Indy 11 Share News on New Stadium
Our Indy 11 have announced plans and renderings on their new stadium downtown due to open in 2025. Of course this season kicks off March 11 at Tampa Bay with the first home game at the Mike on April 1 vs the Las Vegas Lights FC at 7 pm. Tickets start at just $15. In US news – sad to hear US Manager Jesse Marsch didn’t finalize a deal like expected with Southampton – can’t half blame not wanting to jump back into a relegation battle that looks untenable. There were some huge saves in Champions League this week see more in the Goalkeeper section below. Unbelievable story regarding players in Turkey and their devistation around the earthquakes. Also good luck to our Carmel FC players and everyone representing Indiana at the in the ODP games in Memphis, TN this weekend especially our GKs.
US Women – She Believe’s Cup –Sun 3:30 pm TNT
So we asked are Swanson and Rodman ready to take over up top and we got our answer with 2 goals (goal 1 Rodman to Morgan to Swanson) from the magnificent Sophia Swanson/Pugh and some great play by youngster Trinity Rodman on the wings. Emily Fox slotted in nicely as coach A continues try the double #6 (Dmid) with Fox and Horan sliding backing into the pivot. I thought Fox was electric winning ball after ball while Horan is still adjusting to a more defensive role while still getting a couple of shots off. I would think perhaps Kornieck slides in for Fox today just to see how she does. Emily Fox started her first game on the right side while Dunn slide back into a starting role on the right, while Alana Cook sliding inside with Captain Sauerbrunn. Of course as always Cook gave away a bad ball leading to Canada’s best chance at goal and a great save by the ever steady Alyssa Naeher. I presume Girma will step in with Sauerbrunn and I expect back up GK Murphy might step in between the pipes as she battles Franch for that #2 spot. The US plays in Nashville for game 2 Sunday vs Japan – the view Thur from the American Outlaws its not too late to get tickets seats as low at $35 in the beautiful new Nashville Geodis Park. Otherwise its TNT coverage starting at 3 pm with a 3:30 pm kickoff and postgame after and coverage moves back to HBO Max vs Brazil on Wed at 7 pm.
Shane’s Starters vs Brazil Sun 3:30 HBO Max
Swanson, Hatch, Williams
Fox, Sauerbrunn, Girma, Huerta
Champions League Tues/Wed 3 pm CBS
Some fantastic games last week as Dortmund beat Chelsea at home wow what a scene in front of the Yellow Wall. Bayern stole a 1-0 win at PSG. This week gives us Liverpool hosting Cup holders Real Madrid on Tuesday at 3 pm on CBS and Wednesday’s Man City vs RB Leipzig game on CBS Wed. Again great to see these top games on network TV while the others are on Paramount +. The 2-2 Barcelona vs Man United game was all you could want on Thursday setting up the return to Ole Trafford on Thursday at 3 pm on Paramount plus must watch TV – again CBSSN will have the wrap-around coverage starting at 12:30-5 pm.
GAMES ON TV
(American’s names in Parenthesis)
Sat, Feb 18
7:30 am USA Aston Villa vs Arsenal
9:30 am ESPN+ MGladbach (Scally) vs Bayern Munich
10 am USA Nottingham Forest vs Man City
10 am Peacock Everton vs Leeds United (Adams, Mckinney, Aaronson)
10 am Peacock Brighton vs Fulham (Ream, Jedi)
12:30 pm NBC New Castle vs Liverpool
3 pm ESPN+ Real Madrid Osona
Sun, Feb 19
7 am beIN Sport PSG vs Lille (Weah)
9 am USA Man United vs Leicster City
9:30 am ESPN+ Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hertha
9:30 am ESPN+ Union Berlin (Pfuk) vs Schalke
12 Para+ Spezia vs Juvenuts
3:30 pm HBO MAx USWNT vs Japan
5:30 pm HBO Max Brazil vs Canada
Tues, Feb 21 Champions League
3 pm Para+ Liverpol vs Real Madrid
3 pm Para+ Frankfurt vs Napoli
5 pm FS2 U17 Concacaf QF 1
8 pm FS2 U17 Concacaf QF 2
Weds, Feb 22 Champions League
3 pm Para+ RB Leipzig vs Man City
3 pm Para+ Inter Milan vs Porto
4 pm HBO Max Canada vs Japan Women
5 pm FS2 U17 Concacaf QF 3
7 pm HBO Max USWMNT vs Brazil
8 pm FS2 U17 Concacaf QF 4
Thurs, Feb 23 Europa League
12:30 pm Para+ Sevilla vs PSV
12:30 Para+ Nantes vs Juve
3 pm Para+ Man U vs Barcelona
3 pm Para+ Union Berlin (Pfuk) vs Ajax vs
3 pm Para+ Salzburg vs Roma
Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw
US Ladies -She Believes Cup
U.S. women’s national team roster by position (Club; Caps/Goals) — 2023 SheBelieves Cup:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Kansas City Current; 10), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 12), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 87)
DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 21/0), Emily Fox (North Carolina Courage; 24/0), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 128/24), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC; 12/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 27/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 212/0), Emily Sonnett (OL Reign; 70/1)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 123/26), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC; 9/2), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 86/24), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 47/7), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 19/3), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 39/3)
FORWARDS (7): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 15/5), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave FC; 201/120), Midge Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 22/4), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 197/63), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit; 12/2), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars; 84/28), Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 49/15)
2023 SheBelieves Cup – USA 2-0 Canada: A good start to kick off the tournament
VLATKO ANDONOVSKI: YOUNG USWNT STARS MUST FIND ‘RUTHLESSNESS’
ANDI SULLIVAN HOLDS THE KEYS TO USWNT’S WORLD CUP MIDFIELD
MALLORY SWANSON SCORES TWICE TO LEAD USWNT TO WIN VS. CANADA
USWNT COACH RAVES ABOUT MALLORY SWANSON: ‘SHE’S JUST FEELING IT’
CRYSTAL DUNN CALLS HER POSITION SWITCH FOR USWNT ‘A MASSIVE BurdEn
Black History Month: Cat, Cat, Cat
2023 SheBelieves Cup: Scouting Japan
USWNT’s Mallory Swanson nets 2 goals vs. Canada in SheBelieves Cup
Wise up, Canada Soccer. The fight with women’s soccer team is one you can’t win | Opinion
Canada and US support trans and gender rights before SheBelieves Cup game
Angel City to kick off second season with international exhibition vs. Club América
Ian Wright: Girls’ teams should not have to go through what Kelly Smith endured
Thierry Henry hints at possible interest in USMNT vacancy as he seeks coaching return
Borussia Dortmund edge past Chelsea in last 16 first leg
Wasteful Chelsea punished by Borussia Dortmund for lack of true goalscorer
‘Flying’ Adeyemi sinks Chelsea in Champions League
Benfica with one foot in Champions League quarters after beating Club Brugge
Barcelona and Manchester United stage engrossing four-star first leg
Barcelona vs Man Utd player ratings: Marcus Rashford shines; Wout Weghorst disappoints
Antonio Conte in line to return in time for Tottenham’s clash with AC Milan
Lethargic and ego-ravaged PSG show how much they need Kylian Mbappe
Coman scores winner as Bayern edge PSG in first leg of Champions League tie
Champions League: Bayern puts PSG on brink thanks to an overlooked Parisian
Diaz fires AC Milan to Champions League win over Tottenham
Tottenham offer very little in first-leg defeat in Milan
Man City Title Favorite Now yahoo Soccer
Mikel Arteta may rage, but still he cannot outsmart Pep Guardiola
Men against boys as Arsenal left bloodied by Man City
Man City back in business after statement win at Arsenal
The three key reasons behind Arsenal’s slump
Extended highlights: Arsenal 1, Manchester City
Four under-the-radar Premier League stars having tremendous seasons
Leeds United’s plight shows why Premier League clubs must plan for failure
Ever Wonder why Wolverhampton Wanderers are known as Wolves?
Great Saves Champions League last week
US GK Alyssa Neaur Makes the Save
Belgian goalkeeper collapses on field, dies after making save on penalty kick
Finally, we can talk about a referee getting a decision correct
Premier League referees chief calls emergency meeting after major Var errors
The Var that got Arsenal decision wrong is a serial offender and must be sacked
PL referees must raise ‘unacceptable’ standards
Will this PL season pay price for poor refereeing?
Indy 11 Learns US Open Cup Draw April 4-6
Indy 11 W League Joins new League
|USWNT BRINGS INTENSITY AGAINST CANADA|
|JAMES WILLIAMSON/GETTY IMAGES The USWNT started the SheBelieves Cup off with a bang, defeating rivals Canada 2-0 behind two first-half goals from Mallory Swanson. Swanson scored her fourth and fifth goals of 2023 in just three games.The first goal started with a sequence by Trinity Rodman and assist by Alex Morgan, and the second came off a slow back-pass by Canada defender Vanessa Gilles. Canada looked mentally drained after spending the week in conflict with their federation. The reigning Olympic gold medalists only registered three shots on goal, forcing Alyssa Naeher into one good save in first-half stoppage time.“I think we were just exhausted,” Christine Sinclair said after the game. Ashley Sanchez got the start in the attacking midfield, replacing an unavailable Rose Lavelle. Emily Fox and Crystal Dunn started at outside back, with Fox switching to the right.Rodman got an extended look at the right wing, creating chances and switching the point of attack in the second half. Bottom line: Canada’s fatigue is understandable, but the U.S. also came into the SheBelieves Cup with an intensity that matches their ambition to win the whole thing.|
|2/ THE U.S. MAKES A KEY MIDFIELD TWEAK|
|BRAD SMITH/ISI PHOTOS As the U.S. looks increasingly assured in the attack, their biggest adjustment came in the midfield. With Andi Sullivan starting in the defensive midfield, Lindsey Horan has had a more defined role in the last few international windows. Horan is a key part of the USWNT’s defensive press, stepping toward the ball in dangerous spaces to force turnovers. The U.S.’s press resulted in both goals scored on Thursday, as balls won high up the pitch turned into quick chances at Canada’s goal. Part of refining the USWNT midfield has been making sure Horan is in a position to succeed, and in recent games she has sat further back on the field. Rather than pushing forward into the attack against Canada, Horan stayed connected to Sullivan both with and without the ball.She still got her own crack on goal, hitting the post in the first half. Horan’s stability also allowed Ashley Sanchez to push further forward. At times, Sanchez even overlapped with Alex Morgan, who drifted back as a connector from the center forward position.|
Young stars took center stage for U.S. women’s national team in Thursday’s 2-0 win against Canada, as both Ashley Sanchez and Trinity Rodman were bumped up to the starting lineup.Both players had strong performances but also showed their youth with some missed opportunities.“Obviously very happy with Trinity’s performance,” USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said of the 20-year-old forward. “She’s a tremendous finisher. She’s shown that in different ways.”Still, Andonovski thinks Rodman must hone her killer instinct on the attack.“She needs to develop ruthlessness,” he said. “We could have easily scored another two or three goals, or created enough opportunities to score two or three goals. But again, happy with everything that we got. We’ll use those moments as learning opportunities so we can show Trin how she can be even better.”As for Sanchez, Andonovski praised the 23-year-old for her “tremendous creativity” and her similarities to fellow midfielder Rose Lavelle in the past few games.“She’s got special qualities on the ball,” he said. “It’s not easy to synchronize her movements right away because she hasn’t played much with Alex [Morgan] but when they do it, I think it worked very well. We are very happy where she’s at, positionally and happy where she’s at in the time of her stage of development.”Defensively, Andonovski said Sanchez has room to grow.“She puts much work in and effort but her timing and angle is just a little bit off. And it’s not quite synchronized with Alex’s movement when we want to shift from mid blocking to high press,” he said. “But she’s a true student of the game. I have no doubt that she’s going to get better.”Games against top-tier teams like Canada are going to speed her development, Andonovski said, as they help to expose her weaknesses.“Games like this are going to help her get better, because if we do again try certain things with her against a team that is not going to expose us, we’re probably not going to see everything that we want to see,” he continued. “Now, every little thing, if you’re not in the proper spot, if you’re one step to the left or one step to the right, you’re gonna get exposed and that’s where you learn.”
ANDI SULLIVAN HOLDS THE KEYS TO USWNT’S WORLD CUP MIDFIELD
The U.S. women’s national team brought an intensity to their first SheBelieves Cup matchup against Canada that fans have seen multiple times during the Vlatko Andonovski era. On their way to a dominant 2-0 win over an admittedly fatigued Canada side, what actually made the difference was the team’s execution more than their energy.
After months of tweaks, and even with one key absence, the USWNT’s midfield is beginning to gel as the 2023 World Cup nears.
ANDI SULLIVAN IS GETTING MORE COMFORTABLE BY THE GAME
Andi Sullivan stepped into the U.S. midfield with generational shoes to fill, taking the space once held so effortlessly by Julie Ertz in the 2019 World Cup. She wasn’t aided in the transition by the team’s tactics, which for months asked her to fill the same amount of defensive space as Ertz used to. The two-time World Cup champion played the position as a physically imposing ball-winner, with a sprint speed that could cover up positional missteps.Forcing Sullivan into an Ertz role not only didn’t play to the 27-year-old’s strengths, but it also appeared to make her doubt herself when she needed to step forward to challenge for the ball. At the international level, even a split second of hesitation can be the difference between snuffing out danger and getting bypassed. All too frequently in 2022, Sullivan found herself on the wrong side of her own decision-making.But in the USWNT’s last four games, things have slowed down considerably for the midfield as Sullivan increasingly puts her own spin on the position. A tweak to the midfield’s positioning has helped her transition, with Lindsey Horan sitting slightly deeper to give Sullivan defensive support and a distribution outlet.Against Canada, the team’s off-ball approach was clear. Horan had the ability to aggressively step toward the ball with Sullivan behind her, and Sullivan likewise had time to react with Horan in front of her. There were isolated moments where both players stepped wrong, and Canada progressed the ball through the midfield. Overall, though, they played with a sense of growing stability that could make for the USWNT’s most important partnership on their way to New Zealand.THE TAYLOR KORNIECK EXPERIMENT
After Taylor Kornieck spent 45 minutes as the USWNT’s No. 6 against New Zealand, discussion raged about the U.S.’s plans for a backup defensive midfielder. Sullivan is clearly the team’s starter at the position, but the way the U.S. struggled through the Tokyo Olympics while overly relying on an injured Ertz showed the cracks at a position that suddenly has become a vulnerability.Further exacerbating the issue, Andonovski has stopped calling in players who play that role for their clubs. Jaelin Howell and Sam Coffey have both spent time with the U.S. in the last six months, but as the World Cup roster announcement gets closer, they appear more on the outside looking in. Howell and Coffey are gifted players who bring different skill sets to the table, but rather than committing to bringing them along with a chance to grow, Andonovski is converting players into hybrid roles.No one can actually agree on where Kornieck should be playing for the U.S. and with which players. Kornieck’s club coach, Casey Stoney, told reporters that she doesn’t see the 24-year-old as a lone No. 6, and that she plays better in a connecting role with the ability to get further up the pitch. Andonovski didn’t actually seem to disagree, saying that while he doesn’t see Kornieck and Sullivan playing together as dual defensive midfielders, he understands that both players need to have a more traditional No. 8 beside them to make things tick.
On Thursday, Kornieck didn’t actually come in to relieve Sullivan but instead replaced Horan, who plays in a position much closer to where Kornieck fits with her club team. After the match, Andonovski praised Kornieck’s versatility, saying that she could have subbed into any of the team’s three different midfield positions depending on Canada’s adjustments.In short, it’s possible that criticism of Andonovski playing Kornieck as a backup No. 6 would be more accurately directed at the head coach not intending to travel with a backup No. 6 at all. Kornieck has intangibles, like her prowess on set pieces, that make her a valuable late-game asset to the USWNT. That she is also learning how to assist the defensive midfield on the fly feels secondary, for better or worse.
SANCHEZ’S UPSIDE IS SKY HIGH
Rose Lavelle was unavailable against Canada due to a knock sustained in training, and Ashley Sanchez was given a chance to showcase her creativity in a starting role on Thursday. If there’s one thing Sanchez loves to do, it’s push forward against a defense, and she did so with enthusiasm.
Sanchez isn’t quite as refined as Lavelle on both sides of the ball, which isn’t surprising considering her experience at the international level, but when she has the ball at her feet, she springs the attack quickly. One of Sanchez’s greatest strengths is her willingness to try things that other players might not think of, which can also make it difficult to build chemistry in short minutes with the players around her.The player who adjusted best to Sanchez’s gusto against Canada was Alex Morgan, who often floated back into the midfield when Sanchez pushed forward against the defense. The U.S. never lost their 4-2-3-1 shape, but Morgan at times served as the connector at the top of the midfield rather than the striker closest to goal.Andonovski admitted after the match that Sanchez still has room to grow as part of the full-team defensive press and as a playmaker rather than an extra attacker, but it’s also her lack of predictability that makes her a special player.Sanchez’s desire to get forward also benefits from Horan’s discipline in sitting back. Horan never came close to sitting in a double pivot with Sullivan, but she did rule the left side of the midfield with a willingness to hold when necessary. Lavelle has developed a similar skill set, but in some ways having a No. 10 with an all-out attacking mindset could be exactly what the U.S. needs when chasing a goal against a disciplined opponent.Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.
Mallory Swanson’s brace propels USWNT past Canada on opening night of SheBelieves Cup
By Meg Linehan Feb 16, 2023 17
The U.S. women’s national team defeated Canada 2-0 on the opening night of the SheBelieves Cup at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Thursday. Mallory Swanson scored both goals in the first half. Here’s what you need to know:
- Before the match, Canada players entered the pitch wearing purple shirts that read “Enough Is Enough” as part of their ongoing protest against their own federation. USWNT players also wore purple wristbands, as well as wristbands that read “Defend Trans Joy.” The two teams came together in a moment of solidarity before the match started where the starters for both teams linked arms.
- Alex Morgan was honored for her 200th cap for the USWNT before the match as well, and served as the team’s captain. She provided the assist on Swanson’s first goal for the USWNT.
- Swanson has had a very strong start to 2023, already leading the national team with five goals scored through the three games played so far.
Who helped their World Cup case?
Swanson, once again, proved she’s capable of finishing in multiple ways — whether it was the volley off of Morgan’s set up, or pouncing on Vanessa Gilles’ attempted back pass to Kailen Sheridan. She’s able to read situations quickly, and her positioning has been on point so far in 2023.
Andi Sullivan got the start as the team’s No. 6, and she provided some real bite against Canada — a team the USWNT knows very well. For as much attention as the Taylor Kornieck experiment as a holding mid has gotten, Sullivan provided a reminder that right now, she should be the front runner for this role in the World Cup. Now, whether she gets more support as part of a double pivot still remains to be seen, but before Thursday’s match coach Vlatko Andonovski seemed uninterested in trying a Sullivan-Kornieck combo as part of the team’s World Cup prep. Of course, then he opted to send Kornieck in for Lindsey Horan in the closing moments of Thursday’s match, providing a few minutes of data to consider what they look like together in the midfield.
USWNT identity shines
The team has always been at its best when on the front foot, and the opening minutes of the match showed why this team remains its most dangerous version when the high press is engaged. The win against Canada wasn’t a perfect test run of the team’s strongest starting XI — Rose Lavelle’s absence due to injury meant a good test run of minutes for Ashley Sanchez in the midfield — but all that early pressure paid off.Add in Swanson’s second goal, coming off of pressure on Gilles, and the recipe that’s always worked for the USWNT is still cooking. On the flip side, Canada didn’t provide much in the way of preparation for how that high press could leave them exposed on the counter, though Janine Beckie had a very good look on goal right before the end of the first half which forced a leaping save out of Alyssa Naeher.
Brazil takes the first game
Brazil defeated Japan 1-0 to open up the SheBelieves Cup in the earlier match. Japan had plenty of chances but had extremely poor luck in front of goal between some near misses and hitting the woodwork. Largely this felt like two teams really pushing each other in a major test ahead of the World Cup.The major story out of Brazil’s win was Marta’s return from her ACL injury, with the hometown crowd of Orlando loudly welcoming her back to the pitch. Marta played provider on Brazil’s winning goal, making the endline run down the left wing before sending in the ball to Debinha for the finish.
- 2023 SheBelieves Cup guide: USWNT’s World Cup tune-up, match times, how to watch
- USWNT players back Canada women’s team amid dispute with federation: What comes next?
- USWNT World Cup roster prediction 4.0: How SheBelieves Cup could impact selections
- Canada Soccer dispute explained: Why the women’s national team attempted to go on strike
What Weston McKennie is bringing to Leeds: Athleticism, flair and understanding of space
By Jeff Rueter and Joseph LoweryFeb 18, 202331
When Weston McKennie finalized his move from Juventus to Leeds on an initial loan with a purchase option, it seemed like a chance for the player and his new club alike to evolve. So often, McKennie felt like he was playing under “a little bit too much” restriction in Max Allegri’s system. Among the most athletic midfielders in the world, he was an ideal player to fill roles left vacant as more specialized teammates made the lineup. So, then, one hoped that McKennie would be able to find more specialized marching orders under his new manager and compatriot Jesse Marsch.
Well, that was the idea for just shy of a week.
McKennie made his Premier League debut from the bench as Marsch looked to claw back into a pivotal match with Nottingham Forest. Unfortunately, Leeds were unable to break through, falling 1-0 against a relegation-zone rival. The following day, Marsch was dismissed from the club after just under one year on the touchline, with Leeds only above the relegation places thanks to a more favourable goal difference.https://theathletic.com/report/podcast-clip/?clip_id=7106
Seemingly, a coaching dismissal would scupper much of the sales pitch which pried the midfielder from a swiftly shrinking giant of a team that is still competing in the Europa League. However, Marsch’s role in McKennie’s recruitment was far more along the lines of his job description than his nationality, briefing the United States international on his tactical vision but leaving many of the hard yards to sporting director Victor Orta and midfielder Tyler Adams.It’s worth remembering that while he left a former perennial Scudetto winner for a team in a relegation battle, McKennie has navigated hardships in his still-young career. After breaking through with Schalke under Domenico Tedesco, he continued to impress after David Wagner was appointed and earned an even greater role in the club. He navigated the pressure of playing under a loan-with-purchase arrangement at Juventus to make a temporary move from Schalke become permanent. He saw the coach who recruited him (Andrea Pirlo) dismissed as that option was sprung and re-integrated under Allegri.And, as he’s quick to remind anyone who asks, he’s an easy-going personality. We may be used to seeing clubs dreading a relegation battle shell out for hardened veterans of past scraps, proverbial hairy-arsed midfielders who can do a job for the short term. While McKennie is far more finessed than that, his swift smile and affable demeanour should help keep the locker-room mood a bit lighter during the task ahead.
Still, what can we glean from his first 208 minutes of Premier League action? There’s the instant, irresistible chemistry with Adams and, as Tyrell Malacia learned early in Sunday’s clash: McKennie’s got that dawg in him.
It’s the fifth minute of Leeds’ match against Manchester United, their second meeting in four days, and McKennie is up for it. After Leeds lose the ball in the attacking half, the U.S. international sprints back to counter-press Malacia. Okay, maybe it was less of a counter press and more of a counter (“maybe the ’90s never really ended”) crunching slide tackle.
Tyrell Malacia (L) and Weston McKennie (R) after the Leeds United midfielder’s challenge (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Over the course of his career, McKennie has almost always brought energy, coverage across virtually the entire field and ball-winning to the table. In just three Premier League appearances, he’s already using those three attributes to help his new team.
Marsch may be gone, but Leeds are holding on to the high-octane, press first and ask questions later system. Their line of confrontation is a bit lower, but this team is still aggressive. With McKennie playing next to Adams in a double pivot, Leeds can have real success putting their foot on the gas and pressing, even out of a mid-block.
Here’s a look at McKennie’s positioning alongside Adams in Leeds’ 2-2 draw with Manchester United last week.
Whenever Leeds hire a new permanent manager, McKennie’s on-field responsibilities will undoubtedly change. But many of the skills he’s shown so far in England will add value to any team’s playing any style.
First, there’s his range and athleticism. Then, there’s a more underrated quality: McKennie’s understanding of space. Though he prefers to push forward as a No 8 rather than stay back as a No 6, McKennie does a good job of shifting, stepping, and blocking off passing angles when he is deeper in a defensive block.
A positive example of the U.S. midfielder nailing the small defensive positioning details came in that aforementioned draw against Manchester United. With Adams drawn to the sideline to pressure Wout Weghorst, McKennie is alone in Leeds’ midfield.
Unfazed, he sees a dangerous play unfolding and steps towards the action.
This move to the near side accomplishes a couple of things.
With McKennie breaking towards Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford doesn’t want to put his teammate into a tough spot, so he decides not to force a pass into the middle. That’s a win for Leeds United. But it’s not the only win on this sequence: because Rashford doesn’t want to risk a pass into Fernandes, he decides to dribble out of pressure, splitting two opponents and breaking into midfield. However, McKennie’s decision to move towards the near side puts him in position to step in front of Rashford’s mazy dribble, while still blocking Fernandes…
…eliminating the danger and forcing a loose ball.
The whole sequence is a subtle but exceedingly clever piece of defending that shows McKennie isn’t all about thunderous tackles and yellow cards, though he does like those things quite a bit.
Looking at the attacking side of his game, McKennie has shown some real ingenuity with the ball at his feet. During his first few appearances in England, he’s roamed all over the field in possession for Leeds, dropping into the backline in some moments and pushing forward into the final third in others. Here, McKennie moves deeper and plays a lovely outside-of-the-right-foot progressive pass to Adams in his debut against Nottingham Forest.
And here, after pushing into the attack against Manchester United, McKennie pulls out a clever backheel to send Jack Harrison behind the opposing backline…
…and into the box for a cutback attempt.
McKennie can contribute on the ball, but he’s by no means perfect. Before the aforementioned tackle on Malacia, you’ll see that McKennie is only racing back to defend because he misplays a pass to Crysencio Summerville on the counterattack. McKennie’s pass forces Summerville wide, where Malacia wins the ball, instead of leading him into the box.
Later in that game, McKennie’s failure to check his shoulder…
…gave Fred the chance to pick his pocket in midfield…
…which then allowed Alejandro Garnacho to race behind the back line and score his game-sealing goal.These mistakes on the ball show that McKennie has his limits in possession. Still, we should extend at least some grace here given the lack of minutes he’s actually played in central midfield since arriving at Juventus in 2020. He’ll likely improve across the board as he continues to settle into his new environment and get reps in a full-time No 8 role.While McKennie has only played a few games for Leeds and he’s made some mistakes, it’s easy to see why the club wanted to sign him in January. His rare combination of athleticism, strength and flair makes him a valuable and exciting central midfielder.
There will be much more to uncover about McKennie’s fit in the Premier League over the coming months. How he handles neutralizing a team with Champions League ambition will represent a far greater task than the nervier moments to come, particularly in hard-fought battles against other relegation candidates where matches are won on the finest of margins.Throughout his career, McKennie has been arguably the most amorphous player among the headliners among the United States’ much ballyhooed potential golden generation. While Christian Pulisic has moonlit at wing-back and as a No 10, most assess him to be a winger through and through. Adams has cemented his place as a No 6 after years out wide, while Yunus Musah, Timothy Weah and Brenden Aaronson seemingly fit more defined playing profiles.The task may be steep for Leeds, but they aren’t operating at a talent deficiency when compared to others among the bottom rung of the table. McKennie brings Champions League and World Cup experience to Elland Road with an even-keeled personality. Helping the team stay up with his lively style of play could make him a swift favourite for years to come.Conversely, a failure to finish outside of the bottom-three places would almost certainly not be held against him individually. Even amidst the touchline turmoil, it’s a favourable situation for McKennie’s entry into English football. Now, we’ll learn just how much he’s developed over the years as Leeds sorts out its coaching situation — and, if history is any indication, McKennie should be able to adapt no matter who replaces Marsch.(Top photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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Turkey earthquake puts Canadian teammates’ brotherhood to the test
Joshua Kloke Feb 13, 2023 4
Atiba Hutchinson anxiously picked up his phone, hoping to see a message that, to his concern, wasn’t there. He put it down before picking it up again, almost instinctively.It was early in the morning for the 40-year-old Canadian and Besiktas midfielder in his Istanbul home. He was surrounded by his wife and three children. So, it wasn’t his immediate family he wanted to hear from, but a brother all the same.
News spread quickly throughout Turkey on Feb. 6: a violent and potentially catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the southern and central part of the country as well as northern and western Syria. The death toll of which has surpassed 35,000 people.
Hutchinson was 1,000 kilometers away from the brunt of the devastation, but having spent nearly a decade playing in Turkey — where earthquakes are not uncommon — his apprehension swelled.“It makes you think twice about everything,” Hutchinson said Thursday. When he picked up his phone yet again, he sent a quick note to family back in Brampton, Ontario: “I’m fine, but I don’t know yet about Sam.”His Canada national teammate and friend, Sam Adekugbe, lived just over 200 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake where he plays for Hatayspor. The epicenter in Gaziantep, Turkey, received the worst of the damage from what “has become one of the deadliest natural disasters of the century,” according to the New York Times, Hutchinson knew cellular and internet service might be spotty after an earthquake. The normally calm, cool midfielder’s anxiety increased, again.
He finally exhaled hours later when he saw Adekugbe’s name pop up on his phone with a request to FaceTime. Adekugbe called Hutchinson before anyone else as he surveyed the destruction around him.“Unfathomable,” Adekugbe later told reporters, his face lacking the boisterous smile he usually wears.
Since John Herdman took over as Canada men’s national team head coach in 2018, no word has been more commonly used by the team in media appearances than “brotherhood.” It was used to define their collective approach as a team. They hoped it would rid them of the cliques that dragged their team down in past World Cup qualifying campaigns. And they hoped, by seeking to lift each other up rather than worry about who was taking whom’s spot in the lineup, team success would follow. It did in the form of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. Yet, on a bleak and tragic February day, two members of that team faced an entirely different kind of brotherhood.
One by one, Adekugbe said good night to his teammates. A handful of them, including former Newcastle winger Christian Atsu, had congregated at Adekugbe’s home after their 1-0 win over Kasimpasa. Filled with the typical postgame adrenaline, players, some of whom live in the same complex as Adekugbe, gathered to eat and enjoy each other’s company.
But finally, late into the night, Adekugbe was alone on his couch with a candle glowing on his coffee table.
When he first began shaking before 5 a.m. local time, he was convinced he was having a panic attack. He’d dealt with increased nerves that occasionally caused him to lapse into intense self-doubt in the past, though recently he began relying on meditation to steady his mind.There would be no opportunity for Adekugbe to meditate, however, as the shaking intensified. Behind him, he heard the crash of plates onto his kitchen floor. He looked around to see nearly all of his belongings including his table and his television collapse, and the candle hit the floor.Adekugbe had never experienced an earthquake before.“That’s when I realized what was going on,” he said.Adekugbe dashed up to extinguish any flame from the candle on the floor, and then continued running as the shaking continued. He ran out of his home, and on to the street in the lightning and freezing rain.The first thing Adekugbe saw was the road split in two.“Something you can’t really explain,” he said.The state of the devastation revealed itself as Adekugbe spent hours looking for teammates in darkened apartments.“It felt like a movie: collapsed buildings, fires, people yelling, people crying, people digging through the rubble, broken pieces of houses,” Adekugbe said, his voice still distant, sitting beside Hutchinson as he reflected. When he finally had a moment to himself, Adekugbe did not call his parents in Alberta, Canada first. Instead he dialed his teammate, his brother, Atiba Hutchinson.Adekugbe wanted to understand the scale of the destruction, but more importantly, he needed to hear from Hutchinson, a person that Adekugbe previously told The Athletic is “the guy (Canadian players) all look up to.”
Adekugbe turned his phone outwards to reveal a city ripped apart. As he did, Hutchinson’s normally placid appearance gave way. Adekugbe was safe, which was what mattered, but if he needed anything, Hutchinson was there for him.Once the internet service kicked in, a few of Adekugbe’s teammates agreed that with their houses “upside down,” it was best to gather at Hatayspor’s training ground. They piled into a car and made the 20-minute drive towards the center of Antakya. Adekugbe saw more roads split, bridges broken and high rise apartments and office buildings completely collapsed.
“Families looking for loved ones,” Adekugbe remembers seeing. “Something you’d never really expect.”
Once Adekugbe arrived at the training ground, he called his parents to let them know he was safe. But in the hours and days that followed, he learned not every member of Hatayspor was as fortunate: as of Monday, the team’s sporting director Taner Savut is still missing, as is Atsu, who was previously incorrectly identified as safe. Adekugbe said one member of Hatayspor’s equipment staff has been reported dead. The initial earthquake, and subsequent aftershocks, including a 7.5 magnitude event, is the deadliest in the country since 1939. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, only three earthquakes of 6.0 or larger magnitudes have occurred within 250 km of the Feb. 6 epicenter since 1970.
The tentacles of the tragedy extended into the rest of the team, as Adekugbe learned people who work in the backroom staff had either lost family members or required critical treatment from a medical infrastructure struggling to cope with the widespread damage.
That’s when Adekugbe, again, thought of Hutchinson and wanted to be near him.When Adekugbe felt adrift in his career, beset by injuries, he sought Hutchinson’s counsel. When he first received an offer from Hatayspor in 2021, he leaned on Hutchinson for advice. Hutchinson reminded Adekugbe of his capabilities, affectionately referring to his younger teammate as “Alaba” as he always did, a comparison to one of the best left backs of his generation, David Alaba.
“When Atiba speaks, he’s speaking wisdom,” Adekugbe told The Athletic ahead of the World Cup.And when Adekugbe rose to prominence during the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign, it was Hutchinson who would smile quietly to himself, knowing that the rest of the Canadian soccer world was learning what he already knew.So when Hatayspor’s manager Volkan Demirel, a famed former goalkeeper with Istanbul-based side Fenerbahce, called his former club to ask for support, Adekugbe knew there was only one place he wanted to be. Fenerbahce arranged for a private jet to take the Hatayspor players who wanted out of southern Turkey to Istanbul. Hutchinson offered up his home to Adekugbe as long as he needed it.Eyes heavy without sleep, and after stuffing everything he could into a few suitcases, Adekugbe boarded a flight on Feb. 7 to Hutchinson’s home. They hugged a little tighter than they had in the past.
Adekugbe is unsure if he’ll return to the city he called home for nearly two years.
On Feb. 9, Ali Koc, the president of the Turkish Union of Clubs, said Hatayspor had withdrawn from the Turkish Super Lig this season. While soccer is secondary in a time of tragedy, the decision throws Adekugbe’s future further up in the air.
According to a source with knowledge of Adekugbe’s situation, Hatayspor players and representatives have been told by the Turkish Football Federation that they are free to sign with any team interested in signing them to a short-term loan until the summer. Crucially, any foreign players would not count as foreign players when signing on loan deals, which would potentially increase their options.The source said Adekugbe has been in discussions with Turkey’s Istanbul-based teams about a loan deal and that it is likely he will sign with one of those teams.ADVERTISEMENT
Adekugbe’s contract with Hatayspor runs until June 30, 2024.Hatayspor players have been informed that the likelihood of the club continuing into next season will be re-evaluated in the summer, according to a source, meaning Adekugbe’s long-term future in Turkey is still to be determined.
While there were offers for him in the January transfer window, including from two prominent Turkish teams, Hatayspor set Adekugbe’s price too high for some of the European-based and Major League Soccer teams interested in his services. A source, who could not speak publicly on any offers, told The Athletic that Adekugbe still has serious interest from multiple MLS sides and remains very high on three teams’ discovery rights lists.https://www.instagram.com/reel/CodHorwIbdY/embed/?cr=1&v=14&wp=540&rd=https%3A%2F%2Ftheathletic.com&rp=%2F4192690%2F2023%2F02%2F13%2Fturkey-earthquake-canadian-soccer-players%2F#%7B%22ci%22%3A1%2C%22os%22%3A3101.3999999910593%7D
But for the time being, Adekugbe’s focus is not on soccer: while his family is still worried about him, he has no immediate plans to leave Turkey.
Instead, his focus is on paying forward the goodwill people like Hutchinson have shown him.
According to reports, the Turkish government is struggling to assist those hardest hit. With the help of more than 238,000 relief workers, Turkey’s national emergency management agency, AFAD, has distributed a large quantity of tents, according to the New York Times. But some still lack shelter due to the massive reach of the destruction.
“It really starts to hit home,” Adekugbe said, his voice trembling, “when you see the agony and desperation on their faces.”
Hutchinson noted how the cold has gripped that part of Turkey recently. So to help, Adekugbe is working with Hutchinson and partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to raise funds for those in need.
(Top photo by Joe Klamar/Bruno Fahy/Belga Mag/Burak Kara/Getty Images; Design: Sam Richardson)
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