9/22/22  US vs Japan Fri 8 am ESPN2, Nations League games, Big TV Games, #1 CHS Boys & #5 Girls in Action, NWSL San Diego breaks attendance Record

US Men

So the roster is set and most of the key players will be on hand as the US enters the last phase before the World Cup with the friendlies vs Japan on Friday morning (ESPN2 8 am) and Tuesday afternoon vs Saudi Arabia (Fox Sports 1 2 pm).  While I have enjoyed watching Nations League games in Europe – the fact that blocks the US from EVER playing European Teams really stinks.  For the US the injuries and those missing might be just as big a thing and those who are playing.  Ricardo Pepi at the #9 along with Josh Stewart over the top scoring American Forward Jordan Pfok who has his Union Berlin atop the Bundesliga (above Bayern Munich) is perplexing.  Perhaps Berhalter is giving Pepi one last chance to make the plane to Qatar while Pfok has already proved his worth and is in.  Not sure – but if GB leaves Pfok off the plane and doesn’t get out of the group stage he’ll be fired before the plane gets home from the World Cup.  My hopes are Stewart and Pepi play well – but I doubt Pepi will get it done.  I think Pfok is on the plane.  As for midfielders – the MMA will perhaps be replaced with the MAA – as Musah is out injured.  I think Aaronson fills that #8 slot alongside McKinney and Adams (because Aaronson simply has to start).  That’s if Gio Reyna is healthy enough to start on the right wing of course.  Turner is the GK of course with Horvath deserving a look perhaps in game 2. Now for defense – I would like to see Joe Scally start on the right with Dest on the left covering for the injured Jedi Robinson along with Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long (stinks that Richards and CCV are not here to fight for that spot – but they are both on the plane to Qatar if healthy. As for Predictions – listen this Japan team is a good team – I think we are looking at 1-0 US win in a close one.  (assuming Turner plays all game).  On a lighter note –  My goodness these US Uniforms are horrible, of course Alex Morgan makes them look a little better.  Also awesome to see Tad Lasso win best comedy again – and AFC Richmond is going to be in FIFA 23 – that’s Lasso’s Team!

Here’s my line-up  Friday AM

Pulisic, Sargent, Aaronson

Musah, Adams, De La Tore

Sands, Long, Zimmerman, Dest or Scally

Turner

USMNT September roster (caps/goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 10/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 18/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 27/1), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 11/0), Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 17/2), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 27/3), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG; 8/0), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 2/0), Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp/BEL; 8/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 74/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 31/3), Mark McKensie, Palmer-Brown

MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 52/2), Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 30/1), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 11/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 35/9), Malik Tillman (Rangers/SCO; 2/0),

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 22/6), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 47/10), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 13/7), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 48/11), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED; 11/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 51/21), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 12/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 19/3)

Indy 11 Home Sun 5 pm Hispanic Heritage Night

Indy Eleven saw its four-game unbeaten streak come to a halt last Sat evening against Monterey Bay F.C. side in a 5-0 defeat to Monterey Bay. The defeat, coupled with other results from around the Eastern Conference, officially eliminated Indiana’s Team from playoff contention. The Boys in Blue return to the Mike on Sun, when they play host to Loudoun United FC for a special 5 pm ET kickoff. Details on the club’s annual Hispanic Heritage Night festivities –can be found at indyeleven.com/promotions, and tickets are just $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets,

NWSL Attendance Record of 32,000 fans Broken

A packed house watched the first-year San Diego Wave defeat Angel City FC on Saturday night at Snapdragon Stadium. There’s reason to believe the best may be yet to come –
How San Diego smashed the NWSL attendance record with 32,000 fans. My daughter Courtney was in attendance and said it was awesome !!

High School–CHS Boys Move into 1st Place host Guerin Fri, #3 CHS Girls host #4 Zionsville Sat 11:30 am

The Carmel High School boys have moved into 1st place in the state heading into their final 2 home games at Murray vs #16 Guerin Catholic Fri at 7 pm and Tues vs Harison at 7 pm.  The #3 CHS ladies wrapped up Senior Night last night and host #4 Zionsville on Sat at 11:30 am at Murray before closing out the year at #15 Westfield Mon. 

Carmel High Seniors – love those GK’s former FC’ers Aubry Empie and Bethany Ducat. CFC GKU!

BIG GAMES ON TV

Wed, Sept 21

7 pm ESPN2                        Cincy vs Guadalajara   NA League cup

9 pm ESPN2                        Nashville vs America   NA League cup

Thur Sept 21

12 noon FS2                        Latvia vs Moldova

2:45 pm FS1                        Belgium vs Wales

2:45 pm Fox Soccer         Poland vs Netherlands

11 pm ESPN+                     Real Salt Lake vs Atlas  NA League cup

Fri, Sept 23

8 am ESPN2                USMNT vs Japan in Germany

12noon FS2                         Georgia vs North Macedonia

2:45 pm FS1                        Germany vs Hungary

2:45 pm fubo TV               Italy vs England

Sat Sept 24

9  am FS2                             Armenia vs Ukraine

12noon FS2                         Slovinia vs Norway

2:45 pm FS2                        Czech Republic vs Portugal

7 pm Para+                         NC Courage vs NY Gotham FC NWSL

8:30 pm Para+                   Houston Dash vs Seattle Reign (Lavelle, Rapinoe, Huerta)

10 pm ESPN+                     San Jose vs LA Galaxy

Sun, Sept 25

9  am FS2                             Armenia vs Ukraine

12noon FS2                         Azerbajan vs Kakahstan

2:45 pm FS2                        Denmark vs France 

2:45 pm ??                          Netherlands vs Belgium

5 pm Para+                         KC Current vs Washington Spirit

5:30 pm TV 23            Indy 11 vs Loundon United (the Mike)

7 pm Para+                         Orlando Pride vs San Diego Wave (Morgan)

8 pm Para+                         Angel City vs Racing Louisville

Mon, Sept 26

2:45 pm FS1                        England vs Germany  

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm Fox Sports1             USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

2:45 pm FS2                        Switzerland vs Czech Republic

Fri, Sept 30

2:30 pm ESPN+              Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sat, Oct 1

7:30 am USA               Arsenal vs Tottenham

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

9:30 am ESPN+                       Frankfurt vs Union Berlin (Pefok)

10 am USA                  Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

10 am Peacock                        Fulham (Ream, Jedi) vs New Castle United

12 noon ESPN+                       Roma vs Inter Milan

6 pm Para +                 NY Gothem vs Portland Thorns NWSL

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Chicago Fire vs Cincy

10 pm Para+                Seattle Reign vs Orlando Pride NWSL

Sun, Oct 2

9 am USA                    Man City vs Man United

10 am USA                  Leeds United (Aaronson, Adams) vs Aston Villa  

10 am Peacock                        Fulham (Ream, Jedi) vs New Castle United

2:$5 pm ESPN+                       Juve vs Bologna  

3 pm ABC                   Portland Timbers vs LAFC

5 pm FS1                     Sporting KC vs Seattle Sounders

6 pm Para +                 Chicago Red Stars vs Angel City NWSL

Mon, Oct 3

3 pm USA                    Leicester City vs Nottingham’s Forest

Tues, Oct 4                 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

3 pm Para+                  Inter Milan vs Barcelona

3 pm Para+                  Club Brugge vs Atletico Madrid

Wed, Oct 5

3 pm Para+                  Chelsea (Pulisic) vs AC Milan

3 pm Para+                  Sevilla (Musah) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Tues, Oct 11

2:30 pm ESPN2                  US Women  vs Spain (Pamplona)

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

Great shot at the Carmel High Girls Pack the House night – look at all those Carmel FC jerseys in the house! I even see some CFC GKU members.

US Men

Berhalter reveals 4 USMNT starters vs. Japan

Analysis: Thoughts and takeaways from Berhalter’s media call

Creditor: Bracing for Roster Change Is USMNT’s Only Constant

Big questions before USMNT’s pre-World Cup friendlies: Can Pepi nail down spot? Is Turner too rusty?

Sargent riding Norwich confidence to stake claim to USMNT’s No. 9 shirt 1dJeff Carlisle

What the players missing from the USMNT September friendlies roster says about the team

USMNT roster for World Cup tune-ups – Latest injury news, call-ups, 
USMNT, European review: Pefok scores for leaders Union Berlin; McKennie’s Juve lose

Siebatcheu, Becker fire ‘dominant’ Union Berlin top of Bundesliga

Walker Zimmerman “eager to prove” USMNT’s qualities despite key absences

Creditor: How the USMNT’s Three World Cup Foes Are Shaping Up

World Cup  

Big questions before Mexico’s pre-World Cup friendlies: Injuries, leadership, and the ‘quinto partido’
Why we need to change the debate over who gets picked for England

Allen injury a worry for Wales ahead of World Cup

Republic of Ireland’s Brady eager to repeat France 2016 heroics

 World

Gabriel Jesus goal celebration ‘for Vinicius Jr’; Racist attacks ‘need to stop’
Real Madrid triumph at rivals Atletico in spiky derby

Racist chants aimed at Vinicius Junior by Atletico Madrid fans

Barcelona climb top in Spain after Lewandowski double

Villarreal battle back to keep pressure on Sevilla and Lopetegui

Napoli make title statement at Milan to hold Serie A lead

US Ladies/NWSL

How San Diego smashed the NWSL attendance record with 32,000 fans

Angel City loses at San Diego’s new stadium, a venue that’s a sign of hope for NWSL
NWSL Boom, Global Growth Usher in New Goals for Women’s Soccer

15 Spanish Women’s Players Quit blaming the Coach

Funny Alex Morgan wears the new kit fairly well – the 4 stars over the logo does help !

Big questions before USMNT’s pre-World Cup friendlies – Can Pepi nail down spot? Is Turner too rusty?

12:24 PM ET  Bill Connelly  ESPN Staff Writer

In less than two months, the 3,065-day wait between World Cup matches for the United States men’s national team will come to an end. Only tuneups against Japan in Germany (Friday, 8:25 am ET on ESPN2/ESPN+) and Saudi Arabia (on Tuesday in Spain) remain before the Nov. 21 group-stage opener against Wales in Qatar.

hese two friendlies are, for all intents and purposes, the last chance for players to make direct impressions on U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter before he makes his World Cup selections. Berhalter insists other players could still end up on the team beyond those invited to camp this week, and he will prove how true that is when he makes his final 26-man selection in early November.But there are indeed roster spots still to be decided, and we’ll see who takes the greatest advantage of this week’s opportunities. Here are five questions to ask as we, too, get our final pre-Qatar look at the national team.

Nine (or so) USMNT World Cup roster spots are left. Who takes them?

Figuring out a national team manager’s preferences can be pretty tricky due to the disjointed nature of the international calendar. Who’s healthy and/or in form when the matches show up on the calendar? Who isn’t? It can make a huge difference on selection.

Still, we can make some pretty educated guesses. We know who Berhalter has played the most over the year or so since World Cup qualification began: Timothy WeahChristian PulisicBrenden AaronsonJesus Ferreira and Ricardo Pepi in attack; Tyler AdamsYunus MusahWeston McKennie and Kellyn Acosta in midfield; Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson in central defense; Antonee RobinsonDeAndre Yedlin and Sergino Dest (when healthy) at fullback; Matt Turner and Zack Steffen in goal.Weah, Musah, Steffen and Antonee Robinson have battled minor injuries of late and are not involved in this window of matches, but one assumes their spots on the plane to Qatar are secure if healthy. Miles Robinson will certainly miss the World Cup due to a long-term Achilles injury suffered in May, and even though he was selected for these two matches, Pepi could also miss out despite being healthy as he has battled major form issues this calendar year.So that’s 15 players we can loosely assume are involved.We know that Giovanni Reyna would have been in heavy rotation had he not been injured for most of 2021-22, and we know that midfielder Luca de la Torre enjoyed some fantastic and super-active moments as he was given more minutes late in qualification and over the summer. That’s probably 17.That still leaves nine spots or so that are undecided — maybe 10 or 11 if Berhalter gives up on Pepi for the time being, or if Steffen’s combination of health and form issues continue. One extra spot will go to a third goalkeeper, and one to two spots will go to backup midfielders. But at least a couple more forwards will come to Qatar, and there are quite a few spots to be decided in defense.

Outside of the names already mentioned above, here are the players in each position group who were invited to camp in this international window:

Those are the players to pay closest attention to against Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Is Zimmerman-Long as effective as Zimmerman-Robinson?

With Miles Robinson out, the biggest question for Berhalter to answer regarding the team’s starting XI is who lines up next to Zimmerman in central defense in Qatar. Evidently Aaron Long will get the first crack, as he will start alongside Zimmerman against Japan.

McKenzie and Palmer-Brown were last-second additions after both Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic) and Chris Richards (Crystal Palace) had to withdraw with minor injuries. (Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan likely would have been involved here if not for injury, as well.) All of this has further clouded what was already the cloudiest position on the roster.None of the primary options have logged the same amount of time next to Zimmerman as Robinson had. Richards and Zimmerman have played in the same U.S. match four times, Long twice — he’s coming off of his own Achilles recovery — and McKenzie and Palmer-Brown once each. If Carter-Vickers were to end up starting next to Zimmerman against Wales, it would be their first match together. That’s a bad time to get to know each other.Richards started four qualification matches and seemed reasonably likely to be the new first-choice option here, but minor injuries (and the poor timing of said injuries) have limited his time in various camps. So Long gets the first shot.Herculez Gomez gives his opinion on the new USMNT kits for the World Cup in Qatar.Berhalter leaned heavily on the combination of Zimmerman and Robinson in World Cup qualification — they were two of the four players who topped 800 minutes — and the United States‘ defense was rock solid most of the way. In the seven matches in which this duo played, the U.S. allowed just four goals (from shots worth 4.3 xG) and amassed 16 points. In the seven they didn’t: six goals allowed (from 5.6 xG) and nine points. In terms of output, that’s not an enormous difference, but it’s a difference.Neither Japan nor Saudi Arabia is heavy in terms of attack or length-of-the-pitch pressure. We certainly won’t learn everything we need to know in two matches, but if one of either Long, McKenzie or Palmer-Brown were to stand out from the others, it would likely make a strong impression.


Will Pepi, Sargent capitalize amid Pefok snub?

Jordan Pefok and his Union Berlin side have been a revelation since the start of the current Bundesliga season. The counter-attacking partnership of Pefok (three goals and two assists from 10 chances created) and club teammate Sheraldo Becker (six goals and three assists from 12 chances) has been a huge reason why Die Eisernen sit top of the German league table.

As for his performance for the USMNT, Pefok hasn’t really done much. The 26-year old has made nine appearances with the national team and has scored once on eight shots worth 1.2 xG in 307 minutes. Granted, no one has really stood out consistently in center-forward, but of those who have played at least 200 minutes for the national team over the last two years, Nicholas Gioacchini (1.23), Ferreira (1.13), Daryl Dike (0.55), Pepi (0.44) and Gyasi Zardes (0.41) have all averaged more xG created per 90 minutes than Pefok’s 0.35, and Sargent (0.34) and Matthew Hoppe (0.30) aren’t exactly far behind.

The U.S. seems to be at its best when it is giving the other team the ball and opening space for counters. That has been true historically, and it still seems true now. In the four World Cup qualification matches in which the U.S. had under 50% possession, they averaged 2.5 points and 2.8 goals scored per match; in 10 matches over 50%, they averaged 1.5 points and 1.0 goals. It’s true that game state had a role to play here — when the U.S. is leading, it is much less likely to be dominating the ball or trying to play with a high defensive line — but one could make a pretty easy case that Pefok (one of the strongest counter-attackers in Europe at the moment) should have a spot on the roster, even if just as a substitute.

Maybe that will come to pass. Maybe Berhalter was serious when he said last week, “We’re pretty confident we know Jordan’s profile, we know what he can do… we didn’t feel like we needed to see him in this camp to determine whether he could be on the [World Cup] roster or not.”left for attackers and now Pepi, Sargent and Arriola get chances to make last-minute impressions, hopefully swaying Berhalter’s thinking. Will they take advantage?Sargent has certainly taken advantage of a drop in competition levels. Still only 22, he spent the last two seasons with moribund teams. Werder Bremen was relegated in 2020-21 after a terrible season in the Bundesliga, and he moved to Norwich City, which finished last in the Premier League in 2021-22.

Over those two seasons, he managed to score just seven goals in 58 matches and while he was in no way the primary reason for those teams’ dreadful performances, he obviously didn’t help that much either. Predictably, his form with the national team suffered, too. After scoring five goals in his first 12 appearances, he failed to score in his last seven matches; in the first three matches of World Cup qualification, he attempted four shots in 116 minutes, put none of them on target, and wasn’t included in further matches.This season in the English Championship, Sargent already has six goals and an assist in 10 matches for Norwich. Because of an injury to veteran Teemu Pukki, he’s put in nearly half of his minutes at center-forward, too, which hasn’t hurt his cause. He’s put 42% of his shots on target, and his body language has improved immensely. He’s doing this in the second division, yes, but he desperately needed confidence and form, and he’s found both.

Pepi… is still searching, as the last year or so has turned him into a prime example of “too much, too soon.”

Still only 19, Pepi rode a hot streak to a 13-goal, two-assist season for FC Dallas in 2021 — he scored three times for the U.S., too — and he parlayed that success into a transfer to the Bundesliga to play for FC Augsburg.

Over the course of about seven months, he made just 16 appearances for 587 minutes (equivalent to just 6.5 full 90s) and scored zero goals with zero assists. He was solid from a ball-pressure perspective, but as a forward, you’re hired to score at least a few goals. He is spending 2022-23 on loan with the Eredivisie’s FC Groningen, and in two matches and 110 minutes he’s already produced a goal and an assist.

Maybe a lower level of competition will coax the same improvement we’ve seen from Sargent, but he’s only just started there.

Will the shots be on target?

For obvious reasons, the players themselves — their individual performances and where they fit in the team — are what we will be primarily focused on in these two matches. In fact, we’ll return to that line of thinking shortly. But there’s still something to be gleaned from the team’s play, especially as it pertains to the attack.Berhalter has made clear through the years that he prefers slow buildup and quality possession numbers; this made it kind of awkward when, as mentioned above, the U.S. turned out to be far more potent with less of the ball.Against a set of CONCACAF opponents that were typically happy to play with a low defensive line and give more talented teams all the aimless possession they wanted, the U.S. obliged. They were inconsistent in breaking these defenses down to any major degree, and it created some blemishes.In seven qualification wins, the U.S. averaged 15.3 shots per match, attempted at least 12 in every match and put 40% of shots on goal. In six meaningful qualification draws and losses (not including the final loss to Costa Rica, when they had already clinched qualification), they averaged 10.0 shots per match, managed fewer than 12 in four of six and put just 25% of shots on goal.With Iran in their World Cup group, the U.S. will play at least one match against a low-line, low-possession team — one that is very good at that system, no less. And as preparation, you could do a lot worse than playing Japan and Saudi Arabia. In friendlies and World Cup qualification matches over the last two years, Saudi Arabia has allowed just 8.2 shot attempts per match (37% on target), Japan 6.8 (31%). Was there a lot of weak opposition in that sample? Absolutely. But there was quite a bit of raw quality, too, especially from Japan.When Japan played a loaded Brazil team in a June friendly — one that started NeymarVinicius Junior and Raphinha in attack and brought Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison off the bench — they did allow 21 shot attempts. But only two of the shots were worth more than 0.2 xG, only 24% of them were on target and Brazil’s lone goal came from a 77th-minute penalty.Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu has a sound defense to lean on, one that includes veterans like captain Maya Yoshida (Schalke 04) and Hiroki Sakai (formerly of Marseille) and exciting younger players like Hiroki Ito (VfB Stuttgart) and Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal). Further up the pitch, Japan has both proven players like Takumi Minamino (AS Monaco), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic) and up-and-comers like Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad) and Ritsu Doan (SC Freiburg). This squad will test the U.S. from front to back, but how the Americans fare in attack might be the most telling. And against Saudi Arabia in particular, they should get plenty of reps against a packed-in defense.

How sharp is Turner (and will he play both games)?

According to data recorded by StatsPerform, Matt Turner — who will get the start on Friday against Japan — played 43 matches and a total of 3,869 minutes for club and country in 2021.In 2022, he’s played 14 matches and 1,193 minutes. In 2021, he registered an excellent 14.1 goals prevented (a StatsPerform measure comparing the post-shot xG value of shots on goal to actual goals scored or allowed). In 2022, that figure is minus-0.3. It could be a correlation — or merely a coincidence.The 28-year old Turner missed a large portion of the spring to injury, then moved from the New England Revolution to Arsenal over the summer. Professionally, it was an obviously exciting move for him to make. He’s been regarded as the best pure shot-stopper in the U.S. player pool for a while, and now he gets to ply his trade for one of England’s biggest clubs.He did see a little bit of push-back to the move from those thinking more about the national team than about Turner himself. Would his form be affected by the fact that he wouldn’t be playing as much — he’s now Aaron Ramsdale‘s backup — especially after coming off of an injury?

Indeed, he’s played in only one match for the club, along with three recorded friendlies. He was shaky against Germany’s Nurnberg in a July friendly, but the only goal he allowed in his Europa League debut came from a penalty. He has said all the right and predictable things about the move, pointing out that things are so fast in practice that he feels more prepared than ever for a World Cup-level challenge.We’ll get a fleeting glimpse of Turner’s sharpness over the next week, but it will be interesting to see if Berhalter also starts him against Saudi Arabia, knowing that it will be his last chance to get a look at potential backups like Horvath and Johnson as well.

Will De la Torre be rested or rusty?

We’re going to get quite a look at how club form affects country form this week and, perhaps, at the World Cup. Turner is one case study, and De la Torre is another.De la Torre, 24, emerged as a bolt of lightning and phenomenal at ball recoveries for the U.S. this spring and summer. Over seven 2022 matches with the U.S., and in just a 275-minute sample, he recorded 38 ball recoveries, completed 90% of his passes and created six chances with two assists. He was a wrecking ball with Heracles Almelo in the Dutch Eredivisie, too: He was one of only three players to combine at least 230 ball recoveries with at least 40 chances created.He moved from Heracles to LaLiga’s Celta Vigo in the offseason, however, and has proceeded to play 17 total minutes in 2022-23. The odds are good that he will land on the 26-man World Cup roster regardless, but now’s a good chance for him to prove his sharpness — to prove he’s rested, not rusty — after sitting the bench for most of the last six to eight weeks.

National Writer: Charles BoehmUS Men’s National TeamWorld Cup

Team approach

Their hope is that even when key faces are missing or unavailable, or the team finds itself up against a wall, as is quite likely to be the case for significant stretches in Qatar against the likes of Group B foes Wales, England and Iran, that the journey to this point has created a collective much greater than the sum of its parts.

Which would be no small sum, considering that this is widely considered both the youngest and possibly most talented group the United States has ever sent to a men’s World Cup. And several of them have known one another since middle school or thereabouts.

“One of the things, as far as me and Tyler, have learned about each other is that he does all the running and I do all the playing. No, I’m just kidding!” said McKennie, flashing another trademark smile. “But I think just us being together for as long as we have and knowing each other for so long, we’ve, I think, developed a relationship that we know each other’s tendencies, we know each other’s abilities, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to cover for one another.

“Many of the guys that are coming in that may have not been with the group so long, we’ve played with them or against them at some point in our lives, in our careers. Say for instance, Luca de la Torre, [who] maybe came on a little bit later into the national team, me and Tyler have been playing with him since we were 14, 15 years old. So I think whoever comes in, we have some sort of familiarity with each player.”

Evaluation time

Understandably, fans and pundits are already debating decisions like leaving out Pefok, or whether to start Jesus Ferreira vs. Josh Sargent up top instead. Or if Brenden Aaronson should be slotted into a No. 8 role alongside McKennie instead of on the right wing, to make sure the Leeds United standout is on the pitch given other flank options like Gio Reyna, Malik Tillman or Paul Arriola. Or whether anyone else in the player pool can replicate what Antonee “Jedi” Robinson has brought to the left back position, with Sam Vines looking to impress.

As important as those finer points of Berhalter’s roster and lineup selection are, Adams suggested that Berhalter’s overarching concepts reduce the extent of adaptation when changes become inevitable, as they already are.

“One of the keys to our team is our depth. You already see, based off of the players that are here, all of them can play at any given moment, they can really offer something different,” said the holding midfielder. “We have a system, and although, yeah, we have individual quality all over the field and [roster spots] one through 26, there’s all different types of qualities, when you come into the system, you have to know your role and you have to know your job on the day and for who we’re playing against.”One of Asia’s elite sides for a quarter-century and counting, Japan have qualified for seven consecutive World Cups and this autumn must chart a course out of a ferocious Group E alongside Germany, Spain and Costa Rica. Their technical, up-tempo blend of possession and pressing will undoubtedly ask difficult questions of the USMNT on both sides of the ball.That leads to useful lessons for the players, and data points for Berhalter as he mulls his final roster decisions.“We’re trying to put together the best possible team that can perform at our best levels at the World Cup. And for that, we pick players that fit the way we want to play and the way we are, and our team culture. And so there’s not one easy answer for that,” said the coach.“We take the decisions very seriously. We deliberate continuously. And we feel bad for guys and happy for other guys. It’s an emotional process where we care for each and every one of our players in our player pool. Every player that’s ever stepped on the field or stepped on a training field for us since we’ve been involved in 2019, we care for. And they’re never easy conversations. But in the end, we’re trying to do what we feel is best for the team – and the team is always going to be the most important thing.”

USMNT to start GK Turner, defenders Long, Zimmerman in friendly vs. Japan – Berhalter

11:36 AM ET  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

COLOGNE, Germany — United States manager Gregg Berhalter has said Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner will start in Friday’s friendly against Japan, and he will be joined by center backs Aaron Long of the New York Red Bulls and Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman.

“Aaron and Walker are going to play, going to start, and we’ll probably make a sub at half-time, or maybe after that and get another center back in. And then next game, take a look at another one,” Berhalter said during a roundtable with reporters.Berhalter later confirmed during a virtual media availability that Antwerp left back Sam Vines would also start against Japan.The center back position has been hit by injuries in recent months. Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson suffered a ruptured achilles tendon back in May, while Crystal Palace’s Chris Richards and Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers were ruled out of this international break due to minor injuries. That left Berhalter to call in RKC Genk’s Mark McKenzie and Troyes’ Erik Palmer-Brown.The absences have led to concerns that some chemistry will be lost, but Berhalter said Long, McKenzie and Zimmerman were all part of his first national team camp back in 2019.”Mark’s played in some big games, Aaron and Walker played together for three and a half years now, so I think there is familiarity with this group,” Berhalter said. “And then for Eric, it’s a good opportunity. He’s playing in Ligue 1. He’s playing against [Kylian] Mbappe and [Lionel] Messi and the quality strikers there.”Berhalter said that he is making some tactical modifications, even at this late stage before the start of the World Cup in November, where the U.S. will square off against WalesEngland and Iran. In addition to Japan on Friday, the U.S. will play their final preparation match against Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain on Sept. 27.”I think it’s beneficial for us to put tweaks into what we’re doing because opponents come in all shapes and sizes and forms and formations in the World Cup,” Berhalter said. “So I think this will help prepare us. There’s probably a little bit in it over the course of two games, for sure.”Midfielder Weston McKennie said the U.S. will try to handle playing in transition better, which was something the team struggled with in friendlies last June against Morocco and Uruguay.”When the ball gets switched to the other side or our press gets broken down, just to track back and get behind the ball again,” he said.”That’s one of the things that we’re concentrating on in training, and just building out, playing and having a confidence to find those balls that maybe aren’t the easiest to find, but most effective. And in general, just I guess making sure our chemistry is intact, which I don’t think that’s ever been a real problem, but always good to have the guys in.”

Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargent, Jesus Ferreria are the 3 Strikers called in for the final 2 games before the World Cup.

A Glimpse Into USMNT’s Forward Thinking

Fit or form? That appears to be the key question up top for the U.S. as it braces for the World Cup. Brian Straus SI 

Maybe the Bundesliga just wanted to find a novel way to remind everybody that it has a title race to promote in late September. Union Berlin is, after all, the surprising leader of a league that’s often already in Bayern Munich’s hands by now. But this was an interesting way to do it—essentially criticizing a foreign national team coach for his roster selection.“Jordan [Pefok] has contributed to more goals in the early part of 2022-23 than any U.S. international playing their club football in a top European league,” the Bundesliga website proclaimed, adding that the 26-year-old striker “deserves a USMNT recall in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”The German league’s editorial was unorthodox, but it’s an indication of just how contentious and confounding the U.S. striker conversation has become—at least outside the program. The World Cup is two months away, and there’s just one camp and two friendlies left to play before coach Gregg Berhalter has to choose his 26-man team (and then the 11 men who’ll start against Wales in Al Rayyan, Qatar).There are other roster concerns, including at goal and center back. But none is attracting more attention and opinion than the puzzle up front. There, no one but 21-year-old FC Dallas forward Jesús Ferreira, who scored one goal in six World Cup qualifying appearances before netting four against tiny Grenada in June, appears to be a November shoo-in. As of last week, the likes of Pefok, Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargent, Haji Wright and Brandon Vazquez were considered contenders for the remaining two or maybe three slots.Berhalter has said time and again that this month’s camp in western Germany (where the U.S. faces Japan on Friday in Düsseldorf) and Murcia, Spain (where the Americans play Saudi Arabia on Sept. 27) is not a World Cup dress rehearsal. It can’t be. Too many important pieces, such as Antonee Robinson, Tim Weah and Yunus Musah, among others, are missing. Nevertheless, a message has been sent about the race for the No. 9 role: fit may trump form. There’s no other way to reconcile the inclusion of Pepi, who hadn’t found the net in the 11 months that preceded last week’s roster announcement (he then scored for Groningen over the weekend), over Pefok, who’s been the most consistent American scorer in Europe. The Washington, D.C. native had tallied 21 goals between Pepi’s last marker and last week’s unveiling, and now has four in eight games for first-place Union.Ferreira and Sargent, who hasn’t scored for the U.S. in two years, are the other strikers now in camp. Wright, who spent June with the national team and has five goals in seven matches for Turkey’s Antalyaspor, was left out. So was Vazquez, whose bid for an inaugural senior cap has been fueled by a brilliant 16-goal, five-assist campaign for resurgent FC Cincinnati.“I don’t think there’s a case where there’s a huge talent discrepancy, and we went with the guy who has experience or has a body of work over that talent. You’re talking about minor differences,” Berhalter explained.“We’re not going to be the most talented team at the World Cup and we’re going to have to compensate for that by being a cohesive unit, by working for each other, fighting for each other and having a great team spirit,” the coach continued. “So part of it is leaning on guys that have been there before and been around the group before, and understand the team culture and understand their teammates really well.”Form is typically temporary, especially up top. Strikers can be streaky, for better or worse. What seems to matter more to Berhalter is profile—attributes, qualities, abilities and instincts that transcend a given stat. How the player fits into the group tactically, physically and personally is a priority.“It’s no secret. We use [strikers] in a number of different ways,” Berhalter said when asked what he was looking for from his No. 9. “One of them is to drop in and help us give us an extra man in midfield. One of the ways is to run behind the back line and then arriving in the penalty box, making good runs inside the penalty box, and then finally starting our defensive pressure. We want to be a high pressing team. We need forwards that understand the press, know how to use triggers to initiate the press and then actually execute the press well.” https://f458671a9cbecd1c50adad69622ac743.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html That combination of qualities is why Ferreira is atop the U.S. depth chart. “When you look at a guy like Jesús, he checks all those boxes in terms of what his skill set is,” Berhalter said. “So that’s how we’ve been evaluating a lot of these guys, and I think that it’s a complicated position. But there are guys out there, even not in this camp, that we believe can get the job done. We said that all along, that we believe we have forwards that can do the job.”Ferreira is smaller than his compatriots, but he’s mobile, smart and comfortable on both sides of the ball. Speaking from U.S. camp this week, he detailed how focusing on those foundational qualities can help a player produce an end product. He said he’s even been meeting with a sports psychologist to help embrace that cause and effect.“[I’ve been] working with a guy that has helped me understand that in games, I need to focus more on having a good touch, making sure that my press is good, making sure that my runs are good, making sure that I can come down and help with my first touch for buildout, just making sure that I have a good game before I think about the final product,” Ferreira said. “Thinking about having a good game will lead me to having the final product, which is the goal.”Berhalter has expressed confidence in Pepi and Sargent despite their recent struggles. Pepi’s transfer to Augsburg has been a disaster, and he’s now on loan in the Netherlands. Sargent has been revitalized by Norwich’s relegation from the Premier League, a positional adjustment and an offseason weight training program.“Pepi has also had some good history with us. He’s started really important games, and we just weren’t willing to give all that up right now on Pepi. We still think there’s a big upside with him,” Berhalter said. “Let’s not forget in our last qualifying window, he started two of the three games in a crucial qualifying window. So he’s a guy that we’ve counted on in the past, and we want to give him an opportunity in this window.” Berhalter said regarding Sargent, “We wanted to take a look at Josh due to his hot start and he’s been with the [national] team for a while as well.”Norwich uses a 4-3-3 formation that’s similar to the the Berhalter’s, and Sargent earned some time up top in the absence of the injured Teemu Pukki. Sargent then returned to a right-wing role that affords him more opportunity to drift inside, he said. The 22-year-old has six goals in 11 games this season.”I haven’t really had a season like this,” Sargent told media Wednesday in Cologne. “I would say in terms of getting a lot of scoring chances, getting minutes at striker like I have this season so far, confidence is at an all-time high at the moment. I’m just trying to keep that momentum going as long as possible, keep scoring goals.”Wright and Pefok have fewer caps than the men called in (but not by much in Pefok’s case—he’s just two behind Pepi). Pefok also plays in a 3-5-2 at Union that’s quite different from Berhalter’s set-up. Vazquez, meanwhile, has no time with the U.S. at all, and integrating a player into the side this close to the World Cup just doesn’t seem like a task the coaching staff is eager to take on.

Pefok seemed like the bigger snub.“We’re pretty confident we know Jordan’s profile,” Berhalter said last week. “We know what he can do, and we didn’t feel like we needed to see him in this camp to determine whether he could be on the [World Cup] roster or not. … He’s been working hard. He’s been a handful to play against, and he’s doing a lot of things right.“We’ve been consistent in saying it may not be the best forward that is in the group,” he added. “It’s a guy that fits what we’re doing the best and again, we’re pretty confident we know what Jordan can do.”So is Pefok.”In the big competitions you need experience, but you also need desire and to apply yourself,” he said in that Bundesliga piece. ”In a cup competition anything can happen. Why shouldn’t performances at the highest level in club football be reflected in the national team?”Perhaps Pefok already is considered a World Cup squad member unless Pepi and/or Sargent flourish this month. Or maybe his profile just isn’t right. Either way, the scoreboard will tell the story. First up is the 24th-ranked Samurai Blue, who are headed to their seventh straight World Cup following a qualifying campaign in which they won 15 of 18 games, scored 58 goals and yielded just six.”They don’t give much up at all,” Berhalter said of Japan. “They don’t give many goal scoring opportunities up. They play teams very tight—very good work rate. Everyone gets behind the ball when they lose the ball. So I think that’s going be an interesting opponent.”It sounds like a good test for a striker. It’s one that somebody will have to pass, or else questions will continue as time grows short.

Bracing for Roster Change Is the USMNT’s Only Constant

Injuries have shaped the makeup of the U.S.’s last squad before the World Cup team is chosen, but in the national team’s universe, that’s par for the course.

Gregg Berhalter saw it coming. But then again, anyone who has been closely following the U.S. men’s national team for the last few years probably should have, too.“A lot can change,” Berhalter prophetically said regarding his penultimate squad choice before the World Cup begins, specifically about those who were and were not selected. “We have to be monitoring these players, we are monitoring these players, we’re having ongoing conversations with guys in the camp and not in the camp, because we know things can change really quickly.”And so it has. In the time since Berhalter made those comments, last Wednesday, three of his 26 initial choices for the last U.S. camp—Yunus MusahChris Richards and Cameron Carter-Vickers—have withdrawn with fresh injuries. Another handful wasn’t available to be called on in the first place due to either lingering or recent injury issues. Such is what resembles “normal” for the USMNT.It bears repeating that the U.S. has never had what most would consider its optimal lineup together for a single game in the four years leading into the 2022 World Cup. Injuries, COVID-19, form, discipline … you name the circumstance, and it has prevented the U.S. from truly being at full strength even once in Berhalter’s time as coach. So it should be no surprise, then, that the U.S., which has commenced its last camp before the World Cup, is again braced for change. It’s been the only real constant for a group that has achieved plenty as an extended unit and goes into its World Cup group against Wales, England and Iran feeling optimistic about its chances, regardless of who makes the final cut. A camp that spans time and a pair of matches against World Cup–bound foes in Germany and Spain, is the next checkpoint on the road to Qatar, but it’s not the end-all for those hoping to reach the World Cup stage. Berhalter made sure to stress that point repeatedly, with it extending both ways—just because someone was called into camp doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a shoo-in for Qatar, and, conversely, just because someone wasn’t included doesn’t mean his World Cup hopes are toast. But there is going to be the expectation for the next men up to rise to the occasion if called upon. In this case, it’s the three replacements: Brazil-based midfielder Johnny Cardoso, and Europe-based center backs Mark McKenzie and Erik Palmer-Brown. “This isn’t something where we need to lock in the [World Cup] roster right now. If we’re 80% done now, or we think we’re 80% done, still things can change from there,” Berhalter said. “They’re playing up until the last weekend before the World Cup. Think about how many guys pulled out of [USMNT World Cup] qualifiers at the last weekend. “It’s important to keep in mind that this is not the final roster. It’s not the final roster for the World Cup. A lot can happen between now and Nov. 9 [when the U.S.’s squad will be revealed]. A lot can happen between the ninth and the 14th [when FIFA’s roster deadline actually is]. So just keep that in mind. That was the conversation I had with the players not selected in this camp, is that a lot can happen in some of the positions where we’re looking to evaluate certain guys that we don’t have enough information on and other players just weren’t selected.”So that’s the position in which the U.S. finds itself with one week and two games left before any undecided places—that 20% or so that Berhalter referenced—come down to remaining club performances (Berhalter did add that a separate, off-calendar camp for MLS-based players whose teams don’t make the playoffs will be held next month). In addition to the three aforementioned injuries, winger Tim Weah, left back Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Zack Steffen, three players whom most would call core fixtures for a team familiar with flux, all were held out as well. Steffen’s absence is made a bit more confusing considering he returned from a knee injury for Middlesbrough over the weekend, but it opens the door for Matt Turner to make his claim for the No. 1 job.“We’re waiting to see how [Steffen] recovers and gets back on the training field and then a game field,” Berhalter had said last week.Nevertheless, he remains out. Weah is also in a waiting game, with his ankle injury preventing him from playing for Lille at all so far this season. At the very least, Robinson’s injury does not appear to be prohibitive. The instrumental fullback injured his ankle against Tottenham earlier this month, but Berhalter appeared to play down the severity when giving his assessment last week, and that was backed by subsequent words from Fulham manager Marco Silva.“It’s not really serious, and because of that we are testing every day how he feels,” Silva said late last week, before Fulham’s match vs. Nottingham Forest. “It’s something that could be one or two days, [that’s] the feedback that I received from the medical staff. We need to check again, because he doesn’t feel really comfortable yet, but I think soon we will have Robinson again.”

That’s a breath of fresh air for the U.S., which has options, but not ones that would be characterized as fully secure, behind Robinson in the pecking order.The roster churn over the last few days doesn’t account for all of the pressing story lines with the current U.S. squad. The chief focus is on the center forwards, which, at this camp, are Jesús Ferreira, Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi. Ferreira’s form with FC Dallas and most recent contributions with the U.S. made him an automatic call, while Sargent has been on a scorching scoring run—at last—for Norwich City and has a deep history with this player pool. Berhalter said he didn’t want to bring four players at the position to camp when getting game time for all would have been a tough task, leaving the final call, presumably, down to Pepi and Jordan Pefok.Whereas Pepi, who finally broke his scoring drought for club and country after more than 11 months with a goal in the Netherlands for Groningen, made the squad, Pefok, who has scored regularly for Bundesliga-leading Union Berlin, including another goal Sunday, did not. Both players’ goals were scored on headers, with Pefok’s of a higher degree of difficulty, in a better league—the same league where Pepi struggled to find a foothold. Even so, the thought process is not that simple. Pepi is getting another look, perhaps owing to what he meant to the group during qualifying, with his three goals last fall helping propel the U.S. during a turning point. Berhalter was also quick to point out that Pepi was a starter in the final qualifying window. It’s not as if he hasn’t been more involved in key moments, and when contemplating what a team will look like in Qatar, more than stats go into it. Pefok’s goals speak for themselves, and he’s done just about everything he can to show he should not only go to Qatar but perhaps play a significant role, but he won’t get that last audition. And he might not need it, anyway.“We’re pretty confident we know Jordan’s profile, we know what he can do,” Berhalter said. “And we didn’t feel like we needed to see him in this camp to determine whether he can be on the roster [for the World Cup] or not.”If there’s one thing that can ease Pefok’s mind, and that of anyone else who is on the fringe but wasn’t called in for this camp and matches against Japan and Saudi Arabia, it’s Berhalter’s four words that represent what’s possible in a small time window.“A lot can change.” 

FC Dallas alumni shine, Pefok scores again, Ream wins at LB, Yanks struggle in Italy, & more Americans abroad analysis
 

Unless you were in Italy, it was generally a fun weekend for Americans in Europe. Jordan Pefok helped keep Union Berlin atop the Bundesliga with another goal. Tim Ream played out of position and helped Fulham gut out another win. The FC Dallas alumni trio of Bryan Reynolds, Reggie Cannon, and Ricardo Pepi all stood out. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta covers all the good and bad while putting a lot of context with the U.S. national team. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  SEPTEMBER 18, 2022   11:00 PM

THE WEEKEND FOR Americans abroad is over and that ushers in the final international break before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It was a far better weekend than the previous weekend and there is a lot more to talk about – both good and bad.We had significant news from just about every of the major European countries.So, let’s start with breaking it all down and giving you some of my thoughts 

FC DALLAS HOMEGROWN ALUMNI SHINE

 

Players who came up through the FC Dallas system, signed homegrown deals, made it to the first team all had good weekends – with the exception of Justin Che who is trapped in the abyss at Hoffenheim.  First you had Ricardo Pepi, who was somewhat controversially selected to the national team last week despite not having scored for club or country since last October. His run at Augsburg was poor and he was shipped to the midtable Eredivisie with FC Groningen to jump start his career. He made a strong debut last weekend when he assisted in a 1-0 win over Cambuur. On Saturday, he earned his first start with Groningen against Sparta Rotterdam and initially it went extremely well with Pepi ending his scoreless skid with a very nice header.  The magnifying glass will still be on Pepi as he remains the most unconvincing forward right now in the player pool and Jordan Pefok’s surge continues to have many fans asking “why not Pefok? He’s scoring for the Bundesliga’s top team.” It’s a fair question. While Berhalter keeps stressing the style of the team and fitting into the system, for a lot of fans that is overcomplicating things.  Mike Tyson once had a famous line: “everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.” When you get into battle, the style and the system are great but there comes a time when that will break down. When that breaks down, becomes a matter of raw talent.This doesn’t mean that Pepi doesn’t have the talent. But this one Eredivisie goal needs to be the start of a huge upward trend or else it’s going to only raise more questions.  One important note here is that Pepi was not having a particularly solid game until his 62nd minute goal. The goal does distract from everything but maybe it provides a spark. It has to start from somewhere.  

Staying with the FC Dallas alumni, Bryan Reynolds has not had a great time since getting sold from FC Dallas to AS Roma in January 2021. He rarely played at Roma and his first loan this past January to Kortrijk wasn’t great. He didn’t standout as that team tanked.

Now at Westerlo, he is on a newly promoted team but one with a little more promise. After weeks of being glued to the bench, Reynolds is now a starter. On Saturday against Sporting Charleroi, he scored his first goal when his 4th minute strike gave Westerlo 1-0 lead. That proved to be a valuable goal in a 3-2 away win over Sporting.

Reynolds is finally in a place where he can build his game and the club should be a midtable finisher. It’s not glamours, but this is where he should have been at initially. The level of play is the same as Dallas but there he can work free of the hype and get acclimated to a different country and culture.  

His national team prospects aren’t great – either now or in the future. If he’s a right back, Sergino Dest and Joe Scally are also young and are clearly ahead of him. With the emergence of other left backs after Antonee Robinson (such as Sam Vines, who is higher up the ladder in Belgium), it doesn’t seem likely Dest or Scally get switched to left back.

Reynolds might in in time find his way into a backup role with the U.S. team but that is a long way off. He should put all his focus into his club career to improve his standing once his Westerlo loan ends and then maybe push for an Olympic team spot. He’s a long term project but is finally showing the possibility of a nice ceiling if he continues to work hard.

Finally, completing the FC Dallas homegrown hat trick of good news this weekend was Reggie Cannon. While he isn’t playing as a right back, he is playing as a right sided central defender for Boavista on a weekly basis. On Saturday, he went the distance in a very good defensive outing as Boavista defeated one of Portugal’s traditional powers in Sporting CP. It was a gritty and hard-fought defensive battle and showed the value for Cannon in being able to help his team defend its way to an upset. Gregg Berhalter surely took note of that too.

Boavista are in a surprising fifth place in Portugal through seven games to start the season. It’s been a steady climb up since Cannon joined and this is their best season with him.

 PEFOK & BOYD: CRUSHING IT IN GERMANY

 

There were some impressive displays from the forward position in Germany – one which is sure to raise the most angst among U.S. national team fans and the other, while no longer in contention for the U.S. team, is just a positive and feel-good story.

Let’s start with the angst.Jordan Pefok scored his third goal of the Bundesliga season on Sunday for Union Berlin when he opened the scoring of what would turn out to be a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg. His 54th minute header was truly a display of individual class. On top of it all, Union Berlin sits atop the Bundesliga table with 17 points from seven games.We all know the reason why Pefok is not in the U.S.team. He doesn’t fit the profile of how Berhalter wants his forwards to play. But this then draws links with Pepi who broke his 11+ month scoreless drought with a goal that looked like it would have been scored by Pefok. Josh Sargent struggled for years in the Bundesliga trying to do what Pepi did.It doesn’t dismiss Berhalter’s concerns either. I remember the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. As one of the three overage picks, Peter Nowak selected Brian McBride who was coming off another season in the Premier League. Jozy Altidore was still a very young forward on the Red Bulls and Charlie Davies was still in Sweden. McBride, despite having the best resume at the time, looked completely out of step for how the team wanted to play. Altidore and Davies looked better.But as I mentioned above, “everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the face,” and when the system is breaking down, where are the goals going to come from against the run of play? The 2008 U.S. Olympic team over-relied on McBride. I think the concern with leaving Pefok off is that he doesn’t have to start, but it is very easy to see a situation arise where he’d be useful. Yes, he doesn’t get a lot of touches on the ball, he doesn’t press much, he might not get behind the lines very often, and he has yet to show a good working chemistry with the U.S. wingers, but when the U.S. trailing late and looking for an equalizer, he seems like the guy you want to be in the box for crosses.As for the club situation, he’s in a great spot. He has great chemistry with Sheraldo Becker (a chemistry which would be nearly impossible to replicate at on the U.S. team, to be honest). Holding off Bayern Munich is unlikely but they’re a team in transition with Lewandowski gone but Union Berlin looks like the team to really go for it.In this game, Kevin Paredes came off the bench and played the final 11 minutes for Wolfsburg. Once again, he wasn’t a game changer, but he was a positive for Wolfsburg. It seems as if the U.S. U-20 winger is building towards his first ever Bundesliga start.

In the German 2.Bundesliga, Terrence Boyd scored two goals for Kaiserslautern in a 2-2 draw with FC Heidenheim. In this game, his second goal was an equalizer with his team down to 10 men. His first goal, was a very impressive header.

Boyd, 31, now has five goals on the season and is just one off the pace for the 2.Bundesliga scoring lead. That’s not easy on a newly promoted team. Boyd never scored in repeated opportunities with the U.S. team and he never scored in an ill-fated move to Toronto. But he remains one of the most likable and easy to root for American players in the game. Now he is looking to end his career with a string of successful seasons.

Also in this game, Lennard Maloney went 75 minutes for Heidenheim in the draw. It was a tough outing in what has otherwise been a nice start to the season for the German-American central defender who earned two U.S. U-20 caps in 2018. Heidenheim looks like a contender for promotion. 

MCKENZIE & EPB IMPRESS

 As everyone knows by now, Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie were added to the U.S. national team roster on Sunday to replace the injured Cameron Carter-Vickers and Chris Richards. Both are listed as out with minor injuries.But in getting added, both players will arrive in camp on the heels of good performances.

Erik Palmer-Brown once again played the full 90 for Troyes in a 3-1 away win over Clermont Foot on Sunday. After a tough start, Troyes is playing like an upper-mid table Ligue 1 team. Palmer-Brown is in a position where he must battle week-in and week-out and things are starting to really fall into place for him. Here, he had eight clearances, two blocked shots, and won 4/6 of his duels.
Mark McKenzie, meanwhile, had his best outing for Genk since assuming the starting job after the club sold Jhon Lucumi to Bologna. In the weeks since that sale, McKenzie had been performing well against smaller Belgian clubs but in this game he faced a good Gent team and he helped preserve a very nice 1-0 cleansheet victory.

Both players will like where they stand heading into the international break. Both players have a chance to sneak firmly on the inside of the World Cup bubble. Among the central defense pool, I see Walker Zimmerman as the team’s only lock. Aaron Long has had a decent season for the Red Bulls but isn’t spectacular.Then there should also be questions about why Richards is considered a lock as well given 582 minutes of club minutes in 2022 and his last U.S. appearances were in January. Richards has a lot of talent but he’s not at the level of Pulisic where he is an automatic selection if healthy.Carter-Vickers has done very well for Celtic but is not much further ahead of Palmer-Brown or McKenzie on talent. A good camp from McKenzie or Palmer-Brown could swing the balance. Especially for Palmer-Brown who is playing in the challenging Ligue 1. 

REALLY TOUGH WEEKEND IN ITALY

 

With the sole exception of Andrija Novakovich, this weekend was a terrible stretch for the Americans in Italy.We will start with Weston McKennie and Juventus who dropped a 1-0 decision on the road to Monza. Not long ago, this would have been an unimaginable upset (as it was Monza’s first Serie A win). But in a sign about how far things have fallen for Juve, no one who has paid attention to the club is surprised by the result.McKennie played the full 90 – which is good. While he didn’t play well, it’s fair to say no one on Juventus played well. It’s also fair to say that the biggest culprit for Juve’s losing effort was Angel Di Mario who was sent off in the 40th minute.McKennie played on the right side of the midfield and while he worked hard defensively, wasn’t able to provide much to help his team offensively. He did have a very nice cross in the second half that could have been put away, but in terms of how he played the previous two season (when healthy) for Juventus – it is a step down.The team was booed loudly by its own supporters and Max Allegri could be in a position where his hot seat eventually caves. The blame must also shift to the players. Allegri is a successful coach and he has a long history with Juve. If he can’t win with these players, who can?

AC Milan dropped a 2-1 decision to Napoli at home. Of all the Americans in Europe this weekend, Sergino Dest is top of the list of players who had a weekend he’d like to forget.Dest came into the game to start the second half with the score 0-0. He was asked to provide some defense, but instead conceded a 55th minute penalty. While Milan equalized in the 69th via a goal Dest was not involved, Giovanni Simeone found a 79th minute winner for Napoli in a 2-1 victory.Dest is getting criticism from Milan fans, which is to be expected from them, but Dest has been put in a tough situation. He was publicly forced out the door at Barcelona and he rarely played in preseason. Now he is being thrown right into the mix at Milan. The good news for the U.S. team is that he is making his mistakes now, not on international duty.But that raises two concerns. What is his confidence level after getting forced out at Barca and now a mishap in Milan when he is pushing for regular minutes? Second, will this see his minutes reduced?

Unfortunately, we don’t know. Dest won’t arrive into U.S. camp in a confident manner. But can he compartmentalize it and separate himself when he’s with Milan or the U.S team?

In Serie B, Venezia played to a disappointing 1-1 draw with Pisa on Saturday. Andrija Novakovich and Gianluca Busio started for Venezia. Americans Patrick Leal and Jack DeVries were on the bench and did not play. Tanner Tessmann was suspended.  
As mentioned earlier, Novakovich was the lone American to play well in Italy and the Wisconsin native scored Venezia’s only goal. It was his first for Venezia. But a 1-1 draw against a newly promoted team from Serie C who went down to 10 men in the 71st is a very poor result. Busio played a full 90 and played relatively well but this was a game Venezia needs to dominate if it wants to be in contention for another promotion.Finally, in Serie B, Anthony Fontana continues to ride the bench as an unused substitute for Ascoli Calico. He didn’t play again on Saturday in a 3-1 home loss to Parma.Italy was a horrible place for Americans this weekend.

REAM GETS IT DONE AT LEFT BACK

 

On Friday, Fulham travelled north to face Nottingham Forest in a batle of newly promoted Premier League teams. This was a huge challenge for Fulham captain Tm Ream who was forced to play left back given a wave of injuries at the club, including one to Antonee Robinson.Ream, 34, held his own and helped Fulham to a big 3-2 win which now has them sixth in the Premier League table. While Ream won’t be pushing Robinson for the job, he was quietly competent and made no real mistakes.His effort did not go unnoticed. Fulham head coach Marco Silva does not like to mention players by name in postgame media, but he couldn’t resist talking about his captain – who will do anything for his club.“I don’t like mentioning individual players but I have to mention Tim Ream,” Silva said. “34 years old, he’s probably been our best centerback, so far. And with the problems that we had on our left side without Robinson or Kurzawa, I didn’t have doubts to adapt him there.”It makes you reflect on Ream’s terrific career at the Red Bulls, Bolton, and now Fulham. He’s been part of three promotions and this is the best he’s looked in the Premier League. That much is widely talked about, but consider how many managers he has impressed over the years? Every club manager sees a ton of value in him, both on the field and off the field.This is what Robinson told me just before the start of the season on Ream.“Since Tom Cairney was injured a lot last season, Tim was pretty much the captain most of the season,” Robinson said. “He started every game which – for someone his age to start every game in the Championship and perform as well as he did – it’s nothing short of incredible, to be honest. He has a real calmness on the ball and a warrior spirit. He was fighting, throwing his head into tackles, getting cut every week. To have that as one of your baseline players, it really does lift the team.”
“Off the pitch, he was basically taking on the duties of being co-captain almost with Tom,” he added. “When it came to speaking to the management, staff and things like that, trying to organize stuff off the field and making sure that all the lads were happy and all the coaching staff were happy, and that we were working in unison – he was huge for us.

As everyone knows, Ream is not on the U.S. roster despite two additions to central defense which saw Palmer-Brown and McKenzie added instead. Berhalter said last week that what he’s looking for in central defense doesn’t match Ream’s strengths. Few would expect Ream to start in central defense, but the concern many seem to stress is that Ream’s leadership and veteran calmness seem as if they should count more than ever with a U.S. team which should be the youngest in Qatar.

 STEFFEN & HORVATH GET CLEAN SHEETS

 

Zack Steffen retuned from injury on Saturday to start for Middlesbrough in what turned out to be a 0-0 draw with Rotherham United.

Ethan Horvath, meanwhile, was in net for Luton Town on Saturday in a 2-0 win over Blackburn.

What can be made of these wins? Not much, unfortunately. Neither goalkeeper was forced to make a single save. Horvath in particular has only made 15 saves in 10 games as Luton Town’s defense does not concede many shots.Both goalkeepers are tough to read after mostly sitting on the bench for the past several years. Neither yet this season have been forced into a match where they’ve truly been a difference maker.

GIO & SCALLY IMPRESS IN GERMANY

 

Gio Reyna and Joe Scally are long-time friends who grew up in the New York area and came up through the NYCFC academy. Gio bailed before he signed a homegrown deal. Scally signed the homegrown deal but left after his first season when Borussia Monchengladbach made a big offer.  Joe Scally has turned into a very consistent performer for Borussia Monchengladbach and has now appeared in 32 Bundesliga games. His effort on Saturday in a 3-0 win over RB Leipzig was one of his best so far. He was so consistently solid at right back and he was instrumental in the build-up to the first goal. On the play he beat his man to the endline with a nice move. His cross was perfect and it forced a shot which was saved, but then hit home from close range.  Scally remains a top prospect not because dynamic offensive plays but more because he rarely makes serious mistakes. He doesn’t swing wildly between excellent and bad; he just is consistently good. For a teenager, that is rather remarkable.

As for Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund continues to manage his minutes wisely. On Saturday, he was on the bench for the return of the Riverederby against Schalke. But an injury to Marco Reus in just the 32nd minute brought the American into the game earlier than expected. He played until the 84th minute, five minutes after Dortmund took a 1-0 lead. That would end up the final score.Reyna was very sharp in his 52 minutes and his substitution reflects the need for managed minutes. After the game, it was also announced that Dortmund would continue to work with the United States national team staff to continue his minute regulation during this window.In his 52 minutes, Reyna had 47 touches and was 26/30 in passing. He created one very dangerous chance in the second half and had two shots inside the box. On the ball he looked very smooth. His consistency might still be lacking, but that’s simply a matter of him needing more reps. Dortmund knows what he can do and the care they are showing him reflects how highly they rate him.As for this window, I doubt he will go a full 90 for the U.S. team in either of these games but he could play a half in either one. Just seeing him on the field will be a big boost for the U.S. team.

VINES & ANTWERP REMAIN PERFECT

 

Sam Vines and Royal Antwerp defeated RFC Seraing 2-1 on Friday to keep up its perfect 27 points from nine games to start the Belgian season. Vines has been a steady starter for Antwerp but he took on a much bigger role in this one.

Over 90 minutes, Vines had 119 touches which is the most I can ever recall him having. He was also 80/91 in his passing and he won 5/6 of his ground duels. This was a big effort.

Vines will have a big opportunity to prove himself to the U.S team in this camp and a ticket to Qatar is within reach. He is the only true left back on the roster and the other options are right-footed right backs. Vines simply needs to play well.

But even beyond this World Cup, moving forward Vines is in a great position. At the club level, Royal Antwerp’s terrific start now has more scouting eyes upon them. With left backs always in demand, Vines will have opportunities sooner rather than later.

 NOTES AROUND EUROPE

 

Without touching upon every single game, here are some other stories and performances that caught my eye from the weekend.

According to this Dutch report, Cole Bassett has a “minutes threshold” on his loan from Colorado to Fortuna Sittard. If he is not meeting that threshold, Colorado can recall him this January. Even if they recall him, Feyenoord (who originally had him on loan) would continue to hold his option to buy. Even if he continues to play for Colorado, Feyenoord could then buy him.

Will he return to Colorado? Whatever gets him on the field. He was an unused substitute again under the new manager on Sunday for its 1-0 win over Excelsior.

But at least there is a way out for him and a place he can go to play. Things aren’t that great for Taylor Booth who again went as an unused substitute for Utrecht in a 0-0 draw with Nijmegen.

In Portugal, John Brooks made his Benfica debut in a 5-0 win over Maritimo. He came on in the 89th minute to close out the win. That was his first game (including friendlies) since May 14. Joel Sonora, meanwhile did not get off the bench for a Maritimo team that has lost all of its games to start the season. Once Benfica’s injured centerbacks return, can Brooks be expected to play at all?

Staying in Portugal, it was a tough game for Vizela and both of its American players when they travelled to face Braga on Sunday. Alex Mendez started for Vizela and U.S U-20 midfielder Alejandro Alvarado played the final two minutes. Braga, however, scored in the 85th and then in stoppage time for a 2-0 win. Vizela is battling hard and is competitive in most games, but they have just five points from seven games.

Rangers defeated Dundee United 1-0 on Sunday and, as expected, James Sands and Malik Tillman were on the bench after lackluster performances. Tillman managed to get off the bench for the final 20 minutes and he forced a nice save. Sands was an unused substitute in the game following his red card to concede a penalty vs. Napoli. Ian Harkes went the distance in the loss and things are ugly right now for Dundee United, sitting in last place without a win.

Matthew Hoppe scored for Middlesbrough’s reserve team in a loss to Norwich’s reserve team on Sunday. He’s done well in his reserve team appearances which should open the door eventually given that the first team is also struggling. But will Chris Wilder’s job be in jeopardy? That could be good or bad for Hoppe but he seems to have moved into an uncertain environment.

Konrad de la Fuente did not make the bench for Olympiacos on Sunday for its 2-1 loss to Aris. After the game manager Carlos Corberan was fired after just 11 games in charge. Assuming that a new manager is going to open the gates to more minutes for de la Fuente doesn’t capture the complexity of the issue.

De la Fuente does not have an EU passport and Greek Super League teams are limited to eight non-EU players on its roster and only five can be on any matchday squad. So de la Fuente has a separate competition just to make the squad. On top of that James Rodriguez signed with Olympiacos last week and while Rodriguez does have a Spanish passport, it still limits the need for de la Fuente to be one of the five non-EU players to suit up.

This makes you wonder if de la Fuente is in the best place right now for his development. Now in his third team in three years, he might need to find a fourth club where he can settle.

Haji Wright has cooled off a bit after his torrid start although his game for Antalyaspor on Sunday was wild. In a 3-0 loss to Adana Demirspor, Antalyaspor was reduced to 10 men in the 40th minute. Then to start the second half, Adana Demirspor also saw a red. But minutes later, Antalyaspor picked up a second red card. Adana Demirspor then scored twice late to seal the win.

  Grant Wahl Free to Read: Josh Sargent Picked a Good Time to Heat Up We’re on the ground in Germany with the USMNT.   Grant Wahl Sep 21     OLOGNE, Germany — I always like hitting the ground running when I land in Europe, so it was nice to see U.S. striker Josh Sargent with a small group of reporters at the team hotel just after I arrived in town following an overnight flight and train trip up from Frankfurt. Somehow I’ve never been to Cologne before, even though it was a World Cup 2006 host city and is known as the coolest city in Germany other than Berlin. But we’re here now!Sargent, now 22, went through a rough two years in which he got relegated twice (first at Werder Bremen, then at Norwich City), was moved out from the No. 9 spot to the wing and saw his club production slip enough that he lost his position in the national team. But the red-headed St. Louisan has rebounded so far this season, playing more at center-forward and producing six goals and one assist for Norwich, currently in second place in the Championship.U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter rewarded Sargent with a recall, where he has joined likely starter Jesús Ferreira and Ricardo Pepi as the No. 9s. (Omitted from the roster, somewhat bewilderingly, was Jordan Pefok, who starts for Bundesliga leader Union Berlin.)  GrantWahl.com is a reader-supported soccer newsletter, and this is how I make my living. The best way to support me and my work is by taking out a paid subscription now. Subscribed Upgrade to Paid “I spoke with Gregg [last season], and his point was I wasn’t getting many minutes at striker, I was playing on the wing a lot and just wasn’t scoring goals,” Sargent said. “So if I wanted to be called back in, I think the biggest thing was to get minutes at striker and start scoring again, which obviously I have been doing so far this season.”With Norwich’s usual center-forward, Teemu Pukki, sidelined, Sargent got the start there against Millwall on August 19 and took full advantage of it, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win. The forward position is so much about confidence, and Sargent admits he had become more unsure of himself. But he also knew the Millwall game presented a big chance.“In my mind, I wanted to be playing striker, so when I got that opportunity I knew I had to take it,” he said. “And just thinking, you know, do I still have my touch? I don’t know. I haven’t played there in a while. So it felt amazing to score that first game I got the chance. And then it started just coming back to me, the goal-scoring touch.”And even though Pukki has returned to his No. 9 spot at Norwich, Sargent feels like his role has changed too. He’s not entirely back on the wing, where he said he doesn’t feel totally comfortable, but rather playing sort of a hybrid role.“It’s a little bit of a different situation,” he said. “Pukki obviously is a great striker and a legend there. So I think even if I’m playing on the wing now, there’s an understanding between me and the coach and the team also that I’ll be playing a little bit more as a second striker and tucking more on the inside and not playing kind of a true winger role.”With Berhalter’s omission of Pefok, there has naturally been a lot of discussion about what exactly Berhalter wants from his center-forwards. And if Pefok is banging in goals atop the Bundesliga, should it even matter if he’s not a perfect fit for Berhalter’s system? So I wanted to ask Sargent what it is that Berhalter is asking from his No. 9s.“As a striker, you need to be scoring goals, but at the same time I know it’s very important for him that our nines can drop down and get on the ball and connect with the team,” Sargent said. “And defensively also with pressing, I think you need to have a high workrate along with the team and have everybody on the same page. You’re kind of that front-line beginning of the press. So it’s very important for him that you’re switched on in regards to that.”A couple other intriguing things emerged from Sargent’s roundtable session: • He has put on some muscle since the end of last season. “I don’t want to brag or anything,” he said to some laughs. “During my injury at the end of the season in the Prem, I kind of made it a goal for myself and with the athletic department at Norwich that I realize these guys are pretty big and strong in the Prem. So I made it a goal of mine to hit the gym a bit more and try to work on that.”• Being married and having a young child has been good for him to have some time away from focusing on soccer. “It definitely helps you just shut off and forget about football for a little bit,” he said. “As a single guy, when you come home and you’re just stuck in your thoughts, thinking about training or whatever it was, it can benefit you to learn from it. But also it can be damaging for you if you’re thinking too much about it. So it helps me out a lot with kind of just unwinding and forgetting about football for a bit.”Now a World Cup roster spot is there for the taking. “My confidence,” Sargent says, “is at an all-time high at the moment.”

Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargent, Jesus Ferreria are the 3 Strikers called in for the final 2 games before the World Cup.

USA vs. Japan, 2022 friendly: What to watch for

It’s the penultimate match for the USMNT before the World Cup.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Sep 22, 2022, 7:00am

Tomorrow, the United States Men’s National Team will play its first friendly of the September international window when they take on Japan in Düsseldorf, Germany. It marks the second to last match the USMNT will play before they open up group play at the 2022 World Cup in November.

It’s a chance for the team to test itself against an opponent that will also be in Qatar for the World Cup, a dangerous Japan squad that has the ability to defeat any team. It’s also an opportunity for Gregg Berhalter to test out possible lineup combinations while the players make their final cases for why they should be one of the 26 players that makes the final roster when it’s announced on November 9th. That will be motivation that will help to make this an entertaining match.

Latest Form

USA

D (1-1) – El Salvador – Concacaf Nations League

W (5-0) – Grenada – Concacaf Nations League

D (0-0) – Uruguay – Friendly

W (3-0) – Morocco – Friendly

L (0-2) – Costa Rica – World Cup Qualifying

Japan

W (3-0) – South Korea – EAFF E-1 Football Championship

D (0-0) – China – EAFF E-1 Football Championship

W (6-0) – Hong Kong – EAFF E-1 Football Championship

L (0-3) – Tunisia – Kirin Cup

W (4-1) – Ghana – Kirin Cup

What To Watch For

Maintain possession. The USMNT will want to maintain a lot of possession to keep the ball off the feet of Japan’s stars. It will also be a nice chance to test whether possession ball is something that the USMNT can play at the World Cup if needed.

Take chances on offense. If Gregg Berhalter can get many of his creative players on the field, then they should try to take some chances on offense. This is the time to see what works and what doesn’t, and they should take full advantage of that opportunity to see what chemistry they have between players who can push the ball forward.

Play clean soccer. The idea here is no mistakes. Of course, that’s always the goal. But, Japan thrives with players who can turn a mistake into points on the other end. The USMTN won’t give them a chance to do that if they keep Japan in front of them and if they do take shots downfield, that they have the cover to get back should Japan counter.

Lineup Prediction

There are some injuries at a couple of positions, but Gregg Berhalter still has a few options at several spots on the field. So, we’ll likely see this lineup from him tomorrow:

Predicted Lineup vs. Japan

Matt Turner will be the goalkeeper, while Sergiño Dest will return at right back. Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long will once again be the centerback pairing, with Joe Scally taking Antonee Robinson’s place at left back.It’s an opportunity for Gregg Berhalter to examine what a midfield that produces tons of creativity would look like. Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are joined by Brenden Aaronson in the middle to see how you get your best players on the field at the same time.Up front, Christian Pulisic will be back in the lineup at left wing, with Gio Reyna making his return at right wing. While Jesus Ferreira has played extremely well this year for club and country, the gut feeling is that Josh Sargent will get the start at the 9 to see if he can seize the moment and fight for a starting role on the World Cup team.

Prediction

The USMNT will have a difficult time trying to get things together initially. In the end, neither team shows too much and it’s a 1-1 draw.

USMNT vs. Japan, 2022 friendly: Scouting Japan

The Asian power should provide a strong test ahead of the World Cup. 

By Brendan Joseph  Sep 21, 2022, 6:00am PDT  

The United States Men’s National Team has entered the final international window prior to the 2022 World Cup. This is one of the last chances for players to build in-game chemistry while also impressing the manager and booking one of the final spots on the roster. In the first of two friendlies, Gregg Berhalter’s side is taking on Japan, a fellow qualifier for Qatar. The friendly will be played at MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA in Düsseldorf, Germany.his is the third all-time meeting between the two nations, split between a 1-1-0 record. Japan is currently ranked 24th in the world by FIFA and easily qualified for the World Cup with a second-place finish in Group B of the Asian Football Confederation’s third round. In July’s EAFF E-1 Football Championship, the Samurai Blue claimed the title with wins against Hong Kong and South Korea as well as a draw with China. The program scheduled a challenging slate of friendlies over the past year, which could pay dividends in Qatar.Hajime Moriyasu was appointed to the manager position in July of 2018, taking over in the midst of a stint with the U-23 team. The retired midfielder has compiled a 38-10-7 record from the technical area, registering a runner-up finish at the 2019 AFC Cup and winning the aforementioned East Asian championship. A rough start to qualifying had domestic media questioning whether the federation would be forced to look for a replacement. Instead of his tactics, he credited the players’ “mindset” with riding out the storm.

Moriyasu named a 30-player roster for the friendlies against the USMNT and Ecuador. While there are a few talents missing, this is essentially the A-squad with some extra back-up. The group is composed of 22 call-ups from Europe and eight from the domestic J-League.

***

GOALKEEPERS (4): Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg), Shūichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse) Daniel Schmidt (Sint-Truiden), Kosei Tani (Shonan Bellmare)

DEFENDERS (9): Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Ayumu Seko (Grasshoppers), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds), Yuta Nakayama (Huddersfield Town), Maya Yoshida (Schalke 04), Hiroki Ito (VfB Stuttgart)

MIDFIELDERS (13): Wataru Endo (VfB Stuttgart), Gaku Shibasaki (Leganés), Genki Haraguchi (Union Berlin), Takumi Minamino (Monaco), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting CP), Junya Ito (Reims), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ritsu Dōan (SC Freiburg), Reo Hatate (Celtic), Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus)

FORWARDS (4): Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic), Daizen Maeda (Celtic), Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge), Shuto Machino (Shonan Bellmare)

***

Moriyasu typically deploys a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation with a triangle midfield that swarms when on the defensive. The run-of-play tends to move through the wings, with crossing serving as a key component of the attack. Uncommon at the international level, Japan employs something resembling a high press with central triggers in Zones 12, 13, and 14, which helped tilt the balance in victories over Saudi Arabia and Australia.

Projected Japan Starting XI (via BuildLineup.com)

After starting in nine out of ten fixtures during the final round of qualifying, Shūichi Gonda is the presumed number one. The 33-year-old competes with Shimizu S-Pulse in the domestic J-League and was named to the AFC Asian Cup Team of the Tournament in 2019. He gets to ground quickly and largely chooses to stay on his line, displaying a preference for kick saves. The manager could also opt for the towering Illinois-born Daniel Schmidt, the starter at Belgium’s Sint-Truiden who made his senior international debut in 2018.Japan has what could be considered an embarrassment of riches at the center back position. Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu has the versatility to play on the inside and outside of the back line. He possesses a high level of athleticism and innate understanding of the game, contributing on both sides. There’s also Shogo Taniguchi who picked up three starts during the final round of qualifying. The 6’ defender has spent his entire career with Kawasaki Frontale and displays a penchant for heroic last-second denials and thrives as finisher on set pieces. Perhaps the most important piece is 34-year-old Maya Yoshida who has earned 119 senior international caps. The recent Schalke signing provides a steady veteran presence and is an excellent one-on-one stopper while spraying passes all over the field.No longer the attacking livewire of his youth, Yuto Nagatomo remains a fixture at fullback position since making his debut in 2008. The 36-year-old is back competing with FC Tokyo after a long career in Europe including stops at Inter Milan, Galatasaray, and Marseille. On the other side of the formation is Hiroki Sakai of Urawa Red Diamonds. He’s a physical player who covers the entire length of the field, getting under the skin of opponents with his intense play.Occupying the role of six is Wataru Endo, a 29-year-old with VfB Stuttgart who featured in ten qualifying matches. The native of Yokohama is a true two-way midfielder, winning the ball and serving bellwether in possession. He has formed a quite functional partnership with Hidemasa Morita of Sporting, a highly technical passer who always manages to pick out teammates. His ability to cover the entire field and perform the roles of multiple positions makes him difficult to contain. The trio is completed by Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Ao Tanaka, whose dribbling opens up key space when in sustained possession. The box-to-box is also a source for goals, finding advantageous opportunities at the top of the area.

Monaco attacker Takumi Minamino could almost be described as a “defensive winger” with the amount of pressure he puts on the back line, a true student of the Red Bull finishing school. The combination of his work rate, high technical ability, and occasional goal-scoring prowess could make him a match-up nightmare for the USMNT. On the other side of the formation is Junya Ito, who recently joined Reims after a few successful seasons with Genk. The 29-year-old loves to cut inside from the wing and smash the ball into the far post, having the pace and quickness to get behind the opponent.

With Yuya Osako outside of the roster, the likely starter is striker Ayase Ueda of Cercle Brugge. The 24-year-old appeared in the final two qualification matches but has yet to score for Japan at the senior international level. He is an expert at finding space behind the back line, has the dribbling ability to carve out enough space for his lethal right foot, and can also finish in the air. Domestic competitor Shuto Machina could also lead the formation, finding the back of the net three times during the summer’s East Asian Football Championship.In many ways, Japan and the USMNT are similar programs, thriving outside of UEFA and CONMEBOL. Both countries have relatively new domestic leagues and are viewed as the dominant or second-best teams in their respective regions. This friendly is a solid test ahead of the World Cup, with two successful yet still growing squads mainly composed of European-based players looking to fine-tune and whittle down to a final roster.

9/16/22  CHS Boys host Pack the house Tonight, US Roster & Jersey Drops, Big TV Games, UCL Results

Games to Watch – Madrid Derby

With ½ the games in the EPL canceled again this weekend – not much to see in the EPL again this weekend Sat NBC does have Tottenham vs Leicester at 12:30 pm, while MGladbach and American Joe Scally host RB Leipzig and new coach Thomas Tuchel at 12:30 pm on ESPN+.  Sat AM’s game to watch is American Gio Reyna who started in Champions League on Wed hosting Schalke on ESPN 2 at 9:30 am.  Sat night gives us a huge matchup in NWSL with Alex Morgan and San Diego opening their new stadium on Para+ and hosting Angel City (my daughter is going!) The big game is of course Sunday’s Madrid Derby – with Athletic Madrid hosting Real Madrid at 3 pm on ESPN+.  Of course the USA plays next Friday at 8:30 am vs Japan and National team games start Thursday.

US Men

I will have my full reaction to the US Men’s Roster next week in a special mid week USA Breakdown.

Indy 11 @ Monterey Sat – Return next Sun 5 pm

Indy Eleven will make its longest road trip of the 2022 season when it heads to the Pacific Coast for its first meeting against expansion side Monterey Bay F.C. on Saturday evening.The Eleven enter the weekend on a roll, unbeaten in 4 straight games, including 3 wins at home against playoff-bound competition. Postseason participation isn’t the team’s primary motivation at this point, but another win this weekend would stave off mathematical elimination heading into the final four weeks of play. Indy Eleven will carry a three-game unbeaten streak back into Carroll Stadium on Sunday at 5 pm, when it welcomes Loundon United to the Circle City on Hispanic Heritage Night

High School Local – CHS Boys host Pack the House Night, Friday 9/16

Free admission for all Carmel FC and Carmel Dad’s Club players with their uniforms on.  Carmel High School Girls & Boys Varsity Schedules.

BIG GAMES ON TV

Fri, Sept 16

3 pm USA                            Aston villa vs Southampton

3 pm Peacock                    Notingham Forest vs Fulham

7:30 pm Para+                     Racing Louisville vs Orlando Pride

Sat, Sept 17

7:30 am USA                       Wolverhampton vs Man City

9:30 am ESPN                     Dortmund (reyna) vs  Schalke

10 am USA                          New Castle vs Bournemouth

12:30 pm NBC                    Tottenham vs Leicester

12:30 pm ESPN+          MGladbach vs RB Leipzig

3:30 pm Unimas          Atlanta United vs Philly Union

6 pm FS2                     Monterrey vs Atlas Mexican

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Monterey Bay vs Indy 11

7:30 pm Para+                   NC Courage (Murphy) vs Seattle Reign (Lavelle, Rapinoe, Huerta)

9 pm Univision                  America vs Guadalajara

10 pm Para+                       San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs Angel City

Sun, Sept 18

6:30 am para+                    Udinese vs Inter Milan

7 am USA                             Bretford vs Arsenal

9:15 am Peacock               Everton vs West Ham 

9:30 am ESPN+                  Union Berlin (Pefock) vs Wolfsburg

2:45 pm                                AC Milan vs Napoli

2:$5 pm bein Sport          Lyon vs PSG

1 pm ESPN                          Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

3 pm ESPN+                        Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid (Madrid Derby)

10 pm FS1                            Tijuana vs Necaza

5 pm Para+                         KC Current vs Portland Thorns (Smith, Horan, Sauerbrann)NWSL

Fri, Sept 23

8:25 am ESPN                     USMNT vs Japan in Germany

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm ESPN                          USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Tues, Oct 11

2:30 pm ESPN2                  US Women  vs Spain (Pamplona)

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

FC Cincinnati will host Club Deportivo Guadalajara, “Chivas” at TQL Stadium on Wednesday, September 21 as part of the 2022 Leagues Cup Showcase. This friendly match will be the first ever meeting between FC Cincinnati and the historic LIGA MX club. The match kicks off at 7:00 pm. Tickets start at just $20 and are on sale now! 

The Leagues Cup Showcase will serve as a preview to the 2023 Leagues Cup, the month-long official tournament between MLS and LIGA MX. All 47 MLS and LIGA MX clubs will participate next summer, with the tournament champion earning automatic qualification for the Concacaf Champions League (CCL) round of 16.
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US Men

US Roster Announced – Bushnell Yahoo Soccer
U.S. men’s soccer team missing key players to injury ahead of World Cup warmup matches

USMNT keeper Steffen misses fourth-straight Middlesbrough match

US Fans Trash the New USA Kits

Champions League  


Champions League: Bayern Munich punishes Barcelona again; late goals stun Tottenham and save Liverpool


Man City vs Dortmund: Haaland scores winner vs former club (video)

Allegri’s credit runs out as ‘worried’ Juve flounder

Benfica sink dismal Juve to win 12th straight match

Front three all score as PSG fight back to beat Haifa

Rangers defy UEFA, but defeated by Napoli

Inter beat 10-man Plzen in Champions League

Paulinho strikes late as Sporting stun Spurs

Frustrated Celtic settle for draw against Shakhtar

Milan beat Dinamo Zagreb to top Champions League Group E

Chelsea vs Salzburg: Blues cough up late lead in Potter’s debut (video)

Barcelona report: Lionel Messi could make sensational return – but won’t make decision until AFTER World Cup

New-look Barcelona show positive signs in defeat to Bayern

Lew wasteful in Return to Bayern – Barca Reality Check
Abraham fires Roma to win at Empoli

Vinicius and Rodrygo ‘making Real Madrid dream’ says Ancelotti

Champions League: Sporting Lisbon shock Spurs with 2 goals in stoppage time
Liverpool vs Ajax: Matip plays Anfield hero in 89th minute

Late Matip winner gives Liverpool Champions League lift off

EPL


Premier League All-Star game: what’s it all about and who would play?

Live at Leeds: how Jesse Marsch brought New York grit to the Premier League fight

Leverkusen’s late goals sink Atletico in Champions League

WORLD

 World Cup Qatar Fails Opening of Lusail Stadium

Pepi and Sargent In at USMNT No. 9, Pefok, Wright and Vázquez Out as Berhalter Names Roster for Last Games Before World Cup

Out with injuries: Steffen, Jedi Robinson, Weah

   Grant Wahl Sep 14
 

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter released his 26-player roster on Wednesday for upcoming friendlies against fellow World Cup 2022 entrants Japan and Saudi Arabia. The two games are the U.S.’s last ones before the World Cup starts in Qatar.The biggest news is at the center-forward position, where Berhalter called up Josh Sargent, Ricardo Pepi and Jesús Ferreira and omitted Jordan Pefok, Haji Wright and Brandon Vázquez.Injured players who are not included in the call-ups include Zack Steffen, Jedi Robinson and Tim Weah.

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Here’s the roster (club/country; caps/goals):

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0), Sean Johnson (New York City; 10/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 18/0).

Injured: Zack Steffen.

Notable Omissions: None.

My Thoughts: I expect that Turner, who has started playing in cup games for Arsenal, will be Berhalter’s starter, though I don’t say that with absolute 100 percent certainty since Horvath and Johnson have been the full-time starters with their clubs.

DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 27/1), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 11/0), Sergiño Dest (Milan/ITA; 17/2), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 27/3), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG; 8/0), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 2/0), Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp/BEL; 8/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Miami; 74/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville; 31/3).

Injured: Jedi Robinson, Miles Robinson.

Notable Omissions: Ream, Sands, Brooks.

My Thoughts: The only semi-surprise for me here is that Berhalter hasn’t called up Sands, who has had some good games for Rangers, which is in the Champions League group stage. Ream has been playing very well and captaining Fulham, showing that he can hack it in the Premier League, but he has been out of Berhalter’s call-up picture for a bit now. So too has Brooks, who recently signed with Benfica. It has been clear for a while that Brooks is not in Berhalter’s plans, though he does bring experience and skill at the position.

MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 52/2), Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 30/1), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 11/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 35/9), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 19/0), Malik Tillman (Rangers/SCO; 2/0).

Notable Omissions: None.

My Thoughts: There aren’t really any surprises in the midfield. Yunus Musah has been breaking out at times for Valencia. It’s a bummer for Djordje Mihailovic that he got injured in June and missed out, because I think he could have made a case for himself. Tillman has played well for Rangers, and I expected he would be called up, though it’s interesting to note that he’s listed as a midfielder and not a winger/forward.

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 22/6), Paul Arriola (Dallas; 47/10), Jesús Ferreira (Dallas; 13/7), Jordan Morris (Seattle; 48/11), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED; 11/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 51/21), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 12/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 19/3).

Injured: Weah.

Notable Omissions: Pefok has been the starting center-forward for a Union Berlin team that is currently leading the Bundesliga, but he isn’t called in for the USMNT? That’s certainly a choice by Berhalter, who likely thinks Pefok isn’t a great fit for his game model. But still. Haji Wright has five goals this season for Antalyaspor. But you got the sense that Berhalter felt like Wright didn’t make the most of his chance with the national team in June. And Brandon Vázquez has 16 MLS goals this season but didn’t get the call. Berhalter is clearly going with players who have spent more time in his system.

My Thoughts: The biggest surprise of this roster for me is that Ricardo Pepi is on it, despite not having scored a goal for club or country since last October’s World Cup qualifying win against Jamaica in Austin. It’s a huge vote of confidence from Berhalter as Pepi tries to get things going again on loan at Groningen. Sargent’s inclusion is a reward for the five goals he has scored this season for Norwich, which is finally using him in the No. 9 spot. Ferreira still figures to be the starting center-forward, though, which I expect will continue at the World Cup.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: Before the break

Last chance for club impact heading into Septembers international window.

By jcksnftsn  Sep 16, 2022, 2:13pm PDT  

4 Comments / 4 New

Presumably either because they hate Americans generally, or because they hate Todd Boehly and his idea of an all star match specifically, the English have decided to respond by cancelling the most American matches of the weekend. Chelsea FCLeeds United, and Crystal Palace will not play, with Fulham being the only team slipping through the cracks because neither of their Americans were called up. The joke is on them however, as this just ensures that Christian Pulisic, Brendan Aaronson, Tyler Adams, and Chris Richards will have a little extra break as they had into the final camp to prepare for the upcoming World Cup and their matchup with England, where the real payback will happen.

Saturday

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke – 9:30a on ESPN2

Welcome back, Gio Reyna. Reyna saw his first start of the season, and just his fourth appearance of more than 35 minutes in over a year on Wednesday in Dortmund’s 2-1 loss to Manchester City in Champions League group play. It’s been a brutal year for the young man, and it seems likely the club will continue to take the cautious approach with him so he may not start right away this weekend as they face Schalke on Saturday in a match that is breaking through the Plus barrier to show up on network TV. Dortmund do need to get a result against Schalke this weekend after being thumped by RB Leipzig 3-0 last weekend. They still remain just two points back of league-leading Union Berlin and tied with Bayern Munich, but will rue the missed opportunities at the end of the season if they are unable to defeat the newly promoted side.

Other notes:

  • Atlanta United cling to a sliver of playoff hope as they host a Philadelphia Union side that has been steamrolling their competition recently. This match will be at 3:30p on Univision and Twitter.

Streaming overseas:

  • Pellegrino Matarazzo’s Stuttgart snatched a point last weekend with a late goal against Bayern Munich and now face Timothy Chandler’s Eintracht Frankfurt at 9:30a on ESPN+.
  • Joe Scally and Borussia Mönchengladbach face RB Leipzig at 12:30p on ESPN+. ‘Gladbach are coming off a scoreless draw with Freiburg last weekend.
  • Yunus Musah has picked up a knock that has forced him to withdraw from the upcoming USMNT camp and he is unavailable for his club this weekend when they take on Luca de la Torre’s Celta Vigo at 12:30p on ESPN+.
  • Timothy Weah remains sidelined for Lille who face Toulouse at 3p on beIN Sports.

MLS mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

Sunday

Union Berlin v Wolfsburg – 9:30a on ESPN+

The most surprising omission from Gregg Berhalter’s list of September call ups was Jordan Pefok, whose Union Berlin side continue to lead the Bundesliga six matches in to the season. It’s early days but still a surprising result for the Berlin side. Union defeated Köln 1-0 last weekend on the back of an own goal just three minutes into the match. Pefok had a chance to add to his Bundesliga goal tally several minutes later, but was unable to bury the opportunity from the penalty spot. Union Berlin will now take on a Wolfsburg side that finally picked up their first win of the season last weekend 1-0 over Eintracht Frankfurt. Kevin Paredes was an unused substitute in the match.

Other notes:

Streaming overseas:

  • Weston McKennie and Juventus have some work to do to get back on track coming off a 2-1 loss to Benfica in Champions League play and struggling to find the expected results in league play. They face a Monza side that picked up their first point of the season last weekend in a 1-1 draw with Lecce. The match will be played at 9:30a on Paramount+.
  • Sergiño Dest and AC Milan face a tough matchup with Napoli at 2:45p on Paramount+. Dest has been seeing regular time off the bench for his new club. The two clubs are tied on points for the league lead with Napoli holding the top spot due to goal differential

MLS mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

  • DC United have gone into play your kids mode with their season effectively over, which could lead to some opportunities. They face DeAndre Yedlin and Inter Miami at 5p.
  • Kellyn Acosta and LAFC look to stay within striking distance of the Philadelphia Union in the Supporters Shield race when they take on the Houston Dynamo at 10:30p.

What the players missing from the USMNT September friendlies roster says about the team

It says… hey, what about Tim Ream?

By Parker Cleveland@AekprrAcdeellnv  Sep 15, 2022, 10:00am PDT  

Fraport TAV Antalyaspor vs Trabzonspor: Turkish Super Lig

It is just under nine weeks until the start of the World Cup and it’s getting to be decision time for Gregg Berhalter. The USMNT manager finds himself in the enviable situation of having the deepest and most talented American men’s player pool in the history of the team and it is inevitable that some players will be left out.

He commented on some of those following the roster announcement.

Kyle Bonn of the Sporting News posted on Twitter that Berhalter noted that Jordan Pefok wasn’t called in so that Ricardo Pepi could get a look.

Berhalter on Jordan Pefok: “We know what Jordan can do, he’s been great in the Bundesliga, and we just went with someone else in this camp…we didn’t want to just give up on Pepi.”

Sounds like GGG isn’t out on Pefok just yet, wants to give Pepi a shot to earn it #USMNT— Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) September 14, 2022

Berhalter went on to describe that Pefok was considered but didn’t put much detail forward about anything Pefok could do to lock down a roster spot. Perhaps if Pepi had only gotten 44 minutes so far this season it would be a different story.

Elsewhere, Meg Swanick of the Guardian and Philly Inquirer noted that Berhalter is mulling over some other names for the World Cup roster.

He goes on to name specific players who could earn their way onto the team, including: Zack Steffen, Gaga Slonina, James Sands, Tim Ream, EPB, Matt Miazga, Mark McKenzie, Shaq Moore, Johnny Cardoso, Eryk Williamson, Jordan Pefok, Haji Wright & Brandon Vasquez— Meg Swanick (@Meg_Swanick) September 14, 2022

Other roster news came that an October camp for MLS players who are eliminated from the playoffs will be planned.

Berhalter says there will be an October camp for MLS players whose teams aren’t in the playoffs. #usmnt— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) September 14, 2022

Of course, depending on how the regular season shakes out and where teams end up finishing this could include a wide range of players from Jordan Morris to… Cade Cowell or Sebastian Lletget in a roster that will be sure to enthrall fans.

The names included in the lists above and elsewhere in the player pool do offer some interesting possibilities and gives insight into the overall strength of the player pool that’s worth reviewing.

Goalkeeper

Woof. Having typically been a strength of the USMNT with a starter usually well established, the no. 1 shirt is up for grabs. Presumably as long as Matt Turner isn’t forced to play a game on Hoth, he has the inside track to the job. The fact that Zack Steffen has been left off, and has reportedly lost a chance to be the starter at Middlesbrough, also makes it seem as if at least two keeper spots are open.

Defenders

The list that was called in seems pretty solid and the names that have been left off are not totally objectionable.

John Brooks is, of course, missing as he’s taken the mantle of “guy who isn’t on the roster because the manager doesn’t rate him for reasons” in a tale as old as soccer time.

Tim Ream has not been called in, but with the USA facing England and Wales in the group it’s almost surprising that a player who has defended a fair share of players from the UK (even if Fulham isn’t exactly known for their defense in the top flight) isn’t in the conversation more.

James Sands has also been logging solid minutes with Rangers and is not on the list as well. He has the capability to play in central midfield and when it comes time to pick players for a World Cup that might see him get a bump.

Left and right back might not be the strongest spots depth-wise also. There’s no shortage of Americans in these positions, but saying that there are many pushing for callups is debatable.

Midfield

The main player who could make an impact not on the list is Djordje Mihailovic, but aside from him… Johnny and Eryk Williamson aren’t exactly players that seem like the could make a big difference at this stage. If anything the list of midfielders not on the list indicates that depth behind first choice players is a bit lacking.

Forward

It’s very difficult to see a player like Pefok or Haji Wright not making a World Cup squad unless Ricardo Pepi finds the back of the net in the Netherlands on a regular basis soon. Of course, there’s plenty of time for that to happen, but striker is still an unproven position for the national team. There have been some nice performances by players here and there in a USA shirt, but there won’t be any statues built for the players on the list as of now at least.

Pepi and Sargent in, Pefok and Vazquez out as USMNT September roster released

September 14, 2022 11:00 am ET

U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter has named a 26-man roster for the team’s final two World Cup tune-ups against Japan and Saudi Arabia.The biggest headlines were perhaps at the hotly contested striker position, where Berhalter opted to call in Ricardo Pepi and Josh Sargent, and omit Brandon Vazquez and Jordan Pefok.Pefok (Union Berlin) and Vazquez (FC Cincinnati) miss out despite strong form for their club sides, while Pepi gets his first USMNT call since March after leaving Augsburg on loan for Dutch side Groningen. Sargent, meanwhile, returns to the USMNT for the first time since September 2021 after his red-hot start to the season with Norwich City.

Gio Reyna is also back with the USMNT for the first time since March after his return to form for Borussia Dortmund, as the 19-year-old is gradually brought back into the fold after an injury-hit 2021-22.

There were also a few notable injury absences: Antonee Robinson, the team’s normal starting left back, was left out after suffering an ankle injury against Tottenham on September 3. Sam Vines, who is off to a strong start in Belgium with Royal Antwerp, was called in his place.Goalkeeper Zack Steffen missed out after he missed Middlesbrough’s past four games with a knee injury, and Tim Weah was also omitted as he recovers from an ankle injury.

The USMNT will face Japan on September 23 in Düsseldorf, Germany (8 a.m. ET, ESPN2/UniMás), and will then face Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain on September 27 (2 p.m. ET, FS1/UniMás).

USMNT September roster (caps/goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town/ENG; 8/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 10/0), Matt Turner (Arsenal/ENG; 18/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 27/1), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 11/0), Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 17/2), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 27/3), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace/ENG; 8/0), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 2/0), Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp/BEL; 8/1), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 74/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 31/3)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 52/2), Tyler Adams (Leeds United/ENG; 30/1), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo/ESP; 11/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 35/9), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 19/0), Malik Tillman (Rangers/SCO; 2/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/ENG; 22/6), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 47/10), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 13/7), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 48/11), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen/NED; 11/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 51/21), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 12/4), Josh Sargent (Norwich City/ENG; 19/3)

What Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT squad vs. Japan, Saudi Arabia suggests about his World Cup plans

Sep 14, 2022

  • Kyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer

Experimentation time is over. With only two friendlies left before the United States men’s national team begins World Cup play against Wales on Nov. 21, there’s no time left for coach Gregg Berhalter to waste on determining the final, mostly inconsequential roster spots.

For that reason, the 26-man roster he called in for the upcoming games against Japan (Sept. 23) and Saudi Arabia (Sept. 27) will serve as somewhat of a World Cup preview. The team is without potential starters goalkeeper Zack Steffen, left-back Antonee Robinson and winger Timothy Weah due to injuries, but outside of those three there isn’t much reason — barring more injury complications — to believe anyone else in the U.S. player pool remains in serious contention to contribute in Qatar.

Berhalter stressed otherwise Wednesday, saying other players can still make the final roster — he has no incentive to say anything to the contrary — but his selections are a clear message about how he views the team. The reality of the way this World Cup is structured requires these next two games to be used to help the team gel.

Let’s take a look at who’s in the team, and at whose expense.

Striker

In: Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Ricardo Pepi (FC Groningen), Josh Sargent (Norwich City)
Out: Jordan Pefok (Union Berlin), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati)

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (U.S.)

Ferreira was the only near-lock at this position. The combination of his MLS form (18 goals in 30 games) and increased role with the U.S. in the past several months indicated as much.

So, that left the five others vying for inclusion, and what’s tempting to read into is how many players are on this roster. Mexico, for example, called in 31. There isn’t a limit. If Berhalter wanted to bring in another player or two, he had that option. He chose not to, citing the desire the mimic the amount the team can carry at the World Cup (26) and the lack of game time to get players on the field.

The most notable omission here is Pefok, who has started five of six games in the Bundesliga for first-place Union Berlin, scoring two goals. By Berhalter’s own admission, he’s been “tearing defenses up.” Contrast that with the inclusion of Pepi, who hasn’t scored since October 2021 and was so ineffective following a big-money move to FC Augsburg (currently 13th in the Bundesliga) that he was loaned out, and the logic is hard to follow.

Berhalter acknowledged Pepi has had a tough time since scoring three goals early in qualifying and that they are trying to get his confidence up. Maybe it pays off. Pepi has shown he can be a prolific goal scorer, but it’s certainly a gamble to use this period to get a young player’s confidence up ahead of the World Cup instead of going with a more proven, in-form option.

Playing out of position on the wing last year in the Premier League, Sargent’s opportunities with the U.S. became limited. But now that he’s playing at his natural No. 9 position following Norwich’s relegation, he’s regained his form with five goals in his past five league games (all wins). The question now becomes: How close is he to earning the starting job?

Winger

EDITOR’S PICKS

In: Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC)
Out: Tim Weah (Lille), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympiakos)

This group is straightforward. Weah isn’t in because of injury, and if Berhalter elects to carry five wingers in Qatar, that likely means the final spot will be between Arriola and Morris, neither of whom figure to have a significant role.

Reyna’s return is massive. He’s slowly been worked back into form at Dortmund early this season after a disastrous year on the injury front that limited his involvement with the national team. When healthy, he can be the most impactful player on the roster. Both Reyna and Aaronson give the team some positional flexibility. They’re both in the mix to start on the right wing — opposite Pulisic on the left — but can also be effective playing in central midfield. After seeing how effective Aaronson has been for Leeds, it will be tough to keep him off the field.

Midfield

In: Tyler Adams (Leeds United), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Malik Tillman (Rangers), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC)
Out: Gianluca Busio (Venezia), Sebastian Lletget (FC Dallas)

Similar to winger, the midfield almost self-selects at this point. There is a clear starting trio with Adams, McKennie and Musah, with De la Torre, Acosta and Tillman clearly in a different tier.

Josh Sargent’s form for Norwich City has seen him move to the front of the line to be the U.S.’s No. 9. Marc Atkins/Getty Images

The only player in this group whose World Cup roster spot doesn’t appear solid is Tillman, who is on loan at Rangers from Bayern Munich. “He’s done well but he needs to do better,” Berhalter said. “He needs to increase his level. Disappointed with his last couple performances against Ajax and Celtic but he’s got a ton of quality.” It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, which hints at that possibility that his spot is vulnerable upon Weah’s return (taking into account, again, Reyna and Aaronson’s flexibility).

Full-back

In: Sergino Dest (AC Milan), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami CF), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach), Sam Vines (Royal Antwerp)
Out: Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC), George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld)

With Robinson, an established starter, out due to injury, it provides both Vines and Scally a chance to compete for the backup left-back spot. It seems unlikely either will factor in much in Qatar, but both are off to good starts with their club teams. Berhalter said Vines is “in the form of his life,” playing regularly in Belgium. Dest is almost assured to start at the World Cup and the preferred pairing is with him on the right and Robinson on the left, but with Robinson unavailable it will be interesting to see Berhalter’s selections for the friendlies. Does he play Dest on the right to build chemistry with those he’ll most likely play alongside in Qatar? Or does he shift to the left, which he’s done in the past, to get Cannon or Yedlin on the field ahead of Vines or Scally? The inclination here would be to play Dest on the right because, to stress this point again, this should be as close to a dress rehearsal as possible.

Center-back

In: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Chris Richards (Crystal Palace), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)
Out: Mark McKenzie (Genk), Tim Ream (Fulham), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), James Sands (Rangers), Matt Miazga (FC Cincinnati), John Brooks (Benfica)

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest highlights and debate the biggest storylines. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).

In this calendar year, Berhalter has given minutes to six center-backs: Zimmerman (630), Miles Robinson (425), Long (305), Carter-Vickers (216), Richards (180) and Palmer-Brown (55). With Robinson out through injury and Palmer-Brown the least used of the group, the four roster selections were in no way surprising.

Still, there were other players that deserved strong consideration. Ream is captaining the 10th-place team in the Premier League, Sands is playing in the Champions League and McKenzie has locked down a starting spot for the second-place team in Belgium. Berhalter name-checked those three, plus Palmer-Brown and Miazga, noting that it made for difficult decisions. It remains bizarre that Brooks, who was on Benfica’s gameday roster in the Champions League on Wednesday, has fallen so far out of favor without a clear explanation, but that’s only barely still noteworthy.

Goalkeeper

In: Matt Turner (Arsenal), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Ethan Horvath (Luton Town)
Out: Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough)

Turner or Steffen? That’s been the main question for more than a year. They’re the only two who have really factored into the discussion about who should be the No. 1, and now neither of them are playing. As expected, Turner has been on the bench following his move from the New England Revolution to Arsenal, while Steffen is out with injury following a shaky start to his loan at Middlesbrough, where there’s speculation he’ll be on the bench upon his return to health.

It’s a problematic situation that won’t be solved by switching to Johnson or Horvath, who have two combined caps since the start of World Cup qualifying.

Grant’s – My 3 Thoughts on the Men’s Champions League Matchday

Haaland’s outrageous game-winner, thoughts on USMNT players and a call for Zidane to come back to Juventus

   Grant Wahl Sep 14

The athleticism shown by Erling Haaland on City’s game-winning goal, when he was well-covered by three defenders, was incredible (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

The hyper-compressed men’s UEFA Champions League schedule is already two matchdays in. Here are my three thoughts on Wednesday’s games:

• On a day when Manchester City was there for the taking, Borussia Dortmund couldn’t seal the deal. The game I watched most closely was City hosting BVB, which deservedly went ahead through Jude Bellingham in the 56th minute but then saw City’s talent win out in the end. John Stones equalized with a long-distance strike, and João Cancelo pulled out a trivela assist to Erling Haaland, whose outrageously skillful finish saw him hit the ball karate-kick style with his boot at a crazy height in a goal that reminded me of prime-years Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Good news for U.S. fans: Gio Reyna started, went 62 minutes and played well, which is a good portent for his role in the upcoming national-team games. Gio, still 19, just doesn’t look out of place at all in games of this magnitude, and the U.S. needs as much of that fearlessness as humanly possible for the World Cup. Another note: Jack Grealish is a shadow of his Aston Villa self for Man City. He keeps getting chances and started this game, but his ity tenure has been entirely underwhelming so far, and that continued today.


GrantWahl.com is a reader-supported soccer newsletter. Quality journalism requires resources. The best way to support me and my work is by taking out a paid subscription now. Free 7-day trials are available.

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• Reyna and Cameron Carter-Vickers aside, it was an underwhelming Champions League day for USMNT players. Christian Pulisic got just six minutes in Chelsea’s disappointing 1-1 tie against Salzburg in Graham Potter’s coaching debut. (Todd Boehly presumably thought there should have been a penalty-kick shootout to determine a winner on the day.) Weston McKennie played all 90 minutes for Juventus, but it resulted in a 2-1 home loss to Benfica that left Juve six points behind PSG and Benfica and home fans booing their own team in Turin. And James Sands, who was left off today’s U.S. roster, got yellow cards two minutes apart to be sent off as Rangers lost 3-0 at home to Napoli. At least Cameron Carter-Vickers, freshly off being included on the U.S. roster, had a mostly solid 90 minutes for Celtic as it got a point on the road against Shakhtar in a 1-1 tie. Also, save a thought for American goalkeeper Josh Cohen, whose Maccabi Haifa team went up 1-0 at home against might PSG, only for PSG’s trio of Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Neymar to score in a 3-1 comeback win. I’d lose my nerve if I was a keeper playing against those guys, so I’m raising a glass to Cohen tonight.

• Is it time for Zinédine Zidane to replace Max Allegri at Juventus? Heck yes. We saw two coach firings after Matchday 1 (at Chelsea and Leipzig), and Juventus really should consider becoming the third team to make a change. Juve needs a different direction, and if Zizou is interested the club should make it happen. Juve just isn’t a very good team this season, if we’re being honest, and it’s only partly about the players.

Former Hoosier Tommy Sommer Selected to Germany’s World Baseball Classic Team

Former Indiana pitcher and current Chicago White Sox minor-leaguer Tommy Sommer got dual citizenship this spring and is now a German citizen as well. As it turned out, it’s giving him a great international opportunity, because he’s been chosen to play for Germany in the prestigious World Baseball Classic.

  • TOM BREWSEP 2, 2022 8:26 AM EDT SI.com Hoosiers
  •  

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Juergen Sommer’s parents were born and raised in Germany, and when he left Indiana to play professional soccer in Europe in the early 1990s, one of the first things he did as a dual German-American citizen was to get a passport overseas so he could play right away on the continent.So when Germany extended its dual citizenship program a few years ago, Sommer thought it would be a good idea if his two sons, Tommy and Noah, did the same thing. In dealing with the German consulate in Chicago, they got it all done this summer, and both of his boys are German-American dual citizens as well.Tommy, who played baseball at Indiana from 2018 to 2021, was picked in the 10th round of the 2021 MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox. His professional career is off to a good start, and he’s seeing the very first rewards of his German citizenship. He has been invited to play for Germany in a qualifying tournament for the prestigious World Baseball Classic next month.He’ll be the first Indiana player to ever play in the WBC.“My dad’s parents are German, and my dad is an American-German dual citizen. When he played overseas, it was a big deal to be a German citizen so he could play in the Premier League,” Tommy said last month. “Little did we know that six or eight months later, this would come about for me, this amazing opportunity. He had a lot of forethought for sure.” 

Tommy Sommer was an important Friday starter during his time at Indiana. He was 13-9 in his career. (Photo courtesy IU Athletics) https://a2b281d17c32633e5e304c700246941a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html Sommer was 13-9 during his career at Indiana with a 3.71 earned run average. He’s been very good in the minor leagues as well, and has already been promoted once this season in the White Sox organization. He’s 6-7 on the season with a stellar 2.77 ERA, and the organization is high on the left-hander.”He’s having a great year, so it’s awesome that he’s getting this opportunity to play in the WBC,” Indiana coach Jeff Mercer said. “I love Tommy, and he was great to coach. Even last offseason, he stayed around here to work out and he was a huge help for a lot of our younger guys. The way he works, he’s a great role model.”Juergen Sommer is glad that everything worked out so well. He knows both of his sons will benefit from this, much like it did for him.”When I first got to talking to the people at the consulate, this program was expanded because so many families left after the war,” Juergen Sommer said. “There are kids and grandkids now in these families, and they want to make that new connection with those families.”It’s great for us. Noah, who’s a junior at Vanderbilt, speaks fluent German, and this will create a lot of business opportunities for him, as well. The entire process took some time, but we did the final interviews in May. It’s great that it’s done, especially with this opportunity coming together so fast for Tommy.”The World Baseball Classic has become a popular event on the Major League Baseball calendar. It started in 2006, and was meant to be designed after soccer’s World Cup. There have been four events — in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017, but there hasn’t been one since because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The full event will take place next spring, but there are two qualifying tournaments in September to fill the newly expanded 20-team field. Germany is one of six teams in Pool A, along with Spain, France, the Czech Republic, South Africa and Great Britain. The tournament is Sept. 16-21 in Regensburg, Germany, with the top two teams advancing to the full field next spring.Germany gets a bye in the first round, and will play the Great Britain-France winner on Sept. 17. The games are broadcast live on the MLB Network.Sommer is finishing up his minor-league season this week, and then will have a few days at home in Indiana before flying off to Germany. It’s a fun next step in his baseball journey.All from a thought about citizenship and an email to the manager.”I sent an email out about Tommy after the draft and heard back from Steve Janssen, who runs the German team,” Juergen said. “They were coming here to look at players, and he was excited to meet Tommy. They went to camp to see him. They had dinner and he saw him throw, and that’s when they added him to the player pool.”

Tommy Sommer was promoted to High-A Winston-Salem in July and has had a great first full season in the Chicago White Sox organization. (Photo courtesy of Winston-Salem Dash) https://a2b281d17c32633e5e304c700246941a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html For Tommy Sommer, 2022 has flown by. He started the year in Kannapolis, N.C. with the White Sox’s Low-A team. In his last six starts there, he allowed only four earned runs in 30 1/3 innings, a stingy 1.19 ERA.He was called up to High-A Winston-Salem on July 24, and has made eight starts. there. He’s allowed two runs or less in six of his eight starts.“It’s been a lot of fun. I played in Kannapolis in our Low-A for three months and had a really good time there,” Sommer said. “I’m here now in Winston-Salem with our High-A team, and it’s been great. It’s a different level of competition, and a lot of new guys, but it’s been good. I’m getting used to the new surroundings and I feel like I’m pitching pretty well. It’s been a good year for me. Former Indiana Baseball Pitcher Tommy Sommer Talks Minor League

Former Indiana baseball pitcher Tommy Sommer chats with Hoosiers Now publisher Tom Brew about his time in the Chicago White Sox organization.

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.530.1_en.html#goog_1920519449 0 seconds of 59 secondsVolume 90%“I’ve just been keeping my head down and doing what I can control. I’ve worked hard for it, and to actually get the call (to High-A), that was a good thing to see. When it comes, you just have to adjust and keep working hard.Sommer has posted solid numbers in his year-plus in the pros. He was always a smart, crafty left-hander at Indiana, and he’s adjusted well at the next level and dangerous hitters“The biggest difference (between college and the pros) is just more talent and more power,” Sommer said. “They will do damage to you a lot quicker, but there’s also ways to attack hitters with your best stuff, and I’ve had a lot of success in transferring that mindset. I’ve been pretty spot on so far.’’He said he’s also adjusting to life on the road, and has made a lot of new friends in the White Sox organization.“Last summer was the big adjustment, going from IU where you had a totally controlled environment, and being close to home and everything,” Sommer said. “Then I went right out to Arizona (after the draft) with no car and you just get adjusted to everything going on with the next level of baseball. “This year has been a lot different. I’ve made a lot of friends on this team, and we’ve been having a good time. I’m very happy with where I’m at right now. I know they have other guys that they have bigger investments in, but I’m just going to keep working and keep pitching well, and see where it all takes me.”We know where it takes him next — to Germany for baseball’s biggest international event.

9/9/22  CHS Girls host Pack the house night 9/12, US Ladies Dominate, Indy 11 home, Big TV Games- NO EPL games, Champs League Tues/Wed

Games to Watch

With No EPL this weekend attention turns to MLS with Nashville and the LA Galaxy battling for playoff position at 3:30 pm Sat on Univision.  Sat AM does give us American Yanus Musah and Valencia traveling to Raya Vallecario at 8 am on ESPN+, followed by American Claudia Reyna and Dortmund traveling to RB Leipzig at 9:30 am on ESPN+.  Champions League is back Tues with Sporting hosting Tottenham at 12:45 pm on Para+, along with Liverpool vs Ajax, Rangers vs Napoli, Leverkusen vs Athletico Madrid and the featured game Barcelona traveling to Bayern Munich all at 3 pm on Para+.  Wed Milan host surprising first round winner Dinamo Zagreb at 12:45 pm para+, followed by Man City hosting Dortmund and American Reyna, Real Madrid vs RB Leipzig, Juve and McKinney hosting Benefica, Chelsea and Pulisic vs Salzberg and more at 3 pm on para+.   

EPL Wk 5 – On Hold, Tuchel out at Chelsea

The EPL and all English Soccer clubs are taking the week off with the death of the Queen – no word on when play will resume. Finally the German coach is NO more at Chelsea.  In a move long overdue in my mind –  Thomas Tuchel is out as manager at Chelsea.  Much like in ALL of his other jobs – his immediate results with other coaches’ players worked fine (including a Champs League win 2 years ago) when he was able to come in and shore up defensive issues with his double 6 midfield defender alignment.  But just like every other job Dortmund, PSG – his days became numbered when he “got his players” in the squad.  All Tuchel managed to do was take multi goal attackers like Romeo Lukaku, Havertz,  Timo Werner, and American Christian Pulisic and reduce them to shadows of their former selves as he played them often out of postition and with little to no midfield support.  I don’t think its crazy to say he’s the WORSE offensive minded coach in the world today.  Brighton’s Graham Potter now takes over for American Owner LA Dodgers man Todd Boehly and we’ll see if this means more playing time for Pulisic.  Or least playing time in his natural positions of underneath forward or left or right wing.  Pulisic needs space to run –Frank Lampard gave him that – and he scored – Tuchel did not and he hasn’t. 

Indy 11 Home Sat 7 pm / MLS has

Indy Eleven will carry a three-game unbeaten streak back into Carroll Stadium on Saturday, when it welcomes yet another team in playoff position in Birmingham Legion FC to the Circle City on Pride Night

US Ladies Sign Equal Pay Bill along with dominating victories over Nigeria before England match Oct 7

The US Ladies returned to play last week and they dominated Nigeria “the best team in Africa” with 5-0 and 2-1 wins – Winger Sofia Smith showed her tremendous potential is being realized with 4 goals in the first game last week.  In the 2nd game – a weakend US squad with plenty of rotation – found themselves in a 1-1 tie until Megan Rapinoe came in during the 78th minute and immediately sent a cross off the head of Portland teammate Rose Lavelle for the go ahead goal.  The most eventful moment of the night was probably the first of its kind signatures on the bill featuring Equal Pay for the Men’s and Women’s National teams of the United States – the first for any country in the world.   US soccer teams sign equal pay deal after USWNT’s victory over Nigeria  NWSL Action Sat has Ashley Hatch, Kelley Ohara and Andi Sulllivan and the Washington Spirit hosting Alex Morgan and the San Diego Wave at 1 pm on CBSSN and a 7 pm show of NC hosting Racing Louisville at 7 pm on Para+.  Sun has NY/NJ Gothem and Margaret Purse + Kristie Mewis hosting KC current and Sam Mewis and, Lynn Williams and GK Adrianna French at 6 pm on CBSSN and Houston hosting Angel City at 7 pm on Para”.

High School Local – CHS Girls host Pack the House Night, Mon 9/12

Carmel Girls rise to 3rd in the rankings after a couple of solid wins last week including this save of the week by CHS GK and former CFC GK Bethany Ducat.  The Boys are up to #5 with 2 wins this past week including a huge 1-0 win over fellow powerhouse Columbus North on this spectacular goal by Josiah Shepson.  A reminder the CHS Ladies will host  Pack the House Night vs North Central,  Monday 9/12 at 7 pm at Murray Stadium.  Free admission for all Carmel FC and Carmel Dad’s Club players with their uniforms on.  Bring a canned food item to benefit the Carmel Backpack Program. Carmel High School Girls & Boys Varsity Schedules 

Carmel Dads and Carmel FC players wear you uniform to get Free Admission to the Game – see you there!!

CHS Boys host Pack the House Night, Friday 9/16 7 pm

All youth players in their CFC or Carmel Dad’s club uniforms will get FREE admission,

American’s In Champions League this week

Tuesday

Porto v Club Brugge, 3p on Paramount+: Owen Otasowie hasn’t played for Brugge’s first team in over a month. He’s played in the last 3 games for their reserves in the second tier. (Champions League Group B).

Marseille v Eintracht Frankfurt, 3p on Paramount+: Timmy Chandler and Frankfurt are on the road in France (Champions League Group D).

Wednesday

  • AC Milan v Dinamo Zagreb, 12:45p on Paramount+, TUDN, UniMás, fuboTV (free trial): Sergiño Dest made his Milan debut in their Champions League opener. They host Zagreb in matchday 2 (Group E).
  • Shakhtar Donetsk v Celtic, 12:45p on Paramount+: Cameron Carter-Vickers and Celtic are on the road against Ukrainian opposition in Group F.
  • Rangers v Napoli, 3p on Paramount+: Malik Tillman and James Sands lead Rangers at home in Group A.
  • Chelsea v RB Salzburg, 3p on Paramount+: Christian Pulisic looks for a fresh start with Chelsea, as they take on Salzburg at Stamford Bridge (Group E).
  • Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund, 3p on Paramount+: Gio Reyna and Dortmund face old friend Erling Haaland and Man City in Group G.
  • Juventus v Benfica, 3p on Paramount+: Weston McKennie and Juve host John Brooks and Benfica in Group H.

Thursday

Braga v Union Berlin, 3p on Paramount+: Jordan Pefok returned from injury for Union at the weekend. They face Portuguese side Braga in Europa League Group D.

BIG GAMES ON TV

Tues, Sept 13

12:45 Para+                          Viktoria Plezen vs Inter Milan

12:45 Para+, Unimas          Sporting CP vs Tottenham

3 pm Para+, Univision      Bayern Munich vsBarcelona

3 pm Para+,      Liverpool vs Ajax

3 pm Para+                           Braga vs Union Berlin (Pefock)

3 pm Para+                           Marseille vs Frankfurt (Chandler)

Weds, Sept 14

12:45 Para+, TUDN            AC Milan (Dest) vs Dinamo Zagreb  

12:45 Para+, Unimas          Shakhtar Donestsk vs Celtic (Carter Vickers)

3 pm Para+                           Rangers (Tillman, Sands) vs Napoli

3 pm Para+                          Chelsea (Pulisic) vs RB Salzburg

3 pm Para+                          Man City vs Dortmund (Reyna)

3 pm Para+                          Juventus (Mckinney) vs Benefica

Thurs, Sept 15

3 pm Para+                           Braga vs Union Berlin (Pefok) Europa  

Fri, Sept 16

3 pm USA                            Aston villa vs Southampton

3 pm Peacock                    Notingham Forest vs Leeds United (Adams, Aaronson)

7:30 pm Para+                     Racing Louisville vs Orlando Pride

Sat, Sept 17

7:30 am USA                       Wolverhampton vs Man City

9:30 am ESPN                     Dortmund (reyna) vs  Schalke

10 am USA                          New Castle vs Bournemouth

12:30 pm NBC                    Tottenham vs Leicester

12:30 pm ESPN+          MGladbach vs RB Leipzig

3:30 pm Unimas          Atlanta United vs Philly Union

6 pm FS2                     Monterrey vs Atlas Mexican

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Monterey Bay vs Indy 11

7:30 pm Para+                   NC Courage (Murphy) vs Seattle Reign (Lavelle, Rapinoe, Huerta)

9 pm Univision                  America vs Guadalajara

10 pm Para+                       San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs Angel City

Sun, Sept 18

6:30 am para+                    Udinese vs Inter Milan

7 am USA                             Bretford vs Arsenal

9:15 am Peacock               Everton vs West Ham  

9:30 am ESPN+                  Union Berlin (Pefock) vs Wolfsburg

2:45 pm                                AC Milan vs Napoli

2:$5 pm bein Sport          Lyon vs PSG

1 pm ESPN                          Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

3 pm ESPN+                        Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid (Madrid Derby)

10 pm FS1                            Tijuana vs Necaza

5 pm Para+                         KC Current vs Portland Thorns (Smith, Horan, Sauerbrann)NWSL

Fri, Sept 23

8:25 am ESPN                     USMNT vs Japan in Germany

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm ESPN                          USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Tues, Oct 11

2:30 pm ESPN2                  US Women  vs Spain (Pamplona)

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

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US Men

USMNT weekend viewing guide: Last chance to earn an opportunity  By jcksnftsn

Report: USA “serious candidate” to host FIFA Club World Cup

YUNUS MUSAH’S EVOLUTION: HOW THE USMNT’S YOUNG STAR IS DEVELOPING WITH VALENCIA
With World Cup tests against England, U.S. on the horizon, what can returning Queiroz bring to Iran?
 
2026 World Cup venues selected: Which cities will host in USA, Canada, Mexico?

Andre Cantor Talks USMNT Changes and Players to Watch

Andrés Cantor outlines key concerns for Mexico at 2022 World Cup

US Women

GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (6): Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC); Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

FORWARDS (7): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)

USWNT Big Board: Projecting the World Cup roster for 2023  ESPNFC hJeff Kassouf

USWNT defeat Nigeria 2-1 before historic on-field CBA signing By khilton 

SAM COFFEY’S DEBUT AND MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE USWNT’S LATEST WIN OVER NIGERIA
US soccer teams sign equal pay deal after USWNT’s victory over Nigeria

U.S. women’s, men’s soccer make CBAs official

VLATKO’S PREFERRED STARTING LINEUP AND MORE USWNT ANALYSIS
SAVANNAH DEMELO TO THE USWNT: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE NEWEST U.S. PLAYER
NWSL TRANSFER WINDOW: EACH TEAM’S BIGGEST MOVE OF THE SUMMER

Will Barcelona cruise to league glory again? Previewing Spain’s Liga F 2022-23  ESPNFC am Marsden

MLS

Orlando Wins First Trophy as USL team Sacramento’s Dream Run comes to an end.
 Q&A: PULISIC AND TUCHEL, USL TEAMS IN CCL, AND MUCH MORE
Orlando City blanks Sacramento to capture US Open Cup

Orlando City Inspired to US Open Cup Victory of USL Sacramento Republic

U.S. OPEN CUP FINAL ANALYSIS: HOW ORLANDO CITY FINISHED OFF UNDERDOGS SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC

Rodrigo Lopez worked construction to keep career alive. Now he’s on the cusp of a U.S. Open Cup title.

A CINDERELLA RUN? INSIDE SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC’S DIFFICULT ROAD TO THE U.S. OPEN CUP FINAL

Champions League

Tuesday 6th September 

Group E

Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Chelsea

RB Salzburg 1-1 AC Milan

Group F

Celtic 0-3 Real Madrid

RB Leipzig 1-4 Shakhtar Donetsk

Group G

Dortmund 3-0 FC Kobenhavn

Sevilla 0-4 Manchester City

Group H

Benfica 2-0 Maccabi Haifa

PSG 2-1 Juventus

 Wednesday 7th September

Group A

Ajax 4-0 Rangers

Napoli 4-1 Liverpool

Group B

Atletico Madrid 2-1 FC Porto

Club Brugge 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Group C

Barcelona 5-1 Viktoria Plzen

Inter Milan 0-2 Bayern Munich

Group D

Frankfurt 0-3 Sporting CP

Spurs 2-0 Marseille

Champions League Stories – ESPN
Napoli vs Liverpool: Reds run ragged in UCL opener (video)

Liverpool’s early-season flaws exposed by rampant Napoli

Ukraine’s Shakhtar power to Champions League victory at Leipzig

Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk romped to a memorable 4-1 Champions League win over RB

Liverpool’s problems exposed by rampant Napoli on chastening UCL night for Klopp

Griezmann’s 101st-minute goal lifts Atletico past Porto
Benzema facing weeks out after injury at Celtic

EPL

Chelsea Owner’s Show Ruthles Streak in Canning Tuchel  
Klopp to ‘reinvent’ Liverpool amid early-season struggles

Why Manchester United supporters hate the Glazers, the club’s American owners
Mark Ogden

Chelsea hires Graham Potter as manager, replacing Tuchel

Indy 11

PREVIEW | #INDVBHM

PINHO NAMED USL CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYER OF THE WEEK PRESENTED BY KONAMI EFOOTBALL

Q&A: PULISIC AND TUCHEL, USL TEAMS IN CCL, AND MUCH MORE

SEPTEMBER 9, 2022c BY JOSEPH LOWERY

QUICK HITS
  • We asked for your American soccer questions on Twitter earlier this week – and you delivered!
  • What does Thomas Tuchel’s exit mean for Christian Pulisic at Chelsea? How do you make the USWNT even better? Are LAFC’s problems overblown? We’ll get to all that and more
Jul 23, 2022; Orlando, FL, USA; Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic (10) warms up prior to the game against Arsenal at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

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We’re back with another midweek mailbag. I put out a call for your questions on Twitter and you delivered with a great mix about all sorts of American soccer topics.

Let’s get to it!

@SKINMATT28

What chances would you give Sacramento Republic of winning at least one CCL match if they had won the U.S. Open Cup?

This would be fun, wouldn’t it? Whenever it happens, a USL team participating in the Concacaf Champions League for the first time after winning the U.S. Open Cup will be a great story. 

When a USL team makes it to this region’s Champions League, I think they have a real shot of getting a win. USL teams don’t have nearly as much talent as some of the other teams they could face in the CCL. Most MLS teams and Liga MX teams participating in the competition would be bad matchups (upsets happen, though). But what about some smaller Central American teams? Or some non-MLS Canadian teams?

Those are winnable games. And when the Concacaf Champions League expands to 27 teams in 2024, a USL team, should they make it, will have an even better shot at picking up a win.

So, while it’s difficult for USL teams to qualify for the CCL, I could see some promising performances from second-division teams once they’re inside the competition.

@BARTIMUSPRIME19

What are some specific tactical changes Vlatko Andonovski could make for the USWNT to produce more goals consistently?

I love this question because it gets right at the heart of my biggest issue with the U.S. women’s national team right now: they lack discipline in the attack.

The USWNT is a team full of superstars. They have an absurd amount of individual quality in every line. But too often, the U.S. roll out a remedial tactical gameplan that leaves far too much to chance. They rely on individual quality instead of stitching that individual quality together into something more.

Now, it’s not that the U.S. can’t, or doesn’t, create chances in possession. They scored a combined six goals against Nigeria in their two friendlies earlier this month. But too often, the U.S. hit hopeful crosses into the box or look disjointed with their attacking spacing.

If I’m Vlatko Andonovski, I’m working on my kill patterns in the final third. This team is dynamite in transition, so my focus is on possession. I’m telling my wingers to get in behind, find the Manchester City Zones (those outer corridors of the box), and then cut the ball back to a runner inside the box. Pushing into those spaces and combining with teammates in the halfspaces and the edges of the box could turn this team into a virtually unstoppable attacking force, even against other top-tier competition.

We’ve seen glimpses of those final third patterns from the U.S., but I’d love to see more than glimpses.

@ES_BOOT

Is the LAFC roster turnover narrative overblown, given that Ginella was a backup No. 6, Fall was fifth in center back rotation, and Rodriguez missed a huge chunk of the season?

LAFC’s biggest challenges have to do with their recent signings, rather than their recent departures. I don’t think they’re really missing any of Francisco Ginella (left on loan to Nacional), Mamadou Fall (left on loan to Villarreal), Brian Rodríguez (transferred to Club America).

But with so many new attacking players up front, there are some valid questions about how Steve Cherundolo is going to set up his team. How do you use Carlos Vela and Gareth Bale together and still maintain some sort of pressing identity (or at least some defensive solidity)? How do Denis Bouanga and Cristian Tello fit into this team? Can any of those players give LAFC the same aggressive off-ball running that Kwadwo Opoku gives them?

LAFC’s attacking shuffle is a problem for Cherundolo. It’s a Champagne problem, but Champagne problems are still problems. LAFC are probably still going to win the Supporters’ Shield, but things are more complicated in LA now than they were a couple of months ago.

@ANDREWCHWALIK

Do you think Chelsea firing Thomas Tuchel will be beneficial for Christian Pulisic?

Define beneficial. Is playing for pretty much anyone else in the world other than Thomas Tuchel going to help Christian Pulisic’s confidence? Absolutely. But is playing for a manager that actually rates him and plays him going to be good for Pulisic’s health? I’m not so sure.

Pulisic’s injury record is miles long. He missed a big chunk of last season for Chelsea with injuries. He missed a stretch of the year before with injuries, too. He hasn’t played more than 2,000 league minutes in a single season since 2017-18.

Getting a new voice in the locker room will be a refreshing thing for Pulisic ahead of the World Cup. But if he ends up playing a bunch of minutes between now and November, I’m not optimistic that Pulisic will stay healthy before Qatar.

@CAPTNMARK42

Has Sam Vines played his way into the backup LB spot behind Jedi?

Left back is a touchy subject for the United States right now after Antonee Robinson went down with an ankle injury with Fulham over the weekend. Regardless of the severity of the injury, finding a capable backup for Robinson is important.

Sam Vines is a regular starter in Belgium’s top division – and he even scored a goal the other day – but I don’t think he’s locked into that backup spot. Vines’ biggest competition doesn’t come from other potential left backs, though. It comes from the right back depth chart.

With Sergiño Dest’s move to AC Milan, where he’ll get more playing time than he did at Barcelona, and Joe Scally’s time on the field for Gladbach in the Bundesliga this season, Gregg Berhalter has a couple of different options who can play on either side of the backline. And given that both Dest and Scally have played left back for the USMNT, it’s clear that Berhalter is willing to use a right-footed player on the left.

Now, if Robinson isn’t fit, I think Vines has the inside track relative to the rest of the left back competition. But if Robinson is ready to go, it wouldn’t surprise me if Berhalter brought just one true left back to the World Cup.

Chelsea’s new owners show ruthless streak in sacking Tuchel

Kieran CANNINGWed, September 7, 2022 at 9:29 AM

Chelsea are still adjusting to life under their new regime but the ruthless sacking of manager Thomas Tuchel shows the change of ownership has not ushered in an era of patience at Stamford Bridge.The German was well aware of the fate that befalls managers who stumble from the day he walked into the Premier League club, initially handed a contract for just 18 months despite his pedigree.”What does it change?” said Tuchel as he was unveiled in January 2021. “If they are not happy with me, they will sack me anyway.”A hire-and-fire culture became the norm during Roman Abramovich’s spectacularly successful reign, which ended in May when Todd Boehly’s consortium took over.Tuchel earned himself a two-year contract extension after winning the Champions League in May 2021, a triumph that came just four months after he inherited a squad that was under-performing under Frank Lampard.But less than 16 months after Chelsea overcame Manchester City in Porto, and after a big-spending transfer window at Stamford Bridge, he finds himself out of a job.Boehly’s group spent a world-record £4.25 billion ($4.9 billion) to buy Chelsea in May after Russian billionaire Abramovich announced he was selling the club shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.The following week Abramovich was hit with UK sanctions, with the government describing him as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.The new regime splashed out more than £200 million on a list of high-profile players including Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.And Tuchel appeared to have earned the trust of the new owners.He pushed for the signing of Aubameyang after their time together at Borussia Dortmund and reportedly cooled Boehly’s interest in Cristiano Ronaldo, who wanted to leave Manchester United.

– Erratic –

Yet, just seven games into the new season, the 49-year-old has been cut loose after damaging defeats to Leeds, Southampton and Dinamo Zagreb.In keeping with his time at Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain, results have dipped after a bright start. Chelsea won the Club World Cup, reached two domestic cup finals and finished in the top four of the Premier League last season despite the difficulties caused by the sanctions imposed on Abramovich, which affected the club’s operations. Yet the expected Premier League title challenge following the club-record £97-million signing of forward Romelu Lukaku never materialised. Lukaku complained publicly of struggling to fit into Tuchel’s preferred system and has been shipped back to Inter Milan on loan at huge cost to the Blues. Reports in recent weeks suggested other attacking players were unhappy with Tuchel’s methods, frustrated that they were not given the freedom to shine.Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech have all struggled to deliver on big transfer fees, while Timo Werner returned to RB Leipzig last month.Scoring goals has been a persistent problem and the defensive solidity that was the hallmark of Tuchel’s early success at the club has been absent this season.Tuchel can point to an untimely injury to midfielder N’Golo Kante, a loss of form for goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and the need for time for the club’s new signings to bed in. But his own behaviour had grown more erratic as the pressure increased. He was sent off for two physical confrontations with Tottenham boss Antonio Conte in a 2-2 draw last month and lambasted his players for a “soft mentality” in losing at Southampton. A limp 1-0 defeat on Tuesday to a Zagreb side with a strikingly poor Champions League record was the final straw. “We are clearly not where we need to be and where we can be,” said Tuchel after the match. Boehly has made the bold call that a man who has reached two Champions League finals with two different clubs in the past three seasons was the problem. Now the pressure is on the American to make the right hire to turn his investment into results on the pitch.

2022 World Cup: Andrés Cantor discusses USMNT’s chances, player to watch

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Logan Reardon Thu, September 8, 2022 at 8:49 PM Andrés Cantor discusses USMNT’s chances, player to watch originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea The 2022 FIFA World Cup is quickly approaching.   After missing out on the tournament in 2018, the U.S. men’s national team is back in the field for 2022. Led by a group of talented young players, expectations are raised for the American squad. World Cup broadcaster Andrés Cantor sat down with NBC to share his thoughts on Team USA, their outlook for the tournament and one key player to watch in Qatar. Let’s take a look at Cantor’s preview for the U.S. team: What stands out about the USMNT? The World Cup roster for the USMNT hasn’t yet been announced. But we have a general idea of the players that will head to Qatar. There should be an exciting mix of youth and experience as the U.S. looks to advance through the group stage. Cantor sees the American team as having a good balance with young talent that has already started playing on the big stage in Europe. “I believe the U.S. team has a group of very young, but talented players,” Cantor said. “Many of them are mainstays on top European clubs. That experience is invaluable when it comes to the World Cup. “I have trust and belief that the U.S. can do well,” Cantor said. “Even though the team is, on average, very young, it doesn’t mean they don’t have experience. Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna, (Yunis) Musah, you name it. They have European football under their legs.” How can the USMNT get out of the group stage? Following a random draw, the U.S. was placed in Group B with Wales, England and Iran. England is the favorite to top the group, as it is ranked No. 5 in the world in FIFA’s rankings. The U.S. is ranked No. 14, with Wales at No. 19 and Iran at No. 22. The USMNT will face Wales in its first match, before playing England second and closing out the group stage against Iran. “The most important moment of a World Cup, before the ball is kicked, is the World Cup draw,” Cantor said. “The second most important thing in every World Cup is the opening match. “So, what (does the U.S.) need to get out of the group stage? Obviously, beat Wales in the opening match and get to the England game with three points in hand. Then, battle it out (against Iran), at least with three points from the opening game. That’s the key, the opening match.” Who is the player to watch from the USMNT? When you think of the USMNT, one player immediately comes to mind. “I will go with the obvious choice, which would be Christian Pulisic,” Cantor said when asked which American player is the most important. “He is probably the most experienced player, a European champion. He plays at the highest level of all, and plays a very defined role at Chelsea.” Pulisic, 23, has been in the spotlight since he made his national team debut in 2016. He made the move to the English Premier League to play for Chelsea in 2019, where he has scored 19 goals in 80 career appearances. “He’s such a talented player, and he’s young. He can give you a couple of positions, he can play on the left, on the right or as a false nine.” “If you ask this question to 10 people that follow the U.S. team, I’m pretty sure nine out of 10 will say Christian Pulisic. He knows that all of the eyes are going to be on him. It’s good that he has the European experience, but this is different. He’s going to wear the captain’s armband, and that creates another level of pressure that he hasn’t had at Chelsea.”

Report: USA “serious candidate” to host FIFA Club World Cup It would take place in February 2023. By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Sep 9, 2022, 12:45pm PDT  

The trophy for the greatest club team in the world could be lifted on American soil. According to Spanish outlet AS, the United States is “a serious candidate” to serve as hosts for the next FIFA Club World Cup.Because of the 2022 FIFA World Cup taking place in November and December, if the Club World Cup takes place, the targeted dates are February 6-12, 2023. The tournament involves the champions of every FIFA confederation plus the winner of the host nation’s domestic league.That would mean that Major League Soccer could have two representatives for the first time ever at the Club World Cup. The Seattle Sounders became just the 3rd MLS team to win a Concacaf confederational trophy when they won the Concacaf Champions League in May. Should the United States host the Club World Cup, this year’s MLS Cup champions would also book a trip to the tournament.AS reports that Abu Dhabi and China were also under consideration to host the tournament, but that FIFA couldn’t reach an agreement with either, which put the focus onto the United States. The matches would likely be played at a NFL stadium that could allow for huge crowds. The normal FIFA World Cup tournament format: Entering in Playoff Round: 2022 OFC Champions League winners (Auckland City), 2022 MLS Cup champions (TBD) Entering in Quarterfinal Round: 2022 AFC Champions League winners (Urawa Red Diamonds/TBD), 2022 CONCACAF Champions League winners (Seattle Sounders), 2021-22 CAF Champions League winners (Wydad AC) Entering in Semifinal Round: 2022 Copa Libertadores winners (Flamengo/Athletico Paranaense), 2021-22 UEFA Champions League winners (Real Madrid)

Grant Wahl –My 3 Thoughts on the U.S. Open Cup Final MLS’s Orlando City raises its first major trophy after beating USL’s Sacramento Republic 3-0  

Grant Wahl Sep 8   Orlando City won the U.S. Open Cup final in a 3-0 victory over the Sacramento Republic on Wednesday. 

Here are my three thoughts on the game:

• The biggest move in this game came when Benji Michel subbed on in the second half. Facundo Torres ended up scoring the decisive goals in the 75th and 80th minutes, which deserve plenty of recognition, but it was Orlando coach Óscar Pareja’s move to bring on Michel up front not long before that that made the biggest difference in the game. Suddenly, Orlando had more unpredictability in the attack, and it was Michel who fed Torres for the breakthrough goal (after Iván Angulo’s great work to win the ball in Sacramento’s end) for a tougher-than-it-looked finish after 75 minutes of deadlocked play. Michel coming on for Ercan Kara was huge; Kara was more static and beginning to get into an unnecessary personal battle with Sacramento keeper Danny Vitiello. Pareja recognized that and changed the game. The result: Deserved history for Orlando. Michel’s late goal to finish things off only sealed the deal.

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• Sacramento showed that non-MLS teams have tremendous value. Sacramento had a chance to become the first non-MLS team to win the U.S. Open Cup since the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1999. And while it didn’t complete the feat, Republic acquitted itself well for the vast majority of the final and throughout the tournament. A first-half scoring chance went tantalizingly just wide, and the fight from Sacramento kept things even for more than 70 minutes. Republic may or may not end up in MLS, but there is a great soccer story happening there nonetheless, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this team back in this position before too long.

• The Open Cup is a sleeping giant. I’m thrilled that the U.S.’s century-plus-long knockout tournament has continued unabated, and that it has been possible in recent years to see every game live. I’m also looking forward to U.S. Soccer finally getting things right and starting a women’s tournament to match the men’s. But there is even more growth to be had in a nation that has spent billions on other prominent knockout tournaments (the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tourneys). We love underdog stories in the U.S., and what could be a better underdog story than a lower-league team like Sacramento making the final? Let’s hope that Turner Sports, the new U.S. Soccer broadcast rights holder, can take things to the next level starting next season as the U.S. Open Cup (men’s and women’s) so surely deserves.

USWNT Big Board: Projecting the 2023 World Cup roster, who joins Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle?

9:56 AM ET ESPN FC

This is the point in the four-year cycle when the World Cup starts feeling real. The major continental tournaments of summer are in the books, teams have qualified, rosters are starting to get more consistent and opponents for friendlies are becoming more challenging. The 2023 Women’s World Cup begins in just over nine months. The draw? That’s six weeks from now.

Now, the pressure will ratchet up for players in the coming months as they try to make their dreams reality and position themselves higher up the depth chart with strong performances for club and country — or else, they will fall out of roster contention if form dips.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (U.S.)

The U.S. women’s national team head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, spent the past year overturning the core of a roster that won the past two World Cups to usher in a new generation. So which Americans will be on the plane to Australia and New Zealand in search of a three-peat?

ESPN will answer that question on a rolling basis throughout the next nine months, starting now with our USWNT Big Board, Vol. 1. A team loaded with so many bona fide stars offers some certainties, but the recent turnover within the team leaves plenty of roster spots up for grabs on the 23-player team. Add in the handful of potential starters who are recovering from injuries, and the field is further clouded.


How we’re doing this

Let’s start with the obvious: The team of 23 going right now will not be the team of 23 going to the World Cup (and for all we know, this could become a 26-player roster like the men’s edition in Qatar).

EDITOR’S PICKS

Injury situations guarantee impending changes, but form will also ebb and flow, the team’s needs will change, and other injuries could take place. Basically, nothing is official until it is on paper in FIFA’s hands and the roster deadline has passed.

This is a ranking, by position, of how things stand right now. That means players with long-term injuries would not be on the roster if the World Cup started today. Plenty will change in the coming months as some of these players face competition unlike any they’ve faced before, including an Oct. 7 showdown with European champions England at Wembley.

Within each position, we’ve made tiers of players to add nuance to where things stand:

  • Tier 1: Roster locks. These players are either clear starters or pushing to be one, and as of today, would be on the plane for the World Cup.
  • Tier 2: The bubble. Players on both the right and wrong side of it, because if you aren’t a lock, you are part of the bubble where nothing is certain.
  • Tier 3: Outside looking in. Players who have had a passing look with the team without tangible progress, players performing well for club but who haven’t gotten a look, or players who were once integral but no longer seem part of the plans.
  • Wait and see: Former locks racing against time. This is a special category to account for injuries and absences — these are players who were once locks, but now need to recover quickly enough and regain their status for a spot on the plane. There are enough of them that it needs its own category because an injured starter can’t be Tier 1 right now, but we expect they should have a clear path to return to that tier — if they get back to 100% in time.

Goalkeepers

  • Roster locks: Alyssa Naeher, Casey Murphy
  • The bubble: Aubrey Kingsbury
  • Outside looking in: Adrianna Franch, Jane Campbell, Bella Bixby, Phallon Tullis-Joyce
  • Wait and see: None

The No. 1 goalkeeper job remains Alyssa Naeher‘s to lose. Casey Murphy made a strong run at it earlier this year on the heels of some stellar performances in 2021, but she has struggled at times this NWSL season for the North Carolina Courage, a team whose erratic form frequently allows multi-goal thrillers — not exactly a goalkeeper’s dream game.

If anyone is going to challenge Naeher, it’s Murphy, but there is work to be done. Naeher is a two-time World Cup champion and was the starter for the 2019 triumph. After that, Aubrey Kingsbury is in a bubble of her own as the choice No. 3 right now, a position which she has had locked down for the entire calendar year.

Bella Bixby and Jane Campbell are the last goalkeepers to receive call-ups outside of that trio, and those came for relatively experimental games in Australia last November. Adrianna Franch hasn’t played for the U.S. in nearly a year following her emergency duties at the Olympics, where Naeher got hurt in the semifinal. Andonovski spoke on multiple occasions this year about learning from that moment, which is why Murphy has earned significant minutes this year, including at World Cup qualifying. Kingsbury still only has one cap.

Andonovski wants two options who are ready to be the No. 1 come the World Cup and right now, his trio is as set as it could be.

On the plane right now: Naeher, Murphy, Kingsbury


Full-Backs

  • Roster locks: Emily Fox, Kelley O’Hara, Sofia Huerta
  • The bubble: Hailie Mace
  • Outside looking in: Carson Pickett, Imani Dorsey, Caprice Dydasco, Kristen McNabb, Merritt Mathias
  • Wait and see: Crystal Dunn, Casey Krueger, Emily Sonnett

Ah, full-back: The position of eternal questions for the U.S. men’s and women’s teams alike.

Emily Fox is clearly the starting left-back right now and has been all year. Andonovski tabbed her for that role last year, when she was an NWSL rookie, and he said he would spend the year building up her minutes to get her ready for the World Cup. That is exactly what happened and Fox offers the U.S. pace to go with a unique attacking profile in the position.

Of course, left-back was previously the position held down by Crystal Dunn, who gave birth to her first child in May and has not played yet this year. She trained with the USWNT in the most recent camp and expects to play some minutes for club and potentially country before the end of the year. Yes, she can play in the midfield, but her services are of greater need for the USWNT at full-back. At her peak, Dunn is the best the team has at the position.

By the time the World Cup kicks off, the question might not be Fox vs. Dunn, but rather who gets which side? As for now, Dunn is still trying to get back on a pitch during a game, so we’ll revisit that.

Right-back is where were find more questions. Kelley O’Hara (recently, but not significantly injured) is the incumbent there and continues to show why when healthy. The health caveat is an important one that has been a factor for some time. Emily Sonnett‘s injury is significant enough to have been season-ending for the Washington Spirit, or she would otherwise be Tier 1 based on how she has rotated into Andonovski’s lineups.

Huerta’s beautiful cross helps USWNT gain 4-0 lead

USWNT’s Sofia Huerta crosses the ball in that Ashley Hatch capitalizes on to up their score to 4-0 over New Zealand.

Sofia Huerta has earned her most extensive trial as a U.S. international after making the one-time switch from Mexico, a dream she thought she had lost after blowing her initial opportunity in the previous cycle. Huerta continues to make her argument as the best crosser from wide areas in the entire USWNT pool, and her defensive game has largely improved.

She did misplay the ball that led to Nigeria’s goal on Tuesday and ended the USWNT’s 880-minute shutout streak, but she was stellar on both sides of the ball and played a role in two goals in the first game against Nigeria, a 4-0 win. Whether Huerta is the starter remains a question, but right now she is solidly part of Andonovski’s plan. How she plays against England will tell how ready she is for a World Cup.

Casey Krueger also gave birth to her first child and has not played this year. She was used semi-frequently as a reserve full-back in 2021. The wild card, though, could be Hailie Mace, who only joined the USWNT for games against Nigeria as a replacement for O’Hara, but impressed enough in training to earn looks off the bench in both matches. Mace is in her best form ever in the NWSL as a wing-back for the Kansas City Current, who play a 3-5-2, but she had not been in camp in over four years prior to last week.

For all of the above players, there’s still time to get on the roster — especially at this position.

On the plane right now: Fox, Huerta, O’Hara


Center-Backs

  • Roster locks: Becky Sauerbrunn, Alana Cook, Naomi Girma
  • The bubble: Abby Dahlkemper
  • Outside looking in: Sam Hiatt, Alex Loera, Sam Staab, Emily Menges
  • Wait and see: Tierna Davidson

Center-back is also a curious position right now. Becky SauerbrunnAlana Cook and Naomi Girma have been the three players rotating into those two spots almost exclusively since Tierna Davidson tore her ACL in March. Cook is the preferred starter alongside Sauerbrunn, who is the captain, but Girma has the skillset to claim the starting role.

Is there even a bubble after that? The most likely candidate for that is Abby Dahlkemper, but since returning from broken ribs earlier this spring, she has fallen out of favor as the starting center back alongside Girma at San Diego Wave FC, and the calls from Andonovski have stopped, too. Dahlkemper needs to get back in the XI for San Diego before she gets back into a USWNT camp, and does have the potential. She played every minute for the USWNT at the 2019 World Cup and has a passing range to rival any center-back.

From there, the rest of the talent pool is inexperienced, with Cook and Girma still early into their international journeys. A peek at the 55-player preliminary roster for the CONCACAF W Championship suggests that any of Alex LoeraSam HiattEmily Menges or Sam Staab are in Andonovski’s peripheral thoughts. Combined, they have zero caps.

Davidson’s return will be the most important to this position, and she could double as an emergency No. 6. Sonnett and even Mace also provide versatility between full-back and center-back, which is always a helpful trait when deciding on bubble spots. As it stands today, the USWNT is one more injury away from a major depth problem.

On the plane right now: Sauerbrunn, Cook, Girma


Midfielders

  • Roster locks: Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Andi Sullivan
  • The bubble: Ashley Sanchez, Kristie Mewis, Taylor Kornieck, Sam Coffey
  • Outside looking in: Morgan Gautrat, Savannah DeMelo, Jaelin Howell, Lo’eau LaBonta, Vanessa DiBernardo, Mikayla Cluff, Emily Madril, Dani Weatherholt
  • Wait and see: Sam Mewis, Julie Ertz

Midfield features the most interesting bubble section. Rose LavelleLindsey Horan and Andi Sullivan are Andonovski’s starting trio as the Nos. 10, 8 and 6, respectively, but there are at least three spots behind them wide open for the taking, although Ashley Sanchez is looking more likely and should claim one of those reserve spots. Plus, what happens when Sam Mewis returns?

Lavelle is undroppable and in form, and Horan is best as a two-way midfielder when asked not to shoulder too much of the defensive responsibility, which can also be said for Mewis. Catarina Macario might also be part of this conversation, but we’ll get back to that.

Sam Coffey earned her first cap on Tuesday and played the entire match in the No. 6 role. As debuts go, it was solid if not necessarily spectacular, which is about as much as anyone could ask for in a thankless role. As wild as it seems to go from first cap to World Cup, Coffey’s case for inclusion right now is as good as anyone else’s in the position, especially on form.

Julie Ertz previously defined the No. 6 role, so much so that it has been difficult for observers to evaluate any of her replacements. Ertz gave birth to her first child earlier this year and her playing future is unclear. Andonovski might know more about that, but for now, he must plan for life without Ertz.

Lindsey Horan on stepping into a greater role as leader for USWNT

Lindsey Horan credits Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara’s experience in helping her grow as a leader with the USWNT.

Kristie Mewis has filled in at the No. 6 in a pinch, but it has largely looked forced. NJ/NY Gotham FC is rounding out an awful season, which has not helped her club form. Still, her ability to play in any of the three positions is to her benefit. Morgan Gautrat played her best club season to date in 2021, earning a recall to the USWNT, but she only played 45 minutes at February’s SheBelieves Cup and has not played for the Chicago Red Stars since April 2 due to injuries.

Savannah DeMelo will have something to say about all this, and Racing Louisville FC teammate Jaelin Howell might still, too. For now, though, it’s possible the final midfield spot comes down to Coffey and Taylor Kornieck. Given current injuries and the numbers game of roster composition, they both go as of today.

Also, at what point does Lo’eau LaBonta‘s NWSL form warrant a look in camp? She played for Andonovski at FC Kansas City, so there is familiarity there and a precedent set by Kristie Mewis’ return to the USWNT following a great league campaign.

On the plane right now: Lavelle, Horan, Sullivan, Sanchez, K. Mewis, Coffey, Kornieck


Wingers

  • Roster locks: Sophia Smith, Mallory Pugh, Megan Rapinoe
  • The bubble: Margaret “Midge” Purce, Trinity Rodman
  • Outside looking in: Christen Press, Morgan Weaver, Tobin Heath, Ally Watt
  • Wait and see: Lynn Williams

Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh are NWSL MVP candidates and have the starting winger positions on lock for the U.S. national team. There really is not a debate. Both reiterated against Nigeria how dynamic they can be and why they are threats to any defense they come up against. The largest remaining criticism is their conversion rate at times, but that’s also a matter of setting realistic expectations for any forward — each is averaging better than a goal every other game in 2022.

Megan Rapinoe is also a lock as far as Andonovski’s plans go. Such a firm position sparked controversy when she returned to the team ahead of World Cup qualifying, which Andonovski said was always going to be the plan. There were some external concerns about that being too much of a choice based on leadership and not form, but those have since been squashed.

Rapinoe continues to affect games off the bench, as she did on Tuesday when she assisted Lavelle’s game-winning goal only 73 seconds after entering the match, and she is back to being a 90-minute player for OL Reign, notching four goals and three assists in four games in August. In short, Rapinoe is going to a fourth World Cup with sights set on winning a third straight.

Rapinoe makes instant impact with assist on Lavelle’s diving header

Right after Megan Rapinoe comes onto the pitch, she crosses one to Rose Lavelle for the header.

Trinity Rodman might be next in line off the bench. In 2021, she put in an NWSL Rookie of the Year campaign that nearly doubled as worthy of MVP talk. She hasn’t quite had a sophomore slump, but the Washington Spirit’s generally horrible form has not helped Rodman’s case. Smith and Pugh are also playing extremely well, so Rodman’s role remains that of a reserve.

Margaret “Midge” Purce is in the mix after missing out on last year’s Olympics. Lynn Williams is the player who could disrupt the depth chart upon her return, but that likely won’t be until 2023. Elsewhere, Morgan Weaver will need a solid stretch run with the Portland Thorns to push her name back into the conversation, as would Tobin Heath, who was once a sure starter on the USWNT’s World Cup-winning teams but hasn’t been in the picture in nearly a year.

Christen Press‘ absence from the CONCACAF W Championship roster was the most surprising given her form. She tore her ACL two days before the public announcement of the roster, but had already been informed she would not be on the roster. The necessary recovery time for that injury likely puts her back on the field around the start of the 2023 NWSL season, which would make for a tough timeline to get back into the mix for a third World Cup.

On the plane right now: Smith, Pugh, Rapinoe, Purce, Rodman


Strikers

  • Roster locks: Alex Morgan
  • The bubble: Ashley Hatch
  • Outside looking in: Mia Fishel, Bethany Balcer, Kristen Hamilton, Cece Kizer, Jessica McDonald
  • Wait and see: Catarina Macario

Alex Morgan is once again the clear No. 9, as if nothing changed at all. That is not true, of course. Earlier this year, Andonovski began building the team around Macario as the false nine who seamlessly interchanged with Lavelle in the attacking midfielder role, which left Morgan on the outside, not earning call-ups.

The results with Macario were brilliant at times even if they featured growing pains against lesser competition. But Macario’s injury coincided with Morgan’s career-best form, and Morgan handily beat out Ashley Hatch in the competition for the starting role in the meantime.

Assuming Morgan stays in this form and Macario picks up where she left off, Andonovski has a champagne problem. He is not going to move away from the 4-3-3, and he isn’t going to drop Lavelle. So one of Morgan or Macario would have to sit, and they would rotate as needed in the World Cup (how’s that for a super-sub in either case). Otherwise, Macario could become part of a “double-10” alongside Lavelle — that would trigger a question of who as a pure No. 6 would then carry the defensive load, all while Macario would take a spot in an already crowded midfield depth chart.

Meanwhile, Mia Fishel remains in top form for Tigres as one of the best forwards in Liga MX, but Andonovski said last week that he has not had any conversations with her. Given the general lack of depth right now at the No. 9 position, and that Liga MX plays through the winter (when the NWSL is off), there remains an opportunity for her to change that.

On the plane right now: Morgan, Hatch

9/1/22  US Ladies vs Nigeria Tues 6 pm on ESPN2, Champ League 9/6 & 7, CHS Girls host Pack the house night 9/12, Big TV Games

US Ladies host Nigeria Sat 1 pm on Fox, Tues 6 pm on ESPN2

So the US Ladies return to play this weekend and next week –as they face African powerhouse Nigeria Sat at 1 pm on Fox.  Trinity Rodman has been ruled out for family reasons for the games which features the below stars for NWSL. 

GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (6): Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC); Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

FORWARDS (7): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)

Games to Watch

Saturday we move overseas as Brighton hosting Leeds United States of America at 10 am on USA Network takes center stage again this time vs Brentford at home. The 10 am Peacock game also features American’s as Fulham (Tim Ream, Jedi Robinson) host Tottenham..  Other big games Sat Everton hosting Liverpool – who needed a last second goal to win on Wed.  The Milan Derby is the featured game of the week with AC Milan hosting Inter at noon Saturday on CBSSN & Para+ and of course The US Ladies hosting Nigeria at 1 pm on big FOX.  Sunday its Man United hosting league leading and undefeated Arsenal at 11:30 am on USA.

Champions League group stage fixtures (all kick off times ET)

Matchday 1

Tuesday, 6 September
Dinamo Zagreb vs Chelsea (Pulisic) (12:45)
Dortmund (Reyna) vs Copenhagen (12:45)
Salzburg vs AC Milan (Dest) (3:00)
Celtic (Vickers) vs Real Madrid (3:00)
Leipzig vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Sevilla vs Man City (3:00)
Paris vs Juventus (McKinney) (3:00)
Benfica vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)

Wednesday, 7 September
Ajax vs Rangers (Sands) (12:45)
Frankfurt vs Sporting CP (12:45)
Napoli vs Liverpool (3:00)
Atletico vs Porto (3:00)
Club Brugge vs Leverkusen (3:00)
Barcelona vs Plzen (3:00)
Inter vs Bayern (3:00)
Tottenham vs Marseille (3:00)

EPL Wk 4 – Fulham America in top 6

Fulham America stands at 6th with 2 wins and 2 draws and one of the stingiest d’s in the EPL with the left side of defense manned by American’s Jedi Robinson and Tim Ream.  It leads some to believe Tim Reem might get a call up to the USMNT for their September set of 2 games 9/23 & 9/27.

Of course we should have know Leeds was going to come back to earth on the road at a solid Brighton team and they did with a tough 1-o loss on the road. That was followed by an even tougher 1-1 tie at home as Everton dominated the first half before Leeds dominated the 2nd and should have won it – but couldn’t find the last goal despite 75% possession.  Finally Chelsea is evidently blocking the move for Christian Pulisic – because the new American owner doesn’t want to give up the #1 American.  Of course the Manager Tuchel refused to play the American.  Frustration city.

High School Local – CHS Girls host tourney Sat @ Murray

Carmel Girls rise to 3rd in the rankings after a pair of wins in their tourney this weekend against Avon and 3-1 over Fishers 2-0.  The Boys stay at #6 with 2 wins this past week as well including the 1-0 over BrebeufFormer Carmel FC academy player Sofia Shepard assists on a goal by Megan Hamm in the CHS girls 2-1 win over Fisher Sat night during the ladies Pink kick Breast Cancer Celebration.  Latest State Rankings .  A reminder the CHS Ladies will host  Pack the House Night, next Monday 9/12 at 7 pm at Murray Stadium. Free admission for all Carmel FC and Carmel Dad’s Club players with their uniforms on.  Bring a canned food item to benefit the Carmel Backpack Program. Carmel High School Girls & Boys Varsity Schedules 

Coach/Ref Shane Best with our former Carmel FC JV and Varsity goalkeepers now playing for Carmel High School – Claire, Mary Grace, Bethany, Chloe & Aubrey at a last weekend’s Kick Breast Cancer Tourney at Carmel High.
Carmel Dads and Carmel FC players wear you uniform to get Free Admission to the Game – see you there!!

JPW’s Champions League predictions – Matchday 1

Tuesday, 6 September
Dinamo Zagreb 1-2 Chelsea
Dortmund 3-1 Copenhagen
Salzburg 1-2 AC Milan
Celtic 1-3 Real Madrid
Leipzig 2-1 Shakhtar
Sevilla 1-2 Man City
PSG 2-1 Juventus
Benfica 2-0 Maccabi Haifa

Wednesday, 7 September
Ajax 1-2 Rangers
Frankfurt 2-1 Sporting CP
Napoli 2-1 Liverpool
Atletico 2-1 Porto
Club Brugge 1-3 Leverkusen
Barcelona 3-0 Plzen
Inter 1-3 Bayern
Tottenham 3-1 Marseille

BIG GAMES ON TV

Thur, Sept 1

3 pm USA                            Leicister City vs Man United  

Fri, Sept 2

3 pm ESPN+                        Dortmund (reyna) vs  Hoffenheim

Sat, Sept 3

7:30 am USA                       Everton vs Liverpool

9:30 am ESPN                     Dortmund (reyna) vs  Hertha

9:30 am ESPN+                  Union Berlin (PefoK vs Bayern Munich

9 am Para+                          Forentina vs Juventus (Mckinney)

10 am USA                          Leads United (Adams, Aaronson) @ Brentford

10 am Peacock                  Fulham (Reem, Jedi) @ Tottenham

12 noon para+                   AC Milan vs Inter

12:30 pm NBC                    Aston Villa vs Man City

1 pm FOX                    US Women vs Nigeria @ KC

3 pm ESPN+                        Sevilla vs Barcelona

3 pm beIN Sport               PSG vs Nantes

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Detroit vs Indy 11

Sun, Sept 4

11:30 am USA                    Man United vs Arsenal 

5 pm Para+                         NY Gothem FC vs NC Courage NWSL

Tues, Sept 6

12:45 pm Para+ Dinamo Zagreb vs Chelsea (Pulisic) (12:45)
12:45 pm Para+ Dortmund (Reyna) vs Copenhagen (12:45)

3 pm Para+. TUDN Champions League

3 pm PSG vs Juventus Mckinney

6 pm ESPN2                US Women vs Nigeria @ DC

Weds, Sept 7

3 pm Para+ Ajax vs Rangers (Sands) (12:45)
Frankfurt vs Sporting CP (12:45)

3 pm Para+. TUDN Champions League
3 pm Para_ Napoli vs Liverpool

Fri, Sept 23

8:25 am ESPN                     USMNT vs Japan in Germany

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm ESPN                          USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

US Men

 Berhalter backs Pulisic to regain Chelsea place

Christian Pulisic stumbling as Chelsea ‘holding him against his wishes,’ per source

Transfer News: A new club for John Brooks, a Sergino Dest rumor, and Christian Pulisic stays put

Report: AC Milan in talks to acquire Sergiño Dest

Official: Ricardo Pepi headed to FC Groningen on loanWright, Sargent, and Pefok remain hot in very busy weekend for Americans abroad

US women

USWNT vs Nigeria – Weekend series with African Powerhouse _ AO

Roster USA vs Nigeria

Rodman to miss Games

SAVANNAH DEMELO TO THE USWNT: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE NEWEST U.S. PLAYER
Expansion Wave top the table with stout defense, Alex Morgan

STARS TO WATCH IN THE NWSL AS THE PLAYOFFS NEAR

NWSL TRANSFER WINDOW: EACH TEAM’S BIGGEST MOVE OF THE SUMMER

Champions League draw has 10 Americans in the 22-23 Competition

Group A: Ajax, Liverpool FC, Napoli, Rangers FC (James Sands, Malik Tilman

Group B: Porto, Atlético Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge (Owen Otasowie)

Group C: Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona (Dest), Inter Milan, Viktoria Plzeň

Group D: Eintracht Frankfurt (Chandler), Tottenham Hotspur, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille

Group E: AC Milan, Chelsea FC (Pulisic), Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb

Group F: Real Madrid, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic FC (Carter-Vickers)

Group G: Manchester City, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, FC Copenhagen

Group H: Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus (McKinney), Benfica, Maccabi Haifa (Josh Cowen GK)


UEFA Champions League group stage draw: Predictions, must-see games and more

UCL draw: Lewandowski, Barca to face Bayern

 Indy 11

Coach Shane and Kevin Russo and Family made it out to watch former Carmel FC GK coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr play for San Antonio. The Indy 11 sprung the upset 1-0 however before beating Louisville on Wed night to win their 2nd in a row.

EPL

 Liverpool score very late in stoppage time to defeat Newcastle
Fulham vs Brighton: Mitrovic, Cottagers spoil Brighton’s unbeaten start

Extended highlights: Leeds United 1, Everton 1

Erling Haaland delivers hat trick as Manchester City rout Nottingham Forest

Gabriels deliver for Arsenal, who remain unbeaten with win over Aston Villa
Ten Hag insists Ronaldo is staying at Manchester United

US investment fund RedBird completes 1.2 billion euro AC Milan takeover

Klopp labels Parker sacking as ‘unbelievable’

WORLD

Mexico lose pre-World Cup friendly to Paraguay

MLS

ANALYZING THE PHILADELPHIA UNION’S RECORD-BREAKING ATTACK
CCL WINNERS MISSING THE PLAYOFFS? WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS

 Goalkeeping

GK Goal in USL League One

Save of the Week 26 MLS

Saves of the Week in Week 3 Europe

Best Saves Week 2 Europe

Horrible Mistakes Europe So Far

Reffing

NWSL Fans left Baffled at bad reffing

Soccer Dad Assaults Ref in Arizona while son threatens to kill official
Removing ‘camouflage,’ Brazil football referee comes out

GK issues with Refs

MLS Instant Replay LA vs Min

MLS Instant Replay Toronto

MLS Instant Replay Seattle Quick Start?  

 

USWNT vs. Nigeria, 2022 friendly: USWNT prepare for weekend series against African powerhouse

Kansas City and DC will host the two World Cup qualifiers for a pair of friendly matches.

By khilton and Donald Wine II  Aug 31, 2022, 3:32pm PDT  

After clinching their spot in the 2023 Women’s World Cup by winning the CONCACAF W Championship, it’s time for the United States Women’s National Team to get ready for the September international window. Nigeria will be their opponent in two friendlies to take place this weekend.Nigeria is the first opponent for the USWNT as they begin preparations for the Women’s World Cup next summer, where they will vie for an unprecedented third straight World Cup title. The Labor Day weekend series of friendlies begin Saturday in Kansas City, one of the best supporting cities in the United States for women’s soccer. Then, both teams will travel to Washington, D.C., for a second friendly on Tuesday.”Of course, we’re looking forward to bringing the team back to one of the best soccer cities and best soccer stadiums in the United States in Kansas City,” Vlatko Andonovski said about the upcoming match between Nigeria in Children’s Mercy Park Stadium, home of the Kansas City Current and Sporting Kansas City.The Super Falcons landed in Kansas City on Wednesday. Nigeria remains Africa’s most successful women’s team, with 11 African Cup of Nations titles, and they are also the only country to advance to the knockout round in the World Cup and Olympics. They suffered a tough loss to Morocco in the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations semifinals in a 5-4 victory on penalties. However, the bleeding didn’t end there, as they were defeated in the 3rd place game 1-0 to Zambia. It was only the second time Nigeria didn’t leave the WAFCON with a medal.This is the first friendly for both teams since their confederation tournaments last month. The USWNT have already announced they will head to Wembley Stadium for a heavyweight match against Euro champs England on October 7th. First, they must prepare for Nigeria, who could come into these friendlies with some motivation due to their lackluster performance in the WAFCON.

The USWNT will see some new faces in camp

When the 23-player roster was announced for the window, it included some changes for the World Cup qualifying USWNT. The most notable change is the addition of Crystal Dunn, who is back in camp after returning from maternity leave. Dunn will only be a part of camp to get back into form, but will not be on the roster for the matches.Savannah DeMelo replaces Trinity Rodman, who left the squad due to a family commitment. DeMelo is looking to earn her first senior team cap after a positive career on both youth squads. Hallie Mace also joined the squad, replacing Kelley O’Hara, who is nursing a hip injury. Mace gets her first call-up since 2018, looking for her 4th international cap in her career.

Randy Waldrum needs a great Nigerian performance

Randy Waldrum is on the hot seat as Nigeria coach after the WAFCON letdown. The Nigerian media and fan base has been critical of Waldrum due to his poor talent management , putting many players in unnatural positions on the field. Nigerian federation president Amaju Pinnick came to Waldrum’s defense, saying they have to honor his contract despite the calls for his job. A solid performance from the Super Falcons against one of the best teams in the world could change the trajectory.

Vlatko Andonovski goes for preparation over evaluation

With the USWNT having qualified for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, normally the fall friendlies would focus on evaluating players who could potentially make the final roster next summer. However, for these friendlies, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski opted to bring in essentially the same roster that he had for the Concacaf W Championship. There are a couple of recent additions due to injuries (and Trinity Rodman’s family commitment), but it’s clear he’s opting to start preparations for the World Cup now with the group he considers his most solid.There’s still a long time before the World Cup begins, and the coaching staff will have plenty of time to evaluate players. However, Andonovski has decided it’s more important to continue molding this group of players, save for a few, into the world beating machine that will be needed to win a 5th star.What are you most looking for against Nigeria this weekend from the USWNT? Hit the comments and discuss.

 

Borussia Dortmund really isn’t taking any chances with Gio Reyna

Seth Vertelney follow

August 28, 2022 3:40 pm ET

Borussia Dortmund is doing everything possible to ensure that Giovanni Reyna doesn’t suffer a repeat of last season.

Reyna suffered multiple serious muscle injuries in 2021-22, resulting in a mostly lost season that saw him make just 12 total appearances.

After a full offseason of rehab, Reyna is being introduced back into the fold in an extremely deliberate fashion.

The 19-year-old has been in the squad for just two of the club’s five total games so far this season, and progress has not been linear.

One week after making his season debut off the bench for Dortmund, Reyna was again left out of the squad for Saturday’s 1-0 win at Hertha Berlin. According to coach Edin Terzic, Reyna was omitted after aa minor complaint before the match.

“With Gio, it’s a special situation,” Terzic said after the game. “Gio has been struggling with injuries for almost a year now. He kept fighting back and was then quickly disappointed again when the injuries kept returning.

“He actually trained very well this week. We have a very specific program tailored to him. But he didn’t feel good before the game. And when he feels that, then there’s no point in risking the next setback.

“But we will continue to build him up carefully in the hope that he will fully join in training from next week. We’d rather give up one or two appearances than risk having to do without someone for months.”

With the World Cup coming up, USMNT fans won’t be too upset about Dortmund’s extreme caution. But at some point in the near future, seeing Reyna back healthy for an extended period would also be nice.

8/26/22  Leeds America 2nd in EPL, CHS host tourney Sat, former CFC Coach/Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr returns for San Antonio Sat @ the Mike, Big TV Games

Former Carmel FC GK Coach & Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr returns w/ league leading San Antonio Sat 7 pm

Despite being in the midst of a 12-game winless streak, Indy Eleven’s defense continues to keep it in games, with Indy allowing just one goal in 7 of its outings during its winless streak. Of the 10 losses in the streak, seven have come by a one-goal margin – with last week’s match serving as the fifth heartbreaking 0-1 scoreline during the stretch. Overall in 2022, the Eleven’s 38 goals allowed through 24 games ranks 14th in the USL Championship, placing it squarely in the middle of the 27-team pack.

Defense is where the Alamo City outfit shines, its 21 goals allowed ranking second in the league behind only Louisville (16).  Former Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr has stood tall when called upon his 10 clean sheets are just one behind a trio of league leaders in the category and he has won Goalkeeper Save of the Week multiple times this season helping San Antonio to the 2nd best record in the league.  The 3-1-7 Special offer this weekend includes $3 drinks, $1 popcorn and $7 tickets if you buy them online before game time. Learn More

Games to Watch

A big weekend of Soccer action on TV starts tonight with MLS at 8 pm on ESPN as league leading LAFC travels to 2nd place Austin.  Both teams coached by former USMNT players LAFC (Steve Cherundolo) and Austin (Josh Wolff) features 2 of the hottest teams in the MLS right now (Preview).  At 10 pm also on ESPN is the Cascadian Cup Match of the biggest rivals in American Soccer Seattle and Portland.  Both teams are struggling to make the playoffs this year – which makes this game as important as ever.  Just flip over and catch a bit of these games to see what MLS soccer has become! 

Saturday we move overseas as Brighton hosting Leeds United States of America at 10 am on USA Network takes center stage.  The 12:30 NBC game also features American’s as Fulham (Tim Ream, Jedi Robinson) travel to league leading Arsenal and US GK Matt Turner.  Other big games Sat have Juventus (Mckinney) hosting Roma in Italy on Paramount + at 12:30 pm along with the huge German match-up of Bayern Munich hosting Borussia Mgladbach and American outside back Joe Scally 12:30 Sat on ESPN+.     American’s overseas viewing guide

EPL Wk 3 – Leeds United States of America Arrives – 2nd in EPL

That thud and huge roar you heard on Sunday morning last week was Chelsea falling to the ground and Leeds United States of America stepping on their faces !!  Yes if you actually play your American’s Tuchel – good things might just happen.  Leeds didn’t just beat Chelsea with American youngster Brendan Aaronson scoring his first EPL goal in dramatic fashion.  They slaughtered the former European Champions 3-0 at Elland Road (from the stands)– with fellow American Tyler Adams being named Player of the Match for his midfield performance as the ultimate #6 – shutting down Chelsea’s attack before it could get off the ground.  At least 3 times he cut off fast break opportunities and was seemingly all over the field.  Even the insertion of American Christian Pulisic in the 65th minute did nothing for the blues who have basically disintegrated now that Chelsea manager Tuchel is inserting his “own” players.  Tuchel has made even the best attackers looks like bums with the 3rd worse offense in the EPL..  My favorite of the weekend might have been American coach Jesse Marsch reaction after Aaronson scored the first goal (its spelled Soccer you English bums!).  Yes this American coach who has this former formidable club Leeds United back near the top of the table, can coach.  And these American’s he signed – Brendan Aaronson, Tyler Adams and even Jack Harrison really (he’s English but played his formative years in MLS) CAN PLAY SOCCER.  There is room on this bandwagon American Soccer fans – join us as the next 2 week’s games are on USA Network at 10 am on Saturday’s– a sign that Leeds United States of America is here!!  Cool Story on Leads and Jesse Marsch  Nice piece on Brendan Aaronson

Other EPL news had Man United shocking Liverpool 3-1 at Old Trafford Monday –(as protesters burned American owners the Glaziers in effigy) while Liverpool is limping along at 0-2-1 on the season just 1 point above the relegation zone. The win for Man United moved them to 1-2 L on the season.  Fulham America stands at 7th with a win and 2 draws and one of the stingiest d’s in the EPL with the left side of defense manned by American’s Jedi Robinson and Tim Ream.  It leads some to believe Tim Reem might get a call up to the USMNT for their September set of 2 games 9/23 & 9/27.

Champions League draw has 10 Americans in the 22-23 Competition

Group A: Ajax, Liverpool FC, Napoli, Rangers FC (James Sands, Malik Tilman

Group B: Porto, Atlético Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge (Owen Otasowie)

Group C: Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona (Dest), Inter Milan, Viktoria Plzeň

Group D: Eintracht Frankfurt (Chandler), Tottenham Hotspur, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille

Group E: AC Milan, Chelsea FC (Pulisic), Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb

Group F: Real Madrid, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic FC (Carter-Vickers)

Group G: Manchester City, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, FC Copenhagen

Group H: Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus (McKinney), Benfica, Maccabi Haifa (Josh Cowen GK)

WORLD

Nice to see Benzema of Real Madrid win the FIFA Player of the Year award – lets hope this means a BallonD’Or for him in the future.

High School Local – CHS Girls host tourney Sat @ Murray

Check out the local team rankings for Girls and boys teams below in the Ole Ballcoach.  The Carmel Girls are hosting the Carmel Invite with $6 Admission (Kindergarten and younger admitted free).  

Varsity Schedule

Murray Stadium is located directly behind Carmel High School.

9:00 am Murray Stadium Carmel (Guests) vs. Avon (Home)

10:45 am Murray Stadium Cathedral (Guests) vs. Fishers (Home)

5:00 pm Murray Stadium Avon (Guests) vs. Cathedral (Home)

6:45 pm Murray Stadium Fishers (Guests) vs. Carmel (Home)

Junior Varsity Schedule

Football Practice Fields are north of Murray Stadium behind the football stadium.

9:00 am FB Practice Fields Carmel JV Blue (Home) vs. Avon (Guests)

9:00 am FB Practice Fields Cathedral (Home) vs. Fishers (Guests)

3:00 pm FB Practice Fields Avon (Home) vs. Cathedral (Guests)

3:00 pm FB Practice Fields Fishers (Home) vs. Carmel JV Blue (Guests) (I will be reffing this one)

Carmel High School Girls & Boys Varsity Schedules 

BIG GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 25

2:45 pm Para+                   Lazio vs Inter Milan

7pm Para+                          Orlando Pride vs Seattle OL Reign

8 pm ESPN                          Austin vs LAFC 

10- pm ESPN                      Portland Timbers vs Seattle

Sat, Aug 27

7:30 am USA                       Southhampton vs Man United 

9:30 am ESPN                     Dortmund (reyna) vs  Hertha

10 amUSA                           Leads United (Adams, Aaronson) @ Brighton

10 am Peacock                  Chelsea vs Leicster

12:30 pm NBC                    Arsenal  vs Fulham (Reem, Jedi)

12:30 pm Para+                 Juventus (Mckinney) vs Roma

12:30 pm ESPN+               Bayern Munich vs MGladbach (Scally)

12:30 ESPN+                       Union Berlin vs RBLeipzig 

3:30 pm Univision            Minn United vs Houston

7 pm Ch 8                   INDY 11 vs San Antonio (GK Jordan Farr)

7 pm ESPN+                        Charoltte vs Toronto

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Cincy vs Columbus

7:30 pm Para+                   Racing Louisville  NWSL

10 pm Para+                       San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs Houston Dash NWSL

10  pm ESPN+                    LA FC vs San Jose 

10:30 pm Para+                 Portland  vs San Diego Wave (Morgan)

Sun, Aug 28

9 am USA                             Aston Villa vs West Ham

11:30 am USA                    Nottingham Forest vs Tottenham

1:30 pm ESPN +, D           Barcelona vs Real Valladolid

2:45 pm Para+                   Forentina vs Napoli

2:45 pm beIN Sport         PSG vs Monaco

4 pm ESPN+                        Real Sociedad vs Barcelona (Dest) 

4 pm Univision                  Atlanta United vs DC United

5 pm Para+                         NY Gothem FC vs Angel City  NWSL

7 pm Para+                         KC Current vs NC Courage NWSL

7:30- pm FS1                      Orlando City vs NYCFC

Mon, Aug 29

4 pm ESpN+                        Valencia vs Atletico Madrid

Tues, Aug 30

12:30 pm Para+                 Sassuolo vs Milan

2:45 pm Peacock              Fulham (Reem, Jedi) vs Brighton

3 pm USA                            Leads United (Adams, Aaronson) vs Everton

Wed, Aug 31

2:30 pm Peacock              Arsenal vs Aston Villa 

3 pm USA                            Liveerpool vs NewCastle United

7 pm FS1                              Philly Union vs Inter Miami

9 pm ESPN+                        Austin vs Portland 

Thur, Sept 1

3 pm USA                            Leicister City vs Man United  

Fri, Sept 2

3 pm ESPN+                        Dortmund (reyna) vs  Hoffenheim

Sat, Sept 3

7:30 am USA                       Everton vs Liverpool

9:30 am ESPN                     Dortmund (reyna) vs  Hertha

9:30 am ESPN+                  Union Berlin (PefoK vs Bayern Munich

9 am Para+                          Forentina vs Juventus (Mckinney)

10 am USA                          Leads United (Adams, Aaronson) @ Brentford

10 am Peacock                  Fulham (Reem, Jedi) @ Tottenham

12 noon para+                   AC Milan vs Inter

12:30 pm NBC                    Aston Villa vs Man City

3 pm ESPN+                        Sevilla vs Barcelona

3 pm beIN Sport               PSG vs Nantes

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Detroit vs Indy 11

Sun, Sept 4

11:30 am USA                    Man United vs Arsenal 

5 pm Para+                         NY Gothem FC vs NC Courage NWSL

Fri, Sept 23

8:25 am ESPN                     USMNT vs Japan in Germany

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm ESPN                          USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm ESPN                          US Women  vs England in London

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

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Indiana high school girls soccer: Hamilton Southeastern takes top spot in Fab 15 rankings

Brian Haenchen Indianapolis Star

There’s a new No. 1 in the Central Indiana girls soccer Fab 15 with Hamilton Southeastern opening the season with wins over Class 3A finalists Carmel and Homestead. The Royals will have a chance to solidify their grip on the top spot this weekend, with their game against Noblesville one of many powerhouse clashes scheduled for this week. In the meantime, here’s where the area’s best rank after the first eight days of the season.

1. Hamilton Southeastern (5-0)

LW: 5

The Royals opened the season with a 4-1 win over Carmel, against whom they were 0-6-1 with a mere four goals scored since 2010. Seniors Caroline Kelley (nine goals, two assists) and Tatum Coleman (eight assists) have been top-notch on the attack, while goalkeeper Hailey Wade has allowed just one goal on 11 shots, including a shutout vs. Homestead (W, 2-0). HSE will try to defeat Noblesville for the first time since 2014 on Saturday. 

IHSAA girls soccer:2022 IndyStar preseason Super Team upperclassmen standouts lead team

More:Inside Indy Eleven’s plan to take a booming girls soccer scene to the next level

2. Noblesville (2-0)

Last week: 1

Smooth start to the year for the Millers, whose first two wins came by a combined score of 7-0. Four different players (Sydney Elliott, Meskerem James, Meredith Tippner and Ava Bramblett) scored against Cathedral; Lily Ault joined Bramblett and James in the goals column against West Lafayette. Noblesville hosts Avon on Wednesday before HSE comes to town for a rematch of last year’s sectional thriller. 

3. Carmel (3-1)

LW: 2

The Greyhounds bounced back from a lopsided loss to Hamilton Southeastern with wins over Plainfield, No. 5 South Bend St. Joseph and Class 2A No. 3 Guerin Catholic (shortened by storms). Clare Simmonds netted the winner vs. SBSJ (assisted by Annika Nelson); Olivia Cebalo scored the lone goal against Guerin (assisted by Sophie Shepherd). Carmel hosts Avon and Fishers on Saturday. 

4. Center Grove (2-0-1)

LW: 11

The Trojans started the season with three ranked opponents. They beat East Central and Columbus North, then tied Bloomington South. Five different players had scored for CG entering the Bloomington South game (Taylor Wert, Brooklyn Brown, Ella Dewitt, Addie Crowe and Madi Kramer). 

5. Brebeuf Jesuit (1-1-1)

LW: 3

Brebeuf suffered its first loss of the season — a 1-0 decision at Avon — on Saturday, despite outshooting the Orioles 8-2. It let a second-half lead get away vs. Zionsville in the opener (tied, 2-2), but bounced back with a win over Brownsburg. Three quality tests for Brebeuf, which has three conference games upcoming: Bishop Chatard (Tuesday), Covenant Christian (Thursday) and Guerin Catholic (Saturday). 

6. North Central (1-0-2)

LW: 4

It was a busy, but good week for the Panthers, who tied with Zionsville and Cathedral (shortened by storms) and knocked off Lawrence Central. Five different players have scored goals for NC, led by senior Samantha King with four, plus two assists. Maryn Weiger has allowed only two goals on 10 shots through three games. 

7. Bishop Chatard (3-0-1)

LW: 6

Chatard started the season with a couple 3A wins (Brownsburg and Mt. Vernon), and a triumph over Class A champion Heritage Christian. Note from the 5-3 win over Heritage Christian: senior Bri Buels scored a hat trick; Cece Leffler registered three assists. Tough stretch upcoming with Brebeuf on Tuesday, followed by Roncalli and Guerin next week. 

8. Cathedral (1-1-1)

LW: 9

It would have been nice to see if the Fighting Irish could have broken through against North Central, but Mother Nature had other plans with inclement weather ending the game in the 60th minute. Couple more of those measuring-stick games upcoming with Roncalli on Wednesday, then Fishers and Avon on Saturday. 

9. Zionsville (0-0-3)

LW: 13

Three draws against three quality opponents for the Eagles, whose week one dance card featured North Central, Brebeuf and Guerin. Reese Nehlsen scored both goals against Brebeuf (scored the game-tying goal in the second half), fellow senior Katie Chadwick scored against Guerin. Nehlsen and Bryn Maxwell accounted for the two goals against North Central. 

10. Heritage Christian (1-2)

LW: 10

The Eagles wasted no time putting themselves to the test with games against Roncalli and Chatard. They have just one game this week (Danville), with a visit from Brebeuf scheduled for next week. 

11. Guerin Catholic (1-1-1)

LW: NR

Alex Soucie scored a second-half goal to secure a tie vs. Zionsville, then the Golden Eagles limited 3A foe Carmel to just one goal in a weather-shortened clash on Saturday. Soucie and Sutton Worman are tied for the team lead with two goals apiece. 

12. Roncalli (3-0-1)

LW: 14

Summer Fishel has the Royals rolling early on. The sophomore has six goals and three assists through four games, highlighted by a season-opening hat trick vs. Heritage Christian. Roncalli travels to Cathedral on Wednesday. 

13. Fishers (4-0)

LW: NR

After winning their first two games by a combined score of 12-0, the Tigers had to grind against Westfield and Franklin Central, coming away with matching 2-1 victories. It’s worth noting Fishers’ scoring has come from a variety of players in its past two games. Elise May and McKinley Boland scored against the Shamrocks; Addie Allgeier and Emmy Streeter accounted for the goals against Franklin Central. Fishers has five players with multiple goals. 

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14. Park Tudor (2-0-1)

LW: 15

Goalkeeper Lucy Furqueron has allowed just one goal for the Panthers, who beat Avon and Brownsburg, and tied with Chatard. They’re off until Saturday when they travel to Columbus East. Park Tudor’s schedule does not include a Class A opponent until September when it faces Fort Wayne Canterbury (Sept. 2) and Heritage Christian (Sept. 6). 

15. Tri-West (1-1)

LW: NR

The Bruins will try to bounce back from a 3-0 loss to Cathedral on Monday against Brownsburg. Clare Donald and Paige Halford scored goals against Greencastle last Tuesday, with Danica James securing the shutout. 

Follow IndyStar high school sports Insider Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @brian_haenchen.

IHSAA boys soccer: Northside continues to rule Fab 15 after opening week

Brian Haenchen Indianapolis Star

With a week’s worth of games to work with, there was a healthy amount of shuffling beyond the top two teams in our first boys soccer Fab 15 of the regular season.

1. Fishers (2-0-1)

LW: 1

The Tigers surrendered the game-tying goal in the second half of a 1-1 draw with Westfield, but sandwiched that result between blowout wins over Franklin Central and Harrison. Junior Kyle Clayton, who scored Fishers’ goal against Westfield, has six on the season, while seniors Noah Reinhart and Santi Morales have combined for seven goals. Miles Hardy and Gavin Clayton have split goalkeeper duties through the first three games. 

2. Hamilton Southeastern (2-0-1)

LW: 4

Brady Strawmyer made four saves, and Logan Puls and Rex Randy provided the offense (with assists from Grady Garrand and Rodrigo Silvestre Muniz) to lift the Royals to a come-from-behind win over Carmel on Saturday. That’s big for HSE, which could (maybe even should) be unbeaten entering the month of September, which starts with matches against Brebeuf Jesuit and Fishers — and doesn’t let up from there. 

3. Zionsville (1-0-1)

LW: 3

The Eagles snapped a three-game losing streak vs. Carmel with a scoreless draw in the season opener. They followed that with a rout of McCutcheon on Thursday, a nice tune-up for what’s to come: Fishers on Tuesday, then Westfield a week later. 

4. Noblesville (2-0)

LW: 10

AJ Tippner and the Millers found a way to win against both Perry Meridian and Carmel, with Cole Thompson and Noel Peña posting matching shutouts in net. They have another series of tests upcoming with Tuesday’s trip to Avon followed by Brebeuf, Fishers and Westfield over the next three games. 

Insider:In state finals rematch, Noblesville sends a message, Carmel looking long-term

5. Carmel (0-2-2)

LW: 2

A late second-half goal burnt the Greyhounds against Noblesville on Thursday, then they failed to close out HSE on Saturday, allowing two goals in the second half of a 2-1 loss. This obviously isn’t the start coach Shane Schmidt and his squad were looking for, but they started slow last season, too, and wound up reaching the state finals. In summation: Don’t read too far into Carmel’s early results. It’s a young-ish team that’s been thrown directly into the deep end. 

6. Brebeuf Jesuit (2-0)

LW: 5

Following wins over Avon and Cardinal Ritter, Brebeuf has one more tune-up (Roncalli) before entering the meat of its schedule with Thursday’s match vs. Noblesville followed by Carmel, Westfield, HSE and Cathedral. Senior Stefan Boes leads the team with four goals; six players have registered assists, led by Alex Kirberger with two. Aidan Wade has yet to allow a goal in 120 minutes played. 

7. Westfield (0-0-2)

LW: 13

The Shamrocks came away with 1-1 draws against two of the better teams in the state (Fishers and Pike). Goalkeeper Liam Lloyd, who had an assist vs. the Red Devils, has made 19 saves (12 vs. Fishers). Cooper Ardiaolo and Oliver Smith have accounted for the scoring, though Aiden Yonkus, Yahir Lopez and Marlon Gomez lead the team in shots (4). 

8. Pike (0-0-2)

LW: NR

The Red Devils played Carmel and Westfield to 1-1 draws to start the season. 

9. Heritage Christian (2-1)

LW: 9

HC found different ways to collect its wins last week. Goalkeeper Landon Hight and the defense shined in a 1-0 win over University in the season opener; three first-half goals carried the Eagles to a wild 4-3 win over Bishop Chatard on Saturday. HC will face another former sectional opponent, Park Tudor, on Saturday. 

10. Perry Meridian (3-1)

LW: 8

The Falcons’ lone loss came to Noblesville, a 1-0 decision on Tuesday. Senior Vicktor Thang had three goals and three assists entering Thursday’s conference clash vs. Decatur Central, and goalkeeper Cung Hmung had made 14 saves (two goals against). 

11. Center Grove (2-1-1)

LW: NR

The Trojans bounced back from a one-goal loss to Bloomington South with a 1-0-1 showing at the Trojan Classic on Saturday. The win came over Columbus East, while the tie came against Castle, which is ranked No. 7 in Class 3A by the coaches. Ely Detty, who scored four goals in a 5-1 win over Roncalli, registered a goal and an assist vs. Castle. 

10 Americans to compete in 2022-23 UEFA Champions League

USMNT fans will have plenty of Champions League rooting interests.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Aug 25, 2022, 10:05am PDT  

The 2022-23 UEFA Champions League group stage draw took place today in Istanbul, and 32 teams were drawn into 8 groups of 4 for Europe’s most prestigious club tournament. For fans of the United States Men’s National Team, there are several rooting interests located within those 8 groups, as 10 American players will once again compete in the hopes of lifting the Champions League trophy next June 10th.

The 10 Americans that will compete in the Champions League:

Eintracht Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler)

Chelsea FC (Christian Pulisic)

FC Barcelona (Sergiño Dest*)

Juventus (Weston McKennie)

Borussia Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

Rangers FC (James Sands, Malik Tillman)

Club Brugge (Owen Otasowie)

Celtic FC (Cameron Carter-Vickers)

Maccabi Haifa (Josh Cohen)

*Assuming Dest remains with Barcelona after the close of the summer transfer window At this point, USMNT fans should be used to this number of Americans playing in the Champions League, with 10 players being in the competition the past 2 seasons. Still, it’s a wonderful sight to see so many USMNT players getting that kind of experience and playing for one of the world’s most heralded trophies.

Here’s how the draw concluded:

Group A: Ajax, Liverpool FC, Napoli, Rangers FC

Group B: Porto, Atlético Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge

Group C: Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Viktoria Plzeň

Group D: Eintracht Frankfurt, Tottenham Hotspur, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille

Group E: AC Milan, Chelsea FC, Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb

Group F: Real Madrid, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic FC

Group G: Manchester City, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, FC Copenhagen

Group H: Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Benfica, Maccabi Haifa

Vlatko Andonovski announces September USWNT roster

The team will meet up next week ahead of two friendlies against Nigeria.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Aug 22, 2022, 8:09am PDT  

United States v Canada - 2022 Concacaf W Championship Final

CHICAGO (Aug. 22, 2022) – U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Vlatko Andonovski has named a 23-player roster for two September friendly matches against Nigeria, the first on Sept. 3 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas (Kickoff at 12:30 p.m. CT / 1:30 p.m. ET with coverage beginning at Noon CT / 1 p.m. ET on FOX) and the second on Sept. 6 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C., presented by Allstate (6 p.m. ET on ESPN2). All 23 players will suit up for both matches. All 23 players were on the roster for the USWNT as they won the Concacaf W Championship in July. After going undefeated without allowing a goal in capturing its 9th Concacaf title, the team’s focus turns to preparation for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which begins next July in Australia and New Zealand. The team will learn who it will play in the group stage when the draw is held on October 22nd. Until then, they appear to be challenging themselves with quality competition with the matches against Nigeria and a friendly against England at Wembley Stadium on October 7th.“All the players on the roster performed well in Mexico at qualifying and have carried that form for their clubs, so we’ll continue the process of growing as a team with this group in what will be two challenging games against Nigeria,” said Andonovski. “Preparing for the World Cup is a long process, and I’ve been very happy with how our team understands that process, is willing to do the work and is making positive strides every camp to get us to where we want to be next summer.”The only player from the Concacaf W Championship that is absent from this roster is Emily Sonnett, who is recovering from injury. Crystal Dunn, who has been on maternity leave, will return to USWNT camp to train with the team, but will not be included on the roster.

The 23-player roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (6): Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC); Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

FORWARDS (7): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)

Grant Whal 3 Thoughts on Leeds United-Chelsea – Grant Wahl

Leeds wallops Chelsea 3-0 in a huge win with Americans Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams and Jesse Marsch playing central roles

 Grant Wahl Aug 21

In a stunning result, Leeds United beat Chelsea 3-0 in the most convincing of ways on Sunday, unleashing a barrage of energy against one of the Premier League’s top teams. Here are my three thoughts on the game:


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• Brenden Aaronson is designed for the Premier League. The 21-year-old American was a devastating mix of skill and energy again, providing constant threats with his passing and turns (see you later, Kalidou Koulibaly, enjoy that yellow card!) while injecting energy and defensive pressure whenever Leeds lost the ball. That resulted in the game’s opening goal, when Aaronson picked the pocket of Chelsea keeper Édouard Mendy in front of an adoring Elland Road crowd. When I interviewed Aaronson in Leeds for my recent magazine story on the Americans there, I asked him what position he would play. “Not the striker,” he said, “but the three under the striker. Any position there. Left mid, center attacking mid, or right mid.” On Sunday Aaronson was deployed in the number 10 role for the first time, and while not everything he tried came off, the sheer verticality of some of his menacing through-balls reminded me of Michael Laudrup. Aaronson’s is also crazy fit. He went 82 minutes at a breakneck pace and has been on the field for all but 13 minutes in Leeds’s first three games. Hats off to one of the Premier League’s top newcomers so far this season.

• This game was a distillation of MarschBall. The philosophy of Leeds’s American coach, Jesse Marsch, is all about constant energy, full-field pressure and striking quickly in transition once you win the ball, especially when it’s in the opponent’s end of the field. Marsch, who emphasizes data analysis, also invests lots of training time into an array of intricate set-piece routines. Look how Leeds scored its goals on Sunday: The first (by Aaronson) came as the direct result of pressure on Mendy. The second (by Rodrigo, his league-leading fourth of the season) came on a well-executed set-piece corner kick. The third (by Jack Harrison) came on a decisive counterattack with Daniel James delivering a terrific cross with zero Chelsea pressure from the left side. No Leeds player knows MarschBall better than Tyler Adams, the 23-year-old American who started playing for Marsch at age 15, and Adams was sneaky-phenomenal on Sunday, seemingly everywhere to win balls in the midfield and showing his smarts to know exactly when to insert himself to stop Chelsea counters. (A particular moment happened in the second half when Adams dispossessed Raheem Sterling on a post-set-piece counter without even drawing a foul.) MarschBall is heavy-metal football, a 90-minute rush, and it was especially fun to see Marsch celebrating that way on the sideline after Leeds goals. (And you know what’s crazy? Leeds really should have a perfect nine points in the league instead of seven after losing a 2-0 lead at Southampton last week.)

• What must Christian Pulisic be thinking right now? Chelsea’s American No. 10 once again didn’t start, even though the ineffective Ruben Loftus-Cheek did in a position where Pulisic could certainly play, and losing to the Premier League’s America’s Team (with Aaronson, Adams and Marsch playing central roles) has to have Pulisic wondering about greener pastures elsewhere. Pulisic didn’t have much impact once he came on in the second half, and it’s obvious that he doesn’t have Thomas Tuchel’s trust. If he did, Chelsea wouldn’t be looking to acquire more players in his position. I would almost rather see Pulisic move on loan to Newcastle than to the dumpster fire of Manchester United, but he needs to make a move and get playing time ahead of the World Cup if he wants to have the biggest impact he could at the tournament. That’s the only bummer of an otherwise phenomenal day for fans of United States soccer.

Brenden Aaronson, the USMNT’s fastest-rising star, bosses Chelsea on a banner day for American soccer

Henry Bushnell Sun, August 21, 2022 at 10:52 A

Brenden Aaronson’s meteoric rise from Medford, New Jersey, toward the top of global soccer hit new heights on Sunday in a rip-roaring Leeds United win over Chelsea — and on a landmark day for Americans in the sport.It wasn’t just the goal, Aaronson’s first in the Premier League and Leeds’ first in a 3-0 victory.It wasn’t just the spin that put Kalidou oulibaly, one of the world’s most accomplished defenders, in a blender.It was that everything Aaronson and Leeds did epitomized what he and American men’s soccer have become.In the first 45 minutes alone, the 21-year-old buzzed around Elland Road from his central attacking midfield position. He snapped into tackles. He broke lines with clever flicks. He ran in behind Chelsea’s overwhelmed defense.He popped up on the right wing and the left wing, in the middle third and even the defensive third, and everywhere in between.He wasn’t, and isn’t, flawless on the ball. In fact, mere seconds before tapping it into an empty net, he gave it away with a sloppy pass.But Aaronson’s most coveted skill, despite the “attacker” label, is actually his front-foot defending. He’s one of the world’s premier pressers. He is relentless without the ball, “an annoying gnat, like a fly that you can’t get out of your face,” U.S. teammate Weston McKennie once said.His reaction to losing the ball in the 33rd minute was, and always is, to sprint toward it. He charged down one Chelsea player, then a second, and then, finally, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.Because he did, he had the freedom, and the audacity, to score his first EPL goal with a no-look finish.He also had a U.S. teammate, Tyler Adams, getting stuck in on Chelsea midfielders and supporting him all afternoon long.He has an American manager, Jesse Marsch, empowering him and the rest of Leeds United to swarm opponents, no matter how big or rich those opponents are.Marsch celebrated Aaronson’s goal with a sprint of his own down the touchline, a jump and a fist-pump. He celebrated the third goal — scored by English winger Jack Harrison, a product of an American high school and college and MLS — with a spike of his water bottle. He spent several minutes after the final whistle twirling his jacket and pounding his chest as Leeds supporters sang his name.Christian Pulisic entered the fray off Chelsea’s bench in the second half, and perhaps the most astounding aspect of this astounding day was that, of the five American soccer products to take part in a Premier League game, Christian Pulisic, the country’s most celebrated star, was the least-discussed of the five. After the match, as Marsch made the rounds, commending players and saluting fans, Aaronson, Adams and Pulisic chatted briefly on the field.Adams then wrapped himself in an American flag and paraded around the pitch.Aaronson told NBC Sports in a postgame interview: “It just goes to show people around the world that Americans can play football too.”

LEEDS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea with Tyler Adams and Brendan Aaronson of Leeds United at full time  during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Chelsea FC at Elland Road on August 21, 2022 in Leeds, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Brendan Aaronson chat postgame. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

The scary part — or, rather, the scary good part — is that Aaronson has found it difficult to even crack the U.S. men’s national team starting 11. Head coach Gregg Berhalter has preferred Pulisic, 23, and Lille forward Tim Weah, 22, on the wings. He has preferred McKennie, a 23-year-old regular at Juventus, as the most advanced midfielder. There is no obvious place for Aaronson in the team.And yet he might, at the moment, be the best American player in the world.He is definitely a sign of the times, a representative of the most promising generation of men’s players that the U.S. has ever produced, and proof of concept for the academies producing them. Just five years ago, he was being trained and educated by the Philadelphia Union academy and the specialized prep school affiliated with it.He is now their postboy. But he’s certain that he won’t be the last.”I can say, there’s gonna be a lot more talents coming out of the Philadelphia Union academy,” he assured reporters earlier this year. “I think that it’s only starting now” — in Philadelphia and, he clarified, “in the whole country,” where “academies are getting better and better.”The next in the soon-to-be-long line might be his brother, Paxten, 18, who some in Philadelphia believe could be as good or better than Brenden.And Brenden is still just 21. Three years ago, he was a teenage MLS rookie. Just last year, he was moving to Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. Just a few months ago, he was in agony as he watched Leeds try to stay in the Premier League, his move contingent on them avoiding relegation.They did, and now he’s the second-most expensive U.S. player ever, and maybe the most exciting. He is sending Premier League stadiums into rapturous celebration. He is an ultra-modern player in an ultra-modern team that is flying all sorts of flags for Americans in the sport. And there is no telling how good he might become.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21:  Leeds United's Brenden Aaronson celebrates scoring his teams opening goal  during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Chelsea FC at Elland Road on August 21, 2022 in Leeds, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images)
Brenden Aaronson celebrates scoring his first Premier League goal, and Leeds United’s first against Chelsea. (Photo by Dave Howarth – CameraSport via Getty Images)

 Don’t do it, Christian

BySam FelsWednesday 1:30PM Deadspin

The transfer window is closing soon, and that would normally mean a pretty furious avalanche of rumors, requests, bids, and stories. Deadline day has become the sport’s free agency day in the NHL or NBA (or even election night), with masses of reporters spread out across the European continent breathlessly covering physicals and car types arriving and not arriving. Only on the one day in August and the one in January do you see a cavalcade of journalists standing in a parking lot in the rain hoping to see a car with tinted windows roll by. It’s a little more entertaining than TSN reporters standing in the baking sun outside of empty arenas and practice facilities on Canada Day, but probably only because of the accents.This August’s window is even more fraught, because not only clubs like Barcelona and Manchester United scrambling and clawing for anything they can find on the shelves, and the clubs they eventually buy from needing to find replacements and on down the line, but players are frantic in trying to secure bigger roles to solidify either their spot on a World Cup roster or be as sharp as possible when that tournament rolls around in November. Normally with a summer World Cup, players would be doing this in the January transfer window, and would have a much more solid handle on where they fit with their current team and manager with the season already half-over. Trying to do it in August means trying to do a lot of projection of where you might fit, and then having to guess if that will be enough before everyone decamps to Qatar.Which brings us to Christian Pulisic. Captain America, at least when Tyler Adams isn’t wearing the armband. Still the US’s most accomplished player, and likely still their most talented. When the chips are down in Qatar, and the US need a goal after the 80th minute, he’s still the one you’d count on to do some shit, unless Gio Reyna’s legs stop being made of graham crackers. Both Pulisic, Gregg Berhalter, and every USMNT fan would prefer that Pulisic is playing regularly, at the top of his game, and most importantly healthy come the World Cup.For once, the last part is in place, for now. It’s always “for now” with Pulisic, who has his own graham-cracker ligament tendencies as well. You can never be sure with Christian. And while very few US fans would admit this, the idea of Pulisic just being a super-sub and spot-starter for Chelsea the next two and a half months is a-ok, because the chance of something going TWANG! is that much lower. Maybe he won’t be as sharp as possible, but he’ll be on the field, and given Pulisic’s history, on the field is a relief. Of course, we can all easily imagine the mainstream media’s loudest gaping maws who just drop in for a World Cup belching their pollutant takes about him if he doesn’t rack up a hat trick against Wales. We’ll worry about that then.But Pulisic himself isn’t content to just be a bit-part for Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel. He’s never been able to lock down a spot in the first 11 (even though he played for Tuchel at Dortmund), either due to his spotty injury history or his spotty performances. Pulisic had just 13 starts last year in the league last season, another four in the Champions League. Mostly having his campaign known for this. Hasn’t started in either of Chelsea’s first two games so far this season. This is after Raheem Sterling was brought in to bolster the front three, though Romelu Lukaku was subtracted from it. So was Timo Werner. The numbers are still just about the same. But there are rumors that Chelsea are hot after Everton’s Anthony Gordon, apparently feeling they need to fill out an “awkward looking ginger who dives all the time” quota. Pulisic is feeling the crunch.It’s not that Pulisic would ever lose his place in the USMNT squad, and likely not even the starting lineup. But Pulisic has waited four years for this tournament, to play in it for the first time, and thanks to 2018’s full body dry heave from the entire set-up, he’s only got maybe one or two after this one left. He doesn’t want to go there and be off.And it’s that level of desperation that led to the rumor that not only have Manchester United calling about a loan, but that Pulisic didn’t laugh them out of the building. You know you’re down bad and maybe not thinking straight when you consider the offer of the biggest basketcase team in the league, on the continent, and quite possibly on the planet. Yeah, Pulisic might get to play a lot, and in that playing he may completely lose his desire for the sport or fall into a sinkhole on the Old Trafford pitch, such is the way they’re going.Would Pulisic play at United? That would depend if Marcus Rashford departs for PSG, which is another rumor. That would essentially leave Anthony Martial as just about the only competition on the left side of United’s attack. And though Martial is on his fourth or fifth consecutive year of “best shape of his life!” stories advertising a bounce back campaign to come, if it were going to happen it, would have happened. Pulisic can likely nail down a spot ahead of him. Even if Rashford doesn’t move, he’s been so woeful for so long he’s not a huge obstacle either.But playing in what? Erik Ten Hag is only two games into the season and can’t decide if he can play the way he wants with the players he has or has to rejigger everything to get results to stay high enough in the table to get the players he needs to play the way he wants. Christian Eriksen was trotted out as a defensive midfielder last time out, and he’s in his 30s with a heart defect. This is where they’re at. If Ronaldo stays, Pulisic can look forward to some combo of Ronaldo dropping into his space and then bitching at him when Pulisic doesn’t pass him the ball. Oh, and he’ll have to do Ronaldo’s running and pressing for him while Ronaldo scowls and huffs and makes sure the cameras pick up just how dissatisfied he is and how beneath him he thinks the rest of the team is. And given the pressure already on Ten Hag, one or two iffy performances could see Pulisic rotated out of the team anyway and something else hurled wall-ward.Here’s another thing: Chelsea have 21 games (at least) between now and the World Cup. Fourteen in the league, six in the Champions League, and a League Cup game. Starting at the end of the month, Chelsea will only have basically one week where there isn’t a game midweek until the World Cup. Twenty-one games in 83 days, with an international break thrown in. Pulisic will get starts. The five subs assure that he will likely get on the field a lot, even if it’s just for 20-30 minutes at a time. He’s one injury away from starting regularly. And in a team that has a clear plan, a clear style, where his role will be strictly defined. And it’s not all that different from what he is assigned to do with the US. That sounds a lot better than turning out regularly for a team that each week looks more like a community theater production of Marat/Sade. Don’t do it, Christian. Patience, son. Just because the abyss might be staring back into you doesn’t mean you have to dive headfirst into it.

Report: Oh god no, please no. Anything but this.

Seth Vertelney  PRosoccer Wire

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August 17, 2022 3:40 pm ET

Do we have to talk about this? Really, do we have to?

FINE.

Christian Pulisic is being linked with a move to…

*takes a drag off cigarette, lets out long, deep, forlorn sigh*

Manchester United.

The Athletic, ESPN, and Sky Sports are all reporting it so it must have a small sliver of truth, although Manchester United has been linked with every functioning player with two legs and a pulse these days. So yeah, grain of salt.

But why, Christian? Why would you ever want this? Why would you even, as The Athletic says, prefer a move to Manchester United?

In a way, it makes sense. Pulisic hasn’t been an every-game starter at Chelsea for a while now. The World Cup is just three months away, and he wants to be in absolute tip-top form heading to Qatar.

But not Manchester United. No no no no.

United is a complete laughingstock, as you may have heard. The club’s current transfer strategy can best be described as “five-year-old unleashed in a candy store.”

Is there a plan at Old Trafford? No there is not.

There is no way to know if Pulisic would be in United’s long-term plans, because United does not have any long-term plans.

United’s transfers are currently being overseen by a man who has flown to Barcelona and Turin this summer to wrap up deals for two players, and has wrapped up zero deals.

Ralf Rangnick was brought on to temporarily coach the team last season before becoming a consultant for two years. After saying the club needed “open-heart surgery,” he decided after a few months that procedure was best left to someone else.

Would Pulisic play at Manchester United? Perhaps. He may be a fit for Erik ten Hag’s system but like at Chelsea, there are plenty of other options at winger.

But let’s say Pulisic earns Ten Hag’s trust. How long will Ten Hag last anyway? Two games into his tenure, there is already behind-the-scenes sniping.

Oh yeah, the locker room is absolute poison.

So let’s see: Pulisic could stay at a club where he’s still a valuable player, move somewhere stable, or join the club equivalent of the Fyre Festival.

Please, Christian. Just do what Elon Musk did and tell us this whole Man Utd link was really just a joke.

If you need any more advice, we’d recommend you simply call your old pal Jadon Sancho at your earliest convenience.

FROM LEEDS’ WINNING WAYS TO MAN U’S STUMBLES, AMERICANS IMPACT EPL SOCCER

BY LUKE CYPHERS

Leeds' Brenden Aaronson scores past Chelsea's
Brenden Aaronson of Leeds United epitomizes the style of play that has made coach Jesse Marsch’s team, partly owned by 49ers Enterprises, the talk of the EPL in the early going.PHOTO BY CATHERINE IVILL/GETTY IMAGES

If it looked historic, that’s because it was: A jubilant English soccer crowd was literally singing the name of an American manager, Jesse Marsch, at the conclusion of a Premier League match.

An American player, Tyler Adams, paraded around the field draped in the Stars and Stripes, while another Yankee,  Brenden Aaronson, was being interviewed about a wily first-half goal that propelled Marsch’s Leeds United squad to a 3-0 drubbing of powerhouse Chelsea.The victory was Leeds’ first over Chelsea in 20 years, and it marked yet another milestone for the growing U.S. presence in the world game. And not just on the field, where Aaronson became the first U.S. player to score for an American manager in the history of the English Premier League.

Off the pitch, Leeds is 44% owned by 49ers Enterprises, the parent company of the NFL’s San Francisco franchise; Paraag Marathe, president of 49ers Enterprises, is vice chairman at Leeds. Majority owner Andrea Radrizzani holds 56% of the club, but 49ers Enterprises reportedly has an option to buy the Italian businessman’s stake. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the team Leeds beat, Chelsea, is owned by a group led by LA Lakers and Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly, who purchased the club in May for $3 billion.Making Sunday’s Leeds lovefest all the more interesting is that 50 miles to the southwest, U.S. ownership faces a very different situation. The Glazer family, who’ve been in control of iconic Manchester United since 2005, are taking the full brunt of fan criticism for the team’s 0-2 start and a woeful outlook on the season. The club’s $4.65 billion valuation hasn’t saved them from the bottom of the Premier League table and tensions remain high. Just three-and-a-half months after fan rioting sparked by the Glazers’ decision to join the failed breakaway European Super League postponed a match, protests were planned ahead of Monday’s game against Liverpool.So loathed are the Glazers right now that a noted Twitter prankster’s musings about buying the club spiked the team’s stock price—and set off a week of media speculation on the chances the team might get sold. (Verdict thus far: not bloody likely.)Man United traditionalist fans have long decried the team’s profit-seeking under the Glazers’ watch. Criticism intensified as the formerly formidable Red Devils have slipped out of the UEFA Champions League, and rose to a fever pitch when the team was humiliated by tiny Brentford, 4-0, last week.Great British griping over Yank ownership is nothing new, nor is respect for American investment, as evidenced by Liverpool fans’ general approval of Fenway Sports Group’s stewardship of the club—with the exception of the club’s own Super League flirtation. But the kind of adoration seen by Marsch and company is something novel.Part of it has to do with Marsch’s success (and good fortune) last spring, when he took over a struggling squad in February and guided it out of relegation peril on the final day of the season.

The excitement can also be attributed to Marsch’s coaching system, which applies relentless defensive pressure, traps opponents deep in their own end, frustrates their attacking plans and forces turnovers. The tactics were epitomized by Aaronson’s goal, in which he harassed Chelsea goalkeeper Benjamin Mendy at full speed, dispossessed the keeper in front of the net, and tapped the ball in for a 1-0 lead as if he were scraping something off his shoe while sprinting to catch a bus.Finally, the fan fervor is celebrating the club’s assembly of talent, which includes not only the signing of Aaronson, but of Adams, a tireless midfielder who seemed to stop every Chelsea threat on Sunday, and who played for Marsch at two of the manager’s previous stops: the New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Leipzig.“It just goes to show people around the world that Americans can play football, too,” Aaronson said after the game.Of course, three games in, all caveats about a long season apply. But on Sunday, in the eyes of the Brits, live at Leeds, the American kids were alright. So was their American manager, and even their American owners.For anyone uncomfortable with that, there’s always Monday’s Man United match.

Inside Jesse Marsch’s Leeds revolution: Work rate, relentless football and good people

  • Aug 23, 2022 Tom HamiltonSenior Writer ESPN

LEEDS, England — Marc Roca lets out a shout of frustration as a move breaks down, and his group head back to halfway to try again. It’s early Wednesday morning at Leeds United‘s training ground Thorpe Arch and the team are preparing for the Sunday match against Chelsea.The whole passage of play restarts. The attack wins the ball off the defence in midfield, Jack Harrison emerges down the wing, zips past a defender and slips it to Roca, who squares it for Tyler Adams to thump it home. Roca turns to two people watching and roars approval, and amid some laughter they head back to start the drill again. All the while Jesse Marsch and his coaches watch, offering tweaks here and there.Once training has finished and the players have had lunch and showered, they head off in various directions, but Brenden Aaronson is left holding a soaked sponge; the USMNT star is covered in water and foam. He lost one of the games in training, and his forfeit was to clean Adams’ car.It’s all very relaxed. Four days later, Leeds hammered Chelsea 3-0 and moved up to second in the Premier League. You wouldn’t know that months earlier, the club were scrapping against relegation.When Marsch took over from Marcelo Bielsa at the start of March, Leeds were fighting for their Premier League life. The environment he encountered was tense, the strain of the situation getting to the players. “I could see the stress when I came in, and I knew the job I thought I had to do was maybe five times harder,” Marsch tells ESPN. But as they hit a midseason reset, they started clocking up the points and on the final day, the club avoided relegation thanks to their win at Brentford and Burnley dropping points elsewhere. Then the focus shifted to the next season in the Premier League under their new boss. The summer saw two star players leave in Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips, with that money reinvested in seven new faces, giving Leeds an opportunity to evolve. The players brought in all slot into how Marsch wants his team to play: high-pressing, quick-tempo, relentless, claustrophobic football. The recruits were perfect for Marsch’s system and made an immediate impact. But though there’s a short-, medium- and long-term plan for the club, none of that detracts from the weekly necessity of racking up points and making sure they’re nowhere near another relegation scrap.

“I know the longevity of a person in these positions is not great,” Marsch says. “But every job I take, I treat it as I’m the custodian of the club. I try to operate in the best interests of the club and team, and I find if you do that effectively, you can create both short-term, and long-term success. Now, here at this level, it’s the biggest challenge of my life, right?”


When he was first approached by Leeds, Marsch wasn’t sure if he was ready for a return to the hot seat. The outgoing manager was seen as a footballing deity by Leeds fans, having led the club back into the Premier League for the first time in 16 years and into the ninth spot in their return to the top flight. But their form was troubling in the 2021-22 season and by the end of February, the club and Bielsa went their separate ways.When February ticked around into March, Marsch was enjoying time away from the daily rigours of management. His previous role at RB Leipzig hadn’t worked out, and he left in December after just four months in the post.He spent the intervening period travelling, visiting friends, spending time with his family and soaking up new experiences. Then the phone rang.

“Leeds came knocking before I thought I would get back to work, and my first thought was the timing wasn’t right,” Marsch says. He spoke to his wife, Kim, and to his three children. Hearing he was approached by a club is nothing new. Kim’s message to Jesse has always been to not tell the family of potential interest “until it gets serious because things get tossed around all the time,” he says.

Marsch was approached by the club after sporting director Victor Orta had identified him as the best man from 42 potential candidates to replace the outgoing Bielsa. “I would say Victor and his team do a really good job of scouring the world really looking for — and using data very heavily, data and analytics — the right types of players that can fit into the way that we think about football,” Marsch says. “This was how they found me as the coach.”

Marsch was originally keen to take over at the end of the season, rather than midway through the campaign, but as he thought more about the opportunity, he envisaged these jigsaw pieces clicking together.

“The more I looked at the potential of what I thought the club and the team could be, the more excited I got,” Marsch says. “I changed my mind overnight. I knew I was going to have to dig into everything on a higher level and faster than I wanted to, but that the reward and opportunity was bigger than the threat of failure. I came here because I felt like Leeds was the right place for me.”

On arrival, he knew the potential and ability of the group, but the key was to tap into it amid a period as stressful as the club had endured for some time. “At the start Andrea [Radrizzani, the majority shareholder at Leeds] asked me how quickly I could transform the team from the way Marcelo played into the way I wanted to play. I wasn’t totally sure, because I’d never taken over a team so deeply ingrained in a specific style to what I wanted. But I think we did well; it wasn’t just the style of play, but also the stress of the relegation situation. It meant we had to free the players to commit intellectually, physically and emotionally to what we needed to become.”

Marsch emptied the tank over those two-and-a-half months leading up to the final day. Rodrigo, the Spain striker, speaking back in March, said Marsch’s first on-field steps were to shift the team away from one-vs.-one marking to zonal, and it helped their transitional play from defense to attack. He also emphasised how Marsch “tried to understand everyone” to figure out how to get the best out of the squad. Some players needed picking up, other players needed reminding of their ability.

“As soon as he came in, he’s been brilliant,” Daniel James tells ESPN. “He’s good with everyone, giving information all the time. He’s someone you can approach with anything, anytime.”

After several heart-stopping moments and twists and turns, goals from Raphinha and Harrison gave Leeds a 2-1 win at Brentford, while Burnley losing to Newcastle United meant Marsch’s side had successfully retained their top-flight status. “It wasn’t easy to manage and I was trying to think of ways to help the group tactically and, to be fair, we have had good performances, it’s just trying to put it all together that hasn’t always looked perfect,” Marsch said at the time.

“The stress has been high for three months, I’ve tried to stay calm and focus on us and you see the quality of the mentality and character.”

How a tough conversation led to Tyler Adams’ Leeds move

Jesse Marsch and Tyler Adams explain the conversation they had before the USMNT midfielder signed for Leeds.

As he reflects on the end of last season, Marsch smiles, but also exhales. He says it “required all of the experience and insight and expertise that I’ve gathered over my years to get this moving the way I wanted it to,” though his memories of that day aren’t around the goals but instead the fans and that connection they had with the team. After his first three months of working on psychology to get the team out of a relegation battle, the next stage was shifting attention to the football and the future.


Marsch headed back to the U.S. to refuel after the season. A couple of days in, he needed a new pair of jeans. He was in New York at the time, so he headed to the Levi’s shop in Times Square. It was the usual routine he’d done tens of times before: train to Penn Station, 15-minute walk to the store. But this time, he had football fans asking him for a photo.

“That for me was an eye-opening moment, because I’d never been treated like that,” he says. “You know, sometimes here around Leeds people know who I am. But back home, I never thought that that would be the case. So you know, there’s obviously a sense of responsibility in terms of what that means.”

His favourite on-field moment so far is Joe Gelhardt‘s goal against Norwich last term, but his most memorable off-field memories shift daily, from the fans he meets while out walking his dogs, to those waiting outside the training ground asking him to autograph a shirt while advising him which player to sign.

How did it go so wrong for Chelsea in Leeds humiliation?

Janusz Michallik feels Chelsea are severely lacking in attacking options and need to strengthen immediately in that area.

Leeds’ summer outlay to date is roughly the same as the outgoings, with Raphinha moving to Barcelona for a £55 million transfer fee and Phillips to Manchester City for £42m. Both were key players, but the money has been reinvested in new faces: Aaronson and Rasmus Kristensen from FC Salzburg, Adams from Leipzig, Luis Sinisterra from FeyenoordJoel Robles from Real Betis, Roca from Bayern Munich and Darko Gyabi from Manchester City.

From their opening three matches, we’ve seen Leeds operate in a 4-2-3-1, which shifts to a 4-2-2-2. The front three players — Harrison, Aaronson and James started there against Chelsea — are largely interchangeable behind Rodrigo leading the line, and it’s their mission to run like hell at the opposition. They hustle the opponents until they give up the ball and then attack at pace, in as quick and direct a manner as possible. Leeds are playing more vertically this season than before, but it’s anchored on fitness and sprinting. You can see how the summer recruits have slotted in: Adams and Roca causing mischief in the midfield but forcing turnovers, and then it’s up to Aaronson and Sinisterra to turn the opportunity of a counterattack into a goal-scoring chance.

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Leeds also went for younger players, and it’s their policy to offer such talents long-term contracts. They have the sixth-youngest average age of their starting XI in the Premier League, and it’s all tuned into their policy in the transfer market.”It’s always an opportunity,” Marsch says of the summer’s business. “I don’t care. If you’re talking about failure, success, money, losing players, gaining players, it’s always about seeing the opportunity and then seizing it. And so it’s the reason I came here in the end was because I saw the opportunity even in a relegation fight of what Leeds United could become.”And we tried to, at every moment, see what’s happening within our team, within our transfer politics. Within every decision we make we see where the opportunities are and how to grow and how to get better.”Their vast database includes many matching capabilities, but it comes down to a human touch. “Once the metrics match their metrics, then it’s about really investing in who the person is to ensure the person we’re bringing in honours the environment that we really are establishing and trying to create every day,” Marsch explains. “And I think the balance of the two is what Victor does so well.”Some of the transfers were planned before Marsch’s arrival, such as Aaronson from Salzburg. Leeds went for him in the January transfer window, but he decided to see the season out in Austria. And just days after Leeds’ survival was confirmed, he was the first signing of the Marsch Aaronson remembers his first meeting with Leeds and the appeal of the club. “Just the plan that the club had, you know, and the people surrounding it,” Aaronson tells ESPN. “The club wanted me here and was so supportive and showed me how much they wanted me here and how they wanted me to be a part of that plan. We have high expectations of the club and the fans do, too. And that’s something I want to be a part of developing me as a player and as a person.”He was later joined by fellow USMNT starter Adams. While Aaronson finished the 2021-22 campaign on a high, Adams struggled in his last season at Leipzig while managing some niggling injuries, but his class endured. He was the player Leeds identified to form a double pivot with Roca in midfield, but they had to be sure about where his head was at first.”I had a tough conversation with Jesse before I came here about finding the old Tyler,” Adams said. “I felt like in my time at Leipzig I lost a little bit of confidence. I lost the way of, you know, who I was and what I wanted to become. And I got a little bit too much in my comfort zone.”So we had a tough conversation, we talked over it, not an argument in any way or sense but some difficult points came across.””I’ve known him for so long,” Marsch said. “I’m very proud of him and I’ve always believed in him. Always, but I’ve also known that he’s had challenges, you know, big challenges. And it’s not just about playing or not, it’s about how an environment works and how people interact.What’s behind Brenden Aaronson’s hot start in the Premier League?

Brenden Aaronson speaks about his start to life in the Premier League with Leeds United.

“When I brought him here, I said we just need you to get back to being the kind of player that you are and more freedom in the way that you express yourself as a person, as a player on the pitch. We have a really strong foundation of a team here and we have leaders in the team, but I wanted to make sure that he knew there was a responsibility to commit to the team fully in a selfless manner, because I know what the mentality of the group and the character of the group is here.””We took a week to reconnect,” Adams said, “and I reflected on my time at Leipzig, you know, [and] what I wanted to become as a player and person, and when we reconnected I was all-in and bought into the idea of coming here and finding the old Tyler.”Adams describes the old Tyler as an “absolute beast on the field,” someone who “doesn’t really overthink anything.” He fits the bill of what Marsch pictures as your archetypal Leeds player. Marsch says he wants his team to be known for their hard work, with his players “ready to fight and run and commit and do everything they can for every second of the match.”There may yet be further recruits this summer — Leeds are looking into bolstering their options up front — but only if the right player is there.”I know that those transfers are always a lightning rod in the public and they want to see us continue to invest,” Marsch says. “But we just want to make sure that every decision we make is the right one.”I think the additions we’ve made have been perfect. Perfect. Right, really, I think the seven additions we’ve made have been fabulous. And the key is to keep that 100% rate. And it’s almost impossible to do, but that’s our job.”


Leeds’ season began with Wolverhampton Wanderers coming to Elland Road. The new-look team edged past Bruno Lage’s side 2-1, thanks to goals from Rodrigo and (officially) an own-goal from Rayan Ait-Nouri, though Aaronson still claims he had the final touch. But there were no doubts over Aaronson’s first in Leeds’ win over Chelsea on Sunday, as he hustled Edouard Mendy to force the error that gave the team their opener. Their third was reminiscent of what they were practising in training Wednesday: winning the ball back, countering at pace and punishing the opponent.But Marsch would have loved one statistic above all in that match, exhibiting exactly what he wants from his team: after 80 minutes, Leeds had run 11 kilometres farther than Chelsea. When Aaronson is told that statistic postmatch, the young American smiles and says that’s what they want to be known for: work rate.When you talk to the new signings about their first impressions of the Premier League, Adams says he was “absolutely shattered.” But without prompting, they mention the Elland Road atmosphere. Aaronson says it was “electric,” while Adams adds: “It gave me goosebumps. This kind of support is what pushes you on in the 90th minute to make that extra sprint back to tackle harder.”For Marsch, there are many moments that have emphasised how big a job managing the team is: like when he saw his first Leeds United tattoo on a supporter’s leg on his first day, or when he heard the club’s anthem coming from the stands. “This is what I love. You know, I don’t like when they chant my name. I just don’t, and I know they’re doing it to be unified in what we’re doing. But I love it so much more when I hear ‘Marching on Together’ or Leeds or Yorkshire or whatever, you know, it’s not me I care about, it’s the club and this is why I love being here.”

Jesse Marsch reveals ‘eye-opening’ shopping experience in Times Square

Leeds manager Jesse Marsch recalls the moment he got recognised when shopping in New York.He quickens the pace as he talks more about why he feels so at home at the club. “It’s just a selflessness from every member of this entire sporting organization to help the team and to do whatever they need to do in their role for the on-the-field product to be what we all want it to become.”Marsch has also enjoyed interacting with the San Francisco 49ers, with 49ers Enterprises owning a 44% stake in Leeds. “I liked going to watch the 49ers train, seeing how they work, seeing how organized they are, and how they are structured,” Marsch says, referring to his visit to the 49ers minicamp in the offseason. “That’s been a bit of an eye-opener and very interesting to see. And I think it’s helped me even organize things. And I like to be organized. I like to be on top of things. I don’t like to be caught by surprises.”The focus shifts to what Marsch hopes Leeds achieve in the future. “We can’t feel too good about ourselves, we can’t feel too bad about ourselves. We just have to have a relentless commitment to keep moving forward.”The goal isn’t to have total harmony, but to create a common understanding as to what we are, our identity and to commit to that every day. I don’t have a problem of telling somebody if they’re not carrying their weight, or of telling them how disappointed or angry I am because I will protect the environment above everything. That’s the most important thing: it’s not harmony, it’s about identity, expectation and making sure that in every way we’re maximising the potential of each other and of the group every day.”Marsch and his family are settled in Yorkshire: the Wisconsinite who found a home in Leeds. “I think what I’ve learnt more than anything, it’s just that I belong here,” he says. But he’s just getting going. He’s aware of how managers are an endangered species, and his responsibility in keeping the ship steered in the right direction. “There’s still a lot of work to do and our goals are much bigger than just a couple of good performances,” Marsch says. “But I’m thankful to be here. It’s an important position, an important club and I know that fully.”So yeah, when you asked me how’s Leeds? Leeds is pretty damn good.”

Q&A: MLS MVP PICKS, EXPANSION, AND THE USMNT’S MIDFIELD

COMMENTARYMLSTODAYUSMNT AUGUST 26, 2022 BY JOSEPH LOWERY

QUICK HITS
  • We asked for your American soccer questions on Twitter earlier this week – and you delivered!
  • Who should win this year’s MLS MVP award? And what’s up with the USMNT’s midfield shape? Let’s talk about all of that and more.

© Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally sent out via email. Subscribe to our free newsletter to get future mailbags delivered right to your inbox.

Hey everyone, Joe Lowery here. You know what day it is. You know what time it is. It’s Wednesday, which means we’re back with another midweek mailbag!I asked for your American soccer questions on Twitter – and you delivered. I’ll answer a number of them down below, but if there’s something you desperately want answered that didn’t make it into this mailbag, submit it here and we’ll do our best to answer it on the site.

Alright, let’s do this thing.

@DR_PGB

Should (or would) Berhalter adapt his USMNT midfield structure to be more similar to Leeds, given the success of Adams and Aaronson in that team? I’m thinking a Musah-Adams pivot with Aaronson centrally.

He already has!

Remember back in June when we saw Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah play as a double pivot in possession with Aaronson hanging out in the right halfspace? That’s exactly how Jesse Marsch uses both Adams and Aaronson. And if I squint just a bit, I can even pretend that Adams’ partner in the double pivot at Leeds, Marc Roca, is Yunus Musah.

Pushing Musah deeper and getting another attacker on the field makes a ton of sense for the USMNT. It likely won’t make sense for every game – there will be times when having three dedicated central midfielders covering ground is more valuable than squeezing an extra attacker on the field. But the fact that the United States can flip back and forth between midfield shapes is a good thing.

Now, I don’t think Gregg Berhalter is copying March’s homework here (especially given that Berhalter made this shift before Adams and Aaronson had played a game in the Premier League). But hey, maybe those two managers text each other little tactical tidbits.

Berhalter: Hey Jesse, was just thinking about using Adams and Musah in a double pivot against Morocco lol could be fun

Marsch: I like it GGG. Might as well toss BA in the halfspace while you’re at it tbh

Berhalter: *sends gif of one of his own behind the back bounces passes*

I’m just saying, I can see it.

@WENDELLGEE5

Are y’all gonna do a “USMNT for Idiots” guide for us to send our not-really-soccer-fan friends, who will suddenly take an interest when the WC starts?

We’ve got all sorts of World Cup content in the works over the next few months, including some introductory guides to the USMNT. Is there a better time to get people interested in soccer than during the World Cup? I certainly don’t think so.

At Backheeled, we’re excited to bring new fans into the fold.

And don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of fun and interesting things for those of you who know your stuff. You deserve some sort of reward for living through and experiencing the Never To Be Spoken Of Again Dave Sarachan Era.

@MICHELEG3

If Minnesota ends up ahead of Austin in the standings, would the Golden Boot be enough for Driussi to win MVP over Reynoso? Or is Minnesota over Austin a wrap for Reynoso?

Michele coming in with the MLS MVP hypotheticals. I’m here for it. Before I get to Emanuel Reynoso vs. Sebastian Driussi, I want to get my 2022 MLS MVP pick out there: Jose Cifuentes.

I know you’re rolling your eyes right now, but hear me out on this. Cifuentes has been the midfield glue for this year’s best team (who would not be this year’s best team without that midfield glue). He’s an active presser, he moves the ball forward, he crashes the box, he creates chances. and he scores goals. Cifuentes has been the best player on the best team in MLS this year and, unless something crazy happens between now and Decision Day, he’s my pick for MVP.

Now, setting my love for Cifuentes aside, I think Driussi has a stranglehold on this year’s MVP award. He leads the league in goals, he’s in the top 20 in MLS for assists, and he’s been the most impactful attacker on an Austin FC team that has defied all expectations in 2022. Even if Austin fall below Minnesota United in the Western Conference standings, that won’t change the fact that the voters love goals.

Assuming Driussi wins the Golden Boot (and that my #Cifuentes4MVP campaign doesn’t go viral), the MVP award is his to lose.

@ALFVEBE

Are Minnesota United good, great, or elite?

They’re good.

They’re not great and they’re certainly not elite. But Minnesota United are a dangerous team right now. Adrian Heath and Co. have won seven of their last 10 games and are basically locks for the postseason at this point in the year.

The reason why I say that Minnesota United aren’t more than good is because they’re still not creating a crazy amount of chances and they’re still not denying a crazy amount of chances. Even looking back at just their last 10 games, Minnesota’s expected goal difference is barely positive (+0.03, according to American Soccer Analysis).

Don’t get me wrong: no one in the West is going to be excited about coming up against Minnesota United in the playoffs. With Reynoso as the No. 10 and some actually functional attacking pieces around him, this team can do some damage. But I need to see a little more from Minnesota before the end of the regular season if they’re going to get upgraded from good to great.

@PRIMEROYCE

Hypothetically if Joe Lowery is in this USMNT pool, what position does he play and what club does he play for?

This is self-indulgent, but I love it.

In high school, I played as right back and as a center back. I could read the game from those two spots, organize things in the back, and direct traffic without needing to be on the ball too much. Believe me, me not being on the ball too much was a good thing for everyone.

I think we can connect those positions to today’s USMNT, don’t you? Berhalter’s center backs get on the ball a bit more than the central defensive contingent on my very average high school team did. But hey, I’m not about to apologize for the fact that we didn’t play free-flowing soccer on some random half dirt/half grass field out here in Phoenix in the middle of August.

I see myself in the ‘fullback in defense, auxiliary center back in possession’ role that Berhalter has used a number of times during his U.S. tenure. Daniel Lovitz/Tim Ream played it back in 2019 on the left and Reggie Cannon played it for the U.S. earlier this year. In that role, I’m not getting too far up into the attack, which is good, but I am coordinating things from deeper areas and pulling some of the team’s strings.

I think it works well. Whether Berhalter would agree with me is a different story…

As far as a club goes, I think I’m following Richy Ledezma’s path. Ledezma, who’s from Phoenix just like me, went from playing club soccer in Arizona to playing in the Real Salt Lake academy. From RSL, he moved over to the Netherlands.

Would the Dutch approve of my first touch? Not a chance. Would they appreciate my detailed knowledge of Frank de Boer’s time coaching Atlanta United? I sincerely hope so. Because that’s pretty much all I have to offer.

@DBEFFERT

If MLS wanted you to plan for 30-32 teams, how would you go about it? MLS I and II with internal pro/rel? East and West have their own Supporters’ Shields and only meet in playoffs?

As much as I’d love to see internal promotion/relegation in MLS, I just can’t see it happening. Maybe I’m wrong and three decades from now it becomes a reality. But pro/rel in MLS seems so unlikely, even with limited consequences in a still-closed system.

If we set pro/rel aside, the best way I can think to create a schedule for a 30-32 team league would be to cut out inter-conference play, as the question proposes.

Why? Well, if you cut out inter-conference play, you have a chance of creating balanced schedules for teams within the same conference. The schedules for, say, the Colorado Rapids and the New York Red Bulls would be completely different. But balancing the schedules between conference opponents could help create a level regular season playing field.

Right now, we don’t get the clearest picture of who the best team in the league is because the schedules are wildly imbalanced. If you cut out cross-conference play, you still don’t know who the best team in the league really is, but you do know who the best team in each conference really is.

And maybe that’s an improvement? I think the whole idea behind dividing MLS into two somethings really starts to get interesting when you’re closer to 36 teams. Then you can split things right down the middle and put 18 teams in the East and 18 in the West and balance the 34-game schedules.

But do we really want 36 MLS teams?

Voices: DaMarcus Beasley

Could Brenden Aaronson be the most important US soccer player at the World Cup? 

0823 Beasley BA

With the excitement of the Qatar 2022 World Cup getting closer for the US men’s national team, everyone from the fans to the media will be picking their own squad of 26 players who they think should be on the plane come November.With the three added spots approved by FIFA for this World Cup, it could become a bit easier to pick the USMNT squad, that is if Gregg Berhalter decides to use all 26 roster spots.Back in 2002, I was a surprise inclusion. Not many people would have thought I would make the roster, let alone start the first match of the World Cup against Portugal, so you never know who will prove to be a key player. Still, one player we all can agree on that will not be a surprise come November is Brenden Aaronson. Mr. Silky himself.The only question surrounding his role is whether he’d be better coming off the bench or getting the start with the USMNT in Group B play. In my opinion, the guy must start.

A unique type of talent

I remember watching Brenden play for the first time back in 2020 in the MLS bubble when he was with Philadelphia Union. His nonstop movement and attacking ability caught my eye straight away. Not every play went perfectly, but his desire to just keep going at you was impressive.Fast forward two years, and he is now enjoying a brilliant start to his Premier League campaign with Leeds United as arguably the most in-form USMNT player we have currently (Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok has to be in that conversation as well). Granted, the USMNT have a lot of injury concerns at the moment, but you cannot argue the fact that he will be a key player in Qatar. Could he be the most important? I’m not so sure, but more on that in a minute.The intensity that is required in a World Cup these days is far more demanding than it was in 2002 and Aaronson seems to make that part look easy. Mix that with the quickness and quality he has on the ball, and you cannot leave him out of the starting XI.He can play any position in the attacking front line, as well as the No. 10 role. The friendly match we saw against Morocco on June 1, a 3-0 win, solidified that. He was clean with his passing, linking up well with his front players.We already know about his work ethic and commitment he puts into every match, but I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about how he would do through the middle of the park. Any doubt I had was put to rest after that performance.

Taking the EPL by storm

Playing in the English Premier League is only going to further Aaronson’s development for the better. It is the best league in the world, in my opinion, and he is competing every day, not only with his teammates, but with the rest of the league to show why Leeds paid around $30 million for his services.

He is at a great club, one with a lot of history in English football, and one that suits his style to a T. He has a manager in Jesse Marsch who believes in him, trusts him, and will give him opportunities to succeed. Jesse has not wasted any time in playing him from the start in his first two matches at Leeds United, but why would he? Aaronson has gained a ton of experience playing in big games over the past couple years, from World Cup Qualifying to Champions League matches with RB Salzburg. He doesn’t shy away from a challenge and having that kind of mentality at a young age (21) is rare.

We all have heard the saying “he just needs time to adapt to the Premier League,” which is true in a lot of cases. With Aaronson, however, it seems the bigger the stakes, the better he plays.

Another big factor that plays a part in him settling in England so quickly is having American teammate and New York Red Bulls product Tyler Adams there as well. Going to a new club in another country during an important World Cup year can be tricky, but for a young player to have a teammate that you know well and can vibe with off the pitch is underrated.

Thinking back on my career, I had an American teammate in every club I played at outside of the US, including Lee Nguyen (PSV), Claudio Reyna (Manchester City), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96) and Michael Orozco (Puebla). Not every situation for me worked on the pitch, but off it, it helped tremendously.

Brenden Aaronson PHI

Brenden Aaronson had 7g/9a in 51 games (48 starts) for the Philadelphia Union. (Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports)

So, will Aaronson be the key USMNT player in Qatar?

With how great Brenden has been playing as of late, to me it remains that the most important player in Qatar must be Christian Pulisic.

He will most likely wear the captain’s armband and we need to have an in-form and confident Christian in the World Cup. He is a fighter, and all the players look up to him. He is not getting the playing time at Chelsea for him to reach the levels that we have seen in the past, but he is a guy that on his day can win a game for you. Hopefully that changes.

We’ve had other great players with that killer instinct in the attacking third in World Cups; Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey come to mind. This time around? It has to be Pulisic.

From the interviews I have seen of Christian after qualifying for the World Cup, I can tell he is hungry and mad excited for Qatar. We need to score goals and Pulisic has shown he can score on the biggest of stages. Now comes an even bigger test: representing your country at the highest level possible in our sport. Can he do it at the World Cup? My answer is, undoubtedly, yes.

That big game vs. England

If you look at one specific game that is circled on everyone’s calendar that the USMNT will play in the group stage in Qatar, all the hype will be around the match against England on Nov. 25, their second in Group B.

I can imagine all the players, especially the ones that play in the Premier League, will be up for this one. Will it be an advantage to have six players that play in the EPL? Maybe. What I can say is that those players will be full of confidence going up against opponents they see every week. They will know their tendencies and individually how the English players like to play. Mentally, I wouldn’t expect any lack of concentration as they will want to do well and have some bragging rights when they go back to their respective clubs. It is a great matchup for the US. England have never beaten us in a World Cup match in two tries… hopefully that run continues.

There are only three short months left before the USMNT begin their World Cup journey. With the short amount of time that Berhalter will have with his full squad before the first match, form and consistency at club level are essential.

We all know that a lot of decision-making will depend on injuries heading into the final months, but when you look at this core group of players, I can’t help but be optimistic. Aaronson and Pulisic will take a lot of the headlines. The bottom line is that they both need to be on the pitch, and they both need to perform.

Jesse Marsch’s Major Leeds Soccer: Softer approach, set-piece sessions and Elland Road bond

Phil Hay and Adam Crafton Aug 24, 2022 Athletic

Leeds United would not be so bold as to class this summer as entirely plain sailing. It took until this morning for their new home kit to hit the shops and eyes were rolling at Elland Road a few weeks ago when the club learned that a cargo ship carrying merchandise out of Vietnam had spilt several containers into the sea, threatening another delay. Only at Leeds, or so they like to say, but hold-ups in the production of shirts for this season have affected other teams besides them and, all in all, the business of reasserting themselves in the Premier League has come together almost as planned. Sunday’s demolition of Chelsea found Leeds in their element, a club happy in their own skin again. Jesse Marsch is theirs and, by the end of that game, fans in Elland Road were happy about it. Marsch has a phrase he likes to repeat, one he first used when he became head coach of New York Red Bulls in 2015 to the delight of no one in particular: “Some people will like me, some people will hate me and as every coach learns, that’s football.”

But in saying so on Sunday, he misread the groundswell of approval around him. The question now is not whether Marsch has it in him, but whether Chelsea was a fair and attainable benchmark and whether his team are genuinely as good as they looked in that game. Quality football causes no conflict of emotion. The murals of Marcelo Bielsa are proof of that. When Leeds offered Marsch the manager’s job in February they presented it as a two-part role, at least until he showed the longevity to take the club beyond those stages. The final 12 games of last season were a matter of survival — no more, or less — and all Leeds asked of him was leadership to hold the dressing room together and prevent relegation. Emerge safely from that, as he did, and this season would launch his tenure in earnest: a fresh start with a new squad and the open expanse of a full 38-game campaign.

Andrea Radrizzani, the club’s chairman, appreciated the way Marsch motivated the players and prevented the squad from splintering as the walls threatened to close in. Now the expectation was that Marsch would truly shine. Victor Orta, as he had with Bielsa, stuck his neck out by backing the 48-year-old for the job so heavily.

It was agreed in advance of survival that if Leeds fell short and went down, Marsch would stay on. Leeds were all-in on his style, his tactics and his suitability, even when their position in the Premier League looked hopeless.The journey from abject crisis to the sensation of the win over Chelsea has been multifaceted — a combination of transfer business matching Marsch’s requirements and the manager connecting with his squad tactically and mentally. Bielsa liked to keep the players at arm’s length and that arrangement worked for him. Marsch prefers to get close to them, being softer on the squad without being soft. His empathetic style is appreciated, not least because of the stress the club were under last season Leeds were one of several clubs who spent part of their pre-season in Australia. Manchester United were another. Manchester United’s players and staff were asked to stick to strict curfews in the evening but Marsch’s attitude was to tell his team that the line between fun and disrepute was blindingly obvious and he preferred to trust them to stay on the right side of it. He admonished one player who missed a public appearance at a supporters event in a way that quickly cleared the air. Leeds could feel his tactics taking hold

Over the past six months, Thorp Arch has become a world of conversations, one-on-one chats, small group discussions and broader meetings involving the whole dressing room. People who know Marsch well always describe him as a natural communicator and his expansion of Leeds’ leadership group — the collection of senior players who speak for the squad — created a stronger link between him and them

Rodrigo was targeted for specific attention. The forward, Leeds’ record signing, had experienced two mixed years in England and Marsch sensed that Rodrigo was at a crossroads, in need of some support.

Marsch was ridiculed in public when it emerged he was using quotes from historical figures, among them Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa, as inspirational tools but his interaction with the squad went further than that. He would encourage them to read books or newspaper articles written about world-class athletes, to find out what made them tick or how they achieved marginal gains, particularly when it came to stamina and fitness.He tried to engage with those players who were not seen as natural leaders, to make sure they felt valued.

https://theathletic.com/report/podcast-clip?clip_id=6012

Many one-on-one meetings were handled by his assistant, Cameron Toshack, and the topics of conversation varied. Some focused on tactics and technical improvement. Some had an aspirational tone, asking players to think about where they wanted to be in five years. Some would challenge them to think about how much of a life they had outside football; to place importance on finding pleasure and fulfilment beyond the day job. The idea was to create stronger personal relationships and an environment that was not entirely fixated on business.Marsch and Leeds agreed in advance what would happen in the transfer market if they avoided relegation, setting themselves up to press the button as soon as survival was assured. Marsch said recently that he considered the club’s purchases to be “our signings” rather than his alone — deals done collectively — but the targets Leeds chased were identified with Marsch’s tactical model in mind, a strategy built around him.

Brenden Aaronson could press in short, sharp bursts, as he did to force the opening goal against Chelsea at the weekendTyler Adams would give the midfield industry — essential after the sale of Kalvin Phillips — and Marc Roca’s comfort on the ball would dovetail with Adams, complementing the American’s aggression.

leeds-unitedAaronson and Jack Harrison celebrating against Wolves (Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Whatever the stereotypes of players from the USA, the rest of the squad at Leeds felt self-confidence oozing from Aaronson and Adams when they arrived.Marsch began adapting training to make those signings work. Bielsa’s strenuous sessions had created a squad with impressive stamina — on Sunday, Leeds were able to outrun Chelsea by more than 10km, having already recorded the highest distance covered of any Premier League side on the season’s first weekend — but Marsch switched attention from distance to intensity.Much of the running in pre-season was tailored to condition the players for his tactics, the hunting in packs that required rapid acceleration on repeat. Drills were designed to provoke high-intensity sprints, to help with pressing and counter-pressing.For all that Bielsa’s shadow loomed large, Marsch was not scared of talking about him. He would tell his side to take the character and personality they developed under Bielsa and apply it to his own model. Set pieces were practised daily and some sessions devoted to them entirely. Above all, Marsch would urge his squad to make sure their football matched the passion and fervour of Elland Road. That intensity was what forged the connection between Marsch and the crowd on Sunday, the mutual desire to intimidate Chelsea and steamroller them. Football like that was an easy sell.The problem for Marsch as last season got out of control was that Elland Road no longer caused fear — at least not to opponents. There was passion and fervour but so much of it was channelled negatively, the consequence of a frightening decline on the pitch. The rout of Chelsea told the league that the crowd had his back and he had theirs. His inauspicious start has been dramatically buried, the vicious tension of spring left behind.When The Athletic interviewed Marsch in March, not long after his appointment, communication and interaction were two of his watchwords, the weapons he planned to use to his advantage. “Through those channels, I felt I could refresh the air and let everyone move forward,” he said.

And five months on, he has.

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8/19/22  CBS pays $250 Million /yr for Champs League, EPL Week 3 Leeds vs Chelsea, Full TV Schedule

Games to Watch

Some big games for American’s this weekend as Chelsea and disgruntled American Pulisic travel to Leeds United States of America on Sunday at 9 am on USA Network.  And yes I now have my Leeds United Jersey and will be wearing it proudly I pick Leeds to win at home and teach that horrific German Chelsea manager Tuchel that Americans can play! Dortmund and American Reyna will host Werder Brennen on ESPN at 9:30 am on Saturday right after Tottenham hosts Wolverhampton Sat at 7:30 am on USA.  Monday gives us Man United vs Liverpool at 3 pm on USA  – Man U is supposedly a preferred landing spot for our own Christian Pulisic. Speaking of Capt America – check out this Pulisic commercial now running in EPL games.   

LEEDS AMERICA BEATS CHELSEA 3-0

My 3 Thoughts on Leeds United-Chelsea

Leeds wallops Chelsea 3-0 in a huge win with Americans Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams and Jesse Marsch playing central roles

Grant WahlAug 21
Brenden Aaronson celebrates his first-half goal against Chelsea, the opener of his Premier League career (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

In a stunning result, Leeds United beat Chelsea 3-0 in the most convincing of ways on Sunday, unleashing a barrage of energy against one of the Premier League’s top teams. Here are my three thoughts on the game:


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• Brenden Aaronson is designed for the Premier League. The 21-year-old American was a devastating mix of skill and energy again, providing constant threats with his passing and turns (see you later, Kalidou Koulibaly, enjoy that yellow card!) while injecting energy and defensive pressure whenever Leeds lost the ball. That resulted in the game’s opening goal, when Aaronson picked the pocket of Chelsea keeper Édouard Mendy in front of an adoring Elland Road crowd. When I interviewed Aaronson in Leeds for my recent magazine story on the Americans there, I asked him what position he would play. “Not the striker,” he said, “but the three under the striker. Any position there. Left mid, center attacking mid, or right mid.” On Sunday Aaronson was deployed in the number 10 role for the first time, and while not everything he tried came off, the sheer verticality of some of his menacing through-balls reminded me of Michael Laudrup. Aaronson’s is also crazy fit. He went 82 minutes at a breakneck pace and has been on the field for all but 13 minutes in Leeds’s first three games. Hats off to one of the Premier League’s top newcomers so far this season.

• This game was a distillation of MarschBall. The philosophy of Leeds’s American coach, Jesse Marsch, is all about constant energy, full-field pressure and striking quickly in transition once you win the ball, especially when it’s in the opponent’s end of the field. Marsch, who emphasizes data analysis, also invests lots of training time into an array of intricate set-piece routines. Look how Leeds scored its goals on Sunday: The first (by Aaronson) came as the direct result of pressure on Mendy. The second (by Rodrigo, his league-leading fourth of the season) came on a well-executed set-piece corner kick. The third (by Jack Harrison) came on a decisive counterattack with Daniel James delivering a terrific cross with zero Chelsea pressure from the left side. No Leeds player knows MarschBall better than Tyler Adams, the 23-year-old American who started playing for Marsch at age 15, and Adams was sneaky-phenomenal on Sunday, seemingly everywhere to win balls in the midfield and showing his smarts to know exactly when to insert himself to stop Chelsea counters. (A particular moment happened in the second half when Adams dispossessed Raheem Sterling on a post-set-piece counter without even drawing a foul.) MarschBall is heavy-metal football, a 90-minute rush, and it was especially fun to see Marsch celebrating that way on the sideline after Leeds goals. (And you know what’s crazy? Leeds really should have a perfect nine points in the league instead of seven after losing a 2-0 lead at Southampton last week.)

• What must Christian Pulisic be thinking right now? Chelsea’s American No. 10 once again didn’t start, even though the ineffective Ruben Loftus-Cheek did in a position where Pulisic could certainly play, and losing to the Premier League’s America’s Team (with Aaronson, Adams and Marsch playing central roles) has to have Pulisic wondering about greener pastures elsewhere. Pulisic didn’t have much impact once he came on in the second half, and it’s obvious that he doesn’t have Thomas Tuchel’s trust. If he did, Chelsea wouldn’t be looking to acquire more players in his position. I would almost rather see Pulisic move on loan to Newcastle than to the dumpster fire of Manchester United, but he needs to make a move and get playing time ahead of the World Cup if he wants to have the biggest impact he could at the tournament. That’s the only bummer of an otherwise phenomenal day for fans of United States soccer.

LEEDS AMERICAN AARONSON SCORES – Leads 2-0 !!

Brendan Aaronson Scores his 1st EPL goal vs Chelsea

LEEDS vs Chelsea Team news breakdown

Starting with Leeds after looking at both team sheets, the team that Marsch has picked won’t surprise too many fans. Bamford has been replaced in the starting XI by Dan James after picking up yet another injury in the 2-2 draw with Southampton last weekend. The Welshman’s vacant spot on the bench has been taken by Joe Gelhardt who has been struggling for fitness himself.

For Chelsea, there is some surprise to see Conor Gallagher drafted into the team – in place of Kante – to partner Jorginho in the middle of the park. The expectation was probably that Loftus-Cheek would move from right wing-back into the midfield but he remains on the right-hand side after a strong performance against Tottenham.

That means that James is likely to be deployed in the right centre-back role, unless Tuchel opts for a back four which seems unlikely. Other than the forced change, the rest of the team for the visitors is exactly the same as the one that started against Spurs.

EPL Wk 2

Wow so the EPL was enthralling this weekend – Man United getting pounded 4-0 to Brentford – yes Brentford (no idea where that is) and then the drama and emotion just dripping in the London Derby Sunday between Tottenham and Chelsea with Harry Kane’s 95th minute header stealing the game at Chelsea (full highlights).  Disagreements between the managers Spur’s Conte (former Chelsea League winning Mgr) and Chelsea’s Tuchel (current German idiot Mgr who won’t play Pulisic) led to this altercation postgame leading to 2nd yellow cards & Reds for both after the game.   Listen I love the emotion – I love it when my coach cares – this was a little over the top but both guys care – and both wanted to will their team to victory.  If you get a chance to go back and watch – this last 45 of this game is classic EPL between 2 teams and fan sets that don’t like each other.  (Think Bears/Packers, Ga/FL or Yankee’s/Red Sox.   In other EPL news both American teams tied this weekend as Fulham tied 0-0 at Wolves & Leeds United with coach Marsch saying they let 1 slip away with a 2-2 finish at Southampton after having a 2 goal lead.  

US

Are these really the New US Jersey’s for the World Cup ? Weston McKinney agrees – man I hope not!! Cool news that the US will play Japan in the Sept window on Sept 23 from Europe at 8:30 am on ESPN.  Check out American F Josh Stewart score the brace today for Norwich.  

Carmel High School Girls & Boys Varsity Schedules 

I will have local high school previews next week  – exciting with Carmel High School Girls and Boys teams coming off of Finals Appearances last year. 

BIG GAMES ON TV

Sat, Aug 20

7:30 am USA                       Tottenham vs Wolverhampton

9:30 am ESPN                     Dortmund (reyna) vs  Werder Brennen

10 amUSA                           Southampton vs Leicester City

10 am Peacock                  Fulham (Reem, Jedi) vs Brentford

12:30 pm NBC                    AFC Bournemouth vs Arsenal  

12:30 ESPN+                       Union Berlin vs RBLeipzig  

6 pm ESPN+                        Cincy v NY Redbulls

8:30 pm ESPN+                  INDY 11 @  Tulsa

10 pm Para+                       San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs Houston Dash NWSL

10  pm ESPN+                    LA FC vs San Jose  

Sun, Aug 21

9 am USA                             Leads United (Adams, Aaronson) vs Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Tottenham

11:30 am USA                    New Castle United vs Man City

1:30 pm ESPN +, D           Atletico Madrid vs Villareal

2:45 pm Para+                   Atalanta vs Milan

4 pm ESPN+                        Real Sociedad vs Barcelona (Dest)  

5:30 pm FS1                        Columbus vs Atlanta United

7:30- pm FS1                      Sporting KC vs Portland Timbers

Mon, Aug 22

2:45 pm para+                   Juventus vs Sampdoria

3 pm USA                            Man United vs Liverpool

Fri, Aug 25

8 pm ESPN                          Austin vs LAFC  

10- pm ESPN                      Portland Timbers vs Seattle

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

USA


USMNT hopeful Sargent scores twice for Norwich

Marsch wants Tuchel banned from Leeds-Chelsea
Top 25 players in the USMNT player pool right now

EPL

My new Leeds United States of America Jersey has arrived !!

Marsch: Leeds wasted strong performance v. Saints
Southampton vs Leeds: Saints grab point after stirring comeback

Three talking points from the Premier League weekend
10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 2

Antonio Conte, Thomas Tuchel clash signifies hunger to join title race

Conte, Tuchel clash in heated Chelsea-Spurs derby

Jesus can take Arteta’s Arsenal to next level after Leicester double

Forest mark Premier League homecoming with West Ham win

Man United bottom of table for first time in 30 years after 4-0 rout

Brentford vs Manchester United: Player ratings, three things learned

Blame me says Ten Hag after Brentford battering leaves Man Utd bottom 

Erik ten Hag would’ve subbed all 11 Manchester United players if allowed

World


Champions Milan off to winning start, Dumfries steals show for Inter

‘Emotional’ Werner scores for Leipzig on Bundesliga return

Lukaku nets seconds into Inter return at Lecce

Ancelotti confirms he will quit football after Real Madrid

Ancelotti ‘surprised’ by Kroos absence from Ballon d’Or nominees

Benzema, Courtois and De Bruyne nominated for UEFA award

‘Game-changer’ Bynoe-Gittens propels Dortmund to comeback win over Freiburg

Unique World Cup start date changes how top players approach club season

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USMNT weekend viewing guide: A Premier matchup

The American trio look for a matchup with Pulisic and Chelsea.

By jcksnftsn  Aug 19, 2022, 9:07am PDT  

Saturday

Fulham FC v Brentford – 10a on Peacock

Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson and Fulham have opened the season with two draws, which is not a dream start. Still, it is a pretty solid result for a newly promoted side, particularly when you consider they were facing a midtable club in Wolverhampton Wanderers and stealing points off of title-contending Liverpool.

https://98b7fc1be95c44a28454c3d5830b1284.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

This weekend’s matchup comes against a Brentford side that were bottom half of the Premier League table last year but are notably coming off a 4-0 thumping of Manchester United and have picked up four points in their first three matches to sit 3rd in the early season standings. It will be interesting to see if a matchup against newly promoted Fulham is a letdown game for Brentford or if they are able to maintain some level of momentum from last weekend to come out and start a serious streak.

Other notes:

  • Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen face off at 9:30a in a match that will be broadcast on ESPN. Unfortunately, Giovanni Reyna did not travel with Dortmund last weekend and, based on Edin Terzic’s comments about his squad depth, it seems likely Reyna will be eased along.

Streaming overseas:

  • Ricardo Pepi has found minutes hard to come by early on as he barely saw the field last weekend in Augsburg’s 2-1 win over Bayern Leverkusen. Augsburg face Mainz this weekend at 9:30a on ESPN+.
  • Pellegrino Matarazzo and Stuttgart look for their first win of the season when they face Freiburg at 9:30a on ESPN+.
  • Jordan Pefok and Union Berlin take on RB Leipzig at 12:30p on ESPN+. Union are coming off a scoreless draw with Mainz, while Leipzig are looking for their first win of the season.

MLS Mashup (all games streaming on ESPN+):

Sunday

Leeds United v Chelsea FC – 9a on USA Network

The American matchup in the Premier League is Sunday morning as Jesse Marsch’s Leeds United host Christian Pulisic and Chelsea FC. Leeds are coming off a 2-2 draw with Southampton, not a terrible result in a vacuum but fairly disappointing after they held an early two goal lead. Brendan Aaronson and Tyler Adams have started both matches and shown that they belong, Aaronson through his goal creation and Adams currently leading the league in tackles.

Christian Pulisic has certainly shown over the past couple of years that he can play at an EPL level as well, though recent signs suggest that perhaps this won’t be at Chelsea with reports going so far as to suggest that Thomas Tuchel “doesn’t trust” the American. Pulisic saw just six minutes off the bench last weekend in Chelsea’s explosive 2-2 draw with Tottenham. Chelsea were rather dominant in possession but let a 2-1 lead slip away in the dying moments as Harry Kane’s header drew Spurs level. Both managers received red cards after the final whistle so Marsch (and Pulisic?) won’t deal with a direct confrontation with the manager this Sunday.

Other notes:

Streaming overseas:

  • Timothy Chandler is still looking for his first minutes with Eintracht Frankfurt this season. The club face Köln at 9:30a on ESPN+.
  • Yunus Musah and Valencia face Athletic Bilbao at 11:30a on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+. Musah started in the midfield for Valencia last weekend in their 1-0 win over Girona.
  • Timothy Weah likely remains out this weekend with transfer rumors swirling and Lille set to host Paris Saint-Germain at 2:45p on beIN Sports.
  • Neither Jonathan Gomez nor Sergiño Dest made their respective teams’ gameday squads last weekend, with Gomez still looking to break through at Real Sociedad and Barcelona apparently trying to force Dest out. The two teams meet up at 4p on ESPN+.

MLS Mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

  • Gaga Slonina and the Chicago Fire look to bounce back from a mistake-marred 4-1 loss as they face sliding NYCFC at 6p.
  • Walker Zimmerman and Nashville host FC Dallas and leading scorer Jesus Ferreira at 8:30p. Ferreira was assisted by Paul Arriola again on Wednesday and has 15 goals and 5 assists in 21 matches this season.

Bonus Monday action:

  • Weston McKennie made a quick recovery from his dislocated shoulder to start for Juventus last Monday in their 3-0 win over Sassuolo. The team has another Monday fixture this week as they take on Sampdoria at 2:45p on Paramount+.

Pulisic in limbo at Chelsea with World Cup looming, Man United’s De Gea on borrowed tim

ESPN

  • Christian Pulisic could be heading out of Chelsea to boost his World Cup prospects — ESPN’s Insider Notebook has the latest. PLUS: David de Gea is on borrowed time at Man Utd.

Chelsea’s Pulisic set for showdown talks

Christian Pulisic is set to hold talks with the Chelsea hierarchy over his future and will push to leave the club if his prospects of regular first-team football look bleak, sources told ESPN.

The possible arrivals of attacking duo Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona and Everton‘s Anthony Gordon in particular would affect Pulisic, who sources suggest is concerned about playing regularly enough to ensure he heads to the World Cup finals in Qatar with the United States national team in the best possible shape.

This week, Manchester United became the latest club to enquire about the 23-year-old, who has two years remaining on his contract. So far Newcastle UnitedJuventus and Atletico Madrid are the other clubs to have expressed an interest, with intermediaries believing Chelsea would prefer a permanent departure rather than a loan deal. Chelsea had been initially reluctant to allow Pulisic to join a traditional rival — particularly on loan, as United’s proposal suggested — but sources indicate the club are willing to listen to offers and to test the market.
– After Musk’s joke, which other billionaires could buy United?
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That has left Pulisic in limbo with less than two weeks of the window remaining. The winger featured in both of Chelsea’s Premier League games to date, each time from the bench in two appearances totaling 30 minutes. One source said Pulisic is also frustrated with coach Thomas Tuchel’s handling of the situation, not least that he has played in a variety of different positions including as a False No. 9 and a left wing-back.Pulisic’s role this season appears to be as an impact player, but there are concerns the USMNT international could become marginalised further if Chelsea are successful in bringing in players before the end of the transfer window and his camp are thought to be seeking clarification.Talks are continuing with Barcelona over a move for Aubameyang, Gordon, Leicester City‘s Wesley Fofana and Inter Milan‘s Cesare Casadei while a late move for Barca’s Frenkie de Jong has not been ruled out.Pulisic’s situation may also be affected by departures elsewhere. Callum Hudson-Odoi has been told he can leave on loan while Hakim Ziyech is attracting interest from AC Milan. Chelsea will not allow all three to depart without first strengthening their forward options.

United remain hopeful a loan agreement can be reached with Pulisic, who is open to the idea of joining another club in England, but further clarity is expected on his future in the coming days. — James Olley

Ten Hag’s De Gea concerns

Erik ten Hag was well aware of David de Gea‘s limitations on the ball before the start of the season, but the Manchester United boss decided to stick with him over fears making too many changes in his first summer would cause too much disruption, sources told ESPN.

De Gea has been criticised for his distribution during defeats to Brighton and Brentford and he was culpable for the second goal at the Gtech Community Stadium after playing a dangerous pass into midfield.

– O’Hanlon: The issues Ten Hag must fix… and how to do it (E+)

Ten Hag is keen for his teams to build from the back, and he has been questioned by some supporters over his decision to put his faith in De Gea. Sources told ESPN the goalkeeping situation was identified as a problem ahead of the new season, but Ten Hag believed the best option was to stick with the 31-year-old in his first season while other more pressing issues were solved.

United, meanwhile, made a point of only making Dean Henderson available for loan in the summer and did not allow Nottingham Forest to include an obligation to sign clause in his temporary move to the City Ground. Henderson is considered better on the ball than De Gea but he was desperate for regular first team football after making just three appearances last season.

Sources added United are looking to sign another goalkeeper to compete with De Gea before the transfer deadline on Sept. 1, but they expect Henderson, who has impressed already at Forest, to return to Old Trafford at the end of the season and compete for the No. 1 spot. — Rob Dawson

Is Ten Hag’s job already in danger?

Rob Dawson feels Erik ten Hag hasn’t been given a chance as a manager at Manchester United and explains why he’s a vulnerable target as the club’s manager.

Xavi tells Dest: It’s time to go

United States right-back Sergino Dest has been told by coach Xavi that he should leave Barcelona in search of first-team football, sources told ESPN.

Dest had been told ahead of preseason that he would be used as cover at left-back, but the defender has since been told he can leave due to a change in the side’s intended style of play and the ongoing financial pressure on the club. The LaLiga giants have been struggling to register their new signings, including Jules Kounde, who joined from Sevilla last month, and potentially Marcos Alonso, whose move from Chelsea is at a standstill.

The 21-year-old, who joined Barca from Ajax for €20m in 2020, is a crucial part of the U.S. side that will compete at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which begins in November, and sources told ESPN he would prefer to remain at the Camp Nou despite the club’s change of heart.

His contract at Barca runs until 2025, but options for a move away look slim. Potential suitors Bayern Munich signed right-back Noussair Mazraoui from Ajax, while Atletico Madrid added Nahuel Molina from Udinese. Manchester United have been linked with a move for Dest but interest from Chelsea, whose transfer business is being led by new American owner Todd Boehly, has also cooled. — Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens

Friday Newsletter: The U.S. Has Gone From Being One of the World’s Worst Countries to Watch Soccer on TV in to One of the Best

New men’s UEFA Champions League Deal for CBS (6 years, $1.5 billion) is latest example soccer has passed ice hockey in the U.S. as a major sport; Plus I answer your Mailbag questions

Grant WahlAug 19
CBS Sports/Paramount will broadcast the men’s UEFA Champions League for six more years

The big news landed on Friday: CBS Sports/Paramount has extended its contract with UEFA for the U.S. English-language rights for the men’s UEFA Champions League and other UEFA club tournaments. This time it’s for twice the term length (six years instead of three) and a 2.5-times increase of the annual value for a total of $1.5 billion (or $250 million a year).

The move continues the relentless growth in the value of soccer broadcast rights in the United States. Some perspective: It wasn’t that long ago—like, the late 1990s—when the U.S. was one of the worst countries in the world in which to watch soccer. Just read Steve Rushin’s hilarious 1999 column about it. Now the U.S. is one of the best

Here’s a rundown of some of the major U.S. soccer TV broadcast deals as it now stands:

There’s a lot to digest here:


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• The NWSL seems wildly undervalued given the audiences it has pulled for games on big CBS, which rival and sometimes exceed the over-the-air audiences for MLS games.

• Fox and Telemundo got sweetheart, well-below-market deals on the 2026 World Cup rights when FIFA awarded them on a no-bid basis to avoid being sued for moving World Cup 2022 from June-July to November-December. And that was especially the case when FIFA awarded ‘26 hosting rights to the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

• When you add up the payments for soccer rights, which are much more fragmented than other major sports, U.S. companies are now paying significantly more overall for soccer rights than they are for ice hockey rights (the NHL is currently getting $625 million/year from its U.S. rights holders). Just the incomplete list above of soccer rights is worth $1.44 billion per year. 

Long story short: Soccer is now much bigger than ice hockey in the U.S. as a major professional sport. And the list above doesn’t even include Liga MX, the most popular domestic league in the U.S., which sells its rights by team and not by league.

• The men’s UEFA Spanish-language rights for the U.S. still await being sold. I’m told there’s a delay because Spanish-language streaming platforms like Univision’s Vix are just getting going. Clearly, though, this will be another big number whenever the deal gets done.

• The recent trend is for longer-lasting broadcast deals. The new UEFA, Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and MLS rights deals are all for longer terms than the deals used to be. And that makes more sense, since channels will invest more in long-term promotion of their properties if they know they won’t be losing them in three years.

• Just look at how many different U.S. broadcast companies are now investing in soccer rights. You’ve got all four major over-the-air English-language networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC). You’ve got one giant streaming company (Apple), while another (Amazon) was CBS’s biggest competitor for the Champions League rights. You’ve got a big cable/streaming company (Turner) and the two Spanish-language giants (Univision and Telemundo).

The upside is we have the chance to see basically all the soccer in the U.S. these days. The downside is that if you like watching all the different leagues, the services you pay for to watch them add up.

• Streaming is here to stay, especially for soccer. In the U.S., at least, fútbol is a pillar for the streaming strategies of CBS, ESPN and NBC. (And if you hadn’t noticed, Spanish-language Vix recently went to a pay model.) If you’re a cord-cutter like me, it’s cool that you can get every Champions League game (on Paramount+), every La Liga and Bundesliga game on ESPN+ and every MLS game on Apple TV+ without having to pay for a cable-like package a la YouTubeTV. It’s also why I dislike the way NBC presents the Premier League, which requires you to pay for multiple paywalls and get a cable-equivalent package for USA-exclusive games.

Full disclosure: I do some (non-exclusive) work for CBS.

OPENING THE MAILBAG

NBC is sending Peter Drury and co. to Bournemouth-Arsenal on Saturday (on big NBC) and Man Utd-Liverpool on Monday (obviously) but not Leeds-Chelsea on Sunday. Any surprise/disappointment from you?

Media friend who asked not to be named

I’m surprised NBC hasn’t done more to promote the Leeds United games this season, since Leeds now has a U.S. coach (Jesse Marsch) and two USMNT stars (Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams). This decision adds to that surprise. Maybe they don’t want Drury doing three games in the same weekend very often?

How does U.S. Soccer pick jersey designs, and why are they so bad?

Sean H

The best story I’ve read on how kits get designed is by Pablo Maurer for The Athletic on MLS. I’m not sure what the exact process is between Nike and U.S. Soccer, but both deserve blame for the USMNT World Cup kit designs that leaked this week and received near-universal criticism from fans and even Weston McKennie and Tim Weah. 

Which club (other than Leeds United) would you pick to be featured in the next “All or Nothing” season?

Thomas

Probably PSG. Even the on-field clip showing the uncomfortable interactions between Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and Lionel Messi over the past week showed there must be a massive ego situation in that locker room. Woe be unto any coach (good luck, Christophe Galtier!) who has to try and manage that. I’ve changed my mind over the past year and realized that the successful tradition some clubs have (Real Madrid) and some clubs don’t have (PSG) does indeed make a difference in performance. If your players have enormous egos and don’t respect the history of the club, bad things can happen behind the scenes on a regular basis. But I’d love to see those things in a PSG All or Nothing!

You have been a stalwart of the soccer sports journalism scene. Obviously your Substack business model signals a change in the way we consume sports content. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the short-term and long-term outlook of the soccer media landscape.

Bob Lowe

Well, the TV conversation at the top of this column suggests that the long-term outlook for televised soccer in the U.S. is quite good! As for soccer journalism in the U.S., and journalism in general, that’s a bit more murky in the long term. Local newspapers are largely struggling. Free sites have a lot of annoying ads, clickbait and dumb stories. The outlets that actually produce stories you’re going to remember are typically subscription sites like the ones on Substack (including mine), The Athletic and the New York Times (which are actually the same company now). As much as the sport of soccer is growing in the U.S. right now, you’d hope that U.S. soccer journalism would be growing with it. But that’s sadly not the case. That’s why I hope enough people will subscribe to GrantWahl.com! 

How do they fix Manchester United? How long will it take?

RichG

The answer to this could be an entire column. Manchester United needs new ownership, needs a real sporting director with a long-term philosophy, needs that sporting director to hire the head coach, needs to have players who fit the long-term philosophy of the sporting director. One thing Man United does have is money, which should help, even if it hasn’t in recent years. But the process to do all the things I just mentioned will take a few years. New cultures don’t get established overnight. 

I am a big USMNT fan. Is there one good website/newsletter that provides a good consolidated synopsis of how each USMNT player played at their respective clubs the past week. If I don’t have time to watch the club games, it is hard to tell how these guys are doing.

Phil

I think everyone at Scuffed is doing a good job on keeping people very up to date on USMNT (and lately USWNT) players. Brain Sciaretta also does a good job on this front.

As a D.C. United loyal fan, I would love to hear your thoughts on Wayne Rooney as our coach. Thanks. I read your every published word.

Laurie Kauffman

Thanks for reading! Granted, we don’t have a lot of data points yet, but what Rooney accomplished at Derby County, nearly keeping the team up despite a huge points penalty, was incredible. I think he’s a future Premier League coach, and I like the way he has gone about not trying to take a Premier League job as soon as humanly possible. I don’t think he’ll be in D.C. that long, but if he’s not, that’s actually a good sign for what he’s about to accomplish with a team that looked pretty awful before he took over.

USMNT fans seem to want a serious soccer broadcast and pre/post game. I’m NFL, MLB and NBA too. I hate the nonsense, jokes, bits and comedy and just want pure intelligent analysis. I think NBC Sports has done this with the EPL. ESPN at times has done this with international games. Can we count on the World Cup on Fox treating us, the fans, like adults and not trying to “Americanize” the broadcast?

Mike

We could talk for a while on this one. So much of what we like or don’t like in sports studio shows is personal taste. I’m not even sure that your first statement—USMNT fans seem to want a serious broadcast—is backed up by what audiences actually prefer. I mean, the NFL has the most-watched studio shows of any sport, and those studios are what I would generally call “chuckle fests.” I’ve got no problem with having fun, but chuckle fests turn me off and I would prefer more intelligent conversation, analysis and reporting. That includes actual tactical discussions, which so many U.S. soccer studio shows seem afraid of presenting, as if they’ll be deemed “too smart” for their audiences.

Still, that’s my personal taste. One expected benefit of having many U.S. channels broadcasting soccer now (see above) is that each channel will have its own philosophy on how it approaches broadcasts and studio shows. I agree with you that NBC has the most intelligent studio analysis, followed by a tie of CBS/ESPN (though I wish Roberto Martínez was still on CBS; he was so smart and clearly watched a lot of games on the Continent). Fox seems to be mostly about embrace debate. We’ll see which directions Turner and Apple (produced by MLS) go in. I’m hoping Turner learned a lesson from what happened with its previous Champions League experience: Hire producers that are actual soccer people, and don’t strain every vein in your neck trying to be young and hip.

At this point it’s pretty obvious there is more broken at MLS side Atlanta United than Achilles tendons and ACLs. When will the front office (minus the recently departed Darren Eales) be held to account?

Josh Lane

The downward trend in Atlanta is starting to be long-term at this point, and the person with the most pressure on him is probably technical director Carlos Bocanegra. I was surprised he got a contract extension last November, but I don’t think that necessarily takes him off the hot seat, especially when owner Arthur Blank demands results and has already seen success when Tata Martino was the coach.

Have a great weekend!

UEFA strikes record deal with CBS for Champions League US TV rights

real-madrid

By Adam Crafton Aug 19, 2022


UEFA has agreed a deal for the US media rights for its club tournaments with Paramount Global, the owner of the CBS network, who saw off Amazon to agree one of the most lucrative broadcast deals in world sport.Paramount Global have agreed a six-year deal for the rights, in a total package worth $1.5billion, which breaks down to $250million per season.This is a dramatic increase on the $100million per season previously paid by Paramount and Univision.The deal comes after UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) appointed TEAM Marketing and Relevent Sports Group as sales partners for their men’s club competitions.There will be a separate sale for Spanish-speaking rights.“UEFA has been a key driver for Paramount+ since our launch and we are thrilled to extend this successful partnership showcasing even more world-class soccer through the 2029-30 season, building on the incredible momentum we have created the past two years,” said Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports. “UEFA is a perfect example of our differentiated strategy presenting marquee properties to drive and strengthen both our streaming and traditional linear businesses. This multiplatform approach allows us to leverage the power of Paramount Global to reach the broadest possible audience and elevate and grow the reach of UEFA in the United States. “We look forward to continuing to provide soccer fans CBS Sports’ best in class coverage that our viewers expect.”

Amazon retain a strong relationship with UEFA, given they already have broadcast deals in the UK, Germany and Italy. It is thought they are concentrating their major efforts in the US market on the NFL’s Thursday Night Football project.UEFA told The Athletic: “Due to ongoing contractual negotiations, we are not in a position to comment.”The contract will start from the 2024/25 season and will cover the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League, as well as the lucrative UEFA Champions League — which is set for sweeping changes.The tournament is set for a new format which will follow the ‘Swiss model’ and see the competition expanded to 36 teams with more matches.The 32-team group stage will be eliminated. Instead,36 teams will participate, in which each club will play 10 group stage games: five at home, five away.The top eight will advance automatically to a 16-team knockout round, and the next 16 teams will go into a play-off round to decide those final eight slots.

Americans in Europe: Where the USMNT’s World Cup hopefuls are playing across the Atlantic

  • Aug 17, 2022 ESPN

With the World Cup looming in November, never before has the start of a European club season been more important for players of the United States men’s national team. Those with aspirations of going to Qatar 2022 will need get off to a flying start to the 2022-23 season to confirm their place on the plane.

With leagues across the Old World kicking into gear, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter will have his eyes on more screens than he can count, monitoring how his players are performing in domestic competitions all over the continent. But where exactly are those Europe-based players playing this season?

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ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Kyle Bonagura, Bill Connelly, Dan Hajducky, Caitlin Murray, Danny Guerra and Austin Lindberg pin down where every World Cup hopeful is playing in 2022-23 and where they stand within their respective clubs. And while the transfer window remains open for the rest of the month, they’ll update this story with all the latest moves on who’s moving where.

– Stream Bundesliga, LaLiga, MLS and more on ESPN+
– Soccer on ESPN+: FC Daily | Futbol Americas
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access


Brenden Aaronson | Leeds United | Premier League

Age: 21
Position: Attacking midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 3,089 (FC Salzburg)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 842

Has anyone in the U.S. player pool seen their stock rise as rapidly as Aaronson in the past two seasons? After two solid MLS seasons with the Philadelphia Union, the New Jersey native, now 21, moved to FC Salzburg in January 2021 and quickly made an impact. In a season and a half in the Austrian Bundesliga, he scored eight goals with nine assists, and last year in the Champions League he scored twice in qualification, then recorded two assists in the group stage. He proved himself relentless in ball pressure, as well.

All the while, he’s become almost irreplaceable for the national team. With other key attackers battling injuries, he was one of the USMNT’s steadiest players in World Cup qualification, combining two goals with one assist and an endless supply of energy. Former Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch brought him to Leeds United this summer, and he’s been pivotal in playing 174 of 180 minutes against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton— Connelly


Tyler Adams | Leeds United | Premier League

Age: 23
Position: Midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 2,057 (RB Leipzig)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 1,219

Leeds manager and English pundits’ favorite American punching bag Marsch has taken heat for the Peacocks barely staying in England’s top flight last season. How did he bolster his squad? By making Adams, 23, the then-fourth-most-expensive American in soccer history.

Marsch may not be favored across the pond, but Adams is. His Leeds debut was met with wide praise: he was one of 12 Premier League midfielders to play 90 minutes, register 50-plus touches and 25 completed passes, take a shot and create a chance. After Leeds were relegated following the 2003-04 season, they didn’t sniff Premier League action for 17 years, but with Adams anchoring their ranks, they look poised to more than stay afloat.

Best of all? Adams is a mainstay in global football’s most competitive league right before a World Cup. — Hajducky

Why Marsch really needs Tyler Adams to succeed at Leeds

Herculez Gomez says there’s more than Leeds’ success riding on Tyler Adams’ performances at his new club.


George Bello | Arminia Bielefeld | 2. Bundesliga

Age: 20
Position: Left-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 427
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 249

Signed from Atlanta United FC in January, the 20-year-old left-back couldn’t help to prevent Arminia Bielefeld from suffering relegation last season. Both he and his club have gotten off to a terribly slow start on defense this season. Thus far, the move to Germany has not aided Bello’s development. — Connelly


John Brooks | Unattached

Age: 29
Position: Center-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 3,037 (VfL Wolfsburg)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 135

Brooks made just two appearances last season, both of which occurred nearly a year ago, in last September’s international window. Berhalter told the German-born and raised center-back that his physical attributes didn’t mesh with the high defensive line the manager’s tactical setup called for, and Brooks’ improved play in the second half of the season at Wolfsburg didn’t convince Berhalter to change his mind.

The Hertha Berlin academy graduate remains without a club, having left the Volkswagen Arena as a free agent over the summer, and that won’t do his chances of appearing at a second World Cup any favors whatsoever. — Lindberg


Gianluca Busio | Venezia | Serie B

Age: 20
Position: Midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 1,956
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 121

Busio looked bright in his first season in Europe, playing an hour or more in 14 of his first 18 appearances for Venezia before suffering from the fatigue of playing for a calendar year straight around the turn of the year. He was good enough in Serie A that the Venetian club’s relegation to Serie B prompted speculation that he would depart just 12 months after his arrival, in search of opportunities in one of Europe’s Big Five leagues. He penned a new two-year contract with the Italian club, though, stating his intent to return the team to Italy’s first division, and started and played 69 minutes in Venezia’s season-opening loss to Genoa. — Lindberg


Reggie Cannon | Boavista | Portuguese Primeira Liga

Age: 24
Position: Right-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 1,873
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 374

With roster sizes increasing to 26 for the 2022 World Cup, Cannon could end up being one of the beneficiaries of the additional three slots — he is not a likely starter, but could add valuable depth. He has played every minute for Portuguese top-flight club Boavista this season, and he will be looking to bounce back from a 2021-22 in which he missed three months to injury.

Although he is primarily a right-back, Cannon is capable of playing as a center-back and spent last season at Boavista in a back five. That versatility could prove useful, especially if Berhalter wants to use something akin to the 3-2-2-3 shape the USMNT has tinkered with. — Murray


Cameron Carter-Vickers | Celtic | Scottish Premiership

Age: 24
Position: Center-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 4,064
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 216

After a delightful loan spell in 2021-22, Celtic signed Carter-Vickers permanently this summer. It means that for the first time in his club career, the 24-year old — a strong passer and aerial presence — will play for the same club for two consecutive seasons. That certainly can’t be a bad thing for his overall development. — Connelly


Konrad de la Fuente | Olympiakos | Greek Super League

Age: 21
Position: Attacking midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 1,077 (Marseille)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 72

The ex-Barcelona academy graduate moved to Marseille last summer in hopes of more playing time, but injuries limited his impact. Now on loan at Olympiakos after initial reports of a LaLiga return, Konrad’s chances of a spot on the World Cup squad look slim. With the move to the Greek club, he just needs consistent playing time in order stay in the USMNT mix post-Qatar. — Guerra


Luca de la Torre | Celta Vigo | LaLiga

Age: 24
Position: Midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 3,043 (Heracles Almelo)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 347

De la Torre played in Europe — largely toiling in anonymity — for almost a decade between Fulham‘s youth ranks and senior squad from 2013 to 2020. Then he surprised in the Eredivisie from 2020 to 2022 as well; among players with 5,000 minutes played, De la Torre was first in passing percentage in the attacking third (86.1%), second in overall passing percentage (87.3%) and 16th in chances created (55).

He’ll contribute under the brightest lights yet, moving to LaLiga’s Celta Vigo this summer, although he didn’t get off the bench in their season opener. If he can get into a rhythm and build momentum in Spain, he could turn heads in Qatar. — Hajducky


Sergino Dest | Barcelona | LaLiga

Age: 21
Position: Right-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 2,042
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 424

Dest’s future at Camp Nou resembles the club’s finances: shrouded in mystery. The recently “clinically dead” Barcelona welcomed an apocryphal flood of newcomers this summer, casting some doubt on Dest’s future there.

Dani Alves‘ release supported reports that Dest was in Xavi’s plans moving forward, but sources have told ESPN that the manager prefers Dest as a complementary defender, suggesting playing time could be limited — he was an unused substitute in Barca’s season-opening scoreless draw against Rayo Vallecano. Privately, Dest’s camp aren’t against a move; ESPN’s Moises Llorens reported that Barcelona are hearing offers and already beleaguered Manchester United coach Erik ten Hag — who gave Dest his professional debut at Ajax in 2019 — fancies the Dutch-American full-back.

It’s not an ideal concoction with Qatar three months out. Of course, a swift move to Old Trafford could be an elixir. Dest, 21, is an upgrade over United wing-back Diogo Dalot and steady Premier League minutes, with U.S. vs. England looming on Nov. 25, could prove invaluable. But how does the injury-prone Dest fare in the bruising Premier League? And is that club stable enough for him to really show his skills? Wherever Dest’s future lies, it needs resolution … and fast. — Hajducky

Gomez warns Dest against ‘career derailing’ Man Utd move

Herculez Gomez says a switch to Man Utd would be even worse for Sergino Dest than staying on the bench at Barcelona.


Daryl Dike | West Bromwich Albion | English Championship

Age: 22
Position: Forward
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 84
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 0

After a hamstring injury dampened his spring arrival to West Brom, Dike had looked good for the Championship side in preseason, only to suffer a “substantial tear” to his thigh muscle in training following the first game of the regular season. If the ex-Orlando City man gets fit again and rediscovers the form he had during his loan at Barnsley in 2021, he will be in the mix for the much-maligned USMNT striker role. — Guerra


Matthew Hoppe | Middlesbrough | English Championship

Age: 21
Position: Forward
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 169 (Mallorca)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 17

Hoppe’s single season in LaLiga with Mallorca didn’t go as planned. He made just seven appearances, with one start, although injuries and a bout with COVID-19 played a part. Now he’s secured a permanent move to Middlesbrough in the Championship, and the hope is that he’ll have more opportunities to make an impression on Berhalter, be it as a forward or out wide. — Carlisle


Ethan Horvath | Luton Town | English Championship

Age: 27
Position: Goalkeeper
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 900 (Nottingham Forest)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 90

Playing time has been hard to come by for the 27-year-old, as he ended up as a backup at both Club Brugge and Nottingham Forest the past three years. He’s been loaned to Luton this season, however, which should give him a chance to find his form; he’s started all three of their league games so far in 2022-23. Is it too late to make an impression? — Connelly


Weston McKennie | Juventus | Serie A

Age: 23
Position: Midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 1,965
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 777

If the USMNT is going to be successful in Qatar, Juventus midfielder McKennie will likely need to play a big role, and he’ll want to avoid a repeat of last season in the run-up to the World Cup. McKennie’s 2021-22 was dogged with on-and-off injuries, as well as disciplinary issues with both the USMNT and Juve, and he finished with four goals in 29 appearances. Despite a preseason injury, he started Juventus’ 2022-23 Serie A opener on Monday, playing 76 minutes in a win over Sassuolo.

In this window, McKennie has been linked to bigger clubs throughout Europe, including Tottenham HotspurAS Roma and Atletico Madrid, but it appears he will stay put at Juve, where his contract runs three more years. Coach Massimiliano Allegri has expressed confidence in McKennie, last month calling him the best American in Europe at the moment. That’s up for debate, of course, but McKennie’s versatility has seen him play in several positions in his career, particularly at his former club Schalke 04, and his ball-winning ability means that looking only at goals stats won’t capture all he brings, even in an attacking midfield role.

It appears Allegri will give McKennie the chances to earn continued minutes in Turin, but McKennie’s biggest challenges may be to stay healthy and out of the newspaper gossip pages. Those are realistically the only setbacks that could prevent McKennie from making the trip and starting regularly for the USMNT. — Murray


Mark McKenzie | Genk | Belgian Pro League

Age: 23
Position: Center-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 2,128
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 180

After getting his move to Genk in Belgium in January 2021, after helping Philadelphia to the Supporters’ Shield in MLS, McKenzie seemed positioned to compete for a starting role with the U.S. That hasn’t happened. He struggled for minutes in the second half of the club season and hasn’t played for the U.S. since going 90 minutes in a 1-0 qualifying loss to Panama in October. At this point, he’s a long shot to play his way back into Berhalter’s plans. — Bonagura


Yunus Musah | Valencia | LaLiga

Age: 19
Position: Midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 1,714
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 1,003

Musah’s decision to represent the USMNT over England was a major coup for Berhalter and the 19-year-old midfielder is among the most promising and versatile players in the pool. Musah will have a new manager in Gennaro Gattuso (an ex-midfield maestro himself) at Valencia, which could bode well for his development. He started their season opener (a 1-0 win over newly promoted Girona) in central midfield and went the full 90 minutes there. — Guerra


Erik Palmer-Brown | Troyes | Ligue 1

Age: 25
Position: Center-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 1,857
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 55

After a lengthy spell in the Manchester City loan army, Palmer-Brown moved permanently to Troyes last season and started 19 Ligue 1 matches. He looked solid in a back three during the club’s narrow, season-opening loss to Montpellier, and sources have told ESPN’s Julien Laurens that manager Bruno Irles sees him as a key contributor in 2022-23. — Connelly


Jordan Pefok | Union Berlin | Bundesliga

Age: 26
Position: Forward
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 3,164 (Young Boys)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 139

What Pefok did at Young Boys in the Swiss Super League in the past two seasons was quite impressive: 42 goals and nine assists in 87 appearances, which works out to be a direct goal contribution every 96 minutes. That he was rewarded with just 307 minutes for the national team across those two years is rather curious.

If there were questions about the strength of competition in the Swiss league, those will be put to bed by the former France youth international moving to the Bundesliga with Union. Sunday’s scoreless draw with Mainz was just Pefok’s third game with his new team, and it was also the first time he hadn’t scored for Die Eisernen, having netted in his first two appearances. In all three games so far, he’s started, suggesting he will get every chance to prove himself worthy of playing in one of the strongest leagues in the world on a regular basis. — Lindberg


Ricardo Pepi | FC Augsburg | Bundesliga

Age: 19
Position: Forward
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 475
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 708

Heading into 2022, Pepi seemed like a virtual lock for the USMNT in Qatar. At just 18 years old, he scored in his first two games for the USMNT — back-to-back World Cup qualifying wins — including both goals in a 2-0 victory over Jamaica in October. Then he made the leap to Europe, joining Bundesliga side Augsburg in January from MLS for a hefty $20 million transfer fee.

But that was end of what was expected to be Pepi’s big breakout. He tallied no goals and no assists in 11 appearances for Augsburg last season, and barely has gotten on the field during preseason and the new Bundesliga season. He hasn’t scored for the USMNT since his first two games either. Meanwhile, the striker’s chances of heading to Qatar keep dropping. — Murray


Christian Pulisic | Chelsea | Premier League

Age: 23
Position: Attacking midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 2,207
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 862

Last season was one of frustration for Pulisic. Sure, he made 38 appearances in all competitions, scoring eight goals, but just 21 of those were starts, and his shifting role — he was used as an attacking midfielder, as a false nine and as a wing-back last year — reveals that he wasn’t one of Thomas Tuchel’s preferred attacking options.

This campaign is shaping up as more of the same, with sources telling ESPN’s James Olley that there are doubts about Pulisic within the Chelsea hierarchy. Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner may be gone, but Raheem Sterling has arrived. Reports state that Chelsea are searching for another forward, and with Tuchel employing a 3-4-3 (at least so far), the American is looking like a depth piece.

That assumes that he remains at Stamford Bridge. Sources told Olley on Wednesday morning that Manchester United have inquired about a deal for Pulisic. And the Red Devils aren’t alone in their interest: Newcastle United are also monitoring the situation, while Juventus and Atletico Madrid are said to be keen on adding the former Dortmund starlet as well. — Carlisle

Gomez: Pulisic has to get out of Chelsea during this window

Herculez Gomez urges Christian Pulisic to find somewhere to get the playing time he needs ahead of the World Cup.


Giovanni Reyna | Borussia Dortmund | Bundesliga

Age: 19
Position: Attacking midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 647
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 194

Perhaps the most talented player in the pool, Reyna is coming off a nightmarish season during which he spent the bulk of his time rehabbing and watching from the sideline. Thanks to an injury picked up in the first U.S. qualifying match, Reyna made just 10 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund (with two goals and an assist) with his season coming to a teary end five minutes into a start against Stuttgart on April 8.

He has yet to appear for Dortmund this season as the club takes a cautious approach to bringing him back. However, a debut could come at any time.

When he’s healthy, he needs to be on the field for the U.S. Whether that’s on the wing, in central midfield or maybe even at striker can be sorted out later. If he’s healthy, his talent will make a difference in some capacity. — Bonagura


Chris Richards | Crystal Palace | Premier League

Age: 22
Position: Center-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 1,525 (TSG HoffenheimBayern Munich)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 361

Richards has been gaining considerable experience the past two seasons in the Bundesliga, earning a starting spot while on loan at Hoffenheim before injuries cut short his most recent campaign. He also established himself as a dependable option in Berhalter’s lineup, and with Miles Robinson sidelined by an Achilles injury, Richards figures to be one of the starting center-backs.

He hasn’t completely locked up that position just yet, though, and now that Richards has moved to the Premier League with Crystal Palace, he has made one substitute appearance in the first two games of the season. He’ll need to change that if he’s to maintain his hold on a starting spot. — Carlisle


Antonee Robinson | Fulham | Premier League

Age: 25
Position: Left-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 3,032
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 1,284

There isn’t need for a mind trick here, with the player known as “Jedi” expected to heavily feature for both club and country. He’s locked in as the starting left-back for both teams — especially for the USMNT, where the depth is thin — and went the full 90 minutes in Fulham’s pair of draws against Wolves and Liverpool to start the season.

Along with speed and solid defensive skills, Robinson has the ability to stay out wide and contribute to the attack. Playing on the same side as Pulisic in a first-choice XI, Robinson can pressure the opposing outside back with the ball and get in position to send in crosses if the wingers drift toward the middle. — Guerra


Josh Sargent | Norwich City | English Championship

Age: 22
Position: Forward
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 1,976
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 116

Sargent’s first season in England wasn’t a resounding success, contributing directly to a goal every 256 minutes in 2021-22. On paper, the former Werder Bremen striker should find this season more straightforward, contesting the second division with Norwich; he’s started two of the Canaries’ five competitive matches so far, scoring one goal.

While Sargent is unlikely to be a consideration for the national team at any position other than No. 9, he’s divided his time for Norwich between center-forward and right wing. Perhaps worrying for the USMNT, just less than half of the Missouri native’s 199 minutes this season have come up front for Dean Smith’s side. — Lindberg


Joe Scally | Borussia Monchengladbach | Bundesliga

Age: 19
Position: Right-back
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 2,129
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 135

Of all the Americans in top-five European leagues, none played more minutes last season than Scally. On its own, that’s a remarkable achievement for the New York City FC academy graduate who won’t turn 20 until New Year’s Eve. With the national team, he’s been limited to a 45-minute appearance in the summer friendly against Morocco (with mixed reviews), but as long as he’s playing regularly with Monchengladbach — which will be a tall order with the return to fitness of Stefan Lainer — he’ll be in mix for one of the backup full-back spots. — Bonagura


Zack Steffen | Middlesbrough | English Championship

Age: 27
Position: Goalkeeper
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 810 (Manchester City)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 540

Last season tested — and perhaps exceeded — the limits of Steffen’s role with Manchester City as backup to Ederson. His high-profile blunder in the FA Cup semifinal against Liverpool, when he gifted a goal to Sadio Mane, not to mention some uneven performances for the U.S., validated concerns about Steffen’s lack of game sharpness. So now he’s off to Middlesbrough on loan.

It’s still crazy early, but Steffen’s performances so far have been uneven, especially in the 3-2 defeat to QPR. There is time to turn things around, and he remains a favorite of Berhalter’s, but the reality is that the competition for the starting spot with the U.S. is still open, and Steffen needs to find some consistency. — Carlisle


Malik Tillman | Rangers | Scottish Premiership

Age: 20
Position: Attacking midfielder
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 164 (Bayern Munich)
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 70

Tillman only became eligible to play for the USMNT in May after representing Germany throughout his youth career, but lately he has emerged as a player to keep an eye on. The 20-year-old got promoted from Bayern Munich II to the senior side last year, making four appearances, and last month joined Rangers on loan, where he is finding his footing.

He scored his first goal for the Glasgow club over the weekend and then on Tuesday he netted in a win that put Rangers through to the next round of Champions League qualifying. Tillman remains a long shot for Qatar, but more performances like these could change that. — Murray


Matt Turner | Arsenal | Premier League

Age: 28
Position: Goalkeeper
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 2,100
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 990

By this point, Turner’s rapid ascent has been properly documented, but it’s still worth taking a second to acknowledge his unique path to Arsenal and the English Premier League. When his time playing college soccer at Fairfield (a small Division I school in Connecticut) was up in 2015, there was only cursory interest from professional teams. An invite to train with New England landed him a contract and a place at the bottom of the depth chart before developing into one of the best goalkeepers MLS has ever seen.

Since moving to Arsenal this summer, Turner has been told to fight to be the club’s No. 1, although sources told ESPN’s James Olley that there is an acceptance that he will begin the campaign behind Aaron Ramsdale on the depth chart. Turner has quickly become a popular figure in north London, with staff impressed by his approachability, professionalism and willingness to learn.

There is little doubt he will be with the U.S. in Qatar. He’s been in a battle for the starting job for more than a year, so the only question about his role will be will he start or will he be the No. 2. — Bonagura


Timothy Weah | Lille | Ligue 1

Age: 22
Position: Forward
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 1,888
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 785

Weah, 22, is still positioned to excel in France, but he’s struggled to stay healthy — and has missed Lille’s first two games of the 2022-23 season with a foot injury — perform consistently and meet (admittedly lofty) expectations.

Leaving Paris Saint-Germain was supposed to mean a clean slate, but Weah has found the net just six times since arriving at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in 2019. He’ll be in Qatar, but he’s a long shot for the starting XI. — Guerra


Haji Wright | Antalyaspor | Turkish Super Lig

Age: 24
Position: Forward
Minutes for club in 2021-22: 2,069
Minutes for country in 2021-22: 119

After years spent in the European wilderness, Wright resurrected his career last season, scoring 15 goals in all competitions while on loan with Turkish Super Lig side Antalyaspor and earning a recall to the U.S. side. Quite sensibly, he made the move from Danish side SonderjyskE permanent, and that familiarity should maximize his odds of going to Qatar.

His spot is still very much up in the air, however. While he scored a penalty in the 3-0 win over Morocco, overall, with the U.S. he didn’t really make that much of an impact from open play. The forward competition remains wide open, but Wright still has plenty of work to do to get on the plane for Qatar. — Carlisle

Christian Pulisic’s potential Manchester United loan has appeal after years of Chelsea uncertainty

Paul Tenorio Aug 18, 2022 The Athletic

Thomas Tuchel’s comment in his press conference following his first game in charge at Chelsea seemed entirely innocuous.“It was an unfair decision for him today to not start,” the German said of Christian Pulisic, whom he had previously coached as a teenager making his professional debut at Borussia Dortmund. “I told him it was only because I know what he can bring from the bench.”But that thought in January 2021 proved to be a harbinger of what has become a tenuous spell for Pulisic under Tuchel — one that may be nearing its breaking point.Pulisic arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2019 having altered the perception for what is possible for American players in Europe. If Clint Dempsey opened the door for creative Americans at the game’s highest level, Pulisic introduced the possibility that they can be found at younger ages and fostered to star status. He remains a central figure for a youthful U.S. national team that will go to Qatar with a level of expectation and optimism that is unlike that of any other U.S. men’s team. Even with a Champions League title and some bright individual moments at Chelsea, his time in West London has been far from perfect, though. Over the last 18 months, especially, Pulisic has been in a constant fight to prove his place on the field under Tuchel,at times even when he is producing and playing well.Pulisic has not convincingly grabbed a top role, but it has never felt as though he was backed to win one, either. From the start, it has seemed like an uphill climb. The American winger started just twice in Tuchel’s first 10 games at Chelsea and often found himself on the bench in the biggest contests that first season — in both legs of the Champions League round of 16 against Atlético Madrid; in the FA Cup semifinal and final; in the second leg of the semifinal against Real Madrid after starting and scoring in the first leg; and then in the Champions League final. The dynamics were unchanged last season. Pulisic started just 13 of 22 Premier League games in which he appeared. Even when selected by Tuchel, he was often played out of position — he hasn’t seen regular minutes at his preferred left winger spot in a 4-3-3 but started in central midfield, right wingback and as a false 9.Now 23 years old, Pulisic is difficult to get a read on — in the media spotlight since the age of 17, he’s learned to protect his true feelings — but it became clear that the precariousness of his role with Chelsea last year was taking a toll. “Obviously it has been up and down this year, for sure,” Pulisic said in a press conference ahead of World Cup qualifiers in January. “Not exactly where I want to be and how I want things to be right now. I’m just going to keep going and it doesn’t affect me when I come here.”

Even as he acknowledged the mental strain, Pulisic seemed game to prove himself to Tuchel, just as he had under previous Chelsea manager Frank Lampard. He finished with eight goals and three assists in all competitions last season despite the instability of his position. In April, Pulisic told reporters he was happy at Chelsea, and his attitude this offseason was to once again fight his way into Tuchel’s plans. “I’ve had some good moments and some tougher moments and I’m continuously having to prove myself,” Pulisic told ESPN. “And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”With a total of just 30 minutes played in Chelsea’s first two Premier League games this season, however, and Tuchel lining up multiple options at his position, including the newly-acquired Raheem Sterling, Pulisic may finally be open to a change of scenery.The Athletic reported Wednesday that Manchester United is interested in taking Pulisic on loan for the season and that Pulisic is amenable to the move, where more regular playing time, albeit at a club in the middle of its own mess, could afford him some relief — and better preparation for the November World Cup in Qatar.Three years after arriving at Chelsea with a price tag once unfathomable for an American player, Pulisic seems to be at a pivotal moment in his career. He is three months away from a World Cup that he has been waiting for since missing the 2018 tournament as a teenager. The inconsistencies of his time at Chelsea have hardened his mentality, but left us wondering what potential may have been unfulfilled. He still has so much left to prove.You can’t stand your tallest when you’re on uncertain footing, however, and Pulisic seems set on looking for more stable ground — even if it means going to a club that appears unmoored. 

Pulisic, ChelseaPulisic reacts after a missed chance during the Premier League match against Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on May 19. (Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images)


Four years ago, as Pulisic was figuring out his move away from Borussia Dortmund, the influence of then-Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri played a pivotal role. Pulisic felt he fit into Sarri’s tactics, and despite the Italian’s claim that he was in the dark about the signing, Pulisic’s father, Mark, told the New York Times that his son and his camp met with the Chelsea coach for some time before finalizing the move.

The hope was that the energetic, quick, creative player who thrived in the Bundesliga in the transition style of play at Dortmund could take the next step at a club like Chelsea. In order to get the deal across the line, however, Dortmund required Pulisic to finish out the season in Germany. And by the time Pulisic arrived at Chelsea, Sarri was departing for Juventus and Pulisic was walking into a drastically different scenario. Lampard, not Sarri, would be his manager. In the midst of a transfer ban, Chelsea was also making a push to utilize more of their young, homegrown talent. There would be no red carpet for the American.Leeds manager Jesse Marsch, then at Red Bull Salzburg, recalled a conversation with Lampard in the preseason in which he felt Lampard undervalued Pulisic’s readiness for the Premier League

“Even Frank Lampard, when I spoke to him in preseason a year ago now, I was talking to him about having Christian Pulisic and he was kind of like, ‘Yeah, he’s got a lot to learn so we’ll see how he does,’” Marsch said on MLS’s ExtraTime podcast. “I said to him, ‘Listen, he was at Dortmund, and they had a high level of tactical thinking, of playing, and he was very successful.’ … I could see right away that Frank Lampard’s idea of Christian Pulisic was shaped a lot by the fact that he was American and not that his football education came a lot from what has happened in Germany. Since then, I think Lampard has learned that Pulisic is a lot better than he gave him credit for.”It was a characterization Lampard pushed back on, but even then it seemed Pulisic, a marquee $73 million signing, had to prove his value. And he did. Pulisic started matches in the early portion of the season, but was relegated to the bench in the fall, after a September international window. Following three consecutive substitute appearances, Pulisic got a start and scored a hat trick against Burnley. That performance helped propel him back into Lampard’s preferred 11, and Pulisic would start 27 of 34 games played across all competitions that season, scoring 11 goals with six assists. By the end of the year, Lampard and Pulisic had forged a stronger understanding. Lampard seemed to confirm that this summer, when on tour in the U.S. as Everton manager. Asked about Pulisic, the former Chelsea star backed him to have a big influence at the club, if given the chance.“I’ve got a lot of time for Christian,” Lampard told Pro Soccer Wire. “I think I worked well with him and just tried to develop him and had a really good relationship with him. He’s got incredible talent. He’s a great boy. I found him really pleasurable to work with as well as a talent.“He’s really fast and (has a quick) change in direction and it’s balanced. He’s still a young player. It feels like he’s been around a long time because he broke through so young. So there’s still a lot to come from Christian, but those basics of the speed and balance is not (something) everyday players have. He’s special like that.”Lampard, of course, can now only provide outside perspective because he was sacked in January 2021, once again forcing Pulisic into a battle to prove himself. When Tuchel was hired by Chelsea, the assumption was that Pulisic’s time with him at Dortmund would be an advantage. But the pair had never forged a close relationship in their year and a half together in Germany. And, after that first Premier League game together, it seemed clear that Tuchel had his mind made up about what Pulisic could bring to his squad. Pulisic was asked this summer in an interview with ESPN if he felt Tuchel still saw him as the 17-year-old from Dortmund.“It could be,” Pulisic said. “I guess you’d have to ask him. That’s not who I am anymore. For sure he knows I’ve grown a lot as a player, there’s no doubt. I think I have grown a lot and that’s not how I want him to view me, I want him to view me as the player I am now. I’m just going to continue improving and showing him why I deserve to be on the field as much as I can.”If there has been a theme to Pulisic’s time at Chelsea, it has been that. He has shown a mental fortitude to push through the difficult moments and fight his way back onto the field.  U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter noted as much in an appearance on The Athletic’s Allocation Disorder: 1v1 podcast earlier this month.“I think if there’s one player in our player pool that really understands how to deal with adversity and deal with the competition at a big club, it’s Christian,” Berhalter said. “He’s been doing that at a young age at Dortmund, a big club in Germany, moving to Chelsea and just clawing his way into playing time and results and performance and goals and assists.”

That mentality will surely benefit Pulisic, but it hasn’t been enough to earn him a regular spot at Chelsea. At a point that could determine the trajectory of the rest of his career, Pulisic feels he has much more to give. With his first crack at the game’s biggest stage coming up in November, there is added urgency in finding the right place to be able to grow.


Reaction to the news of Manchester United’s interest in Pulisic was swift for USMNT fans on social media: Why Manchester United? Why now? 

Erik ten Hag became the first United manager since 1921 to lose his first two competitive games in charge. They sit bottom of the table for the first time since 1992 after two hopeless performances. Ten Hag’s replacements are already being bandied about by bookmakers and on fan forums. There has never been less curb appeal for Old Trafford, but the reality is that Manchester United is still a massive club. It’s one a 17-year-old Pulisic once noted was a club he loved to watch growing up, with a player whose passion he so admired: Wayne Rooney. A chance to follow in Rooney’s influential footsteps might be what the U.S. star needs to push forward.On the international stage, Pulisic is still a player around which the U.S. team is built. There is no clear No. 9 for the Americans as they prepare for Qatar. Berhalter’s system is built to emphasize midfield play, and especially the wingers: Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Tim Weah and Brenden Aaronson. Without a true goalscorer, they hoped that Pulisic could ascend into that featured role. But as he’s struggled for consistent form at the club level, it’s been a big ask for him to be the star man for the U.S. That Pulisic led the team in goals in qualifying with five, however, shows that he is still their biggest difference-maker when he is in form.A chance to get a regular run of games in a consistent position is enticing, even as poor as United have looked so far. Pulisic faces less competition for a starting role with United than at Chelsea in Ten Hag’s 4-3-3. Jadon Sancho has struggled and Anthony Martial is only just returning from injury, while Marcus Rashford hasn’t had his best start to a season. Theoretically, Ten Hag’s style of football should fit Pulisic’s abilities. Pulisic has shown how difficult he is to defend when he’s on the left wing, running at defenders in space. His ability to press defensively, progress the ball forward and get into dangerous positions in and around the box — one of his strongest attributes is arriving in the box to finish plays — could give United an element they’re clearly missing. 

In addition, moving to Manchester United instead of Newcastle, another club rumored to be interested in Pulisic, presents plenty of short- and long-term benefits. United will play in Europe this season, Newcastle won’t. Manchester United has the funds to buy Pulisic if he performs well. Newcastle has the ownership cash to do it, but might face financial fair play challenges. Globally, Manchester United is still seen as a massive club. Newcastle is in the early stages of what they hope is a Manchester City-like build, but even with a massive influx of cash, that transformation took time.There’s also very little risk for Pulisic in a one-year loan, which is how this deal would likely be structured. Manchester United’s current position only elevates the potential reward for Pulisic should he perform, and aid a turnaround at the club. If things continued to go south for Manchester United, however, Pulisic could extricate himself from the situation and return to Chelsea next season.From a U.S. perspective, the risk is very much worth the potential reward. There is very little drawback ahead of the World Cup. Playing regularly at Manchester United would certainly help Pulisic hit his stride before Qatar. And the U.S. will want Pulisic playing regularly, if possible — though it’s notable that they found ways to keep Pulisic productive with the U.S., even during last year’s tumult. Regardless of where Pulisic is, or how much he is playing, he will be on the U.S. roster and in contention to play and start in Qatar. He’s simply too important to the squad to think otherwise. But the U.S. needs him to be more than just in the squad and in contention to start. Pulisic’s creative ability and effectiveness around the box is elite. The U.S. needs him to be a star. They need him to be the type of player that a $73 million move to Chelsea represented.Ultimately, the potential move to United will come down to whether Chelsea is willing to let him go on loan, and whether Pulisic feels its best for him, both in the short- and long-term. Pulisic’s time with Chelsea accomplished plenty — it changed how Americans are perceived, even despite his irregular playing time; he was the first American to play and win a Champions League final; and he showed he can be productive in the Premier League. Mostly, though, it’s left us wanting more —

Christian Pulisic to Manchester United: Does it make sense for him, USMNT and Chelsea?

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea battles for possession with Alex Telles and Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on November 28, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

By Philip Buckingham Aug 17, 2022


On Tuesday, The Athletic revealed Manchester United are considering a move to sign Christian Pulisic on loan.

It is an interesting time, and possible temporary transfer, for Pulisic.

The United States men’s captain has a World Cup around the corner but is struggling for game time at Chelsea. Going to United could help him and his national team, but there are doubts over whether Old Trafford is the best place for any player right now.

Here, The Athletic takes a look at those issues.


Does Pulisic need to leave Chelsea?

Over the last 12 months, there has been a creeping sense that Pulisic’s future lies away from Stamford Bridge. For all head coach Thomas Tuchel commands an important place in the American’s story after ushering him into Borussia Dortmund’s senior ranks in 2016, he has been unconvinced by Pulisic’s value in the Premier League.Just 13 starts came in the 38 league matches last season as his progress was derailed by COVID-19 and an ankle injury, and Pulisic has again had to settle for a peripheral role in the opening weeks of this one. He came off the bench to play a combined total of 31 minutes in Chelsea’s two fixtures so far — a 1-0 win away to Everton and Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham.Pulisic spoke in the summer of his “tough moments” at Chelsea and having a will to prove himself to Tuchel but a lack of first-team opportunities has become an increasing source of irritation. With the World Cup just three months away, the USMNT captain will be desperate to arrive in Qatar in peak form and fitness.He does love being at Chelsea — both the club and his team-mates. Pulisic is just keen to play more football though and, in that sense, the only issue is what Tuchel thinks of him.

What has happened there?

Like others at Chelsea, including Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, Chelsea’s sizeable investment in the American has brought no guarantees of a long-term future. Pulisic has struggled to make a lasting impression at the west London club since signing for £58million ($70m) in 2019, with the good form of Mason Mount and Kai Havertz at positions he could play limiting his chances.The summer signing of England-team regular Raheem Sterling from Manchester City has provided another obstacle in a squad that also includes youngsters Armando Broja and Conor Gallagher, who are back with their parent club after impressing out on loan last season. The very public pursuit of Everton’s promising forward Anthony Gordon, a 21-year-old who could cost Chelsea as much as £50million, is another indication that Pulisic’s face no longer fits.The club’s enormous summer of spending — and an appetite to do even more of it before the transfer deadline on September 1 — also demands that Tuchel’s squad is trimmed accordingly.Lukaku has been loaned out to Inter Milan, with Werner joining RB Leipzig — in both cases, the clubs Chelsea had signed them from. Morocco international Ziyech, another keen on more game time ahead of the World Cup, is another they will consider offloading before this window closes.Just offloading Pulisic’s wages in a loan deal will help their finances but Chelsea also need to raise money through sales. This is where farming out Pulisic to a possible rival for a top-six finish this season — and so, European football in 2023-24 — in United makes less sense. He has two years left on his deal, so any loan would only park a potential sale until next summer, when his contract status could negatively impact any fee Chelsea could receive.If the American takeover of Chelsea, led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, was once considered a potential turning point for Pulisic, it has done little to alter the perception that Tuchel has other preferences.Going out on loan this summer would at least leave the door open for a return.

Christian PulisicPulisic has not started either of Chelsea’s league games so far this season (Photo: Getty Images)

Is joining Manchester United the right move?

Being signed by United is not the glamour transfer it used to be. They are already in a hole two games into the season, bottom of the Premier League after losing 2-1 to Brighton & Hove Albion at home and then suffering Saturday 4-0 embarrassment away to Brentford. Already, the pressure is on new manager Erik ten Hag, whose team will play Europa League football this season, not Champions League, after finishing sixth last time.

United do desperately need greater attacking options.

England duo Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have both started the season unconvincingly and there remains huge doubt over the future of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 37-year-old Portugal international has attempted to engineer a move away from United this summer so he can play in Champions League this season and Ten Hag is now willing to let the veteran forward — despite his age, the club’s top scorer last season with more than twice as many goals as their next most prolific player — leave.France international striker Anthony Martial is, at least, close to returning from the injury that caused him to miss the Brighton and Brentford games.https://theathletic.com/report/podcast-clip?clip_id=5939

The dearth of depth in United’s attacking ranks makes new talent a must in the next two weeks but any signing would need to be capable of handling mounting scrutiny at a club grasping for the reset button with growing desperation.

The main thing in United’s favour is that there doesn’t appear to be a huge market for Pulisic in terms of signing him permanently for a significant fee.

Where would he fit in at United?

Sancho, another who made his name in Dortmund, has struggled to find his feet in Manchester since being signed last summer and the arrival of Ten Hag, a serial title winner with leading Dutch club Ajax, has so far done little to address the individual malaise. Rashford, too, has been unable to provide an attacking spark in a team who have been beset by defensive issues in their opening two games.Ten Hag wants United to play “proactive” football so Pulisic, in theory, would be aligned to the Dutchman’s style. They are desperately struggling to press high up the pitch. It was painfully apparent during the ill-fated reign of interim manager Ralf Rangnick over the second half of last season and very little has changed with largely the same personnel now available to Ten Hag.Pulisic has verve and energy, and can be a creative force for team-mates. He would offer something different for United.

Would this move help the USMNT before the World Cup?

There is every chance it would. No national team wants their talisman undercooked going into a tournament. The United States face Wales in their opening game on November 21, before further group matches against England and Iran.There are only 14 rounds of Premier League football left before its 20 clubs down tools for the World Cup and although staying at Chelsea could afford Pulisic additional chances in their six-match Champions League group phase campaign and the domestic Carabao Cup — although they will only play once in that competition before Qatar — there would be questions over his sharpness going into Qatar 2022 if his season continues as it has so far.That is the greatest incentive for Pulisic to leave Chelsea before the end of the summer window.He has made no secret of his belief that the USMNT can go far in Qatar, and the first World Cup of Pulisic’s career warrants the best preparation. There will be a heavy burden on the nation’s 23-year-old captain.

Norwich’s Josh Sargent proves his point after shining in desired central role

Norwich City's Josh Sargent celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich. Picture date: Tuesday August 16, 2022. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

By Michael BaileyAug 17, 2022


Josh Sargent paused. There was a nervous laugh and, not for the first time on the night, a broad smile.t felt for a moment like there would be no answer forthcoming, but he finally broke the silence.“I was patient, I’ve got this opportunity and I’ll try to make the most of it. That’s where we are at right now,” said Sargent.Where is he?

Firstly, he is in a good place. Norwich’s 2-1 home win over Huddersfield Town on Tuesday was their first of the season (at the fifth attempt) and came following Sargent’s opening goal in the sixth minute — his first since January and first at Carrow Road in eight days shy of a year.

Secondly, he is central. Slap-bang in the middle, playing as Norwich’s sole striker.

The pause had been Sargent’s diplomacy kicking in. Turning down the chance to play minutes in the Premier League does not happen, even if it is not in your preferred position.For a 22-year-old already faced with the need to develop his game and a transfer fee of around £9million ($10.9m) from last summer to justify, his efforts in a wider forward role – where the vast majority of his Norwich appearances have come – have often struggled to stretch beyond functional.But with Teemu Pukki sidelined by the bruised foot he picked up against Hull City at the weekend, Sargent got his shot and produced an eye-catching 68 minutes. As eye-catching as any of the 33 outings he’d made for the club before last night.Once again, head coach Dean Smith opted to play a 4-3-3 formation that switches to a 4-1-4-1. In both scenarios, it leaves the sole striker as a key component in Norwich’s attacking play.

Sargent had 24 touches of the ball against Huddersfield. Those included his goal and an unofficial assist – a deflected shot – that led to Danel Sinani making it 2-0 after just 16 minutes, as well as reaching Sinani’s wonderful first-time through ball just after half-time before Tom Lees committed the foul that would earn him a red card.You can see them all below, including eight in the opposition box and all bar two in the Huddersfield half.

For comparison, Pukki managed 19 playing up front in Norwich’s other home Championship game so far this season — a 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic 10 days earlier.Perhaps most interestingly, Pukki’s (No 22) Wigan outing saw his average position pulled slightly to the left channel, which you can see below.

Milot Rashica (7) was the highest team-mate in support and Todd Cantwell (14) the closest, but with a lop-sided midfield passing network behind him, that hampered the Finn’s goal-scoring opportunities. Pukki recorded an expected goals (xG) figure of 0.18 in 90 minutes against Wigan.

Compare that with Sargent’s role against Huddersfield, where his average position was much more central and higher up the pitch. He also recorded a match-high individual xG of 0.35.

Although the stronger passing combinations were still behind Norwich’s striker rather than involving him, there was a better balance with a triangle in each channel behind the United States international.

That works as an indication of the wider service of crosses Smith’s side looked to provide, rather than the more central through balls Pukki prefers.

Sargent had already headed a cross from right-back Max Aarons over the bar before nodding home Sinani’s inswinging delivery from the same flank.

“I talked to Max after our last game at Hull and I just said, ‘You put in two good crosses at the end of the game; keep doing that. It’s really good. Don’t cut back. Take the risk. Put the ball in the box. We’ll get guys in the box and we’ll get rewarded for it’,” Sargent told The Athletic.

“It wasn’t him that crossed it for my goal but if we put the ball there, you can see we will get the rewards.

“Obviously, it’s been a while since I’ve scored and to be able to play in my favourite position, I felt it was a very good opportunity. To get that goal was huge for me and also the team.”

Smith gave his relegated team a clear ultimatum over the opening weeks of the Championship season: that his forward players will be judged on the goals they score and create. If they fall short in those areas, they won’t play.

That in part accounted for Rashica dropping to the bench here having started the three previous league games this season.

It was last week that Smith had revealed how popular Sargent is with his team-mates and how he was sure the man from Saint Louis, Missouri, via Werder Bremen would start scoring once his opportunity arrived – which it did on Tuesday.

There may be a future where Pukki and Sargent start together. Adam Idah’s return to fitness could also add another dimension in future weeks — especially if Smith fancies revisiting the 4-2-4 with which Norwich won back-to-back Premier League fixtures at the start of the year, before Idah’s season-ending knee injury in February.

Sargent’s performance last night is almost certain to keep him in the starting XI for Millwall’s visit on Friday night, even if Pukki’s swollen foot has shrunk to a size that will fit in a boot.

The quality of the American’s runs and his assured first touch also emphasised why he is currently ahead of Jordan Hugill in Smith’s pecking order, despite his rival’s decent scoring return in pre-season.

Sargent will hope this performance and victory were a boost for his prospects at Norwich, having opted to stay in England and play in the second tier when the same prospect following Bremen’s 2020-21 relegation to the German equivalent was less palatable.

“This is a league where we can create a lot of chances, we can be a team at the top, and I think it’d be good for me to score a lot of goals in this league,” Sargent told The Athletic. “It’s (the Championship) very physical but the thing is, it’s still good quality. Without VAR, there are a few things that are let go a bit more.”

But there is no denying Sargent hopes his club form can lead to another major goal for the remainder of 2022: getting selected for the World Cup.

Sargent has missed out on recent squads and USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has talked to him about the reasons for that; conversations the player is keen to keep private.

“Nothing is settled yet,” Sargent said. “All I can do is do my best here, score as many goals as I can and hopefully put myself in a good position to get called up.”

There is a lot of work to do for him to be in Qatar in November, but Tuesday did at least offer the way forward for Sargent, in the role he has always wanted to play. It was his reward for patience and hopefully just the start.

Leeds United’s Brenden Aaronson is perfect pressing machine for Jesse Marsch’s system

LEEDS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06:  Brenden Aaronson of Leeds United in action with Rayan Ait-Nouri of Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Elland Road on August 6, 2022 in Leeds, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

By Phil Hay Aug 12, 2022


Before he turned professional, Brenden Aaronson would sometimes ask when he would start to grow. When would he sprout and when would he bulk up, giving him physical parity with the boys he trained with?To the naked eye, Aaronson was slight and unintimidating and, even fully grown at 5ft 10in (178cm), it could be said he still is — but nothing left him short on stamina. From a young age, he could cover distances of over 12km in 90 minutes, as he did for Leeds United against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. He was capable of running and running, yielding data which European clubs were bound to notice.

There was technical appeal when Leeds paid more than £20million ($24.4m) to sign him from RB Salzburg in May, an appreciation of his skill on the ball, but on top of that came the guarantee the club’s money was buying an exceptional athlete. Aaronson’s fitness spoke for itself and across Europe, pound for pound, his pressing was on a par with any player in his position. By sustaining those bursts of acceleration all day, he was tailor-made for the Red Bull philosophy — and primed for the model Leeds aimed to build with Jesse Marsch.

If Salzburg became home for Aaronson after his move from Philadelphia Union in 2020 then Leeds is home away from home; a familiar formation, tactical ideas he learned in Austria and the same coach, Marsch, who took him to the Austrian Bundesliga. He brought a good engine with him and he will need it at Elland Road.On Saturday, during a 2-1 victory over Wolves, Leeds covered more ground as a team than any other Premier League side over the course of the new season’s first weekend. They ran hard and when the stats arrived at full-time, very few of Marsch’s players had run harder than Aaronson. His competitive debut cast him as a pressing beast, an outing which beat Wolves’ left-back Rayan Ait-Nouri into submission.Aaronson is only 21 and it might be that over time his exact role at Leeds changes. His strengths would suit the position directly behind Marsch’s No 9 — Patrick Bamford on Saturday — but for now, Marsch is using him as the right-sided attacker in a 4-2-3-1. That system, tweaked in a certain way, can provide penetration on the flanks but as Leeds’ average positions from the win over Wolves make clear (graphic, below), they are effectively playing with a line of three 10s. Nonetheless, Marsch needs discipline in their positioning, particularly off the ball, and Aaronson was strict in following clear orders to harass Ait-Nouri and limit his time on the ball.

There are several principles to Marsch’s pressing, and one of them is that the press should be coordinated, applied as a unit. Making it work relies on aggression but also on individual judgement about when to go and who to target. Ait-Nouri was in Aaronson’s line of fire throughout Saturday’s match and it did not take long to see how the USA international planned to cut the supply down Wolves’ left side. It was necessary to limit their flow because over 90 minutes, Wolves outscored Leeds by 507 completed passes to 291.

Aaronson drifted into a wider variety of areas when Leeds were in possession but defensively, he made the right flank his responsibility. He kept eyes on Ait-Nouri and his speed over short distances meant he could close the ground quickly as Wolves tried to play out, as in the next sequence of play on 17 minutes (below).

He is fully 25 yards from Ait-Nouri when Wolves shape to spread the ball wide to the full-back but what looks like an easy pass ends with a clearance up field as Aaronson gets to Ait-Nouri in a couple of seconds. One moment Ait-Nouri has time, the next he has Aaronson invading his personal space.

This scenario repeated itself throughout the first half. In the following passage of play (below), Wolves try an identical move — goalkeeper Jose Sa rolling out to a centre-back who in turn sends possession on to Ait-Nouri — but the speed of the press from Aaronson forces a mis-control from Ait-Nouri and lets Leeds pin down Bruno Lage’s defence with four bodies in a tight space. The ball ended up back with Sa, forcing Wolves to start again.

Even better for Marsch were the moments where the attention on Ait-Nouri forced turnovers of possession, inviting Leeds to about-turn and counter. Recovering the ball and attacking in transition is a core aspect of Marsch’s tactics. Across the Premier League, Leeds’ application of 64 successful pressures — regaining possession within five seconds of applying the press — was the highest in the division. What Marsch wanted was situations like that shown below, where Aaronson squeezes Ait-Nouri and forces a rushed pass which Rasmus Kristensen intercepts. Aaronson then has space behind him to offer an outlet going forward.

Forcing errors through spirited pressing was Leeds’ route to their equalising goal, scored in the 24th minute. The finish was avoidable from Wolves’ perspective, invited by two missed chances to clear, but Aaronson’s tenacious tackling was responsible for turning a heavy through ball from Jack Harrison into an opportunity for Rodrigo.

Two challenges on Ait-Nouri forced a game of ping pong inside the box and a ricochet off Harrison gave Rodrigo time to make space for himself and shoot under Sa at the near post. In this instance, Leeds’ counter-pressing paid off.

The test for Aaronson will be applying a consistent level of influence over a full Premier League season but it is clear that pressing comes naturally to him. That attribute was in him when he was emerging in the US and has long been seen as one of his strengths. In possession, meanwhile, his movement and passing kept Wolves guessing and gave Leeds both creativity and goalscoring intent.

By dropping deep in the next sequence and arcing his run between two Wolves’ players, he was able to take a pass from Robin Koch, turn in space and bring Kristensen into play down the right. Given how reliant Leeds are on their full-backs for width, it will fall to players like Aaronson to provide them with service, working the gaps and anticipating overlaps.

But Aaronson’s pace and direct running allowed for counter-attacks from more defensive zones, too. A good example of this came in the 27th minute.

As the screenshots below show, Leeds are on the back foot in their box but Aaronson is there to help crowd Wolves out. A clearance by Tyler Adams drops to Rodrigo and Aaronson has reacted at a speed which lets him take an inside pass and burst into space. This is where he seems to be in his element, driving forward over halfway with the opposition backing off.

Leeds can expect to see him do this repeatedly over the course of the season and in the end, their failure to make anything of the attack was a waste of a very good position.

In his career to date, Aaronson has not been a prolific goalscorer but he was good for four or five a season in his time at Salzburg and the winner on Saturday, 16 minutes from time, showed intelligence in spotting how an attack would unfold. The speed of the move was impressive — seven seconds to send the ball, via four passes, from the halfway line to the back of Sa’s net — and it showcased the vertical passing style which Marsch favours.

The first image, below, shows how rapidly Aaronson (top left) wants possession directed to him when space opens up near the centre circle. Adams’ pass goes instead to Klich but Aaronson sees straight away that the flow down the left might present a chance to score at close range. He sprints for the six-yard box as Klich guides Bamford into the left channel and the forward’s cutback is impossible to defend. Ait-Nouri turns it in before Aaronson can get a touch and though there was disappointment afterwards that the finish went down as an own goal, it was a fitting representation of the grief Aaronson gave Ait-Nouri for so much of the afternoon.

Elland Road’s initial glimpse of him suggested that for more than £20m, an all-round game is part of the package. Aaronson can be an asset defensively, he can pose a threat going forward and there was nothing on Saturday to indicate that the Premier League will be a problem for him physically. His tally of 31 individual pressures applied, 12 of them successful, topped the charts on the opening weekend.

“I thought he was active and lively and dangerous all match,” Marsch said, and it was immediately obvious why Aaronson had dominated the traditional bleep test at the start of pre-season, a competition Jamie Shackleton was used to winning. Marsch needs runners and at first glance, Aaronson looks like the pick of them.

8/12/22  100 Days to World Cup, Spain/Italy Start, CFC Players make HS teams, MLS All Stars win, Full TV Schedule

100 Days to the World Cup, Spain/Italy Start and Other notes So we are just 100 days until the World Cup starts in Qatar the Nov 20-Dec 12  World Cup in the middle of the European Seasons.  Yes the start has been adjusted as now the WC will start on Sunday night not Monday as Qatar moved the schedule so they could launch the games with Sunday night home game.  Messi is missing from the Ballon d’OR list for the first time in 7 years – but he still had the goal of the weekend with this beauty in PSG’s opening win of the season.  Spain and Italy start their season’s this weekend. (see full previews in the The Ole Ballcoach).  Goalkeeping Predictions for 2022-23 in Europe.  

EPL Fulham America and Leeds United States of America good starts

Wow the EPL season got off to a great start if you like to watch American’s succeed in the EPL – Fulham with American’s Jedi and Tim Ream holding down the left side of defense tied Liverpool at home 2-2.  Then America’s favorite EPL coach – Jesse Marsch and his American signees shined as Brendan Aaronson scored this goal and Tyler Adams had the most break-up plays of anyone in the EPL in week 2. Can Americans play soccer ?? Heck yes !!  Leeds might now be looking at Tim Weah from France – lets hope!!  Disappointing to see that Pulisic seems to be on the outs a Chelsea – listen their Manager Tuchel is THE WORSE OFFENSIVE COACH in the history of soccer.  Pulisic should have left for Juventus this summer – we’ll see if he gets a chance this Sun at 11:30 am when Chelsea hosts Tottenham in the biggest game of the weekend the LONDON Derby on USA Network.  Aston Villa host’s Everton Sat at 7:30 am on USA then Brentford hosts Man United on NBC for the boring game of the week Sat at 12:30 pm – yey NBC. Leeds travels to Southampton at 10 am on Peacock the same time as Fulham travels to Wolverhampton also on Peacock while Man City host Bournemouth on USA (yey).

Indy 11 @ Hartford Sat Night, 7 pm ESPN+

After closing its three-game homestand last weekend, the Eleven will take to the road for its next two, beginning tomorrow  Aug. 13, with a 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff at Hartford Athletic (live on ESPN+). Following a pivotal meeting for postseason hopes at FC Tulsa on Aug. 20 (8:30 p.m., live on ESPN+), Indiana’s Team will return home with two games against top of the table sides in four days’ time on Aug. 27 against Louisville City FC (7:00 p.m.) and Aug. 31 versus San Antonio FC and USL leading GK former 11 GK Jordan Farr. Tickets for those matches – and all future contests at Carroll Stadium – can be purchased online at indyeleven.com/tickets, and fans can learn more about promotional themes for the evenings at indyeleven.com/promotions.

MLS AllStars Beats LIGA MX All Stars 2-1

Really cool watching both the skills challenge and the MLS Allstar game this week – as MLS beat Liga MX (Mexico) in everything.  Yes we dominate them in Ladies/Mens/Boys/Girls and now Concacaf Champions League (Seattle) and now for back to back seasons – MLS All-Stars kicked Liga MX All Stars on the field – again.  The best thing I saw was the return of the Goalkeeper wars !! More of that is needed. 

Huge Congrats to our Former and current Carmel FC players and GKs who made their high school teams – Season’s Start this Weekend

10 Carmel High School GKs played at Carmel FC (All 7 Ladies) (3 Boys)

On the Girls Side for Carmel High – we are proud that all 7 of the GK’s on the roster are former or current Carmel FC Players.  Seniors Bethany Ducat and Aubree Empie, along with Junior Chloe Fouts,  JV has Claire and Mary Grace, while 9th Grade has current CFCer’s Paulina Arana and Lilly Bose.  On the boys side the Varsity has former CFC’ers Charlie Featherson and Jacob Havice, and JV has Will Hartsock. Both our Zionsville GKs made it as Cooper Cass made the Freshmen team along with Avery Keller making Varsity Girls.   

A huge reminder for those who didn’t make it – you are really good players – Carmel is a huge school – chances are you all would have made it at HSE/Fishers/Guerin or Noblesville. Keep the head up and get ready for the club fall CFC season or rec at CDC!     

Carmel High School Girls & Boys Varsity Schedules 

This Sat @ Murray Stadium CHS

I will have local high school previews next week  – exciting with Carmel High School Girls and Boys teams coming off of State Finals Appearances last year. 

BIG GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 12

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

3 pm beIN Sport               Lille (Weah) vs Nantes

8:30 pm Para+                   Houston Dash vs Racing Louisville FC  NWSL

10 pm FS1                            Juerez vs Pachuca

Sat, Aug 13

7:30 am USA                       Aston Villa vs Everton

9:30 am ESPN+                  RB Leipzig vs Koln

10 am USA                          Man City vs Bournemouth

10 am Peacock                  Southampton vs Leeds United (Adams, Aaronson)

10 am Peacock                  Wolverhampton vs Fulham (Reem, Jedi)

12:30 pm NBC                    Brentford vs Man United 

12:30 ABC                            Schalke vs Mgladbach 

3 pm ABC                             Barcelona (Dest) vs Rayo Vallencano

7 pm ESPN+                        INDY 11 @  Hartford Athletic

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Cincy v Atlanta United

10:30 pm Para+                 San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs Orlando Pride NWSL

10:30 pm ESPN+               LA FC vs Charlotte

Sun, Aug 14

9 am USA                             Nottingham Forest vs West Ham United  

9:30 am ESPN+                  Stutgart vs RB Leipzig

11:30 am Peacock            Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Tottenham

11:30 am ESPN+                Bayern Munich vs Wolfsburg

4 pm ESPN+                        Almeria vs Real Madrid  

3 pm Para+                         Seattle OL Reign vs NY Gothem FC NWSL 

8 pm Para+                         Angel City vs Chicago Red Stars

Mon, Aug 15

1:30 pm ESPN+                  Getafe vs Atletico Madrid

2:45 pm para+                   Juventus vs Sassulo

3 pm USA                            Liverpool vs Crystal Palace(Richards)

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

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Friday Newsletter: My Leeds United Story, a Day in Front of the Tube and Your Mailbag Questions

What the heck is up at Manchester United?

Grant Wahl

Hi everyone! First off, my apologies for this Friday Newsletter coming out on Saturday. I put so much into finishing my 5,000-word story for Friday on the Leeds United Americans—working well past midnight Wednesday and Thursday—that I was a hollowed-out shell of myself for most of the day Friday. It turns out that pulling all-nighters in your 40s isn’t the same as when you were in your 20s. Who knew?!?

But I hope you enjoyed the Leeds story. If you haven’t yet, check it out. I’m really happy with how it came out. And I’d appreciate it if you could do me a favor: If you like the Leeds story or any of the 30 other premium magazine stories I’ve written for this site over the past 11 months, spread the word about GrantWahl.com to people you know. That’s the best way to help me be able to spend the money to keep doing ambitious stories like this that you won’t see elsewhere

This has been a wild work stretch for me. After reporting trips in July to Mexico and England (sandwiched around a not-fun, long-awaited bout of Covid), I’m at home for this part of August writing the stories that I’ve had in my notebook—Leeds and, next up, Qatar—while my wife is on a two-week reporting trip of her own in Asia. So it’s been me and our two toy poodles, Zizou and Coco, who spend their time watching me write or sitting on the sofa with me checking out games. It’s the start of the European season, so I’m trying to see a bunch of matches and get a handle on how teams look to kick things off. 

That meant our Saturday went like this:

• Watch Southampton 2, Leeds United 2. I skipped the 7:30 am ET game (Aston Villa 2, Everton 1) trying to catch up on sleep, but I think it’s fair to say I’m likely to watch every Leeds game live this season with the American coach (Jesse Marsch) and two USMNT stars (Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson). Leeds seemed like it was in control after going up 2-0 in the second half on Rodrigo’s second goal, but Marsch waited too long to make his subs and Ralph Hasenhüttl made a big tactical change for Southampton, which equalized at 2-2 in a brutal nine-minute stretch for Leeds. It’s a bummer for Leeds, which could have been at the top of the table with a perfect six points with Man City and Arsenal, but four points after two games isn’t bad at all for a team that was in a relegation fight to the final day last season. Leeds has Chelsea at home next weekend, which will be a US-palooza with Christian Pulisic coming to Elland Road.

• Watch Brentford 4, Manchester United 0. Easily the craziest result of the weekend with United being down 4-0 after just 35 minutes and David De Gea melting down in front of us. But don’t put the blame entirely on the goalkeeper. United deserves to be at the extreme bottom of the table after two ugly losses in two weeks, and every time the camera showed Erik ten Hag it was essentially a meme. Here’s an idea: Put Lisandro Martínez at the six (where I guarantee you he’ll be better than as a CB) and start Raphaël Varane and Harry Maguire in the central defense. I’d also rather see Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial as the starting nine than Cristiano Ronaldo. The faster Ronaldo can get his wish to leave, the better for United as a whole.

• Watch Barcelona 0, Rayo Vallecano 0. Even if most of what Barcelona’s directors did this summer seemed shady and terribly risky for the future, the one thing we were supposed to agree on was that this Barça team would be much improved on the field. Well, not today! Robert Lewandowski, Raphinia and Gavi looked a bit off, Sergio Busquets got sent off, and while things picked up somewhat after Frenkie de Jong came on, it wasn’t enough to keep Barça from dropping points at home to start the season. One cool thing about today: The second and third games I saw were on over-the-air NBC and ABC, which I hope keeps happening more. I understand the economics of why so much soccer on U.S. TV is on streaming services these days, but we’re still a country where millions of new soccer fans remain to be created, and the best way to do that is by making good games easily available.

OPENING THE MAILBAG

We are less than 4 months away from the World Cup, and it seems like Qatar officials have so many issues to solve before the tournament, including the schedule for the first 2 days and whether fans can drink alcohol. Is this going to be a disaster?

Raúl

It seems kind of crazy that after Qatar has had 12 years to prepare for the World Cup, FIFA literally changed the opening day of the tournament this week! So now Qatar-Ecuador will kick off the World Cup on November 19 as a stand-alone game. That probably should have been the case all along, but I don’t like that FIFA seems to be accommodating Qatar and doing something at the last moment that will make life difficult for Ecuador fans. Based on what I learned from the announcement of the World Cup 2026 host cities, it seems like FIFA does a lot these days by the seat of its pants.

The Qatar World Cup has a lot of big issues, obviously. But I actually don’t think consuming alcohol will be a problem. I was in Qatar in late February, and it was pretty easy to get a drink at a hotel bar or restaurant, much easier than when I visited Qatar in 2013. One significant concern I see will be for hotel rooms for visiting fans. I’ll try and get more info on this in the coming weeks.

Dan Le Batard got BigSoccer riled up during the 2006 World Cup with some anti-soccer comments. Now he employs Fancy Lad Chris Wittyngham. How much is this an indicator of progress for soccer?

James

Ha! Maybe not the best indicator, but it’s something. Dan still isn’t a huge soccer guy, but he has people on his show who care about the sport. And I’m seeing a few other signs on big sports shows. Colin Cowherd had Stu Holden on his show this week, and Cowherd not only follows the U.S. national teams now, but he also knows what he’s talking about. We’ll see if we can get Stephen A. Smith (“Let’s do that soccer!”) in a place like that before long.

How do you think the NWSL compares in terms of quality of play to the European leagues? Do you foresee a day when there will be a match between the European champions and the American ones?

Roger Bauman

It was revealing not long ago to interview Lindsay Horan, who spoke about the differences between the NWSL and playing at Lyon. She noted that Lyon was better technically, while the NWSL was more rough-and-tumble athletic. I agree with her. But I’d also add that the NWSL is much more competitive than the French league and has a better distribution of talent among the teams. And while the WICC games next week will be fun, I’m waiting for FIFA to get its act together and get a Club World Cup for women started ASAP. We needs those games, and it should have already happened by now.

I feel sad about the rough season my hometown Washington Spirit is having after winning the NWSL championship last year. Do you have any insights—general or specific—about how they’ve gone from red hot to almost bottom of the pack? (I wonder if it’s particularly hard for team cohesion to have a whopping seven players disappear from time to time for USWNT camps?)

Alison MacAdam

It’s been a crazy turn-around this season for the Spirit. There’s more stability under the new ownership of Michele Kang, and you’d think things would be better with previous abusive coaches out of the picture. But the team has gone a long time without winning (not since May 1), and the situation at Segra Field is a mess, and you’re right, it hasn’t helped to miss so many players with the national team. But if you have that many national team players, you should start getting results when they’re back. And that hasn’t happened.

From the USMNT perspective, is the team better with Pulisic playing with Chelsea as a super sub or as a regular player with a lesser Premier league team (ex: West Ham)? Ultimately, the goal is to have Christian at his peak going into the WC.

Paul Saiz

If you’re the USMNT, you obviously want Pulisic playing as much as possible. Right now it seems like Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz are being preferred by Thomas Tuchel, but I’m hoping Pulisic finds a way to crack that soon. We’ve seen some discussion about the potential of a Newcastle transfer for Pulisic, but it’s still hard for me to envision him making a move this month. 

If Seattle doesn’t make the playoffs, is Schmetzer out? Does whether Lagerwey stays affect Schmetzer’s future? If Brian is fired, is Preki the obvious choice for interim coach?

James

Even if the Sounders miss the MLS playoffs (and I think they’ll end up making it), I would be stunned if Schmetzer or Lagerwey would be in trouble at all this season after the Sounders won the CCL title. That trophy, and the two MLS Cups they’ve won in recent years, buys a lot of credit for those two. That said, I kind of like that the question is being asked, because I think it’s a good thing for there to be more pressure on MLS coaches and sporting directors than we have seen in the past.

What outrageously wild predictions would you have for the first half of the Euro season? Some team coming from nowhere or some player we never heard of? Who’s the next Sheriff? Or just who should we turn an eye toward?

Lou Hudson

I’m fascinated by what’s going on at Rangers. You’ve got a team that went to the final of the Europa League (losing to Frankfurt), a team that has USMNT players James Sands and goal-scorer Malik Tillman, a team that has one more hurdle to clear with PSV Eindhoven to get to this season’s Champions League group stage. So how about predicting that Rangers gets there, and that Tillman becomes the goal-scorer (his ups are crazy) that the USMNT needs for the World Cup?

Why is it that women’s clubs in Europe are attached to men’s clubs as opposed to the “expansion style” in the U.S.? Do you think one model is better for the development of the women’s game?

MR

It’s just the soccer culture in Europe, where we haven’t seen any real situations pop up yet where someone wants to start a women’s team from scratch and compete with the established order. It’s instructive that it was seen as important for the women’s game in Europe when Manchester United and Real Madrid finally took women’s soccer seriously enough to start investing in top-division teams (even though they aren’t the best teams in their leagues at this point). I don’t think one model is clearly better, and you do see some NWSL teams owned by people who also own MLS teams, but as long as the owners show they care, that’s what matters to me.

With the self-imposed announcement date passed and nary a peep during the All-Star break, is MLS to Vegas off or do we still expect to hear something soon? Also, I’m assuming MLS goes to 32 teams. When will that happen and who are the most likely candidates?

Michael Mancini

I still expect that Las Vegas will get the next MLS expansion team to bring the league to 30 teams. At that point, the next leading candidates are San Diego, Phoenix, Sacramento and maybe Detroit. MLS commissioner Don Garber indicated last week that he’d like to get to 32 teams. But it’s in his interests for there to be the appearance of scarcity, so I doubt we’ll hear him say anything about the potential for more than 32 teams for a while to come.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and thanks for reading!

USMNT weekend viewing guide: We’re all rolling now

With LaLiga and Serie A beginning this weekend, all the major European leagues are back.

  • By jcksnftsn  Aug 12, 2022, 7:11am PDT  
FC Barcelona v Pumas UNAM - Joan Gamper Trophy

Here we go! The action is in full swing now as La Liga and Serie A sides begin their season this weekend, joining the other European leagues who kicked things off last weekend and leading to a full slate of action. There are already some injury concerns impacting our watch schedule, as well as transfer rumors suggesting some individuals could be on the move, but at least for now here’s what we’ll be watching:

Friday

SC Freiburg v Borussia Dortmund – 2:30p on ESPN+

Gio Reyna made last weekend’s matchday squad for Borussia Dortmund but was an unused substitute in the team’s 1-0 win over 10-man Bayer Leverkusen. It is not surprising the club would continue their cautious approach with Reyna, who barely saw playing time during the preseason. Marco Reus scored 10 minutes into Dortmund’s opener, and the team would hang on to win 1-0 in what was an important, if unconvincing, victory over a Leverkusen side that seems likely to be a competitor for Champions League qualification by season’s end.

This weekend, Dortmund will take on a Freiburg side that finished last season in 6th place and opened their new campaign with a 4-0 thumping of Augsburg. Their match was scoreless through the first half, but Freiburg scored twice within the first three minutes of the second half kickoff and coasted to victory through a balanced attack that saw four different players find the back of the net.

Other notes:

  • Timothy Weah missed Lille’s opener last weekend (a 4-1 win over Auxerre) due to yellow card accumulation and now looks like he will miss a couple weeks due to a foot injury. Lille face Nantes at 3p on beIN Sports.

Saturday

Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano – 3p on ABC

Sergiño Dest could be on the move yet this month as Barcelona has reportedly made him available, and it seems that he is third in the pecking order at the right back spot, having seen limited playing time during the preseason. It’s no secret that Barcelona have wage and money issues, but it’s also no secret that they don’t operate in typical fashion so it remains to be seen whether they are seeking to move Dest to recoup some money and register some of the numerous players they have already added this summer or if they are trying to replace him with yet another signing.

For now, Dest remains with Barcelona as the team kicks off their season against Rayo Vallecano Saturday afternoon on ABC. Barcelona finished a distant second place to Real Madrid last season and, as we mentioned above, has brought in a number of reinforcements (Robert Lewandowski, Andreas Christensen, and Raphinha, to name a few) in an attempt to close the gap. However, it isn’t without a high degree of risk. In fact, it has been argued that unless Barcelona are able to close the gap on Real Madrid in both La Liga and Champions League and reap the financial rewards, then president Joan Laporta’s summer strategy could send the club into an unrecoverable financial tailspin. They will be dealing with a different kind of pressure this season as they look to make good. They will start their campaign on Saturday against a Rayo Vallecano side that finished 12th place in La Liga last season, just four points out safe from relegation.

Streaming overseas:

  • Ricardo Pepi came off the bench last weekend in Augsburg’s 4-0 loss to Freiburg. This weekend, the team face Bayer Leverkusen at 9:30a on ESPN+.
  • Timothy Chandler was an unused substitute for Eintracht Frankfurt last Friday as they were smashed by Bayern Munich 6-1. Things should get easier this weekend as they face a Hertha Berlin side that needed to win the relegation playoff to escape being dropped to the 2. Bundesliga. This match will also be played at 9:30a on ESPN+.
  • Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, and Jesse Marsch look to build on last weekend’s season opening win over Wolves when they face Southampton at 10a on Peacock. Southampton opened the season with a 4-1 loss to Tottenham.
  • Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson and Fulham were involved in the shock result of last weekend as the newly promoted club drew with title contending Liverpool 2-2. Fulham take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at 10a on Peacock.
  • Luca de la Torre could make his LaLiga debut as his new club Celta Vigo open their season against Espanyol at 11a on ESPN+.
  • Joe Scally got the start for Borussia Mönchengladbach last weekend in the team’s 3-1 win over Hoffenheim. ‘Gladbach look to build some momentum as they face a newly promoted Schalke side that lost to Köln 3-1. The match will be played at 12:30p on ESPN+.

MLS mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

Sunday

Mainz v Union Berlin – 9:30a on ESPN+

Jordan Pefok got his Bundesliga career off to the perfect start last weekend, scoring the opening goal for Union Berlin in the team’s 3-1 Berlin Derby win over Hertha Berlin. Pefok redirected a cross in with a header from a sharp angle in the 30th minute and his side were off and running, getting out to a 3-0 lead before conceding a consolation goal in the 85th minute. It was a dream debut for Pefok, who joined Union Berlin over the summer following a prolific year for Switzerland’s BSC Young Boys, with 27 goals across all competitions. It would be unreasonable to expect Pefok to maintain such a high scoring rate with the jump in leagues, but if he is able to continue slotting home goals with some regularity for Union Berlin, it should help keep the attention on USMNT fans and, more importantly, USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter.

Other notes:

  • Christian Pulisic saw 25 minutes off the bench for Chelsea FC last weekend in the club’s rather mundane 1-0 win over Everton. They now face a Spurs side that looked rather explosive last weekend in putting four goals past Southampton. The match will be played at 11:30a on USA Network.
  • Yunus Musah has been playing regularly in the middle of the pitch for Valencia during the preseason, which is a welcome development for USMNT fans. His side open their 2022-23 campaign against Girona at 1:30p in a match that can be seen on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.
  • Walker Zimmerman and Nashville SC host Minnesota United at 9p on FS1. Nashville sit just a point ahead of the Seattle Sounders in the playoff race.

Streaming overseas:

  • Erik Palmer-Brown and Troyes got their season off to a rough start last weekend suffering a 3-2 loss to Montpellier. They’ll look to rebound this weekend as they face Toulouse at 9a on beIN Sports.
  • Real Sociedad start their season with a trip to Cadiz at 11:30a on Sunday in a match that can be seen on ESPN+. Jonathan Gomez reportedly will get some opportunities with the first team this season, though it remains to be seen in what capacity. It would take a flurry of activity to grab the attention of Gregg Berhalter ahead of November’s World Cup.

MLS Mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

  • Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and the Seattle Sounders host Diego Luna and Real Salt Lake at 10p.

Bonus Monday action:

  • Weston McKennie remains sidelined for Juventus, who begin their Serie A campaign as they take on Sassuolo at 2:45p on Paramount+.
  • Chris Richards was an unused substitute for Crystal Palace last weekend. The side now face Liverpool at 3p on USA Network.

Let us know what you’re eager to keep an eye on this weekend and what other action you see in the comments section below.

USMNT players and their kids. (L to R) Deandre Yedlin, Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman

LaLiga 2022-23 preview: Will Barcelona topple Real Madrid? What to watch for ahead of new season

8:19 AM ETESPN

Football fans around the world will tune in as LaLiga returns to action (stream matches, highlights on season on ESPN+). Spain’s top flight kicks off Friday with Osasuna hosting Sevilla, while Barcelona host Rayo Vallecano on Saturday at Camp Nou. On Sunday, Real Madrid begin their title defence against promoted side Almeria.

Coaches have swapped dugouts, players have departed, others have arrived with much fanfare (and lots of controversy), and fans are already debating whether Karim Benzema or Robert Lewandowski will score more goals.

Before the action gets underway, though, let’s examine some of the biggest storylines worth following as the 2022-23 season begins to unfold. ESPN contributers Alex KirklandSam Marsden and Sid Lowe look at players to watch for, and Cesar Hernandez rounds up United States and Mexico players in LaLiga.

– Stream every LaLiga match on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access


Who are the faves? | Who will struggle, who will thrive Big questions Players to note | USMNT, Mexico stars in LaLiga


Title favorites?

Real Madrid

The euphoria generated by Real Madrid’s 14th Champions League win in May hasn’t faded yet. That victory over Liverpool, close on the heels of a 35th LaLiga title wrapped up a month earlier, left Madrid feeling self-assured and confident about this team’s trajectory. Stability and prudence have been the watchwords this summer, with no panic buying, and a determination to move only for elite players who can genuinely add something to the side.

– Stream LIVE: Real Madrid vs. Almeria, Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Antonio Rudiger — a Champions League-winning central defender at Chelsea — fits into that category, and so does top midfield prospect Aurelien Tchouameni, who joined from AS Monaco. Otherwise, Madrid trust in the players who won it all last year — and unflappable coach Carlo Ancelotti — to go out and do it again.

There’s a belief that veterans like Karim Benzema and Luka Modric can deliver for one more year; that up-and-coming stars such as Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo have even more room for improvement; and that generational change is already underway with Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde in midfield. — Kirkland

Will Benzema or Lewandowski have the better season this year?

Julien Laurens and Don Hutchison debate whether Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema or Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski will have the better season this year.

Barcelona

Barcelona finished second last season and it was reluctantly accepted as a success after Xavi Hernandez took over as manager in November with the team languishing ninth in LaLiga. A second-placed finish this time round will not be so highly regarded after what could perhaps be dubbed one of the most remarkable transfer windows of all time.

More on Barcelona’s mess:
– Lowe: How is the club signing, chasing players?
– Marsden: Explaining who can, can’t yet register and why
– Barcelona, reimagined: What if they made no signings after 2016?

After losing Lionel Messi a year ago because they could not afford to keep him, Barca have since sold off 25% of their domestic television rights and 25% of in-house production company Barca Studios for over €600 million.

That money, as well as helping reduce debt, has fuelled the signings of Robert LewandowskiRaphinhaJules KoundeFranck Kessie and Andreas Christensen. And president Joan Laporta says they are not done yet, either — although a bloated payroll also needs reducing first. As a result, Xavi has been handed a stacked, highly competitive squad. The team looks especially exciting in attack, with Ansu FatiOusmane DembeleFerran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang complementing Lewandowski and Raphinha. Finishing 13 points behind Madrid this season will not be acceptable. — Marsden

Atletico Madrid

Last year’s LaLiga season was characterised by the failure of any of Real Madrid’s rivals to deliver a proper title race. Nowhere was that more evident than at Atletico Madrid, whose bid to defend the 2020-21 crown fell apart in an identity crisis as coach Diego Simeone struggled to find a balance between defence and attack.

This season could be different, especially with the departure of Luis Suarez — Joao Felix is increasingly influential at one end of the pitch, while Reinildo Mandava has brought back some of the old bite at the other. Summer business has been limited to the free transfer signing of Axel Witsel and the belated arrival of a specialist right-back in Nahuel Molina.

Elsewhere around the league, there are concerns about Sevilla’s readiness for a top four battle, having lost both Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos, although sporting director Monchi looks to be readying a late sweep of the transfer market. Villarreal are strong contenders to follow up last year’s remarkable Champions League semifinals run by pushing for fourth, while Real Betis and Real Sociedad will both expect to challenge. — Marsden


Teams to struggle …

Valencia

Gennaro Gattuso’s coaching record in Italy (AC Milan and Napoli) was passable, if not exceptional, but Valencia represent a different challenge altogether.

Los Che are one of the biggest teams in Spain, but it feels like until the continued confrontation between supporters and owner Peter Lim ends, they will struggle to be where they should be in LaLiga: at least competing for the Champions League places.

For years now Valencia have struggled to fill their potential, in part because of that tension between Lim and the fans. Stability has also been a problem as they have raced through coaches. Each of the past four campaigns has now begun with a new manager. Their summer has been low-key, with Samu Castillejo and Samuel Lino interesting signings, but there remains uncertainty around two of their best players. Both Carlos Soler and Jose Luis Gaya are in the final 12 months of their deals, with no immediate resolution to their futures in sight. — Marsden

Sevilla

If there’s a club that has made a virtue of departures, always able to assimilate loss and reinvent itself, that club is Sevilla. And yet, this time feels different: sales are happening because they have to rather than because they are planned per se, both central defenders (Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos) have departed, and they have actually not been very good for quite a while now — look at their results since the turn of the year and they don’t lose often at all but they don’t win much either.

The signing of Isco and the loan of Alex Telles from Manchester United can help, but there’s already a slight sense of loss and maybe even a little mistrust that might accelerate problems if things don’t start well for manager Julen Lopetegui. There are stalwarts such as Ivan Rakitic and Youssef En-Nesyri, but no sign of a new striker yet. Conceding six at Arsenal in a preseason friendly was a warning. — Lowe

Isco: Real Madrid did not let me play

New Sevilla signing Isco explains why he decided to join Julen Lopetegui’s side and insists he will give his all for the club.

… and teams to surprise?

Athletic Club

Ernesto Valverde is back at San Mames for a third spell in charge of Athletic Club and refreshed after over two years out of the game following his departure from Barcelona. During his second spell in Bilbao, which lasted four years and ended in 2017, he led the Basque side into the Champions League and never failed to finish outside the top seven, qualifying for Europe in every campaign. In the five seasons since he left, Athletic have finished 16th, 8th, 11th, 10th and 8th.

Athletic will always have their hands tied due to the fact they are committed to signing only Basque players, but Valverde knows the club inside and out and how it operates. There is talent in the squad in the form of Inigo MartinezIker Muniain and Inaki Williams, and the club’s academy at Lezama continues to produce talent for the first team. — Marsden

Getafe

Getafe’s transfer window — led by new director of football Ramon Planes — has been quietly excellent. Defender Domingos Duarte, midfielders Jaime Seoane and Luis Milla and forwards Portu and Borja Mayoral are all sensible additions who will strengthen a team that lost a record seven consecutive games at the start of last season.

Quique Sanchez Flores has also steadied the ship after previous coach Michel’s struggles. Sanchez Flores is a seen-it-all, underrated manager who knows how to build a solid, effective team, and will be hoping for a straightforward midtable finish rather than a relegation battle. — Kirkland


Hutchison blasts ‘amateur’ Barcelona for registration issues

Don Hutchison and Julien Laurens discuss Barcelona’s problems with registering their new signings.

Can busy Barcelona stop Real’s repeat?

First of all, let’s assume all of Barcelona’s signings can be registered and there is a satisfactory outcome to the Frenkie de Jong situation. If so, there can be no excuses for Xavi and Barcelona this season. While it’s true Xavi transformed Barca last season after floundering midtable for a part of it, it’s also true he was given much more leeway than his predecessor, Ronald Koeman.

EDITOR’S PICKS

Xavi was backed in January with the signings of Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and has been spectacularly backed this summer. Robert Lewandowski is the standout arrival at €45 million, but big money has also been invested in exciting Brazil winger Raphinha and vibrant defender Jules Kounde. It’s going to be fascinating to see how all the new signings do at Camp Nou, but also to see how Ousmane Dembele progresses after signing a new contract and how youngsters PedriGavi and Ansu Fati continue to evolve.

Club president Joan Laporta says success is a requirement at Barca and that is why he has sanctioned this summer’s spending. Now it’s up to Xavi to stop Ancelotti’s Madrid, who have also strengthened with the signings of Antonio Rudiger and Aurelien Tchouameni, retaining the title. The Clasico battles (Oct. 16 in Madrid, March 23 in Barcelona) for the top of the table will be full of promise. — Marsden

Will Madrid be fazed by Mbappe snub?

“Kylian who?” That’s been the message from the Bernabeu ever since Madrid missed out on their long-term top target when France star Kylian Mbappe signed a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain. The timing of that abrupt U-turn — a week before the Champions League final — looked awkward at first but turned out to be a godsend when Madrid’s victory over Liverpool helped reassure fans that not signing Mbappe was, perhaps, no big deal. In fact, it’s been remarkable how quickly the saga has disappeared in the rearview mirror.

In any case, Mbappe’s arrival would have caused Ancelotti an unnecessary headache, likely shifting Vinicius Junior from his preferred left-wing berth just as he’d established himself. Nonetheless, Madrid are all-in on Vinicius now. The Brazil winger will do well to repeat his 17-goal haul from last season. With no forward expected to arrive, it will be down to him and Rodrygo to support Karim Benzema (can Eden Hazard rebound from his injuries?) in the goal-scoring department. — Kirkland

Eden Hazard ‘focused’ on proving himself at Real Madrid

Eden Hazard speaks about potentially joining MLS and his hopes for this season with Real Madrid.

What about the coaching carousel?

Appointing a new coach refreshes expectations, and three LaLiga sides will be hoping a change of face on the touchline will improve their fortunes this season. It proved true for Cadiz and Mallorca last term, who dramatically stayed up after appointing Sergio Gonzalez and Javier Aguirre, respectively.

Ambitions will be loftier at Athletic ClubValencia and Espanyol, though. Ex-Barca boss Ernesto Valverde returns to Athletic with the task of helping the Basque side back into European football. That will also be the task facing Gennaro Gattuso at Valencia. The former AC Milan and Napoli coach replaced Jose Bordalas this summer.

Finally, Diego Martinez is an intriguing appointment at Espanyol. He produced miracles to take Granada to the Europa League, and the Barcelona-based side will want the same success. Realistically, though, they will struggle to break free from the no-man’s land between the relegation battle and the hunt for European places. — Marsden

Promoted sides offer a challenge?

There’s an element of intrigue to the owners of all three promoted teams. Real Valladolid are owned by Brazil legend Ronaldo, Almeria by Saudi Arabian billionaire Turki Al-Sheikh and Girona‘s majority owner is the City Football Group. Modern football, eh?

Of the three, Real Valladolid have had the most low-key summer, perhaps because it’s been only a year since they were last in the top flight. However, Almeria have spent over €15 million, which is a fortune in Spanish football for a team outside the top four. Among their key signings is Brazilian defender Kaiky, who is only 18 and was scouted by Barcelona. The real sign of Almeria’s wealth, though, is that they have so far resisted bids for star forward Umar Sadiq, a Nigeria international with over 40 goals in his two years at the club.

Girona, meanwhile, have had a good summer on paper. David Lopez adds experience to a squad that already includes veteran striker Cristhian Stuani. And the City Football Group has used its network of clubs to make some interesting additions, none more so than Valentin “Taty” Castellanos, who joins on loan after winning Major League Soccer’s Golden Boot in 2021 and leading NYCFC to the MLS Cup title.

Yangel Herrera and Yan Couto have been added from Manchester City and Rodrigo Riquelme from Atletico Madrid. Keep an eye on young, versatile defender Arnau Martinez, too. — Marsden

So, who wins LaLiga? Who’ll play in Champions League?

“The hunger is the last thing I am worried about,” Carlo Ancelotti said. If Madrid can maintain the basis of last year, and integrate Rudiger and Tchouameni, plus last season’s big signing Eduardo Camavinga, it feels like they should be the strongest side again — although the absence of another striker might be a concern.

Given the way that they finished last season and how they have signed in the summer, Barcelona really should compete all the way to the finish this time.

And not being defending champions might be good for Atletico Madrid. Sevilla and Real Betis probably won’t be as good as they were. Considering the stability and resources, fourth place should be there for Villarreal. Look for Real Sociedad to aim for fifth place and the Europa League berth.

Looking for a revelation: how good might Athletic Club be with the return of Ernesto Valverde as coach? Or what about Getafe, who impressed once Quique Sanchez Flores took over and seem to have signed well too. — Lowe


Lewandowski: I don’t want to be compared with Benzema

New Barcelona signing Robert Lewandowski praises Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema but says he isn’t keen on being in direct competition with him.

Benzema, Lewandowski. Anyone else in Golden Boot mix?

There’s nothing like a head-to-head Golden Boot race between two of the biggest names in world football to get people’s attention. That’s been absent since Cristiano Ronaldo and then Lionel Messi left LaLiga, but the arrival of Robert Lewandowski from Bayern means it’s back with a vengeance.

Last season, Karim Benzema walked it — his 27 goals were nine more than second-placed Iago Aspas‘ 18, with Vinicius Junior and Raul de Tomas each having 17 — but this year will be a different story altogether. Lewandowski won the European Golden Shoe in both 2021 and 2022, and if anyone can outgun Ballon d’Or favourite Benzema, it’s he.

Otherwise, expect Celta Vigo icon Aspas to retain his crown as the top-scoring Spaniard. De Tomas’ prospects depend on whether he’s still at Espanyol come the end of the transfer window, and three players who disappointed in terms of numbers last season — Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno (9), Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak (6) and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann (3) — should all improve their tallies significantly. — Kirkland

‘Taty’ to keep Girona up?

Girona‘s signing of Valentin “Taty” Castellanos from Major League Soccer champions New York City FC would have been more out of left field if both clubs were not owned by the City Football Group. However, despite that fact, the Argentine forward’s loan move to Catalonia still has the potential to be one of the most exciting deals in Spain this summer.

Castellanos, 23, who won the MLS Golden Boot last year and was leading this season’s race before leaving, already has Girona fans excited after preseason goals against Andorra and Napoli. If you have goals in your side, you have a good chance of staying in LaLiga, and with Castellanos and veteran Cristhian Stuani, Girona should have them in abundance. — Marsden

Morales key to Villarreal’s top four hopes?

The player known as “El Comandante” built a reputation as one of LaLiga’s most fun-to-watch players at Levante. Jose Luis Morales‘ best efforts — and 13 goals — couldn’t keep them up last season, and his tears of frustration on the pitch when relegation was eventually confirmed were hard to watch.

The 35-year-old’s initial insistence on staying at Levante in Segunda was admirable, but he shouldn’t be judged too harshly for the change of heart that saw him join Villarreal. Morales deserves a late-career crack at European football, playing alongside footballers of a similar calibre. His quality might help Villarreal break into the top four. — Kirkland


U.S., Mexico players in Spain

The two traditional powerhouses from the CONCACAF region will each have a handful of representatives in LaLiga for the 2022-23 season.

Starting with the United States, 24-year-old midfielder Luca de la Torre is the newest USMNT player in LaLiga, making the move over to Celta Vigo this summer. Fullback Sergino Dest will be entering his third season with Barcelona, and midfielder Yunus Musah should feature more for Valencia. All three appear to be USMNT roster locks for the upcoming World Cup.Another name to keep an eye on is Espanyol‘s 17-year-old midfielder Luca Koleosho. Last season, Koleosho became the youngest American-born player to debut in Spain’s top flight. Also eligible for Canada, Koleosho hasn’t made a decision just yet regarding his national team future.

Is De la Torre’s Celta move a risk in a World Cup year?

The Futbol Americas team discuss the USMNT’s Luca de la Torre moving to Celta Vigo with the World Cup on the horizon.As for MexicoSevilla‘s Jesus “Tecatito” Corona is the most noteworthy name from the El Tri contingent. The 29-year-old winger has looked promising in the preseason with a couple of goals during July friendlies. Mexico captain and veteran Andres Guardado will be entering his sixth year with Real Betis, helping the team win the Copa del Rey last season.Over at Real Sociedad, fullback Jonathan Gomez will aim to break into the first team after earning consistent minutes for Real Sociedad B last season. Gomez has represented both the United States and Mexico at the youth and senior level, but last featured for El Tri during a friendly in April. He has yet to commit to either side.Both Corona and Guardado are shoo-ins for Mexico’s World Cup roster. Gomez is unlikely to be included due to his national team status being up in the air, but plenty could change if he establishes himself with Real Sociedad’s first team.Also of note for Mexico are three newcomers in Spain’s second division. Real Oviedo have brought in Daniel Aceves and Arsenal academy product Marcelo Flores, while Gijon have added Liga MX Rookie of the Year Jordan Carrillo from Santo Laguna.

A new Barcelona No. 1, outsider for Premier League Golden Glove: Bold goalkeeper predictions for 2022-23

Aug 11, 2022

  • Mouhamad Rachini

Erling Haaland bagging two goals on his Premier League debut; Aleksandar Mitrovic bullying Liverpool in his return to the English top flight; Lionel Messi scoring an overhead kick in the first game of the Ligue 1 season.

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It’s hard to believe the 2022-23 season has already kicked off. It feels like just yesterday that Manchester City won the Premier League on the final matchday of the season, and Real MadridEintracht Frankfurt and AS Roma clinched some historic European silverware.

Now it’s time to do it all again: to watch new teams write history, new players make a name for themselves and new stories come to life. To celebrate the start of a new European football season, I’ve compiled a list of some of my goalkeeper predictions for the 2022-23 season — but with a twist. Instead of going the safe route, I’ve added a little bit of spice to my predictions. From a star goalkeeper losing his starting position to a World Cup record getting broken, here are some of my boldest goalkeeper takes for the new season.

Inaki Pena will take Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s spot at Barcelona by season’s end

The prediction: After a short loan spell at Galatasaray, Inaki Pena is back with Barcelona, replacing Neto as the club’s backup goalkeeper. But the promotions won’t stop there for Pena. I predict that by the end of the 2022-23 season, Pena will have supplanted long-time starter Marc-Andre ter Stegen as the club’s No. 1.

Why it’ll come true: There was a point in time when Marc-Andre ter Stegen was undisputed as one of the world’s top goalkeepers. But since his career season in 2017-18, the German’s performances have dipped. His league save percentage has dropped each season since his Barcelona career high of 79.7% in 2018, down to 70.9% last season; he’s failed to keep more than 11 league clean sheets in each of his past two seasons; and his expected league goals saved above average has been below zero for the past three seasons.

He’s also been involved in some humiliating losses, such as the Liverpool comeback in 2019 and Bayern Munich’s 8-2 dismantling of Barcelona in 2020. Ter Stegen hasn’t been able to find his composure since these losses, and his inability to bounce back has led to some fans calling for him to be replaced. This is why I believe the 23-year-old Pena is poised to take over Barcelona’s starting duties by the end of the 2022-23 season.

The Alicante native is one of the brightest prospects in Spanish goalkeeping. He’s displayed great agility and aerial dominance throughout his development, and his quick footwork and steely composure have made him an excellent sweeper-keeper for both the Barcelona and Spain youth ranks.

Pena is not a finished product, nor will he be one by the end of the season. And for the time being, the starting position isn’t Pena’s. But what happens if Ter Stegen’s numbers don’t improve over the first half of this season? What if his save percentage continues to dip? What if Ter Stegen continues to play at the level that has plagued him in recent years?

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These are all legitimate concerns, and if Pena impresses in the limited Copa Del Rey minutes he’s likely going to get, I can see Xavi Hernandez giving the youngster a chance.

With Barcelona back in win-now mode after Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha’s signings (among others), they need a goalkeeper who can provide them with the same consistency, game-stealing performances, mental stability and drive for success they relied on a few seasons ago. This is something I’m afraid Ter Stegen can no longer do (at least, not over a full season, and certainly not in the Champions League).

The club has to look ahead to a future without Ter Stegen as their first-choice goalkeeper, and by easing Pena into the No. 1 role by the end of this season, I think they’d be setting themselves up for success in both 2023 and beyond.

The World Cup penalties saved record will be broken this year

The prediction: In the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic matched the World Cup’s all-time penalties saved record when he stopped four penalties in seven appearances. It was an incredible achievement — but this year, it will be bested. I predict a goalkeeper will break the all-time penalties saved record in the World Cup.

Why it’ll come true: Penalties are a tough thing to predict when it comes to major international tournaments. Since most of these tournaments only require a team to play a maximum of seven games from start to finish, goalkeepers don’t tend to face a lot of penalties. This is especially true for the average goalkeeper, since most teams tend to play four or fewer games in a single international tournament and might not qualify for another World Cup for years.

But even with that context, I can’t shake off the feeling that four is a beatable number. The numbers also suggest that more penalties are being taken at World Cups, leading to more chances for a goalkeeper to break the record. We see this in the rise of the number of World Cup penalty shootouts.

The record for most penalty shootouts in a single World Cup is four, set initially in the 1990 World Cup. Three of the past four World Cups have matched that mark, including each of the past two World Cups. This isn’t a World Cup-specific occurrence either. Though no Copa America has matched the shootout record set in 1995 (also four), four of the past five Copa Americas have seen three shootouts take place. In Europe, Euro 2020 matched the all-time single-tournament shootout record (also four, seeing a pattern?), and Euro 2016 hit the three shootout mark for the first time since 1996.

Another number that seems to lean in favour of this prediction is penalty conversion percentage. Since the first shootout took place in a World Cup in 1982, only four World Cups have seen players record a total shootout conversion percentage below 70%. One of those World Cups was the 2018 edition (66.7%), and two others were World Cups that took place in the 21st century (2006: 63.6%, and 2022: 68.4%).

Penalty conversion rates seem to be on the decline elsewhere too. In the Premier League, penalty conversions have dropped significantly since the 1990s; and the 2021 Copa America had the lowest percentage of successful shootout penalties (62%) since 1997.

Though these percentages include off-target penalties, I reckon it also has to do with improvements in penalty knowledge and gamesmanship in goalkeeping. Given the talent today’s goalkeepers have as well as the numbers presented above, I’m confident this prediction will come true.

Premier League’s Golden Glove will be won by a goalkeeper not representing a top-3 club

The prediction: The Premier League Golden Glove is awarded annually to the league’s goalkeeper who kept the most clean sheets in a specific season. Usually, this is a goalkeeper playing for one of the season’s top clubs. But this season will be different because the award will be won by a goalkeeper not representing a top-three club.

Why it’ll come true: To understand just how bold of a prediction this is, we need to understand how exclusive the Premier League Golden Glove award is.

Since the award’s inception in 2005, the Golden Glove has been awarded 18 times. Over that time, nine different goalkeepers have won the award, representing one of just five different clubs: Manchester City, Liverpool, ChelseaArsenal and Manchester United. Only two goalkeepers — Pepe Reina in 2008 and Wojciech Szczesny in 2014 — have won the award while representing a club that finished outside of the top three that season and in both cases, their club finished fourth.

Given this context, what makes me think things will be different this season? First, although the winner has almost always been a goalkeeper representing a top-three club, the runner-ups, while still largely made up of goalkeepers from the top three clubs, aren’t nearly as exclusive.

Of the 54 goalkeepers who have finished first, second or third in a Golden Glove race, 23 of them represented a club that finished outside of the top three that season. These include goalkeepers who were playing for a club outside of the top six, like Emiliano Martinez in 2021 (Aston Villa finished 11th), Nick Pope in 2020 (Burnley finished 10th) and Fraser Forster in 2017 (Southampton finished 8th).

Many of these goalkeepers came in second place too. In fact, eight of the 18 Golden Glove silver medallists were goalkeepers who played for non top-three clubs. These include two of the past three runner-ups.

Although the winners of the award have almost exclusively been goalkeepers representing a top-three team, the podium has a much healthier dose of goalkeepers representing non top-three clubs. So it’s not unreasonable to think one such goalkeeper could have a good year and finish the race on top — especially when you consider the current crop of talented goalkeepers the Premier League boasts.

In the past, most of the Premier League’s top goalkeepers were those playing for one of the league’s big five or six clubs. In the 2010-11 season, for example, only five goalkeepers hit the 10 clean sheet mark — and of those five goalkeepers, four of them were playing for a club that finished in the top six (Mark Schwarzer played for 8th-placed Fulham).

Another example is the 2016-17 season, which only saw six goalkeepers hit the 10 clean sheet mark. Again, four of those goalkeepers were representing a top-six club (Forster played for 8th-placed Southampton and Tom Heaton played for 16th-placed Burnley).

Fast-forward to the 2020-21 season, though, and 13 different goalkeepers hit the 10 clean sheet mark — a record in the 38-game Premier League era. These goalkeepers ranged from Premier League winner Ederson to Nick Pope and Robert Sanchez, whose clubs finished in 17th and 16th.

Many of those goalkeepers are still in the Premier League, in some cases with their same club, and I can see them not only breaking the 10 clean sheet barrier again but challenging for the Golden Glove too. Last season, only four clean sheets separated Alisson and Ederson from Lloris (whose Tottenham finished fourth). If a couple of bounces worked Lloris’ way or against Alisson and Ederson, it might’ve been Lloris lifting the Golden Glove last season.

Throw in some of the new faces we’ll see this season (such as Thomas Strakosha, now at Brentford) and I think there’s a decent pool of goalkeepers outside of the top three to bet on to win the Premier League Golden Glove.

Conte’s revitalised Tottenham face first big test in London derby at Chelsea

Aug 11, 2022

  • James OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC
  • On Sunday, Antonio Conte returns to the place where his worst fears about Tottenham were realised for the first time. It was particularly galling for a former Chelsea manager that the scale of his task was made clear at Stamford Bridge of all places, as the Blues eased to a 2-0 win in the Carabao Cup semifinal, first leg in early January.
  • The scoreline wasn’t particularly savage, but Spurs conceded two dreadful goals and failed to register a shot of any description until the 50th minute in a meek surrender that left Conte unwilling to pull any punches in his post-match assessment. “There’s an important gap, an important difference, there’s a big job to do to retrieve the situation,” he said in assessing the distance between Spurs and the top sides.

Conte was barely eight weeks into the job, and he had already masterminded a draw against Liverpool and seven wins from his first 12 games in charge.

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But the chastening nature of that defeat to Chelsea — followed by an equally insipid showings in the return leg and a Premier League defeat to the same opponents later in the month — began a series of public utterances which raised questions over whether he would even stick around. After losing to Burnley on Feb. 23, Conte publicly doubted whether he was the right man for the job.

Even after pulling off an improbable fourth-place finish by thrashing Norwich 5-0 on the final day of the season, he still refused to commit to remaining as Tottenham head coach amid concerns the club would not back him to the extent he felt necessary to turn Spurs into title challengers.Conte knows enough about London to “mind the gap.” Optimism that this “gap” between them and the top clubs is finally closing comes from six summer signings, a full preseason working under the Italian and an encouraging 4-1 win over Southampton on the opening day. But Sunday’s trip to Chelsea represents the first meeting of the Premier League’s traditional Big Six this season, and will also offer the clearest indication yet whether Conte’s rebuild is on track.Both Conte’s brilliance and his volatility are well documented. The 53-year-old is an elite manager, but has never spent more than three consecutive seasons at the same club, often leaving in acrimonious circumstances. Juventus were Serie A champions when he quit after one day of preseason ahead of 2014-15 following disagreements over the club’s transfer strategy. He was sacked from Chelsea in 2018 after falling out with the hierarchy and several senior players, again over the direction of the club. Conte departed Inter Milan last May in opposition to an unloading of top stars triggered by financial problems related in part to COVID-19.He did win four Serie A titles and the 2016-17 Premier League with Chelsea during this span, but his combustible personality always seemed an improbable fit with Tottenham, a club that has long prioritised financial prudence and long-term planning over short-term, boom-and-bust under the watchful eye of chairman Daniel Levy.

Conte’s unstable rhetoric around last season effectively built to a two-day meeting in Italy as the summer began and, together with the club’s football managing director, Fabio Paratici, they finalised a list of summer targets. Significant backing was required. Previous managers — perhaps most obviously Mauricio Pochettino — became disillusioned when failing to receive the support they felt necessary to take Spurs to the top, meeting a brick wall built from financial caution. This time, it was different. Levy and the majority shareholders, ENIC, agreed to help realise Conte’s vision for the future. It was a significant moment.

February’s departure of the club’s longstanding director of technical performance, Steve Hitchen, was a sign of Paratici’s growing influence, but here, emboldened by Conte guiding Spurs back into the Champions League, was a real sea change in Tottenham’s willingness to support their head coach.

Previously, players were signed with potential and a clearly defined future transfer market value. This time, they were in large part being targeted for the here and now. The arrival of 33-year-old wing-back Ivan Perisic embodies this shift more than any other signing. Spurs announced a £150m cash injection from ENIC that’s helped finance a spending spree with Perisic, RicharlisonFraser ForsterYves BissoumaDjed Spence and Clement Lenglet arriving at the club.

This activity has generated a sense of momentum that quashed any concerns England captain Harry Kane could look for to leave the club — having tried to force a move away last summer — and, significantly, most of these signings were acquired early in the window, giving Conte a full preseason to work with his new players.

Conte’s training sessions are infamously tough. An agent of one player at the club told ESPN about double sessions involving tens of shuttle runs at the end. Another expressed surprise that Conte chose to work his players so hard in a session open to the cameras in Korea that Kane was sick by the side of the pitch, while others including Son Heung-Min could hardly stand during a brutal running drill. But the players have fully bought into Conte’s methods, in part seduced by his track record, and respectful of the level of control he clearly enjoys having been wholeheartedly supported by Levy in the transfer market.

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ESPN has also been made aware of other data their coaches are using to explain the need to improve player fitness, including the high number of late goals Tottenham concede. If last season’s Premier League matches are broken down into 10-minute blocks, with each of the nine segments assigned an aggregate score based on goals scored and conceded in those minutes, Liverpool and Manchester City are the only sides ending with a positive score in all of them. Spurs had positive net scores in the first eight, but in those crucial final 10 minutes of matches, they scored seven and conceded 10, leaving them on -3. By contrast, City were +15 and Liverpool +14 in the final 10 minutes of matches last season; Chelsea were +8.

There are a plethora of reasons to explain this, not least the manner in which City in particular wear teams down with their level of possession, but it is one indicator which Conte is demanding greater intensity from his players for the entire game — they also fell behind in 17 league matches last season, a figure higher than Arsenal (15), Liverpool (12), Chelsea (11) and City (eight). Combined with Conte’s devotion to a 3-4-3 system, the players have been left under no illusions about the physical and tactical expectations placed upon them this season. Although it still remains a tall order on paper to match City and Liverpool, perhaps the biggest doubt over Spurs remains their ability to implement what is being asked of them under pressure.

The “Spursy” tag — a derogatory term essentially meaning “to falter with the winning line in sight” — is one the club have found difficult to shake. They were superb for the majority of the Pochettino era but ultimately ended his five-year stint without a trophy to show for the progress made. Their last success of any description remains the 2008 League Cup.

Can Richarlison turn Tottenham into title challengers?

James Olley debates how Richarlison could fit into Antonio Conte’s plans at Tottenham.

Jose Mourinho’s appointment as his successor was made with the idea in mind of fostering a siege mentality to galvanise the group, but he never achieved it. Nuno Espirito Santo’s 17-game tenure was a brief as it was unmemorable, and so Conte now finds himself charged with responsibility of changing this mindset. When asked in May whether he knew what “Spursy'” meant, he said: “I am trying to cut this.”

The only way is to win silverware. A smaller step on that path is improving Tottenham’s record away at the traditional Big Six. They have lost 37 of their last 60 league games away to Arsenal, Liverpool, City, Manchester United and Chelsea, winning only nine. Although Spurs beat City and drew at Liverpool under Conte, they have won just one league game at Chelsea since 1990 — a 3-1 victory in April 2018.

“Obviously when you face that kind of opponent [in Chelsea] it’s a good moment to judge yourself,” captain Hugo Lloris said after their opening-day win over Southampton.Chelsea may have the proven pedigree but their summer transfer business is far from complete, and a new defence is bedding in after the departures of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. There are certainly worse moments to play them.By contrast, Tottenham have enjoyed a more settled preseason, building nicely from the last. Spurs improved considerably in the second half of last season, winning 10 of their last 14 league games to show a level of form, which prompted Conte to suggest he wished they could have another crack at Chelsea soon to see where they were at.This weekend, he will finally get his chance.

Twice as nice! MLS All-Stars beat Liga MX All-Stars behind Vela, Ruidiaz goals

By Johnathan Wright @jwrightofficial

Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022, 10:54 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. – With goals from Carlos Vela and Raul Ruidiaz, the MLS All-Stars held off the Liga MX All-Stars for the second straight year, securing a 2-1 victory in the 2022 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on Wednesday night at Allianz Field. The MLS All-Stars got the party started early with Vela heading home a cross from LAFC teammate Diego Palacios in the third minute. The Black & Gold’s left back showcased his skill by chopping a Liga MX defender before serving in a perfectly-placed ball to his forward on the back post. Liga MX pushed to find an equalizer before the halftime break, with their best chance coming from Juan Dinenno in the 44th minute. The Pumas UNAM striker elevated for a header after receiving a cross from Juan Escobar inside the 18-yard box. He connected well, directing the ball to the lower left corner, but Minnesota United FC goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair pushed the attempt wide in front of his home supporters’ section. Ruidiaz added to the MLS All-Stars’ lead in the second half through a penalty kick after New England Revolution playmaker Carles Gil wiggled his way through the Liga MX defense after receiving a pass from FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira. The Seattle Sounders FC striker made no mistake in the 73rd minute. Liga MX pulled one back in the 85th minute when Kevin Álvarez blasted a shot from outside the box that zoomed past New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Mexico national team forward Alexis Vega was credited with the assist, but the comeback attempt proved futile as MLS celebrated a win for a second straight year.

Goals

  • 3′ – MLS – Carlos Vela | WATCH
  • 73′ — MLS — Raul Ruidiaz | WATCH
  • 85′ — Liga MX — Kevin Álvarez | WATCH

Three things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: It was an electric evening, with the MLS All-Stars claiming bragging rights over the Liga MX All-Stars for the second year in a row. MLS won the first iteration on penalty kicks in 2021 at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium. MLS Commissioner Don Garber hinted it might be the last time we see these two leagues face off in an All-Star match, but in 2023 an expanded Leagues Cup will be introduced, where all of the clubs from MLS and Liga MX will compete in an annual, month-long tournament.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The game-winner from Vela in the third minute. The LAFC duo of Vela and Palacios showcased their league-leading quality with a clinical cross and header combination.

ALL-STAR GAME MVP: Dayne St. Clair earned MVP on the night by making four saves in front of his home fans.

22MLS-AS_MVP-4x5-commisioner

MLS All-Stars prize party in St. Paul: “Everybody’s enjoyed being with each other”

By Charles Boehm @cboehm

  • Thursday, Aug 11, 2022, 01:42 AM
all-star-2022-zimmerman-chicha

Wednesday night in St. Paul, Minnesota represented a showcase for the top talents from North America’s largest leagues, a lively international spectacle for fans of many stripes and a much-deserved close-up for the Twin Cities’ thriving soccer culture and the graceful venue at its heart.

“A great group of guys”

Above all, the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target provided a celebration, a gathering of luminaries both on and off the field that served as another milestone for an explosively-growing league, and a pleasant distraction before the 2022 season’s final sprint.

“The most pleasing thing was the competitive nature of all the guys,” said MLS All-Stars and Minnesota United FC coach Adrian Heath after his team’s 2-1 victory over their Liga MX counterparts at Allianz Field. “Everybody’s actually, I think, enjoyed being with each other in the group. So the atmosphere in the dressing room is terrific. The guys have been an absolute pleasure to be around for the last two or three days.”

The honor of making this roster is one thing; the firsthand experience offers another level.

“A great group of guys here,” said Loons goalkeeper and All-Star MVP Dayne St. Clair. “Just seeing some guys off the field and being teammates with them, because sometimes when you’re playing against some guys, they’re a little bit different than when you’re teammates with them. So that’s been nice, and I’m sure they’d probably say the same about me.”

The MLS All-Star Game provides a change of pace for elite professionals accustomed to facing off as rivals in club play, a chance to work as teammates, to train and break bread together. This one, in particular, had a real family atmosphere, with children like Walker Zimmerman’s young son Tucker front and center.

USATSI_18852070

Walker Zimmerman and his son Tucker play after the match

MNUFC

The Englishman is now an MLS veteran, having led Orlando City SC into MLS before moving north to oversee a comparable project at MNUFC. He’s seen the growth and maturation of US and Canadian soccer, and spoke with pride of his club progressing along a similar journey, a story they and their supporters proudly shared with the rest of the league this week.

“The way that the club has shown itself,” said Heath, “I knew that people would turn up. I didn’t think that so many would turn up last night in the skills game, that speaks volumes. And then tonight, I knew the stadium would be full tonight.

“It’s been a great way to showcase what the club is about. I’m so pleased for all the ownership and everything we’ve tried to do here, and it shows. Six years in, the club is now firmly on the map and I think that we can only get bigger and stronger and better.”

USATSI_18852157

Mutual respect between leagues

Such links stretched across to the Liga MX side as well. The cut and thrust of the game itself, with heavy tackles, emotional reactions and other signs of full commitment from the players, revealed this to be an exhibition match with some stakes, some pride on the line.

But the nastiness of yore between the US and Mexican national teams, the bad blood that so enflamed past border matchups, has evolved into something closer to mutual respect and recognized commonalities.

“We had a great game. Like I said to the boys, this is a great experience, and especially because we got to meet and to know each other,” said Liga MX All-Stars and Atlas manager Diego Cocca, an Argentine who has coached across Latin America.

“Rivalry is good. We can grow. If you have a strong rival, you can grow, you can get better. And both leagues can grow like this. And I think that the barometer is going to be the Concacaf Champions League. We came here and we lost, they can go there [to Mexico] and they can lose. For example, at Estadio Jalisco, the result could be different.”

New fronts of competition between the two leagues loom large, like the upcoming 2022 Campeones Cup between Atlas and New York City FC, and next year’s launch of a dramatically expanded Leagues Cup. The hope is that broad, sustained, toe-to-toe competition between member clubs can expand on the spectacle served up by these last two All-Star meetings.

“MLS won today. We had many opportunities; we played very well. There was no big difference, there is no big gap between the leagues,” said Cocca. And those who’ve followed the region’s soccer scene for any length of time will recognize the quiet revolution represented in his words.

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8/5/22  EPL Season Starts Fri, CFC Players make HS teams, Indy 11 home Sat, England wins Euros, MLS All Stars Wed night, MLS Skills Tues night

Tune In to the MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G  MLS Allstar Challenge Tues 8:30 pm  
Follow along on social media or catch it on ESPN2, TUDN, TSN or TVA Sports TUES NIGHT starting at 5:30 p.m. PT / 7:30 p.m. CT / 8:30 p.m. ET.

The top stars from MLS and Liga MX will face off tonight in the 2022 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G. The two-hour event will feature a team of ten MLS players battling ten of Liga MX’s best in five different challenges.

Shooting Challenge presented by AT&T 5G
Players will be shooting at 11 targets from distance with varying values to rack up as many points as possible for their team.

Touch Challenge presented by Old Spice
In this ultimate test of touch, players will have to collect and control balls coming at them from different angles in order to set themselves up to score points in the Old Spice apparatus.

Cross & Volley Challenge presented by AT&T 5G
Player’s creativity and skill will be on display, as they connect with a teammate to finish with style. The more style, the more points.

Passing Challenge presented by BOUNTY
With a variety of targets spread across the pitch, players must place their passes with pinpoint accuracy to earn big points.

Crossbar Challenge presented by GilletteLabs
As the final chance for players to earn points for their teams, this skill will test players’ accuracy by striking their passes at varying targets in 60-second rounds.

MLS AllStars vs LIGA MX Allstars Wed, Aug 10 8:30 pm ESPN

For the second consecutive season, the MLS All-Stars will take on the best of LIGA MX on Wednesday night, August 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET at Allianz Filed in Minnesota and will be broadcast live on ESPN and Univision in the U.S and in more than 190 countries around the world.  Find out all the events surrounding the game, here is the full roster for MLS and LIGA MX.  Tuesday night 8:30 pm is the Skills Challenge on ESPN 2 looks worth turning in for on ESPN2, TUDN.  

European Soccer Kicks off Fri, EPL/Germany/France Start

The Euro leagues are starting the season a week early with the World Cup interrupting things from Nov 20-Dec 12, the season had to kick off earlier (Euro League Preview)   Some exciting moves and transfers this off-season with tons of players moving including the most American’s in the EPL (7)  and England’s 2nd Division The Championship in a long time.  America’s own Leeds United State of America has the only American Coach in Jesse Marsch along with newbies Tyler Adams and Brendan Aaronson on the roster.  Fulham America returns to the EPL with a pair of American starters in Jedi Robinson at left back and Co-Captain Tim Ream at center Back.  Newcomer American CB Chris Richard’s joins Crystal Palace from Bayern Munich, while GK Matt Turner will battle at GK for Arsenal while of course Captain America is still battling for playing time for the German at Chelsea.  I guess its prediction time here for the EPL – I will reserve my predictions on the other leagues until next week. EPL Promo video

Shane’s EPL predictions

  1. Liverpool 
  2.  Man City
  3.  Arsenal
  4. Tottenham
  5. Chelsea 6 ) Crystal Palace.  7) Man United

Also I think Leeds finishes mid table with American Jesse Marsch in charge, and Fulham will stay up this season!  Yes I like Liverpool to find a way past city as Halland has just an ok year at City.  I think Arsenal with Arteta finally constructing his own team, will finally break thru and actually finish 3rd just above Conte and Tottenham.  I think Chelsea’s Manager Tuchel is an absolute idiot and how that he’s spent billions buying new players his team will drop even further down the table – unbelievable just how bad he is – they slip to 5th and finally I like Palace with American Chris Richard starting in the middle back taking home 6th above a Man United that will lose Ronaldo by mid season. Not thrilled to see NBC is only showing 2 games all weekend on cable TV only USA Network today at 3 pm Arsenal vs Crystal Palace and Saturday 12:30 for the Everton vs Chelsea (Pulisic) game. Yes they spent millions to force you to buy Peacock streaming period. (full previews and tons of stories in The Ole Ballcoach).  Peacock Free Trial Oh at least ESPN is showing a German game this weekend 12:30 Saturday as Dortmund and American Reyna face Bayer Leverkusen.

Indy home vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds Sat Night, 7 pm @ the Mike, TV 23

Indy Eleven is home for the 3rd of a three-match homestand Sat night at the Mike against Pittsburgh.  A variety of ticketing options for Saturday night’s Eastern Conference clash are available at indyeleven.com/tickets.  Cool to see former Carmel FC GK coach and former Indy 11  GK Jordan Farr get recognition , he returns home to face our Indy 11 Aug 27th

Women’s Euro’s England Brings It Home

Wow what a scene at a packed Wimbledon Stadium as England (the ladies at least) finally brought home a Championship.  The largest crowd to ever see a Euro Final (Men’s or Women’s) saw the England and Germany battle to a 1-1 tie in regulation before Chloe Kelly scored the winner in Extra-time to take home the Trophy.  England now has their Golden Moment – much like the US ladies Brandi Chastain did in 1999.  For a country that actually didn’t allow women or girls to play soccer until just a number of years ago – England and all of Europe has come a long way.  Couple this with the Amazing Ferminina Brazil win over Argentina in a packed house in South America – and its evident that women’s soccer (at least the international game) is here to stay. (Ton’s of Stories in the The Ole Ballcoach) Will this turn into more coverage and higher pay for player at the club level – we will see.  In the meantime – the US and England are going to capitalize on the moment by playing a friendly at Wimbley Stadium between the Defending World Cup Champion US Women and the newly Crowned Euro Champs England on Fox Sports 1, Friday, Sept 9th .  Put that in the Calendar now – finally the US will face a formidable opponent – we’ll see if the rest of the world is catching up – just 9 months before the next Women’s World Cup next Summer.  Great Euro Cup Saves. (see more saves below)

MLS AllStars vs LIGA MX Allstars Wed, Aug 10 8:30 pm ESPN

For the second consecutive season, the MLS All-Stars will take on the best of LIGA MX on Wednesday night, August 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET at Allianz Filed in Minnesota and will be broadcast live on ESPN and Univision in the U.S and in more than 190 countries around the world.  Find out all the events surrounding the game, here is the full roster for MLS and LIGA MX.  Tuesday night 8:30 pm is the Skills Challenge on ESPN 2 looks worth turning in for on ESPN2, TUDN.  

Huge Congrats to our Former and current Carmel FC players and GKs who made their high school teams!  Its sounds like we have over half the squad on CHS Girls Varsity & JV along with a handful on 9th grade. We also have a bunch on the boys side and players at Zionsville, Guerin, Westfield, and more.

CFC GKU !! 10 Carmel High School GKs played at Carmel FC (All 7 Ladies) (3 Boys)

On the Girls Side for Carmel High – we are proud that all 7 of the GK’s on the roster are former or current Carmel FC Players.  Seniors Bethany Ducat and Aubree Empie, along with Junior Chloe Fouts,  JV has Claire and Mary Grace, while 9th Grade has current CFCer’s Paulina Arana and Lilly Bose.  On the boys side the Varsity has former CFC’ers Charlie Featherson and Jacob Havice, and JV has Will Hartsock. Both our Zionsville GKs made it as Cooper Cass made the Freshmen team along with Avery Keller making Varsity Girls. 

A huge reminder for those who didn’t make it – you are really good players – Carmel is a huge school – chances are you all would have made it at HSE/Fishers/Guerin or Noblesville. Keep the head up and get ready for the club fall CFC season!     

Carmel High School Girls & Boys Varsity Schedules

Former Carmel FC GK signs to play College Ball at Savannah College of Art

We started training Bethany at U11 and are just absolutely thrilled one of our former Carmel FC GKs has announced where she is playing college ball next year after this season season at Carmel High.  “I am extremely blessed to announce my verbal commitment to continue my athletic and academic career at Savannah College of Art and Design.  So much thanks to God, my coaches, teammates, family and friends for their endless support.  Can’t Wait for this next journey!”  #gobees says Bethany!! Good luck – can’t wait to see her and the Greyhounds beginning next week as the State Runner’s Up Carmel Girls start at home Thurs night at home vs Brownsburg 7 pm.  Some highlights

REFFING

Coach Shane has Officially joined the High School Reffing ranks this season – so keep an eye out for me at game near you 😊, I have some limited Carmel and Guerin games mostly JV so far.   Of course I will still be reffing CDC Games and some Travel games this fall as well along with coaching up the Carmel FC Goalkeepers and helping the U13 Boys with Coach Mark Stumpf.  (see cool links on Reffing below)

Small Sided Reffing Classes

Indiana Soccer is excited to announce the next opportunities to earn the Small sided referee license – enabling individuals 12 and older the opportunity to referee in the 4v4, 7v7 and 9v9 play formats.  It is an excellent way by which to help clubs use younger referees for their rec games as well as ISL fall season matches.  It is also a great opportunity for the older folks to get their feet into the world of officiating soccer matches, without the stress of having to cover a normal 11v11 match. Below are course you may register for.  If your club is interested in hosting a course, they may do so by clicking on the following link and completing the application process. Click Here  August 28, 2022  Sunday 2 – 5pm  Noblesville United Soccer Club / 8501 E 196th Street  Noblesville, IN  46062  $30 

BIG GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 4

3 pm USA                            Crystal Palace(Richards) vs Arsenal (Turner)  

Sat, Aug 5

7:30 am Peacock               Fulham (Reem, Jedi) vs Liverpool

10 am Peacock                  Leeds United (Adams, Aaronson) vs Wolverhampton

12:30 pm USA                    Everton vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

12:30 ABC                            Dortmund (Reyna) vs Bayer Leverkusen

3 pm ABC                             Atlanta United vs Seattle Sounders  

7 pm TV 23                          INDY 11 v Pittsburgh

7 pm ESPN+                        Charlotte vs Chicago Fire

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Cincy v Philly Union

10:30 pm ESPN+               Portland vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Sun, Aug 6

9 am Peacock                     Man United vs Brentford

9 am bein Spor                  Lille (Weah) vs Auxerre

9:30 am ESPN+                  Stuttgart vs RB Leipzig

11:30 am Peacock            Man City vs West Ham United  

5 pm Para +                        San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs KC

6 pm Para+                         Chicago Red Stars vs NY Gothem FC (Rapino, Cook)

7 pm Para+                         Orlando Pride vs Angel City

9 pm Uniivsion                  America vs Juarez

Wed, Aug 10

3 pm Para+, Univision    Real Madrid vs Frankfurt (Supercup)

7:30 pm Para+                   Washington Spirit vs Portland Thorns NWSL

8:30 pm ESPN MLS AllStar Game USA vs Liga MX

9 pm ESPN+                        San Antonio (Jordan Farr GK) vs Loundon United USL

Sat, Aug 13

7:30 am USA                       Aston Villa vs Everton

9:30 am ESPN+                  RB Leipzig vs Koln

10 am USA                          Man City vs Bournemouth

10 am Peacock                  Southampton vs Leeds United (Adams, Aaronson)

10 am Peacock                  Wolverhampton vs Fulham (Reem, Jedi)

12:30 pm NBC                    Brentford vs Man United 

12:30 ABC                            Schalke vs Mgladbach 

3 pm ESPN+ Desp            Barcelona (Dest) vs Rayo Vallencano

7 pm ESPN+                        INDY 11 @  Hartford Athletic

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Cincy v Atlanta United

10:30 pm Para+                 San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs Orlando Pride NWSL

10:30 pm ESPN+               LA FC vs Charlotte

Sun, Aug 14

9 am USA                             Nottingham Forest vs West Ham United  

9:30 am ESPN+                  Stutgart vs RB Leipzig

11:30 am Peacock            Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Tottenham

11:30 am ESPN+                Bayern Munich vs Wolfsburg

4 pm ESPN+                        Almeria vs Real Madrid  

3 pm Para+                         Seattle OL Reign vs NY Gothem FC NWSL  

8 pm Para+                         Angel City vs Chicago Red Stars

Mon, Aug 15

1:30 pm ESPN+                  Getafe vs Atletico Madrid

2:45 pm para+                   Juventus vs Sassulo

3 pm USA                            Liverpool vs Crystal Palace(Richards)

Fri, Aug 19

2:30 pm ESPN+                  Mgladbach vs Hertha  

3 pm beIN Sport               Lyon vs Troyes

8 pm Para+                         Angel City vs KC  NWSL

10 pm ESPN                        LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

10 pm FS1                            Juerez vs Pachuca

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

USA

Weston McKennie dislocates shoulder, possibly putting his World Cup in jeopardy

McKennie’s injury creates more World Cup anxiety

Brandon Vazquez’s USMNT case grows during MLS Golden Boot challenge

Brenden Aaronson’s incredible assist; Tyler Adams: ‘I’m not Kalvin Phillips’ – Video
Report: Chicago Fire’s Gabriel Slonina to transfer to Chelsea in $15 million move
       
USMNT’s Gabriel Slonina unveiled by Chelsea, loaned back to Chicago

How many USMNT players are in the English Premier League?

A USMNT Premier League migration shifts the focus on American players in Europe – Henry Bushnell Yahoo

American Goal Keepers in the EPL thru the Years – Men in Blazers

Matt Turner’s First Day at Arsenal
England-US women’s game at Wembley sells out in one day

Cool Miked Up US Ladies with Mal Pugh

MLS

https://www.mlssoccer.com/all-star/2022

MLS Allstar Game Team Roster

Chicharito named 2022 MLS All-Star Game captain

 Apple’s MLS Deal Shows It Wants to Distribute Rights, Not Buy Them
Galaxy, America triumph in double-header at glitzy new stadium

Leagues Cup friendlies showing L.A. is a soccer market

What an Awesome View from LA Galaxy vs Atlas in SoFi Stadium
Riqui Puig to LA Galaxy: the biggest summer in MLS history just got bigger

2022 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target

MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G

The MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G returns as the best in MLS take on the LIGA MX All-Stars in the annual skills competition:

  • Tuesday night 7:30 PM CT / 8:30 PM ET
  • Watch on: ESPN2, TUDN, TSN or TVA Sports

Rosters

Women’s Soccer Euro’s

England’s Euro 2022 success is a platform for the next generation  ESPNFC Tom Hamilton

Women’s attendances have dominated European football in 2022  Chris Wright
England win Women’s Euro 2022, but the tournament’s biggest victor is the sport itself
  EPSNFC Mark Ogden
Euro 2022 delight sparks boom time for English women’s football

Chloe Kelly sends nation into raptures with extra-time Euros final winner for England

Serial winner Wiegman helps England ‘change society’ in Euro triumph

London soaks up Euros win with giant party

Beauty and Beast – the two goals that turned England into European champions

‘What dreams are made of’: How world reacted to England’s Euro win as Queen sends heartfelt message

It’s coming home! England rejoices as soccer women win Euros

England vs Germany, Euro 2022 final player ratings: Mary Earps stars as substitutes steal the show again

England beats Germany in European Championship final

Furious Germany claim they should have been awarded penalty for ‘clear handball’ in Euros final

Germany boss baffled by penalty call in Euro 2022 final defeat

Lioness Chloe Kelly’s Celebration – peaks Nike Sports Bra

Netherlands captain Van Veenendaal retires
England’s Kelly ‘always taking shirt off’ to celebrate winner

England’s Euro 2022 winners urge next PM to support girls’ football

Debinha gives holders Brazil Copa America Femenina win
Brazil triumphs again, but Copa America Femenina is getting stronger
  ESPNFC Tim Vickery

England’s Kelly Chloe scored the game winner in Extra Time to beat Germany and Bring it Home !

EPL

Premier League 2022-23: Full fixture list
Premier League season preview: ‘Big Six’ fortunes are mixe

Premier League’s top fourhopefuls primed for tense race

Conte sets sights on Premier League, Champions League glory at Tottenham

Jesus’ winning mentality contagious for Arsenal players, says Arteta

Haaland embracing life out his ‘comfort zone’ in Premier League

Leicester keeper Schmeichel to join Nice

Premier League seasonpreview: Focusing on the relegation candidates

Premier League season preview: Focusing on the mid-table battlers
Nunez upstages Haaland, Alvarez in Liverpool’s Community Shield     

WORLD

Euro League Predictions

When does the 2022-23 season start across Europe?

Barcelona beat NY Red Bulls 2-0 to cap unbeaten US tour
Real Madrid vs. Juventus provides soccer satisfaction for 93,702 fans at Rose Bowl

Benzema, Asensio on target as Real Madrid down Juventus 2-0 in friendly
   

 Goalkeeping

Our own DOC Juergen Sommer the first American Goalkeeper to Start in England

American Goal Keepers in the EPL thru the Years – Men in Blazers  Check out who was in there first – our own DOC Juergen Sommer.

Great Euro Cup Women Saves

Ochoa and McCarthy of LA Galaxy Share Love after the 2-0 win by LA

Great Save by Joe Willis of RSL  https://twitter.com/MLS/status/1555048754637688837

Goalkeeper Training – the Block

Matt Turner’ Great Saves

Matt Turner’s First Day at Arsenal

Gigi Buffon Footsave vs Zidane https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cf_A-groFEo/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY

REFFING This Crazy Game

Offside Law Update

MLS Allstar Game Crew Confirmed

Ukraine’s Kateryna Monzul refereed the UEFA Women’s EURO final on Sunday!

New MLS Next Pro Rule Will Put An End To Players Faking Injury

Small Sided Reffing Classes —

Indiana Soccer is excited to announce the next opportunities to earn the Small sided referee license – enabling inviduals 12 and older the opportunity to referee in the 4v4, 7v7 and 9v9 play formats.  It is an excellent way by which to help clubs use younger referees for their rec games as well as ISL fall season matches.  It is also a great opportunity for the older folks to get their feet into the world of officiateing soccer matches, without the stress of having to cover a normal 11v11 match.Below are course you may register for.  If your club is interested in hosting a course, they may do so by clicking on the following link and completing the application process. Click Here  August 28, 2022  Sunday 2 – 5pm  Noblesville United Soccer Club / 8501 E 196th Street  Noblesville, IN  46062  $30 

Indy 11

VOTE: Carmel’s SODERSTROM UP FOR W LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

TRIO NAMED TO USL W LEAGUE TEAMS OF THE YEAR

ELEVEN SIGNS DEFENDER ROBBY DAMBROT

USLC RECAP | IND 1 : 3 TBR

Indy 11 Park Announced Indy 11 Park

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BIG GAMES ON TV

My 3 Thoughts on the England-Germany Euro Final Grant Wahl  Jul 31

    

LONDON — England beat Germany 2-1 after extra-time in the Euro 2022 final here on Sunday before a Euro record crowd of 87,192 Wembley Stadium. Here are my three thoughts on the game:


• Chloe Kelly, meet history. At a moment when nearly the entirety of Wembley was dreading what might happen in a penalty-kick shootout (not usually England’s thing, especially against Germany), Kelly made sure they wouldn’t happen by scoring the game-winner during a goalmouth scramble after a corner kick. Kelly’s first shot was saved by German keeper Merle Frohms, but the Man City forward stuck with it and hit it home to send the crowd into raptures. Kelly celebrated by ripping off her shirt and running wildly toward her teammates in her sports bra, and anyone in the U.S. who was watching couldn’t help but think back to Brandi Chastain doing the same thing in 1999. As has been the case in much of the tournament, England’s depth ended up making a huge difference in the game. Kelly and fellow second-half sub Ella Toone scored both of England’s goals, and England was more dangerous after the subs started coming into the game. (If there had been another game, I would have wanted to see Alessia Russo start up front instead of Ellen White.) But if you’re Sarina Wiegman, England’s coach, who started the exact same lineup in all six Euro games, you could also argue that it’s a killer for your opponent when you can bring on players with the quality that England has. There are a lot of them for the deserved European champions.

• Germany missed Alexandra Popp. You hate to see any injury remove a player from a major final, but Germany losing Popp to a pregame warmup injury was especially cruel. Popp had scored in every game of this tournament, including both of Germany’s goals in the 2-1 semifinal win over France. Germany just wasn’t as dangerous in front of goal with Lea Schüller in Popp’s place, but there was more to it than that. Popp sets the tone for Germany with her hell-bent ruthlessness, constant energy and fear she strikes in opponents. She’s a big reason why Germany’s press is so effective, and it just wasn’t the same without her. (Surprisingly, England was the better pressing team on Sunday.) Popp had put in so much work to come back from injury and be arguably the most influential player of this tournament. The final was diminished without her.

• The referee could have done a better job to prevent an overly physical game. Frankly, I was surprised that Stéphanie Frappart of France, the world’s top female referee, didn’t get the final and the job was given instead to Kateryna Monzul of Ukraine. Unfortunately, Monzul didn’t do nearly enough early in the game to set the tone that rough-housing wouldn’t be allowed. Literally the first entry in my game notes from the second minute was: “Ref letting GER be physical early.” And it only continued from there. Monzul giving only three yellow cards in the first half—two of them to England!—while Germany was chippy the entire time was about three cards too few, and it was stunning that Germany’s Lena Oberdorf didn’t draw a yellow until the 57th minute. This game had too many instances of players ending up on the ground due to rough play, leading to too many stoppages, and while Germany deserved the majority of the blame for that, Monzul deserved some too.

Premium: England Has Its Own 1999

Women’s soccer takes over England as the Lionesses win Euro 2022 on home soil Grant Wahl Aug 1 

LONDON — The comparison first hit me on Tuesday night, not long before England’s semifinal with Sweden, when I was outside Bramall Lane in Sheffield, and the bus carrying the England women’s national team happened to arrive near where I was standing. As I observed the scene of the home fans surrounding and serenading the bus with cheers, one thing in particular stood out: The players inside the bus were shooting cellphone videos of the spectacle just as much as the supporters were turning their cameras on the team.All-encompassing national fervor is new to the Lionesses, who have long toiled in obscurity compared to their men’s counterparts. And it made me think back to the same thing happening with the U.S. women’s national team players before the first game of the 1999 World Cup. As their bus made its way up the New Jersey Turnpike to what would be a sold-out Giants Stadium, it slowly dawned on the USWNT that the overwhelming traffic was there for them.

It’s not that women’s soccer was totally absent from English culture. After all, the surprise hit film Bend It Like Beckham (2002) was literally about a women’s soccer team in London. But if you recall, 1) a major plot line was about Jess (Parminder Nagra), whose family didn’t want her to be playing the sport, and 2) “Success” for young women’s players meant earning a scholarship to play college soccer in the U.S. (since England didn’t have anything remotely like it).

GrantWahl.com is a reader-supported soccer newsletter. Quality journalism requires resources. The best way to support me and my work is by taking out a paid subscription now. Free 7-day trials are available.  Subscribe now  Give a gift subscription

 

A transcendent cultural moment was happening, and so the stunned U.S. players shot video of something they had never seen before (albeit with old-school camcorders instead of cellphones). We all know where that monthlong American celebration ended: with a World Cup title before a crowd of 90,185 at the Rose Bowl. England’s version of 1999 took place in 2022, and it culminated on Sunday with the Lionesses beating Germany 2-1 in extra time at Wembley Stadium. And in a perfect piece of symmetry, England forward Chloe Kelly celebrated her game-winning goal in the 111th minute by repeating what the U.S.’s Brandi Chastain did after her World Cup-clinching penalty kick in 1999: ripping off her jersey, twirling it over her head and celebrating in her sports bra with her teammates.Over the last month, England fell irretrievably in love with its women’s soccer team. There’s nothing like being in a host country when it performs well in a major international soccer tournament. The national pride, the living and dying with every game, the spontaneous celebrations in bars and public squares—they take over a country’s daily culture. USA 1994, France 1998, USA 1999, South Korea 2002, Portugal 2004, Germany 2006, Brazil 2014, Russia 2018: All you have to do is say the country and the year, and it conjures some of the best memories I have of covering this sport. (I also remember the epic cultural sadness when those host countries went out of those tournaments; see: Brazil 2014.)Now you can add England 2022. The images of the Lionesses’ six Euro games, all of them victories, will be imprinted on their supporters forever: The 68,871 fans who packed Man United’s Old Trafford for their opening 1-0 win over Austria; the stunning force of thrashing former World Cup champion Norway 8-0 (in a game that was 6-0 at halftime); the soul-stirring comeback against Spain in the quarterfinals to win 2-1 on Georgia Stanway’s thumping extra-time wonder strike; Alessia Russo’s outrageous backheel goal in a 4-0 semifinal win over Sweden; and the wild celebrations after Kelly’s winner against the Germans.You can measure the country’s newfound passion in any number of ways. If you’re into data, the national TV audience in the U.K. peaked at a giant 17.4 million during Sunday’s final (with another audience almost the exact same size in Germany), and 87,192 fans filled Wembley—a record attendance for any game ever at a European Championship, men’s or women’s.But there are other examples of how besotted Blighty became over the Lionesses. Like the way everyone stayed in the stadium for nearly an hour after the final whistle and sang “Sweet Caroline” with the England players, who performed running slip-and-slides on the massive piles of silver confetti on the field. It was as if nobody wanted to leave, and so they didn’t.Or take the conversation I had before the game in the press section with a friend of mine, an English woman who has covered women’s soccer here for years. Knowing how hard she has been working, I asked her if she had taken the time to step back on Sunday and reflect on what we were seeing in front of us for an England women’s soccer game.“Oh, don’t worry,” she said. “I’ve cried three times today already.”As the fútbol-loving University of Michigan professor Andy Markovits has noted, women’s soccer has had a harder time breaking through in many of the biggest men’s soccer countries than it has had in nations like the United States or Scandinavian countries. England, in particular, has been notorious when it comes to the massive culture around men’s soccer denigrating the women’s game. (You still see and hear plenty of it, especially on social media.) As was the case in several other nations, England’s soccer federation, the FA, banned women from playing the sport for decades (from 1921 to 1968). I thought it was a good thing that the historical context was being publicized during this tournament; when you arrived at the train station in Sheffield, you were greeted by large signs with all the details of England’s women’s soccer ban and the way women defied that ban and attempted to build a soccer culture anyway.But the official neglect of the women’s game in England made its mark. When I started covering soccer in 1996, I couldn’t believe that England’s team wasn’t any better than it was. The Lionesses didn’t even qualify for the World Cups in 1991, ’99 and 2003, and they didn’t advance past the final eight in ’95, ’07 or ’11. English talent did exist in those days. Kelly Smith was an attacking phenomenon who wasn’t appreciated nearly enough in her own country during her playing days. When Smith was at her best and not dealing with severe injuries during her NWSL and Arsenal days, she could be unstoppable.(A quick Kelly Smith story: When she was drafted No. 2 overall out of Seton Hall by the NWSL’s Philadelphia Charge in 2001, I idiotically criticized the Charge for picking her that high. Not only did she prove me completely wrong, but she also later wrote in her memoir that my dumb comments had motivated her to succeed. When I finally met up with Kelly in person at the 2015 World Cup—we were working together for Fox Sports TV—I profusely apologized, and now I’m lucky to say we’re friends.)It’s not that women’s soccer was totally absent from English culture. After all, the surprise hit film Bend It Like Beckham (2002) was literally about a women’s soccer team in London. But if you recall, (1) a major plot line was about Jess (Parminder Nagra), whose family didn’t want her to be playing the sport, and (2) “success” for young women’s players meant earning a scholarship to play college soccer in the U.S. (since England didn’t have anything remotely like that opportunity to play).It’s still wild to me that U.S. soccer culture was in a place then that David Beckham, who was at the height of his global powers, became better known in the U.S. from that movie (which he wasn’t in) than from anything he had done on the soccer field to that point.Still, Kelly Smith and Bend It Like Beckham were almost like one-offs when it came to women’s soccer culture in England. The national team was hardly considered world-class. But things have changed in the past decade since Team GB’s women drew big crowds for soccer at the 2012 London Olympics (while going out in the quarterfinals to Canada). Clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and others have invested more in their women’s teams; sponsorship and television revenue has spiked; and the WSL has become the women’s league with the best depth of quality in Europe. England has made at least the semifinals of the last two women’s World Cups.England’s women’s soccer talent is no longer a one-off proposition. In fact, the calling card of this England team was how many players could beat you. No fewer than nine Lionesses scored goals in England’s six victories: Lucy Bronze, Lauren Hemp, Kelly, Fran Kirby, Beth Mead (the golden boot winner with six strikes), Russo, Stanway, Ella Toone and Ellen White. It was the substitutions by England’s Dutch coach, Sarina Wiegman, that changed the game in Sunday’s final—in which both England goals were scored by subs. (Let it also be said that the assist from midfielder Keira Walsh on Toone’s opener on Sunday was an absolute thing of beauty.)What happens now for England? How much will this Euro triumph change the culture here? That remains to be seen. The legacy of 1999 in the U.S. most definitely exists, but it hasn’t been linear; the NWSL seems to be here to stay after nine years, but it followed two pro leagues that each folded after three years. England’s WSL has an infrastructure, though, and the conditions are there for it to become the world’s best league if the investment continues to grow. And if that happens, it could become like the men’s Premier League, with the money and popularity to attract the majority of the world’s best players. We’ll soon find out if interest in the WSL gets a post-Euros boost.As for the Lionesses, there’s a World Cup in just a year, and they will be among the favorites to raise the trophy. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if England and the U.S. (which has won the last two World Cups) built a rivalry at the top of the sport, since there was a real competitive edge to their game in the 2019 World Cup semifinals won by the USWNT.Who knows? Maybe 2023 will end up being even bigger for England than 2022 has been. But there’s a reason why I think the growth of women’s soccer will be the biggest sports story of the next 50 years. One by one, country by country, more nations are going to have their 1999, or at least something close to it. The moment may happen at World Cups, or perhaps in continental championships like this one, and in some cases it may not even require them to win the trophy. What we saw here in England over the last month is how cultures change. And there’s no stopping this train now that it’s moving around the world.

Women’s Euro final smashes TV viewership records

Henry Bushnell  Mon, August 1, 2022 at 9:42 AM  Yahoo Soccer

As England’s victorious players gathered Monday with thousands of fans in Trafalgar Square to celebrate their first European soccer championship, the BBC released stunning TV viewership figures that quantified just how much of the nation they’d captivated.England’s 2-1 win over Germany in the Women’s Euro final, the BBC said, was the most-watched program of any kind in the United Kingdom in 2022, and the most-watched women’s soccer game ever in the UK.

The peak audience of 17.4 million, plus 5.9 million streams online and on mobile, represented a roughly 34% share of the UK’s entire population. (The 2022 Super Bowl, by comparison, drew a 36.9 rating in the U.S.)

It topped the previous mark of 11.7 million viewers who watched England lose to the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup.Sunday’s Euro final also set records in Germany. Public broadcaster ARD said Monday that an average audience of 17.9 million watched the match, making it the most-viewed women’s soccer game ever in Germany as well.It narrowly topped the 16.95 million fans who watched Germany lose to Japan in the 2011 Women’s World Cup quarterfinals.In the U.S., the most-viewed soccer telecast ever remains the 2015 Women’s World Cup final between the U.S. and Japan. That was watched by an average of 26.7 million people, and peaked at over 30 million viewers — numbers comparable to the BBC’s for last summer’s men’s Euro final between England and Italy.Relative to population sizes, though, the UK numbers for both the men’s and women’s finals are far larger.Euro 2022 also shattered attendance records. The sold-out final at Wembley Stadium, seen live by 87,192 fans, drew more people than any other European championship game, women’s or men’s, ever.The entire tournament, hosted by 10 stadiums across England, drew more than 500,000 fans — more than twice the previous record of 240,055, set in 2017 — despite some big English clubs balking at staging games at their home grounds.Continental women’s championships in Africa and South America also filled stadiums. A record crowd of 45,000 watched Morocco beat Botswana to qualify for its first Women’s World Cup.

A USMNT Premier League migration shifts the focus on American players in Europe

  • Henry BushnellTue, August 2, 2022 at 5:34 PM Brenden Aaronson watched his dream move to the English Premier League materialize on a smartphone in a Vienna café.He was, on the afternoon of May 22, two hours away from becoming the second-most expensive American soccer player ever — if, that is, Leeds United could avoid relegation. So, while on a mini-vacation to the Austrian capital with his girlfriend, he tracked the final day of the EPL season frantically, “sweating and pacing around the café.”

He tried to relax; to sip a coffee; to escape the stress. As Leeds went ahead and relegation-rival Burnley went behind, and his $30 million transfer from Red Bull Salzburg crystallized, the 21-year-old from South Jersey ducked away to the bathroom “four or five times,” as his girlfriend swiped and refreshed for score updates.It was “awful,” Aaronson said a week later — but life-changing too. “I wanted to be part of the club so bad,” he said.A few days later, he was. A few months later, he is gearing up for his first Premier League season, and he isn’t alone. U.S. teammate Tyler Adams has joined him and American coach Jesse Marsch at Leeds, and West Yorkshire, out of nowhere, has become the nucleus of a growing U.S. men’s national team network in Europe.For years, that nucleus was in Germany. The Bundesliga became the destination for American teens and young pros. But over the past year, USMNT regulars and hopefuls have migrated to Great Britain. At least 14 of them will begin their 2022-23 seasons in England or Scotland.So it’s there, in the EPL (and on NBC networks), where American eyes will be trained between now and mid-November, when the 2022 World Cup begins.But there are dozens of other USMNT players scattered across the continent as well. According to Transfermarkt data compiled by Yanks Abroad, the number of Americans in the world’s top five leagues has skyrocketed in recent seasons. U.S.-eligible players made 436 appearances in those leagues in 2021-22, per the analysis, up a whopping 79% from 244 in 2019-20.That number could rise yet again over the coming 10 months. And whereas the Premier League represented the smallest share of appearances and minutes last season, it could leap to the top of the list by May.So, with the Prem and Bundesliga set to begin on Friday, here’s a rundown of USMNT World Cup roster contenders and their overseas club situations.

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

(TV: NBC, USA, Peacock in English; Telemundo in Spanish)

Christian Pulisic (winger, Chelsea) — Pulisic remains in West London — for now. Whether he’ll be there come Sept. 2 is an open question that might not be answered until transfer deadline day. Playing time had already been a sticking point for the U.S. star when, in July, Chelsea paid north of $50 million for Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.

But Pulisic has said he wants to stay and fight for his place, as he has ever since arriving at Stamford Bridge. And even if he isn’t starting regularly, he’ll be the USMNT’s catalyst in Qatar.

Tyler Adams (defensive midfielder, Leeds) — The 23-year-old’s $24 million move to Leeds made him the third-most expensive American player ever. It reunited him with Marsch, his former boss at New York Red Bulls and RB Leipzig. It also presented him with a near-perfect situation: He’ll be the first-choice defensive midfielder under a manager who trusts him in a pressing team in the most competitive league in the world.

In one sense, he’s a replacement for Kalvin Phillips, the English midfielder who departed for Man City. “But I didn’t come in to be Kalvin Phillips,” Adams recently clarified. “I came in to be Tyler Adams.”

Brenden Aaronson (attacking midfielder, Leeds) — Aaronson has been torching preseason opponents with his two preeminent skills: relentless pressing and transition passing. He is, as U.S. teammate Weston McKennie says, “an annoying gnat, like a fly that you can’t get out of your face” when you have the ball. When he wins it off you, he can carve up defenses in an instant.

He is, somewhat remarkably, not a first-choice starter for the national team, but he could play his way into a place in the USMNT 11 over the next three months.

Chris Richards (center back, Crystal Palace) — The newest addition to the American EPL flock, Richards arrived at Palace for up to $15 million from Bayern Munich after a strong loan spell at Hoffenheim. He won’t be a sure-fire starter, but if he can earn a consistent place alongside Marc Guehi in the Prem, the 22-year-old should partner Walker Zimmerman at center back for the U.S. in Qatar.

Antonee Robinson (left back, Fulham) — The USMNT’s top left back struggled in his first Premier League season, 2020-21, but is a more mature player this time around after helping Fulham win promotion back to the top flight.

Tim Ream (center back, Fulham) — Ream is not only still at Fulham; he started all 46 Championship games last season (at age 34!) as the Cottagers won the English second division. He hasn’t been called into the national team since withdrawing from an October 2021 squad for “family reasons,” and he doesn’t have the mobility that USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter desires, but he confirmed to The Athletic in April: “I’m still available to be picked. I don’t think that will change until I completely hang up the boots.”

Matt Turner (goalkeeper, Arsenal) — Turner is expected to back up Aaron Ramsdale in North London, which begs an obvious question: Why would an established starter (for the New England Revolution) voluntarily relegate himself to a reserve role, especially in a World Cup year?

“Well, I’ve been playing pretty well in MLS for the better part of three years now,” Turner said in late May. “Given the environment of transfers, for goalkeepers in particular, this was the first real interest, first real offer that I’ve had. And I’ve been trying to make things happen for quite some time. So it seems like the right time for me.

“Being a week-in, week-out starter in MLS didn’t guarantee me to be a starter here for the national team. And going to the World Cup, I obviously want to play games. So I need to shake things up in my club career, and I think this is a positive step forward for me in the long term, and in the immediate future.”

ENGLISH CHAMPIONSHIP

(TV: 3-4 games per weekend on ESPN+)

Zack Steffen (goalkeeper, Middlesbrough) — Steffen spent two years in a role similar to the one Turner now occupies, as an entrenched backup at Man City. And when he did get on the field, he made a few nightmarish gaffes. So he has dropped down to the Championship on loan, and made a couple big saves on his debut in a 1-1 draw with West Brom.

Although Turner is widely regarded as the better shot-stopper, a strong autumn could solidify Steffen as the U.S. No. 1.

Josh Sargent (forward, Norwich) — At this time last year, Sargent was the USMNT’s starting striker. Now he’s a try-hard second-tier winger on the fringes of the national team roster. There’s a school of thought that Norwich’s relegation to the Championship could be good for him. An uneventful display in a season-opening 1-0 loss at Cardiff, though, was inauspicious.

Daryl Dike (striker, West Brom) — One of many American strikers who, if he gets hot this fall, could sneak into Berhalter’s 26. The first steps, though, would be staying healthy and securing a regular place in West Brom’s 11.

Ethan Horvath (goalkeeper, Luton Town) — The hero of last summer’s CONCACAF Nations League final has never played consistently for club or country. He’d need to do that at Luton to snatch a World Cup roster spot away from the current clubhouse leader for the third goalkeeper slot, New York City FC’s Sean Johnson.

GERMAN BUNDESLIGA

(TV: Every match on ESPN+ in English and Spanish)

Gio Reyna (attacking midfielder, Borussia Dortmund) — Reyna had a hellish, injury-riddled 2021-22 campaign that ended with yet another serious muscle injury, and with tears. But he’s still regarded as the USMNT’s brightest teenage prospect. He looked slick in his first unofficial game back from the hamstring tear. Dortmund is taking things slow, allowing the 19-year-old to methodically build toward full fitness, but once there, he should get plenty of minutes in both league and cup competitions.

Jordan Pefok (striker, Union Berlin) — The 26-year-old Washington, D.C.-born target man parlayed a Swiss league Golden Boot into a smart move to Union Berlin — which, after an unprecedented fifth-place finish last season, sold its top marksman, Taiwo Awoniyi, to Nottingham Forest. So Pefok will get his chance to lead the line, and, in preseason and the German Cup, he’s already taking that chance. If he keeps scoring, he’ll be in Qatar.

Ricardo Pepi (striker, Augsburg) — Pepi pounced on a big-money move to Augsburg last winter … and hasn’t scored since. He desperately needs some game time to re-find a rhythm, but seems set to start the season on the bench. Every appearance he makes will feel more pressure-packed than it should.

Joe Scally (fullback, Borussia Dortmund) — Scally, 19, is already up and running with goal in the DFB-Pokal, and, after playing 30 league games for Gladbach in his maiden season, should feature regularly again.

Gladbach, unfortunately, was a bit of a mess last year, and Scally was thrust into five different positions — “right back, right wing back, left back, left wing back, and right center back one game,” he said this offseason, rattling them off incredulously. But his versatility is a bonus for the national team, and will help his case for Qatar.

Kevin Paredes (left anything, Wolfsburg) — Scally’s primary competition for the back-up left back role could come from Paredes, who moved to Wolfsburg from D.C. United for $7.35 million in January. But he’ll need minutes, which are far from guaranteed.

George Bello (left back, Arminia Bielefeld, 2. Bundesliga) — At this time last year, Bello was the back-up left back, and a rising star at Atlanta United. But, as Berhalter has publicly suggested, he might’ve jumped to Europe too quickly. He made just three Bundesliga starts, all losses, after a January move as Bielefeld slumped to relegation. Whether he’s in the picture for Qatar or not, a pivotal season in the 2. Bundesliga lies ahead.

SPANISH LA LIGA

(TV: Every match on ESPN+ in English and Spanish)

Sergiño Dest (fullback, Barcelona) — Dest’s form and health have fluctuated constantly since arriving at Camp Nou in 2020. So have Barcelona’s opinions of him, according to local media reports. One day, he’s in Xavi’s first-team plans; the next, he’s being shopped. The latest, according to ESPN and SPORT, is that Barca will listen to offers for the 21-year-old American fullback as the club pursues Chelsea defender César Azpilicueta. It’s very unclear where Dest might end up.

Yunus Musah (midfielder, Valencia) — Musah’s national team career has accelerated quicker than his club career, in part because the U.S. plays him in his natural position, as a ball-carrying central midfielder. Valencia, meanwhile, had played the multicultural teen out wide. But that looks set to change under new manager Gennaro Gattuso, if preseason is any indication. If so, Musah, 19, could be one of La Liga’s breakout stars.

Luca de la Torre (central midfielder, Celta Vigo) — The 24-year-old San Diegan has had a rocky young career since moving to Fulham as a teen. But he found his footing last season, and especially last June with the national team. He earned an under-the-radar move to Spain, where his on-ball ability should flourish — if he gets regular playing time at Celta.

Matthew Hoppe (forward, Mallorca) — After a rough season at Mallorca, the 21-year-old forward and his club have reportedly been in talks with Middlesbrough and Sunderland. A move to the English Championship seems likely.

ITALIAN SERIE A

(TV: CBS Sports Network, Paramount+)

Weston McKennie (central midfielder, Juventus) — McKennie, a popular subject of transfer gossip, and repeatedly linked with Tottenham, seemed set for a third strong season at Juve when, in training last week, he dislocated his shoulder. The Italian club says that the injury will sideline him for at least three weeks.

Gianluca Busio (central midfielder, Venezia, Serie B) — Busio, along with a few other Americans at relegated Venezia, will now be hidden in the relative anonymity of Serie B. His stock has fallen since last autumn.

FRENCH LIGUE 1

(TV: ​​beIN Sports, beIN Sports Connect)

Tim Weah (forward, Lille) — Weah will look to build on 2021-22, his best season yet as a professional. “I’m getting really comfortable,” he said during a USMNT camp in May. The next step? Goals. He’s never scored more than five in a pro season.

Erik Palmer-Brown (center back, Troyes) — “EPB” has finally settled at Troyes after four years as a Man City loanee in perpetual transition. But the 25-year-old central defender hasn’t distinguished himself as a reliable USMNT option.

Konrad de la Fuente (winger, Marseille) — Konrad started the USMNT’s first 2022 World Cup qualifier, and played in the second, and … hasn’t been back since. He struggled in his first season at Marseille, and will reportedly be sent out on loan — with Valladolid, a newly promoted Spanish side, the leading candidate to take him.

SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP

(TV: CBS Sports Network, Paramount+)

Cameron Carter-Vickers (centerback, Celtic) — A late addition to the World Cup roster picture after a sturdy 2021-22 campaign on loan, “CCV” and the Scottish champs made their partnership permanent this summer. He’s an every-week starter in Glasgow, and a contender to go to Qatar. The evaluative challenge for Berhalter and his U.S. staff is that the level of competition in the Scottish Premiership leaves plenty to be desired.

James Sands (defender/defensive midfielder, Rangers) — A compelling World Cup roster candidate in theory — but only in practice if he plays consistently, and well, at Rangers. He started a Champions League qualifier first leg on Tuesday, but last year’s Europa League finalists lost 2-0 to lowly Belgian side Royal Union Saint-Gilloise.

Malik Tillman (AM, Rangers) — Tillman, who committed his international future to the U.S. in May, moved on loan to Scotland last month in search of regular first-team minutes. The 20-year-old Bayern Munich product made an impressive cameo off the bench in Rangers’ league opener. More of the same could put him in World Cup contention.

OTHERS

Reggie Cannon (right back, Boavista, Portuguese Primeira Liga) — Cannon has been looking for paths out of Boavista for over a year now. “I can’t even imagine at this point how many transfers that have fallen through at the last second,” he said in May. But he’s still there, and while there, he’s grown into a more versatile defender, capable of playing right wing back in a 5, right back in a 4, and right center back in a 3.

Haji Wright (striker, Antalyaspor, Turkish Super Lig) — Wright, whose surge last spring earned him a USMNT debut (and debut goal), signed permanently with Antalyaspor after scoring 14 league goals on loan. Berhalter seemed strangely unimpressed with Wright in June, but a hot start in Turkey could keep the 24-year-old in the World Cup picture.

John Brooks (center back, free agent) — Brooks is one of the best center backs on the open market. The rumor mill, however, has been quiet — except for when Berhalter, explaining Brooks’ exclusion from multiple USMNT camps, told ESPN last month: “We want to play with a very high line. So ideally, if he went into a team that plays with a high line, and we can see every week how he’s dealing with space behind him, it would really help us get a picture of what he can do for our team. He hadn’t been doing it with Wolfsburg.”

ONES FOR THE FUTURE

Beyond the already-established national teamers, there are dozens of other Americans in Europe. Among the ones to keep on radars (ages in parentheses):

Folarin Balogun (FW, Arsenal but likely going on loan to Reims in France; 21)
Alex Mighten (W, Nottingham Forest, England; 20)
Auston Trusty (CB, Birmingham City, England; 23)
Richy Ledezma (AM, PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands; 21)
Cole Bassett (CM, Feyenoord, Netherlands; 21)
Sam Vines (LB, Royal Antwerp, Belgium; 23)
Mark McKenzie (CB, Genk, Belgium; 23)
Bryan Reynolds (RB, Westerlo, Belgium; 21)
Griffin Yow (W, Westerlo, Belgium; 19)
Tanne Tessmann (CM, Venezia, Italy [Serie B]; 20)

As European soccer leagues start unprecedented seasons, title predictions remain familiar

Henry BushnellThu, August 4, 2022 at 8:38 AM

The English Premier LeagueGerman Bundesliga and French Ligue 1 begin this Friday, Aug. 5.

Spain’s La Liga begins Aug. 12, and Italy’s Serie A starts Aug. 13.Never before have Europe’s preeminent soccer leagues collectively kicked off this early — because never before have they had to devise schedules quite like their 2022-23 ones.They’ll also end later than usual, because they’ll break for over a month in mid-November to squeeze in the 2022 World Cup, the first men’s World Cup held outside its traditional summer window. FIFA moved it to late-autumn to accommodate Qatar’s menacing heat.So the leagues reluctantly revised their calendars. Even the Champions League group stage will start earlier than ever before. Already-packed schedules will be further compressed. The cadence of the season will feel different.

But the league tables?

They, surely, will look as they almost always look, with a select few superclubs rising to the top and European soccer’s growing inequality laid bare.There has been speculation among pundits and fans that the World Cup, which will exacerbate workloads for top players while giving others a welcome reprieve, could advantage the middling clubs that send fewer players to Qatar.But Bayern Munich is still a runaway favorite (-500 with BetMGM) in Germany.PSG is -1000 in France.

Juventus and the two Milan clubs sit atop the list of favorites in Italy.

In England and Spain, two duopolies — Liverpool-Manchester City and

In other words, no matter how different the fall of 2022 feels, the spring of 2023 should feel familiar. Here’s a rundown of the basic as seasons get set to begin.

When do EPL, European leagues start and end

The dates for the big five leagues are:

Bundesliga: Aug. 5-May 27
Premier League: Aug. 5-May 28
Ligue 1: Aug. 5-June 3
La Liga: Aug. 12-June 4
Serie A: Aug. 13-June 4

When do World Cup breaks start and end?

Clubs worldwide are required to release their players to national teams by Monday, Nov. 14, a week before the World Cup opener.

Most major leagues, therefore, will play through the weekend of Saturday, Nov. 12, then pause for at least six weeks. Two minor exceptions are La Liga, which will play its second-week-of-November fixtures on Wednesday rather than the weekend, allowing Spanish players (and others) to report for World Cup duty a few days early; and the second-tier English Championship, which resumes on Dec. 10, with the World Cup knockout stages still ongoing.

The Premier League resumes on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, eight days after the World Cup final. The rest return soon thereafter:

Ligue 1: Dec. 28
La Liga: Dec. 31
Serie A: Jan. 4
Bundesliga: Jan. 21

What about the 2022-23 Champions League?

In a typical year, the Champions League group stage’s final two matchdays would be in late November and early-mid December.

In 2022, the round-robin phase will wrap up on Nov. 2. It begins on Sept. 6. Games remain on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they’ve just been shifted forward. Here’s the full schedule:

Qualifying playoffs: Aug. 16-17 and Aug. 23-24
Matchday 1: Sept. 6-7
Matchday 2: Sept. 13-14
Matchday 3: Oct. 4-5
Matchday 4: Oct. 11-12
Matchday 5: Oct. 25-26
Matchday 6: Nov. 1-2

The Round of 16 will fall in the same February-March windows as last year. But the quarterfinal legs have each been pushed back a week, and the semifinals a further week. The Champions League final is slated for June 10, the latest scheduled date since the inaugural European Cup final on June 13, 1956.

Who are the favorites?

Liverpool and Man City are the two best teams in Europe. They were for much of last season, too, until City choked away a Champions League semifinal to Real Madrid. Both have since reloaded for another run at domestic and continental glory. (More on transfers below.)

PSG and Bayern Munich are their top challengers on the continent. The rest of the contenders are the usual suspects — Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Atletico Madrid — minus Manchester United, which failed to qualify for the second time in four seasons.

The club most capable up upsetting their dual hegemony in England, meanwhile, might be Tottenham. Antonio Conte has now had a full offseason to mold Spurs to his liking — and in the past, a full Conte offseason has been a pretty good recipe for success. He won leagues titles in his first full seasons at Bari (in the Italian second tier), Juventus and Chelsea, and in his second at Inter Milan, he ended Juve’s run of nine straight Scudettos.

What have been the summer’s biggest transfers?

A very incomplete list of the biggest moves of an already very busy transfer window, which doesn’t close until Sept. 1:

Robert Lewandowski | Bayern Munich —> Barcelona
Erling Haaland | Borussia Dortmund —> Manchester City

Sadio Mane | Liverpool —> Bayern Munich
Darwin Nuñez | Benfica —> Liverpool
Romelu Lukaku | Chelsea —> Inter Milan (loan)

Raheem Sterling | Manchester City —> Chelsea
Gabriel Jesus | Manchester City —> Arsenal
Matthijs de Ligt | Juventus —> Bayern Munich
Aurelien Tchouameni | Monaco —> Real Madrid
Antonio Rudiger | Chelsea —> Real Madrid
Raphinha | Leeds —> Barcelona
Jules Kounde | Sevilla —> Barcelona
Lisandro Martinez | Ajax —> Manchester United
Paul Pogba | Manchester United —> Juventus
Kalidou Koulibaly | Napoli —> Chelsea
Angel Di Maria | PSG —> Juventus
Franck Kessie | AC Milan —> Barcelona
Ryan Gravenberch | Ajax —> Bayern Munich
Niklas Sule | Bayern Munich —> Borussia Dortmund
Richarlison | Everton —> Tottenham
Kalvin Phillips | Leeds —> Manchester City
Oleksandr Zinchenko | Manchester City —> Arsenal
Christian Eriksen | Brentford —> Manchester United
Paulo Dybala | Juventus —> Roma
Ivan Perisic | Inter Milan —> Tottenham
Boubacar Kamara | Marseille —> Aston Villa
Nico Schlotterbeck | Freiburg —> Borussia Dortmund
Karim Adeyemi | RB Salzburg —> Borussia Dortmund
Gleison Bremer | Torino —> Juventus
Nordi Mukiele | RB Leipzig —> PSG
Vitinha | Porto —> PSG
Fabio Vieira | Porto —> Arsenal
Sven Botman | Lille —> Newcastle
Gianluca Scamacca | Sassuolo —> West Ham
Brenden Aaronson | RB Salzburg —> Leeds
Tyler Adams | RB Leipzig —> Leeds

What big transfers could still happen?

The big name to watch is Cristiano Ronaldo. In short: He wants to leave Manchester United, but none of the Champions League clubs he wants to play for seem to want him.

Where are the top American players this season?

For a decade, American players had drifted out of the Premier League. Suddenly, they’re back in numbers. Here’s a full roundup of all the relevant U.S. men’s national team players in Europe.

What, and who, else is new?

Manchester United has a new manager, Erik ten Hag, who it poached from Ajax. So does PSG in Christophe Galtier.

Chelsea has a new ownership group, led by American Todd Boehly, who has taken control of the club’s operations and overseen one of the most incoherent summer transfer strategies in recent memory.

English Premier League predictions

1. Manchester City
2. Liverpool
3. Tottenham
4. Arsenal
—————
5. Chelsea
6. Manchester United
—————
7. Crystal Palace
—————
8. Newcastle
9. West Ham
10. Leicester City
11. Aston Villa
12. Leeds
13. Brighton
14. Wolves
15. Brentford
16. Everton
17. Nottingham Forest
18. Southampton
19. Fulham
20. Bournemouth

German Bundesliga predictions

1. Bayern Munich
2. Borussia Dortmund
3. Bayer Leverkusen
4. RB Leipzig
—————
5. Wolfsburg
6. Borussia Mönchengladbach
—————
7. Mainz

La Liga predictions

1. Barcelona
2. Real Madrid
3. Atletico Madrid
4. Villareal
—————
5. Real Sociedad
6. Real Betis
—————
7. Sevilla

Serie A predictions

1. Inter Milan
2. Roma
3. AC Milan
4. Napoli
—————
5. Juventus
6. Atalanta
—————
7. Lazio

How can I watch the top European leagues?

The Premier League is on NBC networks — mostly USA and the streaming service Peacock in English, and Telemundo in Spanish. The first game, Crystal Palace v. Arsenal, is Friday at 3 p.m. ET on USA and online.

The Bundesliga and La Liga are on ESPN+ (and very occasionally ESPN or ABC). Some English Championship games are also on ESPN+.

Serie A and all UEFA competitions — the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League — are on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+. (So is the Scottish Premiership.)

Ligue 1 is on beIN Sports and beIN Sports Connect.

On the eve of his return to the Premier League, Fulham’s Robinson sees big year ahead

Last year was a huge year for Antonee Robinson helping to lead Fulham to promotion and the United States through qualifying. But the year ahead will build on that with his return to the Premier League and a likely spot on the U.S. team’s World Cup roster. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta spoke with “Jedi” about the past year while looking ahead to the big opportunities which await. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTAPOSTED
AUGUST 04, 20225:50 PM

THE PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON gets underway this weekend and for Fulham, the goal is simple – to survive the season and chart a new course for the club as one that can survive as a regular competitor in England’s top-flight. Antonee Robinson joined the club two years ago and was part of both the relegation in 2021 and the impressive promotion last season.

This week, Robinson will turn 25 years old, and it will be a defining year. The hopes are that Fulham will find a way to survive in the Premier League, unlike its previous two campaigns in the top tier. Then there is the World Cup which will be played mid-season and it offers Robinson an opportunity to not only play in the biggest tournament, but also to possibly take on the country where he was both born and raised.This Saturday, Fulham has one of the most challenging opening games possible when it will host Liverpool at Craven Cottage. But the team is upbeat for the season and there is a lot of motivation for the group to set a new tone for the London-based club.

“Especially for the lads who stayed from the season when we’ve been relegated, it was a chance to redeem ourselves and fight back and earn our way back into the Premier League,” Robinson told ASN. “I think just sheerly through that it means a little bit more – the fact that we’ve brought the team to the Premier League this time. For me, personally, being part of the promotion fight, it makes me want to keep us in the Premier League where I feel like we belong.”Robinson was a key part of Fulham’s effort in getting promoted last season and it was certainly the most demanding season he has ever played. He made 33 starts over 36 appearances for Fulham last season while playing 3028 minutes. Combined with making 13 World Cup qualifying appearances for a total of 1060 minutes, Robinson played 4088 minutes for both club and country in the 2021/22 season.But last season was also the first time Robinson has been able to taste winning. His career to date has centered around Bolton, Wigan, and Fulham and every season until 2021/22 has been a relegation fight. Last year Robinson was able to partake in successful promotion and World Cup qualification campaigns – scoring twice for the U.S. team. 

“Last season, even being on a winning team, it was still just a really physically intense season,” Robinson explained. “The Championship always has been the same every year I’ve played in it. Especially ith World Cup qualifying, it made it very difficult but I came out of it on the other side with 50 or so games and playing good football at times, did pretty well with the national team and then being successful Fulham. Overall it was a really good season to boost confidence for myself as well.”All that does is raise stakes for the coming season when Robinson is in the Premier League and the World Cup as opposed to the Championship and qualifying.  When looking at the lessons he learned from Fulham’s relegation in 2020/21, he is able to recall specific games in great detail. In that season, Fulham lost its first six games, fought back into contention for survival, but squandered late goals for losses or draws towards the end.

“The mood around the team, it feels pretty similar to be honest,” Robinson said. “We have the same goal going into it. It’s just a couple different faces and it’s lads who have been in this position before who have the outlook of the experience of how it went last time to try and avoid the mistakes we fell into the last time round.”“A strong start would definitely help,” He continued. “Even if you take out the weak start the last time we were in the Premier League, towards the last third of the season, we had it in our control. A couple results our way would have got us to safety – and we never capitalized. We went through a streak of just like draws and losses. We just could not win a game to save our lives. Like when we go up against Villa and throw the game away. We should have beaten teams like Leeds and Burnley who were around us. We got punished. So going forward we know the importance of having the mentality to see a game out. Things like that will be massive this year.”During Robinson’s time at Fulham, one of the consistencies has been Tim Ream who, at age 34, was instrumental in the recent promotional effort. Robinson gets along with Ream well and the two Americans made up the left side of Fulham’s backline last year. Ream was named to the league’s Team of the Season by the Professional Footballer’s Association.

It remains to be seen if Ream will be a consistent starter for Fulham in the Premier League but Ream will likely see minutes this season and Robinson points out that the St. Louis native has an important role within the team that extends off the field as well.“Since Tom Cairney was injured a lot last season, Tim was pretty much the captain most of the season,” Robinson said of Ream. “He started every game which – for someone his age to start every game in the Championship and perform as well as he did – it’s nothing short of incredible, to be honest. He has a real calmness on the ball and a warrior spirit. He was fighting, throwing his head into tackles, getting cut every week. To have that as one of your baseline players, it really does lift the team.”

“Off the pitch, he was basically taking on the duties of being co-captain almost with Tom,” he added. “When it came to speaking to the management, staff and things like that, trying to organize stuff off the field and making sure that all the lads were happy and all the coaching staff were happy, and that we were working in unison – he was huge for us.”In November, the Premier League will take a break for the World Cup in a unique timeframe. For Robinson and the U.S. team, the World Cup will be an entirely new experience as DeAndre Yedlin is the only player to be capped recently by the U.S. team who has played in a World Cup.Robinson senses the excitement from players on the team but realizes that fight for roster spots remains competitive. Even with his heavy involvement in qualifying over the past year, he doesn’t put himself in the category of being a lock for Qatar – but that is a source of motivation for him.“There’re some guys on the team like Weston and Christian who everyone’s expecting to go if they are fit,” Robinson said. “Then there’s guys fighting for places – from the lads who are in MLS and the others in the European sides like myself, going into the season thinking I’ve got to be performing at the highest level I’ve ever performed to make sure I’m on my plane to Qatar.”But the team remains very close off the field, despite the competition. The team’s players are in regular contact with each other and are bonded by things sometimes beyond soccer. For instance, Robinson is one of four pianists in the player pool along with Weston McKennie, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Konrad de la Fuente. It’s a skill that Robinson proudly points out that he taught himself in his teenage years by watching YouTube videos.plan,” he added. “I think everyone can see how much of a brotherhood the group is.”After qualifying for the World Cup, the United States learned its fate that it would be in a group with England, Iran, and later it was determined Wales would be the final team added.Now as the Premier League season is set to get underway, it only makes the prospect of facing the country where he grew up even more exciting.“That’s definitely a surreal feeling,” Robinson said. “My dream was to be playing in the World Cup one day in general, but I definitely didn’t dream I was going to be playing for the US against England. It’s just something that I couldn’t have written when I was a kid, so hopefully I get to make that dream come true when we go and put on the show we can. Playing against England? Obviously, I’ve grew up here, lived here for my whole life and all the family and friends that are going to be watching my game for me obviously, but just the excitement of having the ties to both sides, it’s amazing, really.”

European soccer betting guide: Manchester City favored to win another Premier League title

By Dan SantaromitaAug 4, 2022


The European soccer season is getting an early start this season thanks to the World Cup taking place in November and December as opposed to this summer. That will wreak havoc on the club schedule, but also means we get the season starting this weekend in the Premier LeagueBundesliga and Ligue 1. La Liga and Serie A start next weekend.

As far as betting odds are concerned, all the familiar faces are favored. In four of the five biggest leagues, the defending champion is favored to repeat as champion. In three of the five leagues, there is a minus odds favorite.

All odds are from BetMGM.

English Premier League odds

TEAMTITLE ODDSTOP 4 ODDS
Manchester City-140-5000
Liverpool+225-1000
Tottenham+1400-150
Chelsea+1600-150
Arsenal+3300+150
Manchester United+4000+150
Newcastle United+15000+800
West Ham+25000+1200
Leicester City+25000+1600

While the Champions League trophy still eludes Manchester City, the club has won back-to-back Premier League titles and four of the last five. Erling Haaland’s addition, in theory, is the missing piece up top City didn’t have in recent years.

Liverpool (+225) is a decent value on paper after finishing one point shy of City last season. The Reds sold Sadio Mané to Bayern Munich but spent big money to get Darwin Nuñez from Benfica in the attack.

It’s surprising to see Tottenham third in the title odds ahead of Chelsea. Spurs added Clement Lenglet (Barcelona) and Dejan Kulusevski (Juventus) on loan. Still, Chelsea finished ahead of Spurs last season and added Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) and Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) while losing Antonio Rüdiger to Real Madrid.

The race for the top four to make the Champions League should be interesting again. Arsenal missed out on fourth by two points after losing two of its final three matches last season. The Gunners added Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko from Man City to boost their hopes of getting back into Europe’s top competition. Arsenal gets a tricky test to open the Premier League Friday at Crystal Palace, which was a solid 12th last season.

There isn’t much love for Erik ten Hag’s project at Manchester United. United has the sixth-best title odds but is only +150 to finish in the top four.

Top goalscorer odds

PLAYERODDS
Erling Haaland+225
Mohamed Salah+450
Harry Kane+550
Darwin Nunez+850
Cristiano Ronaldo+1000
Gabriel Jesus+1000
Son Heung-Min+1200
Diogo Jota+2500
Callum Wilson+3300
Jamie Vardy+3300
Kai Havertz+3300
Kevin De Bruyne+3300
Luis Diaz+3300
Raheem Sterling+3300

The league’s top scorer race gets a new favorite in Haaland. It makes sense. After all, in the past two Bundesliga seasons, Haaland scored more goals (49) than he made starts (48) and now he doesn’t have to compete with Robert Lewandowski to win the golden boot. If Haaland stays healthy and takes penalties for City, he will be a factor.

However, it’s not yet clear if Haaland will take penalties. Riyad Mahrez and the now-departed Gabriel Jesus converted penalties in league play for City last season. Typically, the golden boot winner comes from a top six club and takes penalties.

Mo Salah and Son Heung-Min both scored 23 goals last season and Son did it without taking penalties for Spurs. Harry Kane takes penalties for Spurs and has averaged 22.5 goals in the last eight seasons. Especially if you believe the relatively bullish odds for Spurs, Kane seems like a good value here.

Relegation odds

TEAMODDS
Bournemouth-225
Nottingham Forest+125
Fulham+150
Leeds United+200
Brentford+275
Southampton+275
Everton+333
Wolves+500
Crystal Palace+650
Brighton & Hove Albion+800

Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest are the newly promoted sides in the EPL this season. The oddsmakers expect Bournemouth to go back down and have Forest and Fulham next in the odds, but don’t expect all three to go down.

Since the Premier League expanded to 20 teams for the 1995-96 season, only one time did all three newly promoted teams get relegated back to the second tier. That happened in 1997-98 with Bolton Wanderers, Barnsley and Crystal Palace. In the last 26 seasons, 34 newly promoted sides went straight back down with all three surviving on four occasions, including as recently as the 2017-18 season.

Spanish La Liga odds

TEAMTITLE ODDSTOP 4 ODDS
Real Madrid+110-1000
Barcelona+135-800
Atletico Madrid+550-300
Sevilla+1600+125
Villarreal+4000+275
Real Sociedad+5000+400
Real Betis+10000+450
Athletic Bilbao+20000+600
Valencia+25000+900

Barcelona was a mess much of last season, but still managed to finish second in La Liga with Xavi helming a late season surge as new manager. Now with Lewandowski in the fold it’s hard to overlook Barca, but it’s still not entirely clear what this team will look like with more moves, including departures, still expected.

Real Madrid didn’t appear especially dominant in its run to the Champions League title last season and has had numerous better La Liga seasons in terms of points, but Madrid just manages to win trophies. Los Merengues didn’t land the big fish in Kylian Mbappe and Rüdiger is the only big name addition so far this transfer window.

Beyond the league title race, the top goal scorer race could be fun as well. Lewandowski (+225) is just ahead of Madrid’s Karim Benzema (+250) after Benzema scored a career-high 27 La Liga goals last season.

Italian Serie A odds

TEAMTITLE ODDSTOP 4 ODDS
Inter Milan+175-650
Juventus+175-450
AC Milan+275-400
Roma+800+100
Napoli+1300+120
Atalanta+2500+200
Lazio+4000+500
Fiorentina+5000+800

Italy had one of the most competitive title races last season and has the most competitive preseason odds this season. Defending champion Milan is only third in the odds. Juventus had won nine straight titles, but has finished fourth two years in a row.

Juve added Ángel Di María and Paul Pogba while seeing Giorgio Chiellini, Matthijs de Ligt and Paulo Dybala depart. Inter has Romelu Lukaku back on loan after a disappointing second stint with Chelsea. Lukaku scored 47 goals in two seasons with Inter before that move to Chelsea. Lukaku and Juve’s Dušan Vlahović are co-favorites for top scorer at +333 just like their clubs are co-favorites for the league title.

José Mourinho’s Roma got a boost in the odds as fourth-favorite to win the title and is even money to qualify for the Champions League despite finishing sixth last season. Roma added Dybala, Nemanja Matic (Man United) and is expected to sign former Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

German Bundesliga odds

TEAMTITLE ODDSTOP 4 ODDS
Bayern Munich-500n/a
Borussia Dortmund+600-1400
RB Leipzig+900-400
Bayer Leverkusen+2800-155
Borussia Monchengladbach+10000+350
Eintracht Frankfurt+10000+400
VfL Wolfsburg+15000+350
Hoffenheim+30000+900

Bayern Munich has won 10 straight Bundesliga titles and even after the loss of Lewandowski is still an overwhelming favorite to make it 11 in a row. Top challenger Borussia Dortmund also lost its leading striker in Haaland. The odds have last year’s top four as the favorites to be this year’s top four again as well.

With Lewandowski and Haaland gone, the top goalscorer race is wide open on paper. Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick (+300) is favored followed by new Bayern addition Mané (+350). Schick scored 24 times last season, second to Lewandowski’s 35.

We’ll get a look at Mané in a Bayern shirt Friday in the season opener at last season’s Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt.

French Ligue 1 odds

TEAMTITLE ODDSTOP 3 ODDS
PSG-1000n/a
Marseille+1400+100
Lyon+1400+110
Monaco+1600+125
Rennes+3300+225
Nice+5000+275

After failing to win the league title in 2020-21, PSG was back on top last season for its eighth Ligue 1 title in the last nine years. PSG won the title by 15 points and is the biggest favorite of any of the top five leagues.

Premier League preview: Predictions for the 2022-23 season

The Athletic UK StaffAug 4, 2022

The Premier League is back. The new season begins on Friday evening as Arsenal travel to Crystal Palace before everyone else piles in over the weekend.

Before the big kick-off, our writers have got their heads together to answer some of the crucial questions while also bravely predicting the final league table…


Who will win the Premier League and why?

Dominic Fifield: Manchester City will probably edge out Liverpool, just. Possibly. It may all boil down to good fortune in terms of injuries and how key performers cope with the distraction of a mid-season World Cup. In truth, both those teams appear utterly outstanding on paper and will benefit from revitalised front lines, which hardly seems fair on the rest.

Carl Anka: The Premier League is Manchester City’s until proven otherwise. Pep Guardiola has done more than just buy Erling Haaland: he’s recalibrated his attacking options to get the most out of him. Expect big seasons for Jack Grealish and Phil Foden as they feed the big man.

Grealish, GuardiolaGuardiola will be looking to get more out of Grealish this season (Photo: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Maram AlBaharna: The Premier League title has to be Manchester City’s. It will not be easy, but adding Haaland might just do it.

Stuart James: Toss-of-a-coin territory here, because there is still so little to choose between City and Liverpool. Haaland is a fantastic addition and, on the face of it, has made City better. It’s hard to argue the same right now about Darwin Nunez and Liverpool, purely because Sadio Mane was so good. But I just have a feeling that Liverpool will be hurting with how last season ended and that will give them a psychological edge.

Sarah Shephard: Unimaginative, I know, but Manchester City. Yes, they have lost the player who scored their second-highest number of goals (13 in the Premier League) last season in Raheem Sterling, and sold Gabriel Jesus (eight goals) but bringing in Haaland and Kalvin Phillips means they should not be weakened by those departures. I’m not sure I can say the same for Liverpool (who will be their closest rivals once again), who I suspect will feel the loss of Mane this season.


Who else will qualify for the Champions League?

Dominic Fifield: Tottenham Hotspur feel like a team on the up once again, overseen by a ferociously competitive and driven head coach who, for once, should actually be satisfied with his club’s business in the market (though he probably won’t be). It is hard to judge Chelsea before the closure of the transfer window, but they have spent their summer playing catch-up post-takeoverManchester United, too, are a mystery but may be coming from too far back to oust Thomas Tuchel’s side from the top four. More of a threat to Boehly-Clearlake could be Arsenal. But we’ve said that before and been left looking foolish.

https://theathletic.com/report/podcast-clip?clip_id=5869

Carl Anka: Let me not overthink things: Liverpool are coming second (but with a larger points gap than usual to City). Spurs are coming third. Chelsea look combustible and with a misfiring attack, but they should be able to fend off Manchester United and Arsenal to secure that final top-four slot.

Maram AlBaharna: My hot take of the season is Tottenham will find themselves in a title race they cannot edge, leaving them second. Liverpool, obviously, and then you have Arsenal, who are getting louder and louder each season.

Stuart James: The sort of question designed to trip me up, bearing in mind that I predicted, with about 10 games to go last season, that Arsenal would finish above Tottenham. Spurs seem in a better place than Chelsea right now, which means it’s a three-way fight between Tuchel’s team, Arsenal and Manchester United for that final place. Chelsea to get fourth, just.

Sarah Shephard: Liverpool, obviously. And then, well, I have a feeling Chelsea will do better than many are predicting this season and then it comes down to a shootout between Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United. Push me, and I’d have to give Spurs the nod. Just.


Who will be relegated and why?

Dominic Fifield: Bournemouth have been cautious in the market and may not be equipped for a top-flight campaign, particularly given the brutal nature of their opening run of fixtures. Recovering from that would be some feat. Fulham need to add more quality in what remains of the window, while the sheer level of upheaval at Nottingham Forest (even if it was required) brings with it considerable risk. That said, Southampton, who have also recruited heavily, will need to exorcise some of the miserable memories of the tail end of last season to avoid a decidedly difficult campaign.

Carl Anka: I’ve been burned twice by “Aleksandar Mitrovic — Premier League striker”, and even if he’s a more complete player now, Fulham’s squad isn’t much better than the one that got relegated in 2020-21. Bournemouth are a big shrug. Nottingham Forest’s squad looks “too weird to stay up” but I think they’ll make a late escape and doom Leeds to 18th place.

Maram AlBaharna: I have a feeling we’ll see a repeat of the Championship to Premier League to Championship seesaw for Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest. Mitrovic has tricked me too many times into believing he can replicate his numbers in the top flight, Bournemouth look forgettable given their transfer activity (or lack thereof…) and Forest’s massive shopping spree will be too big to handle.

Our writers feel Parker’s Bournemouth will struggle this season

Stuart James: Bournemouth — Scott Parker has pretty much admitted that’s on the cards. “This squad is much weaker than it was when we got promotion,” Bournemouth’s manager said. I can see Fulham, Parker’s former club, struggling too. As for the other member of the promoted trio, who knows what to expect from Forest given their transfer activity, but the fact they’ve been out of the Premier League for so long could work in their favour — the City Ground will be bouncing. If I had to pick a faller from the rest, I’d say Southampton.

Sarah Shephard: I fear for Bournemouth, looking at their lack of transfer activity and logic tells me Fulham are the yo-yo team who will never die. Nottingham Forest will have a tough season but just about survive. In the wake of losing their best player (Richarlison) and no true replacement yet arriving, I can see Everton sinking into the danger zone again.


Which manager is going to get sacked first?

Dominic Fifield: The disquiet at St Mary’s at the end of last season will make a decent start imperative for Ralph Hasenhuttl, though panic could set in quicker at Bournemouth, leaving Parker in peril. A slack opening for Wolves, too, might thrust some of the focus on Bruno Lage.

Carl Anka: (Jokingly) One of the smaller clubs that gets to Christmas and realises they need to course correct to stay up. (Serious) No, but Frank Lampard’s job is in real danger.

Maram AlBaharna: Yes, it’s Frank Lampard.

Stuart James: Narrowing this down to Marco Silva, Lampard, Jesse Marsch, Ralph Hasenhuttl and Lage — crikey, that’s a quarter of the Premier League managers… and maybe Parker should be in there too. Fulham’s opening fixtures — Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea in the first seven games – don’t make for good reading, so it’s Silva on that basis.

https://theathletic.com/report/podcast-clip?clip_id=5867

Sarah Shephard: Given the above, Lampard could find that thinning head of hair becoming increasingly scarce.


Who will score the most goals? Rank from highest to lowest from Haaland, Nunez, Jesus, Richarlison, Sterling.

Dominic Fifield: 1, Haaland, 2, Sterling, 3, Jesus, 4, Nunez, 5, Richarlison

Carl Anka: 1, Haaland, 2, Jesus, 3, Nunez, 4, Sterling, 5, Richarlison

Maram AlBaharna: 1, Haaland, 2, Jesus, 3, Sterling, 4, Richarlison, 5, Nunez

Stuart James: 1, Haaland, 2, Jesus, 3, Nunez, 4, Sterling, 5, Richarlison

Sarah Shephard: 1, Haaland, 2, Jesus, 3,  Sterling, 4, Nunez, 5, Richarlison


Whose season will be helped most by the World Cup?

Dominic Fifield: A team who has hardly any players at the tournament. So, basically, plenty of those fighting relegation will have a month to lick their wounds before they go again.

Carl Anka: (Briefly looks at attacking players who won’t be travelling to the World Cup and sees Mohamed Salah and Haaland on the list, shakes head and remembers the true edge is found further down the table) I can see Aston Villa having a better time in the second half of the season.

Maram AlBaharna: Very tempted by the big names that will be left behind — Salah, Riyad Mahrez, Haaland — but something tells me it’s the teams cage-fighting at the bottom who would benefit from a ceasefire for a month to re-group.

How much will Liverpool benefit from Salah not being at the World Cup? (Photo: Jan Kruger – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Stuart James: Easy to overthink this one. Individually, Haaland and Salah spring to mind immediately — they’ll have their feet up at home. Collectively, you’d have to think that bottom-half-of-the-table clubs will benefit because, by and large, they’ll have fewer players at the World Cup. Hang on, though, don’t the top clubs have bigger squads… see, I’m overthinking it.

Sarah Shephard: The promoted teams and clubs with fewer internationals who won’t have to deal with the aftermath of a mid-season major tournament. Also, any team who has a bad start to the season. The break will give them time to pause and reset — not something Premier League clubs often get an opportunity to do at that time of year.


And whose will be hindered most by it?

Dominic Fifield: There will inevitably be a sense of deflation — an emotional hangover — from the finals, experienced most by players whose nations consider themselves contenders. To that end, the potential for most of those competing at the top of the division to suffer in the aftermath is surely very real. To counter that, one suspects Haaland and Salah, absent from Qatar, may fancy reminding the watching world of their credentials post-tournament — which may mean defenders up and down the division are the ones to suffer the backlash.

Carl Anka: Antonio Conte has spent much of this summer making smart moves in the transfer market and beasting his players into top physical shape. You can see Spurs starting the season very well and provoking “Three-horse title race?” questions… only for Harry Kane and others to knacker themselves at the World Cup. (They should still finish in the top four at a canter.)

Maram AlBaharna: Kane coming back dead on his feet after an intense World Cup and slowing down Conte’s momentum in a title race.

Stuart James: The biggest danger is players who come back having done really well and domestic football is then viewed as an anti-climax. I remember speaking to some of the Wales players about that post-Euro 2016 — it was quite a hangover. “A massive, massive comedown,” Neil Taylor said. Anyway, I guess you need to know a team: Spurs.

Sarah Shephard: Tottenham are set to lose several key players, including Kane and Son Heung-min. Arsenal could also lose some, including Bukayo SakaGranit Xhaka and the three Gabriels (Martinelli, Magalhaes and Jesus).


Whose upcoming season would you most like to be turned into a documentary?

Dominic Fifield: Chelsea and Boehly-Clearlake are a blockbuster in-waiting, learning about the treacherous nature of the football industry on the hoof. Watching how they fling themselves into transfer negotiations, as the deadline ticks ever closer and a level of panic sets in, would surely be compulsive viewing.

Carl Anka: I cannot stop thinking about Manchester United spending more than half of 2021-22 having tactical advice transmitted from Russia into a man’s earphones. Erik ten Hag could do without the extra scrutiny, but I want to see how he deals with the executive dysfunction of the world’s strangest superclub.

Maram AlBaharna: Manchester United. Chaos seems to pop up like whack-a-mole for this strange club, on and off the pitch.

Stuart James: Manchester United or Chelsea are the obvious candidates, given the turbulence behind the scenes. The bit that I always find most interesting in documentaries is what the manager has to say in the dressing room and on the training ground. I’d love to see Tuchel at work (unedited).

Sarah Shephard: Tottenham’s. Conte’s lack of filter plus ever-present television cameras is the perfect recipe for a second season.


Which tactical innovation should we look out for?

Dominic Fifield: It will be intriguing to see whether, as threatened, Thomas Tuchel ditches his back three. Or, indeed, Patrick Vieira takes up the tactic across the capital at Crystal Palace. Teams’ use of the five-substitute rule, the adoption of which still fills me with dismay (apologies to all the big clubs), will also be interesting. Will games become fractured late on amid a rush of changes? Will it be used as a time-wasting tactic? Will younger players really benefit somehow?

Carl Anka: Last time Conte had a good Premier League spell, many teams had a go at employing his 3-4-2-1 system. Not every team can play inverted full-backs like Guardiola, so I’m going to say this season will see a lot of managers try to ape Conte’s use of wing-backs.

Maram AlBaharna: The rise of the inverted full-back — we saw it with Joao Cancelo and Klopp operating Trent Alexander-Arnold infield — but with the introduction of Ten Hag, especially if new signing Tyrell Malacia plays regularly, we’re going to see the trend of wide wingers and tucked in full-backs more often.

Stuart James: In my mind, the five-substitutes rule increases the likelihood of a player being dragged off at half-time, not least because there is an additional opportunity to make a change at the interval on top of the three occasions during the game, and there are now nine subs to choose from, too. In other news, I’m intrigued to see how United set up on goal kicks (in possession) this season.

Sarah Shephard: The introduction of the five-sub rule opens up a host of possibilities in terms of tactical exploitation. As the season reaches make-or-break point next April/May, it will be interesting to see how many of those subs get made in the dying minutes of a game one team is desperately trying to close out.


Which player is going to have a breakout season?

Dominic Fifield: The rave reviews from France suggest Cheick Doucoure could take English football by storm at Palace, though it will be just as intriguing to see how Michael Olise and Malcolm Ebiowei fare at Selhurst Park this season. Everything about Vieira’s forward options is thrilling.

Cheick DoucoureExpect a big season for Crystal Palace signing Cheick Doucoure (Photo: Crystal Palace)

Carl Anka: Doucoure is going to be a mainstay on best players outside of the top-six lists, along with Gianluca Scamacca. That both players will be at non-Champions League competing clubs in 2022-23 speaks to the financial strength of the Premier League. That’s simultaneously a good thing, and somewhat concerning.

Maram AlBaharna: The struggle is to pick one of Palace’s many talents but I have a feeling Doucoure will shock the Premier League. He has the ideal skill set to succeed (excellent anticipation, how to break the lines, dribble and defend) — he works in the shadows but he’ll be known.

https://theathletic.com/report/podcast-clip?clip_id=5866

Stuart James: I’d love to say Flynn Downes at West Ham, but that would be the heart and not the head talking — he’ll need time to adapt. Guess it depends on how we define “breakout”… Jesus has never started 25 Premier League games in a season — what can he do as a mandatory pick, as the go-to man to lead the line? Answer: score a lot of goals (probably).

Sarah Shephard: William Saliba is yet to play a competitive game for Arsenal but with Takehiro Tomiyasu out injured, he is likely to start the season at centre-half with Ben White filling in at right-back. If Saliba fulfils the potential he showed on loan at Marseille last season, he could become a fixture at the heart of Arsenal’s defence (and earn himself a place in France’s World Cup squad).


Which club will surprise everyone?

Dominic Fifield: Possibly Chelsea. Though not necessarily in a good way.

Carl Anka: Everton will be fine in the end.

Maram AlBaharna: Crystal Palace will challenge for a European spot.

Stuart James: Arsenal. Don’t ask me in what way. But just look at last season: calamitous start — written off. Impressive turnaround — top-four candidates. Then blowing it at the end.

Sarah Shephard: Brighton finished ninth last season and, such is my faith in Graham Potter, they could surprise everyone by finishing even higher this time around.

Friday Newsletter: On Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Much More

Plus my answers to a large Mailbag-full of your questions

Grant WahlAug 5
Gabriel Martinelli scored Arsenal’s first goal of the new season Friday (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

It’s a great day. I’m sitting in front of my TV watching Crystal Palace-Arsenal in the opening game of the Premier League season, and I’m preparing to park myself in the same place tomorrow to watch a few more games and get a handle on where teams are to kick off the new season. 

First off, a couple thoughts about Friday’s league openers:

CRYSTAL PALACE 0, ARSENAL 2

Maybe it’s because I just watched the start of the Arsenal All or Nothing series last night, but the absolute debacle of a start to last season is still on my mind. So winning deservedly at a pretty good Palace side to kick off the new season is a sea change that will no doubt raise the expectations of Arsenal fans around the world that this, indeed, will be the year. 

FRANKFURT 1, BAYERN MUNICH 6

You thought the Europa League champion, the team that eliminated Barcelona from that competition, would be ready to make a statement in the Bundesliga’s opening game against the 10-time-defending champion? Well, a statement got made. Congrats to Bayern on winning the title. (This isn’t good, at all, for the Bundesliga.)

Let’s make this Friday Newsletter a full mailbag. You all sent in some fun questions, so I’ll dive in:


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When do you think Laporta and crew will take all the trophies down to the local pawn shop or put them on eBay? (Seriously, very sad to be watching Barcelona and its legacy crumble before our eyes.)

Jim Bacharach

I wrote this tweet a couple nights ago:

Grant Wahl @GrantWahlHave always had affection for FC Barcelona, but what the club has done this summer trying to force players into taking pay cuts while spending wildly on new players is extremely distasteful.August 3rd 2022123 Retweets2,310 Likes

Look, I don’t have any problem saying that I have always felt positive vibes toward FC Barcelona. At one point they really did have some of the best teams we’ve ever seen in this sport, and there really was a sense that it stood for something more than just a sports team. But those days seem gone. No sane person would think the solution to being in more than a billion dollars in debt would be to try to pressure current players into taking salary cuts, mortgage future TV earnings and then spend without end to bring more stars into the team. As much as anything, Barcelona is showing why having member-owned clubs and elections (as opposed to an actual owner) is a bad idea in the modern game.

The funny thing is, La Liga might not let Barcelona register all their new signings. Stay tuned.

Which European-based USMNT player will raise their profile the most by their club performance leading up to the World Cup? (I think Brenden Aaronson will hit the ground running at Leeds and surprise a lot of people who haven’t seen him play.)

Byron

I agree with you on Aarsonson. For starters, not that many people saw him play in the Austrian Bundesliga last season, and in Champions League (and during Leeds United’s preseason)  he really has shown that he has taken a steep step upward in quality since his MLS days. The training session I saw Aaronson in last week in Leeds showed he’s ready to break out and be an absolute star, a player who produces goals and assists on a regular basis.

What’s going on with John Brooks? Are many clubs averse to signing him for the same reason(s) he hasn’t gotten a USMNT callup in nearly a year?

thew1242

For anyone who doesn’t know, Brooks remains an unsigned free agent for now after his contract expired with Wolfsburg. The latest reports have linked him to Feyenoord in the Netherlands, but Brooks really does need to find a landing spot so that 1) he can resurrect his club career, and 2) he can at least make a case to be part of the USMNT for the World Cup. My sense is he wants a certain level of income—remember, he has made a lot of money in his career—but I was personally hoping he would come to an MLS team during the window, which didn’t happen. 

Will Jesse Marsch be scapegoated at Leeds for WC fatigue in fellow Americans Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson (with home supporters blaming the Americans for failing to live up to replacement expectations for fan favorites Marcelo Bielsa, Kalvin Phillips and Raphinia)?

Paul Krieg

The word “scapegoated” suggests you’re already making an assumption that something bad will happen and/or that Aaronson and Adams won’t have enough energy or stamina. I’m not so sure that’s the case. What I would say are a couple things: 1) There is a wide variation of potential outcomes for Leeds United in my mind. I think LUFC could end up in another relegation battle, or it might finish as high as eighth or ninth in the league; 2) Aaronson and Adams are already viewed as big additions inside the team (I learned that in person last week), though I think it’s important to note that Phillips left for Man City and Raphinia for Barcelona. As for Bielsa, he’ll always be remembered for improving Leeds’s culture and getting them back to the Premier League, but it was crystal clear that he needed to go when he did. His approach on a daily basis just isn’t sustainable for very long, and he’s not missed by people inside the club (players or staff).

Ronaldo wants to leave a messed up Man U. His perfect move is to MLS where he will be made extremely welcome for a couple of years and will continue to be a star. In MLS he will be a bigger star than Beckham and help grow the game in USA.

Alan Hinton

I’m not 100 percent sold that Ronaldo at 37 would be a bigger star in MLS than Beckham was at 31. But I do agree with you, Alan, that MLS would be the right move for Ronaldo to make right now. He wants to play in the Champions League, but there’s not a Champions League team that appears to want Ronaldo right now (correctly viewing Ronaldo’s net-negative impact at Man United and Juventus). That’s why I think he’ll stay at United in the end this season.

How do you think USWNT will fare against the Lionesses? Will be interesting to see Vlatko’s lineup. They certainly won’t be as dialed in as England’s squad. A loss won’t be fatal but will throw shade on his progress and whether he is the ONE.

Michael Richard

If I had to pick a winner for the October 7 England-USA game at Wembley, I’d lean toward England. The atmosphere and 90,000 crowd will be intensely supportive of the hosts, and I feel like England is farther along in terms of its chemistry than this U.S. team is right now. But I think it’s important to add that this showdown is the kind that the U.S. players really get up for. If any team in the women’s game would be called (to use Jürgen Klopp’s words) “mentality monsters,” it would be the USWNT. And we might well see that again in October.

Who do you see as surprise candidates to surface for the USMNT or the USWNT in time for their respective World Cup competitions?

Theodore Morehouse

Forward Brandon Vázquez from Cincinnati (13 goals, 4 assists) is making a great case to be included in the USMNT squad for the World Cup, especially if there are 26 spots. Meanwhile, 17-year-old Jaedyn Shaw (recently signed by San Diego) has a rocket next to her name and could be hard to keep off the World Cup roster next year.

Riqui Puig has a better, longer and less controversial run in LA than Yasiel Puig. Yes or no?

Bob L

Yes! (These are my readers.)

What are your thoughts on the work Pablo Mauer has done for The Athletic? I have really enjoyed his long pieces on the stories and quirks regarding the history of US soccer.

Vincent Stravino

Pablo is not only a friend, but he’s also a tremendous journalist and photographer (and mechanic!). Anytime someone can write so many good stories of a certain type that there becomes a genre associated with their name is a great sign for someone. This job isn’t easy, but Pablo has a great sense for what would make a good story, and then he goes completely down the rabbit hole to report it before executing a well-written and organized piece. All of those things are challenging, and he does them.

How do you think limited travel at this year’s World Cup will impact the experience of teams and fans?

Willie

There are a bunch of huge issues with Qatar hosting the World Cup, but the limited travel is not one of them. Travel ordeals inside big World Cup countries can really take away from enjoying the experience, and that shouldn’t be a big problem later this year. (That is, as long as everyone can find hotel rooms.) 

Would Gregg Berhalter benefit the USMNT by bringing on someone like Landon Donovan as part of the staff for the World Cup? In a similar way Argentina is bringing Sergio Aguero along? Not just for the experience, and inspiration he can impart on the young group, but also since he’s now a coach in his own right?

Alex

It’s not a bad idea, since Donovan has had World Cup experiences like very few Americans. I just don’t see it happening, not least because Berhalter himself has competed in World Cups, and he’s very data-oriented, which is why he added a set-piece coach ahead of the World Cup but not someone like Donovan. Besides, we need Landon for our podcast discussions!

What’s your take on the Miazga move back to MLS? Will he partner with or replace Cameron at FCC? Any chance of getting back into the USMNT mix? Were all those years loaned out by CFC lost, or has he improved while doing so?

Andrew

I’m glad to see MIazga back in MLS. I think he still has the potential to return to the national team, and I wish he hadn’t gone the Chelsea route (hence: loans) a few years ago. I figure he’ll play with Geoff Cameron at Cincinnati, not in place of him, and this is another step in Cincy becoming a regular playoff contender instead of a league doormat.

Is your mind blown by the attendance numbers for women’s soccer this year, especially in Europe? I love this and really hope it continues.

Tom Terry

Big crowds really have been a theme of the year in women’s soccer, from England’s games at the Euros to Barcelona drawing 90,000-plus twice for home Champions League games to Morocco getting nearly 50,000 for home AFCON games to Colombia drawing 28,000 for the Copa América final to Angel City regularly filling up its stadium in Los Angeles. You can be certain England-USA will get upwards of 90,000 in October for their friendly. This will only continue.

Have a great weekend!

1999, 2011 and 2022: Comparing England women’s landmark moment to the USWNT’s

By Meg LinehanAug 3, 202235


Only days after filling Wembley Stadium with a record 87,192 people en route to their Euro 2022 win, the England women’s team have announced their return to the venue — this time, in October, against the U.S. Within 24 hours of the announcement, all general admission tickets had already sold out, with the queue to buy tickets stretching to a two-hour-plus wait.

There is one small caveat, in that the friendly is dependent upon England’s qualification for the 2023 World Cup in the September international window (they can do so with at least a draw against Austria, or a win at home against Luxembourg), but both federations forged ahead, knowing the demand for the fixture would be at a high point on both sides of the Atlantic.We’re all still in the glowing aftermath of Sunday’s Euro final, where new and casual fans are more easily converted. Wallets are opening. Ticket sales are booming. Players are earning new followers across social media at an absurd rate. As expected, the rising tide has come in — but what’s most exciting about England’s victory goes well beyond all the virtuous growth we can expect from a major tournament win.

We often talk about game-changing moments in women’s sports, about inflection points — but while these can be hard to assign in real time, women’s football has leaned on this language for decades. Progress has never been quite so clean and easy, however. For every major win and advancement, there are still steps backwards. But more importantly, there is so much work that must happen in order for these moments to truly stick and move the game forward.If there’s one moment we can all agree on as a turning point in the U.S., of course, it’s hosting the 1999 World Cup: a sold out Rose Bowl, Briana Scurry’s penalty kick save, Brandi Chastain on her knees, shirt in hand, screaming up to the sky in victory. It’s the tournament that changed an entire generation and launched a professional domestic league. It’s the tournament that changed my life, too.The parallels to 1999 were already easy to spot in England, even before Chloe Kelly whipped off her shirt (with one noticeable difference: a moment’s hesitation to ensure the goal stood, in this brave new world of VAR) England’s Euro win stands as its own accomplishment, and there is no direct one-to-one comparison, though. While 1999 isn’t inaccurate, especially considering the tournament being on home soil, it’s also incomplete. There are shades of 2011 here, too. While the U.S. did not lift the World Cup trophy in Germany that year, the memorable match against Brazil kicked off the modern era of the USWNT and the massive changes around the team’s reach and support over the next decade. 

The game has changed drastically. The sport is in a completely different state compared to 11 years ago, or two decades ago, with the growth of domestic leagues and the Champions League in Europe. In 2023, the World Cup will finally feature 32 teams (as recently as 2011, there were just 16 teams), and we’ve seen increased competition quality during every single qualifying tournament this past cycle.

From ‘99 to ‘11, and now ‘22, what’s so exciting about the latest moment on this list is that England’s win does not feel like a one-off or standalone event. Their win is in conversation with other huge accomplishments across the women’s game, particularly historic attendance numbers over the past year at the club level. England’s win matters on a global level thanks to the wider burst of attention and record-setting attendance and viewership figures we’ve seen lately, but England can prove this in the long-term by working to set a new standard by spreading a single success’ impact across all levels of the sport — from grassroots to pros.The team itself is already using their platform to push at the grassroots level, issuing an open letter to prime minister contenders Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to remind them that only 63 percent of girls across the country can currently play football in school during physical education classes, and demanding that “all girls have access to a minimum of 2 hours PE,” as well as additional investment for more female PE instructors.Here in the U.S., the primary question over the past two decades has been how to maximize World Cup audiences to either launch or grow a professional league. It has not been tidy work, even as there has been progress, and we’ve been too dependent upon this as the primary accelerant for the sport. The major tournament approach has not been sustainable, even though the NWSL is an immediate option for new fans to follow, watch and attend. The WSL season doesn’t start until September 10, which will provide a fascinating case study to see if having a month to build off the momentum of the Euros provides a greater opportunity not just to sell tickets, but to educate new fans about the league itself. The NWSL struggled with this in 2015 and 2019, posting good numbers for a few matches before coming back down to earth by the end of the season after the USWNT’s World Cup successes. 

In 2019, only days after the USWNT had won the World Cup, Laura Harvey’s Utah Royals FC faced Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field in front of 1,842 people, and the frustration was so clear: the league needed to be far more proactive to fully take advantage of the moment. 

“I just hope that we do it, I pray that we do it, and we do it in the right way, and we don’t just expect that because they won means people are going to come to games. It just doesn’t work like that,” Harvey told The Athletic.

Ultimately, Harvey stressed, it was not U.S. Soccer’s responsibility to grow the league — that instead fell to everyone involved with the league at every level. And if there’s one immediate next step for England here, it’s one that the U.S. has recently gone through itself, post-2019 World Cup win: an amicable divorce between the FA and the professional league. The NWSL and U.S. Soccer Federation might not necessarily be a perfect model here, but despite all the fears around the league’s sustainability without the federation’s influence, the NWSL has shown that controlling its own fate is the best path forward, not just when it comes to growth (from sponsorships to expansion, and so on), but for simply always having the league as the first and only item on the to-do list.Even though that’s a top priority for the league, England has four key ingredients for even greater success at the club level — regardless of who’s at the top — beyond the current Euros-inspired moment. 

First: accessibility, with a three-year television deal between the WSL and Sky Sports/the BBC (plus additional games on their own FA player that are free to stream). Those same deals also provide the next major piece: established commercial revenue, with £7 million being paid per year for the media rights — though it’s easy to assume the inbound sponsorship offers are going to increase over the next month for the league.Third, the WSL will feature in EA Sports FIFA 23 at launch, providing yet another path to introduce new fans to the league and its players. Chelsea’s Sam Kerr is on the cover, alongside Kylian Mbappe on the ultimate edition of the game; eventually the 2023 World Cup will be playable in game, too. It’s not just how many copies might be bought to play as the Lionesses or someone’s favorite WSL team, but there could be a significant breakthrough if existing users check out the women’s game thanks to the Euros.

Finally, the WSL’s best advantage is one that might have at times been a double-edged sword: established club brands with built-in loyalties. While teams like Manchester United and Liverpool have had their fair share of criticism for slow-playing the investment into their women’s sides over the years, there’s a massive potential windfall ahead of them if they go all-in on the women’s game. 

Multiple WSL teams have already announced games will be played at Premier League stadiums this season. Chelsea will open their season at Stamford Bridge (capacity 41,837) rather than Kingsmeadow (capacity 4,850), and the Merseyside and Manchester derbies will be played at Anfield and the Etihad, respectively. We can only hope that an influx of investment will allow for stakeholders to push on advancements in facilities and standards across the league, as well as potential expansion for the WSL.There’s honestly a lot to be jealous of from this side of the Atlantic — but the moment will have a ripple effect here, too.The NWSL will need to up its game across the board, and increase investment, to prove itself as a top-quality league that can attract and retain international talent. Television numbers like 885,000 viewers in the U.S. for the final between England and Germany could force the issue of increased broadcast investment and accessibility in America, as well, with ESPN’s production value across the entire tournament setting a new standard.No matter what, the lens through which we view things has once again changed: there’s before and after last Sunday, and the race is on to make the most of it before a golden opportunity slips away. Alongside ‘99 and 2011, ‘22 has joined the list of major soccer moments.

Picking the best and worst of Euro 2022: From once-in-a-lifetime goals to late trains and broken Wi-Fi

There’s never any shortage of world football matches going on at any given time — just look at the diverse offerings on ESPN+ — but what makes a tournament like the Women’s Euro 2022 so special is that it has the very best on offer.Some of the best goals, best saves and best performances happened in England this summer during the Euros. But there’s always that flipside in sport, where with the best you find a bit of the worst, too.With that in mind, ESPN’s writers who covered the tournament throughout July are weighing in with their best and worst of Euro 2022. Here are Tom Hamilton, Sophie Lawson, and Mark Ogden with their superlatives from a memorable summer.

EDITOR’S PICKS

Best goal

Hamilton: Well, it has to be Alessia Russo‘s backheel against Sweden. It was an outrageous piece of skill, which nutmegged two players and closed out the match. It said everything about this group of players — they had the confidence to try the outrageous but it also spoke to Russo’s mental strength. Just seconds previously she missed a chance that she should’ve scored. But instead of halting in her tracks, she chased the rebound and then backheeled the ball past half of Sweden and into the far corner.

Lawson: Firstly, shout-out to all the group stage bangers from just inside/outside the box that curled to snuggle inside of the post — there was a raft of them and they were great, but have all been DWARFED by that damn Russo goal that we are all going to pick. Cool, calm, collected, deft and just filthy… and of course, enough to deny Sweden any route back into the match so, important to boot.

Ogden: Tough one. The obvious answer is Russo’s back-heel goal against Sweden — being there to see it live was like watching Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo do something magical — but in terms of importance, I’m going to go with Georgia Stanway’s come-from-behind winner in England’s quarterfinal win against Spain. It was a tight game, heading for penalties, but Stanway grabbed the moment and claimed the win with a goal that had echoes of Bobby Charlton’s goals in 1966 or the kind of spectacular strike that once typified David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. Stanway’s goal puts her in that bracket.

Best player

Hamilton: That midfield duo at the heart of England’s midfield have been magnificent. Georgia Stanway has played brilliantly with her goal against Spain the sort worthy of winning any quarterfinal, but I’m going for Keira Walsh. She’s been absolutely outstanding for England and has been absolutely instrumental in all of their transitional play, while also acting as the wall in front of England’s back four. She’s already had her face projected onto the National Gallery in London, but her performances here have cemented her as a national superstar.

Lawson: Seeing as I wrote a whole article about Lena Oberdorf being the best player at the tournament

The midfielder has been fantastic this summer, reading the game like someone twice her age, standing up to all challenges and chaining up some of the biggest attacking threats at the Euros. At a tournament when we’ve looked to the attacks and kept talking about the Golden Boot race, the 20-year-old has been putting on a clinic game after game — and anyway, goal scorers are so passé.

Ogden: Leah Williamson has been majestic in the heart of defence for England, not only with her reading of the game and passing ability, but also her leadership as captain. Other players have had more spectacular tournaments, but Williamson has been quietly outstanding. Special mention also should go to her defensive partner Millie Bright who has been the perfect foil for Williamson.

Most disappointing player

Hamilton: I expected and hoped for so much more from Ada Hegerberg and Norway. She’s an incredible talent but her lack of chances at the tournament was symptomatic of the deeply underwhelming Norway team. Against Austria it was her sort of stage, but she was misfiring and that’s not like her. In a match Norway had to win to get through the group stage, they didn’t manage a single shot on target until the 89th minute. This will have hurt Hegerberg and expect to see a response from her at next year’s World Cup.

Lawson: Can I say every Italy player? Coming into the tournament, I knew Norway, Spain and the Netherlands had their issues so I’m not too surprised about their underwhelming performances — but Italy’s complete collapse against France and inability to correct themselves for their next two games was jarring. There were glimpses from some of the attackers of the talent that was lurking but match after match, we saw an 11 that was just staggeringly below their level, disappointing doesn’t even cut it.

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Ogden: I’m not going to single out a player for underperforming, basically because this has been a tournament that has showcased the best of the women’s game rather than any negative elements. But it was a blow for the tournament that Spain’s Alexia Putellas missed out with a cruciate ligament injury. It would also have been good to have seen more of England’s Nikita Parris than brief glimpses from the substitutes’ bench.

Best save

Hamilton: How different the whole game may have been had Mary Earps not managed to keep out Sofia Jakobsson’s effort in the first minute of England’s semifinal against Sweden. She made a box office save later in the match under her own crossbar, but that save first up was absolutely key. Jakobsson managed to find space on the left and fired a shot in at Earps’ far post. Earps instinctively stuck out her left leg and managed to deflect it clear. Had that gone in, that match would have gone very differently.

Lawson: It’s worth remembering that we saw some cracking saves from Daphne van Domselaar, Merle Frohms and Nicky Evrard but I’m going to go a little out of the box here and say Mary Earps against Austria. It was a late effort from Barbara Dunst, but exactly the type she likes when she can work the space and lash a curler towards goal, but Earps getting across to deny the 24-year-old one of the goals of the tournament carried extra significance. Not only was it a textbook “good” save but it kept Earps’ clean sheet, giving her more confidence for the subsequent games but it ensured England held onto all three points to start the tournament with a win; again, a firmer foundation the team were able to build upon.

Ogden: This has been the Mary Earps show. Two crucial saves in the semi against Sweden — in the first minute and then tipping over from Stina Blackstenius moments before Alessia Russo made it 3-0. The Blackstenius save was huge because, had that one gone in, a 2-1 lead with 20 minutes to go would have ensured a totally different end to the game and could have motivated the Swedes to haul themselves level.

Best game

Hamilton: England’s quarterfinal win over Spain was one of the most nervy and tense matches I can remember. It was a match where Spain dominated much of the first 60 minutes, only to then eventually fall to Ella Toone’s late equaliser and Georgia Stanway’s extra-time winner. We got to witness the complete brilliance of Aitana Bonmati, and Spain’s intricate passing — had they had a fit Jennifer Hermoso, England would have been in trouble. But then we also saw the heroic performance of Millie Bright at the heart of England’s defence and Stanway’s blockbuster winner. It was a brilliant match, in a superb atmosphere and was everything this tournament’s about.

Lawson: This is a horrible question to ask someone who’s reported on half of them in this heat, leaving one big melty blob of a memory of the entire month … that being said, the Germany-France semi-final was up there in terms of tension and, let’s be boring here but, solid defensive structures and counter-pressing. There is something to be said for a match that’s so tightly contested, yes yes, most fans would rather see their team sow it up early with some outrageous attacking but the stress of a close game when so much is riding on it, makes it stick out in the mind.

Ogden: It has to be the final, doesn’t it? England-Spain and Germany-France were both seismic games that could have gone either way, but the final had everything. Two top teams who were so well-matched and England had to show real grit and determination to win before the audacity and skill of Ella Toone gave them the breakthrough. But Germany equalised and took the game into extra-time to add to the tension, only for Chloe Kelly to seal victory for England and save us / deny us the drama of a penalty shootout.

Worst game

Hamilton: The Sweden-Belgium game was a struggle to watch. It was attack against defence and despite the remarkable performance from Belgium keeper Nicky Evrard, it was cagey and error-strewn. Eventually Sweden broke Belgium’s resolve with a 92nd minute goal from Linda Sembrant, but it was a match that promised so much more.

Lawson: I personally do not like drubbings, and not just because I support a club team who has frequently been on the receiving end of them, so, for me, it’s the 8-0. You can say a dull 0-0 is the worst but those games are usually, easily forgotten but the complete capitulation from Norway to the point that they weren’t even trying to defend was deeply uncomfortable and will be consigned to women’s football infamy. Worst defending, worst individual performances, worst in-game management, worst defeat in Norwegian and Euros history. Overall, a terrible look for the women’s game.

Wiegman: England’s Euro win will help change society

Sarina Wiegman speaks about the lasting impact of England’s win at the Women’s European Championship.

Ogden: When you look back on England’s performance throughout the tournament, the opening game against Austria — a 1-0 win at Old Trafford — was pretty dull in comparison to what was to come. Opening games are always a challenge due to the desperation of both teams to avoid a bad start and that was evident in this game. But things got better — much better.

Best part of covering Euro 2022

Hamilton: Little beats the involuntary reactions of fans to when their heroes do something remarkable. Watching England-Sweden in Trafalgar Square was a joy — and you could see up close exactly what this tournament meant to people of all ages. The atmosphere there was a mixture of curious football fans wearing last summer’s England tops, young girls and boys who had the Lionesses’ names on their back, and families looking for a midweek outing in London.

There, captured in the 4,000 present in the famous square was the manifestation of exactly why the last four weeks have been so special. It’s meant something different to everyone watching it — from those who have been integral to the game’s growth, to those watching the women’s game for the first time, and those who have loved watching their heroes.

Lawson: It has absolutely nothing to do with the football, but tournaments are fantastic for socialising with other, shall we say, women’s football enthusiasts. Especially as this was the first major women’s tournament since the start of the pandemic (that fans were allowed to travel to and attend), it’s seen people from all over the world descend on England.

Yes, it is tricky when you’re working and travelling up and down the country, but I’ve found the time to catch up with other journalists I haven’t seen since the 2019 World Cup as well as finally getting to meet up with fans and women’s football creators I’ve been talking to for years. The women’s football community is a fun one.

Ogden: The atmosphere around the games and total absence of rival groups of fans taunting each other, berating the players and officials or disrupting national anthems. There has also been a lack of toxicity on social media connected to the tournament.

Covering Euro 22 has made me realise just how angry and unforgiving the men’s game has become in so many ways, so it would be something if the women’s game can inspire a positive change in that area.

Worst part of covering Euro 2022

Hamilton: It has to be the pesky U.K. transport system. It simply wasn’t up to scratch to service the tournament with hundreds delayed getting to Brighton for England’s match against Norway, and then train strikes interrupting plans on the day of the Germany-France semifinal. Some of the venue choices were also curious, at best — how must those feel who turned down the chance to host matches at this tournament when they were asked five years back.

Lawson: The trains, obviously. You can’t really blame the FA for the strikes and issues that come with the hot weather — that’s just the infrastructure of the country — but it put a dampener on things for fans and journalists alike.

It’s a boring one, but another is the behind-the-scenes logistics for media. From Wi-Fi that wasn’t strong enough to email over a match report, to outside mixed zones in the wind and rain that are full of screaming fans, to stewards that don’t know where anything is when you need directions. Media rooms that not only run out of food (OK, whatever), but out of water in scorching weather? It just hasn’t been good enough, and that’s before you talk about the stadiums that aren’t fit for hosting a Euros. It’s quite frankly been a mess, and made it