1/27/23 US Men vs Colombia Sat 7 pm TNT, FA Cup Weekend, TV Games   

US Men tie Colombia in a Fierce Friendly – next up Nations League in March  

So the US started a much more experienced team Sat night in a fiercely played “friendly” Sat night in an outnumbered LA Galaxy stadium.  Five World Cup players started including Long and Zimmerman at CBs and Sean Johnson in goal.  Still it was the youngsters who impressed as Aaronson, Hoppe, John Tolkin (left back) and late sub Brandon Vazquez were the most impressive on the night along with late d subs Sam Rogers and Jalen Neal in the middle. (Full hightlights 9 min  – Spanish hightlights). Each US January camp at least 1 sometimes 2 or 3 players announce themselves. I think LB Tolkin, #9 Vazquez and Mexican-American winger Alejandro Zendejas and perhaps Cade Cowell will be the FIND’s in this camp and should join the #1 team when we play Nations League play in the late March window.   (What a Save by Gaga).  Brandon Vasquez Cincy FC Man Scored the lone US Goal.  Cowell hits post twice vs Serbia

US Men

Brandon Vázquez has shined for U.S. soccer. Could they lose him to Mexico?
USMNT unwraps some young gems and ends up with a tie against Colombia

5 takeaways from USMNT’s draw vs. Colombia in international friendly

USMNT instant match ratings from scoreless draw vs. Colombia

USMNT battles to draw against Colombia to close out January camp

5 takeaways from USMNT’s 2-1 loss vs. Serbia

USMNT instant match ratings from 2-1 loss vs. Serbia

Hernández: USMNT must demonstrate it is invested in Alejandro Zendejas’ future

The secret is out: Galaxy’s Jalen Neal ready to contribute to U.S. national team

What’s behind sudden departures at U.S. Soccer, and how will they impact USMNT in 2026?

Weston McKennie to Leeds – Good Move for McKennie?

US Men Lose 2-1 to Serbia, Sat on TNT vs Colombia 7:30 pm

I thought the youngsters really looked good tonight.  Brendon Vazquez was exquisite up top scoring the lone goal for the US, Zendejas showed why Mexico and the US are vying for his services as the Club America man had multiple opportunities up top.  I thought Morris was very good at the dmid slot.  Cade Cowell showed his pace and had fantastic delivery on the left wing (hitting the post twice).  I thought Jones was incredibly dangerous at the right back slot when he came in providing a # of great runs and good crosses in.  The US just couldn’t quite capitalize in the 2nd half but we certainly out possessed (63%), outshot (20-11) and completely dominated the 2nd half even if Serbia scored the lone 2nd half goal on stupid mistake by the 19 year Neal giving up the 2-1 loss.  Great to see 18 year old GK Gaga Slonina start in the net – he made a couple of nice saves including this  (What a Save by Gaga).  Brandon Vasquez Cincy FC Man Scored the lone US Goal.   I love that we started and played the youngsters tonight.

Shane Starter’s Sat Night  


Cowell //Sabbi

Pomkykal // Aaronson


Gomez, Neal//Long //Jones

Roman Celentano

What a Save by Gaga Slonina 18 YO US Goalkeeper. Brandon Vasquez Cincy FC Man Scores.   

Ted Lasso’s Coach Beard in the house tonight Walker Zimmerman Pregame Warm-up Talk

The full USMNT roster

Goalkeepers (3): Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati), Sean Johnson (free agent), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea)

Defenders (8): Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Aaron Long (LAFC), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)

Midfielders (6): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Alan Soñora (free agent), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers)

Forwards (7): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Alejandro Zendejas (Club América)

US to Host Copa America 2024

Thrilled to hear the news that the US will host Copa America 2024 – not only does this give the US a legit tourney to play in before hosting the World Cup but this should give US World Cup cities a chance to “warm-up” for the World Cup. Hopefully other cities AKA CHICAGO will be be involved in COPA so those of us in Indy don’t have to drive 8 hours to a game. Awesome news!

US Soccer Shake-up

So in the wake of the Gio Reyna – Berhalter Brew ha ha – now US Soccer GM Ernie Stewart has joined Brian McBride in leaving US Soccer. Of course Claudia Reyna was sent packing as Director of Soccer operations at Austin FC. What a crazy and disappointing commentary on US soccer. Let’s hope US soccer wipes the slate clean and finds the right people to move us forward. Perhaps stop charging $100s for tickets in small stadiums for friendlies.

It’s Official – Leeds United States of America has added American Weston McKennie! Leeds & Fulham America’s Teams!

Carmel FC 2010 Boys is extending tryouts this winter for the Spring Season. 

Contact the Ole Ballcoach at shanebestsoccer@gmail.com if your son was born in 2010 or 2011 and interested in working out with us.

ANY CARMEL DAD’S CLUB PLAYERS & CARMEL FC PLAYERS : Winter Players League (WPL) – Badger Indoor Fieldhouse –REGISTRATION READY for Session Two (6 weeks): Feb 17th, 24th / Mar 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th
As the fall season comes to a close over the next month, we wanted to let you know that we will be launching an indoor soccer league over two six week sessions within our new Badger Fieldhouse. Games will be played on either Friday night ( 6pm to 10pm) or Sunday afternoon (1pm-5pm) depending on age groups: U8s, U9&U10, U11&U12, U13-U15 and U16+ (Coed Teams allowed). Referees for each game, 50 minute games, 5v5, 7v7 and 9v9 matches.

Register NOW, gather teammates and be ready to play! Visit: https://form.123formbuilder.com/6349623/winter-players-league-session-2-registration-form

It’s a SnowDay here in Carmel, IN – that means Snowman Day!! US Soccer Fan – Goalkeeper Snowman ready for Sat’s game
LeBron x Liverpool: James reveals jersey in collab with Premier League giants


(American’s names in Parenthesis)

Weds, Jan 25

2:30 pm ESPN+                  WErder Bremen vs Union Berlin (Pfuk)

2:30 pm ESPN+                  Ausburg vs Mgladbach (Scally)

3 pm ESPN+                        Nottingham Forest vs Man United League Cup

3 pm ESPN+                        Barcelona vs Real Sociadad Copa Del Rey

10 pm HBO Max, Peacock            USA Men vs Serbia

Thur,  Jan 26

3 pm ESPN+                        Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid  Copa Del Rey

Fri, Jan  27

3 pm ESPN+                        Man City vs Arsenal League Cup

Sat, Jan 28                          

7:30 am ESPN+                  Leeds United (Adams, Aaronson) @ Accrington Stanley

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

9:30 am ESPN+                  Hertha vs Union Berlin (Pfuk)    

10 am ESPN+                      Lufton Town (Horvath) vs Grimsby Town  FA Cup

10 am ESPN+                      Fulham (Ream, Jedi) vs Sunderland

10 am ESPN+                      Bristol City vs West Brom (Dike)

12:30 pm ESPN+               Sevilla vs Elche

12:30 pm ESPN+               Bayern Munich vs Frankfurt

1  pm ESPN+                       Preston vs Spurs – FA Cup 

3 pm ESPN+                        Man United vs Reading FA Cup

7:30 p TNT                           USA Men vs Colombia

Sun, Jan 29                           

8 am ESPN+                        Real Vallaadolid vs Valencia ()

8:30 am ESPN+                  Brighton vs Livepool FC Cup 

11:30 am ESPN+         Wrexham vs Sheffield United FA cup

11:30 am ESPN+          Leverkusen vs Dortmund (Reyna)

2:45 pm beIN Sport         Reims vs PSG

3 pm ESPN+                        Real Madrid vs Real Sociadad

Tues, Jan 31

2 pm ESPN+                        New Castle vs Southampton FC Cup

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Union Berlin (Pfuk) vs Wolfsburg

Weds, fEb1  

2 pm ESPN+                        Man United vs Nottingham Forrest FC Cup

2 pm FS2                              Al Ahly vs Auckland City – World Club Cup

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Mainz vs Bayern Munich

3 pm ESPNd                        Real Bettis vs Barcelona

Thurs, Feb 2  

3 pm ESPN+                        Real Madrid vs Valencia

Fri, Feb 3  

3 pm USA                            Chelsea vs Fulham (Ream, Jedi)  

Sat, Feb 4  

7:30 am USA                       Everton vs Arsenal (Turner)  

10 am USA                          Aston Villa vs Leicester City

12:30 pm Fox Sp2             SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs Auckland City

12:30 pm NBC                    New Castle vs West Ham United

12:30 pm ESPN+               Atletico Madrid vs Getafe

12:30 pm ESPN+               MGladbach (Scally) vs Schalke  

10 pm Fox Sp2                   Santos Laguna vs America

 Sun, Feb 5  

7:30 am USA                       Nottingham Forest vs Leeds United (Adams, Aaronson)  

11;30 am NBC                    Tottenham vs Man City  

12:30 pm ESPN+               Atletico Madrid vs Getafe

3pm ESPN+                         Barcelona vs Sevilla

Thu, Feb 16                         She Believes Cup

7 pm Fox Sports 1?          USWNT vs Canada

Sun, Feb 19                        

3:30 pm Fox                        USWNT vs Japan

Wed, Feb 22                     

7 pm FS1                              USWNT vs Brazil

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

The Women’s World Cup Down-Under is less than 6 months away. My daughter is going – I am Jealous!


The 13 U.S. debutants you need to know in January friendlies
Bill Connelly
USA kicks off 2026 World Cup journey amid in-fighting, uncertainty

Amid U.S. men’s soccer turmoil, Anthony Hudson tries to keep team on course
LA Times  
With Berhalter in limbo, US men begin camp under Hudson

Who is Anthony Hudson? What to know about USMNT’s interim manager

5 players to watch during USMNT’s January international friendlies

Giovanni Reyna scores outrageous winner in Bundesliga return (video)

Gio Reyna, amid USMNT drama, scores defiant goal in first game back from World Cup
Christian Pulisic wanted by AC Milan – Report

Brian McBride is out as USMNT GM.

Eight Players Earn First Caps As U.S. Men’s National Team Opens New Cycle With 2-1 Loss Against Serbia In Los Angeles

Q&A: Alex Zendejas Discusses His First Call-Up To The USMNT


 10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 21
Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

Kane ignored illness to earn share of Spurs goal record

Harry Kane scores historic beauty as Tottenham wins scrap at Fulham

 Everton sack manager Frank Lampard after worst run of form in club’s history

Arsenal downs Manchester United in instant classic, and rings in a new Premier League era Bushnell Yahoo Soccer

 Arsenal silence doubters with statement win over Man Utd
‘Incredible’ Odegaard fulfils potential to fuel Arsenal title bid

Ten Hag says Man Utd must ‘change mentality’ after Arsenal defeat

Arsenal vs Manchester United player ratings out of 10

Guardiola hails ‘incredible’ hat-trick hero Haaland

Stalemate as Leeds frustrated by Brentford

Klopp sees small steps of Liverpool progress in Chelsea stalemate


What a Save by Gaga Slonina 19 YO US Goalkeeper

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Copa America arrives, Earnie Stewart departs

Lots of big news affecting the USMNT over the past couple days.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jan 27, 2023, 10:35am PST  

1 Comment / 1 New

IR Iran v USA: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Big news has dropped over the past couple days, and we discuss it on Episode 94 of the SSFC Podcast. The announcement today that the 2024 Copa América will be hosted in the United States is part of a major collaboration between Concacaf and CONMEBOL that includes joint participation in the 2024 Copa América, 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup, and a newly created “final four” style club competition. We discuss the competitions and what it means for both confederations. After the break, U.S. Soccer is set to lose Earnie Stewart as the federation’s sporting director will depart next month. USMNT general manager Brian McBride is also out at the end of this month, and Anthony Hudson is the interim USMNT head coach for the foreseeable future. Now that we have a loaded schedule of competitive matches, the pressure is on the federation to be efficient in hiring a new sporting director and head coach, because fans are starting to have the same feeling that they had in 2018.

We will be back real soon to recap the MNT January Camp as well as the USWNT matches from earlier in the month. Episodes will be coming quickly as we determine the future of this show, so please send questions or topic suggestions to SSFC Podcast at Gmail dot com.

United States to host 2024 Copa América

It’s part of a strategic partnership between Concacaf and CONMEBOL.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Updated Jan 27, 2023, 9:04am PST  25 Comments / 25 New

Argentina v Colombia - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifier

South America’s tournament is returning to the United States. Today, Concacaf and CONMEBOL announced a strategic collaboration agreement where they will partner for several tournaments over the next couple of years. The big piece of this partnership includes the announcement that the 2024 Copa América will be held in the United States.The Copa América and will include all 10 national teams from CONMEBOL, with 6 teams from Concacaf competing, including the USMNT. The tournament will be co-organized by both confederations. The 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League will determine who the 6 teams will be, and despite being the hosts, the USMNT will not receive an automatic bid to the tournament.The 2024 Copa América gives the USMNT a huge opportunity to play competitive matches ahead of the 2026 World Cup. It will also give the country’s World Cup sites a chance to test logistics, security, and other details in preparation for the tournament.In addition to the Copa América, Concacaf and CONMEBOL are partnering for other tournaments. Concacaf has invited the top 4 teams from South America to compete in the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. It will be the first time the tournament is held, and that will be played in the United States. The USWNT have already directly qualified for the Concacaf W Gold Cup by winning last summer’s Conacaf W Championship. Through that tournament, they also qualified for this summer’s Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. The 4 South American teams have been determined based on the results of the 2022 Women’s Copa America: Brazil (champion) Colombia (runner-up), Argentina (third place) and Paraguay (fourth place).Finally, a “final four” style club competition will be created featuring the 2 best club teams from each confederation. They hope to play the first edition of this new tournament in 2024. The last time the two confederations collaborated on a club competition was the Copa Interamericana, which featured the winner of the Copa Libertadores against the winner of the Concacaf Champions’ Cup (the precursor to today’s Concacaf Champions League). D.C. United won the final edition of the Copa Interamericana in 1998 over Vasco da Gama.

Conmebol and Concacaf has signed a strategic collaboration agreement to strengthen and develop football in both regions.

→ 2024 CONMEBOL Copa America
→ 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup
→ New club competition

More info https://t.co/9q6iMhcj7p pic.twitter.com/TgC5Sk6jgd— Concacaf (@Concacaf) January 27, 2023

Hit the comments and discuss the Concacaf-CONMEBOL partnership, including the 2024 Copa América and the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.

No coach, no sporting director and no GM: What does the future hold for the USMNT?

2:10 PM ET

  • Kyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer
  • In one fell swoop Thursday morning, U.S. Soccer announced a reset for its men’s national team program. That’s what Earnie Stewart’s departure as sporting director represents. Stewart, a former U.S. international, accepted a similar role to return to the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven, leaving U.S. Soccer with a void atop its technical operation.Whether that’s a good or bad thing can ultimately only be judged in time, but what it means in the short term is that the men’s national team — already without a permanent head coach — will enter its most consequential World Cup cycle of all time without a firm direction for the foreseeable future.With former coach Gregg Berhalter out of contract in the wake of an admission of a domestic violence incident involving his now-wife in 1991, the USMNT had already entered somewhat of a stationary period with interim coach Anthony Hudson. However, so long as Stewart was in place, it reasoned that the vision for how the team would play under its next coach would likely continue in a similar vein to how it did under Berhalter. Without Stewart, everything appears back on the table.”Obviously, this isn’t the process that we chose to go down,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said. “We’re hopeful that we can fill these two positions [sporting director and head coach] by the end of the summer so that the men’s team has plenty of time in preparation for the World Cup leading up to ’26.”


The circumstances are much different, but this means for the second consecutive World Cup cycle, the men’s team will be guided by an interim coach for an extended period. Parlow Cone and USSF CEO JT Batson said that while they will both be heavily involved in the process to select the next coach, that decision won’t come until after a new sporting director is hired.

With the timeline Parlow Cone laid out, Hudson is now expected to guide the team at this summer’s Gold Cup, representing a missed opportunity to have the next permanent coach lead a group of first-choice players at a major tournament. It’s not necessarily a massive problem — there are several much more important variables that will play a role in the team’s success at the 2026 World Cup — but it is a setback that guarantees a continued state of flux.

There are plenty of examples of teams that have brought on a coach later in a cycle and performed well at the World Cup — Morocco in Qatar, for example — but without a qualification process as a host nation, the U.S. was already going to be limited in how many opportunities it had in official competition. Friday’s announcement that 2024 Copa America will be held in the U.S. — bringing South America’s premier competition and big sides like Argentina and Brazil stateside — adds another a big chance to for the USMNT to prove itself, but it is still far from ideal.To be clear, there will be a new coach. That’s common sense at this point, despite Parlow Cone’s reluctance to admit so publicly. Her statement Thursday that Berhalter remains a candidate comes across as lip service at the behest of legal counsel. The idea that a new decision-maker would come in and re-hire a coach who has been out in the cold for several months after a domestic violence allegation, along with messy personal drama involving the coach and one of the team’s brightest stars is an outlandish possibility.

Brian McBride’s exit as U.S. men’s team general manager, which has previously been reported by ESPN, was also announced Thursday, but his role and influence in the decision-making hierarchy was never well explained. That it remains unclear if his job will even exist as the USSF evolves speaks to how valuable it was.

Perhaps the most interesting forward-looking part of what U.S. Soccer made public Thursday was that it retained the Sportsology Group to consult on its search for a sporting director. Sportsology’s chief executive is founder Mike Forde, who from 2007 to ’13 was the director of football operations at Chelsea and is well-connected across Europe. Sportsology has been contracted by several professional teams across various sports in the United States and Europe for strategic and operational support.

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

Forde was reportedly involved with Manchester United‘s process that led to the appointment of Erik ten Hag and helped connect multiple Major League Soccer teams with European executives. “We interviewed a few search firms as well as firms that do the type of work Sportsology does. We went with Sportsology because we thought they were the best group to help us navigate the situation that we’re in now,” Parlow Cone said. “We want do a full review of our sporting department, and at the same time need to work towards hiring a sporting director and, in parallel, moving the search forward on our men’s national team coach.”

If Forde and Sportsology’s track record is replicated, it seems likely that U.S. Soccer winds up with a European sporting director. Perhaps that’s exactly what U.S. Soccer needs. Not necessarily a European sporting director, but someone without a lifetime of ties to American soccer. Fresh ideas and an outsider’s perspective have the potential to unlock the incredible potential the current group of players has.

USMNT turn eye to next generation of talent as Brandon Vazquez, Cade Cowell stand out in Serbia loss

Jan 26, 2023

  • Kyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES — In the team’s first game since the 2022 World Cup, the United States men’s national team got an early goal from debutant Brandon Vazquez before conceding twice in a 2-1 loss to Serbia at BMO Stadium.

JUMP TO: Best/worst performers | Highlights & notable moments | Postgame quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures

Rapid reaction

1. Heavy Mexican-American influence

All four players on the roster eligible to represent Mexico — Vazquez, Alejandro ZendejasCade Cowell and Jonathan Gomez — were in the starting XI. It represented a clear statement of intent from U.S. Soccer that the federation wants long-term commitments from each of them.

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

Vazquez, Zendejas — both making their first full national team caps — and Cowell played together in a front three that was lively and consistently dangerous. Vazquez’s goal on a cross from fellow debutant Julian Gressel was an excellent finish — redirecting the ball to the far corner — and leaves a positive first impression about his ability to play at the international level.

For all the attention Zendejas’ inclusion drew coming in midseason from Club America, he was outshined by Cowell on the opposite wing. The San Jose Earthquakes winger has been billed as a potential star for years, and while he’s still only 19 years old, this is a massive year in terms of solidifying what fair expectations for his development should be. If he’s as dangerous for the Quakes as he was against Serbia, it’s fair to reignite talks about a potential European transfer.

Gomez didn’t find the same success as the other three. His physical limitations were on display and provided important context for why he has not made a first team appearance for Real Sociedad in LaLiga since transferring from Louisville City of the USLC in 2021.

2. Gabriel Slonina makes history

Fresh off his move from the Chicago Fire to Chelsea, Slonina made history as the youngest goalkeeper to ever appear for the United States. At 18 years, 255 days, he takes the record from Tony Meola, who debuted a few months after his 19th birthday against Ecuador in 1988.

The youngster had a few nice moments — including one sequence in which he was kicked in the head while pushing a ball off the line — and wasn’t really to blame for either of Serbia’s goals. Though he’s still a long way from seeing the field in England, Slonina certainly has the talent to someday develop into the U.S. No. 1. Is it possible by 2026? That seems like a stretch, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

3. Typical vibe for a January game

If U.S. Soccer was hoping the excitement from the World Cup would translate to a better-than-usual January atmosphere, it would have left disappointed. BMO Stadium — the new name for LAFC‘s home — was about half-full and had the appropriate energy level for a glorified training exercise.


The reality for this type of game is the result doesn’t matter. It’s about giving individual players opportunities to be exposed to the international level as part of their development process. There is the team aspect, of course, but as the U.S. was playing with an interim coaching staff, there was less value there Wednesday night as there might have been otherwise.

Seven starters made their national team debuts, which was the most in a single game since 1988.

Best and worst performers

Best: Aidan Morris, USA

Morris was calm on the ball and solid defensively in a position — defensive midfielder — that lacks depth in the pool. There’s a significant drop after Tyler Adams and Morris appears very much ready to compete for minutes behind him.

Best: Cade Cowell, USA

As mentioned above, Cowell was consistently impactful playing down the left wing. He didn’t have a goal or assist to show for it, but it felt inevitable every time he got the ball he was going to blow by the defender marking him and get the ball into a good spot.

Best: Veljko Simic, Serbia

Simic, who plays for Vojvodina in Serbia, scored the winner early in the second half and was influential in the Serbian attack throughout the match.

Worst: Marko Mijailovic, Serbia

Cowell had his way with Mijailovic throughout the night.

Worst: Jonathan Gomez, USA

Gomez showed he’s not ready to be considered for minutes in official competitions.

Worst: Jalen Neal, USA

Neal had some bright moments but got caught of position a few times and wasn’t strong in possession.

Highlights and notable momentsfter the match: What the managers and players said

USMNT coach Anthony Hudson on Alejandro Zendejas: “Incredible. Obviously, he has to go back to his club tonight and I was pretty much trying to beg him to stay because I thought he was outstanding. He’s been in a few days and — you saw him tonight — you see his personality on the field. He’s a really, really exciting player. Good quality. Technically really, really strong. Really attack-minded. I just love his desire just to keep going and keep going.”

Walker Zimmerman on starting in Qatar vs. this friendly: “I told the guys in the huddle before the game, anytime we put on this jersey, we don’t care if it’s a World Cup game or if it’s a January camp game. You put on that jersey, it’s the pride that you have to try to win the game. So we went out there and wanted to be competitive. It’s a little bit different when you have that preseason deal and for a lot of guys it’s a week or two into getting back into it. Whereas in normal January camp, you have a whole month to build up. So for a lot of guys, it’s really the first bit of football action that they’ve had. From that standpoint, it makes it difficult. It makes it difficult for the rotations, the fitness standpoint and then the understanding.”

Brandon Vazquez on scoring in his debut: “Making my debut tonight and scoring on my debut with my family here close to where I grew up, it’s something incredible. Seeing my family celebrate like that and it’s something amazing to see.”

Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)

  • Vazquez becomes the 59th USMNT player to score in his debut
  • Seven starters earn their senior team debuts — the most first caps in a USMNT starting XI since nine players debuted in a friendly match against Guatemala on January 10, 1988
  • At 18 years, 255 days, Gaga Slonina will become the youngest goalkeeper to play for the USMNT

Up next

U.S.: The Americans have one more friendly attached this camp against Colombia on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET in nearby Carson, California.

Serbia: For now, Serbia’s next matches on the calendar are not until March for the qualifying tournament for the Euros, against Lithuania and Montenegro.

U.S. Soccer’s future

A look at U.S. Soccer’s future following McBride & Stewart’s pending departures

ASN’s Brian Sciaretta looks at how U.S. Soccer will navigate the months ahead with the departure of USMNT General Manager Brian McBride and Sporting Director Earnie Stewart

JANUARY 27, 2023
12:55 AM


U.S. SOCCER ON THURSDAY announced a major shakeup with the departures of both Sporting Director Earnie Stewart and USMNT General Manager Brian McBride along with the federation retaining Sportsology Group moving forward to help fill the vacancies and conduct a review the sporting department.

It was a lot of news to digest but here are the key points from the press release and the subsequent media call.

  • Sporting Director Earnie Stewart told U.S. Soccer he was leaving the federation to accept a position with PSV Eindhoven in his native Holland. U.S. Soccer asked Stewart to remain with the Federation until February 15. Stewart’s contract initially ran through 2022 but was extended, without an announcement, through 2026. U.S. Soccer agreed to release Stewart from his contract.
  • USMNT General Manager Brian McBride told U.S. Soccer prior to the 2022 World Cup that he would move on from U.S. Soccer upon the completion of his contract at the end of December. U.S. Soccer and McBride agreed to a one-month extension to handle the subsequent turnover.  
  • Cindy Parlow Cone said it is not yet decided if the federation even needs a general manager for the men’s national team. That will be decided in the coming months during the review.
  • U.S. Soccer has retained Sportsology Group to head the search for the organization’s next Sporting Director and conduct a review of U.S. Soccer’s sporting department.
  • U.S Soccer staff will report to U.S. Soccer CEO JT Batson until a new Sporting Director is hired.
  • Once the Sporting Director is hired, that individual will oversee the process of hiring the new USMNT head coach.
  • Cindy Parlow Cone indicated that Gregg Berhalter is still a candidate for the head coaching job.
  • Anthony Hudson will serve as the interim USMNT head coach until a new head coach is hired or Berhalter is brought back.
  • Cindy Parlow Cone: “We would love to have the Sporting Director in place before the Women’s World Cup, but we are not going to put a definitive timeline on it.”
  • Cindy Parlow Cone: “We would like to have our men’s national team coach in place by the end of the summer.”

Here are some thoughts on the developments 


It’s important to remember that as recently as 2018, U.S. Soccer changed its organizational chart substantially. It was the first time there was a Sporting Director and a General Manager (except briefly when Jurgen Klinsmann had the Technical Director and the head coach job at the same time). Prior to that, you had CEO Dan Flynn and President Sunil Gulati heavily involved in all areas.

But in 2018, U.S. Soccer had new roles for different people. The Sporting Director also sat over all the teams, including on the women’s side, and essentially separated the top levels of the federation (the board, the CEO, and the President) from the sporting side.


“I am extremely proud of what our sporting department has accomplished over the past four years to advance the next generation of players and increase participation in the sport across the country. “
— Earnie Stewart pic.twitter.com/mlloaqawms— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) January 26, 2023

This review is essentially going to evaluate the progress of that restructuring and see if there are different positions needed or are there positions that can be eliminated.

Does either the USMNT or the USWNT need general managers? What are the needs of each team? There used to be a youth technical director. Does it need to be brought back? How will the youth teams be managed?


Earnie Stewart checked a lot of boxes to be the first Sporting Director. He worked extensively in the front offices in Holland and then had a similar role with the Philadelphia Union. He also played for the U.S. national team at World Cups and had a personal attachment to the program with an interest of seeing it succeed.

My guess is that U.S. Soccer and Sportsology will probably end up focusing on candidates who have at least some degree of knowledge of the American soccer landscape from higher levels. The unique nature of the sport here (from the youth levels, academy, and professional levels) is difficult to understand and is not something the federation can change.


“Brian will always be part of our family and continue to be connected to U.S. Soccer.” – Cindy Parlow Cone pic.twitter.com/QI5u5cT08V— U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (@USMNT) January 26, 2023

But the Sporting Director will oversee the men’s and women’s national teams and the youth teams. That will entail hiring coaches, scheduling, scouting, and management etc.

U.S. Soccer is in a different place than in previous decades. More and more Americans, including many former players, are in front office positions domestically and abroad (Dane Murphy recently left Nottingham Forest but was the CEO during a time when it was promoted to the Premier League).


There are three parties to follow as the decisions get made in the future: Sportsology, the board, and the CEO, JT Batson, and the federation’s president, Cindy Parlow Cone.

U.S. Soccer is bringing in Sportsology for a reason and the press release says they will be heading the search and will analyzing the head coach candidates for the future Sporting Director.

“U.S. Soccer has retained Sportsology Group to head the search for the organization’s next Sporting Director… The group will also analyze head coach candidates to accelerate the Sporting Director’s hiring process.”

The questions then becomes how likely will the board and the CEO/President be scrutinizing Sportsology or be likely to override a recommendation by Sportsology?

Seattle ???? Atlanta

After winning two MLS Cups with @SoundersFC and leading them to Concacaf Champions League glory, Garth Lagerwey joins @ATLUTDpic.twitter.com/R41lDMzcQe— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 22, 2022

On the positive side, it helped Atlanta United recruit Garth Lagerwey as the team’s new CEO. Also, in 2020, Feyenoord began working with Sportsology and the club currently sits atop the Eredivise table.

But the Chicago Fire’s hire of Sporting Director Georg Heitz hasn’t been as successful, and the San Jose Earthquakes haven’t yet found success either.


This is going to take some time. Cindy Parlow Cone said on Thursday that she is hoping that the Sporting Director is in place before the start of the Women’s World Cup this summer – which opens on July 20 in New Zealand and Australia. She also said, she doesn’t want the process to feel rushed and if it goes longer, they will accept it.

Once the Sporting Director is hired, he/she will hire the next head coach. She indicated by late summer, the goal was to have the new coach up and running.

Cindy Parlow Cone made it clear that Gregg Berhalter remains a candidate


This summer, the USMNT will take part in the Gold Cup and the Nations League final rounds. Those are slated for June. Based on the timelines set forth by Cone, it seems very unlikely the next USMNT head coach will be hired by then.

Anthony Hudson was formally announced as the interim head coach in the press release (he had been identified as an assistant coach leading January Camp earlier in the month).

Unlike the Dave Sarachan-era, which was quite productive in bringing in a wave of new players, Hudson has a much more established team. But it will be up to him in terms of how to build rosters for two teams, whether to call in top European-based players for March or this summer, working with Mikey Varas to decide if a top teenager should be with the U-20 World Cup team or the U.S. national team this summer.

Leeds appoint ex-Manchester United coach Chris Armas to Jesse Marsch’s backroom team

Leeds appoint ex-Manchester United coach Chris Armas to Jesse Marsch’s backroom team

By Phil HayJan 25, 2023102

Leeds United have confirmed the appointment of former Manchester United assistant coach Chris Armas to Jesse Marsch’s backroom team.

The Athletic reported last week that Leeds were close to appointing Armas, 50, after Mark Jackson’s exit to become manager at MK Dons. He will share the role of assistant head coach at Leeds with Rene Maric, who was appointed to the role last summer.



Armas previously worked with Marsch from 2015 to 2018 when the latter was head coach of New York Red Bulls. He took over at NYRB once Marsch left for RB Leipzig.

Armas worked for Manchester United last season while Ralf Ragnick was interim manager of the Old Trafford club.

On Armas’ appointment to his team, Marsch said: “I’m delighted to welcome Chris to Leeds United.

“He will be a fantastic addition to the staff, he brings a wealth of experience from across the world and having worked closely with him previously, I am sure he will help us to improve every day.”

Director of football Victor Orta added: “We always have constant ideas to improve the team around Jesse and with Chris it is a perfect fit, they have both worked together in the past and he has experience of working in the Premier League.

“Chris was one of the best ever players in the history of the United States and his determination and skills will add value to our club and we are really happy he has joined us.”

Armas is a former USMNT international and spent his playing career in MLS.

McKennie clears out locker, but destination unknown

27 Jan 2023 08:40 am, by Ellandback1

Good Morning. It’s Friday 27th January, and here are the latest headlines from Elland Road…

McKennie clears out locker, but destination unknown

Conflicting reports about Weston McKennie’s future, dominate the headlines (where it matters) this morning. The 24 year oold has been strongly linked with a £26m move to Elland Road this week. We know he has agreed personal terms and Orta has been locked in negotiations with the Juve hierarchy for several days ironing out the finer details. It would therefor come as no surprise, when waking up this morning to read that Leeds have bridged the gap with ‘the Old Lady’, McKennie has cleared out his locker, and the Elland Road medical team are on stand-by.

Things are rarely that straight forward for Leeds. Opposing the above story, several media outlets are suggesting that Arsenal are trying to hijack the deal, and have tabled a £26m bid of their own. The Gunners are an attractive proposition. They have extended their lead at the top the Premier League by five points, and have at least a game in hand over their competition. Not many players have the opportunity to win a Premier League title, and given the opportunity, McKennie would be stupid not to consider it.

Just to confuse Leeds fans even more, a third source are claiming that Leeds initial bid was lower than first claimed, and negotiations are progressing slowly. Gazzetta dello Sport now claim that Leeds have offered just £22m for McKennie, and have a way to go before reaching agreement with Juventus. Time is running out. We can understand Leeds don’t want to pay over the odds, I’m sure we all remember what happened with Cody Gakpo in the Summer.

US Men Lose 2-1 to Serbia, Sat on TNT vs Colombia 7:30 pm

I thought the youngsters really looked good tonight.  Brendon Vazquez was exquisite up top scoring the lone goal for the US, Zendejas showed why Mexico and the US are vying for his services as the Club America man had multiple opportunities up top.  I thought Morris was very good at the dmid slot.  Cade Cowell showed his pace and had fantastic delivery on the left wing (hitting the post twice).  I thought Jones was incredibly dangerous at the right back slot when he came in providing a # of great runs and good crosses in.  The US just couldn’t quite capitalize in the 2nd half but we certainly out possessed (63%), outshot (20-11) and completely dominated the 2nd half even if Serbia scored the lone 2nd half goal on stupid mistake by the 19 year Neal giving up the 2-1 loss.  Great to see 18 year old GK Gaga Slonina start in the net – he made a couple of nice saves including this  (What a Save by Gaga).  Brandon Vasquez Cincy FC Man Scored the lone US Goal.   I love that we started and played the youngsters tonight.

US Starter’s Wed Night  


Cowell //Zendejas  

Pomkykal //Sonora  


Gomez, Neal//Zimmerman //Gressel

Gaga Slonina

What a Save by Gaga Slonina 18 YO US Goalkeeper. Brandon Vasquez Cincy FC Man Scores.   

Ted Lasso’s Coach Beard in the house tonight Walker Zimmerman Pregame Warm-up Talk

Who was your Player of the Match? I chose Cade Cowell with 2 hit post and 2 spectacular crosses – though Vazsquez the goal scorer will win it.
Man I was really impressed with how this kid played. His interview after the game was also very impressive.
Grant Wahl has been named the Recipient of the 2023 Colin Jose Media Award. He dedicated his life to growing the game and left an indelible legacy on American soccer!
Gaga becomes the youngest GK to start for the US at 18 Year’s old.

CFC Goalkeepers Wed night 1/25 Badger Field House Facility is Closed due to Snow.

The Women’s World Cup Down-Under is less than 6 months away. My daughter is going – I am Jealous!

LeBron James x Liverpool: LA Lakers star reveals jersey in collab with Premier League giants

Jan 26, 2023

  • Chris WrightToe Poke writer
LeBron James has been a minority shareholder in Liverpool since 2011. Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James turned heads when he arrived for the Los Angeles Lakers‘ game against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday wearing what appeared to be a special-edition Liverpool jersey, designed in collaboration with the Premier League club.

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

A LeBron x Liverpool line was first teased in early 2020. On the same day Liverpool formally announced a major new kit deal with Nike, James posted on Instagram an image of a red embroidered Liverpool crest on the left and an enticing blank space (into which he tagged Nike) where another logo could be placed.

The prospect of a limited-edition Liverpool kit or clothing line was given added credence by James’ business partner, Maverick Carter, popping up in the comments to say: “x Reds coming soon.”


More recently, several leaked images had been circulated on social media of the custom jersey, which is expected to be officially revealed as part of a full LeBron x Liverpool collection next month.

The shirt, worn as LeBron arrived at the Crypto.com Arena for the Lakers’ 113-104 win, is predominantly black with thin red pinstripes and carries both the Liverpool club crest as well as LeBron’s own trademark “King James” logo displayed across the midriff.

The broad vertical stripes also feature a subtle repeating motif of the letters “YNWA” — shorthand for Liverpool’s famous club anthem and motto, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” — and “SFG,” representing James’ personal mantra: “Strive for greatness.”

The basketball superstar — who last week became the first player ever to have a 40-point game against all 30 NBA teams and is rapidly closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA points record — was also spotted rocking a fresh pair of teal Nike Air Max 1 sneakers. These are also likely to feature in his imminent LFC line, given that the vibrant colour is regularly used by the Merseyside outfit in their own kits and apparel.


LeBron has put his name to several Liverpool-inspired sneaker designs in recent months. The latest is the all-red LeBron 20 basketball shoes unveiled this week, which also bear the LFC crest embroidered on the heel.

James has been a minority shareholder in the Reds since 2011, when he bought a 2% stake in the club.

Since then, he has been spotted at several matches over the years, including the 2022 Champions League final, where the NBA legend watched Jurgen Klopp’s side lose to Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes in Paris — much to the joy of Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic.

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

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Earn Your Accredited College Degree at ½ the Cost and Time of Traditional Schools www.achievetestprep.com/shane

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online https://theoleballcoach.wordpress.com/
Proud Member of the Brick Yard Battalion – http://brickyardbattalion.com, Sam’s Army-http://sams-army.com , American Outlaws  https://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

1/26/23 US Men lose to Serbia 2-1, vs Colombia Sat 7 pm TNT, TV Games   

US Men Lose 2-1 to Serbia, Sat on TNT vs Colombia 7:30 pm

I thought the youngsters really looked good tonight.  Brendon Vazquez was exquisite up top scoring the lone goal for the US, Zendejas showed why Mexico and the US are vying for his services as the Club America man had multiple opportunities up top.  I thought Morris was very good at the dmid slot.  Cade Cowell showed his pace and had fantastic delivery on the left wing (hitting the post twice).  I thought Jones was incredibly dangerous at the right back slot when he came in providing a # of great runs and good crosses in.  The US just couldn’t quite capitalize in the 2nd half but we certainly out possessed (63%), outshot (20-11) and completely dominated the 2nd half even if Serbia scored the lone 2nd half goal on stupid mistake by the 19 year Neal giving up the 2-1 loss.  Great to see 18 year old GK Gaga Slonina start in the net – he made a couple of nice saves including this  (What a Save by Gaga).  Brandon Vasquez Cincy FC Man Scored the lone US Goal.   I love that we started and played the youngsters tonight.

US Starter’s Wed Night  


Cowell //Zendejas  

Pomkykal //Sonora  


Gomez, Neal//Zimmerman //Gressel

Gaga Slonina

What a Save by Gaga Slonina 18 YO US Goalkeeper. Brandon Vasquez Cincy FC Man Scores.   

Ted Lasso’s Coach Beard in the house tonight Walker Zimmerman Pregame Warm-up Talk

Who was your Player of the Match? I chose Cade Cowell with 2 hit post and 2 spectacular crosses – though Vazsquez the goal scorer will win it.
Man I was really impressed with how this kid played. His interview after the game was also very impressive.

Grant Wahl has been named the Recipient of the 2023 Colin Jose Media Award. He dedicated his life to growing the game and left an indelible legacy on American soccer!
Gaga becomes the youngest GK to start for the US at 18 Year’s old.

CFC Goalkeepers Wed night 1/25 Badger Field House Facility is Closed due to Snow.

US Men Tonight  10 pm vs Serbia on HBO Max, Sat on TNT 7:30 pm

The US Men will return to action tonight with a new bunch of young players on the roster.  This B/C line-up will be interesting to see especially as exciting newcomers like Paxton Aaronson (Brendan’s brother) formerly from Philly Union gets a start along with Paxton Pomykal in the midfield. Mexican-American center forward Alejandro Zendejas or Cincy’s 2022 revelation Brandon Vazquez should get the start up top with either Cade Cowell, or Emmanuel Sabbi on a wing.  I am hoping he goes young on the edges defensively with Gomez on the left and Vancouver’s Julian Gressel on the right side. We’ll probably have Aaron Long and Zimmerman in the middle though Sam Rogers or John Tolkin could get a start there alongside.  Either way a bunch of talent here from the former U20 Men’s National Team players.  Serbia is good – but like the US will not be bringing many A team starters.  It all kicks off at 9 pm tonight with a solid pregame show on HBO Max, Universo & Peacock the kickoff at 10 pm from LA and the 30 plus minute post game show after.   Sat night the game vs Colombia starts at 7:30 pm with a 6:30 pm pregame start.  In other US news – rumors have American midfielder Aaron McKinney headed to Elland Road to join Leed’s United States of America along with fellow American’s Brendan Aaronson, Tyler Adams and coach Jesse Marsch.  Also the controversial US winger Gio Reyna scored this game winner for Dortmund this past weekend and had an interesting celebration and he scored again today. I think its 1-1 tonight.

Shane’s Line-Up for Tonight


Cowell //Arriola

Pomkykal //Aaronson


Tolkin, Rogers //Zimmerman //Gressel

Johnson or Gaga

The full USMNT roster

Goalkeepers (3): Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati), Sean Johnson (free agent), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea)

Defenders (8): Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Aaron Long (LAFC), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)

Midfielders (6): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Alan Soñora (free agent), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers)

Forwards (7): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Alejandro Zendejas (Club América)

USWNT Wins 5-0  Down Under readies for She Believe’s Cup in 3 weeks

The US ladies dominated from start to finish on Friday night at they dominated New Zealand 5-0 in what could have been a name your score game.  US youngsters like Ashley Hatch, Veteran Rose Lavelle (WoM) lead the way with a brace but US Youngsters Ashley Hatch, and Taylor Kornieck scored along with of course Mallory Pugh now Swanson.  Sofia Huerta and Sanchez each added assists along with Lynn Williams and Rose Lavelle as the US completely dominated from start to finish.  Casey Murphy did start and goal and had a save on the night a Girma and Cook held down the middle of defense.  We’ll see who is added in Feb as the She Believe’s Cup gets underway in mid Feb.  full hightlighs) ???

Games to Watch

Of course the US vs Serbia tonight at 1o pm on HBO Max or Peacock leads the way, Madrid Derby in Copa Del Rey Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid at 3 pm on ESPN+, along with Nottingham Forest at Man United at 3 pm on ESPN+.  Friday we get Man City vs Arsenal (with American Matt Turner in Goal) in league cup action at 3 pm on ESPN+. The Weekend features FA Cup action all on ESPN plus including Wrexham (TV show) vs Sheffield United on Sun at 11 am, Lufton Town (Horvath) – Coach Juergen Sommer’s old club vs Grimsby Town at 10 am on Saturday along with Leeds United @ Accrington Stanley at 7:30 am.  

Carmel FC 2010 Boys is extending tryouts this winter for the Spring Season. 

Contact the Ole Ballcoach at shanebestsoccer@gmail.com if your son was born in 2010 or 2011 and interested in working out with us.

ANY CARMEL DAD’S CLUB PLAYERS & CARMEL FC PLAYERS : Winter Players League (WPL) – Badger Indoor FieldhouseREGISTRATION READY for Session Two (6 weeks): Feb 17th, 24th / Mar 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th
As the fall season comes to a close over the next month, we wanted to let you know that we will be launching an indoor soccer league over two six week sessions within our new Badger Fieldhouse. Games will be played on either Friday night ( 6pm to 10pm) or Sunday afternoon (1pm-5pm) depending on age groups: U8s, U9&U10, U11&U12, U13-U15 and U16+ (Coed Teams allowed). Referees for each game, 50 minute games, 5v5, 7v7 and 9v9 matches.

Register NOW, gather teammates and be ready to play! Visit: https://form.123formbuilder.com/6349623/winter-players-league-session-2-registration-form

It’s a SnowDay here in Carmel, IN – that means Snowman Day!! US Soccer Fan – Goalkeeper Snowman ready for tonight’s game


(American’s names in Parenthesis)

Weds, Jan 25

2:30 pm ESPN+                  WErder Bremen vs Union Berlin (Pfuk)

2:30 pm ESPN+                  Ausburg vs Mgladbach (Scally)

3 pm ESPN+                        Nottingham Forest vs Man United League Cup

3 pm ESPN+                        Barcelona vs Real Sociadad Copa Del Rey

10 pm HBO Max, Peacock            USA Men vs Serbia

Thur,  Jan 26

3 pm ESPN+                        Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid  Copa Del Rey

Fri, Jan 27

3 pm ESPN+                        Man City vs Arsenal League Cup

Sat, Jan 28                          

7:30 am ESPN+                  Leeds United (Adams, Aaronson) @ Accrington Stanley

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

9:30 am ESPN+                  Hertha vs Union Berlin (Pfuk)    

10 am ESPN+                      Lufton Town (Horvath) vs Grimsby Town  FA Cup

10 am ESPN+                      Fulham (Ream, Jedi) vs Sunderland

10 am ESPN+                      Bristol City vs West Brom (Dike)

12:30 pm ESPN+               Sevilla vs Elche

1  pm ESPN+                       Preston vs Spurs – FA Cup 

3 pm ESPN+                        Man United vs Reading FA Cup

7:30 p TNT                           USA Men vs Colombia

Sun, Jan 29                           

8:30 am ESPN+                  Brighton vs Livepool FC Cap 

11 am ESPN+              Wrexham vs Sheffield United FA cup

11:30 am ESPN+          Leverkusen vs Dortmund (Reyna)

2:45 pm beIN Sport         Reims vs PSG

Thu, Feb 16                         She Believes Cup

7 pm Fox Sports 1?          USWNT vs Canada

Sun, Feb 19                        

3:30 pm Fox                        USWNT vs Japan

Wed, Feb 22                     

7 pm FS1                              USWNT vs Brazil

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


The 13 U.S. debutants you need to know in January friendlies
Bill Connelly
USA kicks off 2026 World Cup journey amid in-fighting, uncertainty

Amid U.S. men’s soccer turmoil, Anthony Hudson tries to keep team on course
LA Times  
With Berhalter in limbo, US men begin camp under Hudson

Who is Anthony Hudson? What to know about USMNT’s interim manager

5 players to watch during USMNT’s January international friendlies

Giovanni Reyna scores outrageous winner in Bundesliga return (video)

Gio Reyna, amid USMNT drama, scores defiant goal in first game back from World Cup
Christian Pulisic wanted by AC Milan – Report

Jesse Marsch adds USMNT, RBNY alum Chris Armas as assistant coach


 10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 21
Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

Kane ignored illness to earn share of Spurs goal record

Harry Kane scores historic beauty as Tottenham wins scrap at Fulham

 Everton sack manager Frank Lampard after worst run of form in club’s history

Arsenal downs Manchester United in instant classic, and rings in a new Premier League era Bushnell Yahoo Soccer

 Arsenal silence doubters with statement win over Man Utd
‘Incredible’ Odegaard fulfils potential to fuel Arsenal title bid

Ten Hag says Man Utd must ‘change mentality’ after Arsenal defeat

Arsenal vs Manchester United player ratings out of 10

Guardiola hails ‘incredible’ hat-trick hero Haaland

Stalemate as Leeds frustrated by Brentford

Klopp sees small steps of Liverpool progress in Chelsea stalemate


Bayern held at RB Leipzig as Bundesliga returns with cold comfort
Depay joins Atletico Madrid from Barcelona

Juventus’ 15-point deduction and the ‘plusvalenza’ scandal, explained

The Women’s World Cup Down-Under is less than 6 months away. My daughter is going – I am Jealous!

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(mention the ole ballcoach) 

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

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

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USA vs. Serbia, 2023 friendly: What to watch for

It’s the first match of the year for the USMNT, with several fresh faces looking to shine. The United States Men’s National Team begin the calendar year when they step on the field tomorrow to take on Serbia in their first of two January Camp friendlies. The USMNT is using this camp to welcome several new players into the national team fold, with 11 players participating in their first national team camp. That includes several youngsters who could factor into the player pool for years to come. They’re taking on a Serbia team that they’ve only seen once before, which was January Camp 2017. The USMNT want to be aggressive in controlling the game and for each of these young players to show that they should be in the equation for USMNT rosters down the road. With Anthony Hudson assuming the coaching duties for this camp as U.S. Soccer evaluates its coaching candidates, we expect an intriguing matchup between these two teams.


Temporary USMNT head coach Anthony Hudson called in a 24-man roster for this camp:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati), Sean Johnson (Unattached), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea FC)

DEFENDERS (8): Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Aaron Long (LAFC), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Alan Soñora (Unattached), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers)

FORWARDS (7): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Alejandro Zendejas (Club America)

Latest Form


L (1-3) – Netherlands – 2022 World Cup Round of 16

W (1-0) – Iran – 2022 World Cup Group B

D (0-0) – England – 2022 World Cup Group B

D (1-1) – Wales – 2022 World Cup Group B

D (0-0) – Saudi Arabia – Friendly


L (2-3) – Switzerland – 2022 World Cup Group G

D (3-3) – Cameroon – 2022 World Cup Group G

L (0-2) – Brazil – 2022 World Cup Group G

W (5-1) – Bahrain – Friendly

W (2-0) – Norway – UEFA Nations League

What To Watch For

Establish possession. The midfield has consistently been the key for moving the ball forward in the USMNT’s favored 4-3-3, and a lot is asked of them. The first thing the midfield needs to do is establish possession and show they can hold it for long stretches as they slice through the Serbian defense.

Take your shot. This has a dual meaning, as the USMNT needs to put shots on frame. It’s been the biggest concern for our national team over the past year. However, for the several players who are in their first camp, it’s about using this opportunity to leave a lasting, positive impression.

The veterans need to lead. There are 5 World Cup veterans – along with Paul Arriola, who narrowly missed out on the World Cup – in this camp, and they need to be the guides for the rest of this young squad. It will only help the newcomers adjust to what’s happening on the field.

Lineup Prediction

With it being Anthony Hudson’s first match in charge of the USMNT, it’s unclear who he will be looking at or what his strategy will be. Because the team has mostly been in a 4-3-3 with 2 midfielders essentially playing as 8s, we will likely see this lineup start against Serbia:

Sean Johnson is the favorite to start in goal, with Jonathan Gomez at left back and Julian Gressel at right back. The centerback pairing that many fans are familiar with, Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman, returns to the back line.

In the middle, Kellyn Acosta operates as defensive midfielder, while Paxten Aaronson and Paxton Pomykal (this combo may need a nickname) will try to move the ball forward into attacking positions. Up front, Paul Arriola will occupy the right side, with Cade Cowell on the left wing. Brandon Vasquez will get the opportunity to see what he can do at the 9.


This should be an affair where both teams get on the board. Let’s call it a 1-1 draw.

5 players to watch during USMNT’s January international friendlies

Sanjesh Singh Mon, January 23, 2023 at 10:00 AM ESTIn this article:

5 players to watch during USMNT’s January friendlies originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The future is now.The United States men’s national team is gearing up for two international friendlies against Serbia and Colombia, but because it’s not recognized by FIFA on its international calendar, the Stars and Stripes’ marquee players abroad will not be involved.Instead, the USMNT will get the chance to analyze a new batch of youngsters as the 2026 FIFA World Cup cycle gets underway. Out of the 24 players called up to the roster, keep an eye on these five:

GK Gabriel Slonina

The USMNT’s No. 1 goalie has become 28-year-old Matt Turner, a former New England Revolution star who is now producing quality performances with Arsenal in a backup role. Developing young goalies has been an issue with the program, but there’s hope that Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina could be one for the future. The 18-year-old emerged for the Chicago Fire the last two seasons, leading to a $15 million transfer to Chelsea last summer (he stayed with Chicago for the remainder of the season on loan).This past season, the 6-foot-4 goalie logged 12 clean sheets in 32 games played and saved 64.6% of shots he faced, a solid rate for someone his age. He could be one to watch to make the 2026 World Cup roster.

LW Cade Cowell

You can never go wrong with deploying speedy wingers, especially those who are direct and want to take on defenders in one-on-one situations. Think Christian Pulisic, for example, the nation’s best winger. Whenever he collects the ball on the left flank, he’ll turn towards the goal and try to make a play with his right foot. That’s essentially the mold Cade Cowell has.The 19-year-old forward is starting to become a pivotal player for the San Jose Earthquakes and has been rumored for a potential move to Europe soon. What makes him enticing? He’s already six-foot tall and weighs over 170 pounds. Combine that with his blazing speed and there’s a unique profile in him that’s rare to find. It’s possible that with his build, he’ll eventually convert to a center-forward. But for now, refining his skills out wide and improving his final product is key. Anytime he has the ball, he’ll get you on your feet. January could be a crucial turning point in his development, especially considering his Mexican background could’ve seen him represent El Tri instead. 

CAM Paxten Aaronson

If this last name sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Paxten Aaronson is the younger brother of Brenden Aaronson, who broke out with the USMNT last year thanks to his impressive play upon moving to Leeds United of the English Premier League.Paxten still has a long way to go to crack the main core of the U.S., but he recently moved from Philadelphia Union to Eintracht Frankfurt of the Bundesliga, a club that has a knack for polishing and growing under-the-radar youngsters.

The 19-year-old usually plays in a central attacking midfield role and is currently touted for his playmaking abilities. At 5-foot-9 and 139 pounds, Aaronson definitely has some bulking up to do, and figuring out his long-term position is another crucial step. The decline of pure No. 10s means he’ll need to sort out if he’s a winger, false nine or a box-to-box midfielder, which is a similar identity crisis Brenden is still undergoing.

#9 Brandon Vázquez

The USMNT’s striker woes going into Qatar were a hot concern, and it has stayed that way afterward following their lack of goals scored. But maybe Brandon Vázquez can break that trend. Vázquez of FC Cincinnati is coming off the season of his life. The 24-year-old bagged 18 goals and eight assists in 33 appearances last season, playing a massive role in the team’s run to the postseason. He’s a classic No. 9, a relentless finisher inside the box. He ranked in the 90th percentile in non-penalty goals and 89th in non-penalty expected goals, per Football Reference, compared to other forwards outside of the world’s top-five leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France). If his teammates can feed him in dangerous areas, the goal-assist output should follow.

LB John Tolkin

Antonee Robinson’s health status going into Qatar was a genuine worry for the USMNT because the left flank looked much less dynamic without his energetic overlapping runs to support the attack. Beyond him, the U.S. didn’t have the same level at left back. John Tolkin could change that. The 20-year-old left back with the New York Red Bulls put up another solid season under more playing time. In 31 games, he helped offensively with one goal and three assists with his runs into the final third, and ranked in the 83rd percentile in shot-creating actions, per Football Reference. Defensively, he ranked 99th in interceptions and 92nd in tackles, with his versatility allowing him to also line up as a wingback or defensive midfielder. It’s an intriguing profile if he continues his upward trajectory, and maybe we could be treated to Cowell and Tolkin both playing simultaneously on the left flank. Let’s see if any of these five players can show flashes of becoming vital international figures going forward.

U.S. could hand out 13 debuts in friendlies vs. Serbia, Colombia: The new names you need to know

4:29 PM ET

  • Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer
  • There’s no such thing as a meaningless, consequence-free national team match. It remains an honor for the players involved, there are a few FIFA ratings points on the line and have you seen Twitter during a U.S. men’s national team match? The existential dread gets all over the furniture even in the most mundane of settings.That said, the coming friendlies for the men’s national team — against Serbia in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, and Colombia in Carson, California, on Saturday evening — are as close to consequence-free as it gets.


It’s a long time until the next World Cup, only two players on the 24-man roster belong to a club in Europe’s major leagues (Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina and Paxten Aaronson, whose respective journeys with Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt are only beginning), and only five players were on the U.S. roster in the recent World Cup in Qatar. The roster is made up primarily of players with MLS and Scandinavian clubs, and neither Serbia nor Colombia are bringing their respective A-teams to town either. Oh yeah, and the U.S. doesn’t have a manager at the moment. Maybe you’ve heard?

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

Still, the friendlies are opportunities to watch some intriguing, younger players making their national team debuts and attempting to leave an impression for later. With respect to both veteran stalwarts like Walker ZimmermanKellyn Acosta and Paul Arriola, and younger players looking to make their second appearances in a U.S. shirt (Cade CowellJonathan GomezPaxton Pomykal), let’s focus on the debutants.

Thirteen of them are seeking their first caps in the coming days; let’s welcome them to the party. (Note: Within each position group, the players have been “ranked” in order of my own personal excitement/curiosity level.)


Brandon Vazquez

  • Position: Center-forward
  • Club team: FC Cincinnati (Major League Soccer)
  • Age: 24

When the camp invitations were announced last week, you could almost hear a chorus of American fans yelling “FINALLY!” in unison. Even with the U.S. struggling at the No. 9 position last year, Berhalter didn’t seem to give Vazquez, 2022’s breakout star in MLS, much of a look.

A late bloomer of sorts, the 24-year old scored 19 goals for FC Cincinnati, and while he strikes a profile similar to many American forwards — solid shot quality, iffy shot quantity, only a little involved from a passing standpoint — he’s been more proficient at that style than anyone else in the player pool of late. He’s 6-foot-2 and solid in the air (six of his 19 goals were headers, including two from set pieces), and after flirting with the idea of accepting an invitation to the Mexican national team if it came about, he finally gets his shot with the U.S.https://www.youtube.com/embed/qDeXUml-3Os?wmode=transparent

Vazquez might be too old to be considered a genuine prospect, but he’s only now entering his prime and could command both a larger role with the national team and a role with a European club in the years to come.

Alejandro Zendejas

  • Position: Right-wing
  • Club team: Club America (Mexico‘s Liga MX)
  • Age: 25

To date, Zendejas’ story has been punctuated by controversy. After making more than 30 appearances for U.S. junior teams, the El Paso-via-Juarez native made two appearances for Mexico in friendlies without filing for the requisite one-time switch. Mexico was recently fined and ordered to forfeit those two friendlies (no great loss, but still), and now it appears Zendejas is filing for a one-time switch back to the U.S. to make it worse.

It’s a muddy story, but Zendejas brings a bold presence to the national team. He has scored eight goals in 22 Liga MX appearances for Club America this season, and six of them have come from at least 13 meters out. He prowls the edge of the box, searches out dangerous opportunities — he’s got three assists from 27 chances created, and he’s drawn 49 fouls — and, if there’s an opening, launches one at the net.

The U.S. have loads of options on the wings, and many of them are younger than Zendejas. But he has blossomed over the past two seasons — he’s now got 19 goals and five assists since the start of 2021-22 — and he has a major opportunity to make an impression this week.

Emmanuel Sabbi

  • Position: Center-forward/right-winger
  • Club team: Odense (Denmark‘s Superliga)
  • Age: 24

His parents are from Ghana. He was born in Italy. He grew up in Ohio. He signed a youth contract in Spain. He has made his professional mark in Denmark.

Sabbi’s backstory is dizzying, but he has slowly crafted a solid portfolio. With first Hobro and then Odense, he has scored 23 goals with nine assists over about 98 90s in Denmark. He missed quite a bit of time because of injury in 2022 but returned to score twice and record two assists in just four matches in the fall. (The Danish Superliga halts play in mid-November and resumes in late February.)

Sabbi’s a bit of a tweener; he’s strong enough to play forward even though he’s only 5-foot-10, and he’s a good enough passer to play on the wing, but he might not quite boast the speed of others in the player pool. He’s intriguing all the same. And if or when he steps onto the field in California, he would become the 10th player from the American 2017 U-20 World Cup team to earn a cap.


Paxten Aaronson

  • Position: Attacking midfielder
  • Club team: Eintracht Frankfurt (German Bundesliga)
  • Age: 19

With his combination of intensity and creativity, Brenden Aaronson, 22, earned both a steady role within Berhalter’s squad and made his Premier League and World Cup debuts over the last year. His little brother might somehow be more frantic, more bold and more creative.

In 450 minutes with the Philadelphia Union last year, mostly as a super-sub, Aaronson scored once and created five chances, but most of his work was done in pushing the ball into dangerous areas. He was a pressures machine, he completed 83% of his passes into the attacking third, and he made 63 combined progressive passes and carries — about 12.6 per 90 minutes. He’s a busybody, and he joins an Eintracht club who are both interesting and optimistic in attack.

It’s an exciting fit, but before he can make his Bundesliga debut, he will make his national team debut.

Alan Sonora

  • Position: Central midfield
  • Club team: Unattached/free agent
  • Age: 24

The “FINALLY!” chorus might not have been as loud about this one, but … finally! I have been personally curious about Sonora — the younger brother of another national team candidate, Joel — for a while. He might be the best free-kick taker in the U.S. player pool, and he’s a first-team member of the Try Stuff All-Stars.

Over the past two seasons with Argentina‘s Independiente, Sonora scored 10 goals with six assists from 63 chances created in league and Copa Sudamericana play. In nine shot attempts from direct free kicks, he put four on target and scored twice, from distances of 20 and 28 meters. He wasn’t asked to contribute much from the perspective of ball pressure, which makes him very much unlike the current first-choice U.S. midfielders, but he makes things happen, and he finally gets a chance to impress. (He might join an MLS team soon, too.)

Aidan Morris

  • Position: Defensive midfield
  • Club team: Columbus Crew (Major League Soccer)
  • Age: 21

Granted, he’s only 2½ years younger than Tyler Adams, but if you’re looking for a candidate to profile as the next Adams, Morris might be your guy. The Crew member turned 21 in November, and while he played an attacking role at times, he was mostly asked to cover massive ground, Adams-style, from a defensive midfield role.

He averaged about 6.0 ball recoveries and 12.3 defensive interventions per 90 in 2022 while completing 88% of his passes (89% in the attacking third) and creating 13 chances. Obviously the Adams role in the U.S. starting XI will be filled by Adams, when healthy, for the foreseeable future. However, Morris checks a lot of boxes and could end up playing a major role when Adams is unavailable.


John Tolkin

The U.S. is loaded with exciting young fullbacks. Incumbents Antonee Robinson (25) and Sergino Dest (22) are only beginning to approach their prime, Borussia Monchengladbach‘s Joe Scally (20) should force his way into the next manager’s plans, and Arminia Bielefeld’s George Bello (21) has already made seven caps. But it might not be not too late for Tolkin to carve out a niche, too.

The Jersey-born Red Bull was a calming presence for a frantic team, averaging both 1.3 chances created and 13.3 defensive interventions per 90. He ended up with a goal and three assists, and the CIES Football Observatory just named him the most promising defensive left back in the game. Not bad.

DeJuan Jones

A bit of a latecomer to the national scene, Jones has done everything he can to make up for lost time. After a full four seasons at Michigan State, he aced the MLS combine ahead of the 2019 SuperDraft and was picked 11th overall at age 21. He recorded nearly 1,400 minutes in his rookie season, and his minutes have increased every year since.

Playing mostly on the left for the Revolution, he has scored four goals with 12 assists from 81 chances created over the past two seasons, and while his defensive numbers aren’t quite as strong as some of his peers — he’s more Raphael Guerreiro than Reece James at full-back/wing-back — his speed is noteworthy. And his versatility could make him attractive to the next U.S. manager, whatever style said manager attempts to establish.https://www.youtube.com/embed/NQ0kZa7KfVI?wmode=transparent

Jalen Neal

  • Position: Center-back
  • Club team: Los Angeles Galaxy (Major League Soccer)
  • Age: 19

Neal’s camp invitation was perhaps a bit of a reach considering he has played only four minutes for the Galaxy’s senior team, but he has been allowed to develop slowly for the Galaxy II team in the USL Championship. Despite his age and the general maturity requirements of the position, he has thrived.

Over three seasons and nearly 4,000 minutes, he has won 59% of his duels and 62% of aerials, and his passing numbers have been strong for the position. He’s 6-foot-3 with broad shoulders, though his 170-pound frame could hold a bit more weight. Regardless, his potential is blindingly obvious, and his invitation is an acknowledgment of that.

Sam Rogers

  • Position: Center-back
  • Club team: Rosenborg (Norway’s Eliteserien)
  • Age: 23

Like Sabbi, Rogers is a fun addition from the Scandinavian leagues. A product of the Seattle Sounders academy and the Tacoma Defiance, the 6-foot-3 Rogers played for the U.S. in the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and ended up on loan with second-division Norwegian club HamKam in 2021. After HamKam earned promotion, manager Kjetil Rekdal took the job at Norwegian heavyweight Rosenborg and brought Rogers along.

Rogers has blossomed in Trondheim, bringing both defensive intensity and solid passing to the table. The U.S. have a lot of high-potential center-backs around Rogers’ age — among others, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Miles Robinson are both only 25 — but his development has clearly been noticed.

Julian Gressel

The German-born veteran began his youth career with Greuther Furth in the German Bundesliga, but he elected to take an American path to the pros: He came to the U.S., played for Providence in college and has now played important roles for Atlanta United (2017-19), D.C. United (2020-21) and Vancouver (2022). He earned his American citizenship in November, and though he might be running a bit late in his trajectory — he’ll be 32 at the next World Cup — he gets a chance to make an impression.

Gressel is a safe defender who can play as either a right-back or in more of a wing-back role, and he pasted together a unicorn of a stat line for Vancouver last season: He was one of only 17 MLS players to produce at least two goals, nine assists, 140 progressive passes and 140 progressive carries. Of the 17, he was the only one with more than 290 defensive interventions. He was everywhere.


Gaga Slonina

  • Club team: Chelsea (English Premier League)
  • Age: 18

Roman Celentano

  • Club team: FC Cincinnati (Major League Soccer)
  • Age: 22

The three goalkeepers Gregg Berhalter took to Qatar in November will turn 37 (Sean Johnson), 32 (Matt Turner) and 31 (Ethan Horvath) either right before or during the 2026 World Cup. Zack Steffen, with his 29 U.S. caps, will turn 31, too. Obviously goalkeepers age more gracefully than other players, but now’s a good time for the next generation of U.S. keepers to present itself.

Johnson was invited to January camp, but the two other keepers, Slonina and Celentano, are particularly intriguing. A former Indiana Hoosier, Celentano was solid for FC Cincinnati as a rookie in 2022, but Slonina, nearly four years his junior, has made more MLS appearances (34 for the Chicago Fire), earned a $10 million transfer to Chelsea and doesn’t turn 19 until May.

Slonina’s huge (6-foot-4) and aggressive, and while you don’t want your keeper having to make too many athletic, big-time saves, he’s more than capable.

He will turn 22 right before the 2026 World Cup, and one assumes that of any debutant on this list, he is the most likely to be a part of the U.S. roster when the World Cup rolls around. Matt Turner performed well in Qatar and earned his own big-club transfer (to Arsenal) recently, but Slonina will get a chance to displace him in the years to come.

United States team not in ‘nice situation’ ahead of friendlies – Anthony Hudson

6:09 PM ETKyle BonaguraESPN Staff Writer

But, Hudson said, that’s professional sports. Adversity comes with the territory and it’s up to him and the blend of mostly high-potential young players and World Cup veterans to make the most of its annual January camp and a pair of friendlies against Serbia and Colombia on Jan. 25 and 28, respectively.”it’s been a dream for so many of them — so many of us, but mainly the players,” said Hudson, who was on Berhalter’s staff as an assistant in Qatar. “They set out with a big, lofty ambition, not just to go [to the World Cup], but to go there and represent themselves in a way that people would sit up and take notice of the team.””So when all this happened, I think it was [a feeling] of shame. It’s sadness because all the attention has gone away from that. All the good work and it’s been shifted in another direction.”Until U.S. Soccer hires a permanent coach, it will be difficult for everyone to move on completely without acknowledging the state of flux. Especially with an ongoing external investigation into a 1991 domestic violence alternation involving Berhalter, which was brought to the attention of USSF general manager Earnie Stewart by Danielle Reyna, the mother of star winger Giovanni Reyna.

“I’ve said yes to doing it for now and then my next huge responsibility is to the players,” Hudson said. “Because we can’t get all our players from overseas because they’re not available, historically, this camp opens up a space for new players to come in.

“We’ve seen there’s 30-odd plus players that have made their first or second cap in this window in the past and gone on to represent [us] in the World Cup.”Among the players that could fit that profile is goalkeeper Gaga Slonina. The 18-year-old recently completely a move to Chelsea from the Chicago Fire FC and has pledged his international future to the U.S. despite being eligible for Poland, where both his parents are from.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Slonina said. “I’m using this opportunity to show what I can do as a player for the national team, I think that’s very important. The move has been great. The training and level there is something that I think every player dreams of.

“Coming out here and showing what I’ve learned out there for the short time I’ve been there, I think that’s something I can use to my advantage.”

Slonina is one of the few European-based players that received club approval to take part in this camp, which is not in a designated FIFA international window.

“[Chelsea is] super proud,” Slonina said. “A club like that, I think, gives you the most resources to be successful. When you get an opportunity like this, yeah, they’re super happy. Told me to enjoy the moment and hopefully get my first cap with the national team.”

Hudson said the group was designed to blend high-potential, Olympic-age players with dual nationals and players with World Cup experience. The idea being the Qatar veterans — Walker ZimmermanKellyn AcostaDeAndre YedlinAaron LongSean Johnson and Jesus Ferreira — would be able to take on larger leadership roles and impart the developed culture with the new faces.

“They’ve responded really, really well as I’d expect them,” Hudson said. “I mean, that’s why we chose them to come in because we know the character of these guys.”

Following the two games, Hudson doesn’t have a clear expectation for what’s next for the team or himself.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I think we play these two games and I’m going to go home and see what comes after that.”

Zendejas’s inclusion in U.S. January camp all the more reason to be excited by fresh-faced call-ups

Jan 23, 2023 ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle & Kyle Bonagura

Every January, the turn of the year ushers in immense optimism for a brighter tomorrow, that this year will be the year. That’s especially true for the U.S. men’s national team, which calls up a predominantly MLS-based squad of young players and promising prospects to get their first taste of life with the senior national team.

This year’s roster is full of fresh faces, names that will get fans and analysts alike excited about what’s to come. Monday marks the beginning of a week in which the USMNT will play a pair of friendlies — Wednesday against Serbia, Saturday against Colombia — that will allow us our first proper look at many of them.

So, without a full-time manager — assistant Anthony Hudson takes the reins with Gregg Berhalter out of contract and no decision yet made whether he’ll be offered a new deal or will be replaced on the road to the 2026 World Cup on home soil — ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Kyle Bonagura sat down to discuss what they’re most excited about this week in Los Angeles.

Carlisle: Invariably, at least one or two players emerge from every January camp and prove they deserve a bigger role. I was looking at Dave Sarachan’s roster in 2018, and Walker Zimmerman was in there. Tyler Adams was in there, too. Each had only one cap at the time they were brought in, so you never know which players are going to develop and make the most of their opportunity. Obviously, big things were predicted for Adams, but Zimmerman was one of a handful of defenders whose potential was really unpredictable.

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

Bonagura: There’s always some value in the January camps for those reasons, but the dynamics here are much different than we’ve seen in several years. When Sarachan was the interim coach, the roster was essentially in need of a complete reset, so it was helpful to hand opportunities to younger players who were in line for important roles. The competition to earn a meaningful role this cycle will be much more difficult, and without a full-time coach in place, any sort of positive impression a young player makes in the camp won’t carry over.

At the same time, though, anytime you can see these up-and-coming guys together on the same field, it’s going to carry some level of intrigue. Brandon Vazquez is a guy that many fans thought should make the World Cup team after such a good year with FC Cincinnati. So for a player like him who has a real chance to work his way into the mix as a potential contributor in this cycle, I think it’s a great opportunity to get a taste for this type of environment.

Carlisle: I would add that just as guys can rise up, guys can fall, too. When a John O’Brien comes out of a 2002 World Cup, you’re expecting him to be a mainstay for the next decade. It didn’t work out that way. Stu Holden was another such example; the injury bug just crushed his career. The team that was just at the World Cup is young and talented, and it seems like for some of them, the ceiling is really exciting, but it’s not guaranteed.

Bonagura: That’s kind of why it’s worth paying attention, right? Because the team is in a place now where it’s trying to build and establish quality depth.

The most talked-about call-up in this camp is Club America attacker and Mexican-American Alejandro Zendejas. What makes him special, and what can we expect from him when the USMNT already has so many talented attacking options?


Carlisle: For me, it’s his end product, which has been a problem for the U.S. as we saw at the World Cup. For every player that is engaged in a tug of war between the U.S. and Mexico, it doesn’t always end up being as big of a deal as it seemed at the time, but he has been a contributor for one of the biggest teams in Mexico. America is a huge club that gets a lot of attention, and with that comes a lot of pressure and expectation.

However, this whole camp is less than ideal because it’s not nearly as long as some of the other camps. Zendejas jetted in after a sensational performance in his Liga MX game against Puebla on Saturday, is expected to play against Serbia on Wednesday, and then then he’ll go back to Mexico City. So it’s going be a brief glimpse, but they wouldn’t be bringing him in, in that manner, if he wasn’t going to play. Given the attention that’s been put on Zendejas, it’ll be fascinating the extent to which he delivers on those expectations.

Could he make some headway with the full group? We’ll see how much he’s able to challenge guys for playing time, but as much as the U.S. had depth in the wing positions, at least during qualifying, they also sustained a lot of injuries. Christian Pulisic missed time. Giovanni Reyna missed time. I still think Brenden Aaronson‘s best position is still up in the air. I don’t think you can have too many options in attack.

Bonagura: You can’t have too many of those guys, especially considering the U.S. wingers don’t have a great track record with injuries. I think the other interesting part to consider here is that we don’t know how the next manager is going to want to set up the team. We’re kind of conditioned to view everything through the 4-3-3 that they’ve been using under Berhalter, but who’s to say that the next manager doesn’t change that up? And as a result, the player profiles are different and they’re slotting on the field in different ways.

Until we have an understanding of what the U.S. will look like tactically, all of these questions don’t really have firm answers.

Apart from Zendejas, which other debutantes are you most excited to see get a taste of the senior international game?

Bonagura: Vazquez and Zendejas are probably the names that have the broadest interest, but there are several players I’m looking forward to seeing.

When you look at the depth chart of the U.S., there’s not really a clear backup option for Adams at defensive midfield — he’s so clearly ahead of anyone else who plays that position. So from that standpoint, I’m curious to see if Aidan Morris can work his way into that conversation. He looked so good coming up and had the injury setback, so this will be a good opportunity for him.https://www.youtube.com/embed/Trq1Kuat-vY?wmode=transparent

Then I think Julian Gressel is an interesting name to see on this list, just because of the backstory there. The fact that the German-born wide midfielder has been one of the better players in MLS for a long time now, was able to get citizenship and is now qualified to represent the United States through that process at 29 years old makes for a cool story.

Carlisle: Another name I’d throw in there is Eryk Williamson. He’s had a few extended looks under Berhalter, but obviously an injury kind of sidetracked him a bit. Now he’s back.

There was a lot of love directed towards the midfield trio of Adams, Musah and Weston McKennie during the World Cup, but I think there’s a concern in that group that there’s not enough quality on the ball. Williamson is a guy who I think provides enough on the defensive end, and when combined with his offensive ability, is a guy to watch to see if he can move up this cycle.

And then a total flyer is Sam Rogers. This is a guy who the Seattle Sounders flat out told wasn’t tough enough, wasn’t physical enough. So he took a path through the USL, and then he landed in Norway. He logged a lot of minutes last year for Rosenborg, which is one of the biggest clubs in Norway, and scored six goals as a center-back along the way. And that’s just in 23 appearances.

It’s difficult to judge whether he’ll see the field with Zimmerman and Aaron Long in camp, but I think Rogers is an interesting prospect, and we’ll see whether he’s able to parlay his time in Norway into a move to a bigger league.

Gabriel Slonina and Paxten Aaronson are both in this team, having just joined clubs in Europe this month. Would they have been better served by remaining with Chelsea and Eintracht Frankfurt, respectively, and getting settled in to their new homes?

Carlisle: This is kind of where all January camps are not created equal. This is a much shorter timeframe. It used to be for the whole month of January whereas this year, camp started on Saturday and the final game will be seven days later. So I don’t think that it’s necessarily going to take a huge bite out of Aaronson’s time with Frankfurt.

And all of this gets done with the club’s blessing. They didn’t have to release him. If they wanted him to stay, they could have put their foot down. I think in their minds, it’s probably a situation where maybe he gets a competitive game or two that he otherwise wouldn’t have gotten with his club.

For Slonina, I think it’s a no-brainer. We’ll see if he plays because Sean Johnson is there as well, but I think for Slonina’s position and where he sits in the Chelsea hierarchy, I think it makes a ton of sense because he could get a competitive game or some competitive minutes he wouldn’t get with Chelsea.

Bonagura: In that similar vein, it’s interesting to see Matthew Hoppe‘s name on this list, too, because his career path over the past few years has been bizarre.

He kind of unexpectedly rises up in Germany, scores that hat trick with Schalke 04 that gets everyone really excited, moves to Spain, then moves to the Championship in England — where he’s played six games for the first team and five for the reserves — and now he’s in a January camp in the middle of a season. That’s not the trajectory anyone would have liked for him.

It also doesn’t feel like a great sign that that Middlesborough released him in the middle of their season — more so than the other guys that have just joined up with their clubs. And I thought he was impressive in the Gold Cup. He hasn’t been able to capitalize on that at all.

What are your expectations from these Serbia and Colombia teams, who also won’t have several of their first-team regulars?

Carlisle: These will be competitive games for this group of U.S. players. No one’s really expecting Serbia and Colombia to bring anything close to their first teams, but it’ll still be a good challenge for this group. For the players that are on the current roster, it’ll give them a different look.

Another thing I’m pleased about is that it wasn’t some run-of-the-mill CONCACAF opposition that got scheduled. Stylistically, it’s going to take these guys out of their comfort zone a little bit. I think that’s a positive.

Bonagura: I think the other positive about the January environment, generally speaking, is that because the other countries have the same scheduling issues as the U.S. team does, they also feature younger players looking to make an impression on their coach. We’ve seen full-team friendlies before where it feels like guys are going through the motions; at least here, you would expect the energy and effort level from other teams to be high. That doesn’t mean it will allow for much clean soccer, but it’s something.

USA vs. Serbia, 2023 Friendly: Scouting Serbia

The new cycle starts with a match against a European opponent.

By Brendan Joseph  Jan 23, 2023, 6:02am PST  

MLS: Chicago Fire at New England Revolution

Due to the unique schedule of the recent World Cup, the road to 2026 has an unconventional start during the traditional January camp. Temporary head coach Anthony Hudson takes charge of the somewhat inexperienced crop of players hoping to impress and get a jump ahead of a busy schedule for the United States Men’s National Team. The first opponent is Serbia, which is embarking on a mini-tour that will be capped off by a friendly against Mexico. The fixture is set for the recently renamed BMO Stadium, a 22,000-seat venue located in the Exposition Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

This is the second all-time meeting between the two nations, the previous result a scoreless draw in January of 2017. Ranked 21st in the FIFA World Rankings, Serbia reached the 2022 World Cup by finishing atop UEFA’s Group A with an undefeated 6-0-2 record that included victories over Portugal and Ireland. In Qatar, the Оrlovi (Eagles) landed at the bottom of Group G with one point, losing to Brazil (2-0), drawing with Cameroon (3-3), and falling to Switzerland (3-2).

Dragan Stojković was appointed to the manager role in March of 2021, weeks ahead of the start of the previous World Cup campaign. He enjoyed a long playing career and is considered one of the top players in Red Star Belgrade’s history. Following retirement, the Niš native worked as an executive before heading into coaching, enjoying long tenures at Nagoya Grampus and Guangzhou R&F (now known as Guangzhou City F.C.). His current contract reportedly lasts through the rest of the year, with extension likely influenced by the performance in upcoming Euro 2024 qualifying.

: | SQUAD LIST pic.twitter.com/5I92AVbLjE— Fudbalski savez Srbije | FA of Serbia (@FSSrbije) January 11, 2023

For the friendlies scheduled outside of an international window, Stojković named a highly-inexperienced 17-player roster. With fewer than ten combined caps among the group, several young talents are expected to make their senior debuts. Six clubs from the domestic Serbian SuperLiga provide 14 call-ups, while Major League Soccer is home to the other three inclusions.



GOALKEEPERS (2): Đorđe Petrović (New England Revolution), Dragan Rosić (Radnički Niš)

DEFENDERS (5): Ranko Veselinović (Vancouver Whitecaps), Nemanja Petrović (TSC Bačka Topola), Marko Mijailović (Voždovac), Nemanja Stojić (TSC Bačka Topola), Filip Damjanović (Voždovac)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Veljko Simić (Vojvodina), Luka Ilić (TSC Bačka Topola), Mirko Topić (Vojvodina), Luka Bijelović (Spartak Subotica), Marko Ivezić (Voždovac), Vladimir Lučić (Čukarički), Miloš Pantović (Voždovac), Nikola Petković (Čukarički)

FORWARDS (2): Dejan Joveljić (LA Galaxy), Nikola Štulić (Radnički Niš)


Stojković typically deploys a 3-5-2 formation, although the seemingly thrown-together nature of the roster could force alterations. Serbia tends to maintain possession and play more passes than the opponent, incrementally moving the ball up the field through the wings. The team can be expected to create more opportunities and win more 50/50 battles than the opponent. Totally Football Analysis notes that “the tactics demand a certain level of consistent energy,” manifesting in forcing turnovers with interceptions.

Projected Serbia Starting XI (via BuildLineup.com)

Đorđe (Djordje) Petrović should receive the start at goalkeeper, having already enjoyed his senior debut in a friendly against the Dominican Republic. After moving over from FK Čukarički last April, the 23-year-old made 23 appearances for the New England Revolution, earning team MVP honors and signing a three-year contract extension. Standing at 6’4”, he emerged as one of MLS’ top shot-stoppers and is active when coming off his line to handle crosses. His first instinct is to throw the ball, attempting to quickly move into the counter-attack.

One of the centre-back spots is likely to be occupied by Ranko Veselinović, who is entering his fourth season with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The 23-year-old has a natural affinity for clearing out the ball in a variety of ways while also making the correct decisions in the build-up. Nemanja Stojić of TSC Bačka Topola plays an error-free game and is a strong aerial presence. His long, driven passes, while occasionally speculative, find wingers and spark the counter-attack. Voždovac’s Marko Mijailović can play the hybrid third role, experienced on both the inside and outside of the defensive line. He does some of his best work on the ground, whether distributing tackles or throwing his body in the way of incoming shots.


Nemanja Petrović patrols the wing, providing two-way energy up and down the touch-line. He is always looking to facilitate teammates, whether aiding in possession or pushing into the final third to hit a cross. While normally on the left wing of the formation, Miloš Pantović lined up on the other side when competing with the Serbia U-21 team during Euro qualifiers. The Voždovac attacker has scored six goals this season but is still willing to track back and get involved in the defensive third.

Luka Ilić (23, CAM) with 2 goals tonight. Once upon a time signed by Man City alongside his brother, Ivan (Verona)

Had a hard fall from grace. Eredivisie, Ligue 1, back to the SuperLiga. But look at this goal. Magical touch.

Talent was never the issue..pic.twitter.com/Br6lBtsxB5— Serbian Football Scout (@SerbFootyScout) October 8, 2022

At 6’3”, defensive midfielder Marko Ivezić has the size to drop deep and provide additional coverage on the back line. He plants himself ahead of the box, waiting for the right moment to step to an attacker and dispense an aggressive challenge. The other half of the deeper pairing is likely to be Mirko Topić, another tall and rangy shutdown player. His ability to cover ground is particularly useful when tracking to the side of the field to overwhelm wingers. Following moves to Manchester City and Troyes, Luka Ilić is attempting to refocus his career while on loan at TSC. The 23-year-old can put the ball on a dime and is devastatingly clever when darting his way through opponents, while also being capable of whipping in a left-footed shot from distance. One of the squad’s relative veterans, the speedy Veljko Simić, could also feature, providing a willingness to take on opponents from an advanced position. Six goals, mostly opportunistic poaches, have him atop FK Vojvodina’s scoring chart.


Dejan Joveljić, an inside-outside attacker born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, should be one of the strikers at the top of the formation. He’s spent the last two seasons with the LA Galaxy and contributed 15 goals in 38 total appearances last year. His speed is useful in disrupting opposing defense, which is balanced by strong passing. The likely partner is Nikola Štulić, who is enjoying a strong season in the domestic league with Radnički Niš, finding the back of the net 12 times. The 21-year-old target player operates centrally and buzzes around the box, looking to be played in by teammates or pounce on a rebound.

Both nations come into this friendly with inexperienced rosters, although, on paper, the USMNT has a substantially stronger squad. January friendlies are usually a bit slower and stodgier as the lack of chemistry manifests in just enough miscommunication to disrupt the fluid nature of the sport’s timing. The hosts are expected to win, but the margin of victory is difficult to predict.

The match is scheduled for Wednesday, January 25th at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific. Viewing options include HBO Max, Peacock, Universo, and FUBO TV (free trial).

USMNT midweek viewing guide: Bundesliga bonanza

A slew of Americans with games in Germany’s top tier this midweek.


  • Mainz v Borussia Dortmund, 12:30p on ESPN+ (free trial): Gio Reyna and BVB face Mainz on the road in the Bundesliga.
  • Augsburg v M’gladbach, 2:30p on ESPN+: Joe Scally and Gladbach face Ricardo Pepi’s parent club in the Bundesliga.
  • USMNT v Serbia, 10p on Peacock, Universo, fuboTV (free trial): The January version of the USMNT plays the first game since the World Cup defeat to the Netherlands. (friendly)

Also in action:

  • Go Ahead Eagles v AZ Alkmaar, 12:45p on ESPN+: Djordje Mihailovic looks to continue his strong start with AZ in the Eredivisie.
  • Freiburg v Eintracht Frankfurt, 2:30p on ESPN+: Paxten Aaronson is with the USMNT, but fellow American Timmy Chandler is with Frankfurt for this Bundesliga game.
  • Werder Bremen v Union Berlin, 2:30p on ESPN+: Jordan Pefok and Union travel to meet Bremen in the Bundesliga. 19-year-old Canadian-American winger Ronan Kratt recently joined Bremen on loan, but so far has made just 1 appearance for their reserves.
  • Utrecht v Excelsior, 3p: Taylor Booth and Utrecht are at home in the Eredivisie.
  • Avenida v Internacional, 5p on SPO International: Johnny Cardoso and Internacional meet Avenida in Brazilian action.


  • Groningen v Cambuur, 12:45p: Ricardo Pepi and Groningen meet Cambuur in the Eredivisie.
  • Valencia v Athletic Club, 2p on ESPN+: Yunus Musah and Valencia meet Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarterfinal.

Also in action:

  • BK Häcken v Fredrikstad, 6a: Danish-American left back Kristoffer Lund Hansen has a friendly match with Häcken.
  • Paços de Ferreira v Benfica, 3:15p on GolTV, Fanatiz, fuboTV: John Brooks and Benfica are on the road in Liga Portugal.

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

USWNT’s New Zealand trip takeaways: Rose Lavelle, Mallory Swanson star in big wins

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 21: Rose Lavelle #16 of the United States turns and moves with the ball during a game between New Zealand and USWNT at Eden Park on January 21, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

By Meg Linehan Jan 21, 2023 The Athletic

The USWNT is heading back home from January camp, and it will have some comfort on those long, long flights back across the international date line thanks to two wins against New Zealand.Both wins against the Football Ferns (4-0 in the first in Wellington before Friday’s 5-0 win in Auckland) set new records for attendance for women’s soccer in New Zealand, with 12,721 at Eden Park holding a mark that will surely be broken with the arrival of the World Cup in July.


The U.S. outshot the Ferns 37 to two over the course of those 180 minutes; 18 of those were on target for the U.S., only one was for the Ferns, which resulted in a save from Alyssa Naeher in the first match. That lack of attacking threat means we didn’t learn all too much about the American backline, but it was encouraging to see the continued work at rotation for the goalkeepers. There was very little to judge Casey Murphy on in her appearance on Friday at Eden Park — more telling was that Naeher got the start in Wellington, the site of the USWNT’s most important group stage match against the Netherlands.

There was more to consider when it came to the midfield options, as well as the depth of the forward pool for both head coach Vlatko Andonovski and the viewers at home. But the top priority for the USWNT was always mimicking, as closely as possible, the World Cup experience they’ll look forward to this summer.Here are the takeaways from the first two matches of 2023 in New Zealand.

The World Cup experience… sort of, mostly

One thing remained consistently clear across all of the USWNT’s media availabilities: they were certainly enjoying the trip to New Zealand. Between the perfect weather and the abundant number of coffee shops, it was a match made in heaven for a team that enjoys both those things.

“I think this was a really, really good test run for us,” midfielder Rose Lavelle said after Saturday’s win at Eden Park, a sentiment that was shared by just about every single player. “It’s really valuable to be able to come here and get a feel for what we’ll experience when we come back in six months.”

Beyond knowing what to expect when it comes to logistics, the USWNT also got the relatively unfamiliar experience of not immediately being greeted by cheers upon entering the stadium. While there may have been some respect — or in some cases, the requests for USWNT jerseys — Wellington and Auckland proved overwhelmingly supportive of the Ferns. Neither 12,000+ crowd seemed all too interested in antagonizing the U.S., but instead cheered every single small play for New Zealand, from clearances to corner kicks.


“I think the atmosphere was incredible,” Lavelle continued. “Anytime you can get that experience with a crowd that’s not in your favor, it’s good. We always play a lot of home games, so usually we can feed off that energy. Having this experience too is really good for us.”The one factor the USWNT simply could not duplicate was the weather. With perfect sunny days (a blessing and a curse, considering the UV levels generally hit a 10 out of 10 every day), they’re likely to see quite a bit more rain and wind in the New Zealand winter during July and August. Temperatures, if they stay in the 40s and 50s though, could be ideal if the weather stays dry.

The midfield is Lavelle’s

If there was a standout player between the two matches, Lavelle had the best claim on it. Whether it was her positioning, her ridiculous backheel assist to Alex Morgan in the first match, or showing that she can play deeper if necessary, there are now zero questions about Lavelle’s importance on this team. That’s not a new status quo, but it was a relief to see her ease back into things so effortlessly after a long offseason.Andonovski experimented plenty in these two matches, which one could say made sense considering the scorelines, but also could be questioned considering how close it is to the World Cup. At the pre-match press conference in Auckland, Andonovski said the technical staff is still considering 32 players for the final roster, down from over 40. Based on the approach in New Zealand, they’re also exploring how versatile some of these players can be.Case in point: Taylor Kornieck, usually an attacking midfielder, got plenty of minutes as a No. 6 across the two games. While it felt disjointed in match one, by match two her distribution was better and her natural physical advantages in height (she’s listed at 6-foot-1) and sheer presence came through a bit more. The timing and willingness to try it in January was interesting, especially as Portland Thorns FC midfielder Sam Coffey, who has excelled in that role at NWSL level, didn’t earn a minute in either match.



“Obviously, (Kornieck) is a presence there,” Andonovski said in Wellington after the match. “She defended well — aerial challenges, no one had any chance around her. The challenges she had on the ball could be expected because the first time, it will take a little bit of time for her to understand the distances, especially now with Lindsey (Horan) coming just a little bit lower. Before, they were together a little bit higher. Now, they’re both lower, so we knew that Lindsey was going to need a little bit of time, Taylor was going to need a little bit of time.”Because the U.S. and Lyon agreed that Horan would return to France ahead of a league match with Lyon, Andonovski to trial something else in the second match, opting to pair Lavelle with Ashley Sanchez as the more advanced midfielders with Andi Sullivan as the No. 6. But rather than opting for dual No. 10s and letting Lavelle and Sanchez create and destroy at will, Lavelle sat deeper and kept the USWNT in a 4-2-3-1 rather than a 4-3-3.

Dual 10s might be useful for teams who defend the U.S. in low or mid blocks, but it certainly won’t work deeper into a World Cup against higher-quality teams that can provide more of an attacking threat. Lavelle’s deeper positioning didn’t feel like a waste of her talents, and the distribution from the centerbacks, especially Naomi Girma, to Lavelle consistently bypassed the New Zealand midfield. If nothing else, it’s a useful tool to have in the toolbox for the USWNT. Testing it out at SheBelieves Cup against a tougher opponent may give us more information about how well it actually works, though.

The forward depth remains ridiculous

Mallory Swanson (née Pugh) proved that a new name change didn’t impact her goal-scoring abilities. Her run of form over the last calendar year means there’s very little to worry about when it comes to her place on the team.The real battle over the next few months is how the depth on the forward line plays out. No one that watched these games will be shocked to read that Trinity Rodman was the biggest winner in making a case for that final roster, with three assists in two games — including that perfectly weighted ball to Ashley Hatch for the opening goal in Auckland.

“That (assist) was something we pointed out, because in the last game, she had an opportunity to have an almost identical assist like this one,” Andonovski said on Saturday. “I’m very proud of her that she took that, processed it well, and then assisted that way. That’s what these games are for, besides team growth, synchronizing lines, preparing the team. It’s also for individual development and players like Trinity, Sanchez, (Emily) Fox, these are games that we can see the growth.”

If you’re Rodman, that’s exactly the feedback you want to hear a couple of camps out from a World Cup roster being made.

Winger Midge Purce stood out in game one, though her substition at the half as part of the team’s rotation through field players meant her energy from that first 45 never really had a true outlet. Lynn William’s return was hugely celebrated by the team, and nabbing a goal so quickly after her introduction is going to help make Andonovski’s selection even more difficult come roster time. Andonovsi noted she missed a couple of chances in the second match, but her defensive presence on the forward line and her commitment to the high press has always been a factor for him — and he was overall favorable in his comments.At striker, Alex Morgan was supposed to get the start again on Saturday, but was a late scratch due to muscle tightness.

“We had a conversation with Alex before the game, actually during the warm-up,” Andonovski said. “She could play, but it was one of those, ‘Is it really worth risking?’ So we decided to just take it easy.”

In her place, Ashley Hatch got an unexpected, but important start. Her place in this forward pool feels tenuous, with Catarina Macario’s return expected at some point this spring. If Macario isn’t able to be at full fitness, or if anything else goes sideways, Hatch scoring goals when she gets minutes is crucial, and on Saturday she delivered the game-winner.

All in all, the USWNT will deem this trip a success on pretty much every front. From the press box, the second match in particular was a reminder that when they can balance speed of play with patience, they’re extremely dangerous and able to score at will. The team’s movement in that match was considerably better (Swanson’s goal providing a perfect example of how quickly they were reading the game and open space available to them); the chemistry felt unquestionable.The USWNT should have won both of these matches, and they did, as expected. But Saturday’s win simply felt better.“In this game, we were more consistent and more concise,” as Andonovki summed up. “From the beginning, New Zealand did well — they were organized, they were disciplined, they were trying to neutralize and eliminate those options. But we were just a little more precise this time. Even though we didn’t score more goals, I felt like we created better opportunities in this game.”

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1/20/23 USWNT Fri 10 pm HBO Max + Peacock, USMNT play Wed  pm, Carmel FC GKs make ODP Teams & FC Cincy’s Academy Program, TV Games    

USWNT Wins 4-0  Down Under Plays Tonight 10 pm on HBO Max + Peacock

The US ladies finally came around in the 2nd half Tues night at they vanquished New Zealand 4-0 in the end.  After a few frustrating misses in the first half – the addition of Trinity Rodman on the right wing really opened things up for the US in the 2nd half.  Rose Lavelle had some wicked passes including this backheel beauty to set up the 2nd goal for Alex Morgan.  Rodman of course provided the first assist to Mallory Swanson ( formerly Pugh) as she started married life with a Brace downunder then later this one to Williams who has recovered from a year long injury.  I thought Horniack played just ok in the #6 slot – as the US continues to look for a replacement for Julie Ertz,   Overall the US ladies dominated from start to finish with 83% possession and  15 shots to 2 shots (full stats) on a day when the largest ever crowd to watch a women’s game in New Zealand (13K LOL) was on hand. (full hightlighs)This series while not providing the best competition (New Zealand is ranked 24th in the world) it does serve as a test run for the US to play in 2 of the stadiums they will play in this summer during the world cup.  A cup where they look to become the first team men’s or women’s to 3-Peat.  The US plays NZ again on Friday night at 10 pm on HBO Max and Peacock.(tons of stories below)

HBO MAX – the Good & the Bad

So I thought the coverage from new TV/Streaming partner HBO Max was solid.  They have good analyst who were free to say what they wanted to say.  Julie Fowdy and Shannon Boxx were both solid in the full 1 hour pregame and post game show.  I had issues with rewinding and fast forwarding the game last night which they need to fix.  God forbid if you came online 20 minutes late and wanted to catch up.  That’s NOT ACCEPTABLE when we have to pay $15 dang dollars a month to watch the games.  I still think US Soccer is shortsighted thinking that a few million dollars is more important than having these games on Fox or ESPN.  The coverage on ESPN alone is worth a few million dollars to be more included on all the sports highlights and the like.  That and the fact that HBO max hasn’t even figured out how to deliver the games to Bars – so American Outlaws can host watch parties is just pathetic.  Leave it to US Soccer to screw things up – what’s new. 

US Men Jan Camp & 2 Friendlies Wed 10 pm vs Serbia on HBO Max, next Sat on TNT 7:30 pm

Interesting to hear both DeMarcus Beasley and Julie Fowdy say they thought US Manager Gregg Berhalter should be out based on his handling of the Gio Reyna situation.  Honestly he should have kept his mouth shut about Gio – a player would have eventually spilled the beans – making Berhalter look even better.  Overall I don’t know how I feel – Behalter did a great job working in all these new young players into a competitive team in the World Cup.  He convinced Musah and Dest into choosing the US over other options and has lines on a center forward who has a choice to make soon.  His family like atmosphere certainly seems to have worked with this young team.  That being said I think we all can agree his tactics and lack of a true #9 has been perplexing.  We have Center Forwards scoring goals in Germany, Turkey and England – how they don’t score for the US seems more like a Berhalter problem than the players.  So who’s our next US Coach?  I will have my thoughts next Week after the US men play Serbia Wed night 10 pm on HBO Max, Universo, Peacock and again Sat Night at 7:30 pm.  Lots of exciting young players on this US Jan Roster as the B/C team takes center stage next week. WOW Late Breaking News that Brian McBride is out as USMNT GM. Brian McBride is out as USMNT GM.

The full USMNT roster

Goalkeepers (3): Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati), Sean Johnson (free agent), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea)

Defenders (8): Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Aaron Long (LAFC), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)

Midfielders (6): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Alan Soñora (free agent), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers)

Forwards (7): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Alejandro Zendejas (Club América)

Games to Watch

Friday we get 2 of Germany’s best as RB Leipzig and American Gio Reyna host Bayern Munich.  Liverpool hosts Chelsea Sat morning at 7:30 am on USA as the normally top 4 clubs try to battle their way back from 9th and 10th currently.  US CB Chris Richards started last game for Crystal Palace they play New Castle at 12:30 on NBC. Sunday top seeded Arsenal hosts Man United in a top 4 showdown that could put more room between the Gunners and 2nd place Man City.  This after Leed’s United State with American Coach Jesse Marsch and midfielders Adams and Aaronson try to parley their 5-1 feelgood FA Cup win this week into a needed home win vs top 10 Brentford at 9 am on Peacock.  Monday Fulham America hosts Tottenham looking to flip to 5th above them with a win at 3 pm on USA Network.  Next Friday Man City finally faces Arsenal albeit in League Cup play on ESPN+ at 3 pm leading into an FA Cup weekend in England.   American’s Abroad

Boy the Goalkeeping was fantastic in El Classico last weekend as Courtois and Ter Stegan had some Great Saves see those saves and more in Goalkeeping below.  Also my Reffing section below reviews Unusual calls by VAR in the EPL. Ronaldo & Messi may have played each other for the last time as PSG faced a Saudi Allstar team a glorious 5-4 game where Ronaldo got 2 goals and Messi 1 as PSG won it. 

Ted Lasso Season 3 release on Apple sometime this Spring according to reports.

CARMEL FC 2 GKs make Indiana ODP Teams for Memphis

Super proud that 2 of our Carmel FC Goalkeepers Emma Bukovac (2010) and Olivia Aft (2012) have each made the Indiana ODP Red team rosters for the upcoming tournament President’s Day weekend in Memphis, Tenn. Pretty sure we have other CFC field players who also made rosters check it out . https://www.soccerindiana.org/odp/odp-news-and-events

Carmel FC Boys selected to FC Cincinnati’s Academy Program

Congratulations to coach CFC Coach Jim Ruden and his 2012 Boys Gold Team which had two players selected to FC Cincinnati’s Discovery Program, an elite player development pathway within the MLS franchise. Evan Lefort and Bennett Hendrickson have been selected to the 2023 player pool.

Carmel FC 2010 Boys is extending tryouts this winter for the Spring Season. 

Contact the Ole Ballcoach at shanebestsoccer@gmail.com if your son was born in 2010 or 2011 and interested in working out with us.

CARMEL FC PLAYERS : Winter Players League (WPL) – Badger Indoor Fieldhouse
As the fall season comes to a close over the next month, we wanted to let you know that we will be launching an indoor soccer league over two six week sessions within our new Badger Fieldhouse. Games will be played on either Friday night ( 6pm to 10pm) or Sunday afternoon (1pm-5pm) depending on age groups: U8s, U9&U10, U11&U12, U13-U15 and U16+ (Coed Teams allowed). Referees for each game, 50 minute games, 5v5, 7v7 and 9v9 matches.
Session Two (6 weeks): Feb 17th, 24th / Mar 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th
Register NOW, gather teammates and be ready to play!


(American’s names in Parenthesis)

Fri, Jan 20

2:30 pm ESPN2 & Des    RB Liepzig vs Bayern Munich 

10 pm HBO Max         US Women vs New Zealand

Sat, Jan 21                          

7:30 am USA               Liverpool vs Chelsea 

9:30 am ESPN+            Union Berlin (Pfuk) vs Hoffenheim

10 am USA                  West Ham vs Everton

12:30 pm NBC                    Crystal Palace (Chris Richards)vs New Castle United

Sun, Jan 22                         

9 am Peacock              Leeds United (Aaronson, Adams) vs Brentford

9 am USA                    Man City vs Wolverhampton

11:30 am NBC             Arsenal vs Man United  

11:30 am ESPN+          Mgladbach (Scally) vs Bayer Leverkusen

3 pm ESPN+                 Athletic Club vs Real Madrid

2:45 pm CBS SN         Juventus (McKinney) vs Atalanta

Mon, Jan 23                       

3 pm USA                    Fulham America (Ream & Robinson) vs Tottenham  

Tues, Jan 24

2:45 pm CBS SN                 Lazio vs AC Milan

3 pm ESPN+                        Southampton vs Newcastle League Cup

Weds, Jan 25

3 pm ESPN+                        Nottingham Forest vs Man United League Cup

10 pm HBO Max, Peacock  USA Men vs Serbia

Fri, Jan 27

3 pm ESPN+                        Man City vs Arsenal League Cup

Sat, Jan 28                          

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

9:30 am ESPN+                  Hertha vs Union Berlin (Pfuk)    

10 am ESPN+                      Lufton Town (Horvath) vs Grimsby Town  FA Cup

1  pm ESPN+                       Preston vs Spurs – FA Cup  

3 pm ESPN+                Man United vs Reading

7:30 p TNT                           USA Men vs Colombia

Sun, Jan 29                           

8:30 am ESPN+                  Brighton vs Livepool FC Cap  

11 am ESPN+              Wrexham vs Sheffield United  

11:30 am ESPN+          Leverkusen vs Dortmund (Reyna)

2:45 pm beIN Sport         Reims vs PSG

Thu, Feb 16                         She Believes Cup

7 pm Fox Sports 1?          USWNT vs Canada

Sun, Feb 19                        

3:30 pm Fox                        USWNT vs Japan

Wed, Feb 22                     

7 pm FS1                              USWNT vs Brazil

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

US Ladies play Fri 10 pm HBO Max

The USMNT Roster for NZ

ROSTER (club; caps/goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Kansas City Current; 10), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 11), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 86)

DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 19/0), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 22/0), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 126/24), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC; 10/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 25/0), Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current; 8/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 211/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 69/1)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC; 4/0), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 122/26), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC; 7/1), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 84/22), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 46/7), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 17/3), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 37/3)

FORWARDS (6): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 14/4), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC; 200/119), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 20/4), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit; 10/2), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars; 82/25), Lynn Williams (Kansas City Current; 47/14)

Slow-starting USWNT blitz New Zealand in second half as Lynn Williams scores on return
ESPNFC 2dJeff Kassouf



How to watch USWNT vs. New Zealand in second January international friendly

Swanson-Pugh leads USWNT burst past New Zealand (video highlights)

United States thrash New Zealand in World Cup warning

When is the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup? How to watch, schedule, streaming, groups




US MEN 2 games next week

 US Mens Roster has new names
Klinsman sad about Reyna – Berhalter Spat
USMNT’s 24-man roster for next World Cup cycle is announced

Klinsmann ann: Reyna-Berhalter spat ‘sad’ for US soccer
Klinsmann ‘sad to see’ fallout from Reyna-Berhalter dispute

Musah named U.S. Young Male Player of the Year
ESPNFC  2dJeff Carlisle



Arsenal take big step towards Premier League title, Barcelona’s statement win over Real Madrid, more
Gab Marcotti
Leipzig host Bayern hoping to keep Bundesliga ‘exciting’

Messi, Ronaldo score as PSG, Saudi clubs stage nine-goal friendly (video)

Ronaldo punched but scores twice in Saudi reunion with Messi

Bayern sign goalkeeper Yann Sommer from Gladbach to replace Neuer

Dzeko-inspired Inter win Milan derby Super Cup

‘Spectacular’ Gavi shines as Barca beat Madrid to win Spanish Super 

Barca’s young stars hoping Super Cup trophy is first of ‘new era’


English Premier League betting: Arsenal is now the title favorite near the halfway point

Illan Meslier: Leeds only just getting started under Jesse Marsch

Gnonto, Bamford bag braces as Leeds crush Cardiff in FA Cup

Manchester City roars back to throttle Tottenham in six-goal show

‘No excuses’ for troubled Everton – Lampard

Elliott’s rocket sends troubled Liverpool into FA Cup fourth round

Klopp has no plans to quit as he plots Liverpool overhaul






History-making Frappart on Women’s World Cup referees list

The VAR Review: Unpacking Marcus Rashford’s offside in Manchester derby
   4dDale Johnson

 How VAR decisions affected every Prem club in 2022-23

All ages 13-99 invited to become a new licensed referee close by course. New info: much now be 13 years old to register. It is ok to register on one’s 13th birthday for an upcoming course. NOTE: registration cut off is a week prior to the course as there are 10 hours of online work to complete. More information here.


Great Saves in El Classico last weekend

50 Best Saves of the Year so Far

EPL Goalkeeper Ratings


Best EPL Saves Dec

Alyssa Naeher saves vs England WWC

When David de Gea made 14 saves in 1 match! – YouTube

Indy 11 Turns 10 Year’s Old this Month – lets hope we have another great decade with our Boys in Blue!

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USWNT start slow vs. New Zealand, but improve in second half with Lynn Williams scoring on return

Jan 18, 2023 ESPNFC Jeff Kassouf

The United States women’s national team opened 2023 with a 4-0 win over New Zealand on Wednesday in Wellington.Mallory Swanson (nee Pugh) scored the opening goal seven minutes after halftime, bringing life to a U.S. attack that looked mostly absent in the opening 45 minutes. Swanson added a second goal nine minutes later, and Alex Morgan and Lynn Williams also got on the scoreboard.– The teams will meet again on Saturday in Auckland as the Americans use the trip to prepare on and off the field for this summer’s Women’s World Cup. The U.S. will play the entire group stage of the World Cup in New Zealand and at the two venues being used this week, giving the two-time defending champions a dry run of what their tournament life will look like.

Rapid reaction

1. The U.S. still needs to put its collective foot on the gas

Urgency, urgency, urgency. Little has changed in the pattern of collective U.S. form: the Americans are best when playing at a faster pace. A major piece of success in recent years has been high press that forced opponents to turn the ball over in dangerous positions.Wednesday’s first half was a dud from the U.S., who tried to methodically break down New Zealand’s compact 4-4-2 by playing central. The result was a lot of center backs Becky Sauerbrunn and Naomi Girma playing between each other, followed by unforced turnovers in the middle of the park. The saving grace for the U.S. is that New Zealand, missing several starting players due to the games taking place outside of FIFA windows, offered nothing going forward.Superior fitness and four substitutions to start the second half was part of the reason the floodgates opened. But the general urgency from the Americans was markedly different. Swanson and Trinity Rodman attacked space on their respective flanks. Emily Fox and Sofia Huerta pushed higher from their fullback positions.The U.S. decided to take the game to New Zealand. Why it took 45 minutes to do so remains a point for improvement.

2. The No. 6 position remains an enigma

The Julie Ertz-sized hole remains in place for the United States. Wednesday brought a different attempt at a solution. Taylor Kornieck made her first start for the U.S., playing in the No. 6 role that Andi Sullivan mostly occupied in 2022.Kornieck plays higher up the field for San Diego Wave FC, so the move was a gamble to some degree. U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski told the HBO Max broadcast during pregame that Kornieck offered “an opportunity for us to try something different” and experiment with unpredictable movements.The latter did not really happen. Lindsey Horan often dropped deep to create a double-pivot and get on the ball, but the Kornieck-Horan combination found little room to play out in the first half, often getting pulled wide in attempts to find space. Kornieck was replaced by Sullivan at the start of the second half, when the match changed significantly.Whether Kornieck is an answer in the role or not, her very presence as a starter there on Wednesday suggests that Andonovski is yet to settle on an answer in the position. Sam Coffey is another, less experienced option, as well.

3. Lynn Williams is back at just the right time

Lynn Williams is back on the field after nearly a year away due to a hamstring injury, entering Wednesday’s match in the 67th minute. Williams last played for the U.S. in February 2022 and did not play at all during the National Women’s Soccer League regular season. She was traded from the Kansas City Current to NJ/NY Gotham FC last week, on draft day.A healthy Williams offers the best defensive presence of any forward in the U.S. pool. She changes the way the team defends from its highest point and allows for a higher, more relentless press. Williams returns at just the right time for a U.S. team in need of that spark.On Wednesday, she marked her return with a goal, too — and an impressive one. Seven minutes after checking into the match, Williams adjusted her body mid-air to get her head on Rodman’s cross and generate enough power to comfortably beat New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler.The goal was an exclamation mark on Williams’ long-awaited return. Even in a crowded forward pool, Williams offers two-way play that Andonovski will need at the World Cup.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Rose Lavelle — Once again, Lavelle remains the one (healthy) U.S. player capable of breaking lines against defensively disciplined opponents. On the dribble or making a delayed run, Lavelle is the catalyst of this team. That backheel assist? Come on.

BEST: Mallory Swanson — A quiet first half gave way to a quick brace in the second half. For club or country, Swanson running at defenders in isolation is a recipe for success.

BEST: Margaret Purce — A dull first half from the Americans was highlighted by Purce’s desire to attack defenders 1-v-1. It was an encouraging return for the winger who was dropped from the roster in October and November.

WORST: Ashleigh Ward — Caught out of position on a few occasions and exposed 1-v-1, particularly in the second half.

WORST: Gabi Rennie — Even as the hosts defended well in the first half, they had no outlet going forward.

WORST: Grace Neville — The U.S. found its most joy by isolating Neville on her flank.

Highlights and notable moments

In the first half, the U.S. dominated possession, but mostly in areas that didn’t pose a threat to the New Zealand defense.

Swanson scored the first two goals of the game in quick succession.

After the match: What the players/managers said

USWNT’s Lavelle: “We had to find the ball a little more in between their seams, and give it a little in the more in the middle for them to collapse and then find our wingers. Tough first half for us, obviously some things to clean up, but a really good response.”

USWNT’s Williams: “It feels amazing, but I give it to my teammates – they’ve been there with me through the whole way and supporting me and being like, ‘You’ve got this, Lynn.’ So it feels incredible.”

Key stats

– Swanson scored her fourth brace for the U.S. national team

– Morgan scored her 120th international goal

– This was the biggest ever home crowd for a Ford Football Ferns game with 12,508 fans in attendance

Up next

United States: The U.S. face New Zealand in a friendly again on Jan. 20, before playing in their first match of the SheBelieves Cup against Canada on Feb. 16.

New Zealand: After their friendly against the U.S., New Zealand face Portugal in a friendly on Feb. 17.



Mallory Pugh Swanson wasted no time in finding the back of the net in the second half of the U.S. women’s national team’s 4-0 win over New Zealand.After scoring seven goals in 2022, including one in the USWNT’s last game of the year against Germany, she picked up right where she left off to start 2023.The 24-year-old forward opened the scoring with her goal in the 52nd minute, and then she found the back of the net again 12 minutes later. Her goals helped open the floodgates for the team in the victory at Wellington Regional Stadium.Swanson, who recently changed her last name from Pugh after she married Chicago Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson in December, earned Woman of the Match honors for her effort Wednesday afternoon in New Zealand.“Ultimately, I just want to be a positive impact on this team,” Swanson said after the game. “My job is to score goals and try and set people up to score goals.”The offseason gave her some time to identify areas for improvement in her game, she said.“I think that just going over my performance from the past couple of months and reviewing it this offseason, there were some easy chances in games previous that I should have put away,” she continued.The team will now look to its second match against New Zealand, this one at Eden Park in Auckland, which will kick off at 10 p.m. ET Friday.“We just keep trying to build off of this,” Swanson said. “It was a good win.”



The U.S. women’s national team scored a 4-0 win Wednesday against New Zealand thanks in large part to several key second-half substitutes, who helped open up the team’s offense.After a shaky start, a dominant performance in the final 45 minutes secured the team its first victory to open a World Cup year since 1999.Trinity Rodman proved one of the biggest substitutions of the match. After she came on for Midge Purce to start the second half, she provided assists on the USWNT’s first goal, from Mallory Swanson, and the final goal, from Lynn Williams.The assists were the first and second of her national team career. Rodman, at 20 years and 243 days old, is the youngest player to have multiple assists in a single game for the USWNT since Swanson did so at 18 years old in 2017.Ashley Sanchez also made an assist on a Swanson goal after entering in the 61st minute for Rose Lavelle. The 23-year-old midfielder’s long pass shot through defenders and found Swanson for the team’s third goal of the night.Andi Sullivan came on in place of Taylor Kornieck at halftime, which enabled the team’s midfield to open up a bit and break down the New Zealand defenders. With Sullivan, the team could run its attack up the middle of the field, which also enabled her fellow midfielder Lindsey Horan to take a more central approach.

Lynn Williams, too, shined off the bench. In her return from injury, the 29-year-old forward entered in the 67th minute and soon after scored a header off a perfectly placed cross from Rodman.USWNT players acknowledged the importance of the second-half adjustments after the win.“We had to find the ball a little more in between their seams and get a little bit more in the middle for them to collapse and then find our wingers,” Rose Lavelle said after the game. “Tough first half for us, obviously some things to clean up, but a really good response.”

USMNT’s first post-World Cup roster includes players you’ve never heard of — and exciting ones, too

Henry Bushnell Wed, January 18, 2023 at 12:00 PM EST Yahoo Soccer

The first U.S. men’s national team roster of the 2026 World Cup cycle features 11 newbies and a few players you’ve likely never heard of.There’s a defender whose entire professional career spans the United Soccer League and the Norwegian Eliteserien. There’s a newly minted American citizen and a 25-year-old winger who plays in Denmark. There’s even a Major League Soccer teenager who has never played a first-team game in Major League Soccer.There’s the typical sprinkling of MLS veterans, of course, including a few who were in Qatar last month, but this squad, more than most, comes from everywhere and nowhere.It will play Serbia (Jan. 25) and Colombia (Jan. 28) next week in the USMNT’s first two games since the 2022 World Cup. They’ll occur amid coaching uncertainty and outside an official FIFA window, meaning clubs weren’t required to release their players to national teams. With U.S. stars increasingly populating European clubs, therefore, many were unavailable — as they are every year for this annual January camp, colloquially known as “Camp Cupcake.”

But the camp, which will be led by caretaker coach Anthony Hudson while incumbent coach Gregg Berhalter is under investigation, is an opportunity for the stars of the next generation to emerge.It will welcome Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina, the 18-year-old goalkeeper expected to someday challenge Matt Turner for the USMNT’s No. 1 gig.It could offer debuts to Paxten Aaronson, the brother of Brenden, and Alejandro Zendejas, a Mexican American dual national who has been excelling for Club América in Liga MX. Despite the Mexican league season overlapping with the USMNT’s January camp, América agreed to allow Zendejas, a regular club starter, to participate in one of the two games.There will be eight players, including Slonina, Aaronson and Cade Cowell, who’ll be eligible to represent the U.S. as under-23 participants at the 2024 Olympics, in its first men’s soccer appearance at the Games since 2008.There are 24 players in total, some of whom might never see the field for the USMNT after this month. But several surely will.

The full USMNT roster

Goalkeepers (3): Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati), Sean Johnson (free agent), Gaga Slonina (Chelsea)

Defenders (8): Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Aaron Long (LAFC), Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy), Sam Rogers (Rosenborg), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)

Midfielders (6): Paxten Aaronson (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Alan Soñora (free agent), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers)

Forwards (7): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Matthew Hoppe (Middlesbrough), Emmanuel Sabbi (Odense), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Alejandro Zendejas (Club América)

The most exciting USMNT newcomers

Among the 24 players, Slonina is the biggest name. The Illinois native turned pro at age 14 and moved from the Chicago Fire to Chelsea for an eight-figure fee at age 18. He was in the mix for a 2022 World Cup roster spot. He and his former Fire teammate, 18-year-old Chris Brady, are considered the USMNT goalkeepers of the future.

The most notable inclusion in this squad, though, is Zendejas, an attacking midfielder who has been the subject of a controversial recruiting battle between the U.S. and Mexico. He was born in Ciudad Juárez, then moved to Texas as a child. He played alongside Christian Pulisic and other current USMNTers with the U.S. under-17s, including at the 2015 U-17 World Cup — but later played for Mexico U-level national teams as well.He accepted a Mexico senior-team call-up in 2021 and debuted for El Tri in a friendly, and that’s where his situation got messy. To play for Mexico, per FIFA rules, he would have needed to file a one-time switch of association away from the U.S. He apparently never did. With the 2022 World Cup approaching and Zendejas presumably a candidate for El Tri‘s roster, the Mexican soccer federation reportedly asked Zendejas to sign a document “renouncing” his affiliation with the U.S.; he reportedly declined.

Amid the confusion and controversy, he established himself as a regular at Club América. He has now accepted his first USMNT call-up — though his international soccer future won’t be tied to the U.S. until he appears in a competitive senior game, the first of which could be in March.

Hudson said in a Q&A published by U.S. Soccer that the USMNT staff “didn’t think” they’d get Zendejas for the January camp and expressed “huge appreciation” to América for allowing him to join. Hudson said Zendejas is “going to play [for América on Jan. 21], that day that camp starts but they’re going to let him fly in and play [for the U.S.] against Serbia.” He’ll then fly back to Mexico City and play for América on the 28th instead of staying with the USMNT for its second match of the week against Colombia, a team spokesperson confirmed.The other players with the brightest futures are Aaronson, a 19-year-old attacker who joined Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt from the Philadelphia Union this month; John Tolkin, an adventurous 20-year-old left back for the New York Red Bulls; and Cowell, another Mexican-American dual national who has burst onto the scene with the San Jose Earthquakes as a teen. Cowell debuted for the USMNT in a December 2021 friendly.Other notable call-ups include Brandon Vazquez, a breakout MLS striker who’ll attempt to establish himself as a potential No. 9 throughout the 2026 cycle, and Alan Soñora, a New Jersey-born midfielder who has spent most of his life in Argentina. He played regularly for Independiente, a top-flight Argentine club, in 2021 and 2022, and has been linked with a move to MLS.

Then there are the out-of-nowhere inclusions: Sam Rogers is a 23-year-old Seattle Sounders youth product who started his pro career in the USL before moving to HamKam and then Rosenborg in Norway. Emmanuel Sabbi is an Italy-born product of Ohio and Chicago-area youth clubs. He then moved to Las Palmas in Spain as a teen and has spent his first-team career with Hobro and Odense in Denmark.The Danish and Norwegian leagues, like MLS, do not play through the winter months, allowing those players to join the January camp. Others, such as Slonina, Jonathan Gomez and Matthew Hoppe, meanwhile, are available because they are not regulars for their respective clubs.Many will be fringe players at best for the USMNT going forward. Of the 27 players called into 2019 January camp, only one (Walker Zimmerman) started games and two played minutes at the 2022 World Cup.The following year, though, January granted opportunity to players such as Matt Turner and Brenden Aaronson, and that, precisely, is the point. Even if just a few someday make a meaningful impact, the week in Southern California will have been worthwhile.The games will be played at the homes of MLS’ two Los Angeles clubs, Banc of California Stadium and Dignity Health Sports Park. They kick off at 10 p.m. ET Jan. 25 (HBO Max, Universo, Peacock) and at 7:30 p.m. ET Jan. 28 (TNT, Telemundo, Peacock).

USMNT, Leeds’ Tyler Adams named U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year

Nov 25, 2022; Al Khor, Qatar; United States of America midfielder Tyler Adams (4) dribbles the ball against England during the first half of a group stage match during the 2022 World Cup at Al Bayt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

By Paul Tenorio and The Athletic Staff Jan 13, 2023

U.S. men’s national team and Leeds United midfielder Tyler Adams has been voted the U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year for 2022, the federation announced Friday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Adams captained the USMNT at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The 23-year-old was the youngest captain at the tournament and the youngest USMNT captain at the World Cup since 1950.
  • He moved from Bundesliga’s RB Leipzig to the Premier League with a $24 million transfer to Leeds in July 2022. Upon completion of the move, Adams signed a five-year deal with the English club.
  • Of the five finalists for the Male Player of the Year Award, Adams earned 71.6 percent of the votes followed by Christian Pulisic (14.7%) and Matt Turner (8.2%).

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

How Adams distinguished himself in 2022

Adams distinguished himself as the best and most consistent U.S. player through World Cup qualifying, which wrapped in March, and again at the World Cup in Qatar. That was evident simply in how rarely he came off the field; he led the U.S. in minutes played in 2022 and played every minute at the World Cup.


Adams’ stellar play in defensive midfield in Qatar helped the U.S. control the center of the park against both Wales and England in the group stage, and he covered ground, broke up attacks and helped solidify a U.S. team defense that ended up allowing just one goal through the first three games of the tournament.

His performances with the U.S. paired with his strong first season in England with Leeds made him an easy choice for the federation’s player of the year award. It should be noted, however, that Adams’ leadership away from the field was one of the most notable aspects of the World Cup for the U.S. — Tenorio

What they’re saying

“Receiving this type of recognition is certainly special, but for me the team’s success is the most important thing,” Adams said in a statement. “Having the experience of going to the World Cup, performing well as a group and moving the sport forward in the United States was super important to me this year, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”

Yunus Musah named U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year

Jan 17, 2023 Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent ESPN

Yunus Musah has been voted the 2022 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year after logging the most minutes and starts for a teenager in team history, as well as playing a vital role at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.This was the third time Musah was nominated for the award after making his senior international debut for the U.S. in 2020, and he secured a whopping 83.9% of the overall tabulated votes, followed by Paxten Aaronson (8.8%) and Diego Kochen (3.4%).

Musah was informed of the honor through a surprise video call from four-time World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley, who won the award in 2001 as a 19-year-old.”It feels crazy to think out of all people that I was the one chosen to be the Young Male Player of the Year,” Musah said. “To get this award is really huge. I’ve said it many times — I’ve had the trust from the manager, the team, the U.S. to play so many games at this young age. It shows me that I just have to carry on the way I’m doing, keep being humble and keep working hard to try and be more. As a player, you just want to keep improving.”

Musah started all four matches for the United States in Qatar alongside captain Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie. The Valencia midfielder became the first teenager to start a World Cup match for the U.S., as well as the first to appear in multiple matches, as he logged 345 minutes out of a possible 360 during the tournament.Before his 20th birthday on Nov. 29, the day of the USA’s knockout round-clinching victory vs. Iran at the World Cup, Musah’s 1,578 minutes played and 20 starts set records for a teenager with the USMNT, while his 21 caps equaled the previous mark set by Jozy Altidore and Christian Pulisic.With Spanish La Liga side Valencia, Musah made 39 appearances while netting one goal and adding two assists across all competitions in 2022. He became the second U.S. international to appear in the Spanish Copa del Rey Final, coming off the bench in Valencia’s penalty shootout defeat to Real Betis.”To the fans from when they started the ‘Can’t spell Musah without USA thing’, through qualifiers and the World Cup, I feel like the fans have been behind me for so long — since before I even did anything in football,” Musah said. “As we went on playing games and they enjoyed the way I was playing and everything — I’d just like to say thank you for their unbelievable support and their trust since day one. The fans of the USMNT are great and I love them.”Votes for U.S. Soccer Male and Young Male Player of the Year Awards are collected from respective national team coaches, national team players who have earned a cap in 2021, members of the U.S. Soccer board of directors, U.S. Soccer athletes’ council, professional league (MLS and USL) head coaches, select media members and former players and administrators. For the second time, fans were able to vote for the U.S. Soccer Player and Young Player of the Year Awards with those votes weighted at 15% of the total.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: Bundesliga’s back

Giovanni Reyna and the Bundesliga crowd return to on the field action

By jcksnftsn  Jan 20, 2023, 8:40am PST  Stars and Stripes

Borussia Dortmund v Fortuna Düsseldorf - Friendly Match

The weekend schedule expands quite a bit this week with the return of the Bundesliga after an extended break following the World Cup. Gio Reyna and Joe Scally headline the list of returning athletes as the players who were with the USMNT for the World Cup, and are joined by several other Americans who will be returning to action or even looking to make a first time break through. We’re also going to take a stab at increasing our coverage to include any players who were called in to the 2022 World Cup squad, regardless of their league, if the match is available on one of the significant platforms. The increase in matches means quite a bit to cover, so let’s get right to it.


Mallorca v Celta Vigo – 3p on ESPN+

Luca de la Torre came on as a half-time substitute last Friday for Celta Vigo and helped the team turn around a 1-0 deficit and pick up the point with a 1-1 draw against Villarreal. Luca looked quite sharp in the match and is making the case for additional playing time for a Celta Vigo side that sit just one point out of relegation in a very crowded bottom half of the La Liga table. Celta’s opponent on Friday is a Mallorca side that sit in 10th place, six spots above them but with just five more points. It will likely be a tight race for the remainder of the season (which has yet to make the halfway point) and it would be good to see de la Torre work his way into that battle.

Other notes:

  • A little bonus Friday action as Daryl Dike and West Bromwich Albion face Burnley at 3p on ESPN+ in the English Championship.


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

Jordan Pefok notably did not receive a callup to the USMNT for the World Cup, so he should return to action well rested as Union Berlin resume their 2022-23 campaign. The club currently sit in 5th place as they had stumbled a bit heading into the break, loosing three of five and drawing a fourth to slip back in the standings. They’ll look to get back on track as they face a Hoffenheim side that also stumbled into the break, losing four of five and picking up just one point over that time, they currently sit in 11th place. Hoffenheim have added a fresh face to the roster, American Justin Che who seems unlikely to see significant playing time but will have us checking the lineups on a regular basis to see if the Bundesliga continues to increase their American influence.

Other notes:

  • Cameron Carter-Vickers and Celtic play Greenock Morton at 7:15a on ESPN+ Saturday morning in Scottish FA Cup action. Greenock Morton are a second tier club so it could be an opportunity for CCV to get some rest this weekend.
  • Liverpool and Chelsea face off in a matchup of two sides that expected more but need to go on a serious run to crack the EPL top four. Christian Pulisic remains out but the match is available on Peacock at 7:30a.
  • Josh Sargent and Norwich City face Coventry City at 7:30a on ESPN+. Norwich City won their first match under new manager (and fellow American) David Wagner but still sit two points out of the promotion playoff spots.
  • Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt face Schalke at 9:30a on ESPN+. Paxten Aaronson also joined Eintracht Frankfurt over the winter break but the club released him for the USMNT January camp which would seem to indicate they have little plans or expectations for him in the near future.
  • Kevin Paredes received his first start for Wolfsburg in October but then missed the team’s next four matches before the World Cup break due to a calf injury. Wolfsburg return to action with a matchup against Freiburg at 9:30a on ESPN+.
  • Haji Wright and Antalyaspor will face league leading Galatasaray at 11a on beIN Sports. There have been rumors that Wright may be moving to another league but for now he’ll look to contribute to an upset result and pick up a precious point for his team as they try to avoid relegation.
  • Chris Richards received his first league start on Wednesday as Crystal Palace picked up a huge point against Manchester United. Richards played well but his spot is a bit dependent on the health of his teammates. Palace now face fourth place Newcastle United at 12:30p on NBC.


Borussia Dortmund v Augsburg – 9:30a on ESPN+

Gio Reyna will look to make some headlines on the field as Borussia Dortmund return to action on Sunday. Reyna struggled throughout the World Cup, not seeing the field as much as he would have liked, and by his own admission not responding well, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg though much of the drama was not of his doing. Regardless, there’s no better way to put all that behind him than to be able to take the field and let his play take over. Injuries have long been a concern for Reyna and BVB has been careful with him so it wouldn’t be surprising if he is in a substitute as the team returns from a long break and he is gradually worked into more action. BVB have been disappointing so far this season and currently sit in sixth place, two points back of Champions League qualification and already nine points back of league leading Bayern Munich. This weekend they will face an Augsburg side that sit just two points out of the relegation zone.

Other notes:

  • Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson and Leeds United fell to Aston Villa last weekend and Jesse Marsch’s side will look to pick up their first win in six matches when they face Brentford at 9a on Peacock. Leeds currently sit in 14th, two points out of the relegation zone though they do have a game in hand.
  • Joe Scally and Borussia Mönchengladbach face Bayer Leverkusen at 11:30a on ESPN+. Scally has started every match for Gladbach though he did not appear for the US at the World Cup.
  • Tim Weah’s Lille face Pau at 12:30p on FS2 in French Cup action. Weah is being used all over the place by Lille recently including getting the start last Sunday at left back.
  • Weston McKennie and Juventus will look to bounce back from an embarrassing 5-1 loss to Napoli when they face Atalanta at 2:45p on CBSSN.
  • Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson and Fulham look to continue their improbable run in the EPL as they take on Tottenham Hotspur at 3p on USA Network.
  • Yunus Musah and Valencia face Almeria at 3p on ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes. The two teams are both a part of that crowded bottom half of the LaLiga table.

Stejskal: In USMNT’s Berhalter/Reyna saga, everyone involved faces uncertain future

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 03: Giovanni Reyna (7) and head coach Gregg Berhalter (R) of USA during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Netherlands and USA at Khalifa International Stadium on December 03, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Ercin Erturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

By Sam Stejskal 7h ago

This should be an exciting, anticipatory moment for the U.S. men’s national team. A young core of players performed admirably at the World Cup in Qatar and could take a step forward by 2026, when the U.S. will co-host the tournament with Canada and Mexico. 

But instead of looking ahead in anticipation, we’re caught up in a Shakespearean drama, and the future is uncertain. 

For those who need a quick recap: At the World Cup in Qatar, talented attacker Gio Reyna showed an alarming lack of effort in training, which frustrated his teammates and coaches and contributed to his lower-than-expected playing time at the tournament. Reyna eventually apologized to the group and by all accounts, the team moved on. 

A few days after the U.S.’s elimination, head coach Gregg Berhalter detailed the saga at a leadership conference in New York City. Berhalter’s comments were supposed to be off the record and he never mentioned Reyna by name, but they were nonetheless published in a newsletter after the event. And for anyone paying attention, it was clear who he was referring to.

Gio’s parents, Claudio and Danielle Reyna, upset that their son’s unprofessionalism was being aired publicly, called U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart to voice their anger. Danielle told him about a 1991 domestic violence incident in which Gregg Berhalter kicked his now-wife, Rosalind, when they were dating while at the University of North Carolina. 

“I told Earnie that I thought it was especially unfair that Gio…was still being dragged through the mud when Gregg had asked for and received forgiveness for doing something so much worse at the same age,” she said in a statement. 

Stewart then took the allegation to his superiors at U.S. Soccer, who hired an outside law firm to further investigate. And before long, the whole thing became public knowledge. 

Heightening all of this was how intertwined all these parties are. Gregg Berhalter and Claudio Reyna became friends playing under Claudio’s father on a youth team in northern New Jersey. They went to high school together and were teammates with the U.S. at two World Cups. Rosalind Berhalter and Danielle Reyna were good friends, roommates and soccer teammates at UNC. They kept their families close over the ensuing 30 years. Stewart, too, has a long history with both families, playing with Claudio Reyna at three World Cups and with Gregg Berhalter at one. 

Apart from Rosalind Berhalter and Stewart, just about everyone involved acted shamefully.

The lack of effort was entirely inappropriate from the 20-year-old Gio Reyna, whose protracted fit about not starting the opener against Wales was disrespectful to his teammates, coaches and the players who narrowly missed out on the final roster. 

Speaking about the situation in a room full of strangers was foolish by Gregg Berhalter. No matter the ground rules of the event, a U.S. national team head coach has to know that revealing inside-the-locker-room details in any unfamiliar setting may cause a leak.



It should go without saying that Gregg Berhalter abusing Rosalind was reprehensible. She will have to always carry the trauma of the moment; he will have to live with the shame of it for the rest of his life. The knowledge of it should play a role in whether U.S. Soccer retains Berhalter, who was 18 when he abused Rosalind, as head coach. The ongoing investigation should also look into what the federation knew of the incident when Berhalter was first hired in December 2018. At that time, Berhalter’s brother Jay was a high-ranking executive at USSF, though Stewart was most directly responsible for the hire. 

The elder Reynas should feel shame, as well. Claudio Reyna admitted in a statement released earlier this month that he was texting Stewart and USMNT GM Brian McBride, another former U.S. teammate of his and Berhalter, about his frustration around Gio’s lack of playing time while in Qatar. That would be inappropriate behavior for a parent of an under-12 player. For a former USMNT captain and current MLS sporting director whose son was then at the World Cup, it was extremely unbecoming.

Those kinds of actions seem to be part of a pattern for Reyna, who, as first reported by Fox Sports last Thursday and later confirmed by sources to The Athletic, previously tried to influence then-U.S. under-17 national team head coach Raphael Wicky regarding his treatment of Gio at the 2019 U-17 World Cup.

Of course, none of that is nearly as bad as Danielle Reyna detailing the incident in which Berhalter kicked Rosalind to Stewart. The issue there isn’t with the revelation of the abuse, but how Danielle Reyna revealed it: without Rosalind’s consent. 

In her statement, Danielle didn’t say she told Stewart of the abuse out of any concern for Rosalind, her friend of more than 30 years. She didn’t say she told Stewart because she felt Gregg was morally incapable of coaching the USMNT. By her own admission, she naively didn’t even realize that what she said could prompt an investigation. 

It didn’t seem to matter to her that it wasn’t her story to share. It didn’t matter that she was once close friends with Rosalind. It didn’t even matter that the Berhalters dealt with the incident, reconciled and appear to have had a long, happy and fruitful marriage. The only thing that seemed to matter to Danielle was that Gregg made some comments about her son’s poor behavior at the World Cup. That was enough for her to drag another family through the mud. What she did was spiteful, vindictive and entirely out of proportion. 

Parts of Danielle’s statement read like she feels those in her family are the victims. That’s laughable. The only victims here are Rosalind Berhalter and her children, who have had to live through this uncomfortable experience under some incredibly bright lights. 

For the others, the next period could be determinative, as the independent investigation commissioned by U.S. Soccer is still open. 

Berhalter wants to stay on as U.S. head coach, and Stewart told reporters he’s still being considered, but there were legitimate questions even before this drama became public about whether he should be retained. The 2022 World Cup cycle was a solid but not overwhelming success on the field with some missteps popping up along the way.


Players who have been asked about the scandal over the last couple of weeks have been generally supportive of Berhalter, but it’s possible, as U.S. legend DaMarcus Beasley mentioned on HBO Max’s post-game show following the U.S. women’s 4-0 win at New Zealand on Tuesday, that his comments at the leadership symposium hurt his standing in the locker room. U.S. Soccer may determine that bringing back Berhalter would be too problematic, especially if the federation aims to be wholly focused on building positive momentum ahead of 2026. 

However, realistic alternatives to take over for Berhalter may be scarce. For one, coaching the USMNT might be a pretty dull prospect until 2026. As one of the host nations, there’s no qualifying on tap for the U.S. and no guarantee that the Americans will get into the 2024 Copa America. The only meaningful games for the U.S. men between now and the start of the next World Cup could be against regional competition in the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup. For big-name, world-class managers, those tournaments probably won’t be all that attractive. And for all we know, U.S. Soccer, which has paid and continues to pay a mountain of legal fees thanks to various lawsuits and investigations, may not even be able to afford the kinds of salaries commanded by the top managers on the market. 

Claudio Reyna’s future might also be affected. According to a statement issued by the federation on Jan. 3, during the course of the investigation, USSF “learned about potential inappropriate behavior towards multiple members of our staff by individuals outside of our organization. We take such behavior seriously and have expanded our investigation to include those allegations.” Given his statement about texting Stewart and McBride and the reporting about his messages about Wicky at the U-17 World Cup, that expanded scope could implicate Reyna, and may lead to repercussions by Austin FC, his employer.

Reyna said in his statement that “at no time did I ever threaten anyone, nor would I ever do so.” But if the investigation confirms instances of inappropriate behavior by Reyna, Austin should seriously consider whether they want to continue employing him as sporting director. 

Befitting the rest of this story, there’s also some interpersonal awkwardness at play in Austin, which is coached by former U.S. international Josh Wolff. The two-time World Cup veteran came to the club after spending six years as Berhalter’s top lieutenant, first with Columbus, then with the USMNT. Additionally, Austin is owned by Anthony Precourt, who hired Berhalter in Columbus in November 2013. That’s a pair of individuals with deep connections to Berhalter on either side of Reyna on the Austin organizational chart.

Austin, for what it’s worth, has already put some distance between themselves and Reyna — at least temporarily. Since Jan. 5, the day after news broke that the Reynas were involved in this scandal, the club has not quoted Claudio in either of its two first-team roster-related press releases, instead including color from Wolff or director of player personnel Sean Rubio. Under normal circumstances, Reyna is quoted in announcements regarding the roster. A club spokesperson declined to comment on the reasoning behind the change when reached on Tuesday. 

There are questions to be answered for Gio Reyna, too. He’s still young and can certainly grow from his poor behavior in Qatar, but not giving proper effort at the World Cup is a pretty significant red flag regardless of age. Reyna is talented, but feeling like he deserved to start for a U.S. team that he didn’t play a significant role for during qualifying because of injuries suggests a degree of entitlement incommensurate with what he’s actually done on the field. It also ignores the ability of fellow wingers Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah, who started and performed well in front of Reyna in Qatar.



His first time back in the U.S. locker room could be a bit uncomfortable, too. It may not end up being an issue, but it’s not hard to imagine some of his teammates looking at him sideways after his mom and dad escalated this drama.

If Reyna responds to this situation with humility, by putting his head down and using his substantial gifts to earn his place in the team, he’ll be fine for both club and country. If he doesn’t, it could negatively affect his career.

More than anything, this is an absurd, sad way for the U.S. men to close out one relatively successful World Cup cycle and enter into what should be an exciting moment for the entire American soccer community. We don’t know what will come of this madness, but we do know that what should’ve been a positive moment has already been indelibly tainted.

Arsenal take big step towards Premier League title, Barcelona’s statement win over Real Madrid, more

Jan 16, 2023 Gab MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

It’s back! The first Marcotti Musings of 2023 is here, and the European soccer weekend offered up plenty to talk about, from ArsenalBarcelona and Man United getting memorable, morale-boosting wins over their rivals Tottenham, Real Madrid and Man City respectively to more pain at Liverpool.

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

Also, Newcastle are for real, Chelsea picked up precious points (while also signing Mykhailo Mudryk, an Arsenal target) and Atletico Madrid‘s top four hopes in LaLiga are fading fast.

It’s Monday, and Gab Marcotti reacts to the biggest moments in the world of football.

Arsenal take another big step towards the title, while Spurs have plenty to reflect on

Arsenal have been top of the Premier League table since day one, yet many of us expected them to falter at some point. Not least because, well, their pace doesn’t look sustainable: At this rate, they’ll collect 99 points, which would be the second-highest total in league history. And so you find yourself looking at the fixture list and trying to pick out games where they could drop points.Tottenham away on Sunday was one of those games. It’s the North London derby, Spurs had beaten them the previous season, Arsenal had been held at home by Newcastle in their last league outing, Eddie Nketiah was still starting up front … except it didn’t happen. On the contrary, Arsenal turned in a masterful, comprehensive performance at both ends of the pitch, winning 2-0.


It’s true that the first goal was thanks to a howler by Hugo Lloris and the second was a long-range, low-xG shot by Martin Odegaard (and one that Lloris might have done better with, too). But the attacking display in the first half left Spurs fighting shadows and frankly, they could have scored more.

Mikel Arteta’s set-up — whether you call it a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 — becomes a tricky, asymmetrical unit when Oleksandr Zinchenko steps into midfield, combining with Granit Xhaka and Gabriel Martinelli down the left, while Bukayo Saka has the run of the right wing. It works because the players know their jobs and have fully bought into Arteta’s instructions and are committed to them. It also works because they’ve largely stayed fit: even Gabriel Jesus‘ absence has been successfully weathered thus far, not because Nketiah is anywhere near his level (he isn’t), but because he’s smart and can replicate much of what the Brazilian brought to the table in terms of movement, on and off the ball.

Across the way, Antonio Conte could sit back and point to the xG, individual errors, some excellent saves by Aaron Ramsdale or the absence of Rodrigo Bentancur for an alibi. But if he did, he’d be lying to himself. Tottenham were passive and entirely lacking in the intensity we usually associate with Conte-led sides during the first half. On top of that, they defended deep and narrow, and Arsenal went to town on them.

– Ogden: Predicting the PL title race, top four
– Reaction: Arsenal are finally title faves

Some have criticised him for his substitutions, leaving Son Heung-Min (who was having a major off-day) on the pitch and giving Richarlison only 20 minutes to make an impact. I have less of an issue with that: replacing Son with Richarlison would have left him with no alternatives if he then wanted to send on another striker. Also, sending on Richarlison for a defender would have meant switching to a back four. Conte eventually did that, of course, but you can see how he did not want to go 4-2-4 too early.Fourth place is now five points away, and Tottenham have to continue to believe they’ll catch somebody. But if they’re going to have a prayer, they can’t put on the sort of display we saw before the break.As for Arsenal, you’re still looking at the fixture list and figuring out where they might stumble. It’s just that with every week that passes, there are fewer and fewer of those games.


Just Women’s Sports – Kate Yanchulis KATE YANCHULIS


Lynn Williams made a triumphant return for the U.S. women’s national team in Wednesday’s 4-0 win against New Zealand.The 29-year-old forward had not played for the USWNT since last February, but she did not miss a step in her first game back. What does her return mean for the team as it prepares for the 2023 World Cup?


In March 2022, Williams tore her hamstring in the Kansas City Current’s opening match of the NWSL Challenge Cup.“The [doctors] said that my tendon has probably been hanging off slightly for the past couple of years and it was too much,” she said.She spent the next 10 months working her way back from injury before she was named to the roster for the USWNT’s January trip to New Zealand.


While Williams started the match on the bench, she came on in the 67th minute for Mallory Swanson, who also shined in the win. Just seven minutes later, she headed a cross from Trinity Rodman past New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler. The goal was the 15th of her career but her first since October 2021.“It feels amazing, but I give it to my teammates — they’ve been there with me through the whole way and supporting me and being like, ‘You’ve got this, Lynn.’ So it feels incredible,” Williams told ESPN after the match.


With Williams’ return, the USWNT’s talented forward line gets even more crowded.In 2022, Swanson, Alex Morgan and Sophia Smith featured most often in the starting lineup, with Megan Rapinoe, Trinity Rodman, Ashley Hatch, Midge Purce and Alyssa Thompson as substitutes. And Catarina Macario and Christen Press are working their way back from injury, with both expected back in the next several months.“It’s not easy to be a forward in the United States right now,” coach Vlatko Andonovski said last June. And that sentiment is only becoming truer.Still, Williams provides a defensive presence on the forward line, which could make her a valuable addition to the roster. While she did not receive a roster spot for the 2019 World Cup under coach Jill Ellis, she fit well in Andonovski’s system after he took the helm.

The VAR Review: Why Bruno Fernandes’ goal in Manchester derby stood even though United’s Marcus Rashford was offside

Jan 16, 2023Dale Johnson General Editor, ESPN FC

Video Assistant Referee causes controversy every week in the Premier League, but how are decisions made, and are they correct?

After each weekend we take a look at the major incidents, to examine and explain the process both in terms of VAR protocol and the Laws of the Game.

– How VAR decisions affected every Prem club in 2022-23
– VAR in the Premier League: Ultimate guide

JUMP TO: Newcastle 1-0 Fulham | Brentford 2-0 Bournemouth | Villa 2-1 Leeds | Forest 2-0 Leicester

Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City

Possible offside: Rashford on Fernandes goal

What happened: Manchester United equalised in the 78th minute when Marcus Rashford ran onto a ball from Casemiro down the centre, though was clearly played offside by Manuel Akanji. Rashford chased the ball but didn’t touch it, and Bruno Fernandes ran over and took the shot instead. The assistant, Darren Cann, raised his flag for offside, but referee Stuart Attwell awarded the goal after a short discussion.

VAR decision: Goal stands.https://www.youtube.com/embed/GTIw4n0f2MM?start=87&wmode=transparent

VAR review: In the spirit of the game, and certainly in terms of “what football expects” (a phrase regularly used by the lawmakers), there seems little doubt that offside would have been a better decision. No one would really have argued had the goal been disallowed. But the Laws of the Game are not this straightforward, especially when it comes to subjective elements of offside.

While the assistant made the decision to flag Rashford offside, the referee remains in charge of the subjective elements and, from his viewpoint, decided at no point Rashford had impacted an opponent.

The key question for the VAR, Michael Oliver, is whether Attwell has made a clear error in law to overrule the assistant and allow the goal. And the answer under the current offside law, whether we like it or not, is undoubtedly no. Oliver would only send the referee to the monitor if he felt the decision was incorrect in law, and not just for a second look.

This doesn’t mean we won’t see similar incidents given offside, because it’s so subjective and, in most cases, officials will err on the side of caution and give the offside. Indeed, had Fernandes not scored, then it’s almost certain the game would have restarted with the offside free kick to Manchester City. Later on Saturday, Liverpool‘s Trent Alexander-Arnold was given offside when chasing a ball that went out for a throw-in, and just like in this example, he didn’t touch the ball. The Alexander-Arnold offside was certainly an incorrect flag in law, and Liverpool should have had a throw-in.

To understand why it’s not a clear and obvious error by Attwell, we need to delve into the law itself.

The moment the ball is passed sets offside position only. A player cannot be offside from where they are on the pitch, it’s about their actions in relation to the ball or an opponent.

Rashford cannot be deemed to be “interfering with play,” because this applies exclusively to “playing or touching a ball” and is an automatic offside offence. As Rashford didn’t touch the ball, he cannot be “interfering with play.”

Which leaves us with four tests for “interfering with an opponent.” Rashford has to fail one of these to be offside.

1) Preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision

While some may argue this applies to Rashford because he is in front of Akanji, this refers to a player blocking another player’s line of vision when the ball is played. This is more applicable to a situation where a player is stood in front of the goalkeeper when a teammate shoots on goal.

2) Challenging an opponent for the ball

Akanji and Kyle Walker were never within playing distance of Rashford or the ball itself during the move so, in law, the United striker cannot be deemed to be challenging an opponent. Had Akanji got back to Rashford, it would have been a different judgement.

3) Clearly attempting to play a ball that is close when this action impacts an opponent

Again, in law Rashford doesn’t attempt to play the ball and as Akanji is a few yards behind him, he cannot be impacting on him. He cannot be offside purely by running towards the ball, he must be impacting an opposition player.

4) Making an obvious action which clearly impacts the ability of an opponent to play the ball

This is the one clause that Rashford could be deemed to break. However, this usually involves an attacking player either dummying the ball, or attempting to play it, with an opposition player directly impacted from intercepting or clearing the ball. One such example was Bryan Mbeumo‘s goal for Brentford at Newcastle, which was ruled out through VAR for offside in the buildup against Ivan Toney, who had moved his body to let the ball run through past a defender.

Rashford slows down as the ball reaches the edge of the box. It has been described by some as a “feint,” or “shaping to shoot,” but it’s very much open to interpretation; equally, you could say he is simply stopping his run. In any case, remember this action has to “clearly impact on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.” That cannot apply to Akanji, as he is never within playing distance of the ball; as Fernandes is the next player to the ball it’s difficult to say that Rashford has directly impacted Walker.

The real case for discussion is about Ederson, and whether his actions would have changed had Rashford not been there. Perhaps, but Rashford doesn’t impact the goalkeeper’s ability to come and play the ball. He may affect his choice to do so, and how he might shape for a save, but the law doesn’t discuss how a player might behave differently if the offside player isn’t present; it only discusses the ability of an opponent to play the ball.

Goals like this are rare, and in most cases the offside will be upheld. But subjectively it isn’t an incorrect decision by Attwell to allow it, and the independent assessment panel is unlikely to say this was a missed intervention.

It’s as though Akanji is penalised for playing a good offside trap, as he checks his run initially. But again, this doesn’t get taken into account in law.

The majority of referees would likely agree this is onside in law, but it wouldn’t be a universal opinion. That’s why there is a subjective argument on both sides, but most of the weight is probably on it being a goal when it’s judged after the fact.

Of course, this kind of goal is only possible in a VAR league, because ordinarily the flag would have gone up against Rashford before Fernandes hit the shot. It’s the second goal Fernandes has scored this season thanks to VAR protocol, the other coming against Tottenham in October. After a delayed flag against Harry Kane the ball fell to Luke Shaw and referee Simon Hooper played advantage, with United scoring on a fast break.

Newcastle United 1-0 Fulham

Possible penalty: Burn foul on Pereira

What happened: In the 64th minute, Andreas Pereira went down in the area when he appeared to be pulled back by Dan Burn, but referee Robert Jones waved away the appeals for a penalty.

VAR decision: No penalty.https://www.youtube.com/embed/YBnIHWKNcRw?start=397&wmode=transparent

VAR review: A decision which certainly wouldn’t have been overturned if the referee had awarded the penalty, and it would have been a red card for Burn too, but there isn’t quite enough in it for a VAR overturn in the Premier League.

There’s no doubt that Burn had his hand on Pereira’s arm, but was it enough to make the Fulham player go to ground in the way he did? Probably not, and that will influence the decision of the VAR.

Based upon past examples of on-field decisions supported by the independent assessment panel, it is unlikely to say this was a wrong decision.

Possible penalty: Foul by Trippier on De Cordova-Reid

What happened: Immediately after the Burn-Pereira incident, Bobby De Cordova-Reid was challenged by Kieran Trippier on the edge of the area, but again the referee wasn’t interested in a penalty.

VAR decision: Penalty, goal disallowed for a double touch by Aleksandar Mitrovic.https://www.youtube.com/embed/YBnIHWKNcRw?start=417&wmode=transparent

VAR review: This was a poor VAR intervention from Mike Dean, as De Cordova-Reid appears to commit the first offence. The Fulham midfielder missed the ball and caught Trippier on the top of the foot before the Newcastle United player made contact with his opponent.

If referee Jones had given the penalty, you could probably see a subjective reason to stay with the on-field decision. But there was no clear and obvious error not to give the penalty to De Cordova-Reid, who also went to ground in an exaggerated fashion.

Jones didn’t appear to be shown the clearest angle where De Cordova-Reid steps on Trippier, and this can be one of the problems with this part of the protocol. At the monitor, the VAR shows the referee the evidence to support the overturn, rather than a more complete picture of the incident — though the referee can ask for additional replays.

There’s a high chance this will be considered an incorrect intervention.

As Mitrovic kicked the ball with his right foot onto his left foot to score the penalty, the goal has to be disallowed with play restarting with a free kick to Newcastle.

Brentford 2-0 Bournemouth

Possible penalty overturn: Senesi foul on Toney

What happened: Brentford were awarded a penalty in the 37th minute when Marcos Senesi brought Ivan Toney to the ground inside the area.

VAR decision: Penalty stands, scored by Toney.https://www.youtube.com/embed/lPW8CLRi-JA?start=32&wmode=transparent

VAR review: At first, this seemed to be a good decision by referee Jarred Gillett. However, once you look at the incident more closely there is a clear case that Toney first fouls Senesi. The Brentford striker appears to lock arms with his opponent, and as they spin round Senesi brings him to the ground as he falls.

Andre Marriner, the VAR, has decided that it wasn’t a clear error by the referee to award the spot kick and not enough evidence for the decision to be overturned. After the two players have their arms locked, Senesi then brings his left arm around Toney causing both to go to ground, which can be the only reason the VAR has supported this decision.

There is very little chance the VAR would have advised a penalty had the referee not awarded it himself.

Last season, there was a missed VAR overturn when Brighton’s Neal Maupay pulled the arm of Leicester City’s Jannik Vestergaard, leading to a penalty for handball. That was more obvious than the Toney example, but it does show how officials should be looking for infringements by an attacker before any offence by a defender.

Aston Villa 2-1 Leeds United

Possible penalty: Luiz foul on Rodrigo

What happened: In the 24th minute, Leeds United had a free kick just outside the area which was played quickly through the centre by Brenden AaronsonRodrigo went down under a challenge from Douglas Luiz, who had his arm across the attacker, but referee Michael Oliver waved play on.

VAR decision: No penalty.https://www.youtube.com/embed/VRboElbBvVs?start=139&wmode=transparent

VAR review: Much like the penalty claim for Pereira against Newcastle, this is an incident which in the Premier League has almost always been left to the on-field official. There is clearly an arm on Rodrigo by Luiz, but it debatable whether that had enough impact on the Leeds United player to warrant a VAR penalty to be advised by Andy Madley.

Another decision which would have stayed as a penalty if given by Oliver, but is unlikely to go down as a missed VAR intervention by the independent panel.

Nottingham Forest 2-0 Leicester City

Possible onside: Johnson on disallowed goal

What happened: In the 56th minute, Brennan Johnson broke through on goal from a Morgan Gibbs-White ball and scored, but the flag went up for offside.

VAR decision: Goal.https://www.youtube.com/embed/m4j40YwDDtQ?start=242&wmode=transparent

VAR review: From the first replay on television it looked as though Johnson had to be offside, but once the technology had been applied the striker was clearly onside.

It wasn’t even close enough for Johnson to need the tolerance level applied to the tech to be given onside.

There were two other VAR overturns for offside over the weekend, both very clear decisions.

On Friday, Aston Villa were awarded a goal when Emiliano Buendia (the player who is further back on this offside image) was wrongly flagged offside — meaning two goals were added through VAR over the weekend.

Brighton & Hove Albion, meanwhile, thought they had a penalty against Liverpool but Solly March was clearly offside in the buildup and the spot kick was overturned.

Information provided by the Premier League and PGMOL was used in this story.

Copyright: © ESPN Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Predicting the Premier League title race, battle for top four: Will Arsenal be champions? Can Liverpool save their season?

Jan 16, 2023 Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

The Premier League hits the halfway stage this week and the clubs chasing the title and or a top-four finish — and with it, Champions League qualification for next season — face a crucial set of fixtures in the days ahead.

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

Manchester City take on Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday, Liverpool play Chelsea two days later and leaders Arsenal meet a resurgent Manchester United at the Emirates on Sunday. Each of those games have become huge for different reasons for the teams involved.And with the so-called “Big Six” all facing games against each other (while Man United also play Crystal Palace on Wednesday), third-placed Newcastle United can maintain their surprise title challenge by beating Palace at St James’ Park on Saturday.The prospects of each team will become clearer at the end of this pivotal week, but what are they all chasing and how will the season pan out from this point onward?


1st place, 47 points, +28 goal difference

The objective

At the start of the season, Arsenal simply wanted to finish in the top four and return to the Champions League for the first time since 2017. But the Gunners are now aiming much higher, and having opened an eight-point lead at the top of the table, Mikel Arteta’s team are now favourites to win the title for the first time since 2004.

What do they need?

Arsenal have lost just once all season in the league, against Manchester United at Old Trafford in September, and have dropped only seven points in 18 games. If they maintain that kind of form, Arsenal could hit 100 points, but with all of their rivals displaying inconsistency at some stage of this campaign, it will not take such a high total to win the title. If they win all 20 of their remaining games, Manchester City would still only amass 99 points, so Arsenal simply need to hold their nerve and make the most of their eight-point advantage.

What can go wrong?

Arteta’s team is just that: a team. They are a collective that doesn’t rely on one outstanding player, but captain Martin Odegaard, winger Bukayo Saka and goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale have grown as the season has progressed. If Arsenal were to lose any of those players, or midfielder Thomas Partey, for a lengthy period, they would find it tough to replace them. But they have not yet been impacted by Gabriel Jesus‘ absence through injury since the World Cup. The one question to be answered is how Arsenal react to a setback or poor run of results. Do they have the squad depth and experience to stay the course? So far, they have been unfazed by the pressure of being leaders.

Where will they finish?

As champions. Sunday’s win at Tottenham was huge. Arsenal are now favourites, and rightly so.


2nd, 39 pts, +28 GD

The objective

Make no mistake, Manchester City’s objective this season is to win the Champions League, and if they do that, a barren season in the domestic competitions won’t worry anyone at the Etihad. But City are attempting to become only the fifth English club to win three successive league titles, and coach Pep Guardiola loves making history, so they will be desperate to reel Arsenal in.

What do they need?

City need to find some consistent form. They have won only four of their past eight games in all competitions and have lost their past two, so these are unusually difficult times for Guardiola’s side. Back in 2017-18, City won a record 18 successive Premier League games, and they may have to do that again to turn the screw on Arsenal. With the champions still to play the Gunners home and away this season, they can turn the situation around with wins in both fixtures.


What can go wrong?

Maybe it has already started to go wrong. City have scored just six goals in their past eight away games in all competitions, and Erling Haaland, incredibly, has scored in just two away games since September. The free-flowing attacking football that City have mastered under Guardiola brought goals galore, but they have lost that fluency with Haaland in the team. Yes, they now have a formidable goal scorer, but away from home at least, opponents have found a way to stop City. Unless they can rediscover their cutting edge, the title will slip away.

Where will they finish?

Second. City have given themselves too much to do, and their margin for error is now too thin for them to catch Arsenal.


3rd, 38 pts, +22 GD

The objective

European qualification and a first trophy since 1969 would have been a dream scenario at the start of the season and Eddie Howe’s team are on course for both. But a place in the Carabao Cup semifinals has been eclipsed by league form that sees Newcastle still in the title race and firmly in the hunt for a Champions League spot.

What do they need?

Newcastle need goals. Although they have the best defensive record in the league, the goals are beginning to dry up, with only one scored in their past three Premier League games. The return to fitness of club-record signing Alexander Isak could be crucial, however. The Sweden international scored the late winner in the 1-0 victory over Fulham on Sunday, and he now has three goals in four league appearances. If he can maintain form and fitness, Isak can be the man to score the goals to secure a top-four finish, especially if Miguel Almiron (nine in 19) continues his impressive season.

What can go wrong?

Newcastle are in unknown territory at the top end of the table having spent the best part of the past decade fighting relegation or attempting to win promotion back to the top flight. Their squad is still stocked with players who underperformed for years under previous managers, so can they sustain the team’s remarkable run that has seen them lose just once in the league all season? Howe has made some astute signings and transformed the team’s existing players, but when the heat is on, Newcastle’s lack of depth and genuine top-four quality could be their downfall.

Where will they finish?

Fifth. Newcastle have exceeded all expectations so far, but their rivals have better squads and players who are experienced in dealing with the pressure of the run-in.

Burley: Man United are in the title race after win vs. Man City

Craig Burley believes Man United are in the Premier League title race after their 2-1 win over Man City.


4th, 38 pts, +8 GD

The objective

United’s primary goal under new manager Erik ten Hag at the start of the season was to finish in the top four and stabilise after the club’s worst-ever Premier League campaign in 2021-22. A nightmare start with two successive defeats made that target look optimistic, but United are back on course and still alive in four competitions as they attempt to end a six-year trophy drought. Saturday’s win against City has sparked talk of a title bid. That seems premature, but if they beat Palace and Arsenal this week, United will be serious contenders.

What do they need?

Ten Hag has somehow brought results, consistency, confidence and belief back to Old Trafford in less than six months, and United simply need to sustain their revival. In the top 10, only Chelsea (22) have scored fewer goals than United (29), so there is obvious room for improvement in that department, hence the loan signing of Netherlands forward Wout Weghorst from Burnley. United have climbed into the top four thanks largely to Marcus Rashford‘s recent streak of eight goals in seven games, so Weghorst’s arrival is well-timed with Ten Hag needing an extra threat up front. But this is a decisive week. United have won nine games in a row, and if they make it 10 and 11 at Selhurst Park and the Emirates, the momentum could push United very close to the title.

What can go wrong?

United have had too many false dawns to mention in the decade since legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all saw great runs fizzle out into disappointment. While it feels different under Ten Hag, United could be knocked off course if any of Rashford, CasemiroBruno Fernandes or Raphael Varane were to miss a series of games. United are clearly on an upward trajectory again, but their lack of depth in key areas means they need to be lucky with injuries and suspensions.

Where will they finish?

Third. United are looking strong again, but they aren’t ready to win the title, and Arsenal and City will pull clear.


5th, 33 pts, +10 GD

The objective

Spurs looked well-placed to comfortably finish in the top four this season, but coach Antonio Conte’s team has been affected by inconsistency and injury to key players. So Spurs are once again facing a battle in the second half of the season to finish fourth and, at the same time, do enough to convince star striker Harry Kane that he can achieve his ambitions at the club. With Kane’s contract due to expire in June 2024, this is a huge six months for the club and the England captain.

What do they need?

Spurs have won three of their past eight games in all competitions, but they now face a potentially decisive run of three games that will shape their season. Conte’s team face City home and away, on either side of a London derby against high-flying Fulham at Craven Cottage, and they realistically need at least four points from those games to keep alive their flickering hope of a top-four finish. With a five-point gap between themselves and fourth-placed United, Spurs are already losing ground, and banking four points from their next three games looks a tall order considering their recent form.

What can go wrong?

The nightmare scenario is an injury to Kane, and the 29-year-old has had bad luck with injuries in the past, so his fitness will always be a worry. But even if Kane stays fit, Spurs have a mountain to climb to finish in the top four, and there is a risk that their form deteriorates further and they end up in a battle for Europa League qualification. And then there is Conte’s combustible personality. Right now, results and performances suggest a meltdown might not be far away.

Where will they finish?

Seventh. Spurs are drifting and they are not only at risk of being caught by Liverpool and Chelsea, but also by Fulham, Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Was Liverpool’s loss to Brighton their worst performance under Klopp?

Steve Nicol struggles to remember a worse Liverpool performance since Jurgen Klopp took over in 2015.


9th, 28 pts, +9 GD

The objective

Liverpool were expected to challenge for the title at the start of the season. It seems a lifetime ago now, but don’t forget that they were just two results away from achieving the Quadruple last season. Their title hopes evaporated months ago, but Jurgen Klopp’s team are targeting a top-four finish and, optimistically, Champions League glory.

What do they need?

A period of calm and stability, which can only come about with victories and key players returning from injury. Virgil van DijkDiogo JotaRoberto Firmino and Luis Diaz are all sidelined right now, and the team has suffered badly as a result of their absences. Liverpool also need to find some consistency in midfield. But although they are now 10 points adrift of fourth, Liverpool still possess the goal threat to turn the situation around. Two years ago, they overturned a 10-point deficit with nine games to go to finish in the top four, so they know what it takes and can still come good.

What can go wrong?

Klopp would probably say that everything that could possibly go wrong has already happened this season. Injuries to Mohamed Salah or goalkeeper Alisson would probably be the final blow to Liverpool’s top-four hopes, but the injured players are now on their way back to fitness. Maybe Liverpool have hit rock-bottom already, and the time has now come for a revival.

Where will they finish?

Fourth. Newcastle’s inexperience and the inconsistency of the other Champions League challengers is Liverpool’s way back into the top four, and they are the only team in the race who can go on a winning run to get there.

Can beating Crystal Palace kickstart Chelsea’s season?

Tom Hamilton reports on the mood from Chelsea after they beat Crystal Palace and unveil new man Mykhailo Mudryk.


10th, 28 pts, +1 GD

The objective

Chelsea had a summer of turmoil due to a change of ownership, but they still had ambitions to challenge for the title, with a top-four finish the bare minimum. But after sacking Thomas Tuchel as manager in September and replacing him with Graham Potter, the bottom has fallen out of Chelsea’s season, so fourth spot is now the only objective, aside from unlikely Champions League success.

What do they need?

Some kind of stability. Potter has yet to settle into the job — poor results means he might not get the chance — while the conveyor belt of new signings needs to stop at some point to allow them all to integrate and enable the manager to find a way to fit them into a functioning team. Chelsea have also had significant injuries to key players, including Reece James and N’Golo Kante, so Potter has been unfortunate, but there is too much noise on and off the pitch right now. Sunday’s win against Crystal Palace was much-needed as it ended a woeful run of seven defeats in 10 games. But if Chelsea are to finish in the top four, they have to start a winning run of a similar length to get back in the race.

What can go wrong?

Potter has the backing of the Chelsea owners, but the former Brighton manager is walking a tightrope after such a dismal run. If Chelsea go out of the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16 and fail to close the gap on the top four, Potter might find that the support of the hierarchy ebbs away. But not much more can go wrong for Chelsea. They are probably one defeat away from being knocked out of the race for the top four, and if that happens, a huge squad of overpriced players could become unmanageable.

Where will they finish?

Sixth. Chelsea still have quality players, so at some point they will find some form. But it won’t be enough to finish in the top four.

Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona: Xavi’s first trophy, brilliant Gavi and lacklustre Real

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - JANUARY 15: Ousmane Dembele and Robert Lewandowski of Barcelona celebrate with the trophy at the end of the Spanish Super Cup final match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at King Fahd International Stadium on January 15, 2023 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Barcelona won the match with 3-1. (Photo by Mohammed Saad/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

By The Athletic La Liga Writers Jan 15, 2023

Barcelona won their first piece of silverware under Xavi as they comfortably beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the Supercopa de Espana final in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Gavi put Barca ahead in the 33rd minute after a slide-rule pass from Robert Lewandowski before returning the favour for the striker, who put his side in full control when he scored himself in the 45th minute.edri put the finishing touches on the rout when he turned home another fine pass from Gavi in the 69th minute. Karim Benzema scored a consolation goal in stoppage time, but it was nowhere near enough for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Here’s The Athletic’s analysis of a big Clasico win for Barcelona against their fiercest rivals.

Who won the battle for midfield?

The two Clasico coaches often set up their teams in a 4-3-3 shape, but Xavi and Carlo Ancelotti added a fourth midfielder to their XIs for this Supercopa final — and it was Barca who were on top in the battle for possession and territory from the start. Their midfield seemed more compact than in recent Clasicos, helped by Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets working together at the base.

Pedri was also extremely influential from a No 10 position, with Gavi coming in from the left to excellent effect. Meanwhile, Luka Modric struggled to get involved, while Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde were physically imposing but did not retain possession effectively.

The opening goal soon came when Busquets chose his moment to push right up the pitch and take advantage of Antonio Rudiger’s poor pass to rob Camavinga, with Pedri close by to help out, and Gavi over on the left to score.

Barca’s better midfield shape was also clear in the second half, with supposed ‘holder’ Toni Kroos caught out of position and De Jong and Gavi combining to give Lewandowski a relatively simple finish.

Both goals came directly from how Xavi’s team had won the tactical battle. Ancelotti sending on Rodrygo for Camavinga at half-time was both an admission that he got his XI wrong, and that Madrid needed something very different at 0-2 down. They did not find it.

Dermot Corrigan

How did Real’s poor defending lead to Barca’s fast start?

Real Madrid’s defensive instability was evident in the first half. Only Thibaut Courtois and his saves prevented Xavi’s team from scoring more, and they took full advantage of the fact that Rudiger was still dizzy after a knock. The centre-back gave up possession in his own half — perhaps even to Barcelona’s surprise — before Lewandowski coolly set up Gavi for the opening goal.


But Madrid’s mistakes didn’t stop there. Their press was too uneven, Modric failed to cover Andreas Christensen’s pass out from the back and Kroos also failed to stop Busquets’ pass.


Dani Carvajal lost his duel with De Jong, who delivered a crucial pass into the heart of the box, and Rudiger was left alone to cover another onslaught from Gavi and Lewandowski. The Barcelona duo swapped roles and Courtois could do little to stop Gavi’s pass to Lewandowski, who virtually turned home into an empty net to make it 2-0.  Their defence was also cut apart with ease for Pedri’s effort.

Guillermo Rai

Where has Madrid’s spark gone?

Ancelotti was asked on Saturday whether his players would have 100 per cent motivation for this Supercopa, given how much they have previously won, and everything else they have to play for this season.

“This club is very demanding, these players’ bellies are never full,” the Italian replied, adding that they were fully focused on winning another Supercopa as part of a step-by-step process towards a possible haul of six trophies across 2022-23.

Madrid’s performance did not suggest his players’ focus was complete. Not for the first time recently, their key players looked to be below their top competitive level.

Throughout the game, Barca were just sharper both mentally and physically, winning their individual battles. The difference between the performances of thirtysomethings Kroos and Modric and youngsters Gavi and Pedri was striking, with the latter two teaming up for Barca’s third goal.


Madrid’s last complete team performance was the 3-1 La Liga Clasico win over Barcelona at the Bernabeu in mid-October. They had 14 wins and two draws in their first 16 games in all competitions. But then the focus seemed to switch slightly to the World Cup, and they have lost four of their last 10 either side of many of their players’ trip to Qatar.

All the disruption to the season is not helping, and on Thursday they have a very tricky Copa del Rey last-16 tie at Villarreal (where they lost in La Liga last weekend). Next month, they have to travel again to Morocco for the Club World Cup, just before their Champions League round-of-16 tie with Liverpool.

Though Benzema contributed a late effort, Ancelotti has a job to do to get his team’s focus back, rapido.

Dermot Corrigan

How impressive was Gavi?

There are not many players who can say they have played five Clasicos at just 18 years of age, but Gavi showed once again he is more than capable on this stage. He was the standout player.

Gavi took full control of the spaces Real Madrid left in behind, he linked up wonderfully with Pedri and Lewandowski and also showed that he can play as a left-winger.

He played a part in all three Barca goals. He scored the first goal after a great link-up with Lewandowski and became the youngest scorer in the Supercopa de Espana’s history, in the process surpassing his own coach Xavi.

He also became the youngest player to score in a Clasico (at 18 years and 163 days old) since Ansu Fati in 2020. He assisted Lewandowski’s second goal and Pedri’s third.

The teenager showed a technical flair and a mentality that belied his young age in a game like this, with a trophy at stake and against Barca’s eternal rivals.



Laia Cervello Herrero

What should Madrid do at right-back now?

Between Carvajal’s poor form and the lack of reliable alternatives at right-back, Real Madrid are having a torrid time this season, and that continued in this Clasico.

Alvaro Odriozola does not figure in Ancelotti’s plans, centre-back Eder Militao did not work out in that position when he played there in the 2-1 defeat to Villarreal and, despite Carvajal still not being at his best, he had no choice but to play.

In other circumstances, Nacho would have played as a starter, but his involvement in the team this year is practically non-existent (he has only played 140 minutes in La Liga).

With all that in mind, and despite the fact that Ousmane Dembele was on the pitch, those who benefitted most were actually midfielders Gavi and Pedri, who had plenty of space to run into. And for Barca’s second and third goals, Xavi’s side could raid Madrid’s right flank to ensure the Supercopa was theirs.

Guillermo Rai

How big a boost is this win for Xavi?

This win was huge for Xavi — for lots of reasons.

Most obviously, the former playmaker now has his first trophy as Barca coach. His first 12 months in charge had brought disappointments: last year’s Supercopa semi-final defeat to Madrid, a Copa del Rey exit to Athletic Bilbao, a Europa League defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, and last autumn’s inability to progress through their Champions League group.

But now Xavi can point to a big win, and one in which his own tactical acumen was crucial. Doubts about his game plans, team selections and substitutions had been getting louder around Camp Nou, where some were wondering if the he had the experience and nouse to get the most out of the squad that Barca president Joan Laporta and his board had pulled so many financial levers to assemble.

This is extra important given the club’s still perilous financial position, which means that more difficult transfer decisions will have to be taken, both during this month’s transfer window and in the summer.



A trophy victory, in a Clasico against Madrid, will significantly strengthen Xavi’s position everywhere — with his players, with his president and with the fans. The Supercopa may not be the most important competition there is, but the manner of the victory makes it more likely that Xavi will be able to follow it with bigger trophies over the months and years to come.

Crucially, the legendary midfielder has put a smile back on the face of even the most sceptical Cule. He has returned Barca to winning ways after a period of change at the club and has enhanced his credibility as coach with this Supercopa victory.

USWNT thinking about the past, preparing for the future in New Zealand

USWNT thinking about the past, preparing for the future in New Zealand

By Meg Linehan Jan 16, 2023


The USWNT’s first “business trip” is fully underway in New Zealand, with the team now a few days into January camp in Auckland. On Tuesday, they’ll take the short trip down to Wellington for their first friendly against the Football Ferns, before returning to Auckland for the rematch. 

As part of the test run for this summer’s World Cup, eight players got their first taste of the local interest as part of an event set up by U.S. Soccer to provide access for New Zealand media.



Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Naomi Girma, Sofia Huerta, Mal Swanson, Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle all took their 10-minute turns at each of the media stations in The Cloud, at the end of Queen’s Wharf overlooking the Auckland harbor. On the pier below, a few fishermen tended to a number of rods as ferries passed back and forth out in the water. 

Compared to other USWNT media events, it felt relatively calm — for as many cameras that were packed into the room and on the balcony overlooking the water, it was considerably less chaotic than other media days the team has experienced ahead of major tournaments. 

But before the first batch of four players arrived, the FIFA Women’s World Cup mascot, Tazuni, waited at the top of the stairs. Everyone wanted a photo with Tazuni (myself included). As Morgan, Dunn, Sauerbrunn and Girma climbed the stairs, Tazuni was waiting, all six feet-plus of penguin mascot topped with blue hair, waving, fully in character. The slightly surreal media grind ahead of a World Cup had officially begun.

Lindsey Horan meets Tazuni, the 2023 World Cup mascot. (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

As the only American reporter in the room, it was fascinating to see the team and its players through the eyes of the New Zealand writers I was seated with. Everyone else at the table remarked how impressed they were with the set-up — from the written bios and photos of players the U.S. Soccer communications staff had sent out in advance, to the fact that pretty much any topic was on the table. These are all things any U.S. reporter would not only expect, but take for granted.

At our table, some themes started to emerge: The local press was just as captivated by the pressure surrounding the USWNT on their quest to win a third consecutive World Cup and the dynamics of the team. There wasn’t much new ground in this line of questioning, but maybe it was something about the distance, or the fact that it’s finally a World Cup year, or that every session was less about the specifics of the team now and more about the big picture, but there was a reflective nature to each of these 10-minute sessions.


“That’s an expectation that this team has carried for many years, almost since the existence of this team, or a few years after starting with the ‘91 World Cup,” Alex Morgan said. But like every other player, she was ready to also look beyond the USWNT. 

“It’s a mentality that has been passed down, but at the same time, there are so many amazing teams in this sport now, countries that are putting so much more effort into their women’s side. You’re seeing that with the expansion of the World Cup to 32 teams, the domestic leagues doing so well around the world, the NWSL going through its 10th season, knowing that there are so many leagues supporting women’s football players around the world. It’s been a really exciting journey to go through this and just know what we’ve fought for and where we are now — and just how incredibly important it is for us to continue to push, raise the bar a little bit on the national team level because every single match is incredibly competitive now, and it wasn’t like that 10 years ago.”

The expanded tournament was a recurring topic, but it also invited questions about competitive balance. As exciting as the debuts of multiple countries in this tournament will be, it could reopen the same conversation from 2019 if there are lopsided results.

“There was so much commotion and talk about the Thailand game (at the 2019 World Cup),” Crystal Dunn said, “but at the end of the day, a team like Thailand is in a World Cup for the very first time, people know about that team now. That’s the biggest takeaway from that moment.” 

For Dunn, the expansion to 32 teams was crucial for global exposure and awareness, something the women’s game still needs.

Becky Sauerbrunn echoed those exact sentiments. 

“With that Thailand game, we have to remember that Thailand tied Australia in the qualifiers for that tournament,” she said “On any given day, a team can beat another team.” 

Sauerbrunn also brought up the additional eyeballs a World Cup draws, but continued, “Now you’ve got money from FIFA being earmarked to these teams that will hopefully go into the infrastructure of the system, potentially creating a domestic league.” 

More attention, more investment, more infrastructure are all wins, even if they may not be perfect at this moment in time.



And there is something very specific to the World Cup bump. 

“These tournaments are what changes everything people see,” said Lindsey Horan. “Some of the best players, some of the best players on the Ferns,” she added, nodding at the table, “people go and Google, look it up. This is what these World Cups are meant for. It puts these players on a stage that they’ve waited to be on for four years. I really hope that (level of awareness) changes for certain teams, and for teams that have never been in a World Cup, as well.”

Whether it was reflecting on Thailand, or these two upcoming friendlies against the Ferns — which could have some lopsided results of their own, with many key New Zealand players not released by their clubs due to these two games taking place outside a FIFA window — or the USWNT’s group-stage opponents aside from The Netherlands, there was a clear ethos and respect: No opponent is taken lightly, no matter what the expectations are for the USWNT.

“We always think teams are going to put their best performance out against us,” Dunn said. “We’ve seen it before where we’re expected to always win, we’re expected to dominate games, and we don’t take our foot off the pedal. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against. It’s always about us, it’s about our preparation, it’s about us fine-tuning things and getting better and better. It can’t be about the outside noise of what people think and expect us to do. It’s about who we are as a team, and who we want to be. And we’re always striving to be the best versions of ourselves as players.”

Outside noise always seems to be a topic that comes up for the USWNT in a World Cup year (nothing might beat the 2019 World Cup, considering the number of off-the-field narratives swirling about the team, from the fight for equal pay to the Thailand game to Twitter beef with the then-President to the completely absurd Hotelgate), but in this particular case, there’s still some fresh memories from how the fall went sideways for the team with their three-game losing streak.

“We had some highs (in 2022), and we had some really low lows,” Rose Lavelle said. “I’ve always felt this personally, and I think on a team level too, you learn the most about yourself in those moments. Obviously, when we lose three in a row, there’s always going to be a lot around it. Nobody has higher expectations for us than us, so it was a tough period.” 

As uncomfortable as that three-game stretch was, as much as they didn’t want to go through it, Lavelle firmly believed it will benefit the team heading into 2023. 

“You see everything on social media saying it’s the first time we’ve lost three games in a row since 1993, and when you’re seeing that as a player, it’s hard not to let it get to you,” said Sofia Huerta. “During that time, we addressed that in the locker room. We all talked about how people are going to say what they’re going to say, but we know what we’re capable of, which is what you saw in that last game versus Germany.”



Huerta pointed to the team’s resiliency as a factor for the USWNT’s current and historical success. The break between those fall friendlies and the World Cup year allowed a re-focusing, though she noted the team is still watching film from the final Germany game. “There are things we can get better at,” she said.

January camp has always had its own tradition in the USWNT year — the new start, a chance to settle back in — and once again the team is taking the opportunity to head to the World Cup host country just like they did in 2019. Still, as Dunn pointed out, “It’s the first camp of the year. It’s a great time for people to come back in and reset after spending some time off in the offseason.” 

Naomi Girma, coming off her rookie and defender of the year performance in the NWSL, already seemed a seasoned pro at the particular challenge of a media day. “Rosters change for most camps,” she noted, when asked about the number of players returning from injury between this camp and potentially over the next two FIFA windows. 

“Change is normal, and something that’s expected on a team like this one,” Girma continued. “It’s great to have (Emily Sonnett and Lynn Williams) back, I’m excited that they’re both back. But each roster, each camp, our goal is always to focus on the group that we have there, and then move on from there.”

There are specific benefits to being here in Auckland, followed by the pair of friendlies at Sky Stadium and Eden Park. Sauerbrunn pointed out that FIFA is mandating the team travels from their Auckland base camp to their tournament matches on matchday minus-one; the USWNT is replicating that travel to and from Wellington during this trip as they’ve never done it before as a team. There’s also benefits to getting in some time at all the various sites ahead of the summer (technically winter here, which caused multiple players to turn the tables on the local media to try to get a better sense of what weather to expect for matches). 

“Getting a feel for even the grass of the stadiums, the little things that maybe to an outsider don’t seem so important, but for us, it’s the difference between an own goal or not,” Sauerbrunn said.

“You also get a sense of the people in the country, and the culture. That’s really important, to be respectful as Americans coming in here, and you’re doing the right thing and you’re representing the USA really well. But you’re also representing New Zealand well, in that you’re bringing eyes to this country, and so you want to do it as well as possible.”



It’s rare for any NWSL team to come out of draft day without improving, but the questions following the chaos remain the same: Who got better immediately, who opted for slow, high-value growth, and who took too many risks?

Drafts are best analyzed at least a year after they occur, and hindsight is 20/20. But with one of the strongest draft classes in years, each team carved out a path for the 2023 season. Armed with picks, trades and team quotes, let’s evaluate how they did.


Kansas City Current – A

  • No. 2 Michelle Cooper, F; No. 10 Alexa Spaanstra, F; No. 15 Gabby Robinson, D; No. 18 Jordan Silkowitz, GK; No. 35 Mykiaa Minniss, D; No. 38 Ella Shamburger, D; No. 42 Rylan Childers, M; No. 47 Ashley Orkus, GK
  • Traded forward Lynn Williams to Gotham FC for the No. 2 overall pick

In both volume and impact, the Current cleaned up. Kansas City made a steep choice in sending Williams to Gotham to pick up Michelle Cooper, but general manager Cami Levin Ashton and head coach Matt Potter were adamant that they wanted Cooper as their cornerstone going forward.

Selecting Spaanstra at No. 10 was perhaps the team’s biggest steal. It was a bit of a surprise that she was still on the board at that point, and the winger is going to bring dynamism to the team’s wide attack. From there, the Current drafted solid players in positions of need, particularly at defense and goalkeeper. With eight total picks entering training camp, competition for contracts is going to be fierce in Kansas City in February.

Team says: “​​Michelle is somebody that we’ve obviously watched over the course of the last couple of years. And she’s somebody that we really wanted to be part of this organization. She’s an incredible talent and has showcased that at the collegiate level, and we’re very excited to have her with us in Kansas City.” — GM Cami Levin Ashton

Orlando Pride – A

  • No. 3 Emily Madril, D; No. 21 Messiah Bright, F; No. 25 Tori Hansen, D; No. 39 Summer Yates, M; No. 41 Kristen Scott, F
  • Traded the No. 24 and No. 34 picks to Washington Spirit for $75,000 in allocation money

The Pride made the right strategic pick at pretty much every point in the draft. Madril already has professional experience in Sweden and will be a crucial piece to Orlando’s backline rebuild. Messiah Bright is a fantastic pick-up at No. 21, since many (myself included) thought she’d be off the board by the middle of the second round.

Hansen and Yates were two other players projected to go higher than they ultimately landed. The Pride had the benefit of selecting not only the best players available, but also players at positions where they could use good, young talent. Yates is a little less proven against strong competition, and Hansen likely suffered positionally with few teams going all-in on defense, but both can make an impact in Orlando.

Team says: “[We gained] variety. We highlighted key players in key positions and you look at the picks that we got, they can come in and make an immediate impact to the team. I spoke about having a competitive environment in our training, and I think we have that in our draft picks.” — head coach Seb Hines

Gotham FC – A-

  • No. 4 Jenna Nighswonger, M; No. 44 Iliana Hocking, M
  • Traded the No. 2 pick for forward Lynn Williams; traded forward Paige Monaghan, an international slot and $150,000 to Racing Louisville for the No. 4 pick; also traded the No. 13 pick to the San Diego Wave for $100,000

It almost feels like you have to take a deep breath before even coming close to analyzing Gotham’s furious amount of activity this offseason, but with the dust mostly settled, things are looking good in New Jersey. Williams should be back to full fitness, and the cost of selecting Nighswonger seems reasonable considering the talent Gotham has picked up in other trades. Nighswonger has the ability to be the creative playmaker in the attacking midfield that Gotham has long wanted.

The only questions remaining from Gotham’s draft day are mostly in the “what if” category. What if Gotham had held onto the No. 1 pick? What if they had selected Michelle Cooper at No. 2? How do young players fit into the team’s vision, with the choice of a proven forward in Williams over the potential of a rookie? We’ll see how it plays out over time, but for now general manager Yael Averbuch West should be proud of her work.

Team says: “All of today was the culmination of thousands of conversations, and every decision we made was not taken in a vacuum. It’s part of a holistic look at how we, from yesterday to now, become a significantly better team.” — GM Yael Averbuch West

Portland Thorns – A-

  • No. 5 Reyna Reyes, D; No. 12 Izzy D’Aquila, F; No. 24 Lauren Debeau, F; No. 32 Lauren Kozal, GK
  • Traded No. 36 pick and $20,000 to Houston for the No. 32 pick, as well as the No. 48 pick for Houston’s 2024 third-round pick and $10,000

The Thorns didn’t need much, and yet the players they picked up could have a lasting impact on the club. Reyes can play outside back as well as midfield, and D’Aquila is an excellent addition to the team’s attacking depth, especially with a number of players likely out for the World Cup this summer. The only question mark following the Thorns’ draft is what the long-term plan is at center back, but that’s simply now a position to watch for other moves.

Anytime Thorns goalkeeper coach and former Germany international Nadine Angerer selects a goalkeeper, you can feel good about that player not only having an impact in Portland but also on the league at large in a few years’ time. Angerer has developed a number of players who currently start at other NWSL clubs, and if she thinks Lauren Kozal has what it takes, expect big things.

Team says: “For us, we wanted to keep our group together. As you’ve seen we haven’t had too much turnover in the offseason, and we wanted to know where can we add to our roster to make us better” — GM Karina Leblanc


Houston Dash – A-

  • No. 20 Sophie Hirst, M; No. 22 Jylissa Harris, D; No. 36 Lindsi Jennings, D; No. 48 Madelyn Desiano, D
  • Traded the No. 8 pick, their 2024 first-round pick, an international slot and $100,000 to North Carolina for forward Diana Ordoñez; sent the No. 30 pick to Washington for the No. 32 pick and $30,000; sent the No. 32 pick to Portland for No. 36 and $20,000, and their 2024 third-round pick and $10,000 to the Thorns for the No. 48 pick.

The Dash benefited from player wishes and a North Carolina team in flux with their trade for Ordoñez, who set a rookie goal-scoring record last year with 11 goals. They will pay for the opportunity next year, trading out of the 2024 first round, but when a player of Ordoñez’s caliber becomes available, you jump at the chance to take her.

The Dash’s other picks fill positional needs, with Harvard product Hirst giving cover in the midfield and arguably the second-best center back on the board in Harris. Houston has to feel like they can get more out of the players they currently have while the additions give the whole team balance.

Team says: “One of the reasons to bring Ordoñez in was to get more out of María Sánchez, because she’s going to beat the player 1v1 on the dribble, she’s got an incredible delivery in the box, and one of the assessments that I had was that we need to get on the end of those deliveries.” — head coach Sam Laity


Chicago Red Stars – B+

  • No. 7 Penelope Hocking, F; No. 14 Grace Yochum, M; No. 23 Allison Schlegel, F; No. 43 Sophie Jones, M
  • Traded No. 19 to OL Reign for No. 23, an international spot, and a 2024 third round pick

This was a sneaky good draft from the Red Stars, a team where this year’s rookies will have the opportunity for a lot of playing time. Hocking was one of the best players still available at No. 7. The Penn State grad will be a good center-point to combine with Mallory Swanson up top and pick up attacking steam while the USWNT forward is away at the World Cup.

Fear of positional imbalances also fell away with Chicago’s selections of Yochum and Jones, both of whom have a chance for serious playing time in the midfield. Questions about Jones’ defensive capabilities were likely the reason she fell to the fourth round, but she is a first-round level passer. If the Red Stars can stay patient and give her support, she might be the steal of the draft.

Team says: “I think that you’d be a little bit naive to think that we don’t have good players, because we do have some very good players. We got some building blocks that we’ll build around, and we’ve got some players that I think a lot of people would like to have. So we’re not walking around with our tail between our legs. We do feel like we’re gonna have a good team.” — head coach Chris Petrucelli


Angel City FC – B+

  • No. 1 Alyssa Thompson, F; No. 27 Angelina Anderson, GK

Angel City had the most significant selection of the night, picking up the youngest draft pick in NWSL history in 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson. Thompson already has experience with the USWNT first team, and her potential to be L.A.’s next superstar is sky high. The team went all-in on an expensive top choice, and it could pay off for years to come.

When looking at the draft holistically, however, the $450,000 ACFC spent to select Thompson was noticeable. Angel City has worked with a deficit of assets in both of the drafts they’ve participated in so far. On Thursday, they had only one other pick after Thompson, which they used on goalkeeping depth. They’re going to have to use other transfer opportunities to fill positions of need, and it will be interesting to see how they move money around to have the depth they need to make it through the season.

Team says: “I think it shows a massive intent by the club, in terms of being aggressive to trade up and get the No. 1 pick. And we couldn’t be happier with getting a talented player who’s got a massive ceiling and who’s going to be able to make a difference. And then obviously getting someone so young and then being able to develop the person is huge.” — head coach Freya Coombe

Washington Spirit – B

  • No. 26 Nicole Douglas F; No. 28 Lyza Bosselman, GK; No. 30 Riley Tanner, F; No. 34 Lena Silano, F; No. 37 Civana Kuhlmann, F; No. 40 Delaney Graham, D
  • Traded defender Emily Sonnett to OL Reign for No. 32 and a 2024 first-round pick; sent No. 32 and $30,000 to the Dash in exchange for No. 30; sent $75,000 to Orlando for No. 29 and No. 34; sent No. 29 and a total of $55,000 to Racing Louisville for No. 28 and No. 40

The Spirit came into the draft with only two picks and came out with six, wheeling and dealing in the later rounds to buy in. Head coach Mark Parsons said at the draft that he had 2024 league expansion in mind with the moves the team made, and their late-round picks could pay dividends in the future.

Washington’s biggest move was the trade that sent Emily Sonnett to Seattle, marking the second time Parsons has traded the defender in their careers. The Spirit’s decision not to carry as many national players in order to maintain roster consistency has some logic to it, but Sonnett has been very good for Washington and was a big part of their 2021 championship season.

Team says: “We have a structural problem that we had to rebalance. If five players go to the World Cup, if five players — with expansion potentially coming — and also looking at how many of those players are going to play consistent minutes in the World Cup and how they will return, we’ve been open about the direction we feel that we’re gonna have to go.” — head coach Mark Parsons

San Diego Wave – B

  • No. 13 Sierra Enge, F; No. 33 Lauren Brzykcy, GK; No. 45: Giovanna DeMarco, M
  • Traded $100,000 to Gotham FC for the No. 13 pick

The Wave went with known properties over positions of need after making some strong free-agency moves. Enge, out of Stanford, should provide depth to the attacking line, as San Diego looks for consistent scorers outside of 2022 Golden Boot winner Alex Morgan.

The Wave will also need another backup keeper when Kailen Sheridan is out for the World Cup, and Brzykcy is fresh off a national championship with UCLA. Overall, San Diego has set itself up well through strong drafts last year and smart transfer pick-ups. Their rookies are coming into a good situation without a ton of pressure to carry the load.

Team says: “Sierra was a big target for us, we’re really pleased we got her. The fact that she can play multiple positions gives us a bit of versatility. Lauren has been in training with us anyway, so we know her character and we know what she’s like. And then Giovanna, I can’t believe she dropped so low down the order, because that is one really talented player. So we’re really, really happy with our picks.” — head coach Casey Stoney

OL Reign – B

  • No. 19 Shae Holmes, D; No. 46 Natalie Viggiano, M
  • Traded No. 32 and their 2024 first-round pick for defender Emily Sonnett; sent the No. 23 pick, a 2023 international spot and a 2024 third-round pick to Chicago for the No. 19 pick

Laura Harvey has never been a manager who prefers to build through the draft, and her team got better mostly through other moves this week. The Reign picked up Elyse Bennett from Kansas City on Wednesday, acquired Emily Sonnett in a late-round trade with the Spirit and re-signed Megan Rapinoe to a one-year deal.

Bennett and Sonnett will both have to compete for playing time, but the Reign’s strength has long been their level of depth. In a World Cup year, they’ve set themselves up to make another run at the NWSL Shield and maybe even the elusive NWSL championship.

Team says: “I think we all knew that there wasn’t going to be a ton of business this offseason for our team with where we’re at … I think that might be something that happens throughout the year is we we tend to do a little bit of business here and there just to tweak and make our team as good as it possibly can be to get over the hump at the end of the season, and try and get what our ultimate goal is, which is to win a championship” — head coach Laura Harvey


North Carolina Courage – B-

  • No. 6 Olivia Wingate, F; No. 8 Sydney Collins, D; No. 9 Clara Robbins, M; No. 11 Haley Hopkins, F
  • Traded forward Diana Ordoñez and the No. 30 pick to Houston for the No. 8 pick, Houston’s 2024 first-round pick and $100,000

North Carolina’s draft night felt somewhat odd to the outside viewer, and not for the first time. The unexpected trade of Diana Ordoñez set the tone early, though it was later explained that the forward had requested a trade.

From there, the Courage seemed to get more value out of their late-round picks than the swings they took on their early selections. Robbins is ready for pro-level games, having anchored a strong Florida State midfield for five years, and head coach Sean Nahas said he sees Hopkins as a possible replacement for Ordoñez up top.

Team says: “I think the realistic situation is that players are in a situation now where they want to make decisions that best suit them as well. And from the business side of things, you have to make sure you’re doing the right thing for your business. I think at the end of the day, we wanted to make sure [Ordoñez] was happy.” — head coach Sean Nahas

Racing Louisville – B-

  • No. 16 Kayla Fischer, F; Brianna Martinez, D; No. 29 Jadyn Edwards, M; No. 31 Riley Mattingly Parker, F;
  • Traded the No. 4 pick for forward Paige Monaghan, $150,000 and an international slot; traded No. 28 and No. 40 to Washington for No. 29 and a total of $55,000

Racing Louisville’s draft day started with a player they weren’t going to get rather than one they were. Emily Madril is a player Louisville knows well, and it seems that when they heard Orlando was picking her at No. 3, they started looking for exit strategies out of the first round.

Monaghan is a hard-working winger who can get in behind a defense and will do the defensive work from an attacking position that Louisville can use. Martinez will likely start at right back, opposite Emily Fox on the left, and Mattingly Parker is a great pick-up late in the draft. The biggest mark against Louisville’s draft is that they missed out on a key center back, which is a huge area of need for the club.

Team says: “In our preparation leading up to today, there was only one center back we wanted, but on draft day it became clear we weren’t going to have that chance at No. 4. We sought the best value for our pick, and we moved for a player in Paige Monaghan who has league experience, a great personality and positional versatility. She will be a great addition to our team.” — head coach Kim Bjorkegren

Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.

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Earn Your Accredited College Degree at ½ the Cost and Time of Traditional Schools www.achievetestprep.com/shane

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online https://theoleballcoach.wordpress.com/
Proud Member of the Brick Yard Battalion – http://brickyardbattalion.com, Sam’s Army-http://sams-army.com , American Outlaws  https://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

1/17/23 USWNT New Zealand Friendlies Tues & Fri 10 pm HBO Max, Peacock, Big Games on TV

US Women Face New Zealand in WC Warm-Up Tues/Fri 10 pm HBO Max, Telemundo and Peacock in Spanish

With less than 6 months to the World Cup the US Ladies start the 2023 be playing down under in the stadiums they will play In for the World Cup vs the Kiwis on Tuesday and Friday at 10 pm on HBO Max.  Yes HBO Max and Turner Sports outbid Fox and ESPN and everyone else to become the new station for the US National Team games.  Julie Fowdy has left ESPN and will join Shannon Boxx, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Martino and broadcaster Luke Wileman with reporters Sara Walsh and Melissa Ortiz.  It will be interesting to see which games are on cable -TBS and TNT and which games are streaming only HBO Max.  Fortunately I already have HBO Max – still it seems wrong to have our US National Team Men’s and Women’s Games not be on Free/Cable TV.  US Soccer is just showing THEY ARE STUPID Again.  This should not be about a few extra dollars on the TV Contract – but rather about trying to get Soccer in front of as many people as possible before our watershed hosting of the 2026 World Cup. Once again our US Soccer Leadership shows just how INEPT they are.  From this whole Berhalter vs Reyna situation to the TV contracts – US Soccer is Clueless.  

The US Ladies have announced the Female Player of the Year goes to Sophia Smith.   Year End Review for the US Ladies // Cool USWNT Commercial ESPN  //  Top 10 Goal 2022 USMNT  // Alyssa Naeher Making Saves

The USMNT Roster for NZ

ROSTER (club; caps/goals)

GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Kansas City Current; 10), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 11), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 86)

DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 19/0), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 22/0), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 126/24), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC; 10/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 25/0), Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current; 8/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 211/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 69/1)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC; 4/0), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 122/26), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC; 7/1), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 84/22), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 46/7), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 17/3), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 37/3)

FORWARDS (6): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 14/4), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC; 200/119), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 20/4), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit; 10/2), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars; 82/25), Lynn Williams (Kansas City Current; 47/14)

US Women updated Stories for tonight







Derby Weekend -Games to Watch

Some huge Derby’s on the docket this week as Man United hosts Man City Sat at 7:30 am on USA leads things off with a battle between the 2nd and 4th ranked teams in the EPL.  Sunday we get top of the table Arsenal traveling to 5th place Tottenham on Peacock at 11:30 am.  Followed by El Classico – Real Madrid hosting Barcelona on ABC TV at 2 pm. This all after 6th place Fulham and Americans Tim Ream and Jedi Robinson travel to 4th place New Castle United at 9 am on Peacock. Wednesday gives us AC Milan vs Inter Milan in Italy’s Super Cup on CBS Sports Network at 2 pm, while Thursday features Man City hosting Tottenham at 3 pm on Peacock.  Friday we get 2 of Germany’s best as RB Leipzig and American Gio Reyna host Bayern Munich.  Hugely disappointing week for Leeds United States at they tied in FA Cup play last  weekend and lost on the road to Aston Villa despite outshooting them today today (highlights).  Fulham America however continues to thrive with US Center Back Tim Ream captaining them to a huge win over Chelsea Thursday (highlights) and top 6 in the table for the first time in decades.  For all the US Men on TV this Weekend

CARMEL FC GK — 2 GKs make ODP Teams for Memphis

Super proud that 2 of our Carmel FC Goalkeepers Emma Bukovac (2010) and Olivia Aft (2012) have each made the Indiana ODP Red team rosters for the upcoming tournament President’s Day weekend in Memphis, Tenn. Pretty sure we have other CFC field players who also made rosters . https://www.soccerindiana.org/odp/odp-news-and-events


Sat, Jan 14                          

7:30 am USA               Man United  vs Man City

8 am ESPN+                       Barcelona vs Espanoyl.

10 am Peacock                 Brighton vs Liverpool  

10 amUSA                          Everoton vs Southampton

12:30 pm NBC                   Brentford vs Bournmouth

Sun, Jan 15                         

7 am CBSSN                       Arsenal vs Chelsea FC Ladies

9 am Peacock Newcastle United vs Fulham (Ream, Jedi)

9 am USA                            Chelsea vs Cyrstal Palace9

11:30 am  Peacock     Tottenham vs Arsenal  

2 pm ABC                    Real Madrid vs Barcelona

2:45 pm beIN Sport          Rennes vs PSG

Tues, Jan 17

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Wolverhampton vs Liverpool FA Cup

2:$5 pm ESPN+                  Wigan vs Luton Town (US GK Horvath)  FA Cup

10 pm HBO Max         US Women vs New Zealand

Wed, Jan 18

2:45 pm ESPN+           Leeds United (Aaronson, Adams) vs Cardiff City FA Cup

2 pm CBS SN               AC Milan vs Inter Milan   Super Cup

3 pm Peacock                    Crystal Palace vs Man United

Thur, Jan 19

3 pm Peacock             Man City vs Tottenham

Fri, Jan 20

2:30 pm ESPN+ & Des    RB Liepzig vs Bayern Munich  

10 pm HBO Max         US Women vs New Zealand

Sat, Jan 21                        

7:30 am USA               Liverpool vs Chelsea  

12:30 pm NBC                   Crystal Palace vs New Castle United

Thu, Feb 16                       She Believes Cup

7 pm Fox Sports 1?          USWNT vs Canada

Sun, Feb 19                      

3:30 pm Fox                      USWNT vs Japan

Wed, Feb 22                     

7 pm FS1                            USWNT vs Brazil

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

US Women

US Ladies Roster is Announced
HBO Max’s First Live Sports Stream in U.S. to Feature USWNT


US Men

Berhalter-Reyna explained: Drama’s roots in U.S.’s overbearing parents  Jeff Carlisle
USMNT’s Timothy Weah, Haji Wright linked with Premier League clubs

Puliaix out for a Couple of Months with latest injury – not for Sale Says Chelsea
Pulisic out ‘couple of months’ and Sterling less than that, says Chelsea’s Potter

Yedlin, Zimmerman praise embattled US coach Berhalter

US Men on TV this Weekend


EPL’s Double Derby Weekend Kicks Off in Old Trafford

Arsenal, Man City face Premier League derby dates

Arsenal relaxed ahead of Spurs clash, says Arteta

Aston Villa make wasteful Leeds pay

Another win for Aston Villa, Emery as Leeds’ frustrations continue

Potter’s misery mounts as Fulham beat Chelsea after Felix red card

Liverpool cannot solve problems in transfer window, says Klopp

Rampant Napoli crush Juventus to move 10 points clear

Messi, Mbappe and Neymar set to join forces for first time since World Cup

New US owner of Bournemouth invests in French club Lorient

Barca beat Betis on penalties, reach Clasico Super Cup final

Courtois helps Madrid beat Valencia to reach Super Cup final

Messi and Mbappe among nominees for FIFA Best award


History-making Frappart on Women’s World Cup referees list


50 Best Saves of the Year so Far

EPL Goalkeeper Ratings


Best EPL Saves Dec

Best 5 GKs  at the World Cup

Alyssa Naeher US GK Making Saves

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United States begins Women’s World Cup warmup with ‘important’ friendlies against New Zealand

Jan 16, 2023 ESPN

The United States women are beginning the run-in to this summer’s World Cup with a pair of friendlies against New Zealand — one of the host countries along with Australia for the 2023 showpiece event.And, according to veteran Becky Sauerbrunn, the Jan. 18 and 21 matches aren’t just warmup games, they are “really important” as the U.S. looks to defend its 2019 title.”It is extremely important,” Sauerbrunn said on Monday. “I think it’s really difficult to replicate what you are going to see at a World Cup. So, to be able to come here six months prior and to play in the stadiums, to get a feel for the town and cities that you are going to play in, it’s really important and super helpful for us.”


The U.S. beat the Netherlands in the final in France in 2019 to win its fourth World Cup crown and now faces a field loaded with top teams — like Germany, Brazil and 2022 Women’s Euro champions England — as it looks to lift a third-consecutive trophy.

Vlatko Andonovski’s team has been training Down Under for the last 12 days and is taking on a New Zealand side its faced regularly in recent years, but knowing two of its first three group matches will be played in the same stadiums this summer adds an extra level of significance to the preparations.”Hopefully we’ll see a great turnout at the games,” Sauerbrunn said. “I know the Kiwis have just continued to just do so well. Over the last five or 10 years that we’ve played them quite a few times, and I know a lot of the players on the team as well.

“But having a World Cup here on home soil, it just puts a lot more excitement but also pressure on them as well just to make things even better, to take it a few more notches up.

“So, for us to be here, I hope that it continues to create buzz and excitement for the World Cup and for women’s football. And I think that we are doing that, but we are here for one thing and that’s to get preparation in for the World Cup and to have two games that help us take two steps forward as we inch closer.”

The U.S. have been drawn in Group E with the Netherlands, Vietnam and the winner of a playoff that has yet to be determined. World Cup play begins on July 20 and concludes with the final on Aug. 20 at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

The USWNT squad has rarely looked so uncertain ahead of a World Cup. Which players must step up?

Jan 16, 2023 ESPN Sophie Lawson

It’s January of a World Cup year, and the U.S. women’s national team is about to kick off the first of a series of friendly games that will take the Americans to the start of the quadrennial tournament.

Ahead of the 2019 and 2015 Women’s World Cups, it was trips to France for the U.S., both resulting with losses to Les Bleues, whereas in 2011 it was a flight to China, where that year started with a loss to Sweden. This time, however, the Americans are heading to the Southern Hemisphere for a doubleheader against New Zealand that will see them play in the two group-stage venues they’ll compete in at the World Cup this summer.

Indeed, the USWNT tends to break out of its normal routine of playing games domestically and go abroad to kick off a World Cup year — but there is one big difference for the U.S. now compared to previous cycles: possibly more than ever before, there are endless question marks around the U.S. team. The pair of games in New Zealand on Tuesday and Friday will offer two chances to find answers.While there is always some degree of fan anxiety around the USWNT when a new tournament year rolls around, the pedigree of the squad remains tangibly high, as does the tacit understanding that the team will always be one of the strongest at the tournament. Despite the many questions during the era of previous coach Jill Ellis, the team still usually managed to deliver at the key moments and won back-to-back World Cups. However, during current coach Vlatko Andonovski’s tenure, such assurances have been absent.When Ellis assembled the players to take to pre-World Cup friendlies in Europe in 2015 and 2019, it was with the view to test them, highlight the shortcomings of the team and fix them ahead of the long summers — but there was already a somewhat clear picture of who had done enough to earn their spot at the World Cup. This time, however, that particular clarity is missing, and players are vying for a slew of spots that appear to be up for grabs.

Can anyone replace Julie Ertz in midfield?

In the U.S. job for more than three years, Andonovski has almost exclusively trotted out a 4-3-3 formation that rarely failed with defensive midfielder Julie Ertz playing at the base of the midfield diamond — yet without a fit Ertz to call upon, things have often fallen apart.


In her place, the coach has opted for Lindsey Horan or Andi Sullivan, and neither has commanded the role as Ertz did. Indeed there is arguably no one person in the U.S. player pool who can fulfill that role anymore — not even Ertz herself, who has been on leave since having her first child in August.

While it’s likely that Horan will be on the plane this summer, the role she plays for the U.S. is still open for interpretation as the midfielder is one you’d ideally want higher up the pitch, creating rather than nullifying — or attempting to nullify — the opposition.

With just four caps to her name, Sam Coffey could stamp her authority on the defensive midfielder role this camp as she is far more suited to the bullish defensive role in midfield than Sullivan. Returning from injury, Emily Sonnett, who has typically played as a right-back or center-back for the U.S., could arguably throw her own hat into the ring as she has the aptitude as well as versatile experience for the role.

This is all assuming that Andonovski continues with his favored 4-3-3, with the caveat that during the USWNT’s second game against Germany at the end of last year, the coach tweaked his system to allow more attacking flow forward and take the pressure off his exposed defense.

Should the coach persist with this approach, fans can expect to see more pressure on both his attack and defense as the team continues to be more rushed in its play, rather than allowing the vast talents of the players available to shine.

Veterans or newbies in the back?

With Sofia Huerta having made the right-back role her own as veteran Kelley O’Hara dealt with injuries last year, left-back remains an area of uncertainty for Andonovski.

Crystal DunnEmily Fox and Hailie Mace are all capable of playing the role, even though Fox is the only one of the trio who plays the role for her club team, Racing Louisville. While all three are also capable of getting forward and aiding the attack, they all have different abilities when it comes to the defensive duties that would be tested during the latter stages of a World Cup. In this respect, facing a youthful New Zealand team ranked 24th in the world — who will likely be fielding a lot of inexperience in attack — might not be the best test of the USWNT’s defensive strengths.

Although both center-backs Alana Cook and Becky Sauerbrunn are near certainties to make the squad that travels to the World Cup, with the hit-and-miss performances from both late last year, there is a question of who will start in the heart of defence. Naomi Girma, who will enter her second season as a professional this year for the San Diego Wave, looks like she has nailed down one of the two starting center-back spots.

Further back, Casey Murphy could make a case for herself to be the starting goalkeeper for the team with the coach shuffling between her and regular starter Alyssa Naeher over the past year or so. Similarly, if she is given the nod, Adrianna Franch could force herself back into consideration, having been the coach’s choice during the 2021 Olympics when Naeher was forced off injured in their penultimate game in Japan — but she has clearly fallen out of favor since then.

As players return from injury, attack gets crowded

For the sheer depth of talent available to Andonovski, or any coach who has ever led the U.S. national team, there is no area where the Americans are more spoiled than in attack.

Out injured since March 2022, Lynn Williams is making a welcome return to the team and has proved herself to be a favorite of her coach, with her selfless off-the-ball work and incisive runs a notable highlight of the Andonovski years. But Williams finds herself coming into a team in which Mallory Swanson (née Pugh), Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith (not included in this roster due to a foot injury) have become regular contributors.

With both Smith and veteran Megan Rapinoe absent, Williams has the best chance of demonstrating her worth and consideration to her coach. But following such a lengthy layoff, it could be her work on the training pitch during camp that will prove to be more important.

Foudy: USWNT’s World Cup draw very favourable

Julie Foudy reacts to the USWNT’s group opponents for the 2023 World Cup.

The wider question isn’t whether Andonovski takes Williams or Smith to the World Cup but rather which players constitute his best attacking unit, and who can benefit more from the creativity coming out of a midfield that could feature any mixture of Rose Lavelle, Horan, Ashley SanchezTaylor KornieckKristie Mewis, Sullivan and Coffey.

Indeed, there are very few players who seem to have firmly locked themselves into Andonovski’s plans for this summer, and with a potential return for Catarina Macario, who continues to work back to fitness following an ACL injury, roster spots are at a premium and strong national team performances leading up to the World Cup could be the difference for many called up.

In cycles past, the final World Cup rosters often had an air of inevitability to them, even as coaches tinkered and tested players all the way up until the tournament, but Andonovski has some genuine questions with no clear-cut answers — and only six months to sort them until the World Cup begins.

USWNT’s Williams, Sonnett return for New Zealand friendlies: How the trip can prepare U.S. for World Cup

Oct 26, 2021; St. Paul, Minnesota, USA; United States forward Lynn Williams (6) traps the ball between South Korea defender Lee Youngju (17) and midfielder Cho Sohyun (8) in the second half of an international friendly soccer match at Allianz Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

By Meg Linehan Jan 5, 2023 20

On Thursday, U.S. women’s national team coach Vlatko Andonovski announced the 24-player roster heading to New Zealand next week. The senior team will hold a six-day camp before a pair of friendlies against New Zealand in Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara and Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Defender Emily Sonnett and forward Lynn Williams make their return after injuries. Sonnett featured in last summer’s World Cup qualifiers, but Williams missed most of 2022 with a major hamstring injury.
  • Sophia Smith, the reigning NWSL MVP and championship winner with the Portland Thorns, is out with a foot injury. Also missing from this roster is Megan Rapinoe with an ankle injury.
  • Andonovski is scheduled to speak on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET and may provide more details on a timeline for both Smith and Rapinoe, as well as the number of other players still working on various injury recoveries.

The roster

The 24-player roster doesn’t feature any major surprises, as the team begins the work of reincorporating players returning from injury. With Adrianna Franch earning back a spot in the goalkeeping pool following an excellent 2022 NWSL season, the three picks remain steady with her, Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage) and Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).



No defenders have been dropped from the final roster of 2022 for the two friendlies against Germany; only Sonnett has been added. Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (Reign), Hailie Mace (Current) and Becky Sauerbrunn (Thorns) are all back for the trip to New Zealand.

There are no changes in the midfield either. Sam Coffey (Thorns), Lindsey Horan (Lyon), Taylor Kornieck (Wave), Rose Lavelle (Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit) and Andi Sullivan (Spirit) were all called up once again.

Midge Purce makes her return to the forward pool for the first time since last September’s friendlies, and Williams is also back in the mix. Mallory Pugh has changed her name following her marriage to Chicago Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson and will start 2023 on the field as Mallory Swanson. Ashley Hatch (Spirit), Alex Morgan (Wave) and Trinity Rodman (Spirit) are all back for 2023 as well.

The matches

The Ferns are a familiar matchup for the USWNT, but the U.S. has never played in New Zealand before. The two friendlies will also take place in the two stadiums where the team will play their group stage matches in this summer’s World Cup, providing a chance to mimic tournament conditions (though they won’t be able to replicate the weather conditions since it will be winter in New Zealand during the tournament).

After the six-day training camp, they’ll head to Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara for the first friendly, set for 4 p.m. local time on Jan. 18 (10 p.m. ET on Jan. 17 with the time difference) at Sky Stadium. The two teams will face off again at Eden Park in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau on Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. local (10 p.m. ET, Jan. 20) — the first time the Ferns will ever play at their home national stadium.



Both matches will air on HBO Max, as part of U.S. Soccer’s new media rights deal.

What they’re saying

Andonovski said in the release: “We’ve been thinking about and planning for the World Cup for a long time, but when the calendar turns to the World Cup year, for sure it brings some renewed focus and energy as the tournament starts in less than 200 days. To get to bring the team to New Zealand in January and play in our World Cup venues has so many benefits so we are going to make sure we maximize our time together, make this trip as productive as possible and enjoy a unique experience as many of our players have never been to New Zealand before.”

Midfielder Sam Coffey: “Especially for us as young players, (the upcoming World Cup) is an incredibly overwhelming thing — in the best way — looming in the distance, so to have some sort of familiarity going into it, I think, will serve us greatly.”

Injury updates

Andonovski provided injury updates on Smith, Cat Macario and more while speaking on a conference call following the roster reveal.

“We have some back already, like Lynn Williams and Emily Sonnett. Tierna (Davidson) and Kelley (O’Hara) are also very close, the other ones may take a couple more months before we see them back,” Andonovski said.

On Macario: “Cat is doing very good, she’s progressing very well. She’s in line to be on the field, or in contact play, probably in about four to five weeks.”

On Smith: “It’s not a serious injury. In fact, it’s something that has been bothering (Sophia) for a longer time, and we felt this is the time that we wanted to fix this and not have any problems going forward. In fact, she’s back to training, light training, and because of the treatment she received in December, she wasn’t able to train and get up to speed or necessary fitness in order to be in the January camp. Hopefully, she’ll be able to regain fitness for SheBelieves Cup (in February).”

USWNT, Thorns’ Sophia Smith wins U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year

Nov 10, 2022; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA; United States forward Sophia Smith (11) runs with the ball during the first half against Germany at DRV PNK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

By Meg LinehanJan 6, 20236

U.S. women’s national team and Portland Thorns FC forward Sophia Smith has been voted the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year for 2022, the federation announced Friday. Additionally, San Diego Wave midfielder/forward Jaedyn Shaw has been voted the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Smith’s win, with over 50 percent of the vote, is the first time a woman of color has won the award in the 38-year history of the U.S. Soccer female player of the year award (since 1985).
  • Smith was the leading scorer for both the USWNT and the Thorns during 2022, won the NWSL MVP award and was named MVP of the NWSL Championship match.
  • Shaw made her professional debut with the Wave last July and scored in her first appearance. She tallied three goals for the Wave as they earned a playoff spot in their first season as an NWSL expansion team.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

The obvious and correct choice

Smith had a stellar 2022 with both the national team and the Thorns. She scored 11 goals for the USWNT, and 14 for Portland, making her only the fourth player to ever score 10+ goals for both NWSL club and country in a calendar year (Abby Wambach in 2013, Sydney Leroux in 2013 and Christen Press in 2015 are the only other players to ever do it).



Only 22 years old, she was the youngest player to lead scoring on the national team since 1993, and the youngest player to win the NWSL MVP award. Smith has cemented herself on the forward line for the USWNT head of this summer’s World Cup, though she’s missing out on the January trip to New Zealand for a pair of friendlies due to injury.

As a reminder, her first cap for the senior national team only came in November 2020, and effectively, 2022 was her second full season with the Thorns. After winning the NWSL MVP award in October, she told reporters: “My first season, it was just a matter of me getting a feel for the league. Obviously, it’s a very different environment, so I felt like I couldn’t fully find my place my first year. This year, everything just came together. I felt like I could just be Soph, play exactly how I wanted to play, and I had the most support around me. So it just feels like everything clicked this season.”

Smith’s trophy cabinet already has a decent head start thanks to the NWSL — and she’s also a previous winner of the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year award in 2017. On Friday, she’s adding another major one celebrating her individual accomplishments.

What they’re saying

Smith: “Obviously this is surreal, and I’m super humbled. It’s been a very exciting year, and certainly there’s been some challenges, but just being able to grow and develop in the environments with the National Team and the Thorns, and being surrounded by such amazing players, players that I have looked up to for so long, has pushed me to become a better player and person.

“I’ve said many times, if you embrace these environments, you have no choice but to get better and grow, and that’s a testament to the players, coaches and all of the staff. I appreciate everyone holding me to such high standards day in and day out. This award wouldn’t be possible without all those people, and the best thing about it, is that it’s fun too. The journey is so much better when you are doing something so fun and something you love.”



Shaw: “It means everything to me to be a part of the list of players who have won this award, but it also tells me I have so much work to do to keep improving and growing. I just feel super honored and blessed and it’s an amazing way to start the year. I want to say thank you to everyone who voted for me and to all the National Team coaches I’ve worked with since the U-14 level and to my coaches on the Wave. Thanks also to all my teammates who have pushed me and will continue to push me. All of this makes me even more excited to get going with this NWSL season and to get back into camps with the Youth National Teams. I’m just excited for what’s to come and I wouldn’t be where I am today without God’s grace and favor over my life.”

Required reading

Foudy, Beasley, Martino, Wileman to lead U.S. Soccer coverage on HBO Max, TNT

By Joshua Kloke and The Athletic StaffJan 10, 2023

Julie Foudy, DaMarcus Beasley, Shannon Boxx and Kyle Martino will feature as analysts and Luke Wileman will serve as lead play-by-play announcer for U.S. women’s and men’s national team coverage under the new deal with HBO Max and TNT, Warner Media announced Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Foudy, a former USWNT captain, helped lead the U.S. to two World Cup titles and a pair of Olympic gold medals during her 17-year career. She is currently an analyst with ESPN.
  • Beasley and Boxx were both inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2022. Beasley recorded 126 caps in his 16-year USMNT career, while Boxx appeared in 195 games for the USWNT from 2003-15.
  • Martino, a former MLS Rookie of the Year with eight international caps, served as a studio and game analyst for NBC’s coverage of the English Premier League from 2013-20.
  • Wileman has served as TSN’s lead MLS broadcaster for years and called games for multiple women’s World Cups and the Olympics. He’ll continue to call MLS games for TSN, according to a report by The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Last March, U.S. Soccer announced an eight-year deal with Turner Sports and HBO for its English-language media rights that begins this year. The federation will receive between $25 million and $27 million annually for the English-language rights, The Athletic reported when the deal was announced.



Under the new agreement, “high-profile matches” will air on TNT or TBS and more than 20 matches in total (approximately half of which will also be on TV) will live stream on HBO Max each year. Bleacher Report, owned by Turner, has digital and highlight rights. Both Turner and HBO are under the Warner Media umbrella.

The World Cup is not included in the U.S. media rights package. Those rights are held by Fox Sports for the 2023 women’s and 2026 men’s World Cups. Turner has the rights to U.S. Soccer properties, which include men’s and women’s national team friendlies, the SheBelieves Cup and U.S. men’s and women’s national team World Cup qualifiers.

U.S. Soccer’s previous contract was with ESPN and Fox Sports.

USMNT names Anthony Hudson head coach for January camp: What does it mean for Gregg Berhalter?

Apr 27, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Colorado Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson walks on the field before a game against Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

By Jeff Rueter and The Athletic Staff

Jan 4, 2023


Anthony Hudson, assistant coach for the U.S. men’s national team at the 2022 World Cup, will serve as the team’s head coach for its January training camp in Carson, Calif., sporting director Earnie Stewart announced Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The news comes one day after Gregg Berhalter, whose contract as head coach was up at the end of 2022, issued a lengthy statement alleging an individual tried to end his relationship with the team by telling U.S. Soccer about a 1991 domestic violence incident between him and his now-wife. The Athletic reported Wednesday the individual was Danielle Reyna, mother of USMNT forward Gio Reyna and a former USWNT player. The USSF is investigating the situation.
  • Hudson, who has been with the U.S. squad since 2021, will be joined by fellow World Cup assistant coach B.J. Callaghan and Under-20 men’s youth national team head coach Mikey Varas in “selecting and managing” the camp roster.
  • Hudson’s appointment is not expected to impact whether Berhalter is re-signed. Stewart said in a news conference later Wednesday that Berhalter remains “under consideration” for the full-time head-coaching job.
  • The Americans are scheduled to play two matches in Southern California: one against Serbia on Jan. 15 and one against Colombia on Jan. 29.

What U.S. Soccer said

The federation addressed Berhalter’s status in its announcement about Hudson, saying that the timing of the World Cup impacted its ability to assess his contract.



“In the past, the customary review of the past four years of the entire program following a World Cup would begin in the summer, well ahead of any year-end contract expiration,” the announcement said. “The unique November-December timing of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar significantly reduced the amount of time that the Federation would have to conduct a proper assessment prior to the end of the head coach’s contract.”

Stewart later added: “When it comes to our head-coaching position that we have right now, Gregg Berhalter — until the investigation and the review takes place — is still under consideration for the head coach job of our U.S. men’s national team.”

Why Hudson?

There’s some precedent to having a recent assistant lead the camp immediately following a World Cup cycle. When Bruce Arena stepped aside after the U.S. missed the 2018 World Cup, assistant Dave Sarachan served as interim head coach for over a year before Berhalter’s appointment. Even if Hudson’s CV doesn’t suggest he’s a serious contender to inherit the post, he’s familiar with the current player pool and a good option to carry momentum from a solid World Cup showing while also knowing the “B-team” from the pool, which fared well in the 2021 Gold Cup. — Rueter

What to expect

Ideally, Hudson will serve as a surrogate in terms of the approach and tactics the player pool has become familiar with during the Berhalter era. It would be worrying to see too far of a deviation, as Hudson’s uninspiring tenure with the Colorado Rapids ended in spectacular fashion after he called his team “a bottom group of players.” That team included World Cup veteran Kellyn Acosta, who almost certainly won’t have forgotten Hudson’s parting remarks. In short: the less of that ideology brought to the table, the better. — Rueter

What does this mean for Berhalter?

While the Berhalter family has plenty to navigate in the coming weeks, Hudson’s assignment will be the least of those worries. Hudson getting the temporary post suggests that the program is happy with many of the tactical developments under Berhalter. Still, it’s a pick made out of familiarity if not outright convenience, and there’s little to glean from this part of today’s news in terms of Berhalter’s future with U.S. Soccer. — Rueter

USMNT weekend viewing guide: A mixed bag

The schedule is light, but there is meaningful action across the weekend.


Lecce v AC Milan – Noon on Paramount+

The situation around Sergiño Dest may be one to continue to monitor, as he has been used sparingly for AC Milan with just five minutes in their two league matches since the break. He did start the team’s Coppa Italia match on Wednesday but his side gave up the loan goal of the match in extra time, shortly after Dest was subbed off. Furthermore, Dest was deployed on the left side as a left wing back in the loss. It may be hard for Dest to find minutes moving forward and it will be interesting to see if he decides a move elsewhere would be best in the near future. For now, Milan will look to improve on their third place position in Serie A when they face Lecce at noon Saturday.

Other notes:

  • With the slow day on Saturday, perhaps there’s some time to check out a little Eredivisie action as Djordje Mihailovic looks for his second straight start for AZ Alkmaar when they travel to Heerenveen at 12:45p on ESPN+.


Newcastle United v Fulham FC – 9a on Peacock

Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson and Fulham continued their unexpected run with a victory over 10-man Chelsea on Thursday. Fulham were level with Chelsea in the 58th minute when Chelsea’s new signee Joao Felix was sent off in his club debut after drawing a red card on a dangerous challenge. Fulham would go on to score another and move into sixth place with the win. Somehow, the side is just two points back of Tottenham for Europa League qualification and four points back of Manchester United for fourth place and Champions League play.

Fulham go right into another tough match, as they face a Newcastle side on Sunday that currently sit in third place having lost just once this season. Newcastle have drawn their past two league matches, first against Leeds and more recently against league-leading Arsenal FC. They are a tough matchup and any points at St. James’ Park would be another huge pickup for Fulham.

Other notes:

  • Timothy Weah should probably also be looking for a move as he can’t seem to stake a claim to serious minutes, even in a cup match. He saw just 12 minutes off the bench last weekend in French Cup play and has been deployed as a right back as well. Lille’s opponent this weekend should look familiar, as it is the Troyes team they just defeated in cup play last weekend. Erik Palmer-Brown was not included in the squad for Troyes last weekend, which was the first match he has failed to play a significant role in this season.
  • Reports out of Chelsea are that Christian Pulisic will miss two months due to a knee injury he picked up in Chelsea’s loss to Manchester City a little over a week ago. Pulisic may have a new boss to impress by the time he returns as the seat is likely getting toasty for Graham Potter with his Chelsea side dropping to 10th place following their loss to Fulham on Thursday. Chelsea face Chris Richards’ Crystal Palace side on Sunday at 9a on USA Network and 12th place Palace would draw level with a win. Richards has yet to break through for Palace, with just 30 minutes across all competitions since his return from injury.

Hit the comments below to let us know what else we should be keeping an eye on this weekend or if you see anything noteworthy from USMNT-eligible players as the matches progress.

Berhalter vs. Reyna explained: Does the drama trace its roots to overbearing parents in the U.S.?

Jan 12, 2023

  • Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

John Hackworth remembers the incident with instant clarity.

It was the spring of 2012, and he was an assistant with the Philadelphia Union in MLS, but he was also taking time out to coach his son’s youth team. It was a typical weekend youth tournament, with two games on a Saturday, another on Sunday morning and possibly a final that afternoon. As such, he decided to spread out the playing time on Saturday and make sure every kid started at least one game. That didn’t sit well with one parent.

“In between games, I had a mom go ballistic on me because her son didn’t start in the game,” said Hackworth, now the director of coaching with MLS expansion side St. Louis City SC. “Another kid, who she didn’t feel was as good as her kid, started on that first game on that Saturday morning.”

All of this happened at the under-11 level, but Hackworth encountered similar behavior at even younger age groups.

“You would think that I had no clue what I was doing, and all these people wanted me to coach because they knew I [coached professionally]. And yet at the same time, whatever it was that I did, that they didn’t agree with … some of the communication was just outrageous. So I do think it’s commonplace in this country, and the reality is that it is problematic.”

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

Former United States U17 national team manager John Ellinger recalls how one father informed him that his son “only plays forward,” to which Ellinger responded, “Uh, that’s not going to work. He’s entered this program, and we’ll play him wherever he seems to help the team.” He added, “If it’s an easy thing, yeah, it might work, but most of the times you can’t really give in because then it just opens the barn doors for more of it.”

Overbearing parents have been a staple of youth sports for as long as such leagues have been around, but the topic has been thrust back into the limelight in the wake of the dynamic that emerged at the 2022 World Cup between U.S. men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter and the family of U.S. forward Giovanni Reyna.

Claudio Reyna, a former U.S. international and current sporting director for MLS side Austin FC, has been friends with Berhalter for decades and was the best man at Berhalter’s wedding. Their respective wives were teammates at the University of North Carolina from 1991 to ’94 and spent some of that time as roommates, and the two families remained close. Yet when the younger Reyna’s playing time in Qatar was significantly less than expected, that was the catalyst for the unraveling of a relationship in full view of the public.

Claudio Reyna has admitted to sending multiple communications to U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart and USMNT GM Brian McBride about his son’s role. When Berhalter, speaking at a post-World Cup leadership conference, made a reference to a player he nearly sent home — later identified as Gio Reyna — the ante was upped further, with Reyna’s wife, Danielle, admitting she told Stewart of an incident of domestic violence in 1991 involving Berhalter and his now-wife, Rosalind. Now, amid a disintegrating friendship, the USSF is investigating.


There is an impulse to think that the Berhalter/Reyna scenario, and others like it, is unique to U.S. culture, or to American youth soccer in general. The reality is there are examples in other countries of heavy parental involvement, whether it’s Veronique Rabiot, the mother and agent of Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot, or Neymar Santos Sr., the father and agent of Brazil star Neymar. Other sports in the U.S. also aren’t immune.

“I think if you talk to coaches and organizational leaders, they will say our biggest issue is parents. I think if you look at youth baseball, youth basketball, it’s happening in every sport,” said Jason Sacks, president of the Positive Coaching Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to cultivating a positive youth sports culture. “Then it’s also happening at the high school level within high school athletic departments and high school sports. And that’s across, whether it’s individual sports like running or something like that, or team sports. It’s happening everywhere.”

But there are some cultural aspects to life in the U.S. that make it fertile ground for such behavior. Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede accumulated data for more than 40 years as a means of discerning cultural differences among countries. Among the areas he researched are how countries stack up in terms of individualism vs. collectivism and long-term orientation.

Hofstede’s research found that the U.S. is highly individualistic, scoring 91 out of 100, while also scoring just 26 in terms of long-term orientation. By contrast, China scored 20 and 87, respectively, while Germany scored 67 and 83.

“It is very hard to get Americans to accept suppressing, even temporarily, their individual desires in favor of group goals and endeavors,” said Doug Lemov, who is the author of “Teach Like a Champion” and is the chief knowledge officer and founder of the teaching education company of the same name. “And every ‘institution’ — every school, every club, every team — lives or dies on collective action problems. Can I get the individual members to make small temporary sacrifices that will bring us all immense long-term benefit if we all make them?

“Increasingly, clubs are finding that no, they can’t cause people to engage in these behaviors like they used to.”

What happens next for Berhalter, Reyna and U.S. Soccer?

Kyle Bonagura explains potential outcomes for Gregg Berhalter and U.S. Soccer after Danielle and Claudio Reyna threatened to reveal sensitive information about the USMNT coach.

One label affixed to the overbearing parent is that of the “helicopter parent” constantly hovering in the background, but Sacks prefers the “snowplow” metaphor, one where obstacles the child might encounter are cleared by the parent. It might make things easier in the short term but tougher to deal with later on.

“It’s the old saying, ‘Prepare the child for the path; don’t prepare the path for the child,'” Sacks said.

Other factors come into play as well. Soccer is often the first youth sport to which parents get exposed. The pay-to-play model — in which parents in the U.S. have to pay thousands of dollars per year for their child to play on competitive teams — can have the effect of providing a sense of entitlement for having a say on team matters. That wasn’t present in the Reyna case, but any time money or possible advancement to the pro ranks is involved, that can lead to poor behavior. The parent community is also becoming increasingly filled with people who have some kind of background in the game of soccer, giving rise to the feeling that their opinions, no matter how unreasonable, must be listened to.

For Lesle Gallimore, head coach of the University of Washington women’s team from 1994 to 2019 and current commissioner of the Girls Academy, a national player development platform for more than 13,000 girls nationwide, the pandemic hasn’t helped. She said in the past couple of years she has witnessed “way more aggression” from parents, even as the vast majority succeed in staying in their lane.

“I don’t know if people were locked up for too long and just lost their way a little bit in isolation, but I’ve seen threatening language, poor language, fights, fights between parents on the same team, parents entering the field, aggression towards referees, you name it,” she said. “For me, it’s not the bulk of what happens, but when it happens one time, it’s so alarming that it’s too much. It shouldn’t happen at all, ever, and those types of behaviors are the ones that I think, as leaders, we need to continue to address and educate around.”


Herculez Gomez and Sebastian Salazar debate the biggest storylines and break down the best highlights that soccer in the Americas has to offer. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

When you add in the increasing professionalization and early specialization of youth sports, be it in soccer with MLS Next, or shoe company-sponsored club teams in basketball, you have a recipe for parents engaging in behavior that they shouldn’t. The damage can be intense for all involved, for coaches and for players, leading members of both constituencies to leave the game.

However, there are some steps clubs and organizations can take to lower the collective temperature. Having a buffer between coach and parent can help, be it a team administrator or a director of coaching. But Gallimore said she has seen this cut both ways. Given how the coach needs to control the “performance environment,” as she put it, another layer of management can create complications.

“That buffer better be on the same page as you want them to be, or it can have the exact opposite effect,” she said. “I’ve seen it both ways, so it becomes a management issue.”

A steady, proactive flow of communication throughout the season is also vital. It can serve to communicate the club’s overall culture in terms of player development and results, as well as spell out some parameters for how playing time — probably the biggest potential source of conflict between coaches and parents — is to be doled out. It also helps ensure that the first interaction between parents and coach isn’t when something has gone wrong. Yet it’s not as easy as it sounds.

“I think that a lot of clubs operate in fear,” Lemov said. “I don’t think you can be great at what you’re trying to do when your primary goal is to avoid difficult situations when you’re operating out of fear and anxiety.”

Communication can also help set boundaries. Hackworth recalled getting pushback when he told parents they couldn’t set up lawn chairs right next to the field to watch practice but had to watch behind a fence. He insisted, however, that the parents needed to let their kids practice without the kind of immediate parental feedback that could be a distraction. His approach ended up carrying the day.

That isn’t to say parents shouldn’t have any input. For Gallimore, if the family is paying, parents should be heard, especially if the child in question is, say, 10 years old and isn’t quite ready to have conversations where they have to stick up for themselves to an adult. But clear parameters should be set in terms of what is an acceptable discussion topic. It shouldn’t be a one-way street either, and the Girls Academy is notable for having a player advisory panel to raise concerns.

Boundaries also need to be communicated and set in terms of personal relationships. Gallimore noted that at youth level, parents and coaches often socialize with each other, stay in the same hotels and even drink together. She recalled that there were some instances when parents expected that dynamic to continue at the collegiate level, although by that stage, the switch had flipped. The parents are no longer paying. The college or professional club is now the one paying, shifting the power dynamic.

“These parents have this expectation that they’re like, going to hang out with the coaching staff, and that’s just not the gig,” Gallimore said. “And as coaches in college, you have to explain to them, ‘Listen, I am here for your daughter. I want her to have a great experience. I want this to be a place where she feels valued. I will be upfront about everything and fair.’ And there’s no perfection to that in coaching.”

The impact of personal relationships proved to be a problem in the Reyna situation in that not only were the Berhalters and Reynas friends, but Stewart and McBride were also former international teammates of Claudio Reyna’s. That dynamic extends throughout much of the U.S. soccer landscape. The roots don’t just run deep; they are tangled, especially on the men’s side, given the pervasiveness of the Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena coaching trees. Only once in the past 25 years has the USMNT been managed by someone who didn’t hail from the New York/New Jersey area.

All the more reason to put up more of a firewall so matters don’t get personal.https://www.youtube.com/embed/NclftvaHChk?wmode=transparent

“In soccer in particular, there’s a pretty small group of people that know a lot about each other, is what I’d say,” Gallimore said. “So it wouldn’t take [more than] one little thing going sideways for something like this to happen, and it’s just a shame, to be honest.”

Hackworth added that how coaches treat their players can go a long way toward mitigating any angst that might arise in the coach/player/parent relationship. There are certainly instances when coaches have to be firm, but kindness counts too.

“If there’s a silver bullet that I could give most coaches at any sport, or any activity, it’s that if you treat your students, your athletes well, if you treat them with respect, if you treat them with empathy and kindness, if you treat them with care, it will alleviate so many of these emotional issues that happen in sports,” he said. “So when things like playing time become an issue, you have a little equity in the bank because you treat them well.

“It sounds easy coming out of my mouth. That sounds like anybody in the world could do it. It’s amazing to me how at every level — professional, college, amateur — that doesn’t happen.”

That goes for parents too. Later, Gallimore forwarded a text from a parent who had just received the league’s newsletter and thanked the league profusely for sending it out.

“[It] made me smile,” she wrote.

‘Fulham are the poor cousins, beating Chelsea means everything’

‘Fulham are the poor cousins, beating Chelsea means everything’

By Peter Rutzler

Jan 13, 2023


Craven Cottage erupts. Referee David Coote has blown the final whistle and with it an end to almost 16 years of purgatory. Fulham supporters have waited so long to beat Chelsea again that initially it is bewildering. Not only have Fulham defeated their disliked local rivals, but they are six points clear of them in the Premier League table.



It is the stuff of dreams but that is what Marco Silva has taught Fulham to do over the past 18 months. From storming to the Championship title to record-breaking scorelines and goalscorers, Fulham’s success has felt like a whirlwind.

Yet for all the milestones ticked off, this result carries greater significance — Fulham served up the result their supporters craved the most.

“It was a great night for our fans,” said Silva. “Chelsea’s superiority has been huge in these games. They are a massive club. Their budget is completely different, we can’t compare. But we knew that with our work, with our strategy, our identity, we can balance things.

“And we did it.”

Fulham’s record against Chelsea has been nothing short of abysmal. Heading into the game, no fixture played more than 50 times in the English Football League has seen a worse win rate than that of Fulham against Chelsea.

The last time Fulham won, substitute Luke Harris had not celebrated his first birthday. Since that day, when Silva’s assistant Luis Boa Morte scored the only goal in a 1-0 win on March 19, 2006, Fulham have tried and failed 21 times.

That solitary success is the only win in all competitions from 40 matches since 1979, when both teams were in the old Division Two. At the same time, Fulham have watched Chelsea win every trophy available, ascending to greater heights and drifting further away.

For supporters, then, while Brentford may have muscled into the top-flight conversation and QPR pop up from time to time, it is this frustrating fixture, against the team who are based a miledown the road and who share the same postcode, that matters most.

A belated victory tastes all the sweeter.

Sat outside The Boathouse pub in Putney, the Ventoms are nursing a drink and calming the nerves.



It is 90 minutes before kick-off and the family are mulling over the possible teamsheet. There is Caroline, 58, and Mark, 61, and their children, Michael, 25, Liam, 23, and Laura, 22, as well as Mark’s brother Gerard, known as Tigs, 59, and his daughter Becky, 23. They are all Fulham fans and are all decked out in the colours. Caroline has her scarf on. Mark has his up-to-date training jacket. Liam is wearing the Puma shirt worn between 2003 and 2005 and Laura has the 1997-98 edition.

They all have season tickets in the Hammersmith End, where they sit in a row together, with Laura on a seat behind and Michael on one in front. Going to Fulham allows them to meet up each week and share a common passion.

“This game feels like we could actually win,” says Michael.

“You’re jinxing it!” interjects Liam.

Mark and Tigs first started going to matches in the 1960s. They lived in Barnes and could see the floodlights across the river from the end of the street. Sometimes, you could hear the crowd from Craven Cottage from the garden.

Tigs on his way to Craven Cottage for the Chelsea match

“My first game was in 1968,” says Mark, who is retired and works part-time as a tour guide at Craven Cottage. “I was 7. It was a pre-season friendly against Manchester United. They had just won the European Cup. It was Bobby Charlton and Dennis Law. My dad took me. I think he thought I’d fall in love with Man United. I’ve been a Fulham fan since.”

The rest of the family were drawn to Craven Cottage more regularly at different stages. Liam’s first memories are of Steed Malbranque, while Becky’s first match was the Europa League semi-final against Hamburg in 2010. The family live in Motspur Park, near the club’s training ground, and sometimes attend under-21 matches. Liam used to play alongside former academy player Jerome Opoku at school.

When it comes to the rivalry with Chelsea, they offer different perspectives. Tigs was there when Fulham last beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October 1979, with Gordon Davies and John Beck on the scoresheet. “I was in the Shed End for my own safety!” he says.



The rivalry is not a mutual affliction. Historically, Chelsea’s formation is said to have begun when Gus Mears approached Fulham about playing at the Stamford Bridge Athletics Ground on Fulham Road. They declined, so he decided to form his own team. Chelsea was born.

The teams competed regularly with each other in the interwar years but between 1968 and 2001, they were only in the same division five times and they did not play each other between 1986 and 2001. Rarely have they competed for similar honours and the rivalry lacked that edge. “There is a rivalry, but it’s not United-City, or that we are a divided borough,” says Mark. “We are the poorer cousins. But when people ask who Fulham’s biggest rivals are, I will say Chelsea.”

Tigs agrees. “Fulham see it more as a rivalry than Chelsea fans do. They don’t see it as a rivalry at all.”

“It’s little brother and big brother,” says Caroline.

There was a time when fans would attend the other’s game if one was not playing. “In the early 1970s I went to see Fulham play Oldham and Chelsea were due to play United,” says Mark. “The Chelsea game was called off so the United fans went to the Putney End to support Oldham, and the Chelsea fans came and stood in the Hammy End. There were massive amounts of them.”

The modern era feels different, though. Fulham returned to the top flight in 1997 and the two sides have locked horns frequently. But with one-sided outcomes.

“It was always Chelsea,” says Liam. “It’s the game I would look out for in the fixtures, the first one we’d try to get tickets for the away game. It’s the biggest one.”

Recently, Brentford’s success means they have competed for similar things; promotion to the Premier League and top-flight stability.

“There have been tense battles with Brentford,” says Michael. “We don’t sing about Brentford. But Chelsea…”



“I knew about the rivalry but I hadn’t been to Fulham-Chelsea,” says Laura. “But the first games I went to, fans would sing about Chelsea. Even if we weren’t playing them. It came up every game. It stuck.”

The thought of predictions for the game evokes a sharp intake of breath and leaves Tigs with his head in his hands. With Chelsea in crisis mode, opportunity knocks and Fulham fans know it.

“I’m really nervous. It’s like going to watch your children play,” says Caroline.

“All my Chelsea friends are saying we are going to do it,” says Liam. “They are not confident. This is the chance.” 

Without Aleksandar Mitrovic, the stage was set for Carlos Vinicius. And, with one twist of his neck muscles, he etched his name into Fulham folklore.

His winning goal, from an inch-perfect Andreas Pereira cross, secures a victory that has felt intangible for so long. The celebrations match the achievement. Vinicius is swamped by his team-mates and coaching staff, not least Boa Morte who embraces him; two Fulham heroes of this fixture.

In the stands, the scenes are joyous.

“Pereira was man of the match,” says Caroline at full-time. “We’re so pleased for Vinicius. Leno was amazing.”

“The fans were so up for it from minute one,” says Liam. “Every tackle, every loose ball was cheered.”

For Chelsea supporters filtering out onto Stevenage Road, the thought of losing to Fulham will not carry much significance in comparison to their anxieties about a season of struggle.

But for Fulham, who are now sixth, this all feels unprecedented. They have broken the hoodoo and bloodied the noses of their so-called big brother. They have also now won four games in succession for the first time since April 1966 and are the first newly promoted team to achieve 31 points at this stage since Wigan Athletic in 2005-06.

Avoiding relegation remains the key target, but if they keep setting standards like this, they may even finish above Chelsea.

And for those unaccustomed to this fixture, that conveys the most un-Fulham reality.

“Becky and Laura have never been to a Fulham vs Chelsea game before,” says Mark. “They now think we win it all the time!”

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