5/31/22  I Have 2 Tix for USA vs Morocco Wed night in Cincy AO Seats $75 each (USA vs Morocco Wed 7 pm ESPN2, Real Madrid wins 14 UCL, Ukraine vs Scotland Wed 2:45 pm   

I have 2 tickets to tomorrow Nights Game $75 each – AO Section behind the US Goal section 108 – if anyone wants to come along to Cincy. 

USA vs Morocco Wed 7 pm ESPN2 / Sun 5 pm vs Uruguay FS1

The US Men are back with 4 big games here in June – the first 2 friendlies against top ranked World Cup Teams in Morocco and Uruguay.  Morocco is ranked 24th right behind the US at 15th in the latest FIFA World Ranking while Uruguay is ranked just ahead of us at #13.  I am headed that way tomorrow afternoon and have 2 extra tickets if at cost of $75 each. 

Returning to the team off a broken foot is Weston McKennie of Juve (though I suspect he may not play more than a half in these 1st 2 games in early June.)  Former German Youth National Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich) -whose dad is an American serviceman has flipped to the US and should get his first game action in the Red. White and Blue most probably at the #9 slot as a sub on Wed night I would think.  Center forward Haji Wright hopes to ride his hot streak of goals at Antalyaspor into a June chance at claiming the unclaimed #9 shirt for the US along with a fairly hot Jesus Ferreira from Dallas FC.  The Backline is looking for a replacement for starter Miles Robinson who is lost to an acheles heel injury for the year. Erik Palmer Brown and Cameron Carter Vickers fresh off his helping Celtic win the league in Ireland will battle with Aaron Long for the spot opposite Penciled in starter and Captain Walker Zimmerman.  Also good to see 19 YO outside back Joe Scally (MGladbach starter) back in the fold and hopefully we’ll see him in action in 1 of the first 2 games.  Sad to see midfielder Mihailovic who has reinvigorated his career in Montreal in MLS has been dropped due to a hurt ankle over the weekend.  Also expect Turner to gets of lots of goal time in these next 2 games especially – as Steffan is out for these June games.  I expect newly EPL promoted GK Ethan Horvath of Nottingham Forest to start the 2 Nations Cup games next week and the week after.  See my starters below I have inserted Turner of course with #9 forward Haji Wright – (interesting story about him here), and I expect to see Weah on a wing and Aaronson to get a go at the #8 slot with Musah.  I think he will give McKinney a 30 min runout until Sunday to give him more time to adjust.  With more time – I would love to test Pulisic in the 10th beneath Wright, with Aaronson on the left and Weah on the right wing mid slots.  And McKinney and Adams in the 2 man 6/8 roles.  I am interested to see how Berhalter approaches this – does he play his strongest squads this week – against the best competition then let the tired EURO Starters go for next week’s Nations League games vs Grenada June 10 and @ El Salvador June 14, or does he keep everyone in camp for the entire 2 weeks ?  I would keep everyone healthy in camp to give these guys a chance to build chemistry!  I do think we will win 2-1 over Morocco (with a goal from Pulisic and hopefully Haji Wright.) 

Shane’s Starters for Wed game vs Morocco in Cincy

Haji Wright


Aaronson/Yanus Musah



Matt Turner

The 26-man roster for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Sean Johnson (DC United)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

Ukraine vs Scotland Wed 12 noon on ESPN2

Ukraine will finally return to action trying to secure a birth to the World Cup thru the Playoff that was put off in March due to the War in Ukraine.  Man I feel bad for Ukraine – but the winner of this playoff – (Winner faces Wales on Sunday at 12 noon on ESPN2) will be our first opponent in the World Cup.  As much as I want to root for Ukraine we would much rather face Scotland if we want to advance to the next round.  So go Scots !!

Champions League – Real Wins 14th, Courtois  lays claim to top GK in the World

So it wasn’t the greatest game – but Real Madrid found a way to win again – a record 14th UCL Title despite being outshot 5 to 1 on the day.  Liverpool dominated the opening half but Belgium Goalkeeper Courtois was up to the task making 9 huge saves on the night when he set the save record for a UCL Final.  The heroics earned him player of the Match and Goalkeeper of the Tournament.  Checkout all the Stories Below. 

Reffing Section included below

Including a story about the ref shortage in the US and the reasons why.  I still think 2 man instead of 3 man is a possible option in this time of low #s.  I have reffed 2 man for almost 10 years now and I while I will admit the 3 man system gives more coverage – 2 man is just fine for U12 and below.  Heck for Rec – 12 man is fine in my opinion until high school age kids are involved and even then its often ok and the 2 man system allows the two refs to actually get paid decently for the games – especially the U13 and below games. As for the shortage – my kids both reffed all the way thru high school – and my son still refs in college.  It’s a great weekend job where you make good money – ($15-20 an hour) and you can often choose your own schedule – what other high school job lets you do that?  :Let me know if your kid needs direction on reffing – and I will point you in the right direction. 


Monn, June 2

3 pm Para+                         KC vs Racing Louisville NWSL

Wed, June 3

2:45 pm ESPN2           Scotland vs Ukraine WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Italy vs Argentina NL

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Thur, June 2

2:45 pm FS1                Portugal vs Spain NL  

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Fri, June 3

2:45 pm FS1                        Belgium vs Netherlands

10:30 pm Para+                 Portland Thorns vs Angel City NWSL

Sat, June 4

12 noon ??                          England vs Hungary NL

2:45 pm                                Italy vs Germany NL 

Sun, June 5 

12 noon ESPN2                  Wales vs (Scotland or Ukraine)

2:45 pm                                Sweden vs Norway NL

2:45 pm                                Portugal vs Switzerland NL 

5 pm FS1                     USA vs Uruguay

Mon, June 6

2:45 pm FS1                        Croatia vs France NL

Tues, June 7

2 pm Para+                         United Arab Emirates vs Australia WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Italy vs Hungary NL

2:45 pm FS1                        Germany vs England NL

Weds, June 8

2:45 pm                                Belgium vs Poland NL

2:45 pm                                NL

Thurs, June 9

2:45 pm FS1                        Portugal vvs Czechs NL

10:30 pm Para+                 Canada vs Curacao

Fri, June 10

2:45 pm FS1                        Austria vs France NL

10 pm ESPN+?            USA vs Grenada 

Sat, June 11

2:45 pm FS1                        Ireland vs Scotland NL

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Sun, June 12

9 am FS1                              Northern Ireland vs Cyprus NL

12 pm FS1                            Norway vs Sweden NL

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Tues, June 14

10 pm ESPN+?            USA @ El Salvador

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

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

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here

Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts and Evaluation Information

All evaluations and tryouts will be held at Shelborne Fields. 3451 W 126th St, Carmel, IN 46032.

June 7, 2022 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2013 to 2016)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm


June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
Use this link to register for tryouts.   Visit : carmelfc.teamapp.com   Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.

 Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16

9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!


USA vs. Morocco, 2022 friendly: What to watch for  By Donald Wine II Stars and Stripes

Ex-phenom finds way back, could lead U.S. in World Cup
Weah ready for World Cup stage

USMNT Friendly: Scouting Morocco  By Brendan Joseph  S&S

Robinson’s injury puts USMNT depth to the test  1hJeff Carlisle

  Pulisic raves about U.S. reunion with Wright  Jeff Carlisle

USMNT Friendly: Scouting Morocco  By Brendan Joseph  S&S

Brash Brendan Aaronson ready to Light up England and EPL

Aaronson Agonized over the Relegation battle for Leeds

50 Games in How has Berhalter Made his Mark on this team?  

Matt Turner has 1 more NE Game after US stint  before heading to Arsenal

Former US Player Alejandro Bedoya leads Gun-Control Fight

Being Japanese American in Soccer – Kellyn Acosta  

Mexico Beats Nigeria in Friendly
Will Chicharito finally return to the Mexican national team? Tensions are thawing

Our US Keepers at Work

Mexico Beats Nigeria in Friendly
Will Chicharito finally return to the Mexican national team? Tensions are thawing

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 28: Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid CF in action during the UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Getty Images)


World Cup qualifying betting: Scotland is favored to beat Ukraine

Scotland’s sympathy with Ukraine to stop for 90 minutes – Clarke

Chiellini set for ‘beautiful’ end to Italy career at Wembley

Champions League Final

Courtois earns respect with heroics to thwart Liverpool in Champions League final

Courtois ‘put respect on my name’ with Real heroics against Liverpool

After winning Madrid another Champions League, Courtois deserves respect

 Real Madrid, nearly overwhelmed by Liverpool, steals yet another Champions League title
Liverpool still an elite side but UCL final loss will test mental toughness
  James Olley
Champions League final chaos must not happen again because football, fans deserve better
abriele Marcotti
Real Madrid missed Mbappe, so whom could they target instead?
  Jon Molyneux-Carter
‘I can’t do much more’ to win Ballon d’Or – Benzema

Vinicius strikes as Real Madrid beat Liverpool in Champions League final

Liverpool’s regret: Season for the ages has sour ending

Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool fans can ‘book the hotel’ for next Champions League final

Liverpool vs Real Madrid player ratings

‘Record man’ Ancelotti puts his landmark down to luck

Ancelotti keeps calm amid the storm to make Real Madrid champions again

Real Madrid are champions of Europe for a record-extending 14th time after Carlo Ancelotti’s 
Which managers have won the most European trophies?

What caused pre-match chaos at the Champions League final?

‘Fake tickets’ to blame for Champions League final delay say UEFA

The Belgium GK Courtois was Man of the Match after his spectacular saves kept Liverpool off the board.


6 women including an American will be in Qatar.

A record 5 American Refs were selected for the World Cup in Nov
US referee numbers are plunging and aggression is to blame

Bad Call ??  Hudersfield vs Nottingham Forest?

Legendary EPL Ref – Mike Dean’s Final Final Whistle

Ref Watch: Joe Machnik on calls the rules don’t cover clearly Soccer America

Poor Reffing in NWSL ?

Results in the EPL without VAR

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

The first prep for Nations League with an eye on the World Cup.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  May 31, 2022, 7:00am PDT  

The United States Men’s National Team are in Cincinnati to take on Morocco tomorrow night in a friendly at TQL Stadium. The USMNT is using this friendly to begin preparations for the Nations League group stage, which begins next week. They are also using this as the beginning stages of preparing for this fall’s World Cup. USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter will use this camp for final evaluations as he decides who will make the final roster that heads to Qatar.

They face a strong team in Morocco, ranked 24th in the world and who will also be at the World Cup this fall. With this window and September being the final opportunities to play decent competition to prepare for the World Cup, Morocco will serve as a formidable test. Fans should be in for an intriguing matchup, as the two teams have not faced each other since 2006.

Latest Form


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

D (0-0) – Mexico – World Cup Qualifying

W (3-0) – Honduras – World Cup Qualifying

L (0-2) – Canada – World Cup Qualifying

W (1-0) – El Salvador – World Cup Qualifying


W (4-1) – DR Congo – World Cup Qualifying

D (1-1) – DR Congo – World Cup Qualifying

L (1-2) – Egypt – Africa Cup of Nations Quarterfinals

W (2-1) – Malawi – Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16

D (2-2) – Gabon – Africa Cup of Nations Group C

What To Watch For

Keep the back line in sync. The defense will have the most scrutiny with all eyes on who will be the centerback pairing. The back line will want to remain in sync all match so that Morocco doesn’t get behind them for scoring chances.

Who’s stepping up on offense? The biggest question facing this team is who will do all the scoring, particularly at the center forward position. So many have been unsuccessful, so there’s an opportunity for players to show that they can be the consistent scorer that the team needs heading into the Nations League and the World Cup.

It’s the midfield’s match to control. The American midfield should be ready to battle all night, but they should be the ones in control. If they can do that, it will relieve pressure from the back line and give the forwards more chances to push ahead and look for the goal.

Lineup Prediction

Gregg Berhalter will have some options when setting out his lineup. In the end, this is what we predict he’s going to do:Predicted Lineup vs. Morocco

With Zack Steffen out of camp due to family reasons, the starting goalkeeper job is Matt Turner’s. His back line will consist of Antonee Robinson and DeAndre Yedlin at left and right back, with Erik Palmer-Brown being granted the starting centerback role next to Walker Zimmerman.

In the middle, it’s MMA time, as Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah join Tyler Adams to form probably the best midfield core. Up front, Christian Pulisic will occupy the left wing, while Paul Arriola will be tried on the right. Haji Wright gets a shot to show he can provide the scoring in the middle.


It’s a difficult match for the USMNT, and it ends in a 1-1 draw.

One-time phenom has chance to find himself as USMNT’s starting World Cup striker

Henry Bushnell Yahoo Sports = Mon, May 30, 2022, 1:43 PM·9 min read

CINCINNATI — Haji Wright’s World Cup dreams initially sprouted amid broken glass. That’s what his mother, Serena, lovingly recalls about the boy who seemed attached to his soccer ball. His feet would carry it from the family’s Los Angeles backyard to the dining room table. He’d dribble it to the bedroom he shared with his younger brother, Hanif — and that’s where the window would shatter. The brothers broke it at least twice, Serena says. She threatened to leave it unrepaired. She offered them a squishy soccer ball alternative, but to no avail. They were obsessed.“They also broke a glass in the TV console,” Serena says. “And I was just livid each time.”She also cherished Haji’s attachment to the sport. He’d grown entranced by YouTube reels of early 21st century stars. After the family moved from Culver City up into L.A.’s hills, 11-year-old Haji would venture into the backyard alone and try to emulate legends. On long summer days, he’d pound the ball against the garage for hours on end, honing his non-dominant left foot and his shooting technique. He’d mimic the Thierry Henrys of the world, and he’d dream — of Europe, of World Cups, of goals in finals.or most pre-teens, they’re far-fetched fantasies. For Haji, they quickly became “real possibilities.” Soccer moms and scouts alike recognized his rare talent. The L.A. Galaxy academy came calling. Haji excelled at U.S. Soccer’s residency program, where he roomed with a fellow innocent teen named Christian Pulisic. He tallied 18 goals and seven assists in 22 matches for the U.S. under-17s, and became “one of the hottest prospects” in the country. He was the player who reportedly attracted German giants Borussia Dortmund to a youth tournament in 2014, where Dortmund ultimately discovered Pulisic. He was, according to FIFA’s official website in 2015, “poised to become the next big thing for football in America.”And then, to many American fans who’d lapped up the hype, Wright seemingly disappeared.He signed with Schalke in the German Bundesliga at age 18 in 2016. He’s since bounced around to five different clubs. He never got the U.S. men’s national team call-up that many assumed would come before his 21st birthday. And as he endured a goal-less 2019-20 league season at VVV-Venlo in Holland, he essentially fell off USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter’s radar.That’s when he turned to an outlook he’d adopted as his remarkably steep trajectory turned sideways. “All these experiences,” Serena would tell him, “are going to lead you to where you need to be.” He learned to shun negative thoughts and search for positivity. “There’s always tomorrow to prove myself,” he’d think, and he now says.Just two years later, he’s the hottest American male striker on the planet. As he banged in 14 goals in 32 appearances for Antalyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig this spring, those childhood dreams came back into focus. Wright is here in Cincinnati as the only true No. 9 at the USMNT’s most important pre-World Cup training camp, where it will face fellow 2022 qualifiers Morocco.And he will, Berhalter said, “get an opportunity” — to debut, at age 24, for the team he always seemed destined for, and maybe, just maybe, to make the USMNT’s neediest position his.

Haji Wright stood out amid star-laden USMNT youth teams

The hype first bloomed before Serena Wright knew much of anything about soccer, and perhaps even before she knew that Haji had taken to the sport during recess at school. She enrolled him in a rec league around age 7. Other parents were taken aback by his skill. Clubs began making their recruiting pitches. Summer camp invites multiplied. Before long, the words “Europe” and “overseas” entered conversations. “It just did not seem normal to me,” Serena says. It all happened “very quick.”It fueled young Haji’s confidence. On U.S. youth teams that also included Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie, he and Pulisic were the headliners and the stars. Wright scored twice in a 4-1 U-17 victory over Brazil that resonated among American soccer diehards. He moved to Schalke as soon as he was eligible, shortly after his 18th birthday, and “talent-wise, he was ready,” Serena says.“There were some other pieces that still needed to develop,” she continues. He was, of course, still a boy. He needed Mom’s help with typical teen things, like driver certification. But he picked up the German language surprisingly quickly, and settled into a quiet life that revolved around soccer. In downtime, he absorbed himself in “Call of Duty” and an addictive, “Candy Crush”-like smartphone game called “Toon Blast.” After McKennie joined him at Schalke in August of 2016, the two Americans “were together almost every day,” Wright recalls.They also seemed to be on parallel paths. They were jointly promoted to Schalke’s senior team toward the end of Wright’s first full season. They were still teens, but “they belong in the first team next year,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said at the time.As McKennie established himself in the Bundesliga, and Pulisic starred 40 minutes away at Dortmund, Wright began to struggle. After a difficult first preseason with Schalke’s senior team, he was sent on loan to SV Sandhausen in the second division. “And I remember he was really, really upset after that,” Serena says — not because he felt wronged, or unenthused by Sandhausen, but rather because he hadn’t “performed to his full potential” in preseason.“He was down on himself,” Serena says. And, alone in a foreign land, he had to learn how to pick himself back up.

Wright says he didn’t necessarily arrive in Germany envisioning a specific trajectory toward the top of the sport. He did envision playing in packed stadiums in the Ruhr Valley, and across the Bundesliga. He surely envisioned success, because as a child and teen, that’s all he really knew.“So then when [a setback] happens, it’s unexpected,” Serena points out. “He expected his path to be straightforward,” she continues, but inevitably, “the path, sometimes, is not linear.”Wright now understands this, more so than most 24-year-olds. But the “twists and turns,” Serena says, were initially challenging. Her son leant on her and his agent for encouragement as his visions failed to materialize. After a sputtering loan spell at Sandhausen, he returned to Schalke for the 2018-19 season, and made his senior debut in November. He scored his first goal in December, but it would be his only one for the club. After just seven appearances, he left the following summer.At Venlo, where he scored one cup goal and none in 22 league appearances, “it just wasn’t clicking,” Wright says. He understands how unfathomable those numbers are to fans who saw what he once did and see what he’s doing now. Soccer, he explains, comes with “rough patches.” Goalscoring often requires “a bit of luck.” Adjustments to new systems have taken time. Berhalter remembers watching Wright play as a winger rather than a striker, and saying: “We don’t think that’s his strength, and it’s gonna be hard to make an impact with our team in that position.”By 2020, Wright had acclimatized to soccer hardship. “He wasn’t upbeat, for sure,” during that season at Venlo, Serena says, “but I don’t think he was discouraged.”

Is USMNT about to find the striker it’s long been looking for?

The following year, he took a step down to SønderjyskE in Denmark, and that’s where things began to click. For years, Wright had been a “humble,” “modest,” “chill” team player — which aren’t necessarily the best qualities for a forward. “As a striker,” he now realizes, “you have to be selfish.”“I don’t think you have to be overly selfish,” he continues. “Like, if you’re 2-v-1 vs. the keeper, you [don’t] shoot, it’s not like that. But I think you definitely have to be selfish to a certain degree.”His coaches have noticed a new mentality that Wright puts into words: “I have to be the guy to score.”As he started doing just that last season in Denmark, Berhalter called to tell him: “You’re doing well, we’re watching, keep doing your thing.”He moved to Antalyaspor on loan last summer, and started slow, but caught fire over the season’s second half. He scored eight goals in eight games throughout April and May, and that’s why he’s here, in U.S. camp with the World Cup six months away.For years, ever since Jozy Altidore’s prime ebbed away, the USMNT has not had a consistent striker. Josh Sargent and Jordan Pefok are injured. Ricardo Pepi, who exploded into the starting lineup last fall, hasn’t scored in almost eight months, and needs a break. For Wright, Berhalter said last week, “now is the perfect time.”It is, perhaps, not precisely what Wright dreamed of all those years ago. But here he was Sunday, grouped with Pulisic, Adams and McKennie for a pre-training warmup circuit, riding with his former U-17 running mates on the national team bus. They swapped some old stories. “It’s a little nostalgic,” Wright says, and “crazy” that it’s been almost a decade since those innocent residency days.And it’s “fun,” he says. It feels “normal.” There’s “no weird energy or anything. It’s good times.”And “obviously,” he says of his impending national team debut, “I was hoping for it to happen earlier. But I’m here now. And that’s really all that matters.”

Miles Robinson’s injury testing USMNT depth in year that’s challenged resolve of Gregg Berhalter’s team
Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent ESPN

CINCINNATI, Ohio — In the moments after Atlanta United and United States men’s national team defender Miles Robinson went down with a torn Achilles tendon, international teammate Walker Zimmerman got a text from a friend who was inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium telling him that Robinson’s injury “looks bad.” Zimmerman then found the video on Twitter and saw the responses, and his “stomach just completely sank.”
“You start thinking about the timelines, you start thinking about the math, and while it’s not impossible to come back, certainly it’s going to be an uphill battle,” Zimmerman told members of the media on Monday. “I just immediately reached out to [Miles].”Zimmerman then called up Aaron Long, who almost a year earlier had suffered the same injury as Robinson, and let him know what happened.”It was a weird feeling I got,” the New York Red Bulls defender said upon hearing the news. “It was like heartbreak and instantly, like, ‘I need to be the one that that reachesout to him as fast as possible to let him know that I’ve been through this, and I will help him through this process.'”Both players have stayed in steady contact with Robinson since, with Long saying he’s called Robinson once a week, the better to answer questions and talk timetables. It helps that Robinson, at age 25, is three years younger than Long was when he was injured, but it’s a long process, one that will be filled with ups and downs. Long stressed the best thing Robinson can do right now is be patient.”There’s certain ways you can speed up the rehab process, but you’ve got to listen to your body,” Long said. “I’m just trying to tell him that now’s not the time to speed things up. You’ve got to let it heal for that first month or two.”Every player is different, although for Long, the mental hurdles were the toughest to get over.”I think more than anything, it’s just trying to get your calf and your brain just to be on the same page, and to almost trust yourself in certain moments of like exploding or backpedaling, things like that,” he said.
The irony is that Robinson’s ascension was aided in part by Long’s injury. The Red Bulls defender had been a mainstay under U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter during the first two years of his tenure. With friendly matches against Morocco on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN2) and Uruguay on Sunday, followed by CONCACAF Nations League games against Grenada and El Salvador, the door has been opened for Long to take on a greater responsibility than the substitute role he had in the final qualifying window.Robinson’s injury is the latest to strike a core U.S. player in what has been a year beset by them. Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna missed most of World Cup qualifying with multiple hamstring injuries. Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie missed the last qualifying fixture window with a broken foot, and has just recently made it back.
But the U.S. team’s depth helped carry it to World Cup qualification. When Reyna went out, Timothy Weah and Brenden Aaronson stepped in and produced some dynamic displays on the wing. The same happened when McKennie was injured, with Kellyn Acosta and Luca de la Torre picking up the slack. Now the same will likely have to happen at the World Cup. Long is among those poised to step in, as is Chris Richards, although the latter suffered through ankle and thigh injuries during the latter half of the club season with TSG Hoffenheim.
The center-back position is of critical importance, and this was evident during qualifying. Even on the days when the U.S. didn’t play well, the center of defense was usually solid, evidenced by the team’s 10 goals conceded in 14 qualifiers. It didn’t seem to matter who was on the field either, be it Zimmerman, Robinson or Rchards.Yet chemistry is important, and there will need to be some retooling in this regard during the current camp, as well as in the last international window in September. When asked what traits they would like to see in a center-back partner, both Long and Zimmerman cited good communication as a critical attribute.”It’s more of a mental connection than like anything physical, or like a guy that’s fast, or a guy that’s strong, or good in the air or anything like that,” Long said. “I think it’s more just trust in being on the same page in not only like tactical moments, but big defensive moments, like putting out fires. I know where my other center-back is going to be in a moment where we can’t talk and we can’t discuss things. We know what we’re going to do in those moments together.”Zimmerman added, “I love when I have that [communication] on my back shoulder. You know, when I’m getting the instruction, consistently, constantly, that’s huge. And when you get games with other center-backs, you kind of develop that almost without them even talking sometimes. You know exactly where they’re going to be.”The coming months will reveal the extent to which that familiarity can increase.Center-back isn’t the only area of the field where depth will be tested in the coming months. In fact, while there are plenty of options at the striker position, none have performed with the kind of consistency to make the position their own. That’s why Antalyaspor’s Haji Wright — fresh off a 15-goal season in all competitions — will be the latest to get a look from Berhalter and his staff.”I think generally being called into camp, it’s always an opportunity for you to show yourself and take hold of your position, whatever it may be,” Wright said. “I do think it’s an opportunity for me and I’m ready to take it.”Left-back has been a position cited by Berhalter as one where there aren’t many options behind presumed starter Antonee Robinson. Joe Scally looks to be a candidate given his ability to play outside-back or wing-back on either side — during the past season with Borussia Monchengladbach he even had a brief spell at center-back — but so far (and yes, it’s early in camp) Scally has lined up on the right side of the U.S. defense. That leaves George Bello as the only alternative to Robinson.The hope is that the U.S. will enjoy a greater degree of health than it’s had in the first five months of 2022.

USMNT’s Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie rave about resurgent Haji Wright

6:33 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent
The United States national team’s Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie said they’re excited to be reunited with former teammate Haji Wright.
Pulisic and Wright played together at the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup, and seven years later now are playing together with the full team ahead of a quartet of games over the next two weeks.The U.S. will begin its four-game run on Wednesday against Morocco at Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium (watch live at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2). That will be followed four days later with a match against Uruguay at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Then come a pair of CONCACAF Nations League matches, first against Grenada at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, on June 10, followed by a road game against El Salvador four days later.

Carlisle: U.S. seeks defensive depth after loss of Robinson

Back when they played together at the U17 World Cup, their roles were similar to what they are now, with Pulisic acting as the playmaker for Wrig. That was the duo back in the day, me and Haji,” Pulisic said during a roundtable with reporters. “We played a lot of games together in the youth national teams. And it’s cool to have him back in, first of all, seeing him do so well at club level, and having him in here is great.”So he’s gonna get his opportunity and yeah, I’m just so excited for him. And I know he’s going to use the opportunity.”McKennie not only crossed paths with Wright at youth level, but they were teammates at Bundesliga side Schalke 04 from 2017-19. And while Wright had the greater success at youth level, McKennie made bigger inroads at Schalke before moving to Juventus.”I think it’s beautiful,” said McKennie about Wright’s recall. “I didn’t have an easy path through the national team, especially in the youth. We had a bit of a different story at the youth age. And just to see that some players would be knocked down, some players would be [where] their spirit is gone, and I think just for him, finding his own path to get back in here is definitely one that’s inspirational and something that I can kind of relate to.”It’s wonderful and exciting just to see him in here, and kind of sharing the same story at the same time.”Wright’s meandering path saw him move from Schalke to a loan stint with Sandhausen and then to VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands, and he struggled to find the net at all three stops. He saw his fortunes improve with Danish SuperLiga side SonderjyskE starting in 2020, but it was a loan spell last season with Turkish Super Lig side Antalyaspor — where he scored 15 goals in 35 league and cup appearances — that got Wright back in the national team frame.”I really respect people who haven’t necessarily had it easy and given to them and everyone’s on their own path,” said Pulisic. “I’ve seen it myself. Ups and downs and to come out the other side and be performing like he is now is impressive.”
USMNT’s 50 games of Berhalter: How coach has made his mark on the national team
When the United States men’s national team takes on Morocco in a friendly on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN2), it will be the 51st time the Americans have taken the pitch under the stewardship of manager Gregg Berhalter. The former Columbus Crew boss took control of the national team in December 2018, and the 50 games he has since overseen give us a more-than-reasonable sample size to evaluate his impact on the USMNT.How has Berhalter put his stamp on the U.S.? How has he shaped it in his image? How has he influenced games from the dugout? How will his management style dictate results at this winter’s World Cup in Qatar?In order to answer these questions, we asked Kyle Bonagura, Bill Connelly and Jeff Carlisle to dive into Berhalter’s national-team tenure and detail where the U.S. stands after 50 games of Berhalter.
What is Berhalter’s style?
From a 20,000-foot view, one would guess that Berhalter has installed the identity he wanted with the USMNT. Known from his Columbus days as a manager with a preference for long spells of possession — building patiently from the back and unfurling more lengthy possessions than opponents (albeit without the rigorous counter-pressing that some sides attempt) — Berhalter has established exactly that: In 50 matches, his U.S. has enjoyed 56.8% possession overall and averaged 5.6 passes per possession. For context, that would have ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Premier League this season. Acknowledging that international opponents vary widely in quality, that still suggests that execution is matching intention.
Under Berhalter, the U.S. has also slowly eliminated the sudden-turnover disasters that can occasionally emerge from patient build-up play; opponents scored four goals from possessions starting in the attacking third in 2019, three in 2020-21 and none in World Cup qualification. Meanwhile, the possession rates have slowly risen — the U.S. was at 63% possession in 2021 friendlies and 57% during qualification.This all makes it sound like things are working out as imagined, but if you’ve watched the U.S. play in the past year or so, you’ve seen something that amounts far more to pragmatism than possession. Thanks to injuries, the quintet of Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Sergino Dest — all of whom currently play for renowned European clubs — have played in the same match just once for the U.S.: They teamed up to beat Mexico in last summer’s CONCACAF Nations League final … in a match in which they saw 43% possession and averaged 3.4 passes per possession.
In last summer’s Gold Cup, with what was considered a primarily second-choice squad, the U.S. beat Canada with just 45% possession (thanks in part to the fact that they led for 89 minutes), produced just six shots from 58% possession against Qatar, then managed just 37% possession in the victory over Mexico. And while they may have averaged 57% in World Cup qualification, the range was immense: from 72% in an easy win over Honduras and 71% in a draw with Canada, to 51% in a dispiriting loss to Panama and 50% in a draw with El Salvador to 39% in a win over Panama and 38% in a draw with Mexico.
In qualification, the U.S. was far more placid in possession on the road than at home and catered its style dramatically to game state. And against an opponent like Mexico, which also prefers to dominate possession, the U.S. seemed to often revert to the old “tenacious goalkeeping and route-one counterattacks” style of previous decades. It occasionally worked, too. The U.S. qualified despite a run of injuries that prevented its top 11 players from ever seeing the pitch at the same time, but its identity — both what’s preferred and what’s optimal — seems blurrier than it did a year ago. — Connelly
How has Berhalter managed his team?
Berhalter is not one to rule with an iron fist. In his relatively short tenure, he has established himself — mostly — as a players’ coach who has facilitated a culture that players want to be part of, and generally, speak highly of. In public, he’s so overwhelmingly positive that oftentimes it comes off as protective of the young squad.Take the 2-0 loss to Canada in qualifying, for example. Anyone who watched that game understood that even though the U.S. had the bulk of the possession, Canada was in control for nearly the entirety. Berhalter described it as a “dominant” U.S. performance. It wasn’t. The only way to make sense of what he said is if Berhalter wasn’t genuinely assessing the game as much as he was trying to send a positive message back to the locker room. Whether that’s an effective approach is up for debate, but that has been his style.It’s easy to see how Berhalter’s positive demeanor plays well when recruiting dual nationals, which is one area where he has experienced some big wins. Dest (Netherlands), Yunus Musah (England) and Ricardo Pepi (Mexico) all committed to the U.S. under Berhalter’s watch and played key roles during qualification. Bayern Munich’s Malik Tillman (Germany) and Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina (Poland) made similar decisions this month, and while others haven’t gone Berhalter’s way — namely LA Galaxy right-back Julian Araujo (Mexico) — his track record has been very impressive.The most confounding part of his man management centers on one man: veteran center-back John Brooks. Despite playing more than 600 minutes more than any other American in a top-five European league this year (2,617 minutes in 31 league games for VfL Wolfsburg), Berhalter has routinely passed over him in favor of less proven options. Brooks wasn’t great when he did play for the U.S. early in qualifying, but Berhalter’s vague, changing reasons for his continued omissions indicate it’s something more than form or fit within the system. There’s no other way to explain how someone can ostensibly go from one of the team’s most important players to out of the picture in less than a year. More questions than answers remain. — Bonagura
How has Berhalter influenced games?
It was halftime of the United States’ away World Cup qualifier against Honduras, and Berhalter’s side was staring into the abyss. The Americans trailed 1-0, and a September window in which they had thought they were capable of getting nine points was suddenly looking like it would only result in two, a potentially disastrous start that would leave the U.S. in a sizable hole.
Berhalter was then aggressive in his choice of alterations. Out went Brooks, George Bello and Josh Sargent; in came Antonee Robinson, Brenden Aaronson and Sebastian Lletget. The formation changed, too, from a 3-4-3 to a 4-3-3. The changes worked a treat, as all three substitutes scored, and with Pepi tallying as well, the U.S. went on to secure a vital 4-1 win. While the rest of the campaign had a few hiccups, that victory in San Pedro Sula allowed the U.S. to breathe easier and stay firmly in control of its own destiny throughout qualifying.
Granted, not every tactical change has that kind of impact, but the victory highlighted Berhalter’s flexibility. Rather than stubbornly persist with his initial plan, he was willing to junk it if it wasn’t working. He didn’t care about reputations either, as evidenced by his decision to pull Brooks — widely regarded as the U.S. team’s best defender — from the match. He hasn’t played for the U.S. since.
All of these are positives in terms Berhalter’s ability to adjust on the fly.
Of course, the path the Honduras game took raises the question of how Berhalter and the U.S. found themselves in such a situation to begin with. In fact, there were other instances in which Berhalter seemed to overthink things, whether it was the decision to start Gyasi Zardes against Canada or the near-wholesale changes made for the away qualifying defeat against Panama.
But it’s also clear that triple-fixture windows, which typically involved three games in a seven-day timeframe, forced Berhalter into some tactical and personnel decisions that he otherwise wouldn’t have made. Injuries at times to key players like McKennie, Reyna and Pulisic only amplified that.The World Cup will offer up a more forgiving schedule. There will be three full days between games in Qatar instead of the two that were the norm during qualifying, yet it seems likely that the extra day won’t be enough for Berhalter to trot out the same lineup for all three games. The U.S. team’s depth will still be tested, and given the greater stakes involved, a premium will be placed on the manager getting his tactics and personnel decisions right from the get-go.Berhalter’s tactical evolution hints at progress in this area. The U.S. manager started out his tenure with an almost dogmatic approach of building out of the back. As time went on, starting with the home match against Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League, pragmatism crept in, and there was a greater willingness to be direct when circumstances dictated. There was more of an emphasis on pressing as well.Granted, at the World Cup, things never go fully according to plan. Berhalter’s willingness to adapt and change gears bodes well in that regard. — Carlisle
How will Berhalter’s team perform at the World Cup?
Group B seems impossibly tight in terms of the relative strengths of the teams involved. England has a clear talent advantage over the others and seems to have hit its stride under manager Gareth Southgate, although the U.S. has given the Three Lions fits in the past. Securing the second spot in the group looks like a challenge, though. The U.S. could just as easily advance as not. If one of Wales or Ukraine makes it through, it will have a roster comparable to the U.S. team’s in terms of quality. Iran is a complete wildcard given the relative unknown strength of the Persian Gulf Pro League, although history has shown that it would be a mistake to take Team Melli lightly.
Stylistically, the games will likely be a bit more open for the U.S. given that, unlike matches in CONCACAF, opponents won’t be as inclined to bunker in, but circumstances will dictate that as well. If the U.S heads into its final game against Iran needing a result, which seems likely, it might find itself facing precisely that circumstance. The U.S. team’s health will play a huge role. If the likes of Pulisic and Reyna can avoid injury, that will bode well. The big worry remains the No. 9 position. Pulisic, Reyna, Aaronson and Tim Weah can each win a match, but production out of the center-forward spot would be a big boost.The U.S. is a confident bunch, borne of a core group of players performing for some of the best clubs in the world, but advancing out of the group will likely go down to the wire. — CarlisleThe pragmatism we saw from Berhalter’s squad in the past year, shifting in intent and strategy depending on the opponent, isn’t going to go away in Qatar. And that’s probably the way it should be. While we don’t know who will join England, the U.S. and Iran in World Cup Group B — Ukraine and Scotland will play on June 1, with the winner facing Wales on June 5 for the final spot — we can already see that the diversity of approaches within this group is immense.In England, the U.S. will face one of the most talented teams in the world, one that combines an often conservative approach with pure playmaking talent. England is often OK with bunkering deep to defend at times, but with the skill in possession its players naturally possess, it still tend to dominate the ball against all but the best competition (last two years in tournament play: 61.9% possession, 7.9 passes per possession). The U.S. will almost certainly end up with 40% possession or lower whether things are going well or poorly. — Connelly
Since the draw, just about every casual conversation I’ve had with anyone about the national team has begun with some version of: “Do you think they’ll get out of the group?” For the USMNT, that’s the most basic way to measure success at a World Cup. If the answer is yes, it’s a success; if it’s a no, it’s a failure. For an event that is generally considered the only one that really matters for the United States (good luck making the case for the Gold Cup or Nations League), it’s a bizarre paradigm.
It’ll be easier to have a stronger feeling once the final team in the group is determined, but one of those teams will be widely considered the USMNT’s chief rival to get out of the group, behind favored England. Iran can’t be taken lightly, but on paper, it is the weakest of the six. — Bonagura

USMNT’s Matt Turner to play one more game in New England before Arsenal move

By Charles Boehm @cboehm  Monday, May 30, 2022, 08:43 PM

CINCINNATI – Matt Turner knows about the risks.

He knows how difficult it will be to earn playing time at mighty Arsenal, how difficult a transfer overseas can be. He’s heard the concerns among US men’s national team fans and pundits that he and two of his fellow goalkeepers are staring at limited minutes in the run-up to the World Cup in Qatar.

“Those same people are probably the ones that were saying that because I play in MLS, I don’t deserve to play for the national team,” Turner told reporters at a media availability in downtown Cincinnati on Monday before the USMNT’s first match of their portentous June camp, against Morocco on Wednesday (7:30 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN).“So it’s hard for me to swallow all the things that people say from time to time. I’m going to go out there, I’m going to put my best foot forward. I think it’s definitely a step up for me, and I’m going to take this as far as I can do it.”

By “this,” Turner means his whole unlikely adventure with soccer, the sport he picked up very late in his adolescence by modern standards, only to turn out to be quite good at it. And even though staying with the New England Revolution might possibly give him an inside track in the competition with Zack Steffen (Manchester City) and Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest) for the national team’s starting job, he sounds certain that this is the time to leap into the English Premier League.“Well, I’ve been playing pretty well in MLS for the better part of three years now. And given the environment of transfers for goalkeepers in particular, this is the first real interest, first real offer that I’ve had,” the New Jersey native explained. “And I’ve been trying to make things happen for quite some time. So it seemed like the right time for me.“Being a week in, week out starter in MLS didn’t guarantee me to be a starter here for the national team, and going to the World Cup, I obviously want to play games. So I need to shake things up in my club career and I think this is a positive step forward, for me in the long term and in the immediate future.”Turner says he’ll play one more match for the Revs after this international window (June 19 home to Minnesota United FC), then jet across the Atlantic on June 21 to begin his Arsenal career in earnest. His wife Ashley, who is pregnant with their first child, is already en route to London to dive into the relocation process while Matt is with the national team.“I still have a little business to take care of over in Foxborough, one more game,” said Turner. “I’m hoping that it’ll be a nice little send-off and I can say bye to the fans and people that are so close to my heart, that really welcomed me to the area. It’s pretty emotional, though, overall, with everything because it’s where I first became a professional.“It’s where I became a man. It’s where I fell in love. It’s where I got married. It’s where I found out I was having my first child. So a lot of firsts in that area. And it’s going to be tough to leave behind, for sure. But I think I’m ready. I know who I am. And I know I’m ready for a new challenge.”Already a Cinderella story with his unheralded climb from undrafted rookie to US international, he’ll have to push his own limits yet again to earn a prominent role with the Gunners while competing with incumbent Aaron Ramsdale. And he’s just fine with betting on himself.

“I’m going to have an entire preseason to get comfortable, learn the system, learn the ropes. And I think there’s going to be a pretty busy fixture list in the beginning of the season. So I’m looking forward to the opportunities that will present themselves and I just want to showcase the best of my ability,” he said. “For me, I’ve always wanted to just get out there and see how far I can take this thing. That has always been my goal for football, for soccer. And so I’m going to take it a step further into the Premier League and we’ll see how it goes for me.

“It’s the sport that I love and I never thought that I’d be in the shoes that I’m in. So I’m playing with house money, and I’m going to just go for it.”

In World Cup year, can Matt Turner “take this leap and challenge myself” at Arsenal?

By Jonathan Sigal @JonathanSigal  Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 04:11 PM

A short 15-plus months ago, New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner was making his US men’s national team debut in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago.

Now, with the Qatar 2022 World Cup six months out, there’s a realistic chance the Arsenal-bound netminder could start when the USMNT’s Group B campaign begins Nov. 21 against a to-be-determined European opponent.

The 27-year-old doesn’t lose sight of that arc, and he’s determined to force manager Gregg Berhalter’s hand with his strong play, having started eight World Cup qualifiers as the Yanks placed third in the Octagonal phase.

“My long, arching goal was to be on the roster in any facet,” Turner told The Call Up’s Jillian Sakovits and Susannah Collins. “And I think that’s changed and shifted a little bit to I want to be challenging to be the guy that’s playing in those games. Not just happy being on the team – happy being on the team, but also wanting to be between the sticks when that opening whistle happens.“I’m going to work hard, whatever it takes, whatever I need to prove when I’m over with Arsenal and give it my best shot like I always do. Wherever the chips fall, I’ll let them fall and I’ll do my role to the best of my ability, whatever it is.”

Turner’s likeliest competitor for the No. 1 role is Manchester City’s Zack Steffen, a former Columbus Crew standout. Also 27, he started five WCQs and played under Berhalter during their mutual MLS days.

They face remarkably similar obstacles toward earning first-team minutes, with Steffen the backup to Ederson at club level and Turner slated for a similar role behind Aaron Ramsdale. But Turner covets that test in London, challenging himself to succeed in the Premier League.

“I was talking to Alexi Lalas yesterday and he was like, ‘At what point are you going to stop being this underdog story and own everything?’ I think it’s around this time,” Turner said. “I think it’s around time for me to start putting on my big-boy pants, becoming a father, becoming a husband and moving over, changing leagues, changing scenery.

“I think that’ll be good for me. I think that’ll be good for my career, to sort of take this leap and challenge myself in a lot of ways, on the field, off the field and just help me to really continue that growth in personal and professional life.”

in-world-cup-year-can-matt-turner-take-this-leap-and-challenge-myself-at-arsenal&sessionId=684135d9c97889fd62bb3332a554907e5522122c&theme=light&widgetsVersion=c8fe9736dd6fb%3A1649830956492&width=550px Before making that jump, Turner’s Revolution career has a few final chapters to write. In late June, he’ll depart the club where he went from an undrafted free agent to the 2021 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and earning a transfer that nets New England around $6 million initially and can reach just under $10 million with incentives.

Turner’s replacement seems to be rising Serbian talent Djordje Petrovic, a midseason acquisition by the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners. But filling the shoes of a player approaching all-time-great territory won’t be easy.

“Do I deserve a legacy? Am I a club legend? I don’t know,” Turner reflected. “I just hope that fans remember some of the fond memories that we all shared. They remember me for the things I was doing not just on the field but also off the field.

“… I just hope people know I always gave my all to this club every time I stepped out onto the field and I always really cared about the results and I always really cared about where this club was headed. I hope that it’s going to be continuing to trend in the same direction it has been since Bruce [Arena] got there.”

For more from Turner on The Call Up, check out his entire interview here.

Kellyn Acosta – Being Japanese American in America These Days

Los Angeles F.C. | United States
May 27, 2022
I’m Japanese. Most people can’t see it. That’s O.K. Some are surprised when they hear it. Again, I can understand. But once people know, the reactions are quite different. Some say, “Hey, that’s awesome!” Others go, “No way. You can’t be.”Yeah. It’s a weird feeling when people refuse to believe who you are.Sometimes I’ll go through the whole spiel. My dad was born in Japan and lived there until he was 10. My grandma is full Japanese. My stepdad, who I consider my grandpa, he’s Mexican — hence Acosta. There’s some Irish blood in there as well, so it’s kinda crazy. A lot of people think I’m Mexican or Spanish or Colombian but, you know, I’m American. Japanese-American. But even after I have said this, some people continue to insist that I’m not. Sometimes I have resorted to showing pictures of my family. Hard proof, right? Case closed.They still won’t believe me. “Naaaaaaaaah. No chance.”Some people have told me I’m adopted. For real. Thankfully I’m at a point in my life where I’m embracing my identity, which is why I’m writing this for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. It’s been a long journey to get here though, which is why I want to tell my story. Not just for all the Asian-Americans out there, but also for anyone who’s been made to feel like they’re somehow different. You see, when I was a kid, I was heckled for standing out. I grew up in Plano, in Texas, which is predominantly white. I’m not just Asian — I’m Black as well. Double minority. Double whammy, right?I was a complete outcast. Even my education was different. My dad is a hard-nosed engineer, very strict, so at home I got the streotypical Asian upbringing. Straight A’s. When my parents divorced, I spent a lot of time with my grandma, who I called Mimi. She would speak Japanese on the phone, watch Japanese news and eat food from the Asian market. In Asian culture a full stomach means a happy heart, so no matter how full I was when I got there, I had to eat. I’d wolf down rice bowls and sushi with wooden chopsticks. Sometimes I’d tell her that I wanted to become a soccer player. She just said that she didn’t care what I became, as long as I had a good heart. But it was hard. Plano is Cowboys Country. The average boy there will play American football, aim for collge and dream about the NFL. Fewe than .10% actually make it, but if you don’t try it’s like, “So what do you do?” Which is shorthand for, You must be a loser. Soccer? That was for girls. Some days I’d wear my soccer tracksuit at school, and I’d get all these comments. “Hey, why are your pants so tight?”“Why are you wearing skinny jeans?”“What are you doing?”If my parents worked late I would be in this after-school program, and my grandma would pick me up. People would see the Black soccer kid in the tracksuit walking over to this Asian lady, and then they would go, “What’s going on here? This guy’s a mess.”They would ask me, “Is she your nanny?” I’d say that she was my grandma.“But you’re not Asian.”“You don’t look like her.”“You’re adopted.”I heard it all. I heard it all. So eventually I tried to kind of hide my grandma away. I would ask her to call the school and let them know she was there so that she didn’t have to get out of the car. I wasn’t embarrassed. I was just tired of people making fun of me. But sometimes she would come in anyway. She’s my grandma, right? She didn’t care. So yeah, it took a toll. My family would tell me that the other kids were jealous, but when you’re a kid it’s hard to understand. One day, when I was about eight or nine years old, I snapped. I’m a pretty reserved person, but it just boiled over. This girl kept making fun of me. She just wouldn’t stop. So I grabbed a pair of scissors and threw them at her. They flew through the air. SWOOOOSSSSH. And they just missed her. Got stuck in a door right behind her. Everyone in the room gasped like, What just happened?I wasn’t trying to hit her. I had decent aim, so it was more to make a point. But I was shocked too. I didn’t know that I was capable of doing that, you know? The teachers called my parents and said they had to come get me immediately. They even kept me away from the other kids, as if I was a dangerous lunatic. I began to cry. I was like, This isn’t me. This isn’t who I am.My head was so cloudy. Being an outcast was eating me up. So I ended up trying to fit in. I’d ask for certain clothes so that I didn’t stand out. I had been in love with soccer since I was about five, and I had also been playing basketball and running track and field, but in seventh grade I began playing American football. It wasn’t me at all. I just wanted to make friends and be part of the group. I was trying to create a new identity.
Luckily, I had a friend who showed me how to be me.This guy was a real legend. His name was Zequinha, a Brazilian former professional soccer player, and in the ’60s and ’70s he had been a striker for some of the biggest clubs in Brazil: Flamengo, Botafogo, Grêmio, São Paulo. The guy was legit — he even played with Pelé. Toward the end of his career he had moved to Dallas, where he had started to coach and, when I was seven years old, that’s how I met him. Zequinha was a bit like my grandma: Strict, but sweet and soft-spoken. When you got to know him, he would tell all these crazy stories, like how he’d had to walk miles to training in Brazil, or how they used to tie grocery bags together to make a ball. Stuff that changes your outlook on life. We got so close that I’d stay at his house, ride with him in the car to games and hang out with his son, João, who was about my age. My life became even more multicultural. One night I could be eating a good old American burger. The next I’d be at Mimi’s slurping noodle soup, and then I’d be at Zee’s having feijoada.It was amazing. And you know, Brazilians, they’re different, right? They love creativity and freedom. They are who they are. So when I told Zee about being heckled at school, he told me to stop caring what people said. Stop tiptoeing around others. Stop trying to fit in. Stand out. Be who you are. This guy was my hero. I even dressed up like him once for Halloween, which was supposed to be scary but it didn’t matter, hahaha. (And yes, he had that hair.) But it took some time before I fully embraced what he’d said. It was only once I reached my teens that everything changed. I stopped hiding who I was. I didn’t care about trying to fit in. I told my grandma to come out of her car to get me. I quit American football. I did whatever felt right for me.And guess what? I performed a lot better.I was drawing on all these cultures for inspiraion. My dad always told me to give it 110%, because 100% wasn’t good enough. His buzzword was intensity. Zequinha told me to express myself. Suddenly I was thriving on this mix of Asian discipline and Brazilian creativity. By the time I was 13, people could see that I would turn into a special player, and they gravitated toward me. I was no longer an outcast. I came out of my shell. As I got older and more independent, nobody could really tell that I was Asian, so I didn’t really show it as much as I could have. I wouldn’t say I wasn’t proud. It was more like I was proud in silence. It’s only in these last few years that I have fully embraced my complete identity. Once I did that, it was like the clouds made way for the sunshine. I’m 26 now, and I love being different. I love that I understand so many cultures and that I can relate to so many people, like a social chameleon. I also feel proud that I may have the opportunity to become the first Japanese-American to play in a World Cup. I really hope that I can help inspire others with a similar background. But I wish it hadn’t taken so long. I wish that I had accepted who I was at a younger age.Unfortunately, I still know what it’s like to suffer discrimination and racism. Like walking down the street and seeing people cross the road to avoid me, as if I’m about to rob them. Or going into stores and getting asked, “Are you lost? You know how much that costs?”It’s crazy, it really is. And those are just the ones that pop into my head.Then you have the discrimination against Asian-Americans. There is a national coalition called Stop AAPI Hate that reported more than 9,000 anti-Asian incidents in the 15 months after the pandemic began in March 2020. I didn’t experience any racism like that personally, but I know that my grandma did. We have to keep speaking up about this, so that people realize it’s not O.K. In some ways, things are getting better. A big part of that is social media, and the fact that people are filming racist behavior. Before, it was always a matter of “he said, she said.” Now we have proof. We have to fight to keep that trend going. I also hope that we can celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Mnth more, and educate people about thculture and history of Asian-Americans. It’s amazing how history can teach you things about yourself. A few weeks ago, I went to visit the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, here in L.A., with my dad and my grandma. My dad has become very Americanized since moving here, but in that museum he remembered things like, “Oh, this is what we had in school. This is what my teacher used to tell me.” My grandma hasn’t been to Japan in half a century, so to see her wind back time was really special, too. Apparently they would take refuge in a cave during the war. She’d have to grab a pail, go to a lake and get water for her brothers and sisters. When they moved to the U.S., they had to stuff everything they had in a bento box, which is like a picnic basket. They turned up here with nothing but a blanket, one change of clothes and a pair of bamboo sandals. I just remember going, This is nuts. Think about it. You wouldn’t even go on a three-day trip with that. My grandma was packing stuff for a new life. In six hours I felt more connected to her than I ever had in my whole life.After that I looked at her and dad with awe. Even though they had been strict with me, I thanked them for the upbringing they had given me. I’m Japanese-American. How could I hear those stories and not be proud of who I am?hoever you are, I hope you embrace your identity too. It doesn’t have to be about being Asian-American — it can be about your sexual orientation, or some interest that you’re afraid to share, or a fashion style that nobody’s into. It can be whatever. Once you embrace that, you’ll have a better understanding of yourself. Then you will realize that there are many people just like you. You’ll find people who support you and love you for who you are. And then you’ll be a lot happier. I’ll leave you with the words that Zequinha gave to me. Whatever you do in life, play with freedom. Be brave. Don’t hide. Forget what the others think.Only you decide who you are.

US referee numbers are plunging and aggression is to blame

We all want better officiating. But it’s tough for referees to develop when abuse from players and spectators hound them out of the game
Beau DureThu 26 May 2022 05.00 EDT The Guardian

My three-year-old could’ve made that call!” exclaimed commentator Kaylyn Kyle after an apparent handball wasn’t called at the end of an NWSL Challenge Cup game between OL Reign and the Washington Spirit.Unfortunately, most three-year-olds who grow up to be soccer fans will be armchair referees rather than being on the field where they’re actually needed.They’ll grow up to spend their hours on Twitter, dissecting photos and videos often taken from sightlines the actual referee and assistant referees do not have. They will also have far more time to process plays than the officials. And too many of them will grow up to become parents and coaches who prowl sidelines yelling at referees until those officials finally toss aside their whistles and quit.We all want better referees. But it’s tough for referees to develop when there’s much more incentive for them to quit than there is for them to stick with it and improve.It’s a simple spiral. Referees drop out of the sport, especially after discovering the joys of extra free-time during the pandemic. Less experienced referees fill their spots. Coaches, players and parents harass and abuse the less experienced referees. Then those referees quit. And then the pool of referees drifting upwards to the top level is that much smaller.

The story is familiar to players in England, where some semi-professional games are going forward with teenagers and some games below that level have no officials at all. In the US, the shortages are rampant at youth level and can even reach up to MLS Next, Major League Soccer’s academy program, for which some grassroots referees in Virginia have seen urgent calls for help.
In Utah, the state youth association had reached the point of canceling 570 matches and rescheduling more than 1,000 in one season. They sent out an email trying to drum up interest in referee certification. The response was telling.
“We were flooded with responses stating they would never register as referees or allow their children to register because they’ve seen how horrible the treatment of referees has been, and they refuse to be subjected to it,” said Jen Rader, the Utah association’s marketing and media manager.

The response: A ”zero tolerance” policy on complaining to referees. The name is more draconian than the actual policy, which recognizes the reality of heated competition.
“Exclamations in the moment are part of the game,” the policy states. “A ‘handball’ or ‘offside’ as an immediate response to a situation is more than acceptable so long as that exclamation ends there.”
Coaches and players can still speak respectfully with refs. And if things are unresolved, there’s a complaint procedure that takes place electronically, not with a barracuda parent going after a terrified teenager.
To an extent, referee shortages aren’t new. Wisconsin’s youth association instituted its own zero tolerance policy in 2015, citing a “persistent shortage of referees.” The most recognizable referee in recent history, the imposing Pierluigi Collina, warned in 2017 that soccer may face a global shortage of referees. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which oversees all US scholastic sports, launched a recruitment drive in 2017.
But the pandemic has worsened the situation. The US is dealing with labor shortages in many fields, all part of what has been called the Great Resignation, and refereeing is no exception. Spending weekends somewhere other than a soccer field has proven alluring for some, especially when players apparently have pent-up frustration to unleash.
“Since the pandemic, I have seen more heated parents, coaches and players than usual,” said Janet Campbell, who chairs referee abuse and assault hearings for North Texas Soccer. “They need to settle down and let the children play the game and let the referees do their jobs. They don’t seem to understand that you have to have referees to play the game.”
And the NFHS, five years after launching that recruitment drive, has had to redouble its efforts after seeing referee numbers drop from about 240,000 to 200,000 in three years.
Wisconsin is now offering financial incentives – paying for certification and uniforms for new refs, then raising game fees paid to referees in fall 2022 – in addition to beefing up its zero tolerance enforcement.
“Zero tolerance policies continue to be enforced and we are also taking steps to be more transparent back to referees and referee leadership of suspensions and sanctions that have been assessed to show the association is working to curb behavioral issues,” said Brandon Wachholz, Wisconsin’s youth referee administrator.
Another factor feeding the frenzy on the sidelines – the US now has no shortage of games on television, which means parents and players witness (and are perhaps tempted to emulate) pundits and the professionals dissenting referees’ decisions.
And to be sure, sometimes the critics have a point. Though Kyle’s rant of nearly three minutes over what was, at worst, a simple mistake was over the top, NWSL fans can’t be faulted for complaining about a few institutional issues. Namely:
• The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) assigns NWSL games to Tier B and Tier C referees in their development ladder, multiple tiers below MLS.
• The league lacks VAR, which might have shed some light on the incident Kyle decried as well as a horror tackle, committed by Washington’s Sam Staab, of which the referee didn’t have a clear view – screened, as is so often the case even with top-notch referees, by the defender trailing back to catch the attacker.
• MLS has some transparency via a weekly YouTube review, while PRO offers a weekly behind-the-scenes look at VAR in MLS.
• Refs assigned to the league also have a curious aversion to red cards – in 2018, Carli Lloyd and Marta were the only players to be sent off.
Kyle also happened to be on the field for one of the most controversial games in recent international play – a 2012 Olympic semi-final in which her Canadian team suffered two dubious calls in quick succession that allowed the US to get back into the game and eventually march on to the final. That game still elicits strong feelings in Canada. It was also the last major international game officiated by Norway’s Christina Pedersen, who was just 31 at the time. By the letter of the law, she didn’t even make mistakes – she simply made decisions that aren’t usually made. Fifa and Uefa aren’t prone to announcing that a referee has been removed from the public arena, but whether her disappearance was their decision or Pedersen’s, those two calls were clearly pivotal.
Pedersen’s exit from the international stage also proves that referees are held accountable – in many ways, more than players or coaches are. One bad game or even a couple of simple mistakes can sink a referee’s career. Players can fill blooper reels and still get called up to national teams. Players, coaches and even commentators can look at a play multiple times and still misunderstand the call. Case in point: On a 2010 World Cup broadcast, Efan Ekoku ranted about what he considered an erroneous offside call, either failing to notice that the attacker was well past the goalkeeper or failing to realize the rules say “second-to-last opponent,” not “last outfield player.”
And there’s no shortage of commentators. Ex-players happily line up to take a microphone, not a whistle. We’ll never hear of a broadcast in which the broadcaster simply couldn’t find anyone willing to take the gig.
But if the referee pool keeps dwindling, plenty of games will go forward without a full officiating crew. Maybe Kyle’s three-year-old should go ahead and sign up now.

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Proud Member of Indy’s Brick Yard Battalion – http://www.brickyardbattalion.comCLICK HERE FOR BYBTIX

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Attend a Free 20-Minute Webinar on Nursing Bridge Programs

5/27/22  Carmel FC Teams Advance to Finals, Champs League Liverpool vs Real Madrid 3 pm Sat CBS at The Pint Room downtown Carmel, USA vs Morocco Thur 7 pm ESPN, Indy 11 500 day Sat 4 pm

Congrats to the U13 2009  Carmel FC Boys Gold team with coaches Jeremy Slivinski and Chris White as they advance to the President Cup Final after a perfect 3-0 mark last weekend at Grand Park. Good luck next weekend in the Finals boys!  Also the 2009 Girls Gold Team coached by Doug Latham and Paul Cullington advanced to the State Cup finals.  I will try to dig up some game times for our teams at State/Prez/Challenge Cup finals next weekend at Grand Park in case you want to come watch.  I hope to be reffing as well. 

Champions League Final Sat 3 pm CBS Liverpool vs Real Madrid,  coverage starts at 1:30 pm.

Wow what a final we have lined up – certainly Liverpool has been dominant in this competition since coach Juergen Klopp arrived – they face the winningest team in Champions League history in Real Madrid.  The Madridistas have been on the edge of their seats as Ballon D Or Leader and #9 Benzema has helped this team pull out some late game dramatics in 2 huge come from behind wins.  The late goals vs Man City – the things legends are made of as they scored 2 goals in the last 5 minutes to force extra time where they won it on a Benzema goal.  I love the match-up and see a hard fought and high scoring affair – both teams like to attack and neither is necessarily the best on the defensive wings especially.  Both teams have great goalkeepers who can win for them in Alisson for Liverpool and Courtios for Madrid.  I see an early goal by Liverpool being the difference and a 3-2 win by the men in Red.  The Reds will fall just 1 pt short of the Quadruple (League Cup/FA Cup/Champs League/EPL title) if they can pull it off.

CARMEL FC COACHES AND FRIENDS – Join us at the PINT ROOM in DOWNTOWN CARMEL 110 W Main St.  2:45 pm Game starts at 3 pm

Finally a Network – CBS Treats Champs League with the respect it deserves

 CBS is going all out with wall to wall coverage live from Paris France– The pregame starts at 1:30 pm with the best in the business Kate Abdo on site with Jamie Carragher, Thierry Henry, and Micah Richards, Peter Schmeichel, Jenny Chui.  Unlike Fox and TBS/TNT (which was a friggin nightmare on Coverage) – CBS is employing real soccer talent to give us the full perspective on the game.  Camilla Cabello – has the pregame concert and my favorite Anthem in all of sports We Are the Champions  will get things started at about 2:45 pm.  Over 400 million (4 times the Superbowl) will be watching Worldwide – a # only matched by the World Cup and the Olympics.  So tune in and enjoy!!   (here’s the intro from the last time these teams played).

USA vs Morocco Wed 7 pm ESPN

The US Men are back in action as we have some huge June Games set to prepare us for World Cup play in Nov.  Returning to the team off a broken foot is Weston McKennie of Juve (though I suspect he may not play more than a half in these 1st 2 games in early June.)  Former German Youth National Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich) -whose dad is an American serviceman has flipped to the US and should get his first game action in the Red. White and Blue most probably at the #9 slot.  Center forward Haji Wright hopes to ride his hot streak of goals at Antalyaspor into a June chance at claiming the unclaimed #9 shirt for the US along with a fairly hot Jesus Ferreira from Dallas FC.  The Backline is looking for a replacement for starter Miles Robinson who is lost to an achilles heel injury for the year. Erik Palmer Brown and Cameron Carter Vickers fresh off his helping Celtic win the league in Ireland will battle with Aaron Long for the spot opposite Penciled in starter and Captain Walker Zimmerman.  Also good to see 19 YO outside back Joe Scally (MGladbach starter) back in the fold and hopefully we’ll see him in action in 1 of the first 2 games.  The other interesting callback is midfielder Mihailovic who has reinvigorated his career in Montreal in MLS I would guess we’ll see him in the Nations League games in late June. Late note that Zack Steffen will miss these summer games so I see I have my starters below in a game which I think we will win 2-1 over Morocco. 

Shane’s Starters for Wed game vs Morocco in Cincy

Haji Wright or Malik Tilman


Luca De La Torre/Yanus Musah



Matt Turner

The 26-man roster for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Sean Johnson (DC United)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

This is why the EPL is the Best League in the World

The EPL came down to the final minutes on the final day of the final game of the season as Man City had to make up a 2 goal deficit to Aston Villa with 20 minutes to play to pull of the 3-2 victory at home to win their 4th straight league title by 1 point over Liverpool – who also had to come from behind to keep the pressure on Man City (they won 2-1).  Arsenal won but couldn’t make up points on Tottenham who won and had Son Min tie for the Golden Boot with Mo Salah of Liverpool after tallying 1 on Sunday.  Man United tied but still finished in the 6th spot automatic qualifier for Europa League play over West Ham United who lost and will now have to qualify their way in.

American Manager Jesse Marsch Keeps Leeds United in the EPL

Wow – I am going to have to get me a Leeds United America Shirt now – as coach Jesse Marsch pulled a rabbit out of the hat and kept his team alive be winning on the final day in the last minutes of the game (again) to secure their way out of the relegation zone.  Leeds finishes in 17th place – but picked up a solid # of points since Marsch took over to help keep them alive.  Now Marsch and the Club have signed American National Brenden Aaronson (who Marsch coached at Salzburg) for 30 million making him the 2nd highest US signee to Christian Pulisic’s $75 million a couple of years ago. Also on the short list for wants at Leeds – Barca’s Sergino Dest and Tyler Adams from Red Bull.  All the crap about Marsch’s American accent and him being Ted Lasso and he doesn’t belong in the EPL  – well boys if you believe!!

Indy 11 Indy 500 Game 4 pm at the Mike  Promo

Come Downtown, attend the AES 500 FESTIVAL PARADE & then make your way to Carroll Stadium to see Indy Eleven throw their version of a Race Day celebration in partnership with Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Kickoff is set for 4 pm vs New Mexico with multiple special Indy 500 like celebrations, shirts, and the BYB Little 500 BigWheel Race starting at 1:30 pm.  Preview of Game  Indy Eleven closes out a run of six home games in seven matches with a rare matinee at Carroll Stadium against its practical mirror image from the Western Conference in New Mexico United. Both teams enter Saturday’s match on hot streaks, the Boys in Blue winning five of their last six and the Black-and-Yellow going unbeaten in their last four outings, including two straight wins. After enjoying plenty of home cooking since the beginning of April, Indy Eleven will embark on a June-long, 4-game road trip before returning to “The Mike” on July 2. Indy Eleven will look to stay unbeaten in league play at Carroll Stadium, where its 4W-0L-1D mark in Championship action includes four straight victories. Order your tickets now.


Champions League Specials on CBS Sports Network

Friday, May 27, 2022

CBSSN1981 European Cup Final: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid – 9 p.m.

CBSSH 2018 UCL Final: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool – 11 p.m.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

2019 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1 a.m.

2007 & 2012 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1:30am ET

1 pm CBS, TUDN        Champions League Pre-Game

3 pm CBS, Univision        Liverpool vs Real Madrid  Final

4 pm ESPN+, WNDY         Indy 11 vs New Mexico United (Indy 500 Day)

8 pm Para+                         Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns NWSL

Sun, June 1

3 pm Para+                         OL Reign vs San Diego Wave NWSL

6 pm Unimas, ESPN+      LA Galaxy vs Austin

9 pm Para+                         Angel City vs NY/NJ Gotham

9:10 pm Univision            Pachuca vs Atlast  Liga MX

9:30 pm Fox Spprts 1      Seattle Sounders vs Charlotte

Monn, June 2

3 pm Para+                         KC vs Racing Louisville NWSL

Wed, June 3

2:45 pm ESPN2           Scotland vs Ukraine WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Italy vs Argentina NL

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Thur, June 2

2:45 pm FS1                Portugal vs Spain NL  

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Fri, June 3

2:45 pm FS1                        Belgium vs Netherlands

10:30 pm Para+                 Portland Thorns vs Angel City NWSL

Sat, June 4

12 noon ??                          England vs Hungary NL

2:45 pm                                Italy vs Germany NL 

Sun, June 5 

12 noon ESPN2                  Wales vs (Scotland or Ukraine)

2:45 pm                                Sweden vs Norway NL

2:45 pm                                Portugal vs Switzerland NL 

Mon, June 6

2:45 pm FS1                        Croatia vs France NL

Tues, June 7

2 pm Para+                         United Arab Emirates vs Australia WCQ

2:45 pm FS1                        Italy vs Hungary NL

2:45 pm FS1                        Germany vs England NL

Weds, June 8

2:45 pm                                Belgium vs Poland NL

Thurs, June 9

2:45 pm FS1                        Portugal vvs Czechs NL

10:30 pm Para+                 Canada vs Curacao

Fri, June 10

2:45 pm FS1                        Austria vs France NL

10 pm ESPN ?             USA vs Grenada 

Sat, June 11

2:45 pm FS1                        Ireland vs Scotland NL

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Sun, June 12

9 am FS1                              Northern Ireland vs Cyprus NL

12 pm FS1                            Norway vs Sweden NL

3 pm ABC                             Charlotte vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Para+                       Mexico vs Suriname

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

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

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here

Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts and Evaluation Information

All evaluations and tryouts will be held at Shelborne Fields. 3451 W 126th St, Carmel, IN 46032.

June 7, 2022 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2013 to 2016)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm


June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
Use this link to register for tryouts.   Visit : carmelfc.teamapp.com   Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.

 Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16

9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!

Champions League Final Sat 3 pm CBS

Liverpool vs Real Madrid lineups: Projected XI’s, team news, analysis

 10 Years Ago this Week Liverpool came from 3 goals down to win the Final in Instabul

In 2018 it Was Bale who beat Liverpool
Real Madrid’s Ancelotti, the players’ coach, is on the brink of UCL history
  hMark Ogden

Euro glory would make Liverpool the best ever: McManaman

‘One in a million’ Klopp makes Liverpool a European giant again

Harmony reigns as Ancelotti and Real Madrid proves a winning combination

Benzema looks to cap great season with 5th European title

Benzema needs final triumph to make Champions League his own

Real Madrid remain Europe’s most valuable football club: studies

Liverpool’s Diaz from indigenous community that breeds ‘toughness’

Liverpool vs Real Madrid lineups: Projected XI’s, team news, analysis

‘World’s best’ Alisson: The goalkeeper who transformed Liverpool

Klopp confident Thiago will be fit for Champions League final

Which managers have won the most European trophies?

Paris readies for Liverpool fan invasion

Stade de France gets new pitch for Champions League final


US World Cup Video 

Marsch Survives, Mckennie Returns, Weah Has big day on final day of play – American’s Abroad

Milhailovic’s Montreal Renaissance reignites USMNT Interest

Leeds United’s Jesse Marsch Focused on the Future – Yanks Abroad

Leeds United Sign USMNT Brenden Aaronson from Salzburg

US Mailbag – Matt Doyle

3rd Goalie Huge – even if he doesn’t get Playing Time

USWNT World Cup Qualifying begins this Summer

US Youth Teams Women’s team Progress to World Cup  

INDY 11 & MLS & US Open Cup   

New Goalkeeper Meredith from Nashville Sent Down to Indy 11


Asante is Finally Here Ready


W League Team Establishes a New Side of LIPAFC Rivalry

FNT 1:6 Indy 11W

Indy 11 GK Elliot Panicco starts and wins for Nashville in US Open Cup
Galaxy again own bragging rights with U.S. Open Cup win over LAFC

Fantastic LA Galaxy Goal to win the El Traffico – US Open Cup Style

CupSet – Union Omaha beats Minnesota Union in US Open Cup

3rd Tier Team Union Omaha knocks off Minnesota United with Sports Center Top 10 Goal

NWSL & Ladies

 Women’s Champions League final: Lyon (Horan/Macario) are unstoppable, which Barcelona learned the hard way  Sophie Lawson

How the USWNT and USMNT achieved equal pay, rewrote history ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Crystal Dunn: ‘Black athletes can’t be put in a box and just be athletic’

NC Courage’s Challenge Cup win shows best and worst NWSL has to offer  ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

American Lindsay Horan and Caterina Macario help Lyon Win the Champions League over Barcelona

EPL Wrapup

Relive Man City, Liverpool’s final-day title fight
Klopp named Premier League manager of the year

Marsch saves Leeds United, boosts U.S. soccer

Premier League awards for 2021-22 season

Premier League 2021-22 season grades for all 20 clubs

How Man City pulled off title-winning comeback

Erik ten Hag: Manchester United must return to Champions League

Son Heung-min’s ‘joyous’ Golden Boot hailed by S.Korea president

Premier League awards for 2021-22 season

Leeds United Want’s Sergio Dest

Leeds Highlites

Leeds – BELIEVE – TED LASSO – Jesse Marsch

Jesse Marsch from Alexi Lallas


 Jose Mourinho on Roma’s UECL win: ‘We had to write history. We wrote it’
Roma vs Feyenoord final score: Zaniolo, Patricio lead Mourinho’s men

Roma Goal



A record 5 American Refs were selected for the World Cup in Nov
US referee numbers are plunging and aggression is to blame

Legendary EPL Ref – Mike Dean’s Final Final Whistle

Ref Watch: Joe Machnik on calls the rules don’t cover clearly Soccer America

Poor Reffing in NWSL ?

Results in the EPL without VAR


 Road to Qatar: Zinchenko wants to make Ukraine ‘proud’ in World Cup playoffs
Ukraine will be ready for World Cup play-off: Scotland boss Clarke

Ibrahimovic endured sleepless nights to deliver Serie A title for Milan

Kylian Mbappe exclusive: ‘I talked to Liverpool, but things were not over for me at PSG’

Final Bundesliga standings, 2021-22

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Liverpool vs Real Madrid lineups: Projected XI’s,

Liverpool lineup (projected 4-3-3)

—– Alisson —–

— Alexander-Arnold — Matip — Van Dijk — Robertson —

—- Henderson —- Fabinho —- Keita —-

—- Salah —- Mane —- Diaz —-

Alisson will obviously start in goal and the back four pretty much picks itself now that Virgil van Dijk is back from his injury scare. Joel Matip will get the nod over Ibrahima Konate but the latter has done absolutely nothing wrong when rotated into the lineup and he’s been very good in the Champions League this season.

In midfield Jordan Henderson is expected to start but then it gets interesting. Fabinho is back in training after his hamstring issue which is a huge boost. But will he be ready to start the final? Klopp told reporters that Fabinho is back training normally, while another huge boost for Liverpool is that Thiago Alcantara is fit. Will he start? He didn’t really do anything too rigorous on the pitch in Liverpool’s final training season before the final and it is tough to see him starting. That leaves one central midfield spot open and it is likely that Naby Keita will start in the midfield three over James Milner and Curtis Jones.

Up top Mohamed Salah will start on the right and Sadio Mane could well start through the middle again with Luis Diaz starting on the left. Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota are pushing to start but both are very good options off the bench.

Real Madrid lineup (projected, 4-2-3-1)

—- Courtois —–

—- Carvajal —- Militao —- Alaba —- Mendy —-

—- Casemiro —- Kroos —-

—- Valverde —- Modric —- Vinicius Jr. —-

—– Benzema —–

This Real Madrid team is very settled and has an excellent blend of youth and experience.  Veteran left back Marcelo is their only injury concern as Carlo Ancelotti has been able to rest plenty of players in recent weeks after they won the La Liga title with weeks to spare. That means Real will be fully fit, but will their rhythm be impacted by players going in and out of the lineup?

In defense Dani Carvajal is expected to start at right back with Eder Militao and David Alaba at center back and the excellent Ferland Mendy at left back tasked with shutting down Salah.

In midfield the duo of Casemiro and Toni Kroos will start as the holders with Luka Modric pulling all of the strings just ahead of them. In attack Federico Valverde and Vinicius Jr look set to start on the right and left respectively with red-hot Karim Benzema leading the line. Youngsters Rodrygo and Eduardo Camavinga have played extremely well in cameos off the bench and they will have a big part to play in this final.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid live! Champions League final, how to watch, latest news

By Joe Prince-WrightMay 27, 2022, 1:50 PM EDT

Liverpool vs Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final in Paris (Saturday, 3pm ET kick off) is the epic showpiece game that this season’s tournament deserved. 

These two teams epitomize this competition as Real have won more European titles (13) than anybody else, while Liverpool sit joint-third in the all-time list of European champions with six.Jurgen Klopp vs Carlo Ancelotti. Virgil van Dijk vs Karim Benzema. Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Vinicius Jr. Mohamed Salah vs David Alaba. The list of epic head-to-head battles goes on and on as these two European giants collide at the Stade de France to be crowned European champions.Given that these teams met in the final in Kiev in 2017-18 (when Real prevailed) and Liverpool won the title in 2018-19, these two Goliath’s continue to dine at the top table of European soccer season-after-season and their fanbases hold this trophy in even greater esteem than winning the domestic title.Below is everything you need to know ahead of the Champions League final, as Liverpool vs Real Madrid will see two heavyweights go all-out to be crowned Champions of Europe once again.

Premier League news

Liverpool have ‘learned to win’ as they prepare for Real Madrid…

Liverpool vs Real Madrid lineups: Projected XI’s, team news, analysis


How to watch Liverpool vs Real Madrid live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Saturday (May 28)
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
TV Channel: CBS, Univision, TUDN
Live analysis from Stade de France: From Joe Prince-Wright here on NBCSports.com
Online: Stream via Paramount+

Sights and sounds in Paris + Press conferences, live! – By Joe Prince-Wright at Stade de France

Wrapping things up from a sunny Stade de France!Final question of Klopp’s press conference was about the final being moved from St Petersburg to Paris. His response was emotional and her’s what he said.Jurgen Klopp is asked Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara. He says it looks good for both. Great news for Liverpool fans.Robertson and Alexander-Arnold are being asked a lot about Liverpool not winning the title on the final day. They so they have ‘put it behind them’ and say Champions League final is best way to get over it.Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are both batting away questions about Liverpool not being fresh and Real Madrid having a bit of an edge as they’re rested.“It goes without saying we have a world class opponent staying in our way,” Alexander-Arnold says.Trent and Robbo are here…

Welcome to the Stade de France! The Liverpool team have arrived in Paris and we are about to speak to Jurgen Klopp, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson here in the press conference room.

Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

Klopp has breathed a huge sigh of relief after Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were both injured in the FA Cup final but Salah played in the final Premier League game of the season and VVD was on the bench, so they’re fine. His main issue is in midfield. Thiago Alcantara trained with the group on Friday at the Stade de France, while Fabinho has been back in full training for a few days. The latter news is massive as Fabinho’s ability to help cut off the service to Benzema will be huge.

If Thiago isn’t fit to start, expect Naby Keita to start in midfield with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho. Up top Klopp has a huge call to make (he’s been getting it right for months with his rotation of his front five) as Luis Diaz may start on the left with Sadio Mane through the middle and Salah on the right. However, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota have consistently shown they can impact the game and it would not be a surprise if either started ahead of Diaz in attack.

Real Madrid team news, injuries, lineup options

Carlo Ancelotti has had the luxury of resting his key players in recent weeks as Real won the La Liga title at a canter. Veteran left back Marcelo is Real’s only injury concern and that leaves Ancelotti with plenty of options in midfield and attack as youngsters Rodrygo and Eduardo Camavinga have pushed hard to try and grab a starting spot in the final.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid head-to-head record

Liverpool wins: 3
Real Madrid wins: 4
Draw: 1

Liverpool record in European Cup finals

Title won: 6
Runners up: 3
Seasons they’ve won the European Cup: 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 2005, 2019

Real Madrid record in European Cup finals

Title won: 13
Runners up: 3
Seasons they’ve won the European Cup: 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018

Liverpool vs Real Madrid odds 

(-105) Liverpool vs Real Madrid (+260). Draw: +270

Champions League final: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid will be box office

May 25, 2022   Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

PARIS — If the Champions League final is the European game’s answer to the Super Bowl — and there are some powerbrokers who ould love to make it even more so — then most will be more than happy with Saturday’s contenders. Liverpool versus Real Madrid ticks many of the hype boxes so dear to sponsors and broadcasters, but also likely reflects the current pecking in order in Europe.There’s no fairytale here. There’s merit and savvy, quality and confidence, experience and grit. Most observers would rank Liverpool, runners-up in the Premier League and winners of the League Cup and FA Cup, and Real Madrid, winners of LaLiga, as two of the top three club sides in Europe this season. (In case you’re wondering, the third member of this season’s dominant trinity is Premier League champions Manchester City, who were beaten by Real Madrid in a dramatic semifinal comeback).Those three were the elite among Europe’s already elite super clubs as the others fell to the wayside. Paris Saint-Germain, despite the NeymarKylian MbappeLionel Messi frontline, and Chelsea, the reigning European champions, were felled by, yes, Madrid, whose run to the final has seen them knockout multiple potential winners with late comebacks. Bayern Munich and Juventus fell to giant-slaying upstarts Villarreal (themselves beaten by Liverpool, after giving them a scare). Fellow blue-bloods Barcelona and Manchester United also made early exits, burdened respectively by the fallout of a near financial meltdown and the ongoing chaos and psychodrama that is Old Trafford.

So you have two more-than-legitimate finalists. We’ll let marketing folk with their consumer surveys work out where they rank, but it’s safe to say that in terms of global fan base and brand strength, both Real Madrid and Liverpool are in the top five. Part of the reason why the City of Light’s tricolor may as well ditch the blue for the next few days and leave just Madrid’s white and Liverpool’s red, because that’s all you’ll see on the streets.Nobody can question their history, both past and present. Nobody has been European champions more than Real Madrid, who have won it 13 times, dating back to the days when it was called the European Cup (same trophy, by the way, just rebranded as Champions League) in the mid-1950s. But Liverpool have won it six times and victory on Saturday will see them match AC Milan‘s seven victories in second place. And we’re talking recent success, too. This is Liverpool’s third trip to the final in the past five years; Real Madrid have won it four times in the past eight campaigns.But you also have a delicious tasting menu of subplots and backstories.For a start, in some ways it’s a grudge match following the 2017-18 Champions League final in Kyiv. That night, Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1, but, for many Reds, the way the game unfolded still smarts. Goalkeeper Loris Karius made two colossal blunders and star forward Mohamed Salah had to be substituted after half an hour following a clash with Sergio Ramos. Salah will be there on Saturday night, along with 18 others from both teams who were involved in Kyiv. Ramos, the sort of player loathed by opponents and adored by supporters, might be temped to be there too, and not just for trolling purposes: after all, he spent 16 years at Real Madrid and now plays for PSG, just a short trip around the Peripherique from the Stade de France.

Then there’s the fact that Real Madrid arrive with the ego somewhat bruised. Not the players mind you — if there’s one thing this season’s comeback run to the final has taught us is that few can match them for resilience, unflappability and sheer self-belief — but Madridismo, that great collective (part-philosophy, part-flesh and blood) of supporters and club members itself.After months in which it appeared dead certain that they were signing star striker Mbappe, one of the two heirs apparent to the Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly, as a free agent, the French superstar said “non” and instead opted to stay at PSG.It was a shock to many and even prompted Mbappe to personally reach out to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and give long interviews to explain his decision. It’s not just the fact that it throws Madrid’s summer transfer plans into disarray, it’s the fact that this is a club unaccustomed to not getting its way. Mbappe, who was born and raised just a few miles away, will hang over Madrid fans on Saturday; in spirit, if not in body. playhere’s more to ratchet up the hype meter and the star power. Real Madrid have the presumptive Ballon d’Or winner (Karim Benzema) and a pixieish turn-back-the-clock floppy-haired genius who, even at 36, sees and hits passes others can only draw on whiteboards (Luka Modric).

Liverpool have Salah, the Premier League’s top scorer, and Sadio Mane: bitter rivals on another continent — Mane’s Senegal outlasted Salah’s Egypt in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations — brothers in goals on the pitch. The goalkeepers, Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois and Liverpool’s Alisson, are arguably the best in the world, capable of the sort of stand-on-your-head performance that can single-handedly win you a final. Both coaches are wildly popular and quick with a smile, albeit all business in the 90 minutes in their own way: Jurgen Klopp maniacally waving his arms and roving the sideline, Carlo Ancelotti intensely chewing gum and huddling with his assistant, Davide, who also happens to be his son. Klopp is looking for his second Champions League title; Ancelotti his fourth, more than any other manger in the history of the game.

They arrive at the final having taken different paths. Real Madrid wrapped up the Liga title some three weeks ago and spent their final games recuperating and resting their battle-weary stars; Liverpool, who reached the final in every competition they entered, played an FA Cup final and contested a Premier League title right up until the dying minutes of the last day of the season, less than a week ago. (That’s another age-old question to be resolved: better to be well-rested, or better to keep the competitive juices flowing until the very end?)The scene is set and it could not shape up any better: for the supporters, for the neutrals, for the lucky 80,000 in the ground and the hundreds of millions watching around the globe, for the organizers and for the sponsors, for the storytellers and for the dreamers.All that’s left is for the two teams to take the pitch and deliver. Do not let us down.

Zack Steffen to miss U.S. World Cup prep matches; Sean Johnson added

12:42 PM ETAssociated Press

Manchester City‘s Zack Steffen will miss the United States‘ four World Cup prep matches next month for what the team said was family reasons, and he was replaced on the roster Friday by D.C.’s Sean Johnson.

The 27-year-old Steffen was considered the top American goalkeeper going into qualifying last September but was sidelined at times by a back injury and started six of 14 qualifiers. New England‘s Matt Turner, who joins Arsenal in July, started eight.

Steffen has 29 international appearances.He played in just nine matches this season for Manchester City, where he is Ederson’s backup. He appeared in just one Premier League game along with four in the FA Cup, two in League Cup, and one each in Champions League and the Community Shield.Johnson, 32, joins Turner and Nottingham Forest‘s Ethan Horvath on the roster. Johnson debuted for the U.S. in 2011 and has nine international appearances.Forest faces Huddersfield on Sunday in the Championship promotion playoff final for a place in next season’s Premier League.The U.S. plays exhibitions against Morocco on Wednesday in Cincinnati and against Uruguay on June 5 at Kansas City, Kansas, then has CONCACAF Nations League matches against Grenada on June 10 in Austin, Texas, and at El Salvador four days later.The Americans have just two more World Cup prep matches after, a pair of friendlies in Europe in September. They open the World Cup in Qatar on Nov. 21 against WalesScotland or Ukraine. They play England four days later and close group play against Iran on Nov. 29.

USMNT analysis

Analysis: A deep dive into Berhalter’s 27-man USMNT roster for June

The roster is out, Gregg Berhalter has named a 27-player roster for the upcoming friendlies against Morocco on June 1, Uruguay on June 5, followed by the start of the Nations League against Grenada on June 10 and El Salvador on June 14. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks down the roster with his thoughts and analysis. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA    MAY 20, 202211:30 AM

UNITED STATES NATIONAL team head coach Gregg Berhalter today announced his 27-player roster for the upcoming friendlies against Morocco and Uruguay along with the start of the CONCACACF Nations League. The roster is most important, obviously, because it is one of the final opportunities Berhalter will have with his players prior to the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.Many of the top stories on the roster have already been leaked over the past few weeks.Haji Wright and Cameron Carter-Vickers were going to get a chance.Sergino Dest, Gio Reyna, Jordan Pefok, Chris Richards, and Josh Sargent have all been carrying injuries.As announced by the German U-21 head coach, Malik Tilman will switch to play for the United States. Regardless of most of the surprises being known ahead of time, here are my thoughts on it all.


GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest/ENG; 7/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 29/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 16/0)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld/GER; 6/0), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 24/1), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic/SCO; 8/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 23/3), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes/FRA; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 25/2), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 0/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 73/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 28/3)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 51/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 27/1), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 7/0), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 31/9), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal/CAN; 6/1), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 16/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 31/0), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich/GER; 0/0)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 18/5), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 44/9), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 9/3), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 46/10), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 48/21), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 22/2), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor/TUR; 0/0)


 Weston McKennie was named to the roster and at a time when many key American players are injured, McKennie looks ready to go. He’s an important part of the team and it was obvious in the loss to Costa Rica in March that the team needs grit in the midfield in the form of a two-way midfielder who can do the dirty work, win balls, disrupt the opposition, and get the ball forward into the attack.McKennie has been out since suffering a broken metatarsal in his foot while playing for Juventus in March. For that, Berhalter tempered enthusiasm as to what he can accomplish in this camp.  “I wouldn’t be expecting him to play major minutes in these in the first couple of games,” Berhalter said of McKennie. “Hopefully, and this is hopefully, we can get to a point where he can start one of the Nations League games, but that’s not guaranteed. He’s been doing a great job and getting back and for us it’s just great to have him back in camp and hopefully get him some playing time throughout the camp.”


On Thursday, German U-21 national team head coach Antonio Di Salvo announced that Bayern Munich attacker Malik Tillman would no longer represent Germany and would instead represent the United States moving forward. Di Salvo admitted to being surprised by the decision.We regret Malik’s decision and it surprised us very much,” said Di Salvo. “We encouraged him as a younger player with the U-21s, placed a lot of trust in him, and gave him playing time. In addition, we were in intensive exchange regarding his prospects on a path to the senior national team.”After that, Tillman’s addition to the U.S. roster was expected although his change of association has not been completed. He will not be eligible to play until it is completed.The United States needs more attackers across the board and more goal scoring threats. Right now, there are still a lot of players who haven’t been scoring enough goals for their club teams – whether it be on the wings or in midfield. Players such as Luca de la Torre, Yunus Musah, and Tim Weah, have all has seasons that haven’t produced goals. Those players all have something to offer, but the question is where are the goals going to come from? Tillman is certainly a useful player to add to the mix.”He’s an attacking midfielder in a 3-4-2-1,” Berhalter said. “He could be a pocket winger in a 4-3-3. He could be a center mid in a 4-3-3 depending on if we can get his defensive work up to where it needs to be. But he’s really talented between the lines, he really has a knack for scoring goals, good and calm around the penalty box, good technique scoring both feet – both footed. So, he’s an interesting player.”Expectations should be tempered. It’s not wise to start posting him into key roles for Qatar until it is seen how he can do with the team. He is young, at age 19, and has shown glimpses of great promise and potentially a high ceiling. But until first team minutes establish a benchmark, it is tough to tell. Even with German youth national teams or dominating at the reserve level, it can be hit and miss. Shawn Parker, Gedion Zelalem, Julian Green, Terrence Boyd never materialized into full national team quality for any length of time. On the other hand, John Brooks and Fabian Johnson did.We won’t really know until he settles into a first team level. Next season, it appears as if he will head out on loan and that will be a good thing.Berhalter also opened up about Tillman’s recruting. “It started maybe about a year ago,” Berhalter said. “He was he was a player that was actually in a U15 camp with Gio Reyna and George Bello. And so he’s been in our youth program before. We saw him progressing and getting feedback from from his performance. It was something that became interesting to us, although he was only 18 years old. And so when we started speaking to him and his representative, it was just about painting the vision of our program and where we potentially see him fitting in…We had some good conversations a couple of weeks ago in Munich and was happy to see him commit to us and looking forward to working with him in camp.”
Still, adding a promising prospect to the mix is always a good thing. It continues to be a numbers game and a program can have all its hopes in a limited number of players. When you see the U.S. U-20 team struggle to find a number of forwards for a second straight cycle (2023 and 2021) and the once promising forwards of 2019 in Sebastian Soto struggling, finding more players helps and is good forward thinking.



We know Antonee Robinson is the starting left back for the United States national team when healthy. Gregg Berhalter has been praiseworthy over the Fulham left back.The backup left back position, however, is wide open and that is mainly because no one has stepped up to take the chance. George Bello has been the most used left-back but his positioning has been up and down for both the U.S. and with his club team Arminia Bielefeld, which was relegated from the Bundesliga.The other left-back on this roster is Joe Scally, who is a right-footed option but will get the opportunity to make a case for him as the team’s back-up left back. Scally enjoyed a terrific start to the season in the Bundesliga but the second half the season has mostly seen him play off the bench.This will be an interesting competition and development to watch because neither option has been convincing and if they don’t convince here, perhaps Berhalter decides to change again late in the game and go with Sam Vines – who was ahead of Bello at the Gold Cup last year, or a player like DeJuan Jones who has the athleticism in droves that would not require the team to change the way it plays.



Berhalter named four central defenders to the mix. It was noted that Richards was not named because of injury.Walker Zimmerman, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Aaron Long will make up the foursome this camp. What is striking about this is that none of these four players were on the team at the start of World Cup qualifying in September.Zimmerman only played his way onto the team in October. Palmer-Brown was riding the bench at the time in France. Carter-Vickers wasn’t completely rated at the time. Aaron Long was injured.It’s actually stunning to think about how much central defense can change. Miles Robinson is, of course, out unil 2023 Tim Ream has probably aged out, James Sands’ position isn’t set, John Brooks has a situation where he just off the team, Chris Richards is hurt, and Mark McKenzie also hasn’t had a great season.Now Berhalter will be looking to hope what is a late-emerging core can develop chemistry. Yes, Zimmerman has been with Berhalter for a while, Long also has familiarity before his injury, and Chris Richards will be back after he heals ( although he has missed a lot of time dating to last season).It will be interesting to see how the pairings go. He has two physical defenders in Zimmerman and Carter-Vickers (who isn’t tall but is strong), and two more mobile defenders in Long and Palmer-Brown. In Palmer-Brown’s one appearance in qualifying, he was a more of a wing-back.One other factor to consider is that Berhalter said he wants to look at a three central defender formation, Reggie Cannon has been playing that role. Regardless of who plays there, the idea of the formation is to get the fullbacks forward. If that doesn’t happen, the benefits of the formation are neutralized. 


 There are a number of different players who are on this roster who come in either red hot form or who are struggling. It will be interesting to see how they perform and it could be a sign that they are either peaking heading into the World Cup or could be in spot playing their way off the team. Here’s just a list.

Djordje Mihailovic: The former Chicago midfielder played with the U.S team early in Berhalter’s cycle but faded out. He took his game to another level in Montreal. This season he has seven goals and four assists between MLS and CCL games. Over the last 50 games between both competitions, he has 11 goals and 18 assists. Bottom line is that he played his way onto the roster.

Haji Wright: The Antalyaspor forward, 24, has been in the form of his life. Entering into Friday’s game, he has 13 goals on the season and nine goals in his last nine games (goals in each of his last seven games. Like Mihailovic, he played his way onto the team.

Jesus Ferreira: Ferreira has essentially played his way onto the team. He’s not a traditional No. 9 but he is skillful and can pass to help elevate his teammates. He’s is more of a “false nine” but his goalscoring has been impressive as he leads MLS in goals with nine.

Cristian Roldan: Roldan has taken on more of a late-game sub role for the national team and he rarely starts. Even last summer in the Gold Cup when it wasn’t the full selection of players, he rarely started. He can bring life into the game. But for Seattle, he’s been in terrific form and was one of the best players in the entire CONCACAF Champions League. In that winning effort, he won a huge majority of his duels, drew key penalties, and assisted. It truly is a unique form for him.

Luca De la Torre: Until recently, de la Torre had been having a nice season. But the end of the season has been a nosedive. Everyone on Heracles has been playing poorly and de la Torre hasn’t helped. The team finished the season with three straight losses against bottom-third Eredivisie teams. Having fallen into the relegation playoff position, Heracles was thoroughly outplayed in the first leg 3-0 by Excelsior of the second tier. De la Torre was defensively partially responsible for the first goal and his turnover directly resulted in the third goal. Barring a miracle in the second leg, he will be entering into camp in a very tough spot.”I’ve been in the exact situation he’s in right now,” Berhalter said. “Your team is going into the relegation area. You have to play playoffs. You’re ending the season on a down note, you’re exhausted because you’ve been playing all these games and the team collectively is in a funk.””My team ended up getting relegated in Holland in the same conditions that he’s under,” Berhalter added. “The warning to him is don’t take any of these teams lightly and you’ve got to get recovered. You got to get your group up with that same energy because these teams are coming up from the second division and they’re motivated and if you’re not up for it, you’re going to get beat. So that’s a concern.”

George Bello: Similar to de la Torre, it has been a tough five months for George Bello since moving to Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga. In the second-to-last game of the season, Bello lost his man and converted a own-goal to essentially seal his club’s relegation. Bello hasn’t made a compelling case yet to be Antonee Robinson’s back-up at left back and if he doesn’t play well this camp, it might cost him a chance to go to Qatar.



The number of No. 9 options Berhalter has tried over the past year makes for a long list: Josh Sargent, Daryl Dike, Jordan Pefok, Ricardo Pepi, Matthew Hoppe, Jesus Ferreira, Gyasi Zardes, and now Haji Wright. What is particularly impressive about the length of this list is that all of this came not during experimental friendlies but rather World Cup qualifying and the Gold Cup. A list that long shows that not much has been working.
Now it will be up to Jesus Ferreira and Haji Wright this camp. That is fair and the correct choice to call both of them. They are the two hottest American forwards who are healthy. It is an enormous camp for both of them. If they both can play well, it could give the U.S. team stability heading into the World Cup. On Monday, Berhalter spoke at length about Wright’s rapid rise in recent months.”He’ll get the opportunity to play in this camp,” Berhalter said. “We only have two true strikers on the roster, so he will get an opportunity. In terms of his path. It’s been really interesting to follow. He’s been bouncing around at clubs and hasn’t really stuck at any club and hasn’t really outperformed anywhere yet. But this year, I think it’s an exception. And speaking to their coaching staff, they’ve been really pleased with his progress. They’ve been really pleased with how he started slow but then picked up momentum, really changed his mindset, changed his mentality and was able to start dominating in games. And I’ve watched a lot of his games and he’s doing an excellent job. So I think now is the perfect time. We always talk about form and trying to capitalize on guys form. I think now is the perfect time to get him back into the group.  


As with any roster, there are notable absences. So, let’s discuss them.

The injuries need no further explanation: Gio Reyna, Sergino Dest, Josh Sargent, Jordan Pefok, and Chris Richards were all listed as injured. U.S. Soccer also announced that Dayl Dike was given the chance to continue his rehab progress after missing the second half of the season for West Brom Albion.
“There are a number of players that started their first season in Europe and had very little rest coming off and MLS season and we’re really thrown into it, notably Ricardo Pepi, Gianluca Busio, James Sands,” Berhalter said. “It doesn’t mean that any of these players that I mentioned don’t have a chance to participate in the World Cup. Ricardo Pepi: his absence was known in advance. It has been a struggle for him since moving to Germany with Augsburg and U.S. Soccer felt it was in his interest to regroup. That is a smart decision and it also allows the more in-form forwards to make a case.

John Brooks: will certainly get a lot of talk when supporters digest the roster. But Berhalter is has been consistent with not calling Brooks up. Is it a personality difference, is it a lack of chemistry, is it due to his performance with the team prior to the start of his exclusion last year? Possibly a combination of everything. Berhalter said the fact that Brooks is switching clubs could help him.”Trust me, he’s not out permanently,” Berhalter said of Brooks. “That’s not our idea. The idea is we want players that can fit our game model, that can that can play in our game or can make us better.””We’re going to be able to see him now in his new environment, hopefully doing things that are similar to what we need him to do,” he added of Brooks. “And that could help him, you know, make a case to be on the roster.”

Gianluca Busio: the former Sporting Kansas City midfielder was regularly in the plans, when healthy, dating back to last fall after he moved to Venezia in Serie A. Initially his time in Serie A was promising but the last few months have been a tough time. He’s struggled with the physical side of the game in Italy and didn’t play much down the stretch as Venezia were relegated to Serie B. Berhalter said his absence was due to giving him a break after his first full European season and not having an off-season since early 2021.

Mark McKenzie: has been in and out of Genk’s starting rotation all season and Genk has had a subpar season overall. It was building this way although he could easily be an injury alternate – which isn’t out of the range of possibilities.

DeJuan Jones: even without any caps, this was a bit of a surprise to me as he is a right-footed left back but also brings a lot of athleticism to the position and more closely matches the style of Robinson.

Duane Holmes: Seemed a possibility as he has played quite a bit for a Huddersfield team that is off to Wembley for the promotional final. He seemed worthy to be in consideration and in the mix.  

Sebastian Lletget: has fallen out of favor since last October when his minutes dried up and eventually stopped getting called up. At one point he deserved to be in the mix and was playing well. But Berhalter seems to have moved on.

Alan Sonora: the Independiente midfielder has been a consistent starter in Argentina and was in contact with Berhalter as recently as January (as he told ASN). He’s done well in Argentina and there are questions about his ability to handle the physical side of the game despite his crafty playmaking ability.

James Sands: The Rangers midfielder/central defender potentially gives Berhalter cover in several positions. His minutes for Rangers has been inconsistent since January but he did play in the Premiership season finale as well as the Europa Cup final. 

Richard Ledezma: Ledezma came back at the end of the season to score a goal for PSV in the season finale. But he had just 33 minutes of first team action this year, most of which was fighting his way back from ACL surgery. 
“He feels and I agree with him that based on the entire season being extremely taxing for him mentally and physically taxing, getting back from injury, getting injured again,” Berhalter said of Ledezma. “He feels like he needs this time to recover and prepare for the next preseason.”



Just before the roster was announced, Chicago Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina announced that he wanted to represent the United States moving forward as opposed to Poland.lonina, 17, was announced to be on Poland’s roster for its upcoming Nation’s League games.Like many prospects, it’s tough to gauge just how good he will be. He has done well up until recently but the last two games have seen him really struggle. He’s admits that and owns it – which is a good approach for a player his age.The U.S. program needs young goalkeepers who are playing minutes, so adding him to the pool is good.Berhalter opened up about his discussions with Slonina.”I’ve been really impressed with Gaga and just his mindset,” Berhalter said. “If you could imagine a 17-year-old being that determined. I think the danger was and this is just an honest conversation I had with him, I said: listen, I can’t bring you into this camp because of your form – I just can’t do it. We have guys at a really high levels and experienced guys that played for us before, and your form hasn’t been good enough. And I can understand if you’re going to go take a look at Poland because you’re disappointed with this.”His response was great,” Berhalter continued. “He understands where he’s at. He’s going to work to get out of where he’s at. But he said he’s still committed to us. You make relationships with players. You welcome players as a group. Guys make them feel welcome. And you hope that’s enough that in the end of the day, they decide. But in Gaga’s case, also, his heart was telling him where to go. That’s a really an important part of the equation.”

Marsch survives, McKennie returns, Weah’s big day, two Yanks debut, LDLT relegated & much more

For 95% of Americans abroad, the season is over. The ending over the weekend brought about some mixed emotions. Jesse Marsch was the brightest start his survival silenced critics. There was also Tyler Adams winning the German Cup, Tim Weah scoring a brace, and two young Americans making debuts in Europe’s Big Five. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down in his final piece of the season with this thoughts and analysis over the past few days. 


IT WAS THE FINAL weekend for most of the Americans abroad season and while this season wasn’t as good as previous season, it ended on a high note – for the most part. Jesse Marsch, Tim Weah, Weston Mckennie’s return, as well as some rewarding debuts were made by some young American players.The season was flawed by injuries, relegations, and runs of poor form. Many of the players took smaller roles within their teams. So, while metrics such as the overall number of American players in the high levels of Europe remained high, the quality of output wasn’t as strong.But the end of the season was nice, and hopefully this will provide a boost as preseason for most of the top five European leagues is only about a month away.Here were the weekend’s highlights.


When Jesse Marsch replaced Marco Bielsa on February 28, it was viewed skeptically by a lot of people. Ted Lasso jokes became popular, and people did not know what to expect. But Leeds United had a lot of problems leading up to Marsch’s hire. The team conceded 21 goals over the six games prior to Marsch’s first game and it had just one point from that run.Marsch had to shore up the defense and get points. That wasn’t easy given that just before the end of the season, Leeds had its toughest stretch of the season in a three-game run against Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea.But Marsch got it done. Yes, it was close but in a relegation battle the verdict is on a pass/fail basis. What proved to be the difference for Leeds was a five-game unbeaten run from March 14-April 24 where Leeds posted three wins and two draws. That allowed them to have a chance on the last day of the season.What had to happen is that Leeds United needed a better result than Burnley. The two teams entered the final day even on points, but Burnley had a far superior goal differential. While it was close, in the end Leeds United got it after a 2-1 win over Barnsley combined with Burnley losing at home to Newcastle United.The Leeds United winner came from Jack Harrison, the former New York City winger whom Marsch coached against when he was at the New York Red Bulls.This was great news all around for American soccer. The only way to stop the jokes and the negative stereotypes is to win. That’s it. Winning silences critics and it opens doors for others also looking to get into the English game.Now Marsch will have the ability to start building a Leeds United team with two things Bob Bradley never had in England – a transfer window and a preseason.One more final note, it was a terrific month for the two American coaches in the top five leagues of Europe. Pellegrino Matarazzo led Stuttgart to survival on a dramatic final day of the Bundesliga. There are some similarities of their situations. Both Leeds United and Stuttgart are huge clubs that had fallen on tough times.They’re both trailblazers but I think the one difference is Marsch carries the American label more. Matarazzo has been in Germany so long and his Italian name sometimes has him referred to as an Italian coach. That is partly true as he is an Italian citizen, but he was born and raised in New Jersey. He lived in the United States until he was 22 years old.As for Marsch, he deals with the stereotypes head on and silenced them, for now, at least.


 Adding to the list of Americans who won silverware, Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig won the German Cup on Saturday following a shootout win over Freiburg after a 1-1 draw.Adams came into the game in the 99th minute with the score 1-1 and Leipzig having played down a man since the 54th minute (and then reduced again in the 118th minute). For Adams, his role was primarily defensive. One moment he received the ball and had the chance to make a dangerous play, but the referee stopped the game for a Freiburg foul. Adams protested as he wanted the advantage call.

Leipzig thought it had a penalty call late in the game, but it was not awarded. In the shootout, Leipzig converted all four of its kicks while Freiburg missed two.Adams might be on the move this summer as his playing time diminished the past few months. If this was his last game for Leipzig, he will end lifting a trophy.


 Up until 10 days ago, Tim Weah’s season at Lille was rather lackluster. He had no goals and four assists in Ligue 1 and most had concluded that the production just wasn’t there this season.Then last weekend, Weah had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over Nice. The season finale on Saturday meant little for Lille but it meant a world for its opponent, Rennes, which was pushing for a Champions League spot.Weah ended up putting on a MOTM performance in a 2-2 draw where he scored both goals.His first goal was fortunate. In the 11th minute, Rennes goalkeeper Alfred Gomis spilled an easy shot and Weah was there to put in the rebound. With the score 1-1 in the 88th minute, Weah headed home a Mehmet Celik cross for a 2-1 lead. Rennes equalized at the end of the game and ended up finishing fourth and a spot in the Europa League, short of their Champions League goal.As for Weah, ending the season on a high note was huge. Lille must get better offensively next season and it will be harder given that Jonathan David is probably going to get sold for a fortune. Lille will have money to spend but it remains to be seen if they will spend it wisely.Weah will now rejoin the United States national team will a lot of momentum. Given that the team needs more goal-scoring options with the No. 9 position so unsettled and Christian Pulisic not finishing well, he is in a position to be a go-to guy.

 DJordje Mihailovic’s Montreal renaissance reignites USMNT ambitions and interest from Europe

May 24, 2022Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Djordje Mihailovic is trying not to get carried away.

The CF Montreal midfielder is enjoying the best form of his career. His tally of seven goals has almost doubled his previous single-season career high of four and, 13 games into the Major League Soccer campaign, Montreal is firmly inside the playoff places. The personal accolades are coming his way, too. The interest from European clubs is heating up, as is talk about Mihailovic being the league MVP. He’s also been called into the United States men’s national team training camp and will be hoping to make his first international appearance since December 2020.There is a part of Mihailovic eager to let the good times roll, the better to allow him to play with the joy that is present when he’s performing at his best. He’s pleased to have left some tough spells behind as well, including a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2017, but right now there is also a wariness about the heights his career has recently reached.

“In my opinion, the good times can actually be more detrimental to someone’s mental aspect versus the negative,” Mihailovic told ESPN. “I think a lot of players, when you start to succeed, you get a little bit too ahead of yourself, a little bit too high and overwhelmed with things. You expect a lot more from yourself because you’re doing a lot of good things. So it’s a lot easier to fall down a wrong path when things get too high.”Mihailovic quipped that he blames teammate Alistair Johnston for the MVP chatter, claiming that “he started the ywhole snowball.” Now the midfielder is the butt of jokes inside the Montreal locker room.”I try to keep a steady state and I don’t tr to think too much about all this talk,” he said. “I have to do it for 34 games and not just the first [13], so that’s kind of where my mind is.”Starting on Sunday, Mihailovic’s mind will be on the U.S. and trying to make a late push to make the World Cup roster. It’s not unheard of for a player who didn’t play a part in qualifying to make a World Cup squad, whether it was Pablo Mastroeni in 2002 or Herculez Gomez in 2010 or Julian Green in 2014. Mihailovic is holding out hope he can follow in those footsteps, even if the mountain he has to climb is steep.It’s exciting, something that I’ve been working towards,” he said about the call-up. “On the field, it’s something that a lot of my mind has been thinking about, doing the most I can to be called back in, and I’d love to make the most of this opportunity.”Mihailovic has long caught the eye of U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter, who admired the player’s ability to play “between the lines,” be good technically and be a difference-maker in the attacking third. Berhalter calls Mihailovic a “Day One-er,” as one of the invitees to his first U.S. camp. The player in fact is the answer to a trivia question, having scored the first goal of the Berhalter era in a 3-0 win over Panama in January 2019. The expectation from Berhalter and the national team staff was that Mihailovic would kick on from there, but struggles at club level saw him called in only in spurts.”There were glimpses of it, but the consistency wasn’t there,” Berhalter said. Now that Mihailovic is playing an advanced attacking position in Montreal that suits him, Berhalter has liked what he has seen this season, although questions remain.The coach said of Mihailovic, “If he’s a winger, can he press with the intensity that we need, with the speed and with the quickness that we need to press to cause turnovers? And the second thing is, as a midfielder defensively, can he have the work rate to be winning the ball back and have that defensive work rate, to get it done?”The coming weeks will see the extent to which Mihailovic can close that gap. He certainly has some players to leap over if he’s even to get a sniff of the World Cup, but he knows his recent play has him back in the reckoning. His dream can be visualized again, and that is due to some pointers from Montreal manager Wilfried Nancy.Mihailovic was already coming off an impressive 2021 season, a campaign in which his 16 assists ranked second in the league behind New England‘s Carles Gil‘s 18. But Nancy wanted his protégé to be more goal-dangerous, and he zeroed in on what was going on in the midfielder’s head, namely more “emotional control.””In the past, [Mihailovic] was rushing all the time in terms of internal decision-making in the final third,” Nancy told ESPN. “This year, when he takes his shots, it’s better, because in the past, he wanted to score, but he wanted to score from 50 yards, you know what I mean?”Now he’s able to recognize the moment when it’s a good moment to place the ball, or to kick it hard or to make the pass. For me this is a big, big, big improvement.”The numbers bear this out beyond just the number of goals Mihailovic has scored. According to ESPN Stats & Information data, Mihailovic has hit the target on 63.6% of his shots, tops in the league among players with at least 15 shots on goal for the season. That is more than double the 25.4% he recorded last season.Mihailovic noted that the timing of his runs has improved, but he’s also playing with a freedom given to him by Nancy that allows him to crash the box when the time is right. The increase in goals is also down to an accumulation of experience that comes from being in his sixth professional season. The more he finds himself in certain situations in front of goal, the cooler he is.”When you get in these moments, you have a lot more time than you think,” he said. “It’s no different than when I receive a ball in the middle of the field, and I’m able to pick a pass. I’m always in that situation for the last six years. I’m always receiving the ball in the middle and just repeating that action. It’s the same thing when I’m in and around the goal, having that calm head and executing.”It makes the $1 million in allocation funds that Montreal sent to the Chicago Fire look like money well spent, even if the move at the time seemed fraught with risk. Raised in the Chicago suburb of Lemont, Mihailovic was comfortable around friends, family and the club he had been with since his academy days. But after the 2020 season, there was also a sense that it was time to move on. Mihailovic wanted to be the player, but the Fire didn’t want to hand him the keys to the attack.”I’m just thinking, ‘I’m playing in the, with the club that I grew up watching,’ and you hope to be an important player for that team going forward,” Mihailovic said. “When it’s suddenly your time to go, it’s tough.”It was then that Montreal sporting director Olivier Renard pounced. Mihailovic had been on Renard’s radar for years dating back to the executive’s time with Standard Liege. With Montreal, he was looking for a player to replace Bojan Krkic as one of the team’s attacking midfielders.”I thought that Djordje can be an important player for us, and that’s why we give a lot of money to Chicago,” Renard said. “He’s a guy who also mentally is working every day, in the fitness before the training, after the training. He’s not a complicated guy. He is a special character.”The move also forced Mihailovic to grow up. He didn’t have any family with him. All he had was soccer. That focus led to more consistency, and increased talk of a move to Europe.

Renard chuckles when asked about inquiries from abroad, noting that when a player gets 16 assists, as Mihailovic did last season, such calls are inevitable.”For me the most important thing is the mind of the player and to know Djordje is very happy,” Renard said. “He never called me to tell me [he wanted to leave]. We never spoke about that, but if he tells me wants to leave for [Europe], we will find a solution every time.”Mihailovic said his World Cup quest wouldn’t influence his decision on whether to head to Europe, where a source with knowledge of the situation said that clubs in Germany and Belgium are interested. He noted that a World Cup, while a dream of his, happens every four years. A club is more of a long-term decision.”I do have to keep in mind that the World Cup is at the end of the year, and I have to make sure I’m at a club where I’m playing and playing while I’m happy,” he said. “I can’t just leave Montreal, for thinking that it’s gonna help me get to the World Cup. I don’t think like that. So if I leave Montreal, I have to make sure it’s the best thing for my career.”One gets the sense that Mihailovic feels he’s ready. He spent part of last offseason training with Serie A side — and Montreal’s sister club — Bologna, and his growth is evident when he compares that time with another training stint, with Nurnberg in 2019. On that occasion, he admitted to being overwhelmed by the speed of play and the physicality.With Bologna he said he felt “comfortable,” although there was plenty to learn, especially in terms of how players dealt with the pressure from supporters and the club.”Just to see how players on these teams handle themselves, it was always good to see,” he said.Granted, staying in Montreal might be the best for Mihailovic in the short term. He’s getting on the field and contributing consistently. And he is valued by Montreal.”They didn’t really overshadow me. They didn’t lock me up in any way,” he said about Montreal. “They allowed me to express myself with my emotions, and I’m a player that plays with a lot of emotions. I think that’s one of my biggest strengths in the sport. So they allow me to play free and to do what I know how to do.”

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here

Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 


CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts and Evaluation Information

All evaluations and tryouts will be held at Shelborne Fields. 3451 W 126th St, Carmel, IN 46032.

June 7, 2022 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2013 to 2016)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm


June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
Use this link to register for tryouts. Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.


Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16

9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!


CHS Boys -2022 Hounds Soccer Camp –July 11-14, 2022  9 am to 11 am $95 per Boys/Girls 8-14 

Carmel High School Girls – 2022 Middle School Camp – 6/7/8th Graders  $90 (includes T-shirt) July 18-21  Murray Stadium  2:30 to 4:30 pm


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5/20/22  Carmel FC Teams Advance to Finals, State/Prez Cup this weekend, US Equal Pay for Men & Women’s Teams, EPL Ends Sun 11 am, France ends Sat, Italy/Spain end Sun

Huge Congrats to the U19 2003 Carmel FC Boys Gold team as they won their Final Tournament – The Crown Challenge in Cincinnati last weekend with a wonderful way to end their Carmel FC Journey.  Coach Mike Cronin (right) and Matt Madden (left) have been with this team since their beginning with many of these players playing since U11 with Carmel FC.  I have coached with these guys and they are the best in the business – thanks for all your years of coaching guys and best of luck after graduation boys !! 

Also huge congrats to the 2011 U11 Girls Gold team, U17 2005 Girls Gold team, U15 2007 Boys Gold Team U13 2009 Boys Blue Team.  Good luck to all of our teams playing in State and President’s Cup games at Grand Park this weekend – I will be refing all weekend long!

Champions League Specials on CBS Sports Network All Week

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

  • 2013, 2003 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1:30 a.m.
  • 1999, 2005 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 2 a.m.
  • 2021-22 UCL, Quarterfinals, 1st Leg:  Benfica vs. Liverpool – 10 a.m.
  • 2008, 2014 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 6:30 p.m.
  • 2021-22 UCL, Semifinals, 1st Leg: Manchester City vs. Real Madrid – 9 p.m.
  • 2021-22 UCL, Semifinals, 2nd Leg: Real Madrid vs. Manchester City – 11 p.m.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

  • 2021-22 UCL, Semifinals, 2nd Leg: Villareal vs. Liverpool – 10 a.m.
  • 2018, 1994 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 6:30 p.m.

Friday, May 27, 2022

  • 2020-21 UCL, Quarterfinals, 1st Leg: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool – 10 a.m.
  • 1981 European Cup Final: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid – 9 p.m.
  • 2018 UCL Final: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool – 11 p.m.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

  • 2019 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1 a.m.
  • 2007 & 2012 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1:30am ET

EPL Ends with Title, Top 4, Top 6, Top 7 still undecided & Leeds American Coach trying to avoid Relegation Sun at 11 am on NBC all Channels

So this is why the EPL is the most popular league in Europe and the World as who will win the EPL Title (Man City 89 pts or Liverpool 88 pts), who will finish 4th and qualify for Champions League play next season (Spurs 68 pts or Arsenal 66 pts), who will finish 6th and automatically qualify for Europa League (Man United 58 or West Ham 56) and finally who will be relegated or sent down to the lower league Leeds United 35 pts or Burnley 35 pts.  Of course Leeds United has newly appointed American Coach Jesse Marsh trying to keep his team in the EPL – the difference in money over 100 million dollars – what’s It mean to the club? Well in addition to many of the players being released, perhaps the coaches, it’s the cooks, the kit men, the ticket takers, the chefs and cooks, the parking lot attendants – its something we in the US know nothing about.  In the US American teams want to lose to get the better draft pick next year – in the rest of the world Relegation and Promotion means the worst 2 or 3 teams move down to the lower league (Jacksonville Jags you are USFL now) and the best 2 or 3 teams from the lower leagues move up (Indy 11 you are now in the MLS and get $100 million more dollars to work with to make your team better – be it by new players or better chefs, etc).  That makes this weekend’s Leeds United @ Brentford (Peacock 11 am) and Burnley vs New Castle United (Golf Channel) perhaps the biggest games on this monumental final day of play Sunday at 11 am in the English Premier League. Of course Arsenal must win at Everton (who just barely staved off relegation with their last second win midweek) and Norwich City vs Tottenham on Syfy will decide that 4th and final Champions League spot.  While the title will come down to weather Man City can beat Aston Villa at home on NBC or do they lose and Liverpool hosting Wolverhampton on USA Network allows the unthinkable just 2 month ago and they take the Quadruple (Liverpool has won both league Cups and still has Champions League to play for vs Real Madrid next Sat on CBS 3 pm – all they need is the League Title to become the first ever EPL team to pull the quad) VERY Doubtful it happens on this final day of play however.  Also up for grabs the Goal Scoring leader, Goals + Assists and the Top Goalkeeper – click here to read more).   

Indy 11 return home Sat 7 pm to host the NY Red Bulls at the Mike

Its going to the Dogs night for the Indy 11 Saturday at 7 pm.  Indy Eleven will look to start a new win streak when it returns to Carroll Stadium Saturday evening to host New York Red Bulls II. Despite a loss last week at Memphis that snapped a four-game winning run and six-match undefeated streak, the Boys in Blue still sit just on the right side of the Eastern Conference playoff line with some room to improve that positioning thanks to two games in hand on each of the 4 teams within 2 points both above (Tampa Bay & Miami) and below (Birmingham & Tulsa) them. The presence of 2019 and 2020 USL Championship Most Valuable Player Solomon Asante should only bolster Indy Eleven’s hopes of a successful homecoming. After signing with the Boys in Blue on April 11, some massive lifting behind the scenes allowed Asante to arrive from his native Ghana last weekend. The ex-Phoenix Rising FC standout trained throughout the week for the Boys in Blue, but how much Head Coach Mark Lowry will utilize the influential attacking presence remains to be seen. 


Huge news this week that the US Men and Women become the first Country in the World to agree to Equal pay across the board for the Men’s and Women’s teams. The teams agreed to share in total prize money gained from both World Cups and split it equally amongst the teams to make it happen.  The Men had to give up higher overall payouts made to the men by FIFA while the women had to give up guaranteed contracts and some other things- but in the end everything will be equal.  That means accommodations, travel, per diem, payment for making rosters, payments for wins, etc – is all going to be equal.  Lots to read below in the ole Ballcoach about what this all means – but huge !!  And Well done US Soccer – finally !!

USMNT Names Roster for June Games

The 26-man roster for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

USMNT weekend viewing guide: It all comes down to this


(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat,  May 21

1 pm Youtube DAZN           Barcelona vs Olympic Lyonnais ( Women’s Champs League)

2 pm ESPN+, Desp               Freiburg vs RB Leipzig (German Cup Final)

2:45 pm Para+                      Fiorentina vs Juventus

3:30 pm Unimas                   Columbus crew vs LAFC

6 pm ESPN+                           Cincy vs New England

6 pm para +                           Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash NWSL

7 pm TV 8                   Indy 11 vs NY RB 2 @ the Mike

7:30 pm FOX                        Nashville SC vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm Para+                 Angel City vs KC NWSL

Sun,  May 20  Final day EP/Italt/Spain

11 am USA                             Arenal vs Everton

11 am USA                             Brentford vs Leeds United 

11 am Peacock                     Burnely vs New Castle

11 am Peacock                     Liverpool vs Wolverhampton 

9 am Peacock                        Brentford vs Leeds United (Jesse Marsch)

11 am Peacock                     Norwich City (Stewart) vs Tottenham

11 am Peacock                     Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Watford

12:30 pm ESPN+               Barcelona vs Villareal

5 pm Para+                         NY/NJ Gotham vs Racing Louisville NWSL

6 pm Para+                         Portlant Reign vs Washington Spirit NWSL

10 pm FS1                            Portand Timbers vs Philly

Weds,  May 25

3 pm CBS SN                         Europa Conf finals-Roma vs Feynoord 

10 pm Para+                       Portland Reign vs KC  NWSL

Sat,  May 28                          Champions League Final

3 pm CBS, TUDN        Liverpool vs Real Madrid  Final

Wed, June 1

2:45 pm ESPN2           Scotland vs Ukraine

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

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

CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts and Evaluation Information

All evaluations and tryouts will be held at Shelborne Fields. 3451 W 126th St, Carmel, IN 46032.

June 7, 2022 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2013 to 2016)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm


June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
Use this link to register for tryouts. Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

 Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16 9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!

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Heading over to Badger Field for Training?  Try out the Best BarBQ in Town right across the street (131st) from Northview Church on the corner of Hazelldell & 131st. RackZ BBQ

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Check out the BarBQ Ribs, pulled Pork and Chicken, Brisket and more.  Sweet, Tangy or Spicy sauce. Mention you heard about it from the Ole Ballcoach — and Ryan will give you 20% off your next mealhttps://www.rackzbbqindy.com/ Call ahead at 317-688-7290  M-Th 11-8 pm, 11-9 Fri/Sat, 12-8 pm on Sunday.  Pick some up after practice – Its good eatin! You won’t be disappointed and tell ’em the Ole Ballcoach Sent You!  


USMNT deliver assist in victory for equal pay

Historic equal pay deal for U.S. Soccer teams
EXPLAINER: US Soccer’s equal pay play and what it means
US women’s soccer players lift up all women with victory in equal pay battle | Opinion  USA Today

USWNT show that everyone wins when women win – Shalise Manza Young »


The 26-man roster:for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

USMNT weekend viewing guide: It all comes down to this

Brooks has more to give USMNT despite Wolfsburg struggles  ESPN Derek Rae

Don’t worry about Pepi: Assessing USMNT striker’s rough start at Augsburg ESPNFC ustin Lindberg

Liiga Mx has the playoff Structure right

The amazing Aaronsons: Brenden, Paxten and their parents on being U.S. soccer’s next big hopes  ESPNFC Tom Hamilton


Premier League final day: what is at stake and how could it all play out?
Mark Ogden
Race for the prize! What history tells us about Premier League final-day title deciders
Chris Wright
Which Premier League clubs will qualify for Europe?
  ESPNFC Dale Honson
ale Johnson

Arsenal lack leadership and desire, and they could miss the Champions League because of it  Mark Ogden
Where would Man United be without Ronaldo? How he saved a grim season from total meltdown
Mark Ogden
Man City keep title fate in their hands despite Mahrez penalty miss

Newcastle vs Arsenal: Gunners beaten again in top-four collapse

17-year-old Blackpool forward Jake Daniels says he is gay

Blackpool’s Daniels ends 32-year wait for gay UK male footballer to come out

Liverpool’s FA Cup win completes the double, but can they shake off fatigue to win two more this season?
Mark Ogden

Chelsea’s striker issues doomed them to another FA Cup loss. Should they now keep or move on from Lukaku? James Olley
Marsch: Leeds ‘unlucky not to come away with more’

Nottingham Forest need penalties to reach playoff final


RB Leipzig must win DFB-Pokal after strong Bundesliga finish to a tough season Derek Rae

Bundesliga 2021-22 review: Bayern’s early peak, USMNT stars, Erling Haaland era ends  Bill Connelly
Lionel Messi’s agent shuts down Inter Miami, MLS rumors: He ‘has not yet decided’

Lionel Messi to join MLS in 2023, buy 35% of David Beckham’s Inter Miami (report)

Sources: PSG admit defeat in keeping Mbappe
  ESPNFC ulien Laurens

Emotional Sendoff for Juve’s Giorgio Chiellini and Dybala in Turin for their last home game

Firing the coach worked for Barcelona, but not every LaLiga club got it right this season Graham Hunter

Bayern Munich stars dominate our 2021-22 Bundesliga best XI
  ESPNFC Derek Rae
Suarez bids Atletico farewell as Sevilla qualify for Champions League

Champions League revamp: How the competition will work from 2024-25

 INDY 11 & MLS  

Preview Indy 11 vs NY RB2

Asante is Finally Here Ready

MLS Power Rankings: Dallas looks like a challenger to LA’s duopoly ESPNFC Kyle Bonagura and Caitlin Murray


 NC Courage’s Challenge Cup win shows best and worst NWSL has to offer  ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle
Jill Ellis led the USWNT to World Cup titles, but she feels more pressure with NWSL’s San Diego Wave
  ESPNFC Cesar Hernandez

Premier League final day: what is at stake and how could it all play out?

6:01 AM ET  Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Down at the bottom of the table, Leeds United and Burnley are battling to avoid the relegation trapdoor and one of them will be joining Norwich and Watford in the EFL Championship next season.

And there is also the race to claim the individual awards with it still too close to call for the Golden Boot, Golden Glove and Playmaker of the Season prize.

So with one round of games to go, what needs to happen on the final day of the season?

Title race

Manchester City opened a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League in February, albeit having played two more games than Liverpool. But despite their significant advantage, Pep Guardiola and his team have stumbled in the run-in and allowed Jurgen Klopp’s side to go into the final day with hopes still alive of a second title in three years and the third leg of a quadruple.But while Liverpool’s 2-1 midweek win at Southampton moved them to within one point of City, the odds strongly favour the reigning champions this weekend.City are at home to Aston Villa, managed by former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, and a win will guarantee a fourth title in five seasons for Guardiola’s side.Villa have lost their last eight games against City in all competitions and haven’t won a league game at the Etihad since 2007, so their form against City is poor. But if they can sneak a draw, Liverpool can then win the title with a victory against Wolves at Anfield.If City lose and Liverpool draw, it then goes down to goal difference but it would require City to lose by seven goals for Liverpool to finish top.There is, remarkably, the prospect of a title playoff if both City and Liverpool end the season level on points. If City lose 6-0 and Liverpool play out a 5-5 draw, then the two teams will be level on goals scored, goals conceded, goal difference and head to head. Such an outcome would require a playoff at a neutral venue, but if that happens, it really will have been an unforgettable final day.

Champions League qualification

Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are separated by just four miles in North London, so their rivalry was already intense enough before the two clubs became locked in a battle for the final Champions League qualification spot this season.Arsenal could have secured a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2017 by beating Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 12, but Mikel Arteta’s team suffered a 3-0 defeat and handed their bitter rivals a lifeline.Tottenham’s subsequent home win against Burnley three days later meant Arsenal had to win at Newcastle on May 16 to climb back into the top four, but a 2-0 defeat saw them blow their chance to go into the final day with a one-point advantage.So Spurs will start the day with a two-point lead over the Gunners and a goal difference of +24 — 15 better than Arsenal’s.It means that if Spurs avoid defeat at relegated Norwich, they are effectively guaranteed fourth place and a Champions League spot. For Arsenal, they simply have to beat Everton at the Emirates and hope that Norwich can produce one of the shocks of the season by beating Antonio Conte’s team at Carrow Road.

Europa League positions and Europa Conference League spot

Arsenal or Spurs will take the first Europa League spot by finishing fifth, although it will be no more than a consolation prize with both clubs still chasing a Champions League berth on the final day.The second spot is a two-way scrap between Manchester United and West Ham. Both teams are guaranteed European qualification, but results on Sunday will determine which plays in the Europa League next season and which ends up in the Europa Conference League.

– How European qualification in the Premier League works

United need a win at Crystal Palace to be certain of a sixth-place finish and the Europa League pass that comes with it. A draw or even defeat could still see Ralf Rangnick end his spell as interim manager with Europa League qualification, as long as West Ham do not win.

Due to their superior goal difference — West Ham are at +11 compared to United’s +1 — a win at Brighton will take the Hammers above United if Rangnick’s side fail to win at Selhurst Park. West Ham simply have to win and hope United drop points. A draw will not be enough for this season’s Europa League semifinalists.


Everton’s remarkable 3-2 win against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Thursday, when Frank Lampard’s team trailed 2-0 at half-time, was enough to banish the club’s relegation fears and ensure a stress-free final game of the season at Arsenal on Sunday.

So the battle to avoid the third relegation spot, and join Norwich and Watford in the Championship next season, is now down to just two teams — Burnley and Leeds.  Burnley’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on Thursday moved them out of the bottom three and gave them a crucial edge over Leeds going into the final day. Although the two clubs are level on 35 points, Burnley’s vastly superior goal difference — Burnley are on -18, Leeds on -38 — means that they will stay up if they at least match Leeds’ result at Brentford.  It’s a simple scenario for Burnley. If they beat Newcastle at Turf Moor they stay up and a draw or even defeat could be enough if Leeds get the same result. Jesse Marsch’s Leeds simply need to better Burnley’s result. If Burnley draw, Leeds need to win, but if Burnley are beaten, a draw will be enough for Leeds.  If both Burnley and Leeds win on the final day, Leeds will be relegated just two seasons after being promoted back to the Premier League after a 16-year absence.

Golden Boot

Mohamed Salah leads the scoring charts with 22 goals going into the final day, but the Liverpool forward could be overtaken by Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min who has 21 goals to date. With Spurs playing relegated Norwich at Carrow Road, Son will be facing the team with the worst defensive record in the Premier League this season, with 79 goals conceded in 37 games, so the South Korea forward will be confident of getting on the scoresheet.But with Liverpool needing a win to keep alive their title hopes, Jurgen Klopp’s team will almost certainly play all-out attack, so Salah — who is expected to have recovered from an injury suffered in the FA Cup final and missed Tuesday’s win at Southampton — will also have his chances.Cristiano Ronaldo, with 18 goals for Manchester United this season, is third in the goal charts, but although the 37-year-old has proved time and again that he is capable of the improbable, a four-goal display against Crystal Palace may be pushing even Ronaldo’s capabilities.

Golden Glove

Manchester City’s Ederson and Liverpool’s Alisson go into the final game having both kept 20 clean sheets in the Premier League this season. Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris is next on the list with 15 shutouts, so it will be Brazil‘s leading keepers who battle it out to win the Golden Glove this weekend.

Alisson has 20 from 35 games, while Ederson has managed 20 from 36, so the Liverpool No. 1 has a slight edge in terms of numbers, but if the two keepers end the season with the same number of clean sheets, the award is shared.

Playmaker of the Season

The Playmaker of the Season award was introduced in 2017-18 for the player with most assists. Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has won it twice (in 2017-18 and 2019-20) with Chelsea‘s Eden Hazard (2018-19) and Tottenham’s Harry Kane (2020-21) the other winners so far.

Barring a stunning individual performance by West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen or Chelsea’s Mason Mount on Sunday — both players have 10 assists this season — the Playmaker award will go to a Liverpool player.

Salah leads the way with 13 assists, while Trent Alexander-Arnold is one behind on 12. Andy Robertson is also in contention, but like Bowen and Mount, the Scotland defender is on 10 assists so he would need to create a hat trick of assists to tie with Salah.

Paul Pogba, whose six-year spell at Manchester United will end when he becomes a free agent this summer, is next on the line with nine this season.

Which Premier League clubs will qualify for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League?

May 16, 2022  Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

The Premier League season is almost over and the race for a place in Europe is reaching its climax.

We take a look at who is in contention to qualify for the Champions LeagueEuropa League and Europa Conference League, and what impact an English team winning a European trophy could have.

– How VAR has affected every Premier League club

How many teams qualify for Europe?

The maximum that can qualify from domestic performance in the Premier League — so either league position or by winning one of the two cup competitions — is seven.However, the places reserved for European titleholders are separate if a team does not qualify domestically. Therefore, it is technically possible, though unlikely, for the Premier League to have 10 teams in Europe — the seven domestic qualifiers plus the winners of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League if they are outside the European places.

With West Ham and Leicester losing in the semifinals if the Europa League and Europa Conference League respectively, there will be the usual seven Premier League teams in Europe next season.

Which Premier League places will qualify this season?

At the start of the season, the top four in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League, while fifth place and the FA Cup winners enter the Europa League. The winners of the Carabao Cup qualify for the Europa Conference League.However, Liverpool won the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup and can finish no lower than second in the league, so the Europa League and Europa Conference League places transfer to the Premier League.So, on domestic performance we know the following:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: 7

All teams go direct to the group stage, apart from the Europa Conference League, where the seventh-placed club will enter in the final qualifying round.

Who is in contention for Europe?

Premier League Table

1 – Man City37+7290
2 – Liverpool36+6586
3 – Chelsea36+4270
4 – Tottenham37+2468
5 – Arsenal37+966
6 – Man United37+158
7 – West Ham37+1156
8 – Wolves37-351

Manchester City (90), Liverpool (86 points) and Chelsea (70) are confirmed in the Champions League.

That leaves two teams in contention for the final UCL place. Tottenham Hotspur (68) have a vastly superior goal difference to Arsenal (66), which means Spurs will qualify for the Champions League if they get at least a draw at bottom-of-the-table Norwich City on Sunday. Arsenal must win at home to Everton and hope Spurs lose at Norwich. Whoever missed out will play in the Europa League.The second Europa League place is close. Manchester United (58) hold it right now, but West Ham United (56) are two points behind with a far superior goal difference. The Hammers must win at Brighton on the final day and hope Man United draw or lose at Crystal Palace. Both are assured of at least a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League as no other team remains in contention for a place in Europe.

What if Liverpool win the Champions League?

This will have no effect on the Premier League as Liverpool are guaranteed to finish in the top four this season. There is no “drop down” of places to give fifth a Champions League spot.If the Champions League winners also qualify domestically, the position in the group stage for the titleholders is vacant. This isn’t filled by giving another team a place, the qualifying rounds are rebalanced with clubs effectively receiving byes.Ordinarily, this would mean the champions of the country ranked 11th in the UEFA coefficient table at the end of the 2020-21 season — which is Scotland — would go direct to the Champions League group stage, rather than having to qualify. However, Russia is ranked eighth, and UEFA has announced its clubs will continue to be excluded from European competition. That means the Scottish champions, likely Celtic, are guaranteed to go direct to the group stage.So, if Liverpool win the Champions League it will be the champions of the 12th-ranked country who are given a place in the group stage. This just so happens to be Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk), though there are obvious doubts about its clubs participating next season. If Ukrainian clubs are not able to compete, it would be the champions of Turkey (Trabzonspor) promoted to the group stage.

How does qualification work for other European titleholders?

This can no longer apply this season, but it’s worth explaining.  By winning the Europa League, a club earns a place in the Champions League group stage. How that affects European places in the Premier League depends purely on where they finish.

There are three overriding principles:
– The winners of a European competition have the automatic right to European football the following season.
– A team has the right to play in the highest-ranked competition they qualify for.
– Another Premier League team cannot be affected by another’s success in Europe.

There are a few caveats, but it’s best to keep things simple for the purposes of this article.

So if a team wins the Europa League:
– They are guaranteed to play in the Champions League wherever they finish in the Premier League
– Eighth in the Premier League cannot qualify for Europe as a result of this

If the Europa League winners finish in the top four, nothing changes for the Premier League. The UCL qualifying rounds are rebalanced with clubs effectively receiving byes.

If the Europa League winners finish fifth or sixth, there would be only one Premier League team in the Europa League:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, UEL winners
Europa League: 5 or 6 only
Europa Conference League: 7

If the Europa League winners finish seventh, there would be no English team in the Europa Conference League:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, UEL winners
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: –

This happened in Spain last season, when Villarreal won the Europa League and finished seventh, meaning LaLiga had no representative in the inaugural season of the Europa Conference League.

If the Europa League winners finish lower than seventh, they would their place in Europe as titleholders but the top seven would be unaffected — there would be eight Premier League teams in Europe:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, UEL winners
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: 7

The same outline principles apply to any team that wins the Europa Conference League.

If the Europa Conference League winners finish in the top six, nothing changes for the Premier League. The qualifying rounds are rebalanced with clubs effectively receiving byes.

If the UECL winners finish seventh, they play in the Europa League and there is no Premier League team in the UECL. If the UECL winners finish lower than seventh, it would create an additional team in Europe as titleholders.

Can eighth in the Premier League qualify for Europe?

It is impossible for eighth to qualify by league position. This team must win a domestic cup competition or a European title to play in Europe the following season.

USWNT, USMNT achieve equal pay: How they reached a historic benchmark

By Meg Linehan and Sam Stejskal  May 18, 2022  The Athletic

For years, the slogan has been ubiquitous: “One Nation. One Team.” Whether you’re watching a U.S. national team match, on one of their official social media pages or shopping in the federation’s web store, you’re almost guaranteed to see it plastered all over the place. But that marketing campaign has never felt more fitting than right now. On Wednesday, following a bitter lawsuit and lengthy, occasionally contentious negotiating process, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the players’ unions for the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams announced that they have agreed to separate collective bargaining agreements that achieve equal pay through identical economic terms for both teams. “One-hundred percent, it embodies One Nation, One Team,” USWNT forward Midge Purce told The Athletic during a Zoom call with USMNT center back Walker Zimmerman and U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone. “We’re intrinsically tied now (with the men’s national team). When they score, we’ll cheer just a little bit harder. We did before, but we’re excited about it — we want a doubleheader. We’re opening doors for a new look of what football is in America.”Equal pay is, of course, the major and deserved headline with Wednesday’s news. The three sides have agreed that the compensation negotiated with the two new CBAs is not just equal pay, but equal pay with equal rates of pay (rather than comparing total compensation, regardless of imbalances of matches played). 

The two teams will now be on level terms for:

  • Equal pay for every game played, from friendlies to World Cups and other competitions
  • Equal bonuses for game outcome and World Cup participation
  • Equal pay for every day in camp
  • Equal split of World Cup prize money, with the two teams pooling and then dividing their prize totals from the 2022 and 2023 tournaments, and 2026 and 2027 competitions
  • Equal split of a new commercial revenue share program with U.S. Soccer
  • Equal rate for tickets sold for games controlled by U.S. Soccer

Equalizing World Cup prize money was the major hurdle that needed to be cleared to get these deals done. In practice, it’ll work like this: Say the U.S. men reach the round of 16 in Qatar to win a $13 million prize from FIFA and the U.S. women win the tournament in 2023 to earn a potential $7 million prize from FIFA. The two teams would then evenly split 90 percent of that combined total of $20 million, with the remaining 10 percent of their respective prize monies going to the federation. That nets out to $9 million for each team to be split between their respective players. That number does not include the World Cup roster appearance fee paid by USSF to each player on the respective squads.For the 2026 men’s World Cup and 2027 Women’s World Cup, the two teams will split 80 percent of the combined prize money paid by FIFA. U.S. Soccer’s cut of the overall winnings will increase to 20 percent for those two tournaments. For other competitions, prize money will be distributed depending on if the same tournament exists for both the MNT and the WNT. In the case of the Gold Cup and W Gold Cup, for instance, the prize money will be pooled and shared equally between the teams, with U.S. Soccer keeping 30 percent of the total and each team receiving 35 percent of the entire pool. For any other competitions that don’t have an equivalent (such as Copa America), U.S. Soccer will give 70 percent to the participating team.Both the WNT and MNT collective bargaining agreements will run for the same term, retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year, through Dec. 31, 2028. “This is the first time that we have sat down together, and we accomplished something historic,” said Zimmerman, a member of the leadership group for the men’s union, the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA). “We’re really excited to continue that timeline and to work together. It makes a lot more sense when you’re united, and you want to have — and you do have — equal terms, it just makes sense to move forward on that (shared) timeline.”The larger structural changes are on the women’s side. Guaranteed contracts are now gone, though even without the new CBA, the number of guaranteed contracts had already fallen to only 16. Some players will still be able to receive benefits, which include insurance, parental leave and short-term disability, through the federation, in recognition of what the federation deems “additional work.” 

In February, U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) president Becky Sauerbrunn said that the team has approached past CBA negotiations differently. ​​“We’ve asked for different structures (than the men), but that’s always because we never got an identical compensation proposal, and so we had to fight for the best deal that we could at the time. Fortunately, because of the equal pay commitment in the settlement, and between the federation and our players’ association and men’s association — there will be things that we are fighting for separately — but when it comes down to pay, when it comes down to working conditions, those things will be the same.”With compensation equalized, the WNT players were willing to shift to the pay-for-play structure of the men, with their money now coming on a per-game basis. “The way that this new CBA is structured, we’ve increased the amount of risk with your paycheck,” Purce, a member of the USWNTPA CBA committee, said. Rising NWSL salaries (and the new NWSL CBA, signed on Apr. 29, which introduces free agency by 2023) will play a role in minimizing some of that risk for players moving forward — though it’s nowhere near as financially robust as the club contracts signed by men’s players.“I’m really happy that people aren’t signing for $16,000 like I did when I was still in college, and that people can support themselves more comfortably with NWSL salaries,” she said. “It’s a credit to the NWSL, and I hope it just keeps growing with this.”There are also smaller wins for the WNT which will have a direct financial benefit. The federation has equalized how opponents’ FIFA rankings impact game bonuses, with the same tier system now in place for both senior national teams. An equal number of players will now be named to game-day rosters (unless otherwise restricted by the competition) for the MNT and WNT, which will increase most WNT rosters from 18 players to 23. Combined, that means that the WNT isn’t just getting better bonuses, but that more players will be earning them.

Here’s how these numbers will play out for both the WNT and MNT for friendlies, with the new equal tier system in place:

Friendlies vs. FIFA rank 1-25*


*Tier includes all men’s friendlies vs. Mexico and all women’s friendlies vs. Canada, regardless of their respective FIFA ranks

Friendlies vs. FIFA rank 26+


Game bonuses will be higher for World Cup qualifying matches compared to other official competitions. Here are the breakdowns for appearance fees and bonuses for these two other types of matches:

FIFA World Cup Qualifying


Non-FIFA World Cup Official Competitions


There will be no performance bonuses for World Cup matches for the WNT or MNT, though players will receive the $10,000 appearance fee for those matches.The settlement on working conditions as part of the equal pay lawsuit between the WNT players and the federation, approved in April 2021, has also been carried forward into the collective bargaining agreement, with equal resources provided for venues and field services, hotel accommodations, team staffing and travel.Additionally, for the first time, U.S. Soccer will share a portion of its broadcast and sponsorship revenue with the senior national team players. The share given to the men’s and women’s teams will be equal. The revenue share program will kick in once USSF crosses the $55 million income threshold. If the federation pulls in between $55-$75 million in an individual year, each team will receive 10 percent of the total. If U.S. Soccer earns more than $75 million, the two teams will each get 15 percent of the total. A source indicated that the federation is positioned well to hit that threshold after the agreement it signed with Nike last November, and the media rights deal it reached with Turner Sports in March

The sides also agreed to share ticket revenue from home games controlled by U.S. Soccer. Players will receive a small cut of revenue from each ticket sold for those matches, which include home friendlies, World Cup qualifiers and Nations League contests. From 2023 to 2026, U.S. Soccer will set aside $5.06 from every ticket sold; for the last two years of the CBA terms, that will rise to $5.75. Players will also receive a bonus if games are sold out — the federation will pay the players 10% of the average ticket cost for sell outs on matches they control. As part of the new CBA, the federation will also now provide childcare to USMNT players during all training camps and match windows. The USSF has provided that benefit to the USWNT for more than 25 years. The federation is also setting up a 401(k) plan for all players from both teams. For the men, the agreement brings an end to a nearly three-and-a-half-year period in which they were working without a CBA. That process has been fraught at times, with the players reportedly threatening to strike ahead of their friendly against Costa Rica last June. That move prompted a round of negotiations that ended with the players reportedly reaching an agreement with USSF CEO Will Wilson, only for that deal to later be rejected by the U.S. Soccer board.The men pulled back from negotiations after the proposed deal fell apart last June, but they returned to the table last fall to sit in on the women’s negotiations as observers. Eventually, they became active participants. All the while, as they were working their way through qualification for the 2022 World Cup, the men were debating whether or not to pool their prize money with the women so that it would be equalized across both teams. “I’m gonna be honest, it wasn’t always easy,” said Zimmerman. “It was definitely not a quick conversation like, ‘Hey, everyone, if you vote yes, raise your hand. Yep, we’re good.’ It was a lot of conversations where we had to listen, hear everyone out, hear exactly what they thought.” Ultimately, Zimmerman said, actually sitting down at the bargaining table with the women’s players pushed the men over the line. They knew what they felt was right — they just had to act.

“I would say that’s when the reality hit,” he said. “Like, ‘Yeah, this is what we need to do, this is what has to happen to grow the game beyond just the men’s team and the women’s team, but to grow it at the grassroots level.’ … We came together and said this is what is right, this can be historic, this could change the landscape of international football and what it looks like with federations having equal pay for the men’s and women’s sides. I think that’s kind of what sold it at the end of the day, is that this is what’s right and that this is an opportunity to do what no other national team has done.” Cone, who echoed Zimmerman’s comments about the importance of the deal, not just for equal pay, but for “the overall growth of the game,” praised the men for their decision to pool World Cup prize money. I’m just so proud, especially of the men and the men’s PA, for coming together,” she said. “Because no matter how you look at it, it was contingent on them being willing to come together and negotiate with the women and give up some of the money that had previously gone to the men to help us equalize World Cup prize money. So we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for everyone joining together and collaborating.”Of course, the U.S. men can afford to give up a portion of their prize money. Unlike the women, almost all of the regular men’s players make hefty salaries with their club teams. They derive a much lower percentage of their income from their work with the national team than the women. Zimmerman himself just signed a new contract with Nashville SC that will pay him at least $10 million over the next four years. Other USMNT players in MLS, like Jesus Ferreira, Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and DeAndre Yedlin, are either making more than, or just under, $1 million per year. European-based stars like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams likely make significantly more. For context, newly-minted USWNT forward Trinity Rodman signed the richest contract in NWSL history with the Washington Spirit this spring. It’s for four years and a total of $1.1 million

Zimmerman was quoted in the press release announcing the deal saying that he hopes the agreements “will awaken others to the need for this type of change, and will inspire FIFA and others around the world to move in the same direction.” He deferred comment to a later date when asked if the men have any plans to take advantage of the increased media attention that will be on them in the run-up to this fall’s World Cup in Qatar to lobby FIFA to make changes, but he, Purce and Parlow Cone all spoke about their hope that this deal will help make things more equitable between men’s and women’s national teams across the world. “This is going to have ramifications throughout not only the footballing world, but the sports world,” Cone said. “I’m really proud that we were the first country (to equalize prize money), but I would certainly hope we’re not the last. I will work to continue to encourage CONCACAF and FIFA to move in this direction as well. I think we do have willing partners there, but I don’t think things are going to move as fast as we would all like for them to.”The more immediate story here revolves around the WNT, as the new CBA was the key to their settlement with U.S. Soccer concerning the equal pay lawsuit. The federation and players announced their agreement to settlement terms on Feb. 22, though that deal was contingent upon the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement. With that ratification from both players associations and the U.S. Soccer board of directors, the settlement process can be resolved following approval from both the class members (the players) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.For the federation, there’s plenty of reason to celebrate two new CBAs and the final resolution of the equal pay lawsuit, but more than anything it’s the end of their public battle with the USWNT, which has cost U.S. Soccer in many ways beyond the legal fees, including sponsorship deals and public perception.It’s also another win for Cone in her role as president, with multiple sources from the women’s national team indicating that the final deal on equal pay and the CBAs wouldn’t have happened without her guidance. Thirty-two WNT players were willing to publicly endorse Cone over former president Carlos Cordeiro, who resigned in 2020 amid ferocious criticism over USSF court filings in the equal pay lawsuit that disparaged women’s players, ahead of March’s USSF presidential election.“Getting to a deal doesn’t automatically rebuild the trust,” Cone said. “We still have a lot of work to do, and that’s on us.” Wednesday will be claimed as a historic day by all sides, but there’s also no overlooking the actual impacts on the players’ lives, particularly on the women’s side. Asked if she had a favorite part of the new deal, Purce had an immediate answer.“You know, you’re not the first person to ask me this,” she said, laughing. “The money.”

USMNT weekend viewing guide: It all comes down to this

Will they stay or will they drop?

By jcksnftsn  May 20, 2022, 10:42am PDT  

After a nine months of weekly struggle, it still all comes down to a single match for the difference between playing in the top division or being relegated a level. It’s an understatement to say this is a massive impact to the clubs including all the financial implications and player decisions that will result based on the outcomes of this weekend. It should be exciting, particularly for our USMNT players involved, so let’s get to it.


Brentford v Leeds United – 11a on Peacock

No team with USMNG connections has more to play for this weekend than Jesse Marsch and Leeds United. Leeds find themselves in 18th place heading into the final weekend, and they will be heading to the Championship unless they are able to make up ground on Burnley on Sunday. Thursday was a rough off day for Leeds, as they saw Everton win to secure safety and Burnley play to a draw, which was enough to bring them level with Leeds on points. Thanks to a 20 goal advantage in goal differential, Burnley now have the leg up and Leeds will need to jump them in points on Sunday to earn safety. Of course, this means that Leeds aren’t entirely in control of their own destiny, as they could win on Sunday and still be relegated if Burnley also win. But, a win would significantly improve their chances, as a draw would mean that Burnley would have to lose. A Leeds loss means they are relegated regardless of the Burnley result.

Leeds have just one point from their last four matches and haven’t won a game since their 3-0 win over relegation-bound Watford six weeks ago. Their opponent this weekend is Brentford, who currently sit in 11th place. Leeds needed a late stoppage time goal to secure a point the last time the teams met in December.

Broadcast matches:

  • The Columbus Crew will face Kellyn Acosta and league leading LAFC at 3:30p on TUDN and Unimas.
  • Walker Zimmerman and Nashville SC will take on Atlanta United at 7:30p on Fox.

Streaming overseas:

  • Christian Pulisic and Chelsea FC finish their season with a match against Watford at 11a on Peacock. Chelsea are essentially locked into third place with a three point and 18 goal differential advantage over Tottenham.
  • Yunus Musah’s Valencia finish their season with a match against Celta Vigo. Valencia trail Celta Vigo by a point and the two clubs sit in 10th and 11th place. Musah has started just one of the past four matches and did not make it off the bench last weekend.
  • Timothy Weah and Lille face Rennes at 3p on beIN Sports. Weah scored his first goal of the season and added an assist last weekend in Lille’s 3-1 win over Nice.

MLS Mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

  • FC Cincinnati host Matt Turner and the New England Revolution at 6p.
  • DC United and Toronto FC kickoff has been pushed back to 6:30p due to high temperatures. The two teams are five spots apart in the Eastern Conference standings but separated by just two points.


FC Dallas v Minnesota United – 7p on ESPN+

Jesús Ferreira continued his hot start to the season on Wednesday, picking up his second assist to go along with a league-leading nine goals through thirteen matches. Dallas would go on to lose to league worst Vancouver 2-1 but remain in third place, just a point behind league-leading Austin FC and LAFC. Paul Arriola was the beneficiary of Ferreira’s assist as Jesús found him making the run alone on the right side of the box and Arriola was able to easily slot it away.

This weekend, Dallas will face a Minnesota United side who currently sit in ninth place in the Western Conference, seven points back of Dallas. There aren’t many USMNT connections on the Minnesota side, though there is a certain William Alexander Trapp that might bring back some memories.

Broadcast matches:

  • The Portland Timbers host the Philadelphia Union at 10p on FS1. Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan all got some run for Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia on Wednesday in their scoreless draw with Inter Miami.

Streaming overseas:

  • Matt Miazga will bring his time with Deportivo Alavés to a close when Alavés face Cadiz at 2p on ESPN+. Alavés will be relegated while Cadiz currently sit in 18th place but are tied on points with Mallorca and and a point behind Granada so safety isn’t out of the question.
  • There are rumors that Matthew Hoppe could be leaving Mallorca this summer as well after making just five appearances for the club over the course of this past season. First, Mallorca will look to secure a spot in La Liga for next season when they face Osasuana at 2p on ESPN+.
  • Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessmann and Venezia get their last taste of Serie A action for at least a year when they face Cagliari at 3p on Paramount+. Cagliari need a win and a Salernitana loss or they will be joining Venezia in Serie B for the 2022-23 campaign.

MLS Mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

  • Djordje Mihailović and CF Montreal face Real Salt Lake at 4p on ESPN+.
  • New York City FC and the Chicago Fire kick off at 5p. Gaga Slonina and the Chicago Fire haven’t won a match since mid-March and currently sit bottom of the table.
  • DeAndre Yedlin and Inter Miami host Aaron Long and the New York Red Bulls at 6p. Caden Clark is also recently returned for NYRB but did not make it off the bench on Wednesday.
  • The San Jose Earthquakes face Sporting Kansas City at 7:30p. If you’re looking for some fireworks, keep an eye on this one as a man has been sent off in four of SKC’s last five matches, including four reds being handed out in their match with Colorado on Wednesday!
  • In one of the more surprising early season standing results, Austin FC currently hold the league’s best record and will now host Orlando City at 8p Sunday evening.
  • The Colorado Rapids will host Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders have won their past two league matches after a slow start to their regular season.

RB Leipzig must win DFB-Pokal after strong Bundesliga finish to a tough season

12:38 PM ET  Derek Rae

ESPN’s lead Bundesliga commentator Derek Rae is in Berlin for the DFB-Pokal Final (stream LIVE, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN+ in the U.S.) between Freiburg and Leipzig. He reflects on the twists and turns of RB Leipzig‘s season. Will it end with the club’s first major trophy or in tears and soul searching for a club still denied wider acceptance.

It has become fashionable to mock RB Leipzig’s fan support or more accurately, the lack of it. Not even the recent Europa League semifinal decider at Ibrox against Rangers could tempt more than a handful to make the journey, something that would have been a special, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage for supporters of better-established clubs.

– Connelly: Have returning giants Schalke, Bremen fixed their issues?
– Rae: Bayern dominate our Bundesliga team of the season
– Hamilton: Tyler Adams doesn’t care about the limelight

This week in the German capital, RB Leipzig will be hoping to change perceptions about themselves as a club and an entity. It must be said it’s a pretty straightforward train journey from Leipzig to Berlin and in good times, it’s a drive of little more than two hours along the A9 Autobahn. So you would worry if they weren’t going to take a large travelling support for Saturday’s showdown at the Olympiastadion. In fact, an estimated 27,000 from the Heldenstadt (“city of heroes”) will descend on the western part of Berlin and they even have their own stage show and fan march planned. It’s a sizeable number, but they will be in the decided minority in a different way. Meanwhile, 99.9999% of Germany’s football fans are willing on Freiburg, the ultimate organic community club who stand in contrast to the Leipzig business model, one that many still argue is at odds with the essence of German football culture.

Among Leipzig fans, is there a reaction of “nobody likes us but we don’t care?” More precise would be “nobody likes us but we will just remain quiet about that and not make too much of a fuss.”

Austin Lindberg

And so will Saturday, in Berlin’s Westend district, be the night when RBL start to look north and usher in an era of trophy lifts? A first major honour beckons, after all: the Regionalliga Nordost and Sachsen Pokal were nice to win during the club’s infancy, but they don’t quite qualify.

At the start of the season, there was considerable optimism within the club. Jesse Marsch was part of the family, true to the Ralf Rangnick counter-pressing approach and blessed, by his own admission, with the deepest, most comprehensive squad in the entire Bundesrepublik. I’ve written before about why the marriage between Marsch and Leipzig simply had to be terminated before it became too late to salvage a Champions League place. Essentially the team had moved on stylistically to ball-control football under Julian Nagelsmann, and Marsch’s back-to-the-future approach wasn’t going to work.

Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff recently said that Marsch was trying to change too much, too soon. Either way, the players wanted a possession game, and that’s what they got under new man Domenico Tedesco, who really began to hit his stride come the turn of the year. Squad members in various interviews have expressed their contentment at things since his arrival.

Leipzig have been the form team for a good portion of the Rückrunde (second half of the season). If you go strictly by the numbers, they have been the best team in the league since the winter break: Between early January and late April, they lost just one of their 20 competitive matches and that was 3-2 away to Rekordmeister Bayern. It has looked a lot more like “Nagelsmann football,” too, with a return to a back-three defense and the banishment of the overly hectic, wild style favoured by Marsch.

Tyler Adams has a hidden love of art

Tyler Adams takes Alexis Nunes to a museum in Leipzig to explain his love for art.

I was genuinely beginning to think that had it not been for the ill-fated Marsch period, Leipzig would perhaps be on a winning course for the Meisterschale. But something strange has happened to RBL in the past few weeks and it must surely be down to the Belastungssteuerung, a great German word for “excessive work load.” You could detect a big dip, even in victory away to Leverkusen just before their Pokal semifinal date with Union. Leipzig then appeared nervous and twitchy in the first half against the robust Unioner, and were frankly fortunate that Emil Forsberg‘s late header to clinch a place in the final wiped out memories of a skittish, under-par performance.

Facing Union at home again three days later, Leipzig struggled once more and this time let the game slip from their grasp in the closing stages. It was a portent of disappointments to come against Gladbach, but most noticeably over the two meetings with Rangers when on squad strength, RBL were favourites to go through to the final in Seville.

– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
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This tag of being the “nearly team that can’t quite get it over the line” is something Leipzig would prefer to shed — and not just in European competition. Leipzig have lost their two previous DFB-Pokal finals … albeit against Bayern and Dortmund respectively. In Freiburg, a bit like against Union and Rangers, they will face the ultimate Mentalitätsmonster (thanks to a certain Jurgen Klopp, some in the English speaking world already know this word.) They must be especially careful in defending set-pieces.

The positive for Tedesco and Leipzig is they have already nailed down their Champions League place for next season, although it was a much closer shave than it really should have been.

When Leipzig are at their best, they still need a balance between their newest stars — the fabulous Christopher Nkunku and talented Dani Olmo being the prime examples — and the old guard. Peter Gulacsi, Emil Forsberg and Yusuf Poulsen provide this link to the club’s recent past, when the club was in a rush to ascend the divisions. Continuity is important.

As against Rangers, Leipzig are favourites to beat Freiburg tomorrow even though both Bundesliga meetings of the sides this season ended in 1-1 draws. This and the fact that they finished a mere three points apart suggests a final played at eye level.

German football fans recognise that for all their reservations about RB Leipzig, sooner or later, a trophy will come their way. Their advantage in terms of resources over most of the rest of the Bundesliga virtually ensures this. Whatever happens on Saturday, at least no one will accuse RB Leipzig of not having enough of their own fans on site to witness a key moment in their history.

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Save 20% on these Succulent Ribs at Rackz BarBQ when you mention the Ole Ballcoach – Corner of 131 & Hazelldell. – Call 317-688-7290.

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

 Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16 9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!

CHS Boys -2022 Hounds Soccer Camp –July 11-14, 2022  9 am to 11 am $95 per Boys/Girls 8-14 

Carmel High School Girls – 2022 Middle School Camp – 6/7/8th Graders  $90 (includes T-shirt) July 18-21  Murray Stadium  2:30 to 4:30 pm   

5/13/22  FA Cup Final Liverpool vs Chelsea Sat 11:30 am/Indy 11 8 pm ESPN+, Seattle wins CCL

MLS Finally Wins CONCACAF Champions League – Seattle Wins !!!

It was a huge night last week when Seattle finally lifted the CCL Trophy for the first time in the 17 years by becoming the first ever MLS squad to win it – 3-0 at home (5-2 on Aggregate) over Mexican La Liga side Pumas UNAM. (Relive the Final Here)  and YES I CRIED!!  (check out this fans video from the stands) Now, first things first, since Seattle came into MLS in 2009 – they have been the model of consistency since they entered the league 13 years ago as they have won the MLS Cup twice, the Supporters Shield, and the US Open Cup multiple times.  They entered the league and immediately shattered attendance records regularly averaging 35K plus for their regular season home games. On this night they broke the CCL Record for Attendance with 68,972 fans on hand to see history made. I became a fan when I saw those huge AMERICAN CROWDS for soccer and it just grew as they signed Deuce (American Superstar Clint Dempsey).  Someday I will stand in that glorious stadium and root on my Ganggreen!!  Just as important though is the culture of the Sounders fans – and feel of the crowd around the city and around the stadium pregame. It is the penultimate setting in the US for game – especially a big game like this one.  The TV Coverage by Fox Sports 1 was spot on check it out with the goals– treating this game with the respect it deserved – listen to that crowd!  Oh and just in case you wondered – 1.5 million watched the CCL final at 10 pm EST on FS1 & in Spanish in the US almost 1 million more than watched the CCL Real Madrid vs Man City game the same day on CBS and Univision. 

Indy 11 Ladies Win 6-1 on Road after 3-1 inaugural win

Braces by Soderstrom & Bulatovic, 3 assists by Lynch fuel offensive outburst in first @USLWLeague away contest at Flint City AFC 6-1.  Indy Eleven captured a 3-1 victory over Kings Hammer FC in the Inaugural Match of the USL W League, the new 44-team women’s pre-professional league under the United Soccer League umbrella. The historic triumph for Indy Eleven was played in front of a sold out, standing room-only crowd of 1,571 fans at the Grand Park Events Center. Rachel McCarthy’s pair of goals early in the first half lifted Indiana’s Team to a comfortable cushion, and Carmel Dads Club, Carmel High School alum and current Butler standout Katie Soderstrom’s 78th minute finish sealed the win after the KHFC cut the deficit back to one just before halftime. Read all about it !!   The Indy 11 men head to Memphis Sat night at 8 pm on ESPN plus

Big Games this weekend

Saturday we get the FA Cup Final  Liverpool vs Chelsea at 11:45 am on ESPN plus as Liverpool is still alive for the Quad – 4 Cups – if they can beat Chelsea on Saturday.  (Don’t ask me why this game is not on ESPN or ESPN2 – but I for one will be watching at Liverpool Bill’s house!!  Here’s a Preview.  Of course Pulisic started his 3rd straight game with Lukaku up top playing the #10 spot where he thrived again.  Pulisic Scores for Chelsea.  I see Liverpool being just too much for Chelsea to keep up with so I am calling for a 3-2 Liverpool win – with Pulisic scoring a goal – if he starts in the 10 spot again – if he doesn’t start 3-1 Liverpool.  (Interesting Pulisic Rumors to Juventus).  In other EPL action – Leeds United and US coach Jesse Marsch are begging for a win at home vs Brighton.  Leeds has had a player red carded out the last 2 games – against top level teams in Chelsea and Tottenham.  They still need to make up points on Burnley who are 1 spot above the relegation line with Leeds on the wrong side.   EPL table  They play Sunday at 9 am on Peacock while,  Tottenham host Burnley at 7 am and West Ham hosts Man City at 9 am both on USA. 

Good Luck to our Carmel FC teams playing in Challenge Cup/State Cup and President Cup games coming up this weekend and next – we’ll have GK Training Mon at RR 5-6:15 pm and Thurs at Badger 6:15-8:15 and Tues/Wed at Shelbourne.  Former Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 Goal Keeper Jordan Farr of San Antonio was voted at the Top USL Player as voted in the USL for April.  Speaking of Farr – here’s a nice interview he did in San Antonio.  Man this Superfan is a god also huge news that  EA Sports ends partnership with FIFA, will rename iconic video game.


(American’s in parenthesis)

Fri, May 13                        

10:30 pm Para+                 Portland Thorns vs Seattle Reign (NWSL)    

Sat May 14                         Germany last day

9:30 am ESPN+                  Wolfsburg (Brooks) va Bayern Munich

9:30 am ESPN+                  Dortmund vs Hertha

9:30 am ESPN+                  MGladbach (Joe Scally) vs Hoffenheim

10 am  ESPN+                   Sheffield United vs Nottingham Forrest (Horvath) 

11:45 am ESPN+         Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Liverpool FA CUP FINAL

2:45 pm Para+                   Roma vs Venezia

3 pm TUDN                         Charlotte vs Inter Miami
3 pm ESPN+                        Real Bettis vs Barcelona

7 pm Univision                   America vs Puebla

7 pm Para+                         NY/NJ Gothem vs NC Courage NWSL

8 pm ESPN+                Memphis 901 vs Indy 11

8 pm ESPN+                      Chicago Fire vs Cincy

8 pm Para +                        Racing Louisville vs Houston Dash NWSL

10:30pm ESPN+                 LA Galaxy vs Dallas 

Sun,  May 15

7 am USA                            Tottenham v Burnley

9 am USA                            West Ham vs Man City

9 am Peacock                     Aston Villa v Crystal Palace

9 am CBS SN                       Napoli vs Genoa

9 am Peacock                     Leeds United (Jesse Marsch) vs Brighton

9 am Peacock                     Wolves vs Norwich City (Stewart)

11:30 am  USA                   Everton vs Brentford

12 noon CPBSN                  Milan vs Atalanta

1:30 pm ESPN                    Atlanta United vs New England

12:30 pm ESPN+                Atletico Madrid vs Seviila

5 pm Para+                         San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

4 pm ESPN                          Seattle vs Min United 

Mon,  May 16

3 pm USA                            New Castle vs Arsenal

2:45 pm Para+                   Juventus vs Lazio

Tues,  May 17

2:45 pm USA                      South Hampton vs Liverpool 

Weds,  May 18

3 pm CBS SN                       Europa League finals-Frankfurt vs Rangers (Sands)

7:30 pm Para+                   Racing Louisville vs Sand Diego Wave (Morgan)

7:30 pm ESPN+                  NY Redbulls vs Chicago Fire

8:30 pm ESPJN=                 Nashville vs CF Montreal

Thurs,  May 19

2:45 pm USA                      Everton vs Crystal Palace

3 pm Peacock                     Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Leicester City 

Sat,  May 21

2 pm ESPN+, Desp             Freiburg vs RB Leipzig (German Cup Final)

3:30 pm Unimas                Columbus crew vs LAFC

6 pm ESPN+                        Cincy vs New England

6 pm para +                        Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash NWSL

7 pm TV 8                   Indy 11 vs NY RB 2 @ the Mike

7:30 pm FOX                      Nashville SC vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm Para+                 Angel City vs KC NWSL

Sun,  May 20  Final day EPL/Italy/Spain

11 am USA                          Arenal vs Everton

11 am USA                          Brentford vs Leeds United 

11 am Peacock                   Burnely vs New Castle

11 am Peacock                   Liverpool vs Wolverhampton 

9 am Peacock                     Brentford vs Leeds United (Jesse Marsch)

11 am Peacock                   Norwich City (Stewart) vs Tottenham

11 am Peacock                   Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Watford

12:30 pm ESPN+               Barcelona vs Villareal

5 pm Para+                         NY/NJ Gotham vs Racing Louisville NWSL

6 pm Para+                         Portlant Reign vs Washington Spirit NWSL

10 pm FS1                           Portand Timbers vs Philly

Weds,  May 25

3 pm CBS SN                       Europa Conf finals-Roma vs Feynoord 

10 pm Para+                      Portland Reign vs KC  NWSL

Sat,  May 28                       Champions League Final

3 pm CBS, TUDN         Liverpool vs Real Madrid  Final

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

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


Seattle Sounders made CCL history… Which MLS team wins it next?

Next stop, FIFA Club World Cup: Seattle Sounders achieve “immortality” after CCL title

Record-breaking crowd lifts Seattle Sounders to CCL glory on “special” night

Seattle Sounders “hit on all levels”, reach Concacaf

Eight MLS players named to 2022 Concacaf Champions League Best XI

Seattle Sounders Deserve Every Bit of Praise for Winning CCL – Demarcus Beasely MLS.com

How Seattle Won the CCL in the Most Sounders Way Possible – BackHeeled.com  Joseph Lowery

How Seattle have Built and Maintain A Contender – Matt Doyle – MLS.com

Its Fitting Seattle Wins it All – Brian Straus SI 

Seattle Goes Continental – Grant Wahl

Seattle’s Win is Huge – what’s Next for Sounders –  Seattle Times

Seattle Ends Mexico’s Reign over soccer.  

Week 10 Wrap-up


EA Sports ends partnership with FIFA, will rename iconic video game

Inter Milan see off Juventus to win Italian Cup after penalty drama

Atletico’s UCL expectations illustrate growth under Simeone


Pulisic Scores for Chelsea

USA MLS Player Played Well  

Miles Robinson Lost for World Cup


FA Cup Liverpool vs Chelsea Preview

Liverpool vs Chelsea Preview
Arsenal’s leadership woes exposed by Tottenham, and could cost them a Champions League spot
hMark Ogden

Jesse Marsch’s hopes of rescuing Leeds are unraveling after brutal Chelsea loss  Mark Ogden

3 Things We Learned – Tottenham over Arsenal 3-0

Man  City agree to Eriling Halland Deal

Briston Rovers score 7 goals to get Promoted


The sunset over the fields at Badger where I trained a couple of High School quality Goalkeepers really hard Thursday night. Man I love training GKs who want to get better and possibly play high school ball. Sure do wish we had more show up for training though. Can’t make em better if they don’t show up.

Saves of the Week USL

Jordan Farr former CFC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK was voted at the Top USL Player in April

Saves of the Week MLS

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview vs Memphis

Indy 11 W Win Opener  Nuvo News 

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Liverpool vs. Chelsea: Men’s FA Cup final talking points: Who will win at Wembley? Which players are key?

Top Premier League teams may only have to win six matches to lift the men’s FA Cup, but Saturday’s final (11:45 a.m. ET; stream live on ESPN+, U.S. only) will still feel like a marathon more than a sprint for Chelsea and Liverpool. This weekend’s fixture concludes the 150th edition of the world’s oldest cup competition, a milestone that the Royal Mint have deemed suitably grand to create a special £2 coin in celebration.The outcome feels like a coin flip, too. Chelsea and Liverpool contested a hugely entertaining Carabao Cup final at Wembley just 76 days earlier, goalless at the end of 120 minutes and decided by the finest of margins — a penalty shootout ending 11-10 as Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga skied his spot-kick over the crossbar.

For Chelsea, this will be the 61st game of a grueling season that started with a UEFA Super Cup triumph in Belfast, continued with Club World Cup success in Abu Dhabi, and is now ending under sanction amid a dramatic takeover following the U,K, government’s decision to punish current owner Roman Abramovich for alleged ties to Russia President Vladimir Putin.

Blues head coach Thomas Tuchel has admitted his players are showing signs of fatigue after such a demanding campaign, and Jurgen Klopp can empathize; Saturday will be Liverpool’s 60th game of 2021-22, and both clubs will end on 63 matches as the Reds’ season ends in Paris with a Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28.

Although Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes are beginning to fade as Manchester City continue winning in relentless fashion, Klopp’s side still have a chance of pulling off an unprecedented quadruple. The next leg can be secured at Wembley.

Who needs this more?

Given the history at stake, probably Liverpool. Klopp has sought to deflect any quadruple talk, but success in four competitions would elevate this Liverpool team to indisputable status as one of the greatest in English football history. It is, however, the prize they covet least given the Premier League and Champions League titles are still in play.

Tuchel will feel his players deserve something to show for the professionalism they have displayed while the club’s existence has felt uncertain. Abramovich issued his first statement attempting to distance himself from the club the night before the Carabao Cup final on Feb. 23. Ever since, Tuchel has had to field questions on everything from war to morality while maintaining morale among a group of players and staff facing restrictions over day-to-day operations resulting from the terms of a special government licence granted to keep fulfilling fixtures.

A consortium led by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly is now seeking U.K. government and Premier League approval to complete a takeover. Boehly is likely to be at Wembley on Saturday as Chelsea prepare for a new era. What better way to start than with the club’s ninth FA Cup win? For their part, Liverpool would move level with Chelsea on eight wins should they triumph.

Any injury issues to consider?

Saturday will be the fourth meeting between these sides this season, with the previous three encounters technically ending in draws, and Chelsea’s ability to compete with Liverpool has been based upon a high-pressing game housed in a 3-4-2-1 formation. It is for this reason, more than any other, that Tuchel will be tempted to restore Kai Havertz to lead the attack at the expense of Romelu Lukaku, who has started the past two Premier League games, scoring three times.

Lukaku caused Liverpool problems off the bench in the Carabao Cup final, and that “impact substitute” role could prove effective once again. Tuchel must decide whether Christian PulisicTimo Werner, or Hakim Ziyech play alongside Mount. Werner’s finishing is often in doubt, but his pace is not, and that speed will be a useful weapon against Liverpool’s high line.

The probable absence of Mateo Kovacic is a significant blow as Tuchel views his intelligence in possession as vital to Chelsea’s ability to dictate games. Kovacic spent Friday attempting to rejoin training following an ankle problem in a last-ditch attempt to be fit alongside N’Golo Kante, who has suffered a series of nagging muscular problems. There is a little more optimism surrounding Kante, and he is more likely to partner Jorginho in central midfield. If both Kovacic and Kante are deemed unavailable, Ruben Loftus-Cheek — who scored in Chelsea’s semifinal win over Crystal Palace — will be drafted in.

Jurgen Klopp made five changes for Tuesday’s win at Aston Villa and left-back Andrew Robertson is certain to be recalled, as is Mohamed Salah following his 18-minute cameo at Villa Park. No Liverpool player has scored more goals than Sadio Mane (12) since the beginning of February and so he will surely start, leaving Klopp with the decision of whether to pick livewire Luis DiazDiogo Jota, or Roberto Firmino as his third forward. In midfield, Fabinho will be a big miss after suffering a hamstring injury against Aston Villa on Tuesday, but he should be fit for the Champions League final at least.

Who are the key players?

Salah, Mane, and Diaz are all obvious threats for Liverpool but looking a little deeper, Chelsea’s Mason Mount will feel he has a particular point to prove. The 23-year-old was guilty of two bad misses in the Carabao Cup final either side of half-time, which would have turned a goalless game in the Blues’ favour.

Mount was in fine form with a goal and an assist in Wednesday’s 3-0 win at Leeds and although Tuchel will make changes to that XI, Mount is expected to retain his place. He’ll be looking for space in an area of the pitch that looks certain to be vacated by Fabinho.

Jordan Henderson replaced Fabinho at Villa Park and the England international will have a key role in stopping the supply line to Chelsea’s forwards while also helping Liverpool break the Blues’ press. Thiago Alcantara was one of those initially rested at Villa Park before coming on for Curtis Jones with the scores level against Villa and it was the Spaniard’s pass which launched the attack that led to Mane’s winning goal.Thiago produced arguably his best performance for Liverpool in last month’s FA Cup semifinal win over Manchester City and will be desperate to play, having missed the Carabao Cup final after picking up a hamstring injury in the warm-up.Ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea, take a look back the EFL Cup final which ended with an unforgettable 22-kick penalty shootout.

Manager watch

This is the first time two German managers have contested an FA Cup final. It is the 19th meeting between the pair, with Klopp firmly in the ascendancy having won 10 and drawn five. Both are establishing themselves among the greats at their respective clubs, with Klopp becoming only the second Liverpool manager to lead a team into four major finals (League Cup, Europa League, Champions League and FA Cup) while Tuchel has achieved the same feat at Chelsea, something only previously done by Jose Mourinho.Impressively, Tuchel’s success comes after just one year and 108 days as head coach. Chelsea have lost the past two FA Cup finals but only one of those came under Tuchel, as his predecessor Frank Lampard was beaten by Arsenal in an empty Wembley due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Klopp’s status as one of the game’s great modern-day managers is assured no matter the outcome, but for Tuchel, a victory would be a validation of his methods and a reminder ahead of what will be a busy transfer window at Stamford Bridge that Chelsea can still rival the best despite a change of ownership and a somewhat disappointing Premier League campaign.

Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool

It is difficult to see how this will lack goals like the Carabao Cup final did. Although Chelsea beat Leeds comfortably in midweek, their recent form is something of a concern. Liverpool’s superior options in attack should give them the advantage.

Havertz, Mane and what a Chelsea vs Liverpool FA Cup final says about modern strikers

Michael Cox  May 13, 2022 The Athleitc

The last time Chelsea and Liverpool met in the FA Cup final, the story was all about proper No 9s.The main character in the backstory didn’t actually play, but this match in 2012 came less than 18 months after Fernando Torres’ shock £50 million transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea, which initially left Liverpool reeling but eventually caused Chelsea more problems.By this point, Roberto Di Matteo — Chelsea’s third manager in Torres’ time at the club — had given up trying to integrate the Spaniard, and reverted to playing Didier Drogba up front instead. We all know the story with Drogba and cup finals, and after Ramires opened the scoring, Drogba put Chelsea 2-0 up.Two minutes later, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish sacrificed midfielder Jay Spearing and turned to Andy Carroll, the striker who had been desperately signed on the night of the Torres transfer. Carroll soon scored, and with the wind in Liverpool’s sails, they relentlessly knocked hopeful crosses into the box towards him. Eventually, he met one with a powerful header, and ran off celebrating.Unfortunately for Carroll, the ball hadn’t actually gone in — Petr Cech had made a remarkable save, and Chelsea hung on for a 2-1 win. save (Getty Images)

All this seems remarkably long ago, and come Saturday’s final Jordan Henderson will be the only survivor from that day. But really, what dates this story is that it was a cup final based almost entirely around No 9s. It was about Torres moving from red to blue, about Drogba being the cup final hero, about Carroll nearly being Liverpool’s saviour. A decade on, it all feels a bit Roy of the Rovers.This weekend, it’s unlikely that the starting line-ups will feature a striker.Jurgen Klopp seems likely to continue with Sadio Mane through the middle. Mane arrived at the club and played excellently on the right, then after Mohamed Salah’s arrival switched seamlessly to the left, and now after Luis Diaz’s instant impact has again been redeployed, this time through the middle. It’s arguably rejuvenated Mane’s Liverpool career, and suddenly the club have a new look in the final third.Thomas Tuchel could field Romelu Lukaku, who has scored in back-to-back games to put himself in contention. But it’s more likely that Tuchel will field a front three selected from Mason MountTimo WernerChristian Pulisic and Kai Havertz, probably with Havertz leading the line. Comparing Drogba and Carroll with Havertz and Mane demonstrates how much football has evolved over the past decade.The idea that players deployed as a centre-forward might not be natural, old-school No 9s is hardly new — we’ve been talking about false nines for more than a decade — but this season has been particularly notable for it. From Manchester City being likely to win the league without a recognised centre-forward and Arsenal happily ditching Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang because he offered little outside the box, to Manchester United signing the world’s highest international goalscorer of all time but regressing as a team, this has not been a vintage season for pure finishers.But whereas Mane and Havertz might have been grouped a decade ago as false forwards, more accustomed to playing elsewhere but shoved up top through circumstances rather than design, the reality is that they’re actually entirely different players.While Mane is primarily considered a quick player adept at running in behind the opposition defence — in keeping with Liverpool’s preferred style of full-throttle attacking football — he’s actually, in another way, a natural centre-forward. Few other players in the Premier League (and surely no one else who is around the 5ft 9in mark) are as adept at dropping short to receive the ball with their back to goal and using their body to shield it. Mane is so dangerous in those situations in part because he’s happy spinning either way, comfortable shooting or passing with either foot. He’s also good at winning free kicks from defenders in tight situations.On paper, Havertz is the opposite — more of a natural centre-forward at 6ft 3in but more comfortable at arriving late in the box rather than being permanently stationed there. At times he’s shown an eye for goal, including in last year’s Champions League final. Eleven Premier League goals since signing nearly two years ago isn’t a particularly impressive return, although he hit 17 and then 12 in his final two Bundesliga campaigns, suggesting he can find the net on a more consistent basis.Maybe the most significant thing, though, is that even the players over whom Mane and Havertz are likely to be favoured are not, arguably, traditional No 9s either. For Liverpool, Diogo Jota briefly felt like a penalty box No 9 because he scored several headed goals, but is a small, quick attacker who played a wider role at WolvesRoberto Firmino was originally considered a false nine who played as a No 9 so frequently he increasingly felt like a conventional centre-forward. Divock Origi is the closest thing to a target man, and is fielded there as a Plan B, but from the start has often played from the left as Klopp wants a better link man through the middle.From Tuchel’s perspective, Werner — who could start here if Chelsea want to exploit the space between Liverpool’s defensive line — has managed just 10 goals from 56 Premier League appearances and increasingly feels like a useful decoy runner rather than a genuine goal threat himself.Even Romelu Lukaku, the £100-million man intended to be a prolific goalscorer, has suffered badly in his second stint at Chelsea, in part because of his mid-season interview with Italian television where he complained about his role at Chelsea, presumably wishing to play a more mobile role running inside from an inside-right position, as he did at Inter. Lukaku does not consider himself a Diego Costa, an Olivier Giroud, a Drogba or even a Torres.We don’t have to go back 10 years to find the last Liverpool v Chelsea meeting at Wembley, however. That came three months ago in the League Cup final, an absolutely belting end-to-end game that created 4.4 xG worth of chances, but precisely zero goals. If something similar happens this weekend it will feel somehow fitting.

It’s Only Fitting That Seattle Breaks MLS’s CCL Glass Ceiling

For all the jokes about what Seattle has invented as it relates to American soccer, the Sounders have been a model MLS franchise and make for a worthy trailblazer.

going to strike somewhere in MLS territory, then Seattle was the perfect place. It’s a city that embraced domestic pro soccer through multiple leagues and decades with a rare, sustained fervor. And it’s home to a club that then set a standard of ambition, consistency and success in a league designed to suppress it. The Sounders have always put pressure on themselves to raise the bar and win, even when the surrounding structure doesn’t. So they have, and that ethos and championship culture paved the way for Wednesday’s historic victory before yet another raucous, record crowd at Lumen Field.Where MLS teams had stumbled and failed for two decades, the Sounders now stand triumphant. After overcoming two early injuries, they easily defeated Mexico’s UNAM Pumas, 3–0, in the second and deciding leg of the Concacaf Champions League finals (last week’s opener ended 2–2). Seattle became the first MLS club since 2001, and the first in the tournament’s home-and-away era, to claim the continental title. Raúl Ruidíaz, the Peruvian striker who has been one of many big-ticket signings the Sounders nailed, tallied goals on either side of halftime. Playmaker Nicolás Lodeiro, an Uruguayan veteran who has been the creative inspiration behind the club’s recent success, potted Seattle’s third. U.S. national team winger Jordan Morris, an Emerald City native and the son of the club doctor, set the table for his side’s two second-half strikes. The stars shone brightly.Along with the coveted CCL trophy comes an invitation to the next FIFA Club World Cup, which will feature an MLS squad for the first time. Then there’s the eternal pride and long-term bragging rights that come with being the first to do something so significant (D.C. United and the LA Galaxy won regional crowns before MLS teams were forced to travel). The annual CCL faceplant by MLS entrants was excruciating. Meanwhile, a Liga MX club had been Concacaf champion every year since 2006. There’s never been a streak like that anywhere in the world, and the Sounders will forever be the team that ended it. For those outside the city annoyed by Seattle supporters accused of behaving like they “invented soccer,” it’s about to get worse.“The first thing only happens once—making history,” said Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the CCL MVP who made a tremendous save on a second-half Pumas header when the score was still 1–0. “There will be many more Concacaf Champions League winners, but there’s only one that does it for the first time from MLS. And so we wrote ourselves into the history books today, and I’m so proud of my team.”It takes time to make history, and Wednesday’s climactic 90 minutes represented the final steps of a lengthy journey that began when the Sounders, a four-time champion in American soccer’s second tier, entered MLS in 2009. They immediately set attendance records and established an on-field standard, finishing third in the Western Conference and winning the U.S. Open Cup. An unprecedented run of success followed. Across the ensuing dozen seasons, the Sounders won two MLS Cups, four conference titles, three more Open Cups and a Supporters’ Shield. Their streak of 13 consecutive playoff appearances is a league record. And in each of those 13 seasons, they finished among the top four in the West. The Sounders are just about the only safe MLS bet.It’s popular to break MLS history down into eras. The league’s 1.0 era was defined by caution and contraction, NFL stadiums, incomprehensible team names and the D.C. United dynasty. MLS 2.0 was anchored by the construction of soccer-specific stadiums and the Designated Player rule, and at its peak it was dominated by Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, David Beckham and the LA Galaxy. Then came rapid league expansion, the next generation of arenas, the growth of the academy system and an increase in roster spending. That’s MLS 3.0. The Sounders are its flagship club.General manager Garth Lagerwey, who helped build small-market Real Salt Lake’s mini-dynasty in the early 2010s, and coach Brian Schmetzer, a Seattle soccer lifer who worked under the late Sigi Schmid before taking the helm, have come close to solving a notoriously inscrutable league. They’ve hit on numerous high-profile signings and become a desired destination for established MLS vets. They’ve also developed several homegrown stars, from the likes of Morris and U.S. workhorse Cristian Roldan to 16-year-old Obed Vargas, who bravely stepped in for the injured João Paulo midway through Wednesday’s first half.Seattle hasn’t been content to tread water, see its club valuation increase and hope to maybe make a splash in the transfer market. It’s played to win since day one and it’s learned to do so en route. It took eight years to break down the MLS Cup door. And it took seven CCL appearances and six CCL failures, the most in MLS since ’09, to solve the continental puzzle. The Sounders aren’t the highest-spending team in MLS but they’re typically near the top, and they’re likely the best at constructing a competitive roster under the league’s complex and sometimes stifling rules.“Since ’18, we’ve really had this [core] and we’ve tried to add one piece a year without subtracting,” Lagerwey said before the match. “We really do feel like this is the best group that we’ve had and we’ve been very methodical about it, very strategic to build to this moment. I can’t say the last five years is all about winning the 2022 Champions League. It wasn’t that specific. But it was, ‘Can we get better every single year before we get too old and take a shot at something like this, something really cool like this?’”

With Champions League breakthrough, Seattle Sounders stake their claim to title of best club in MLS history

Sam Stejskal  May 5, 2022 = the Athletic

The noise began with a low murmur from a smattering of the 68,741 fans in attendance at Lumen Field for the Seattle Sounders’ historic CONCACAF Champions League victory against Pumas on Wednesday night, but quickly grew to encompass the entire stadium, getting louder and louder with every measured, celebratory step taken by Nicolas Lodeiro, Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris. At that point, midway through second-half stoppage time, the result was all but official. Lodeiro had put the game and series completely out of reach minutes earlier, tapping home a rebound after Morris caromed a shot off the post to give Seattle a 3-0 lead in the second leg and 5-2 advantage on aggregate. The wide margin afforded head coach Brian Schmetzer the luxury of subbing off his three attacking stars for a curtain call.As they made their way toward the sideline, Lodeiro and Ruidiaz in lockstep, Morris trailing closely behind, the crowd built into a deafening crescendo, saluting their captain, their ruthless striker and their hometown hero as their Sounders marched toward becoming the first MLS team to ever win the CCL.From the moment they joined the league back in 2009, the Sounders have, in one way or another, consistently raised the bar for MLS. When the final whistle blew on Wednesday, as Lodeiro sprinted onto the field in a jubilant celebration and the crowd erupted in one last moment of rapture, they raised that bar to an unprecedented new level. Even before they won the CCL, the Sounders were the most successful MLS organization of the last decade. It’s only fitting that they became the first to take the continental crown. “It’s an amazing club, an amazing fan base. We do a lot of things right, here in Seattle,” Morris said afterwards. “Going into the year, this was such a huge goal for us, to be the first MLS team to win this. And to have done it now, to have made history, it’s incredibly special.” It’s easy to look at the club’s 13 playoff appearances in 13 seasons, two MLS Cups, four U.S. Open Cups and one Supporters’ Shield and think that a night like Wednesday was in some way preordained for the Sounders.So easy, in fact, that the narrative heading into the second leg felt almost unnervingly confident. Fans and media (this writer included) who were so used to seeing MLS teams fall short in this competition over the years seemed convinced that the Sounders would take care of business after they drew 2-2 in Mexico City in the first leg last week. It was as if the league’s collective CCL scar tissue had been removed and the long, mostly sad history of Seattle sports had been forgotten, replaced by a rare, rave green-tinged sense of optimism.But there are no guarantees in no professional sports, no teams of destiny. And nothing about the Sounders’ journey to the CCL title was inexorable. That was made abundantly clear on Wednesday. The final score didn’t indicate as much, but the second leg was difficult for Seattle, which was dealt two serious blows early in the first half. Starting left back Nouhou was subbed off due to a thigh contusion in the 11th minute and star midfielder Joao Paulo, an MLS MVP finalist in 2021, was taken off in the 29th after suffering what Seattle fears is a torn ACL. The injuries threw a dark cloud over an otherwise picture-perfect evening in the Pacific Northwest, but Seattle beat it back.  At the end of a relatively ugly first-half, after looking like they’d head into the locker room without creating a single clear opportunity, they took the lead through a deflected Ruidiaz effort.As soon as his shot hit the back of the net, Ruidiaz wheeled off toward the north stand of Lumen Field, flying over the advertising boards and sprinting to Seattle’s reserves and academy players, who were watching the match from a field-level suite. His Sounders teammates raced to catch him, joining the broader, organization-wide party as one straggling player picked up the ball and punted it high into the seats. The crowd became so loud that the press box began to vibrate, the first of a few moments during the match in which it seemed as if the fans were causing the stadium to shake.“I told them after the game that (they were) freaking awesome. They’re awesome,” Schmetzer, another Seattle native, Sounders lifer and card-carrying member of the Emerald City Supporters group, said of the fans. “The connection between the fans and the players is the spirit of this club. You heard it when the teams walked out tonight, you heard it during the game, it was awesome, really awesome. You felt the energy in the building, the players felt it. It was spectacular.” 

Pumas responded well to Seattle’s goal, nearly equalizing in the 65th. Winger Washington Corozo got to the endline and lofted a cross to the back post, where 6-foot-4 attacker Diogo de Olivera rose over Kelyn Rowe, another native Seattlite who was only playing because Nouhou had been forced out, and directed a powerful header on frame. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who had arrived at Lumen Field just like any other fan and left it having been named player of the tournament, quickly got down to his right for a massive save. Fifteen minutes later, Ruidiaz called game, finishing off a beautiful counterattack to effectively secure the trophy for Seattle. Midfielder Albert Rusnak, a calming influence throughout the match and an architect of the first goal, was once again at the heart of the play. He shimmied past several Pumas players in the Sounders half before finding an escape valve in 16-year-old midfielder Obed Vargas, who had come on for the injured Joao Paulo in the first-half. The Alaska native, who signed a homegrown deal with the Sounders in December, continued the impressive start to his professional career on Wednesday, not shirking from the moment and sliding in well for Joao Paulo despite his age and inexperience. After receiving the pass from Rusnak, he quickly found Alex Roldan, with the ball eventually making its way to Ruidiaz for an emphatic strike.It was a classic Sounders goal, the exact type of transition opportunity that they feast on. It also iced the match. The fans certainly sensed that, with most of them turning on the flashlights on their phones in the moments after the goal, waving them back and forth as if they were at a rock concert. “I got a little choked up,” said Frei, who, as the longest tenured Sounder, has been in the middle of so many of the biggest moments in club history. “I had to tell myself, ‘Hey, there’s still some game left, like relax, take it easy.’ But it’s special, very special. As a little kid, this is what you dream of. You close your eyes and you envision a stadium full of people like this, chanting you on, this is it. To have the opportunity to live out that dream is precious. I cherish it.” Ruidiaz’s second strike set the table for Lodeiro to finish things off in the 88th. It was a simple goal, a close-range finish into an empty net, but it was full of meaning — and it was appropriate that Lodeiro was the scorer. The driving force behind the Sounders’ MLS Cup titles in 2016 and 2019, the 33-year-old has probably done more than any other player to construct a championship culture in Seattle, starring in the midfield, setting a high standard in the locker room and helping players like Cristian Roldan grow into leading figures on and off the field. As Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey said after the match, ‘Lodeiro is the best Sounder of all-time. Period.” The ovation he received when he exited with Ruidiaz and Morris in the final moments was exceedingly well-deserved. But he’s far from the only one that contributed to this title. It’s true that Sounders benefitted from the fact that the biggest Liga MX teams didn’t qualify for this edition of the CCL, but they are absolutely worthy champions. And their journey to this point extended well beyond the start of the round of 16 in February. Unlike many other teams in MLS that are now using their resources on signing young players with the idea of developing and transferring them for profit, the Sounders have constructed themselves over a number of years precisely and exclusively for moments like Wednesday. They’ve hit on their biggest signings in Lodeiro and Ruidiaz; they’ve plucked players like Nouhou and the Roldan brothers from disparate developmental paths and helped them mature into massive contributors; they’ve acquired experienced, valuable players from within MLS in Rusnak (who probably played the best match of his young Sounders career on Wednesday), Frei, Rowe, Fredy Montero and Will Bruin; they’ve gotten good-to-great returns on international signings like Joao Paulo, Arreaga and Yeimar Andrade; they’ve even had production from their academy through Morris and, more recently, Vargas and Josh Atencio. And in Schmetzer, they have a coach who keeps the operation running smoothly. Perhaps most importantly, they’ve found a way to keep their core together. Lodeiro, Morris, Frei and Cristian Roldan have each been around for all four of the club’s MLS Cup appearances. Everyone in the starting lineup on Wednesday other than Rusnak, who joined the team this winter via MLS free agency, has played in at least one MLS Cup for Seattle. Most of the current players got further championship match experience last summer, when Seattle lost the Leagues Cup final to Mexican club León.There isn’t any one explanation for how they’ve done this. An ability to successfully manage the salary budget and legally manipulate the MLS roster rules, a patient scouting process, an increased emphasis on youth, a willingness to be proactive with succession planning, a healthy locker room environment, a little bit of luck and some smart behind-the-scenes investments (Seattle was quick to add a second team, and was one of the first clubs in MLS to hire a data analyst on the sporting side), have all played a role in the Sounders’ success. It’s led to a virtuous cycle in Seattle, which, despite the fact that it isn’t really viewed as a sexy market in the other North American pro sports leagues, has only grown into a more attractive destination for soccer players, coaches and staffers over the years. “Because we have the continuity, the standard that we hold ourselves to is quickly absorbed by our new players,” Frei said. “They’re integrated very quickly. That’s maybe why players want to come here. You want to play your precious few years hopefully for trophies, and we’ve proven and shown that we generally speaking have the opportunity to get into those positions.”Seattle’s extensive experience in huge elimination matches — not all of which have ended well — helped significantly in the CCL. The Sounders are an extremely talented team, boasting perhaps the top front six in all of MLS and one of the more robust defensive groups in the league. But they needed more than just skill to survive in the Champions League. Whether in the second leg of the semifinal against New York City FC, when they were down 2-0 deep into the second half of the first leg of the final or after the injuries upset their plans on Wednesday, the Sounders repeatedly met obstacles in their run through the the competition that might have derailed a less experienced team. Every time, they cleared them.

“This is the most special one. I think this one means more to me than past trophies that I’ve won,” said Cristian Roldan. “When you’re the first one to do it, that puts you in the history books forever. No one can take that away from you.” 

As Lagerwey and owner Adrian Hanauer spoke about in the buildup to the match, this win has the potential to serve as a jumping off point not just for Seattle, but for the entire league. Winning the CCL one time doesn’t mean that MLS is now on par or better than Liga MX, but the Sounders’ victory is an important symbol of the narrowing gap between the two circuits. The victory should make at least some U.S.-based Liga MX fans take MLS a bit more seriously, an important consideration for a league that could always use a larger audience. It will likely add some additional meaning to the CCL, as well, raising the level of intrigue in a competition that has struggled to create much momentum after years of Mexican dominance. The result could even add some extra juice to the reformatted Leagues Cup, which will see every team in MLS and Liga MX compete against each other in a standalone, month-long tournament that will be held for the first time in 2023. MLS still has plenty of work to do, but this was a needed first step. The win also secures a place for the Sounders at the next FIFA Club World Cup. The date, location and format of that competition have not yet been determined, as the November/December World Cup in Qatar has thrown off the global soccer calendar, though Lagerwey said that Seattle has been told that it will likely be held next February in the Middle East. Whenever and wherever it takes place, Lagerwey giddily noted that it could include a date for the Sounders against Liverpool or Real Madrid, who will face off in the UEFA Champions League final in a few weeks in Paris. “It’s not for giggles against their reserves, we’re gonna play them for a trophy,” he said. “I mean, this is what you do it for, right? That’s just amazing. It just is. I’d love to be real cool and calm and be like, ‘Ah, it’s no big deal,’ but it’s a big deal.” Winning the CCL is a big deal in its own right. The result is a fantastic achievement for the entire club, but it holds special meaning for Lagerwey, who lost the 2011 final when he was GM of Real Salt Lake. That defeat was particularly painful. RSL drew 2-2 at Monterrey in the first leg before losing 1-0 in the return leg — their first home loss in nearly two years — to drop the series. He’s been chasing the CCL ever since, talking about his desire to win it from the moment he arrived in Seattle in January 2015.“I warned everybody, I said look, this is all or nothing,” Lagerwey said. “This could be incredibly bitter. If we lose this game tonight, we would just be the third (MLS) finalist in five years to get beat. Nobody cares. You get consigned to the dustbin of history. But our guys stepped up. They won it. We were indomitable. We kept hanging in, showed the fortitude in Mexico to equalize and then to come here and to put on the show we did, I mean, it’s just a special group of guys. It’s the best Sounders team we’ve had.” On Wednesday, the best team the Sounders have ever had created perhaps the best moment the club has ever had. In doing so, they gave Seattle a legitimate claim to the title of best club in MLS history. That was never inevitable, but, considering their path to this historic CCL title, it’s certainly fitting. 



By beating Pumas 3-0 on Wednesday night, the Seattle Sounders became the first MLS team to win the Concacaf Champions League

  • With smart movement in central midfield, effective defending, and quick transitions, the Sounders were deserved winners
  • Pumas’ desperation played directly into Brian Schmetzer’s hands and helped Seattle close out the game

© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The crowd at Lumen Field on Wednesday night wouldn’t let up. 

They cheered relentlessly for over a minute while three of the Seattle Sounders’ stalwarts, Nico Lodeiro, Raul Ruidiaz, and Jordan Morris, left the field and swapped places with their substitutes. Up by multiple goals in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League Final, the game was over. Those three players – along with the rest of their teammates, the coaching staff, and other members of the club – certainly earned that ovation. 

For the first time in the tournament’s modern era, a Major League Soccer team had officially won the CCL.

The Seattle Sounders beat Pumas UNAM 3-0 on Wednesday night in the second leg of the final, giving them a 5-2 aggregate win over their opponents from Liga MX. MLS teams have played in the final before, but none of them could clear the last hurdle. Real Salt Lake fell to Monterrey in 2011, the Montreal Impact (RIP) lost to Club América in 2015, Toronto couldn’t get past Chivas in 2018, and LAFC dropped out against Tigres in 2020.

Becoming the first MLS team to win this region’s Champions League is a historic achievement. With that in mind, it’s difficult to think of a team that deserves it more than the Seattle Sounders. Since joining MLS in 2009, the Sounders have qualified for the playoffs every single year. They’ve also won the Supporters’ Shield and lifted two MLS Cups since 2014. With on-field consistency and impressive roster builds, they have become the model MLS franchise. 

Still, plenty of impressive MLS teams have tried and failed to add the CCL trophy to their cases in the past. So how did Seattle do it? How did they take down Pumas on Wednesday? Well, they did it the Sounders way.

Let’s dive into some of the key pieces of that second leg.


Against Pumas, Brian Schmetzer set up his Sounders team in the same formation that he’s used for so much of his MLS coaching career. He used a 4-2-3-1, complete with a double pivot behind Nico Lodeiro, who played as a No. 10. Pumas, on the other hand, started the game in a 4-3-3 shape with a lone No. 6 behind two No. 8s. On paper, those two midfield shapes cancel each other out. One team’s defensive midfielder overlaps with the other’s attacking midfielder and the double pivot in the 4-2-3-1 overlaps with the eights in the 4-3-3. 

For stretches of Wednesday night’s game, those two midfield shapes really did cancel each other out. In particular Higor Meritao, Pumas’ defensive midfielder, carefully monitored Lodeiro and denied him any real breathing room between the lines. 

What do you do when you can’t find space in one part of the field? Wait, actually, let me rephrase that. What does a No. 10 do when they can’t find space in one part of the field? They move. And then they move some more. That’s exactly what Lodeiro did to free himself from Meritao. 

In one moment, Lodeiro would drop deep and to one side to ditch Pumas’ midfield.

In the next moment, he would drop deep and to the other side, far enough away from Meritao that the Brazilian didn’t dare follow him.

And in yet another moment, Lodeiro would move into one of the halfspaces as part of a midfield-wide shift for Seattle. That’s exactly what happened in the buildup to the Sounders’ first goal. Lodeiro relocated to the left halfspace while Obed Vargas pulled Meritao forward. With Meritao out of the picture, Lodeiro received the ball and went on to earn the free kick that led to Ruidiaz’s goal in the 45th minute.

As that clip shows, Lodeiro was just one part of Seattle’s midfield machine. Albert Rusnak provided a calming touch and had the MLS assist for the first goal. Vargas wasn’t as comfortable, but the 16-year-old subbed on for an injured Joao Paulo in the first half and ate up some valuable minutes. Vargas wasn’t the only substitute to come on for an injured starter early in the game, either: Kelyn Rowe stepped in for Nouhou, who left the field with a right quad injury in the 11th minute.

Seattle didn’t create many obvious chances until later in the game, but their midfield and their depth certainly gave them an edge.


Juan Dinenno, Pumas’ striker and the Concacaf Champions League’s leading scorer, is a dangerous man. He scored twice against the Sounders in the first leg of the final, even while dealing with an injury, and was looking to do more damage on Wednesday. 

When in possession, Pumas had one primary directive: find Dinenno via direct forward passes into the channels and via crosses into the box. After targeting him multiple times in the first five minutes, it was clear that the Argentine striker was the key piece in their attack. 

Seattle, to their credit, didn’t let Dinenno have anywhere near as much influence on this game as they did in the away leg. Center backs Yeimar Gomez Andrade and Xavier Arreaga generally did a good job of staying with Dinenno. The Sounders’ center backs weren’t perfect – Yeimar failed to clear a cross that resulted in Dinenno’s first and best look of the game and Arreaga put in a needless challenge on Dinenno in the 60th minute that gave the forward a free kick in Zone 14 – but they did enough.

With effective defending in their own third and some strong counter pressing higher up the field, the Sounders kept Pumas at bay for the vast majority of the game. Down 1-0 with roughly 10 minutes remaining, Pumas started to throw numbers forward in hopes that providing their No. 9 with a little extra help would change things. 

It did. Just not for Pumas.


One of the things that makes the Seattle Sounders a consistent threat to win trophies in MLS (and now in regional competitions, too) is that they’re built to blitz you as soon as you take one too many risks in possession. With players who thrive in attacking transition like Morris and the Roldan brothers, the Sounders love to run.

There were plenty of moments on Wednesday night for the Sounders to run, but the best ones came as a direct result of Pumas’ desperation. They needed to score and were willing to push plenty of players forward to do so. Putting a group of four or five guys in the box and another group in the final third became the new normal for Pumas towards the end of the match. 

If that was Pumas’ new normal, Seattle’s was breaking the game wide open in the space left behind by their opponent’s aggressive, disorganized positioning. The Sounders’ second and third goals didn’t come from any sort of crazy tactical innovation. No, they simply came from classic Seattle transition attacks.

Here’s a look at the second goal, where Jordan Morris moved behind Pumas’ backline.

And here’s a screenshot of Pumas’ scattered defensive shape less than 15 seconds before Seattle’s third and final goal.

With dangerous transition attacks, a strong defensive performance, quality midfield play, and their depth on full display, the Seattle Sounders lifted the CCL trophy in the most Seattle Sounders way possible. It just felt right. 

They’re MLS’s first CCL winner – and that feels pretty right, too.

Seattle Sounders made CCL history… Which MLS team wins it next?

By Matthew Doyle @MattDoyle76  Wednesday, May 11, 2022, 10:06 AM

Last week I wrote a column titled “The Blueprint” in which I went through Seattle’s methodology in building a roster that has, for 13 straight years, competed at or near the top of MLS, and that had left them uniquely positioned to break the Concacaf Champions League curse and actually bring home the first CCL title for MLS since that competition had been remade.

Twelve hours after that column was published, the Sounders obliged by going out there and winning the damn thing over Pumas. It was a huge day for Seattle, and it was a huge day for MLS.

It is not likely to be the last huge day for MLS. As I pointed out in that column, smart teams around the league are following the same sort of best practices the Sounders have laid down in terms of roster building – putting resources into the core, being agnostic about talent acquisition, veering toward proven, high-end commodities, etc. Teams that do that, and have the right combination of coaching and ambitious ownership, give themselves a chance to be next through the regional tape and into the Club World Cup.

That is what the blueprint is for, right? Not only to be good and win stuff in MLS, but to continue to grow into the types of teams that can consistently compete internationally. The Sounders showed it can be done. Twenty-seven other teams definitely noticed.

So who’ll be next? Let’s dive in:

Los Angeles Football Club logo

Los Angeles Football Club

Why they’ll do it

The Black & Gold check damn near every box. They have been ambitious in their DP acquisitions over the years, and have been just as ambitious with their U22 Initiative shopping. They have brought contributors in from the USL Championship, and found value via the SuperDraft. They have sold guys on for GAM when they needed to have more flexibility to make moves within the league, and have been clear-eyed, in the last window, about spots they need to upgrade.

That last window, with the additions of Kellyn AcostaRyan Hollingshead and Ilie Sanchez, gave them the type of veteran core that had been culled out of the team over the previous couple of years. But it’s worth remembering the guys who are holdovers from the previous couple of years not only have title-winning experience (I still think the 2019 Supporters’ Shield-winning LAFC side is the best I’ve seen in MLS) but actual CCL experience.

Remember this?

That goal’s pretty as a picture, and it came in the actual CCL final against a Tigres side that, no disrespect intended, is a damn sight better than the Pumas team Seattle manhandled last week.

So they have the pedigree, they have the core, they have the structure, and under new head coach Steve Cherundolo they look a lot like the type of team that’s going to get their next CCL chance as soon as next year.

Why they won’t

Two reasons: DPs and depth.

LAFC have been ambitious with their DP signings, but they’ve missed on a couple. Andre Horta was here and gone in an instant, while Brian Rodriguez has all the talent in the world, but has yet to turn that into productivity. Carlos Vela, meanwhile, is just not the guy he was in 2019, and probably never will be again.

LAFC have the chance to make another big DP signing this summer given there’s an open slot with the departure of Diego Rossi. My guess is it will end up being a midfield playmaker (spending on DP 10s is almost always a good idea), which brings us to the depth part: there are good reasons to think one or both of Jose Cifuentes and Latif Blessing could end up in Europe before the summer’s over.

That’s a lot of moving pieces to juggle in some of the most important spots on the pitch. Seattle had to deal with the same, and they coped by getting at least some of the answers from academy products. LAFC can’t replicate that yet – their Homegrown pipeline has promise, but it’s yet to produce an Obed Vargas or Josh Atencio type of contributor.

New York City FC

Why they’ll do it

Primarily because the Soccer Gods have a great sense of humor and it would be funny if the Pigeons won a continental title before Man City did. Even Red Bulls fans have to admit that would be hilarious.

Beyond that, though, the best arguments are that NYCFC have a veteran, winning core, a reliably excellent Homegrown pipeline to build depth (as well as occasional high-end starters), and are breaking new ground with their recruitment and integration of top U22 talent, primarily from South America.

It all culminated with a team that, last month, beat the ever-loving hell out of Seattle in the second leg of the CCL semis and forced an all-time performance out of Stef Frei to put the Sounders through. The fact NYCFC did that without some key contributors, and have subsequently played the best ball in MLS without some key contributors, is at least a little bit frightening.

I mean, Talles Magno was one of the very best players in CCL of any age. Full stop. He, Thiago Andrade and Gabriel Pereira could all end up being in the top 10 of this year’s 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR list, and Santi Rodriguez would be there as well if he wasn’t just a few months too old. Only LAFC are in the same ballpark as NYCFC (heh) when it comes to leveraging the potential of the U22 Initiative.

Why they won’t

They have zero home-field advantage in CCL play, and it’s fair to question their DP situation. Plus it’s very likely Taty Castellanos is gone this summer.

Let’s go in reverse order: I’m not sure Taty is irreplaceable, and they’re certainly going to get a lot of money for him (though reports say it’ll be less than the $20 million they’d hoped for). But he will be very, very very difficult to replace, and even if they spend their entire windfall on the next No. 9, there is zero guarantee that guy will be as good as Taty has been.

And bear in mind he’s been this good despite the fact he’s not a DP! Which brings us to the other issue… NYCFC’s DPs aren’t great in the same way that Seattle’s are. Magno, as mentioned, is excellent, but Maxi Moralez is 35 years old and has clearly lost a step, while new center back Thiago Martins has been… less than convincing thus far.

Now think about Seattle’s DP triumvirate of Raul RuidiazNico Lodeiro and Albert Rusnak, and how significant they were in getting that team to the top of the mountain. It’s a different kind of player profile, and if NYCFC want to win the CCL next year (I think it’s very possible they’ll qualify once again), they probably need a rethink on how to use those slots.

The final issue is the home-field advantage bit. You probably remember the fact Concacaf does not certify Yankee Stadium for CCL play, but you might already have forgotten NYCFC played home matches at three different venues (Banc of California Stadium; Rentschler Field; Red Bull Arena) during their 2022 CCL run.

I am of the opinion an MLS team needs every advantage possible if they’re going to win this thing – just look at how the Sounders maximized their home-field advantage throughout their run. NYCFC doesn’t have anything like that.

Philadelphia Union

Why they’ll do it

The Union have a well-defined system of play that got them all the way to the CCL semifinals literally last year, and has them atop the East this year. They are a club that’s used to winning now, and that was built via repetition and excellence in the type of core the Sounders have boasted since 2009 (rotating pieces in and out).

They also have a pipeline of depth thanks both to their excellent academy as well as Ernst Tanner’s eye for undervalued overseas talent. Add in Jim Curtin’s developmental chops, and… honestly, do you remember last year’s Eastern Conference Final? They were without 11 players due to health & safety protocols, and they still gave NYCFC hell. I don’t think even the Sounders could’ve been down so many contributors and run the Pigeons so close.

What ultimately proved fatal for the Union in that game, as well as last year’s CCL final and previous playoff and US Open Cup runs, was a lack of top-end, final third quality. And so this offseason they went out and brought in two new DP center forwards to go with playmaker Daniel Gazdag (who was essentially a DP last year and is not classified as one this year).

They have very clearly tried to address what they very clearly needed to address.

Why they won’t

I like what I’ve seen of Uhre so far, and love how Carranza has taken his chance with the Union. I remain lukewarm on Gazdag, though I’ll happily admit he’s been much better over two months of the 2022 season than he was at any point in his five months of work last year.

Are those guys as good as Ruidiaz/Lodeiro/Jordan Morris/Cristian Roldan in the final third? Or Castellanos/Magno/Andrade/Rodriguez/Moralez? I don’t think you’re a gimlet-eyed cynic if you say they’re not.

The other issue for the Union could be their nature as a club regarding player sales. It’s part of who they are, so if someone comes calling for Jose Martinez or Kai Wagner (it seems likely in both cases), or Carranza or Gazdag or, I don’t know, Jack Elliott, then those players will be sold. And while the Union have the pipeline to replace them, there is a difference between “replace them and continue to be a good MLS team” and “replace them and continue to be a team that could conceivably win CCL.”

LA Galaxy logo

LA Galaxy

Why they’ll do it

Yeah, this one might tick some folks off, but the Galaxy have in Greg Vanney a coach who’s been there before (you remember Toronto FC’s 2018 run, right?) and a history of spending like they really, really mean it. If you have a proven coach and proven ambition, and patience to let that coach build, you’re going to be successful.

And so what we’re seeing now is a Galaxy team that, with a third of the season done, is third in the West and is tied for first overall in goals allowed. They have allowed just a single goal from open play all season, and my god does that represent a massive departure from the past eight years of Galaxy soccer.

Beyond that, just look at their roster balance. The vast majority of these guys are in their prime, and many of them have international experience (that includes Mark Delgado’s CCL experience, and damn would it be a nice story if he was able to get redemption for his late miss in the second leg of the 2018 final).

There’s still a ton of work that needs to be done on this roster, and much of that is continued internal development of many of the young players on the team, but you don’t have to look too hard to see a foundation that could make LA matter again.

Why they won’t

For all their spending, their DP situation is dire. Chicharito has been excellent since the start of last year, but he’s weeks away from his 34th birthday. Douglas Costa, who they signed this offseason, has been a cipher, while Kevin Cabral profiles (and produces) more like a U22 Initiative signing – a toolsy kid who can be compelling, but is frustrating much, much more often than not.

Beyond that, there’s just been significant calcification in the front office, as profiled by Paul Tenorio in the Athletic. The tl;dr is the reason the Galaxy have been bad for so long is that since Bruce Arena left, there was never any sort of blueprint followed on how to be good.

So Vanney is trying to drag them kicking and screaming into the TAM era, while trying to be the first coach to make any sort of dent in terms of Homegrown development, while fixing the defense, and adding veteran pieces, and is doing all this with two massively underperforming DPs. It’s a lot.

I think the above three teams (LAFC, NYCFC and Philly), as well as the Sounders, could plausibly win CCL next year. I don’t think the Galaxy could do that. But if Vanney gets the type of support he needs in continuing to retool the whole organization, and gets a mulligan on one of Costa or Cabral, there is a pretty obvious path for them to get it done in 2024. And that might be (probably would be) soon enough for them to be next.

Toronto FC

Why they’ll do it

It’s the same argument as for the Galaxy – a proven coach and ambitious, high-spending ownership. The difference is Toronto are 12 to 18 months behind in their development, so the core the Galaxy have developed does not yet really exist for the Reds.

And so Bob Bradley is throwing the children to the wolves right now. In part it’s because he has no choice, since the roster was gutted this winter, but in part it’s because Bradley is building something for the future, and guys like Ralph PrisoKosi ThompsonLuca PetrassoJayden Nelson and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty are expected to be part of it. Given their talent and Bradley’s history of developing kids with potential into high-level pros, I am not doubting the outcome here.

The other thing to factor in here is TFC have historically dominated the Canadian Championship, winning seven of 10 tournaments from 2009 to 2018 (they could make it technically eight of 12 if they win the 2020 final which – and I am not kidding here – has not yet been played, and is scheduled for June 4. North American soccer is weird, y’all), so they usually have the clearest shot directly into the tournament.

Also, the same argument as the Galaxy is I don’t think there’s any legit chance they will get it done for the 2023 version of the CCL. But if no MLS team gets it done next year, I don’t think it’s crazy to think that TFC could climb the mountain by 2024 or 2025.

At the very least, this is fun as hell:

Why they won’t

There’s no actual guarantee any/all of those kids will turn into core pieces of a good team, and my god are TFC’s underlying numbers brutal this year. This does not, right now, look like an “Insigne will arrive and put them over the top” situation. This looks like an “Insigne will get here and despair at how broken things are” situation. I’m not sure they have more than two players who would be starters on good MLS teams, and that’s not great!

So there’s just so much rubble to clear. The best thing possible would be to get out of Bradley’s way and let him get to work clearing it, but even that is no guarantee – remember, when things went bad for LAFC, that was a mess of their own making. While it’s never been public as to who called the shots on things like trading Walker Zimmerman, I think it’s fair to assume Bradley had some say in how that team’s roster management went.

The other issue is in goal. I think all the other possibilities I’ve mentioned, including the Sounders, are in a better spot at that position than TFC are.

The Next Group

CF Montréal

They’ve got the pedigree, a great youth pipeline and Wilfried Nancy sure seems like a great coach thus far. But they’re likely to sell their best player (Djordje Mihailovic) in this window or the next, and ownership doesn’t seem too likely to go out there and spend big to replace him. On top of that, there has been a decades-long lack of stability with regard to front office vision and a lack of patience with the coach.

What happens, for example, if they run into a prolonged patch of bad form? The Union had patience with Curtin when that happened in 2015 and ‘16. Will Montréal show Nancy the same faith?

Atlanta United logo

Atlanta United

Just based upon spend and ambition they should be at the top of this list, but Atlanta’s acquisition approach has often just been asset collection rather than having some guiding principle with regard to how the pieces actually fit, and so since Tata Martino left they have been collectively less than the sum of their parts.

That could change – it feels like it is changing under Gonzalo Pineda. But he’s trying to reorient an aircraft carrier there, and isn’t the only one with a hand on the tiller, so it’s going to take some time.

Plus there’s the Josef issue. Will he ever be the same again?

FC Cincinnati logo

FC Cincinnati

I’m not even kidding. They’ve already got one killer DP in Lucho Acosta, and it looks like they’ve got another in Obinna Nwobodo. Both those guys are the right age to keep doing this for years, and aside from them, they are rapidly building out a foundation of MLS veterans this team had previously lacked, so it’s not entirely shocking they’re finally winning, is it? Plus they just crushed their SuperDraft class, and in Brandon Vazquez have a center forward who certainly seems to check all the right boxes.

As some of the previous regime’s contracts come off the books, Chris Albright and Pat Noonan are going to have all sorts of room to maneuver and keep adding quality, and if there’s one thing Cincy’s ownership has shown, it’s that they’ll open the checkbook. Now that said checkbook is being given to folks who seem to know how to use it…

Obviously 2023 is way too early to think about Cincy in these terms, but the title of this column isn’t “which MLS team wins it next year?” it’s “which MLS team wins it next?” If the door stays open in 2023 and 2024, Cincy might be the ones to walk through it in 2025.

The odds are against them, of course, but that’s true of any MLS team. That includes Cincy, now that they’re finally playing like one.

Tottenham vs Arsenal: Top-four race takes another crazy turn

Andy EdwardsThu, May 12, 2022, 4:37 PM·3 min read

Tottenham vs Arsenal: The Premier League’s top-four race took another crazy turn on Thursday, as Spurs hammered the Gunners 3-0 in the 191st north London derby.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in USA ]

Harry Kane scored the first and second goals (his 14th and 15th of the Premier League season), with Rob Holding earning a pair of yellow cards for fouls against Son Heung-min, who added goal no. 3 just seconds into the second half (his 21st, one behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in the Golden Boot race).

The result leaves Tottenham (65 points) one point behind Arsenal (66 points) in the race for a top-four finish in the Premier League. With two games left for each side, it’s all to play for and looking likely to go all the way to Championship Sunday (May 22).

Tottenham will face relegation-battling Burnley (home) and already-relegated Norwich City (away), while Arsenal have 14th-place Newcastle United (away) and relegation-battling Everton (home) still to come.

Latest Premier League news

Tottenham vs Arsenal, live! Score, updates, how to watch, analysis Tottenham vs Arsenal player ratings Tottenham vs Arsenal: Projected starting lineups, team news

Tottenham vs Arsenal final score, stats, results

Final score: Tottenham 3, Arsenal 0

Goal scorers: Tottenham (Kane 22′ – PK, 37, Son 47′), Arsenal (None)

Shots: Tottenham 16, Arsenal 8

Shots on target: Tottenham 6, Arsenal 4

Possession: Tottenham 58%, Arsenal 42%

3 things we learned – Tottenham vs Arsenal

1. Tottenham players believe in Conte, and vice versa: In the early days of Antonio Conte’s reign, it was unclear whether the manager thought that all but a select few players were woefully unqualified to play for him, or if he was conditioning a squad of players, long criticized for being mentally weak, to take the next step in their progression. Six months later, it is quite clear that Conte has made a massive impact on the Tottenham players — both as individuals and collectively — to the point that they can just about flawlessly execute his game plan against the likes of Liverpool (no matter what Jurgen Klopp thinks of it) and Arsenal, in the biggest games of their season, with their entire season riding on the results. Now, imagine a world in which Daniel Levy hired Conte this first time he had the chance, rather than appointing Nuno Espirito Santo for 10 games.

2. Indiscipline in  the big game: Speaking of big games, it’s not at all an exaggeration to say that Thursday’s north London derby was the biggest game Arsenal have played since celebrating their last St. Totteringham’s Day, in 2016. The chance to clinch their return to the Champions League, after four seasons in the Europa League and, shockingly, no European qualification whatsoever this season (despite the creation of a third-tier competition), proved too big of an occasion not just for the young Gunners, but most notably for one of the longtime veterans in the squad, Rob Holding. From the opening whistle, Holding appeared intent on targeting and riling up Son Heung-min with cleverly disguised cheap shots from behind. The home fans quickly got on his case and were utterly delighted when Holding was shown a second yellow card for delivering an elbow to the face of — you guessed it — Son in the 33rd minute.

3. And yet, Arsenal still hold all the cards: As euphoric as Thursday’s derby drubbing will have felt for Tottenham and their fans, it is still Arsenal who, should they take care of business in the final two games of the season, will qualify for the Champions League.

US Coach -Jesse Marsch’s hopes of rescuing Leeds are unraveling after brutal Chelsea loss

May 11, 2022Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

LEEDS, England — Jesse Marsch walked into an impossible job when he became Leeds United manager at the end of February — he just didn’t know it at the time. But as Chelsea sent his team closer to relegation from the Premier League with a 3-0 win at Elland Road on Wednesday, the brutal reality of the challenge that Marsch accepted has surely set in.

Despite having an FA Cup final against Liverpool to play on Saturday, less than 72 hours after kick-off in this game, Chelsea were still too strong for Marsch’s wilting side as goals from Mason MountChristian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku ended a three-game winless streak and edged Thomas Tuchel’s team to the brink of Champions League qualification.

For Leeds, though, this was another damaging blow. They have now lost three on the bounce, conceding 9 goals along the way, and it won’t get any easier: the first-half red card earned by Dan James for a shocking tackle on Mateo Kovacic means Leeds’ £25 million record-signing will be suspended for the remaining games of the season. James will join 

2dAustin Lindberg

“Two tackles in the last two games that are a little bit crossing the line and hurting the team,” Marsch said. “I’m not going to blame or finger-point any of our players, they’ve given everything they can, but we have to stay within boundaries in not jeopardising ourselves.”Throughout their recent tailspin, which has sent Leeds into the bottom three, Marsch has watched on from the sidelines, unable to stem the tide.Leeds, promoted back to the top-flight in 2020 under Marcelo Bielsa after a 16-year absence, have been unravelling for much longer than Marsch has been in his position at the club. Bielsa was fired on Feb. 27 after a run of nine defeats 12 games, with his team’s defensive inadequacies exposed by conceding 14 goals in his final three games in charge.But while the rot had clearly already set in, Marsch has seen his chances of halting Leeds’ slide hit by injuries to key players, indiscipline and his unhelpful habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.The former New York Red Bulls coach, who lasted less than six months in his post as RB Leipzig coach before leaving last December, has publicly questioned Bielsa’s training methods, complained about American coaches being compared to comedy character Ted Lasso and, prior to this game, admitted to motivating his players with quotes by historical figures including Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa.In response, one English newspaper compared Marsch to David Brent, the Ricky Gervais character from The Office, while Ted Lasso began to trend on Twitter in the UK as Chelsea began to overrun Leeds on Wednesday.It is unfair to use the Lasso comparison on Marsch, a coach who built a strong reputation during his two-year stint as FC Salzburg coach, but with Bob Bradley also suffering from ridicule during his brief — and unsuccessful — spell in charge of Swansea City in 2016, Marsch’s difficulties at Leeds are unlikely to help other American coaches land a Premier League job anytime soon.But although he walked into a much tougher job than he could have imagined when agreeing to replace Bielsa, Marsch could have done better with Leeds.They were 16th in the table when he arrived, two points above the bottom three, with Everton and Burnley both beneath them. Bielsa had taken 23 points from 26 games, but although Marsch’s return of 11 points from 11 games is better than that of his predecessor, it is not enough to suggest he has made a meaningful difference.”None of us have lived this,” Marsch said. “In big games we make the exact same mistakes.”When Marsch walked through the door at Elland Road, Newcastle were two points ahead of Leeds. They are now 9 points clear of Leeds and safe from relegation thanks to the impact made by Eddie Howe since his midseason appointment as manager.Under Marsch, Leeds have shown glimpses of a revival — fighting back from 2-0 to win 3-2 at Wolves in March was a highpoint — but it has generally been the same story as under Bielsa in terms of too many bookings and too many goals conceded.Only bottom team Norwich, with 78 goals allowed, have conceded more than the 77 shipped by Leeds. Meanwhile the 97 yellow cards issued to Leeds players this season is a Premier League record — they have hit 100 cards when you count the three reds they have received.With two games left to play, at home to Brighton and away at Brentford, Leeds can still escape the relegation zone with Burnley on the same number of points and Everton only two points clear.But Leeds have to show they can escape their nightmare, without key players and with a coach who is still struggling to get to grips with the Premier League. It’s not a good combination.”I believe we can still fight for every point left,” Marsch said. “Until the red card there were a lot of good things. But now, our focus is totally on recovering and preparing for Sunday. We have six points to play for and we have to do everything we can to get them.”

Manchester City and their Champions League odyssey: when will it end?

Oliver KayMay 6, 2022  

It was a baptism of fire. One moment Manchester City’s players were walking out into the cauldron that is the Allianz Arena. The next, they were listening to the Champions League anthem, that jaunty sample of Zadok The Priest. Then, after a blast of the referee’s whistle, it felt as if hell had been unleashed.

“Oh my god, we got absolutely battered,” Micah Richards tells The Athletic, recalling the evening of September 27, 2011. “Our first away game in the Champions League and we were playing Bayern Munich. (Arjen) Robben and (Franck) Ribery, honestly. They kept switching. I couldn’t get anywhere near Ribery. Then you had (Philipp) Lahm overlapping on that left side. Honestly, we got battered.

“You listen to that music as a kid. Me and Joleon (Lescott) used to laugh about it. You walk out and hear it, ‘We’ve arrived!’. But then the game starts and… oh my god, these guys aren’t just elite — they are elite elite. It was a step up and I didn’t appreciate how special it was until Ribery gave me a hiding.”City struggled in their early Champions League campaigns (Photo: Sandra Montanez/Bongarts/Getty Images)

It is best remembered as the night that Carlos Tevez, a disillusioned substitute, refused to resume warming up in the second half. Roberto Mancini was furious and the club fined Tevez two weeks’ wages and suspended him for two weeks, accusing him of a breach of contract. Tevez, indignant, returned to Argentina and stayed there for months before returning to play an important role in that season’s dramatic finale.

But away from the Mancini-Tevez bust-up, City’s difficulties that night offered portents of what was to follow. They were left with one point from their first two matches in the Champions League, having drawn 1-1 at home to Napoli a fortnight earlier. They beat Villarreal home and away, but then came a 2-1 defeat away to Napoli, another of those nights when their midfield was swamped and their back line overrun in a raucous atmosphere on foreign fields. They took 10 points but failed to get through the knockout stage. Ignominy followed the next season: three draws and three defeats from a group containing Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.

“Bayern beat us, Napoli beat us, Borussia Dortmund beat us, Ajax battered us,” Richards says. “We didn’t get through the group under Mancini. We were still getting used to it. It was a different level; a whole different thing. Every time we made a mistake, we were punished.”

It was easy for City to play the “inexperience” card in those days, particularly when as Champions League newbies their low coefficient ranking threw up some unforgiving draws (Napoli, Bayern and Villarreal in 2011-12 when Manchester United were knocked out of a group containing Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati; Real, Dortmund and Ajax when United were drawn with Galatasaray, Braga and CFR Cluj a year later). “The reason we have not qualified yet is that we were in the toughest group in the Champions League, simple as that,” Vincent Kompany said back in 2011.

More than a decade has passed, though. This season was City’s 11th campaign in the Champions League. They have made the knockout stage in each of the past nine seasons, reached their first semi-final in 2016, the quarter-finals in 2018, 2019 and 2020, the final last year and the semi-finals this year.

Over the past five years they have been, by any analysis, one of the best teams in Europe. That is probably an understatement; for long periods, while setting an incredible standard in winning three Premier League titles in the past four seasons (and still on course for a fourth in five seasons), they could very reasonably claim to have been the best.

But there is still no European Cup. Since taking over from Manuel Pellegrini in 2016, Guardiola has elevated their football and their domestic performance to an extraordinarily high level, while repeatedly taking them to the later stages of the Champions League, but it is as if there is some fatal flaw in his team: the chaotic 6-6 draw with Monaco in 2017, which saw them knocked out on the away goals rule; the way they were overwhelmed by three Liverpool goals in 19 minutes in the quarter-final first leg at Anfield in 2018; another chaotic tie and away-goals defeat by Tottenham in the quarter-finals in 2019 (albeit with last-minute VAR heartbreak); the error-strewn display in losing to Lyon in 2020; the weirdly passive performance in last season’s final against Chelsea; and now this, going into the 90th minute of the semi-final second leg with a 5-3 aggregate lead over Real, only somehow to snatch defeat from the jaws of what felt like it should have been an emphatic victory.

Even upon second viewing, it is hard to make any sense of Wednesday night. City were in total control, 5-3 up on aggregate, twice threatening on the counter-attack through Jack Grealish in the closing stages.

As Guardiola said, “It’s not like the last 10 minutes (Real) attack and attack and attack and you suffer.” Real’s threat was largely notional until Eduardo Camavinga’s pass was turned towards the six-yard box by Karim Benzema and swept in by Rodrygo. And then, with Real smelling blood like a great white shark, City just seemed to succumb to the inevitable.

The goal came from nothing. But how and why did City allow themselves to be overwhelmed? Even at that point, they were still 5-4 up on aggregate. Why did Ederson, whose distribution is often immaculate, boot the ball long, surrendering possession at a time when City just needed to stay calm and take the wind out of their opponents’ sails? Even with six minutes’ stoppage time indicated, what did they have to fear but fear itself?

Yes, they were playing against the great Real Madrid, but for all the justifiable lauding of the way they overcame adversity to defeat Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea in the previous two rounds, City had seemed to have the beating of them — just as they did when beating them home and away in 2020.

The Real team that won four out of five Champions League titles between 2014 and 2018 has largely been replaced. Of those who remain, Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric had all been hooked by the time Real forced their way back into the tie. That left only Dani Carvajal and Benzema (and, more remotely, Nacho and Marco Asensio) as players who had contributed to the Spanish club’s glorious past in this competition. And yet suddenly Real’s young players grew in stature as their City counterparts, many of them more experienced than their opponents, froze.

Is that something innate? Is it, to use that popular term, something in the DNA of both clubs? Is it something that stems from Guardiola, given that so many of his Champions League defeats over the past 11 years (and they include those against Real and Barcelona when he was in charge of Bayern) have involved at least two goals conceded in quick succession? Is this is a coach who is so fixated on possession and control that, when a match suddenly takes an unexpected twist, with momentum lost and the pressure ramped up, their Achilles’ heel is so exposed and they don’t know how to cope?

The mind goes back to something Guardiola said in April 2018 when City, having barely dropped a point all season in the Premier League, were preparing for that fateful quarter-final first leg at Anfield. “In the bad moments, you have to remain calm,” he said, certain there would be a storm to be weathered at some point the following evening. “Madrid, Barcelona, they are taking a cup of coffee (in those difficult moments) because they know their chance is coming. That’s the big difference.”

For so much of the past few years, in the Champions League as well as domestically, City have looked like the perfect illustration of how a top-class team should perform under pressure. Their Premier League record has been phenomenal. But against Monaco, against Liverpool, against Tottenham, against Lyon, against Chelsea and now against Real, control and composure have been lost suddenly and they have paid the price.

Yes, there has been misfortune too — questionable refereeing decisions, most recently Daniele Orsati’s failure to punish Casemiro for either of two bookable offences in the first half on Wednesday — as well as individual errors in defence and glaring misses like Raheem Sterling’s against Lyon in 2020. But increasingly the hard-luck stories have been outweighed by the sense of opportunities not taken.

We come back to the familiar question of whether a team needs to win the Champions League to be considered truly great. A personal view, vehemently held, is that the City teams of the past five seasons (perhaps more the 2017-19 period than this season or last) will certainly go down as one of the best club sides we have seen in this country, just like Arsenal’s “Invincibles” of 2004, who also fell well short on the European stage — as did the Chelsea team of the mid-2000s, who were highly unfortunate in that regard.

But there will always be naysayers and sometimes only a European Cup or two can bring something irrefutable to the argument, as it did for the great Liverpool teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s and the great Manchester United sides of 1999 and 2008.

Winning the Champions League is not, on its own, a badge that confers greatness upon a team, just as falling narrowly short on the European front does not necessarily mean a dominant and at times mesmerising team like Guardiola’s City — or early Wenger-era Arsenal — should be casually dismissed from such conversations. It is a knockout tournament in which unpredictable things can happen; Chelsea were arguably the best team in Europe under Jose Mourinho in the mid-2000s, but certainly not when they finally won the Champions League under Roberto Di Matteo in 2012 (or when they won it again under Thomas Tuchel last season).

The mention of Chelsea is apposite, though. Chelsea started out from a much stronger position after Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, but they reached the semi-finals in their first, second and fourth seasons under the Russian’s ownership, reached the final in year five (losing on penalties to Manchester United) and reached the semi-finals again in year six, performing heroically against Guardiola’s wonderful Barcelona team, only to be frustrated by some bizarre refereeing decisions and then by Andres Iniesta’s spectacular stoppage-time goal, which levelled the tie and sent Barcelona through on aggregate.

Long before Chelsea finally won it in 2012 — with, it is worth spelling out, a patched-up team which had just finished sixth in the Premier League under a caretaker manager — it had assumed the feeling of an odyssey. With City, too, it has become an odyssey, but it is one that has often been felt to lack a certain… ardour, if that is the right word. Since those early years under Mancini, they have tended to progress serenely through the group stage, playing free-flowing football, only to crack when the pressure is on in the later stages of the tournament.

Does this club and this fanbase really feel the Champions League the way, for example, Real or Bayern or Liverpool do? It has often felt not. European nights at the Etihad Stadium have at times been a hard sell. The club has frequently been at war with UEFA, European football’s governing body, over Financial Fair Play regulations, which have presented obstacles of a type that early Abramovich-era Chelsea did not face, and other disciplinary issues. City’s supporters make great play of booing the Champions League anthem. That is their right, but perhaps it doesn’t add to a sense of occasion.

But anyone who was at their quarter-final second leg against Liverpool in 2018 or that dramatic night against Tottenham in 2019 would dispute the notion that City were handicapped by their home crowd. The same goes for the semi-final first leg against Real last week, when City, in a raucous atmosphere, produced a performance of the highest intensity and technical quality, only to end up with a mere 4-3 advantage to show for a game they dominated.

And no amount of ambivalence or anti-UEFA feeling among the City fanbase could explain the collapse against Lyon in an empty stadium in Lisbon in 2020or the unusually flat performance in last season’s final (this time with a restricted crowd) or indeed the disintegration in the final minutes at a rowdy Bernabeu on Wednesday night. These defeats were on Guardiola and his players. No excuses this time.

Whatever any of us might think of the ownership model, the motivation behind it or the vast sums that have been spent to transform City beyond recognition, it is a club run by smart people. They always recognised it was going to take time to develop a mid-table club into one that could win the Premier League and, from there, to compete for — and, ultimately, win — the Champions League.

The mind goes back to an interview City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak did in 2012, in which he spelt out the step-by-step approach, “year one was to learn the ropes and manage change, year two to up it a notch and compete for a Champions League position while improving the infrastructure and culture of the club” and so on. They had just won the Premier League title in year four, which was bang on schedule, and year five was going to be about trying to maintain that level domestically while challenging in Europe.

Both publicly and privately, it has been measured — far more so than at Paris Saint-Germain, whose takeover by Qatar Sports Investments has warped French football so much that even winning an eighth Ligue 1 title in 10 seasons, by a huge margin, has left an air of disillusion and a growing sense of futility. Their president Nasser Al-Khelaifi declared as far as back as January 2014 that they had to win the Champions League “within the next four years at most”. (They, like City, are still waiting, having at times shown that same penchant for implosion when the stakes have been highest.)

At City, there has always been a recognition that European glory is not a divine right and that there are more variables in a knockout tournament. But it is correct to say there was an expectation, internally as well as externally, that a club winning five Premier League titles in the first 13 seasons of Sheikh Mansour’s ownership (which is as many as Chelsea have won in 19 seasons under Abramovich) would by now have won the Champions League at least once.

It is not as straightforward as suggesting that Guardiola was hired to win the Champions League, but it was certainly a significant part of his brief. Over the past six years, it is the one area in which he has fallen short (although there would be greater appreciation of his work in moulding Phil Foden into such a high-class performer if he had done more to integrate others from an excellent youth academy into the first-team squad).

The interesting question is whether, having not yet been able to steer City to Champions League glory, he has become part of the reason why they are falling short. Speaking personally, the instinctive answer has long been a firm “no”. But there was also a feeling, watching him address his players on the pitch at the end of normal time on Wednesday and then the way they started extra time so nervously, that perhaps on this particular occasion they needed a simple message rather than whatever tactical instructions he was trying to impart in such a manic, feverish manner. 

There were no “overthinking” accusations here. Tactics didn’t lose that game for City. Events — and City’s inability to come to terms with them — did. More and more, these matches in the latter stages of the Champions League are coming down to teams’ ability or otherwise to adapt to dramatic changes in the dynamics of a high-stakes encounter. City and PSG, the new kids without the Champions League pedigree, have fallen victim to that, but so too at various times have Barcelona (against Liverpool in 2019, Bayern in 2020 and PSG in 2021), Liverpool (against Atletico Madrid in 2020) and indeed Real (against Ajax in 2019, City in 2020 and, very nearly, Chelsea in 2022).

It is a phenomenon of modern football that doesn’t seem to play to Guardiola’s undoubted strengths as a coach. But would City wish to sacrifice those strengths for a more pragmatic coach like Jose Mourinho or Antonio Conte, who last won a Champions League knockout tie in 2014 and 2013 respectively? Of course not.

Or even a coach like Zinedine Zidane or Carlo Ancelotti, whose calm air of detachment has brought better results in the Champions League in recent years? No. If Guardiola wishes to stay in Manchester beyond next season, the City hierarchy will be delighted to extend the arrangement, as indeed they should be.

But if success in the Champions League is self-perpetuating in the case of Real in particular — and not just from a financial perspective — it certainly feels as if repeated failure can weigh heavily on a group of players when the pressure is at its most intense. A kind of fear seemed to take hold of City the moment Rodrygo reduced the aggregate deficit to 5-4. Would that fear have been so intense had City done themselves justice and beaten Chelsea in last season’s final? We can only hypothesise, but very feasibly not.

It is the kind of thing that City, so faultless in the Premier League for much of the past five years, just haven’t done in the Champions League.

Even some of the praise for holding firm away to Atletico Madrid in the previous round felt — like some of that directed at Real for their supposed resilience in restricting City to a mere 4-3 victory in the semi-final first leg — a little excessive. Against Atletico, City performed nervously in the second half but survived. Against Real, they were in control for 89 minutes but then Real scored and it was as if the roof had fallen in. The team has evolved beyond recognition, and has been one of the best in Europe over a sustained period of time, but in some ways it was reminiscent of those Mancini-era capitulations in Munich, Naples and Amsterdam.

It was just the kind of scenario that Richards, who left City in 2015, was dreading when we spoke on Wednesday afternoon before he headed for the NBC Sports studio. He talked about how far City have come since those naive, early days in the Champions League, but there was also a nagging fear that their profligacy might be punished by a team with Real’s killer instinct.

Richards was asked whether, given their excellence in the Premier League, City truly need to win the Champions League. “I get asked this all the time,” he said. “Sometimes I play it down because of how well they’ve done in the Premier League; what they’ve done in the Premier League is nothing short of sensational, especially with how good this Liverpool side is. 

“But the Champions League is a different thing. They do need to win this competition. The majority of people would say City are one of the best teams in Europe, if not the best. But you’ve got to show that. You’ve got to win the European Cup because it propels a club to a different level.

“Me personally, I would rather win the Premier League. But for the club, for where Manchester City are and where they want to go and for people to put them in that top bracket, globally, that is what they need. So I’m not going to play it down. They do need it. And it’s about time they did. To take the club to the next level, it’s got to happen. So come on, please, I need it. We need it.”Spool forward a few hours and another eagerly anticipated Champions League night had ended in chaos and anguish for City and their supporters — just like an occasion back in September 2012 when, on their first visit to the Bernabeu for a group match, they went into the closing stages 2-1 up only to be pegged back by an 85th-minute equaliser from that man Benzema and beaten by a last-minute goal from Cristiano Ronaldo. The day before that particular game, Mancini had told reporters he believed City were now in a position to challenge for the Champions League. “If you drive a Ferrari, you can win,” he told us with a laugh. “We used to drive a Fiat, maybe a Cinquecento, and it is not so easy. But now we drive a Ferrari.”Maybe so. And one day, as Al Mubarak said in 2020, they will surely crack it. But the longer this journey goes on, the more those unexpected bumps in the road seem to leave them in a tailspin.

US National Team News
We are gearing up for an exciting summer! The Men’s and Women’s Para team are kicking things off in May at the IFCPF World Cup in Spain. Then the U.S. Men’s National Team opens June with two friendlies and two Concacaf Nations League matches and the U.S. Women’s National Team will close out June with two friendlies before heading to Monterrey, Mexico in July for the Concacaf W Championship. All this, plus our Youth National Teams are back in action and there is a new Insiders perk, check it all out below! World Cup Hype and What the Team is doing to prepare Now that the U.S. Men’s National Team has qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the team will kick off its preparation for the world’s biggest stage against Morocco on June 1 at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, before USA-Uruguay, presented by Allstate on June 5 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan.. The USMNT will then play its final home match prior to the World Cup as it begins its Concacaf Nations League title defense against Grenada on June 10 at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas. The team will close out the summer international window with a visit to El Salvador in its second Nations League group stage match on June 14. Tickets for the three home matches are available now at ussoccer.com/tickets. With the youngest team to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the time is now to get behind the USMNT. During the seven-month qualifying gauntlet, Gregg Berhalter’s side set a number of unprecedented records, read up on all the facts and figures around the team’s successful road to Qatar and check out ussoccer.com’s World Cup Hub for info leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

More than a debut: Angel City FC’s home opener felt like the start of a new NWSL era

Meg Linehan  May 4, 2022

4,634 days.

That’s how long it took for women’s professional soccer to return to Los Angeles. The last time an LA team featured in a domestic league, it was the Sol back at the start of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). After winning the shield in that inaugural 2009 season, their final match at the Home Depot Center (now Dignity Health Sports Park) in Carson was the WPS Championship. The LA Sol lost to Sky Blue FC thanks to a Heather O’Reilly goal in the 16th minute, in front of only 7,218 spectators.They didn’t know it at the time, but the Sol were a fleeting dream, dissolved before the league’s second season.

On Friday night, almost 13 years later, women’s soccer finally returned to the City of Angels. This time, at the Banc of California Stadium, as Nina Simone promised a new dawn and a new day over the speakers before first kick, the long-awaited return took place in front of a loud, joyous sell-out crowd of 22,000. From the stands full of supporters to minority owner Jennifer Garner, captured by cameras, they celebrated wildly, hitting triple digits on the decibel scale. First, it was Vanessa Gilles in the third minute, heading in a goal, before the expansion side struck again via Jun Endo only 10 minutes later.A dream start, a story so good it could only happen in Hollywood. But maybe it was the dream returning for good, in all the right ways — and maybe some new ones too.Angel City’s founding owner and president Julie Uhrman isn’t hard to spot as she moves through the pregame fan fest outside the stadium. The Angel City shirt and scarf combo help, but as she makes her entrance a few hours before the game, there are surprised looks of recognition on fans’ faces as she passes. Her family is in the crowd, and her twin sister Amy is by her side for most of the day. (Their resemblance fools me the first time; but by the end of the night I’m pointing out to folks that they’re about to try to talk to the wrong sister.)Being trailed by the team’s head of communications and a video crew (and The Athletic) helps up the conspicuous factor, but it’s clear that Uhrman doesn’t really mind the attention. She poses for selfies, checks in on fans waiting in line for various activities to make sure they’re enjoying themselves.Uhrman’s kids find her in the crowd, holding hand-written signs. The theme is very clear and very cute: “You did it, Mom!!!” They’re not without a little gentle parental heckling, though. Her son’s sign asks how many magazine covers she’s been on, noting that he’s lost count.She swings out to where the supporters’ groups are gathering, where her fellow founding owner Alexis Ohanian is already deep in a conversation with some folks from Rebellion 99, before one final walk through. Based on conversations with both the club and the supporters, this is one of the areas that could still use some improvement: for all of Angel City’s focus on community building and their stated appreciation of the supporters’ groups, there’s a sense that the front office still doesn’t quite grasp how a “supporter” is different from a “fan.” The team is still learning about the supporter infrastructure, and how independence from the front office is important. Angel City’s built an infrastructure around community in a way no other team has, but still needs to figure out how to truly value the external accountability supporters can provide.But even that challenge is progress in its own way.The fan fest brings back memories of WUSA, the first pro league started after the success of the 1999 World Cup — of my walking through a whole block of sponsor activations heading into Nickerson Field in Boston before a Boston Breakers game, of the pomp around the first-ever league match between Mia Hamm’s Washington Freedom and Brandi Chastain’s Bay Area CyberRays. It’s not the only time it feels like the past and present are colliding, especially considering Hamm is now an investor in Angel City.Reading back a report of that first WUSA match, the crowd is described as being “dominated by soccer moms and dads and screaming kids by the thousands.” That’s not the case at Banc of California Stadium at all. There are, of course, families and kids everywhere, but there’s also a full bar in the fan fest, along with a booth from whiskey brand Jane Walker, a sponsor. It’s still a family friendly event, but it feels far removed from those days of WUSA, or even the earlier years of the NWSL.“I was thinking of that (WUSA-opening) Washington game, actually,” Julie Foudy says a little later on, back inside the stadium. She reminisces that, for the players after the 1999 World Cup, the formation of WUSA was like “giving birth to a baby.” And when the league folded in 2003, the players who had spent so much time, and were willing to take pay cuts to keep the lights on, were crushed.“Now we’re sitting in on the ownership side as (former) players,” she says, “to be able to give in that sense meant so much to us. It’s really going to be emotional.”For Uhrman, the defining emotion of Friday night is pride, as feelings run high for most of the afternoon into evening. Long hugs, the threat of tears, a pause just to look around and take it all in — she’s not the only one experiencing the emotional release of the long journey to the first regular season game, but she is at the center of it all.“Proud of the team, proud of the club, proud of this community,” she says shortly before taking the field with the rest of her fellow owners. “Proud of everyone that believed in us and then those who came along after. There were people who didn’t believe in us, and then they’ve been converted.”It’s been almost two years since The Athletic (slightly) ruined a vacation Uhrman was on in the summer of 2020 by reporting that the ownership group and the NWSL were in advanced talks to bring a team to Los Angeles, longer still since the first conversations around the potential of such an idea. But even now, only moments before their first regular-season game, it still feels like the start of it all for Uhrman. There’s a whole season ahead. Now, maybe, they’ll finally learn what the normal day-to-day of a NWSL club is like.

“That’s the part that’s incredible,” she says, “knowing that this is the beginning.”There’s a lot that happened on Friday night that I’ve never really seen at a NWSL game before in my 10 years around the league, but the best exampleof “only Angel City would do this” is a pink carpet for the many team owners to walk for pregame interviews with media.For the owners who do roll through, it’s an interesting mix of those with deep ties to women’s soccer and women’s sports, and those who are relatively new to the landscape. When Billie Jean King shows up, she beelines down the carpet to Ohanian for a giant hug (made slightly hilarious thanks to their height difference) as she declares him an ally to everyone watching.Ohanian’s in a good mood himself. He made it a priority to show up early and head out into the fan fest to talk to as many people as he could manage before the game. While he didn’t even know the NWSL existed when he first started tweeting about women’s soccer during the 2019 World Cup, he’s now one of the most intriguing examples of this new class of NWSL owner: fully bought in, but in some ways, free of what came before.

“What’s exciting is that it’s still such a young league,” he says. “From the jump, that was one of the things that made this such an interesting opportunity for me. There was not this long precedent of decades of, ‘This is how we do things.’ There were lots of reasons why that was a disadvantage, but one key reason why that was, and I think will continue to be an advantage, is because we can dictate a different way of doing things.”

At the complete other end of the spectrum when it comes to women’s soccer experience, Mia Hamm frames the night in the greater historical context.

“With WUSA, we had no idea what was gonna happen. It was like, ‘We live for today, and then tomorrow we wake up and we do it all over again,’” she says. The fact that the NWSL is entering its 10th year helps assuage some of those carpe diem vibes, but Hamm doesn’t want anyone taking the night for granted.

“We use this energy to continue to build tomorrow, on the days after, because it can’t just be one day. It’s like anything in life, it’s a constant renewal and reinvestment.”

Angel City investor Abby Wambach, who played in WUSA, WPS and the NWSL, speaks to the shift that’s happening within the league right now, being driven by the players at multiple levels — from the negotiation of the collective bargaining agreement by the NWSL PA to players forcing change at the ownership level.

“When you’ve been given crumbs for so long, when you get crumbs plus a little more crumbs, you’re super grateful,” she says. “That’s what it felt like to be a part of the early stages of the NWSL — ‘Wow, we have a league, we should be grateful, we should just not ask questions, we should be fine with being on crappy buses and in crappy hotels.’

“What you see here (with Angel City) is a combination of so many people getting together and going, ‘No. It can be different. It can be this, don’t do that.’ We can make this whatever we want.”

That’s a huge part of the appeal of Angel City: that the team is free of the fear that has driven decision-making in women’s soccer for so long, that there’s no worry about proving the value of the team or the game — it’s taken as a foundational fact. As freeing as this is, however, that doesn’t mean it works out perfectly. The team still has to follow the new CBA; Angel City’s rightfully been criticized for building a brand first, roster second and many NWSL supporters are not willingly embracing the club’s use of NFTs.

There’s not just room for growth, but improvement. It’s not a bad problem to have on day one.

“This isn’t just about this year, right?” Wambach asks. “We’re still a new club. There’s going to be growing pains.” The important part for her as an owner is that she feels the club has opened the doors to everyone, that there are so many different voices in the mix at the ownership level.“It’s not just about even the women here, the owners, the team. It’s about the Billie Jeans, it’s about Title IX, it’s about all of the big steps and little steps that needed to be taken in order for us to get here and to be here with pride,” she says. She takes one of those long pauses, glancing at her fellow owners to her left and right, a hallway full of video crews and media, an area already jam-packed with people long before the game kicks off.“You know, this is really awesome. Here’s a pink carpet. We’re out in this freaking huge stadium, brand new stadium. It’s just a good day. It’s a really good day.”That good day only gets better. There’s an endless parade of owners out onto the field for pregame ceremonies — though the club finds out the hard way what happens when you have fireworks launch from the field, as the smoke lingers through the lower bowl. Brittany Howard and Tia P. are in front of the supporters’ safe standing section with a full brass band, launching into the club’s anthem before the players enter. Julie Foudy leads the full stadium in a clapping pattern in the way only she can, with an absurd amount of enthusiasm and zero shame about being over the top. A giant tifo is raised overhead across multiple sections of the safe standing sections — it promises Un Nuevo Amanecer; a new dawn.Nina Simone starts to serenade us all as the players shake out their legs, exchange high fives and quick words before the whistle. The wait, after all this build-up, feels infinite.Not every game is going to have a lead-in like this, but with 15,000+ season tickets sold, the team isn’t going to need to hit the high of this moment for every single game either.Angel City holds on for dear life against the North Carolina Courage for a 2-1 win to start the regular season. Walking the Banc during the game, everywhere feels like a party. The lines for merch and beer are long at every stand in the concourse. Most surprisingly, I only spot two USWNT jerseys the entire night. Mostly, the crowd is a sea of Angel City jerseys or black T-shirts — an impressive saturation level for a new team.At one point, I end up right behind one of the goals, sitting with a friend for a few minutes — which happened to be the very moment when Debinha clawed one back for the Courage, watching one of the game’s best from only a few yards away. My friend tells me later that the folks sitting in front of them bought season tickets as a family — their kids don’t play soccer, but they wanted to show them what was possible up close. We think for a moment about how many kids in that crowd were getting their first taste of women’s pro soccer, about how many lives it’s going to change, and it’s a little overwhelming.Finally, after what feels like an endless amount of stoppage time and a masterclass from Angel City goalkeeper DiDi Haračić in clock management, the final whistle presents another perfect, dream moment on the field. Los Angeles-born captain Ali Riley doesn’t hold back her tears, and there are hugs everywhere, players soaking in every single second of celebration from the sell-out crowd.“I’m gonna start crying again,” Riley says after the game, in front of a full press conference. “I have waited for a moment like this for 12 years. I hoped to get drafted to the LA Sol, but they folded before I had a chance. I’ve been all over the world. To be here, with my parents watching this game, for us to win, to feel the love, the support, I think we proved that anything is possible in women’s sports.”Watching from the press box, the celebration on Friday night is truly understandable — not just because of the upset, but because the first game, despite being the first, is the end of one part of the team’s journey.“I know it was just game one,” Riley continues. “It’s a moment I’ll never forget. No matter what happens this season, no one can ever take tonight away from us and this crowd. To feel that was unbelievable. I’ll never forget this.”

5/11/22  Big Games Midweek/US Open Cup Wed Night/FA Cup Final Sat/Indy 11 Ladies sellout sees first win 

Indy 11 Ladies Win 3-1

More than seven months after announcing its first foray into the women’s game, Indy Eleven ensured the wait was well worth it by capturing a 3-1 victory over Kings Hammer FC in the Inaugural Match of the USL W League, the new 44-team women’s pre-professional league under the United Soccer League umbrella. The historic triumph for Indy Eleven was played in front of a sold out, standing room-only crowd of 1,571 fans at the Grand Park Events Center. Rachel McCarthy’s pair of goals early in the first half lifted Indiana’s Team to a comfortable cushion, and Carmel Dads Club, Carmel High School alum and current Butler standout Katie Soderstrom’s 78th minute finish sealed the win after the KHFC cut the deficit back to one just before halftime. Read all about it !!  

Sold Out Crowd was on hand for this first ladies game Win !

US Open Cup Play Tonight ESPN+

Huge games this week as US Open Cup play is underway on ESPN + and the Special ESPN+ Goalazo Show with a boucearound from game to game feature tonight from 7 until 10 pm at least.   Big games tonight for the underdogs are former Carmel fC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr (who was voted GK of the month and is up for player of the month in the USL) and his San Antonio Scorpions traveling to face the Houston Dynamo at 8:30 pm on ESPN+.  Also the California Strikers will host the LA Galaxy at 10:30 pm along with USL squads Sacramento and Phoenix Rising battling it out at 10:30 as well al on ESPN+.  While the US Open Cup is not the FA Cup – it has been played for since 1914 and it would be cool to see one of these lower division teams surprise the MLS squads that have won the last 20 versions, hopefully Farr’s San Antonio stays alive! 

Big Games this week

Lets start today with Leeds United v Chelsea, 2:30p on Peacock: A pivotal match for both sides: Christian Pulisic and Chelsea need to hold onto top-four position. Jesse Marsch and Leeds desperately need to pick up points to jump ahead of Everton or Burnley to avoid relegation.   I do expect American Christian Pulisic – fresh of fhis assist last weekend to get the start perhaps in his favored #10 slot even?  He sure looked good on Saturday. Midweek play for the Americans.  Other games to catch today include Juventus vs Inter in the Italian Cup Final on Paramount plus at 3 pm.   Of course tomorrow it’s a huge battle for 4th in the EPL as Tontenham host Arsenal at 3 pm on USA Network.  Saturday we get the FA Cup Final  Liverpool vs Chelsea at 11:45 am on ESPN plus as Liverpool is still alive for the Triple or the Quad – 4 Cups – if they can beat

Good Luck to our Carmel FC teams playing in Challenge Cup/State Cup and President Cup games coming up this weekend and next!!  Carmel FC GKs be sure to get those trainings in this week – Wed at Shelbourne with Coach Noelle and Thurs with me at Badger  6:15-8:15 pm. 

======================RackZ BAR BQ ====Save 20% ====================== 

Heading over to the Field House at Badger Field for Training?  Try out the Best BarBQ in Town right across the street (131st) from Northview Church on the corner of Hazelldell & 131st. RackZ BBQ

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Check out the BarBQ Ribs, pulled Pork and Chicken, Brisket and more.  Sweet, Tangy or Spicy sauce. Mention you heard about it from the Ole Ballcoach — and Ryan will give you 20% off your next mealhttps://www.rackzbbqindy.com/ Call ahead at 317-688-7290  M-Th 11-8 pm, 11-9 Fri/Sat, 12-8 pm on Sunday.  Pick some up after practice – Its good eatin! You won’t be disappointed and tell ’em the Ole Ballcoach Sent You!  

Save 20% on these Succulent Ribs at Rackz BarBQ when you mention the Ole Ballcoach – Corner of 131 & Hazelldell. – Call 317-688-7290.


(American’s in parenthesis)

Wed May 11                       US Open Cup

2:30 pm USA                      Leeds United (Marsch) v Chelsea (Puliisic)

3 pm Para+                         Juventus vs Inter  Italian Cup

7 pm ESPN+                        New England vs Cincy 

8 pm EPSN+                        Atlanta vs Nashville

8:30 pm ESPN+           Houston Dynamo vs San Antonio (Jordan Farr)

10 pm ESPN+                      Seattle v San Jose 

10:30 pm ESPN+                Sacramento vs Phoenix Rising

10:30 pm ESPN+                California Strikers vs LA Galaxy

Thur May 12                        

3 pm USA                            Tottenham vs Arsenal

Sat May 14         

11:45 am ESPN+         Chelsea vs Liverpool FA CUP FINAL

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule


Christian Pulisic Watch: How did USMNT star perform for Chelsea at Leeds?

USA MLS Player Played Well  

Miles Robinson Lost for World Cup
Robinson injury blow for US World Cup plans

EPL & World

Liverpool vs Chelsea Preview

PL Update: Man City roll; Chelsea clinch top-four

De Bruyne’s four-goal game for Man City v. Wolves

Man  City agree to Eriling Halland Deal

Haaland will make Man City even more prolific, says Guardiola
NBC Sports

Top five PL goals and saves from Matchweek 36

Briston Rovers score 7 goals to get Promoted

Atletico edge past weakened Real Madrid, Sevilla peg back Villarreal


Is New York City FC’s stay at Yankee Stadium really an insult to soccer?

5/6/22  Indy 11 Women Start Fri Night 7 pm Grand Park Events Center (indoors), NWSL Challenge Cup Final Sat 1 pm on CBS, Seattle wins CONCACAF Champions League, Liverpool vs Real Madrid in UCL Final, Liverpool v Spurs Sat 2:45 pm USA

Indy 11 Win Again, Indy Women’s Team 1st Game Fri 7 pm Grand Park 

Our Boys in Blue Win again (highlights) 1-0 over the Hartford Athletic and the weather – as they started 45 minutes late and had a 90 minute delay – but found a way to win it 1-0 in the end.  That’s 4 wins in a row and 6 unbeaten at our 11 jump to 4th in the East.   The Indy 11 USL Women’s League kicks off this FRIDAY NIGHT at WestField Grand Park Events Center Field 2 vs Kings Hammer (Tix are just $8 click here) – and the vote for best Crest is on – make your vote for our Indy 11 by 12 noon on Wed.  The inaugural roster of the first Indy 11 Women’s team – includes local standouts Cassidy Lindley from Carmel, Katie Soderstrom from Carmel High and Butler,  Abby Isger of Indy and Butler, Selena Barnett MF from Carmel, Rachel Dewey MF from Indy, Heather McNabb MF from Carmel, IN, GK Nona Reason from Noblesville, Jenna Chatterton DF from Noblesville.  Plan to head out and catch a game this Friday night – as they will be on the road until June 3rdFull schedule

NWSL Challenge Cup Final Sat 1 pm CBS

The NWSL Challenge Cup has reached its final stage, and the North Carolina Courage will host the Washington Spirit on Saturday, to see who will take away the title. North Carolina and Washington ended their last meetup in the group stage on April 23 of the Challenge Cup with a 2-2 draw. Now they each play on a quick turnaround from playing their semifinal matches on Wednesday. North Carolina defeated the Kansas City Current 2-1 and Washington ending its match with the OL Reign in a scoreless draw. For North Carolina Courage vs. Washington Spirit, Herrera is backing North Carolina to win the title match by a score of 2-1. The expert notes Washington’s power trio of Ashley Hatch, Ashley Sanchez and Trinity Rodman were slowed down in their semifinal match against the OL Reign, being outshot 21-12. They could be in bigger trouble on Saturday facing a sturdy North Carolina defense including Merritt Mathias and Carson Pickett.”Heading into the final on a short week could mean the game comes down to impact off the bench, with North Carolina having the edge with more options at the fullback position, as they battle it out for the Challenge Cup,” Herrera told SportsLine.

An MLS Team my Seattle Sounders won the CONCACAF Champions League Title Thursday night at home – in front of a record 67,000 crowd and a national Fox Sports 1 Audience on board. 

======================RackZ BAR BQ ====Save 20% ====================== 

Heading over to the Field House at Badger Field for Training?  Try out the Best BarBQ in Town right across the street (131st) from Northview Church on the corner of Hazelldell & 131st. RackZ BBQ

Save 20% on your order 

(mention the ole ballcoach) 

Check out the BarBQ Ribs, pulled Pork and Chicken, Brisket and more.  Sweet, Tangy or Spicy sauce. Mention you heard about it from the Ole Ballcoach — and Ryan will give you 20% off your next mealhttps://www.rackzbbqindy.com/ Call ahead at 317-688-7290  M-Th 11-8 pm, 11-9 Fri/Sat, 12-8 pm on Sunday.  Pick some up after practice – Its good eatin! You won’t be disappointed and tell ’em the Ole Ballcoach Sent You!  

Save 20% on these Succulent Ribs at Rackz BarBQ when you mention the Ole Ballcoach – Corner of 131 & Hazelldell. – Call 317-688-7290.


(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat May 7

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

9:30 am ESPN+                  Furth vs Dortmund

10 am USA                          Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Wolverhampton

12:30 pm NBC                    Brighton vs Man United

1 pm CBS                            NWSL Challenge Cup Final

2:45 pm USA                      Liverpool vs Tottenham

3 pm TUDN                         Charlotte vs Inter Miami
3 pm ESPN+                        Real Bettis vs Barcelona (Dest)

7 pm Para+                         NC Courage vs Portland Thorns NWSL

7 pm Para +                        Chicago Red Stars vs Washington Spirit

10 pm Para+                       San Diego Wave vs NY/NJ Gothem

11 pm ESPN+                      LAFC vs Philly Union

Sun,  May 8

9 am USA                            Arsenal vs Leeds United (Jesse Marsch)

9:30 am ESPN+                  Frankfurt vs MGladbach (Joe Scally)

11:30 am USA                    Man City vs New Castle United

1:30 pm ESPN+                  RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Ausburg

3 pm ESPN+                        Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid – Madrid Derby

6 pm Para+                         OL Reign vs Racing Louisville

7 pm FS1                             Austin vs LA Galaxy

9 pm Para+                         Angel City vs Orlando Pride

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule


 EPL predictions this weekend
Man City refocus after loss  
Conte urges Spurs to be ‘brave’ against fearsome Liverpool

us on Premier League title push as Leeds sweat

Champions League

Real Madrid and Liverpool set for Paris rematch

Man City suffer most painful Champions League meltdown in Madrid

Real Madrid’s ‘history keeps us going’, says Ancelotti

Real Madrid stuns Man City with unreal rally, advances to Champions League final

Liverpool survive scare to beat Villarreal en route to Champions League final
Villarreal vs Liverpool final score: Reds reach 10th European Cup final

‘We never make it easy,’ says relieved Alexander-Arnold

Champions League Semifinals Leg 2 Highlights: Real Madrid vs. 

Liverpool’s Salah wants ‘revenge’ in Real Madrid rematch

Another stunning comeback brings Real Madrid’s next generation to the fore

Three things we learned from Real Madrid v Manchester City

Guardiola says ‘no words can help’ ease pain of Man City Euro exit

European wrap: Leicester, West Ham fall but Rangers reach final

West Ham see red as Frankfurt reach Europa League final

Conte praises Liverpool model as he mulls Spurs future


Seattle defeat Pumas UNAM to win CONCACAF Champions League

My 3 Thoughts on Real Madrid-Manchester City

Real Madrid Defies Belief Yet Again, Scores Three Times Late to Reach the Men’s UEFA Champions League Final

 Grant Wahl May 4

Karim Benzema and Real Madrid did it again, scoring three goals late and miraculously advancing to the men’s UEFA Champions League final (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Real Madrid’s Rodrygo scored goals in the 90th and 91st minutes and Karim Benzema fired home the decisive penalty in extra-time to carry the Spanish giants to a miraculous comeback against Manchester City, winning 6-5 on aggregate, and advance to the men’s UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool. Here are my three thoughts on the game:

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

• God, this really is the best sport. What other sport gives you moments like the one we just witnessed? Not one. Real Madrid looked dead and buried, down by two goals in the 90th minute after Riyad Mahrez had put City up by two in the 73rd minute. People were openly talking about a City-Liverpool Champions League final. But in the dying moments of the game, not long after City’s Jack Grealish had seen one shot cleared off the line by Ferland Mendy and another saved gorgeously by Thibaut Courtois, Rodrygo directed in a Karim Benzema pass to give Real Madrid life. And then, less than 90 seconds later, Rodrygo somehow did it again, heading home past Ederson to level the scoreline. Then Benzema did what Benzema does, earning a penalty early in extra-time and converting the spot kick to make the difference. You cannot deny that Real Madrid as a club has created a culture of winning in this tournament that showed itself again today—or that Man City now has created a culture that continually comes up short in the biggest moments of the Champions League. I used to think that wasn’t a thing. After seeing what happened with Real Madrid against PSG and now City this season, it’s a real thing.

• It was more than just Rodrygo and Benzema for Real Madrid. So many Madrid players made a difference in the end of a game that was rather uneventful until the 70th minute before going completely haywire. Courtois was absolutely massive, making giant saves on Grealish and Phil Foden to save the day. Midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, all of 19 years old, came on in the 75th minute for Luka Modric and made Real Madrid instantly better, more dangerous, more alive. And Mendy’s goal-line clearance will become a permanent part of Real Madrid club lore. Give the preternaturally unflappable Carlo Ancelotti plenty of credit for the changes he made that helped his team the chance to survive in the most unlikely circumstances possible. And what can you say about Pep Guardiola? He just seems to have a block in this competition. No fewer than 11 seasons have now passed since he last won the Champions League, with Barcelona, despite the several times that Guardiola has had the tournament’s best team on paper during that time (including, quite possibly, this season). City’s defending just crumbled in the final minutes of regulation to the point that it’s hard not to think there was something mental in play, something close to a choke.

• Real Madrid-Liverpool is going to be a fantastic final. In the rematch of the 2017-18 final won by Real Madrid, at least we won’t have to see Sergio Ramos injuring Mohamed Salah or, if you’re a Liverpool fan, Loris Karius in goal. On paper, Liverpool will be the favorite, having been the best team in Europe and in England during the 2022 calendar year so far. But this game will not be played on paper, and the intangible “winning-time” exploits that we have seen from Real Madrid during this incredible Champions League run figure to come into play again. Benzema (at 34) and Modric (at 36) have played like they were 10 years younger this entire tournament, and you can be certain that they will be ready to go on May 28 in Paris. One suspects that Jürgen Klopp will have learned his lesson from not starting Luis Díaz against Villarreal on Tuesday and will deploy Días, Salah and Sadio Mané up top and hope that Virgil van Dijk continues anchoring Liverpool’s spine the way he has all season. The crazy thing is I sense that Liverpool would have preferred to play City instead of this cosmically charmed Real Madrid squad that now appears like a team of destiny.

5/2/22  Champ League Semis Tue/Wed 3 pm CBS, Indy 11 Win Again!, Seattle hosts Champ League Final Wed Night 10 pm FS1, Indy 11 Women start Fri 7 pm Grand Park

CONCACAF Champions League Final Wed Night 10 pm FS1

An MLS Team goes for First Ever CONCACAF Champions League Title tonight at 10 pm at home with a record 67,000 crowd and a national Fox Sports 1 Audience on board.  You could argue Seattle should be the first MLS team to break the decade long streak of disappointment vs Liga MX teams that has haunted MLS.  Seattle is the MLS’ top franchise over the last 10 years so becoming the first MLS team to lift the CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Trophy would be fitting.  Here’s Marshawn Lynch – Pitching tonights game! Seattle can make history as MLS spending rivals Liga MX

Champions League Semi-Final Spectacular Tues/Wed on CBS

OK if you are here in Indy – the dam game was not on CBS Local – it is being re-played on CBS Sports Network at 9:30 pm tonight.  I was assured by the local station that Wed’s Real Madrid vs Man City will indeed be on CBS local tomorrow/Wed 3 pm!  Check this out if you are desperate to see before then. Now on to the Game – I love Champions League – it rarely disappoints !!   Here’s the Spanish Version highlights – Here’s English highlights – man Villarreal had me worried when they scored the 2nd goal to tie it all up at 2-2 on Aggregate. The little Yellow Submarine Villarreal –with a packed house of 23K sounding like 100K was on a role until Liverpool recovered in the 2nd half. Thank Goodness Villarreal’s GK struggled in the 2nd half  Rulli mistake 1  Bad Goal 2

My goodness do we have a dosey this Wednesday afternoon at 3 pm on CBS as the Champions League Semi-finals finish up with Man City leading just 4-3 traveling to the Bernabéu to face Real Madrid and perhaps the world’s hottest striker Karim Benzema.  The Game at City was an instant Classic as Man City got our front 2-0 then 4-1 before Real Madrid scored 2 to make it 4-3.  Benzema’s hat trick was timely.   (highlights).   Tuesday at 3 pm on CBS we start with Liverpool back home vs Villareal – up 2-0 coming in- I look for Liverpool to cruise to a 2-1 or 1-1 game and advance to the finals.  Here’s predictions and video predictions – for me I like Real Madrid with a hot Benzema to win this one 3-1 at home to advance to the finals vs Liverpool.   

Of course now we have Women’s Champions League as well – here are highlights from Lyon who is led by American youngster Catarina Macario win over PSG.  Here are her goals from last week’s first leg. Barcelona, on a 48 game unbeaten streak gave up more than normal and lost at Wolfsburg 2-0 but they advance with a 5-3 aggregate to the finals in Turin where they will face Lyon and Macario on May 21st.   

Around the World

Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti completed the Cinco – as his Real Madrid won Spain’s La Liga on Saturday.  The Italian became the first Manager to win titles in 5 leagues

NWSL 10th Season Kicksoff

The NWSL kicked-off its 10th Anniversary Season this past weekend –I know the NWSL Challenge Cup has been going on for a month – but this is the regular season and the preview for the season is here.  Great to see Angel City FC get off to a good start with a 2-1 win in Los Angeles with a packed house at Banc of California – my daughter is a season ticket holder.

Indy 11 Win Again 1-0, Indy 11 Women’s Team 1st Game Fr 7 pm @ Grand Park

Our Boys in Blue Win again (highlights) 1-0 over the Hartford Athletic and the weather – as they started 45 minutes late and had a 90 minute delay – but found a way to win it 1-0 in the end.  That’s 4 wins in a row and 6 unbeaten as we jump to 4th in the East.   The Indy 11 USL Women’s League kicks off this FRIDAY NIGHT 7 pm at Westfield Grand Park Events Center Field 2 vs Kings Hammer (Tix are just $8 click here) – and the vote for best Crest is on – make your vote for our Indy 11 by 12 noon on Wed. The inaugural roster of the first Indy 11 Women’s team – includes local standouts Cassidy Lindley from Carmel, Katie Soderstrom from Carmel High and Butler,  Abby Isger of Indy and Butler, Selena Barnett MF from Carmel, Rachel Dewey MF from Indy, Heather McNabb MF from Carmel, IN, GK Nona Reason from Noblesville, and Jenna Chatterton DF from Noblesville.  Plan to head out and catch a game this Friday night – as they will be on the road until June 3rdFull schedule.  

======================RackZ BAR BQ ====Save 20% ====================== 

Heading over to the Field House at Badger Field for Training?  Try out the Best BarBQ in Town right across the street (131st) from Northview Church on the corner of Hazelldell & 131st. RackZ BBQ

Save 20% on your order 

(mention the ole ballcoach) 

Check out the BarBQ Ribs, pulled Pork and Chicken, Brisket and more.  Sweet, Tangy or Spicy sauce. Mention you heard about it from the Ole Ballcoach — and Ryan will give you 20% off your next mealhttps://www.rackzbbqindy.com/ Call ahead at 317-688-7290  M-Th 11-8 pm, 11-9 Fri/Sat, 12-8 pm on Sunday.  Pick some up after practice – Its good eatin! You won’t be disappointed and tell ’em the Ole Ballcoach Sent You!  

Save 20% on these Succulent Ribs at Rackz BarBQ when you mention the Ole Ballcoach – Corner of 131 & Hazelldell. – Call 317-688-7290.

=====================RackZ BAR BBQ ======Save 20% ======================


(American’s in parenthesis)

Mon,  May 2

3 pm USA                            Man United vs Brentford

Tue May 3 – Champs League

3 pm CBS                            Villareal vs Liverpool 

9:30 pm CBSNSN Replay Villareal vs Liverpool

Wed May 4  – Champs League

3 pm CBS                            Man City vs Real Madrid

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Cincy vs Toronto FC

8 pm CBSSN                        NWSL OL Reign (Seattle)  vs Washington Spirit (Rodman)  

10 pm Para+                       Semi’s – KC Current vs North Carolina Courage

10 pm FS1                           Seattle Sounders vs Pumas (2-2)  

Thurs, May 5 – Europa League

3 pm CBSSN                        Galazo Show – Europa League Final 4

3 Para+                                RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Rangers

3 Para +                               West Ham United vs Frankfurt (Chandler)

3 pm Para+                         Roma vs Leicester City

Fri May 6

7 pm Indy 11 W League first game at Grand Park

Sat May 7

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

9:30 am ESPN+                  Furth vs Dortmund

10 am USA                          Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Wolverhampton

12:30 pm NBC                    Brighton vs Man United

1 pm CBS                            NWSL Challenge Cup Final

2:45 pm USA                      Liverpool vs Tottenham

3 pm TUDN                         Charlotte vs Inter Miami
3 pm ESPN+                        Real Bettis vs Barcelona (Dest)

7 pm Para+                         NC Courage vs Portland Thorns NWSL

7 pm Para +                        Chicago Red Stars vs Washington Spirit

10 pm Para+                       San Diego Wave vs NY/NJ Gothem

11 pm ESPN+                      LAFC vs Philly Union

Sun,  May 8

9 am USA                            Arsenal vs Leeds United (Jesse Marsch)

9:30 am ESPN+                  Frankfurt vs MGladbach (Joe Scally)

11:30 am USA                    Man City vs New Castle United

1:30 pm ESPN+                  RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Ausburg

3 pm ESPN+                        Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid – Madrid Derby

6 pm Para+                         OL Reign vs Racing Louisville

7 pm FS1                             Austin vs LA Galaxy

9 pm Para+                         Angel City vs Orlando Pride

Tue May 10                        US Open Cup

3 pm USA                            Aston Villa vs Liverpool

7 pm ESPN+                        Orlando City vs Philly

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Detroit City vs Louisville City

8 pm ESPN+                        Inter Miami vs Tormenta

10:30 pm ESPN+ LAFC vs Portland

Wed May 11                       US Open Cup

3 pm USA                            Leeds United (Marsch) v Chelsea (Puliisic)

3 pm Para+                         Juventus vs Inter  Italian Cup

7 pm ESPN+                        New England vs Cincy  

8 pm EPSN+                        Atlanta vs Nashville

8:30 pm ESPN+           Houston Dynamo vs San Antonio (Jordan Farr)

10 pm ESPN+                      Seattle v San Jose  

10:30 pm ESPN+                Sacramento vs Phoenix Rising

10:30 pm ESPN+                California Strikers vs LA Galaxy

Thur May 12                        

3 pm USA                            Tottenham vs Arsenal

Sat May 14         

11:45 am ESPN+         Chelsea vs Liverpool FA CUP FINAL

Champions League

Liverpool survive scare to beat Villarreal en route to Champions League final
Villarreal vs Liverpool final score: Reds reach 10th European Cup final

‘We never make it easy,’ says relieved Alexander-Arnold

Benzema: We’ll ‘do something magical’ in Madrid

City must ‘raise their level’ to reach final – Pep

Benzema’s Champions League heroics for Real Madrid are nothing new

Manchester City’s lapses against Real Madrid could lead to more Champions League disappointment

Man City vs. Real Madrid: De Bruyne’s fast start, Benzema’s brilliance and sloppy mistakes

Man City edge Madrid in seven-goal thriller

Liverpool dominated Villarreal but Klopp’s side fully aware Champions League comebacks can happen

Liverpool ease past Villarreal in dominant win

Villarreal, Atletico Madrid prove that strong defensive soccer has a place in modern game


Liverpool survive scare to beat Villarreal en route to Champions League final

USMNT to host Uruguay in World Cup prep
Jeff Carlisle


Arsenal’s fresh legs have them with one foot in next season’s Champions League
James Olley
Jesse Marsch hopeful Leeds can stay up, feels support ‘in the streets’

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Seattle can make CONCACAF Champions League history as MLS spending begins to rival Liga MX

May 3, 2022Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

For Garth Lagerwey, the flashbacks are unavoidable.Eleven years ago, the Seattle Sounders GM and president of soccer had a similar role with Real Salt Lake, and in 2011 the squad he put together was on the cusp of history. The final of that year’s CONCACAF Champions League pitted RSL against Monterrey, and an 89th-minute goal from Javier Morales secured a 2-2 away draw and put Salt Lake in the driver’s seat. Alas, it wasn’t to be. RSL squandered some glorious chances in the return leg, while then-Chile international Humberto Suazo netted the game-winner in first-half stoppage time, pouncing on a loose ball in the box.On Wednesday, Seattle will find itself in an almost identical scenario to Real Salt Lake when it squares off against Pumas in the second leg of this year’s CCL final. A stoppage-time penalty from Nicolas Lodeiro helped the Sounders secure a 2-2 draw in the first leg. Now it is the Sounders who are in a position to make history, and become the first MLS team to win the CCL since 2002, when the format changed to involve home and away fixtures in the knockout rounds.”It’s a little sense of deja vu,” Lagerwey told ESPN. “Obviously we want a happy ending to this movie.”He added, “It’s our chance at immortality, doing something that no one’s ever done before that will be remembered forever.”There have been close calls since RSL’s near miss. CF Montreal reached the final in 2015. Toronto FC was a penalty-kick shootout away from triumphing in 2018. LAFC came close in 2020, although the pandemic meant those games were played on U.S. soil.But as much as CCL futility has remained, much has changed in MLS throughout the years, namely the roster composition and spending by the league’s teams. According to data provided by the MLS Players Association, in 2011, RSL’s total guaranteed compensation for that season was $3.32 million. While it’s easy to write that off as being a symptom of a team that skewed towards the frugal side, Seattle that season wasn’t much better, at $3.4m. In 2021, the most recent year for which data is available, Seattle’s total guaranteed compensation is $13.59m, more than four times RSL’s 2011 amount. That is by no means the highest mark either, with teams like Toronto exceeding $20m some seasons. All of this has allowed MLS sides to creep closer to their Liga MX counterparts.ESPN television analyst Herculez Gomez made a habit of tormenting MLS sides in the CCL when playing for Santos Laguna and Tijuana in the early- to mid-2010s. He notes that the depth in MLS teams is much different than when he played.”There was, in that moment, a huge difference between players,” he said. “Players one through eight, you’re like, ‘Hey, these guys are very competent. They’re very good.’ Nine through 16, back then, you’re like, ‘They’ve never played in a big game. They’ve never won anything in their life. They don’t make money.’ You can tell there’s a stark contrast. And it was a deer in the headlights look from a lot of these players. And you knew it was over.”Now, I think that’s changed. You can dig into the bench and it’s a 12th, 13th, 14th guy, and you’re like, ‘These are very good players.'”The era of targeted allocation money (TAM) has had a significant impact on what teams can spend, and on what part of the roster. But for Seattle, the influx of graduates of the team’s academy has helped improve the quality of depth as well. That includes on-field contributions from homegrowns like Jackson Ragen and Obed Vargas, who have each played in multiple CCL games. Their impact also changes the calculus of the salary cap.”If you have a consistent pipeline of players, you can build a more economically efficient team under the salary cap,” Lagerwey said.He points out that Seattle has 12 players on the roster age 23 or under, half of those are age 20 or under, and these are individuals who can legitimately contribute. That has a ripple effect throughout the roster, with Lagerwey estimating that academy graduates are “saving” the team about $1 million in cap space.”It allows you to take your budget and spend more money on the top players. A lot of that rise in salary is those top players are making more money now,” he said about the academy’s impact. “And that was always the disparity, right? It was Mexican clubs could pay more to their starting lineups. And now we’re really able to go toe to toe on depth as well, because those kids when they come through, they’ve all played multiple years in your system.”These investments have been made for years now. It’s just a matter of when — or if — that steady drip will accumulate to the extent that it will finally make its way over the dam in the form of a CCL title. And the reality is that until it does, there will always be questions. Even now, Liga MX sides still have rung up a sizable advantage. Since the CCL began using a home-and-away format in 2002, Mexican clubs have prevailed over their MLS counterparts 42 times in 53 attempts.Since the advent of TAM, the record for MLS sides is better — nine wins in 31 tries — but still sizably in Liga MX’s favor. This time, however, there is a sense that Wednesday’s matchup favors Seattle. Pumas doesn’t have the funding that it once had, with the likes of Club America and Tigres still well on top in that category. It instead has had to rely on its academy and picking out the occasional diamond on the transfer market.

All of which makes Wednesday’s second leg an opportunity that goes beyond just making history. There is the impact a capacity crowd — as of this writing there are less than 1,000 tickets left — could have on Seattle’s bit to host games at the 2026 World Cup. The effect on the Sounders organization would be immense as well.”I think it’s an absolute game-changer,” Lagerwey said. “If we’re able to win this thing, and we’re able to then go play meaningful games against European champions [in the World Club Cup] and things like that … I think when you think about player recruitment, and how you build the team and the staff going forward, it’s pretty hard to conclude anything other than being on that global stage will help the Sounders and will help the community of Seattle.”Lagerwey described preparing for a Club World Cup as a “champagne problem,” but first things first. The Sounders are hoping there will be some conspicuous consumption come Wednesday.

Champions League bold predictions: Manchester City tame chaotic Real Madrid; Liverpool cruise to final

Liverpool will finish the job while Man City look to keep Real’s Karim Benzema from exploiting any lack of control

By James Benge

 9 hrs ago•9 min readThe finish line is in sight. In the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League (catch all the action on CBS and Paramount+) a place in a major final is just 90 minutes away. Let’s look ahead to Villarreal vs. Liverpool and Real Madrid vs. Manchester City before diving into the Europa League.

Villarreal vs. Liverpool: Emery’s first leg approach is vindicated

Villarreal’s first leg tactics were the subject of some degree of consternation in the British media after last week’s 2-0 defeat at Anfield. To which Unai Emery might reasonably ask, “what more did you want from me?” By no stretch of the imagination did they execute their conservative brand of knockout football to perfection, but it is at least true that they made Liverpool work for their win. As Jurgen Klopp said after the game, “It was the challenge — I think how it is for all human beings — you try and you fail, you try and you fail and you try and you fail and at one point you think, ‘Come on, it’s not my day anymore!'”

Even if Villarreal had brought it on themselves with their caution, they also had to contend with a fair slice of bad luck. Just at the moment when Liverpool looked to be growing frustrated, a crossed ball reared up off Pervis Estupinan’s outstretched left leg, looping over keeper Geronimo Rulli and into the net. A mistake, a freak deflection or the moment of searing quality that brought Sadio Mane his side’s second goal soon after might well have come anyway, that is the nature of flooding your own box with defenders, but at some stage when you are so outmatched you have to pick your poison.

After all, Villarreal are a team that pay their squad only slightly more than Liverpool gave Porto for Luis Diaz in January. Their wage bill sits firmly in La Liga’s mid table while their opponents are one of the biggest spenders in a vastly richer competition. The disparity Anfield saw on the pitch is only representative of that off it. Indeed, one might argue that in dragging Klopp’s side into such a fiddly match for an hour Villarreal achieved more than should be reasonably expected from a team of their means. Though going into their quarterfinal match against Bayern Munich you might have argued the same, and in that instance Emery’s side pulled out a deserved result.

Still, Emery wanted more, and he knows his side will have to adjust their approach for the second leg. That may be their undoing even if home supporters at El Madrigal match the fervor with which visiting fans backed their team at Anfield. This is a team that looked ill at ease chasing the lead at Alaves this weekend. Villarreal will have to attack, leaving the sort of spaces in behind on the flanks that Liverpool already spotted were a weak point. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s rapid switches of play and balls down the line were a key feature of the Reds’ first leg success, how much more successful might they be if he is not having to thread the needle between a full back and the nominal winger who is stationed a few feet ahead of him. The same would be true of Thiago; if play is anymore broken in the second leg he will be able to play more passes that push the tempo. Pushing forward at Alaves, Villarreal had five losses of possession that led to opponent shots, only slightly fewer than in the Liverpool match where they did not even have 30 percent of the ball.

Villarreal are not a team that deals well with the pressure of being behind, indeed in the 20 La Liga and Champions League matches in which they have been losing this season their record reads one win, six draws and 13 defeats. In those games their expected goal (xG) difference is scarcely over one after going behind. In the smaller sample size of European matches it is 0.02 and they had not come up against a team like Liverpool before last week. Tuesday’s game may ultimately prove that all they could have realistically hoped for in the first leg was to keep the score down.

Real Madrid vs. Manchester City: Full backs quell the chaos

Featured Game|Real Madrid vs. Manchester City

It was curious that in the aftermath of Manchester City’s 4-3 first leg win Ruben Dias was promising what amounted to a mad team for a mad stadium and a mad occasion. If sanity were to have prevailed in a Champions League knockout tie involving Real Madrid this season they would have been out of the competition. Every one of Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and even a victorious City have been baffled at how the score looks quite how it does when the final whistle blows.

Across the knockout stages of this competition Madrid have allowed the most xG, have the third worst xG difference, and the sixth worst xG difference per game. They also have Karim Benzema. He is this team writ large. Even when they are struggling, the world’s best player produces a moment of magic to turn the game. They relish games that get stretched and play like the apex version of Europe’s most successful team when there is chaos in the air. Last Tuesday the visitors had no answer for City’s sustained possession play but put Fernandinho in front of Vinicius Junior and they could find a devastating moment.

Pep Guardiola will be racking his brains in the pursuit of control. It is in such moments that he can be guilty of overcomplicating matters but on this occasion there does seem to be a simple solution ahead of him. Though Kyle Walker may be out for the season, his full back corps should be greatly strengthened by the return of Joao Cancelo from suspension in the first leg. There are few players quite as capable of keeping the City machine ticking along. Only Rodri and Aymeric Laporte receive more passes per 90 minutes than the Portuguese full back, those two and John Stones are also the only players to carry the ball further than Cancelo.

With the 27 year old in the team, presumably at right back with Oleksandr Zinchenko (though it’s impossible to rule out a Guardiola lineup curveball like, say, Nathan Ake at left fullback) on the other flank after an impressive first leg display, City will be in a position to really assert themselves on the Santiago Bernabeu, to control possession for lengthy spells before applying the finishing touch. Madrid might just allow them to do that. According to Wyscout, Carlo Ancelotti’s team allow opponents to make an average of 14.2 passes per defensive action, one of the highest tallies in the competition and far more than City. Cancelo drifting in midfield will also give his side the midfield superiority to overcome a Madrid side that may not be as shaky at shielding the back four now with a healthy Casemiro back in the anchoring role rather than Toni Kroos. On the opposite flank Zinchenko can do much the same. Though that does run the risk of giving Vinicius space to attack on rapid counters, City have proven throughout recent years that they have the defensive qualities to counteract that, particularly if Ruben Dias is on the pitch.

If City are going to win this tie they won’t do so by embracing the chaos, but by playing the game on their terms, something which they clearly have the quality to do. Cancelo will only make it easier for them to express that.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. West Ham: Set pieces undo Moyes’ side

Onto the Europa League, where last week’s suggestion that English clubs are about to sweep the board in every competition is looking more than a bit dicey. West Ham had the chances to swing the first leg of their semifinal against Eintracht Frankfurt but travel to Germany 2-1 down with work to do. It was notable in the aftermath of that game that David Moyes bemoaned “the worst [set pieces] for two years”, a refrain he would return to when Rob Holding and Gabriel scored off dead balls to earn Arsenal a 2-1 win at the London Stadium on Sunday.

It is no great surprise Moyes puts such a premium on set pieces. West Ham are devastating at them. Nine of their Premier League assists have come from dead balls, the most in the top flight along with Manchester City. They have four in the Europa League. No other team has scored more than two. It could be where they win the tie.

It might also be where they lose it. Eintracht Frankfurt are one of Germany’s better set piece teams with seven goals scored and it is notable that West Ham are not quite the same defensive force off dead balls that they are in offensive terms. Moyes’ side have now conceded 10 such goals in the Premier League this season, firmly in the middle of the pack, with four of them coming since the start of April. Not so coincidentally this has coincided with the period where the Hammers have been forced to chop and change their back line on the fly thanks to a myriad of injuries. Sunday’s brace were put down to West Ham sacrificing some height in their team selection but Arsenal’s second was a somewhat familiar goal for this team to concede. Martinelli races to claim the second ball from an Arsenal corner that West Ham have cleared. It is not so much the initial delivery into the box that they have had an issue with but winning the second ball. Bukayo Saka’s ball in is flicked away but there is no one in a West Ham shirt on hand to claim possession as the ball bounces inside the box. Gabriel Martinelli has time to take a touch, get the ball out from under his feet and clip a delivery to the back post for Gabriel to head in.

The same happened when Mason Holgate scored for Everton last month. On this occasion, West Ham have players in position to win the ball when Lukasz Fabianski punches it up in the air, but Said Benrahma does nothing but watch the ball bounce (as was the case in Arsenal’s goal) while Pablo Fornals has precious little chance of winning a 50:50 against Michael Keane. Holgate eventually hits the ball on the volley under very little pressure, the ball skewing through bodies and into the net.West Ham fail to clear the ball under pressure from Everton, who will ultimately score in the chaos Wyscout/Sky Sports

Perhaps the explanation for West Ham’s recent run of set piece struggles defensively is nothing more than Benrahma’s diffident effort in getting rid of the ball, though it should have been apparent for long enough now that he is not reliable enough off the ball to be trusted with such a role. It should also be noted that without Benrahma in the side all three of the corners Filip Kostic took for Frankfurt were only cleared as far as a different player in white.

It might just be that in the Waldstadion Craig Dawson repeats his recent heroics from dead balls, that Tomas Soucek rises highest once more or Michail Antonio imposes himself on the Frankfurt center backs. But if West Ham cannot improve their work in winning second balls of defensive set pieces they may find this particular passage of play to be a cause for adversity as much as opportunity.

USMNT to play World Cup-bound Uruguay in friendly in Kansas City

Apr 27, 2022  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

The United States men’s national team will play fellow World Cup participant Uruguay in a friendly on June 5 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.The exhibition at the home venue of Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City is the second of a four-game stretch that includes two friendlies and two matches in the CONCACAF Nations League. The U.S. will play Morocco in a friendly on June 1 in Cincinnati followed by the Uruguay match.The U.S. will then open defense of its CNL crown when it faces Grenada in Austin, Texas on June 10, followed by an away game against El Salvador four days later.”We’re looking forward to facing another high-level opponent that is also preparing for the World Cup. Uruguay has some world-class talent and is one of the top teams in South America,” U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter said. “These are th kinds of opportunities we need to continue to grow as a group and set ourselves up to be successful in Qatar. Once again we’ll have the benefit of outstanding facilities in Kansas City and a venue that has shown tremendous support for the National Team.”The U.S. has faced La Celeste sevn times previously, with a record of 2-2-3. The most recent match took place in 2019, with Jordan Morris‘ goal canceling out a tally by Brian Rodriguez in a 1-1 draw.Back in the World Cup for the first time since 2014, the U.S. opens Group B against Scotland, Wales or Ukraine on Nov. 21. The Americans face No. 5 England four days later and meet 21st-ranked Iran on Nov. 29.Uruguay finished third in World Cup qualifying out of CONMEBOL, and were drawn into Group H with PortugalGhana and South Korea.

Women’s soccer boom hits Angel City opener: ‘Best environment I’ve ever coached in’


Andy Deossa  Sun, May 1, 2022, 3:11 PM

LOS ANGELES — April 29 seems to be a good day in Banc of California Stadium lore.On that date in 2018, Major League Soccer expansion side LAFC played their first home game there and defeated the Seattle Sounders. Four years later, the Banc was ready for yet another inaugural home match. This time it was new National Women’s Soccer League team Angel City FC flying high in a 2-1 victory over North Carolina Courage.What made Friday night so special? It started at LAFC home matches over the years, where the raucous North End supporters’ section included a banner with a forthright message: “Bring NWSL to LA.”

The proposition ignited a movement, and has now turned into a reality. That same section where the banner used to apear is home to members of the six official Angel City supporter groups, and they were rocking the drums, chanting and orchestrating the atmosphere for the sold-out crowd on Friday.22,000 people, on a Friday night in Los Angeles, to support a women’s soccer team.“It was unbelievable. Everything that we’d hoped that the club would deliver, they delivered in abundance and with more,” said head coach Freya Coombe. “The crowd was unreal tonight — their energy, enthusiasm, and support for the players and for the coaching staff was felt throughout the night.“It’s the best environment that I’ve ever coached in.”If Angel City can keep up the enthusiasm, it might become the best-attended NWSL club on a consistent basis. The Portland Thorns held that honor in 2021, with over 14,000 fans on average.Women’s soccer is rising fast in popularity around the globe, too, with Barcelona setting the world attendance record for an official match twice in the past month.A glance around the stadium Friday and you’d see World Cup legends like Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach (both part of Angel City’s celebrity-packed ownership group), current professional soccer players, actresses, celebrities and much more. It was as Los Angeles as it gets.

And Los Angeles didn’t wait long to celebrate. Three minutes into the contest, Vanessa Gilles scored the first official goal in franchise history:

Endo, who assisted the opener with a filthy move and cross, found the back of the net 10 minutes later and doubled the score. North Carolina eventually got on the board in the second half and was knocking on the door for the equalizer, but Angel City held on. They weren’t going to let the perfect night have a lousy ending.“ My teammates were screaming and crying tears of joy and it meant the world to me,” said ACFC midfielder Dani Weatherholt. “This organization is just more than a sport and I think that’s the moment when it felt so much bigger than the game. Angel City has incorporated a 10% sponsorship model, where the club reallocates a portion of all sponsorships directly back into the community. The club has also established grassroots outreach to get women involved on all levels.“Everything we do at Angel City, the hope is we’re pushing things in a way that other people can see, replicate, build on and make it better,” said Head of Community Catherine Davila. “I think it’s something that’s going to help build the culture across the NWSL.”As she walked into the stadium Friday, Davila couldn’t help but get emotional seeing years of work come to fruition. The same emotions were prevalent postgame. Captain Ali Riley, a Los Angeles native, was in tears on the field after the match. She’s kicked a ball in many places — Sweden, England, Russia — but being able to finally do so in her hometown meant more.“I have waited for a moment like this for 12 years. I hoped to get drafted to the (now-defunct) L.A. Sol, the team folded before I had the chance,” she said. “I have been all over the world, and to be here with my parents watching this game, for us to win, to feel the love and support, I think we proved that anything is possible in women’s sports.“I went to the ‘99 [Women’s] World Cup final and that was what put this idea in my head,” Riley added. “I had no idea how it would happen but it planted the seed that maybe one day I could play soccer on a stage like that. So now for us to be here and for those little girls to see that, just that kind of visibility and how we are in the field with all different skin colors, experiences, backgrounds — such a diverse and inclusive group, that’s really important.”The team’s makeup reflected the crowd, a wide range of families, young kids and older adults filling the seats.“The point is that women’s soccer belongs,” Riley said, “and it belongs in this city.”Like the banner said, the NWSL has been brought to L.A. What L.A. can bring to the NWSL is just as big.

Stu Holden and family live at the Angel City Game

After six weeks of preseason and 36 Challenge Cup matches, the NWSL’s 2022 regular season has arrived -Preview

In chaotic NWSL fashion, the season kicks off Friday night between Angel City FC and the North Carolina Courage while the Challenge Cup knockout stage is still ongoing. The game, aired on CBS Sports, is followed by an opening weekend in which every team will compete.

A longer Challenge Cup, two expansion teams and a new commissioner have certainly given the NWSL a new look this year. Jessica Berman will be in just her ninth day on the job as commissioner when the league opens play Friday. Almost every team has undergone change on the field, too, after an expansion draft and numerous offseason trades.

Let’s take a look at the league structure, storylines and rivalries to follow as the NWSL’s 10th season gets underway.


The NWSL’s 12 teams will each compete in 22 matches during the regular season — 11 home and 11 away. Starting this year, the league has scheduled fewer games during the FIFA windows so that national team players can avoid scheduling conflicts between club and country. That change, however, did not account for a few major contests, such as the Women’s Euros this summer.

The regular season concludes Oct. 2, followed by a six-team playoff with the top two seeds receiving first-round byes. My top-six predictions for the 2022 playoffs closely reflect my preseason power rankings: OL Reign, North Carolina Courage, Kansas City Current, NJ/NY Gotham FC, defending Challenge Cup champions Portland Thorns and 2021 NWSL champions Washington Spirit.

The championship takes place on Oct. 29, with the playoff bonus pool once again financed by Ally’s Player Impact Fund.


The Spring of quick goals and yellow cards

The record for the three fastest goals in NWSL history was set twice over three days. The Reign netted each of theirs by the 11th minute in a 3-1 win over San Diego Wave FC on April 14, only to be bested by the Courage scoring three by the ninth minute on April 16 against the Orlando Pride. Four of the other five matches that week featured goals scored in six minutes or fewer.

When not scoring, players have also been setting records without the ball. Across five and a half weeks, NWSL referees have already handed out over a hundred yellow cards. To put that in perspective, there were 43 doled out in the 2021 Challenge Cup and 34 in 2020.

Kansas City ready for a breakout season

In just their second year since relocating from Utah and rebranding as the Current, Kansas City is in the Challenge Cup semifinals. They have the fourth-most amount of goals in the tournament, led by Kristen Hamilton’s four goals and Elyse Bennett’s four assists. And with four wins through six matches, they already have more victories than they had all of last year.

North Carolina back in the game

The Courage dropped down the standings into sixth place last season after their head coach, Paul Riley, was fired following bombshell allegations of sexual coercion and emotional abuse. Led this year by former assistant coach Sean Nahas, and feature new talent such as Brianna Pinto and Kerolin Nicoli, North Carolina has gone undefeated in the Challenge Cup. The Courage could be on their way to rediscovering the dominance they became known for during their run to three consecutive NWSL Shields from 2017-19.

OL, once again, on the brink of reigning

A consistently solid team that has never won a trophy, OL Reign has lost in the NWSL semifinals the past three seasons. In 2014 and 2015, they advanced to the championship game, losing by one goal in each contest. This year, their sneaky assists across the box in the attack and standout goaltending from Phallon Tullis-Joyce give them a strong case for championship contention. Finishing ahead of rival Portland in the standings for the just the second time since 2015, they’re off to a promising start. TOP RIVALRIES

Angel City FC vs. San Diego Wave FC

When two expansion teams based in southern California debut the same year, of course there’s going to be a rivalry. The Wave had the slight edge over Angel City coming out of the Challenge Cup, going 1-3-2 compared to Angel City’s 1-4-1. Head to head, they tied in their first matchup, and San Diego won 4-2 in the second.

OL Reign vs. Portland Thorns

The original West Coast rivalry has been highly anticipated this year after strong showings from both sides in 2021. Though Portland won the NWSL Shield, the Reign got the better of the Thorns in two of their three matchups, the last one being a draw. The Reign were also the stronger side in the 2022 Challenge Cup, defeating Portland 1-0 after a 1-1 draw in their opener.

Kansas City Current vs. Racing Louisville FC

The two new clubs last season, Kansas City and Louisville are coming out stronger this year. The Current look like the stronger team coming out of the Challenge Cup, but when they play each other, it’s anyone’s game. They drew 1-1 in their first matchup of the Challenge Cup before Louisville rolled over Kansas City 3-0 in the Current’s only loss of the tournament.

North Carolina Courage vs. Washington Spirit

If the East Division proved anything in the 2022 Challenge Cup, it’s that a Courage-Spirit matchup is as entertaining as they come. Each of their meetings resulted in 2-2 draws, a contrast from the three wins and a draw that Washington grabbed from North Carolina last season. The Courage, though, are a different team this year, and neither club has lost an NWSL match yet in 2022.


CBS will air two regular season matches and the championship game. Those games are also viewable on Paramount+. CBS Sports will broadcast 11 regular season games, one quarterfinal and both semifinals. The other 96 regular season matches can be streamed exclusively on Paramount+, and all games can be accessed internationally on Twitch.

CBS (all times ET)

June 19 – NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. San Diego Wave FC at 4 p.m.
Sept. 10 – Washington Spirit vs. San Diego Wave FC at 1 p.m.
Oct. 29 – NWSL Championship

CBS Sports (all times ET)

April 29 – Angel City vs. North Carolina Courage at 10:30 p.m.
May 13 – Portland Thorns FC vs. OL Reign at 10:30 p.m.
May 27 – Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit at 7 p.m.
June 8 – San Diego Wave FC vs. Portland Thorns FC at 10 p.m.
July 2 – Orlando Pride vs. Racing Louisville FC at 7 p.m.
Aug. 5 – Portland Thorns FC vs. North Carolina Courage at 10:30 p.m.
Aug. 14 – Angel City FC vs. Chicago Red Stars at 8 p.m.
Aug. 17 – Houston Dash vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC at 8:30 p.m.
Aug. 19 – Kansas City Current vs. Angel City FC at 8 p.m.
Sept. 11 – NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. Kansas City Current at 6 p.m.
Sept. 21 – Angel City FC vs. Washington Spirit at 10:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 – Quarterfinal
Oct. 23 — Semifinal 1 and 2

Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.

The scene was crazy on TV for Nashville’s Stadium Home Opener !!

Nashville SC opens new stadium with tie vs. Union

Randall Leal converted a penalty kick in the 85th minute to help host Nashville SC salvage a 1-1 draw against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday in the opening of GEODIS Park.

The 30,000-seat venue is the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States or Canada.Joe Willis made four saves to help Nashville SC (3-3-3, 12 points) extend their home unbeaten streak to 20 matches dating back to a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas on Nov. 4, 2020.

Mikael Uhre scored in the 66th minute and Andre Blake turned aside five shots for the Union (5-1-3, 18 points), who surrendered 13 corner kicks en route to seeing their winless stretch extend to three matches (0-1-2).

Nashville SC pressed for the equalizer in the late stages before Philadelphia’s Jose Martinez was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area. Blake, who was shown a yellow card for refusing to stay on the line, guessed right on the penalty kick but was unable to deny Leal’s blast inside the left post.

The goal was Leal’s first of the season. An apparent miscommunication by Nashville SC’s Sean Davis and Hany Mukhtar led to an opportunity on the counterattack for Philadelphia in the 66th minute. Uhre chased down a through ball from Daniel Gazdag and sidestepped Nashville SC defender Walker Zimmerman before cutting back and sending a shot in the net. Nashville appeared to feed off the emotion of the crowd and nearly opened the scoring on a number of occasions. Dax McCarty‘s blast from outside the box caromed off the left post in the fifth minute. From there, Blake stood tall to keep the match scoreless. The two-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year extended his leg to make a save on Alex Muyl from in close in the 23rd minute before making a two-handed stop on Mukhtar in the 30th.

Indy 11 Win again !!

Indy 11 held on for the 1-0 win in the late night rain delayed battle!!
Eleven Defeat Athletic & Mother Nature for Fourth Straight Win

Indy Eleven braved the elements tonight, defeating Hartford Athletic by a score of 1-0 despite multiple rain delays at IUPUI Carroll Stadium. The game kicked off nearly 45 minutes late due to a severe weather alert, and halftime lasted almost 90 minutes due to a second stoppage, but night’s irregularities didn’t seem to be an issue for the Boys in Blue. Captain Ayoze’s goal in the 40th minute proved to be the deciding one thanks to Indy’s first clean sheet of the 2022 season, the result pushing the Eleven’s win streak to four games and its undefeated run to six.

The win keeps Indiana’s Team moving up the Eastern Conference, as the squad’s 14 points from a 4W-2L-2D record has them within three points of second-place Detroit City FC (17 pts) and third-place Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (16 pts). The squad’s six-game unbeaten stand marks the longest such streak for the Boys in Blue since a seven-game run between the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Indy Eleven had to manage a change even before kickoff, as defender Bryam Rebellon sustained an injury during warm-ups, elevating Alex McQueen into the starting lineup. Despite this, Indiana’s Team got things going early, as Raul Aguilera’s corner in the 8th found the head of Manuel Arteaga, who nearly knocked in an early goal in his first start of the season. However, Hartford remained competitive themselves, nearly connecting on a header of their own in the 20th minute of play through Ariel Martinez.

While conditions weren’t conducive for much offense, there was no shortage of physicality in the first half. Pushes, tackles, aerial duels and matching yellows wrote the story on both sides for the first half, with neither team able to create many quality chances. That narrative would change in the 40th minute, as Stefano Pinho’s flick found a streaking Ayoze, whose low shot snuck inside the far left post to open his 2022 account and give the Boys in Blue a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

Unfortunately for fans in attendance, the start of the second half was just as tumultuous as the first. Lightning, rain, and hail fell over Indianapolis, and a subsequent severe weather alert was implemented. The second half finally began at 10:00 pm sharp, and when the whistle blew Indy Eleven began with a bang as Pinho found himself alone galloping towards the attacking zone, but his shot was belted into the face of Hartford goaltender Jimmy Slayton.

Ayoze got another chance in the 57th minute, as he danced through four Hartford defenders and booted a shot from 12 yards into the chest of Slayton. Hartford responded swiftly with a few chances of their own, including a close shot off a corner from fresh substitute Rashawn Dally in the 62nd minute that flew over the crossbar. Dally got another chance in the 70th, but his deflected shot was stopped by a recovering Elliot Panicco at his near post.

The Boys in Blue were unlucky to not double the lead in the 74th minute, as an incredible rebound chance by substitute Nicky Law couldn’t be steered on goal after his initial effort went off the heads of two Hartford defenders inside the six-yard box. Another shot wouldn’t take place until the 84th minute when Hartford defender Joel Johnson’s redirect off a corner was saved up close by Panicco. Hartford again earned a chance late off of Modou Jadama’s free kick in the 89th minute, but his shot too sailed over the head of Panicco. Four minutes of added time elapsed without note, and Indy Eleven finally managed to hold off both Hartford and mother nature.

Indy Eleven will enjoy a rare bye week next weekend and return to action on Saturday, May 14, when Indiana’s Team travels south to take on Memphis 901 FC (8:00 p.m. ET kick, live on ESPN+). The Boys in Blue return home on Saturday, May 21, when New York Red Bulls II invades Carroll Stadium for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff. Tickets for that 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff – and all Indy Eleven regular season contests – are available starting at just $15 and can be purchased online at indyeleven.com/tickets.

Details on that evening’s Gone to the Dogs Night and other future promotions at Carroll Stadium can be found at indyeleven.com/promotions. Fans who cannot make it to The Mike can follow the action on MyINDY-TV 23, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

2022 USL Championship Regular Season – Matchday 8
Indy Eleven  1 : 0  Hartford Athletic
Saturday, April 30, 2022
IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN

Scoring Summary:
IND – Ayoze (Stefano Pinho) 40’

Disciplinary Summary:
IND – Raul Aguilera (yellow card) 21’
HFD – Joel Johnson (yellow card) 38’
HFD – Younes Boudadi (yellow card) 50’
IND – A.J. Cochran (yellow card) 74’
IND – Jonas Fjeldberg (yellow card) 90+1’

Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2): Elliot Panicco; Neveal Hackshaw, A.J. Cochran, Jared Timmer, Alex McQueen; Ayoze (Jonas Fjeldberg 63’), Justin Ingram, Raul Aguilera (Aris Briggs 87’), Noah Powder (Nicky Law 63’); Manuel Arteaga, Stefano Pinho

IND substitutes: Tim Trilk (GK), Bryce Warhaft, Rodney Michael

Hartford Athletic lineup (4-4-2): Jimmy Slayton; Tom Brewitt, Younes Boudadi, Modou Jadama, Joel Johnson; Ashton Appollon, Conor McGlynn, Andre Lewis, Ariel Martinez (Peter-Lee Vassell 32’, Rashawn Dally 61’); Corey Hertzog (Mitchell Curry 81’), Danny Barrera

HFD Substitutes: Austin Pack (GK), Walid Yacoubou, Jeciel Cedeno, Luka Prpa

Hello, AO Fam. If you’re looking into traveling to Qatar to cheer on the USMNT in the World Cup, you’ll want to read the following info carefully.

Neither AO nor other unofficial supporters’ groups of U.S. Soccer will have a dedicated ticket allotment for the 2022 World Cup. The U.S. Soccer Federation will allot tickets to fans in a weighted random draw similar to many of our home World Cup qualifiers.

You’ll find further information on this in the infographic below as well as U.S. Soccer’s World Cup 2022 Ticketing FAQs page (we strongly suggest you read that carefully, too).

In short: To apply for tickets within U.S. Soccer’s allotment, you must sign up for the U.S. Soccer Insiders program (standard insider membership is free) by Wednesday, April 27.

The portal for Insiders will open tomorrow (Friday, April 8) and close Thursday, April 28. Upon logging in, you’ll be prompted to enter an access code. You’ll be instructed on how to proceed from there.

Applicants will be notified around the end of May whether they will receive tickets through the draw. Winners will then be contacted by FIFA with instructions for completing payment.