3/8/22  Champ League Tues/Wed CBS 3 pm, MLS Attendance Record set by Charlotte FC, US Soccer Elects Cindy Cone

US Soccer Votes in Cindy Cone

Great to see Cindy Parlow Cone was reelected to the Presidency of US Soccer over Carlos Cordeiro – the fact that it was a close vote is scary.  Anyone have an contacts for getting USA vs Mexico tickets in 3 weeks?  My buddy Oscar Gomez and I are flying out to stay in his parents place as we head to Azteca (bucket list) for the US all important Qualifier.  We have flights and a place to stay but are desperate for 2 to 4 tickets if anyone has a way to get them – please let me know.  (317-748-7174).

American Soccer Coach Jesse Marsch Almost Wins

Jesse Marsch brings solidity, organization to high-press (Leicester 1-0 Leeds ): This was much better from Leeds as they looked balanced in Marsch’s first game in charge. They had defensive solidity and were better organized and they were hardly opened up on the counter. They still pressed Leicester high but it was as a group instead of individually. The tweaks made by Marsch to the team Marcelo Bielsa built were instantly recognizable and the American coach will be pleased with pretty much everything he saw from his side. However, they have to be more clinical when they do get chances as they won’t get as many as they did under Bielsa. With 11 games to go, Leeds need points and they will need to find a way to score – but this was a solid start! 

MLS Week 2

The largest crowd to ever see an MLS game over 74,400 people sang the National Anthem on Saturday in their opening game at Panther Stadium.   The final attendance topped the old MLS high of 73,019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when the Atlanta United played the Portland Timbers for the MLS Cup in December 2018.  Charlotte played well but lost on a galazo goal by LA Galaxy’s Alverez.  Of course the story of the night might have been the exchange of jersey’s between LA’s Sacha Lljestan and former cancer patient now Charlotte FC’s Christ Hedgart.  In other news Portland’s Yimmi Chara added another incredible bicycle-kick goal

Games to Watch This Week

Of course Champions League Tues/Wed   and CCL kick off Tues/Wed this week with Liverpool hosting Inter Milan up 2-0 on CBS at 3 pm Tues, while Bayern Munich hosts Salzburg tied at 1 on Para +.  Wed has PSG taking its 1-0 lead to Real Madrid on CBS at 3 pm, while Man City will certainly play backups up 5-0 on Sporting on Para+.  Thurs/Fri gives us Europa League Play.  (full schedule below in the OBC)  (See the American’s play)

CFC Goalkeeping Wed/Thurs Training this week at Badger Field House

We look forward to seeing all our GKs at training this Wed/Thurs !!  Just Devestating hearing that Stanford Senior Goalkeeper Katie Meyer died by suicide last week.  Everyone hug your kids and remind them how much they are loved !   If you (or someone you know) need support, call the toll-free, 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text HOME to 741741 for free, which offers 24/7 support from the Crisis Text Line.

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BIG GAMES TO WATCH

Tues,  3/8 – Champ League   

3 pm CBS                              Liverpool 2 vs Inter Milan 0

3 pm Para+, Univision      Bayern Munich 1 vs Salzberg 1  

8 pm FS1                              NYCFC vs Comunicationes

10 pm FS1                            Seattle Sounders  vs Leon

 Wed,  3/9 – Champ League   

3 pm CBS                              Real Madrid 0 vs PSG 1

3 pm Para+, Univision      Sporting 0 vs Man City  6

8 pm TUDN                          New England vs Pumas CCL

10 pm TUDN                        Cruz Azul vs Montreal

Thurs,  3/10 – Europa + CCL

12:45 pm Para+, Univ      RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Sparkak Moskva

12:45 pm Para+, Univ      Sevilla (Musah?) vs West Ham United  

2:30 pm USA                       Norwich (Stewart) vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

3 pm Para+, Univ              Barcelona (Dest) vs Galatasaray

3 pm Para+, Univ              Sevilla (Musah??) vs West Ham United  

3 pm Para+, Univ               Rangers vs Zvedzda

8 pm FS2                              Comunicationes FC vs Colorado Rapids CCL

10 pm FS2                            CD Montagua vs Seattle Sounders CCL

Sat,  3/12  

12:30 pm NBC                     Man United vs Tottenham  

3:30 pm Fox                  Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy

Sun,  3/13  

12:30 pm NBC                     Arsenal vs Leicester City  

3:30 pm Fox Sport1       Atlanta United vs Charlotte  

USA  


Cindy Parlow Cone wins 4-year term as U.S. Soccer president, beats Cordeiro

U.S. Soccer Votes to Retain Cindy Parlow Cone as President

Pulisic Scores Goal has Assist on Sat vs Burnley
Weston McKennie injury update: Allegri says season over for USMNT star

Ethan Horvath could be our GK in Mexico – remember this summer

Pulisic, Palmer-Brown, Pefok standout in otherwise tough weekend for Americans abroad

Pefok Is the Answer at our #9 slot  – Yanks Abroad

MLS

The largest crowd to ever see an MLS game over 75,000 people sang the National Anthem on Saturday in their opening game at Panther Stadium.  

Charlotte Fans Sing National Anthem


Sacha Kljestan of LA Galaxy shares story of visiting Charlotte FC’s Chris Hegardt in hospital 12 years ago

Charlotte FC sets MLS crowd record of 74,479 in home debut (photos)

EPL  

10 Things We Learned EPL Wk 28 – NBC
Player ratings: Manchester City vs Manchester United

Gulf in class clear to Rangnick as Man City humble Man Utd

Arsenal beat Watford to climb into Premier League top four

Coutinho ‘back to Liverpool form’ as Gerrard lauds Aston Villa

Champions League   

 Best bets: Champions League round of 16

UCL bold predictions: Mane delivers for Liverpool

Power Rankings after first legs

Mbappe a doubt for Real Madrid with foot injury
Champions League matchups as PSG heads to Madrid with edge

Mbappe set to face Real after training scare

Real Madrid get set for PSG by hammering Real Sociedad

Neuer returns in Bayern goal to face Salzburg in Champions League

Lewandowski’s Bayern contract doubts take focus off Champions 

Inzaghi not giving up on Champions League quarters despite huge task at Anfield

Bayern Munich hosts Salzburg

Goalkeeping Around the World

Top 10 Goalkeepers in the World

Week 27 Top Saves EPL  

MLS Top Saves Week 2

MLS Top Saves Week 1  

Best Saves NWSL Women’s League last Season

Ethan Horvath could be US GK in Mexico – remember this summer

Gigi Buffon Extends Contract 2 more years

Top 10 Gigi Buffon Saves

 World

Around Europe: Real Madrid runs wild, Tammy Abraham leads Roma, Bayern slips
Mexicans call for answers after gruesome riot during Atlas vs. Querétaro soccer match

Dozens injured as fans clash at Mexico football match

Giroud sinks Napoli to fire Milan top

Barca and Atletico return to La Liga top four

Indy 11

 PRESEASON RECAP – INDY ELEVEN 2 : 1 CHICAGO FIRE FC
INDY ELEVEN ADDS FIVE FEMALE STAFF MEMBERS TO BOLSTER USL W LEAGUE SIDE

·      INDY ELEVEN TO HOST ST. LOUIS CITY 2 IN SECOND ROUND OF 2022 LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP

Full Ticket Offerings for 2022 Indy Eleven Games Now on Sale

Charlotte FC sets MLS crowd record of 74,479 in home debut

Associated Press

Sun, March 6, 2022, 10:08 AM·4 min read

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Charlotte FC made a record-breaking home debut Saturday night, setting a Major League Soccer attendance mark of 74,479 in a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy.Fans dressed in the team’s light, blue colors and wearing FC Charlotte scarves celebrated the team’s first game at Bank of America Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers since 1996.There were 69,522 there on Sept. 1, 1996, to watch Carolina’s first regular-season game – a 29-6 win over Atlanta. This long, anticipated MLS game shattered that mark.Things didn’t go as well on the field for Charlotte FC, who fell as Galaxy substitute midfielder Efrain Alvarez struck a hard shot from outside the box into the upper right corner in the 77th minute.[Charlotte FC (0-2-0) had a chance to tie in the final minute of stoppage time, but Daniel Rios’ header close to the goal off a cross from Alan Franco was stopped by LA Galaxy’s Jonathan Bond.The Galaxy have won both their games to start the season.Still, the loss didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm as they stood and cheered at the end, much the way they did at the start.“Welcome to the largest party Charlotte has known,” Charlotte FC and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper said to the crowd moments before kickoff.MLS Commissioner Dan Garber called it a historic night for the league. He said the crowd showed “there’s no limit to where our league can go.”LA Galaxy coach Greg Vanney had long thought North Carolina was hot bed for soccer and that showed in this contest.“It’s no surprise there was a fan base so ready and so eager to show support,” Vanney said. “Our job was to come here and be the spoilers of the whole thing so I’m happy for that.”Charlotte FC goalie Kristijan Kahlina said in recent years he had played games in front of 500 people in Bulgaria last year and as many as 14,000 in his native Croatia during his career. To see, “five times that, the support from our fans is unbelievable.”People lined up at the entrances about four hours before the match kicked off, eager to cheer for their hometown MLS club.Even the signature Panthers statues outside the stadium had Charlotte FC scarves draped around their necks for the occasion.“We’ve waited for this for a while,” said Lenny Romero, a Charlotte fan who wore a curly wig of Charlotte FC blue.People in Charlotte gear packed parking lots around the stadium that usually only get filled for Panthers’ football.Food carts and souvenir stands were everywhere with some fans even pulling out their Cornhole boards for football-style tailgates.The final attendance topped the old MLS high of 73,019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when the Atlanta United played the Portland Timbers for the MLS Cup in December 2018.Atlanta’s building also had the previous top attendance for a regular-season match, 72,548 when the United played the LA Galaxy in August 2019.Tepper’s bid for an MLS franchise was approved in 2019 with plans to play in 2021. However, that was delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.The first-year club played its first-ever match last week in Washington, falling to D.C. United 3-0.The team made improvements of about $50 million or so to enhance the stadium for soccer. A new tunnel was added at midfield, along with soccer locker rooms, training facilities and a player lounge.For several games, the stadium’s upper level will be closed to fans. Still, it would give Charlotte FC a capacity of about 38,000.Tepper was on the field about an hour before the start, waving and pumping his fist to cheering, grateful fans.Charlotte FC defender Jaylin Lindsey grew up and played youth soccer in the city. He was excited to play as a professional in his hometown. “It’s going to be like a homecoming,” Lindsey said this week.Fan Marshall Holin had followed the team’s development since it was announced three years ago and made the six-hour drive from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to downtown Charlotte.“There’s a huge love of soccer in this region and just a culmination of all of that and a recognition it’s something fun and great,” he said.Officials told WBTV about 20 rows of a section of the upper deck were cleared after halftime as a precaution when a cellular antenna slipped from its mount. No one was hurt and the spectators were relocated.

USMNT midweek viewing guide: Stepping up a level

Champions League is back, plus Pulisic-

Several USMNT players will be looking to raise their level this week, starting with Jesse Marsch and Leeds United. Brenden Aaronson goes for the upset against Bayern Munich, Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent face off, Sergiño Dest and Barça look to continue their fine form, and Zack Steffen looks for a Champions League start, as Concacaf Champions League continues in the evenings. Let’s get into it!

Tuesday

  • Bayern Munich v RB Salzburg, 3p on Galavision, Paramount+, fuboTV (free trial), Sling TV, TUDN.com: Brenden Aaronson will look to repeat his strong performance from the first leg, as he and heavy underdogs Salzburg are tied 1-1 with Bayern in Champions League. Malik Tillman could feature for the Bavarian club.
  • NYCFC v Comunicaciones, 8p on FS1, TUDN, fuboTV, Sling TV, FoxSports.com, TUDN.com: Keaton Parks, Sean Johnson, Tayvon Gray, and Alfredo Morales go on the road to Guatemala City as their CCL campaign continues.
  • Seattle Sounders v León, 10p on FS1, TUDN, fuboTV, Sling TV, FoxSports.com, TUDN.com: Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan, Stefan Frei, Obed Vargas, and Reed Baker-Whiting travel to Guastatoya for their CCL matchup (also in Guatemala).

Also in action:

  • Sheffield United v Middlesbrough, 2:45p: Folarin Balogun and Boro are trying to hold onto 6th place and a playoff spot, having won 2 of 3, and holding a 1-pt margin over two clubs just below them.
  • Swansea v Fulham, 2:45p: Antonee “Jedi” Robinson and Tim Ream are 11 pts clear of second with Fulham in the Championship table.

Wednesday

  • Manchester City v Sporting CP, 3p on Galavision, Paramount+, fuboTV, Sling TV, TUDN.com: There’s a chance Zack Steffen could see a rare knockout game in Champions League, as City return home from the away leg holding a 5-0 lead.
  • New England Revolution v Pumas UNAM, 8p on FS2, TUDN, fuboTV, Sling TV, FoxSports.com, TUDN.com: Matt Turner, Sebastian Lletget, DeJuan Jones, Saucedo, Ruvalcaba (CCL quarterfinal, Mexico City)
  • Cruz Azul v CF Montréal, 10p on FS2, TUDN, fuboTV, Sling TV, FoxSports.com, TUDN.com: Mihailovic (CCL quarterfinal, Torreón)

Also in action:

  • Real Betis v Eintracht Frankfurt, 12:45p on Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: Timmy Chandler and Frankfurt face their La Liga opponent in Europa League round of 16.
  • Internacional v Grêmio, 7p on Premiere, Sling TV: Johnny Cardoso will look to make his 5th appearance for Internacional in the new season.

Thursday

  • Norwich City v Chelsea, 2:30p: Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent face off in the Premier League. Pulisic and Chelsea are looking to lock in top-4 position; Sargent and the Canaries desperately need points to avoid relegation.
  • Leeds United v Aston Villa, 2:45p: Jesse Marsch faces his second Premier League test, after a brutal 0-1 loss to Leicester.
  • FC Barcelona v Galatasaray, 3p on TUDN, UniMás, Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: Sergiño Dest and Barça have won 4 straight, and both will be full of confidence as they face their Turkish opponent in Europa League, at home at the Camp Nou.

Also in action:

  • Partizan v Feyenoord, 12:45p on Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: Cole Bassett looks to continue to break through at Feyenoord in this Conference League match.
  • Rangers v Crvena zvezda, 3p on Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: James Sands and Rangers welcome Red Star Belgrade to the Ibrox in their Europa League tie.
  • Marseille v Basel, 3p on Paramount+, fuboTV, TUDN.com: Konrad de la Fuente and Marseille face Basel in Europa Conference League.

That’s it! Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s see who impresses this week!

UEFA Champions League Power Rankings: Manchester United struggle at Atletico Madrid; Chelsea leapfrog Bayern

Manchester City, meanwhile, hold down the No. 1 spot after the round of 16 first legs

By James Benge  Feb 23, 2022 at 6:56 pm ET8 min read

The first legs of the Champions League round of 16 ties are done and dusted and with it we are getting a clearer picture of who is likely to still be around at the business end of the competition. Big names including Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have work to do to reach the quarterfinals; if they are successful in doing so they will likely find themselves in the hat with at least three English teams after impressive wins for Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea put them within touching distance of the last eight.

Here are the most likely winners of the Champions League with glory on the horizon.

Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.

The top tier: Title or bust

These teams should be disappointed with anything less than a semifinal berth and frankly even that might not be enough, such is their talent profile.

about:blank 1. Manchester City (–)

Without living up to their own lofty standards City ripped through Sporting, all but guaranteeing themselves a spot in the last eight with a 5-0 win. The loss to Tottenham that followed in the Premier League might offer opponents something of a blueprint — drawing the press before hitting fast balls into the space behind the high line — but it will take a special performance indeed to both execute that plan and stop this devastating attack from scoring a hatful of goals.

2. Liverpool (+1)

Their attack will probably capture the headlines but what carried them to a 2-0 win over Inter Milan was a defense that could translate a lot of pressure around their penalty area into no shots that Alisson had to deal with. Couple that with a new found depth that can allow Klopp to swing games in his direction and you have perhaps the only team that might have a persuasive case to make for starting a tie against City on an even footing.

Serious contenders: If things go right, why not us?

It certainly is not beyond the realm of imagination that any of these teams could be lifting the European Cup in May, though it may require a few fortunate breaks for the tournament to go their way.

3. Chelsea (+4)

Things are far from perfect at Stamford Bridge, where Romelu Lukaku is at risk of becoming a $135 million outcast and the attack still looks a little clunky without the first-choice wing backs. And yet against Lille they looked like a team rediscovering their old blueprint of defensive solidity as they held Jonathan David and company at arms’ length in a comfortable 2-0 win.

4. Bayern Munich (-2)

The talent is undeniably there and the core of this squad has coalesced into a winning team late in this season. And yet there seems to be something a little insubstantial about Julian Nagelsmann’s side, not least a tactical approach that can on occasions seem a bit too clever by half, as in playing with almost no defense against Red Bull Salzburg. They will surely get through that tie but their tendency to overcomplicate may cost them in rounds to come.

5. Paris Saint-Germain (+1)

PSG could yet leap up these rankings if they hold on to their advantage from the first leg against Real Madrid, a curious match in which they found themselves more dominant both than they would have expected and than they would have wanted. Mauricio Pochettino’s men are devastating in transition, but not until Neymar’s introduction did they really look like they might break down the packed ranks of defense in front of them. If they get to future rounds might this be used against them?

6. Ajax (-2)

The winning streak is gone though there were signs of plenty of the good stuff in a 2-2 draw against Benfica where they once more put up gaudy advanced metrics, not least those 2.11 expected goals (xG) off just 11 shots. There was a sloppiness to their performance in Lisbon that perhaps reflects the fact that they have rarely been tested this season; if they get through in Amsterdam seeing their errors punished as they were on Wednesday may do Erik ten Hag’s side the world of good in the long run.

Possible quarterfinalists

Winning a round is perhaps the best-case scenario for these teams unless something dramatic changes.

7. Juventus (+2)

They might have made it easier for themselves after Dusan Vlahovic’s early goal but if you had offered Massimiliano Allegri and his depleted squad a 1-1 draw before the game they would surely have taken it. By the time they face Villarreal again next month their defensive numbers should have swelled whilst Paulo Dybala could be back in the side; that team ought to have enough to win at home and might even be able to get through another round.

 ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.

8. Atletico Madrid (+4)

9. Manchester United (+1)

We’re doing these two together because I can’t see how anyone can really understand what on earth that game means for the standings of these teams against the rest of Europe. After all for the best part of 80 minutes Manchester United looked like a group of tourists who had taken a few too many wrong turns on the way to the Prado. One brilliant goal from Anthony Elanga, possibly the only cool head in the traveling party, does not undo that.

Equally Atletico had United at their mercy. They could have killed this tie, particularly in a second half when Ralf Rangnick refused to change a side that could get nothing right. Diego Simeone’s side used to be defined by its killer instinct but throughout this tournament Atleti have let good moments slip them by and handed opportunities to teams they have the quality to beat. Whoever gets out of this tie it is hard to see them going all that far.

10. Real Madrid (-4)

Carlo Ancelotti has rarely named such a baffling side in a European game. The three-time winner of this competition sent out a team that seemed paralyzed by fear at the Parc des Princes, one that just hoped to stem the tide and return to Madrid with the tie still alive. To their credit that is broadly what they did, a 1-0 deficit is not irretrievable, but the manner in which they went about their business had tongues wagging in the Spanish capital. 

Equally Los Merengues are hardly the most devastating force in the tournament — they rank 11th since the start of the group stage for expected goals per game despite a fairly favorable schedule — and will have to leave the gaps in behind that PSG will be craving. Ancelotti might have miscalculated here.

11. Villarreal (–)

A battling result against Juventus that looked harder to achieve after Vlahovic’s early goal, one which came with a blaring neon sign pointing in Raul Albiol’s direction, reading “run in behind this guy.” Unai Emery is of course willing to play with a low defensive line and it is easy to imagine Villarreal doing to Juventus what they just tried to do to them, nicking an early goal on the road and clinging on for dear life. Europa League history shows they can do so.

12. Benfica (+1)

In twice coming from behind Benfica showcased their battling qualities in an impressive performance against Ajax, one where they looked the more likely winners as the match wore on. “We had the better chances in the second half,” said Jan Vertonghen. “In the end, the game could have gone either way. Ajax were very good in possession and we were very good at playing into the space that was created as a result. All in all, this is an acceptable result to take to Amsterdam.”

13. Red Bull Salzburg (+3)

Matthias Jaissle’s side are still strong underdogs before their trip to Germany, understandably so. Better shooting from Bayern Munich’s frontline must almost be a given for the second leg whilst another high quality performance by Philipp Kohn in the Salzburg goal can’t be taken for granted. However this tie is certainly not done yet; as the Bavarians pushed for an equalizer last week they left gaps that Salzburg very nearly exploited. If they can hold tight at the back for long enough those fissures might appear again.

At the end of the road

Barring an unlikely set of results in the second legs, we’re about to wave goodbye to these teams.

14. Inter Milan (-6)

Inter are certainly not the 14th best team of the 16 left in the Champions League but the 14th most likely to win the competition sounds about right after a bruising 2-0 loss to Liverpool. Had Virgil van Dijk not been so exemplary then the Ivan Perisic-Edin Dzeko tandem might have paid off or Lautaro Martinez could have got away in behind. If there is hope for Simeone Inzaghi it is the knowledge that his side can get into dangerous positions against the Reds, the question is whether they can improve sufficiently in attack without leaving gaps for Mohamed Salah and company to exploit.

15. Lille (-1)

Though several players, most notably Renato Sanches, returned from Stamford Bridge with their reputation enhanced, Lille never really got close to Chelsea in a 2-0 defeat that leaves them highly unlikely to advance to the last eight. If they are to have any hope of scoring the two or more goals they need to qualify they will have to become more discerning in their shot selection, not one of their 15 shots on goal was worth 0.1 xG or more.

16. Sporting (-1)

Last time out we suggested that things could not possibly get worse for Sporting compared to the 12-1 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich they suffered on the only previous occasion they reached this stage of the competition… Well… Ermm… Let’s not take that for granted just yet.

10 things we learned in the Premier League – Matchweek 28

By Nicholas MendolaMar 6, 2022, 4:21 PM EST

What did we learn during Matchweek 28 of the 2021-22 Premier League season? Plenty, even with one more match to go (Spurs vs Everton).Here’s a look at 10 things that stood out, as our writers Joe Prince-Wright (JPW) and Andy Edwards (AE) are rejoined by Nicholas Mendola (NM) to share their observations from the most recent Premier League games.[ VIDEO: PL highlights ]

Let’s get to it.

1. Man City’s message sent (Man City 4-1 Man United): While many have been salivating at the idea of Man City allowing Liverpool back into the Premier League title race by — checks notes: dropping four points  in 2022 — City just keeps operating their clinic. Yes, Liverpool has a match-In-hand and plays City, but do you suspect that Liverpool will go unbeaten and City will lose twice? There’s a race, yes, but the Reds still have an incredible amount of work to do against a team that’s lost the xG battle in a game… twice in 28 matches this season. (NM)

2. Lacazette’s playmaking, hold up play making the difference (Watford 2-3 Arsenal): The French striker hasn’t been Mikel Arteta’s cup of tea from time-to-time but he’s showing that he’s up to the task of hassling back lines, finding the open man, and being a pest in so many different ways. Lacazette may not be a title-contending striker, but it would also be interesting to see how he’d do with, I don’t know, Man City? (NM)

3a. Liverpool’s defending not title worthy:(Liverpool 1-0 West Ham)The Reds have gotten to their place in this season’s Premier League title race largely by manufacturing loads of chances and finishing a whole lot of them, but both the midfield and back line were not near title caliber in defense as Fornals, Lanzini, and Michail Antonio has enviable chances to give not just one but three points to the visitors from London. Yes, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and others contributing big defensive plays — Naby Keita, too — but it’s necessary to note they also opened the door to other chances by switching off or making silly mistakes (NM).

3b. Liverpool’s defenders plenty good going forward: (Liverpool 1-0 West Ham): Trent Alexander-Arnold is a maestro with the ball at his feet and he had five key passes on the day including the set-up of Mane. Robertson had three key passes during his 90 minutes and Konate completed 5-of-8 long passes while Virgil van Dijk pushed a shot toward the West Ham goal. So even if the Reds were punished for a mistake, their defenders provided plenty of chances to have that mistake be in a 4-1 win rather than a 2-1 loss (NM).

5. Refreshed Kai Havertz shines with Pulisic (Burnley 0-4 Chelsea): Unused in three matches after scoring against Lille in the UCL, Havertz delivered a pair of goals at Turf Moor and showed that his growing chemistry with the American playmaker. There was a certain connection between Pulisic and former Chelsea big man Olivier Giroud, and the fits and starts of Havertz’s early days — with huge European highs and some serious lows — can find consistency, the Blues are going to find a new gear (NM).

6. Jesse Marsch brings solidity, organization to high-press (Leicester 1-0 Leeds ): This was much better from Leeds as they looked balanced in Marsch’s first game in charge. They had defensive solidity and were better organized and they were hardly opened up on the counter. They still pressed Leicester high but it was as a group instead of individually. The tweaks made by Marsch to the team Marcelo Bielsa built were instantly recognizable and the American coach will be pleased with pretty much everything he saw from his side. However, they have to be more clinical when they do get chances as they won’t get as many as they did under Bielsa. With 11 games to go, Leeds need points and not positive performances (JPW).

7. Fraser, Joelinton reclamation projects complete (Newcastle 2-1 Brighton): It’s actually bonkers to consider that Joelinton isn’t just functioning as a center midfielder but looking like he’s played there his entire life. Eddie Howe’s decision to play him there is a stroke of genius and the crazy price tag that made him look like a bust at center forward now looks like an appropriate fee for a havoc-wreaking midfielder who is outright dominating the middle of the park. Ryan Fraser has been much, much better after a near three-season drought following an outburst at Bournemouth that had him targeted by Arsenal and others. Howe rode through some poor performances early in their shared tenure up north but his patience is being rewarded (NM).

8. Coutinho destroys Saints’ press (Aston Villa 4-0 Southampton): Villa used a midfield diamond to thwart Saints’ high-press and it worked a treat. Luiz, McGinn and Ramsey did plenty of running and pressing to shut Saints down, while Coutinho floated in the gaps and caused havoc when he got on the ball. He’s only on loan from Barcelona but this was an example of the old Coutinho at work and he used to love picking Southampton apart during his time at Liverpool. It seems very likely that Villa will try to buy Coutinho permanently this summer and he looks at home as Gerrard has found the perfect role for him (JPW).

(Norwich 1-3 Brentford): The beekeeper can relax for a moment, though Thomas Frank will be forced to quickly put this slump-ender in his rearview mirror. Brentford was good money for the win despite a distinct lack of possession, but Toney was near his best and Kristoffer Ajer a difference-maker at both ends (NM).

10. Wolves in a rut (Wolves 0-2 Crystal Palace): At some point Wolves’ defensive solidity was going to break down and it has in dramatic fashion in the last week. Three-straight defeats to Arsenal, West Ham, and Palace have seen Wolves go from top four contenders to Europa League hopefuls. Their amazing form to get them in a great position to qualify for Europe was built on a solid defensive unit but they started this game slowly and their confidence seemed to be hit by losing late on at Arsenal last week (JPW).

Gianluigi Buffon signals intent to play on until he is 46 with new Parma deal

  • Goalkeeper signs extension with Serie B side until 2024
  • Buffon: ‘It is a beautiful and exciting challenge for me’
Buffon with defenders Enrico Delprato and Alessandro Circati – both of whom were not born when the keeper made his Parma debut in 1995. Photograph: Luca Amedeo Mon 28 Feb 2022 07.01 EST

Gianluigi Buffon has extended his contract with Parma until 2024, meaning the veteran goalkeeper will be 46 when the deal expires.Buffon rejoined Parma last summer and announced the extension during a press conference with the club president, Kyle Krause. “For me and my family, this is a wonderful day. I hope that the city and all fans will be happy,” Buffon said.The World Cup-winning Italian began his career with Parma, making his debut in November 1995 before joining Juventus in 2001. Buffon spent 19 years across two spells with Juventus, and one season with Paris Saint-Germain in 2018-19.uffon, who has won 10 Serie A titles and is the league’s record appearance maker with 657 games, pledged to “give his best, again and again” for Parma, who were relegated to Serie B last season. “My return was linked to the relationships and the deep bond I have always had with this city,” Buffon added.“If I hadn’t believed in what the president has in mind and in what we are doing, I would not have accepted this proposal,” added Buffon, who is also the club captain. “I am optimistic for the future of this club. It is a beautiful and exciting challenge for me.”Krause added: “[Gigi] is a great player and for us he is a great pride. In addition to his leadership skills, he is also a person with excellent human skills. We can see the passion he has for Parma every day, we are really happy for his commitment.”Buffon had started every Serie B game this season for mid-table Parma before a muscle injury saw him miss three matches in February. He returned to the side for Saturday’s 4-0 home win over Spal.

PRESEASON RECAP – INDY ELEVEN 2 : 1 CHICAGO FIRE FC

By Indy Eleven Communications, 03/04/22, 5:30PM EST   Forward Aris Briggs Registers Second Half Goal and Assist in Comeback Win

INDIANAPOLIS – In its penultimate match of the 2022 preseason, Indy Eleven pushed its spring exhibition record to 4W-1L-2D by defeating Chicago Fire FC via a 2-1 result. Indiana’s Team did its damage on the scoreboard in the second half, with goals by forward Aris Briggs and a guest forward helping the Eleven overcome an early first half goal by the visitors.Today’s 90-minute match took place behind closed doors at IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium, which in 2022 will serve as the team’s home venue for a sixth season in what will be the Eleven’s ninth year of play. Indy Eleven’s final preseason contest will take place on Saturday afternoon at Columbus Crew 2, which will put a bow on preparations for the squad’s 2022 USL Championship regular season opener at Loudoun United FC next Saturday, March 12 (6:00 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+).After a quiet first ten minutes of play, the first true scoring chance for either side came in the 12th minute off a corner kick for Chicago. However, Eleven midfielder Neveal Hackshaw made a pivotal challenge to knock the short-range chance up and over goal, keeping the match scoreless. That changed just a minute later, when a Fire attacker beat a defender and converted on an uncontested shot from just inside the top of the area to take a 1-0 lead for the visitors.

The attack for Chicago continued to carry the better chances through about the first half hour, but goalkeeper Tim Trilk made three huge first half stops – including two on 1-v-1 chances – to keep the game within a goal’s grasp for the Eleven. The Boys in Blue gradually brought their own danger into the scoring area, including a display of great pace from the squad’s starting guest forward to create a chance in the 25th minute and a shot of his own that was blocked in the 32nd minute. Another chance fell to the foot of midfielder Justin Ingram for Indy in the 37th minute, but ultimately the score remained 1-0 in favor of Chicago heading into the break.Indy began a much more active second half offensively with an odd-man attack in the 48th minute spearheaded by midfielder Raul Aguilera’s pass towards the right endline for Hackshaw, whose near-angle shot landed in the outside netting. Shortly after in the 51st minute, Indy broke its scoring seal, as recently signed Academy player Palmer Ault deftly chested down a ball at the top of the area into the path of Aris Briggs, who took a touch before finishing from 15 yards to even the score. Indy quickly generated another chance on midfielder Bryam Rebellon’s saved shot, with Ault’s rebound follow up also snagged by Chicago’s ‘keeper.With the tide turned in Indy’s favor, Briggs continued the scoring chances for the home side with a saved header and highlight reel bicycle kick that went inches wide in the 59th and 60th minutes, respectively. While Ault’s brief appearance in the match as a halftime substitute ended in the 72nd minute, he nearly left one more good impression with his final action of the day, only to see his shot from eight yards out saved.Head Coach Mark Lowry inserted another guest forward in Ault’s place, and the move paid off with a game-winner in the 84th minute. After collecting Briggs’ flick-on from midfield, the striker carried for 20 yards up the middle of the field before sailing his 12-yard shot into goal for the 2-1 scoreline, which Indy Eleven carried through the rest of regulation and two minutes of added time despite a barrage of Fire crosses into the area.

2022 Spring Preseason Exhibition  Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Chicago Fire FC   Friday, March 4, 2021  IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

 Scoring Summary:

CHI – Goal 13’

IND – Aris Briggs (Palmer Ault) 51’

IND – Guest FW #2 (Aris Briggs) 84’

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Neveal Hackshaw (yellow card) 22’

Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2): Tim Trilk; Jared Timmer, Mechack Jerome, Guest DF #1 (Palmer Ault 45’) (Guest FW #2, 72’), Alex McQueen; Raul Aguilera, Neveal Hackshaw, Justin Ingram, Bryam Rebellon; Aris Briggs, Guest FW #1 (Sam Brown 72’)

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                 Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC  2 : 0  Indy Eleven

Friday, Feb. 25                     Indy Eleven  1 : 1  St. Louis City SC

Friday, March 4                   Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Chicago Fire FC

Saturday, March 5              at Columbus Crew – CLOSED DOOR


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Americans abroad analysis

Pulisic, Palmer-Brown, Pefok standout in otherwise tough weekend for Americans abroad

Christian Pulisic’s standout performance clouded what was otherwsie a poor weekend for Americasn abroad. There were only a few bright spots as many Americans, including top players, offered very little. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down in great detail. 

ASN  BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  MARCH 07, 20222:10 AM

THE WEEKEND FOR Americans abroad was dull and lackluster, for the most part. A big day for Christian Pulisic is sure to generate a lot of headlines, but beyond his out there really wasn’t much. Most of the top American players abroad either didn’t play due to injuries or only saw the field in limited minutes.After Pulisic, injuries prevented Weston McKennie, Chris Richards, and Gio Reyna from taking the field. Sergino Dest only played the final few minutes for Barcelona in its 2-1 win over Elche. Tim Weah was an unused sub for Lille in its 4-0 win over Clermont Foot. Brenden Aaronson played only the final 30 minutes for Salzburg in its 4-0 win over Altach – although this was surely due to the upcoming midweek Champions League visit to Bayern Munich. Tyler Adams did not get off the bench for Leipzig in a 1-1 draw with Freiburg.When you dug a little deeper into the player pool, news was particularly disappointing – particularly among players who have moved to new clubs within the past year.Gianluca Busio picked up a late injury and missed out on Venezia’s 4-1 loss to Sassuolo while Tanner Tessmann played just the final 15 minutes as their club is now three points deep in the relegation zone. Konrad de la Fuente was an unused sub for Marseille on Sunday in a 1-0 loss to Monaco. The Miami native was hit with a critical media piece from France last week that questioned his work ethic an commitment. Ricardo Pepi meanwhile went as an unused substitute in a 1-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld. Nicholas Gioacchini played only the final eight minutes for Montpellier in a 2-0 loss to Nantes.  In Spain, Matthew Hoppe and Matt Miazga were both unused substitutes for Mallorca and Deportivo Alaves, respectively. In Belgium the same could be said for Sam Vines and Mark McKenzie, neither of whom got off the bench (Royal Antwerp and Genk, respectively). Also in Belgium, an injury kept Kyle Duncan off Oostende’s squad that lost 3-0 to Anderlecht. In Portugal, Alex Mendez went as an unused sub for Vizela in a 3-1 loss to Santa Clara in the Azores.In addition to Pepi, the news wasn’t great for many of the players who were exported from MLS in January. Kevin Paredes wasn’t in the squad for Wolfsburg. Justin Che was an unused sub for Hoffenheim and Cole Bassett also went unused for Feyenoord.

 PUTTING THE DISAPPOINT IN PERSPECTIVE

 All this mentioned above doesn’t mean things are bad in the world of Americans abroad. It still is a numbers game and with more players based in the first team abroad, its means there are going to be more negative stories.This weekend was particularly brutal because aside from Pulisic, the top players all failed to produce. It’s not all bad. Injuries limited McKenzie, Reyna, and Richards and that simply happens. It would be more of a concern if they weren’t rated by their respective managers. Likewise, the fact that Salzburg was resting Aaronson ahead of a Champions League game is a good thing. That club is running away with the Austrian Bundesliga title and its priority right now is Bayern Munich.Players like Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann, things have gone relatively well because a relegation battle was always expected. Both players typically play when healthy.

But the concern over young players who have moved to new clubs within the past year is legitimate. Players like Cole Bassett, Kevin Paredes, and Justin Che were expected to need time to adjust. In fact, any playing time those three got the remainder of this season was a bonus. The preseason this summer was always a key period for them.For players like Matthew Hoppe, Mark McKenzie, Matt Miazga, and Konrad de la Fuente, the season just hasn’t worked out. Both were on the edge of the U.S. national team and have probably fallen off that radar for now. Whether they need moves or loans this summer will be decided in the coming months.Pepi is the biggest story, and he just needed an adjustment period, and never really got one. The huge price tag he fetched only increased expectations to a level where they shouldn’t be.As for the national team, it is particularly concerning. At this point, Gregg Berhalter would love to have more of his players coming into this defining window with personal momentum and confidence, but that doesn’t look like it will be the case.All of this doesn’t mean there wasn’t some good things or important things to talk about. There was. Maybe not as much as American fans would like, but there was.

 PULISIC SHINES IN CHELSEA WIN

 For Christian Pulisic, there is nothing but good news these days. The Hershey native has been starting regularly for Chelsea since the last window and Chelsea has been winning. Saturday’s 4-0 win over Burnley was its third Premier League win in a row. The team is also in control of its Champions League matchup against Lille after a 2-0 first-leg win.Pulisic was just great against Burnely where he nabbed an assist and a goal in the win. The assist was beautiful while the goal was a bit fortunate.No matter what, this is great to see as Pulisic is finally reminding some fans and journalists why he commanded such a fee by Chelsea. Some didn’t needed to be reminded but others did.For Pulisic, he just needs to stay in rhythm, and he can play at the highest levels. Injuries, unfortunately, have too frequently disrupted his progress but right now he is playing great because of all these minutes. His performances against Burnley was just evidence in how he is at a highwater mark this season. 

PALMER-BROWN SURGING

 One of the best American players this weekend was Erik Palmer-Brown. The central defender from Kansas City was tremendous for Troyes in a 2-0 away win over last-place Bordeaux. In the game, he played in the middle of a three-man backline that preserved a clean sheet on the road in Ligue 1.This week moved Troyes out of the relegation zone and a point clear of automatic safety. Troyes’ defense has stabilized a bit since the two-game run where they conceded nine goals in two games. Over their past two, they have conceded just once.Palmer-Brown had recently been on the right side of the three-man line but in this game, he was in the middle, and he looked much better.In this game, Troyes was on its backfoot throughout the entire 90 minutes. Palmer-Brown was tasked entirely with defending. He rarely was able to help his team in possession (Troyes had just 38% possession the entire game). Palmer-Brown had just 30 touches and 15 pass attempts over 90 minutes.Defensively, Pamer-Brown was a rock. He had seven clearances, three interceptions, six recoveries, was 3/3 in ground duels won, 4/6 in aerials won, and committed zero fouls.Palmer-Brown is now out of the Man City loan army and is signed to Troyes (which is also owned by City Football Group). But I could easily see him moving on this summer to a more stable club not involved in the relegation zone and to a team whose ownership isn’t focused on another club.American central defenders in Europe aren’t in great shape heading into the March window. Ream is older, Richards is injured, and McKenzie and Sands have seen their playing time fade. Berhalter hasn’t been interested in calling up Brooks in recent windows. Palmer-Brown and Cameron Carter-Vickers have been out of the picture but both seem like the next guys in. Between those two, Palmer-Brown seems like he would fit Berhalter’s style more.But regardless of this cycle, Palmer-Brown is probably in great shape heading into the next World Cup cycle. His game is rising at a time when players like Ream, Zimmerman, Long, and Brooks will likely be aging out. Palmer-Brown, meanwhile, will still be in his 20’s by the time the 2026 World Cup rolls around. 

PEFOK SCORES AN AMAZING HEADER


Jordan Pefok scored his 16th goal of the Swiss Super League season when his eighth minute header put BSC Young Boys ahead 1-0 on a poor Luzern team that sits second from the bottom.Unfortunately for Young Boys and its manager, former U.S. national team forward David Wagner, Luzern rallied from 2-0 deficit for a 2-2 draw. Young Boys has conceded late equalizers and late winning goal all season and this will be the reason why its four season reign as Swiss Champions come to an end. They are now trailing leaders Zurich by 15 points.Pefok is having a great season and he is absolutely a nightmare in the box.There are very good reasons to think that Pefok will be called up this window and American fans typically list Pefok among the recently omitted players they would like to have called up. Pefok is succeeding while other American fans are struggling to score.There are reasons why Pefok’s style might not translate over to the U.S. team – at least from a starting XI role. He doesn’t hold the ball up well, he doesn’t beat defenders with the dribble, and he doesn’t combine well with his teammates. But he does finish well close to goal. The question is whether or not the U.S. team will be able to get him the ball in the box enough?But when the U.S. team is chasing the game needing a goal while taking risks to get the ball forward, Pefok as a sub option seems pretty ideal at the moment.

REAM & ROBINSON HELP IN FULHAM WIN

It’s been among the most repetitive themes in this weekly column. Tim Ream and Jedi Robinson play well and Fulham win.On Saturday, Fulham coasted by Blackburn with a 2-0 win. The Cottagers are looking like the safest of bets to return to the Premier League next season as they sit atop the Championship and have a double-digit lead on promotion. This game was pretty refreshing because it didn’t even take an Aleksander Mitrovic goal to walk away with all three points.Robinson and Ream were rocks on the left side of the defense. Robinson had five interceptions and five recoveries over 90 minutes. Ream was 62/69 in passing with four clearances and three interceptions. It remains to be seen what happens to Ream this offseason and if he will remain with Fulham, but his legacy as a first-rate Championship defender who is a key piece for promotion is assured.Robinson meanwhile looks ready for a second crack at the Premier League.

 BELLO SHARP OFF THE BENCH

 Unfortunately for George Bello and Arminia Bielefeld, they dropped a 1-0 decision to Augsburg in a game that will only tighten the relegation battle in the Bundesliga.Despite the loss, Bello played very well off the bench in his 15 minutes of action. This was by far the best he has looked in the Bundesliga since his January transfer. He was dangerous with his dribbles, smooth on the ball, and his crosses from the run of play were well driven. The only blemish is that he took multiple corner kicks at the end of the game, and they weren’t well-taken.But Bello did nothing but help himself in this game as he seeks more minutes and his first start – which should come if he continues to train well and play like this.Now that he is settled, a return to the U.S. national team could be in the cards as Berhalter will likely want a backup for Jedi Robinson at left back. Last window Sergino Dest was the starting right back and the backup left back. Berhalter will probably want a natural left-footed left back to backup Robinson and Bello looks like the best bet right now.

 MUSAH STARTS IN VALENCIA WIN

 Yunus Musah earned the start for Valencia on Saturday in a 3-1 home win over Granada. In this game, he was more centrally based and got a chance to have touches all over the attacking half. He played 73 minutes and picked up a highly questionable yellow card.Musah’s season has been all over the map. He’s been in and out of the lineup, his best performances in the Copa del Rey have been against lower-tier opponents and should be taken with a grain of salt. He’s also had a few games where he’s played quite well, even when based centrally.
This game was somewhere in between. He played fairly well against a Granada team that is battling relegation. He only had 33 touches over his 76 minutes. He was dispossessed three times but nearly had an assist on one occasion. He wasn’t terribly involved but still had moments where he tried to make things happen.The quality is there but it’s tough for Musah to really show well without a consistent run of starts. On the other hand, he has to earn them.

 CANNON EMBRACING NEW ROLE

 Reggie Cannon made a position switch a few months ago for Boavista and it has really helped him. As opposed to his right back or right wingback positions, Cannon is playing on the right side of a three-man backline. It’s more of a central defense position but he still needs to use his mobility to chase attackers. This position gives him far fewer attacking responsibilities, but it does take advantage of his athleticism in a defensive role. It remains to be seen if Cannon likes this position or if he will want to stay in this role as he potentially moves clubs this summer. But he is doing well, and it could attract the interest among the growing number of clubs that now use a three-man backline. At least Cannon is embracing a role which is increasing in demand.

On Saturday, Boavista played a strong Braga team to a 1-1 draw. Cannon was an ideal fit both with his physicality and in his athleticism for the team’s defense. He won all of his duels and aerials. He also drew three fouls.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget- Will this translate into Cannon’s future? It remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen if this helps him with the national team because Berhalter still only occasionally plays with three in the back. But it does seem like it is an excellent use of Cannon’s skillset.

 BROOKS STARTS IN WOLFSBUR WIN

 John Brooks will probably soon fade out of Wolfsburg’s lineup. The club has already announced that he will not return next season (he is in the final year of his contract). Saturday’s 1-0 win over Union Berlin now has it eight points clear of the relegation playoff position. Once the club feels completely safe, it seems likely Brooks will shift to the bench as Wolfsburg will prepare for next season which won’t include their American defender.

Brooks has been playing better as of late for Wolfsburg and in this game, he was strong over 90 minutes. He had 63 touches, was 46/55 in passing (including 7/13 with his long-ball distribution), and he had five clearances in the clean sheet win. Brooks had a lot to do as Union outshot Wolfsburg 19-8 and had 13 shots from inside the box.

Wolfsburg’s midfield struggled to dictate the flow of the game and this put a lot of pressure on their defense – which did a nice job to limit the most dangerous of chances. Wolfsburg still had the better of genuine scoring opportunities and hit the frame once.Brooks has made himself into one of the most interesting players in the coming weeks and months. Where will his next club be? Will a team in MLS step up with a big DP offer? Will he return to the national team?For Berhalter, it will be tough to leave him out on grounds of form given absence of playing time with McKenzie and the injury to Richards. But is Brooks the type of player you can bring into a team for crucial games if he is not a lock starter?

 THE REST IN ENGAND

 It was a mixed weekend for the rest of the players in England.

Josh Sargent got the start for Norwich in a 3-1 loss to Brentford at home. At this point, it is very difficult to see Norwich avoiding relegation. The team can just not string anything good together for the needed momentum. Now a 3-1 loss at home to a non-top 10 team is more indicative of its season. For Sargent was not dangerous in this game but don’t discount his return to the national team soon. Berhalter was in England to watch him play and while he has struggled, no American No. 9 has made a case to be the answer at the position.

Sargent has questions heading into next year. Teemu Pukki will soon be 32 years old. He has been a player who has twice been the answer for Norwich’s promotional efforts. Can he do it again? If no, can Sargent do what is needed at the Championship level? Promotion teams typically have a reliable forward who can consistently score. Sargent has yet to score consistently but at the Championship level, the pressure will be on him to do that for the first time.

Duane Holmes and Huddersfield defeated last-place Peterborough 3-0 on Friday. The win technically moved them into second place in the Championship but they have played four more games than AFC Bournemouth, who are just a point back. Realistically, Huddersfield sit in third place. But the team is playing very well as of late and is firmly in the promotional hunt.

Holmes goes through periods when he scores/assists a lot, to times when he doesn’t. Right now he’s not scoring, but remains very active and productive. He’s winning his duels and forcing turnovers. He’s bringing a lot of energy to Huddersfield’s game and he also had three key passes over his 76 minutes in the win.

Ethan Horvath made his third straight start for Nottingham Forest in a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United. The goal he conceded at the end was not his fault but Forest still is within striking distance of the playoffs in ninth place (but only three points out). The big questions for Horvath now are whether he did enough to claim the club’s No. 1 goalkeeper position with Brice Samba’s suspension now over and whether he will get called into the U.S. national team camp for March.

My own personal take is that Forest will continue to start Samba, but that Horvath has made the leash shorter. Samba’s grip on the starting spot is not as tight. As for the national team, but Zack Steffen and Matt Turner are missing games due to injury. I think Turner will be back in time to play in March but, even if not, I think Sean Johnson is still ahead of Ethan Horvath right now. Johnson has been with the U.S. national team all qualifying campaign and there is a comfort level the players have built up with Johnson in training. Horvath played well in the Nation’s League final but that was nine months ago.

Finally in the Championship, Foloarin Balogun drew a penalty for Middlesbrough’s opening goal in a 2-1 win over Luton Town. Balogun, 20, is now getting his first real run of professional minutes in a Championship promotional battle while on loan from Arsenal. It’s a great place to get his feet wet.

There have been rumors lately that Balogun is being courted to make a one-time switch to representing the United States internationally from England, whom he played for at the youth levels. Former U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos tried, unsuccessfully, to have Balogun switch in 2019 ahead of the 2019 U-20 World Cup. Balogun was born in New York but moved back to England when he was very young.

There have been a few other rumors about dual nationals floating around lately in a switch to the United States. Bayern Munich U-23’s Malik Tillman, his brother Timothy Tillman at Greuther Furth, Nottingham Forest’s Alex Mighten, or Tenerife’s Samuel Shashoua. Some of these make sense, others do not. Sashoua and Mighten are not regular starters for second division teams. Malik Tillman has only occasionally been with Bayern Munich’s first team (it’s important to note that this year’s COVID waves have put some players around the first team level when they otherwise wouldn’t be in normal years). Timothy Tillman has been a starter at Furth, but that team is really a 2.Bundesliga team in terms of quality.

Balogun, however, makes more sense than any of them. He’s a speedy attacker and brings life to games. He can compete at the No. 9 when no other players had made a solid case for the position. He might eventually get beaten out, but he does look like a player who can at least compete for minutes. The big question, however, is how much his heart is into playing for the United States when his connections to the country are minimal.

In the third-tier League One, Lynden Gooch started and played 81 minutes for Sunderland in a 0-0 away draw in London to Charlton Athletic. Marlon Fossey continues to make a huge impact for Bolton Wanderers and the former U.S. U-20 right back added two assists in a 3-0 away win over Gillingham. He’s on loan from Fulham and there will be pressure on Bolton to keep Fossey, who has been excellent nearly every game. In that game, Charlie Kelman played the final three minutes for Gillingham.

 TOUGH WEEKEND IN GERMANY

 When you factor out Brooks and Bello, who we covered, it was a quiet weekend in Germany. As mentioned, Richards, Pepi, Paredes, Adams, Che, and Reyna did not play for a variety of reasons.

VFB Stuttgart’s 3-2 win over Borussia Monchengladbach featured two Americans. Stuttgart’s head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo and Gladbach’s right back Joe Scally who started. For Matarazzo, it was a huge win that gives it life in the relegation zone. The team is now just one point away from climbing out of the automatic relegation zone. After trailing 2-0, Matarazzo’s squad responded exceptionally well for the win. The club recently conceded late goals to drop key points. This was a complete reversal of fortune.

As for Scally, he struggled in this game on both sides of the ball. Scally has seen his minutes drop dramatically in recent months and he appeared rusty – with turnovers, getting the ball forward, and staying with his men defensively. It fit into the patter of a tough weekend for Americans in Europe.In the 2.Bundesliga, Ryan Malone started and went the distance for Hansa Rostock in a thrilling 4-3 win over Schalke. That away win moved Hansa Rostock two points clear of the relegation playoff position. The winning goal from Rostock was scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time and it came from American-born, but Swedish U-21 winger Nils Froling.

Also in the 2.Bundesliga, Nico Carrera made his first team professional debut for Holstein Kiel in a 3-4 loss at home to Paderborn. The Mexican-born former U.S. youth international came into the game in the 55th minute in the loss.

 LIMITED MINUTES IN FRANCE

Aside from Erik Palmer-Brown, who was excellent, the remaining Americans in France didn’t fare too well.

Timothy Weah did not get off the bench for Lille in a 4-0 win over Clermont Foot. Nicholas Gioacchini only played the final eight minutes for Montpellier in a 2-0 home loss to Nantes. Konrad de la Fuente was an unused substitute for Marseille in a 1-0 loss hat home to Monaco.

In Ligue 2, French youth international but U.S. eligible Amir Richardson was quite good for Le Havre in a 2-0 win over Quevilly. Le Havre is in sixth place but is six points out of the promotional playoff position.

 YANKS IN ITALY 

With Weston McKennie injured, there wasn’t too much to report on Americans in Italy.The late injury to Gianluca Busio kept him out of Venezia’s lineup for a 4-1 loss to Sassuolo. Tanner Tessmann played just the final 15 minutes and Venezia has hit hard times in the relegation battle. The team needs wins and it is now three points deep. Both players will face questions if they will remain with the club in Serie B. It is hard to see the more expensive Busio staying with the club.

In Serie B, Anrij Novakovich came off the bench in the 53rd minute and picked up a late equalizing assist for Frosinone in a 1-1 draw with Ascoli. American midfielder Anthony Fontana is injured for Ascoli and he awaits his Acoli debut.

 YANKS STRUGGLE IN BELGIUM

 Neither Genk’s Mark McKenzie and Royal Antwerp’s Sam Vines got off the bench this weekend. While Kyle Duncan was injured for Oostende.

Chris Durkin played just the final 22 minutes for St. Truiden in a 1-1 draw with Mechelen.

Bryan Reynolds started at right back for Kortrijk in a 3-2 home loss to league-leading Union SG. It was an up and down performance from the former FC Dallas defender who is still shaking off the rust from a year where he played very little since making the move abroad.

 BUSY WEEKEND FOR YANKS IN SCOTLAND

 Ian Harkes started and played well in a 2-2 draw for Dundee United against Hearts. Harkes continues to show a lot of grown as a two-way No. 8 midfielder as the physical and defensive side of his game is progressing nicely. While some argue that it is tough to develop in the mid/late 20’s ages, Harkes is coming a lot way. He’s one of the more underrated American players and could be in line for a nice transfer this summer – perhaps to an MLS team willing to give him his second stint in the league.

ameron Carter-Vickers was solid, albeit not tested too much in a 3-1 win over Livingston. He continues to have a strong season for the Scottish leaders and is putting himself into an interesting situation this summer. Will Celtic spend the required money to buy him from Tottenham? Will the Scottish league push him enough as a player? It would give him a spot in the Champions League. In the loss, Scott Pittman played 76 minutes for Livingston while his teammate and former U.S. U-20 forward Sebastian Soto played the final uneventful 10 minutes.

American forward Joe Efford netted his first goal for Motherwell in a disappointing 1-1 draw with relegation battling Dundee FC. Motherwell has struggled since December while Efford was brought in during the January window. His performances have been mixed but this was a positive moment for him.

Chris Mueller, meanwhile, was sick and missed Hibernian’s 0-0 draw with St. Johnstone.

HOLLAND: DE LA TORRE STRONG IN TOUGH LOSS

In the Eredivisie, Heracles lost 3-1 to a much better PSV Eindhoven team. Luca de la Torre fought hard on both sides of the ball but Heracles was overmatched in the loss. De la Torre was 6/11 in his duels and was 23/29 in his passing. He had just one turnover, which was impressive in a game against a strong opponent. He also had an impressive nine recoveries.

Cole Bassett, meanwhile, did not get off the bench for Feyenoord in a 1-1 draw with Groningen.

 YANKS ELSEWHERE

Aside from Musah, La Liga wasn’t the place for Americans this weekend. Sergino Dest played just five minutes for Barcelona while Matthew Hoppe and Matt Miazga did not play at all.  In the Segunda, Shaq Moore didn’t get off the bench for Tenerife in a 4-1 loss to Real Valladolid.

In Portugal, Alex Mendez did not get off the bench for Vizela in a 3-0 loss to Santa Clara.

In Turkey’s Super Lig, Haji Wright played just the final nine minutes for Antalyaspor in a 1-0 win over Sivasspor. Tyler Boyd started and played 90 minutes for Rizespor in a 2-1 loss to Giresunspor. Rizespor is now nine points deep in the relegation battle.

In the Greek Super League, Caleb Stanko played 58 minutes in defensive midfield for seventh-place PAS Giannina in a 0-0 draw with NFC Volos

In Hungary’s top-flight, Henry Wingo got the start and played the entire game for Hungarian leaders Ferencvaros in a 2-1 win over second place Kisvarda. The winning goal came in stoppage time an it was an important win that moved Ferencvaros five points atop the NB I table. Wingo is now looking for his third European title since moving abroad three years ago.

In Austria, Brenden Aaronson came off the bench in the 60th minute for Salzburg in an easy 4-0 win over Altach. Aaronson was being rested for the midweek Champions League game against Bayern Munich. Thomas Roberts wasn’t in the squad for Austria Klagenfurt’s 3-0 loss to Rapid Vienna. In the second tier, Uly Llanez started and played 57 minutes for St. Poelten in a 1-0 win over SV Horn. The winning goal was scored in the 90th minute after Llanez left.

In the Danish Superliga, Emmanuel Sabbi started and played 76 minutes for OB Odense in a 2-2 away draw over Sonderjyske. Former San Antonio attacking mid Jose Gallegos was an unused sub for Sonderjyske. Christian Cappis played the second half for Brondby in a 1-0 win over Silkeborg.

In Argentina, Joel Sonora did not get off the bench for Velez Sarsfield in a 1-1 draw with Estudiantes while on Monday, his brother, Alan Sonora, and Independiente and host Godoy Cruz which might have American-born brothers Mattias Soria and Leandro Soria on the bench.

In the Gaucho state tournament in Brazil, Johnny Cardoso and Internacional posted a 1-0 win over CE Aimore, a lower-tier team in Brazil’s pyramid.

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