7/30/22  Indy 11 home Sat, Women’s Euro’s Finals England vs Germany Sun 12 noon ESPN, Supporters Shield Today Man City vs Liverpool 12N ESPN+

Women’s Euro’s Quarter Finals England vs Germany Sun 12 noon ESPN

In what should be a fantastic final – the two top scoring teams will go head to head in a sold out Wembley stadium on Sunday at noon on ESPN. Honestly this tourney has been fantastic – good Goalkeeping – some great goals and lots of fun to watch. The growth of the ladies game in Europe is taking off and the US is going to have to work hard to stay ahead as we look to next year’s World Cup. Tons of stories below about the game.

Indy home vs Tampa Bay Rowdies Tonight

Indy Eleven is home for the second of a three-match homestand tonight at Carroll Stadium against former NASL rival the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The meeting is the second between the sides this season, the first being a 2-0 home win for the Rowdies back on Matchday 2.The Boys in Blue broke a six-match losing streak and a five-match scoreless streak last Saturday night against Memphis 901 FC, its 1-1 draw helping the squad get back on track for playoff positioning as the final third of the season approaches. The Eleven sit ninth in the Eastern Conference, currently nine points outside the playoff picture but with two games in hand on both seventh place Miami (31 pts.) and FC Tulsa (25 pts.). A variety of ticketing options for Saturday night’s Eastern Conference clash are available at indyeleven.com/tickets.  Cool to see former Carmel FC GK coach and former Indy 11  GK Jordan Farr gets recognition , he returns home to face our Indy 11 Aug 27th

MLS – US Open Cup Shocker

Awesome to see the USL Side Sacramento Republic get the huge shocking win over Sporting Kansas City at home to advance to the US Open finals in Sept.  See final PKs.  This marks the first time a non-MLS team has advanced to the finals in over 13 years.  Now if the game was only on TV instead of ESPN+.  They will face Orlando City in the Finals Wed, Sept. 7.  LAFC continued its hold on the Western Conference with a win over Seattle last night as both Bale and Chiellini started. 

The oleballcoach is on vacation this week – so a short write-up today – but next week we’ll have EPL and other Euro League previews, Euro ladies wrap-up and more.  I do want to wish good luck to all our Carmel FC players trying out for high school teams this week- especially our GK’s – YOU GOT THIS!!


Sat, July 30

12 noon ESPN+                 Liverpool vs Man City Community Shield

2:30 pm ESPN+                  RB Liepzig vs Bayern Munich  Supercup

 3 pm ABC                            Minn United vs Portland Timbers

7 pm myindyTV 23 Indy 11 vs Tampa Bay Rowdies (the Mike)

8 pm ESPN+                        Cincy v Inter Miami 

9 pm ESPN+                        LA Galaxy vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Sun, July 31

12 noon ESPN                    Euro Women’s Cup FINAL                           

5 pm ESPN+                        DC united vs Orlando City

8 pm FS2                              Santos Laguna vs Atlas 

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

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Women’s Soccer Euro’s

 England out to inspire the nation with Euro 2022 success

Cunning and confident, Lena Oberdorf exemplifies how Germany reached the Euro 2022 final

Germany’s Popp ‘proud’ of record-setting Euro

Sarina Wiegman tells England to ‘forget history’ against Germany and prove they are the best
How England’s national team became a power in women’s soccer

Know your enemy: Where Germany are dangerous – and how they can be attacked

Ukraine’s Kateryna Monzul to referee Euro 2022 final

Alex Popp – the qualified zookeeper who became Europe’s deadliest striker

Women’s Euro 2022 Soccer Championship Scoring With Audiences


Where US Players are Playing this Weekend

ASN: 2022/23 Championship season preview: Dike, Steffen lead 10 Yanks in England’s 2nd tier

Really Cool Story on Chris Richards from Birmingham AL to Crystal Palace in just 4 short years below.

EPL & World

Liverpool vs Manchester City: How to watch, team news, updates for FA Community Shield
Alisson, Jota to miss Liverpool’s Shield clash with Man City
EPL and other’s Pre Season Tour Wrap-Up

How to Watch the EPL this Year

Chelsea Preview – the18
Juventus, Barcelona draw 2-2 in US friendly

Ian Darke to broadcast for Fox during this year’s World Cup


US Open Cup – Sacramento shocks Kansas City

Sacramento goes to PKs to beat Kansas City at home

England’s road to Euro 2022 final has been hard but they are driven by history and inspiring the nation
Tom Hamilton Senior Writer  ESPNFC

TEDDINGTON, England — England‘s training session on Friday at the team’s base was the most competitive yet.According to veteran Jill Scott and others who were there, it was the most full-throttle of the past nine weeks. Tackles were flying in — Scott felt the full force of a one-on-one with Millie Bright, while Georgia Stanway also stuck one on her. “Her tackles this tournament have been phenomenal, so I’ll take a few stud marks for that,” Scott said.There is a major final on Sunday — the Euro 2022 final against Germany, to be exact (LIVE at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+) — and that means there are precious few opportunities to impress coach Sarina Wiegman and force her to rethink picking another unchanged side, so there’s little point in players keeping anything in reserve.

Scott, 35, is the most experienced of this group and personifies the team’s goals. She’s been on the bench much of the time but has been used as an impact substitute in what is her eighth major tournament, alongside two Olympic Games. The reception she gets is testament to what she’s done for the game.Many on this England team talk about the 2009 side that reached the final with reverence — they remember watching the broadcast of that final in Finland and seeing England fall to a 6-2 defeat. They’re the more recent legends of the women’s game — they’ve even got rooms named after them at their hotel in southwest London — the ones who are immortalised on YouTube and who influenced this current crop.But there’s this wonderful crossover between generations in Scott: she was there through the days of poor funding, sparse crowds for league matches and ill-fitting kits. When she talks about what it’s like to be an England player for the last 15 years — the experiences she’s been through, and how she’s seen the game develop leading up to the Sunday final — you listen. That goes for some of the younger players who have been picking her brains this week.”They want to learn about the history of the game,” Scott said. “I keep telling them that getting to finals isn’t the norm, it’s been a long time coming. But they are ready for it. The hunger and determination they show — the performances have been out of this world.” Then comes the qualification: “You don’t want to put too much pressure on them, though.”That’s the thing with this group — they are aware of their multilevel mission. Not only do they want to win Sunday and become European champions, but in the process they want to inspire the children watching, while building on the foundations set by previous generations — from those who fought to play back in 1972 when the ban on women’s football was lifted, all the way through the game becoming more mainstream and to the current group.Each of them is compelling in their own right and, when they talk about legacy, it isn’t corporate speak — you feel it’s inherent in them. They know the importance of looking up to role models, and being one themselves. Take Lotte Wubben-Moy. She hasn’t played yet in these Euros, but she too has contributed to this legacy. Within the camp, the likes of Wubben-Moy, Beth England, Ellie Roebuck and Hannah Hampton have not played yet, but all have been there for the “blowout sessions” on the day after the match. These players deep in the squad have been integral to preparing the starting XI.After the match Tuesday in Sheffield, as Wubben-Moy took part in the team’s celebrations, she spotted a group from the education and social inclusion charity Football Beyond Borders. She gave her match shirt to them, and asked them to give it to someone deserving. Elsewhere, super-sub Alessia Russo picked out 10-year-old Nancy from her old football club Bearstead and gave the youngster her match shirt. All are decisions made in the moment, but ones that will leave a huge footprint. It’s something the players spoke about before the tournament started.”The biggest thing that Sarina has said was at the start: ‘Play for the little girl that wanted to be in our shoes,'” Stanway said. “So I’ll play for the little girl who wanted to play at the start, went to training, loved it, dreamed to be in our position. Yeah, play for her.”Legends such as Scott can’t help but feel that pang of nostalgia for what has come before. Scott has experienced the heartbreak of that 2009 final, but more frequently plays back in her mind missed opportunities from their 2017 European Championship quarterfinal defeat to Netherlands and England’s semifinal exit in the 2019 World Cup to the U.S. women’s national team.This group? Well, she doesn’t want to compare generations and their quality, but she loves this group.”Talking about this squad solely, I see the likes of Keira Walsh and she’s such a talented player,” Scott said. “People say to me all the time when going into a tournament, ‘You’re playing against the best players in the world.’ But I’m playing alongside them every single day in training, I truly believe that.”What people don’t see is their dedication — their whole lives are focused on being better players. The mixture of experience and youth has been good as well, but we have a special group. The passion and joy we have for football unites us all.”Listening to the England team on Friday, you wouldn’t think they were under pressure. Stanway has been one of the stars of this tournament, and she has two thoughts at the forefront of her mind when she allows herself to dream of the final: firstly she wants to win, and secondly she wants to hug her parents for the first time in six weeks.Stanway’s thoughts are emblematic of the group — each member holds collective and individual motivations for Sunday. Collectively they want to end the wait. Individually they’ve all overcome their own on- and off-the-field difficulties and heartbreak to be here.Take goalkeeper Mary Earps. She once thought her international days were over. She was third choice in 2019, and then saw two other goalkeepers promoted ahead of her following that World Cup. She had those grim moments where thoughts of failure filtered through her mind, but she stuck at it — and here she is a resounding first choice.”I don’t think I really want to keep going back to the past,” she said after England’s win over Sweden. “I’m really enjoying what I’m doing now, I’m loving being part of this team and I’m loving every minute.”Beth Mead had the heartbreak of missing out on a spot in the Tokyo Olympics squad; captain Leah Williamson played just six minutes in the last World Cup. Neither were going to allow that to happen again.There are also off-field struggles which have been overcome, such as those of Fran Kirby, who in the last couple of years has had extended spells out of the game with a heart disease and then fatigue. Yet here she is preparing for a final off the back of her incredible semifinal performance against Sweden. Chloe Kelly spent 11 months out with an ACL injury but returned in time.And then there are those wanting to make amends for previous disappointment in an England shirt. For those who had experienced the heartbreak of previous tournaments such as Ellen White, the emotion became a little too much after Wednesday’s match.When Scott speaks about her previous experiences, you hear her voice slightly quiver as she talks about the importance of legacy and those who have worn the shirt before her, and will in the future. But then comes that competitive edge, and the focus on not letting this moment slip and what she can personally influence this weekend.”We really want to inspire the nation,” Scott said. “We’ve ticked all of those boxes. As I said before, all the players that have gone before, put on this shirt, the learning experiences we’ve had as players — this is for everybody, really, on Sunday.”Absolutely everybody. Volunteers that just went and helped out with the local girls teams, the ones that are still doing it, the ones that just love the game. I see reporters in here and I’ve seen them here for the past 16 years, and they just do it for the love of the game. I hope everybody knows that, on Sunday, if we are to lift that trophy, they’ve all got their hand on it as well.”We’ve earned the right for the team to go out there on Sunday and enjoy it. It’s been an incredible journey so far and hopefully there’s one big tick left to do.”



Which USL offseason signings are having the biggest impact on the field this year? Let’s take a look at a pair of players who are shining with their new teams in 2022.

© Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Roster churn is a fact of life during the offseason for teams all around the world. The USL Championship is no exception. New offseason signings can have real value, especially if they hit the ground running. When a new face immediately provides all-league performances, it can make a team’s season.

Let’s talk about a pair of players who have done just that.


Signed: 1/26/22

As it stands, San Antonio boasts the best defense in the entire USL with just 13 goals allowed this season. At the same time, they rank eighth in shots on target allowed per 90 minutes and a surprising 18th in shots allowed per 90 minutes. So they’re not perfect when it comes to denying shots in the first place.

Jordan Farr, a star goalkeeper signed after an emergency loan stint in the 2021 playoffs, has been the difference.Farr was a backup with Indy Eleven for years. He was always solid in relief but never had the opportunity to step up as the first-choice goalkeeper. After excelling on loan, he moved to Texas on a permanent basis. San Antonio began 2022 with three starting-caliber goalkeepers, and the 27-year-old could have faced more time riding the pine. However, week-one starter Cristian Bonilla retired after three matches, Farr claimed the starting spot, and the results have been Statistically, Farr rates in the 97th percentile for goals saved above average and in the 80th or better for goals against and save percentage. Alen Marcina’s team doesn’t spend much of any time in possession, so the defense bears the brunt of pressure in their own half. Without Farr’s brilliance and sharp distribution – he’s in the 90th percentile of goalkeepers for long balls as a share of his total passes – San Antonio wouldn’t be nearly as successful this year. Farr in Open Cup play


Signed: 1/7/22

A club legend with the Charlotte Independence, Enzo Martinez has been a constant attacking weapon after moving to Alabama. One of the top all-time assisters in the USL Championship, Martinez has six goals and four assists in 2022. The Argentinian operated as a deep-lying creator for much of his stint in Charlotte and in other stops with the Carolina Railhawks and Colorado Rapids, but his role has changed entirely for the Legion.Birmingham play in a defensive 4-4-2 off the ball, where Martinez operates as a striker alongside Juan Agudelo. He ranks in the top half of USL attackers for successful defensive actions per 90, constantly roving to bother opposing forwards while maintaining a cover shadow that limits passing lanes into the middle of the field. Martinez and Agudelo aren’t lightning fast, but their intelligent positioning makes the Legion hard to break down.Still, Martinez is best when he’s on the ball. His passing vision and audacious through balls are eye-popping, and those six goals paint the picture of a true scoring threat.


Here’s where to watch USMNT players from July 29-August 1

All Times ET

Friday, July 29
Gio ReynaDFB POKAL: 1860 Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund2:45pmESPN+
Kellyn Acosta,
Cristian Roldan,
Jordan Morris
LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders11pmFS1,
FOX Deportes
Saturday, July 30
James Sands,
Malik Tillman
Livingston vs. Rangers7amCBS Sports Network
Josh SargentCardiff City vs. Norwich City10amESPN+
Ethan HorvathLuton Town vs. Birmingham City10am
Kevin ParedesDFB POKAL: Carl Zeiss Jena vs. Wolfsburg12pmESPN+
Bryan ReynoldsOH Leuven vs. Westerlo12:15pm
Zack Steffen,
Daryl Dike
Middlesbrough vs. West Bromwich Albion12:30pmESPN+
Ajax vs. PSV
Eryk WilliamsonMinnesota United vs. Portland Timbers3pmABC,
ESPN Deportes
Gaga SloninaChicago Fire vs. Atlanta United5pmESPN+
Sean Johnson
Djordje Mihailovic
CF Montreal vs. New York City FC7:30pmESPN+
DeAndre YedlinInter Miami vs. FC Cincinnati8pmESPN+
Walker Zimmerman
Shaq Moore
Nashville SC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps8pmESPN+
Sebastian LletgetNew England Revolution vs. Toronto FC8pmESPN+
Jesús Ferreira,
Paul Arriola
FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy9pmESPN+
Jackson YueillSan Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake10pmESPN+
Sunday, July 31
Mark McKenzieGenk vs. Standard Liege7:30amESPN+
Joe ScallyDFB POKAL: Oberachern vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach9:30amESPN+
George BelloDFB POKAL: Engers vs. Arminia Bielefeld9:30am
Justin CheDFB POKAL: Rödinghausen vs. Hoffenheim9:30am
Ricardo PepiDFB POKAL: BW Lohne vs. Augsburg9:30am
Celtic vs. Aberdeen11:30amCBS Sports Network
Johnny CardosoInternacional vs. Atlético Mineiro3pmParamount+
Sam VinesRoyal Antwerp vs. Zulte-Waregem3pm
Nicholas GioacchiniD.C. United vs. Orlando City5pmESPN+
Monday, August 1
Jordan PefokDFB POKAL: Chemnitzer vs. Union Berlin12pmESPN+
Championship preview

ASN: 2022/23 Championship season preview: Dike, Steffen lead 10 Yanks in England’s 2nd tier

The Championship opens its 2022/23 season this weekend and ASN’s Brian Sciaretta previews the season with a look at the 10 Yanks (and possibly more) in the league and what to expect from them. 

JULY 29, 2022
2:50 PM


THE 2022/23 CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON opens this weekend and Americans are now increasing in numbers at all levels within England. The second-tier Championship, however, is booming with Americans. There are right now 10 confirmed Americans and more could very well be on the way before the transfer window closes. What is interesting about the list that only Zack Steffen, on loan for the season at Middlesbrough from Manchester City, is a lock to make the U.S. World Cup team in Qatar. The rest are either on the bubble and battling or are long shots. But national team implications are just one dynamic of the story. These players are at various stages of their careers – some more critical junctures than others. Some are fighting for promotion, and some are going to be fighting against relegation. Some are going to be important players for their teams, while others are going to be fighting for playing time. Here is a look at the American players in the Championship and what are the expecations for each this season compared with the stage of their career.



The potential starting goalkeeper for the U.S. national team is now with Middlesbrough on loan from Manchester City where he spent the last two seasons as a seldomly used backup. Before that, he was injured the second half of the season on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf, when it was relegated out of the Bundesliga.

Steffen, 27, hasn’t been a starter at any level since 2019. Now is the time to re-prove his quality and this is absolutely necessary if he wants to start in Qatar. While the other potential USMNT No. 1, Matt Turner, is a backup at Arsenal, he has at least been starting regularly the past three seasons.

There is a lot of pressure on Steffen on many levels. He needs to play and play well at Middlesbrough to prove he is capable of being a top goalkeeper who can start at the World Cup. At Middlesbrough, he also has a team that wants to return to the Premeir League. The last two seasons, Boro finished seventh and 10th. Middlesbrough won four of five preseason games, including one over a strong Marseille team. This has Boro supporters optimisitc to start the season. The realistic goal for Middlesbrough this season is to finish in the playoff positions – after that, anything is possible. To do that, Steffen will need to be big.



This month marks two years when Daryl Dike made his professional debut during the MLS Is Back tournament after the COVID layoff. For the first 17 months of his career, he scored 28 goals in 4,277 minutes between Orlando City and his loan to Barnsley in the Championship. By any measure, it’s been a strong start to a career.But Dike, now 22, suffered an injury that sidelined him almost immediately after securing a transfer to West Bromwich Albion in January. It was the only setback of his career, and it actually gave him rest that he never had since turning professional. Expecations should be high for Dike this season. He has shown he can score in the Championship, and he is on a more talented team than Barnsley. He’s also had a strong preseason despite indications of a sore groin last week.

West Brom is a team that should contend for promotion and Dike will have a big say as to whether the team succeeds. West Brom won four of six preseason games with the last coming over Hertha BSC by a 2-1 margin. From a national team perspective, Dike could be a darkhorse candidate to be on the plane to Qatar. While he is a well-known player, he was not part of any World Cup qualifying roster and attempted to play through a shoulder injury at last summer’s Gold Cup. His involvement with the U.S. team has been minimal, but he’s in a very good position to succeed to make a late push.

Of all the American players in the Championship, Dike has the most potential to succeed in 2022/23.



After four seasons as mostly a backup with Club Brugge and Nottingham Forest, Ethan Horvath is now with Luton Town on loan from Forest for the season. This summer, there was a need for a goalkeeper at Luton Town when James Shea suffered a serious injury towards the end of last season. Shea is not expected to return until possibly the end of this season. Horvath needs to play again. At 27, he’s in his prime for a goalkeeper and he needs to play for the sake of playing. Showing glimpses of a high level, like he did when he subbed into the Nations League final and played well, is not enough. Goalkeeping can only be evaluated with consistent play.

The good news for Horvath is that he should start at Luton Town – which is coming off a season where they made it to the playoffs and exceeded all expectations. The core of that team is returning, and Horvath should be part of a team aiming to make the playoffs again.

Horvath is firmly on the bubble to make the U.S. World Cup roster. He struggled in his one game in June in El Salvador while Sean Johnson performed well agianst Uruguay. If the World Cup were now, Johnson would likely be the third goalkeeper. The only way Horvath can change that is with a strong start to the season.



After nearly earning promotion to the Premier League before suffering a heartbreak in the playoff final to Nottingham Forest, expectations have declined for Huddersfield prior to the start of this season after the loss of top players and replaced with unknowns.Duane Holmes, 27, is one of the returning players and the Columbus, Georgia native scored five goals in the 2021/22 season where he made 28 starts over 40 appearances. In January 2021, he returned to Huddersfield, his childhood team where he broke into the professional ranks, and has successfully rebooted his career.

This season will be a challenge for Holmes. Huddersfield does not have the supporting cast around Holmes and Holmes will need to raise his game from supporting cast to impact player to help the Terriers remain in contention for the playoffs. But things are never easy to predict for Huddersfield as they tend to fluctuate between contenting for promotion and relegation.As for Holmes and the national team, it seems unlikely at this point. If Holmes wasn’t in the picture earlier in 2022, it seems like a bigger hill now with the addition of more central defenders to the pool.  



There is a lot to admire about Lynden Gooch and his relationship with Sunderland. Dating back to childhood summer camps, he has been affiliated with Sunderland since he was 10 years old. Since making his debut for the first team when it was in the Premier League in 2015, Gooch has stood by the club when it suffered two successive relegations and then as it fought for promotion out of League One.

Now 26, Gooch signed a new deal with Sunderland after last season when it finally earned promotion back to the Championship. Last season was tough for Gooch. He started regularly with 36 starts over 3,216 minutes.

Gooch should be expected to start regularly early in the season but he needs to show improved performances from last season to keep his starting job. Sunderland has a good chance of avoiding relegation since they have the resources to be competitive in the Championship. Our bet is that Gooch finds a way to be useful this season.   



Josh Sargent, 22, is coming into a critical season. After a lackluster run at Werder Bremen which resulted in the club relegated from the Bundesliga, Sargent moved to the Premier League with Norwich last season but, outside of one game against Watford, didn’t produce. Now in the Championship, Sargent is eventually going to have to show he can produce somewhere.

This is the season for him to do it. It will be tough for Norwich to bounce back up again. Their “yo-yo” nature of the last few years was built on Teemu Pukki’s impressive goalscoring the last two Championship seasons. But he will turn 33 this season and maintaining that output is going to be tough. Sargent needs to pick up the slack. We will learn a lot about Sargent this year.

Sargent has also faded from the national team over the past year. He hasn’t been with the team since the first round of World Cup qualifiers in September. The forward position remains unsettled although there is a long list of candidates. If Sargent wants to keep his slim chances of making the roster for Qatar, he needs a strong start to the season.



In terms of young Americans who have an opportunity to both make their professional debut and impress, Jonathan Tomkinson is a good bet. The 20-year-old central defender has risen up the ranks within Norwich City’s system and last season he made the bench for the first team on several occasions but never appeared. Still, he was the captain of the U-23 team and is rated within the organization.

Coming into this season, Tomkinson will be the third or fourth central defender on the team. With the Championship having a 46 game season, he will get his chances and if he performs well, he will remain in the lineup as Norwich.

Internationally, Tomkinson is a strong contender for the 2024 U.S. U-23 team for the Paris Olympics.



Auston Trusty, who will turn 24 in 10 days, is set to embark on the European leg of his career. Last January he signed for Arsenal but was expected to go the “loan army” route. That started with a re-loan to Colorado and now a loan to Birmingham City.

Trusty has been inconsistent in his career. He played well in Philadelphia initially but then fell out of favor. In Colorado, he eventually returned to top form, including last season. But the first half of this season he struggled for the Rapids.

The good news for Trusty is that he should play at Birmingham City. He immediately was thrust into the starting lineup in preseason but the expectations for the club are low again this season. Last year Birmingham City struggled defensively and narrowly avoided relegation.

Birmingham City hopes Trusty will be able to help stabilize the defense and avoid another relegation battle. If he struggles it could be a long season for him and the club.



Matthew Olosunde, 24, has occasionally shown glimpses of being a good player in the Championship with Rotherham United, injuries and inconsistent playing time have hurt his prospects. Last season he played just 136 minutes in the Championship.

Olosunde simply needs to play and get his career back on track. If this season doesn’t pan out, he might have to look elsewhere. It’s tough to expect much from Olosunde but he has the talent and athleticism to succeed in the Championship.


There are rumors the number of Americans in the Championship could expand.

Matthew Hoppe is rumored to be joining Middlesbrough from Mallorca after a lost season in La Liga where he rarely played. At 21, he needs to find a place where he can play and has looked promising in the past – although it has been a over a year.

Middlesbrough wants to contend for promotion and they have four forwards, although none that are noticeable above average. Hoppe is unknown, but Middlesborugh needs more options.

Marlon Fossey has been linked to Championship teams after a successful loan from Fulham to Bolton in League One last season. He has done well when given the chance but he has struggled to stay healthy. At 23, he needs a full season to distance himself from his injured past.

Chris Richards’ unique path to Crystal Palace: From FC Dallas rejection to ‘surreal’ Bayern experience

Sam Stejskal Jul 27, 2022

Lost among the inked-on portraits of Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos is Chris Richards’ first tattoo. A simple Roman numeral, it’s easy to miss among the more striking art elsewhere on his arms: “VIII-VI-MMXVI” — 8-6-2016. August 6, 2016. The day Richards left home.

Richards was then only 16 years old. A couple of months before, he had decided to give up a promising basketball career so he could devote all of his time and energy to soccer. He was long on talent, but a bit short on imagination. Richards grew up in Hoover, Alabama, a sprawling suburb about 10 miles south of downtown Birmingham. Like the rest of Alabama, the town is football mad. Hoover High School has won 13 state titles; their games are periodically broadcast on national television; MTV even produced a couple of seasons of a controversial “Hard Knocks”-esque reality show highlighting the team and school in the mid-2000s.

In Alabama, soccer exists in the margins. When Richards was growing up, there wasn’t a single club in the entire state that fielded a team in the top US boys’ academy league. He could develop his skills and his dreams in his home state, but only to a point. To realise his full potential, to even understand that he had the ability to reach some of the sport’s highest levels, he had to leave.

His first choice was to go to FC Dallas. Home to one of the most productive academies in the US. By then, FC Dallas had already recruited a few Birmingham-area natives to their youth program. Richards arranged a trial through one of them. After five days of training with current US men’s national team players Weston McKennie, Jesus Ferreira and Reggie Cannon and the club’s under-18s, Luchi Gonzalez, then Dallas’ academy director and now a USMNT assistant coach, called Richards into his office. 

He cut him.

Less than two years later, Richards was starting for Bayern Munich in a pre-season match against Manchester City. And now, at 22-years-old, Richards has completed a high-profile, $12million-plus move from Munich to Crystal Palace. 

The Premier League — and, this winter, the World Cup — await.

“Summer 2016, I was packing my stuff, getting ready to move,” Richards told The Athletic at his parents’ home in Hoover. “Then, in summer 2018, I was playing in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami in front of 50,000 people against Manchester City. I was like, ‘Uhhhh, what?’ If I had told myself two years before that I would’ve been doing that, it would’ve just been a straight ‘no.’ Nope. I will not be doing that. Hopefully I’ll be prepping for my freshman year at college. That was my hope when I left home. So all of this? All of this is surreal.”

Today, the perimeter of the Richards’ driveway in Hoover is lined with several wooden backstops. A few feet high and five- or six-feet across, the homemade barriers are a neat little home training tool, a convenient way for a developing player to work on their touch without the need for a practice partner. 

The backstops weren’t around when Chris was a kid — they’re a newer addition, made for his 10-year-old brother Christian. Unlike some of his US team-mates whose parents played professionally or in college, Richards wasn’t really raised around the game. His parents, Ken and Carrie, were good athletes, but neither had any experience with soccer. Ken played basketball at Birmingham-Southern College in the mid-1990s and had a four-year professional career that took him to Iceland, Australia and Bolivia. 

Accordingly, when Chris was young, hoops was the main sport in the Richards’ household. Ken would devise basketball drills for Chris to perform in the driveway or the garage, movements that would help agility, ball handling and the jump shot of a promising young point guard who played on AAU teams and at Hoover High. Now listed at 6ft 2in, Chris was still just 5ft 9in when he quit basketball. Had he stuck with it, the elder Richards thinks his son had a real future on the court — a stance Ken said was backed up by ex-NBA executive and current University of Tennessee assistant coach Gregg Polinsky, a family friend. 

“He was a true point guard, great ball handler, great vision, he was fast,” Ken said. “I most definitely think if he would’ve kept playing basketball, given he grew to the height that he is, he most definitely would have been a big-time Division I player. 

“Chris used to go to Gregg’s basketball camps and Gregg would always say that he had some natural things that you couldn’t teach. He’d tell me back then: ‘Man, just the way he comes off the pick and roll, he does stuff that we have to teach NBA players. He does it naturally.’ He wasn’t saying that he was going to be an NBA player or anything, he just had a lot of talent, a lot of natural instincts for the game.” 

Of course, soccer was a serious pursuit, too. Richards grew up playing for Hoover SC, one of the bigger youth clubs in Birmingham. Home games were mostly held on a set of fields adjacent to a water treatment plant. If the wind was blowing the wrong way, the whole complex would smell like sewage. He battled there against fellow Alabamians and future FC Dallas homegrowns Tanner Tessmann and Brandon Servania, who played for rival local teams. He even spent one season, in the spring of 2015, with Hoover High’s junior varsity squad, lining up in midfield — he wasn’t a centre-back until his final year in Alabama — and playing home matches in a tiny stadium in the shadow of the school’s football facility. 

As he grew older, Richards eventually made his way to the South Region Olympic Development Program (ODP) team, which gave him the chance to travel to Argentina for a camp early in 2016. For USMNT players like Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna or Tyler Adams, who grew up in US Soccer Development Academy programs and were selected to youth national teams from a young age, those kinds of chances were somewhat normal. By age 16, Pulisic and Reyna had already moved to Borussia Dortmund and Adams had already signed a pro contract with the New York Red Bulls. They were used to travelling the world and playing against top international opponents at the youth level. For Richards, the trip to Argentina was completely new. It would end up changing the trajectory of his life. 

Chris Richards during the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup between Ukraine and the USA on May 24, 2019 (Photo: TF-Images/Getty Images)

“That was my first time being out of the country, my first time really seeing professional soccer and a professional environment up close,” he said. “We went to a big derby match between two Argentine teams, Velez Sarsfield was one of them. I remember pulling up in a charter bus and people were throwing stuff at our bus. It was scary but, for me, it was this amazing experience. I came back home and that was when I told my dad that I didn’t want to play basketball anymore, this is what I want — I want soccer.” 

The family swung into action. Ken contacted Servania’s father, who helped arrange the trial with Dallas, where Brandon was already in the academy. Richards thought he performed OK, but Gonzalez and FC Dallas wanted more of a polished product at centre-back. They told him to keep working, that maybe he could come back in a year, but the denial was still devastating. When Richards called home to break the news, he was in tears.

“That was my first real rejection in soccer,” he said. “It wasn’t as if I didn’t think it was for me, but I was also wondering a bit if I was making the right decision just sticking to soccer.” 

Thankfully, he quickly got thrown a lifeline. One of the coaches of the ODP team that Richards went with to Argentina had a full-time role at US Soccer Development Academy club Houston Texans SC. That coach, Carl Fleming, got word to Texans club director and under-18 head coach Eric Quill that there was a centre-back out of Alabama worth taking a look at. Quill had never seen Richards play, but Fleming’s recommendation was strong enough for Quill to bring him in for a trial on the heels of being cut by Dallas. He could play with the Texans holdovers, meet his potential host family and see if he might like to move to Houston. Ken and Chris made the 670-mile drive from Hoover not long after.

“He was still kind of gangly, but you could tell he was super athletic,” said Quill, who is now an assistant in MLS with the Columbus Crew. “You frickin’ saw what his body was probably going to turn into down the road. If that matched up with his technique and his brain for the game and his ideas, it was gonna be an interesting combination. So I decided to make the call and say let’s go for it. They obviously, on their part, did the same thing, and it kind of became this match made in heaven.” 

Not that it was an easy decision for Richards and his family. 

Christian, his younger brother, was three or four years old at the time. His younger sister, Mackenzie, was only 10 or 11. If Richards left home, he knew he’d probably be leaving for good. 

In the world of high-level youth sports, leaving home at 16 to pursue a professional career or college scholarship has become somewhat standard. That doesn’t change the gravity of the situation for the people living it, though. Richards and his parents, naturally, needed a little bit of convincing. 

Texans SC wasn’t FC Dallas. The team wasn’t as successful, the facilities weren’t as nice and Richards would be the first player in the history of the club to be brought in from out of the area to live with a host family. Thankfully, Quill had the off-field concerns covered. He’d lined up a host family that had a younger son playing at the club. They got on well with Chris and his parents, who still keep in touch with them. On the field, Quill didn’t harbour any illusions about Texans SC’s place in the soccer pyramid. He pitched Ken on using the club as a stepping stone for Chris, a place he could grow before moving to an MLS academy or college program. Quill made Chris feel comfortable right away, then appealed to his competitive streak. 

“Eric was like, ‘We play FC Dallas twice a year’,” Richards said. “‘We heard that you might want to play them again’.” 

It was enough for Richards, who moved to Houston later that summer. 

He took a game or two to get used to the higher standard of play, but things soon started to move pretty fast. 

Richards began shooting up, growing over the course of his season with Texans SC from 5ft 9in to 6ft 1in. His added height didn’t come as a detriment to his athleticism, and he began to improve technically, as well, with Quill lining him up as a left-sided centre-back so he could work on his weaker foot. 

As the season progressed, Quill made it something of his own personal mission to help Richards and Texans midfielder Christian Cappis, now with Danish Superliga side Brondby IF, develop into pros. 

“From him, at least at first, there was a sense that he was shooting to be a Division One college player,” Quill said. “But as time went on, after a few months went by, as you saw how fast he was getting better and what he was doing, I saw star power. I remember saying at the time that he’d start for the US in a World Cup. And I still believe that. His progress was just so fast.” 

Texans SC started racking up positive results, beating FC Dallas during the regular season before making something of a Cinderella run to win the under-18 national title over an LA Galaxy team that featured current LA first-team starter and Mexico international Efrain Alvarez. Dallas had been eliminated earlier in the competition, but Luchi Gonzalez happened to be in LA at the time of the semi-finals and final. Quill saw him there and urged him to take another look at Richards. 

“We were staying at the same hotel and I got with him and said, ‘Listen, Luchi, I know you had this kid a year ago, you didn’t see him in the cards for you, but you need to watch him. Take a look at him in the finals and if you want him, he’s yours’,” Quill said. “Coming back (to Houston) would have just stagnated his progress, in my opinion. So (Gonzalez) watched him over the course of a couple games and was like, ‘This kid is amazing. Are you sure we can have him?’ I told him, ‘Absolutely. Have the other one, too — Christian Cappis.’ I think that took them by surprise, but you knew these guys could be pros and moving to a team like Dallas was a step they needed to take.” 

Richards had trained with Dallas again for a few days that April, but his performances at the finals in July sealed his invite. He felt a little conflicted about going back only a year after their stinging rejection  —“I was like, man, y’all just cut me not even a year ago, I don’t want to come back and play with y’all.” — but Quill pushed him to make the move to North Texas.  

Life in Dallas was significantly different than in Houston. Instead of living with a host family, Richards moved into an apartment that the club arranged for him, along with Cappis, who had also made the move from Houston, and two other players. They were mostly left to their own devices. FIFA and Fortnite were the main forms of entertainment; chicken fingers were a staple of their diet. Richards, who had by then verbally committed to play at the University of North Carolina, continued to progress, earning his first youth national team call-up in January 2018.

It was there that he first caught the eye of European scouts. German clubs Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Monchengladbach and Hoffenheim flew him over for trials that February; he said a couple of them wanted to offer him pro deals as soon as he turned 18 in March. That threw FC Dallas into a bit of a panic. 

The club had lost McKennie for free to Schalke shortly after Richards’ initial trial in Dallas in the summer of 2016. They were committed to not having another big talent walk away for nothing. So, even though an MLS rule requiring homegrown signings to spend at least 12 months in their club’s academy before they debuted for the first-team meant Richards couldn’t play for Dallas in MLS until later that summer, the club inked him to a pro contract in April. 

“I guess growing up in Birmingham, you never really think about playing professionally,” he said. “It was kind of one of those things where you would try to go to a Division One college and then see what happens afterwards. But then, playing in that Dallas environment, it kind of made me realise that if I wanted to play pro, this is the time to do it, this is the time to sign.” 

Richards made sure to have a buyout clause written into the deal. If a European team offered Dallas $1.5million, he would be able to move abroad. 

Sandwiched between Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami, the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key is not the kind of place an MLS academy team might stay on an away trip. Nor would an MLS team, for that matter. It is, however, the sort of hotel that a club like Bayern Munich might use as a base during a pre-season tour through the US. 

In the summer of 2018, the perennial German champions took it over. Bayern rented out entire floors of the hotel, implementing a strict security policy for any area in which team personnel were staying. If you wanted to get up to a floor that a player, coach or administrator was booked on, you had to get their express permission beforehand. 

Richards learned that the hard way. He went on a 10-day training stint to Bayern, which formed a partnership with Dallas in February 2018, just a few weeks after he signed his MLS deal with FC Dallas that spring. The club liked him so much they invited him back in July. This time, Richards was going not on a training stint, but a six-month loan with their under-19s. 

But with a number of Bayern stars given a break during the beginning of that pre-season after playing in the World Cup in Russia earlier that summer, Richards was included in the first-team squad for the trip to the US. 

His parents made the trip down to Miami for the friendly against Manchester City, but as they waited in the lobby for an elevator, Richards, ignorant to the protocol, had to scramble to find a security person to get them cleared to come up to his room.

“There’s David Alaba, there’s Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, they’re all on the same floor as me. My parents are walking to the room and I have to go find security to tell them that these people are my parents. Like, what am I doing here?” he laughed. “It was kind of this awkward — it almost felt like I wasn’t there. It didn’t feel real at the time. My mom and dad come into the room and they’re like, ‘This is the coolest thing ever’. It was just amazing. Something you can’t even begin to fathom.” 

A couple of nights later, Richards made his first start for Bayern against the reigning Premier League champs. Just a few months before, he’d been living with his academy team-mates in Texas, playing as his new team on FIFA while eating fast food from Raising Cane’s. 

The rest of his journey at Bayern wasn’t quite as smooth. He did well in his initial foray with the under-19s, showing enough for Bayern to trigger the buyout clause he’d inserted into his contract with Dallas in January 2019. After a successful run with the US in the Under-20 World Cup that summer, he moved up to Bayern’s reserve team, making 30 appearances to help them to the German third-division title. 

He was promoted to the first-team in the summer of 2020, once the Bundesliga returned to play following its COVID-19 hiatus. 

That’s where things got a little bit sticky. 

Richards after scoring for Bayern Munich II against SV Waldhof Mannheim on June 14, 2020 (Photo: Uwe Anspach/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

Clubs like Bayern rarely promote players from the academy through to the first team. There’s too much quality, too many incoming highly priced transfers and too little opportunities for unproven youngsters. Richards got caught in that tangled web. He made a few Bundesliga appearances in the opening half of the 2020-21 season, tallying an assist in his first-ever Bundesliga start in a 4-3 win against Hertha Berlin in October, but he spent the bulk of his time with the under-23s in the third-division. When the January transfer window rolled around, he asked for a loan move. 

“I think the rejection at Dallas, in the academy, made me realise that not everything is going to be a straight-line path,” he said. “So once I got into the first team at Bayern, I kind of realised that I wasn’t going to get the game time that I wanted. I’ve never been so enamoured by the big name, I don’t want to be at Bayern just to be at Bayern. I want to go play and prove myself. So that’s what I did. I asked for a loan pretty quickly, they were kind of shocked, they were like, ‘You don’t want to play a game here, a game there, play Champions League?’ And I just thought it wouldn’t help me. I mean, it would, but to get to where I want to go, I need to be playing more regularly.”

It wasn’t too tough to find a destination. Sebastian Hoeness, who coached Richards in the Bayern under-19s and under-23s, had taken over as manager of Hoffenheim ahead of the 2020-21 season. He eagerly brought Richards for the remainder of the campaign, starting him at centre-back whenever he was healthy. 

After the season ended, Richards, who missed the final few matches of Hoffenheim’s campaign and the US’s run to the CONCACAF Nations League title that June with an injury, returned to Munich to take his chances under new Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann. The young coach wasn’t the only new arrival. Nagelsmann brought centre-back Dayot Upamecano with him to Munich from RB Leipzig for a price of $47million. 

“Because Nagelsmann came, they wanted him to see me, but when he brought in Upamecano, I was like, ‘OK, this is going to be the same situation’,” Richards said. “I didn’t take it personally, I just wanted to play. I didn’t care if it was at Bayern or Hoffenheim. I can’t just sit on the bench again. It was a World Cup qualifying year, I wanted to play with the national team and I knew they weren’t going to pick me if I wasn’t playing games.” 

Palace made a move to acquire him on a full transfer late in the summer window, but Richards ended up returning to Hoffenheim for another loan, this time for the full season. USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter didn’t call him up for the first round of World Cup qualifiers in September, in part so that Richards could remain in Europe to finalise the deal, but a run of Bundesliga games got him into the USMNT for the October contests against Jamaica, Panama and against Costa Rica. He made his first start of qualifying against Los Ticos, playing well in a 2-1 win in front of a good number of immediate and extended family members in Columbus, Ohio, near where his mom grew up.

He did well later in qualifying to contain Michail Antonio in a 1-1 draw at Jamaica in November and performed solidly again in a 1-0 win against El Salvador in January, but went down with a foot injury in the subsequent match at Canada. That kept him out for nearly a month, then he suffered a thigh injury in April that ruled him out for the final weeks of the Bundesliga season and prevented him from joining the US for their friendlies and Nations League matches in June. 

Around that time is when the interest from Palace really began to heat up. Richards was hopeful that the transfer would be finalised in late June — he had already spoken with manager Patrick Vieira a few times at that point — but negotiations between Bayern and Palace were drawn out. Though he never really broke through with the Bayern first team, they liked Richards and didn’t want to let him go cheaply, especially just a few months before he’ll have a chance to raise his profile significantly at the World Cup in Qatar. Bayern considered loaning him again, but eventually reached an agreement with Palace for a base fee of $12million that could rise as high as $18million, depending on various benchmarks. 

If he can stay healthy, he should have a good chance to break into the Palace line-up early in the season. He’ll have to adjust to the pace and physicality of the Premier League, but he’s a solid passer, capable of playing as a right- or left-sided centre-back, good in the air and a strong athlete. 

He’s thoughtful, as well — a vocal campaigner against racism and, according to Quill, “the most coachable player you’ll ever find”. 

Richards is confident that he’ll be able to manage the jump. 

“It’s definitely faster,” he said. “Every week you’re playing two, three games, you’re playing against the best of the best. It’s going to be tough, but every time I’ve pushed to a new level, I’ve risen to it. I just think I’m ready for it.” 

Even before the move, Richards had good odds to start alongside Walker Zimmerman as one of the USMNT’s two centre-backs at the World Cup. His speed could be particularly important, as Zimmerman isn’t the quickest player and the US likes to play with a high defensive line. If he performs well for Palace, where US head coach Gregg Berhalter played during the 2001-02 season, he’ll only bolster his case for minutes in Qatar.

“I’d love to see Chris go there,” Berhalter told ESPN’s Futbol Americas earlier this week, before the move was finalised. “I’d love to see that. Crystal Palace is a great club, great stadium, great fans. Patrick Vieira is a great coach. Love it from every side.” 

Richards, of course, has his mind on getting off to a good start in London, but the World Cup looms large. He’s a young, inexperienced and talented member of a young, inexperienced and talented US team. He probably had a harder time imagining his journey than some of his international team-mates did theirs, but he’s now standing on the cusp of an incredible opportunity. If he can take it, the once-unknown kid from Alabama could wind up as one of American soccer’s biggest stars.

“People kind of laugh when they ask me, ‘How far do you guys want to go in the World Cup?’ And I’m like, ‘Damn, man, I want to win it’,” he said. “I don’t want to go into something and downplay ourselves, like, ‘Well, maybe we can get out of the group stage’. No, I want to win it. Same with (Crystal Palace). I want to win the league, win as many trophies as possible and just show out.”

Preseason notebook: Forwards producing, young Yanks seek minutes, & transfer watch

The preseason is winding down but ASN’s Brian Sciaretta offers up another preseason notebook to offer up how he sees things shaping up for a number of players ahead of the opening games. 

PRESEASON IN EUROPE is entering into its final stages and, in some cases, the season is underway. The results are often to be taken with a massive grain of salt, but how players are used does offer a glimpse into what we can expect at the start of the season.

In short, it has been somewhat of a concerning preseason for top American players. There hasn’t been anything too much among top U.S. national team players. Yunus Musah has done well but in terms of McKennie, Pulisic, Adams, Weah, Dest, or Reyna – it’s been very quiet. Strangely enough, it’s been the forwards getting the most production. 

Here is my notebook from the past week.

Bassett scores for Feyenoord

This is an interesting topic. Cole Bassett is at Feyenoord on loan from Colorado. Last month it was reported that Feyenoord were looking to loan Bassett, who turns 21 this week, Fortuna Sittard. These reports were accurate. But the problem, however, is that players on loan can’t be sent out on a subsequent loan. That decision must be made through Colorado.

Normally, it could be expected that Feyenoord would cancel the loan and then Colorado could loan him to Fortuna Sittard – one of the smallest teams in the Eredivisie. The problem, however, is that Feyenoord still wants to retrain its interest in Bassett, because it owns an option to buy with its current loan. It doesn’t want to give that up. But the minutes are probably not there yet at Feyenoord, which is one of the top teams in the Eredivisie. So how does Bassett find another club to play regularly and Feyenoord continues to hold the loan and option on him?

Bassett came off the bench today for Feyenoord in a preseason friendly today to start the second half. He scored in the 50th minute to give his club a 4-0 lead. Feyenoord ended up winning 6-1.
As I have mentioned, Bassett is a player who could have a big role ahead for the U.S. U-23 team as it prepares for the 2024 Olympics.The good news is that all parties are still talking to find a way to make this loan happen.

Busio likely to remain at Venezia

As the always reliable Tom Bogert reported this week, Gianluca Busio seems likely to remain at Venezia this season and is negotiating a contract extension that removes the financial incentives to loan him if the club remains in Serie B.

Last season, Busio made 29 appearances for Venezia as the club suffered relegation out of Serie A. Busio’s playing time dwindled, however, in the second half of the season as his starts became infrequent.

There are some substantial pros and cons. If Busio remains in Serie B, it hurts his chances of making the World Cup team this year. On the other hand, if he remains it will probably help his development in the long term.

Last year, Busio’s strengths remained the same as they were at Sporting KC. He’s an excellent passer and can move the ball well. But he needs work on defensive aspects of the game including handling the physicality of top-flight soccer and having a non-stop motor to close down on attackers for the duration of the game. In a relegation battle, it was risky to trust Busio in such situations.

But in a league where Venezia is among the better teams, the pressure on him won’t be as dramatic. Serie B isn’t a great league, but it is intense. He should be allowed to play to his strengths while working on his weaknesses. In the long-term, it will serve him well.

Internationally, Busio could be left on the outside of the World Cup team this fall. The team has more options in the midfield than it did during World Cup qualifying. Gio Reyna is slowly returning to health. Brenden Aaronson is likely going to be a midfielder at Leeds. Eryk Williamson was ahead of Busio last summer at the Gold Cup and he is returning to health.

Like Bassett, Busio is a strong candidate for the 2024 Olympic team and that could be a big transitional tournament for him to springboard into the national team when he is more ready.

Sands & Tillman at Rangers

In terms of Americans playing well, James Sands has been earning positive reviews for his first preseason with the club (while on loan from NYCFC). Both Sands and U.S. international Malik Tillman played the final 21 minutes for Rangers in a 2-1 loss to Tottenham over the weekend in their most recent game.

An important note on Sands is that while he was signed as a defensive midfielder, he has been playing almost entirely at central defense where he has potentially put himself in he mix as a starter alongside Connor Goldson. It will be competitive for Sands given that the Rangers signed centerbacks John Souttar and Ben Davies. But Sands has been effective with his passing and that fits the style of manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst who wants to play out of the back.

As for Tillman, he will be a regular for Rangers this season although it seems likely he is going to come off the bench to start the season while getting minutes in cup games.

Forwards keep scoring

In terms of preseason, Jordan Pefok, Daryl Dike, Ricardo Pepi, and Haji Wright are four players who all have a lot to prove early this season. Pefok is making the move up from Switzerland to Union Berlin the Bundesliga but the track record of top goal scorers in the Swiss Super League moving to a bigger league is mixed. Haji Wright will remain with Antalyaspor on a permanent deal. That will allow him to continue with his momentum. Daryl Dike is finally healthy after suffering an injury immediately after arriving with West Brom in January.  Ricardo Pepi, meanwhile, needs his first goal for Augsburg soon (in a game that counts.

Three players scored in friendlies over the weekend. Pefok scored in Union’s 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest. Dike scored the winner in West Brom’s 2-1 win over Hertha BSC. Haji Wright scored in Antalyaspor’s dismal 6-2 loss to Bochum. Ricardo Pepi assisted Maurice Malone in Augsburg’s 3-2 loss to Rennes.

From a national team perspective, these four players seem to be fighting for one or two spots on the World Cup roster to take the roles as a pure center forward as opposed to a hybrid version of Jesus Ferreira. But they’re also not the only four. Josh Sargent probably is still in the mix even if his preseason isn’t going well. Brandon Vazquez has been in fantastic form for Cincinnati and might also get a look in September.

Of the players I mentioned, it seems like Dike is probably in the best position to succeed. He’s had success over a much longer time than Pefok or Wright and he is also extremely mobile.

“He (Dike) is someone that can attack the deliveries I’m going to put in the box,” said West Brom attacker Jed Wallace of assisting to Dike against Hertha. “I have played with some very good centre forwards that like to get on the end of crosses in my time. When I think of Millwall, I had Steve Morison and Matt Smith. Daryl falls into that category. But not only is he a big lad, he is very, very, mobile and you saw that with the goal. He got across his man really well. The cross is one thing but, for me, it’s all about the end product. Any good striker can make an average cross look a good one. That is what he did there. It was a really great header.”

Other notes on who played

Taylor Booth is another player firmly in the mix for the United States U-23 team. He started for FC Utrecht on Wednesday in a 1-0 loss to AEK Athens but nearly scored on a free kick.

On the preseason Americans tours for both teams, Barcelona drew Juventus 2-2 in Dallas. Sergino Dest played for Barca while Weston McKennie was not in action, despite the game in his home town.  Dest played between the 34th and 77th minute and was hung out by poor position from his teammates on the first Juventus goal. Other than that, it was an uneventful performance.

Will Dest be a starter for this team at the beginning of the season? It doesn’t seem so.

As for McKennie, Max Allegri said the U.S. midfielder would return to the team tomorrow but didn’t say if it was for injury or personal reasons.

“He is an important player for us, tomorrow he will return with the team and on Saturday he will be able to play,” Allegri said.

It was a tough week for Yunus Musah. While he has been making big progress with Valencia in central midfield, he started for the club over the weekend in a rough 5-2 loss to a VfB Stuttgart team managed by Pellegrino Matarazzo.

Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson both started for Leeds United under Jesse Marsch in a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace to conclude the Australian preseason tour. Both Americans were subbed out at halftime with the score 0-0 and both look like potential starters to begin the season. 

Tim Weah started and picked up an assist for Lille in a 2-2 draw with Las Palmas. The USMNT winger picked off a poor pass from a Las Palmas central defender and quickly fed it towards goal for an assist. It will be interesting to see how Weah is used this year. It seems as if it is only a matter of time before Jonathan David is sold (Bayern are the latest interested) but that will certainly affect Weah and it will increase his responsibilities in the attack until further reinforcements are added.

Joe Scally started and played 75 minutes for Borussia Monchengladbach in a 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad. Scally was quiet in this one. Mexican-American Jonathan Gomez played the second half for Sociedad and it seems as if another season with Sociedad B could be in the cards.

Austin Trusty made his debut for Birmingham City (on loan from Arsenal) when he started in the club’s final preseason game, a 2-2 draw with Rayo Vallecano in La Liga. Trusty will wear No. 5 and will open the season this weekend against Ethan Horvath and Luton Town.

Will Trusty play for Birmingham City? It seems likely. Birmingham City were terrible defensively last season as the club finished 20th out of 24 in the Championship. That being said, Trusty struggled the first half of the season with Colorado.

2.Bundesliga/Belgium updates

Two leagues with several Americas which are already into their season are Belgium’s top flight and Germany’s 2.Bundesliga.  Results have been mixed.Two top performers have been Sam Vines and Terrence Boyd.Sam Vines was strong for Royal Antwerp in its 2-0 season opening win over Mechelen on Sunday. There is an opening on the U.S. team for the backup left back spot as George Bello has been unconvincing.

Elsewhere in Belgium, it wasn’t good for Americans. Mark McKenzie was an unused sub for Genk in its 3-2 loss to Club Brugge. For McKenzie, his World Cup hopes seem to be fading quickly. Owen Otasowie didn’t get off the bench either for Brugge. Bryan Reynolds was an unused sub for Westerloo in its 2-0 win over Cercle Brugge while Griffin Yow is still finalizing his work permit to suit up. Kyle Duncan, meanwhile, was suspended for Oostende’s 2-0 loss to Anderlecht due to the red card he picked up in last season’s finale.

In the 2.Bundesliga, Terrence Boyd scored for Kaiserslautern in its 2-2 draw with Holstein Kiel while Nico Carrera is still not in Holstein Kiel’s lineup. Boyd now has a goal and an assist in the first two games of the season.  Julian Green and Timothy Tillman each started for Greuther Furth in a 2-0 loss to Nurnberg. George Bello started and played 86 minutes for Arminia Bielefeld in a brutal 3-0 loss at home to Jahn Regensburg. Former Springfield college defender Ryan Malone started for Hansa Rostock in an impressive 1-0 away win over Hamburg.

From an international perspective, Bello was the big story and things clearly aren’t clicking for him at Arminia Bielefeld. While he was on the USMNT June roster, I would expect Berhalter to look at other options in September. Whether that be Sam Vines, John Tolkin, DeJuan Jones, or perhaps just moving Sergino Dest to the left, Bello has probably lost his grip on a ticket to Qatar.

Player movement

There have been a lot of moves so far this summer including key national team players. Luca de la Torre moved to Celta Vigo, Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams moved to Leeds, Zack Steffen was loaned to Middlesbrough, and there have been several other smaller deals or loans. But Chris Richards is a big one and his transfer from Bayern Munich to Crystal Palace has now been announced.

I wrote about this last week in the preseason notebook, but this is a great deal. He will probably be the third central defender, but he is moving because manager Patrick Viera wants him and he will now have to raise his game to get on the field. He wasn’t challenged that way at Hoffenheim. It’s also great for FC Dallas, who could net nearly $5 million from this transfer if the bonus incentives are met.

In other moves, former U.S. U-20 international Charlie Kelman has been loaned from Queens Park Rangers to Leyton Orient in fourth tier League Two.

Jordan Bender last fall saw the option on his homegrown contract declined by Orlando City and now he will return to his parents’ native Cape Town City FC which finished last season in second in South Africa’s top tier. Bender was called up to the only U-20 camp of the previous cycle in January 2020 before Covid cancelled the 2021 U-20 World Cup.

As mentioned, Cole Bassett could rework a situation where he goes on loan to another club, likely in Holland.

Justin Che could be in a different situation as he does not appear to be in the plans right now at Hoffenheim. He is at Hoffenheim on an 18-month loan but based on reports, it doesn’t seem like Bundesliga minutes will be there for him soon. He might remain at Hoffenheim but moving on loan to another club is certainly in the mix.

Tyler Boyd has been starting for Besiktas this preseason but hasn’t stood out. It seems unlikely that he will make their roster for the Super Lig season and Besiktas will probably settle for any decent offer.

The quiet nature of the John Brooks saga has been very interesting. There are reports of teams interested (we’ve seen Marseille, Union Berlin, top Turkish teams, and others all rumored) but then things go very quiet. It seems like it will be resolved soon but Brooks has been able to sign a contract with any team since January and still has yet to put pen to paper.

Richard Ledezma is a bigger story to watch and this one is going to come down to the wire – but it is a positive story. He is still in the plans at PSV and is performing well but Vitesse wants him on loan. PSV will likely wait for a few more weeks to determine if Vitesse is a possibility.

Matthew Hoppe is coming off a lost season at Mallorca and hasn’t been involved in preseason. Tom Bogert reported that an offer from Middlesbrough has been made. But would Hoppe play at Middlesbrough? There is a lot of heavy turnover in the Championship. Duncan Watmore and Josh Coburn are returning from last season. Watmore had seven goals and three assists last season, which is lackluster for a player in his prime (but still far beyond what Hoppe accomplished last season), and Coburn is only 19, but is highly rated with four goals last season.

Chuba Akpom, 26, returns to Middlesbrough from a loan to PAOK in Greece but has five goals in 39 games for Middlesbrough. Uche Ikpeazu also returns to Middlesbrough after a positive loan to Cardiff City where he scored three goals in 13 games (but started only once). That loan was due to an emergency need at Cardiff and Ikpeazu was popular in Wales.

For Hoppe, there is competition but none of the existing options seem unbeatable.



After winning the Concacaf U-20 Championship with the United States, Paxten Aaronson is playing games again in MLS
  • Many know the Aaronson name from Paxten’s older brother Brenden, but the younger Aaronson has plenty of talent

© Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

The Paxten Aaronson hype is building.

First, that hype came in whispered terms after his brother, Brenden Aaronson, broke out with the U.S. men’s national team. Then it grew louder as he signed his own first professional contract and made his debut with the Philadelphia Union in May, 2021. After a run with the U.S. at the Concacaf U-20 Championship, it’s still growing. Now back in Philadelphia, Aaronson is trying to establish himself in the Union’s first team to follow the same trajectory that led his brother, Brenden Aaronson, to Europe and the national team.At the U-20 Championship, Aaronson staked his claim as the best player on the team. Opposing defenses couldn’t cope with his movement or his skill on the ball. When the games became more difficult, the 18-year-old attacker raised his game to match the level: of his seven goals in the tournament, five of them came in the quarterfinals or later. He finished as the leading scorer and won the Golden Ball. While being the leading scorer for the U.S. at the Concacaf U-20 Championship hasn’t been historically meaningful – the last four leading scorers for the U.S. at that tournament have combined for two senior team caps and zero goals – Aaronson is clearly a talented young player. Let’s take a look at his skillset to learn more about what makes him tick and what his future might hold.


After Brenden Aaronson exploded onto the scene in 2020, lighting up MLS before a move to RB Salzburg and now Leeds United, it was easy to get excited about a younger version of him climbing up the professional soccer ranks. After all, if the “Little Brother” effect is true in other sports, why wouldn’t it be true in soccer?


Of course, as anyone with an older sibling knows, people often fall into the trap of treating siblings like they’re the same person, with the same abilities and weaknesses. It’s tempting to do that with the Aaronson brothers. They look similar, with their shaggy hair and slim builds. They have a similar frenetic approach to the game, which fits in nicely with the way the Philadelphia Union play. 

Despite these similarities, at their core, they’re different players.

The difference starts with how they’ve progressed so far in their careers. Here’s a look at how Paxten has performed over the first years of his professional career. This chart is just the sum of Goals Added (G+), a popular possession value metric by American Soccer Analysis, across both MLS and the USL Championship.

Paxten is ahead of where Brenden was at a similar age, which is an encouraging sign. For Brenden, the 2020 season was a breakout year, earning him first place on MLS’s 22 Under 22 list. With a strong end to the 2022 season, Paxten could establish himself as a first team starter and have that same kind of rise in 2023. There’s also the very real possibility that his breakout season could take place in Europe if a team decides to make a move for him.

Looking towards the field, the positional breakdown between the two brothers is different, too. Here’s a visualization of the various positions that Paxten and Brenden have played during their time in MLS and the USL.

Brenden split his time between the wings, the No. 10, and the No. 8 during his time playing in the United States. He even played a game as a center back (according to Stats Perform) back in 2019. We’re not buying that one, but nice try data provider. Paxten, on the other hand, tends to play higher up the field. He’s almost entirely coded either as a striker – really, a second striker when you watch the tape – or as an attacking midfielder. 

The younger Aaronson can play multiple roles in possession, but he has a tendency to assert himself in the attack more than his brother.


If Paxten isn’t just Brenden 2.0, then who is he?

After running his (admittedly limited) MLS numbers through a player matching algorithm, two European comparisons stand out: Leicester City’s Ayoze Perez and Atletico Madrid’s Angel Correa. That’s not to say that Aaronson is as good as these two players, but his style of play is similar to that pair. Paxten’s energy and activity on the defensive end is one of the biggest reasons the comparison fits.

Despite his listed height and weight sitting at a waifish 5’9” and 139 pounds, he shows a complete lack of fear on the defensive end against larger players. As an undersized, but aggressive player, Aaronson fits well into a system that requires pressing through the middle third.

As a ball progressor, Aaronson puts his relatively limited overall involvement to good use. He tends to touch the ball less than most midfielders or forwards, but he plays forward with a large percentage of his passes. The teenager is the most dangerous in the final third and around the box. He consistently moves into open spaces and creates shots either for himself or for his teammates with that movement and his skill on the on-attacker-special-different-than-his-brother.Aaronson is comfortable playing in tight spaces, but he doesn’t have the pace or acceleration to consistently beat players on the wing. He works better through the middle of the pitch.

Even though Aaronson has some real skills, there are still some deficits in his game that must be ironed out for him to truly shine in MLS and beyond. His overall usage rates are quite low, which means he doesn’t get on the ball very much. A low usage rate is not necessarily an issue, but it might indicate that Aaronson isn’t going to demand the ball and take over a game as a playmaker. Instead, he will find his spots and take advantage of his movement to try to take the final shot or make the penultimate pass in an attacking sequence. Aaronson is willing to dribble at players one-v-one, but his success rates leave much to be desired and he currently lacks the speed and strength to differentiate himself. That should change over the next year or so as he continues to mature.


The rest of the 2022 season could be key for Aaronson’s development. 

With the Union on top of the Eastern Conference, minutes have been hard to come by Aaronson: he’s sitting just shy of 400 minutes this year. That said, he has been playing this month. Since rejoining the team after the Concacaf U-20 Championship, Aaronson has played in four straight games. It helps that he’s on a Philadelphia Union team that uses two strikers and a No. 10 and is committed to playing the kids.The 18-year-old can play any of the three attacking positions in Jim Curtin’s 4-4-2 diamond: as one of the two forwards or as a replacement for Gazdag in the space between the midfield and the strikers. Gazdag doesn’t get many touches either and his game could provide the blueprint for how Aaronson could impact play as an unconventional No. 10. Aaronson’s flexibility in this area is an asset, one that should contribute to increased playing time going forward.Despite reports of European attention, Aaronson still needs some seasoning before he’ll be truly ready to impact a good team across the Atlantic – and that’s okay. He’s only played around 2,000 MLS minutes in his career. Regardless of what happens on the transfer front over the next 12 to 18 months, Philadelphia Union and USMNT fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about Paxten Aaronson. His skill on the ball and relentless defensive work could make him a valuable player in a modern soccer landscape that prioritizes both of those attributes over almost anything else.If Aaronson continues to mature physically and gets more on-field reps, he could develop into quite the player.

With Arlo And NBCSN Gone, Here’s How To Watch Premier League In U.S. In 2022-23


AMERICANS WILL HAVE SOME CHANGES TO GET USED TO FOR THE 2022-23 PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON. The Premier League is back for the 2022-23 season, and that means it’s time for us Americans to set those weekend alarms for way-too-early a.m. and get the TV ready for the world’s most popular soccer league. There will be a few changes to this year’s EPL TV lineup, so here’s a quick refresher on how to watch Premier League in the U.S. for 2022-23. After eight years of Americans watching the Premier League on NBC’s family of networks, the EPL’s U.S. TV rights went up for grabs last year. Despite heavy competition (including a surprising second round of bidding), NBC shelled out a reported $2.7 billion to retain the rights for another six years in both English and Spanish. For a bit of comparison, ESPN paid $1.4 billion for a similar eight-year deal with LaLiga, while JetBlue will spend $3.8 billion to buy Spirit airlines. (I’m not sure which company got the better deal, but it’s not JetBlue.)While the network owning the Premier League TV rights will not change, fans will notice a few major differences. The first major change is the loss of NBCSN, but fans should have already adjusted to this. NBCSN shuttered at the end of 2021, so if you’re still trying to find the cable channel in August 2022, that’s on you.The second major change is the loss of announcer Arlo White. NBC announced in May that White was being replaced by the excellent Peter Drury as the network’s lead soccer announcer. While many will miss White’s velvety voice, I think most Americans will grow to appreciate Drury’s intelligent, poetic and appropriately enthusiastic calls.Enough with the changes, here’s how to watch Premier League matches in the U.S. in 2022-23. 

How To Watch Premier League In USA 2022-23

  • TV: NBC, USA Network, CNBC, Universo, Telemundo
  • Streaming: Peacock Premium
  • Third-Party Streaming*: fuboTV, Sling TV, DirecTV Stream, YouTube TV, Hulu+ Live TV

How To Watch Premier League In USA For Free

  • Hope for a match on over-the-air NBC

Premier League matches will once again be split between three primary outlets in English: network NBC, cable USA Network and streaming Peacock Premium. The only free one is NBC; USA requires a cable subscription (as does the occasional match on CNBC) while matches on Peacock will come with a $4.99-per-month price tag. The song remains the same in Spanish, with matches on Telemundo, Universo and Peacock Premium. On a typical weekend, you’ll see a few games on USA, one or two on NBC and the rest on Peacock. This means to watch every Premier League match, you’ll need both a cable subscription and a Peacock subscription. This is less than ideal, but at least Peacock is one of the cheapest streaming services around. And with the loss of NBCSN, more and more matches have been placed behind the Peacock paywall, so you’ll probably want to pay for that subscription anyway. For instance, on opening weekend, NBC decided to air two matches on USA and the other eight on Peacock. Now that you know how to watch Premier League matches, catch up on all the Americans playing in the league here. And if you need help naming your Fantasy Premier League team, we’ve got you covered, too.* — Third-party streaming refers to streaming services through which you can gain access to live TV channels such as NBC and USA.

Boys in Blue Seek to Cool Down Red-hot Rowdies Side Saturday

#INDvTBR Preview 
Indy Eleven vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Saturday, July 30, 2022 – 7:00 p.m. ET
IUPUI Carroll Stadium  – Indianapolis, Ind.

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe) 
Radio (Spanish): Exitos 94.3 FM / exitos943.com
In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers
Live stats: #INDvTBR MatchCenter on USLChampionship.com 

Indy Eleven: 6W-10L-4D (-7 GD), 22 pts.; 9th in Eastern Conference 
Tampa Bay Rowdies: 12W-6L-3D (+22 GD), 42 pts.; 2nd in Eastern Conference 

OUT: Aris Briggs (R shin), Bryan Meredith (R hand fracture), Stefano Pinho|

IND: none
TBR: none

* IND’s Raul Aguilera & Sam Brown will receive a one-game suspension from USL for caution accumulation (eight) should they receive a yellow card in any game up to and including Aug. 27 vs. SA

Indy Eleven Game Notes

Tampa Bay Game Notes

USLC Week 21 Notes

Indy Eleven is staying in the Circle City for the second of a three-match homestand this Saturday night at Carroll Stadium against a former NASL rival in the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The meeting is the second between the sides this season, the first being a 2-0 home win for the Rowdies back on Matchday 2.

The Boys in Blue broke a six-match losing streak and a five-match scoreless streak last Saturday night against Memphis 901 FC, its 1-1 draw helping the squad get back on track for playoff positioning as the final third of the season approaches. The Eleven sit ninth in the Eastern Conference, currently nine points outside the playoff picture but with two games in hand on both seventh place Miami (31 pts.) and FC Tulsa (25 pts.).

Two new Boys in Blue made their IXI debuts last week in Sean Lewis and former Rowdies striker Juan Tejada, and two more could do the same on Saturday. On Monday, defender Jesus Vasquez was added to the squad from RGV Toros FC in a loan exchange for Jonas Fjeldberg, and 18-year-old Orlando City forward Wilfredo Rivera also joined Indy for the remainder of the season on loan. The match will allow for some quick reunions for Tejada and ex-Eleven midfielder Nicky Law, as the duo will face their former squads just nine days after being traded for each other last Thursday.

Across the pitch, the Rowdies have been one of the top performers in the league all season long – but especially so since the calendar hit May. Tampa Bay currently sits second in the Eastern Conference, just a point behind top of the table Louisville City FC, and is undefeated since an April 30 loss to San Diego Loyal. Since then, the Floridian side has rattled off a 9-0-2 unbeaten run, including five straight wins overall and four consecutive road wins heading into this weekend.

A variety of ticketing options for Saturday night’s Eastern Conference clash are available at indyeleven.com/tickets.


Indy Eleven 1 : 1 Memphis 901 FC 
Sat., July 23 | Recap & Highlights |  Stats

Indy Eleven garnered its first point since mid-June via a 1-1 draw with Memphis 901 FC at Carroll Stadium. Two-time USLC MVP Solomon Asante scored his first goal in an IXI shirt just nine minutes in, making him the 17th player to score 50 regular season goals in the Championship’s 12 seasons. The fastest goal of the 2022 campaign to this point for Indy allowed the Boys in Blue to stretch their now two-year undefeated streak when scoring first to 25 games.

Indy goalkeeper Sean Lewis tied an Eleven season high with seven saves in his debut for the Boys in Blue, including a club-record tying six in the first half, but he couldn’t deny Phillip Goodrum’s 23rd minute tally that gave him an Eastern Conference best 12th goal of the season.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 3 : 1 Atlanta United 2
Sat., July 23 |  Stats

The Rowdies continued their winning ways Saturday night at home against Atlanta. Darwin Matteus put the visitors up 14 minutes in, but Steevan Dos Santos notched a first half brace, scoring in 25’ and 38’ to put the Rowdies up by the break. Leo Fernandes’ 11th goal of the season in the 68th minute from the penalty spot all but sealed the proceedings, which saw Tampa Bay take a USL Championship season-high 28 shots on the evening.   

All meetings: 3W-3L-8D (17 GF/17 GF)
USLC regular season (2018-current): 1W-2L-2D (4 GF/6 GA)
USL Championship at home: 1W-0L-1D (1 GF/0 GA)
NASL regular season (2014-17): 2W-1L-6D (13 GF/11 GA)

Few teams have as much history with Indy Eleven as the Tampa Bay Rowdies do. The two clubs have met 14 times since 2014, and the series stands dead even at 3W-3L-8D and 17 goals for each team across both USLC and NASL competition. The teams met once previously this season, a 2-0 victory for the Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium on March 19, a match that included a first-minute game-winner and the assist on the Rowdies’ insurance tally by now-Eleven forward Juan Tejada.

Their first meeting at Carroll Stadium took place in Indy’s second-ever match on Apr. 19, 2014, a 1-1 draw in which Erick Norales equalized late for Indiana’s Team. The rivalry took a hiatus in 2020 or 2021 due to scheduling changes due in large part to the Covid-19 pandemic. The last contest between the two in the Circle City came on Oct. 12, 2019, when Sebastian Guenzatti (45’) and Dane Kelly (72’) traded tallies in a 1-1 draw at Lucas Oil Stadium.

We’ve touched up the Juan Tejada (13 goals, 5 assists in 65 games with Tampa Bay from 2019-22) and Nicky Law (4 goals and 5 assists in 49 games from 2021-22) angles, but there remains one more current link to the two squads in Rowdies defender Connor Antley. Indy Eleven’s acquisition of the Atlanta area native from South Georgia Tormenta FC on Nov. 21, 2019, made USL history, as it marked the first time a Championship squad paid a transfer fee to a USL League One side for a player’s services. Antley  spent the 2020 campaign in the Circle City, playing 12 of the squad’s 16 games during the COVID-shortened season before joining Tampa Bay in 2021.  

Didn’t see this one coming, did you? However, we choose Tejada for good reason, as his boundless energy both on and off the ball in attack and in the high pressure defensive set-up that head coach Mark Lowry likes to implement was on full display in his Indy debut last weekend. The Eleven’s scoreless drought broke last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Memphis 901 FC, and if the goals start rolling with some consistency for the Boys in Blue as they did across April, May, and early June, it seems more and more like Tejada will be a reason why.

While we have no reason to think there’s any grudges between Tejada and his former side, the fact remains Tejada’s primary role for the Florida side ever since his standout 2019 rookie season had been coming off the bench – and just two days after arriving in the Hoosier State, Lowry gave him the full 90 minutes to show his stuff. We’ll selfishly hope there’s a little added motivation for Tejada to open his Eleven account in his first meeting against his former side on Saturday – and a duplication of his goal and assist output against Indy back in Week 2 would be even better.

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7/22/22  USWNT beats Canada, Indy 11 home Sat, Women’s Euro’s Semi’s ESPN2 3 pm Tu/Wed

Women’s Euro’s Quarter Finals Wrap Up Sat– Semi’s Next Tues/Wed 3 pm ESPN2

The Women’s Euro’s have been great  – with this spectacular comeback at home by England who needed 83rd minute and ET goals to secure victory over a Spain team that had dominated them in the first 60 minutes or so. The Quarterfinals wrap up Saturday with the Semi’s Tuesday and Wednesday at 3 pm.

France Beats Netherlands in ET

England vs Spain Was Classic (video highlights)

Sweden Win over Belgium (highlights)

Great GK Saves in Euros (see this in more below in GK section)

Dutch GK Domselaar Save vs France in Semis  

Reserve Dutch GK Vanomselaar steps up with Saves in Euros

Belgium Evrard PK Save in losing effort vs France


Tuesday, July 26
SF1 – 
Sweden vs. England – (Sheffield) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Wednesday, July 27
SF2 – 
France  vs. Germany – (Milton Keynes) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2


Sunday, July 31
Winners of SF1 vs. Winners of SF2 – (Wembley Stadium) – midday ET, ESPN

USA Ladies beat Canada 1-0 to Win the CONCACAF W and gain Olympic Birth 

Unlike in just about every  game the US has played in this tourney the US Ladies did look good – heck they looked Dominant in the first 20 minutes shooting like 5 or 6 times – blasting poor Canadian GK Sinclair.  The Cannucks did adjust and looked dangerous for the rest of the half as they made continued runs down the left wing.  The US completely took over in the 2nd half as they had 15 shots on goal overall including this by Smith – finally winning it on a PK by Alex Morgan vs her teammate GK Christine Sinclair after Rose Lavelle was taken down in the box on an interesting call  (refs what do you think see links below)?   Here are celebration videos Long Highlights – US Win Over Canada

US Men

USMNT coach Greg Berhalter on Fox Sports with Colin Coward. In other news GK Zach Steffan has completed his loan move from Man City to Middlesborough in the Championship (2nd division). Also Chris Richards has moved to Crystal Palace from Bayern Munich. I was hoping he would land at Leeds United States of America – but oh well.


So the MLS is sitting tall after huge wins by Charlotte over Chelsea 2-1 shootout win, and Minnesota United 4-0 over Everton.  Of interest this weekend a # of European teams are in the US on their summer tours – one of the more intriguing is Sat night on ESPN as Bayern Munich faces Man City at Lambeau Field 6:30 pm.  That might be worth the tune in – at the same Time Chelsea Pulisic are playing Arsenal and Turner – but somehow that only garners us ESPN+ at 7:30 pm  (I’m not going to pretend I understand their logic sometime.)  Of course Bayern will not have leading scorer Lewondowski as his transfer request to Barcelona has been completed and he is expected to suit up Sat vs Real Madrid in El Classico in Las Vegas Sat night 11 pm on Fox Sports 2.

Indy 11

Indiana’s Team returns home next weekend for the first of three consecutive Saturday contests at IUPUI Carroll Stadium, starting against a surging Memphis 901 FC side. Fans can secure tickets for the 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff on “International Night at The Mike” starting at just $15 online at indyeleven.com/tickets or over the phone at 317-685-1100; more details on the Eleven’s promotional nights through the rest of the season can be found at indyeleven.com/promotions.  Indy Eleven’s recent attacking woes continued tonight in the Garden State, as New York Red Bulls II sent the Boys in Blue to their fourth consecutive 1-0 defeat at MSU Soccer Park. Despite a season-high seven saves by goalkeeper Tim Trilk, Indiana’s Team fell to a sixth straight loss with the narrow result. Former Indy 11, Carmel United, Carmel High GK Eric Dick playing for Minn United in their 4-0 win over Everton. Be sure vote for Carmel High at Butler’s own Katie Soderstrom for Indy 11 – VOTE: SODERSTROM UP FOR W LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR.

Calling all 7 & 8th Grade & High School Soccer Rec Players in Carmel!

Some of you have registered already but there are still many slow to sign up and teams are now in process at Dads Club. Tell your friends to get moving so they don’t miss a chance to play this fall. Space is limited and we cannot add more teams beyond what we have planned for. Sign up now-High School league has no late fees! www.carmeldadsclub.org   317-846-1663


Sat, July 23

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup France vs Netherlands

6:30 pm ESPN                    Bayern Munich vs Man City (Lambeau)

7 pm ESPN+, TV23     Indy 11 vs Memphis 901

8 pm ESPN +                       Arsenal (Turner) vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

8:30 pm ABC                       Houston Dynamo vs Minn United

10 pm ESPN+                     Seattle vs Colorado

11 pm Fox Sport 2             Barcelona vs Real Madrid – El Classico

Sun, July 24

7:30 am ESPN3                  US Youth Championship U19 Boys

10 am ESPN3                      US Youth Championship U19 Girls

9:30 pm FS1                        Atlanta united vs LA Galaxy

Mon, July 25

8 pm FS1                              Copa America Semi 1 Colombia vs Argentina

Tue, July 26

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup Semi 1 Sweden vs. England

8 pm FS1                              Copa America Brazil vs Paraguay

Wed, July 27

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup Semi 2 France vs. Germany

Fri, July 29

8 pm FS2                              Copa America 3rd

11 pm FS1                            LAFC vs Seattle Sounders

Sat, July 30

12 noon ESPN+                 Liverpool vs Man City Community Shield

2:30 pm ESPN+                  RB Liepzig vs Bayern Munich  Supercup

 3 pm ABC                            Minn United vs Portland Timbers

8 pm ESPN+                        Cincy v Inter Miami 

9 pm ESPN+                        LA Galaxy vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Sun, July 31

12 noon ESPN                    Euro Women’s Cup FINAL                           

5 pm ESPN+                        DC united vs Orlando City

8 pm FS2                              Santos Laguna vs Atlas 

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

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Pulisic On Target, But Charlotte Stuns Chelsea For Biggest Win In Club History

Charlotte Beats Chelsea 1-1 on Pks
Frank Lampard after Minnesota meltdown: Everton gets relegation warning

Debut goals for Mane, De Ligt as Bayern thump Rooney’s D.C. United

Jesus strikes early in Arsenal’s 2-0 friendly win over Everton

LAFC defeats Nashville, moves back to top of MLS standings in Gareth Bale’s debut

Apple’s MLS Deal Shows It Wants to Distribute Rights, Not Buy Them

USA Women

USWNT’s win at Concacaf championship pays dividends beyond World Cup, Olympic spots | Opinion USA TODAY Sport

TakeAways from The US win over Canada – backheeled.com

U.S. women’s national soccer team on way to 2024 Paris Olympics after beating Canada for Concacaf championship title
USWNT edges Canada in CONCACAF W Championship final to earn
Olympic Birth – LA Times
USWNT qualifies for 2024 Olympics, defeats Canada in Concacaf W Championship final

The USWNT wins another title, and finally reaps the rewards of its equal pay fight


 Women’s Soccer Euro’s


Wednesday, July 20
QF1 – England vs. Spain – (Brighton) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Thursday, July 21
QF2 – Germany vs. Austria (Brentford) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Friday, July 22
QF3 – Sweden vs. Runners-up of Group D – (Leigh) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Saturday, July 23
QF4 – France vs. Netherlands – (Rotherham) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Women’s Euro 2022 bracket and fixtures schedule


Is Palace the right place for USMNT’s Richards?

Transfer chat: USMNT players potentially (or already) on the move 

Has Chelsea gotten ‘proper return’ for Pulisic?


Sam Kerr and Kylian Mbappé star as FIFA 23’s cover athletes
Ibrahimovic, 40, extends stay with Italian champions AC Milan

Lewandowski will bring ‘winning mentality’ to Barca: Christensen

Skocic reinstated as Iran coach six days after sacking

REFFING This Crazy Game

Lavelle was taken down in the box on an interesting call 

Do You Agree with this call MLS?  

Ref Reviews for Week 18 in MLS
Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine

Ref Question    Whats the Right Call


Dutch GK Domselaar Save vs France in Semis  

Reserve Dutch GK Vanomselaar steps up with Saves in Euros

Best Women Goalkeepers Saves

Great Saves Women’s Champions League 2022

Belgium Evrard PK Save in losing effort vs France

Goalkeeping MLS 7/23

Former Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr has Save of the Week #3 of season

Look at this Save by former Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr

We are planning to go see former CFC GK Coach Jordan Farr as his San Antonio comes to town Sat, Aug 27th 7 pm to play Indy 11 – reach-out to me at shanebestsoccer@gmail.com if you want to join us.

Indy 11




Indy 11 Park Announced

Indy 11 Park





 My 3 Thoughts on USWNT-Canada

Morgan’s 78th-minute penalty gives U.S. a 1-0 win over Canada in the CONCACAF W Championship final    Grant Wahl Jul 19 

The USWNT beat Canada 1-0 on a 78th-minute penalty by Alex Morgan to win the CONCACAF W Championship and earn the U.S. an automatic berth in the 2024 Olympics. (Canada will meet Jamaica in a playoff for the other CONCACAF Olympic spot.) The U.S. win avenged last year’s 1-0 Olympic semifinal loss to the Canadians. Here are my three thoughts on the game:

• Morgan came up big in the game’s deciding moment. Morgan delivered a terrific spot kick past her San Diego Wave club teammate, Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, to put the U.S. ahead on the only goal either team has conceded in the entire tournament. But that wasn’t Morgan’s only part in the penalty sequence. It was Morgan whose weighted pass put Rose Lavelle free in the box, where she was clipped by Allysha Chapman and fell to the turf. Morgan was sharp in this game from the start and should have had an assist a few minutes earlier in the second half when her ace through-ball found Sophia Smith, who somehow managed to shoot wide on an open Canadian goal. For Morgan, this game was personal. She was one of the few U.S. players on this team who had been on the field during Canada’s win over the U.S. during the Olympics. That loss had been crushing. And while this occasion wasn’t as big as that one, it still is an important win for the U.S. to reestablish control of CONCACAF after Canada’s gold medal last year.

• Vlatko Andonovski got a big win here too. If the U.S. had lost this game, Andonovski would have kept his job, but he most certainly would have been on the hot seat after two straight important losses to the Canadians. But the truth is this was the U.S.’s best performance of the tournament by far, and Andonovski deserves some credit for that. The U.S. came out on a mission and probably should have scored in the opening 15 minutes given the chances the Americans had. But Canada fought back and had its own dangerous attacking moments in the first half, often through Nichelle Prince working against Sofia Huerta. Those Canadian chances diminished in the second half, however, as the U.S. asserted control and deserved the advantage that came its way. Does Andonovski have a lot to figure out in the next year before the World Cup? Sure. A lot of that has to do with the return of some important players, including Catarina Macario, Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Julie Ertz, Tierna Davidson and perhaps others. But beating Canada with a solid performance in a final is Andonovski’s biggest moment since taking the job.

• Work needs to be done over the next year. If the U.S. is going to win a third straight World Cup, there are several areas that need to be worked on. There needs to be more willingness in the attack to take defenders on 1v1 and less settling for lumping aimless crosses into the box. The central midfield needs to find more creativity than we saw in this tournament, and a Mewis or Ertz type (even if it’s Mewis or Ertz herself) needs to reestablish control as a defensive mid. (Andi Sullivan just didn’t bring enough this tournament.) Mal Pugh and Smith are phenomenal wingers but need to get more clinical in the moments that count the most. Is Naomi Girma a starting centerback next year? I think so. But there’s a lot of talent in the U.S. pool as well, and it’s certainly possible that a third straight World Cup run can be made.

Predicting the USWNT’s 2023 World Cup squad, one year out

By Meg Linehan

Jul 21, 2022


The USWNT flew home from Monterrey with the newest trophy to add to the cabinet, but only after forward Alex Morgan discovered the CONCACAF W Championship cup fit roughly 20 margaritas. 

The team did the double on the qualification front, picking up their spots for both the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics in their perfect run through the tournament, outscoring their opponents 13 to zero.

Now, 364 days remain until next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand (though no repeat of the heat wave in France, it’ll be winter in the host nations). The work for U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski had already turned from evaluation to qualification. Now, the switch can be flipped once again, to the final piece: cohesion.

Andonovski and the squad have 13 games between now and their World Cup opener to build the chemistry, address any lingering questions and try to peak at the right time. All the pressure’s on the back-to-back World Cup winners to add a third consecutive trophy, though that’s also nothing new for the USWNT.

While Andonovski was honest in saying the USWNT is not — at this time — ready for the World Cup, the team’s performance in the W Championship final against Canada was a timely reminder of how the U.S. can turn it on against top teams. Take all those narratives about Olympic revenge with a grain of salt too, since the roster had a real mix of players who experienced that loss and plenty more who didn’t. The kids are more than okay, and they’re making their case for starting roles next summer.

“It’s very obvious that the team is significantly younger than the previous time we played Canada,” Andonovski said after the match in his press conference. The USWNT made six changes from the starting XI that featured in Tokyo last year, with the additions of Sofia Huerta, Alana Cook, Emily Fox, Andi Sullivan, Mal Pugh and Sophia Smith.

“They’re going to be here for at least three, maybe four, World Cups,” he said about players like Smith (21 years old) and Fox (24), in a delighted tone that perhaps just crossed the line into smugness. “So get used to them.”

There’s still time for potential shake-ups on the World Cup roster, and there’s still time for players to return from injuries (or pregnancies) or make their case for the final 23. While it’s impossible to anticipate every potential twist between now and the FIFA deadline for the World Cup roster, it’s worth taking a look at where things stand right now, and where the biggest question remarks remain for Andonovski.

This intellectual exercise does assume that World Cup rosters will remain at 23 players for 2023, though FIFA expanded the men’s World Cup rosters to 26 for the tournament this fall, due to the strain on players. Considering the recent run of injuries (and, of course, the ongoing pandemic), and an increasing focus on player workload, it’s not impossible that the same change could happen for the women, too.

We’re still a year out, but one outside factor that could play a role here is vaccination status. Currently, Australia has relaxed entry requirements and does not require proof of vaccination, but New Zealand has not. 

My picks are italicized, and while they are my picks, they are influenced heavily by a few key moves I think Andonovski will make on the roster.


There are three spots to fill here, and at this point in time it already feels safe to assume that Alyssa Naeher and Casey Murphy have essentially locked up two of them. One of the major subplots of the W Championship was the increase in minutes for Murphy, providing crucial development in a tournament setting; Naeher getting the nod in the final against Canada does point to her still being the trusted No. 1, though.

Aubrey Kingsbury seems to have the inside track on the third spot, but this is absolutely a spot on the roster that could be swayed by NWSL form and previous experience. AD Franch might not want to speak with the media about her USWNT status, but there’s a really good case for her to be part of the World Cup depth chart. Her form in KC has been good, she was on the 2019 roster, and she stepped in after Naeher’s major injury at the 2021 Olympics. 

Historically, the goalkeeping selection for the World Cup has been pretty easy to predict, but the current pool is the strongest it’s ever been. Splitting the backup goalkeepers between the promising heir apparent and a more veteran presence feels like the most logical approach, however — despite all the options.

Meg’s picks (3): Naeher, Murphy, Franch


We’re into the territory where it’s hard to pin down what the exact number of players in any positional bucket might end up. In 2015, former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis took eight defenders (four center backs, four outside backs), then she took seven in 2019 (four center backs, three outside backs — though there was more positional flexibility among the group). Andonovski named seven defenders for the W Championship, also a 23-player roster.

Let’s start with the center backs. Right now, it feels like there are five players in the mix for a minimum of three, but more likely four spots — the question there is if Andonovski both selects Emily Sonnett for the roster, and also feels confident enough in her ability to play across the back line.

For outright center backs though, it’s Becky Sauerbrunn, Alana Cook, Naomi Girma, Abby Dahlkemper and Tierna Davidson (currently recovering from an ACL tear). Sauerbrunn will be 38 years old by the start of next year’s tournament, but she’s also the team’s captain and was just named to the best XI of the W Championship. Cook feels like a lock already, not just because she’s been a consistent call-up since Andonovski took over, but she’s an option for the starting XI in 2023 based on her NT minutes and NWSL form. As of this moment, Dahlkemper feels like she might be at the bottom of the depth chart between the five, though future rosters for friendlies might not be instructive until Davidson returns to determine if that’s right. 

Girma is the youngest option, but she’s got a full year to show why she should be making the trip. She was a stand-out in the minutes she got in Monterrey, making the tournament best XI despite not playing every match, plus she’s a leading contender for the NWSL rookie of the year award. She’s made the transition to the pros and international level look easy so far; it’s not hard to imagine her in the final 23. 

For outside backs, right now there are two potential head-to-heads for starts on the two wings. Emily Fox has seamlessly stepped in on the left, but Crystal Dunn is nearing her return after giving birth (Dunn also offers versatility in the midfield, of course). On the right, there’s Kelley O’Hara and Sofia Huerta. Sonnett provides potential options on a wing or as a center back. There are other candidates here, as well: Carson Pickett earned her first call-up as part of the June friendlies, Imani Dorsey’s had some looks and Casey Krueger could also make her return after having her child.

No matter what, there’s a difficult decision ahead for Andonovski. Seven or eight? Four centerbacks, four outside backs? Do you opt for versatility with Sonnett or just go directly for two left backs and two right backs?

Meg’s picks (8): Sauerbrunn, Cook, Davidson, Girma, Fox, Dunn, O’Hara, Huerta


In 2015, the USWNT took seven midfielders, four years later they took six. There are currently three players who are very easy to predict, as it would be shocking if the starting midfield in 2023 isn’t Rose Lavelle as the No. 10, Lindsey Horan as the No. 8, and Andi Sullivan as the No. 6.

But, once again, there’s a lot of depth and players who are currently absent. Sam Mewis has missed a huge amount of 2022 to injury. Julie Ertz certainly looked like she not only found the extreme limit of player workload during the 2021 Olympics, but blew past it. She is currently expecting a child, and remains somewhat of an unknown concerning a potential return. 

At the W Championship, Andonovski didn’t originally employ a direct approach to having a backup for each role in the midfield, though Sam Coffey was called in and eventually offered depth at the six though she did not make her national team debut. Jaelin Howell also is a contender in that spot, and is likely ahead of Coffey on the depth chart with more call-ups, though she only has five career caps with the USWNT so far (three of them in 2022, with 86 minutes played).

Taylor Kornieck is the newest name to be making a play for a more permanent role on the roster, but Ashley Sanchez is currently the top depth pick at the 10 (bringing both Lavelle and Sanchez in order to play a double 10 to break down a low block feels like a smart call for the group stage). Kristie Mewis offers another attacking midfield option, but the experiment with her at the six was hopefully deemed ill-advised by the USWNT technical staff and will not be repeated.

The midfield depth for 2023 could go in any direction, but it does feel imperative to have an option for a creative playmaker, a traditional box-to-box midfielder and a defensive midfielder. If Sam Mewis can get healthy, it’s going to be really hard to leave her off a roster, but it might mean it’s at the expense of her sister.

Meg’s picks (6): Lavelle, Horan, Sullivan, Sanchez, S. Mewis, Howell


Every single one of these categories has its own challenges, but there’s nothing quite like the fight to make the forward pool of the USWNT right now. Catarina Macario missed out on the W Championship due to her ACL injury, but it’s clear how prominently she features in the future of this team. Sophia Smith and Mal Pugh have been consistently starting, and Alex Morgan just reminded everyone in Monterrey that her NWSL form isn’t a fluke by earning the golden ball as the W Championship’s best player.

In 2015, Ellis only took five forwards, and in 2019 she upped it to seven. There’s a legit case for a dozen different options this time around, so paring it down is really, really tough.

Do you prioritize bringing the youths? Trinity Rodman, Midge Purce and Ashley Hatch have each gotten plenty of minutes this year. The chance feels very remote for a World Cup roster spot, but high schooler (committed to USWNT talent pipeline that is Stanford) Alyssa Thompson made the W Championship provisional roster and is already playing with the U-23 youth national team, and scoring goals there, too.

Do you lean on the vets? Megan Rapinoe has been talked about a lot in terms of her playing time and her role on the team in the twilight of her career. Tobin Heath is easing her way back in with OL Reign, finally making her first appearance for the team, and Christen Press is early into her ACL recovery. Lynn Williams suffered a nasty injury during the first match of this year’s Challenge Cup, but stepped up for the team in Tokyo last year, when called upon.

Here’s the key one where my picks are built around anticipating Andonovski: if Rapinoe is still playing, I think the same decision gets made as the one he made for the W Championship. But four different players could be named to that final spot and I would think the decision is sound and justifiable, with Press, Williams and Purce all being strong picks, too. 

I remain glad I’m just writing words on the internet and not actually trying to make these decisions in real life.

Meg’s picks (6): Smith, Macario, Pugh, Morgan, Rodman, Rapinoe

The Interview: Brian Dunseth

One of the most powerful conversations we’ve had on this site

   Grant Wahl Jul 21 

I love every one of the twice-weekly interviews I do in the soccer world. But some interviews take things to a level we don’t always get to, and that’s what happened this week with Brian Dunseth. I hope you take the time to read this one. It’s powerful.

The entirety of the written interview below is reserved for paid subscribers. As always, you can still get the entire free audio version of my podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you like to go for your pods.

Grant Wahl:

Our guest now is Brian Dunseth. He hosts Counter Attack weekday afternoons on SiriusXM FC, SiriusXM’s 24/7 soccer channel. He’s also a TV analyst for Real Salt Lake, where he lives, and ESPN. Dunny, it’s great to talk to you. Thanks for coming on the show.

Brian Dunseth:

Yeah, it’s been a while. Thanks for inviting me. And it’s great to catch up again, man.

Grant Wahl:

Lots to talk about here, because you’re on so many different things. And I guess that’s my first question. How do you keep up with everything that you have to keep up with in the soccer world to talk about it on all your different shows?

“I’ve been having this conversation with a lot of guys of, ‘Hey, have you been seen? Have you really gone and talked to somebody and seen a brain specialist? You know, BU and the CTE studies are doing an incredible job, have you?’ And a lot of guys are like, ‘No, I haven’t. I haven’t.’ And then you get into, ‘How are you numbing yourself? How are you dealing with all of this?’” — Brian Dunseth

Brian Dunseth:

Thankfully we’ve been blessed with technology, right? I remember talking back in the day with JP Dellacamera about how he would prepare for calling matches. And he said he would get faxes from team administrators and PR people. And that would be how he got a hold of rosters or how he got a hold of bios.It truly is incredible having been on the broadcast side since I retired back in 2006 to see kind of the evolution of what broadcast looks like and the consumption of television and with social media how that’s taken a big chunk and a big bite out of, I would say, not only the broadcaster’s personality and personal personality, but how we’re finding out news and information. And now that athletes can share their own stories. Or Cristiano Ronaldo can say, “Going back to Sporting Lisbon, fake!”But I’ll tell you what, it’s harder to manage my children’s schedules with dropping off to school, picking up from school, going to soccer, picking up from soccer, trying to figure out what dinner looks like with my wife. But I am extremely fortunate to be in this space, as you know, to carve out a life within the game post-playing career is something pretty rare outside of going into the coaching realm, which was something that I was never interested in. So, here we are, what, 16, 17 years later, still trying to figure out what this space looks like, as it’s ever-evolving.

Grant Wahl:

Well, I enjoy your work and all the different platforms that you do it on. What’s a typical week like for you in your different jobs? How do you hop from one thing to the other?

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Brian Dunseth:

Depending on the European season, when European football/soccer kicks off, usually I’m up as early as 5 a.m. depending on the game. Because we’re five days a week on SiriusXM and Channel 157 for Counter Attack, Tony Meola and I are messaging back and forth. He’s the Serie A homer, so I lean on him because he’s AC Milan. And they’ve won the Serie A title, so he’s the happiest kid in the moon right now. But between the Premier League coverage, and you have to keep an eye on all the big teams.You have to keep an eye on Man City and Liverpool. And I’ll include my Manchester United, even though we’re having a few tough years recently. But Chelsea and Tottenham and all, so you have to pay attention to those games because those are the big content drivers for our show, the call-ins that we’re going to get. And then with the Bundesliga on, usually right around the same time, kicking off just a little bit after, I’m bouncing back and forth.Then when my kids’ lives come in, and we’ve got soccer games or things that I have to do, then I’m relying on highlight packages. I’m trying to bounce around to the different networks, the different subscription packages. YouTube is a huge, huge ally in keeping up with the game. But I’ll tell you the hardest is keeping up with all of the MLS games in the evening, because as I’m preparing for whatever broadcast for Real Salt Lake and/or ESPN, there’s so many games, so many teams.And even from last night, I’ve still not caught up outside of our broadcast because Kenny Neal’s fantastic as a producer/director extraordinaire that we’ll roll highlights from Saturday and earlier Sunday games in our Real Salt Lake package. So I’ll get a little bit of a teaser, but this morning, waking up, get the boys ready. And then I’ll pop in front of my computer, start taking notes and try to catch up on as many highlights and games and condensed match highlights that I possibly can.

Grant Wahl:

I always remember, because I did used to do hosting work occasionally for SiriusXM back in the day. And these were call-in shows, and you never knew what some caller might want to talk about. And so I always prepared like crazy on a bunch of different stuff because you can get caught out pretty quickly, and you can’t fake it.

Brian Dunseth:

No, no, you can’t. And it’s something that I learned really quickly is, so John Harkes and Tony Meola started Counter Attack. They were the iconic face and duo, and obviously their pedigree and playing pedigree is so well-established and known in the U.S. soccer scene. They were, I always joke with them, the Dick Butkuses of soccer for the United States men’s national team. So when John left and decided that he was going to go back into coaching, Christopher Sullivan, Janusz Michallik and myself were kind of this three-man rotation with Tony Meola. And I realized really quickly that we label a lot of people, especially in the business. We’ll say, “Oh, U.S. international or English international or Premier League winner or Champions League winner.” And there’s a lot of sweat equity that comes along with that.Immediately, you’re like, “Well, he’s played at the highest level. He’s done it. You know this guy knows what he’s talking about.” For someone like myself, I was an MLS guy. I’d bounced around Major League Soccer. I had been with the U.S. under-20s and the Olympic team. And I was fortunate enough to play significant roles in those two underneath Clive Charles. But the national team level, I was only like a camp guy. I was a friendly guy. I never really broke in from that transition of like Carlos Llamosa and Eddie Pope and Gregg Berhalter to Jimmy Conrad and Carlos Bocanegra.And I never really was able to push through that group. So the moment that I got on Sirius, I realized really quickly, number one, Counter Attack is the most difficult show on the channel because it’s everything. It’s not just Premier League-centric, or it’s not just yell about everything on fire. I’m looking at you, Tom Rennie and Grumpy Pundits. Or it’s not just Jason Davis, which is American soccer and the American soccer fan perspective. We’re everything.And I think you and I probably did, I don’t know, five to 10 shows together at Sirius. And you’re right, you get a phone call, and you don’t know where it’s coming. It could be about Atlanta United. It could be about Borussia Dortmund. It could be about AC Milan. It could be about West Ham United, or it could be about the Mexican national team. So you have to be aware. And I realized very quickly that I, like you, talking about getting called out. I had this insecurity of, “I have to prove to the listeners that I’m not just this guy that played at this level. And by the way, I’m American. So do I really know the game?” And “Hey, this is our game. What do you know about it?”I had to be prepared, and I got called out a few times. And I was challenged, and I realized very quickly how all-encompassing this show was going to be. And you had to do the work. And if you’re not prepared, people will call you out because they know their teams so much better than you do. And if you try to fluff it, ooh, nope. You’ll get called out. You’ll get caught. You’ll get caught really, really quick.

Grant Wahl:

It’s fascinating. One positive aspect of that, though, I am convinced, is that in the United States, we have so many fans of different leagues, different countries from around the world. That if you’re in media like you, you do need to be up on a bunch of different leagues. And one thing I’ve found is, and this isn’t the case with everybody in media in England or Germany or Italy or Spain, but in the biggest soccer countries in Europe, they actually don’t pay that much attention to the other big soccer countries’ domestic leagues in Europe.And they get caught out a little bit if they’re doing Champions League stuff. I see this a lot with English broadcasters, where you can tell that they don’t know much about what’s happening on the continent, and everything is about England, or this player who used to play in England. It’s why people in England used to say, “Diego Forlán was not a good player because he wasn’t great at Man United.” And then he won the Pichichi a bunch of times in Spain. But I actually think this is good for American soccer media. Right?

Brian Dunseth:

I would agree with you. So at Sirius we do a podcast called Week in The Tackle. Tom Rennie, who’s over at TalkSPORT, does an incredible job. And he lights everything on fire, huge personality, huge West Ham homer, and basically hates anything that is Top 6. And I can remember we were doing previews for the Euros, and it was he and I, and we were previewing stuff. It was really one of the first times we worked together. And we got done. He’s like, “Damn, you know your stuff.” And I was like, “Well, we’re previewing the Euros.” I had to be prepared and like, “I’m paying attention to games.” And I was teasing him because then when we started doing Week in The Tackle, we started delving into or dipping our toes into Major League Soccer.And I get it. Listen, I know from the big talking-point perspective how we categorize what the leagues are and the most important leagues and who wants to pay attention to what. And so for Tom, I started trying to get jerseys for him to buy into MLS teams to pay more attention, but then you have the time change. And the differences, the variables that Europe has to deal with when trying to pay attention to Major League Soccer.And it was always fascinating to me that the conversation was, I was watching all of these other leagues in the mornings and the afternoons, and then still hyper-focused on Major League Soccer. While to your point, you get so engrossed with just the idea, my country, my team, my league. We’ll see what happens if we’re involved in Europe.

Grant Wahl:

So when you have a regular partnership like you have with Tony Meola, how does that relationship develop over the years?

Brian Dunseth:

So Tony and I, I look at him as my big brother, man. Grant, I’ve known Tony, obviously, growing up in the U.S. soccer scene. That beautiful head of lettuce and what he did in the ’90 and the ’94 World Cup. And I mean, everyone knew Tony Meola. This was like the iconic putting the stamp on U.S. soccer and soccer in the United States. And for all of us, I think, I was born in 1977, I’m 45 years old, to watch that generation above me, the Harkeses, the Meolas, and Cle Kooiman was my coach in Southern California growing up when I was 12 years old. Alexi Lalas was my first teammate when I turned pro, these were magical moments for me when I was turning pro. So because of Clive Charles and the under-23 role that I had, playing with that team, going to the Olympics, being the captain, in the build-up to the Olympics when Steve Sampson was the head coach, Clive Charles was the assistant.So I was getting called in, or because these camps were in conjunction with one another, alongside one another, when the under-23 camp would end after we’d be scrimmaging and training or whatever with the full team, I would get to stay. I was kind of earmarked to stay and continue to try to develop and learn and see what happened with the first team. And being a central defender, and Tony being a goalkeeper, we had a ton of interaction. But Tony was always fantastic to me, as were all the guys. It was one of those things where, I don’t know, our personalities meshed really well. And then we had a family incident. My little sister in 1997, she was getting off the school bus. The bus driver closed the door on the backpack and drug her down the street.She had a really bad injury. It was a really bad incident. And I had to fly home and handle that. It was right during the MLS playoffs. And Tony had found out, sent me a message, called me. And then literally every time I saw Tony, first thing, “Dunny, how are you? How’s your little sister doing?” And it was always like he personalized that relationship for me. So I always had a special place for him. So then playing against him throughout my MLS career. So when this opportunity started, he and I had this meshed organic relationship, a real friendship before, and then to see the aggressive, loud, boisterous Tony Meola with the big old bear claws, the Wreck-It Ralph, flying all over the place. Then to see him now where he’s more subdued. The competitiveness has been kind of rolled back.Now we just have a blast, man. Every day, whether we’re texting about stuff and Andrew Williams, our producer, we, the three of us, and whether it’s Emmett or Gabe or whoever else is being a part of the show. It’s just a fun, organic kind of environment for us to be kind of locker roomy, like bust chops and have fun and tease and poke. I poke the bear all the time, see what I can get out of him. And then, honestly, one of the things I’m most proud about with our relationship is that we’ve cultivated this environment for the callers and the listeners so we want to act like we’re at the bar, and we’re having a drink. And everyone’s talking about football and soccer, and what happened?And now, honestly, I can go to different cities, and I’ll meet up with listeners from the show because we have created an environment where the listeners, now we will DM or text message or call, and I meet guys face-to-face. And I have great relationships and texting relationships with listeners of the show. And I just think that’s incredible. It’s so much fun to create something so organic just through a relationship of two guys talking about soccer and football.

Grant Wahl:

Yeah. When you start creating a community, it’s a really cool thing. And it sounds like that’s exactly what’s happened there. So before we go any further, I do want to ask you, we are publishing audio and not video here, but you’re in your typical spot that I think viewers and listeners have probably seen before. And behind you there are two framed jerseys from the 2000 Olympics. A tournament I covered in Australia that you got to the semifinals of and played Chile. And that’s Ivan Zamorano’s jersey.

Brian Dunseth:


Grant Wahl:

And I assume it’s from that game in the semifinals. Is there a story behind it?

Brian Dunseth:

Yeah, so I ended up getting injured. I was captain of the team. I ended up getting injured. I had an adductor injury literally the last training session on my own. It was at the old Foxboro Stadium, stepped into a hole, a sand hole, and strained my adductor. So I didn’t get to play in the beginning of the tournament.

And so finally when I was healthy at the end of the group stage, Clive Charles was like, “Well, my centerback pairing of Danny Califf and Chad McCarty are playing so well right now, I can’t drop them.” So hands up, totally get it. No problem. I knew that heading into the first game and facing Samuel Eto’o, if I turned and tried to run with him and my adductor popped, not only was it probably a goal, but then probably a forced substitution. So I didn’t want to do that. Clive and I went through that whole song and dance about if I should be involved. So I only got to play, Chad got a yellow. He was on yellow card warning. He got a yellow card against Spain. And I remember sitting on the bench going, “I’m going to get to play in the bronze-medal match. This is going to be great.”

Grant Wahl:

That’s right, bronze-medal match.

Brian Dunseth:

Yeah. It was the bronze. So it was Bam Bam Zamorano. At the time he was at Inter. He was captain. I was captain. And I’ve got a picture of the group on one side, and I’ve got Bam Bam hugging me. We went up to each other and hugged each other afterwards. I’d ended up hitting the crossbar. And Alexi was actually the analyst with Andrés Cantor, the play by play, doing English, which was the very first time Andrés had done English. And so, after we exchanged jerseys. And so I had my backup Jersey, and then I’ve got his jersey, which I made the mistake of packing in my bag without washing on the way home. So everything was ripe in my bag afterwards, because it was hot down in Australia.

But my neighbor actually across the street, Zack, has a company called the Framing Establishment. So he ended up, he came over one day, and he’s like, “Why do you have all these jerseys in a bucket?” And I was like, “I don’t know. I mean, what do I do with them?” And he took them, and he framed this up. And the only thing I came across was I actually have the captain’s armband just over to my left. And I wish I would’ve included it in the frame, just because I thought it was kind of cool. You can see it off the right shoulder. But Zamorano, man, what a player. His movement off the ball, front shoulder, back shoulder, incredible in the air, left foot, right foot. He was difficult to keep an eye on, or try to, I always say touch-tight, kind of understand where his momentum was at any point.

Grant Wahl:

What a great run that was by that U.S. team.

Brian Dunseth:


Grant Wahl:

I have some really good memories of that whole tournament. Some random ones, too. That’s when Alexi actually shaved his beard for the first time, was in Australia doing that. I remember going to Adelaide where I think it was the U.S. advanced against Japan.

Brian Dunseth:

Yeah. Yeah. Japan.

Grant Wahl:

And I remember, it was kind of funny. I didn’t understand time zones. It was like a 30-minute time change to go to Adelaide. I was just like, “What kind of weirdness is this?” But looking forward to going to Australia again next year for the women’s World Cup, cool country.

Brian Dunseth:


Grant Wahl:

But I want to ask about something a little more serious right now. And when the CTE stories came out recently about the late Scott Vermillion and then Bruce Murray, who thinks he probably has it, you spoke very eloquently about it. And I’m wondering, why do you think it struck such a chord with you?

Brian Dunseth:

This one, I was talking to my wife about this, because I’ve had a ton of emotion over this. And when it was the one day that Tony wasn’t on the show, and I was with Matty Lawrence, who played over primarily in the Championship a majority of his career. Was here in the United States for his college education playing D1 soccer, and then currently alongside Glenn Crooks on the NYCFC Radio Call.

And I texted him and Emmett McConnell and I said, “Here’s this New York Times article about Scott Vermillion. I knew Scott. We were kind of in this brotherhood of the Project-40.” For those that don’t understand MLS, Project-40 basically was like the start of early-entry college players into Major League Soccer, and still have the college draft. But these are all seniors. So you’re getting guys that are 21, 22, 23.

And Sunil Gulati and Nike and U.S. Soccer and MLS came together, and they started Project-40, which turned into Generation Adidas, which is now effectively what the homegrown system looks like, bypassing college and going straight to the pros. Well, I was the second guy to sign, and Scotty came through from UVA. Well, UVA was a much, much bigger school than my Cal State Fullerton, I’ve got to admit. So it was easy for me to leave. And you started to see guys like Scott Vermilion, guys like Benny Olsen, guys like Chris Albright. So Scott, he was a competitor, and I played against him in college. And then when we got into the pros, whether it was at Kansas City or it was at Colorado or it was at DC, or we were traveling over in the off-season, people forget, we’d get this Project-40 collective circus together. And we would go to England, or we would go to Portugal or even later they go down to Argentina with kind of the next generation of P-40s that were signing.And so Scott and I, he was a right back or a right centerback. And we just played together, and we worked together. And a lot of us, we lose touch with guys that we play with, right? And it happens. Even you go back, anybody, high school, college, you end up losing touch. But that doesn’t mean that you still don’t have an organic relationship that you can pick up where you left off. And I’d kind of heard about Scott and what was happening in his personal life. And when he passed away, it was kind of in the mix of what was happening with COVID starting up and Christmas Day and all of this.And I knew he had a family, and he had some kids, and I wasn’t aware of what had happened. And I felt horrible. I felt horrible that this had happened. Here’s a guy that I know that played alongside me. And he fell on some hard times. But I didn’t realize the depth of how CTE or concussions were involved. And then when I saw the report come out, it was devastating to me. It was devastating to recognize and to hear and to see that he was the first person that had been postmortem declared that he had CTE, the first [MLS] soccer player.And so I wanted to talk about it because I think there’s a lot of, I’m going to say, us. I’ll do a broad stroke. There’s a lot of us. And this is any sport, but I’m going to keep it for soccer, that really struggled to figure out, when it’s all said and done, “Okay, who are you? Who are you without the game?” For me, I was no longer Brian Dunseth, the soccer player. I wasn’t Dunny, the guy who got to play at the highest level. All of a sudden I was getting married. I was having kids. I was trying to figure out who the hell I was. I made $12,000 the first year after I quote unquote “retired.” Thanks a lot, Alexi, when he was the general manager of Galaxy. And then it was like, “Who am I?” And we got caught in this phase where people were asking, “Oh, what are you up to?”They were interested in your life. But now you were trying to reestablish your identity without the game. And this whole idea of, “Okay, well, I’m struggling. Like, I need help. I need direction.” You find out very quickly as an athlete. And again, a broad stroke, I’ll say athlete, that there’s not a lot of room for you to complain. You have your tight circle, but outside of that people are going to look at you and be like, “Hold it, bro, you made it. You got to play. You got to travel. You got to go to the Olympics. You got to go here. You got to see that. We lived vicariously through you. We’d watch you on television. We were rooting for you, dude. You represented Upland. You represented Fullerton.” And all of a sudden you realize, “Oh, I can’t talk about this. I can’t talk about how hard this is. I got to live this incredibly special life, but now it’s in the past.”

And we’re not doctors, and we’re not lawyers, and our careers, our body, when our bodies give out, we’re done. And it’s usually 30-ish. And then it’s, “Who the hell are you?” So throughout this whole process, you start realizing, and I’ve had conversations with Chad McCarty. I’ll give you the laundry list of guys whose careers have ended because of concussion or head injuries. Chad McCarty, Jimmy Conrad, Alecko Eskandarian, Ike Opara, Sam Cronin, and Chad Marshall, Bryan Namoff, Josh Gross, Ross Paule. These are just off the-top-of-my-head. I started reaching out to these guys and trying to figure out how everyone’s doing. Because there’s so much, I feel like we can talk to ourselves about it because we understand what each other’s going through, but it’s hard for other people to kind of get it and figure it out.So for Scotty, long story short, I started thinking about, “Man, he was in a really bad spot.” And he probably didn’t know what was happening. And he understood he had a brain injury. But whether it was irritability or light sensitivity, or it was depression, or it was high anxiety, or it was something as stupid as not understanding his emotions, the impulse control of what was happening. We don’t talk about dementia or CTE, because we’re such an early phase of sport here in the United States, where you hear it. And you hear about the studies, and you hear about the leather-weighted wet balls over in Europe and specifically in the Premier League in England. So I just, I think about what he was going through and all of those emotions, all, Grant, it unlocked, man, I didn’t expect it.I had pushed everything so far down, bolted it up. “Hey, I can’t feel this. I can’t, because I’ve got kids. I’ve got a family. I’ve got a wife. I’ve got to take care of everybody.” And so I didn’t expect it to happen. And then when Sirius put out the video, all of a sudden it resonated with people. And I got calls from Chris Nowinski at Concussion Legacy Foundation. And let me stop for a second. Taylor Twellman’s done an extraordinary job pushing the envelope for player safety, concussion awareness, and concussion protocol. ThinkTaylor.org, highly suggest anyone who’s paying attention. He took it upon himself. I called that game when he got punched in the face and the goalkeeper broke his hand. And that was one of the last big injuries that he suffered before he was forced to retire.So all of this came together, and now I think talking and then reaching out to so many players that their career was cut short because of injuries. There’s a significant concern amongst us. And a lot of us, including myself, haven’t reached out to healthcare providers, or seen the correct doctors because quite honestly, Grant, I’m scared shitless of what I’m going to find. It’s kind of like, “Don’t ask the questions. You don’t want the answers to.”And I’ve been having this conversation with a lot of guys of, “Hey, have you been seen? Have you really gone and talked to somebody and seen a brain specialist? You know, BU and the CTE studies are doing an incredible job, have you?” And a lot of guys are like, “No, I haven’t. I haven’t.” And then you get into, “How are you numbing yourself? How are you dealing with all of this?” And for me personally, it’s I leaned into alcohol, and kind of … cutting that down a little bit. I’m trying. Not that I can’t function, but just taking that edge off. So … yeah, sorry, man.

Grant Wahl:

No, man.

Brian Dunseth:

It’s been hard, and I’ve been talking to my wife a lot. And I didn’t realize that underneath everything that I’ve kind of built and been told, “Don’t be soft. Be strong.” Then all of a sudden, that box got opened up because of Scotty, because I just think about him being in that room, or him being in that dark place and not having the assets, the mental health or the medical assets that he needed in a time where he was by himself. And talking to other guys, man, I fear for my group and my generation as we continue to learn about CTE. And Bruce [Arena] reached out to me before the story went public a couple of weeks ago and was telling me what was happening. And I was unaware of what was happening, but he decided to share because of when that video went live on Sirius.And I just, I want to be a part of the solution. I want to be an advocate. I’m trying to reach out to as many people as possible. This last week I’ve donated my brain to the CTE study. I’ve signed up for the hits study as well, for people that are over the age of 40 to try to figure out what the impact has been for sport on our brain. And I think about what this legacy, and it is going to be a legacy, unfortunately, it’s going to be a serious legacy in the world of soccer in the United States as we continue to learn more. I fear for the MLSPA. I fear for the league. I fear for ourselves as we in five years time. We, broad stroke. We’re probably about five years behind all the time in terms of medical studies and information. In five years time, how many players are publicly diagnosed with severe brain trauma from our playing career?And to be clear, this isn’t like a singular event. This isn’t MLS’s problem because guys played in MLS, so they get caught holding the bag. It’s from childhood all the way up, and minimizing heading the ball up until you’re 12 is fantastic. I still have issues that we’re not teaching children how then once they become 12 years old to head the ball properly. But for all of these incidents. And I’ve had six.I got a concussion on my MLS debut. I got a concussion my first MLS goal, Rusty Pierce headbutted me in the temple. We still kind of laugh about that. I taste Eggo waffles straight out of the toaster with a little metallic taste. When I know I quote, unquote, “Got my bell rung.” That’s how I justify that something’s wrong. My left eye vision gets a little wonky, gets a little messed up. And so I kind of knew what I was dealing with. But now, as we’re getting older, these conversations, man, Grant, I’ve been reaching out to so many players just checking in on them. And a lot of guys are dealing with some tough stuff right now and trying to figure out what’s the next solution.

Grant Wahl:

Well, first off, I just want to say, thank you for being so heartfelt about this and so open. And it’s a lot. I know it is. And I mean, not many ex-pro athletes are willing to be as vulnerable as you have been on radio and television about this. Why do you think that is?

Brian Dunseth:

I think guys are, again, it’s the machismo, right? It’s “You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be tough.” We’ve been taught since we were, well, especially in highly competitive environments. Even going back to club soccer. “You’ve got to grit through it. We need you. You’ve got to play through it.” And the levels ramp up from competitive club soccer to college level. Once you get to the pros, then there’s a dynamic of your self-worth is equitable to your paycheck. And as you get raises, or as you get bigger contracts, that’s how you’re justifying the value of yourself, but also how important you are to your respective club. And guys are deathly afraid of losing that status. First of all, you don’t want to lose your starting spot. You don’t want to lose your role as an impact sub.And, God forbid, you’re injured enough to where the coach or the club doesn’t look at you as, “We can’t trust you. We can’t trust you and your body.” So all of this is ingrained in your mentality. You’re fighting every single day, not only for that position in the team, but you’re fighting for yourself and your value. You’re fighting for your family and your stability. Every time I bought a house in Major League Soccer, I got traded. I got a new contract with Columbus Crew. I’m going to go buy a house. Six months later, traded. I’m coming back from Sweden. I’m signing with Real Salt Lake. I’m going to buy a house. Nine months later, traded. So all of these are like levels of how we look at success.But again, then you’re gone, and there’s a disconnect. It starts with the disconnect from your brotherhood of this team that you’re fighting for. They always say, “Fight for the badge and fight for the name on the jersey on the front, not on the back.” Well, yeah, until they don’t want you anymore. And then there’s no brotherhood. Then you’re just a former player. And then there’s nowhere to turn. There’s a disconnect with those guys. They see what happened to you. And they’re scared to death of knowing, inevitably, that’ll be them at some point. So, “We like you, but man, good luck, bro. We’ll see what happens.”And it happens, that’s a real thing. And so I think for all of us, we lock it up. We put it away. We say, “Man, what an incredible run.” And, “What’s next?” And a lot of us have families and children, and you can’t expose that insecurity and that fear of emotion coming out. And again, I thought I put it away. And I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with Taylor privately talking about and texting him and asking for referral or guidance. Or, “Hey, what’s working for you? This is what I’m dealing with right now.” And first message I got was Taylor, “I’m proud of you.” Because like you said, not a lot of us talk about it. And I think it’s the fear of falling on dead ears. It’s the fear of, “Ugh, there goes Dunny again. Ugh. Talking about his head injuries. Dude, get over it, bro.” For me, that’s what I was extremely fearful about.

Grant Wahl:

It’s great that you’re checking on other people. I hope people are checking on you, too, my friend.

Brian Dunseth:

I appreciate you. Thank you.

Grant Wahl:

And I guess one question I would have is what do you want to see happen in terms of protecting players that you’re not seeing right now?

Brian Dunseth:

For me, this is something that I’m wrestling with right now because like I said, I want to be an advocate. I want to be an ally. I don’t want to light everything on fire. I don’t want to like cancel everything. And I’m not trying to take the sport into a direction that is unidentifiable. That’s nothing. This is for me as organic to me as a human being as I possibly can, just trying to figure out what the solutions could be. I’m in the midst of just trying to go through different football associations and players associations from not only abroad, but here in the States with different sports in trying to figure out what could be a positive step in the right direction.

And I know from an MLS Players Association, we are still quote, unquote, I would say, in the “infancy.” The infancy of this Players Association, even though it’s grown tremendously since the start of being in a courtroom and watching Sunil Gulati being deposed or testifying as to what’s happening with Major League Soccer. As Semioli and company were trying to start a player’s association. John Kerr Jr., back in the day, for all the MLS After Darkers.I would love to see assets being available to former players. Even something as silly as opt-in healthcare. And I know that’s, I’m saying it’s silly, but for us as players, when you’re done with the team, it’s like, “Thank you very much. Good luck. Appreciate what you’ve done.” And then you’re like, “Until I die,” whatever, there’s a hashtag associated with your goodbye tweet. But the amount of guys that still need some type of therapy or have some type of injury, or that maybe are in a tough place. Are there counselors or therapists available for the transition into that next life? Instead of going to COBRA for $2,500 a month, is there some type of opt-in healthcare program that’ll be available? Because teams have healthcare programs, and could you subsidize some type of opt-in healthcare program?Long-term? I would love to see a pension plan set up from Major League Soccer and the MLSPA and tie it into future earnings, figure it out some way. But even looking at LinkedIn the other day, what Chris Paul and the NBA are doing with the NBA Players Association with ABA players, back in the day, and what they’ve done. And I know the money’s significantly different. And then I don’t expect MLSPA or Major League Soccer to sort out what a player’s life looks like post-playing career with regards to any type of employment, or what they should do. The individual has to figure that out.

But how can we provide, or how can it be provided that there’s guidance, some type of guidance program? So from the healthcare side, the physical side, the mental side, that’s all taken care of. And then creating a continued growth of a network that affords guys maybe a little bit more direction. Just a little bit more direction. Because as the league continues to grow and the teams and the players, and the amount of players retiring and staying in the United States, I can’t see why we can’t start to put the bones together of something that I think is so important. Not only for the real time athletes, but I keep telling those real time athletes, you’re only a couple of seasons or a couple of plays away from being in the same position I find myself in.

Grant Wahl:

We’re winding down here with Brian Dunseth. Really appreciate you taking this much time to talk. Just a couple more questions. And transitions are always jarring when you go from something like that topic to, “Oh, yeah, let’s talk about what’s happening on the field.”But here we are. What’s going on out in Salt Lake? I mean, I’ve had Pablo Mastroeni and David Blitzer on my podcast in recent months. The team is doing well on the field. Obviously, it’s drawing extremely well in the stands, even more so this season. What’s causing all that?

Brian Dunseth:

I think David Blitzer’s group and Ryan Smith’s group have reinvigorated this fan base, especially after what’s transpired off the field for the last couple of years. There is more of an emphasis on game day experience. And if you come out to the stadium at Rio Tinto Stadium, I mean, it’s got to be a million, couple million, just invested in everything. From you walk in, there’s a bucket of flags, and you just grab one. And you get in the stands, you wave it, and you just drop it back in the bucket on the way out.To the paint, the claret and cobalt paint. To the graffiti. And I’m saying graffiti, and that sounds bad, but the graffiti artistry that’s been placed around the stadium. And then just even to the banners. The game day environment, bringing the fan culture and the supporter group in the south end all into that bottom right behind the goal, all of these things are important.And I think a lot of it’s been, the fans are finally having their voice heard, and there’s interaction. And it’s real time face-to-face with the ownership group, which is what any fan that has gripes or opinions wants to be heard. And then Pablo’s incredible, man, having played against Pablo, played alongside Pablo, worked with Pablo, and now, having this relationship as broadcaster/coach, along with friendship, the way he… You know, Pabs, right? “Oh, that’s a beautiful tree.” And Pab would be like, “Yeah, but the roots, man, have you ever thought about how this tree goes so deep in the ground? And the roots spread out, and that’s the life of the ground, man.” He’s just, he’s incredible, just the way his mind works.So the way that he’s got this team going, he’s created the culture and the atmosphere behind the scenes, still dealing with the loss of Albert Rusnak in the off-season, and Damir Kreilach being out all season, Bobby Wood having a fantastic year, being injured. And somehow this team with all the games lost because of player injury, is currently in third place in the Western conference. It’s just all clicking.And as you reference 10 consecutive sellouts at Rio Tinto Stadium, is something really we haven’t seen since the Jason Kreis/Garth Lagerwey MLS Cup-winning or CONCACAF Champions League final grouping. There’s a buzz around the city. And I’m really, really excited to see what the next couple of years looks like underneath this stewardship.

Grant Wahl:

I also want to ask about the new Apple/MLS deal, with that having just been announced. And there’s a lot that’s up in the air. Are you up in the air on being able to call RSL games next season?

Brian Dunseth:

Yeah. So for those that don’t understand, all the home broadcasts are gone at the end of the season. And for all the uproar, just to be clear, everybody associated with any club or any broadcast knew at the end of 2022 that something was going to happen. For me, I signed my deal three years ago, and I’m not a full-time employee. “Here’s my contract for game rate.” And it was up until 2022. There was talk about maybe extending it to 2023, as everyone was waiting to see what the announcement would be and who the announcement would be coinciding with. So I, like everybody, was nervous and trying to figure out, am nervous, trying to figure it out. There’s I would assume MLS and Apple have their list of guys that they’re interested in. I would assume also the infrastructure has to be laid first and foremost, because you’ve got to get the games to air.Will I be a part of it? I hope so. Is there anything confirmed? There’s not. But I think there’s a lot of really, really fun, strong talent available. And I think, like everybody, we’re all going to be intrigued to see what this looks like. Is it full-time studio? Is it shoulder programming? Is it on-site? I still am a huge believer in what NBC Sports does when they put the desk on the field, and you’ve got the warm-ups behind them and that immediacy and the visuals that happen. I think that’s a great atmosphere builder that needs to continue to be exposed.And then ultimately, how many teams? Who’s on the road? Are you on-site? Are you back in the studio? What does this look like? Is it a full-time gig? Is it a part-time gig? For someone like myself, who’s freelance across the board, doing SiriusXM from my basement in my office, to doing local television shows and local radio shows, what does this look like? So because I haven’t had a full-time gig since I was an MLS player back in 2006. So I think we’re all just trying to figure out what this looks like. And I mean hopefully selfishly for myself, I hope there’s a role for me and I can be included.

Grant Wahl:

Brian Dunseth hosts Counter Attack weekday afternoons on SiriusXM FC, SiriusXM’s 24/7 soccer channel. He’s also a TV analyst for Real Salt Lake and ESPN. Dunny, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Brian Dunseth:

Grant, I really appreciate the platform, the opportunity and the friendship, man. Thank you so much.

ESPY nominee Brad Stuver flourishing for Austin on the pitch and in the community

Mar 20, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver (1) meets with the supporters group following the match at Q2 Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

By Jeff Rueter

Jul 19, 2022


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Often when an athlete ventures into charitable outreach, it’s with a single focus. But Austin FC goalkeeper Brad Stuver has been more varied in his approach. 

Stuver has been an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, worked to create greater accessibility to laundry services for lower-income families and fosters dogs.  

“I think it’s an unfortunate scenario where there are so many marginalized communities, so many different ways to help our community in general, that my wife Ashley and I couldn’t really pinpoint one singular organization or one singular effort to focus on,” Stuver told The Athletic. “We just decided that we’re going to do as much as we could for as many people as we could, and it just took on a life of its own.”

Unable to secure a starting role as a goalkeeper for his first eight MLS seasons, Stuver has found playing time and community outreach opportunities in equally bountiful amounts with Austin FC. 

Thanks to his charitable work (and a surprise nomination submission from the club), Stuver is the first MLS player to be nominated for ESPN’s Muhammad Ali humanitarian of the year award. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 20 at the ESPY Awards. 

While giving an award to just one humanitarian effort seems like an impossible task for any voting committee, the work is truly its own reward to Stuver.

“It’s taken a couple of weeks to fully process, but I am overwhelmed and very excited to be up for this award,” Stuver said. “I’m very excited to be able to share the work that we’re doing with these organizations. For any nonprofit, it’s all about exposure and bringing to light the work that’s being done. I’m very grateful to the club for doing this and extremely excited to be in the company of these athletes who are doing amazing things in their community, as well.”

Even if Stuver was seldom playing in his first several MLS seasons, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t busy. After a fine four-year career at Cleveland State University, Stuver was the first goalkeeper selected in the 2013 SuperDraft. He became an MLS pool goalkeeper that season, spending time as an emergency backup at four clubs and never seeing the field.

One of that quartet was the Columbus Crew, which ultimately signed him ahead of the 2014 season. During his pool assignment at Columbus, he backed up Matt Lampson, who also started the Lampstrong Foundation after battling Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a week after finishing high school. Stuver’s permanent move afforded him a mentor on and off the field, with Stuver doing meet-and-greets with LampStrong heroes.

“I have a lot of admiration for what Matt has done with the LampStrong Foundation and everything that he’s done to take his own journey and transform that into helping others that have gone through the same thing that he did,” Stuver said. “It was amazing watching him interact with kids that he brought out for the games and just seeing the way their eyes lit up meeting a professional athlete — talking to someone that has been through kind of the same journey that they’re going through now. Just seeing the way that he handled himself and sparked a little bit of joy, a little bit of relief. You can tell that it meant the world to the parent, too. Seeing the way people responded to him and just the way he put himself out there and was doing good for his community was truly inspiring.”

Lampson ended up winning the MLS humanitarian of the year award three times before his retirement this past offseason, the only player with multiple wins. However, his on-field career is unfortunately all-too-common for domestic goalkeepers in MLS. Long seen as the most prolific positional pool for United States men, there are a bounty of quality backstops in the league and beyond. Solid shot-stoppers with mid-level distribution will rarely get an extended run-out, and if a team pays a transfer fee or notable salary for an international goalkeeper, starting the cheaper domestic option is seldom the route.

Lampson made 61 MLS appearances in a 10-year career. After Stuver entered the league a year later, his career started to follow that familiar trajectory. He hung on at Columbus for four seasons, backing up Steve Clark before being passed over when Zack Steffen left Germany at age 21. 

All the while, Stuver said he found a “sense of community” in Columbus which encouraged him to find ways to look out for others in need. One of his first major charitable endeavors came after his wife, Ashley, had a high school friend tell them about The Laundry Project. Run by Current Initiatives, the project helps lower-income families meet a basic need for clean clothes. Organizers raise funds to cover the costs of renting a laundromat and all associated laundry fees, while the events also feature entertainment for children and, in some cases, appearances by notable guests.

“When we moved to Columbus, they told us about their work and asked if we would be interested in putting on projects in Columbus,” Stuver said. ”We did our first project and we saw in real time just how important clean clothes could be. We realized just how privileged we were to have a washer and dryer in our house and in our apartments. Going to a laundromat and cleaning clothes, paying for that, was something that we didn’t even think about on a daily basis. It’s something that we figured that we could do as often as we could, and we ran with it from there.”

The beginning of Stuver’s playing career coincided with the beginning of MLS’ grand expansion push, as the league has launched 11 clubs since the start of the 2015 season. For a nomadic domestic goalkeeper, new clubs are a golden opportunity to earn a roster spot and challenge for a starting job as the team often focuses resources on outfield players. 

After going unselected in expansion drafts by Atlanta, Minnesota and Los Angeles FC ahead of their MLS debuts, Stuver was traded to New York City FC in late 2017 for a future fourth-round SuperDraft pick. To drive home just how valuable that return is, MLS trimmed its draft down to a three-round affair starting in 2021. 

Stuver made seven appearances across the next three seasons, serving as a training partner and backup to U.S. international Sean Johnson. While still organizing Laundry Project events in NYC, Stuver also became an ambassador for Athlete Ally, which works to combat systems of oppression facing LGBTQI+ people in the sports landscape.

While he and his wife remained engaged with community ventures, Stuver entered the 2020 season without a clear pathway to consistent minutes despite turning 29 in April of that year. Johnson had become one of the league’s most dependable goalkeepers, and since Stuver is only two years younger than Johnson, there wasn’t much of a succession plan. Facing full free agency following that first COVID-19-impacted season, it was unclear what options would be available for him.

“I think it’s always in the back of your mind when you’re getting closer to 30 and you haven’t really been a consistent starter, Stuver said. “You’re always worried what the perception of you as a player is going to be in the eyes of GMs and head coaches.” 

After being passed over by several expansion sides, a “perfect storm” of factors converged over Texas’ capital city. Austin was granted an MLS franchise after a fraught period in which the Crew were nearly relocated south. With Columbus keeping a team and Austin getting its own, the expansion side’s front office got to work in assembling its soccer staff. Leading the charge were two men who had been very familiar with Stuver as a player: sporting director Claudio Reyna, previously from NYCFC, and first-time head coach Josh Wolff, who worked as an assistant under Gregg Berhalter in Columbus. 

“I think I hit free agency at a perfect time,” Stuver said, “(Josh and Claudio) had more of a personal connection to me and they knew who I was, what I was capable of, my work ethic. It was like a perfect storm for me to come down here to Austin, work and compete, and get the chance to become a starter — but there’s always going to be a little bit of doubt, especially after going through so many years where you’re always looking to get yourself somewhere as a starter and nothing’s really worked out. It required that grind mentality, the ability to believe in yourself and have the support system around you that are willing to grind out those years. Once you get your chance, you just kind of have to take it.”

To merely say Stuver has taken his chance in Austin would be a massive understatement. At last, he had found a club that trusted him as their No. 1 option between the posts. While Austin missed the playoffs by a comfortable margin in their first season, Stuver stood out as a bright spot for the new franchise. The club named him its defender of the year as he became a fan favorite for his shot-stopping prowess. 

Even as he finally balanced the workload of an MLS starting goalkeeper, he and Ashley didn’t let up in their charitable works. Stuver has organized seven events with The Laundry Project in the Austin area, with the next one scheduled to take place in nearby Uvalde after the community was shaken by the recent school shooting. 

Stuver’s work with Athlete Ally landed him on the radar of Equality Texas, where he sits on the board of the largest LGBTQI+ advocacy nonprofit in the state. Ashley has also championed causes for voting rights and reproductive rights while working full-time and attending graduate school. 

Humans aren’t the only benefactors of the Stuvers’ desire to help. The pair also fosters dogs through Austin Pets Alive, currently housing notorious cuddler Limeade.


Working with Equality Texas, Stuver was asked to pen an op-ed for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper after the state introduced legislation that would ban transgender kids from playing sports from kindergarten through high school.

“Excluding transgender children from normal school activities fuels the type of school culture that no parent would want for their kids to experience — one that isolates and makes targets of kids who are just trying to be themselves,” Stuver wrote. “This is the worst type of message to give children. What right do governments have to tell children they aren’t welcome as they truly are?””

While he said he’s gotten a warm reception to his social outreach from Austin fans, the reality of Texas politics means his views of trans-inclusion are a minority viewpoint. Still, the inevitable dissent doesn’t discourage Stuver.

“There’s always going to be resistance, no matter what you speak out against, whether it’s racial equality, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive rights, no matter what you speak up for,” Stuver said. “There will always be people out there that try to minimize what you say and tell you that you’re wrong. The Austin community, as a whole, has been extremely supportive. The club has been extremely supportive. It’s a really good thing when you know that you have the support of those people that surround you. There’s always going to be pushback, but you kind of just let that drag out. In sports, no one athlete has 100 percent likability; no matter what, you’re always gonna get a little bit of heat. It’s been nice knowing that the Austin community and those around us rally around the cause and support what we’re fighting for.”

The Austin community is also enjoying the chance to rally around a highly competitive MLS side for the first time. Austin FC finished the weekend ranked second in the Western Conference table, eight points clear of third-place Real Salt Lake. The team’s six clean sheets have already surpassed their 2021 total, while the attack is whirring around MVP candidate Sebastian Driussi

After spending his first eight seasons as a little-used backup, Stuver is finally playing a vital role in a playoff push. He has also found a community that embraces and looks to help in his charitable outreach efforts. And the mix of strong play and social advocacy has helped him plant deep roots in Austin FC’s budding story.

“We’ve never really thought about my off-the-field work as something that would identify with a club or with anything else,” Stuver said. “We wanted to take that with us no matter where we are. My time on the field is a very limited window in my lifetime, and we always said that what we do off the field is more important than what we do on the field. Every player is replaceable. Every record eventually gets broken. But the work that you can do off the field and the work that you can do in your community makes a hands-on difference.”

Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

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7/18/22  USWNT vs Canada 10 pm Para+ Tonite, Women’s Euro’s Quarterfinals begin, CHS Girls Camp next Week, Copa America continues

USA Ladies vs Canada 10 pm on Para+ TONITE – Olympic Birth on the Line

The USWNT didn’t look pretty but the did beat Costa Rica 3 – 0 Thurs night (full highlights)– while Canada did the same to Jamaica setting up the big finale tonight between 2 of the top 5 teams in the World – and lets be real – the only decent team the US has played since losing to the Cannucks in last summer’s Olympics which knocked us out and allowed Canada to win it all.  The US really does need to turn to the new guard and let them play and let’s see how far behind Canada we have fallen – or not? Centerback Girma in the back middle, Sanchez at midfield, with Horan #6, and Lavelle and let young wingers Push and Smith fly with Alex holding down the #9 slot.  It all wraps at 10 pm on Para+ with pregame starting at 9 pm after the 3rd place game finishes (hard to believe this game is not AT LEAST being moved to CBS Sports Network – but here’s a FREE Month Signup for Paramount Plus if you want to watch tonight’s game. https://www.paramountplus.com/home enter GLORY. I like the US to pull this out 2-1 in a hard fought game !! Check out this Cheeky Backheel from Lavelle to Pugh for a goalUS Behind the Crest

Shane’s Starting Line-Up Tonite vs Canada (Depth Chart)


Sanchez/Horan /Lavelle



Women’s Euro’s Quarter Finals this week

The Women’s Euro’s have been great  – with this spectacular last second goal highlighting just how exciting some of the Euro’s have been. The Quarterfinals are sent to begin Wednesday and last thru Saturday with the Semi’s next week.

Wednesday, July 20
QF1 – England vs. Spain – (Brighton) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Thursday, July 21
QF2 – Germany vs. Austria (Brentford) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Friday, July 22
QF3 – Sweden vs. Runners-up of Group D – (Leigh) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Saturday, July 23
QF4 – France vs. Netherlands – (Rotherham) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2


So this is making the rounds – looks like me back in College (yeah right).  Also of interest a # of European teams are in the US on their summer tours – on of the more intriguing is Sat night on ESPN as Bayern Munich faces Man City at Lambaeu Field 6:30 pm.  That might be worth the tune in – at the same Time Chelsea Pulisic are playing Arsenal and Turner – but somehow that only garners us ESPN+ at 7:30 pm  not going to pretend I understand their logic sometime. Of course Bayern will not have leading scorer Lewandowski has his transfer request to Barcelona has been completed. 

US GK Matt Turner leads Arsenal to clean sheet and 2-0 win vs Everton, Turner says his move to one of the EPL’s top clubs is not a gamble ahead of the World Cup.

Here’s American Brendan Aaronson with some nifty moves vs Aston Villa for Leeds United States of America.  (yes my jersey is on its way baby!)

Last Week of GK Training

Coach Shane is offering Extra Paid Training tor the high school aged Keepers this summer Tues/Thurs shanebestsoccer@gmail.com

 Calling all High School Soccer Rec Players in Carmel!

Some of you have registered already but there are still many slow to sign up and teams are now in process at Dads Club. Tell your friends to get moving so they don’t miss a chance to play this fall. Space is limited and we cannot add more teams beyond what we have planned for. Sign up now- this league has no late fees! www.carmeldadsclub.org   317-846-1663

 Calling all Middle School Soccer Players in Carmel- July 18-21!

Last Chance to Register for 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   Of course high schoolers trying out for the ladies team need to attend the high school camp next week that ends with the CHS DeWayne Akin Invite next Fri/Sat at the River Road fields off 126th.

Watch with the American Outlaws at Union Jack’s Pub in Broad Ripple (eat before hand as kitchen will be closed)

Reminder: 30-Day Paramount+ Promo Code
Tonight’s match will stream on Paramount+ and ViX only.Just like with our away World Cup Qualifiers, AO members can get a month of P+ free.New* subscribers can use the promo code “GLORY.” Use the link below.30-Day P+ Trial


Mon, July 18

1 pm ESPN+                        Dortmund (Reyna) vs Valencia  

3 pm ESPN2                        Italy vs Belgium Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN+                        Iceland vs France Euro Women’s Cup

5 pm FS1                              Venezuela vs Brazil Copa America

7 pm Para+                   CONCACAF Womens 3rd  

8 pm FS1                              Peru vs Uraguay Copa America

10 pm Para+             CONCACAF Women’s Finals USA vs CANADA 

Wed, July 20

3 pm ESPN2                 Euro Women’s Cup QF – England vs. Spain

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Arsenal (Matt Turner)  @ Orlando City

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Chelsea (Pulisic) @ Charlotte FC

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Bayern Mumich @ DC United

9 pm ES{N+                         Man City vs Club America

8 pm FS1                              Colombia vs Chile Copa America

8 pm FS2                              Ecudor vs Paaguay Copa America

Thur, July 21

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup Austria vs Germany  

8 pm FS1                              Brazil vs Peru Copa America

8 pm FS2                              Venezuela vs Argentina Copa America

Fri, July 22

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup Sweden vs ______

8 pm FS1                              Brazil vs Peru Copa America

Sat, July 23

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup France vs Netherlands

6:30 pm ESPN                    Bayern Munich vs Man City (Lambambeau)

7 pm ESPN+                Indy 11 @ Memphis 901

8 pm ESPN +                       Arsenal (Turner) vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

8:30 pm ABC                       Houston Dynamo vs Minn United

10 pm ESPN+                     Seattle vs Colorado

Sun, July 24

7:30 am ESPN3                  US Youth Championship U19 Boys

10 am ESPN3                      US Youth Championship U19 Girls

9:30 pm FS1                        Atlanta united vs LA Galaxy

Mon, July 25

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup Semi 1

8 pm FS1                              Copa America Semi 1

Tue, July 26

8 pm FS1                              Copa America Semi 2

Wed, July 27

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup Semi 2

Fri, July 29

8 pm FS2                              Copa America 3rd

11 pm FS1                            LAFC vs Seattle Sounders

Sat, July 30

12 noon ESPN+                 Liverpool vs Man City Community Shield

2:30 pm ESPN+                  RB Liepzig vs Bayern Munich  Supercup

 3 pm ABC                            Minn United vs Portland Timbers

8 pm ESPN+                        Cincy v Inter Miami 

9 pm ESPN+                        LA Galaxy vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Sun, July 31

12 noon ESPN                    Euro Women’s Cup FINAL                           

5 pm ESPN+                        DC united vs Orlando City

8 pm FS2                              Santos Laguna vs Atlas 

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

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USA Women

The USWNT Concacaf roster

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

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

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

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

3 things 2 W 4  -backheeled.com

With USWNT into CONCACAF W final, a more nuanced version emerging before World Cup Jeff Kassouf

Been there, done that. Canada’s veteran core can get another upset vs. USWNT  ESPNFC

What Went Right and What Went Wrong – USA vs Costa Rica – Backheeled
U.S., Canada renew women’s soccer rivalry with Olympic spot at stake

US Needs to Find Shooting Boots after Pathetic 3-0 win over Costa Rica – the18.com
Carson Pickett on making USWNT history as 1st player with limb difference

The Time Is Now for Brands to Go All In on Women’s Soccer

Tired Of USWNT Gear Never Available In Stores, Players Decide To Sell Their Own Merch

Women’s Soccer Euro’s


Wednesday, July 20
QF1 – England vs. Spain – (Brighton) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Thursday, July 21
QF2 – Germany vs. Austria (Brentford) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Friday, July 22
QF3 – Sweden vs. Runners-up of Group D – (Leigh) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Saturday, July 23
QF4 – France vs. Netherlands – (Rotherham) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Women’s Euro 2022 bracket and fixtures schedule

Spain’s 90th Minute Header Advances them to Knockout Round

Netherlands win sets up Euro clash with France

Sweden finally hit top gear, just in time for the knockout rounds

Spain reach quarterfinals, but questions linger ahead of England matchup

Germany emerge from Euros group as England’s top trophy rival

Spain edge Denmark, set up England knockout tie

England’s Russo says ‘pressure’ will hit in QFs

Austria oust Norway, advance to quarterfinals

England’s record-setting group stage shows Euro 2022 field how it’s done

Sources: Extreme heat warning at ’22 Euros

 Great Saves Women’s Euros

Lene Christensen Grat save for Denmark vs Finland

 US Men

USMNT’s Turner rejects Arsenal move as ‘gamble’
7hJames Olley
Skocic reinstated as Iran coach six days after sacking


Bayern agree Lewandowski move to Barcelona

Jesus strikes early in Arsenal’s 2-0 friendly win over Everton

Ings on the spot as Villa beat Leeds 1-0 with Gray carried off

Kane on target again as Tottenham draw 1-1 with Sevilla

Chelsea sign Napoli defender Koulibaly on four-year deal

United’s Rashford eager for ‘fresh start’ under Ten Hag

Everton boss Frank Lampard says Wayne Rooney’s U.S. coaching move ‘shows personality’

MLS Atlanta president Eales to become Newcastle United CEO

LAFC defeats Nashville, moves back to top of MLS standings in Gareth Bale’s debut

REFFING This Crazy Game

You Make the Call – MLS

Ref Reviews for Week 18 in MLS
Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine

Ref Question    Whats the Right Call



W Championship Final on Monday, let’s talk about what you should you be watching for from the United States 

This is it, folks. The U.S. women’s national team has the chance to lift a trophy and lock up a spot in the 2024 Olympics on Monday against Canada. The United States and Canada are both undefeated at the Concacaf W Championship, each with four wins and a +12 goal difference. What should you be watching for from the USWNT in this final? Let’s talk about that.


We’ve seen glimpses of the U.S.’s press during this tournament, but rarely have we seen any sort of consistent high press or counter press from this team. Why? Because teams are afraid to play out of the back or even to hold much of the ball at all against the United States. Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, and Costa Rica were all at a pretty significant talent disadvantage relative to the USWNT and they all ceded possession.

On talent, Canada is much, much closer to level with the United States. They have quality players in every line and a number of dangerous attackers. Bev Priestman’s team dominated possession in all four of their W Championship games to date and while I wouldn’t expect them to do that against the U.S., they’ll be willing to use the ball for stretches. 

A more aggressive Canada team means that there should be opportunities for the U.S. to press and create transition moments. That’s where this USWNT really thrives under Vlatko Andonovski. 

Watch out for the United States in transition in this final. 


I said it earlier in this tournament, but I think it’s time for Naomi Girma to start next to Alana Cook in the back. Girma has looked confident, capable, and, maybe most importantly, mobile during her minutes down in Mexico. Becky Sauerbrunn is a hugely important figure for the United States, but I do have questions about her ability to defend in space. She was already exposed against Haiti (the only team that has really tested the USWNT even for short spells) at this tournament. Given the skill and speed that Canada has in the attack, I think it’s fair to question if Sauerbrunn is the right player to start next to Cook in the center of the U.S.’s 4-3-3 defensive shape.I’m not sure that Andonvoski will make this swap. But with how strong Girma has looked in the back, I think this is the right time to change the guard in central defense.


If one thing is clear after almost three years of the Vlatko era, it’s this: the United States can be lethal in the attack if they stop crossing so much. At times in this tournament – especially against Jamaica and for stretches against Costa Rica – the U.S. found other ways to attack that didn’t involve forcing balls into the box from wide areas. Sophia Smith was dangerous against Jamaica, taking advantage of chances to go one-v-one on the right side. Plus, Ashley Sanchez and Rose Lavelle drove forward in midfield and helped create opportunities. Against Costa Rica, the U.S. had some strong moves down the left side with Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh working together to pull the opposition’s right side apart. They crossed the ball in both of those games, yes, but they also found other ways to create chances.If we see more diverse attacking play from the U.S., with a mixture of transition attacking, off-ball rotations, central combinations, and smart crosses, they’re going to be almost impossible to stop against Canada.

Canada’s CONCACAF W campaign shows why they can upset the USWNT once more

Jul 14, 2022Cesar Hernandez

Canada will take on the U.S. in the much-anticipated, and much-expected, final at the CONCACAF W Championship. Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

MONTERREY, Mexico — Canada‘s women’s national team defeated Jamaica 3-0 in the second CONCACAF W Championship semifinal of the evening Thursday, setting up the defending Olympic gold medalists in a much-anticipated final battle against the United States on Monday at Estadio BBVA.It will be a daunting challenge against the U.S., as both teams have gone undefeated at this tourney without conceding a goal. But then again, when was the last time the USWNT lost a match? It was to this Canadian squad at the semifinal round at the delayed Tokyo 2020 games.Despite unideal humid conditions and light dust currents forcing their way into Estadio Universitario, Canada had few issues with a Jamaican side that were without star striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw. According to manager Lorne Donaldson, Shaw was dealing with “maybe a little sickness” and the coach opted to rest his team’s leading tournament goal scorer before a third-place showdown against Costa Rica.

Canada hit the ground running on Thursday in the 18th minute from Jessie Fleming. Following a slightly deflected cross from left-back Ashley Lawrence, Fleming did well to pounce on the cross and head the ball into the back of the net in the first half. Canada continued to have an immense amount of possession, but as manager Bev Priestman put it in the postgame news conference: “We didn’t take care of direct play and transition.””We fixed that at halftime — I think it made a big difference,” she later added.

The quick incorporation of four substitutes (Adriana Leon, Jordyn Huitema, Allysha Chapman and Julia Grosso) in the 53rd minute gave Priestman’s squad a more dynamic edge. By the 64th minute, Leon would go on to send a perfectly timed cross from distance that landed perfectly toward Chapman, who would head in the ball to make it 2-0. In the 76th, Huitema redirected a cross to Leon, providing an opportunity for Leon to sprint toward the lobbed ball and tap it into the net.Possibly through rejuvenated options off the bench, or maybe thanks to the temperatures finally dropping down to the 80s, Canada were enthusiastic in the secod half — later accumulating a total of 33 shots over the entirety of the 90-plus minutes. Jamaica, on the other end of the pitch, would finish with just two.Still, even after securing a 3-0 victory, a previous place in the 2023 Women’s World Cup through the group stage, a fourth victory in a row and a fourth consecutive match in the tournament without a goal allowed, Priestman believes that her squad is capable of more.”I think there’s another level and I do think that playing a team like the U.S. will bring out some of our strengths that maybe teams haven’t allowed us to do,” the Canadian coach said.”There’s a lot on the line, it’s the Olympic Games that we want and we want to make sure that we win that final.””I think we’ve had all different types of wins, whether it’s from the bench or from the starting lineup,” Huitema said. “I think all around our team is ready to come in and hurt them. I think we’re very deep and our squad has a lot of depth to it.”Off-the-field, the players haven’t appeared to be impacted by a looming internal issue with their federation that has yet to be resolved. Amid tensions over negotiations, a report by Canadian outlet TSN on Tuesday highlighted an alleged lack of transparency on governance and finances by those running Canada Soccer.The players responded with a lengthy statement, which included that they were “deeply troubled by the content” of the article and that they have also called for an “investigation” into the matter.Canada midfielder Quinn said after the win that players are “still sifting through the article” and that it was a “tough week” due to what is happening behind the scenes, but let out a smile in the mixed zone when discussing what lies ahead on the pitch.”We have an important match,” the midfielder said optimistically. “That’s going to be the focus for us moving forward.”

My 3 Thoughts on USWNT-Costa Rica

U.S. heads to CONCACAF final with a 3-0 win, but you can’t help but think the U.S. would struggle right now vs top teams at Euro 2022

Grant Wahl

The win put the U.S. in Monday’s final against the winner of Canada-Jamaica. Here are my three thoughts on the game:

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• Rose Lavelle had a filthy backheel. The U.S. was absolutely lacking in invention in Monday’s lackluster 1-0 win against Mexico, and a big reason was the absence of Lavelle—easily the team’s most creative midfielder—from the starting lineup. With the score 1-0 late in the first half, a successful U.S. counter-press by Sophia Smith forced a turnover deep in the Costa Rica end, and Lavelle instinctively backheeled to Pugh, who finished well for her first goal of the tournament. Lavelle brings something special to this U.S. midfield that’s unique to her, and when teams like Costa Rica are defending deep it’s even more important to have someone who’s willing and able to pull off a remarkable bit of skill in tight space at speed. For Pugh, too, her finish was hard-earned for a player who has been active during this tournament but had been frustrated by her inability to find the net. This U.S. team may be a work in progress, but I don’t think there’s much debate right now that Pugh and Smith should be the starting wingers.

• This U.S. team would struggle right now against a number of teams in the Euros. I fully understand that the U.S. right now is still trying to find the right combinations and isn’t attempting to peak for this tournament in the same way that teams are for Euro 2022. But it’s inescapable when you watch games from both tournaments at the same time that the U.S. would struggle right now against the current versions of England, France, Germany and perhaps Sweden and the Netherlands. U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said on Monday that his team wasn’t ready today to play a World Cup but that it “absolutely” would be a year from now. Perhaps, but even with the U.S. controlling the game against Costa Rica from the start, and even if we allow that there are just two elite teams in CONCACAF (the U.S. and Canada), I’m not seeing this U.S. team playing in a way that would provide much confidence against one of those European teams.

• Naomi Girma should start the final. The U.S. has gone the entire tournament without conceding a goal, admittedly against weak opposition, but Girma (who didn’t start on Thursday) has been the best-performing centerback of the three-person rotation that includes Becky Sauerbrunn and Alana Cook. Cook had a couple shaky moments on Thursday, so I’d lean toward Sauerbrunn as the central partner for Girma. If there’s one big takeaway on a U.S. player from this tournament, it’s that Girma is the real thing and needs to be a starter going forward.

With USWNT into CONCACAF W final, a more nuanced version emerging under Vlatko Andonovski

Jul 15, 2022  Jeff Kassouf

MONTERREY, Mexico — Thursday brought another methodical performance from the United States women’s national team in a 3-0 victory over Costa Rica at Estadio Universitario. The result clinched the Americans a place in Monday’s CONCACAF W Championship final, a match they and nearly everyone assumed they would win from the start.The path there has been more laborious than dominant for Vlatko Andonovski’s squad, but it was enough to qualify for the 2023 World Cup — where the U.S. will look to win an unprecedented third straight title — and put the U.S. within one victory of clinching a place in the 2024 Olympics.”I think we need to be overall sharper,” said Emily Sonnett, who scored the USWNT’s initial goal on Thursday. “I don’t think our team is very satisfied with that. There’s a lot that we need to focus on. But overall, I think we’ve competed, and I think we’ve stuck to game plans every single game. How do we put it all together now going forward?Two of the goals on Thursday were products of the U.S. implementing pressure high up the field at the right time. Sonnett’s opening goal in the 34th minute — the first of her career in 69 appearances — was, like the Kristie Mewis game-winner in Monday’s 1-0 victory over Mexico, another scrappy effort from a corner kick.

Important to the creation of that opportunity is something which will not show up on the stat sheet: an individual defensive effort from Mallory Pugh high up the field. One minute after Pugh nearly stripped Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermudez of the ball in her own box, as the lone player pressing, the U.S. winger put Costa Rica’s defense under pressure deep inside their own defensive third, winning the ball and going straight to goal to force the corner kick. Sonnett scored on the ensuing play.

Ten minutes later, it was Pugh on the finishing end. Sophia Smith won the ball just outside of Costa Rica’s penalty area and Rose Lavelle reacted quickly, backheeling it into the path of Pugh, who was running in behind. Lavelle’s technical skill made the play, but Smith’s pressure to win the ball back in a high area was the catalyst.”I think pressing is a great opportunity to transition and attack,” Pugh said after the match. “So, I think if you look at it that way, like defense is offense, I think that’s just part of our identity. We want to create these attacking transition moments to be able to create ad just keep going. We want teams just to feel that pressure, so I think it’s just part of our identity.”Since Andonovski’s first game in charge in November 2019, the U.S.’s press has been more varied than the previous iteration under Jill Ellis. The 2019 World Cup-winning team played with a relentless, high-energy press which demanded significant defensive efforts from its forward line as well as a midfield which was asked to cover large swaths of ground in wide areas. The ongoing absences of Julie Ertz (pregnant) and Sam Mewis (recovering from injury), two of the three starting midfielders at the 2019 World Cup, are part of the reason that area of the team is in transition.Andonovski took over the job with a determination to add nuance to the team’s defensive pressure. His objective, he said at the time, was not to completely recalibrate a system which had brought the team great success, but rather to add sophistication to the process. At times, that means the Americans will drop their line of confrontation slightly to challenge their opponent to play through them. Many opponents — especially in CONCACAF — cannot do it. On Thursday, the circumstances dictated that the U.S. be selective about when to press, anyway. The game kicked off at 6 p.m. local time under the relentless sun as Monterrey’s ongoing drought drags on. The temperature at kickoff was 96 degrees Fahrenheit, with a feels-like temperature of over 100. Thursday was also the fourth game in 11 days for each team (10 for their opponents), and with the final against Canada looming on Monday, the U.S. staff had to allow themselves to look ahead.”It comes down to reading the moments and when we want to press and when we want to drop off a little bit and allow them to connect a few passes,” Andonovski said about managing the heat.The upcoming U.S.-Canada clash is a rematch of last year’s Olympic semifinal, which the Canadians won on its run to a gold medal, forcing the U.S. to settle for the bronze medal. Canada will be the toughest and deepest opponent the U.S. has faced all tournament. It is also a team which likes to find transitional moments and strike on the counterattack, much as it did in that semifinal in Tokyo. The U.S. dominated most of that match but conceded a fluky penalty on a Canada counterattack and lost 1-0.Much of those same dynamics will be at play again on Monday, although the U.S.’ roster has undergone a significant overhaul in the 11 months since that game. Canada, who defeated Jamaica 3-0 in Thursday’s late match, will be defensively sound and look to exploit the U.S. in wide areas as the Americans’ fullbacks push forward. That likely means the U.S. will pick their moments to press their rivals, to limit their exposure on the counterattack.”I feel like the way that Vlatko wants us to play, it’s different every game, right?” Alex Morgan said. “It depends on if it’s a four-back or a five-back [for the opposition], the way that they pressure — whether inside or outside, the spaces that they give, or the high line or a low line. I think we’ve faced different challenges every game.”

Morgan followed up by noting that the U.S. could have led 3-0 by halftime but missed chances, including by her. She hit the post moments into the match and the U.S. missed several opportunities from close range, which has been a theme this tournament. The sharpness still isn’t there for this version of the U.S., but it will need to be on Monday. The loser of the final will have to wait a year to confirm its place at the 2024 Olympics via a playoff.”I thought that we made too many technical errors, too many for the players that were on the field,” Andonovski said “Because we know that they are technical. We know they can settle the ball and pass and that they can execute different technical demands.”


COMMENTARYUSWNTJULY 15, 2022BY ARIANNA CASCONE The United States women’s national team beat Costa Rica 3-0 on Thursday to advance to the final of the Concacaf W Championship

What went right for the United States? What went wrong? Let’s talk about that ahead of Monday’s final against Canada

The United States women’s national team beat Costa Rica 3-0 on Thursday to advance to the final of the Concacaf W Championship. It took some time to break down the Costa Rican defense, but both the scoreline and stats-sheet indicate that the USWNT had control of the game from the start.


Costa Rica lined up in a 5-4-1 and sat in a defensive block inside their own half, but the U.S.’s relentless counter pressing allowed the team to find space in the attacking third. The United States made nearly 100 more passes than their opponents in the final third and also had 12 of their 15 total shots come from inside the box.

Much of the USWNT’s success stemmed from the work of Rose Lavelle, Sophia Smith, and Mallory Pugh. That’s been true for the majority of this tournament so far. 

In the group stage, Lavelle and Smith tallied goals against Jamaica and Pugh contributed two assists, one each against Jamaica and Haiti. On Thursday against Costa Rica, the trio delivered an impressive goal in first half stoppage time.

Lavelle played a cheeky backheel through to Pugh, who put away her first goal of the tournament. That goal doesn’t happen, though, without Smith’s defensive work to win the ball back from Costa Rica after a poor clearance. All three players involved in that goal also led the team in recoveries last night, which shows how valuable they are for the U.S. on both sides of the ball (data courtesy of StatsPerform)


We could go on to talk about the U.S.’s other two goals – Emily Sonnett with the first and Ashley Sanchez with the third – but one other thing that stood out from this game is head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s approach to player rotation.

The starting lineup against Costa Rica included four changes from the 11 that started the final group stage game against Mexico. The United States also made five changes to their lineup from their tournament opener against Haiti to game two against Jamaica and another seven changes from Jamaica to the Mexico game. The only two players who have started every game for the U.S. at this tournament are Smith and Lindsey Horan. Andonovski has even rotated his goalkeepers, with Casey Murphy and Alyssa Naeher going back-and-forth in net.

Andonovski and the U.S. might be playing the long-game here, providing young players with starts, caps, and experience in a major tournament ahead of next year’s Women’s World Cup. But at what point does all this rotation hurt the on-the-field product?

In the post-game mixed zone, when asked about the team’s progression throughout the tournament, Alex Morgan said that Andonovski has the U.S. play in a slightly different way each game depending on the opponent’s approach. She went on to mention that it’s important for players to know their roles, since they change “from game to game”. 

Some continuity could really help this U.S. team. 

Even though they’ve secured four wins and four clean sheets in four games, they’ve been inconsistent. Some of the struggles against Haiti and the dip in performance from the Jamaica to Mexico games put that on full display. Andonovski also pointed out that his team made many technical errors against Costa Rica, and speculated whether it was a result of the stress and pressure associated with a knock-out game.

I can’t help but wonder, though, if some of that stress might arise from players having to learn roles that change each game while playing with different teammates.

There won’t be enough time in this tournament to address all the hitches that Andonovski and Co. highlighted on Thursday night, as the U.S. is set to face Canada in the championship match on Monday. 

With a trophy and a spot at the 2024 Olympics on the line, fielding a familiar line-up and focusing on that counter press might mitigate some of the United States’ inconsistency and help them secure the win over their North American rivals. 

Is the concern around the USWNT’s performances overblown?

MONTERREY, MEXICO - JULY 14: Emily Sonnett #14 of the United States celebrates scoring during a Concacaf W Championship game between Costa Rica and USWNT at Estadio Universitario on July 14, 2022 in Monterrey, Mexico.
Emily Sonnet who scored her first goal was the Woman of the Match from her left back spot.

By Meg Linehan and Steph Yang Jul 15, 2022

Another CONCACAF final, another match-up between the U.S. and Canada. In the end, we’re exactly where we expected to be, with the USWNT defeating Costa Rica 3-0, followed by Canada defeating Jamaica 3-0 on Thursday night at Estadio Universitario.

The semifinals ultimately felt more like a formality than anything else. Both Costa Rica and Jamaica rested key players in Raquel Rodriguez and Khadija Shaw, respectively. With the third-place game being a must-win for both teams in order to have a shot at the second CONCACAF Olympic berth (to be decided in a two-leg playoff between the second and third place teams in September 2023), it felt like both teams took the realistic approach to Thursday rather than pushing hard for the upset. Given the general level of exhaustion due to local weather conditions — the water shortage in Monterrey is still ongoing and the forecast for the third-place game is a high around 97 degrees — that seems like a smart tactical move.

But does that mean an all-out battle between the United States and Canada for the championship and a guaranteed Olympic spot? Certainly it would be nice for any team to be able to get both World Cup and Olympic qualification crossed off their list in one go, and to be able to shift focus solely to World Cup prep. Both teams will be aware of minutes management for players who will have to return to their respective clubs, though, and finish out at least another three months within the NWSL’s often unforgiving schedule. Let’s find out together! 

“I think we are gaining momentum”

For as much angst seems to be surrounding the current state of the team, nothing about Thursday’s match suggested that the USWNT was ever not in control of the game’s outcome. 

Costa Rica’s extremely organized mid-to-low block in the 5-4-1 was effective in the exact way it was designed to be effective, but the U.S. still found moments via the press even in the heat. As Alex Morgan said after the match, they certainly had decent looks through the first 30 minutes, even if they weren’t turning into goals.

Let’s rewind to the opening match against Haiti. After that win, Morgan said, “I just think we need to figure it out on the field quicker. We go in with a game plan, but they can give us something completely different. … We need to adjust a little bit better.”

On Thursday night, asked to assess if the team has been improving on this front with four games done and only one remaining, Morgan gave a lengthy response in the mixed zone. 

“The way that Vlatko wants us to play, it’s different every game,” she began. “It depends on a four back or a five back, the way that they pressure inside or outside, the spaces they give, whether it’s a high line or a low line. We’ve faced different challenges each game.” 

While the first sentence has somehow earned a lot of attention on social media, interpreted as a weakness of the coaching staff, there’s really nothing concerning about the idea that the USWNT has a different tactical approach for each match, depending on the opponent. It feels like a leap to suggest that Andonovski is somehow trying to fundamentally alter the entire DNA of the team from match to match, even with starting XI changes or fiddling with some of the finer details of their formations (like the Lavelle-Sanchez double 10).

Here’s where it does get more interesting: “I think we are gaining momentum, and we’re doing better reading the game earlier and figuring it out on the field. We do need to understand, though, what the coach has given us. We all have to buy in, we can’t have one or two players not doing what they’re supposed to do because that ruins the whole flow of the game if we’re going to play in a certain structure. I think that’s important to know — it’s playing free, but knowing your role, and that’s going to change from game to game.”

The best case scenario is that the players on the field are still working to get the chemistry clicking and balance reading the game and making adjustments on the fly with the tactical instructions from the coaching staff. A less charitable reading of this suggests that there may be some sort of communication issue, or players are not understanding or resisting those tactical instructions. 

“We had Soph (Smith), and then when Trin (Rodman) came in there at the end, we were playing a little bit of two 9s with the winger on that side tucked in, and Sof (Huerta) getting a little higher on that side. So it’s different roles in every game and you just have to be willing to do a little bit of dirty work. Sometimes you get a little more freedom one game, and less freedom another game.”

The greater question prompted by Morgan here is: if there’s some sort of breakdown on this front, will we see further evidence of that against Canada, or when the USWNT plays another top team? The tournament has been a chance to move from the evaluation period to now building for next year’s World Cup. While new combinations are still being played, it’s going to get a lot harder to handwave away lackluster performances as growing pains.

The USWNT isn’t at the Euros, they’re here in Monterrey with a very different objective and — to Andonovski’s full admission — a work in progress that is not ready for a World Cup at this moment in time. The good news is that they’re not playing a World Cup at this moment in time. There has to be an end product for this process, but even with all the high expectations and the legitimate criticism of the team, the USWNT is an unfinished project with another year to build. 

The final against Olympic gold medalists Canada will be the most helpful match when it comes to getting an accurate assessment of the current state of the team in 2022. Scheduling has been an issue in 2022 across the board, but that hasn’t entirely been within the federation’s control. They need to play higher ranked teams over the course of the next year. And the good news is that the October FIFA window may finally allow for a test or two against European teams, with their World Cup qualifiers finally wrapping up in September.

Could there perhaps be some additional communication around the overall plan, or benchmarks the technical staff would like to achieve between now and July 2023? Sure. But right now, the USWNT has not allowed a single goal through the W Championship while scoring 12 of their own in four games, they’re in the final and they’ve avoided any major injuries (I type this knocking on every type of wood available in the vicinity of this laptop). They might not have been beautiful wins, but they have been wins that qualified the team for the World Cup. That’s not nothing.

Canada advances to the final to play their old friend, the United States

There were plenty of questions after the game for both teams about an Olympic rematch from last summer; a chance for redemption for the U.S., or an opportunity to keep sticking it to their rivals for Canada — a chance to say ‘hey, it was no fluke that we won that semifinal last year.’ 

“We definitely won’t underestimate them. They’re a top side,” said Canada head coach Bev Priestman after their win against Jamaica. “But I’m really excited to call that challenge again. And there’s a lot on the line. It’s the Olympic games (qualification) that you know, we won. And we want to make sure that we win that final.”

Andonovski told the press after the U.S. defeated Costa Rica that he and his staff had already been reviewing the Olympic semifinal, which Canada won 1-0 on a penalty kick, and that they would be analyzing Canada for any changes in trends or styles. 

“Heading into this tournament, we kind of knew if both teams played the way they’re capable of we’d be meeting them in the final,” said Christine Sinclair. “And it’s always exciting. I mean, they’re a world class team. They’ve obviously changed a little bit since the Olympics and have some new young, fresh faces. And we’re excited.” 

One of those faces is, of course, Sinclair’s Portland Thorns teammate Sophia Smith. Both sets of players often crisscross with each other in the course of club play in the NWSL, which always adds an element of intellectual exercise to a meetup between these two teams, as everyone has an idea of everyone else’s tendencies. 

Meanwhile, the players have been finding off-the-field camaraderie with U.S. players as the Canada women’s and men’s national teams are currently locked in a tense disagreement with Canada Soccer over matters of governance, with accusations that Canada Soccer has made  bad financial decisions that have impacted pay to both the women and the men and completely eroded the players’ trust in the federation. Sinclair said Canadian players were talking to their U.S. counterparts, given that the U.S. women had just gone through an extensive CBA negotiation process with USSF. 

“Obviously I’m teammates with Becky (Sauerbrunn), which kind of helps,” said Sinclair, laughing. “So Janine (Beckie) and I, we’ve picked her ear a bunch and I think we’re in a pretty good spot. The men’s team is fully supportive and we’re both on the same page now. It’s just a matter of getting Canada Soccer on it.”

Emily Sonnett: nice.

Let’s end this one with a celebration of Emily Sonnett’s first national team goal, which she earned in her 69th appearance for the national team — a stat that feels incredibly perfect for Emily Sonnett.

She didn’t go for the obvious joke in the mixed zone, but hopefully she found the pizza party she was looking for.

Meet the USWNT chef responsible for feeding the World Cup champs during qualifiers in Mexico

Jul 16, 2022  Jeff Kassouf  ESPNFC MONTERREY, Mexico — Hamburgers, pork chops, mac and cheese: It’s hard to pick a favorite dish. That’s not even mentioning the custom vegan plates that turn heads at every meal.Away from the field and the pressures of qualifying for the World Cup and Olympics, food is the talk of the U.S. women’s national team at the CONCACAF W Championship. And Teren Green might be the most popular person on the team.”He’s great, such a good chef,” U.S. defender Sofia Huerta said, raving about everything from tacos to avocado toast. Huerta and her teammates already qualified for the 2023 World Cup, and they will try to clinch a spot in the 2024 Olympics on Monday.Green — or “Chef T” as he’s known to just about everyone — is the team’s personal chef brought in during big tournaments, cooking every meal for players and staff. Three times per day — four on game days for the late-night, postgame meals — he oversees the fueling of the two-time defending World Cup champions.Framed like that, it can sound like a stressful job, but what sets Green apart is his ability to make popular food while keeping mealtime fun. Part of that process is allowing players to have a say in the menu. Each player gets an opportunity to design the menu on a given day. The staff will put out a poster with the player on it to celebrate their choices, none of which ever disappoint once prepared.Emily Fox and Megan Rapinoe celebrated birthdays early in the CONCACAF W Championship in Mexico. Fox opted for a local flair: tacos and ceviche, then churros for dessert. Then came the birthday cake, along with a team singalong that the introverted Fox said Rapinoe enjoyed a bit more.This collaborative effort between chef and team is a window into how Green operates — and why he is such an important member of the team. He carries with him lessons he learned as a young chef at The Sagamore, a luxury resort overlooking Lake George in upstate New York: his role is not just about food, but exceptional service and experience.”I feel like mealtime is a big part [of the environment],” Green said from a chair in the private dining area the team blocked off and customized atop its hotel. “We have it three times a day and we want it to be the best three times a day. We want everyone happy, we want everyone to have what they want. We don’t want anyone to feel left out, so I’m constantly asking for requests. Tell me what you want. We’ll make it happen.”Green, 33, is a self-taught chef who got his start at a small restaurant in greater Detroit, working his way up from prep work and dishwashing to entrees. He left for the opportunity at The Sagamore to advance his skills before returning home to Detroit to work atop the famous Renaissance Center looking over the city.Then he got his first shot in sports through a connection, working with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. Green started as one of five chefs, brushing elbows with Stan Van Gundy, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. After a few weeks, Green said, the players requested him exclusively. Soon, they started inviting him over to their houses to cook and hang out. Green’s popularity had as much to do with his hospitality as his food, he said now.”Most of the time they didn’t really want to eat, they just wanted a friend,” Green said. “I’d come over to cook, I’d cook a meal, and then they were like, alright, let’s go play [NBA]2K or let’s go to the movie theater that they had in their home.”U.S. women’s national team players have taken to “Chef T” as well. Green made a connection to the team ahead of the 2019 World Cup and served as chef for that entire tournament, which the U.S. won. He was back again for the Tokyo Olympics last year, and he joined the team again ahead of the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship qualifying tournament. His full-time gig is cooking for MLB’s Detroit Tigers when they are playing at home, and they work with him on the occasions he leaves to join the U.S. women.Green is a tall figure with a quiet, humble demeanor. “It’s not really about me,” he said of his work. He blends in seamlessly with the team, serving an integral role behind the scenes, which at its core is designed to help everyone else do their job better.”When you bring anyone into a mix of delegations, it isn’t just your skillset — it’s about the fit,” U.S. women’s national team general manager Kate Markgraf said. “He definitely fits. He’s a big element [of the team], but he’s a value-add. He’s someone that different people gravitate towards. And when you see his face, the players all go, ‘Chef T’ because he’s a non-threatening, supportive presence, which is something that you need in this environment.”A chef is officially a professional support position that U.S. Soccer provides at its own discretion. Markgraf said it should be an investment all teams are making.Becca Roux, the executive direction of the USWNT Players Association agreed. “It’s fantastic that USSF has recently brought in a chef to most U.S. major tournaments and qualifiers as it is a health, safety and performance advantage,” she said.The U.S. women’s national team’s staff is large, so Green does not work alone. He meets with the team’s head of performance, Ellie Maybury, and the team’s dietitian, Lindsay Langford, to build guidelines around what the team should eat: more carbs before a game, flexibility to indulge after a game.Then, Green takes those guidelines and builds menu ideas, working with local chefs at the team hotel. He will make sure hotel kitchen staff know the team’s nutrition guidelines and objectives of any given meal, and then they’ll collaborate. Typically, Green does not get to watch the first game of a tournament because he needs to get the local staff assimilated with postgame operations, but he can be found at the stadium, enjoying a game, like during Thursday’s 3-0 win over Costa Rica in the tournament semifinal.Green said he likes to lean on the local expertise of chefs and use local ingredients, all of which are sourced for their quality. In Monterrey, that means using authentic Mexican sauces and “perfect” avocadoes. At the Olympics, it was everything from Ramen to Wagyu beef and Miyazaki mangoes, an expensive, candy-like version of the fruit.”You’ve got to have respect for the kitchen,” Green said of entering new environments. “I’m glad that I know how to walk around the kitchen properly and move around to where I’m not offending anybody.”Players notice the attention to detail. Green did not grow up on soccer. His first women’s soccer game was when he got his first shot with the team, at a training camp in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2019. Immediately, there was reciprocal respect.”They’re great,” he said. “They don’t hold anything back. They’re extremely appreciative, which is one of the reasons why they’re my favorite team to work for.”After the CONCACAF W Championship ends, Green will return to his regular job working for the Detroit Tigers. He already has his eyes on the 2023 World Cup, though, wondering aloud which types of cuisine he needs to start experimenting with from Australia and New Zealand.Scroll through Green’s Instagram page and among the mouth-watering photos of his dishes, you’ll find him holding the World Cup trophy on the field in Lyon after the U.S. won in 2019. Rapinoe gave him a personal shout-out on the steps of New York City Hall during her speech after that victory.It was there in France where that special attention that Green puts into his craft became obvious to players. Among the team’s practicing vegans is Alex Morgan, who was on that squad and is back with the team for the CONCACAF W Championship. Green said he feels for vegans because they can’t always eat exactly what they are craving, so he puts an extra effort into their meals, serving them directly instead of via a buffet setup. Soon, more players wanted in on that experience.”When we went to France, there were maybe two vegans,” Green said. “By the end, there were about six. I build the plate specifically for them and make it nice and fancy and deliver it to them. When the other players see that, they’re like, ‘Oh, I want a meal brought to me, too.'”Now, the newer players notice, too. This training camp is the first Huerta has experienced with “Chef T,” but she said the appreciation of his work is strong and the connection he makes with players is immediate.”The food here has been amazing, and obviously that’s really important being a professional athlete, the nutrition aspect of it,” she said. “He’s so good and he knows exactly what he’s doing. That’s just something that, when you don’t have him here, that’s something you’re worried about or you’re thinking about. Having him here, though, that’s taken care of. You don’t have to worry about anything you are putting in your body. He’s so sweet, he takes care of us. He’s so valuable and important to the team.”Of course, there’s always room for some cheat meals to keep things fun. After the squad’s 1-0 win over Mexico on Monday, that meant filet mignon at 1 a.m. Sometimes it means ice cream. Even the boss is on board with a little fun.”The mac and cheese postgame — and I don’t usually eat mac and cheese,” Markgraf says, “it’s the best thing I’ve ever had in my life.”

Alyssa Naeher brings ‘just take the picture already’ energy to USWNT’s funny pre-match photos

MONTERREY, MEXICO - JULY 6: Alyssa Naeher #1 of the United States looks to the ball during a training session at the training fields on July 6, 2022 in Monterrey, Mexico.

By Steph Yang and Meg Linehan

Jul 15, 2022

You know that gif of a woman pointing emphatically and going “I respect YOU!”? 

That’s me to Alyssa Naeher for her insistence on being herself and playing by her rules. From being told by Stephanie McCaffrey to smile at her own birthday dinner to shrugging off the congratulations of her teammates after a huge save because she didn’t want to get called for time wasting by the referee, Naeher is the epitome of business in the front, and also business in the back. 

This has all come out in new and exciting ways during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, as the USWNT bench players keep taking “fun” pregame photos in which Naeher is technically present, but absolutely not participating. I have to emphasize that this is not a roast or a diss in the least — as a fellow “just take the picture so I can go” person, this has made me the No. 1 Alyssa Naeher respecter. I absolutely love that she’s not a picture person, at least not on a game day. Internally she might be nervous, excited, resentful, worried. We’ll never know. Nor do we have a right to know. Give us nothing, girl. I respect YOU.

July 4

This photo, taken before the USA vs. Haiti game, kicks off our series. It’s clearly meant to be in the “sassy” category, or perhaps the “strike a fun and cool pose” category. Naeher is standing to the side with her arms calmly folded behind her back. Is there a glimmer of disgust at the whole exercise? It’s impossible to tell. End of story. 

I give this one about 6.5 out of 10 Naehers for the neutral expression. 

(Meg here, hopping in: In the complete opposite direction, just want to note newcomer Trinity Rodman’s journey as she realizes her full potential in these photos. First one here is just happy to hang in the back row.)

July 7

Naeher wasn’t in the photo before USA vs. Jamaica, as she started the game, so there are no Naehers to award for this date.

July 11

Megan Rapinoe captioned this one on her instagram “Semi Daze with the BADDIES” with a heart on fire emoji ahead of their semifinal; it was actually taken July 11, before USA vs. Mexico. Again, there seems to be some element of “have fun with it.” We’ve got everything from your general smile to some big poses. From Naeher, a direct stare at the camera lens. 

8 out of 10 Naehers

(Meg again: Rodman has realized the opportunity before her, and that Megan Rapinoe is completely willing to do whatever. Not 100% full strength yet, but getting there.)

July 14

This was taken before the semifinal against Costa Rica. The players seem to have gone full goof with this one, and there’s a collection of big smiles and even Kristie Mewis throwing up the peace sign behind Kelley O’Hara, who is smiling big time like a dad in a family gathering photo. I don’t know how else to put it. Naeher: a complete enigma. Just a mystery of a goalkeeper. My favorite picture yet from this tournament. 

9 out of 10 Naehers

(Meg again: Rodman has ascended to her highest form, Pinoe’s all in and this time Rodman’s bestie Ashley Sanchez is ready to benefit. There could be no more opposite energy compared to Naeher.)

We’ve still got one game left to go. If Casey Murphy or Aubrey Kingsbury is asked to start, we can probably look forward to one more picture of Alyssa Naeher being herself and, given the trajectory of these photos over time, I absolutely cannot wait.

Women’s Euro 2022 bracket and fixtures schedule


Wednesday, July 20
QF1 – England vs. Spain – (Brighton) – 8 p.m. BST / 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Thursday, July 21
QF2 – Germany vs. Austria (Brentford) – 8 p.m. BST / 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Friday, July 22
QF3 – Sweden vs. Runners-up of Group D – (Leigh) – 8 p.m. BST / 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Saturday, July 23
QF4 – France vs. Netherlands – (Rotherham) – 8 p.m. BST / 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2


Tuesday, July 26
SF1 – Winners of QF3 vs. England or Spain – (Sheffield) – 8 p.m. BST / 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Wednesday, July 27
SF2 – France or Netherlands vs. Germany or Austria – (Milton Keynes) – 8 p.m. BST / 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2


Sunday, July 31
Winners of SF1 vs. Winners of SF2 – (Wembley Stadium) – 5 p.m. BST / midday ET, ESPN

USMNT’s Matt Turner denies Arsenal move puts international status at risk

– Arsenal boss Arteta reflects on demanding Amazon documentary

Aaron Ramsdale has established himself as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper under Mikel Arteta and Turner appears to face a difficult task in dislodging him, despite being named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2021.Turner is currently vying with Zack Steffen for the No. 1 jersey in Gregg Berhalter’s side with the World Cup just four months away.Steffen is set to join Middlesbrough on loan from Manchester City in search of regular action, but Turner believes he can make a fast start in north London.”Opportunities like this for players from the U.S. are few and far between,” Turner said. “I wouldn’t say I’m worried or it’s a gamble. This is the obvious progression in my career.”Getting my foot in the door overseas is a lot easier said than done. I’ve been playing well in MLS for the last three seasons and this was the first concrete offer I had.”Playing consistently in MLS did not guarantee me the starting XI for the U.S. national team. I needed to shake it up to take my game to the next level and playing in the Premier League with these guys has already shown me some massive improvements.”You have to think about your entire career. You can’t make decisions based on one World Cup. Injuries happen and athletic careers are finite. I’ve wanted to take this game as far as I can, so to be able to represent a club like Arsenal is a dream come true.”Turner’s task should be made a little easier by backup goalkeeper Bernd Leno‘s likely departure to Fulham, although the two clubs are yet to finalise a fee for the proposed move.Asked how Arteta had described his possible role at the club before signing, Turner continued: “Mikel told me I am here to challenge for the starting role. We’re not in this business to just accept being second.”We all want to battle for time on the pitch. So the mentality he wants for me is to push Aaron, to push myself and to push the guys in the locker room. There’s a lot of young guys bopping around and I am a senior player here at 28. So I can be someone those guys can rely on for advice on and off the pitch.”Every step I have gone through in my career has been a big step. Going from high school to Uni, then Uni to MLS, then MLS to the national team and now to the Premier League. The players I am with every day are very talented. They bring a consistency, an intensity and a different sort of intelligence in the way they play the game.”The other big thing is the standards they hold you to every single day. The coaching staff and the players.”Sometimes the training regimen can be a bit more casual in the U.S. Maybe what I was used to at the Revolution was a little more casual. That has been a bit of an adjustment, but I was eager for a new challenge and this is definitely what I have.”At the World Cup, which begins in November in Qatar, the United States is in Group B with WalesEngland and Iran and plays its first match against the Welsh on Nov. 21.

Friday Newsletter: Why Women’s Soccer Will Be the Biggest Global Sports Story of the Next 50 Years Plus I answer your Mailbag questions     Grant Wahl Jul 15   During my short stay at home, between visiting Mexico to cover the CONCACAF women’s championship and traveling to England to cover the UEFA women’s championship, the women’s game has taken over my soccer bandwidth these days. And it’s glorious. On just about any day, I can watch live continental women’s championship games on broadcast platforms in the United States from Mexico (CONCACAF), England (UEFA), Colombia (CONMEBOL) and Morocco (CAF). A year out from World Cup 2023, I can get up to speed on the world’s best women’s players in games that matter from tournaments around the globe. That wasn’t even possible in previous cycles. Fans are fired up about it, too. More than 68,000 attended England-Austria to kick off Euro 2022 at Old Trafford. Another 45,000 at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat celebrated Morocco’s World Cup berth-clinching win over Botswana. And if Mexico hadn’t flopped in CONCACAF, we would have seen more than the 20,000-plus who came in Monterrey for El Tri’s 1-0 loss to the USWNT. 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. Fr ee 7-day trials are available. Subscribe now Give a gift subscription   Twice a week, I post my Google calendar of soccer games on my radar. There’s a lot of orange on it these days, which is the color I use for the women’s game. That’s a reflection of increased availability and investment. There are lots of reasons I believe the growth of women’s soccer will be the biggest global sports story of the next 50 years. Part of it has to do with the steep spike of investment we’re seeing in the existing elite game, especially at the club level in North America and Europe. Television money, sponsorship money, it’s all growing at a rapid rate. Business people get it now. Investment is happening. Media coverage is happening.But another part of it has to do with simply expanding access for women and girls to play soccer in large sections of the world where the opportunity hasn’t been there before due to societal norms. That’s why I did a fist pump seeing this post from journalist Aziza Nait Sibaha about the opportunities that could come from Morocco becoming the first North African team ever to qualify for the women’s World Cup:  FIFA has helped here by expanding the women’s World Cup from 24 to 32 teams for next year’s tournament and opening up more slots to incentivize national federations to support their women’s programs. FIFA also pledged a billion dollars in development for the women’s game to be given around the world, though as is always the case, FIFA needs to do a better job making sure that money goes toward the people and programs intended to receive it.And obviously, FIFA can do more, like creating an annual FIFA Club World Cup for the women’s game as soon as possible; decreasing the World Cup prize money gap between the men and women; and considering other initiatives that could be successful from the top-down. The development of women’s soccer doesn’t need to happen the same way as it did in the men’s game, and we have seen that top-down initiatives (like expanding the World Cup field) can be successful.That’s part of the reason why I’m not entirely against the idea of having a women’s World Cup every two years (and losing the Olympic tournament), even though I didn’t like the idea on the men’s side.In any case, we’ll have a lot more opportunities to discuss the big-picture growth of women’s soccer in the year ahead as the World Cup approaches. But right now there’s so much going on in terms of the games themselves that I’ll get back to focusing on that for the time being. I hope you’re enjoying the on-site coverage! OPENING THE MAILBAG Who are some current American players (men or women) you could see being successful managers in a decade or two? Doug Steiger Some might happen sooner than that. On the men’s side: Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, Tyler Adams, Cristian Roldán, Alejandro Bedoya. On the women’s: Becky Sauerbrunn, Christen Press, Sam Mewis. What are the prospects for some of our walking wounded to be available for WC? Specifically: Catarina Macario, Sam Mewis, Tierna Davidson, Julie Ertz, Crystal Dunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Christen Press. Theodore Morehouse Of those, Ertz and Dunn have had pregnancies, while the others have been injured. The only question for me with any of them is whether Vlatko Andonovski doesn’t rate them enough to be on the World Cup team. All should be available by then. My sense is we would likely see Macario, Mewis, Davidson and Dunn. Ertz, Dahlkemper and Press would be up in the air. The appointment of Wayne Rooney to manage D.C. United is entertaining but it is hard to believe that it is going to solve the club’s problems. Does the dysfunction all trace back to the ownership? Dave Kasper? What can save our team? Robert Gluck It’s a great question. What’s clear, though, is that D.C. is going in a completely different philosophical direction under Rooney than the one they committed to just a year ago with Hernán Losada. That requires bringing in a bunch of new players and taking the time to see if it works. Is Rooney committed to spending much time at United? That remains to be seen. Something big needed to change, and I like Rooney, but I’m not entirely sold this is the way to do it.

Spain ‘not scared’ of England and confident of Euro 2022 upset

By Charlotte Harpur at Brentford Community Stadium

July 17, 2022Updated 7:23 AM EDT

Spain “are not scared” of England and believe they can upset the Euro 2022 hosts in their own backyard, Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati has said.Spain narrowly overcame Denmark 1-0 in their final Group B match to set up a quarter-final against the host nation in Brighton on Wednesday night.Denmark had to win on Saturday to progress to the last eight behind Germany, but Spain dominated the match with Marta Cardona scoring a late winner.England are in fine form having won all three of their group games, scoring 14 goals without once conceding. But Bonmati said Spain believe they can win the first knockout match.“It’s motivating. I’m not scared and I think my team-mates aren’t scared either,” she said after Saturday’s victory.“We played against (England) in the Arnold Clark Cup, we know that they are a good team and they have had many good performances. We have seen their three group games and they did very well.“But we think we can beat them if we improve our style and play better than today.”Her words were echoed by her team-mate Ona Batlle, who plays in the Women’s Super League with Manchester United, who suggested England’s home advantage could in fact help Spain.She added: “We’ve seen a lot of their games and I think they play really well, really good. They have a really good squad and it is not just the [starting] players. Everyone there is a good player.“They are very strong and they are playing in England, so they have that [home advantage]. But that’s going to be a boost for us because we know everything [about them] and we are ready for them.

“I think we can do it.”

Euro 2022: The quality of goalkeeping on display is the highest it’s ever been

BRENTFORD, ENGLAND - JULY 12: Merle Frohms of Germany controls the ball during the UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 group B match between Germany and Spain at Brentford Community Stadium on July 12, 2022 in Brentford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Thor Wegner/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

By Caoimhe O’NeillJul 14, 2022

After any unforced error, goalkeepers can receive a barrage of abuse on social media.

Whether you’re a man or woman between the sticks, you’re likely to receive negative comments at some point in your career. But if you are a high-profile woman who plays in goal, it can be particularly bad.

For so long, goalkeeping errors have been used to undermine the women’s game and the athletes who play it. But so far at Euro 2022, not many people are talking about the keepers. And that’s largely because they’ve been very good.

“We are seeing the best level of goalkeeping that we ever have,” former England keeper Rachel Brown-Finnis tells The Athletic. “There’s been times in previous tournaments where a goalkeeper has been a weak point and teams will recognise that and use it to their advantage, but there hasn’t been a goalkeeper in this tournament so far that’s looked vulnerable or been a weak point.

“The standard of goalkeeping has gotten much, much better. Look at the Germany goalkeeper, Merle Frohms, who’s come in with a handful of caps. Some of the saves she made against Spain were outstanding — the height of athleticism.”

One Frohms save left Spain’s players, and their fans, at the Brentford Community Stadium mystified.

Germany were 2-0 up with 20 minutes to go on Tuesday as Spain looked to their catalogue of efficient passes, eyeing a way through to get them back into the game.

A ball over the top from Barcelona midfielder Patricia Guijarro and a perfectly timed run by Mariona Caldentey broke through the German back line.

Caldentey, also of Barcelona, went for a first-time strike while the pass was still in the air.

The shot was just to the left of Frohms, which helped the 27-year-old, but the speed and power at which it was barreling towards her was ferocious.

That was until the Wolfsburg player threw out her left glove to force it over the crossbar.hThere was a similar moment of skill the same day in the earlier Group B meeting between Denmark and Finland in Milton Keynes.Denmark were holding on for a 1-0 win, after Pernille Harder’s 72nd-minute header had given them a crucial lead, when Finland substitute Jenny Danielsson fired a shot towards the top right corner.

It was a hold-your-breath moment for Danish players and fans as Lene Christensen leapt towards it, tipping the ball around the post.

It was another remarkable save to add to an already bulging playlist of top saves in this European Championship.When the whistle blew on their victory, it was Christensen the Denmark team gathered around.That defeat means Finland will not advance to the knockout phase, having also lost 4-1 to Spain.But even though they are bowing out after Saturday’s finale against Germany back at Stadium MK, their goalkeeper has produced moments of magic, too.When Spain’s Laia Aleixandri headed an Ona Batlle cross down and towards goal last Friday, the new Manchester City signing was already running away, arms aloft, in celebration of what she clearly thought was a certain goal.

But Tinja-Riikka Korpela put a stop to her joy, pulling off an outstanding stop as she shuffled across her line to get a hand to it at full stretch.

Like Finland, Northern Ireland are also mathematically out before the final set of group games, but their Jackie Burns has certainly shown her worth despite conceding six times in the two matches so far.On Monday, a poor pass out from the back ended up at the feet of Austria midfielder Barbara Dunst, but Burns quickly retreated to tip the goal-bound effort over the bar.

“What you want to see in any goalkeeper is them moving their feet quickly, looking agile; then they can make excellent, technical saves,” says Brown-Finnis, who is covering the tournament as a co-commentator for the BBC. “If an error happens, it’s because of either a poor technique or poor decision. And we’re seeing very few of those.”One we did see was from Spain’s Sandra Panos in that 2-0 loss to Germany. A misplaced pass gave Klara Buhl the chance to put Germany into the lead inside the first four minutes of the match — an opportunity she calmly took.“The poor decision from Panos came from her being the first line of attack when in possession, which is still relatively new both for male or female goalkeepers,” Brown-Finnis says.“If you lose possession in midfield from a careless pass, there’s four or five players behind to mop up and nullify that mistake. That’s just not the same for a goalkeeper — and of course, it’s highlighted when it’s on the international stage and there’s millions of people watching it.”

So how have goalkeepers in the women’s game improved?

“From an England perspective, Mary Earps, Hannah Hampton and Ellie Roebuck have all had goalkeeper coaching since a very young age and have played in England’s under-15s and under-17s,” Brown-Finnis says. “They’ve had regular professional goalkeeping coaches pretty much since they decided they wanted to be goalkeepers. That’s fantastic. That’s where we always wanted the game to be.

“Goalkeepers have been an afterthought in some respects and when you look at past championship-winning teams in the Women’s Super League, the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, one of their strongest parts of who they are is because of their last line of defence; their goalkeepers.

“People are starting to recognise and realise that goalkeepers win titles. Of course, you need players to put the ball in the back of the net, but not unless you can be defensively resolute and consistent. So with that, there’s been a bigger focus on coaching keepers, improving them and getting the best out of them.”

Earps’ performances, in particular, have impressed Brown-Finnis, who says she has been flawless in England’s two matches so far. Even though the Manchester United goalkeeper had few saves to make during the 8-0 dismantling of Norway in Brighton on Monday, she had to stay switched on throughout as the goals flowed at the other end of the pitch.

“The mindset of a top-level goalkeeper is something that a lot of people probably haven’t considered. It’s very different to that of outfielders,” Brown-Finnis says.

“Being the last line of defence is one aspect. Another is we have to stay concentrated all game, every game, whether you’ve been peppered (with shots) or whether you’ve got nothing to do. That’s a really strong performance quality in a goalkeeper. You are born with some of those qualities but concentration is one of the things you work on relentlessly. To be able to wipe the slate clean after a brilliant save or a disastrous mistake is a strength. This is a superpower of a goalkeeper (that is) highly underestimated by people who have not worn a pair of gloves.”

In the tournament opener, against Austria last Wednesday, Earps demonstrated her powers of concentration, making two saves late in a 1-0 game to ensure Sarina Wiegman’s host nation got off to a winning start at Old Trafford.

The more impressive of the two was from a long-range shot by Dunst, which forced Earps to sprint across her goal.

Here, the England keeper’s agility is integral to her getting into a position to make the save.

“Mary Earps’ agility is excellent, and that is what you train on — because you are smaller (than male goalkeepers) and the size of the goal is exactly the same (as in the men’s game). You can’t get away from the fact that the average (women’s) goalkeeper size is probably about 5ft 9in (175cm), which is very different to men’s goalkeeping. We are trained in a different way because of that,” the former Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal keeper explains.

“What you have to do is work your feet quicker, to cover the full goal. It’s not about relying on size. You don’t think, ‘Oh, I’m not going to make that top corner because I’m not 6ft 5in’, you just get those feet moving quick. You work relentlessly on agility, on power, so that you can cover the goal and you just see those saves being made in a slightly different way.

“Ultimately, those saves are being made, those crosses are being collected. Goalkeepers are dominating their areas.“I remember in previous tournaments, and when I was playing, the set-up from corners was to crowd the goalkeeper. You’ll see that with Sweden — they’ve always done it. Norway have always done it. It’s just a tactic that seems to be used in women’s football more predominantly because goalkeepers are not as tall, but very few goals in this tournament have been scored from that tactic.”The level of analysis has also intensified.“It’s important having the expertise around you to be able to analyse your game: how did you make that save? Looking at your movement, where your bodyweight was centred, being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to push off,” Brown-Finnis says. “What we’re seeing is the result of the level of detail coaches and players are getting into. The finer details are things you want to get absolutely spot-on.”Mistakes can happen at any time and the likelihood is an error by a goalkeeper will go viral during these Euros, attracting negative comments from trolls on social media. Having played 82 times for England and now as a prominent figure in football media, this is something Brown-Finnis is, unfortunately, aware of.“If you’re a goalkeeper you’re open to — and know you’re going to get — criticism,” she says. “The people you want to be getting your feedback, critiquing and analysis from are goalkeeping coaches and goalkeeper team-mates.“I’m certainly not bothered about looking at what people think and say about goalkeepers (after an error), because I am pretty sure none of them have played international football.”

Check out the latest episode of The Athletic Women’s Football Podcast which is running daily during the Euros, free wherever you get your podcasts and ad-free on The Athletic.

Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

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

Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite


Attend a Free 20-Minute Webinar on Nursing Bridge Programs

7/14/22  USWNT vs Costa Rica Semis Thurs 7 & 10 CBSSN, Indy 11 Watch Party Downtown Carmel Fri 7 pm, CHS Girls Camp next Week, Ladies Euros & Copa America continue

USA Ladies vs Costa Rica 7 pm CBS Sports Network

The USWNT had to dig deep but they found a way to win 1-0  vs a very game Mexico team who was egged on by the home crowd at Monterey Mexico.  The US scored on a 89th minute goal as Kristie Mewis followed a save off a great header by Emily Sonnet (a last second sub for Emily Fox who was is in Covid protocol.)  The US struggled at times – as coach A continued his musical chair starting line-ups with 7 changes from last time out.  This time Midge Purse started underneath Morgan in a 2 forward approach – with Purge and Sophia Smith on the wings in a slightly less attacking position – Mexico actually got the first good shot on Murphy – as she sat behind a backline of Sonnett (subbing for Fox out with Covid), Saubraum, Girma, and O’hara  with Horan in the double #6 D mid role with Sulivan. To say it didn’t work would be an understatement.  The US really does need to turn to the new guard and let them play. Girma in the back middle, Sanchez at midfield with Horan #6, and Lavelle and let young wingers Push and Smith fly with Alex holding down the #9 slot.  It all starts tonight at 7 pm on CBS Sports Network (finally CBS – I still don’t understand why these games aren’t on big CBS – but at least ½ of the US can watch these Semi-Finals and Finals on cable without having to get Para+ (which will also broadcast them).  CBSSN does start coverage at 6 pmm the game at 7, a post game show 9-19, the Canada game at 10 pm and Postgame after.  Of course the final is Monday night 10 pm CBSSN with an Olympic Birth on the line!  Cool Behind the Crest with the US Ladies  Oh 11 Years ago 2 days ago Abby Wambach Did this to save the US ladies!  I have some great stories about Alex’s comeback, Huerta’s Switch and new centerback Grima in  The Ole Ballcoach

Shane’s Starting Line-Up Tonite vs Costa Rica (Depth Chart)


Sanchez/Horan /Lavelle



Indy 11 Ladies Lose 1st Round / Indy 11 Men @ NY Red Bulls Fri 7 pm Carmel Watch Party

The Indy Eleven host a cool downtown Carmel Watch Party this Friday night in the Carmel Midtown Plaza at 7 pm.  I am hoping to squeeze over and check it out for sure.  Indy’s next home game is vs Memphis next Sat, July 23 7 pm at the Mike-Tix are just $15 @ indyeleven.com/tickets. Indy Eleven’s successful inaugural season of play in the USL W League came to an abrupt end in Wed nights Quarterfinal Round of the Playoffs via a hard fought 1-2 loss at Minnesota Aurora FC in front over 6,200 fans at a sold out TCO Stadium in suburban Minneapolis. The hard luck result looked to be going the other way after Ella Rogers gave Indiana’s Team the lead late in the first half, but Minnesota stormed back in the second to ultimately take the playoff affair between two of the three unbeaten teams in the 44-team USL W League following regular season action. Disappointing end but a great season overall ladies!

MLS Bush League

After building up the debuts of Garath Bale and Gergio Chiilini last weekend in El Traffico LAFC vs La Galaxy – of course neither of them played. Oh and then my beloved Seattle Sounders got swamped at home 3-0 to Portland. I am done with MLS for awhile – I will post stories and that’s it.   

Around the World of Soccer
Bear puts soccer skills on display for neighborhood
– gives new meaning to he played like a bear. The Euro Ladies Championships have not disappointed with some great games to fill up our afternoons this summer – we are nearing the final games of the group stage tomorrow so far England, Germany and Sweden along with the Netherlands have all looked good.  Also in this summer of ladies soccer – the Copa America Ladies Championship is underway with the best teams in South America being featured in the eves 5 & 8 pm on FS1, and FS2.  (See full schedule below). Of course I have the weekly best Goalkeeping Saves and Interesting Reffing Calls sections in The Ole Ballcoach.   Who Remembers this classic World Cup Commercial from the 90s?  Angel City FC Celebrity Owners are Best Soccer Moms.

Just 1 Week of GK Training Left

Coach Shane is offering Extra Paid Training tor the high school aged Keepers this summer Tues/Thurs shanebestsoccer@gmail.com

And Coach Noelle is offering Extra PaidTraining to any age groups – this summer text 904-654-9011

Calling all High School Soccer Rec Players in Carmel!

Some of you have registered already but there are still many slow to sign up and teams are now in process at Dads Club. Tell your friends to get moving so they don’t miss a chance to play this fall. Space is limited and we cannot add more teams beyond what we have planned for. Sign up now- this league has no late fees! www.carmeldadsclub.org   317-846-1663

Calling all Middle School Soccer Players in Carmel- July 18-21!

Last Chance to Register for 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   Of course high schoolers trying out for the ladies team need to attend the high school camp next week that ends with the CHS DeWayne Akin Invite next Fri/Sat at the River Road fields off 126th.


Thur, July 14

12 pm ESPN2                      Italy vs Iceland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        France vs Belgium Euro Women’s Cup

7 pm CBSSN                CONCACAF Women’s Semi’s USA vs Costa Rica

10 pm CBSSN/Para+     CONCACAF Women’s Semi’s Canada vs Jamaica

Fri, July15

3 pm ESPN+                        Austria vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        Northern Ireland vs England Euro Women’s Cup

7 pm ESPN+                Indy 11 @ NY Red Bulls  (Downtown Carmel Watch Party)

10 pm para+               San Diego Wave vs Racing Louisville NWSL

Sat, July 16

12 pm ESPN+                     Denmark vs Spain Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        Finland vs Germany Euro Women’s Cup

5 pm FS2                              Argentina vs Uraguay Copa America Womens

6 pm Univision            Atlas vs Cruz Azul

8pm FS1                               Peru vs Venezuela Copa America Womens

8 pm ESPN+                 Chicago Fire vs Seattle Sounders

10 pm FS1                   Monterrey vs America

10:30 pm para+          Portland Thorns vs Gothem NY NWSL

Sun, July 17

12 pm ESPN                        Switzerland vs Netherlands Euro Women’s Cup

12 pm ESPN+                     Sweden vs Portugal Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ABC                             Atlanta United vs Orlando City

5 pm ESPN                          NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC

5 pm FS1                              Chile vs Bolivia Copa America

7 pm para+                 KC Current vs Seattle Reign NWSL

7:30 pm FS1                        Columbus Crew vs Cincy

8 pm FS2                     Ecuador vs Colombia Copa America

10:30 pm ESPN+               Portland vs Vancouver

Mon, July 18

3 pm ESPN+                        Italy vs Belgium Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        Iceland vs France Euro Women’s Cup

5 pm FS1                              Venezuela vs Brazil Copa America

7 pm CBSSN Para+       CONCACAF Womens 3rd   

8 pm FS1                              Peru vs Uraguay Copa America

10 pm CBSSN Para+     CONCACAF Women’s Finals USA? Canada 

Wed, July 20

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup QF

8 pm FS1                              Colombia vs Chile Copa America

8 pm FS2                              Ecudor vs Paaguay Copa America

Thur, July 21

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup QF2

8 pm FS1                              Brazil vs Peru Copa America

8 pm FS2                              Venezuela vs Argentina Copa America

Fri, July 22

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup QF3

8 pm FS1                              Brazil vs Peru Copa America

7:30 pm ESPN                    Bayern Munich vs Man City

Sat, July 23

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup QF4

7 pm TV23                  Indy 11 vs Memphis- The Mike

8 pm EPSN?                        Arsenal (Turner) vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

8:30 pm ABC                       Houston Dynamo vs Minn United

10 pm ESPN+                     Seattle vs Colorado

Sun, July 24

9:30 pm FS1                        Atlanta united vs LA Galaxy

Mon, July 25

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup Semi 1

8 pm FS1                              Copa America Semi 1

Tue, July 26

8 pm FS1                              Copa America Semi 2

Wed, July 27

3 pm ESPN2                        Euro Women’s Cup Semi 2

Fri, July 29

8 pm FS2                              Copa America 3rd

11 pm FS1                            LAFC vs Seattle Sounders

Sat, July 30

12 noon ESPN+                 Liverpool vs Man City Community Shield

2:30 pm ESPN+                  RB Liepzig vs Bayern Munich  Supercup

 3 pm ABC                            Minn United vs Portland Timbers

7 pm TV 8                   Indy 11 vs Tampa Bay Rowdies The Mike

8 pm ESPN+                        Cincy v Inter Miami  

9 pm ESPN+                        LA Galaxy vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Sun, July 31

12 noon ESPN                    Euro Women’s Cup FINAL                           

5 pm ESPN+                        DC united vs Orlando City

8 pm FS2                              Santos Laguna vs Atlas  

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

USA Women

Watch tonight’s game with The American Outlaws Indy at Union Jack’s Pub in Broad Ripple

The USWNT Concacaf roster

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

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

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

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


2022 CONCACAF W Championship: Scouting Costa Rica By Brendan Joseph S&S

2022 Concacaf W Championship: USA 1-0 Mexico – La Tri played hard, but the Americans stayed perfect By Parker Cleveland  S&S
Analysis: USWNT keeps momentum going at CONCACAF W Championship but wasn’t easy against Mexico

US Ladies with Unconvincing Win over Mexico – the 18

US ladies Win

Why the USWNT without Alex Morgan was an absurd idea  ESPNFC Gwendolyn Oxenham, sp
USWNT’s Sofia Huerta started with Mexico, then moved from forward to defender. Is the World Cup next?
   hJeff Kassouf ESPNFC

US Sanchez shares tender moment with College Teammate after win over Mexico

USWNT to Play Niigeria in Sept Friendlies – Woopie – not sure why we play these crap teams! 

Get to Know Trinity Rodman

Getting to Know Casey Murphy

Mexico Women’s Coach and Soccer Director out

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Women’s Soccer Euro’s

Germany see off Spain to reach Euro quarters
Germany punish Spanish carelessness to seal Euro 2022 quarter-final 

England set Euro record in eight-goal rout of Norway

England Eviscerated 11th best team in the world
Austria push Northern Ireland towards Euro 2022 exit

Netherlands rally to hold Sweden in clash of Euro 2022 contenders

Portugal and Switzerland produce dazzling Women’s Euros draw

Three talking points from the first week of Euro 2022


Analyzing which USMNT players got the best moves

Pulisic or maybe Chris Richards to Leeds?

De La Torre headed to La Liga

Gaga – Chicago GK Gabriel Slonina headed to Chelsea
Who should start for the USMNT at the 2022 World Cup?


Has Chelsea gotten ‘proper return’ for Pulisic?

Summer of USMNT Soccer hi-lights video


Wayne Rooney unveiled as new DC United manager
More with less: why Wayne Rooney may just be the ideal fit for DC United

Gareth Bale says he’s at LAFC to win trophies, not to retire

L.A. was Bale’s refuge from the scrutiny of Madrid. Now it’s his home
  21hKyle Bonagura ESPN
El Tráfico: New-look LAFC keeps rolling and picks up victory over rival Galaxy

2022 MLS All-Star Game: Rosters, start time, more




REFFING This Crazy Game

How about these Calls _ MLS ?  

Ref Question    Whats the Right Call

Funny Mike Dean Story – EPL Ref who just retired


Hawler from Spain GK – gifts Germany the Win

Top Euro Women Goalkeeper Saves

Great Save Copa America

Best Women Goalkeepers Saves

Great Saves Women’s Champions League 2022

Checkout These Saves

Proper Form Saves Scoops

Indy 11

Historic First Season for Indy 11 Women ends in Defeat at Minn Aurora

Indy 11 lose to Women’s League top new team Min

Men Lose 3rd in Row to Detroit this time

Indy 11 Park Announced

Indy 11 Park

USWNT vs. Costa Rica, 2022 Concacaf W Championship semifinals: What to watch for

Now, a push for the Olympics and a title. By Donald Wine II@ S&S

The United States Women’s National Team have completed the group stage at the Concacaf W Championship and have secured a place at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, and next up is a date with Costa Rica tomorrow night in the semifinals. The USWNT have not played particularly well despite going undefeated in the group stage without conceding a goal, but now they focus on getting to the final, where they will get a chance to go for the automatic spot in the 2024 Olympics.Standing in their way is Costa Rica, who played pretty well in the group stage, qualifying 2nd in Group B. The loss to Canada on Monday was their only blemish in group play. They have been defensively sound, and they have a couple of players that can change a game for Las Ticas. The USWNT will need to begin to play the type of soccer that they’re capable of playing in order to pass this test and move onto the final.

 What To Watch For

Vlatko needs to pick his starters. It’s high time for USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski to decide what his best lineup is and go with it. The time for experimenting with lineups is over, and you go with the players you trust in the formation that best gives them a chance to succeed.

The midfield needs to be creative. The USWNT were missing some creativity in the first half, and it showed in how stagnant the attack felt. After making subs in the 2nd half, the creativity level increased tremendously, particularly on the flanks. The USWNT needs to have that creative midfield lineup out there from the stop, and it would help if Emily Fox is able to clear COVID protocols and be healthy enough to return to the lineup.

Play sharp. This match is super important, and the USWNT cannot give Costa Rica any chances to take advantage. The team has not played sharp throughout this tournament, and that sharp, mistake free soccer needs to return tomorrow night.


There is still some struggle as Costa Rica does their best to keep themselves in it. Two late goals give the USWNT a 2-0 victory and a trip to the final.



The USWNT beat Mexico 1-0 on Monday night, finishing the group stage at the Concacaf W Championship

  • With a semifinal game against Costa Rica coming up later this week, let’s talk about what the U.S. still needs to accomplish in this tournament

It wasn’t pretty, but the U.S. finished the group stage at the Concacaf W Championship with a 1-0 win over Mexico on Monday night. That result helped the USWNT secure the top spot in Group A and set up a semifinal match against Costa Rica on Thursday.Now that the group stage is over, what does the United States still need to do at the W Championship?Let’s talk about that.


Simple, right?

Qualifying for the Olympics was always one of the two results-based goals for the USWNT heading into this tournament down in Mexico. The other goal was to qualify for the World Cup, which the United States did after two games. To qualify for the 2024 Olympics, the U.S. needs to make it past Costa Rica in the semis and then take down their next opponent, likely Canada, in the final.With all of the USWNT’s quality players, they’re more than capable of winning the W Championship and earning that auto-qualification spot for 2024. But being capable of winning this tournament isn’t enough. Making it to the final – and then winning it – is a must for the United States. After finishing third at the Olympics last summer, these next two games are two of the biggest of Vlatko Andonovski’s tenure. Because the U.S. underperformed in Tokyo, it’s critical that they improve and get results over this next week. Unfortunately for the U.S., Monday’s game against Mexico doesn’t give themmuch momentum. It was the worst of their three group stage games by some distance: there were far too many sloppy touches, poor passes, and questionable tactical choices. The United States’ only goal came late in the game once Mexico had already gone down to 10 players.3235bd17138fa%3A1657578976990&width=550px KRISTIE IN THE 89TH 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸IC.TWITTER.COM/8RHSJZ4PXJ

Overall, the game felt eerily similar to the USWNT’s matches at last year’s Olympics, albeit with much lower stakes. The U.S will need to be sharper and more consistent in the knockout rounds if they want to win this tournament.


It’s becoming increasingly clear that the United States’ new guard is ready to change games. That new guard includes an immensely talented group of young forwards (see: Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith). It also includes creative midfielder Ashley Sanchez and up-and-coming center back Naomi Girma. At least one, if not both, of the USWNT’s young wingers is going to start however many games the U.S. has left in Mexico. But setting the forward group aside, I think Andonovski should continue to start Sanchez in the midfield and Grima in the back in the knockout rounds. Girma was strong defensively in both of her group stage starts, one against Jamaica and one against Mexico. Her patience and quick reads help her elevate the United States’ backline. More than that, she looks like an upgrade over Becky Sauerbrunn in pretty much every phase of play. I’m not sure if Andonovski would be willing to start Girma over Sauerbrunn, a U.S. legend, in big games at this tournament, but I think he should consider it.And then there’s Sanchez. Sanchez tries stuff, people. Her ambition on the ball, creativity in the attack, and defensive mobility make her an extremely valuable presence for the USWNT. She’s appeared in all three games for the U.S. so far, mostly playing as a No. 8, but also playing some as a No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 against Mexico (more on that later). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the U.S. had their best attacking performance against Jamaica when Sanchez and Rose Lavelle started together in central midfield. At this point, Sanchez has shown that she should be starting as one of the No. 8s.


Before this tournament, Andonovski mentioned that the United States might play with a “double six”. They did just that for long stretches against Mexico on Monday, with Andi Sullivan and Lindsey Horan sitting deeper in midfield.

The U.S. had the edge on Mexico, but they didn’t play well. The 4-2-3-1 shape (or, at the very least, a super lopsided 4-3-3 with Horan playing lower on the left and Sanchez playing higher on the right) and the USWNT’s execution in that shape was poor, to say the least. With both Sullivan and Horan sitting deep, there was a massive gap between the back four/double pivot and the front three/No. 10. That gap forced Sullivan into too much distribution. In general, she struggled to control the game and her errant passing hurt the USWNT. As the game wore on, the U.S. primarily advanced the ball through long balls over the top from Sullivan and Horan, which didn’t lead to many meaningful chances. You can see that gap in midfield in this image, with Horan setting up for a ball over the top.Looking a little higher up the field, Sanchez didn’t get enough touches playing as a No. 10 or even as a second forward next to Alex Morgan. Finally, because Andonovski flipped the central midfield shape and because the fullbacks were very reserved, there weren’t as many FB-CM-W combinations. As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, the U.S. reverted to hopeful long balls and scattered play even against a 10-player defense.With all of those attacking issues in mind, the United States should stay away from the 4-2-3-1 and go back to the 4-3-3 against Costa Rica.If the U.S. can find their attacking rhythm and create consistent chances with the possession that most opposing teams give them, they’ll be in great shape. If not…we’ll all be reliving last summer’s Olympics.

Key takeaways and standout performers of the CONCACAF W Championship so far

By Meg Linehan and Steph Yang Jul 12, 2022

After eight days in Monterrey at the CONCACAF W Championship, the U.S., Canada, Jamaica and Costa Rica are World Cup-bound. Haiti and Panama, meanwhile, have booked their tickets to the intercontinental playoff in February. And Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago have ended their tournament runs in last place in their respective groups — particularly disappointing and shocking for the host country, which has now missed out on the last two World Cups.The USWNT will play Costa Rica in the first semifinal on July 14 at 7 p.m. ET, then Canada faces Jamaica in the late game at 10 p.m. ET — both are back at Estadio Universitario. The winners of these matches will face off in the final for that single 2024 Olympic qualifying spot. For all the changes to the tournament and the excitement around the results in Group A, the group stage still felt like the same old chaotic, confusing CONCACAF we all know: full of physicality, weather playing a factor and a handful of strange officiating decisions as a bonus. There’s not much of point in a direct comparison between the W Championship and Euros on pretty much any front, but it also makes sense why some USWNT fans are looking at the quality of England, France and Germany early in the group stage across the Atlantic and feeling some nerves. To be fair, the Euros being delayed to 2022 only fans the flames a bit here too — the preparation for next summer’s World Cup is going to be far more helpful for UEFA teams than anything the W Championship presents.Now, at least, the next few games will all feature World Cup-qualified teams and the stakes will be higher than CONCACAF bragging rights. But there’s plenty to consider from the group stage before we turn to the semifinals.

So what did we learn?

Group A

It’s still a little silly to call Group A the “group of death” when there are only two groups in the tournament (it hasn’t stopped us, but we know it’s silly), but Jamaica and Haiti came through with massive performances in the group stage and are as much the story for their success as is Mexico for their catastrophic elimination.Haiti should feel good about their chances in the playoff tournament in February — their opponents are still largely TBD, but they will try to hang on to all of their momentum from their matches against the U.S. and Mexico. Jamaica didn’t let the pressure of the group or the 5-0 loss to the U.S. get to them, but they can make a real statement about their World Cup hopes in this semifinal against Canada. As for the U.S., yes, they had a “perfect” group stage performance, with three wins and a +9 goal differential. But beyond the 5-0 win over Jamaica, there was no performance that will assuage concerns about the readiness of this team, and there was no real trending growth across the three matches to speak of. Part of this is due to the high expectations for the team: steamrolling their way through CONCACAF, even as those days of majorly lopsided results are probably gone. The bigger question here for the U.S. is the overall development of a team halfway through the transition between the 2021 Olympics and the 2023 World Cup.“I have to say, if you ask me if we’re ready to go into the World Cup, into a competitive World Cup tomorrow, we’re probably not ready for it,” head coach Vlatko Andonovski said in his presser. “But are we going to be ready in a year? Absolutely. I’m very happy with the development of the team and the development of the individuals in the team, as well. I think that we’re doing a good job and we’re moving in the right direction.”Captain Becky Sauerbrunn agreed, when asked the same question, saying the team was right on track. 

“Vlatko, since the Olympics, has kind of changed up the team, brought in a lot of new faces,” she said. “Let go of a couple of faces. So it takes a little bit of time to really get on the same page and to start gelling. Even during this tournament, he’s played a bunch of different relationships, a lot of different people. We’re still cementing those relationships and that’s what you really need going into 2023.”Trying to accurately assess those answers from the outside, especially with the lack of games against other top-ranked teams in 2022, is a tough undertaking. And, not to beat the same drum again and again, but the same questions keep coming up about the USWNT when it comes to decision-making, finishing and their overall readiness. There’s a good, dynamic team still at the heart of this project, with a ton of exciting talent. But for all the talk about joy last summer during the Olympics, we’ve seen a lot less of it than expected so far in 2022.

Group B

Group B, on the other hand, played out pretty much exactly as expected when it came to the results. Canada, coming off their Olympic gold-medal run last year, came out on top unbeaten in three with the biggest goal differential of +9. Costa Rica right behind them. 

The biggest question mark was probably between Panama and Trinidad and Tobago, with Panama emerging as the grittier team — not just in their game against T&T, but in their resolute defiance of Canada, in what ended up a 1-0 loss. Afterwards, multiple Canadian players and head coach Bev Priestman talked about their frustration with Panama’s fouls, injuries, and other time management tactics (and credited them for it, as the disruptions worked). Canada also had trouble effectively breaking Panama down, with the majority of their shots having to come outside the box. Certainly they dominated the game, but when a team is getting one goal off of 13 shots and 69% possession, it’s cause for concern.

The best performances through the group stage for the USWNT…

Naomi Girma, center back

Sauerbrunn had to glance at the USWNT press officer on Monday night to confirm she had never actually started alongside Girma before the match against Mexico — but if you were new to watching the team, you would have thought Girma had a lot more than three caps under her belt. Girma needed to be fast-tracked in terms of her role on the USWNT backline thanks to injuries befalling both Tierna Davidson and Abby Dahlkemper, but her performances so far have proven we shouldn’t worry about the first pick in the 2022 NWSL draft slotting in and performing at the international level. Hopefully, Andonovski goes all in on Girma for the semifinals and final, too.

Casey Murphy, goalkeeper

Raise your hand if you had Murphy starting two out of the three group stage games. We can’t see them, but it’s hard to think a ton of you had them raised with Alyssa Naeher back in both the USWNT roster and the NWSL. While Murphy didn’t get a huge test from Mexico, she had to make some saves against Haiti — and ultimately, this is all extremely helpful in ensuring she’s ready to either step in for Naeher, or make a run at the No. 1 spot on the goalkeeping depth chart. Andonovski has talked about giving meaningful games to his back-up in case an injury suddenly changes things, but he’s got another big opportunity here to potentially split the final two games between Murphy and Naeher. With that Olympic spot on the line, Naeher’s the safe bet for the final, but why not give Murphy a knockout game for the experience?


While players have had good individual games or halves, the team overall seems to not quite be in the groove together. Sophia Smith stood out in the second game against Jamaica. Midge Purce sometimes seemed to cruise past Mexico. Alex Morgan showed early brilliance against Haiti. Ashley Sanchez had some real moments in the midfield when she got on the field, but it’s probably not enough to change up the starting three of Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan for the remaining games.Of note, this is the longest the national team has been together in quite a while, between their friendlies against Colombia and then coming directly to Monterrey. “I think that obviously, this is a really long time being together,” said Kristie Mewis after the game against Mexico, in which she came off the bench to score a late winner. “It’s a long tournament. But I think all of us have been through it before. We have a lot of experienced players and we’re staying busy. We’re staying in a great hotel. We’re going to practice every day, grinding. So it’s been really good. Obviously, it’s a long, hard journey, but I think all of us are ready for it.” 

No comment on the team maybe going a little stir crazy at their hotel

…and beyond

Melchie Dumornay, Haiti

Dumornay has been a complete and total menace in this tournament, in very exciting ways. And she’s 19! Usually, the breakout stars of CONCACAF tournaments (at least in the U.S.) are goalkeepers that stand on their heads against the USWNT, but Dumornay’s rave reviews are extremely well-deserved, and her eventual transfer fee is going to be a very fun number. 

Marta Cox, Panama 

Cox carries a heavy load for Panama in their midfield, asked to be both a playmaker and scorer. She’s shown her ability to distribute with both lovely threaded balls on the ground and medium-range balls over to try to pick out teammates. 

Julia Grosso, Canada 

Grosso has been a bright spot for a Canada team that is still not sure of how to get where they want to go, at least when it comes to converting possession into goals or having the willingness to shoot the ball more and think less. Grosso is the one who really broke things open for Canada against Trinidad & Tobago and she scored their lone goal against Panama. It’s not surprising that Canada would rest her against Costa Rica, looking ahead to the knockout rounds; she’s clearly been essential as a gamechanger and tempo-setter in this tournament.

It’s the hope that kills you

For a few moments on Monday night, all Mexico needed was a single goal to somehow salvage their W Championship performance. With Jamaica up 4-0 on Haiti at BBVA Stadium at the same time, a single goal and a win over the USWNT would have been enough to catapult them into third place in Group A and send them to the intercontinental playoff. For so much of the game, their focus was on limiting the U.S. and minimizing the risks of any forward attack of their own, but as the end of regulation time approached and Jamaica ran up the score, there was suddenly a new hope — and a tangible one that spread throughout the crowd as La Banda de Tigres helped soundtrack the supportive chants — that a result could maybe come through for La Tri.

And despite the red card issued to Jacqueline Ovalle in the 73rd minute after video review of her tackle on Rose Lavelle (side note: not sure we needed to see Lavelle’s ankle bend like that as many times as we did on replay, and she walked gingerly with a slight limp through the mixed zone on the way to the team bus after the game), Mexico had their chances until the final whistle. The crowd held up their phones with flashlights lit, a constellation of their continued hope. Instead, it was another deflating wait for VAR to determine if Kristie Mewis’s goal in the 89th minute would stand. It did. Despite the eight minutes of stoppage time, despite the final turn to desperation on the attack, Mexico ended their group stage without scoring a single goal.The frustration with head coach Mónica Vergara hasn’t exactly been a secret over the past couple of matches, especially after the loss to Haiti. On Monday night, the crowd booed her name after the announcement of the starting XI. The tone of her postgame press conference was far more polite on both sides, though she entered the room on a clear mission to underline the greater project of women’s football in Mexico and the need for support, rather than dissect the team’s performance through the group stage. With every tweet from Mexico’s account awash with replies of #FueraMonicaVergara, from the front row it felt like a coach who clearly knew her fate but hoped to get her message through. Vergara spoke like a person who had plenty of reason to worry that this performance wouldn’t just affect her own job security, but the support for the national team, even the idea of women’s football itself.

The best atmosphere of the tournament so far

The late game on Monday at Estadio Universitario featured the best crowd of the tournament, with 20,522 fans in attendance for USA vs. Mexico. Generally, the crowd was extremely supportive of Mexico, rather than outright hostile toward the U.S. (and they weren’t shy about cheering for Alex Morgan or Megan Rapinoe at a few points during the night, though never while they were on the ball).“As the atmosphere was getting fired up, our team started losing the focus of the tempo,” Andonovski said after the game. In the mixed zone, the players didn’t quite make that same leap, but had a common theme of appreciation for the environment and what it provided the team in terms of preparation.“It’s absolutely critical to have games like this,” Sauerbrunn told reporters. “The last time I played Mexico in Mexico was 2010 qualifiers, and it did not go well that night. It’s really hard to replicate these types of games with this type of crowd. The home crowd wasn’t exactly hostile, but it definitely wasn’t cheering for us. I think this is great; the more experience the younger players can get in this kind of environment is crucial going into 2023.”As one of those younger players, Purce could only smile when asked about the experience of playing on Monday night. “Oh, that’s a dream,” she said. “When you’re young and you see the national team playing, you want to play at Wembley, you want to play in Mexico in front of the best fans in the world. They were fantastic, and I hope I get to do it again one day.”
As absent as the promotion of the tournament has been, the vibe inside the stadiums has been pretty fun. On Monday night, the playlist remained the same before both matches, but it’s hard to go wrong with classic Shakira and Selena songs, though at one point the new CONCACAF anthem from Skip Marley got put on repeat. It’s one of the better offerings for a tournament, but the true test of any soccer anthem is how it holds up to repeat listens. “Lions” is still good, but maybe not three-times-in-a-row good.

Thought Alex Morgan’s USWNT career was done? Think again. The star reflects on her return

Gwendolyn Oxenham, special to ESPN

Sometime in 2010, Heather O’Reilly and Abby Wambach were standing behind the goal during a U.S. women’s national team five-a-side tournament, watching the new addition to the team, 21-year-old Alex Morgan. The kid was still in college; they’d heard about her before she arrived, the youth national team sensation with lightning speed and the ability to score.Standing there, perhaps with folded arms, maybe a finger to their chins, heads cocked toward one another, O’Reilly and Wambach studied Morgan, going back and forth, trying to find words to describe what they were seeing:

“She’s lively. Raw. Limbs in all directions.””Like a newborn animal.””Like, say, a baby horse.”That’s the moment Alex Morgan was christened “Baby Horse.””She doesn’t love the nickname, but she’s a trooper about it — she knows it’s said with affection,” O’Reilly said. Any hint of gangly foal is long gone, anyway. No player in the world has a more iconic stride: powerful, graceful and, yes, gazelle-like. She bursts forward, long ponytail whipping behind her.But speed alone won’t make you a global superstar. Since the very beginning, Morgan has scored major goals in major moments. She’s been on just about every magazine cover you can name and amassed 9.5 million Instagram followers. She’s won nearly everything there is to win.And maybe that success is due to one perhaps under-noted quality: Alex Morgan is brave. She’s a seeker, someone with both the hunger to get better and the nerve it takes to put herself in the middle of new, unfamiliar environments — whether that means going to Lyon to fight for a starting spot against the world’s best, or bringing her 5-month-old baby to a different continent during COVID, to play for Tottenham, a team dreaming of more.Every year she’s added to her game a new layer of sophistication, creativity, understanding and verve. Yet, for the past eight months, the global superstar was left off the U.S. roster. For someone who has been on the national team since she was in college — for a little over a decade — this was the first time she found herself on the outside looking in.Morgan only recently found her way back to the U.S. team — she is now at the CONCACAF W Championship, the double-qualification tournament for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Olympics, and she scored a brace in her first qualifier back in the squad, putting the U.S. on an easy path to later qualify for the World Cup. But for months, the talk around the U.S. included the notion that maybe Morgan’s time with the team was done. Maybe the team had moved on without her.That could be the beginning of Alex Morgan’s most interesting chapter of all.

First, let’s rewind to July 25, 2012 in London: Morgan’s first Olympics. Her roommate was Heather O’Reilly. “Heather was one of the first players to take me under her wing,” Morgan said. “She’s just such a good person, a good teammate, a good leader — and she was someone that I would follow and just do as she did — just think as Heather does.”Even though it was O’Reilly’s third Olympics, she was still the type to get excited about the opening ceremony. “Maybe that’s why I was often put with the rookies — because I’m a veteran who still has childish energy for stuff like that,” she said.The team didn’t get to attend because their first game was in a different city, but Morgan and O’Reilly put the ceremony on the TV, turned up the volume and made their own parade. They put on their Ralph Lauren outfits — berets, navy blue blazers, neck scarf, skirts — and strutted through the hotel hallways with their teammates, taking pictures, doffing their berets. This is the Olympics, the thing you’ve dreamed about since you were kid.”It’s important to make it fun,” O’Reilly told me in a phone call as she simultaneously had a kick-around with her toddler. “You can’t take yourself so seriously — people get tight, too sucked into this world that’s not even reality.”O’Reilly tried to describe the longstanding USA mentality: “It’s like, first thing’s first, get our s— done on the field, but you’re not going to get your s— done unless you’re having fun, and you’re not going to have fun if you don’t get your s— done.””Mostly, you find out that winning is fun,” O’Reilly added. “None of those other shenanigans will be as meaningful if you’re not winning.”

In the tournament opener, Morgan came off the bench to score two goals and lead the U.S. to a come-from-behind victory against France. Then, in what is perhaps the most epic game in Olympic history, the semifinal against Canada, Morgan scored the game-winner in the 123rd minute of overtime — the latest goal in Olympics history for a 4-3 finish. The U.S. went on to win Olympic gold.That Olympics feels startlingly different from the most recent one, 2021’s delayed event in Tokyo. Because of COVID, there were no opening ceremonies. International fans were banned. Morgan wasn’t allowed to bring her baby daughter. The U.S. played poorly in front of empty stadiums.Maybe that first 2012 Olympics is in the back of Morgan’s mind when she reflects on the 2021 Olympics. “It wasn’t the Olympics any of us had hoped for — just not really creating a fun environment — or an environment that I necessarily even felt like I was bringing my best self to,” Morgan said. The U.S. lost their opening match to Sweden, 3-nothing. Morgan got injured and played only a few minutes in the bronze medal game — a disappointing finish for a player and a team accustomed to being at the top of the world.

That’s when the questions started. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski had recalled 17 of the players from the 2019 World Cup champion team for Tokyo — maybe he’d stuck with the veterans for too long? Come the 2023 World Cup, he will need to turn to the next generation. For the next few national team camps, Andonovski focused on giving the younger players their time. He also made it explicitly clear that no one’s spot is guaranteed — just because you played well two years ago doesn’t meant you’re coming in today, he said. You’ve got to show that you are performing right now.

So, for the next string of national camps — in October, November, January and February 2022 — Alex Morgan was not called in. In April, ahead of yet another national team camp, Morgan was at home with family when she got Andonovski’s call. She stepped into her bedroom, and he told her she’s not coming to camp.This one took her by surprise.”It was a hard discussion,” Morgan said. “But one of the things I really respect about Vlatko is just his honesty — having those hard conversations is not easy for anybody. I was disappointed, but at the same time, it wasn’t about pointing fingers, it was just: OK, if my name’s not on the roster, now I need to make sure it’s going to be the next time.”She started the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League season for her new club, San Diego Wave FC, playing with something to prove. But, she clarified: “It’s not a bitter, I’ll-show-you sort of response. I can’t have in the back of the mind that I’m playing to get myself back on the national team. I’m playing to prove Jill [Ellis, Wave president] and Casey [Stoney, Wave coach] right in why they traded me and why I’m here — and to prove to myself right that I am worthy of scoring goals in the NWSL and being on the national team.”But my end goal wasn’t: I want to make it back on the national team. It’s: I’m playing to make San Diego the best and most successful expansion team that there’s ever been in the NWSL. I am on one team and one team only and that’s San Diego.”Never in her professional life had Morgan had the chance to focus all her energy on one team, one city. “I’m going to make the most of this time that I wouldn’t have had if I were going to camp,” she said.To know just what it means for Morgan to stay put in one place and make a home, it’s worth considering her last 15 years and her tendency to pursue the unfamiliar. After college at Cal-Berkeley, where she was always looking for extra ways to get better — training on her own, with her coach and in pickup games with the men’s team, which included Servando Carrasco, the man she’d eventually married — her professional career took her all over the world. She’s played for the Western New York Flash, Portland Thorns, Orlando Pride, Olympique Lyonnais and Tottenham Hotspur. Meanwhile, her husband, also a soccer player, has his own list of cities and teams. They’ve spent years doing long-distance. And, of course, Morgan also simultaneously traveled the world for the national team.

Morgan’s most recent European jaunt, Tottenham, was a decision that happened fast — and it affected her more than she’d anticipated. Fresh off giving birth to her daughter, Charlie, she’d scrambled to figure out how to get game fit for the delayed Olympics in 2021 because the next NWSL season wouldn’t start up until March.”My husband, possibly jokingly, said, ‘Why don’t you look at playing abroad for the rest of the year?’ … I don’t think he realized how seriously I was going to take that suggestion,” she says with a laugh. “Yeah,” she said to Servando, “that is a great idea.”Her agent called every team, trying to figure out where she could play for four months and get back game fit so that she was ready for the Olympics. Joined by her 5-month-old baby and her mother-in-law, Morgan went to north London.Players who have a baby and return to the game often face a climate of doubt. (The most recent episode of the new audio docuseries “Hustle Rule” takes a look at what mothers are up against.) In Tottenham, Morgan began her comeback.She describes the experience in one excited rush: “I am so grateful to them for being so accommodating of me. Here I am, still breastfeeding, going over there, not 90 minutes fit, not even 30 minutes fit, thinking that I am because I’d been training, just on my own. Little did I know, I still I had long way to go.”I got a little knee injury, a little cartilage broke off, which is not uncommon after pregnancy, after having a baby inside you. And all of a sudden, I’m away from my daughter seven to eight hours a day, which I’d never been before. I couldn’t really breastfeed after that — my milk dried up. I couldn’t produce enough being away from her that long, not having an area or time to pump … although I tried initially to bring ice and a lunch bag to put the milk in. I would pump before training and after meeting.”And I’m so grateful to my husband for supporting me because he was away from me and my daughter for seven, eight weeks. But it was the step I needed at the time. And a lot of people called me crazy for it — and I think I was a little crazy to make that decision, but the team was so welcoming to me and I had the best time there.”Tottenham, a club founded in 1865, has a storied history and loyal supporters. When people saw Morgan walking down the street in her Tottenham gear, they cheered and gave her a nod of approval or they booed — London is a city of divided loyalties. And the women’s side has about as good of a Cinderella story as you get: In the course of a decade, managers Karen Hills and Juan Carlos Amoros took the amateur, fourth-division team through three promotions all the way to the top division of English women’s football.In the beginning, Hills had coached kids during the day, voluntarily trained the women at night, drove the team bus and made jam sandwiches — all the things you do in amateur football. Now, Hills was coaching Alex Morgan, and this woman cared. Hills had nursed this dream and this team for 11 years (“for years and years,” says Morgan), and now Morgan had the chance to help her carry it still farther.Tottenham practiced on what felt like a forgotten schoolyard field: rocks, holes, half-dirt. “I hadn’t played on a field like that since I was 12,” says Morgan, and not in a complaining kind of way — she sounds excited. The team didn’t have its own weight room either. “You were working out next to anybody with a gym pass,” Morgan says.The team had to lock up its locker room after they used it because it was a public area. But these circumstances brought them closer: they were playing on a questionable surface together, and they were hoping for more together. “It was just challenging — and I think that’s what created a camaraderie between the players and the coaches. The challenge was what was so fun,” Morgan says. She doesn’t mean the challenge of playing on rocks — she means the challenge of seeing whether together they could take the team to a new horizon.And when a world-class player like Morgan shows up on your team, things happen. She was instrumental in the push for better training facilities — she and a group of players talked with the director of women’s football about it. “It wasn’t as professional as it should’ve been. I pushed the club to do better — not the players, not the coaches, but the club — and they did. Now, the women play in the same exact training facilities as the men, full time. I am proud of taking part in that. To see that evolution in front of my own eyes … it was incredible.”After one training session penalty kick, a teammate was quick to celebrate, parroting Morgan’s goal celebration against England at the 2019 World Cup — one that had stirred some minor outrage overseas. She sipped from an invisible cup of tea, raised her pinky and looked cheekily at Morgan as her teammates broke into laughter.After seasons combining with Canada’s Christine Sinclair in Portland and Marta in Orlando, winning World Cups and an Olympics, and even traveling with the U.S. State Department’s Sports Diplomacy program and kicking handmade balls around with kids in Tanzania, she has come home to San Diego. It’s her dream city; it’s also where her husband’s family is from, and not too far from where she too grew up in Diamond Bar, California. Like at Tottenham, she once again got the chance to take part in building a club.Here, living in the same city in her husband, she has gotten to know San Diego in a way that was never possible while crisscrossing the world. With Charlie in tow, they go to street markets and local fairs, ride their electric bikes down to the beach and build sand castles, and go to see the lions at Safari Park. Morgan wants to be a part of her community, a supporter of others — she partners with local, women-owned businesses and promotes them on her social channels. Before preseason, she played in pickup games with old friends, with guys from the USL’s San Diego Loyals and with her husband.”I always try and be on Servando’s team so he doesn’t two-foot me,” Morgan says. “And also because he’s really good.” Ten or so years after it all began — their relationship, her international soccer stardom — they are still playing together, still finding each other on the field.When the NWSL season began, her family and Servando’s family both got to come to the Wave FC games. The beginning half of the season, they played at the 6,000-capacity Torero Stadium. It has an intimate and special feeling — and they packed the house. Every home match, Morgan gifts 20 tickets to youth girls’ teams across San Diego, focusing on underserved areas. The section of the stadium is called Alex’s Home Break — a surfer’s term that refers to your regular spot, the place where your face is easily recognized and you feel welcome.On the field, she has been on a goal-scoring tear, leading the league with 11 goals. After she scored four goals against Gotham FC on her daughter’s second birthday, Wave supporters hung a banner on the rails — it’s a portrait featuring the back of her jersey, but instead of MORGAN, it says FOUR-GAN.When each game has ended and the fans have cleared out, Morgan always takes the field again, this time to kick the ball around with her daughter. “I mean, it’s cool watching me play and all, but, like, she is just waiting for her time,” Morgan says.

In June, Andonovski texted Morgan and asked when she would be free. She responded, “I’m free any time.” But she was actually about to drive home, so she immediately started fretting: “I was like, oh my God what if he calls while I’m driving, thinking, like, what’s the news going to be, because honestly I had no idea.”He did call her while she was driving. She pulled off the freeway and parked — this is not the kind of conversation you have while you’re driving. But this chat was easier than the last one: For the first time in eight months, she had been invited back with the national team. You’re coming to the World Cup/Olympic qualifiers, he told her.On Instagram afterward, she posted a picture of her and teammate Megan Rapinoe — the other veteran called back into camp after months away. “See ya in camp,” she wrote with a sly, half-smile emoticon.Morgan has been a veteran for a long time now. But while there were 17 World Cup veterans on the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team, now the veterans are surrounded by 22- and 23-year-olds. And yet it’s the veterans who are like kids out there: playful, a little mischievous, full of grins.While the young players are feeling the pressure of showing they have what it takes, all this looking-to-the-next-generation talk appears to have really freed up the veterans. They look buoyant out there, ecstatically confident.There is plenty of banter: When Kelley O’Hara ripped a beauty into the side-netting during the Colombia friendly, after the game she joked to the camera, in an old-lady voice, with a wagging finger, “Watch out, Alex and Pinoe, I’m coming for you!” In the Haiti game, when Rapinoe was about to sub in, O’Hara called out to her and Rapinoe then broke out into the dance known as the whip — a little shoulder-shimmy — right before trotting out to the field. Once in the game, Rapinoe immediately played the ball to Morgan, showcasing their connection and their understanding of one another.This zest, this fun, also feels intentional — like Rapinoe, Morgan, O’Hara and captain Becky Sauerbrunn are trying to coax the rookies toward playfulness, in the same way that O’Reilly and crew once did for them. “Heather, Abby, Shannon Boxx, Christie Rampone — those are all players who I was like, OK, if I could follow in their footsteps, if I don’t curve to the left a little bit while they’re going right, I’m going to be OK,” Morgan says.If in the last Olympics, Morgan believed she didn’t bring her best self and didn’t make it fun, she’s moving in the opposite direction now.”Getting removed from the national team gave me a reset,” Morgan says. “At this point in my career, I’m playing soccer because I genuinely love it. And I’m having fun. It’s not that I need it to fulfill myself, or need it to feel value in myself, or that I need it financially — I’m playing because I want to keep playing.” That happiness — that genuine thrill in playing — can be felt all around.”The veteran’s job is tricky — you want to usher in this new generation but you also care about your job,” O’Reilly reflects. “You care about starting — Alex’s a fierce competitor. She wants to put a stamp on her career in this final stretch. It’s critical to her legacy — she wants to prove she’s in the top three of all time. So, it’s like, you want to take my starting job? You’re gonna have to do better than this. That’s what it means to care about the team — you make it challenging for the next generation … not by pushing anyone down but by bringing them up with you.”

In the NWSL, after Alex Morgan scored her 10th goal of the season, Sophia Smith, the 21-year-old who is the second-leading goal scorer in the league, and who scored two goals on the same day Morgan scored her 10th, tweeted at her: “Slow downnnnnn” with an exasperated emoticon, as if to say, how am I supposed to catch you if you keep up this pace? Morgan responded, “Omg coming from the brace queen!! (Crown emoticon) Brings those goals to qualifiers ok thanks.”In the first qualifier against Haiti, Smith was quiet on the night, stiffer than normal. Meanwhile, Morgan scored twice. The first goal was a beauty, an insouciant outside-of-the-foot toss, a casual act of brilliance. In the 2022 edition of Alex Morgan, she’s as likely to wow you with her creativity as she is with her speed. In the next qualifier against Jamaica, it was Smith’s turn: five minutes into the game, she flew up the wing, lobbed the ball around one side of the defender, flew by the other side, then bent the ball into the side netting with the outside of her foot. It is, she thinks, her first time scoring with the outside of her foot. And then she scores again.This is what bringing-them-up-with-you looks like. And Morgan is taking this idea beyond her own team.You could see it in an interaction that happened right after their W Championship game against Haiti in Monterrey, Mexico. Kethna Louis, the talented 25-year-old Haitian center-back, asked Morgan for her jersey. In the video clip, you see Morgan peel off her shirt and say, “I want yours, too.” Louis looks taken aback, momentarily confused — like, you want mine? Morgan smiles and repeats her request, “I want yours, in return.” Morgan holds out her palms, her body language playful, like bring it, let’s do this. In the background, you can hear Louis’ teammates laughing and cheering in French — and assuring her that Morgan is serious.With that request, Morgan changes the dynamic. Now Louis goes home not just having Alex Morgan’s jersey but also knowing Alex Morgan has hers. It’s not a superstar bestowing someone with her jersey — now it’s a star of one team trading with a star of another. As Morgan walks away, she passes a dozen or so teenage ball girls who are aflutter with giggles at their proximity to Morgan.Alex Morgan is not just a leader on the U.S. team. She’s a leader for the world over. And this idea that floated about just a few months ago, that Morgan might not make the national team? It seems like the most preposterous thing anybody’s ever heard.

USWNT’s Sofia Huerta started with Mexico, then moved from forward to defender. Is the World Cup next?

MONTERREY, Mexico — For the past decade, Sofia Huerta has actively practiced the concept of living in the present, but her recent past — and how it informs her immediate future — is intrinsically tied to where she now finds herself.Sitting in the lobby of the team hotel on the day before the United States‘ 1-0 victory over Mexico on Monday at the CONCACAF W Championship, Huerta is keenly aware of the stops and starts in her journey, one filled with critics and self-doubt at times. It has been a process that required her to recalibrate how she viewed her worth as a soccer player and a person. There were moments in the past when it seemed Huerta would be preparing to play this game for Mexico. After all, the Boise, Idaho, product was eligible to represent both countries, thanks to her Mexico-born father and U.S.-born mother. As Huerta thrived playing college soccer at Santa Clara University, Mexico expressed interest in her and called her up to the senior team as a teenager in 2012.Huerta found early success, scoring a pair of goals in her first few caps with Mexico. However, that experience of representing Mexico on the soccer stage reinforced to Huerta what she had thought all along: The U.S. national team is where she belongs.”I thought, well, if I can have these moments against these top international teams, that means that I can compete at this level,” Huerta told ESPN. “Playing for Mexico helped me realize I want to play for the U.S., no question. I think I always, deep down, knew that, but I wanted to take that opportunity [with Mexico].”In 2014, Huerta made it known that she would no longer accept call-ups from Mexico to pursue opportunities with the United States, the perennial world No. 1. It wouldn’t be until 2017 that it became reality — and then another three-year stretch without a call-up before finally finding a regular place on the U.S. national team.

A USWNT opportunity, followed by regret

Huerta stands alone as the only player to have competed for and against the United States women’s national team.In 2017, then-U.S. head coach Jill Ellis was in the middle of an extensive search to improve the player pool and her team ahead of the 2019 World Cup after an embarrassing quarterfinal exit at the 2016 Olympics. Full-back depth was (and remains) an area of need for the United States, and Ellis was impressed with Huerta’s crossing abilities in her more attack-minded roles for her National Women’s Soccer League side, the Chicago Red Stars.Ellis thought those skills could translate well to an attacking full-back role at the international level. Huerta was happy just to get the call and willing to play where she was needed. Two days after the announcement that her one-time FIFA switch was approved in September 2017, Huerta made her senior U.S. debut off the bench and served a looping cross to assist a spectacular finish by Alex Morgan.Back in Chicago, however, Huerta was still being deployed as a forward. The Red Stars already had a deep back line, so in another effort to advance her national team career, she asked for a trade. In June 2018, Chicago dealt her to the Houston Dash, with whom Huerta thought she would play full-back. As soon as she arrived, however, the Dash made Huerta the No. 10 in midfield. With Huerta not playing full-back for her club, the calls from Ellis stopped.

The 2019 World Cup was around the corner, and the closer it got, the clearer it became that Huerta was not in the picture.”I had some anger there,” Huerta said of how the situation in Houston unfolded.Huerta had a choice to make about how she would view herself. She could be Sofia Huerta, successful professional soccer player, or she could be Sofia Huerta, not good enough for the U.S. national team.”I had to change the narrative of, just because I’m not on the national team doesn’t mean that I’m not a good player, doesn’t mean that I’m a failure,” she said. “Actually, this is amazing, and I’m still in the 1% and I’m so grateful for my life. That really helped me stay present and do what I can do, and then I got the call from Vlatko [Andonovski] (current U.S. head coach).”That call came in November 2021, three years after her most recent call-up. The time in between made her question herself and whether she could have performed better in her first opportunities with the United States. Huerta allowed herself, even momentarily, to wonder if all those who urged her to take the opportunity with Mexico — implicitly, the easier road — were right.”It was just a really big struggle for me because I was so regretful of how I handled my first opportunity with the U.S., and I felt like maybe I didn’t make enough sacrifices and maybe I wasn’t being as professional as I should have,” she said.”That was difficult to deal with, but then also having the thought of, I might never get this opportunity again. It’s one thing to not get that opportunity because you just have a coaching staff who might not like your playing style. But to feel like I lost that opportunity solely because of what I should have done differently, it is a really hard thing to sit with. It’s really hard to sit with. It’s uncomfortable to sit with.”I had many days, nights where I was just so uncomfortable, where I thought, ‘Wow, I had this opportunity, I did not take advantage of it and now I may not get it again.’ I thought that for a long time. And what I’ve said before, I had to start asking myself: ‘How is that serving me?’ “For the past seven years, Huerta has worked with a life coach, Lisa McClenahan, who she connected with through Santa Clara. They speak regularly as Huerta navigates an ongoing process that she describes as being kinder to herself.”Sitting here and sitting in this regret and having anxiety about the future, that’s not feeling good,” Huerta said. “So, I had to work a lot on my mental side and figure out what really worked for me. And I think in general, in life, and also in soccer, really trying to stay present is really just what’s best. It’s what everyone should try to do. It’s so easy to look back and regret and look in the future and have anxiety.”

Embracing a different role

There is another narrative that Huerta wishes to squash, one that pigeonholes her as a forward who was converted to play defense. She sees some of the discussion that her defensive abilities are lacking.”I actually feel like that’s not true,” Huerta said. “I actually played center back growing up, so I do think I have the defensive skill sets. I just think it took me a little bit to relearn some things because, obviously, I’ve been a forward and attacking player for years. Moving back to that position, it just took me a little bit to adjust.”Of course, there’s always room to improve, but I just think since I’ve been there for a year now, I really do feel like I’m a good outside back and I think it is natural to say I’m a full-back.”Huerta grew up as a three-sport athlete, playing basketball and running track. She won four state titles in hurdle events, setting a pair of state records. There was no questioning her athletic ability. When she played soccer, she was in the typical best-player-on-the-field role at that age level, playing wherever she was needed.”I’m from Idaho, so it was a little different,” she said with a smile. “I’d start up top, I would sometimes score and then be moved back to center back.”Center back is where Jerry Smith discovered her. The longtime Santa Clara coach, whom Huerta keeps in touch with today and singles out as one of the most influential people in her journey, recruited Huerta to play for the Broncos’ defense. Not long into Huerta’s freshman season, however, her ability to play as a striker became clear. She kept scoring in practice, and Smith knew he needed to move her up top. Huerta went on to tally 47 goals and 19 assists in 81 NCAA games and gained attention from professional teams as a forward.The abrupt disappointment of not playing full-back at either Chicago or Houston left Huerta immediately scrambling to figure out her next step. She spent the 2018-19 NWSL offseason on loan to Sydney FC in Australia, and this time she made sure that her position was part of the agreement before she joined a team. Huerta’s plan was to get regular minutes at full-back, and doing so during the NWSL offseason, while many other players were dormant, offered her an outside shot of getting back into the national team picture before the 2019 World Cup.It didn’t work out that way, but Huerta’s time in Australia still served a purpose. Huerta played all 14 games for Sydney that season as the side marched to a championship trophy. She scored the game-winning goal in the semifinal and then, in the final against Perth Glory, she scored six minutes in and defended Sam Kerr — now at Chelsea and ESPN FC’s second-ranked player of 2022 — throughout.Without that stint in Sydney, perhaps Huerta isn’t here in Monterrey helping the U.S. qualify for the 2023 World Cup. Regardless of what it meant for her international career, it was a standout professional moment for Huerta. Crucially, she says, she was finally playing soccer year-round, rather than staying idle during the NWSL’s four-month-plus offseason at the time.”That’s when I started noticing a difference in my game,” she said.Houston traded Huerta to the OL Reign ahead of the 2020 season, and she endured another 18 months of positional uncertainty, mostly playing on the wings up top. But Laura Harvey’s return as head coach of the Reign in August 2021 sparked the current chapter of Huerta’s career.Harvey called Huerta and said she wanted her to play full-back. The first game on the schedule: a home match against rival Portland Thorns FC. Huerta played the full game at right full-back, helping the Reign to a 2-1 victory in front of nearly 28,000 fans at Lumen Field.”I thank her so much because she had so much confidence in me,” Huerta said of Harvey. “Even when I wasn’t sure what it was going to look like, and my first game back was against Portland … I just feel like it was a hard game to go back into, but I had all the confidence from her and my teammates.”

World Cup dreams inching closer

Huerta’s father, Mauricio, worked as an engineer for Hewlett-Packard in Guadalajara, Mexico, but the lure of the U.S. was significant. Huerta’s mother, Jody, was from the U.S. and missed home, and there were greater financial opportunities in the United States. Mauricio applied to every HP location in the U.S., with Boise being the first to offer a position. So, the family packed up life, rented an apartment and bought a car. They had $500 left in their pockets when they arrived, as Huerta tells the story.Huerta said she is proud of her Mexican roots. Here in Monterrey, she has loved ones — including extended family from Puebla — in attendance to support her during the two-week competition, which doubles as a qualifying event for the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.That her first major tournament is being played in Mexico — including a match against her former national team — is not lost on her.”I definitely think there’s something extra about it,” she said. “Simply because I played for Mexico, a lot of people didn’t think that I was ever going to be on the U.S. team. And now I’m here on the U.S. team, in Mexico. I have roots and I have ties here. That’s really special and it means a lot to me.”

Huerta came off the bench on Monday to play the final 26 minutes in the win. She still has a few friends on her former team, all of whom supported and understood her decision to chase the American dream, she said.The U.S.’s 5-0 win over Jamaica on July 7 was the team’s best performance of the tournament thus far. Huerta registered one assist and wreaked havoc on the right flank, including a pinpoint cross to Mallory Pugh, whose would-be goal was negated by an offside call.”I thought Sof was very good,” Andonovski said after the game. “She was not as aggressive as we are used to going forward, but she had certain tasks to fulfill, which I thought she did a very good job. Positionally, she was spot-on. She was able to draw players from and unbalance players from their midfield line and forward line … “Overall, very good performance and I am happy that she is growing in this role.”Huerta might be the team’s best crosser; she was second in the 2021 NWSL regular season with six assists.”Whenever I have an opportunity to cross, I do it,” she said. “I mean literally every time, so that’s probably something I should work on, having more patience in the attack. Offensively, that’s obviously something that is my strength. I think defensively, I do think I’m a solid defender but there’s always room to improve. You’re playing against the best players in the world, so regardless of how good you are defensively, there are going to be times that you are exposed, or you should have made a different decision.”The message from the U.S. coaching staff to players on this roster is that they are clearly part of the picture for the 2023 World Cup. Huerta is very much in that discussion, a position that challenges her mantra of living in the moment. She lets out a huge exhale and smirks at the thought of representing the United States at the World Cup next year, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. It is the destination she envisioned when she started this circuitous journey a decade ago.”So, of course the goal is to be super present,” she said. “It doesn’t always happen. It’s much easier said than done. I think the reality is that the World Cup is still really far away, a lot of things can happen, but it does feel good to be in the conversation.”She continued: “When I think about it, I literally get so excited and so happy. At the end of the day, still you’re a year away. I know that if I continue down this path and I do what’s in my control and I keep working hard, that that is a dream that can become reality.”

Historic Inaugural Season for Girls in Blue Ends After Defeat in Playoff Opener 1- loss to Minnesota

EAGAN, Minn. (Wednesday, July 13, 2022) – Indy Eleven’s successful inaugural season of play in the USL W League came to an abrupt end in tonight’s Quarterfinal Round of the W League Playoffs via a hard fought 1-2 loss at Minnesota Aurora FC in front over 6,200 fans at a sold out TCO Stadium in suburban Minneapolis.The hard luck result looked to be going the other way after Ella Rogers gave Indiana’s Team the lead late in the first half, but Minnesota stormed back in the second to ultimately take the playoff affair between two of the three unbeaten teams in the 44-team USL W League following regular season action.The energetic opening of the match was indicative of the quality and evenness of the two sides. Both proved difficult to break down during a back-and-forth first 20 minutes, their organized defenses thwarting numerous chances once repeated forays moved into the final third.Indy Eleven seized the momentum from there with a flurry of chances midway through the half, attempts on goal by Addie Chester and Maddy Williams followed by a Rogers blast that missed wide. Indy earned a golden opportunity to take the lead when another saved shot off the foot of Williams bounced into the outstretched arm of a defender in the 23rd minute to earn a point to the spot, but Aurora goalkeeper Sarah Fuller did well to stop Williams’ ensuing penalty kick, keeping the proceedings scoreless.Indy Eleven goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood countered with a clutch save of her own in the 31st minute, when she got just enough of Kat Rapp’s close range shot to send it wide of the far post. The ensuing corner kick also threated, but Mariah Nguyen’s 15-yard shot rose over the crossbar. Shortly thereafter in the 34th minute Indiana’s Team took the lead, Jenna Chatterton’s short pass that split two defenders setting up Rogers to get on her left foot and place a shot from near the top of the area inside the far right post to move the scoreboard.Aurora pushed to find an equalizer before the end of the half, with Mayu Inokawa’s blast from 25 yards that forced Wood into an acrobatic, one-handed diving punch in the 40th minute proving the most dangerous of numerous looks in the final 10 minutes of the half for Minnesota. Williams felt she had a second PK claim in the 42nd minute when she went to ground under contact after gaining an angle inside the area, but the referee motioned to play on. As the match crossed into first half stoppage time, Aurora’s Eli Rapp squandered a ball that found her feet in space eight yards from goal, spraying the chance high to further frustrate the home side and send the Eleven into the locker room with a 1-0 advantage.   Indy nearly doubled its lead less than a minute into the second off a free kick, but a header in traffic near the six came back off the crossbar and was cleared from danger. That allowed Minnesota to equalize in the 50th minute through a brilliant individual effort by halftime substitute Morgan Turner, who gave Wood no chance to reach a bending 21-yard effort that curled into the upper left corner. A lunging cross by Minnesota on the endline in the 58th minute turned into a shot when it brushed the top of the crossbar and remained in play, allowing Indy to dodge a bullet heading into a tense final half hour.Minnesota drew the benefit of a point to the spot in the 66th minute when Maya Hansen made the most of contact inside the area, and Aurora FC took the lead despite Wood diving low and right to get a fingertip to Inokawa’s spot kick. Wood stepped up big to keep Indy within arm’s length in the 70th minute, getting a big hand to send Turner’s free kick from a few yards outside of the area over the bar. Minnesota kept increased numbers behind the ball and held the Indy attack at bay across most of the last final quarter-hour, leaving the Girls in Blue unable to put Fuller under serious duress with any of its chances down the stretch.While the final whistle brought a disappointing end to the campaign, this inaugural Indy Eleven  W League squad will be remembered for writing a historic and groundbreaking new chapter for the women’s game in the Hoosier State. As always, fans can stay tuned to the club’s @IndyEleven channels on social media and indyeleven.com/wleague for the latest news and updates on the Girls in Blue.

2022 USL W League Playoffs – Quarterfinal Round
Minnesota Aurora FC  2 : 1  Indy Eleven
Wednesday, July 13, 2022 – 8:00 p.m. ET
TCO Stadium – Eagan, Minn.

Indy Eleven: 10W-1L-2D (Great Lakes Division champion)
Minnesota Aurora FC: 12W-0L-1D (Heartland Division champion)

Scoring Summary:
IND – Ella Rogers (Jenna Chatterton) 34’
MIN – Morgan Turner (Kat Rapp) 50’
MIN – Mayu Inokawa (penalty kick) 66’

Disciplinary Summary:
IND – Karsyn Cherry (yellow card) 69’
MIN – Jill Bennett (yellow card) 72’
IND – Jenna Chatterton (yellow card) 79’
MIN – Jill Bennett (second yellow card/red card) 92+’

Indy Eleven lineup: 1-Mackenzie Wood,  Karsyn Cherry, Robyn McCarthy, Grace Bahr, Nikia Smith (Milica Bulatovic); Jenna Chatterton, Molly McLaughlin (Julia Leonard 45) (Reese Sochacki 82’), Ella Rogers, Addie Chester, Katie Soderstrom; Maddy Williams

IND substitutes: Taylor Beard, Abby Foulk, Isadora Gajdobranski, Emma Johnson

Minnesota Aurora FC lineup: Sarah Fuller; Eli Rapp (Jill Bennett 45’), Rachel Preston (Abby Ostrem 63’), Kelsey Kaufusi, Kenzie Langdok; Mariah Nguyen, Addy Symonds, Cat Rapp, Mayu Inokawa (Kristelle Yewah 84’), Jelena Zbiljic (Morgan Turner 45’), Maya Hansen

MIN substitutes: Taylor Kane, Rami Rapp, Arianna Del Moral

Hard Luck for Boys in Blue Continues in Team’s Third Consecutive 1-0 Loss

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, July 9, 2022) – Indy Eleven’s recent rough luck continued tonight in its third consecutive 1-0 defeat, this time at the hands of Detroit City FC in front of a season-high crowd of 9,462 at IUPUI Carroll Stadium. The match was the nightcap of a historic men’s/women’s doubleheader for Indiana’s Teams against DCFC that saw the Girls in Blue down DCFC, 3-0.Detroit had its foot on the gas from the onset, and it paid off just five minutes in through Connor Rutz, whose header of Deklan Wynne’s cross to the six nestled into the upper right corner to move the scoreboard for the visitors. Rutz went searching for a second in the 11th minute on a volley that just missed the crossbar, and Eleven goalkeeper Tim Trilk did well to adjust to Rhys Williams’ deflected shot from the top of the area in the 24th, going low to steer around his right post.Indy started to find more of the ball as the half progressed, although its looks were limited to Ayoze’s blocked shot in the 39th minute and a pair of Nicky Law shots that were sent into Detroit’s wall from 25 yards out in the 43rd minute.The lack of shots was clearly an emphasis coming out of the locker room for Indy Eleven, as Solomon Asante and Neveal Hackshaw both uncorked efforts from distance within the opening 30 seconds of the stanza, but neither challenged DCFC ‘keeper Nathan Steinwascher. Another wide effort by Asante and another blocked shot from Law around the hour mark kept Indy threatening.Rutz hunted his brace again with a turn-and-fire from the penalty spot in the 64th minute, but Trilk was on the spot and did well not to spill, and the Eleven ‘keeper guarded his near post well in the 76th minute when Pato Botello Faz fired on frame. Detroit did well to clog its defensive third across the final half hour, with substitute forward Aris Briggs’ 89th minute header the only shot the Boys in Blue could muster down the stretch. The result pushed Indy’s losing streak to four games, and its goalless streak to 360 minutes.Indy Eleven will take to the road in search of success next Friday, July 15, when it travels east to take on New York Red Bulls II one final time in USL Championship play (7:00 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+). Then the Boys in Blue return home on Saturday, July 23, for the first of three straight home Saturday affairs against Memphis 901 FC (live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+ & Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com) on International Night at The Mike. Fans can secure tickets starting at just $15, which can be purchased online at indyeleven.com/tickets or over the phone at 317-685-1100; more details on the Eleven’s promotional nights through the rest of the season can be found at indyeleven.com/promotions.

2022 USL Championship Regular Season – Matchday 18
Indy Eleven  0 : 1  Detroit City FC  Saturday, July 9, 2022   IUPUI Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

Indy Eleven: 6W-9L-3D, 21 pts., 8th in Eastern Conference
Detroit City FC: 9W-4L-6D, T-33 pts., 4th in Eastern Conference

Indy 11 lose to Women’s League top new team Min

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7/9/22  Indy 11 W @ the Mike 2 pm, Men 7 pm, MLS Rivalry Weekend, USWNT 5-0 over Jamaica/Mon vs Mexico 10 pm

Indy 11 Ladies play at 2 pm @ the Mike then Men Play at the Mike Saturday 7 pm –

The Indy Eleven are back home again to Detroit City FC at Carroll Stadium. To amp the burgeoning Indy-Detroit rivalry up a notch, the two clubs will start a busy day at Carroll Stadium with the regular season finale for their respective USL W League sides, with kickoff set for 2:00 p.m. The matinee will serve as a postseason tune up for Indy Eleven, which clinched the Great Lakes Division crown via their 3-0 win at Detroit just last Friday night at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, Mich. The Girls in Blue gained the division’s automatic spot in the W League’s 8-team postseason with the result; they’ll find out the opponent and location for next Wednesday’s Quarterfinal Round contest as more results shake out over the weekend. The Eleven enter the affair still undefeated with a dominant 9W-0L-2D record (29 pts.), while Detroit carries a 3W-5L-3D mark into the weekend and will look to maintain its 5th place position in the division.  Tix are just $15 @ indyeleven.com/tickets.

USA Ladies Start CONCACAF Finish Qualifying Mon vs Mexico 10 pm on Para +

The US ladies cruised to a 5-0 win on Thur eve as winger Sophia Smith was fire with 2 early goals.  (Here’s all the goals in Spanish ) Coach A has continued the massive rotation for 2 straight games and I expect more of the same on Mon with Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe (fresh off her Congressional Medal Presentation) probably rotating into the starting line-up I would guess with Purse or maybe Rodman (who bagged her own goal Thurs eve) on the wing.  I have my guess on the roster for Monday below as the US rests and prepares for the Next round starting next Thursday.  Really cool Alex Morgan moments

Tues then Thurs after the game.   

Shane’s Starting Line-Up Monday July 12 vs Mexico (Depth Chart)


Rodriguez/Sulivan /



Tyler Adams to Leeds United States of America

So Tyler Adams of Red Bulls and the USMNT is headed to Leeds United to join his old Coach fellow American Jesse Marsch and new midfielder Brendan Aaronson as Leed’s is quickly becoming Leed’s United – States of America – yes I have ordered my new Leed’s Jersey as they along with Fulham America are my 2 favorite new EPL teams!  I will still root for Pulisic as Chelsea if his is there – and Arsenal now that they have Matt Turner in Goal. (prey for injury for their starter so Turner can play 😊).  By the way congrats to new dad Matt Turner!!  Tyler’s first day

Around the World of Soccer

Of course the Women’s European Championships are underway on the ESPN family of networks with 2 games a day in the 12 and 3 pm slots (see full schedule in the OBC).  Top world powers France, England and Sweden are among the favorites. Read all about the Summer of Women’s Soccer and about the European Cup.  No Upsets so far – but the more competitive games get underway ths weekend with Netherland vs Sweden on Sat at 3 pm on ESPN2 and England vs Norway on Monday at 3 pm on ESPN2. The Group stage wraps up next weekend.

MLS Half Way Mark – Rivalry Weekend starts with El Traffico Fri 10 pm, Cascadia Cup Sat 4 pm

Former Juve Star and arguably the best defender in a generation Giorgio Chiellini is expected to make his debut along with former Real Madrid and Tottenham man Garreth Bale for El Traffico on Friday July 8th vs the LA Galaxy at 10 pm (must watch TV).  LAFC sit at the Top of the Table in the West and have overtaken the Galaxy with star power outweighing Javier Chichirito Hernandez.  The Galaxy are missing the famous stars of the past like Beckam and Lampard and Zlattan as LAFC has become the landing spot of the stars with League MVP Carlos Vela and now the former Euro greats coming in.  Man I wish I lived close enough to take in another El Traffico – hopefully it will live uup to the billing.   Meanwhile Saturday brings us Seattle vs Portland and the Cascadia Cup at 4:30 pm on FOX.

Finally checkout the Goalkeeper and Reffing Sections below in the OBC – especially like the new trial going on in MLS Next Pro – giving 3 minute Timeout Rule for faking injuries – kind of like hockey.   

Also this reminder Coach Shane is offer Extra Paid Training tor the high school aged Keepers this summer shanebestsoccer@gmail.com And Coach Noelle is offering Extra Paid Training to any age groups – this summer text 904-654-9011

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


Fri, July 8

12 pm ESPN+                     Spain vs Finland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        German vs Denmark Euro Women’s Cup

7:30 pm ESPN                    Philly Union vs DC United

8 pm Para +                        Racing Louisville vs NY/NJ Gothem NWSL

10 pm ESPN                El Traffico LA Galaxy (Chichirito) vs LAFC (Bale/Chilleini)

10 pm Para+                       Canada vs Panama

Sat, July 9

12 pm ESPN+                     Portugal vs Switzerland Euro Women’s Cup

2 pm                                      Indy 11 Women vs ???   the Mike

3 pm ESPN2                        Netherlands vs Sweden Euro Women’s Cup

4:30 pm FOX               Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Cascadia Cup

7 pm FS1                              Charlotte FC vs Nashville SC

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Cincy vs NY Red Bulls  

7:30 pm TV23             Indy 11 vs Detroit City  – The Mike

8 pm ESPN+                 Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew  

8 pm Univision            Leon vs Pumas

10 pm FS1                   Monterrey vs America

10:30 pm para+          Angel City vs San Diego Wave NWSL

Sun, July 10

12 pm ESPN2                      Belgium vs Iceland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN+                        Italy vs France Euro Women’s Cup

6 pm para+                 Chicago Red Stars vs NC Courage NWSL

6 pm para+                 Seattle Reign vs Portland Thorns NWSL

Mon, July 11

12 pm ESPN2                      Austria vs N. Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        England vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

7 pm Facebook live?       Canada vs Costa Rica

10 pm Para+                       USA Women vs Mexico

Mon, July 11

12 pm ESPN2                      Austria vs N. Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        England vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

Tues, July 12

12 pm ESPN2                      Denmark vs Finland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        Germany vs Spain Euro Women’s Cup

Weds, July 12

12 pm ESPN2                      Sweden vs Switz Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        Netherlands vs Portugal Euro Women’s Cup

8:30 pm ESPN+                  Nashville SC vs Seattle Sounders

10 pm FS1                            LA Galaxy vs San Jose Earthquakes

Thur, July 14

12 pm ESPN2                      Italy vs Iceland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        France vs Belgium Euro Women’s Cup

7 or 10 pm Para+          CONCACAF Women’s Semis USA?

Fri, July15

3 pm ESPN+                        Austria vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        Northern Ireland vs England Euro Women’s Cup

10 pm para+               San Deigo Wave vs Racing Louisville NWSL

Sat, July 16

3 pm ESPN2                        Finland vs Germany Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN+                        Denmark vs Spain Euro Women’s Cup

Mon, July 18

7 or 10 pm Para+          CONCACAF Women’s Finals USA?

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

USA Women

The USWNT Concacaf roster

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

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

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

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

Sophia Smith’s Wonder Goals

USWNT Marching to next Title- ESPN Jeff Carlisle

US Women Win qualify for World Cup – SI Avi Creditor

Alex Morgan 2 Goals sent US over Haiti

US Wins 3-0 over Haiti – the 18


Midseason Grades West

US Men U20’s Qualify for Olympics

Women’s Soccer Euro’s

Women’s Euros big questions: England or Spain to win it all? Or will Netherlands, Germany go on a run? Bill Connelly

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REFFING This Crazy Game

Ref Reviews for Week 18 in MLS

MLS Next Pro – trials – 3 minute Timeout for Faking Injuries
Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine

Ref Question    Whats the Right Call

Funny Mike Dean Story – EPL Ref who just retired


Goalkeeper Funny’s

Check Alisson Becker’s Footwork

Best World Cup Saves 2018

Indy 11

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is indy11-doubleheader.webp

Indy 11 Preview vs Detriot City

Indy 11 W – capture title


Indy 11 Park Announced

Indy 11 Park

Women’s Soccer Euro’s

Women’s Euros big questions: England or Spain to win it all? Or will Netherlands, Germany go on a run? Bill Connelly

REFFING This Crazy Game

Ref Reviews for Week 18 in MLS

MLS Next Pro – trials – 3 minute Timeout for Faking Injuries
Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine

Ref Question    Whats the Right Call

Funny Mike Dean Story – EPL Ref who just retired


Goalkeeper Funny’s

Check Alisson Becker’s Footwork

Best World Cup Saves 2018

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview vs Detriot City

Indy 11 W – capture title


Indy 11 Park Announced

Indy 11 Park

USWNT are methodically marching toward another CONCACAF title — and another World Cup spot

11:15 PM ET Jeff Carlisle U.S. soccer correspondent

The United States women’s national team completed perhaps the most low-key run to World Cup qualification in its illustrious history after Thursday’s 5-0 thrashing of Jamaica at the CONCACAF W Championship.Given the U.S. women’s historic dominance in CONCACAF — where it has won 13 straight World Cup qualifiers by a combined score of 58-0 — that’s saying something. But the current format, in which the top two teams from the two groups automatically qualify for the 2023 World Cup while the two third-place teams will head to a playoff, means there will be no elimination game drama, at least for the U.S.And after Haiti beat hosts Mexico 3-0 later on Thursday, the U.S. will head into its group stage finale against an eliminated El Tri Femenil having already punched its ticket to Australia and New Zealand.That isn’t to say that their work is done by any means. The CONCACAF W Championship doubles as the 2024 Olympic qualifying tournament, and the U.S. will have to win the competition in order to automatically clinch the trip to Paris, while the second and third-place teams will head to a playoff.But at least in terms of the World Cup, the U.S. team is on its way, and Thursday’s performance was utterly dominant. Sophia Smith put the U.S. up by two goals with the match less than eight minutes old, and a fatigued Jamaica said didn’t put up much of a fight thereafter. Rose LavelleKristie Mewis and Trinity Rodman all scored in the second half, and the defense, with Lindsey Horan playing in front of center backs — and former collegiate teammates at Stanford — Naomi Girma and Alana Cook were rarely troubled by Jamaica’s frontline led by Manchester City forward Bunny Shaw. U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher was forced to make just two saves.”There was nothing that scared us at any point in time and I thought we did a very good job to protect the space behind us, to protect and discourage balls to [Bunny] Shaw and screen her very well,” said U.S. manager Vlatko Andonovski. “So every little thing that they had in the previous game going we were able to protect and do a good job.” For Jamaica manager Lorne Donaldson, the sight of Smith tearing up the opposition was a familiar one. Along with U.S. forward Mallory Pugh, Smith played for Donaldson while with youth club Real Colorado. She certainly didn’t take it easy on her former mentor. Her first goal in particular was jaw-dropping, as he cut in from the right wing and then curled the ball into the net with the outside of her right foot.”I always want him to do well,” Smith told CBS Paramount after the match. “But when it’s against us, yeah, it’s pretty fun. It’s a fun relationship to have, and to see him on the sideline, I obviously wish him the best. But we had to take care of business.”For Donaldson, the ties that bind him to both players are still strong.”They’re like families. We’re still family,” he said at his postgame news conference. “You give [Smith] half a chance, she’s gonna take it; excellent footballer, so I don’t expect less from her.”

Donaldson was less kind to his own team, which struggled to string many passes together and was forced to efend for long stretches. Jamaica now faces Haiti in its group stage finale.”We were very s—-y, so we didn’t play well,” he said. “We’re not gonna play the world champions, play that bad and expect anything good coming out of the game. We weren’t good.”U.S. performances are always graded on an unforgiving scale given the team’s talent and history. And after the team’s 3-0 tournament opening victory over Haiti, there were still plenty of questions about the U.S.’s ability to deal with athletic, mobile sides. But this was an occasion where Andonovski found very little to quibble with. The U.S. was aggressive from the outside, and the tandem of Smith and Sofia Huerta (who assisted Smith’s second goal) on the right side was relentless in attacking Jamaica.The hard-luck attacker of the night was forward Ashley Hatch who had one goal called back for a dubious offside and twice hit the woodwork. Even then, she did plenty of unselfish running to open up space for others. And given how the U.S. was on the front foot most of the luck, Andonovski couldn’t bring himself to be too critical.”We win the game 5-0, score another two or three offside. We create another 12 goalscoring opportunities,” he said. “I think it’ll be crazy for me to say that some of the attacking players didn’t do well. They all contributed in different ways. They were all dangerous in different ways. And now, the only thing that I would want to say for all of them is I just would like to see them be just a little more clinical with the final touch or finishing and lastly, stay onside.”Even with World Cup qualification now assured, the Sunday’s group stage finale is expected to be anything but low key. It was Mexico that last beat the U.S. in a World Cup qualifier back in 2010, when a 2-1 loss forced the U.S. into winning the third place game and eventually a playoff with Italy that it won 2-0 on aggregate.”We start focusing on Mexico right now,” said Smith. “Obviously, [Mexico is] a great team. It’s a rivalry and I think we need to come out with the same energy if not more, and just do what we have to do.”

My 3 Thoughts on USWNT-Jamaica

Smith’s two goals in the first eight minutes set the stage for an easy 5-0 U.S. win

Grant WahlJul 8
Smith scored twice in the first eight minutes, and the U.S. never looked back (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

MONTERREY, Mexico — The USWNT beat Jamaica 5-0 on Matchday 2 of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the World Cup and Olympics on Thursday night. Sophia Smith scored the first two goals, Rose Lavelle added the third, Kristie Mewis converted from the spot and Trinity Rodman finished the deluge. The win left the U.S. on six points and all but assured of a spot in World Cup 2023. (The U.S. would mathematically clinch a berth if the nightcap between Mexico and Haiti ends in a tie.) Here are my three thoughts on the game:

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• Smith was in the zone. The 21-year-old winger, who has been on a scoring tear with the national team, found the net twice in the first eight minutes and put the U.S. in control before most people had settled into the game. Smith’s first goal was an utter thing of beauty as she took a good ball from Naomi Girma, flicked the ball up with one touch to erase her defender and hit a gorgeous trivela with the outside of her right boot into the net. Smith’s second saw her run onto a ball from the excellent right back Sofia Huerta and steer the ball into the air so that it just crossed the line for 2-0. I will say this: Watching in person, you can’t miss Smith when she’s on the ball. She just moves at a higher RPM than anyone else on the field, especially when the general pace of the game is slower than normal due to the 97-degree heat at kickoff. There’s a frisson of excitement whenever Smith drives at defenders, and you find yourself wishing she would do it even more on a team that sometimes settles frustratingly for hopeful crosses into the box.

Attacking Third @AttackingThirdSOPHIA SMITH YOU ARE A STAR. What a touch and finish from the 21-year-old @ThornsFC phenom. July 7th 202240 Retweets167 Likes

• Naomi Girma was terrific in a game where Vlatko Andonovski was testing her. The NWSL rookie came into the starting lineup to replace Becky Sauerbrunn alongside Alana Cook, and the opposition was real: Jamaica forward Bunny Shaw of Manchester City, who scored the game-winner against Mexico, is a tough player for any central defender to handle. But Girma didn’t put a foot wrong the entire night. She reads the game extremely well, and she frustrated Shaw so much that she resorted to firing a hope shot from a crazy distance into the stands at one point. (Shaw ended up exiting the game in the 63rd minute after being completely shut down except for one run to beat Emily Fox down the right side.) Plus the well-placed ball that Girma sent to release Smith gave the U.S. an early lead that took any worries away. Give Cook credit, too, for helping shut down any remote Jamaican threats. This U.S. clean sheet looked a lot better defensively than the one against Haiti the other night, when the U.S. back line was vulnerable at times and lucky not to give up a goal or two.

• Huerta is making a good case to be the starting right back. That’s not really a knock on Kelley O’Hara, who played well on Monday. But the 29-year-old Huerta was a menace attacking down the right side, especially in the first half, and her attacking passes, including pinpoint crosses, were consistently dangerous. Huerta’s crosses have a purpose that not all crosses do with this team, and Mal Pugh was unlucky to be a hair offside and have her goal at the end of one of those crosses disallowed. (Pugh will be frustrated that she hasn’t found the net yet despite having several chances.) Overall, Jamaica’s performance was disappointing on Thursday after the Reggae Girlz had gotten three points against host Mexico in Game 1. But that shouldn’t take away from a totally-in-control U.S. performance that was better than the one they had against Haiti. The fact that the U.S. could do that without seeing a minute of Alex Morgan (being rested) or Megan Rapinoe (accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom) is an encouraging sign for a team that has all but clinched a berth in World Cup 2023.

Premium: Time to Take the Fifth?
As the USWNT clinches a berth in World Cup 2023, Alex Morgan says claims that Europe has passed the U.S. by are “ridiculous”

Grant Wahl Jul 8

MONTERREY, Mexico — Alex Morgan has seen the lists. The most recent one from The Guardian ranking just three USWNT players in the global top 50 (and none in the top 19). And the new one from ESPN that has six U.S. players in the world top 50 but just one Yank in the top 10.
With a year to go before the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, for which the U.S. qualified on Thursday night, Morgan is well aware of the conventional wisdom in European soccer circles: that the U.S. has been surpassed by its European counterparts. That when you measure things player by player, the U.S. just doesn’t stack up anymore in 2022.
“I both understand it and think it’s completely ridiculous at the same time.” — Alex Morgan on the idea that European teams have passed the USWNT by

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The soccer world this summer and next will be dominated by the women’s game. In the coming weeks, continental championships in Europe, the Americas and Africa will serve as a buzz-generating prelude to next year’s main event. And as the Euros bask in their crowds of 68,000-plus and make the case that the epicenter of women’s soccer is shifting across the Atlantic, Morgan would like to point her finger to the four World Cup title stars on the USWNT crest—and, not least, the ones representing the last two tournaments, in 2015 and 2019.
Those player rankings with so few Americans on them?
“I both understand it and think it’s completely ridiculous at the same time,” Morgan told me in a one-on-one interview this week. “I understand it in the fact that most of us live and play in the U.S. and don’t have Euros, don’t have Champions League. It’s ridiculous because again, we’re two-time reigning World Cup champs. We have some of the best talent in the world. Obviously, I’m going to give ourselves a great chance at adding another star. So I have a prediction that that will change, that number of six [U.S. players in ESPN’s top 50] will increase a little in the next year.”Truth be told, the team that stopped the U.S.’s Olympic gold medal run last year wasn’t from Europe but rather Canada, which is on a collision course to meet the U.S. in the CONCACAF final, with the tournament’s lone automatic Olympic berth up for grabs to the winner. Granted, Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s U.S. team is in the middle of a transition following last year’s disappointing Olympic bronze medal, with the retirement of Carli Lloyd and the absences of Crystal Dunn (pregnancy), Sam Mewis (injury) and Julie Ertz (both injury and pregnancy). Christen Press (ACL injury) and Tobin Heath (just returned to the NWSL with OL Reign from Arsenal) may not be selected for the national team even when they’re fully fit, and Megan Rapinoe (who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on Thursday) is with the team but in a super-sub role.In the ACL-related absence of superstar-in-waiting Catarina Macario, the 22-year-old center-forward who recently won the Champions League with Lyon, the most exciting players on the U.S. team lately are wingers Sophia Smith (21) and Mal Pugh (24).For now, it’s a little hard to measure the U.S. based on its first two games in the current tournament. A 3-0 victory over Haiti—marked by two Morgan goals—was less comfortable than the scoreline indicated, but Haiti’s subsequent 3-0 win over a shell-shocked Mexico showed that the Haitians have more talent than ever. Easily the best story of the tournament, Haiti can qualify for its first women’s World Cup with a tie or better on Monday against Jamaica.
Thursday’s 5-0 U.S. win against Jamaica was over within eight minutes, which was all the time it took for the U.S. to go ahead 2-0 on goals by Smith (an emerging star who, it should be noted, is nowhere to be found on the ESPN or Guardian lists). Smith’s first goal, finished with a right-footed trivela, was so outrageous that even renowned skill player Rose Lavelle couldn’t help but marvel at it.“That was sick, Soph,” Lavelle told her on the field right after it happened“That might be my first outside-of-the-foot goal,” Smith allowed afterward. “But I try to do it in practice. I practice it. I just never get in those situations, but I did tonight.”

Attacking Third @AttackingThird
SOPHIA SMITH YOU ARE A STAR. What a touch and finish from the 21-year-old @ThornsFC phenom.

“Soph is an incredible young player,” Andonovski said after the game. “To be a starter at 21 years old on the best team in the world isn’t easy. It comes with lots of weight. She wants to be the best every time she steps on the field. She’s a perfectionist, she wants to score one or two goals. Which is great, but sometimes it can be counterproductive. I don’t think the last game was her best game, and I did have a meeting with her and talked about that to reassure her.”“Regardless of what this game or the next game will look like, she will be a starter for this team,” Andonovski added, “just because we know how good she is now, and we can see her potential and how good she can be in the future. She does have the potential to be one of the best players in the world.”

Morgan got the night off on Thursday, which allowed Ashley Hatch and Trinity Rodman to play in the No. 9 spot. But with Macario out injured, Morgan is clearly the first option again up top for the games that matter most. And she has earned that with a formidable run of form for San Diego in the NWSL (where her 11 goals lead the league) and now the national team.
When asked where her current form ranks in her career, Morgan pauses for a moment.
“I mean, that’s hard,” she tells me. “I’d have to say number one, just because I want to live in the present and hope that I’m in the best form of my career. I think there’s still room to get better because I hope I’m in the best form of my career during the World Cup next year. But I think there’s a couple moments that definitely stick out: 2012 Olympic year, getting the opportunity to start for the first time with the national team, and then 2017 playing in Lyon and then coming back and playing with Orlando and getting to the playoffs there. Those are a couple years that stick out. But I’m having a good time this year.”
Morgan’s two goals against Haiti stood out largely because they were different from the kind she used to score regularly in the early stages of her career. One goal was a well-taken near-post stab, and the other was a looping header taken while moving away from the goal. Morgan told me she has spent a lot of time the last year or two studying Chicharito Hernández and his movement to create space for himself in the penalty box.
“I definitely feel like I use the defender to manipulate her a lot more than I used to,” Morgan says. “Earlier in my career, I think I was a lot more linear. We played as more of a two-front earlier, and then over the course of the last few years, 2015 and ’19 in particular, I think that my game has definitely evolved. Not only my ability to get open in the box, but to create space for myself and not always feel like I have to rush into the box. But I have to be in the box at the right moment. And so that’s definitely a different mindset.”So is the approach Morgan has had to take recently when she hasn’t been selected by Andonovski for the national team. She’s not the only U.S. veteran, of course, to find herself in that situation. But Morgan admits she struggled with it at first.“Honestly, I think it was a process for me to look at myself in the mirror and stop blaming,” she says. “I think that’s what I wanted to do initially after having a disappointing Olympics and not quite the year that I wanted last year. And I think that’s when my mindset changed, is when I really started to actually just feel better, be happier and be more confident on the field.”“And that took a while,” she continues. “I mean, that took until February or March to kind of stop thinking, how can I get back on the national team? Rather, how can I help San Diego to be the best expansion team that’s ever been in the NWSL, to make Casey [Stoney] and Jill [Ellis] proud for trading for me and seeing a leader in me and the player that I can be on San Diego? So I think it was just a shift of a mindset.”Can Morgan and Macario play on the field at the same time once Macario returns from her injury? Andonovski has said he sees the No. 9 spot as Macario’s best position, which presents a conflict with Morgan, but he has also used Macario in different places on the field.“I don’t know,” Morgan says about the possibility. “We have played together, because she has played in the 10 position back in September–October last year. And she’s great turning in that pocket, and she gives something different than a player like Rose or a player like Lindsey [Horan]. But obviously, she can play in the nine as well. And it’s extremely disappointing to see her injury after such an incredible year that she had after coming out from Stanford and just being so successful. So obviously, I think that she comes back as soon as she possibly can healthwise and gets back on this team. And I’m sure that at the end of the day, Vlatko is going to want to put the best players on the field. And so I’ll just continue to make a case for myself in that regard.”Just don’t look for Morgan, who turned 33 last week, to stick around until her late 30s like Lloyd did. When I ask her whether her 117 international goals means she’ll try to break Abby Wambach’s U.S. record (184) or Christine Sinclair’s world mark (189 and counting), she shakes her head instantly.
“Abby always said that I would smash her record of goals scored, and I didn’t believe her then and I won’t believe her now,” Morgan says. “I am not one of the players that will continue to be playing at 38, 39, 40 years old. My body has been through a lot. I think I continue to take a lot of tackles every game, and I’m just happy to continue to be playing every day and scoring goals. So I just continue to look for one more. But will I get over 180? Doubtful, extremely doubtful.”She does have one long-term eye on the sport, however. For the past year, Morgan has been part of the FIFA committee chaired by Jill Ellis on the future of the women’s game. The members have regular meetings, and Morgan has been an active member on the calls.“Something that we’ve been really focused on is how to increase the competition and kind of force a lot of federations to increase match play for their respective women’s teams, and how for that not to always continue to be the same teams,” she says. “Like for CONCACAF, for us not to always be playing against only other CONCACAF teams for major tournaments. But another thing is, what would be best for women’s football moving forward? A World Cup every four years, or a biennial World Cup? And there’s been a lot of amazing discussion around it and a lot of different perspectives as there’s a lot of former and current players, referees, coaches from all different federations and confederations.”
She continues: “So it’s interesting to hear everyone’s viewpoints, and I think overall, it’s just how can we continue to increase the accessibility of women’s football and increase the quality of play as well and the number of matches for each team. Because we’re not worried about the U.S. playing 15 to 20 matches a year. We’re going to maximize our windows. But it’s getting Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and a lot of these other countries to maximize those match windows.”At a time when athletes past and present have more influence than ever in U.S. Soccer, Morgan’s role in FIFA is not an inconsequential one. But she still wants to be as relevant as ever on the field, and she’ll get a chance to do that in this tournament. After all, if you’re going to speak publicly about putting fifth stars over the USWNT crest and staving off the European charge, it helps to be putting balls in the net.

Adams and Sinisterra are n way – Leeds have shown transfer urgency that was needed

By Phil HayJul 6, 2022

The last time Leeds United went to Australia — indeed, the last time Leeds toured anywhere of note in pre-season — Victor Orta was on the plane. The summer of 2019 was a busy one but not so hectic that a trip abroad or two weeks in a different timezone interfered with Orta’s job.Leeds will fly to Australia again over the weekend, for training and three friendlies, but the plan is for Orta to stay behind with other work to attend to. The club wanted quick and decisive transfer business in this window and Orta’s decision to remain in England is indicative of an attempt to complete the main strands of it as soon as possible.Two more signings are pending at Elland Road, Tyler Adams from RB Leipzig and Luis Sinisterra from Feyenoord, on top of three sealed so far. Leeds made progress with both towards the end of last week and by Monday evening they were in a position to start pushing them through.Adams should join from Leipzig in time to go with the squad to Australia. All being well, Sinisterra’s medical will not be far behind. The completion of Kalvin Phillips’ transfer to Manchester City has allowed other dominoes to fall, one transfer helping to fund others.Leeds anticipated this window would be a moveable feast, dependent on factors not entirely theirs to control. They were unable to categorically say when last season finished that Phillips or Raphinha would leave, and even now it is possible that Raphinha will be on the flight to Australia. However, the suspicion was there and the club’s attitude was that dragging heels would cost them.The initial arrivals began moving almost as the 2021-22 season ended, starting with Brenden Aaronson. If Phillips and Raphinha were leaving, the club wanted to get on with both sales (Rasmus Kristensen also joined Leeds shortly after). In ideal circumstances, they hoped their recruitment would be there or thereabouts by the time pre-season took them down under.Should Adams, who flew to England yesterday, and Sinisterra sign as planned in the days ahead, Leeds will find themselves in the second week of July with only one major process to negotiate: the sale of Raphinha, which in turn clears the way for them to invest in a new forward, the final target of note on their list.Leeds have spoken about sourcing a more experienced second-choice goalkeeper but that would be a more peripheral signing, a move that made no material difference to their strongest line-up on paper. Their plan is a long way down the line, so far avoiding the risk that a busy and delicate window becomes messy or gets out of hand.
The trade-off Leeds want and are close to securing is two players out and six established players in, beyond the £5 million spent on emerging 18-year-old Darko Gyabi from Manchester City. Adams is Phillips’ replacement, if not a direct tactical swap, and he is set to link up with Leeds’ head coach Jesse Marsch for the third time in his career. Marc Roca and Aaronson are on board as additional midfielders.
Sinisterra will help to cover the hole Raphinha is expected to leave and Kristensen gives Leeds a fresh face at right-back, a position devoid of other candidates due to injury. The club appear content to persist with Junior Firpo at left-back, despite his mediocre first season at Elland Road, and have not targeted proven competition for him but the size of the squad is changing. If the conclusion of last season drew a line under the Marcelo Bielsa era, the transfer dealings since are making it thicker.Liam Cooper, the captain, spoke this week about the importance of avoiding the form Leeds suffered at the start of last season, when they took two wins from their first 13 Premier League games.That run set the tone for the whole campaign and establishing more impetus under Marsch than they did in Bielsa’s final year will require a strong pre-season and a summer that sets Leeds up in the right way. To a large extent, Marsch needs a pre-season like Bielsa’s first in 2018: a period of preparation in which tactics and the make-up of the squad allows everything to click and avoids the threat of relegation dominating the entire year.
“Pre-season’s so important and that’s why the club’s gone so early on signings,” Cooper tells The Athletic. “You get players in, you integrate them and then you’re playing together as soon as possible. We’ve got plenty of pre-season games to come and this is going to be massive for us, to get a plan and get those relationships going.”In the latter stages of last season, Leeds courted Eddie Nketiah, a striker whose signature was up for grabs until he opted to sign a new contract at Arsenal. Their forward of choice now is Charles De Ketelaere, the 21-year-old at Club Bruges who has attracted the attention of scouts across Europe.Bruges are prepared to sell him in this window and the level of attention on De Ketelaere suggests a transfer out of Belgium is inevitable. Leeds have made their interest plain, but they are prepared for the possibility that a move to AC Milan, the long-term favourites to land him and the move De Ketelaere is most keen on, will knock them out of the running.rratt – AMA/Getty Images)
Financing a De Ketelaere bid would require money raised by selling Raphinha and that situation is at a standstill. Chelsea are ready to pay an up-front fee of around £60 million for the Brazil winger, with add-ons worth more than £5 million, and Leeds have indicated to the ownership at Stamford Bridge they would accept that offer but Raphinha is resisting Chelsea’s approaches in the hope Barcelona, his preferred destination, will stump up the cash.arcelona have failed to meet his valuation and are finding Leeds unreceptive to offers of payments in installments. Chelsea are happy to transfer the guaranteed fee in one tranche.It is, at this stage, the one process which might drag on and Orta’s intention to remain in England while Marsch and his squad go on tour is aimed at bringing Leeds’ remaining work to a conclusion.There are other things happening — three Championship sides are interested in midfielder Jamie Shackleton and discussions continue about him leaving Elland Road on loan — but little has distracted from the priority jobs.Orta spent much of June on the continent, moving from country to country as Leeds targeted the European market. Their support of Marsch has been demonstrated by the signing of three players who previously worked with him.Leeds needed a robust plan for a pressurised close season and with their first public friendly against Blackpool taking place in York tomorrow, it is taking hold in the time frame they envisaged.What the recruitment delivers in the Premier League is another matter entirely and in Phillips and Raphinha they have resigned themselves to losing two pillars of their team.The transition amounts to another test of Leeds’ scouting department and much is hanging on the success and clarity of Marsch’s tactical ideas. But a complex rebuild is well under way, with Adams and Sinisterra waiting in the wings and one key deal to put together after those. The summer has shown the urgency required

Inside Ronaldo and Manchester United’s turbulent week

Inside Ronaldo and Manchester United’s turbulent week

Stuart JamesLaurie Whitwell and more Jul 9, 2022

There was no “last call” for Cristiano Ronaldo on Friday afternoon. Manchester United’s 12-hour flight to Bangkok departed without their talisman on board as Erik ten Hag and his players set off to Thailand for the first leg of their pre-season tour.Even by United’s recent standards, it has been a chaotic and turbulent week. Ronaldo’s future has overshadowed everything since the news broke last Saturday that he had told United he wanted to leave if they received a suitable offer for him. “Shocking” was how one source close to United described the timing.Forty-eight hours later, Ten Hag was due to address the full United playing squad for the first time since taking over as manager. It says everything about the current situation, and in particular about who is in control, that nobody at United was able to say on Sunday with any certainty whether Ronaldo would be present for that meeting.The clues were there on social media late on Monday morning, when United posted a video on Instagram showing seven players who were reporting back to Carrington for the first time since the end of last season, after they had been given an extended break because of international fixtures. Anthony ElangaBruno FernandesHarry MaguireAlex TellesFredDiogo Dalot and Raphael Varane fist-bumped their way down the corridor at United’s training ground. As for Ronaldo, he was nowhere to be seen, other than in the comments section. “Where is CR7?”

United had discovered the answer to that question a couple of hours earlier. He was still in Portugal and would not be returning for his first day of pre-season training. Ronaldo cited family reasons — something The Athletic was told that Ten Hag referenced, matter-of-factly, during his opening speech with the United players, when the Dutchman knew that he couldn’t ignore the elephant in the room.The players kept their thoughts to themselves in that setting. Privately, though, they were soon talking and coming to a rather different conclusion about Ronaldo’s absence. Last season’s top scorer wants out and, in reality, was unlikely to be seen again anytime soon.In the wake of Monday’s no-show, the mood inside the club shifted quickly. The idea that Ronaldo would not fly with the rest of the United players for the club’s pre-season tour had been almost unthinkable on Sunday. Twenty-four hours later, it seemed quite plausible. United, quite simply, had no idea when Ronaldo would return.Footage emerged on Monday afternoon suggesting that Ronaldo was at the Portugal national team’s training headquarters, in Lisbon, where his Rolls-Royce was spotted in the car park. There were reports in Spain later in the day that Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo’s agent, had flown to Barcelona to meet with the club’s president Joan Laporta to discuss the United forward.Mendes has clearly been doing the rounds lately — and for good reason. A week before Ronaldo told United that he wanted to be allowed to leave the club, The Athletic reported that Mendes had met with Todd BoehlyChelsea’s new owner. The prospect of Ronaldo switching to Chelsea was part of their conversation.United may well have misread the significance of that rendezvous with Boehly in Portugal, partly because there was a sense at the time that it just felt like Mendes was being Mendes, but also because Ronaldo had previously given the club no reason to think that he would be doing anything other than staying.During an in-house interview at the start of June, Ronaldo claimed to be “very happy” at Old Trafford and “excited” that Ten Hag had been appointed as the new manager, and even talked about believing “next year we are going to win trophies”. Four weeks later, he wanted out.The question that many were asking, both inside and outside of the club, is what happened to change Ronaldo’s mind, bearing in mind that he had known for two months that Old Trafford was not going to be hosting Champions League football next season.Ten Hag was entitled to be as confused as anyone, given that he had spoken to Ronaldo earlier in the summer and there had been no hint of what was to come. It is understood that Ten Hag learned about Ronaldo’s desire to leave via another party, rather than directly. Irrespective of that news, Ten Hag still anticipated that Ronaldo would return for pre-season training on Monday.If Ronaldo is frustrated by United’s lack of transfer activity this summer, he is not alone. There is a mixture of exasperation and despair behind the scenes at United at the way the club operates in the market. There is talk of United “playing the long game” on deals when there is no need to do so — they risk missing out on targets in the process and relying on a reactive approach to recruitment. United would counter that negotiations take time when clubs raise prices.(Left to right) Zidane Iqbal, Anthony Martial, Jadon Sancho, Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Alejandro Garnacho and Alvaro Fernandez in action during Manchester United’s pre-season training (Photo: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)What is clear is that the Ronaldo news caught United off guard. Calls were made this week to sound out potential replacements for a player who scored 24 goals in all competitions last season. All the while, United continued to insist publicly that Ronaldo was not for sale. Privately, many doubt that is the case. Keeping an unhappy player is one thing, keeping an unhappy Ronaldo quite another — especially when Ten Hag is trying to kick-start a new era.“The only important factor with the Ronaldo situation is that it’s dealt with decisively and quickly,” Gary Neville, the former United defender, tweeted on Monday evening. “This can’t be a saga that takes the attention away from Erik ten Hag’s bedding-in period for the next two months.”Concern deepened inside the club once it became clear that Ronaldo was highly unlikely to be flying out to Thailand this week. Ronaldo’s profile is a game-changer when things are going well and the club can ride on the back of it, but it can quickly turn into a circus when he is the centre of the story for the wrong reasons. Good luck steering the narrative away from CR7 now.By Tuesday, anyone and everyone was wading into the issue, and quoting lines from Top Gun in the process. “Cristiano Ronaldo wants out of United because they don’t share his ferocious ambition and will to win,” Piers Morgan tweeted. “Especially some of the cocky, lazy younger players whose egos, unlike his, are writing cheques their performances don’t cash. That’s the real story.”Morgan, for what it’s worth, has a line to Ronaldo. Whether he has talked to him about his United future is another matter, but what we can say for sure is that the extent to which Ronaldo’s relationship with the younger players at the club has unravelled is a relevant subject.

Cristiano Ronaldo salutes the fans at the end of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Brentford on May 2, 2022 (Photo: Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Last weekend, The Athletic was told by well-placed sources that some United players would feel “liberated” and more confident about expressing themselves without Ronaldo at the club, almost as if his presence was suffocating.A senior figure with inside knowledge of the way that United operate quickly came to a similar conclusion this week — namely, that there was now an opportunity for the team to develop without Ronaldo (with emphasis on the word “team”) and that all of this is a blessing in disguise for Ten Hag.This is not a black and white issue, though, and in the eyes of some, it is far too simplistic to believe that United’s problems will be solved by Ronaldo leaving the building, especially when you begin to understand just how exasperated other senior players were last season with the dysfunctional nature of the club as a whole.Culture is a word that comes up again and again in conversations about United, and it is hard for anyone to see how that can be a quick fix. “There are so many things to change in there that players didn’t see a short-term solution,” says one source.Interestingly — and this is where the debate about Ronaldo and his impact on others becomes more complicated — the same source questions “the culture among some of the young players, in terms of effort and intensity in training”, and goes on to talk more broadly about a lack of professionalism outside of a core group.

The subject of leadership has come up repeatedly at United in recent years and Ten Hag will have been well briefed on what to expect at the club. It is understood that he tried to encourage Nemanja Matic, who triggered an exit clause in his contract this summer, to stay on for another year because the Serbian was viewed as a good influence in the dressing room.As for Ronaldo, he was still missing from training on Wednesday morning, when a slip of the thumb by Maguire caused some amusement. Maguire “liked” a post on Instagram about Ronaldo being “reportedly upset with the 25 per cent wage cut all players received when Manchester United failed to qualify for next season’s Champions League”.The question of whether Maguire was empathising with Ronaldo, or enjoying some fun at his team-mate’s expense (mindful that the Instagram post said that his salary would be cut to £360,000 a week), became redundant when it emerged that the England defender had accidentally hit the wrong button.Bayern Munich feared that they would do the same if they signed Ronaldo this summer. The Athletic reported on Monday that Bayern had briefly discussed Ronaldo and realised just as quickly that a deal for him made little sense.Official confirmation of Bayern’s position arrived on Wednesday. “As highly as I rate Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the greatest, a transfer wouldn’t be a ft with our philosophy,” Oliver Kahn, Bayern’s chief executive officer, told Kicker magazine.Back at Old Trafford, United’s signing of Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord on Tuesday afternoon had almost gone under the radar. The same cannot be said for Ronaldo’s private jet, which was picked up en route from Lisbon to Madrid on Wednesday. Ronaldo did not appear to be on board — a feeling that United know all too well.Some short-term clarity was around the corner. On Thursday evening, United confirmed that Ronaldo had been granted additional time off to deal with a family issue and would not be flying to Bangkok on Friday. Whether he joins up with the United squad for the Australia leg of the pre-season tour is unclear.United continued to reiterate on Thursday that Ronaldo, who is under contract for another 12 months, is not for sale — a public stance that will be tested if and when the club receive an offer for him. In truth, there are good reasons to believe that United will be willing to do business. A bigger question right now is where that bid might come from.On the face of it, Chelsea or Napoli remain Ronaldo’s most likely suitors, but there are complications with both clubs. Does Thomas Tuchel really want to manage Ronaldo at Chelsea? Can Napoli, who are trying to cut costs, actually afford Ronaldo?Perhaps the 37-year-old will end up staying at Old Trafford and wearing a United shirt again. He was pictured with one on first thing on Friday morning, when United launched their new kit for the 2022-23 season. Those photos were taken five weeks ago, though, and a lot has changed since then — in particular during the last seven days.

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7/2/22  Indy 11 Fireworks Sat 7:30 pm, US U20s Qualify for Olympics Final Sun 8 pm FS1, USWNT Play Mon 7 pm CBSSN, Former CFC Player in Regional Final 4, Ladies Euro’s Start Wed ESPN

USMNT U 20’s Qualify for Olympics 24  – Final Sun 8 pm FS1 vs Dominican Republic

Wow our Boys came to play Friday night – A 3 – 0 THUMPING of Honduras (yes the same country that knocked us out of the Olympics last summer).  So now we are headed to the 2024 Olympic in 2024 in Paris. Check the celebration   It had the local Honduras fans so upset they hurled bottles and debris at youth soccer players.  Well that’s the difference though – now like most countries in Europe – the US had a full complement of Professional Soccer players on the field – 4 from the Philly Union, a few from Dallas, NY Red Bulls – when the DA was formed and then taken over by MLS – the # of US players playing at the U20 has literally tripled.  With MLS new found place as a selling league with millions to be made on the sale of players like Ricardo Pepi, Brendan Aaronson (who’s brother Paxton scored 4 goals in the this tourney including last night) and more.  Its unfathomable that this will be our first Olympics since 2008 when Stu Holden played.  Still what a huge accomplishment by this team to dominate this tournament (like we should).  We honestly should have NO RIVALS in CONCACAF – even Canada and Mexico were eliminated before the round of 4.  Now the US has to finish the business with what should be a pushover game vs the Dominican Republic  – who continue to shock the world with their play in this tourney after a 3-2 PKs win over Guatemala.

US Beats Guatemala Advances to Finals Sunday Night at 8 pm – American Soccer Now
USMNT end Olympics drought, qualify for Paris 2024

Grant Wahl 3 Thoughts on the Win

Indy 11 Men Play at the Mike Saturday 7:30 pm – Fireworks after 

Indy Eleven are back home again to face The Miami FC at Carroll Stadium after a month-long road trip that saw the team go 1W-2L-1D across four matches in the month of June. The Eleven are coming off a 5-0 defeat to San Diego Loyal SC, while Miami fell 3-1 to LA Galaxy II last weekend. Saturday’s match marks the first-ever match for the Boys in Blue on brand-new turf at Carroll Stadium, installed during the team’s road trip in tandem between Indy Eleven and IUPUI. The new playing surface, FieldTurf’s CORE model, is currently the playing surface utilized at five MLS venues. The boys in blue return home Sat, July 2 at 7:30 pm with a fire-works display after so make your plans to be there- tix are just $15 @ indyeleven.com/tickets.

USA Ladies Start CONCACAF Qualifying Mon vs Haiti 7 pm on CBSSN

So obviously the US ladies should finish in the top 4 needed to qualify in Monterey, Mexico– for the World Cup – but with only Canada anywhere close to the level of the US in CONCACAF the US is absolutely expected to win this tournament – even with the mix of new young players that coach A has included along with a sturdy group of veterans.  The games will all be on Paramount plus with occasional CBS Sports Network game like the opener on July 4th at 7 pm ET.  Thurs night the US faces a tougher Jamaica team at 10 pm on Para+, before group play finishes Monday at 10 pm vs home side Mexico again on Para plus.  I do have to say as I watched the US ladies take the field on Tuesday night – the cross section of players made me proud to be an American Soccer Fan !!  African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Gays, Straights, Christians, Muslims,  and the first ever player with a limb difference (missing limb)  Carson Pickett making history.  Makes me Proud. 

Shane’s Starting Line-Up Monday July 4th for Qualifying


Horan/ Davis/Lavelle



USA Ladies beat Colombia twice

The US Ladies got off to a good start in their final 2 friendlies vs Colombia.  The 3 -0 win on Sunday was impressive with Smith and Pugh streaming down the wings and Smith scoring twice before newcomer Taylor Kornieck scored her first goal in her first ever match.   I thought in both games that the Colombian goalkeeper Perez stood on her head to keep the US at bay – especially in the first  game.  (2nd Game High-lights) The 2nd game had Rapinoe starting on the left with Morgan up top and Purge on the right.  Purge was dangerous but proved why she can’t start as her final touch was just not up to par.  I would say she stands behind Trinity Rodman and of course Smith on the right side now.  Interesting minutes for Kristie Mewis in the #6 role in game 2 – a game which saw Colombia actually get some a few real dangerous shots off on the net.  Not sure Mewis showed she’s as strong as Horan or Fox here moving forward.  I thought Rodman looked good on the wing spot – and Kornieck is definitely a good late sub for the US with her Abby Wambach-like height.  Another huge moment was Carson Pickett becoming the first player with a limb difference to play in a USWNT game

Around the World of Soccer

Of course the Women’s European Championships get underway starting Wednesday on the ESPN family of networks with 2 games a day in the 12 and 3 pm slots (see full schedule in the OBC).  Top world powers France, England and Sweden are among the favorites. Read all about the Summer of Women’s Soccer.

Former Jueventus star and arguably the best defender in a generation Giorgio Chiellini gets welcomed to the 3252 (the fan section at LAFC) at the last game.  He is expected to make his debut along with former Real Madrid and Tottenham man Garreth Bale for El Traffico on Friday Night July 8th 10 pm on ESPN vs the LA Galaxy (must watch TV). 

Former CFC Player in Regional Final 4

Huge Congrats to Former Carmel FC Player Emily Roper who’s 2004 Fire Academy team advanced to the Regional Semi-Finals this week at Grand Park before bowing out.  They were one of just 2 Indiana Teams to make the Semi-Finals. Proud to have joined Carmel FC coach Bill Spencer, along with CFC Coaches Carla and Tom Baker who helped coach her up along the way. 

Women’s European Soccer Pick ‘Em Make picks throughout the Women’s European Championship for a shot at $5,000. Make Your Picks

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   

I am doing some Goalkeeper Training this Summer with the high school aged – reach out if interested in small group training at inexpensive prices on Thurs. eves shanebestsoccer@gmail.com or 317-748-7174.


Fri, July 1

7 pm FS1                  U20 CONCACAF Semis Guatemala vs Dominican Republic

9 pm FS1                              U20 CONCACAF Semis USA vs Honduras

8:30 pm Para+                   Houston vs KC NWSL

10:30 Para+                         Angel City vs Portland NWSL

Sat, July 2

7 pm Para+                         NY Gotham vs Chicago NWSL

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Toronto vs Seattle 

7:30 pm TV23             Indy 11 vs Miami FC (fireworks)

Sun, July 3

1 pm Univision                  Pumas vs Tijuana

5 pm ESPN+                        NYCFC vs Atlanta

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Cincy vs New England

8 pm FS1                              U20 CONCACAF Final USA vs Dom Republic

Mon, July 4

7 pm CBSSN                        USA Women vs Haiti CONCACAF

Wed, July 6

3 pm ESPN                          England vs Austria  Euro Women’s Cup

Thur, July 7

3 pm ESPN2                        Norway vs Northern Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

10 pm Para+                       USA Women vs Jamaica

Fri, July 8

12 pm ESPN+                     Spain vs Finland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        German vs Denmark Euro Women’s Cup

10 pm ESPN El Traffico LAFC vs LA Galaxy Bale/Chiellini debut

Sat, July 9

12 pm ESPN+                     Portugal vs Switzerland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        Netherlands vs Sweden Euro Women’s Cup

4:30 pm Fox Seattle vs Portland

7 pm FS1 Charlotte vs Nashville SC

Sun, July 10

12 pm ESPN2                      Belgium vs Iceland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN+                        Italy vs France Euro Women’s Cup

Mon, July 11

12 pm ESPN2                      Austria vs N. Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        England vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

10 pm Para+                       USA Women vs Mexico

Mon, July 11

12 pm ESPN2                      Austria vs N. Ireland Euro Women’s Cup

3 pm ESPN2                        England vs Norway Euro Women’s Cup

Wed, July 13

12 noon ESPN2 Sweden vs Switzerland

3 pm ESPN2 Netherlands vs Portugal

8 pm ESPN Minn United vs Sporting KC

10 pm FS1 LA Galaxy vs San Jose

Thur, July 14

7 or 10 pm Para+          CONCACAF Women’s Semis USA?

Mon, July 18

7 or 10 pm Para+          CONCACAF Women’s Finals USA?

 Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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US Men U20’s Olympics on Line Fri night FS1

USMNT Qualifies for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia

The U.S U-20’s down Ticos 2-0 to qualify for the World Cup, now eye Olympics

Paxten Aaronson thriving in advanced role with USMNT U-20’s

USMNT U-20’s down Costa Rica to clinch World Cup berth

SBI USMNT U-20 Man of the Match: Paxten Aaronson

Quinn Sullivan scoring in bunches at CONCACAF U-20 Championship

US U2o Game Report

 Mexico Loses in Shootout to Guatemala

U.S. Under-20 men’s national team roster

GOALKEEPERS: Gabriel Slonina, Gavin Beavers, Alex Borto, Chris Brady, Juan Carrera, Emmanuel Ochoa, Xavier Valdez.

DEFENDERS: Noah Allen, Justin Che, Brandan Craig, Mauricio Cuevas, Jonathan Gomez, Marcus Ferkranus, Alexander Freeman, Quembol Guadalupe, Michael Halliday, Kobi Henry, Jalen Neal, Serge Ngoma, Jaziel Orozco, Kevin Paredes, Kayden Pierre, Devan Canton, Caleb Wiley, Thomas Williams, Josh Wynder.

MIDFIELDERS: Paxten Aaronson, Alejandro Alvarado Jr, Esmir Bajraktarević, Zach Booth, Javier Casas, Caden Clark, Daniel Edelman, Jackson Hopkins, Tarun Karumanchi, Luca Koleosho, Daniel Leyva, Diego Luna, Jack McGlynn, Moses Nyeman, Nathan Ordaz, Rokas Pusktas, Quinn Sullivan, Nikolas Tsakiris, Obed Vargas, Tyler Wolff.

FORWARDS: Darren Yapi, Dantouma Toure, Dante Sealy, Malick Sanogo, Oluwakorede Osundina, Kristian Fletcher, Damion Downs, Cade Cowell, Ange Bohui.

USA Women

The USWNT Concacaf roster

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

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

Midfielders: Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit).

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

USWNT on-field victories tempered by post-Roe world

USWNT’s Carson Pickett becomes first player with a limb difference to appear on national team



Sophia Smith scores twice as USWNT beats Colombia, extends home streak

USWNT edges Colombia in final World Cup Qualifying tune-up

USWNT vs. Colombia – The USA has to overcome another defensive effort on the way to a 2-0 win

USWNT overcomes early struggles in 3-0 victory over Colombia

How Alex Morgan, Liz Cambage and Ali Krieger are solving a problem facing women in sports   LA Times
New Angel City forward Sydney Leroux says Kobe Bryant taught her to ‘never soften’

Orlando and US Defender Carson Picket makes a young fans night!

Women’s Soccer Euro’s

Women’s Euros big questions: England or Spain to win it all? Or will Netherlands, Germany go on a run? Bill Connelly
England’s White eyes Euro glory to cap glorious career

Team by Team Guide to the Euro’s – 90min.com

Switzerland 0-4 England: Player ratings as Lionesses win final pre-Euro 2022 friendly

 How Sweden went from underdogs to Euro 2022 favourites

Euro 2022 kit ranking: Which team has Europe’s best jerseys?

Read all about the Summer of Women’s Soccer

Women’s European Soccer Pick ‘Em Make picks throughout the Women’s European Championship for a shot at $5,000. Make Your Picks

US Men

USMNT striker Jordan Pefok bought by Union Berlin

Steffen Loaned to Middlesbrough in Championship from Man City

Yunus Musah, Joe Scally among Americans Abroad set to play for new managers

Rounding up moves for USMNT players Chris Richards, Tyler Adams, and Zack Steffen  By Parker Cleveland

Your Guide to World Cup Stadiums for 2026 –  MLS
How Kansas City became the 2026 World Cup’s most unlikely host city

Musah and Aaronson Bond


Bale to LAFC in non-DP blockbuster, Atlanta woes, wild Philly-NYCFC game, and more
LAFC confirms 12-month Bale deal with options through 2024

CTE diagnosed in ex-MLS player Scott Vermillion, a first for league

First known case of CTE in American pro soccer diagnosed in brain of former MLS player Scott Vermillion

LAFC ‘perfect for me’ — Chiellini

Voting open for 2022 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target

Power Rankings: Philadelphia Union leapfrog NYCFC after Week 16

Leagues Cup Showcase to feature FC Cincinnati, Nashville SC, Real Salt Lake against Liga MX clubs

MLS midseason awards: 2022’s best players and coach so far
Carlos Vela re-signs with LAFC through 2023 season

Gareth Bale may need MLS and LAFC more than they need him

Sacramento Republic beat MLS’ Galaxy to reach Open Cup semifinal


Romelu Lukaku loaned back to Inter Milan
Man City agree deal for Leeds midfielder Phillips: reports

As English soccer player Jake Daniels finds acceptance, others will follow | Opinion

 REFFING This Crazy Game

Female referee at men’s World Cup wants the game to shine

Ref Question    Whats the Right Call

Funny Mike Dean Story – EPL Ref who just retired


Manuel Neuer Legendary Saves

Juve’s Gigi Buffon Amazing Saves

Liverpool/Brazil Alisson Great Saves

Ochoa Great Saves

Mike Magee – Field Player GOALKEEPER

Indy 11




Indy 11 Park Announced

Indy 11 Park

Indy 11 Bike Night & Fireworks July 2

Familiar foes Honduras, U.S. meet again for Olympic berth U20s World Cup Qualifying

Published on 30 Jun 2022 / Updated on 30 Jun 2022 at 19:11

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – A familiar scene will take place on Friday night at the Estadio Morazan in San Pedro Sula, as host nation Honduras take on the United States in the semifinals of the 2022 Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship.

Both sides secured their place in the 2023 FIFA Men’s Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia with victories in their respective quarterfinals, but now a very big reward awaits the winner of Friday’s duel: A place in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

It will mark the third straight time in which a Honduras-U.S. semifinal match-up will determine an Olympic spot. The Catrachos emerged victorious in the previews two encounters, a 2-0 win in the 2015 Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship for Rio 2016, followed by a 2-1 victory in March 2021 in the CMOQ for Tokyo 2020.

The U.S. arrive into the contest after posting a 2-0 quarterfinal win against a tough Costa Rica side, in which Paxten Aaronson starred with a brace. Aaronson now has four goals in the tournament, just one behind Quinn Sullivan for the team lead (5 goals).

Sullivan has also played the role of provider, with three assists, but the chief playmaker for the U.S. attack has been Diego Luna, who has amassed four assists and driven opposing defenses crazy with his movement and pace.

The U.S. will be up against a Honduras team that has been outstanding at both ends of the field. The Catrachos have 15 goals thus far in the tournament and have only conceded twice following Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Panama in the quarterfinals.

Up front, Honduras can turn to the tournament’s leading scorer in Marco Tulio Aceituno, who has six goals, while Odin Ramos and Miguel Carrasco have been workhorses in the middle of the park. Ramos has two assists to go along with 13 fouls received, while Carrasco was a vacuum cleaner against Panama with four ball recoveries.

In the CMU20 modern era since 2009, there have been three meetings between the two, including a 5-3 U.S. penalty shootout win in the 2017 Final following a 0-0 draw, plus a 1-0 U.S. win in the 2018 edition. They also played to a 0-0 draw in the 2009 tournament.

The U.S U-20’s down Ticos 2-0 to qualify for the World Cup, now eye Olympics

Led by a two goal performance from Paxton Aaronson, the United States is off to the 2023 U-20 World Cup following its 2-0 win over Costa Rica. The job, however, is only halfway done as 2024 Olympic qualification is on the line Friday night vs Honduras. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks down the game in detail.


THE UNITED STATES U-20 national team qualified for the U 20 World Cup on Tuesday after a 2–0 win over Costa Rica. It was a hard – fought when that was ugly at times, but the United States prevailed thanks to two goals from Paxton Aaronson.One of the keys to the game for the US team was to take advantage of opportunities early. Costa Rica was the US team’s toughest opponent so far and the US team had to take control of the game early and not let the Ticos remain in the game.The United States was successful in this, although not as much as they hoped. Aaronson scored in the fourth minute on a lovely build up that started with Alejandro Alvarado playing Quinn Sullivan out wide. Sullivan then sent a pass back across the box to Aaronson, his teammate in Philadelphia. Aaronson made no mistake with a left footed finish.Costa Rica responded well to the United States taking the lead. Chris Brady had to make three saves the remainder of the half and the game was even until the break.The US team should have been out more, but they missed two unbelievably good chances in the remainder of the first half. Quinn Sullivan had an opportunity that he would normally convert but Costa Rica’s goalkeeper, Bayron Mora, made a brilliant save. he beginning of the second half was eventful. The United States scored again early in the half on another goal from Aaronson. The play started with right back Michael Halliday sending in a cross that found Caden Clark. Clark then headed the ball back across the goal for Aaronson who finished from close range. Just minutes later, Costa Rica squandered its best opportunity in the 52nd minute. A handball in the box from Mauricio Cuevas gave the Ticos a penalty – Brandon Aguilera shot sailed over the goal and the game remained 2-0. That miss seemed to deflate Costa Rica who was never dangerous the rest of the game.The biggest story of the night came after the final whistle. When the US went out to the field to celebrate their win, Costa Rican players confronted the Americans. Punches were thrown, some players were kicked, and it left a black mark on what was a hard-fought game.The United States achieved one of their two goals for this tournament in qualifying for next year’s U–20 World Cup in Indonesia.The cycle will now continue after this tournament, and the United States can build for another top international tournament at the youth level.The second goal, and perhaps the biggest priority, will take place on Friday night when the United States will take on hosting Honduras, with the winner qualifying for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The men’s program in US Soccer has not qualified for the Olympics since 2008. Here are some thoughts on the game.  


 Much like his older brother, Paxten Aaronson is a very effective player who can come up in big moments. This younger Aaronson probably has the biggest upside of the players on this team. That is saying a lot because a lot of players on this team will probably have long and successful careers in the sport. It is a fun team, and it is very attacking oriented. But Aaronson‘s vision really makes the whole team play more cohesively.My guess is that when he returns to Philadelphia after this tournament, he begins to take a bigger role within Jim Curtin‘s team. From there, his development should skyrocket with more professional minutes.


With Aaronson netting two goals, Philadelphia Union players have scored 10 goals for the United States in this tournament. Quinn Sullivan has five. Aaronson has four. Jack McGlynn has one.But beyond the goals, they are all playing well. This includes Philadelphia Union defender Brandon Craig who struggled against Canada but was very good against Costa Rica. All of the Union players are participating in the attack, and they fit very well into the pressing style that U-20 head coach Mikey Varas wants to play.For example, Sullivan did not score against the Tico‘s but his assist made it happen. Craig, meanwhile, is a Central defender that can take free kicks well and his deliveries in the box created numerous chances.The entire union organization should be very proud of how big they are contributing to the U-20 team and also the U-17 team. They are not just successful in development, but their entire organization wins while doing so too. These youth tournaments have reflected very well on their organization. 


One of the big takeaways for this game is that the US team’s defense looked improved. Costa Rica had a lot of possession and a lot of free kicks. The back line of the United States held up very well. Even the penalty they conceded was more of a fluke handball than a bad play.Coming into this tournament, success was going to hinge on the backline. The US team had the attacking talent but defense was going to be an issue. That concern was heightened during and after the Canada game. But this was a good performance.One of the reasons why the US backline has improved is also with the consistently strong performances they are getting from the defensive midfielders. Varas is rotating Daniel Edelman and Rokas Pukstas at the No. 6 and both are delivering big. That is making things a lot easier for the defenders. 


When speaking to the media after the game, Varas said that he hopes Concacacf investigates what happened after the final whistle. The video and the pictures that emerged paint a very ugly picture of Costa Rica‘s behavior.US goalkeeper Antonio Carrera was kicked in the back. Jalen Neal, the US central defender, was hit in the back of the head. Paxten Aaronson was also kicked.   The US responded, but Costa Rica clearly instigated the incident. The U.S players were simply looking to celebrate their win. The game itself indicated that the teams did not care for each other. There was pushing and shoving throughout the game, but that happens. The near brawl after the game was uncalled for, even in Concacaf where you always have to expect the unexpected.Expecting justice from Concacaf is often expecting too much. But to anyone watching, several of the Costa Rican players should be suspended from international play. Costa Rica’s own federation should think about suspending them from domestic play as well.


 The United States fans should be very happy with the teams performance on Tuesday night. Costa Rica has a good U-20 team. The fact that the United States had to fight so hard is more reflective on Costa Rica‘s quality than any struggles the US team had.The United States has put itself into a good position. The team is playing well and it is improving on its weaknesses as the tournament progresses.Awaiting them will be Honduras, and this will easily be the toughest test. It is not that Honduras is simply a good team, but they are the hosts. The Honduran team has been very well supported in this tournament. In their win over Panama on Tuesday, the stadium was full and providing a lot of support to their team. It will only be even more emotional and intimidating on Friday with the Olympics on the line. For the younger age groups, it is even tougher to go away and play in such an environment with a lot on the line.Mikey Varas will have to rotate some of his squad while also keeping a good chunk of the core together. At this point, it will be very tough to change the backline too much. Halliday played well against Costa Rica, but he could be replaced by Noah Allen and move Cuevas to the right side.In the midfield, Alvarado had a great game against Costa Rica, but he is also interchangeable with Jack McGlynn and getting fresh legs into the starting lineup might make sense. Diego Luna also might swap with Cade Cowell 

Predicted U.S XI vs Honduras: Brady;  Allen, Neal, Craig, Cuevas; Pukstas, McGlynn, Aaronson; Cowell, Clark, Sullivan


 Everyone knows now the importance of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics. It would open up yet another important tournament for young American players. Also, the Olympics are a U-23 tournament, so it would then open the door for opportunities for the 2001 and 2002 birth years. That is different from this U-20 team which is for the 2003 birth years and younger. So qualifying for this tournament opens the door for two birth years who are not involved at the youth levels right now. This means U.S Soccer could then start calling up players like John Tolkin, Joe Scally, Ben Bender, Tanner Tessmann, etc.

 Ashley Sanchez steps up as USWNT learns to win without Catarina Macario

11:32 PM ET  Jeff Kassouf

Catarina Macario was meant to be the focal point of the United States‘ generational transition. That plan, however, had to be put on hold after the 22-year-old tore her ACL in May in Lyon‘s final match of the season.On Saturday, ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers, the Americans got their first look at life without Macario — and a preview of what much of qualifying will look like against lower-ranked opposition.The U.S. slogged through a scoreless first half against Colombia at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, before scoring three times in a much better second 45 minutes to win 3-0.

Washington Spirit striker Ashley Hatch started in the No. 9 role Saturday ahead of Alex Morgan, who leads the National Women’s Soccer League with 11 goals in 10 regular-season games (17 goals in 17 games all competitions). Hatch is a seasoned poacher who won the NWSL Golden Boot last season, and she is the most traditional center-forward option the U.S. has. She got her first start of 2022 on Saturday, and there appeared to be a lack of familiarity with wingers Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh as the U.S. struggled through the first half. Movement from the front three was too stagnant, and execution in the final third was frequently sloppy.

Colombia set up in a low defensive block much like the U.S. expects to see from some opponents at World Cup qualifying, which begins July 4. Overmatched opponents have played the Americans that way for years with varying levels of success, although Colombia’s use of a sweeper behind its back four is unlike anything the U.S. has seen in a long time.”It’s no secret that they were very much focused on not getting scored on,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “So, the main focus for us is going to be [the] final third, different combinations, creating space, and executing the opportunities that we create.”Morgan — in her return to the team after a nine-month hiatus — replaced Hatch to start the second half, and that substitution, along with the insertion of Ashley Sanchez in place of Lindsey Horan, immediately changed the tone of the game for the Americans.Sanchez joined Rose Lavelle to create an aggressive system utilizing two attacking central midfielders. Lavelle and Sanchez are exceptional dribblers in tight spaces and, together, their movement to find the ball and subsequent technical mastery drew Colombia out and forced the visitors to lose their shape. Lavelle pounced on the occasion, playing a pair of sublime through-balls to assist Smith for goals in the 54th and 60th minutes.  These are the games in which Lavelle is most needed. Lavelle was ushered onto the senior team in early 2017 in response to the U.S. being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics, when Sweden sat in a low block and dared the U.S. to be creative. The Americans were not, and then-head coach Jill Ellis set out to find a playmaker such as Lavelle, who could break down defenses on the dribble and play a killer final ball on the ground. Lavelle was central to the U.S.’s 2019 World Cup victory and won the Bronze Ball at that tournament.Now, Sanchez presents a similar profile in a similar place in the cycle. Like Lavelle, Sanchez is unpredictable, trying bold moves that range from back-heel nutmegs when she is trapped on the sideline in a 2v1, to a scorpion-kick assist. She played a role in the buildup to the first goal Saturday and she was fouled on the dribble to set up the free kick that resulted in the U.S.’s third tally.”I think that Ashley Sanchez was one of the main reasons why we got a little more sophisticated in the second half,” Andonovski said.”Because she was able to eliminate players on the dribble and she was able to connect well with the players around her. She also asked different questions from the defenders. They had to adjust on a couple different occasions, which, any time you are trying to figure out how to adjust, the opponent is able to take advantage of that timeline. I thought that’s where we were very good, taking advantage of the period of adjustment that the opponent had.”Together, Sanchez and Lavelle give the U.S. an unprecedented level of ball mastery and creativity in the middle of the park. Andonovski will need that throughout qualifying, when the risk of having the back four exploited is lower. They could prove useful either in tandem or in rotation come the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.This, like with the No. 9 role, is where Macario’s absence is felt. Macario, who was one of the best players in Europe this season for Champions League winner Lyon, established herself this spring as a false nine whose interchange with Lavelle created a fluid, dangerous attack capable of confusing opponents. Andonovski marveled at how the players around Macario adapted to her.With Macario out for the foreseeable future, the No. 9 role is up for grabs, and there is a void to fill in the departments of creativity and game-changing ability. Placing such significance on the absence of a player who only has 17 caps might seem like hyperbole but building around Macario for right now, and for the 2023 World Cup, is exactly what the U.S. spent the last nine months doing.Now, it’s down to Morgan and Hatch to fill that No. 9 role. Hatch is not done having a say — and Andonovski praised her postgame when asked — but Morgan reminded the world (and Andonovski) on Saturday why she has been the U.S. team’s dominant forward of the past decade, scoring 115 goals and winning a pair of World Cups over 190 caps.Morgan evolved her game through the years to be more multidimensional than she typically gets credit for, but she is still a very different player from Macario, and that means the approach that was being developed this spring will require some retooling at a crucial stage.Sanchez will be part of that process, too. She, too, is relatively inexperienced at the international stage, but that is where the U.S. finds itself now, on the eve of World Cup qualifying: turning back to Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, who also made her return to the team and assisted on the third goal, and to new players such as Sanchez and Taylor Kornieck, who scored that final tally in her first international cap.Whether Andonovski has the right mix of veterans and youth will be determined at World Cup qualifying in Mexico. There is little danger of missing the tournament given the four spots up for grabs, but with only the winner of the CONCACAF W Championship automatically qualifying for the 2024 Olympics, getting these decisions correct now is a must.

USWNT defeats Colombia 2-0 in friendly as Kelley O’Hara scores after lightning delay

By The Athletic StaffJune 29, 2022Updated 1:49 AM EDT

The U.S. Women’s national team defeated Colombia 2-0 in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium Tuesday night. This is the second consecutive friendly victory for USWNT over Colombia as the squad won 3-0 on June 25.USWNT right back Sofia Huerta forced an own goal off of Colombia’s Manuela Vanegas, opening the scoring in the 22nd minute. Huerta, who plays for OL Reign in the NWSL, played in her 14th cap for country on Tuesday.Colombia poured on the pressure in the second half trying to equalize. USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made a big save with her palm, keeping it a 1-0 lead. Despite Colombia having several looks in the box, USWNT extended the lead after the lightning delay at the 76th minute. Kelley O’Hara scored in the 77th minute, her first for country since 2016, sealing USWNT’s win.USWNT enters the CONCACAF W Championship as the No. 1 team in the FIFA Women’s rankings. They are trying to win their third consecutive CONCACAF W Championship. The winner of the CONCACAF W Championship not only qualifies for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup but will secure a berth in the Paris 2024 Olympic women’s soccer competition.USWNT opens their CONCACAF W Championship against Haiti at 7 p.m. ET on July 4.

How did the USWNT look overall against Colombia?

Steph Yang, USWNT beat writer: The USWNT looked like a typical team trying out some new tactics and some new players before settling its roster for a tournament, a typical pattern from Vlatko Andonovski and his staff by now. One interesting look from the team is his double 10 midfield setup, which Andonovski spoke about in media calls as being a possible tool for breaking open a very defensive team, something the USWNT expects to encounter in CONCACAF.

The team was also trying to use the movement of its three forwards to suck in defenses and open up wide spaces for the fullbacks, a strategy that did generate opportunities in the box but suffered for lack of finishing. Still, Andonovski told media after the game he thought the forwards did a good job.

“In a game like this, when the forwards are surrounded with four or five players at times, it’s hard to find them,” he said, pointing to things like Alex Morgan assisting Sophia Smith in the first game as positive indicators.

Who stood out for the USWNT?

Yang: Sophia Smith and Mal Pugh both showed moments of brilliance on the ball; to a slightly lesser extent so did Trinity Rodman. Sofia Huerta definitely fulfilled her assignment as a fullback in the setup the USWNT used and both Ashley Sanchez and Rose Lavelle demonstrated some of the creativity they were asked to bring in order to crack open a deep block.

What expectations should we have going into the CONCACAF W Championship now?

Yang: Andonovski told media after the game that the team will head directly to Mexico now to start training in Monterrey, and that for the most part, his tournament starting XI is known to both him and to the players.

“It’s not hard to predict who’s going to be on the field,” he told media after tonight’s game.

He complimented the team’s ability to score goals in different ways, despite acknowledging that this second performance against Colombia “was not our best performance.” For all that, Andonovski pointed out these two games were exactly the type of opponent the team wanted and needed, as they were likely to face similar tactics in CONCACAF.

“It was physical and very, very tight,” he said. “And it’s good for us to prepare for it.”

 Quinn Sullivan scoring in bunches at CONCACAF U-20 Championship

The Philadelphia Union attacker is turning heads in Honduras.

By Brendan Joseph  Jun 30, 2022, 8:20am PDT  

The United States advanced to the semifinal round of the 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, qualifying for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup and on the cusp of reaching the 2024 Summer Olympics. There have been a few strong individual performances, with Quinn Sullivan challenging for the Golden Boot award. The 18-year-old is a highly-rated midfielder with the Philadelphia Union, steadily developing at one of Major League Soccer’s top talent factories. As the competition draws to a close, his scoring touch may be required to secure a place at the Paris Games.Born in Philadelphia to a family with deep roots in the city’s soccer scene, Sullivan began playing with Fishtown Athletic Club before joining the fruitful Philadelphia Union Academy at the U-12 level, while also attending the YSC Academy. The prospect contributed 32 goals in 90 total appearances, including scoring 19 times and adding six assists during the 2018-19 season. He was promoted to the club’s reserve team as an amateur in 2020, making nine total appearances during the abbreviated USL Championship schedule.The club signed Sullivan to a first-team contract in advance of the 2021 season. “[He is a] young, promising player who has fit in well with our system at every level of [his] development,” said Sporting Director Ernst Tanner. “[He] excelled at our academy, which is one of the most challenging environments for young talents. [His] work ethic is evident by [his] quick ascension and success with Union II where [he was] able to make early, immediate impacts… Quinn is strong in the tackle, covers and incredible amount of ground, and has the precise type of tenacious attitude we want in our squad.”Enjoying a “fairly smooth transition,” Sullivan made 24 total appearances during his first season, contributing two goals and one assist. After “getting better and better in training,” his first finish came during his first start, a 3-3 draw against the Chicago Fire. The “world-class” bicycle kick – which he doesn’t practice “very often” – earned the league’s Goal of the Week honor.Sullivan repeated the feat, scoring a “thunderous strike” to draw with CF Montréal. He drilled a shot from the top of the box, earning the then-17-year-old another MLS Goal of the Week accolade. “Quinn to score such a special goal on his first start, it gets no better,” said manager Jim Curtin after the initial finish. “For him to do it in his first professional start, I think is something he’ll never forget obviously… It was a great goal, a great moment for him. But Quinn would probably want three points over scoring a great goal. That’s how competitive and how good a player he is.”His debut MLS season, featuring sporadic playing time, marked him as a “strong and upcoming” talent. Despite looking ready for an expanded role, Sullivan has split time between the first-team and reserves in 2022. With his club career still waiting for consistent opportunities, the international game has provided the chance to raise his profile.Sullivan is potentially eligible for Germany, Bangladesh, and the United States, competing with the latter program. Mikey Varas named him to the roster for the ongoing 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. He thrived during a pre-tournament training camp in Argentina, establishing himself as a multi-faceted attacker and signaling his importance to the upcoming campaign.In the first group-stage match against Saint Kitts and Nevis, he registered two assists. Sullivan followed that performance with a hat-trick against Cuba. In the Round of 16, the midfielder added a brace to claim a 5-0 victory over Nicaragua. Soccer By Ives praised his “clever running and clinical abilities,” a varied array of finishes from steering crosses into the back of the net or latching onto through balls.“Same mentality as we’ve had,” said Sullivan following his performing against Cuba. “We’ve got to end teams early, try and get off on the right foot like we did tonight… Every game’s a must-win to this point, with the goal to lift the trophy and qualify for both the World Cup and the Olympics. It’s vital.”An attacking midfielder with “athletic tools and a high soccer IQ,” Sullivan puts pressure on the opponent and works to block shots. He has been compared to Giovanni Reyna as an “elite playmaker” and “roaming 10/winger drifting between being out wide and cutting in and creating danger.” His primary position is “operating in the advanced and wide” areas, serving as an “auxiliary striker/winger.” His club manager praised him for the ability to “read the game, solve problems on the field on his own, and adapt to any situation.”“He is probably the most highly regarded 2004 player in the US player pool,” wrote Marcus Chairez for Chasing a Cup. “Quinn is one of the most likely candidates to move to Europe this year or next. Quinn can really strike the soccer ball with his right foot. He is a deadly shooter from all ranges. He also has a fierce, highly competitive mentality. I’d like to see [him] improve his off the ball movement so he can get in more positions to use said deadly right foot.”Youth tournaments can be hype machines, allowing observers to catch a glimpse of the next generation. Sullivan has been one of the standouts for the United States and garnered much of the attention, as to be expected for a player scoring in bunches. If he can become a regular member of the rotation and replicate the torrid form upon returning to Philadelphia, his dream of moving to Europe may be closer to being realized than previously believed.

Welcome to LAFC! Giorgio Chiellini gets drenched during victory song Bale Arrives Too!

By Jonathan Sigal @JonathanSigal  Thursday, Jun 30, 2022, 01:48 AM

Sing it loud and proud, Giorgio ChielliniLAFC’s new star defender hasn’t yet played a game for his new club, but he’s getting a crash course in all things Black & Gold before he’s eligible to debut July 8 against the LA Galaxy in El Trafico.For the Juventus and Italian legend, that meant – at US men’s national team midfielder Kellyn Acosta’s urging – singing LAFC’s victory song before their 3252 supporters’ group after Wednesday night’s resounding 3-1 home victory over FC Dallas pushed their Supporters’ Shield lead to nine points at the 2022 season’s halfway mark (11W-3L-3D record, 36 points).“Sha la la la la la la… L-A-F-C!” Chiellini belted with a megaphone in hand, as his new teammates sprayed him with water, dampening the tailored suit the 37-year-old wore to his arrival press conference earlier that evening.Jumping up and down, with an ear-to-ear smile as fans and players alike celebrated, it suggested he’ll perhaps fit right in at Banc of California Stadium.As celebratory as Chiellini and LAFC were, their charges are only going to strengthen in the coming days. LAFC recently completed a deal for ex-Real Madrid megastar forward Gareth Bale, who’s powered Wales to the Qatar 2022 World Cup and was once the world’s most expensive signing upon leaving Tottenham. Club captain Carlos Vela, the 2019 league MVP, is back on a Designated Player deal, while Bale and Chiellini both have Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) contracts.In other words, the world-renowned center back is entering a club with an incredibly strong foundation, one that’s sparking dreams of MLS silverware on multiple fronts this year. That’s something he’d know well as a Euro 2020 champion with Italy and nine-time Serie A champion with Juventus.Given how the tea leaves are forming, Chiellini might have to get accustomed to more song-filled nights in Hollywood


Leagues Cup Showcase to feature FC Cincinnati, Nashville SC, Real Salt Lake against Liga MX clubs

By MLSsoccer staff @mls   Thursday, Jun 30, 2022, 01:01 PM

Major League Soccer and Liga MX are facing off in Ohio, Tennessee and Utah.

The two leagues announced Thursday the addition of three matches to this year’s Leagues Cup Showcase, featuring FC Cincinnati vs. Chivas of Guadalajara, Nashville SC vs. Club America, and Real Salt Lake vs. Atlas FC in September. This will be the first time in history these clubs will face off.

The matches join the previously announced marquee doubleheader in Los Angeles featuring LA Galaxy vs. Chivas and LAFC vs. Club America on August 3. The five games will be broadcast on Univision and ESPN in the United States, and TUDN in Mexico.

The Leagues Cup Showcase will serve as a preview to the highly-anticipated Leagues Cup – the annual, month-long official tournament between MLS and Liga MX – that will kick off in the summer of 2023.

Matches and dates

FC Cincinnati vs. Chivas of Guadalajara – Sept. 21 – TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

Nashville SC vs. Club América – Sept. 21 – GEODIS Park, Nashville, TN

Real Salt Lake vs. Atlas FC – Sept. 22 – Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT

FC Cincinnati vs. Chivas of Guadalajara

FC Cincinnati will host their first-ever international match since joining MLS as an expansion team in 2019 at TQL Stadium, which hosted its first game in spring of 2021. With a capacity to seat 26,000 fans, the arena is one of the league’s newest soccer-specific stadium jewels.

“We are thrilled to host Chivas of Guadalajara at TQL Stadium,” FC Cincinnati co-CEO Jeff Berding said in a release. “Cincinnati has hosted a number of incredible international soccer events, including FC Cincinnati’s match against Crystal Palace, which at the time was the largest soccer crowd in Ohio history, a US national team World Cup qualifier versus Mexico, and other US Men’s and Women’s friendlies. It’s an honor to continue that history with an exciting Leagues Cup Showcase match for our fans this September.”

FC Cincinnati season ticket holders will have priority access to purchase tickets through an exclusive presale. Tickets will be made available to the public on Monday, July 18 at 9 am ET via SeatGeek.

Nashville SC vs. Club America

Like Cincinnati, Nashville SC will host their first-ever international match when they take on Club America. They will do so at the brand-new GEODIS Park inaugurated this May, which, at 30,000 capacity, is the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States.

“We could not be more excited about hosting our first international match at GEODIS Park,” Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre said in a release. “Nashville has been buzzing with excitement for soccer since we started in MLS in 2020 and even more so since we opened the doors to our new home. Facing off here against Mexico’s most decorated club side is an awesome next step on our soccer journey.”

Nashville SC season ticket holders will also have priority access to purchase tickets through an exclusive presale. Tickets will be made available to the public on Thursday, July 21 at 10 am ET via Ticketmaster.

Real Salt Lake vs. Atlas FC

Real Salt Lake enter the Leagues Cup Showcase having experienced multiple meetings against Mexican opposition, including in the 2019 Leagues Cup against Tigres and the 2011 Concacaf Champions League final against Monterrey. At Rio Tinto Stadium, they will welcome Atlas FC, back-to-back Apertura 2021 and Clausura 2022 winners, which make them the current Liga MX Campeón de Campeones – the overall Mexican league champion.

“Real Salt Lake is proud of our vast history of competing against international opponents, whether that be in Concacaf Champions League, international friendlies or the 2019 Leagues Cup,” RSL president John Kimball said in a release. “Welcoming Atlas FC in September to Utah for the 42nd RSL game against 30 different international opponents from 16 various countries will no doubt serve as a fantastic reward for our incredible supporters, who have long proven to value international pathways to prestigious regional hardware. We cannot wait to host this year’s Leagues Cup Showcase, and look forward to providing Atlas a sense of the best Utah has to offer.”

Tickets details for this match will be revealed at a later date but Real Salt Lake season ticket holders will have priority access through an exclusive presale.

The Leagues Cup Showcase will be a taste of what’s to come in 2023, when all 47 MLS and Liga MX clubs will participate in the Leagues Cup while both leagues break from domestic play. The tournament’s expansion is the product of a partnership that began in 2018 and will continue to build to the 2026 FIFA World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.




Today, we’re introducing the MLS Surprise-O-Meter, a very technologically sophisticated tool that tells us how surprised we should be by various MLS things 

  • How surprised should you be about Gareth Bale’s move to MLS? What about Cincy’s turnaround? Let the Surprise-O-Meter fill you in 

© Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

We’re in that part of the MLS season where things start happening. Things you didn’t expect. Things that make you stop your Twitter scroll right in its tracks. I had a few of those moments this weekend and in response, I’m debuting the MLS Surprise-O-Meter. 

It’s fairly self-explanatory, but just to lay it all out there quickly: the Surprise-O-Meter is a very fancy and very technologically sophisticated tool that we have here at Backheeled that displays how surprised something should make us. Its readings cannot be questioned. 

Here’s how surprised the Surprise-O-Meter was by some of this weekend’s MLS events.


Reading: Close Twitter, take a lap, and then check Tommy Scoops’ feed again to make sure you actually saw that

The Surprise-O-Meter, understandably, says that we should be quite surprised about this one. On Saturday morning, Tom Bogert reported that Los Angeles FC are finalizing a deal to sign former Real Madrid attacker Gareth Bale. Bale, 32, isn’t the same player he was in his 20s but he still has undeniable technical and physical quality that you can see when he’s on international duty with Wales. 

Prior to this year, signing Bale would have felt like a very un-LAFC thing to do. Their transfer strategy has mostly focused on watching U-20 World Cup footage and bringing in young players from South America. 

But now, LAFC have seemingly gone full “sweeping up aging, out-of-contract European superstars” mode this offseason, going after both Bale and Giorgio Chiellini. Oh, and apparently Carlos Vela is staying in LA as a DP until the end of 2023. LAFC are getting older, there’s no doubt about it. However, the fact that neither Bale nor Chiellini will be DPs this season means that the risk of signing that pairing is relatively low – lowering risk is important when you’re signing older players in a league that limits your roster resources. 

There’s room for LAFC to scour South America for talent, while still taking advantage of chances to sign players like Bale. It’s not an either/or.

But, given that there was very little noise about Bale heading to LA and that Bale hasn’t played in a U-20 World Cup for Ecuador, this move rates very highly on the Surprise-O-Meter.


Reading: Mhmm, yep, mhmm, this feels about rig…wait, what?

Don’t look now, but FC Cincinnati is a very respectable soccer team. I know that we’ve been trained not to say those words together in the same sentence, but they just keep getting respectable results and playing respectable soccer.

Pat Noonan and Co. beat Orlando City 1-0 on Friday and by the end of the weekend, Cincy found themselves in seventh place in the East. With that win over Orlando, Cincinnati pulled within one point of their best-ever MLS total. Right now, Cincy’s sitting on 23 points, just one point shy of their record 24 points back in 2019.

After winning back-to-back-to-back Wooden Spoons, hanging out above the playoff line is a nice change of pace for Cincinnati. They now have a defined style of play under Noonan, they’re playing their best attackers, and they have some respectable goalkeepers this season. According to American Soccer Analysis, FC Cincinnati have the sixth-best expected goal difference on a per game basis in the entire league. Not just in the East.

It’s safe to say that their results have been far better in 2022 than in any of their previous years in MLS.

I, for one, didn’t expect this drastic of a change. Neither did our MLS Surprise-O-Meter, apparently.


Reading: I’m not even dignifying that with a response

Okay, it looks like we’ve angered the Surprise-O-Meter here. This one was a little bit of a heat check, because frankly, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Sounders are heating up in league play right now. They beat Sporting Kansas City 3-0 on Saturday and since May 15, Brian Schmetzer’s team has gone 5W-1D-1L.

The Seattle Sounders are getting results now that they’re fully removed from the Concacaf Champions League – and they’re starting to play some excellent soccer, too. Since the middle of May, the Sounders have been creating more open-play xG per 90 minutes than any other team in MLS. They’ve also been leading the league in average shot quality and they’re second in MLS in goals per 90 minutes. Defensively, Seattle’s numbers are strong as well. 

Even without some of their stars, the Sounders are humming right now – and as the Surprise-O-Meter tells us, that shouldn’t be all that surprising based on previous years. The Seattle Sounders have never missed the playoffs in their time in MLS and they’ve only missed the Western Conference semifinals once (last year). 

It’s bad news for the rest of the league, but great for Sounders fans: it looks like Seattle is back.

Women’s Euros big questions: England or Spain to win it all? Or will Netherlands, Germany go on a run?

Jun 29, 2022  Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

The summer’s major European tournament is upon us. The UEFA Women’s Euro, a 16-team affair featuring four former champions, one debutant, 30 of the world’s 50 best players and, per FIFA, 13 of the world’s 21 best teams, begins July 6 in England and LIVE on ESPN.

Six teams in the field stand out as favorites, which could make for some incredible knockout-round action later in July. But let’s see what we can learn about each favorite and from the data produced at the club and international levels.

Why it’s coming home

Beth MeadLauren Hemp and Fran Kirby in attack. Ella Toone‘s microwavable offense. Ellen White‘s 50 career international goals off the bench. Do-it-all midfielder Georgia Stanway playing in midfield, or at fullback, or wherever another elite player needs to line up at a given time. Centre-backs Leah Williamson and Millie Bright providing flawless buildup play from the back. Barcelona-bound right back Lucy Bronze providing high-level defense and even more high-level buildup.

At first glance, England have the best of all worlds. They are world-class in attack and defense. They are seasoned: White (33), Bronze (30), defender Demi Stokes (30), forward Nikita Parris (28) and ever-present midfielder Jill Scott (35) have all topped 60 caps, and Scott and White have topped 100. They are also full of thrilling young energy: Stanway is 23, Toone 22, Hemp 21.

They have as many ESPN top-50 players as Spain and more than anyone else in the field. They’ve reached the semifinals in the past two World Cups and in 2017’s Euros. And since appointing Sarina Wiegman to replace Phil Neville as manager in September, they’ve been nearly perfect, embarrassing minnows and outscoring seven Euro-bound opponents by a combined 21-2. In June friendlies against Belgium and the Netherlands, they were held in check for most of the first half but slowly wore down their opponents. They scored three goals after the 60th minute against Belgium and scored four after the 50th against the Dutch.

If club chemistry matters, Spain indeed might be your favorite. England does boast a large Manchester City contingent — nine players were there last year — but their difference-makers hail from four different English clubs. However, that’s just about the only potential flaw one can find. This team is balanced, brilliant and playing at home. There’s always the chance that a home crowd becomes a liability if England starts slowly in a big match, but even in a field loaded with outstanding teams, England stands out. Cue the music: It’s coming home.*

*Unless it doesn’t, in which case I never said any of this.

2022 Spain (W) as 2010 Spain (M)

Vicente del Bosque had quite a luxury when naming his Spanish squad for the men’s 2010 World Cup: Relatively speaking, the best team in the world, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, were right in his backyard. Barca had just won their second straight LaLiga title and would win their third straight the following season. They had won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in 2009, and it took a mammoth effort — and some unlucky breaks — for them to lose to Inter Milan in the 2010 Champions League semifinals. (Total shots over two legs: Barca 30, Inter 10.)

Del Bosque ended up selecting seven Barca players, six of whom featured heavily — starters Xavi, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets and primary substitute Pedro — as Spain finally got the major-tournament curse off their back, losing to Switzerland in the tournament opener, but winning six in a row from there to take home the trophy.

– Watch UEFA Women’s Euros (July 6-31) on ESPN+
– Soccer on ESPN+: FC Daily | Futbol Americas
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access

Jorge Vilda finds himself in a similar situation. The manager of Spain’s women’s team since 2015, he’s piloting a team that (a) have only one reasonable success on their résumé (reaching the semifinals of the Euros in 1997) and (b) will be leaning heavily on a dominant Barca squad.

Barcelona Femeni have played 96 matches over the past two seasons in all competitions, winning 90 with just two draws and four losses. They have outscored opponents by a jaw-dropping 429 to 48. Despite a loss to Lyon in this year’s Champions League, they are the clear, dominant force in the sport. And 10 members of Barcelona’s squad, including captain Irene Paredes, reigning Ballon d’Or Feminin winner Alexia Putellas and goal scorer Mariona Caldentey (who has 12 combined goals and assists in Spain’s six World Cup qualification matches thus far), will represent Spain in Euro 2022.

Despite a sketchy recent record — they were eliminated in the quarterfinals at Euro 2017 and in the round of 16 at the 2019 World Cup — Spain have been generally listed as the favorite in the betting markets. Depending on your oddsmaker of choice, the 16 teams have basically been separated into four betting tiers.

Tier 1a

  • Spain: odds generally between 3/1 and 7/2
  • England: between 4/1 and 9/2

Tier 1b

  • France: around 5/1
  • Netherlands: between 5/1 and 6/1
  • Germany: between 6/1 and 7/1
  • Sweden: between 6/1 and 7/1

Tier 2

  • Norway: around 14/1
  • Denmark: around 25/1
  • Italy: around 25/1

Tier 3

  • Switzerland: around 50/1
  • Austria: around 60/1
  • Belgium: around 75/1

Tier 4

  • Portugal: around 90/1
  • Iceland: around 90/1
  • Finland: around 200/1
  • Northern Ireland: around 250/1

Like the men in 2010, though, Spain will also have to navigate through a tricky group. Group B is the only of the four groups to feature three teams ranked in FIFA’s top 15, and two of them — eight-time champion Germany and 2017 runner-up Denmark — have seen far more Euro success than they have. If Spain are to live up to their favorite status, club continuity and Champions League experience will have to play major roles.

The five biggest matches of the group stage

Once again using FIFA rankings, the distribution of the groups is about as even as you could hope — of the top eight teams in the field, two reside in each group. Based on factors such as rankings, betting odds and star players, then, it’s pretty easy to get a read on which group-stage matches will be the most high-profile. They might not determine who advances to the knockout stages — Group B aside, the favorites are clear — but they will boast particularly high quality and will go a long way toward determining who wins each group.

Germany vs. Denmark (Group B, Friday, July 8). Euro 2017 fell into chaos when Denmark upset Germany, the six-time defending champs, in the quarterfinals. Down a goal almost immediately, the Danes scored twice in the second half to pull the upset. This is the first huge match of the tournament, and Germany will be favored again. If the match produces a winner, it will go a long way toward establishing how the Group of Death will shake out.

Netherlands vs. Sweden (Group C, Saturday, July 9). The defending Euro champs vs. the reigning Olympic silver medalists and, per FIFA, the No. 1 team on the continent. These teams will both likely advance no matter who wins, as they’re both much stronger than fellow Group C members Switzerland and Portugal. But the winner — and, therefore, likely group winner — could avoid likely Group D winner France in the quarterfinals.

France vs. Italy (Group D, Sunday, July 10). France are indeed well-situated to win Group D, the only one featuring just one team with better than 15/1 odds to win the tournament. But Italy still boast Barbara Bonansea and eight teammates from a Juventus squad that both won their fifth straight Serie A title this season and thrived in the Champions League, topping Chelsea and giving Lyon hell in an aggregate 4-3 quarterfinal loss.

England vs. Norway (Group A, Monday, July 11). If Spain aren’t the favorite, a loaded English squad probably are. The Lionesses are unbeaten in their past 13 matches, and while there have been plenty of romps over minnows in that stretch, there have also been impressive wins over Netherlands (5-1 in a recent friendly) and Germany (3-1 in February’s Arnold Clark Cup) and draws against both Spain and Olympic gold medalist Canada.

Their biggest Group A test will come from a Norway squad that might not have the depth it once had but still boasts two of the world’s 10 best players (per ESPN’s list): Barcelona midfielder Caroline Graham Hansen and storied Lyon forward Ada Hegerberg, who is back in the fold with the national team. This is a heavyweight battle.

Germany vs. Spain (Group B, Tuesday, July 12). The last of the top 10 vs. top 10 battles, this one will have a very different feel if Germany slip up against Denmark. (Spain will face Denmark on July 16.) Assuming Spain handle Finland in the opener, this will be the first significant test for the betting favorites.

Group D, France and the value of elite opponents

It’s hard to find a sleeper for this tournament, if only because Groups A (England and Norway) and C (Netherlands and Sweden) each have two teams heavily favored to advance and Group B has two solid favorites (Spain and Germany) plus a clear deputy (Denmark).

While France are the clear favorite in Group D, however, second place might be up for grabs. Italy have the best odds of advancing, but while they are 14th in the current FIFA rankings, Iceland and Belgium are 17th and 19th, respectively. Iceland boast stalwart defenders in Bayern Munich’s do-everything Glodis Perla Viggosdottir and Rosengard’s Gudrun Arnardottir, and Belgium have a trio of major-club veteran forwards in Janice CaymanTine De Caigny and Tessa Wullaert; the trio have combined for more than 300 caps and nearly 150 career national-team goals, and Wullaert has been torrid in Belgium’s eight World Cup qualification matches, posting 15 goals and 10 assists.

Of the longer long shots in the tournament, Iceland and Belgium have the clearest path to the knockout rounds, and every match in Group D could therefore carry interesting stakes.

We also might not know everything we need to know about France until the knockout rounds.

France has a lot of attacking potential, including the likes of PSG’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto. But is this squad really ready to compete given an easy path to the tournament? Aurelien Meunier –

It’s difficult to glean any sort of information on a team’s form at the international level. Qualifying for the Euros ended nearly two years ago, and while most teams in the Euro field have played around 12-13 matches in the past year, a lot of those came against low-level teams in World Cup qualification, and the players a country will be counting on in the Euros perhaps weren’t asked to contribute all that much. England beat Latvia 20-0 in November, for example, and put up double-digit goals on North Macedonia and Luxembourg (plus Latvia again). Impressive? Certainly, but Latvia ranks 115th in FIFA’s rankings, Luxembourg ranks 113th and North Macedonia ranks 133rd.

We can learn at least a few things by looking solely at like-versus-like matchups:

  • The Netherlands are battle-tested, having played five top-10 (per FIFA) opponents over the past year. But they’ve pulled just three points and a minus-6 goal differential from said matches. They drew with the United States at the Olympics (losing in a shootout), drew twice with Brazil and lost to England and France by a combined 8-2.
  • Teams to average at least 2.0 points per game against top-10 opponents over the past year: England (eight points from four matches), Sweden (seven from three) and France (six from two).
  • Expanding the range to top-25 opponents, France (still six points from two matches), England (14 from six), Sweden (26 from 10), Spain (15 from seven), Iceland (15 from seven), Italy (10 from five) and Norway (six from three) all clear the two-points-per-game bar.

France beat both Brazil and Netherlands in February’s Tournoi de France. But while they’ve got a perfect record over the past year (12 matches, 12 wins), those are the only two matches they’ve played against opponents ranked higher than 29th. Among the six betting favorites, Germany (four) are the only other team to have played fewer than six matches against the top 25.

It’s hard to guarantee that this matters, but France also aren’t relying particularly heavily on league heavyweights Lyon and PSG, either. The French squad have five players from each club, but also have four who play for Bordeaux, two who play in Spain, two in England and one in Italy. This team could have used some chemistry-building challenges more than others.

Granted, one can only worry so much about a team that uses key pieces of Lyon’s midfield (Delphine Cascarino), PSG’s front line (forwards Kadidiatou Diani and Marie-Antoinette Katoto) and one of the most intimidating defenders in the world (Lyon’s Wendie Renard).

The top teams are pretty hard to separate. Maybe chemistry holds France back a touch?

The Dutch were superior in the last Euros, but will they fend off the likes of Spain and England this summer for the title? DeFodi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Club form and the case for the Netherlands

Looking solely at recent results, it’s difficult to love the Netherlands’ chances. In terms of points per game, the defending Euro champions (and World Cup runners-up) are in second place in their World Cup qualifying group, behind Iceland, thanks to a pair of draws against the Czech Republic. And in their two 2022 matchups against fellow top teams, they couldn’t keep up against France and England.

Their 5-1 loss to England — now coached by former Dutch manager Sarina Wiegman — last week in Leeds was particularly galling. Lieke Martens gave them an early lead, but Bronze tied the match 10 minutes later and the Dutch completely lost their composure after halftime, suffering a comedy of errors in defense and giving up four goals in the final 40 minutes.

Still, if you look at what Dutch players are accomplishing on the club level, you can talk yourself into their chances in England this summer. They still boast some of the most high-end talent on the planet in Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema (No. 3 on ESPN’s top 50 list), Barca-turned-PSG forward Lieke Martens (No. 15) and Wolfsburg midfielder Jill Roord (No. 50). But their roster also features players who found strong form in the Vrouwen Eredivisie. Forward Romee Leuchter (Ajax) scored 25 goals with five assists, midfielder Victoria Pelova (Ajax) had six and nine, respectively, and midfielder Marisa Olislagers (Twente) had four and 10.

Granted, they aren’t nearly as proven in defense, which was painfully obvious against England, but they have as much offensive firepower as anyone in the field.

Club form and the case for Germany

Without doubt, Germany was an early adopter in women’s soccer as well as at both the club and international levels. From 2002 to ’15, German teams won nine of the first 14 UEFA Women’s Cups (soon to become the Champions League), with four other finals appearances. Meanwhile, the national team reached the finals of the 1995 World Cup, won the 2003 and 2007 World Cups and the 2016 Olympics and won an incredible eight of nine Euros between 1989 and 2013.

Since Lyon took over women’s club soccer in 2016, German clubs have had to settle for only a trio of Champions League finals losses for Wolfsburg, and the national team lost in both the Euro quarterfinals in 2017 and the World Cup quarterfinals in 2019. More recently, Germany took just one point from three matches in February’s Arnold Clark Cup — they drew with Spain and lost to Canada and England — and suffered a World Cup qualification upset loss at Serbia in April. Like the Netherlands, they haven’t established a convincing level of late.

Also like the Netherlands: Their club-level success suggests elite talent. They boast eight players from Champions League semifinalist Wolfsburg — one of only two clubs to beat Barcelona this season (in the second leg of the semis) — and another seven from quarterfinalist Bayern Munich. Bayern forward Lea Schuller and Wolfsburg forward Tabea Wassmuth combined for 29 goals and 10 assists in the Frauen-Bundesliga, Frankfurt’s Laura Freigang scored 12 goals in 23 matches, and Wolfsburg’s Svenja Huth distributed 12 more league assists. Throw in Lyon-via-PSG midfielder Sara Dabritz, and you’ve got a formidable attack. (Another Netherlands similarity: Their defense is much less proven.)

They mauled Switzerland 7-0 in a June 24 tune-up, getting a hat trick from Bayern’s Klara Buhl in the process. They have the toughest opening match of any of the Tier 1 favorites, but if they are confident, a ninth Euro title isn’t completely out of the question.

What Sweden did so well at the Olympics

It feels a little odd seeing Sweden as either the fifth or sixth betting favorite (depending on the sportsbook). They have one of the most feared defenders in the world (Chelsea’s Magdalena Eriksson), top-class attackers (Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius, Juventus’ Lina Hurtig) and one of the most feared attacking defenders (Barcelona’s Fridolina Rolfo). They also have a track record.

Sweden pummeled the U.S. on the way to the Olympic finals last summer (their second straight silver medal), and they beat Canada, Germany and England on the way to third place at the 2019 World Cup. They have reached at least the semis in four of the last six Euros. They’re second in the world in the FIFA rankings, and their only loss over the past year or so has come via shootout in the Olympic gold-medal match.

– Lawson: Is this finally Sweden’s year to win?

They attack as well as defend at this point, something that set them apart in the Olympics. They created opportunities from a high press and generated scoring chances for not only Blackstenius and Hurtig but also Rosengard’s Olivia Schough; meanwhile, they offered opponents almost no high-quality shots in exchange.

This team has seen as much proof of concept as any over the past year, and if Sweden can get past the Netherlands in the group stage, they would potentially face the weakest team in the quarterfinals (Group D’s runner-up). The stars have aligned pretty well, betting favorites or no.

Friday Newsletter: LAFC Makes a Statement with Gareth Bale Signing, Carlos Vela Extension

Plus more fallout from FIFA’s World Cup 2026 host cities reveal, and I answer your Mailbag questions

   Grant Wahl  Jun 25   

IF LAFC ENDS UP WINNING THE MLS CUP IN 2022, the turning-point day in realizing those goals will have been today, June 25. That’s the day that Tom Bogert tweeted LAFC was set to sign Gareth Bale on a non-Designated Player deal and Taylor Twellman tweeted LAFC had re-signed star Carlos Vela to a new contract.

LAFC, which already leads the league in points (30), also recently signed Italian centerback Giorgio Chiellini to a non-DP deal and still has one more DP spot to fill. What are my thoughts on all that? Let’s break it down:

Los Angeles and Miami were up in the air as [World Cup 2026] host cities until the final day. FIFA very much wanted both L.A. and Miami to be in the final group, and the cities knew that, which is why there was plenty of pushback in the final stages after FIFA tried to strong-arm the cities with a late addendum to wrest more concessions from the candidate host cities.

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• It sends a message to the rest of MLS. What’s your team doing to keep up? Unless you’re the Seattle Sounders, which are already the CONCACAF champions and have put together a marvelous team, or maybe Toronto with the incoming Lorenzo Insigne, your team isn’t doing what LAFC is.

Let’s be clear: If Bale and Chiellini had been DP signings, I doubt I’d be feeling positive about that. But they’re not DP signings, so for me it’s a no-brainer to add them. I feel like MLS teams signing European stars in their 30s is fine these days as long as most of them are on TAM deals, but if you’re going to devote a DP slot to a player you’re better off getting someone in their 20s or teens. I’m very curious to see who LAFC lands with its DP slot. If it’s an attacker with a big upside, look out.

• I have one concern for LAFC. It’s an age-old rule: You’re going to have problems in the locker room if your best players aren’t your highest earners. If Bale lights up MLS and provides more to the team than LAFC’s DP earners, including Vela, that could become an issue.

• D.C. keeps getting kicked in the teeth soccer-wise. The nation’s capital is having a rough stretch when it comes to soccer. Bale had been in talks with D.C. United, which failed, only for Bale to take a non-DP deal with LAFC. This comes a week after D.C./Baltimore was passed up as a host city for World Cup ‘26. And D.C. United just isn’t moving the needle these days as a team on the move in MLS. 

As the Washington Post’s Steven Goff wrote this week, “Because United has struggled to keep up since it won four titles in the league’s first nine seasons, hosting the [MLS Cup final] these days is pure fantasy.”

At least D.C. was awarded the hosting rights for the 2023 MLS All-Star Game, for what that’s worth.


As you might expect, there were plenty of stories being told about how the sausage got made in the wake of FIFA’s announcement last week of the 16 host cities for World Cup 2026. And there was a lot of sausage being made in the very last moments before the official announcement on global TV. To wit:

• Los Angeles and Miami were up in the air as host cities until the final day. FIFA very much wanted both L.A. and Miami to be in the final group, and the cities knew that, which is why there was plenty of pushback in the final stages after FIFA tried to strong-arm the cities with a late addendum to wrest more concessions from the candidate host cities.

“There was a call on the morning of [the announcement] with L.A. [and FIFA],” a person with direct knowledge of the Los Angeles bid told me. “It came down to a game of chicken and who blinked. FIFA ended up blinking, but L.A. still needs more private funding.”

“It wasn’t until the last day with Miami,” another person with direct knowledge of the Miami talks told me. “There were multiple open items that weren’t sorted out until the end. FIFA is used to strong-arming cities/venus and making it seem like a ‘favor.’ Miami wasn’t going to roll over to their demands (some unreasonable). So that delayed the process. At the end they compromised on certain things and made it work. FIFA is not used to getting pushback.”

One other tidbit: The L.A. bidders were not expecting to see the Rose Bowl ruled out when FIFA announced the L.A. games would solely be at SoFi Stadium. That was a complete surprise on the broadcast.

• The World Cup 2026 International Broadcast Center is likely going to be in Atlanta or Dallas. Those are the two main candidates right now, with Dallas (the 1994 World Cup IBC location) being the more likely destination. 

• The rift between FIFA and U.S. Soccer/MLS continues. I have reported previously on what happened behind the scenes when U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone won re-election earlier this year by defeating Carlos Cordeiro, who was being actively supported by FIFA president Gianni Infantino and CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani. 

MLS commissioner Don Garber, who influences USSF votes on the Pro Council, refused pressure from Infantino and Montagliani to support Cordeiro. So it was no surprise that Garber, who’s based in New York City, was nowhere to be found around FIFA’s announcement proceedings, and Parlow Cone did only one photo appearance.

FIFA has acted like an occupying force when it comes to organizing World Cup 2026 so far, ending the run of Local Organizing Committees, and it remains to be seen how much (if at all) U.S. Soccer and MLS will be involved in helping to organize World Cup ‘26 despite having plenty of experience with logistics and major soccer events in this part of the world.


The Apple-MLS media deal sounds great for current fans. But what mechanisms will exist to attract new fans to the league? Sounds like Apple TV+ subscribers who aren’t otherwise MLS subscribers will have access to a limited menu of games. That’s fine, but there’s got to be more than “build it and they will come,” I hope? Winning over new MLS fans from the Apple demographic is clearly the goal. How will this deal accomplish that?

Josh Lane

When you’re talking about attracting new fans to MLS, look for deals to be announced in which linear TV like ESPN, Univision and perhaps Fox Sports will broadcast MLS games that you can also find on Apple. That makes sense to me. And I like the fact as a cord-cutter that I can get every MLS game via streaming on Apple, though the price point is going to be important. I will say that it drives me nuts that if I want to watch every Premier League game I have to pay for multiple platforms, cable and streaming. That’s poor from NBC.

What the hell is the deal with Christen Press NOT making the squad, even before she was hurt?

Julie DiCaro

Yeah, that’s a strange one for me from Vlatko Andonovski. On her podcast, Lori Lindsey referred to some things Press was involved with behind the scenes at the Olympics that may have rubbed Andonovski the wrong way. I’ll poke around and see what’s up with that possibility.

Do you think Berhalter stays as USMNT coach after the World Cup if we don’t get out of the group stage? And who might take over if that happens?

Doug Steiger

I think it would be unlikely for Berhalter to stick around if the U.S. doesn’t get out of the group stage, which would be extremely disappointing. The obvious replacement would be Jesse Marsch, but I don’t know if Marsch would be willing to give up his job at Leeds United to do that.

When you are deciding to write a story that some may view as controversial or may cast a negative light on a certain portion of the U.S. soccer community (i.e., USSF, MLS, coaches, players, etc.), what is the calculus involved by you in determining whether or not the story is worth running if it will lead to the possible loss of inside sources or cooperation from one of the governing bodies? For example, when Brian Straus wrote his piece about the national team under Klinsmann, did he face huge blowback from the USSF?

Nicholas Concilio

That’s a really good question. From what I know, Straus (who’s terrific) didn’t have any issues from U.S. Soccer after writing that groundbreaking story. I do think there’s a misunderstanding in some quarters of the fanbase that U.S. Soccer is this over-the-top punitive force when it comes to dealing with journalists who report critical things, and that’s just not the case in my experience over 25 years. I’ve written plenty of critical stuff about the American soccer scene over the years, and I’ve never had my credentials pulled or anything like that. And I wrote an entire book of journalism about David Beckham and the LA Galaxy that never brought any blowback. 

Have a good weekend.

USWNT penalty takers: Where things stand following struggles against Colombia

By Meg Linehan  Jun 28, 2022

The U.S. women’s national team walked away with the 3-0 win in Commerce City, Colo. on Saturday night, but Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Pérez was one of the biggest stories of the game — saving not one, but two penalty kick attempts during the match.Lindsey Horan, Colorado native and the first to watch Pérez snag her attempt, cut into a question about the two saves in the mixed zone. “Yeah,” she said with a laugh, “that sucked, huh?”Unpleasantness in the moment aside, the timing may have been a little bit of a blessing in disguise. Two penalty kick saves in a friendly ahead of a major tournament where penalties could become a factor is certainly preferable to the alternative.“We’ve prepared so well for these kinds of moments,” Horan said. “Obviously, (Pérez) had two great saves. Rose and I both know that we need to be better in these moments. This stuff happens, and we move forward. Each one is a standalone moment. I had all the faith in the world in Rose at that moment, and then next one she gets, she’s going to score.”Ultimately, based on everyone’s comments about the team’s approach to penalty kicks, it sounds like nothing will change at all beyond some extra practice getting added into the mix. As Megan Rapinoe said in the mixed zone after the match, “That will be the rotation going forward: Lindsey is number one, Rose is number two.”On Monday, head coach Vlatko Andonovksi expanded on his decision-making role when it comes to choosing penalty kick takers for the team.“First and foremost is the data that we have — both Lindsey and Rose have been tremendous in taking penalties in training and in the league, or wherever the markets (are),” he said. Horan has not generally been a designated taker for her club teams, with Christine Sinclair the go-to in Portland and responsibilities split at Lyon between a number of players. Lavelle’s record at the club level this year is one-for-two with the Reign.

Lindsey Horan PK attempts 2021-2022

5/8/21ThornsGotham FCYesChallenge Cup shootout

Rose Lavelle PK attempts 2021-2022

7/30/21USANetherlandsYesOlympic QF shootout
5/9/21Manchester CityWest HamNoSaved

And while Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are back on the roster, it sounds like Andonovski expects both of them to play more of a role off the bench. “We have to have someone that we believe is going to be a regular starter, game in and game out, to be designated as a penalty kick taker,” he said. “Even after the fact that they (Horan and Lavelle) both missed a penalty, I don’t think anything is going to change. We believe in their competency and ability to score penalty kicks.”That training data won’t ever be made publicly available, leaving those of us on the outside with only game data to work from. And there’s no hint yet at how the USWNT might approach a penalty shootout, whether one comes in the W Championship or the 2023 World Cup. In the Olympic quarterfinal win against the Netherlands last year, Lavelle, Morgan, Christen Press and Rapinoe all converted in the decisive shootout. Lavelle’s spot in the order might change, but she’s a lock. Morgan and Rapinoe are options this summer, as well. Starting or not, Andonovski would probably cause an international incident if he didn’t sub on Rapinoe for a shootout place. 

Megan Rapinoe PK attempts 2021-2022

10/13/21ReignThorns FCYes
8/29/21ReignThorns FCYes
8/21/21ReignGotham FCYes
8/21/21ReignGotham FCYes
7/30/21USANetherlandsYesOlympic QF shooutout

Morgan also has a solid case to be one of the five considering her NWSL form this year, with four penalties and a 100% conversion rate. 

Alex Morgan PK attempts 2021-2022

6/4/22Wave FCCurrentYes
5/15/22Wave FCRed StarsYes
5/7/22Wave FCGotham FCYes
5/7/22Wave FCGotham FCYes
7/30/21USANetherlandsYesOlympic QF shootout
10/13/21PrideRed StarsNoWide left
5/30/21PrideCurrentNoRight post

That’s four names for a hypothetical shootout this summer in Mexico. So who could take that final spot?There’s no other name available on the roster that’s taken a penalty for the USWNT: Carli Lloyd was in the mix before her retirement, Morgan Brian and Sam Mewis have each taken and converted their single attempt. Again, there’s no visibility to training data, but there may be a case for players based on their NWSL performances, which widens the field.Sophia Smith and Mal Push have both converted penalty kicks this season in the NWSL. With Smith and Pugh looking locked in as two thirds of the starting forward line, they may both be options (depending upon substitutions). Looking back at the 2021 season may provide one of the best candidates, though: defensive midfielder Andi Sullivan. She converted three penalties for the Washington Spirit in their run to the NWSL Championship and the victory in Louisville. She scored one against Kansas City in September, then against Racing in October, before capping it off with one in the championship match against Chicago for the equalizer. Considering her increased role as the No. 6 for the USWNT and Andonovski’s confidence in her play, she may also be one of the most likely players to still be on the field for a shootout.Two other potential names to consider based successful penalty kicks in the NWSL, though both have been fighting for substantial USWNT minutes: Ashley Hatch and Midge Purce.But for all the possibilities, Horan and Lavelle may be the only ones we see stepping to the spot for a while. “I think it’s important for them to see the belief we have in them,” Andonovski said on Monday, “and most importantly, that it’s supported by someone like Megan Rapinoe. She believes that they’re good and in what they’re doing, and she’s supporting them and also helping in any way she can from her own experience.”On Saturday night, Rapinoe acknowledged the frustration of the moment but said there will be long-term benefits if both Horan and Lavelle use it as a chance to revisit their own routine from the spot.“It’s good to miss, it’s good to have that experience and get it under your belt in a friendly and not in a big game,” she said. “Either way, no matter what, just step up there and take it. Do your routine, be confident, and the rest is it.”

Meg Linehan is a senior writer for The Athletic who covers the U.S. women’s national team, the National Women’s Soccer League and more. She also hosts the weekly podcast “Full Time with Meg Linehan.” Follow Meg on Twitter @itsmeglinehan

The Interview: John Harkes

The Hall of Famer on being the Greenville Triumph’s head coach and sporting director, the USMNT, being the first USMNT Premier League player, the successful Harkes children and much more

   Grant Wahl Jun 28 

Several years had passed since my last interview with Hall of Famer John Harkes, so it was great to catch up recently with the head coach and sporting director of the Greenville Triumph. We addressed a lot of topics in this interview, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.The entirety of the written interview below is reserved for paid subscribers. As always, you can still get the entire free audio version of my podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you like to go for your pods.

Grant Wahl:

Our guest now is John Harkes, the National Soccer Hall of Famer who played in two World Cups. He was the first American to play in the English Premier League and won two MLS Cup titles with D.C. United. He’s now the head coach and sporting director of the Greenville Triumph. John, It’s great to see you. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

John Harkes:

My pleasure, Grant. It’s great to see you as well. It’s been a while, so I’m glad that we can find some time to reconnect.

Grant Wahl:

Yeah, me too. I was thinking back to our first interviews in the ‘90s, I think …

John Harkes:

Right. When you were 13. I was 12.

Grant Wahl:


John Harkes:

That’s right.

Grant Wahl:

I want to start by getting your take on the U.S. men’s national team, which has qualified for the World Cup. How are you feeling about the team these days?

“Qualifying for the ’90 World Cup, playing in the World Cup, was fantastic, but going to Sheffield Wednesday on a trial basis and explaining to them that I already played in the World Cup before I was a pro. And they were looking at me like, he’s crazy.” — John Harkes

John Harkes:

I feel great, actually. I think just such a great feeling to know that we’re going back to the World Cup, where there was an absence, and that’s the number one thing. I think sometimes, whether it be media or fans or even other coaches, get caught up with critiquing too much instead of an understanding that it’s a big challenge through the World Cup qualifying process and the rotation of players, players coming in from different countries, different styles of play.

And you’re expecting them all to come together and everyone snaps your finger and it’s perfect. It never works like that. So I’m really excited that they’ve qualified. At the end of the day, as you support them, we keep pushing forward and let’s hope that they go into the World Cup with positive attitudes and a lot of confidence.

Grant Wahl:

As someone who’s been through World Cups. Would you have any advice for Gregg Berhalter as he manages things over the next five months to the World Cup?

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John Harkes:

I mean, look, I think everybody wants to do that Monday morning quarterbacking. Everybody wants to have their opinions in the game, and I’ve spoken to Gregg numerous times about players and personnel and style of play and things like that. I think Gregg does a great job. I think the coaching staff does a good job. 

Any advice? Probably not. Just stay even-keeled through the whole process, because there’s so many emotions that go up and down and the players, a lot of them are young and they’re looking to the manager to see how he responds in really stressful situations. So if he can keep himself even-keeled throughout the process, that’s more than half the battle right there.

Grant Wahl:

You’re obviously a coach and sporting director these days. You’re not calling U.S. games on television right now, though you did in the past. Do you ever miss doing the U.S. games on TV?

John Harkes:

I do. I’ve had some great experiences and learned a lot through that process, whether I be with Ian Darke, Martin Tyler, JP Dellacamera, Dave Johnson at D.C. United as well. Some quality guys that I’ve worked with. And it’s great to see their process and the way that they approach the games and the research they do. 

Being prepared is number one, and that’s the number one thing. So from my perspective, it was like, how do we get to a point where these guys are … not only are you loving the game, but you want to call the game. But at the same time, you also want to be able to represent the team well, and it’s not about you. It’s the same with coaching. It’s as soon as you remove the ego, you start to discover your purpose in the right way.

And so for me, I miss calling the games, and it was fun. And I learned a lot. It’s the closest sometimes that you can get to the pitch when you’re not a player or a coach. But I do love coaching. I really do. I’m not afraid to have a side-hustle doing some games here and there. I’ll say that. I’ll just put that out there. But I do love the opportunity to teach, and seeing the growth in the players, the way that they respond to different adversities well, the way they get challenged and the way they come together and collaborate as a team is the best feeling in the world for a coach. So I love that side of the game. I really do.

Grant Wahl:

You’re in your fourth season as the Greenville coach and sporting director. You’ve been to the league final three times, won it once. What’s it been like there? How would you describe the experience?

John Harkes:

It’s been a tremendous experience, actually. A lot of growth, and you get thrown into being a manager and you take on the responsibility as a sporting director as well. So I’ll explain a little bit the way we approach that when you’re building a club from scratch. The coaching part and the relationships I’ve built and the trust with different players and coaches and leagues, and I’m a soccer junkie. So I watch all soccer, and discovery of players coming out of college that don’t make the MLS draft. That’s what happens for the division three, for the USL League One. But taking pride and taking on a challenge and building something from scratch is excellent. It really does. And it teaches you a lot about yourself and the way that you handle that through the process.

So sporting director, what does year one look like? What does year two, year three look like? What does year four look like? Where do we need to be with our brand? Where do we need to be in terms of building a stadium? Where do we need to be in terms of representing the local community and doing it the right way with partnerships? And so from that perspective, it’s been fun to learn both. And I love it. It’s been a lot of success early.

We’ve done a lot in a short period of time. I have a tremendous staff that’s with me. You’re only as good as the people around you. And we want to push for more. We want to win as many titles as we can, but we also want to coexist with development and pushing players up to the top levels. And through that process, you start to really enjoy it. The connection to the players is fantastic. Being able to manage the front office and manage up with the president and the league, our club owner has been great. Good relationships there, and yeah, I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a good journey so far. I’m not sure where it’s going to take me, but it’s been a great journey.

Grant Wahl:

I guess that was a question, because you’ve built this from scratch. And so, I don’t want to just assume that there’s something else you want to go and do, but do you have any interest in potentially coaching in MLS at some point?

John Harkes:

Of course. Yeah. I mean, to not be ambitious and not to want to challenge yourself is … what’s the purpose of living? You’ve got to be able to take risks, and you’ve got to be able to put yourself in the framework to say, can I get challenged right here? And yeah, I feel like I’m up for that, to be honest with you. This has been a great learning curve for me and a good platform to kind of find my way as a coach. And you bring the leadership part of it, the teaching part of it, the aspect, the authentic kind of everyday caring atmosphere for the players, and then they feel safe, and they give you the best. So that emotional kind of, I guess, investment in the guys and in the club itself has been great.

But look, if there’s an opportunity that I can go to MLS, or even if we can get our club to the Championship level and coach at that next level, it would be fantastic too. And those stepping stone processes along the way. I’m not opposed to going overseas and coaching. You see a lot of great coaches like Jesse Marsch doing well, taking risks at different clubs and different leagues around the world. I’m really proud of him and the work that he did at Leeds going there under a lot of stressful situations there and expectations, and he’s done well. So the more that the American coaches are having success overseas in those leagues as well, it creates an opportunity for us to be looked at, I think. So why not take a challenge if you get one?

Grant Wahl:

What should we know about John Harkes, the coach, that maybe we didn’t know about since we focused on John Harkes, the player, over the years?

John Harkes: 

I mean, I think it’s understanding your core values for the team. Setting out a plan. What’s that structure look like on an everyday basis? Develop a philosophy in the game for your coaching style. I play with possession and build out of the back with a purpose. Our teams do have the ability to switch style of play during the game because we train that way as well.

So whether we come out in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 or even playing three in the back with a 3-4-3, we train on it. So to me it’s about doing the work. Communication is key. Being able to be up-front and communicating exactly what the plan is for the guys, but then leaving enough creativity and room for them to just show you who they are, to go out and enjoy themselves and take some risks as well.

So you’ve got to find that balance as a coach and still win the game, which is hard. But I love that. I love the challenges that you face during that process. It’s great. Because you never fail. If you’re trying things, you’re not failing. If you’re not trying, then you’re failing in life. And so I always tell the guys like, “Hey look, we put ourselves out there and maybe the result didn’t work for us, but what did we learn about ourselves? And let’s find solutions here to go forward.” 

And that’s the number one thing. As long as the guys are okay, you learn and you reflect on what you didn’t do well, but let’s see if we can kind of move forward. What are the new objectives in our team now? So that’s kind of me in a nutshell.

Grant Wahl:

I know your children, Ian and Lauren, are both in soccer as well, as our listeners may know too. For those who don’t know, could you explain what they’re doing?

John Harkes:

Yeah, sure. Cindi and I are very fortunate, and we’re very proud of our kids, and we raised them with tough love, and we also know as parents that they’re just passing through you. It’s not like you’re … you’re not raising them to be like you. You want them to be able to make decisions on their own and be independent. So Ian’s been over in Scotland at Dundee United for three years now.

He is currently out of contract and they want re-sign him. He’s getting some interest from other clubs in England as well. A couple in Belgium and one in Germany. So he is getting some options, which are great. And he’s in a tough place right now where he’s got to make some decisions. Dundee United has been fantastic for him. It’s been a great club. And through that journey, I’ve watched him grow as a player. He’s become more aggressive and more assertive.

He’s definitely going forward a lot more. And he became player of the year for their club this year, which was great. Great achievement for him. And just seeing that he’s showing up against Celtic and Rangers, the big clubs, scoring goals and scoring goals in the derby and everything shows how much he’s enjoying it and the growth, but he’s put a lot of work in there.

Lauren, our middle child, is playing in Denmark as a pro as well with Aalborg. It’s her first year as a pro. So she’s learned a lot, and she’s enjoyed that as well. The culture there has been fantastic for her and the process of being in a kind of new environment, a new club, on the women’s side and growing that from scratch and making it more professional has been interesting, too. So she’s taken on a leadership role as a foreign player, and it’s been good for her.

So wishing her all the best, and not sure where she’s going to take that. She’s been offered to stay there, but she’s actually getting some offers too in Scotland, which is interesting because not only is Ian there, but Ian’s wife, Sarah, plays for Celtic women as a pro. And so it could be all reunited there in Scotland. We’ll see.

John Harkes:

And then Lily’s our youngest, who just graduated Elon University in Burlington, North Carolina, last week and a political science major. She has two minors and she’s been accepted to Oxford next year.

Grant Wahl:


John Harkes:

So yeah. She’s academically off the charts and a really smart kid, and we’re just proud of her. And she played soccer all four years at Elon and enjoyed that and had a great balance there. And I think she still wants to play soccer at Oxford if she gets a club team over there, but all three of our kids might be in Europe within three, four months. And so Cindi and I are like, what are we doing? What’s happening? But again, we wish them all the best. We’re very proud of them, and there’s still going to be a lot of challenges ahead of them. So as they grow as individuals, we’re just here to support them and guide them when we can.

Grant Wahl:

Well, congrats to you and your family on all of that, and my apologies to Lilly for not including her in my original question. So good to get an update.

John Harkes:

No, she’s good. She’s good. She’s the blonde one. She’s the third child. She’s got that third-child approach to life. She’s good. She’s good.

Grant Wahl:

I want to pull back a little bit because one thing that’s fascinating to me these days is that so many new U.S. national team fans have been created over the past 10 years that a lot of them weren’t following when you were doing big things starting in the 1990s in your career. And you and your contemporaries obviously created a lot of new fans yourselves in the ‘90s, but do you run into that at all? Where you meet soccer fans here who aren’t really aware of what you achieved in your career?

John Harkes:

Yeah, I think you do. But I think that’s also part of the challenge in the game. I mean, you’ve covered the game for a long time, Grant, at the highest level. But you’ve also gone into the lower levels of the history of the game. And I think it’s important that people continue to take accountability at all levels in the game of growing the game. It’s a big responsibility, and that’s the fan base too. Now you’re starting to see the market now, the way the game is getting exposed is tremendous. Like you know, we all talk about, wow, the game’s so small. Well, it is small. People are connected everywhere to the game.

And a lot of it is like technology today. You can watch a game on your phone. You can watch a game on Apple+, ESPN+, Paramount, whatever it may be. Fox, it doesn’t matter. It’s everywhere. And so now it’s at a point where you’re making these choices what you’re going to watch on the day when you’ve got maybe 14 games to watch in one day. So I think it’s brilliant. It grows the game, and as you know, it goes up and then it comes back down and it goes back up again. So it’s cyclical.

And for the individuals, though, to take on the responsibility to grow the game in the right way, that means respect the game, respect your national teams, respect your club teams that are local for you. Go and support them. Don’t say you support Sheffield Wednesday or West Ham or anything overseas, or Liverpool, before you support your local community team. You should support them there. And I think that’s something that’s starting to change here and take off, especially with USL. USL, with the three divisions right now, is really growing faster than anything. And to have a foundation there, a strong foundation of growth, is fantastic. So the more people get involved with that, the better it’s going to be.

Grant Wahl:

You are from Kearny, New Jersey. There’s a really good documentary film that my friend Tom McCabe was part of about Kearny called Soccertown, USA, that people should see if you haven’t. How would you describe growing up in Kearny and that sort of soccer hotbed community there?

John Harkes:

Wow, I think it was probably a consistently challenging experience. I think you were always being tested in Kearny. If you were a soccer player at the age of four, you were being tested by the kids that were six and seven and eight. It was always who came before you. And the history of the game was certainly important to them back in the day. And whether they were hosting teams from Scotland or Hungary, the international inclusion that’s there and the social clubs that are there. You were raised as if you were in Europe, to be honest with you. And I love that. I love that. So it was more of a world kind of cerebral view of football, and also of life. It made you hungry to think what’s it like, not just in Kearny, like we thought soccer was played with passion as it is in Kearny. And Tom McCabe captured that beautifully, as you mentioned.

We thought it was like that everywhere. And then as we traveled, as we got older, 12, 13, 14, and then tryouts with the state team and regional team and national teams eventually, thank God. And we were fortunate enough to stay alive and survive tough areas, tough places to live, hardworking blue collar, but lucky enough that our parents gave us the love of the game, the freedom to discover who we were, and live off the streets at times and play soccer all day long in pickup games and kind of find our way. 

I thought it was amazing. You really reflect back on that time and you’re just like, wow. We’re fortunate because it was a tough area. You had to survive. There was also, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the drugs and alcohol that was there.

And then the gangs and the violence at times too. It was so close to Newark and Harrison, but I think it raised you tough, but it also raised you to be grateful for what you had. You didn’t need much, you know what I mean? You don’t need a lot. So I think I still carry that with me. I don’t need a lot. Let’s just keep going. So I’m very fortunate, and I was very fortunate to have so many great older players around me, including my brother, Jimmy, and so many other great players before me that we could actually study and say, hey, maybe we could be like them one day.

It helped having the New York Cosmos 20 minutes away where we could be a ballboy at times and where you can aspire to play there. And say, until they folded in ’84, that was devastating. It was my junior year of high school. I was like, oh my God, what am I going to do now? So it was just great to grow up in that hotbed of soccer in New Jersey. It really was.

Grant Wahl:

You were the first American, as I mentioned in the introduction, to play in the Premier League, when you joined Sheffield Wednesday. It’s so easy to watch the Premier League in the U.S. now. It wasn’t back then. What was your experience in the Premier League like in those days? In what ways was it similar to today, and in what ways was it different?

John Harkes:

It was a tremendous experience, and what an opportunity to get over there and to go on trial. I think the crazy thing was that I aspired to be a pro as we were qualifying for the ’90 World Cup. And we didn’t really have a top-level league at that time. We talk about the A league back in the day and the USL leagues. And I played for the Albany Capitals a few games here and there, and flying up on a Thursday to train on a Friday and play a game on a Saturday. And then back down to Tampa or Miami to train with the national team for a two-week camp. We were doing what we could to push ourselves. We didn’t need anybody to challenge us at all. That’s what I think made that generation of players really hungry, really hungry, was we wanted to be respected, but we also wanted to get back to that world stage.

And so qualifying for the ’90 World Cup, playing in the World Cup, was fantastic, but going to Sheffield Wednesday on a trial basis and explaining to them that I already played in the World Cup before I was a pro. And they were looking at me like, he’s crazy. But it was a great experience. Breaking down, I guess, the stereotypical barriers of an American trying to make it in the English leagues when there was only three foreigners per team at that time. And the old division one before it became the Premier League in ’92 was interesting. And Sheffield Wednesday, at a time where Ron Atkinson was a big manager. He was already at Manchester United. He came to Wednesday. They got relegated two years prior. And then when I came to them, they were in the old division two looking to get promoted back up.

And to go through that experience in seven months, to score a goal of the year in England, to get to Wembley and win against Manchester United in a League Cup final. If you told me that, I would say, that’s the worst Hollywood film I’ve ever seen. Not going to happen. Keep dreaming, son, but it did happen. And so I was very fortunate. Had great players, great coaches, a lot of support from my family and from Cindi at the time, because I remember calling her where I was upset. I was over there for a long period of time. They offered me a very low deal, very low deal. And I was upset and on the phone, and she was like stick it out. You can make it, you’ve got to keep going. And I did. And so I was very fortunate to have those people support me during that process.

And I loved it. And the Premier League now, it’s blown out of proportion. Grant, you know this. I mean, the game has grown tremendously. The players are strong. They’re fast. Has it changed in terms of mentality and intelligence level? Probably not. But everything’s just done a little bit quicker. A little bit faster, and I think that part of it is, there’s more resources there to help the players recover. There’s better scientific approach to the game in terms of recovery and looking after themselves more. And I love it. I love watching the games. It’s fantastic to relive and go back to the old clubs and West Ham and the Derby Counties and all of that time period was brilliant.

Grant Wahl:

So you had to count as a foreign player. I know you have sort of like Scottish roots, right? You weren’t able to get a passport and count as a domestic?

John Harkes:

Well, so it’s funny. I was just telling that story today to one of the new players we have here on trial … that I had signed as a foreign player, yet when they found out all my Scottish background and everything, then we went through the process and I got my UK passport probably about five months later. And then they changed my, I guess, what I was at that point, my status, to the international side. So I became like a UK player there at that time. So I had dual citizenship.

Grant Wahl:

So you got the hard part done as being like the foreign player on the team with very few foreign slots at first. Interesting.

John Harkes:

Yeah. It was a challenge for sure.

Grant Wahl:

If I had told you back then in the early ‘90s, that soccer in the United States would be where it is today in 2022, and sort of described to you, ‘90s John Harkes, where we are now, would you have been what? Gratified, disappointed, something else?

John Harkes:

Motivated. I would’ve been inspired, because that was the goal, is to grow the game. We wanted to grow the game. We wanted respect for our country. We wanted respect for our leagues. Being part of Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, Eric Wynalda, Balboa, all of those guys, Paul Caligiuri, Christopher Sullivan, the list goes on and on and on. To be part of that beginning stages of building your own league in 1996 is a big responsibility. So to see it come, God, to fruition now, where it is, it’s just incredible. I watch games now and I’m just like, wow. You look at a stadium like Austin. And you’re like, wow, what the heck is going on here? And even my experience that I had at FC Cincinnati for the first year in the USL, and we grew that fan base.

I remember one of our games was on a midweek rainy night and we had about 17 and a half thousand people there. And I turned to my staff at FC Cincinnati, where are we? What is going on here? And it was amazing to see that growth within that passion and that love from the fan base. And we had such a great year there. It was brilliant to finish third in the league. And so those things, the way you expand the game and the business side of it now, you know it’s mainstream, can you get the right ownership in there? You need money to grow.

And so now you’ve got some of the NFL ownership groups and other people of outside interest coming in and saying, wow, I really want an MLS team. Or, hey, I want a USL Championship team or a USL League One team in my community. And when you do that, now you go again, let’s see where we are in another 10 years, which you already know. And you’ve documented very well. The history of the game is growing tremendously. Let’s continue to keep that going at a fast rate.

Grant Wahl:

And I’m continuing to be surprised. I never even thought it was inevitable that soccer would get to where we are now. And so I’ve stopped making predictions about where soccer will get in America. And I’m just curious to see where the ride takes us, because I don’t know the answer.

John Harkes:

How does that feel from your end? I mean, as somebody that’s been at the highest level in the media and been able to kind of tell the stories the right way, whether it be from coaches, clubs, towns, players. How has it been for you to see the growth?

Grant Wahl:

It’s been amazing. It’s funny to me, because I only went full-time soccer in 2009. I started in ’96 and I did college basketball and then I did soccer. But after a few years, it’s not that I dislike basketball. I just was like, I want to be a full-time soccer writer. I like what’s happening. I like telling the stories. I like the sport, but I didn’t choose to go full-time soccer because I thought it would get to a certain level in the United States. I just liked it. I like the people. 

And so it’s been a nice thing, just personally, to see soccer grow maybe to in the U.S. beyond where I thought it would be now. And so I just feel like there’s maybe not even a ceiling at this point, and that’s exciting, and being able to continue telling that story has been a blast. So yeah, it’s pretty cool actually, when you compare where we are now to the ‘90s.

John Harkes:

Yeah, yeah. I always die with Martin Short. That one line. Welcome to the ‘90s. I’m always going back to the ‘90s and the old school stuff and I’m like, wow, I’m really old. When I coach some of these younger players, I’m like, nevermind, nevermind. But it’s great to see even some of our guys here, the younger players, are still researching and looking at the old school game and stuff like that. So it’s nice. And like you said, the growth has been tremendous, and you just want to keep that going. And the best thing you can do is to have, as you grow and get bigger, that’s where you get more humility and just let it grow. And just say like, it’s not about us. Just keep on growing. Let’s go. Let’s go. Do our job.

Grant Wahl:

No, definitely. Just to finish up here, I guess. You came from this hotbed town, Kearny, New Jersey, that produced several national team players, like Tab Ramos. And why am I blanking? Oh no.

John Harkes:

Tony Meola.

Grant Wahl:

Tony Meola was, yeah, Tony’s going to kill me now. But it was a definite hotbed, and I’m wondering, how do we manage this size of this country, the United States, when it comes to finding and developing soccer talent? Because I’ve had a couple instances in my career. I went to Iceland a few years ago when they were really good. And they actually talked about sort of the virtues of smallness that it allowed everyone to sort of be connected in a way that was tougher in a bigger country. And so when it comes to the United States and the sheer size of it, how do you deal with that?

John Harkes:

Yeah. It’s difficult to manage the size of something. The bigger it is, the harder it is to manage because you want to make sure that the communication, everybody’s getting the same kind of understanding of how we grow the game. And I was doing a podcast with Kevin Campbell from Arsenal the other day. And I was explaining to him like, well, Kevin, just take this for instance, in Colorado at the U-11 age group, they might be doing eight a side. Whereas in New Jersey, they’re doing 11 a side. And so he’s like, really, who doesn’t govern that? And I’m like, well again, you need leadership across a bigger country. It’s such a vast country. It’s hard to manage every little state department of what they’re doing in youth soccer. So that’s where I think the tricky part is, Grant.

I think getting momentum behind the game when you have the size of a country we have is better. That’s an advantage, because then you can grow it. But going back to Iceland and your comment there. When you’re in a smaller country that you can fit maybe inside of Alabama, it becomes much more manageable. And the communication is clear. We are going to do it this way, and everybody’s on the same page. So now you align with that. It’s just like certain managers overseas. They take on big clubs. Gasperini takes on Atalanta.

Well, he aligned himself with Bergamo, with the city, the community. How can I manage the toughness and the grittiness of this and what they went through in COVID. All the suffering in COVID, and now how can he come out and be like, we’re interchanging. We’re overlapping. We’re creative when we go forward. But everybody works together as a team. And that represents that community well. So those are the type of things you’ve got to have in terms of the behavior of your club. And I think that if you put it all together like that, eventually it’s all going to kind of come together if you can. And that collaboration takes place.

Grant Wahl:

John Harkes is a National Soccer Hall of Famer who is now the head coach and sporting director of the Greenville Triumph. John, thanks for coming on the show.

John Harkes:

My pleasure, Grant. Great to connect with you again. Thanks for having me.