9/30/22  US loses 2nd in a row, Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, CHS & HS teams head to Sectionals Mon, CFC teams at Soctoberfest Sat/Sun, DA Games @ Grand Sat/Sun, Champs League Tue/Wed

US Men

Wow and we thought Japan on Thurs was bad – now we couldn’t beat a Saudi Arabia teamed ranked 69th in the world.  Things are falling apart quick for a US team with so much hope just a few months ago.  Now we were still missing key guys as Winger Tim Weah and Mid Yanus Musah showed how much we really miss him with his absence.   Any thoughts that MMA (Mckinney/Musah/Adams) works without Musah has been negated this week.  With Musah – balls move out of pressure as he does the work to connect our D to our offense as he drives forward with abandon.  NO ONE else except perhaps Aaronson in the mid has show this ability.  Overall while we were better in the mid vs the Saudi’s than we were vs Japan – we still didn’t look good.  And Pepi and Pulisic up top ?  Well they barely touched the ball at all?  I thought Dest looked ok on the left – and serves as a serviceable left back if Jedi goes down.  I thought Scally also looked good on the right – but it seems he doesn’t drink the Berhalter Kool-Aide – (he’s just a starter for a Bundesliga team (the what 3rd bet league in the world? Why would GB like him.  Much like Tim Ream (who 100% sure be on the plane to Qatar – he starts in the EPL for heaven’s sake).  I have defended Berhalter for years now – give him time – look  at the results I have said.  See him trying to change our culture to a team that possesses instead of counter attacks and buckles down to play tough American defense.  Now we play no defense at all – play out of the back with horrific results – and basically look like one of THE WORST TEAMS IN THE WORLD coming off this international break. Maybe he’s setting us up for a 3-0 sweep with the final nail coming on the Day After Thanksgiving when the largest Ever US Audience can watch us get drummed by England 4-1 or something. I mean if not for the spectacular shot stopping of Matt Turner (who by the way Berhalter won’t start if he has his way – he loves our 3rd best GK right now Zach Steffan instead).  At this point the defense looks slow and clueless, the midfield disjointed and the offense non existent. Pulisic pouted his way thru 75 lackluster minutes before stomping off in the 76th minute – throwing his captain band to Adams.  Adams who by the way should be the captain.  Gio Reyna – perhaps our best actual player if he ever gets healthy again – left unexpectedly in the 30th minute with tightness in his leg.  Do we really think Reyna who hasn’t played ALL YEAR is going to have an impact on the World Cup in less than 60 days?  Doubtful.  And up front – well besides Aaronson trying to do it all himself – we had little to nothing.  No shots by Pepi the all world 19 year-old who is continuing his disappearing act while Berhalter strokes his back and begs him to score – a goal – any goal for the first time in over a year.  If he leaves the only #9 in the World actually playing well Jordan Pefok from Union Berlin (3 goals, 3 assists leads the Bundesliga) at home – well he may well have his Donovan moment. That moment where the entire team knows he’s clueless and won’t be able to even coax a win out of the most talented group of American’s to ever wear the Stars and Stripes at the same time.  GK Matt Turner was the one bright spot this window. Speaking of Goalkeepers – check out the GK section Below.

Indy 11 Home Sat – Breast Cancer Awareness Night  7 pm

Indy Eleven used a 2nd  half penalty kick conversion from its captain Ayoze and a dominant defensive performance to capture a hard-fought 1-0 home win. The victory marked the Eleven’s 4  straight home win.  They return home Saturday, Oct. 1, when they host FC Tulsa for Breast Cancer Awareness Night Tickets start at $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or watch MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+.

Big Games

The end of the international break is highlighted by some huge games this weekend and this week.  Sat league leading Arsenal hosts Tottenham at 7:30 am on USA, while at 9:30 am league leading Union Berlin and Jordan Pefok  travel to top 6 foe Frankfurt and fellow American Timmy Chandler.  10 am on USA gives us Pulisic sitting the bench I am sure for Chelsea vs Crystal Palace while #6 Fulham along with Jedi and Tim Ream will host New Castle in a surprising top 10 battle.  Sunday gives us the Manchester Derby at 9 am on Peacock while Leeds United States of America with Coach, and Aaronson and Adams host Aston Villa looking to move back into the top10.  Sunday also gives us huge MLS playoff battles as Portland fights for their playoff lives hosting league leading LAFC on ABC at 3 pm followed by Sporting KC vs Seattle – both still mathematically alive at 5 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Of course ladies NWSL has battles royal Sat and Sun as well. Oh and Champions League is back Tues/Wed next week with Inter vs Barca and Chelsea vs AC Milan (see full schedule on the obc)

CFC GKU – GK Coach Noelle Rolfsen Named All Conference Player of the Week

Carmel FC GK coach Noelle Rolfsen was named all Conference Player of the Week for her 3rd ranked Marian University Knights.  Noelle Rolfsen was voted the Crossroads League Women’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week as announced by the league office earlier this afternoon. The honor marks the first time in her career as a keeper for the Knights. The senior goalkeeper played the full 90 minutes and recorded a shutout in a win against No. 18 Grace, posting four saves to help the Knights to a 2-0 win over the Lancers. Rolfsen has played in every game this season, notching 28 saves with 0.67 goals against average, helping Marian towards an 9-0-1 record. Rolfsen and the Knights knocked off #2 Ranked Spring Arbor Wed night and return home Saturday at 7:30 PM to host Bethel for senior day with hopes that a #1 Ranking may follow. 

High School Local – #1 CHS Boys host Regionals, #3 CHS Girls travel to Westfield

The Carmel High School boys host regionals next week.   The #3 CHS ladies tied #4 Zionsville 0-0 as 5 former or current Carmel  FC Goalkeepers saw action between the pipes in JV and Varsity action. They close out the year at #15 Westfield tonight.  Carmel Men’s highlights in win over Guerin.   The Carmel Girls head into regionals next week ranked 3rd in the US and Indiana according to Max Preps – who also has Noblesville (2nd), and Zionsville (21) in the top 25 nationally. 

US Women’s Roster Set

The USWNT will face European champion England at a sold-out Wembley Stadium on October 7, before taking on Spain in Pamplona four days later. “These are big tests for our team in front of crowds cheering against us and after long travel, but our players absolutely love games like these,” said Andonovski. “The group we are bringing to Europe includes players who have a lot of experience against top European teams and some that don’t, so these games are even more critical for our growth as our team. Our whole squad needs to get a clear picture of what these games are like as we continue to prepare for the World Cup.”

USWNT roster

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

DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA), 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 (6): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

Good Luck to our Carmel FC teams playing in Soctoberfest in Zionsville this weekend – I will be out there coaching and reffing – be sure to post your pics to our Twitter and FB pages !  

Also if looking to watch some solid soccer this weekend – the GA Girls Academy teams from all over the US are playing at Grand Park this weekend – I will be reffing on Friday/Sunday.  

Was privileged to ref my first Girls Academy games this weekend with Marco from Indy left and Steve from North Carolina right.

BIG GAMES ON TV

Fri, Sept 30

2:30 pm ESPN+                       Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sat, Oct 1

7:30 am USA              Arsenal vs Tottenham

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

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

10 am USA                  Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

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

12 noon ESPN+                       Roma vs Inter Milan

6 pm Para +                 NY Gothem vs Portland Thorns NWSL

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Chicago Fire vs Cincy

10 pm Para+                Seattle Reign vs Orlando Pride NWSL

Sun, Oct 2

9 am USA                    Man City vs Man United

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

2:$5 pm ESPN+                       Juve vs Bologna 

3 pm ABC                   Portland Timbers vs LAFC

5 pm FS1                     Sporting KC vs Seattle Sounders

6 pm Para +                 Chicago Red Stars vs Angel City NWSL

Mon, Oct 3

3 pm USA                    Leicester City vs Nottingham’s Forest

Tues, Oct 4                 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

3 pm Para+                  Inter Milan vs Barcelona

3 pm Para+                  Club Brugge vs Atletico Madrid

Wed, Oct 5

3 pm Para+                  Chelsea (Pulisic) vs AC Milan

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

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Tues, Oct 11

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

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

US MEN


As Qatar 2022 looms the US look like who they are: Concacaf’s third best team

USMNT player ratings vs Saudi Arabia

US need to improve at World Cup says Berhalter

Giovanni Reyna exits USMNT friendly vs Saudi Arabia with apparent injury

USMNT vs. Saudi Arabia result: Final pre-World Cup friendly ends in scoreless draw

5 takeaways from U.S. men’s soccer team’s friendly loss to Japan

WORLD CUP


European giants struggle for form as World Cup looms


World Cup 2022 rankings: Who are the favorites?

Mbappe revels in greater ‘freedom’ with France

Nick Pope’s fumble squanders three-goal fightback but England take heart from Germany draw

England in ‘good place’ for World Cup, says Kane

England player ratings vs Germany: Declan Rice in driving seat with man-of-the-match performance

Bellingham gives England cause for hope at World Cup

Spain snare Nations League semis spot from Portugal

Italy beat Hungary for consolation of Nations League final-four

Do not worry, England fans – the rest of Europe are just as bad

Croatia, Netherlands into Nations League semi-finals

Wílmar Barrios’ stunner highlights Colombia’s 3-2 comeback vs. Mexico at Levi’s Stadium

Lozano lifts Mexico to 1-0 win over Peru in World Cup warm-up

World Cup Send-off Not Good for Mexico either
Messi scores two beauties, accosted twice as Argentina tops Jamaica 3-0

Messi in the 100 club as Argentina streak continues with Jamaica defeat

Scaloni to remain as Argentina coach through 2026 World Cup

Banana thrown at Richarlison as Brazil thrash Tunisia

Son’s header gives South Korea win over Cameroon in World Cup 

EPL


Report: Christian Pulisic ‘in talks’ over move to Juventus

Premier League betting: The EPL returns with a couple of mammoth fixtures

Are Man United playing Man City at the right time?

Arsenal, Spurs both peaking entering derby clash

MLS


Galaxy and LAFC to open 2023 season against each other at Rose Bowl

MLS Franchise Valuations Ranking List: From LAFC to CF Montreal

Ladies 


Angel City loses control of their playoff fate after falling to Racing Louisville

Q+A: Diana Ordóñez on her prolific NWSL rookie season, tattoos and 

NWSL Boom, Global Growth Usher in New Goals for Women’s Soccer

Goalkeeping

GK Matt Turner Man of the Match vs Japan

Best Saves Week 3 Sept

Best Saves Week 2 Sept

 Best Saves Week 1 Sept

Gigi Dondarumma Saves

The American Gigi – Slonina of Chicago/Chelsea

Goalkeeper Training with the US

NWSL Saves of the Season

Grant Wahl – My 3 Thoughts on USMNT-Saudi Arabia


The injured Yunus Musah was in attendance and saw that the U.S. needs Yunus Musah in a 0-0 tie against the World Cup-bound Saudis.
MURCIA, Spain — The U.S. men’s national team tied Saudi Arabia 0-0 on Tuesday in the last game before the World Cup starts in November. Here are my three thoughts on the game:
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• This was better than the ugly Japan loss, but the U.S. still isn’t where it should be so close to the World Cup. The U.S. had to make an improvement over that performance against the Japanese, and they did, showing more poise and a bit more energy against a not-full-strength Saudi Arabia starting 11. Weston McKennie and especially Tyler Adams had better performances over Friday in the midfield, and central defenders Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman didn’t lose their composure this time. (They even looked for some line-breaking passes over the top.) It was good to see Christian Pulisic back on the field, and the U.S. looked decent on the handful of occasions when Pulisic showed flashes of creativity on the ball in the attack. But Pulisic still didn’t have a signature moment that could have really gotten him going again amid his club issues. Meanwhile, the U.S. still didn’t create many scoring chances and had just two shots on goal against a Saudi team that was well-organized by the veteran coach Hervé Renard. The Saudis don’t concede many goals (they tied fellow World Cup entrant Ecuador 0-0 here on Friday), and the U.S. didn’t do enough to find holes in the defense. Playing at left back, Sergiño Dest remains an enigma, a player capable on this night of some brutal unforced errors but also of a couple piercing runs forward. Simply put: It has to getter from the U.S. before the World Cup opener against Wales if the Americans are going to put three points on the board in that game.
• The U.S. really needs Yunus Musah. The 19-year-old Valencia midfielder could have made a huge difference in this game had he been on the field instead of missing with an injury. Musah actually came down the coast and watched the game in the stadium, and what he saw was a U.S. team that doesn’t have anyone quite like him who can carry the ball forward on the dribble in the midfield and threaten opposing defenses. Musah has a real chance to be the breakout player of the World Cup for the United States. Give Gregg Berhalter credit for recognizing early that Musah can be dangerous in a central role instead of the wide role that his club played him at until Rino Gattuso decided to do so this season. But is it a concern that the U.S. doesn’t seem to have anyone else who can do what Musah does? You bet it is. Which is why it’s so important that Musah gets healthy and stays that way through November.
• Gio Reyna can’t buy a break health-wise. The 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund attacker has been plagued by injuries for the past year, and he recreated an all-too-familiar scene in the 30th minute when he touched the ball out of play and walked off the field through the tunnel (with Gregg Berhalter following behind). U.S. Soccer said Reyna had muscle tightness and came out as a precaution. Reyna, who still seems better-suited to a central midfield than a winger spot with the U.S., hadn’t made a major mark in these two international games, but it was good just to see him start two games in a row as he tries to get back to full fitness for club and country. It has almost become a meme at this point to see a distressed Reyna walking off the field through the tunnel, and you have to hope that it isn’t an injury that will set him back as he tries to become a regular contributor for the U.S. and for Dortmund. There’s a psychological element to how Reyna processes his injuries, and it’s something you never want a player so young to have to deal with on a regular basis.
USMNT winger Gio Reyna will return from injury ahead of World Cup
Sep 29, 202215

U.S. men’s national team winger Giovanni Reyna “has a strain and will be out for seven to 10 days,” Borussia Dortmund coach Edin Terzić said Thursday.Reyna, who also plays for the German club, sustained the injury during a friendly against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. The 19-year-old exited the World Cup tune-up match after just 30 minutes and headed right to the tunnel after leaving the field. He was replaced by Paul Arriola, and the match ended in a scoreless draw.Reyna has struggled with hamstring injuries in the past, most recently missing the bulk of the European domestic season due to a torn tendon sustained while playing for Borussia Dortmund in April. That injury required four full months of recovery and followed another hamstring problem that prevented him from playing for five months.The Americans begin World Cup play with a Group B match against Wales on Nov. 21. Given Reyna’s estimated recovery timeline, he should be available to play.
World Cup state of play: Dismal form, injuries and lack of striker impairing USMNT
Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio
Sep 29, 2022
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The U.S. men’s national team’s final two matches before the World Cup — a 2-0 loss to Japan in Dusseldorf, Germany, last Friday and a scoreless draw against Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain, four days later — raised some serious concerns.
What went wrong in the buildup? What problems does head coach Gregg Berhalter face?
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Here, Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal answer the big questions.

What is the team’s form like and how have they performed during this break?
This was perhaps the most disheartening international window for the U.S. since the one in October 2019 when they suffered a shock defeat on the road to Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League.
That loss served as a turning point for this national team — a reminder that their intensity and energy are still critical to their success. This latest window reinforced that notion.
There are still some very big weaknesses in this young team. The two big areas of concern — center-back and forward — flared up in the defeat to Japan and draw with Saudi Arabia. Just as concerning, though, was the midfield’s inability to play through the opposition. The U.S. certainly felt the absence of 19-year-old Yunus Musah and they’ll hope his return in November will help settle the midfield.

Which players are in or out of form? Are there any that the fans/the manager will be worried about?
Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams are starting every week for Leeds United, Weston McKennie is getting healthy minutes with Juventus and Walker Zimmerman is having another fine season for Nashville. But those four aside, there are legitimate form concerns for most of the U.S.’s main players.
Christian Pulisic has had a rough start to the season at Chelsea. His playing time under new head coach Graham Potter will be a major focal point for U.S. fans in the coming weeks. Giovanni Reyna had not made a league start for Borussia Dortmund before this month’s international break as he continued to work his way back to fitness and his injury on Tuesday will likely delay that further. Sergino Dest didn’t play at all for Barcelona in the three games between the start of the season and his deadline-day loan move to AC Milan, where he’s been used in a reserve role so far, making three substitute appearances.
It’s conceivable that none of those three will have a consistent run of starts between now and kick-off in Qatar.
Striker may be the most confounding position. Jesus Ferreira is in good form in MLS but he has yet to translate any success he’s had with FC Dallas to a match against a difficult opponent on the international level. Ricardo Pepi is off to a fine start to his loan at Dutch top-flight club Groningen but it’s only been two solid games after a rut that lasted nearly a year.
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Josh Sargent and Jordan Pefok are performing well at their clubs, but Sargent played the fewest minutes of any of the three strikers called into the September camp while Pefok was left off the roster entirely.
Aaron Long is starting at center-back for the U.S. but he isn’t having his best year for the New York Red Bulls. Mark McKenzie entered September in good form at Genk in Belgium but he then struggled mightily for the U.S. This position will remain a huge concern up to, and likely throughout, the World Cup.
Then there are the injuries. Lots and lots of injuries.
Are there worries over the fitness of, or injuries to, certain players?
The U.S. went into the September window missing several starters due to injury: Musah, left-back Antonee Robinson, center-back Chris Richards and winger Tim Weah. It then got worse.Robinson emerged as one of the most influential players in this U.S. team due to his attacking abilities but missed out on this window with an ankle injury. There has been no indication of just how bad the ailment is. If he misses the World Cup, his absence would likely force Dest to the left side and shake up the back line.Richards has struggled to stay healthy and his injuries have limited his availability and playing time with the national team. Center-back is the thinnest spot on the roster and Richards’ passing ability is especially missed. If he can get healthy and play a stretch of games with Crystal Palace, the U.S. will be much better for it. Another center-back, Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers, also pulled out of this camp due to an injury, forcing the U.S. further down the depth chart for the September games.Musah was a late exclusion due to a muscle injury but his issues seem like a shorter-term problem. Weah, meanwhile, remains out for Lille due to a foot injury and is yet to play this season. As mentioned above, Reyna left Tuesday’s draw as a precautionary measure due to some hamstring tightness. The injury is not expected to be serious, according to Berhalter, but it’s a reminder that over the past year, Reyna has been unable to stay on the field for long stretches. Right-back Reggie Cannon picked up a groin injury in this September camp and is expected to miss a few weeks.Cristian Roldan missed camp due to a groin injury suffered in August but he returned to the field for Seattle on Tuesday. He could be back with the U.S. squad in November — he’s seen as an important presence within the locker room.

What is the squad’s depth like? Are there any problem positions?
There’s good depth at winger, where Pulisic, Reyna, Aaronson and Weah are competing for two starting spots, and Paul Arriola and Jordan Morris are fighting for a reserve role. The U.S. is pretty thin just about everywhere else, however. We saw that in the September window. Luca de la Torre, who started against Japan, and Kellyn Acosta, who went the full 90 minutes against Saudi Arabia, didn’t come close to replacing Musah’s ability to break pressure and assist Adams in buildout play. At center-back, injuries to Richards and Carter-Vickers prompted Berhalter to start Long in both matches.The absence of Robinson and the tough outing that Sam Vines had against Japan led to Dest flipping from the right to the left on Tuesday. It worked fine but it was a case of hurting one side of the back four to fix the other. Berhalter likely only felt comfortable trying the flip because the U.S. has somewhat decent depth on the right with DeAndre Yedlin, Joe Scally and Cannon, though the latter is now out for the next few weeks due to his injury.Again, the main problem positions are center-back and striker. Zimmerman has been solid defensively but he’s limited in possession. Long hasn’t been up to par while McKenzie was poor in September. The U.S. need Richards to get healthy and onto the field for Palace, but given his lack of playing time before his recent injury, the latter outcome seems unlikely. Carter-Vickers returning to the field at Celtic could provide a boost, too. It’s a similar picture at striker.None of the options have done anything of note at the international level. Ferreira has finished poorly with the U.S. and hasn’t done a good job of threatening opposition back lines with runs in behind. Sargent didn’t get much of a chance in this window. Pepi is a total wild card, given his prolonged struggles over the last year. Union Berlin’s Pefok is the option du jour but Berhalter seems to have decided his limitations in possession preclude him from starting in Qatar.Simply put, the U.S. is several cuts below the top international teams at both these positions.That won’t change between now and the World Cup.

Are there any issues to fix before the World Cup?
There are a couple of major aspects to address. The U.S. must be better at handling a team’s press and they have to figure out how to unlock teams who sit in a low block. Both areas have given this team problems and they should expect to see both tactics employed against them at the World Cup.
As mentioned above, the issues at center-back and striker aren’t “fixable”, per se. Players need to step up but there are tactical tweaks that could help in handling the press better and the U.S. need to figure out what to do to unlock the attacking strength of their team: the wingers. Dropping Musah closer to Adams, shifting McKennie a bit to the right, and opening space on the left so that they can play through Pulisic could be key.

What are the expectations of the fanbase for the World Cup?
Before these last two matches, they seemed relatively high. The minimum expectation was to emerge out of group B, which also includes England, Wales and Iran. After the September window, that may have changed a bit.
Most fans will likely still expect the U.S. to advance to the 16-team knockout stage but most certainly feel a lot less confident in that happening than they did just one week ago.
U.S. Soccer’s 30-year run on ESPN has come to an end

Jon Heath followSeptember 28, 2022 5:13 pm ET
The U.S. men’s national soccer team’s 2-0 loss to Japan in a friendly last week marked the end of U.S. Soccer’s 30-year partnership with ESPN.
In the final minute of the game, former USMNT player and current ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman put a bow on a long era of Disney-owned coverage of the national team.
“For so many of us, it was [growing up with] the ABC games, the ESPN family of networks — just watching the games,” Twellman said. “Way before I even got here, they just did such a good job of helping this national team — both the women’s and the men’s — grow. It’s remarkable to think that at the end of 2022, it’s all done.”
Twellman followed up his on-air remarks with a tweet thanking those “behind the scenes” who made the network’s coverage possible.
What networks will broadcast U.S. Soccer games now?
ESPN did not renew its deal with U.S. Soccer that’s set to expire at the end of 2022, so where can fans watch going forward?
First, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will air on Fox Sports networks this fall, and the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be on Fox next summer. Fox also owns the rights to the 2026 World Cup. Meanwhile, Nations League matches will remain with CBS (likely on Paramount+) through next year and then the rights will become available.
After the World Cup, Turner Sports will take over most non-World Cup matches beginning in 2023. Turner Sports reached an eight-year agreement with U.S. Soccer in March that will pay the federation between $25 million and $27 million per year for English-language rights to USMNT and USWNT games, according to The Athletic.
Turner will have the rights to USMNT and USWNT friendlies, the SheBelieves Cup, as well as USWNT and USMNT World Cup qualifiers among other properties. The USMNT is expected to automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup at home, so qualifiers (for the men’s team) might not come into play before the 2030 World Cup cycle.
As part of the deal, Turner also acquired U.S. Open Cup rights.
According to U.S. Soccer, TNT or TBS will televise approximately half of the more than 20 matches Turner Sports carries annually. All games will also be available to stream on HBO Max, and it remains to be seen if Turner will opt to make any games exclusively available on the streaming service.
Meanwhile, Spanish-language rights remain available, and newly merged TelevisaUnivision appears to be a major contender to acquire that package.
Is this really the end of ESPN’s coverage?
The rights to some USMNT games — such as Gold Cup matches — are held by CONCACAF, so it’s possible that ESPN might acquire select games going forward, but their current agreement with U.S. Soccer is coming to an end.

USMNT World Cup roster and lineup projections as Qatar 2022 nears


Henry BushnellTue, September 27, 2022 at 8:03 PM Yahoo Soccer
Gregg Berhalter has 11 players in mind who, “ideally, in a perfect world,” would start for the U.S. men’s national team in its 2022 World Cup opener.The USMNT coach knows, of course, that “that’s not international soccer”; that this world is far from perfect and that injuries will surely disrupt his plans. But he has been concocting them, gradually, for years now. On what is effectively World Cup Eve, with his final warmup friendlies played, he has just about all the information he needs to pick a starting lineup — and, for that matter, a roster.Berhalter has not yet settled on a 26-man squad for Qatar 2022, but he is close. The roster, he indicated, was 80-85% set prior to a September training camp. A 2-0 loss to Japan last week and a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday provided further clues — and for Berhalter, “some clarity.” He and U.S. Soccer will reveal the World Cup roster on Nov. 9. He’ll then sweat through one last weekend of club games before submitting his final list of 26 players to FIFA by Monday, Nov. 14. By then, the entire USMNT will have gathered in Qatar, at their luxurious hotel on The Pearl, and at their Al-Gharafa training base.And by then, barring any last-minute fitness doubts, the starting 11 will also be decided. Here, with less than two months to go, is what we think it will be.
USMNT projected starting lineup for 2022 World Cup
Over the past 12 months, Berhalter’s ideal starting 11 has crystallized. Assuming full health, with the exception of Miles Robinson, it appears to be this — with a few caveats below:
Goalkeeper: Matt Turner
Right back: Sergiño Dest
Center back: Walker Zimmerman
Center back: Chris Richards
Left back: Antonee Robinson
Defensive midfield: Tyler Adams
Central midfield: Yunus Musah
Central midfield: Weston McKennie
Right wing: Tim Weah
Striker: Jesús Ferreira
Left wing: Christian Pulisic
Caveat No. 1: In his “perfect world,” Berhalter would love to start Zack Steffen, who’s more capable than Turner with the ball at his feet. But Steffen’s form and fitness have been unstable. He would need to get back onto the field and into a groove for Middlesbrough, his English Championship club, if he is going to start at the World Cup ahead of Turner — who played all 180 minutes (and played well) in the September friendlies.Caveat No. 2: Same goes for Chris Richards. He is the most talented center back in the U.S. pool, but missed all six World Cup tuneups due to injury. In his place, Aaron Long was the only USMNT player, regardless of position, to start all six. If Richards isn’t ready to play 90 minutes — and given that he has no clear path to regular playing time at Crystal Palace, he might not be — Long appears to be the deputy, no matter how uncomfortable he has looked. (Long might also be the best matchup for 6-foot-5 Welsh striker Kieffer Moore.)The only other slight question mark is at striker. Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi remain in contention to start up top. But Berhalter heaps praise on Jesús Ferreira whenever he can, and said this month that Ferreira “checks all [the] boxes.” If Weah and Pulisic are both in the lineup against Wales, Ferreira should also be in it — with some rotation possible further into the tournament.
USMNT 2022 World Cup roster prediction
The roster is a tad more complicated. But 20 outfield players and one goalkeeper appear to be locks or near-locks. Before we get to position-by-position analysis, and identify those locks, here’s our best guess at the 26:
Goalkeepers: Zack Steffen, Matt Turner, Sean Johnson
Fullbacks: Sergiño Dest, Antonee Robinson, DeAndre Yedlin, Reggie Cannon
Center backs: Walker Zimmerman, Chris Richards, Aaron Long, Cameron Carter-Vickers
Central midfielders: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Luca de la Torre, Kellyn Acosta
Attacking midfielders/wingers: Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Brenden Aaronson, Gio Reyna, Malik Tillman, Paul Arriola
Strikers: Jesús Ferreira, Josh Sargent, Jordan Pefok, Ricardo Pepi
GOALKEEPERS
Locks: Matt Turner
Likely: Zack Steffen
Bubble: Sean Johnson, Ethan Horvath, Gaga Slonina
Turner will be either the starter or the No. 2.
Steffen could be the starter. If not, he could be the No. 2, or he could be off the roster altogether.
For the remaining one or two slots, Berhalter has two options: pick a “locker-room guy,” or peer into the future.
In the first scenario, Johnson versus Horvath is a coin flip. In the second, the 18-year-old Slonina is an obvious choice. He’s the best goalkeeper prospect the U.S. has produced in some time, and the early favorite to start in 2026. He hasn’t played for the national team yet, but could be brought to Qatar for the experience.
FULLBACKS
Locks: Sergiño Dest, Antonee Robinson
Likely: DeAndre Yedlin, Reggie Cannon
Bubble: Joe Scally, Sam Vines
Berhalter dropped a massive hint on Tuesday when he started Dest at left back and Yedlin at right back, rather than giving Scally a legitimate look on the left. Scally was somewhat impressive off the bench — but on the right, which is telling.
The takeaway is that Dest, in addition to his role as the starting right back, is the backup left back. If Antonee Robinson were to go down in Qatar, Dest would switch flanks, and either Yedlin or Cannon would slot in at right back, depending on situation and opponent. (Cannon is valued for his ability to play on the right side of a back three in possession.)
So, Scally would, in theory, be the third-string left back and fourth-string right back. Vines, who looked a bit out of his depth against Japan, would be the third-string left back. Both seem unnecessary.
With Robinson injured, Berhalter brought only one left-footed fullback to September camp, and his reasoning — “we didn’t feel like we had enough depth on the left side to go with two left-footers” — could probably apply in November as well.
CENTER BACKS
Locks: Walker Zimmerman, Chris Richards, Aaron Long
Likely: Cameron Carter-Vickers
Bubble: Mark McKenzie
Longshot: Tim Ream, James Sands
Zimmerman and his two potential partners are on the plane. Carter-Vickers is the clear favorite to join them. Those were the four on this September roster until Richards and Carter-Vickers pulled out with minor injuries. In their absence, Berhalter called in McKenzie and Erik Palmer-Brown, but, rather than give them real opportunities, he kept trying to forge a viable Long-Zimmerman partnership.
The question is whether he’ll take a fifth center back. The extremely logical option would be Ream, who A) is currently captaining a Premier League club, B) has all sorts of experience, C) would be the left-footed ball-playing center back that the U.S. so sorely lacked against Japan and D) could serve as the third-string, in-case-of-emergency left back.
But Berhalter’s September decisions and words suggest that Ream is, at best, seventh on the depth chart and out of the picture.
“Some of the things that we’re looking for in our center backs is to play a high line, cover a lot of space behind them, be dominant in the air, dominant on offensive and defensive set pieces,” Berhalter said after naming the roster. “And that’s not Tim’s strength.”
(McKenzie played in the second halves of both September games, and, although he’d seem redundant if the top four options are all available, he could be the fifth choice.)
CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS
Locks: Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, Luca de la Torre, Kellyn Acosta
Longshots: Cristian Roldan
Can play here too: Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, Malik Tillman
The midfield seems simple. The three starters — Adams, Musah and McKennie — are obvious. Acosta is the backup to Adams. De la Torre is a backup at either of the other two positions. So are Tillman, Reyna and Aaronson, who, as a trio, give Berhalter enough flexibility to feel comfortable taking only five true central midfielders.
There remains an outside chance, though, that he could use the 26th roster spot on a sixth, which could be Roldan, a well-liked and versatile veteran who’s currently injured — and whose stock might have risen in absentia.
WINGERS/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS
Locks: Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson
Likely: Malik Tillman
Bubble: Paul Arriola, Jordan Morris
We’re hesitant to lock in Tillman only because his USMNT track record is so short. But Berhalter clearly rates him. Speaking prior to camp, he essentially challenged the 20-year-old attacking midfielder to “increase his level,” then said: “He can help this group, but he needs to pick it up a little. He’s a guy that the coaching staff was highly impressed with, and think he’s got a huge ceiling.”
Berhalter then used Tillman in both September games off the bench, once in midfield and once on the left wing. That he didn’t stand out isn’t all that relevant, because nobody did.
With creativity more than accounted for, then, by that locked-in group of four or five, the conventional wisdom is that Berhalter will take a more direct winger as the sixth player in this category. It’ll likely be whoever between Arriola and Morris concludes the MLS season in better form.
STRIKERS
Locks: Jesús Ferreira
Likely: Josh Sargent
Bubble: Ricardo Pepi, Jordan Pefok
Ferreira will be on the plane, even if he doesn’t start. Sargent should be, unless he falls back into a rut at Norwich. And then we arrive at the most controversial decision of all.
Berhalter would do anything to reincarnate 2021 Ricardo Pepi. He called the 19-year-old into September camp despite 11-plus months without a goal. (Pepi finally scored one the following weekend.) He praised him effusively in news conferences, and handed him a start against Saudi Arabia. He desperately wants Pepi to make this 26-man squad, and to be his third striker — or something more.
Whether Pepi ultimately does will depend on his performances for his new club, FC Groningen; but also on Berhalter’s answer to an infrequently discussed question: Might he take four strikers to Qatar?
He certainly does not need four. But he doesn’t need a fifth fullback, a fifth center back or a sixth central midfielder either. The separate scenarios that call Pepi and Pefok into action are far more plausible than the ones that summon Scally, or Vines, or McKenzie, or Roldan.
Pefok, as the third striker, would serve a very specific role. He’d never start, because his profile doesn’t jibe with Berhalter’s system; but he’d be the penalty-box target that Berhalter would turn to when systems fly out the window, with 15 minutes remaining and in need of a goal.
Pepi would then be the fourth striker who could deputize in any of the three roles, and who, in the absolute worst-case scenario, would soak up the experience and store it away for 2026.

What are my NWSL team’s playoff chances? Your guide to the season’s final weekend

Jason Anderson 

September 29, 2022 8:00 am ET

The 2022 NWSL regular season is down to its final six matches, but we still have plenty of drama in store.

Four teams have a shot at finishing at the top of the standings when all is said and done (alright, really only three, but our playoff scenario pieces have been about extremes, and technically there are four), while we could very well see the final game of the entire season become a one-game playoff elimination game.

Follow along as we detail all the possibilities for each of the eight teams that are still alive!

Eliminated: NJ/NY Gotham FC, Racing Louisville, Washington Spirit, Orlando Pride

This section hasn’t expanded despite two playoff bubble teams both losing last weekend, which is wild, but also shouldn’t be a surprise by now given the territory we’ve covered. We’re in a definitively weird space, you just have to embrace the oddity.

There’s little to play for for this group. Gotham cannot escape the cellar, and while Orlando, Louisville, and Washington all have to balance analyzing their squads for next year against opponents that all have something on the line in the final weekend. Every game on the docket has meaning, which might make for some rough sledding for this quartet.

Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports ORG

One last reminder on the tiebreakers

For 2022, NWSL is applying the following list of tiebreakers to sort out the regular season standings:

  1. Goal differential
  2. Most total wins
  3. Most goals scored
  4. Head-to-head results
  5. Head-to-head most goals scored
  6. Fewest disciplinary points (with points assigned for yellow cards and red cards picked up by an entire team over the year)
  7. If two teams are still tied, the tie is broken by a coin toss. If the tie involves more than two teams, it will be broken by a drawing of lots.

8. Angel City FC (29 points, 8W-5D-8L, -2 GD, 23 GF/25 GA)

Final game: at Chicago Red Stars (Sunday 10/2, 8:00pm ET, Paramount+)

Angel City has made a tremendous impact on the NWSL in its first year, but to carry that statement to the on-field side, they’re going to need a lot of things to go right this weekend. There’s no dodging that their 3-1 home loss to Louisville this past Sunday is a huge slip-up, and now even a final-day win over Chicago doesn’t do the job for them.

Angel City needs to go to Chicago and win (note: the Red Stars only have two home losses all season), and they also effectively need San Diego to win Friday night’s clash against North Carolina.

Technically a draw in that game would keep the door open for Angel City, but they’d step onto the field in Bridgeview with a 15-goal gap to make up for the tiebreaker, and with all due respect, a team with 23 goals in 21 matches is not likely to score 15 goals, even against a depleted Chicago side.

Playoff chances: Wearing navy blue and pink on Friday while watching every sports underdog movie

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

7. Chicago Red Stars (30 points, 8W-6D-7L, +4 GD, 32 GF/28 GA)

Final game: vs. Angel City FC (Sunday 10/2, 8:00pm ET, Paramount+)

Chicago and Angel City are in the same boat in terms of still being alive amid some very bad vibes from their penultimate game. While Angel City will rue losing at home to an eliminated team, Chicago will instead look to the gritty details of their 3-0 defeat at Portland.

Namely, the Red Stars melted down in a way that will definitely impact their chances on Sunday. Bianca St-Georges — who is on this writer’s shortlist for a Best XI spot — was sent off for choosing to dispute a throw-in call with the suddenly popular double birds, while Zoe Morse (who was on track to be an NWSL “iron woman”) picked up a second yellow card well after the game was dead and buried.

Because they’re 11 goals behind the Courage on the goal difference tiebreaker, Chicago is effectively in must-win mode just like Angel City. The only difference is that they have a few more paths to the postseason. If San Diego avoids defeat against North Carolina, Chicago can get into sixth place with a win on Sunday.

Additionally, if Houston loses at Washington on Saturday night, the goal difference tiebreaker might let the Red Stars sneak past the Dash. Houston is only three goals clear of Chicago at the moment, and a loss necessarily means they’d be no better than two goals clear when Red Stars-ACFC kicks off.

Of course, this potentially huge game could end up meaning nothing, as wins for the Courage and Dash would shut the door on both Chicago and Angel City.

Playoff chances: Down bad, but not down and out

Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

6. North Carolina Courage (31 points, 9W-4D-8L, +13 GD, 46 GF/33 GA)

Final game: at San Diego Wave (Friday 9/30, 10:00pm ET, Paramount+)

On August 13, the Courage lost a 4-3 thriller to Kansas City that seemed at the time like the end of any NC playoff hopes. By the end of the night, they were alone at the bottom of the NWSL table on 10 points. OL Reign were in sixth place on 21 points, meaning that North Carolina had more points to make up on the playoff pack than they’d collected on the season.

It’s 47 days later, and look at the Courage, sitting in sixth and holding their destiny in their own hands. Much like last year’s Spirit, they’ve successfully run the gauntlet, winning seven times in nine games. While there’s no hiding the fact that things have been rocky off the field, North Carolina have managed something really special on it.

But the job isn’t done yet. They have a tough assignment in their final game, a road trip to San Diego against a Wave team aiming for a first-round bye (or, at the very least, the guarantee of a home playoff game). A loss means they’re out of the playoffs if either Chicago or Angel City wins on Sunday, and a draw would leave them vulnerable to elimination if the Red Stars won the next day.

North Carolina can’t climb higher than fifth place, so their best-case scenario is still a road playoff game, but remember where they were a few weeks ago.

Playoff chances: The epic comeback is one step from reality

Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

5. Houston Dash (33 points, 9W-6D-6L, +7 GD, 33 GF/26 GA)

Final game: at Washington Spirit (Saturday 10/1, 7:00pm ET, Paramount+)

Houston saw a chance to clinch their first-ever playoff spot slip through their grasp, as they fell 2-0 to OL Reign at home. Making matters worse, they’ll be without Shea Groom for their regular season finale, as the attacking midfielder picked up a yellow card accumulation suspension despite the very best efforts of her teammate Katie Naughton.

The Dash also have to deal with their recent history against the Spirit, which is quite bad. They haven’t beaten Washington since July 20, 2019, even after having a Spirit home game end up being played in Houston (which saw Washington score their game-winner with only 10 players on the field after an earlier red card).This year, just as was the case last year, they only need a draw at Audi Field in their final game to secure a playoff spot. In 2021, they had that point in hand, only for a tactical blunder from then-coach James Clarkson to hand Washington the time to find a late game-winner, eliminating the Dash in heartbreaking fashion.But still, the Houston of 2022 seems to be made of sterner stuff, and they really do just need a single point, or a non-win from either the Courage or Red Stars, to finally get into the playoffs. A win opens the door to a possible home playoff game, though they’d need help in the form of either San Diego or Kansas City losing.

Playoff chances: One last ghost to fight off

Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

4. San Diego Wave FC (35 points, 10W-5D-6L, +11 GD, 32 GF/21 GA)

Final game: vs. NC Courage (Friday 9/30, 10:00pm ET, Paramount+)

San Diego’s late two-goal comeback at Orlando was just enough to assure themselves of a place in the NWSL postseason. While they have some concerns — Abby Dahlkemper appeared to suffer a fairly serious injury, while Taylor Kornieck also left that last game after rolling her ankle — they don’t have any must-win or must-not-lose scenarios approaching.

However, they’ve still got a good shot at bringing a playoff game to Snapdragon Stadium, and could even seal a first-round bye. They’re even technically in the NWSL Shield race, but with a 14-goal deficit to cover with Portland, we can put that topic to the side.

If San Diego picks up a draw, Houston would have to win in Washington by at least four goals for the Wave to fall out of the top four, which would guarantee at least one playoff game in SoCal. A loss, combined with the Dash not winning their finale, would also lock in a fourth-place finish.

With a win and some help, the Wave can finish as high as second. They’d need the Reign to tie or lose to Orlando, as well as Kansas City to do something other than win at Louisville (both games are on Saturday).

Playoff chances: In, and possibly (probably?) hosting3. Kansas City Current (36 points, 10W-6D-5L, +1 GD, 29 GF/28 GA)

Final game: at Racing Louisville (Saturday 10/1, 7:30pm ET, Twitch)

After watching the Spirit hit the post early, Kansas City wasted no time in making sure they weren’t going to suffer a fate like Houston’s. The Current  scored three goals in a 23-minute span, putting the game away by halftime to clinch their place in the postseason.

They’re in a great position to host a game as well. The only way they can fall out of the top four would be to lose in Kentucky while San Diego takes at least one point on Friday and Houston wins in D.C. on Saturday.

The Current still have a shot at the NWSL Shield, but even with a win, it’s not likely. They’d need the Reign to fail to beat Orlando at home, which feels like a stretch, but they’d also need Gotham to end the NWSL’s all-time record losing streak by beating Portland on Saturday. On the plus side, a win and a Reign draw gets KC into second place, and they get a first-round bye as a result.

Playoff chances: They’re in, and they’re the team no one wants to play

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2. OL Reign (37 points, 10W-7D-4L, +10 GD, 29 GF/19 GA)

Final game: vs. Orlando Pride (Saturday 10/1, 10:00pm ET, Twitch)

The Reign have really shown their mettle down the stretch, taking nine points from a three-game road trip over just one week that included victories at Houston and North Carolina.

As the team in the best form in the entire league, they’ve marched up to second, and have a real shot at winning the Shield. Still, it’ll take some help that’s unlikely to come: if Portland wins at Gotham, the Thorns will get the silverware instead. A Reign win is a prerequisite, unless Portland loses by 15 (that’s fifteen) goals at Red Bull Arena, which would also open the door to a Reign draw being enough. It’d probably also signal the end of days, so don’t worry too much about that scenario.

The Reign have guaranteed themselves a home playoff game, but they can get a bye their veteran-laden squad would probably appreciate if they can beat the Pride. They could also get there with a draw if Kansas City and San Diego stumble.

Playoff chances: The vibes are immaculate

Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

1. Portland Thorns FC (38 points, 10W-8D-3L, +25 GD, 46 GF/21 GA)

Final game: at Gotham FC (Saturday 10/1, 6:00pm ET, Paramount+)

A win gets the Thorns another NWSL Shield, but that’s the only way it’s guaranteed. If they slip up in their cross-country trek to face Gotham, the door is open for them to fall to third (or, if you want to pretend there’s any chance that their loss and San Diego’s win wipes out Portland’s plus-14 goal difference edge, then fourth).

If the Thorns only get one point in New Jersey, OL Reign can leap over them at the last gasp. With a loss, wins for the Reign and Kansas City would oblige Portland to host a playoff game without the benefit of a bye.

But let’s be real here: the chances of each of these things happening are remote. Portland will be richly favored to further Gotham’s misery for good reason, and if they do it, they’re your regular season champs, and all paths to the championship go through them.

Playoff chances: The likely No. 1 seed for a reason

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9/26/22  US vs Saudi Arabia Tues 2 pm FS1, Indy 11 win, CHS play final games before Sectionals

US Men

Wow – what a horrific showing by our boys and our coach vs Japan.  Japan’s high press absolutely EXPOSED both our defense and the pathetic plans of Berhalter as the build out of the back BS was destroyed. Right CB Aaron Long was exposed and should be replaced IMMEDIATELY by Fulham’s Tim Ream.  Zimmerman also struggled – but when paired with a slow CB like Long who can’t pass for $hit what is the guy to do?  McKinney was Equally bad – as we can see now why he can’t get off the bench on a bad Juventus team.  Musah was certainly missed in the MMA midfield as there was NO ONE who could maneuver out of pressure – McKinney can’t do it and De La Torre was WAY over his head.  I think we saw in the middle today without Musah there to connect between the offense and defense – Adams can’t do it all alone.  Adams too was not his normal destroyer in the middle that he is at Leeds.  Obviously a 2-0 win loss to a good Japan team that could have easily been 4-0 if not for Matt Turner’s POG performance.  We were missing 5 starters and realistically we aren’t deep enough to do that against non CONCACAF competition.  Pulisic, Musah, Richards, Jedi and Tim Weah would have made a difference today and will have to make a difference in the World Cup or my prediction of getting to the Round of 16 will look ridiculous – much like Berhalter’s tactics and personnel decisions.

Forward Jesus Ferreira whiffed on his only chance to put us up 1-0 when a perfect ball delivered by Dest was horrifically headed over -even though he was wide open. (Listen I would be upset if our U11 boys missed that header – and they aren’t allowed to head)  He blew it and if he’s on the plane – it dang well better not be as a starter.  We have a guy who’s got 3 goals and 3 assist in the Bundesliga for league-leading Union Berlin named Jordan Pefok who Berhalter left home.  Hopefully  Josh Sargent gets the chance to start at the #9 Tues and see how he plays with Pulisic and Reyna in the game.  Also hopefully we see Pepi in the 2nd half to see if he deserves a spot on the plane to Qatar.  This game tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm is HUGE.  Our defense needs to show it can fix things. That and we need to show if Berhalter can change plans a little and stop forcing us to play out of the back when it isn’t working.  We need to see Sargent or Pepi do something up top along with hopefully a fitter Pulisic and Reyna.  These guys need to play and play well together.  I would move Aaronson into the center midfield with McKinney and Adams and see if that can work. 

Here’s my line-up  Tues

Pulisic, Pep,  Reyna

Adams, Aaronson, McKinney

Scally, McKinsie, Zimmerman, Yedlin

Horvath or Turner

USMNT September roster (caps/goals)

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

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

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

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

Indy 11 Home Sat – Breast Cancer Awareness Night  7 pm

Indy Eleven used a 2nd  half penalty kick conversion from its captain Ayoze and a dominant defensive performance to capture a hard-fought 1-0 home win.The victory marked the Eleven’s 4  straight home win.  They return home Saturday, Oct. 1, when they host FC Tulsa for Breast Cancer Awareness Night Tickets start at $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or watch MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+.

High School Local – #1 CHS Boys host Harrison Mon night, #3 CHS Girls travel to Westfield

The Carmel High School boys host their finale tonight vs Harrison at Murray at 7 pm before hosting regionals next week.   The #3 CHS ladies tied #4 Zionsville 0-0 as 5 former or current Carmel  FC Goalkeepers saw action between the pipes in JV and Varsity action. They close out the year at #15 Westfield tonight.  Carmel Men’s highlights in win over Guerin.   The Carmel Girls head into regionals next week ranked 3rd in the US and Indiana according to Max Preps – who also has Noblesville (2nd), and Zionsville (21) in the top 25 nationally. 

CFC GKU – GK Coach Noelle Rolfsen Named All Conference Player of the Week

Carmel FC GK coach Noelle Rolfsen was named all Conference Player of the Week for her 3rd ranked Marian University Knights.  Noelle Rolfsen was voted the Crossroads League Women’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week as announced by the league office earlier this afternoon. The honor marks the first time in her career as a keeper for the Knights. The senior goalkeeper played the full 90 minutes and recorded a shutout in a win against No. 18 Grace, posting four saves to help the Knights to a 2-0 win over the Lancers. Rolfsen has played in every game this season, notching 28 saves with 0.67 goals against average, helping Marian towards an 8-0-1 record. Rolfsen and the Knights will be on the road at #2 Ranked Spring Arbor Wednesday before returning home Saturday at 7:30 PM to host Bethel for senior day.

BIG GAMES ON TV

Mon, Sept 26

2:45 pm FS1                        England vs Germany 

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm Fox Sports1             USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

2:45 pm FS2                        Switzerland vs Czech Republic

Fri, Sept 30

2:30 pm ESPN+                       Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sat, Oct 1

7:30 am USA              Arsenal vs Tottenham

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

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

10 am USA                  Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

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

12 noon ESPN+                       Roma vs Inter Milan

6 pm Para +                 NY Gothem vs Portland Thorns NWSL

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Chicago Fire vs Cincy

10 pm Para+                Seattle Reign vs Orlando Pride NWSL

Sun, Oct 2

9 am USA                    Man City vs Man United

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

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

2:$5 pm ESPN+                       Juve vs Bologna 

3 pm ABC                   Portland Timbers vs LAFC

5 pm FS1                     Sporting KC vs Seattle Sounders

6 pm Para +                 Chicago Red Stars vs Angel City NWSL

Mon, Oct 3

3 pm USA                    Leicester City vs Nottingham’s Forest

Tues, Oct 4                 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

3 pm Para+                  Inter Milan vs Barcelona

3 pm Para+                  Club Brugge vs Atletico Madrid

Wed, Oct 5

3 pm Para+                  Chelsea (Pulisic) vs AC Milan

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

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Tues, Oct 11

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

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

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US Men


Pulisic returns, to start U.S. WC warm-up game
  19hJeff Carlisle

· Reyna won’t dwell on injury-hit 2021-22. He’s too focused on the World Cup 3dSam Borden

USMNT players on World Cup bubble aren’t stressing yet ahead of Qatar 2022 2dJeff Carlisle

Player Ratings vs Japan – the 18
Berhalter: USMNT has ‘work to do’ before WC
4dJeff Carlisle

Carlisle: USMNT has no answers to Japan press in friendly defeat
Pulisic returns, to start U.S. WC warm-up game
19hJeff Carlisle

USA vs. Saudi Arabia, 2022 friendly: What to watch for

USA vs. Japan, 2022 friendly; What we learned

USA vs. Japan, 2022 friendly: Man of the Match

2022 USMNT friendly: Scouting Saudi Arabia

Reggie Cannon out of Saudi Arabia friendly with injury

WORLD


England-Germany was a Nations League classic, but neither proved they’ll contend for the World Cup
15hMark Ogden

Enrique’s Spain squad selection is about players that fit his system, not the big names 4dSid Lowe

Can Barca overcome injury crisis ahead of UCL and Clasico?

Are Gerrard and Lampard the only options for next England manager? 1dMark Ogden

Italy win to book spot in Nations League finals   15h

USA vs. Saudi Arabia, 2022 friendly: What to watch for

The final match for the USMNT before the World Cup begins with a lot of questions.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Sep 26, 2022, 6:47am PDT  stars and Stripes

Japan v USA -International Friendly

Tomorrow, the United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before the 2022 World Cup when they take on Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain. It’s the final opportunity for the USMNT to evaluate where they are against another team that will head to Qatar in November.

The USMNT head to Murcia, which has become a home away from home for Saudi Arabia. Tuesday’s friendly will be the 4th straight the Saudis have played in Murcia, so the Americans will take the field against an opponent that understands its surroundings. Still, with World Cup spots on the line, the USMNT need to put on a good show and individual players will want to leave that final positive impression on the mind of head coach Gregg Berhalter, who will name his World Cup roster on November 9th.

Latest Form

USA

L (0-2) – Japan – Friendly

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

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

D (0-0) – Uruguay – Friendly

W (3-0) – Morocco – Friendly

Saudi Arabia

D (0-0) – Ecuador – Friendly

L (0-1) – Venezuela – Friendly

L (0-1) – Colombia – Friendly

W (1-0) – Australia – World Cup Qualifying

D (1-1) – China – World Cup Qualifying

What To Watch For

Back line needs to be better. The USMNT had several mistakes on defense against Japan, and they cannot duplicate that against a Saudi Arabia team who can take advantage of them. The back line needs to play mistake free, but they also have to play with poise.

Take shots. You can’t win if you don’t shoot. Against Japan, the USMNT did not register a shot on goal, and that doesn’t help you win matches. The team needs to be more creative on offense and more ruthless in the attacking third by putting a ton of shots on net.

Possession doesn’t mean a thing without production. The USMNT had close to 60% possession against Japan, but that didn’t matter because there was no production. The USMNT has to figure out how to turn possession into production, moving the ball forward and creating scoring chances. They have to do that against the Green Falcons.

Lineup Prediction

With Reggie Cannon out for several weeks due to an injury he picked up against Japan, the back line options get a bit thinner. Combined with the other changes that we think are coming, this is what we predict Gregg Berhalter will do tomorrow:

Predicted Lineup vs. Saudi Arabia

Matt Turner will once again start in goal, while the back line will have a couple of changes. DeAndre Yedlin gets the start at right back with Mark McKenzie lining up alongside Walker Zimmerman as the centerback pairing. Sergiño Dest starts at left back.

In the middle, Kellyn Acosta lines up alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie in the middle, with McKennie being the guy that moves forward on the attack. Up front, Christian Pulisic returns to the lineup at left wing after being held out against Japan, with Brenden Aaronson starting at right wing ahead of Gio Reyna, a player who will likely have his minutes managed by entering as a substitute. Ricardo Pepi gets his opportunity to start at the 9 to see if his recent move to Groningen has helped his confidence.

Prediction

It turns into another sluggish affair for the USMNT, but they manage to get one on the board. They hang on for a 1-1 draw.

USA vs. Japan, 2022 friendly; What we learned

The USMNT took on Japan as preparation for the World Cup, and it didn’t go quite as planned. Here’s what we learned.

By Adnan Ilyas@Adnan7631  Sep 26, 2022, 4:21pm PDT  

Japan v USA -International Friendly

The United States Men’s National Team took on Japan in Düsseldorf, Germany, and fell 2-0 in what turned out to be a torrid and dispiriting performance.

As a pre-World Cup test, this was a good one. Japan are actually quite a decent team. This particular squad appeared to be a little more experimental than the normal starting XI, but the team overall is pretty good. They were at the 2018 World Cup, where they advanced to the knockout stages (albeit, on the 7th tiebreaker after tying for 2nd place in their group) and very nearly saw off Belgium, one of the darlings for that tournament and a major candidate for the top prize for this year’s tournament.

However, the way that the USMNT played in this one does not inspire confidence. I don’t want to overstate how much it matters to lose a friendly with several months between it and the World Cup, but I do not think this performance was a good sign. To keep things a little more concise — it would take ages to sit and pick apart all the major problems in this match — we will focus on the points of failure on the turn over that led to Japan’s opening goal. From there, we’ll talk about some individual player performances and what that means roster-wise for the World Cup.


Aaron Bears His Doubts
Weston Blesses Empty Space
Blue Samurai Strikes

The opening goal for Japan really highlighted all that was wrong with this match. If you need a second look, you can watch the goal here:

We are going to look at the turn over that preceded the goal. For our purposes here, I’ve illustrated the turnover to show approximately where the outfield players are on the field and to highlight the key actors and decisions.

The play starts out on the USMNT’s right, with the US winning the ball right by the sideline. The ball moves out to Aaron Long towards the middle, who takes a few touches towards the center circle. He passes to Weston McKennie who, in turn, attempts a one-touch pass backwards. That pass is mishit, falling between Long and Sam Vines, the later of whom has moved forward and was no longer a pass option. Japan easily and quickly picks up the ball and, with a 4 vs. 3 on goal, they put a clean finish past Turner.

There are a series of problems that turned a comfortable situation into a one-goal deficit, problems that range from individual errors and moments of unskillfulness, to fundamental tactical problems. To list, we will touch on:

  1. The slow pace at which the USMNT advances up the field.
  2. The disconnect between the backline and the midfield
  3. The fullback and winger decisions sacrificing the left wing
  4. Aaron Long’s mediocre pass
  5. Weston McKennie’s positional and individual mistakes

I will try and go through these sequentially, but each wrinkle is contingent on what else is happening. Each of these problems is contextual and pulling them apart as individual mistakes risks losing the forest for the trees.

To begin with, the US is moving too slowly here. A lot of people will immediately point to Aaron Long’s hesitancy on the ball, but I think that is far too simplistic. On a well-drilled, counter attacking side, as soon as the ball is recovered, you have players moving down the field, presenting possible options to advance towards goal. On the visual, there’s a huge patch of green space on the USMNT’s left side (the top in the picture) that is completely open. With quick play and aggressive movement, there is an opportunity for the US to attack into the space and advance to goal. The fullback can aggressively move into that space. Or the winger can make a run in behind to get onto a long ball (or at least drag the defenders out of their disciplined lines). There’s space for an attacking motion, to advance the ball before Japan can get reorganized or begin aggressively pressing.

However, the USMNT here has a lack of urgency. Rather, it looks like the team looks to establish a stance with clear and comfortable possession. Players do not break towards the space that Japan has left open. They languidly take up central positions. Gio Reyna tucks inside, Sam Vines merely drifts along the wing. Instead of planning and making runs in behind to present a long-ball option, Jesus Ferreira and Brendan Aaronson take up positions where they can receive the ball at their feet during build up.

With nobody taking any aggressive actions, Aaron Long lingers on the ball. Now, would Long have played an aggressive pass? I can’t say. He doesn’t have the reputation for it, but you can’t fault him for not making a pass that wasn’t there. What he does do is look for a passing outlet. And here, there aren’t good options. Sam Vines is open, but he’s not in an advanced enough position to be worth it, especially not with a nearby Japanese player to press him. Gio Reyna is in a Japanese player’s cover shadow, same for Ferreira and Aaronson. Tyler Adams and Luca de la Torre were out wide to recover the ball and they aren’t back in position yet (and shifting the ball right puts it back in danger with so many Japanese players still there). The one straight forward, open option is McKennie. So that’s the pass he makes.

When people say that Aaron Long is not a good passer, I tend to believe they mean he either does not make aggressive forward passes, or he tends to turn the ball over. While Long did, indeed, turn the ball over quite a bit vs Japan, the problem here is more subtle. The pass comfortably reaches its target. But the pass is towards McKennie’s left foot, with him facing goal. This means that McKennie, who is aware that there is a Japanese player who will close down on him, must make a play with his back facing goal. He can either turn and try to dribble out of the pressure and advance up the field (not his strong suit), or he can hit a one-time pass. McKennie chooses to make the one-time pass… and he loses his concentration and hits the ball to no one, allowing Japan to win the ball with a numbers advantage.


Iran, England, Wales
We must return to the world
Demonstrate Talent

On a basic level, if McKennie keeps his concentration up, he doesn’t make this mistake and doesn’t turn the ball over to Japan with the defense in such a vulnerable position. Or, if he were more confident/skillful, he would turn and move up the field. Or, if he were a little more positionally aware, he could have taken a slightly different position a little closer to Long, making it substantially easier for Long to make a pass that McKennie could run onto, while making it more difficult for Japan to close down on him (McKennie overshot that position). And, of course, Long could be a more skillful passer (while that was a big deal in the game, it kind of was the least relevant mistake for this one.)

These fixes would have addressed this particular bad moment. But they would not have addressed the fundamental problems in this game. Everybody is talking about how the USMNT couldn’t deal with Japan’s press. But as this moment shows, the underlying problem is really that the US played too passively. They gave time for Japan to put a press into place, time that they could have used to advance up the field. They need to play quicker.

Player availability was definitely relevant in this game. Antonee Robinson has become such an important player for the USMNT and he was dearly missed for this one. The difference between Robinson’s shaky first few caps under Berhalter and now is that Robinson understands his limitations and plays in a way that minimizes them while highlighting his strengths. Because of that, he’s sufficiently solid on defense and an integral attacker, stretching the field and maintaining width to allow the US to advance. Tim Weah, similarly, helps advance the team by stretching the field both vertically and horizontally, with dangerous runs in behind on the wing. Christian Pulisic is a bit less aggressive with his runs in behind, but, as shown against Morocco, he has the capacity to combine such runs up through the middle with excellent technical skill to break defenses down. On the other side, we missed out on Chris Richards and his more assured passing under pressure. And the team seriously missed the calm presence of Yunus Musah, whose sublime ability on the ball helps the team advance up the field and thwart opposing presses.

All these omissions due to injury were relevant. But the team still had players who would have helped make a difference. A lot of fans detest the inclusion of the likes of Paul Arriola and Jordan Morris with the national program. But one thing those players do consistently that the more-highly regarded players like Reyna and Aaronson do not, is stretch the field vertically. They make runs in behind the backline. And not having them on the field from the start made it too easy for Japan to close space down and shut the US out. While Jesus Ferreira’s ability to combine is often quite useful in and around the final third, the fact that he tucks into midfield instead of making runs in behind did the USMNT no favors. When he came on, Josh Sargent was a marked improvement in this regard. And this is a place where players who weren’t called up, players like Jordan Pefok and Brandon Vazquez, could contribute even more.

These omissions are on Berhalter. I cannot blame him for missing players due to injury, but I can and do blame him for not realizing that the line up he chose was going to be too narrow and too static. I also blame him for failing to instill that sense of dynamism and urgency in his players. I tend to chalk this up to the relative youth of so many of our players and the unfortunate reality that so many key players have had so limited minutes playing together. But this Japan side was also quite young and inexperienced, and they wiped the floor with the US. People are right to raise criticism and questions, what with the World Cup so close at hand.


Closing Thoughts

The good news is that Wales cannot play like this. The Welsh squad has not demonstrated the kind of technical ability nor coordinated press that we saw from Japan. They are a Bunker-&-Counter team and are unlikely to take this approach for the US’s group opener at the World Cup. England and Iran, on the other hand, may approach things differently.

Weston McKennie was outright terrible in this one. He’s been a source of turnovers for a while, but this was just all-around a terrible display. Normally, we get a level of intensity, physicality, and forward thrust from the Juventus man. But for this one, his flaws, his lack of concentration and his limited technical range, were on show. I know he’s been coming back from injury, but he needs to recover that form. Or else, he probably becomes the man that gets dropped from the midfield. Speaking of the midfield…

The USMNT outnumbered Japan in the midfield and STILL got squished there. The US had a midfield trio of Adams, de la Torre, and McKennie, with Reyna and Ferreira tucking in, and they STILL got outrun by Japan’s midfield duo. That’s an effort problem. You need to get more concentration and more intensity there.

The USMNT continues to be weak away from home. Yeah, this was technically a neutral match, but this game continues a long trend where the US is far more limp than they should be while playing on the road. Unless it’s in Mexico’s Estadio Azteca, the US can’t seem to get the intensity and sharpness that they have while playing in the States. And, as it turns out, Doha isn’t in the United States.

There weren’t a lot of good performances in this one, but Matt Turner certainly gave one. There was a bit of concern that Turner, who is the number 2 with Arsenal, wouldn’t be sharp given his lack of playing time. But that wasn’t the case. He made a number of great saves and stood out as the one obvious positive take away from this match. I expect he’s just about gotten that starting spot for the USMNT locked up.

USMNT:

Lowery: What went wrong for the U.S. in possession against Japan (more here)

“We want to use the ball to disorganize the opponent and create goal-scoring opportunities.”

That’s how Gregg Berhalter described his tactical philosophy back in 2019, just weeks into his new job as the manager of the U.S. men’s national team.

But in the United States’ 2-0 loss to Japan on Friday, they failed to truly break down Japan and create chances. Berhalter’s team took just four shots against their very aggressive and well organized opponents. Japan forced the U.S. to play through them and create chances and, after 90 minutes, the USMNT largely failed at both of those things.

So, what went wrong for the United States in possession?

1. Turnovers killed momentum

According to Opta, the U.S. had 20 “high turnovers” (turnovers deep in their own half, which are high up the field for their opponents) against Japan. From those high turnovers, the U.S. allowed six shots and one goal. In all 14 of their World Cup qualifying games, they allowed seven shots and no goals. That absurd increase stemmed from Japan’s decision to press higher up the field in ways that most of the USMNT’s Concacaf opponents avoid. But it also stemmed from some individual and team-wide errors.

Aaron Long struggled with his distribution and had a tone-setting unforced turnover less than 60 seconds into the game. Weston McKennie did… whatever this is in the 24th minute, which created the runway for Japan to break forward for their first goal. Those unforced errors from Long, McKennie, and a host of others killed any brief positive periods that the United States had on Friday.

2. Poor spacing

Sloppy touches weren’t the only thing killing the U.S. on Friday, though. Poor spacing also hurt the USMNT’s ability to play through Japan’s 4-4-2 and exploit the space behind their backline.

Take this sequence in the 13th minute as an example. As Walker Zimmerman looks for a passing option in buildup, Luca de la Torre moves wide to provide width as Sergiño Dest pushes up the right wing. But there’s a problem. De la Torre doesn’t actually move wide enough to get open or to create a passing lane for Zimmerman to find Brenden Aaronson in the right halfspace.

Instead, he clogs up the midfield and doesn’t take Takefusa Kubo out of the play, which lets Kubo intercept Zimmerman’s pass and launch a quick attack for Japan. Two seconds later, Matt Turner is forced into a big save.

3. Not enough direct play

There’s one other thing we have to discuss here when it comes to the USMNT’s attacking issues. It’s this: many of the U.S.’s outfield players on Friday against Japan aren’t very good at using the ball to create chances.

Think about Turner, Long, Zimmerman, Tyler Adams, McKennie, and Aaronson. Are those players comfortable on the ball under pressure? Are they exceptional ball progressers? Or great chance creators? No, not really. Those players will have the occasional good moment in tight spaces. They had a few of those moments even in a messy game on Friday. But they’re not, primarily, players you want building from the back under disciplined pressure.

And yet, Berhalter had the U.S. build attack after attack with passing that started in the back and attempted to bypass Japan’s press. At this point, we know how that story ended.

So what’s one final solution here for Berhalter and the USMNT? Play more direct passes and move in behind. With a starting lineup mostly composed of players who thrive in quick, long passing schemes and second-ball scraps, the United States made life more difficult for themselves by relying so heavily on buildup play and short passing.

For some reason, they chose to lean away from that vertical game and even away from a balanced attack in their most recent game. Given that they have some technically limited players in key positions, the United States can’t afford to forsake that balance.

Time is extremely limited, so finding some sort of attacking balance in what little of it remains before must-win games in November is essential for the USMNT.

Grant Wahl-  Through the Trapdoor

The USMNT gets a pre-World Cup wake-up call in a 2-0 loss to Japan. And then it has to share a charter flight with a bunch of media scribes.

   Grant Wahl Sep 24
 

ON BOARD THE USMNT CHARTER FLIGHT TO ALICANTE, Spain — Act like you’ve been here before. That’s my usual mantra when finding myself in unaccustomed situations like sharing a charter flight with the U.S. men’s national team and going through the VIP wing of the airport in Düsseldorf, Germany, the one that actual rock stars pass through when they travel to their next concert. And the fact is, I have been here before. Back in 2013, I flew with a few other journalists on the USMNT charter ferrying the team between World Cup qualifiers in Kingston, Jamaica, and Seattle. When commercial flights between two game locations are a hassle, the added convenience is nice, and we journos pay our own way to prevent any conflict of interest. Media and soccer teams flying together on charters has actually been somewhat common in Europe for travel to Champions League games.The mere fact that there is a charter plane is a sign that U.S. Soccer has come a long way financially over the years. Back when the federation was basically broke, in 2000, I remember flying back with the USMNT on a commercial flight from a World Cup qualifier in Barbados and sitting in economy next to U.S. goalkeeper Zach Thornton. Poor Zach was stuck in a middle seat, and he was a big guy, so he was pushing up against his armrests in a major way. 

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Middle seats in economy class were a way of life for U.S. national teams for a long time (more so in the not–too-distant past for the women’s team). Say what you will about Jürgen Klinsmann’s tenure as the USMNT coach, but he did more than anyone else to pressure U.S. Soccer into spending more on travel accommodations (flights, hotels, etc.), which was possible once the federation started bringing in more revenue. As a result, you couldn’t excuse a bad performance by saying you had been staying in a roach motel in Central America or, for that matter, Florida.We’ll get to the no-excuses bad performance the U.S. delivered in Friday’s 2-0 loss to Japan soon enough here, I promise, but having brought you onto Friday’s charter plane, I feel like I should share some details to answer any questions you might have:• No, the media doesn’t interact with the players onboard. Media and U.S. Soccer staff board first and sit in the back half of the plane. The players and coaches board after that and sit in the front half. It’s not like I’m going to walk up to Christian Pulisic and ask him for an interview. Everyone’s a pro here. (Again: Act like you’ve been here before.) The vibe is a little like the old Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue launch parties that SI writers would be invited to; the models tolerated our presence (kind of like the USMNT players do now), but it’s not like they were overjoyed we were there. (The one exception was Chrissy Teigen. She always liked meeting writers for some reason. Maybe it was because we weren’t the leering mid-level sponsor bros who were also at those events and took pictures with the models, but you’d have to ask her. I have yet to meet Chrissy’s USMNT equivalent. Remind me to tell you the story of when Cristiano Ronaldo came to that SI swimsuit party when his then-girlfriend, Irina Shayk, was on the cover.)

• Times have changed since the 1970s. When I recently re-watched the classic documentary Once in a Lifetime about the New York Cosmos with Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia, someone in the movie was talking about the charter flight the Cosmos took to the 1977 Soccer Bowl in Portland, Ore., and casually dropped the nugget that at least two sex acts took place on the plane. That is, um, not the case on this flight.• The plane itself is totally fine, but it’s not like we’re flying on a PJ with captain’s chairs, leather sofas and a fully-stocked bar or anything. (All those things seemed to be in play when, for example, Leeds United flies in Tyler Adams once his transfer has been arranged.) In fact, this plane is six seats to a row, with about the same amount of legroom as premium economy on a commercial flight. It’s no different for the players and coaches up front. I’m kind of bummed there’s no wifi available on the plane, but it’s only a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Düsseldorf to Alicante, so the time saved is still worth it.• Somewhat scarily, we go through significant turbulence on the flight, including seeing lightning strikes outside the plane. It’s enough that one of my scribe colleagues wonders if, should the flight go down, we journos might be listed as “X number of others on the plane” in news reports. • I can’t help but remember rank-and-file players like Alan Gordon, my favorite MLS player in history, who took his first charter flight from Los Angeles to Toronto when David Beckham joined him on the LA Galaxy in 2007. When the flight attendant came to offer Gordon a pre-takeoff cocktail, he looked around at the first-class leather seating, the lie-flat beds and the fully stocked bar up front. “Let me tell you something, ma’am,” Gordon said, turning on the charm. “This is nicer than my apartment.” The flight attendant laughed. “No,” he replied. “I’m serious.”• The best part of the experience might be the VIP lounge at the airport, where the staff (presumably thinking we’re actual VIPs) constantly brings you drinks, food, wifi passwords and just about anything else you might want. This must be how the other half lives, and it’s kind of nice. When one of the servers says she likes my hat, I consider telling her that my name is Gio Reyna or Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain. I’m the only member of the media/USSF staff contingent who gets a beer, which I’m kind of proud of. I’ve also never flown out of an airport where nobody checked my ID before. They did make us go through security, though.The other reason it’s a subdued flight is that the U.S. basically stunk up the joint on Friday against Japan. We should talk about that, too.Zero shots on goal. Turnovers galore, especially in the first half, mostly by the centerbacks and midfielders. Cool domination by Japan. Let’s be honest: The U.S. looked bad in Friday’s 2-0 loss, and hardly like a team that will advance in the World Cup playing this way.Midfielder Tyler Adams plays for a high-pressure club team at Leeds United, so he knows the ways to solve pressure, too. After the game, he could only shake his head over the U.S.’s inability to get things right. Starting centerbacks Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman got exposed trying to pass the ball, and Adams, Weston McKennie and Luca de la Torre couldn’t keep possession either.

 “I felt like we were just playing into Japan’s hands,” Adams said. “We could have figured out quite easily that they were pressing us high, and the solution I think in the beginning of the game was probably to play a little bit more direct, a little bit in behind to settle that pressure and have them think to drop off a little bit and create more space and calmness on the ball. But it was difficult. We didn’t find solutions early on.”One of the main reasons Zimmerman clawed his way into a lock starting position during World Cup qualifying was his improvement in passing the ball out of the back, a steadiness that eventually won over U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter and helped vault Zimmerman ahead of ball-playing centerbacks Tim Ream and John Brooks. But Zimmerman took a step backward with his passing against Japan.“We were pretty disappointed with how it went, especially the first half,” Zimmerman said afterward. “We played it into their pressure a good bit, and a lot of their chances came from our mistakes. So that’s something we obviously have to look back on and realize we can’t force it so much inside all the time, especially when teams are put in a shape to make us do that. And maybe there are times we can stretch them and get in behind with some runs and be a little more direct.”The U.S. doesn’t have a prototype speedy forward who can run in behind defenses to keep them honest, however, and Jesús Ferreira and Josh Sargent certainly weren’t that on Friday. We could write a whole treatise comparing the 2022 U.S. forward search to 2010, but part of Bob Bradley’s quest in 2010 was to find a defense-stretching striker to replace Charlie Davies after his auto accident. Bradley settled on Robbie Findley, and while you can understand the thought process, it didn’t exactly work out.McKennie in particular had an off game, losing possession frequently (including on the play that led to Japan’s first goal) and sometimes not tracking back quickly enough to put out the fire. His Juventus team has been struggling lately, and U.S. fans will have to hope that form doesn’t carry over to the World Cup.About the only semi-bright spot for the U.S. was goalkeeper Matt Turner, who made some solid saves and kept the scoreline from being even worse. It should be said that Turner wasn’t sending Ederson-style balls deep to solve Japan’s pressure either, but that’s not Turner’s game. Shot-stopping is, but while that’s Job 1 for a keeper and enough for many watchers to lean toward Turner as the No. 1 for the World Cup, you can’t escape the feeling that Berhalter will still favor Zack Steffen if he’s healthy.You can be certain that the U.S.’s World Cup opponents will watch the Japan game and see that the U.S. can be pressured, and the Yanks will have to hope they learn from what happened on Friday—just as they did following a similar performance in a 3-0 friendly loss to Mexico in 2019. The key difference now, though, is that the U.S. has only one more game to play before the World Cup.“We try to use these games to replicate what a World Cup scenario would look like, and for us that would be that we didn’t get three points at the end of the day,” Adams said. “So we need to figure it out. Because we obviously have high standards for ourselves, especially going into a World Cup in two months, so we need a better performance coming out of this camp.”That chance comes on Tuesday in Spain against fellow World Cup entrant Saudi Arabia.

USMNT to start Christian Pulisic, Ricardo Pepi for final World Cup warm-up game

12:46 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

MURCIA, Spain — U.S. men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter said Chelsea‘s Christian Pulisic and FC Groningen forward Ricardo Pepi will both start in Tuesday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia.

Neither player featured in last Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Japan. Pulisic sat out the match due to a knock picked up in training, while Pepi was an unused substitute. Now, both will get a look against the Saudis.

Pepi was something of a surprise inclusion to the roster for this international window given that FC Union Berlin striker Jordan Pefok has been in excellent form with four goals in eight league and cup appearances. But Berhalter has been keen to get Pepi back on track after the forward completed his loan move to Groningen from FC Augsburg.

“This is a great opportunity to look at Ricardo,” Berhalter told reporters. “Jordan, you know what he’s doing. But Rico, he’s just gotten to Groningen. This is a great opportunity for us to look at him. A guy who scored three goals for us in qualifying, it’s important for us to get him in the group.”Berhalter was asked for further analysis of the Japan defeat, and he didn’t hold back in his criticism of the team or himself.”I’m really glad the game happened when it did,” he said. “I think it was poor coaching, poor execution, poor training beforehand, a lot of everything. It’s just one of those games and we were very bad.”When asked to provide more details on how he erred as a coach, Berhalter said the team’s preparation was off because he and the staff thought the players would be able to take on more tactical details, even though it had been three-and-a-half 3½ months since they were last together.

He added he could sympathize with the stress for some players that comes with trying to clinch a spot on the final World Cup roster. But that still didn’t excuse the performance.”As coaches we took for granted that they understood what we wanted,” he said. “So, when we trained during the week, we were training details. ‘You know this, now we’re going to go into detail.’ And we took for granted that the players were competent in this. But they didn’t understand. They didn’t know it. That’s what it was.”He added, “We thought it was going to be easier to switch gears than it turned out to be.”As a result, the U.S. failed to cope with what Berhalter said “wasn’t a complicated press” by Japan and that “we didn’t solve it at all.” He added that it was on both him and the team to identify solutions quicker during the game and make adjustments from there.Berhalter said he expects his side to get back up to speed against Saudi Arabia. But the Japan match is also a lesson he will factor in when the players arrive in Qatar and begin their final preparations ahead of the 2022 World Cup.”I think it’s the mindset of preparing the guys ahead of time a little bit,” he said. “And then when they’re in camp, right from the beginning, focusing on the big picture rather than details again, which is usually a national team thing anyway.”Berhalter finds himself down several key players in this camp, with Lille forward Tim WeahFulham left-back Antonee RobinsonCrystal Palace center-back Chris Richards and Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah all absent due to injury. But Berhalter insisted he wouldn’t be changing his system if a similar scenario plays out in Qatar.

“It doesn’t matter, because [when we arrive on] Nov. 14, guess what? A different five could be missing. So, we need to deal. That’s a great message to the team. ‘Guys, forget about guys that aren’t here. We’ve got to focus on who is here and still try to be successful.’ Because that’s the reality of national team soccer. And we’re going to be anxiously waiting on Nov. 13 to see who actually shows up after the weekend.” In the meantime, Berhalter is hoping that the contingent of injured players gets back to full health.”Fitness is going be a factor,” he said in relation to his final roster selections. “I mean, I would love if you told me Chris Richards is going to be a part of the team right now, he’s going to be fit by November. I would say, ‘You know, he’ll make the team.’ I just don’t know that though. It’s really hard, and it’s frustrating.”

USMNT player ratings vs. Japan: We’re better than this (hopefully)

CONNOR FLEMINGSEPTEMBER 23, 2022

THE IDEA OF THE U.S. GOING AGAINST ENGLAND’S HIGH PRESS IS NOW TERRIFYING

This USMNT team is very young; they’ll be the youngest at Qatar. Sometimes they look like serious 2026 World Cup contenders, sometimes they look lucky to have qualified for the 2022 tournament. Friday’s 2-0 loss to Japan was a look at, as we outlined in our match preview, many of the worst-case scenarios for this team.The philosophy of building from the back couldn’t have gone worse. In the opening 45, according to the ESPN broadcast, the U.S. turned it over 40 (!!!) times in its own third. At the other end of the pitch, the U.S. failed to land a single shot on target over the entire 90 minutes.

The U.S. isn’t as bad as this match. The players aren’t as bad as these ratings. But I’ve got a job to do.

USMNT Player Ratings Vs. Japan

Starting XI 

Matt Turner (90 minutes): 8 — The U.S. man of the match with six saves, and the Arsenal backup pulled off a couple stunners to keep it at a respectable 2-0 when it could’ve been four or five for Japan. He’ll be starting at the World Cup, and he’s also going to see a lot of action in the buildup with the Gunners playing in the Europa League and EFL Cup. 

Sam Vines (90 minutes): 5 – Vines escapes criticism from the first-half horror show simply because he wasn’t trusted in possession. He very rarely got out of the U.S. half (although he still didn’t manage to win a duel), and his most preferred passing options were a back-pass to Turner or sideways ball to Long. 

Aaron Long (45 minutes): 2 – Didn’t win a duel, didn’t win a tackle, didn’t distribute well at all. Rightfully hooked at halftime.

Walker Zimmerman (90 minutes): 4 — He made a couple blocks and challenges defensively that helped repel Japan, but it was also Zimmerman himself who invited Japan forward with poor distribution from the back. This pass was particularly pathetic.

DEST 5 – The classic Dest story. Looked good getting forward and provided the cross that Ferreira should’ve done better with, but frequently overdid it inside his own half and put the team under needless pressure.

Weston McKennie (67 minutes): 3 – It’s difficult to recall a worse game in a U.S. shirt from McKennie. He was at fault for Japan’s opener in the 24th minute with the sort of pass that, if made while playing for Juventus, lands you on the bench for three months. He began play as the team’s midfield operator, and then hit passes at a 69.2% clip. That’s really, really bad, so he was later ostracized up top as an outlet for hopeless punts forward.  

Tyler Adams (90 minutes): 6 – Adams wasn’t as godawful in possession as his midfield partners, but he was frequently left without options and occasionally took the wrong one. He also wasn’t at his best as “The Terminator” — his duel success rate (20%) was miles away from what he’s been enjoying with Leeds.  

Luca de la Torre (67 minutes): 4 – Is De la Torre cutout for this level of international play? Everything seemed to be passing him by in midfield as he marveled at the speed and quality of Japan. Didn’t seem on the same wavelength as Aaronson in applying the press, and he couldn’t really find his pockets to assert his typical rhythm on the game. 

Gio Reyna (45 minutes): 7 – Didn’t do a whole lot, but Reyna was on another level from his teammates with the ball at his feet. He breezed by his marker out wide early, relieved pressure with a skillful flick that drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd and hit the target (Zimmerman) with a set piece when everyone else routinely seems to screw up dead balls. Was smartly taken off at half to be wrapped in wool.  

Jesús Ferreira (45 minutes): 2 — Not involved at all with very few touches and only 55% pass success, but the one glaring moment was an unmarked header in front of goal that he blooped harmlessly over. 

Brenden Aaronson (90 minutes): 6 – Was involved in more duels than any U.S. player, suffered three fouls and was most frequently found in a crumpled heap on the floor, but he kept after it. In the end, it was a lot more effort than effectiveness, as highlighted by a juking, jinking run at Japan’s defense that ended with a shot that went five yards wide. 

Subs

Reggie Cannon (45 minutes): 4 – He was doing good! Cannon brought some defensive balance to the side! Then Brighton’s Karou Mitoma squared him up, drove at him, kept going and curled one inside the far post for Japan’s second. Damn.  

Jordan Morris (45 minutes): 5 — I don’t really remember tbh. So Berhalter probably saw gold out there. 

Mark McKenzie (45 minutes): 6 – Didn’t pass the ball to Japan time after time. I admire that. 

Josh Sargent (45 minutes): 5 — Wasn’t much more involved than Ferreira, but he didn’t miss any chances because he didn’t attempt any shots. 

Johnny Cardoso (23 minutes): N/A – Not the greatest opportunity to get out there and strut your stuff.   

Malik Tillman (23 minutes): N/A – Unable to put the U.S. on the front foot going forward, but he won a couple tackles.

USMNT has ‘work to do’ before World Cup after humbling Japan loss – Berhalter

Sep 23, 2022

  • Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

DUSSELDORF, Germany — United States men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter conceded that his side has “work to do” ahead of the World Cup following a 2-0 friendly defeat to Japan in which the Americans struggled against the Samurai Blue’s press.

Japan applied pressure throughout the opening 45 minutes, limiting the U.S. to just five touches in the opposition penalty area. U.S. keeper Matt Turner was forced to make several saves, including a one-on-one duel with Daichi Kamada in the 13th minute.

– O’Hanlon: Time to worry about USMNT’s World Cup prospects? (ESPN+)
– Carlisle: USMNT has no answer for Japan
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (U.S.)

But the Eintracht Frankfurt striker made a deserved breakthrough in the 24th minute. Japan broke quickly following a U.S. turnover, and Kamada’s first time shot from Hidemasa Morita‘s pass cleanly beat Turner for Japan’s first goal.

The U.S. looked a bit better in the second half following a quartet of substitutes, but never really threatened Japan’s goal except for a late effort from Brenden Aaronson that went wide. Japan substitute Kaoru Mitoma sealed a deserved victory with an 88th-minute tally.

“We’ve got work to do. We clearly need to improve, but overall really good experience for this team,” Berhalter said at his postgame press conference.

“Give Japan a lot of credit. I think they played a good game and they gave us a hard time. I think at times we were well in the match and performing well, but overall, over 90 minutes, we could have been better. [It] wasn’t good enough.”

The manner of the defeat, with the U.S. guilty of numerous turnovers in its own half, will give Berhalter pause. So will the fact that Japan was quicker to 50/50 balls and more aggressive overall, as evidenced by it committing 16 fouls to just three for the U.S.

“I don’t know if the proximity of the World Cup has anything to do with it, but the guys didn’t look fresh, and from a physical output we just looked a step behind,” said Berhalter. “And then it’s difficult, a team like Japan will punish you.

“The adjustment in the second half helped give us more control of the game, gave us more passes between the lines. But in the first half, I think it was just the lack of comfort on the ball, silly giveaways.

“We built the opponent up after a decent start, but then it started snowballing and giving some balls away and it wasn’t what we envisioned.”

The U.S. was without several first choice players, including Chelsea attacker Christian Pulisic, who suffered a minor injury earlier in the week in training, and was kept out of the match as a precaution.

Berhalter said Pulisic’s status would be monitored. The U.S. plays against Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain, on Tuesday.

“Christian, his status is day to day,” Berhalter said. “It was knock, and, we’ll see [at Saturday’s practice] if he can get on the field.”

U.S. midfielder Tyler Adams insisted that Japan’s press was a tactic that other teams had used against his side, but in this instance, it took too long to for the Americans to make adjustments.

“I think that some of the teams in CONCACAF, you know, the Mexicos and the Hondurases, they’ve pressed us, and we found solutions,” he said.

“We just needed to find solutions earlier on. I think that we had a match plan and I think it would’ve been effective if we stuck to the game plan. But sometimes I just felt that maybe we just started to search for individual solutions instead of sticking together, sticking to the match plan, staying disciplined in our game plan.

“And you saw Japan, they did that well. They had one game plan and it was effective.”Time’s running out for USMNT’s fringe players hoping for a World Cup call-up, but nobody’s panicking yet

Time’s running out for USMNT’s fringe players hoping for a World Cup call-up, but nobody’s panicking yet

Sep 25, 2022 ESPN

MURCIA, Spain — When the U.S. men’s national team takes the field against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, it will mark 43 days until manager Gregg Berhalter names his 26-player roster for the 2022 World Cup. For the likes of Christian PulisicWeston McKennie and Tyler Adams — assuming they’re healthy — their spots are secure. There is no drama as it relates to their World Cup fate.

But for those players on the bubble, those final days — as well as Tuesday’s match — will see them engage in an awkward dance. After all, they’re feeling the pressure that comes when lifelong dreams are within touching distance of becoming reality but could just as easily slip away.

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For most of those bubble players, the approach centers on the well-worn player adage of “controlling the controllables,” though there are some different flavors to that strategy. U.S. defender Sam Vines opts for being hyper-focused on the present in the hope that the soccer gods — well, and Berhalter — will bequeath him with a roster spot. “It’s a dream to go to a World Cup. I’ve been dreaming of it since I was born,” Vines told ESPN. “But you can only control so much, and you just have to work as hard as you can and hope that’s enough to get you on the squad.

“I just try and focus on the day-to-day. Today we have training, next day we have training, next day is a game. I just try and take it day by day and not overthink anything.”

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Of course, that’s easier said than done. While it might be easy to focus during training or a game, pushing out any negative thoughts when you’re away from the field is tougher, and this is a reality that teammate Mark McKenzie acknowledges.

“Of course it’s always in the back of your head. Every player knows the World Cup is coming,” he said. “So although you can say, like, ‘Yeah, I blocked it out,’ no, you sit and you go home and you’re like, ‘We’re weeks away at this point,’ you know? Before this, you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s ticking down.’ That’s something that everybody is aware of. But you can’t really focus too much on the future because you don’t know what it has in store. So the biggest thing is being present, being in the moment, using this opportunity here in the camp.”

– O’Hanlon: Is it time to worry about the USMNT’s World Cup chances? (E+)

It’s open to debate just how much the Nov. 9 roster announcement is impacting the performances of certain players. In Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Japan, the U.S. was let down the most by players whose roster spots seem most secure. And while Vines struggled as well, he said the overriding vibe he felt was the trust of Berhalter and the rest of the coaching staff.

“Especially if you start the game, [Berhalter] puts trust in you, so you’re not worried about making mistakes,” he said. “You’re just more focused on how you can help the team.”For McKenzie, the fact that he’s even here with the U.S. is a bonus. The KRC Genk defender was initially left off the roster, only to be added when Crystal Palace‘s Chris Richards and Celtic‘s Cameron Carter-Vickers were both forced to withdraw because of injury. He did his prospects no harm in a solid 45-minute stint against Japan.

McKenzie added that the spirit within the team is still positive, regardless of a player’s likelihood of going to Qatar. The focus now is on how to make amends for what was clearly a poor teamwide performance against the Samurai Blue.

“I don’t feel like there’s that tension within the team where you feel like you’re walking on pins and needles, where guys are so edgy to the point of collapse,” he said. “I think it’s the business end of the World Cup buildup and I think everyone realizes that and understands that you need to learn the lessons from Japan and take that forward to Saudi Arabia and end this period together on high.

“The group is still tight-knit, the group is still together. The group is still focused on making sure we prepare all facets of the game.”

There’s another reason to not view the current camp as an all-or-nothing enterprise, too. The fact remains that after Tuesday’s match, players will have around seven matches to play with their clubs before the roster announcement, which amounts to one last-ditch effort to impress Berhalter and prove that they deserve to be on the plane.The weeks might feel like an eternity in terms of waiting for Nov. 9, but they’ll also flash by as each game is played.”You don’t know what’s going to happen in between now and then,” said McKenzie about the roster announcement. “Crazy things happen, where guys who were anticipated to be for-sure locks end up going off form and aren’t really considered anymore. Also, guys who are sleepers end up coming into the tournament. Guys who are expected to be there get injured before — there are all these different factors and variables that play into it.”

USMNT falls 2-0 to Japan in World Cup warm-up

The USMNT disappoints in a 2-0 defeat to Japan in preparation for the World Cup.

This brings up another awkward element for players during the run-up to the roster announcement: that of staying healthy and how that affects a player’s level of aggressiveness. There was a notable lack of bite by the U.S. against Japan, as evidenced by the fact that the Americans committed just three fouls to Japan’s 16. One would hope that the U.S. will play with more assertiveness against the Saudis.

– Carlisle: USMNT has no answers to Japan press in friendly defeat

McKenzie, if he sees the field, isn’t one to worry about his health.

“If you think about injury, it’s probably going to hit you,” McKenzie said. “And if you start thinking about how, ‘Well, I’m not going to get into too many tackles here,’ then it may hurt your game in the long run. If you’re only playing at 70% because you’re thinking already about three, four weeks down the line for roster selection, it’s not going to benefit you to start pulling back from your game.”

Granted, a player in McKenzie’s position has no choice but to go full throttle, and given how he has secured a starting spot at club level after some extended periods of struggle, he’s not going to back down now. Tuesday will reveal how the rest of his U.S. teammates manage the moment, as well as the weeks and games that follow.Gio Reyna doesn’t want to dwell on his injury-ravaged 2021-22. He’s too focused on the 2022 World Cup

Sep 24, 2022

  • Sam BordenESPN Senior Writer

DUSSELDORF, Germany — Giovanni Reyna comes into the room. He sits down. He leans back in his chair and, after maybe 30 seconds of small talk, he says, “Listen, I don’t want to look back in the past. At all.” He smiles.

Reyna isn’t being unreasonable. He has had, by any measure, a brutal year. There was a hamstring. There was a thigh. There was a hamstring. There was a tweak. There was an illness. There was a twinge. Reyna is still only 19, but he has already had a taste of middle age, the injuries seemingly never stopping. Reyna missed 34 of Borussia Dortmund‘s past 45 matches and 15 of the past 19 for the United States in the past 12 months. Watching that much soccer when you should be playing? Reyna withered. He wilted.

So it makes sense that he wants to look ahead. With the World Cup just eight weeks away, Reyna is finally healthy. He and his coaches, including U.S. boss Gregg Berhalter, are being careful not to overdo his workload too soon, but of the very (very) few positives for the United States that came out of Friday’s 2-0 loss to Japan in Dusseldorf, Reyna’s first start for the Americans since last September was significant.

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Reyna was hardly amazing. No one on the U.S., save for goalkeeper Matt Turner, had anything close to an excellent performance against Japan. Any team that fails to register a shot on goal despite having nearly 60% possession deserves the criticism it receives.

Reyna did show flashes, though. The best chance for the U.S. came in the first half, when he pinged a pass to set up Sergino Dest ripping down the edge before crossing to Jesus Ferreira directly in front of goal. That Ferreira weakly headed over was unfortunate, but the passage of play leading up to it was exactly what fans (and Berhalter) have been craving.

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So, too, was the sequence when Reyna took the ball in his own half and went on a run, cutting in and out of defenders and moving the U.S., all on his own, into the attacking third. In the past, Berhalter has typically used Reyna out wide, but he acknowledged this week that he sees the value of Reyna’s on-the-ball skill in a more central role. Against Japan, Reyna completed 9 of 11 passes, 3 of 4 within the attacking third, and registered two progressive carries and one progressive pass (events in the opposition half that progress the ball toward goal by five or ten yards, respectively). It seems almost inevitable that Reyna will end up more in the middle in games when the U.S. needs to push the pace.

“You don’t really say it like this in soccer, but I guess my playmaking abilities can hurt the other team,” Reyna says. “Like, in basketball or football, when someone has a ball, you can kind of create something from nothing or create chances. And I think that’s what I can do, whether it’s for a dribble or with a pass or combining — I think I’m able to do a bit of everything. And that’s just what what I love to do.”

It is what his father, Claudio, did, too. On Friday, Gio wore No. 21 instead of No. 7, an homage to his dad, a national team legend who wore 21 for the U.S. at the 1998 World Cup in France.

It was an intriguing choice. Family legacy has been a perpetual question for Gio since he was an academy player (his mother, Danielle Egan, also played for the U.S. on the women’s national team), and it contributes to the heavy expectations that linger over him.

Generally then, Reyna shies away from talking much about his parents or siblings. But earlier this week, when he did — despite his initial vow — allow himself to think more deeply about what he went through in the past 12 months, he shook his head when talking about needing his family to help him through the most difficult moments.

“I had some really, really tough days,” Reyna says. “Some really, really, you know — don’t want to do anything, kind of just sit in my room all day. Don’t want to go outside. Not in the mood to talk to my friends.”

He shrugs. “It’s frustrating, you know? You’re missing games, you’re missing trainings, you’re back in America when you should be in Dortmund playing.”

To their credit, Reyna says, Dortmund allowed him to return to the United States for part of his rehab, which helped, at least from the mental side. Being around positivity from his family — and not having to see, up close, all that was happening without him in Germany — allowed him to focus on what he needed to do instead of what he was missing. Berhalter, who checked in regularly, says he learned very quickly that Reyna had a strong preference about how their conversations should go.

“He was one of those guys who, after a little while, didn’t want to talk about his injury at all,” Berhalter says. “His eyes were forward. That was it.”

Now the question is how Reyna avoids what he (and everyone around the U.S. team) fears: A relapse. Another knock. Another run where he pulls up.

Reyna says he constantly worked to strengthen his legs during his rehab process, but he has no plans to change his style or approach when he’s on the field. He wants to be — and has been waiting to be — the driving force that the U.S. will need in Qatar.

“I’ve played in the Champions League,” Reyna says. “And the only thing that really is kind of on my bucket list as a kid — since I first started watching soccer — is to play in a World Cup with the USA.”

He laughs. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he says. “I’m sure it will probably closer to the first game but I’m just so excited. It’s going to be a great experience for all of us.”

England roar back to draw with Germany in final World Cup warm-p

4:43 PM ET

England rallied from two goals down to take the lead momentarily before drawing 3-3 with Germany in a thrilling UEFA Nations League group stage finale at Wembley Stadium on Monday night.

Second-half goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Kai Havertz looked to have Germany on their way to victory, but Luke Shaw and Mason Mount levelled the score in a span of five minutes. VAR then awarded England a penalty, which Harry Kane converted to give the home side a brief lead, before Havertz tucked away his second of the night to reach the final scoreline.

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

Nations League finals spots were off the table for both sides with England already relegated to the competition’s second tier and Germany coming into their last matchday sitting third, but the game had added importance for the Three Lions as it marked their final test ahead of the start of the World Cup on Nov. 20.

England’s Raheem Sterling had the best chance to score for either side midway through the first half, but after his clever cut-back to get a clear look at goal his tame effort was palmed away by an onrushing Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Gareth Southgate’s side continued to look dangerous on the counter, but there was no end result with Sterling once again firing right at Ter Stegen following his full-field run to get onto Kane’s ball into the area.

Gundogan scored Germany’s first from the penalty spot early in the second half after Harry Maguire fouled Jamal Musiala in the area and were two up 15 minutes later when Havertz curled a perfect shot in from distance that left Nick Pope no chance.

 Ogden: How England-Germany turned into Nations League classic

What seemed unlikely as the clock passed 70 minutes soon became reality, as Shaw and substitute Mount struck in quick succession to get the match back on level terms and bring the home support roaring back to life.

Nico Schlotterbeck‘s stamp on Jude Bellingham‘s ankle earned him a yellow card and a chance for England to take the lead from the spot, which Kane did with aplomb to the delight of the Wembley faithful.

However, Pope made a mistake as he spilled a long-range shot back into the path of Havertz to side-foot into the back of the net and end the game 3-3.

Bukayo Saka broke clear on goal in second-half stoppage time with a chance to win it for England only for Ter Stegen to touch his shot past the post.

England will face Iran, the United States and Wales in Group B in Qatar, while Hansi Flick’s Germany side will play JapanSpain and Costa Rica in Group E.

Flick said he was disappointed to see a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 deficit in the space of 13 second-half minutes but focused instead on his own team’s late recovery.

“We were quite stable at 2-0, but England brought on a couple of substitutes that made them better offensively,” Flick said.

“But we have to look at it positively as well. I said to my players that they showed great courage and never gave up so it was great to come back.”

Southgate’s side finished bottom of the group with three points behind Germany on seven, Hungary with 10 and Italy, who topped the group on 11 points to reach the Nations League final four.

It is more than 100 years since England last went six competitive games without a victory, but they at least changed the narrative with this stirring comeback against Germany.

Both sides needed a pre-World Cup tonic after poor Nations League campaigns, with England losing 1-0 away to Italy last Friday, the same night Germany lost by the same scoreline at home to Hungary.

The last time the two heavyweights met at Wembley, in last year’s Euro 2020 finals, England were riding a wave of euphoria and manager Southgate could do no wrong.

But the mood has turned sour mainly because of a woeful lack of goals — Kane’s last-minute penalty in Germany being their only goal in their previous five Nations League games.

USMNT to start Christian Pulisic, Ricardo Pepi for final World Cup warm-up game

12:46 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

MURCIA, Spain — U.S. men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter said Chelsea‘s Christian Pulisic and FC Groningen forward Ricardo Pepi will both start in Tuesday’s friendly against Saudi Arabia.

Neither player featured in last Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Japan. Pulisic sat out the match due to a knock picked up in training, while Pepi was an unused substitute. Now, both will get a look against the Saudis.

Pepi was something of a surprise inclusion to the roster for this international window given that FC Union Berlin striker Jordan Pefok has been in excellent form with four goals in eight league and cup appearances. But Berhalter has been keen to get Pepi back on track after the forward completed his loan move to Groningen from FC Augsburg.

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

“This is a great opportunity to look at Ricardo,” Berhalter told reporters. “Jordan, you know what he’s doing. But Rico, he’s just gotten to Groningen. This is a great opportunity for us to look at him. A guy who scored three goals for us in qualifying, it’s important for us to get him in the group.”

Berhalter was asked for further analysis of the Japan defeat, and he didn’t hold back in his criticism of the team or himself.

“I’m really glad the game happened when it did,” he said. “I think it was poor coaching, poor execution, poor training beforehand, a lot of everything. It’s just one of those games and we were very bad.”When asked to provide more details on how he erred as a coach, Berhalter said the team’s preparation was off because he and the staff thought the players would be able to take on more tactical details, even though it had been three-and-a-half 3½ months since they were last together.He added he could sympathize with the stress for some players that comes with trying to clinch a spot on the final World Cup roster. But that still didn’t excuse the performance.”As coaches we took for granted that they understood what we wanted,” he said. “So, when we trained during the week, we were training details. ‘You know this, now we’re going to go into detail.’ And we took for granted that the players were competent in this. But they didn’t understand. They didn’t know it. That’s what it was.”He added, “We thought it was going to be easier to switch gears than it turned out to be.”

EDITOR’S PICKS

As a result, the U.S. failed to cope with what Berhalter said “wasn’t a complicated press” by Japan and that “we didn’t solve it at all.” He added that it was on both him and the team to identify solutions quicker during the game and make adjustments from there.Berhalter said he expects his side to get back up to speed against Saudi Arabia. But the Japan match is also a lesson he will factor in when the players arrive in Qatar and begin their final preparations ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

“I think it’s the mindset of preparing the guys ahead of time a little bit,” he said. “And then when they’re in camp, right from the beginning, focusing on the big picture rather than details again, which is usually a national team thing anyway.”Berhalter finds himself down several key players in this camp, with Lille forward Tim WeahFulham left-back Antonee RobinsonCrystal Palace center-back Chris Richards and Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah all absent due to injury. But Berhalter insisted he wouldn’t be changing his system if a similar scenario plays out in Qatar.

“It doesn’t matter, because [when we arrive on] Nov. 14, guess what? A different five could be missing. So, we need to deal. That’s a great message to the team. ‘Guys, forget about guys that aren’t here. We’ve got to focus on who is here and still try to be successful.’ Because that’s the reality of national team soccer. And we’re going to be anxiously waiting on Nov. 13 to see who actually shows up after the weekend.”

In the meantime, Berhalter is hoping that the contingent of injured players gets back to full health.

“Fitness is going be a factor,” he said in relation to his final roster selections. “I mean, I would love if you told me Chris Richards is going to be a part of the team right now, he’s going to be fit by November. I would say, ‘You know, he’ll make the team.’ I just don’t know that though. It’s really hard, and it’s frustrating.”

Italy beat Hungary for spot in Nations League finals

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Italy

Italy clinched a place in the Nations League final four with a 2-0 win away to Hungary thanks to goals by Giacomo Raspadori and Federico Dimarco in their last League A-Group 3 game on Monday.

European champions Italy, who missed out on a place at the World Cup in Qatar, finished top on 11 points from six games, one point above second-placed Hungary who needed to avoid defeat to secure a place in their first Nations League semi-finals.

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

Raspadori took advantage of a mistake by the defence in the 27th minute to convert a rebound from the edge of the box.

Hungary then had a great chance to equalise just after the break but goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma kept out a flurry of shots by Loic Nego, Callum Styles and captain Adam Szalai, who on ended his international career after the match.

Midfielder Dimarco made it 2-0 for the visitors in the 52nd minute when he blasted the ball into the roof of the net from close range.

“We were excellent for 70 minutes. The last 20 I didn’t like too much,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said.

“It’s important to have reached the Nations League final four for the second time, but the previous results unfortunately remain.

“Let’s say that we were good at restarting and setting up a group that has values on which you can work.

“The goal? It’s bypassing the month of December,” he added, with his team sidelined for the World Cup which runs from Nov. 20-Dec. 18.

Italy join Croatia and the Netherlands in next year’s finals tournament, while Spain and Portugal will play in Braga on Tuesday for the last spot available.

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

US Men

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

Here’s my line-up  Friday AM

Pulisic, Sargent, Aaronson

Musah, Adams, De La Tore

Sands, Long, Zimmerman, Dest or Scally

Turner

USMNT September roster (caps/goals)

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

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

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

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

Indy 11 Home Sun 5 pm Hispanic Heritage Night

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

NWSL Attendance Record of 32,000 fans Broken

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

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

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

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

BIG GAMES ON TV

Wed, Sept 21

7 pm ESPN2                        Cincy vs Guadalajara   NA League cup

9 pm ESPN2                        Nashville vs America   NA League cup

Thur Sept 21

12 noon FS2                        Latvia vs Moldova

2:45 pm FS1                        Belgium vs Wales

2:45 pm Fox Soccer         Poland vs Netherlands

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

Fri, Sept 23

8 am ESPN2                USMNT vs Japan in Germany

12noon FS2                         Georgia vs North Macedonia

2:45 pm FS1                        Germany vs Hungary

2:45 pm fubo TV               Italy vs England

Sat Sept 24

9  am FS2                             Armenia vs Ukraine

12noon FS2                         Slovinia vs Norway

2:45 pm FS2                        Czech Republic vs Portugal

7 pm Para+                         NC Courage vs NY Gotham FC NWSL

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

10 pm ESPN+                     San Jose vs LA Galaxy

Sun, Sept 25

9  am FS2                             Armenia vs Ukraine

12noon FS2                         Azerbajan vs Kakahstan

2:45 pm FS2                        Denmark vs France 

2:45 pm ??                          Netherlands vs Belgium

5 pm Para+                         KC Current vs Washington Spirit

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

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

8 pm Para+                         Angel City vs Racing Louisville

Mon, Sept 26

2:45 pm FS1                        England vs Germany  

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm Fox Sports1             USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

2:45 pm FS2                        Switzerland vs Czech Republic

Fri, Sept 30

2:30 pm ESPN+              Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sat, Oct 1

7:30 am USA               Arsenal vs Tottenham

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

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

10 am USA                  Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

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

12 noon ESPN+                       Roma vs Inter Milan

6 pm Para +                 NY Gothem vs Portland Thorns NWSL

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Chicago Fire vs Cincy

10 pm Para+                Seattle Reign vs Orlando Pride NWSL

Sun, Oct 2

9 am USA                    Man City vs Man United

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

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

2:$5 pm ESPN+                       Juve vs Bologna  

3 pm ABC                   Portland Timbers vs LAFC

5 pm FS1                     Sporting KC vs Seattle Sounders

6 pm Para +                 Chicago Red Stars vs Angel City NWSL

Mon, Oct 3

3 pm USA                    Leicester City vs Nottingham’s Forest

Tues, Oct 4                 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

3 pm Para+                  Inter Milan vs Barcelona

3 pm Para+                  Club Brugge vs Atletico Madrid

Wed, Oct 5

3 pm Para+                  Chelsea (Pulisic) vs AC Milan

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

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Tues, Oct 11

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

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

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

US Men

Berhalter reveals 4 USMNT starters vs. Japan

Analysis: Thoughts and takeaways from Berhalter’s media call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Cup  

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

Allen injury a worry for Wales ahead of World Cup

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

 World

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

Racist chants aimed at Vinicius Junior by Atletico Madrid fans

Barcelona climb top in Spain after Lewandowski double

Villarreal battle back to keep pressure on Sevilla and Lopetegui

Napoli make title statement at Milan to hold Serie A lead

US Ladies/NWSL

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

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

15 Spanish Women’s Players Quit blaming the Coach

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

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

12:24 PM ET  Bill Connelly  ESPN Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Zimmerman-Long as effective as Zimmerman-Robinson?

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

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


Will Pepi, Sargent capitalize amid Pefok snub?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will the shots be on target?

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

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

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

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

Will De la Torre be rested or rusty?

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

National Writer: Charles BoehmUS Men’s National TeamWorld Cup

Team approach

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

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

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

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

Evaluation time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Glimpse Into USMNT’s Forward Thinking

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

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

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

Bracing for Roster Change Is the USMNT’s Only Constant

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

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

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

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

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

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  SEPTEMBER 18, 2022   11:00 PM

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

FC DALLAS HOMEGROWN ALUMNI SHINE

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 PEFOK & BOYD: CRUSHING IT IN GERMANY

 

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

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

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

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

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

MCKENZIE & EPB IMPRESS

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

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

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

REALLY TOUGH WEEKEND IN ITALY

 

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

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

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

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

REAM GETS IT DONE AT LEFT BACK

 

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

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

 STEFFEN & HORVATH GET CLEAN SHEETS

 

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

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

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

GIO & SCALLY IMPRESS IN GERMANY

 

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

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

VINES & ANTWERP REMAIN PERFECT

 

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

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

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

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

 NOTES AROUND EUROPE

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest Form

USA

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

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

D (0-0) – Uruguay – Friendly

W (3-0) – Morocco – Friendly

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

Japan

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

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

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

L (0-3) – Tunisia – Kirin Cup

W (4-1) – Ghana – Kirin Cup

What To Watch For

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

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

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

Lineup Prediction

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

Predicted Lineup vs. Japan

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

Prediction

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

USMNT vs. Japan, 2022 friendly: Scouting Japan

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

***

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

Projected Japan Starting XI (via BuildLineup.com)

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

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

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

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

Games to Watch – Madrid Derby

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

US Men

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

Indy 11 @ Monterey Sat – Return next Sun 5 pm

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

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

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

BIG GAMES ON TV

Fri, Sept 16

3 pm USA                            Aston villa vs Southampton

3 pm Peacock                    Notingham Forest vs Fulham

7:30 pm Para+                     Racing Louisville vs Orlando Pride

Sat, Sept 17

7:30 am USA                       Wolverhampton vs Man City

9:30 am ESPN                     Dortmund (reyna) vs  Schalke

10 am USA                          New Castle vs Bournemouth

12:30 pm NBC                    Tottenham vs Leicester

12:30 pm ESPN+          MGladbach vs RB Leipzig

3:30 pm Unimas          Atlanta United vs Philly Union

6 pm FS2                     Monterrey vs Atlas Mexican

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Monterey Bay vs Indy 11

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

9 pm Univision                  America vs Guadalajara

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

Sun, Sept 18

6:30 am para+                    Udinese vs Inter Milan

7 am USA                             Bretford vs Arsenal

9:15 am Peacock               Everton vs West Ham 

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

2:45 pm                                AC Milan vs Napoli

2:$5 pm bein Sport          Lyon vs PSG

1 pm ESPN                          Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

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

10 pm FS1                            Tijuana vs Necaza

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

Fri, Sept 23

8:25 am ESPN                     USMNT vs Japan in Germany

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm ESPN                          USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Tues, Oct 11

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

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

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

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

US Men

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

USMNT keeper Steffen misses fourth-straight Middlesbrough match

US Fans Trash the New USA Kits

Champions League  


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


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

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

Benfica sink dismal Juve to win 12th straight match

Front three all score as PSG fight back to beat Haifa

Rangers defy UEFA, but defeated by Napoli

Inter beat 10-man Plzen in Champions League

Paulinho strikes late as Sporting stun Spurs

Frustrated Celtic settle for draw against Shakhtar

Milan beat Dinamo Zagreb to top Champions League Group E

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

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

New-look Barcelona show positive signs in defeat to Bayern

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

Vinicius and Rodrygo ‘making Real Madrid dream’ says Ancelotti

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

Late Matip winner gives Liverpool Champions League lift off

EPL


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

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

Leverkusen’s late goals sink Atletico in Champions League

WORLD

 World Cup Qatar Fails Opening of Lusail Stadium

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

Out with injuries: Steffen, Jedi Robinson, Weah

   Grant Wahl Sep 14
 

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

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

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

Injured: Zack Steffen.

Notable Omissions: None.

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

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

Injured: Jedi Robinson, Miles Robinson.

Notable Omissions: Ream, Sands, Brooks.

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

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

Notable Omissions: None.

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

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

Injured: Weah.

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

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

USMNT weekend viewing guide: Before the break

Last chance for club impact heading into Septembers international window.

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

4 Comments / 4 New

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

Saturday

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke – 9:30a on ESPN2

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

Other notes:

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

Streaming overseas:

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

MLS mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

Sunday

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

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

Other notes:

Streaming overseas:

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

MLS mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

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

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

It says… hey, what about Tim Ream?

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

Fraport TAV Antalyaspor vs Trabzonspor: Turkish Super Lig

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

He commented on some of those following the roster announcement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goalkeeper

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

Defenders

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

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

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

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

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

Midfield

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

Forward

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

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

September 14, 2022 11:00 am ET

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

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

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

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

USMNT September roster (caps/goals)

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 14, 2022

  • Kyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

Striker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winger

EDITOR’S PICKS

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

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

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

Midfield

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

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

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

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

Full-back

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

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

Center-back

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

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

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

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

Goalkeeper

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

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

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

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

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

   Grant Wahl Sep 14

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games to Watch

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

EPL Wk 5 – On Hold, Tuchel out at Chelsea

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

Indy 11 Home Sat 7 pm / MLS has

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American’s In Champions League this week

Tuesday

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

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

Wednesday

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

Thursday

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

BIG GAMES ON TV

Tues, Sept 13

12:45 Para+                          Viktoria Plezen vs Inter Milan

12:45 Para+, Unimas          Sporting CP vs Tottenham

3 pm Para+, Univision      Bayern Munich vsBarcelona

3 pm Para+,      Liverpool vs Ajax

3 pm Para+                           Braga vs Union Berlin (Pefock)

3 pm Para+                           Marseille vs Frankfurt (Chandler)

Weds, Sept 14

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

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

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

3 pm Para+                          Chelsea (Pulisic) vs RB Salzburg

3 pm Para+                          Man City vs Dortmund (Reyna)

3 pm Para+                          Juventus (Mckinney) vs Benefica

Thurs, Sept 15

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

Fri, Sept 16

3 pm USA                            Aston villa vs Southampton

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

7:30 pm Para+                     Racing Louisville vs Orlando Pride

Sat, Sept 17

7:30 am USA                       Wolverhampton vs Man City

9:30 am ESPN                     Dortmund (reyna) vs  Schalke

10 am USA                          New Castle vs Bournemouth

12:30 pm NBC                    Tottenham vs Leicester

12:30 pm ESPN+          MGladbach vs RB Leipzig

3:30 pm Unimas          Atlanta United vs Philly Union

6 pm FS2                     Monterrey vs Atlas Mexican

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Monterey Bay vs Indy 11

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

9 pm Univision                  America vs Guadalajara

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

Sun, Sept 18

6:30 am para+                    Udinese vs Inter Milan

7 am USA                             Bretford vs Arsenal

9:15 am Peacock               Everton vs West Ham  

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

2:45 pm                                AC Milan vs Napoli

2:$5 pm bein Sport          Lyon vs PSG

1 pm ESPN                          Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

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

10 pm FS1                            Tijuana vs Necaza

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

Fri, Sept 23

8:25 am ESPN                     USMNT vs Japan in Germany

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm ESPN                          USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Tues, Oct 11

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

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

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US Men

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

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

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

Andre Cantor Talks USMNT Changes and Players to Watch

Andrés Cantor outlines key concerns for Mexico at 2022 World Cup

US Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MLS

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

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

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

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

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

Champions League

Tuesday 6th September 

Group E

Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Chelsea

RB Salzburg 1-1 AC Milan

Group F

Celtic 0-3 Real Madrid

RB Leipzig 1-4 Shakhtar Donetsk

Group G

Dortmund 3-0 FC Kobenhavn

Sevilla 0-4 Manchester City

Group H

Benfica 2-0 Maccabi Haifa

PSG 2-1 Juventus

 Wednesday 7th September

Group A

Ajax 4-0 Rangers

Napoli 4-1 Liverpool

Group B

Atletico Madrid 2-1 FC Porto

Club Brugge 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Group C

Barcelona 5-1 Viktoria Plzen

Inter Milan 0-2 Bayern Munich

Group D

Frankfurt 0-3 Sporting CP

Spurs 2-0 Marseille

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

Liverpool’s early-season flaws exposed by rampant Napoli

Ukraine’s Shakhtar power to Champions League victory at Leipzig

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

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

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

EPL

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

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

Chelsea hires Graham Potter as manager, replacing Tuchel

Indy 11

PREVIEW | #INDVBHM

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

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

SEPTEMBER 9, 2022c BY JOSEPH LOWERY

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

© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

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

Let’s get to it!

@SKINMATT28

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

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

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

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

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

@BARTIMUSPRIME19

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ES_BOOT

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

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

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

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

@ANDREWCHWALIK

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

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

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

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

@CAPTNMARK42

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

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

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

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

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

Chelsea’s new owners show ruthless streak in sacking Tuchel

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

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

– Erratic –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my three thoughts on the game:

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

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

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

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

9:56 AM ET ESPN FC

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

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

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

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

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


How we’re doing this

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

EDITOR’S PICKS

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

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

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

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

Goalkeepers

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

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

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

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

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

On the plane right now: Naeher, Murphy, Kingsbury


Full-Backs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Center-Backs

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

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

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

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

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

On the plane right now: Sauerbrunn, Cook, Girma


Midfielders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wingers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Strikers

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

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

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

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

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

On the plane right now: Morgan, Hatch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Games to Watch

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

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

Matchday 1

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

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

EPL Wk 4 – Fulham America in top 6

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

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

High School Local – CHS Girls host tourney Sat @ Murray

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

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

JPW’s Champions League predictions – Matchday 1

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

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

BIG GAMES ON TV

Thur, Sept 1

3 pm USA                            Leicister City vs Man United  

Fri, Sept 2

3 pm ESPN+                        Dortmund (reyna) vs  Hoffenheim

Sat, Sept 3

7:30 am USA                       Everton vs Liverpool

9:30 am ESPN                     Dortmund (reyna) vs  Hertha

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

9 am Para+                          Forentina vs Juventus (Mckinney)

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

10 am Peacock                  Fulham (Reem, Jedi) @ Tottenham

12 noon para+                   AC Milan vs Inter

12:30 pm NBC                    Aston Villa vs Man City

1 pm FOX                    US Women vs Nigeria @ KC

3 pm ESPN+                        Sevilla vs Barcelona

3 pm beIN Sport               PSG vs Nantes

7:30 pm ESPN+                  Detroit vs Indy 11

Sun, Sept 4

11:30 am USA                    Man United vs Arsenal 

5 pm Para+                         NY Gothem FC vs NC Courage NWSL

Tues, Sept 6

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

3 pm Para+. TUDN Champions League

3 pm PSG vs Juventus Mckinney

6 pm ESPN2                US Women vs Nigeria @ DC

Weds, Sept 7

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

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

Fri, Sept 23

8:25 am ESPN                     USMNT vs Japan in Germany

Tues, Sept 27

2 pm ESPN                          USMNT vs Saudi Arabia in Spain

Fri, Oct 7

3 pm FOX                             US Women  vs England in London

Sat, Oct 29

8 pm CBS                             NWSL Championship Game

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

World Cup Schedule

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

US Men

 Berhalter backs Pulisic to regain Chelsea place

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

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

Report: AC Milan in talks to acquire Sergiño Dest

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

US women

USWNT vs Nigeria – Weekend series with African Powerhouse _ AO

Roster USA vs Nigeria

Rodman to miss Games

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

STARS TO WATCH IN THE NWSL AS THE PLAYOFFS NEAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

UCL draw: Lewandowski, Barca to face Bayern

 Indy 11

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

EPL

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

Extended highlights: Leeds United 1, Everton 1

Erling Haaland delivers hat trick as Manchester City rout Nottingham Forest

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

US investment fund RedBird completes 1.2 billion euro AC Milan takeover

Klopp labels Parker sacking as ‘unbelievable’

WORLD

Mexico lose pre-World Cup friendly to Paraguay

MLS

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

 Goalkeeping

GK Goal in USL League One

Save of the Week 26 MLS

Saves of the Week in Week 3 Europe

Best Saves Week 2 Europe

Horrible Mistakes Europe So Far

Reffing

NWSL Fans left Baffled at bad reffing

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

GK issues with Refs

MLS Instant Replay LA vs Min

MLS Instant Replay Toronto

MLS Instant Replay Seattle Quick Start?  

 

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

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

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

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

The USWNT will see some new faces in camp

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

Randy Waldrum needs a great Nigerian performance

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

Vlatko Andonovski goes for preparation over evaluation

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

 

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

Seth Vertelney follow

August 28, 2022 3:40 pm ET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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