The Carmel Dads’ Club held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Feb. 16 to celebrate the opening of the Carmel Dad’s Club Fieldhouse Sports Complex at 5459 Main St. The building contains four basketball courts, a full-size synthetic regulation professional sized soccer field, batting cages for baseball and softball and equipment to practice or play several other sports. The $11 million project was funded through the Clay Township Impact Program.
USWNT Wins She Believe’s Cup
So the US ladies unleashed the youngsters in this cup and after a slow start and 0-0 tie with the Czech Republic – they dominated play in the final 2 games winning 5-0 over Iceland and 5-0 over New Zealand. The great thing to see what all the scoring and the great play by the youngsters Catarina Macario and Mallory Pugh along with Sophia Smith and Ashley Hatch. The US looks to have little to worry about as we work in these new youngsters into the line-up along with the usual US Lady Stalwarts. Also huge news that the US ladies and US soccer settled their lawsuit and have reached an agreement. Explaining USWNT, U.S. Soccer pay settlement: What Tuesday’s decision means, what’s next.
Champions League Final Moves from Russia to Paris + Pulisic Scores
So with the Russian Invasion of Ukraine changes are a happening as this May’s Champions League Final has been officially moved from St. Petersburg, Russia to PSG’s Stadium in Paris, France. In other news from FIFA – all Russian teams left in competition in Europa League will be forced to move their home games out of country and play a neutral sites. On the field this past week – of course Captain America Strikes as again in Champions League as Christian Pulisic scored the 2nd goal for Chelsea at home vs Lille and received Man of the Match Honors in a game where he absolutely dominated from the left inside winger position. Here is his goal – in Spanish. In Villareal the news was not as good for Juventus and American midfield superstar Weston McKinney who suffered a broken bone in his foot which might keep him out 2+ months. The teams tied at 1-1 heading back to Juve next month for the second leg. Man United came back to tie Atletico Madrid 1-1 in Madrid as they will head back home with a tie in the books. while Benefica and Ajax tied as well. Ukrainian Forward Ruslan Malinovkskyi of Atalanta unveils No War Shirt as he scored 2 goals in Thursday’s Europa League win.
Europa League round of 16
Braga vs. Monaco
FC Porto vs. Lyon
Atalanta vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Sevilla vs. West Ham
Barcelona vs. Galatasaray
RB Leipzig vs. Spartak Moscow
Real Betis vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Games to Watch This Weekend
Saturday gives us an All American Battle as MGladbach and Joe Scally will host Wolfsburg and fellow defender John Brooks at 9:30 am on ESPN+. Of course MLS launches their 27th season with no Baseball to compete with right now – as Inter Miami will host the Chicago Fire and new signing Shaqiri at 6 pm on ESPN+. Followed by Portland hosting Supporter Shield Winners last season New England at 7:30 pm on Fox. (FULL MLS PREVIEW on the OBC – I will have my predictions next week). Sunday we get the Carabo Cup at 11:30 am on ESPN+ – don’t ask me why this isn’t on ESPN? Followed by Atlanta United hosting Sporting KC on FS1 at 3 pm, LA hosting defending Champs NYCFC at 5 pm on ESPN and Seattle hosting Nashville at 8 pm ESPN+. FA Cup action fills the calendar Tue-Thurs on ESPN+. (See the American’s play)
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BIG GAMES TO WATCH
Sat, Feb 26 – MLS Starts
7:30 am USA Leeds United vs Tottenham
9:30 am ESPN+ MGladbach (Scally) vs Wolfsburg (Brooks)
10 am USA Man United vs Watford
12:30 pm NBC Everton vs Man City
12:30 pm EPSN+ Frankfort vs Bayern Munich
3:30 pm Univision LAFC vs Colorado Rapids
3 pm ESPN+ Atletico Madrid vs Celta de Vigo
6 pm EPSN+ Inter Miami vs Chicago Fire
7:30 pm Fox Portland Timbers vs New England
Sun, Feb 27– MLS Starts
9 am USA West Ham vs Wolverhampton
9:30 am ESPN+ Bochum vs RB Leipzig (Adams)
11:30 am ESPN+ Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Liverpool League Cup
11:30 am ESPN+ Ausberg (Pepi) vs Dortmund (Reyna)
1 pm ESPN+ Orlando City SC vs Montreal
3 pm Fox Sport1 Atlanta United vs Sporting KC
3 pm ESPN+ Barcelona vs Atheltic Club
5 pm ESPN LA Galaxy vs NYCFC
8 pm ESPN+ Seattle Sounders vs Nashville SC
Tues-Thur, Mar 1-3 – FA Cup
How McKennie’s injury will impact the USMNT’s World Cup hopes ESPN Kyle Boagura
Reyna injury at Dortmund not as bad as feared ssociated Press
US Ladies win Cup
Catarina Macario’s journey from boys’ teams in Brazil to the USWNT, Olympics 207dCaitlin Murray
MLS Is Back
FC Cincinnati 2022 Season Preview
Champions & Europa League
Elanga keeps Man United’s Champions League hopes alive
Barcelona beat Napoli to reach Europa League last 16
Barca hit Napoli for four, Rangers shock Dortmund in Europa League
Sevilla hold off Zagreb to progress in Europa League
Carabao Cup final preview. Key players, tactical battles, predictions Mark Ogden, James Olley
Pulisic making Tuchel think twice about dropping him again James Olley
Liverpool closes on Man City & Betting Odds on Games this Weekend
Arsenal stage thrilling revival to boost top four bid
Liverpool ratings: Klopp masterminds flawless victory as Liverpool continue title charge ESPN Adam Brown
Champions League final moved from Saint Petersburg to Paris, UEFA announce after invasion
Paris will stage the 2022 Champions League final after UEFA stripped Saint Petersburg of hosting rights for the showpiece fixture following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.Russian troops continued their advance on Ukraine on Friday, which has caused widespread condemnation and sanctions from world leaders.The decision to move the game to the Stade de France, which last hosted the Champions League final in 2006 when Barcelona beat Arsenal to lift the European Cup for the second time, was confirmed during an extraordinary meeting of UEFA’s Executive Committee on Friday.The governing body said in a statement, “The UEFA Executive Committee today held an extraordinary meeting following the grave escalation of the security situation in Europe.”The UEFA Executive Committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021-22 UEFA Men’s Champions League from Saint Petersburg to Stade de France in Saint-Denis. The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday, 28 May at 9 p.m. CET [3 p.m. ET].”UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic President Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis.”Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement.The Kremlin on Friday said it regretted UEFA’s decision, saying the city would have made a good host for a “festival of football.”The Krestovsky Stadium was previously due to host the final on May 28 after initially being awarded the game in 2021, which was later postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.The president of Russia’s football federation (RFU), Alexander Dyukov, said in a statement: “We believe that the decision to move the venue of the Champions League final was dictated by political reasons.”The R.F.U. has always adhered to the principle of ‘sport is out of politics,’ and thus cannot support this decision.”The International Olympic Committee has urged sports federations to move or cancel events in Russia and Belarus, describing the invasion of Ukraine as a “breach of the Olympic Truce.”Despite the prospect of Paris Saint-Germain playing in this season’s Champions League final — PSG travel to Real Madrid for the second leg of a round-of-16 tie next month with a 1-0 advantage from the first game at Parc des Princes — UEFA have selected Paris as host venue due to the French capital’s ability to host a potential influx of 100,000 travelling supporters.UEFA also announced that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice.The decision will impact Spartak Moscow, who are scheduled to take part in next month’s Europa League round of 16.
USMNT weekend viewing guide: coming and going
Injuries ruin some events while MLS kicks off a new start S&S
By jcksnftsn Feb 25, 2022, 3:15pm PST
Potentially catastrophic injuries last weekend put a serious dent in the international viewing options as Weston McKennie’s foot injury is likely to keep him out for the remainder of the Serie A season and Giovanni Reyna’s latest injury was said to be much more minor but still has him in doubt for the March window as well.On the opposite end of the spectrum hope springs eternal for the stateside clubs as the MLS season kicks off. Players like Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson will be working off the rust over the next few weeks and should be in good form heading into the March window.With the MLS season starting up again and a need to keep this article manageable you may see some fluctuation over the next weeks as we look to find that sweet spot balancing the length and options of what we have to watch.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Wolfsburg – 9:30a on ESPN+
It’s the battle of the Bundesliga defenders that have made Gregg mad! Just kidding, we think. Joe Scally has been seeing fewer minutes for Borussia Monchengladbach recently after leading the clubs field players in minutes through the first half of the season. Scally saw 23’ off the bench last weekend in Gladbach’s embarrassing 6-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund, he hasn’t started since the clubs final match before the winter break. It seems unlikely that Berhalter would have a sudden change of heart and call Scally in for the March window if he is not receiving the playing time he was when he was passed over previously.
John Brooks has also been passed over recently for USMNT action but continues to be a key figure for his Bundesliga side, he has started the past seven matches for Wolfsburg. The club lost last weekend to Hoffenheim and they currently sit in 12th place.
- Yunus Musah was an unused substitute last weekend for Valencia in their 4-1 loss to Barcelona. This was a bit surprising as he had started the previous five matches. The club will be looking for their first win in eight matches when they face Mallorca at 8a on ESPN+.
- George Bello was an unused substitute for Arminia Bielefeld last weekend in their 1-0 win over Union Berlin. They face Bayer Leverkusen at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Matt Miazga got the start last weekend as Deportivo Alaves fell to Real Madrid 4-1. Alaves face Getafe at 10:15a on ESPN+.
MLS over the air:
- Kellyn Acosta and his new club LAFC host the team that traded him away this offseason when they take on the Colorado Rapids at 3:30p on TUDN and Univision.
- The 2021 Supporters Shield winning New England Revolution travel to the Portland Timbers Saturday night to open their season on Fox at 7:30p.
MLS Streaming (all matches on ESPN+).
- The Philadelphia Union open the MLS season as they host Minnesota United at 1p.
- Gyasi Zardes and the Columbus Crew host the Vancouver Whitecaps at 3:30p.
- Jesus Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal, Paul Arriola and FC Dallas open their season against Toronto FC and their new head coach Bob Bradley at 5:30p.
- Austin FC v Cincinnati, DC United v Charlotte, Inter Miami v Chicago Fire, and San Jose v New York Red Bulls all kick off at 6p.
Chelsea v Liverpool – 11:30a on ESPN+
Chelsea and Liverpool take a break from EPL action this week to face off in the Carabao Cup Final. It will be the third match of the season between the clubs, with the first two both coming in League play and ending in draws. Chelsea are coming off a 2-0 win over Lille in Champions League round of 16 play with Christian Pulisic picking up his fourth goal of the season. Liverpool trounced Leeds United 6-0 midweek in league play and are coming in on a nine game winning streak. It may not be the most important of trophies but it looks to be closely contested.
- Gianlucca Busio, Tanner Tessmann and Venezia face Hellas Verona at 9a on Paramount+.
- Tyler Adams was a late sub for RB Leipzig in their Europa League victory Thursday, Leipzig now face Bochum at 9:30a on ESPN+.
- Konrad de la Fuente picked up his first goal for Olympique Marseille on Thursday and the club will now face Troyes at 11:05a on beIN Sports.
- Ricardo Pepi has been coming off the bench recently for Augsburg who face Borussia Dortmund who were dumped from Europa League by Rangers this week. The match will be at 12:30p on ESPN+.
- Timothy Weah and Lille lost to Chelsea in Champions League action midweek and must rebound on the weekend as they face Olympique Lyonnais at 2:45p on beIN Sport.
- Sergnio Dest looks to be responding well to Xavi and Barcelona has looked sharp recently. Barca face Athletic Club at 3p on ESPN+.
MLS over the air:
- Atlanta United and Miles Robinson kick off their season against Sporting Kansas City at 3p on FS1.
- The LA Galaxy host New York City FC at 5p on ESPN.
MLS streaming (all matches on ESPN+):
- Orlando City SC and Montreal kick off at 1p.
- The Houston Dynamo host Real Salt Lake at 7p.
- The Seattle Sounders with Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan close out the weekend against Walker Zimmerman and Nashville at 8p.
Catarina Macario, Mallory Pugh grab their chance as USWNT lifts SheBelieves Cup
12:53 AM ETCaitlin Murray
The United States women’s national soccer team won the 2022 SheBelieves Cup after beating Iceland 5-0 in a must-win game on Wednesday, and goal scorers Catarina Macario and Mallory Pugh were among the players who successfully auditioned for the chance to lead the USWNT into the future.While the team’s fifth SheBelieves Cup trophy is a strong finish after a rocky start last week, the real purpose of this tournament for coach Vlatko Andonovski was not to win hardware but to find unpolished gems — players with upside who can carry it into the future as the team regenerates. Macario and Pugh lead a list of players who have forced Andonovski to give them further looks.
“We’re leaving this tournament feeling like we are moving in the right direction,” Andonovski told ESPN when asked about whether any players had improved their standing in the team. “They proved they are capable of winning games.”Macario’s breakout performance of the SheBelieves Cup revved up in the 37th minute. She chased down a ball on the left flank, cut and then fired from the corner of the penalty box, blasting a rocket to the far post that skidded off the inside frame and in. The placement was perfect: Just an inch or so further to the right and the ball would’ve clanked off the post and out to safety; a bit closer to the left and goalkeeper Sandra Sigurdardottir would’ve had a chance to tip it away.”I have been practicing that for a while,” Macario said. “Sometimes it doesn’t come off, but the fact that it happened today was surreal. As soon as I hit, I was like, ‘OK, that was some good contact.'”She followed it up with another splendid goal in the 45th minute. A pass from Pugh went behind Macario and left her chasing the ball away from goal, and Macario surprised everyone by swiveling her hips around it and chipping it inside the far post netting.”Goals like that should be on highlights reels all over the world,” Andonovski said. “What makes me happy with Cat is not just the goals she scored but how she was able to get other people involved.”Fun fact: Since Macario’s national team debut in January 2021, no U.S. women’s player has scored more goals from outside the box. Also: This was the second time that Macario had scored multiple goals from 15-plus yards out in a single game; the only other women’s team player to do that in the past five years was Alex Morgan in the famous 13-0 win against Thailand at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.”You give that girl a little bit of space and she’s gonna finish,” Pugh quipped of Macario’s goals.Pugh picked up where Macario left off in the second half with a well-taken goal of her own in the 60th minute. Ashley Sanchez slipped a nice through ball into Pugh’s path, and she ran onto it, taking on goalkeeper Cecilia Runarsdottir and tucking it into the far post.Before Pugh scored her goal, she had the highest xG — or expected goals, which measures the likelihood of a chance resulting in a goal — of any player on the field at .40. The 23-year-old was doing well at getting into dangerous scoring positions and finding chances, even if she hadn’t nabbed a goal to show for it.Pugh’s second goal put the budding Macario-Pugh partnership on display. Macario won the ball in the midfield as the Americans shifted for the counterattack. Sprinting up the field, Macario passed to Pugh, who passed to Macario, who passed back to Pugh, who finished coolly.Of course, Macario and Pugh aren’t new to the program — Macario appeared in the last Olympics, and Pugh was in the last World Cup — but both have been players without secure spots, unable to unseat the likes of Morgan, Christen Press, Megan Rapinoe or Tobin Heath. And Iceland is not Sweden or Germany, the powerhouse teams chasing at the U.S. women’s heels in the world rankings. But the individual performances of the two forwards — and their budding on-field partnership — will be hard for Andonovski to ignore after Wednesday’s match.Pugh certainly played like a player poised to reclaim a firm spot on the national team following a couple of years out of the fold. After being part of the squad that won the 2019 World Cup, she missed out on the Olympics, struggling with form for both club and country. Pugh made her national team debut at 17, so it’s easy to forget that Pugh is still only 23, just a year older than Macario.Other players with upside stepped us, as well. Kristie Mewis scored the fifth goal with a nice finish. Sanchez couldn’t finish a couple of chances she had but beat Iceland’s defense repeatedly with her dribbling and precise passes. Emily Fox did well getting forward from the left-back position and threatened often. Wednesday’s match clearly earned more opportunities for some new players.Yet it’s more difficult to come away from the match with wider implications for the U.S. women’s team.Heading into Wednesday, Iceland only needed a draw to win the SheBelieves Cup but played like a team going after a win, making for a more open game that benefitted the Americans. Iceland swapped goalkeepers at halftime, seemingly not because Sigurdardottir was struggling but to give 18-year-old Runarsdottir experience.In truth, though, this SheBelieves Cup on paper was always going to be the easiest one for the U.S. squad since the Americans started hosting the tournament in 2016.Before this year, the tournament had only seen one participant ranked outside of FIFA’s top 15. This time, however, Iceland was the highest-ranked opponent at No. 16 in the world. New Zealand ranks 22, while the Czech Republic is 24. The U.S. team is ranked No. 1. Coming into the tournament, the Americans had won 29 of their 32 combined meetings against its 2022 SheBelieves Cup opponents; their only loss was in the first meeting against New Zealand in 1987.But there also were reasons to believe the Americans wouldn’t simply roll over the competition, either.For starters, Andonovski has brought a relatively young and inexperienced squad to this tournament as he looks to regenerate an aging roster. Averaging 25.40 years, Wednesday’s starting lineup was the team’s youngest to ever play in a SheBelieves Cup and the youngest in any match since April 5, 2018.The SheBelieves Cup, a glorified batch of offseason friendlies, has traditionally been a tournament for experimentation, but there’s also some urgency for Andonovski too. The team’s best goal scorers of the past few years — Morgan, Press, Rapinoe and Heath — will all be 34 or older during the next World Cup. Pandemic delays to the Olympics also meant that Andonovski has only had months for the rebuilding process that is normally done over a couple of years.That’s why Macario’s performance, in particular, on Wednesday might force difficult decisions for Andonovski. Macario has been in the women’s team picture since last year, making the Olympic roster as an alternate, until the rules were changed to expand the tournament’s roster size. But Macario had been profiled as a midfielder, and in this SheBelieves Cup, she has been playing as a striker for the first time with the team.Andonovski said Macario’s momentum throughout the SheBelieves Cup wasn’t as much about her getting comfortable playing as a striker but the team learning about how she plays the position.”We saw from Game 1 to Game 3 how Cat grew, but we mostly saw how the team grew around Cat in understanding her movements, her positioning, the angles, the balls she was playing,” he said. “That’s where we grew the most.”Pugh echoed it was a learning experience that allowed her to play off Macario better.”I’ve never played with Cat as the No. 9, and she did such a great job,” Pugh said. “That’s exactly what we needed to see and learn her tendencies — to come back, to control, turn, play-make off her.”The Americans did find their chances early, but many of them were only half-chances. They finished the first half with a 1.07 xG. They ended that half with two goals because Macario scored from unlikely positions and created scoring chances that otherwise didn’t exist.Macario admitted afterward that she started the tournament with some nerves but was determined to step up in the trophy-deciding match on Wednesday.”When we started this tournament, I could feel myself being a little tight, not playing the way I know how to play,” Macario said. “With this big match that we had today, playing for the trophy, I needed to put my best self forward and show my teammates and Vlatko and the nation that I belong here.”It appears she did exactly that.
USWNT players wear ‘Protect Trans Kids’ wristbands in SheBelieves Cup victory over Iceland in Texas
Several players from the United States women’s national team wore athletic tape on their wrists with “Protect Trans Kids” written on it during their SheBelieves Cup game against Iceland on Wednesday.The wristbands, worn during Wednesday’s game in Frisco, Texas, were a protest against a letter Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In the letter, Abbott wrote that employees and licensed professionals should report transgender children and their parents to state authorities to investigate gender-confirming care as child abuse.– Lyon forward Catarina Macario showed her wrist to the camera after scoring her second goal at the end of the first half.”With the platform we have, we really wanted to show why this team is different and why we do things that are much bigger than just the game,” Macario told reporters after the game.”It was just a way to show awareness, especially because we were playing in Texas.”I wanted to make sure everyone was able to see it, and it wasn’t just another thing getting [swept] under the rug.”Several players also posted the wristbands on social media with messages of support for transgender children, including USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn.”To deny gender-affirming resources to trans kids and to threaten their parents and guardians with claims of child abuse is MONSTROUS,” she wrote on Twitter.”If you want to help, support groups like @EqualityTexas.”Kristie Mewis, Margaret Purce, Andi Sullivan and Rapinoe were also pictured wearing the wristbands. The USWNT beat Iceland 5-0 — with goals from Macario, Mallory Pugh and Mewis — to win the SheBelieves Cup.
USWNT’s Catarina Macario showed off her wristband after scoring. Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images
How Weston McKennie’s injury will impact the USMNT’s World Cup qualification hopes
Feb 22, 2022Kyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer
McKennie, who has been the United States’ best player for large stretches of qualifying, exited Juventus‘ 1-1 Champions League draw with Villarreal on Tuesday after suffering two fractures in his left foot, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle. Juve are yet to provide an official confirmation.
It is unclear how long the Texas native will be sidelined, but it’s hard to allow for the possibility he will be ready for any of the USMNT’s final three games against Mexico (March 24), Panama (March 27) or Costa Rica (March 30). Injuries similar to McKennie’s usually take between eight and 12 weeks to heal.The news leaves U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter with a difficult question: How to replace McKennie in the center of the park?The quick, and obvious, answer is he can’t. There is no one in the U.S. pool who can replicate what McKennie does or anyone who has been playing anywhere near his level of late. If there were a player on the roster the U.S. could least afford to lose, it was McKennie.With that understanding, there are interesting options.Let’s start with another player in the news this week because of an injury, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna. Reyna recently returned to the field for Dortmund after suffering an injury in the first match of World Cup qualifying on Sept. 2, but the 19-year-old left Sunday’s match against Borussia Monchengladbach in tears after picking up an injury.On Monday, BVB announced that Reyna’s injury was not as bad as initially feared and he was expected to return to training in two weeks. If Reyna is fully fit and playing regularly ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, he will be the obvious choice to slot into McKennie’s advanced midfield role. While he’s predominately played on the right wing during his brief time with the national team, the midfield role is something he’s comfortable in and can play at a high level.Even if Reyna has a speedy recovery and is available for selection, though, his fitness — coupled with the reality that he hasn’t been with the national team in months — will be a concern. There will almost assuredly have to be a by-committee solution.Last window, Berhalter rotated Yunus Musah out for the final game against Honduras and handed Luca de la Torre his first start of qualifying. De la Torre has performed well for Heracles in the Netherlands this season, and that form carried over in an eye-opening performance for the U.S., after which Berhalter named him the coaches’ man of the match. His ability to progress the ball centrally on the dribble proved valuable and his familiarity with the position in Berhalter’s system makes him a good option to step in the starting XI.
Brenden Aaronson also deserves consideration. Like Reyna, he’s mostly played on the wing for the national team but has played centrally and should be familiar with the patterns of play. In the Champions League against Bayern Munich last week, Aaronson was a man on fire playing as a No. 10 for RB Salzburg and, while the U.S. system asks for different traits, his relentless energy will cause problems for opponents in the qualifiers.Kellyn Acosta is coming off his best game for the national team, slotting in for Tyler Adams at defensive midfield against Honduras, and is an enticing option to play higher up the field just to get him on the field for his set-piece deliveries.
Berhalter could also look to Sebastian Lletget, Cristian Roldan or Gianluca Busio, all of whom have been roster regulars, but they figure to be more likely to be called on off the bench than in a starting role.There is also the possibility Berhalter could implement a system change and play the 3-4-3 he has experimented with at times, but that seems like a drastic gamble to take considering the stakes.Currently, the U.S. sit in second place in the CONCACAF standings with 21 points, ahead of Mexico only on goal differential. It’s an enviable position within the region, but with the U.S. holding just a four-point edge on Panama and a five-point lead on Costa Rica they still have work to do as only the top three places receive an automatic berth to the World Cup in Qatar. If the U.S. finish in fourth place, they will play a one-game playoff, likely against New Zealand, in June to qualify.
U.S.-Mexico key World Cup qualifer set at Estadio Azteca on Thur March 24 10 pm
Feb 18, 2022Cesar Hernandez
- EmailA much-anticipated World Cup qualifying clash between Mexico and the United States has officially been set for March 24, with the Estadio Azteca expected to be back at full capacity.
Mexico had played its last two home qualifiers with only 2,000 fans in attendance as part of a punishment over the usage of an anti-gay chant by fans at previous matches.
The match (10 p.m. ET) between the USMNT and El Tri will be the first of three qualifers for the teams during the FIFA international break. The United States hosts Panama three days later in Orlando, Florida, and finishes qualifying at Costa Rica at San Jose on March 30. Mexico will travel to Honduras on March 27 before hosting El Salvador on March 30.
|1 – Canada||11||25||+14|
|2 – USA||11||21||+9|
|3 – Mexico||11||21||+6|
|4 – Panama||11||17||+1|
|5 – Costa Rica||11||16||1|
|6 – El Salvador||11||9||-7|
|7 – Jamaica||11||7||-7|
|8 – Honduras||11||3||-17|
|1-3 qualify; 4 into playoff|
The United States are level on 21 points with Mexico in the Octagonal table, but sit one place above them in second place on higher goal differential. Mexico, in third, will aim to maintain their unbeaten 12W-4D-0L record against the United States at the Estadio Azteca in World Cup qualifying.A win for either team would significantly help boost the Qatar 2022 odds for the North American rivals, who will seek to distance themselves from fourth-place Panama, who have 17 points.With 25 points, Canada lead the eight-team table in and need just one win from their final three matches to secure their first World Cup berth since 1986. Canada remain the only undefeated side left in the competition.Costa Rica are in fifth place with 16 points, while El Salvador sit in sixth with nine points. Bottom sides Jamaica (seven) and Honduras (three) have already been eliminated.CONCACAF also confirmed that March 30 will close out all four qualifiers being played simultaneously at 9 p.m. ET.The top three nations earn berths for this year’s tournament in Qatar and the fourth-place nation advances to a playoff in June against the Oceania champion, likely New Zealand.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool: Carabao Cup final preview. Key players, tactical battles, predictions
5:30 AM ETMark Ogden James Olley
Sunday sees two of the Premier League’s best teams go head-to-head at Wembley, as Chelsea take on Liverpool for the Carabao Cup (stream LIVE ON ESPN+, Feb. 27, 11.30 a.m. ET).The two sides have enjoyed some memorable battles over the years — the 4-4 tie at Stamford Bridge in the 2008-09 Champions League quarterfinals, anyone? — but have been evenly matched in this season’s league games, with a 1-1 draw at Anfield in August followed by an enthralling 2-2 draw in London in January.So what will Sunday’s showpiece final hold? Who needs a trophy more at this point? Which players need to step up or could prove decisive? And how will the two managers match up? Mark Ogden and James Olley get you ready for the big game.
Who needs this more?
Ogden: In many ways, the Carabao Cup is a trophy that neither team needs to win.Both Liverpool and Chelsea have bigger priorities — the Premier League and Champions League, for a start — and they have each won the two big prizes in recent seasons. The pressure is off both teams on Sunday and Chelsea have already banked the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup this season, but if one team needs it more, it’s Liverpool, simply because Jurgen Klopp’s team have arguably not won the amount of silverware their performances have deserved over the past three or four seasons.By winning the Carabao Cup, the Reds would somewhat address that imbalance, while also maintaining hopes of an unprecedented quadruple this season. Winning at Wembley could be Liverpool’s launchpad for a remarkable end to the campaign. From the other side, success for Chelsea would extend coach Thomas Tuchel’s trophy streak to four since taking charge in January 2021 — an obvious incentive for the German tactician.
Olley: There is a case for arguing this is more important for Chelsea, specifically Tuchel, given the wider picture. Chelsea aren’t going to win the Premier League and their indifferent form right now is in danger of dropping them into a scrap for a top-four finish. Tuchel isn’t close to the stage yet where he needs to fear for his job, but that point usually arrives quickly for Chelsea managers and another trophy would give him further credit in the bank to offset the disappointment of failing to mount a sustained title challenge.Mark is right in that Liverpool should have more to show for their superb football over recent years, but the Premier League is suddenly within their grasp again and they were the first English side to win all six Champions League group-stage matches earlier this season. They have the two biggest prizes of all in their sights and therefore the Carabao Cup is a mere footnote to their season at this point.Sunday won’t define Chelsea’s campaign either, but Tuchel is under more immediate pressure to prove he is continuing to take Chelsea forward. A first domestic cup success would be tangible proof of that.Ogden: Klopp has the better team and better individual players than Chelsea, so Tuchel has his work cut out in terms of devising a tactical plan to beat Liverpool. Right now, Liverpool are arguably the best team in Europe and their 6-0 win against Leeds in midweek underscored their incredible attacking threat.If Liverpool perform to their best, they will win on Sunday. Sorry Chelsea, but everything is working for Liverpool at this moment in time and Tuchel’s players will have to stifle Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane upfront, keep Fabinho contained in midfield, find a way to get past centre-back Virgil van Dijk and nullify the threat of full-backs Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Olley: The meeting between these two last month was overshadowed by Romelu Lukaku‘s omission following an unsanctioned interview in which he talked about one day returning to Inter Milan. And here we are again: Lukaku was dropped for Tuesday’s win over Lille, with Tuchel claiming his €115 million striker was tired, a claim quietly denied by the player’s camp.Last month, Tuchel started the game against Liverpool with Kai Havertz upfront supported by Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic. The idea was to win the ball high up the pitch and break quickly in transition, something replicated to some extent against Lille, and so all eyes will be on Tuchel’s team selection. He opted for a 4-1-4-1 shape against Crystal Palace and Lille, but a return to 3-4-2-1 must appeal with Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso fit again to play as wing-backs.
Key players for both teams
Ogden: Liverpool are blessed with a number of key players (Salah, Van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Alexander-Arnold), but nobody has excelled quite as much as Fabinho in recent weeks and the Brazilian midfielder will be a key figure against Chelsea. If Tuchel opts for Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante in midfield, it will be an attempt to diminish Fabinho’s influence on the game, but his powerhouse performances this season suggest Kante and Kovacic will have to focus solely on keeping Fabinho out of the game. If Tuchel uses Jorginho, then Fabinho will have more freedom to dominate the central third of the pitch.Whoever wins the midfield battle will have the best chance of winning, but if Chelsea are to succeed, they need Havertz to deliver on the big occasion again or hope that Lukaku (if selected) can find his way to goal. The Belgian doesn’t do that often enough against the top clubs, but Sunday would be a good time to start.Olley: Lukaku was signed to win games like this, but let’s instead focus on Christian Pulisic. The United States international told ESPN in a recent interview that he was struggling to find his rhythm due to a lack of game time, but this week he has started back-to-back matches for only the third time this season. With Hakim Ziyech and Mount both fitness doubts — although the latter was fit enough for the bench against Lille — Pulisic has a strong case to start again as he hopes to make it third time lucky at Wembley.Pulisic scored and was injured as Chelsea lost the 2020 FA Cup final to Arsenal. He played just 22 minutes as a substitute as Leicester beat them in the 2021 final. Perhaps this is Pulisic’s chance to be on the right side of history. If he scores on Sunday, he will become only the sixth Chelsea player to find the net in both of England‘s domestic cup finals.
Fun fact/something to watch for
Ogden: If Liverpool win, it will be the club’s 66th trophy, moving them level with Manchester United to become English football’s most successful club. That figure includes everything from Club World Cups to Community Shields, with more than a few league titles and Champions Leagues thrown into the mix too.To put Liverpool and United’s trophy hauls in perspective, Arsenal are third on the list with 48, while Chelsea are in fourth with 34. Manchester City‘s recent dominance has delivered plenty of trophies since Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan bought the club in 2008, but they have still managed just 28 trophies in their history. So if Liverpool win the Carabao Cup/EFL Cup for a record ninth time, they will be on course to claim the top spot for themselves if they also win at least one of the Premier League, Champions League or FA Cup this season.Olley: Chelsea are the first team in English football to contest a domestic final in six consecutive seasons: (FA Cup: 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021; League Cup: 2019 and 2022). They reached the final by keeping three consecutive clean sheets, too. Only one team (Swansea City in 2013) have ever won the competition without conceding a goal from the quarterfinal stage onwards.It is in part a reflection of the improvement in Kepa Arrizabalaga — the world’s most expensive goalkeeper at almost €80m, yet Chelsea’s second choice behind Edouard Mendy, who has barely put a glove wrong in the past year. Kepa was dropped for the Club World Cup final in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, but he’s started every Carabao Cup game this season. Should he get the nod again, as expected, it will stir memories of his antics in the 2019 final, when he refused to be substituted as the game against Manchester City approached penalties, triggering an apoplectic reaction from then-Blues boss Maurizio Sarri.
Ogden: Liverpool 3-1 Chelsea. Liverpool are flying at the moment and they can sense a chance to make history this season. Chelsea just haven’t been playing well enough to suggest they can beat Klopp’s team.Olley: Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea. Chelsea have the ability to rise to any occasion — last year’s Champions League final is proof of that — but Liverpool are in irrepressible form at present and deservedly start as favourites.
Champions League talking points: PSG’s, Man United’s ties in the balance; Man City’s five-star display
The Champions League‘s round of 16 is only at its midway point, but we’ve already seen Manchester City fire five goals past Sporting CP, Dusan Vlahovic waste no time in announcing his arrival for Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain‘s Kylian Mbappe stun Real Madrid with his late winner.
Manchester United had to rely on substitute Anthony Elanga to avoid defeat at Atletico Madrid, while Liverpool and defending champions Chelsea both took commanding 2-0 leads in their respective ties. The closest we came to a shock result was Bayern Munich‘s draw at FC Salzburg while the tournament’s top scorer, Ajax‘s Sebastien Haller, scored at both ends at Benfica. We asked Gab Marcotti, James Olley and Graham Hunter for their views on some big questions.
What caught your attention from the first legs of the round of 16?
Marcotti: Manchester City. I know it’s a “Captain Obvious” thing to say, but among the favourites in the first legs, I thought they looked most impressive. Salzburg also proved — again — that if you have pace and energy and are well-coached, you can nearly upend one of the heavyweightsOlley: City were undeniably impressive, but elsewhere there was plenty of anticipation over how long it would take Vlahovic to make an impact in this competition for Juventus following his protracted €75 million January move from Fiorentina. The answer was 32 seconds. The 22-year-old scored the quickest goal ever by a Champions League debutant. Although it was only enough to earn a 1-1 draw at Villarreal, Vlahovic announced himself on Europe’s grandest stage in fine style.
Hunter: Lots of choices: Vlahovic taking to Champions League football like a duck to water, Joao Felix sending another message to Diego Simeone that he is “the real deal,” the reigning champions playing with authority, Mohamed Salah shrugging off AFCON disappointment in exchange for Euro magnificence, Real Madrid looking pathetic in Paris. But on the first night of the away goals rule not applying in UEFA competitions since 1965 — a ridiculous, negative change — the most wonderful part of this round so far has to be City’s 5-0 destruction of Sporting. The imperious attitude they showed, which seemed to say “we play this way, home or away,” was inspirational.
Out of Mbappe, Messi and Neymar, who is most important to PSG?
Hunter: Everything depends on context. For PSG’s future “signing credibility” they must show they’re capable of making Lionel Messi happy and successful. That’s vital to how PSG are perceived by other top players and key if they want to influence how many season-defining goals their Argentine maestro provides in the short term. For the team to open up opponents who just sit deep, and for them to ignite Messi, it’s probably an in-form Neymar who’s most important. But in all other terms — including age, development potential, goal supply and fighting off the rivals who most covet PSG’s star — it’s Mbappe by a long, long way.
Marcotti: Right now, it’s Mbappe. Not just because he’s in better form, but also because he’s not as supply-dependent as the others and he’s fully fit as well.
Olley: It feels almost blasphemous not to say Lionel Messi, but Mbappe has eight goals in his last nine games (Messi has three in nine, Neymar has only just returned from injury). Also, the uncertainty over the Frenchman’s future may be providing a fresh sense of purpose that can help PSG in the coming weeks.
Which ‘in control’ team is most at risk of their tie being turned around?
Olley: Manchester United aren’t necessarily in control of their tie with Atletico Madrid, but they are favourites to progress following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw in Spain. However, United were very lucky to escape the Wanda Metropolitano with that scoreline, and Atletico have been better on the road in the Champions League this season, beating Porto and AC Milan in the group stage. Their willingness to concede possession to prioritise defensive stability is precisely the kind of conundrum United have repeatedly failed to solve at Old Trafford in recent times, so the warning signs are clear.
Hunter: There aren’t many “in control” ties, and only one that we can confidently declare to be over. But (and I can’t believe I’m saying this, given how awful Madrid were in their 1-0 defeat at Parc des Princes, and taking into account they’ll be missing Ferland Mendy and Casemiro) PSG are odd. They are really strong favourites to progress, yet very evidently brittle and they are only ever 48 hours away from a row, a crisis or a weird result. Karim Benzema wasn’t fit for the first leg but, hopefully, will be rocket-fuelled for the return. Anyone who understands Los Blancos, at home under the floodlights and with stung pride, knows that, historically, magical things can happen. Unless of course, Mbappe, Messi and Neymar finally click … anyway, bring it on.
Marcotti: It’s a really good question, especially with the away goals rule being scrapped, and maybe not as obvious as one might have thought. So I’m going to say Ajax. A 2-2 away draw under the old rules meant you were practically through. Now it means you have to win at home. And that can create opportunities for Benfica on the break.
What is your favourite Champions League final host city?
Marcotti: I’d say Milan, because it’s my hometown, but that would show my bias. So I’m going to say Kyiv, where I saw Real Madrid beat Liverpool in the 2018 final and also watched Spain win Euro 2012 to claim their third consecutive major tournament. I love how the stadium is right in town and, given the current situation, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Kyiv that they may remain safe.
Olley: Wow, that’s tough — so many great cities to choose from. I might give a boring logistical answer here and say Madrid. Not that the Spanish capital isn’t great in its own right: it’s a beautiful place, the weather invariably great and you have the choice of the iconic Bernabeu or the modern-day marvel that is the Wanda Metropolitano. But more importantly, both venues are on the metro system and the city centre is well connected to the airport.
Hunter: I’ve been at 15 Champions League finals in 13 different cities, so this is a tough choice. I could be influenced by being on a sponsor’s trip to Hampden when Zinedine Zidane scored THAT goal for Real Madrid. Or by when I’ve interviewed a participating player with the trophy in a locker room not long after the whistle (Wembley, Munich). Or the one where I arrived at the stadium in a rickshaw (Berlin). But my favourite must be the one that changed my life. Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich at Barcelona‘s Camp Nou in 1999 was remarkable, in many ways, but my work that night was spotted by the (late) head of Sky Sports and he recruited me for their Spanish football coverage because of it.
Joe Scally talks USMNT, Gladbach nurturing his growth, his World Cup hopes and his trial by fire vs. Bayern
11:58 AM ETDerek Rae
In this edition of his weekly column, ESPN’s lead Bundesliga commentator Derek Rae sits down for a special one-one-one conversation with Borussia Monchengladbach defender and United States men’s national team prospect Joe Scally.
It’s a rare treat for a commentator to be able to get to know the players we cover regularly that bit better. I wanted to share what I found out about the 19-year-old from Lake Grove, New York, and there’s no better way to do that than to publish a written transcription of our enjoyable conversation last week. This was of course before the 6-0 defeat Gladbach suffered at the hands of Borussia Dortmund on the weekend.
We covered everything from his arrival in Monchengladbach, to a high-profile Bundesliga debut against the very best, to what Joe has learned working with pros like Stefan Lainer and Ramy Bensebaini, as well as the turmoil at Gladbach when a club legend walked away recently. We also spoke about the USMNT and his hunger to be a regular part of the setup, with a place at the World Cup beckoning for the USA.
I hope you enjoy this chat.(Editor’s note: This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.)
Rae: Joe, let’s go back in time two years. At that point what did you know about Gladbach?
Scally: A couple of years ago I didn’t really know much about Monchengladbach. They were in the Champions League, which I always watched when I was younger, so I knew the name but not much about the club and basically how great it is, as I know now.
Rae: Max Eberl, the highly respected former Gladbach sporting director who recently left the club, told the story of your discovery by scouting director Steffen Korell and how they then had, in his words, a “fantasy” of bringing you over from the U.S. as soon as they could. Were you aware?
Scally: I know they first contacted me maybe three or four years ago, when I was 16 — still a long time before I was 18 and could eventually move over to Germany and to Europe. It’s crazy that he said it’s a fantasy and everything, and to hear that from Steffen and Max is amazing … that just makes me so happy.
Rae: When you arrived in January 2021 at age 18, Gladbach didn’t rush you, instead giving you time to adapt. Do you appreciate that approach?
Scally: Yes, of course. I think the plans they’ve laid out for me so far have been amazing. To come here, to get used to German soccer, play with the second team right away and train with the first team, there was no better way to get started. The first half of the season has gone great, the second half also. It’s been amazing.
Rae: Let’s go back to the start of the season, Gladbach vs. Bayern Munich. As a commentator, I was doing my homework for our coverage and reading up on you. Coach Adi Hutter said he really liked what he’d seen from you in training and wouldn’t be afraid to throw you in — and you were thrown in at left-back rather than the right-back position you’d been playing. Give us your memories of that special occasion; was it a baptism of fire?
Scally: Yes, like you said, I was going in at left-back against the best team arguably in the world. I watched them growing up, everyone knows them, so just thinking about everything the day before, the nerves were kicking in. But then you see the players — Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane, basically everyone you’ve grown up watching — it’s weird, but it kind of settles you down. You’ve been watching these guys every single week and you know everything they’re going to do.
The nerves were so high, but on the field it all just went away. Lewandowski right in front of me. It was amazing.
Rae: And there was an incident involving you and Lewandowski quite early on. Do you recall it?
Scally: Yes, yes (laughing)! He was dribbling at me on a counterattack, the ball just got a little off his foot and I went in for the tackle and he stepped on my foot — the fans began chanting my name. It was crazy.
Rae: Yes, the Gladbach fans took to you quickly. With injuries to Lainer and Bensebaini, it was clear you were going to be playing more in the Hinrunde than anyone expected. Probably more than you yourself expected?
Scally: Yes, no one expected me to come in and play every single game in the first half of the season, and I’m very grateful I got to play all those games. Of course injuries are very unfortunate, but to go out and play how I played, I’m very happy and thought it was a great first half of the season.
Rae: Looking at your role since the winter break, you’ve been coming off the bench. Lainer has been fit again for a while, and with him and Bensebaini, I’m sure you learn a lot working with such pros, but there is also an internal competition with them. Walk us through how you think about that.
Scally: Everyone wants to start [for the first team], but these are senior guys, so for example when I’m training on the right, [Lainer] will always help me, giving me little tips either on the defensive side or the attacking side. He’s a veteran, a great player. Same with [Bensebaini] on the left if I’m training there. He’ll tell me little things like since I’m right-footed I can cut in, making it much easier. So even though it’s all competition we are a team and we all help each other.
Rae: Eberl’s departure dominated the news recently. How hard was it for everyone to play through that period, especially with results suffering?
Scally: He’s a legend at the club. I’ve only been here for one year, so I don’t know as much about him as the senior players, but everything they say about him is great, he was so highly regarded here and he’ll always be remembered. It was a very difficult period, but we knew we had to stick together and get the win against Augsburg. We all talked about it, we knew it was going to happen. Now we can hopefully move forward with a new sporting director and get back on the right track.
Rae: In a few words describe your coach, Adi Hutter. A mixture of Austrian charm with a tough side when needed?
Scally: I agree with you! He’s a very calm coach, which you can see on TV, but you can see he’s also very emotional. When things go wrong, he’s always there to help you get back on the right track. If you make a bad touch in the game, he’s not going to go and scream at you and bring your confidence down, he’ll be more like, “Get ready for the next one.” At training he’ll get on you and say, “Come on, pick up your touch.” Like you say, he’s charming, with an Austrian charm, but at the same time he’s tough on you.
Rae: Let’s talk about the U.S. national team. You were called up in November, but didn’t get to play. You weren’t called up in January. How much would it mean to you to play for your country in this pivotal year, with the World Cup this winter?
Scally: It’s everyone’s dream to play in a World Cup and that one camp when I was around all the guys, the coaches, everything, it just felt like I fit in, this is where I belong, this is where I can play. So of course I’m looking at this next camp hoping to get in, but the main goal is the World Cup, and any way I can help the team I’m willing to do that. And yes, to play for the U.S., it’s amazing when you put on the jersey and have the crest on your chest. It’s a different feeling.
Rae: Has there been a lot of communication between you and U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter, who played in Germany himself?
Scally: Yeah, I mean, not much. Before I went to the first camp back in November, there was a lot of communication and during the camp. Then actually not much, so we’ll see what happens.
Rae: How difficult was it being a spectator from afar in January, having now had a taste of it?
Scally: I watched most of the games with Giovanni Reyna. He was at my house because we were both not at the camp. We just want the team to win, to go far and qualify for the World Cup, because that’s the goal and the U.S. deserves to be at the World Cup. I was just cheering them on because I was with most of them at the last camp. I’m friends with most of the guys now and just wanted them to win.
Rae: I hear your mother was a pretty good player. Did she pass her football talents to you?
Scally: (Laughs) Yes, she used to play, she was good. I guess you could say I get most of it from my mom because my dad played basketball.
Rae: What is their routine on weekends? I imagine they follow you on TV?
Scally: Yes, they watch it every morning on ESPN+. My dad is now starting to understand soccer because he was mostly basketball his whole life, so he’s now starting to get the hang of it, which is good. And yes, they always watch on ESPN whether its’s at 9:30, 11:30: they’re always there.
Rae: You mentioned your friendship with Giovanni Reyna. Whose German is better?
Scally: His German is better than mine. Every time we go out to eat, he’s the one ordering and asking the questions. My German’s not so good, but it’s funny and crazy to think we were both in New York, playing together on youth teams, and now we’re just an hour away from each other in Germany, which is great.
Scally: Yes, it’s great to see everyone from the U.S. achieving their dreams. I think basically that’s now four players from our U17 World Cup team here, which has been great to see. I played against George two weeks ago, Pepi the next week. It’s great to see all these guys in Germany living our dreams.
Rae: What is it about the German way that strikes a chord?
Scally: The young American players who have come to Germany have been given playing time and chances. It all started with Christian Pulisic when he led the pathway at Dortmund. Now you can move on to bigger clubs and achieve your dreams. The pathway through Germany has been great so far for American players, so I just hope more and more keep coming.
Rae: Finally, what is your target for the rest of the season with Gladbach?
Scally: I just want to keep getting more minutes and playing time and gaining more experience through the players and coaches, and of course we want to make the Europa League, get back in Europe.
Europa League Draw: Barcelona Draws Galatasaray in Last 16, West Ham to Face Sevilla
News is always free on SI. Register to have it delivered to your inbox daily. Barcelona will face Galatasaray in the Europa League round of 16, while West Ham vs. Sevilla was drawn as another marquee matchup in the knockout stage of UEFA’s secondary club competition. Barcelona, which crashed out of its Champions League group for the first time in 17 years, handled Napoli on a 5-3 aggregate following Thursday’s 4-2 win at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona. Until this month, the Catalan side had never played in the Europa League since it was rebranded from the UEFA Cup ahead of the 2009-10 season. West Ham, meanwhile, will have its hands full with Europa League powerhouse Sevilla. The Spanish side has won six Europa League trophies since the tournament’s inception and has won four of the last five tournaments in which it has appeared.To motivate Sevilla even further, the May 18 final will take place in its home stadium at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Defending champion Villarreal is currently playing in the Champions League round of 16 against Juventus. The RB Leipzig vs. Spartak Moscow draw has taken on added intrigue given recent international news with UEFA declaring Friday that it will relocate any games set to take place in Russia or Ukraine. There are no Ukrainian teams left in the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League.Here is the full draw for the Europa League round of 16, with the first leg set for March 9 and 10 followed by the second legs a week later, all on March 17:
Europa League round of 16
Braga vs. Monaco
FC Porto vs. Lyon
Atalanta vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Sevilla vs. West Ham
Barcelona vs. Galatasaray
RB Leipzig vs. Spartak Moscow
Real Betis vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
The U.S. Bounces Back After a Surprising 0-0 Tie vs the Czechs
|Grant Wahl Feb 20|
The USWNT beat New Zealand 5-0 on Sunday in the SheBelieves Cup. Here are my three thoughts on the game:
• U.S. pressure = three Kiwi own-goals. How often you have ever seen a team score three own-goals in one game? That’s what happened in the first half on Sunday as the U.S. took advantage of New Zealand’s high back line and poured on the pressure, creating a trifecta of own-goals. Midge Purce and Sophia Smith created a lot of that pressure from the wings, and the U.S. was able to produce a rebound performance after an unexpected 0-0 tie against the Czech Republic in the opening game of this tournament.• Ashley Hatch and Mal Pugh continued their good club form from last season. Hatch, the reigning NWSL Golden Boot winner, scored her third goal for the U.S. in limited time after coming on in the second half. And Pugh, who got her mojo back last season with Chicago, continued that resurgence by adding the fifth goal for the Americans. Neither player is young-young, but Hatch (26) and Pugh (23) are still plenty young enough to have a real future with this USWNT.
• New Zealand has been pretty disappointing. For a team that has competed in a lot of World Cup and Olympic tournaments, the Football Ferns appear to have regressed and fallen behind middle-tier European teams like Iceland (which it lost to in Game 1) and the Czechs (who have gotten impressive ties recently against the U.S. and the Netherlands). As the next World Cup co-host, New Zealand won’t have to worry about qualifying, but they do need to be concerned about performing well. And right now the signs aren’t encouraging.
PRESEASON RECAP | INDY ELEVEN 3:0 SPORTING KC II
By Indy Eleven Communications, 02/19/22, 3:15PM EST2
Pinho, Arteaga & Law Tally in Comprehensive Win
WESTFIELD, Ind. – Indy Eleven capped off its fourth preseason bout by defeating former USL Championship rival Sporting KC II by a score of 3-0. Forwards Stefano Pinho and Manuel Arteaga continued their fine preseason form with a goal apiece, while midfielder Nicky Law put the finishing touch on the scoring for the day late in the second half.
The 90-minute friendly at the Grand Park Events Center marked the halfway point of the preseason for Indy Eleven, which carries an undefeated 3W-0L-1D record into the second half of its exhibition slate as it continues to prepare for its Championship season opener at Loudoun United FC on March 12.
While the first three games of the preseason saw Indy Eleven consistently come out of the gates aggressive and fast-paced, today’s start was much more methodical with longer possessions and sustained build-up setting the tone throughout the first ten minutes of play. The first scoring chance came in the 11th minute when defender A.J. Cochran nearly headed in a free kick crossed in by Law.
Choppy play dictated the pace for the next ten minutes of play, but things changed for Indiana’s Team in the 21st minute. Midfielder Raul Aguilera delivered a back-flick to free defender Noah Powder for an overlapping down the left flank, from where his cross towards the penalty spot was almost headed in by forward Aris Briggs. The Boys in Blue broke the scoring seal the following minute, as defender Alex McQueen nutmegged his defender following a turnover, setting up Pinho’s score from the six. The only substantial scoring chance for the remainder of the half came in the 42nd minute off a cleared corner kick that ended with midfielder Justin Ingram firing high, keeping the score at 1-0 heading into halftime.
It would not take very long for the Boys in Blue to get on the board in the second half. Arteaga converted his team-high fifth goal of the preseason in the 48th minute, finishing low off a fine chipped feed from Law to extend Indy’s lead to two goals. Kansas City would get a couple of chances on corner kicks in the following 15 minutes – including a shot from 20 yards that sailed off the crossbar – but to no avail. Eleven Head Coach Mark Lowry made a flurry of substitutions in the 61st minute, putting four sets of fresh legs out on the pitch.
The Indy attack sprung to life again in the 73rd minute, when its guest midfielder on the afternoon trapped a high pass with his shoulder to himself inside the area before turning and sending a volley just over from 10 yards. The 79th minute saw an even more audacious attempt, as defender Jared Timmer delivered a pass to the six that Arteaga popped up to himself and bicycled, only to see a brave save by the onrushing SKCII ‘keeper stop the highlight reel chance.
In the 84th minute, Briggs showed off his speed on a 50-yard carry up the field before leaving a pass through the legs of Arteaga and to the boot of the guest midfielder, whose shot slammed off the crossbar. Indy Eleven finally converted on one of its many late scoring chances in the 87th minute, as a Powder cross was cleared only as far as Law 15 yards from goal, from where the Englishman curled a finish through traffic and into the back of the net, bringing the scoreline to its eventual 3-0 finish.
The preseason for Indiana’s Team will continue with its first road match of the exhibition season at USL Championship rival Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC this Tuesday, Feb. 22. Media outlets seeking to cover exhibition matches during preseason are asked to contact John Koluder in the Indy Eleven Communications Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-919-0808 (mobile) for access details, including kickoff times.
2022 Spring Preseason Exhibition
Indy Eleven 3 : 0 Sporting Kansas City II
Saturday, February 19, 2022
Grand Park Events Center – Westfield, Ind.
IND – Stefano Pinho (Alex McQueen) 22’
IND – Manuel Arteaga (Nicky Law) 48’
IND – Nicky Law (unassisted) 87’
Indy Eleven 1st half (1’-45’) lineup (4-4-2): Tim Trilk; Noah Powder, A.J. Cochran, Jared Timmer, Alex McQueen; Nicky Law, Neveal Hackshaw, Justin Ingram, Raul Aguilera; Aris Briggs, Stefano Pinho (Manuel Arteaga 31’)
Indy Eleven 2nd half (46’-90’) lineup (4-4-2): Tim Trilk; Noah Powder, A.J. Cochran (Karl Ouimette 61’), Mechack Jerome, Alex McQueen (Jared Timmer 61’); Nicky Law (Guest MF #1, 61’), Justin Ingram (Nicky Law 75’), Neveal Hackshaw (Sam Brown 61’), Bryam Rebellon; Aris Briggs, Manuel Arteaga
Indy Eleven 2022 Preseason Exhibition Schedule
Wednesday, Feb. 9 | Indy Eleven 7 : 0 Marian University
Saturday, Feb. 12 | Indy Eleven 4 : 2 University of Indianapolis
Wednesday, Feb. 16 | Indy Eleven 1 : 1 Detroit City FC
Saturday, Feb. 19 | Indy Eleven 3 : 0 Sporting Kansas City II
Tuesday, Feb. 22 at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Friday, Feb. 25 vs. St. Louis City SC – CLOSED DOOR
Friday, March 4 vs. Chicago Fire FC – CLOSED DOOR
Saturday, March 5 at Columbus Crew – CLOSED DOOR