champions League round of 16, with third-placed teams dropping into the Europa League preliminary knockout round. Teams that finish bottom are eliminated from Europe.

QUALIFIED FOR UCL ROUND OF 16: Ajax, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Liverpool

ELIMINATED: Besiktas, Malmo, RB Leipzig

GROUP A
Nov. 24: Manchester City vs. Paris Saint-GermainClub Brugge vs. RB Leipzig
Dec. 7: RB Leipzig vs. Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain vs. Club Brugge

Group A

GPWDLGDPTS
1 – Man City4301+89
2 – PSG4220+38
3 – Brugge4112-64
4 – Leipzig4013-51

Manchester City: Need a point to go through, and can secure top spot with a win at home to PSG.

Paris Saint-Germain: Will be through with two draws, or if Club Brugge fail to win either of their remaining games.

Club Brugge: Must win both their remaining games to have a chance of qualifying.

RB Leipzig: Have been eliminated from the Champions League and must win away to Club Brugge to stay in contention for a place in the Europa League.GROUP B
Nov. 24:Liverpool vs. FC PortoAtletico Madrid vs. AC Milan
Dec. 7: FC Porto vs. Atletico Madrid, AC Milan vs. Liverpool

Group B

GPWDLGDPTS
1 – Liverpool4400+812
2 – Porto4121-35
3 – Atletico4112-24
4 – Milan4013-31

Liverpool: Have qualified as group winners.

FC Porto: Will be through on Matchday 5 if they win at Liverpool and Atletico lose to AC Milan. Four points will also be enough.

Atletico Madrid: Know that at least a draw at home to AC Milan will definitely keep their fate in their own hands ahead of the trip at FC Porto on Matchday 6. Could be eliminated if they lose to Milan and Porto beat Liverpool.

AC Milan: Must win both their remaining games to have a chance of staying in the Champions League, but their best hope may be to edge third and drop into the Europa League. Will be eliminated completely if they fail to beat Atletico.

GROUP C
Nov. 24: Besiktas vs. AjaxSporting CP vs. Borussia Dortmund
Dec. 7: Ajax vs. Sporting CP, Borussia Dortmund vs. Besiktas

Group C

GPWDLGDPTS
1 – Ajax4400+1212
2 – Dortmund4202-46
3 – Sporting4202+26
4 – Besiktas4004-100

Ajax: Have qualified and need a point to win the group.

Borussia Dortmund: Dortmund hold second place on head to head, which means a win at home to Sporting will send them through. A draw would leave them needing a win at home to Besikas to seal second place.

Sporting CP: Victory at home to Dortmund by 2+ goals will send them through to the round of 16 on Matchday 5.

Besiktas: Are out of the Champions League and will be eliminated completely if they fail to beat Ajax or Borussia Dortmund avoid defeat against Sporting.GROUP D
Nov. 24: Inter vs. Shakhtar DonetskSheriff Tiraspol vs. Real Madrid
Dec. 7: Real Madrid vs. Inter, Shakhtar Donetsk vs. FC Sheriff

Group D

GPWDLGDPTS
1 – Madrid4301+69
2 – Inter4211+37
3 – Sheriff4202-16
4 – Shakhtar4013-81

Real Madrid: Must win away to FC Sheriff to guarantee qualification on Matchday 5, while two draws from their remaining two games would also send them through.

Inter Milan: Will be through with a game to spare should they beat Shakhtar and FC Sheriff fail to beat Real Madrid. Four points will also see them through for certain.

FC Sheriff: Will be out if they lose to Real Madrid and Inter beat Shakhtar. They may need to hope Inter fail to win and it goes down to the final day for a place in the knockout stages.

Shakhtar Donetsk: Are going to have to win both their remaining games and hope other results go their way if they to have a chance of going through or dropping into the Europa League.

GROUP E
Nov. 23: Dynamo Kiev vs. Bayern MunichBarcelona vs. Benfica
Dec. 8: Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona, Benfica vs. Dynamo Kiev

Group E

GPWDLGDPTS
1 – Bayern4400+1512
2 – Barca4202-46
3 – Benfica4112-44
4 – Dynamo4013-71

Bayern Munich: Have qualified for the round of 16, and need a point to win the group (or can do so with a defeat if Barcelona fail to win at home to Benfica).

Barcelona: Will be through with win a win at home to Benfica on Matchday 5.

Benfica: Must avoid defeat to Barca to stay in contention. Two wins guarantees second place.

Dynamo Kiev: Have to win both remaining games, and hope Barca lose at home to Benfica, to have any chance of staying in the Champions League. They could yet overtake Benfica for the Europa League slot with a win in Portugal on Matchday 6.GROUP F
Nov. 23: Villarreal vs. Manchester UnitedYoung Boys vs. Atalanta
Dec. 8: Atalanta vs. Villarreal, Manchester United vs. Young Boys

Group F

GPWDLGDPTS
1 – Man Utd4211+17
2 – Villarreal4211+47
3 – Atalanta412105
4 – Y Boys4103-53

Manchester United: Will be through with a win away to Villarreal in their next match. Four points from the two games will also guarantee progress.

Villarreal: Will definitely be through if they beat Man United by 2+ goals or 1-0.

Atalanta: Can guarantee a place in the round of 16 with two victories, and four points would be enough if Villarreal lose to Man United.

Young Boys: Still in contention but need to win at home to Atalanta to have any realistic hopes of finishing inside the top 2. If they lose to Atalanta, they are sure to finish bottom of the group and exit Europe.

GROUP G
Nov. 23: Lille vs. FC SalzburgSevilla vs. VfL Wolfsburg
Dec. 8: FC Salzburg vs. Sevilla, VfL Wolfsburg vs. Lille

Group G

GPWDLGDPTS
1 – Salzburg4211+27
2 – Lille412105
3 – Wolfsburg4121-15
4 – Sevilla4031-13

FC Salzburg: Will be through with a win at Lille on Matchday 5, and that will seal top spot if Wolfsburg fail to beat Sevilla. Two draws will also send them into the round of 16.

Lille: If they can win at home to Salzburg, a point away to Wolfsburg would be enough to send them through.

Wolfsburg: Are sure to still be in contention on Matchday 6, when a win at home to Lille will guarantee at worst a place in the Europa League.

Sevilla: Will be out of the Champions League if they lose at home to Wolfsburg, and also be sure to finish bottom should Lille win at home to Salzburg.

GROUP H
Nov. 23: Chelsea vs. Juventus, Malmo vs. Zenit St Petersburg
Dec. 8: Zenit St Petersburg vs. Chelsea, Juventus vs. Malmo

Group H

GPWDLGDPTS
1 – Juventus4400+712
2 – Chelsea4301+59
3 – Zenit410303
4 – Malmo4004-120

Juventus: Have qualified, and need a point away to Chelsea to seal top spot.

Chelsea: Need a point to go through, and would also progress with a loss at home to Juve should Zenit fail to beat Malmo. Must beat Juventus to have a chance of topping the group.

Zenit St Petersburg: Must win both their remaining games, and hope Chelsea lose to Juve, to go through. Would also need to beat Chelsea by 2+ goals to win the head to head.

Malmo: Are out of the Champions League and must beat Zenit by 5+ goals to overtake them on head to head and have the best chance of finishing third and dropping into the Europa League.

Champions League predictions, Matchweek 5 (from Joe Prince-Wright)

Tuesday

Dynamo Kiev 1-3 Bayern Munich
Villarreal 2-2 Manchester United
Chelsea 2-1 Juventus
Barcelona 2-1 Benfica
Sevilla 1-1 Wolfsburg
Malmo 1-2 Zenit
Lille 2-0 RB Salzburg
Young Boys 1-3 Atalanta

Wednesday

Besiktas 0-3 Ajax
Inter 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Sporting 1-3 Dortmund
Man City 3-2 PSG
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Milan
Liverpool 3-1 Porto
Clube Brugge 2-1 RB Leipzig
Sheriff 0-4 Real Madrid

UEFA Champions League group stage Matchday 1 results

Sevilla 1-1 Red Bull Salzburg
Young Boys 2-1 Manchester United — Solskjaer, Maguire reaction
Lille 0-0 Wolfsburg
Villarreal 2-2 Atalanta
Chelsea 1-0 Zenit Saint Petersburg — Tuchel reacts, praises Lukaku
Malmo 0-3 Juventus
Barcelona 0-3 Bayern Munich
Dynamo Kiev 0-0 Benfica

Besiktas 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Sheriff Tiraspol 2-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter Milan 0-1 Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid 0-0 Porto
Club Brugge 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Liverpool 3-2 AC Milan — Klopp reaction
Man City 6-3 RB Leipzig — Grealish reactionSporting Lisbon 1-5 Ajax

UEFA Champions League group stage Matchday 2 results

Shakhtar Donetsk 0-0 Inter Milan
Ajax 2-0 Besiktas
Real Madrid 1-2 Sheriff Tiraspol
AC Milan 1-2 Atletico Madrid
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Sporting Lisbon
Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Man City
Porto 1-5 Liverpool
RB Leipzig 1-2 Club Brugge

Wednesday

Atalanta 1-0 Young Boys
Zenit 4-0 Malmo
Wolfsburg 1-1 Sevilla
Bayern Munich 5-0 Dynamo Kiev
Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 Lille
Juventus 1-0 Chelsea
Benfica 3-0 Barcelona
Manchester United 2-1 Villarreal

UEFA Champions League group stage Matchday 3 results

Tuesday

Besiktas 1-4 Sporting
Club Brugge 1-5 Man City – Recap
PSG 3-2 RB Leipzig – Recap
Ajax 4-0 Borussia Dortmund
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-5 Real Madrid – Recap
Inter Milan 3-1 Sheriff
Atletico Madrid 2-3 Liverpool – Recap + Klopp reaction
Porto 1-0 AC Milan

Wednesday

RB Salzburg 3-1 Wolfsburg
Barcelona 1-0 Dynamo Kiev
Lille 0-0 Sevilla
Benfica 0-4 Bayern Munich
Chelsea 4-0 Malmo
Zenit 0-1 Juventus
Young Boys 1-4 Villarreal
Man United 3-2 Atalanta – Recap

UEFA Champions League group stage Matchday 4 results

Tuesday

Malmo 0-1 Chelsea – Pulisic returns
Wolfsburg 2-1 RB Salzburg
Dynamo Kiev 0-1 Barcelona
Sevilla 1-2 Lille
Bayern Munich 5-2 Benfica
Juventus 4-2 Zenit
Villarreal 2-0 Young Boys
Atalanta 2-2 Man United – Ronaldo grabs a point for United

Wednesday

AC Milan 1-1 FC Porto
Real Madrid 2-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Sporting Lisbon 4-0 Besiktas
Man City 4-1 Club Brugge – Recap
RB Leipzig 2-2 PSG
Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Ajax
Sheriff 1-3 Inter Milan
Liverpool 2-0 Atletico Madrid – Recap

USMNT’s Roller Coaster Remains on Track for World Cup Qualification

After beating Mexico and tying Jamaica, two windows remain for the U.S. to book its trip to Qatar next fall, and the outlook is a positive one.

BRIAN STRAUS  SI 

 says something about the U.S. men’s national team that members were disappointed by Tuesday’s 1–1 World Cup qualifying draw in Jamaica. Points are tough to come by on the road in Concacaf, but this young squad doesn’t put a cap on its confidence, expectations or ambition.“I felt like we could’ve won every game so far in qualifying,” midfielder and de facto captain Tyler Adams said in Kingston.But it also says something about the Americans that they haven’t—that they struggled to impose themselves on a less talented Reggae Boyz squad and may have been fortunate to escape with a point. Although the U.S. took an early lead on a goal by Tim Weah, the hosts replied with a breathtaking strike from West Ham United’s Michail Antonio, then successfully bypassed the U.S. press with a series of long balls before nearly winning the game with a late header that was ruled out by the referee.Qualifying is a roller coaster, coach Gregg Berhalter said. So was the tie in Kingston and the November window at large, which began with last week’s 2-0 dismantling of Mexico in Cincinnati. That isn’t just coach speak. It’s an accurate assessment. The U.S. is now just past the midpoint of Concacaf’s Octagonal, which will send the top three finishers directly to the Qatar World Cup and an additional side to an intercontinental playoff.It’s been almost all ups and downs, from the lows of the frustrating home draw with Canada, Weston McKennie’s September suspension and the whole team’s awful night in Panama, to the historic highs of that brilliant second half in Honduras, the comeback against Costa Rica and then the next-generation “Dos a Cero” in Cincinnati. Through it all, Berhalter has started 30 different players and given 26 their World Cup qualifying debut. It’s been a struggle at times, and the 4-1-3 record could, and maybe should, be better. But it’s also quite an achievement for a young team that’s learning as it goes. Toss in the fact that the Americans so frequently take the field without many of their highest-profile players (Gio Reyna and Sergiño Dest missed this month’s games and a recovering Christian Pulisic was a second-half substitute), and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, or at least satisfied, with the performance so far.The U.S. is in second place with six qualifiers remaining, and it’s on pace to reach Qatar.“I think we’re on the right track,” Berhalter said in Kingston. “[We’re] basically having to get the guys experience on the fly. We’re playing an Olympic-age team. The average age again was Olympic-eligible—22 [and 341 days]. It’s really learning as you go, and the guys have done a great job adapting to that. We’ve had very strong home performances. We’ve gotten five points on the road already, in four games.“We’ll use the winter and spring of ’22 to hopefully get qualification, but the guys have been great,” the manager continued. “When I look at the year of ’21 in general, you know we lifted two trophies. We’re in the position where we want to be (in) World Cup qualifying. We’ve won 16 games already [tying the single-year U.S. record]. The guy have done a great job. It’s all down to them and their commitment to the program.”But like the response to Tuesday’s tie, there should be a bit of concern woven in to the optimistic outlook. Second place is good. It’s also somewhat treacherous. Although there’s now some separation between the top four and bottom four in the Octagonal, the U.S. is only one point above fourth place, which would mean a one-game, neutral-site playoff against a team from South America, Asia or Oceania next June (the draw is Nov. 26). A worst-case scenario of a trip to Qatar, a potential site, for a winner-take-all game against the likes of Uruguay or Japan with a World Cup berth on the line is hovering over the horizon.Among the six games remaining for the U.S. are the three that arguably are the toughest on the Octagonal schedule: at Canada on Jan. 30, and then at Mexico (March 24) and at Costa Rica (March 30). The Canadians are vastly improved and undefeated in qualifying, and the difficulty of winning in Mexico City and San José is long established. The U.S. is a combined 0-21-4 in World Cup qualifiers in those two inhospitable cities. And so the margin for error at home is pretty much gone, and a point or two on the road very well may be necessary as well. There’s still a lot of work left to do.

What Vlatko Sees in USWNT Roster Newcomers

The U.S. women’s national team is gearing up for Nov. 27 and 30 friendlies in Australia, where they haven’t played in 21 years.Twenty-one is also the age of the current roster’s youngest player (Sophia Smith). The squad, which was announced Tuesday morning, is full of the next generation, in fact. Of the 22 players, 12 have 10 international caps or fewer. Five don’t have any caps at all.“Part of the reason why we picked some of the younger players, or some of the inexperienced players, is to give them a taste of what this environment is all about and also to show them that they have potential to be on the World Cup team, and I think that’s the best motivation they could have,” said USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski.

THE USWNT’S FULL ROSTER HEADING TO AUSTRALIA LATER THIS MONTH, ACCORDING TO A PRESS RELEASE TUESDAY.

Mallory Pugh and Trinity Rodman were also invited to join the roster but opted out due to undisclosed reasons.

The frontrunner for NWSL Rookie of the Year, Rodman has yet to make an appearance with the senior national team. Her presence would have added to a young offense that already has three rookies.

Defense is the only position that doesn’t have any uncapped players. Alana Cook heads to Australia with two caps, while Emily Fox has six and Sofia Huerta seven.Let’s take a closer look at the particular areas of the field Andonovski is keen to rebuild and the players he is eager to see.

CASEY MURPHY AND BELLA BIXBY

In the absence of Alyssa Naeher, who is out with a knee injury, veteran Jane Campbell will lead the goalkeeping trio that includes the North Carolina Courage’s Casey Murphy and the Portland Thorns’ Bella Bixby, each with no caps.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to put those young goalkeepers in the top and challenging environment and to put him through some adversity and see how they deal with it,” Andonovski said. “I think that Australia’s an incredible team … We’ll find out very fast who is cut for big games under pressure.”Bixby had a standout season in the NWSL, starting 16 matches and recording nine clean sheets to earn a nomination for the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year.“She’s done a very good job individually to keep those shutouts, so she’s one of those players that needs an introduction to this environment,” the coach said.Bixby and Murphy were teammates on the national U-23 team from 2017-18. Murphy also started on the U-20 squad.Andonovski is familiar with Murphy after coaching her with OL Reign (then Reign FC) in 2019. He saw her improve on a weekly basis and, after watching multiple videos to evaluate her progress this year, has noticed her continued development with the Courage. In North Carolina’s quarterfinal game against the Washington Spirit on Sunday, Murphy made 13 saves to send it to extra time, where the Courage eventually lost.“We’re glad to say that she’s ready for the next level of her career,” he said.

ASHLEY SANCHEZ

With zero caps for the USWNT, Ashley Sanchez steps onto the pitch as the only novice in the midfield.

The 22-year-old, however, has a multitude of experience with the youth program, from the U14 level all the way through U15, U17 and U20. Competing in the U17 and U20 FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2016, she became the first player in U.S. history to play in multiple World Cups in the same year.

Andonovski has been following Sanchez’s progress with Spirit closely all season.“Some of the things that she’s developed first and foremost is she’s better at the things that she was good at,” Andonovski said.Specifically, Sanchez thrives at solving problems under pressure, whether it’s finding tight spaces, connecting with the front line or getting back on defense.“I think that she she’s becoming a little bit more of a rounded player,” Andonovski said.

FORWARDS

The attacking third will feature the most youth, as five of the six forwards have 10 caps or fewer. While Lynn Williams leads the offense with 43 caps, Bethany Balcer and Morgan Weaver will look to get their first.“The forward position is an area where we felt like we need to increase the competition,” Andonovski said. “And not just the competition; we need to increase the overall experience of the players. We have to give them games like this.”The coach seems to be taking into consideration player performances in the NWSL, where five of his forwards have seven league goals or more to rank among the top 10 scorers. Ashley Hatch won the NWSL’s Golden Boot award with 10 goals during the regular season.Weaver of the Portland Thorns appears to be the outlier, with just one goal in 19 NWSL games this season. But stats aren’t everything. Similar to Williams, the 24-year-old is a workhorse off the ball and puts defenders under a lot of stress.Balcer, the 2019 NWSL Rookie of the Year in her third season with the OL Reign, has been a weapon on attack. Five of the nine goals she’s scored this season have come by way of headers. She’s also the first player from an NAIA school to have made an NWSL roster. At Spring Arbor University from 2015-18, Balcer had 129 goals in 98 appearances.

GAME TIMES

The first match will kick off on Nov. 27 at 3 p.m. local time in Sydney. For North America, that’s Nov. 26 at 11 p.m. ET on FS2.The team plays again Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. local time, or 4 a.m. ET on ESPN.

ANDONOVSKI NAMES 22 PLAYER ROSTER FOR USWNT MATCHES IN AUSTRALIA TO END 2021

BIOSTEEL TRAINING CAMP ROSTER INCLUDES 10 TOKYO 2020 OLYMPIANS AND 12 PLAYERS WITH 10 CAPS OR FEWER

NOVEMBER 9 2021

ON THE PITCH

CHICAGO (Nov. 9, 2021) – U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Vlatko Andonovski has named 22 players for the trip to Australia that will feature two matches against the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosts to end the 2021 schedule.

The roster features 10 members of the 2020 Olympic Team and 12 players with 10 caps or less — including five uncapped players — and has an average age of 26.3 years. Andonovski will choose 18 players to suit up for each of the two matches.

The first match will take place at Stadium Australia in Sydney on Saturday, Nov. 27 at 3 p.m. local time (Friday, Nov. 26 at 11 p.m. ET on FS2) and the second will be at the McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on Tuesday, November 30 at 8:05 p.m. local time (4:05 a.m. ET on ESPN).

“We still have a few players out with injuries, so this roster is a mixture of players with a lot of experience in World Cups and Olympics, some who have been a part of the program for a while but who are looking to make their mark in international soccer and a few who are getting a first chance with the National Team in an event like this,” said Andonovski. “We’ve turned the page towards 2023 World Cup qualifying and rarely do we get the chance to test young players in environments filled with adversity, so we need to take advantage of what these two games will offer us. It’s exciting to get a chance to see all these players together in our environment and give them a chance to play against one of the best teams in the world.”

Twenty-one of the 22 players on the roster play in the National Women’s Soccer League with 17 on teams that made the NWSL playoffs. Midfielder Catarina Macario, who has scored eight goals in her past nine games with Olympique Lyon in France, is the only player on the roster not playing domestically.

The U.S. Women’s National Team has not played in Australia for 21 years. The most recent visits were in 2000, a year in which the USA played in three different competitions in Australia, the final one being the Sydney Olympics where the USA earned a silver medal. Football Australia expects large crowds for both matches.


U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION (CAPS/GOALS) – NOVEMBER MATCHES VS. AUSTRALIA:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Bella Bixby (Portland Thorns FC; 0), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 7), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 0)

DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 2/0), Abby Dahlkemper (Houston Dash; 77/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 43/1), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 6/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 7/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 197/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 61/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 106/24), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 66/17), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 12/3), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 31/4), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 0/0), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 20/2)

FORWARDS (6): Bethany Balcer (OL Reign; 0/0), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 7/2), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 10/1), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 43/13), Morgan Weaver (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0)

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • The roster features 10 players who won bronze medals at the 2020 Olympics and six who were on the team that won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
  • After 36-year-old veteran defender Becky Sauerbrunn, followed by 30-year-old midfielder Kristie Mewis. The youngest is 21-year-old forward Sophia Smith.
  • There are only two players on the roster age 30 or older — Sauerbrunn and Mewis. The average age of the remaining 20 players will be 25.6 years on the first match day in Australia.
  • The average caps per player on the 22-player roster is 32.
  • Andonovski called up two uncapped goalkeepers in six-foot Bella Bixby of Portland Thorns FC and six-foot-one Casey Murphy of the North Carolina Courage. Both have had quality seasons with their respective clubs and Murphy made a playoff record 13 saves in 1-0 quarterfinal playoff loss to the Washington Spirit on Nov. 7.
  • This is the first time the USWNT has ever had two goalkeepers six-foot or over on one roster.
  • While Murphy has yet to earn a cap, this will be her sixth event training with the full USWNT. Most recently, she was in with the USA for the trip to Sweden and France last April and she was the starting goalkeeper for the USA at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. This is Bixby’s first full WNT call-up, although she does have experience with the Under-23 USWNT in 2017 and 2018 when she was known as Bella Geist, prior to her marriage.
  • Both goalkeepers join 2020 Olympian Jane Campbell, who has seven caps and who earned a shutout against South Korea on Oct. 26 in Minnesota.
  • Sauerbrunn is by far the most experienced player on the roster with 197 caps, and she is joined by 2020 Olympic Team center back partners Dahlkemper (77) and Tierna Davidson (43) as well as outside back Emily Sonnett (61), who played in two matches in Japan. The other three defenders have a combined 15 caps.
  • Seven of those caps belong to Sofia Huerta, who has been playing outside back of late for OL Reign and is the only player in women’s soccer history to have played for the USA and Mexico at the senior level. Huerta switched associations in 2017 and earned her caps over 2017 and 2018 but has not been back with the WNT until this trip.
  • Huerta was tied for the NWSL lead in regular season assists this year with six.
  • Alana Cook, also of OL Reign, earned one of her two career caps in 2021, playing the full 90 against Colombia on Jan. 22.
  • The other defender is Emily Fox of Racing Louisville, who played well in both of the USA’s most recent matches, against South Korea in October, in which she earned her fifth and six caps.
  • The midfielders are perhaps the most experienced position group. Andi Sullivan (20 caps) and Ashley Sanchez (0 caps) of the Washington Spirit are the only two of the six midfielders who were not at the 2020 Olympic Games.
  • Sullivan’s experience with the senior National Team dates back to 2016, when she was a junior in college at Stanford. Sullivan started at defensive midfield in the USA’s most recent match against South Korea on Oct. 26.
  • This will be the third full WNT camp for Sanchez, who made history by being the first American to play in both the FIFA Under-17 and Under-20 Women’s World Cups in the same cycle, something she did in 2016. She also attended the October 2020 training camp in Denver and was called into one training camp under Jill Ellis in March of 2016. She also attended the U.S. WNT Identification Training Camp in December of 2019.
  • The group of forwards features just one Olympian in Lynn Williams, who had a goal and an assist in the quarterfinal victory over the Netherlands in Japan and who has 13 goals in her 43 career caps.
  • The other five forwards have a combined 19 caps and three international goals, two for Margaret Purce and one for Smith.
  • Of the six forwards, four of them – Bethany Balcer, Ashley Hatch, Smith and Morgan Weaver – were at the U.S. WNT Identification Training Camp in December of 2019. Aside from the ID camp, this will be the second full USWNT event for Balcer and the first for Weaver.
  • Hatch was awarded the Golden Boot this season as the top scorer in the NWSL with 10 goals while also scoring the game-winner in the 1-0 quarterfinal playoff victory over the North Carolina Courage on Nov. 7. Balcer and Margaret Purce finished the regular season with nine each while Williams and Smith had seven scores each. Smith led the league in shots with 72 and shots on goal with 36.
  • Hatch earned her first cap in 2016 in Sandy, Utah in a 16-minute performance against Switzerland when she was still playing at BYU. She earned her second in 2018 vs. Mexico.
  • Eight of the 10 NWSL clubs have players on the roster with Portland Thorns FC having five. OL Reign and the Washington Spirit have four each and the Houston Dash has three.
  • Eleven players on the roster have represented the USA in a FIFA Women’s World Cup at the youth level.
  • Three players on the roster were named to the NWSL Team of the Month for October: Huerta, Hatch and Purce.
  • Five players on the roster are up for end-of-the season 2021 NWSL Awards.
  • MVP: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit) and Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Defender of the Year: Alana Cook (OL Reign)
    Goalkeeper of the Year: Bella Bixby (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Rookie of the Year: Emily Fox (Racing Louisville)

NWSL final: Washington Spirit a fitting champion after overcoming year of turmoil

Nov 20, 2021Caitlin Murray

In a National Women’s Soccer League season that will be remembered more for its leaguewide off-field problems than its splendid play on the field, the Washington Spirit became a fitting champion Saturday, beating the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 in a thrilling extra-time finish.

To say that the Spirit’s road this season to the final was a rocky one would be an understatement. The NWSL stepped in and banned their coach after player allegations of abuse failed to prompt the team’s owner to act. A power struggle between that owner and another investor ensued, with the players publicly demanding the team be sold. And the Spirit had to forfeit two regular-season games after a COVID-19 outbreak, earning a hefty fine for protocol violations too.

In a word, the Spirit’s season has been chaos. But the only way the Spirit could come back from a goal deficit and beat the Red Stars on the league’s biggest stage was not by ignoring the chaos swirling around them — the players simply had to embrace it. “It’s been a lot of different emotions but we’ve been leaning into them and soaking up the chaos and seeing what we could do with it,” Spirit captain Andi Sullivan said. “I don’t think you could create something else like it.”You probably wouldn’t want to either — the Spirit were hardly the only team in the NWSL dealing with off-field problems this season — but the Spirit’s unique ability to use the uncertainty to their advantage means there is no better team to go down in NWSL history as the 2021 champion.”People have no idea what we’ve all gone through,” veteran defender Kelley O’Hara said. “The resiliency and perseverance of every single player on this team is pretty incredible and something that I haven’t had on any NWSL team I’ve been on. It’s the best feeling ever to be ending on a win.”In the first half, however, it looked like perhaps an emotional toll had finally caught up with the Spirit. Whether it was the weight of the stakes or the drain of their off-field turmoil, something tamped down some of the Spirit’s flair and flashiness, which had carried them through the playoffs to the final.

Trinity Rodman, the 19-year-old breakout who was named Rookie of the Year, looked frustrated as she created dangerous moments for the Spirit but couldn’t tap into her previous magic. In the 11th minute, she had only to get around center-back Sarah Gorden for a breakaway, but the NWSL Defender of the Year poked the ball away. Later, after some ball circulation to create space for Rodman, she pulled the trigger from the top of the box, but it went straight to goalkeeper Cassie Miller.

“I was extremely frustrated with myself and our movement of the ball,” Rodman said. “Once you can get out of your head and keep focusing on the next pass, the next shot, the next ball, that’s gonna get you to the end.”Since early in the match, Rodman was seen at times bent over clutching her side as if she were cramped from overexertion — but she never stopped. She leaned in even more and single-handedly shifted the match’s momentum, leading a Spirit turnaround in the second half. It started in the 62nd minute when Rodman fired a rocket off the post from well outside the box, a chance that seemingly rattled the Red Stars’ back line. Three minutes later, Rodman took on three defenders, finally breaking free with a nutmeg through the last defender’s legs before another shot from distance. But her key contributions would be assists that followed, not goals.In the 66th minute, Rodman slipped a ball to Tara McKeown, who was fouled in the box, earning a penalty that Sullivan buried to equalize. After the match moved to extra time, Rodman lofted a long ball to the back post in the 97th minute, finding O’Hara’s head. It was O’Hara’s first goal of the 2021 season.”We never quit,” Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe said. “We never gave up on each other and that second half shows who we are.”For the Red Stars, it was a brutal end after it looked as though they’d overcome their own set of challenges.Coming into Saturday, they were already missing starters Julie Ertz (left thigh), Casey Krueger (illness), Alyssa Naeher (right thigh) and Kealia Watt (right knee). Within 12 minutes, captain and midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo had to come off with an injury, replaced by Makenzy Doniak. More bad luck struck before the half, when Mallory Pugh went down with injury — but, as has become the Red Stars’ identity, they stayed locked in and scored in first-half stoppage time, despite being down a player. Arin Wright (nee Gilliland) lofted a long cross to the back post and Rachel Hill nodded it home.After losing the 2019 NWSL championship and the 2020 Challenge Cup, the Red Stars have now lost their third consecutive final.”It’s been hard because we’ve had that taste in our mouth of losing a final like that,” said Morgan Gautrat (nee Brian), one of Chicago’s most consistent players this season. “It’s why we go to practice every single day and we play every minute like it’s the last.”For anyone who didn’t know about the Spirit’s off-field problems or the reckoning in the NWSL at large, Saturday’s final had all the normal trappings of a celebratory finish to the regular season: full stands at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky; supporters for each side banging drums and cheering; players putting in a high-level, competitive, focused performance. “The crowd brought it — there were some people heckling me,” O’Hara said, laughing.But there were hints of the shadow cast by the tumultuous season that preceded the final. Local fans of Racing Louisville took it upon themselves to bring some large hard-to-miss signage for the Spirit: “We support Spirit fans. Sell the team, Baldwin.” Spirit fans who made the trip brought their own signs urging majority owner Steve Baldwin to sell amid a public and ugly power struggle for control of the club. Baldwin, who stood by former Spirit coach Richie Burke even as players alleged abuse, has been pitted against Y. Michele Kang, the female minority owner who has earned the backing of Spirit players.Other signs scattered throughout the stadium offered even weightier slogans like “Listen. Believe. Protect.” And “#NoMoreSilence. Support NWSLPA.”Those signs were, of course, a reference to Burke, the coach accused by Spirit players of berating them with cruel name-calling and racial remarks. When Baldwin caught wind that journalists were looking into it, he claimed Burke had health problems and gave him a front-office job instead of firing him, which prompted the NWSL to step in and ban him. But the signs were also a reference to a larger backdrop of abuse and mistreatment of players that forced a reckoning in the NWSL this year.The most shocking allegations came against former Portland Thorns coach Paul Riley, who two players said forced them to kiss as he watched, sent them lewd photos and showed up to film session in his underwear. A player filed a formal complaint in 2015, and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and general manager Gavin Wilkinson let Riley quietly leave the club in what was framed as a routine non-renewal after poor on-field results. Riley quickly landed a new job, and was fired last month only when the players shared their stories publicly for the first time. The NWSL’s commissioner, Lisa Baird, resigned last month under fire for refusing to investigate Riley earlier this year.

“It’s been a really long year for every team, for different reasons — a bunch of adversity on and off the field, and it’s necessary to make this league better,” Gautrat said, reflecting on Saturday’s final. “But I do think it was a great showing — 120 minutes of end-to-end soccer, good goals and excitement.”The NWSL championship wasn’t even supposed to be in Kentucky. It had originally been scheduled to be played in Portland, Oregon, the city that has nicknamed itself Soccer City, USA — but to accommodate a national noon East Coast broadcast slot, it would be played at 9 a.m. local time, which drew outrage from players and fans. The mishandling of the allegations against Riley from the Portland Thorns front office didn’t make the location any more attractive.But that the players managed to force the league to move its marquee event some 2,000 miles away was yet another testament to the power of the players. In a professional league, players shouldn’t have to get involved in fixing off-field problems as often as NWSL players have, but they’ve risen above the challenges repeatedly, as the NWSL final put on full display.That’s as true for the Spirit players as anyone else, as no club has dealt with more problems — at least in public — this year. It’s fitting that the Spirit have been the best team in the NWSL at coming back after conceding a goal first: their whole season has been a comeback of sorts. They haven’t lost since Burke was finally fired months ago, a hot streak that carried them to the final, and on Saturday they made enduring a season of messiness well worth it.”We’ve been in playoff mode since the end of the September — we controlled what we could control, and that was winning,” O’Hara said. “Here we are.”

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