4/18/23 US vs Mexico Wed 10 pm TBS, Champ League Tue/Wed 3 pm CBS, Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm

US Men Play Mexico Wed 10 pm on TBS

The USMNT will play Mexico in a friendly Wed night on TBS at 10 pm – with a mostly MLS roster on hand they will play a mostly Mexican home grown group as well which should have the Mexican team a little stronger than the US overall.  Lots of new faces on the roster but look for stalwarts Zimmerman, Long, Dest and Yedlin to hold the line in the backline with Acosta at the Dmid most likely. Will be exciting to see MLS Leading scorer Jordan Morris – is he in the middle or on the wing along with hopefully Cincy’s Brandon Vasquez.


GOALKEEPERS (3): Drake Callender (Inter Miami; 0/0), Roman Celentano (FC Cincinnati; 0/0), Sean Johnson (Toronto FC/CAN; 11/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Sergiño Dest (AC Milan/ITA; 24/2), Aaron Long (LAFC; 31/3), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps/CAN; 2/0), Matt Miazga (FC Cincinnati; 22/1), Shaq Moore (Nashville SC; 17/1), Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United; 0/0), Joshua Wynder (Louisville City; 0/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 77/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 39/3)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 57/2), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew; 2/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 32/0), James Sands (New York City FC; 7/0), Alan Soñora (FC Juárez/MEX; 2/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 16/0)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 50/10), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; 2/0), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 17/7), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 51/11), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati; 2/1)

Champions League Final 8 – Tues/Wed 3 pm CBS Chelsea 0 vs Real Madrid 0 Tues, Man City 3 – Bayern 0 Wed

 Wow so my first Champions League game was wonderful – what an atmosphere on Tuesday night at the Ettihad as that magnificent forward Earling Haaland was magnificent in leading City to a 3-0 win.  Haaland had an assist and goal on the night in a dominating performance.   I snuck in to the club section and had great seats for this rainy cold night in Manchester. (See the pics) The Bayern crowd was in full voice until the game went to 3-0 in about the 70th minute.  Bayern had chances to score and should have made 2 goals along the way but Ederson was top of form and blanked them.  Chelsea went to 10 men but still only lost 0-2 at Madrid as Pulisic did not play and both Milan teams claimed victories which could well give them 2 teams in the Final 4. 

Indy 11 Home Sat 7 pm @ Mike vs Monterey Bay FC

Despite outshooting OCSC 13-8 and holding 39-8 and 11-2 edges in crosses and corner kicks, respectively, Indy failed to capitalize on its considerable time in the attacking third and was held scoreless for a third straight regular season contest losing 1-0 on a PK to Orange County SC. Indiana’s Team will return home this Saturday, April 22, when Monterey Bay F.C. will make its first visit to the Circle City for a 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff on Community Heroes Night at “The Mike.” Single-game tickets for all home games at IUPUI Carroll Stadium along with 17-game Season Ticket Memberships, specially-priced group tickets, and an increased portfolio of hospitality options are available for purchase now via indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100   Full Schedule   Promotions 


El Traffico was well El Traffico – LAFC won and has taken over the city but the struggling LA Galaxy put up a fight before losing their first home game in this series. (Highlights).  MLS will have team in the CCL finals again as both LAFC and Philly Advanced to the Semi’s where they will face each other. Mexican teams Leon and Tigres will battle in the other side of the bracket. 

NWSL’s Challenge Cup offers $1 million dollar bonus in this in season Cup kicking off Wed night.  Predictions here  Schedule most games on Para+.

Carmel FC Goalkeeping Training Returns

We are thrilled to announce our expanded GK training schedule this Spring to allow more opportunities for our talented Goalkeepers at Carmel FC. 

Coach Carla Baker will be training the older GKs (U13 and Above) Mon/Wed at Shelbourne Field 14 6:15-7:15 pm.

Coach Shane Best will be training the older GKs (U13 and above) Mon at River Road Field 2 5-6 pm

Coach Shane Best will be training the younger GKs (U10-U12) Wed at Shelbourne Field 2 5:30-6:15 pm

I collected Pins at each stop along the way during my 3 week journey thru England along with 10 days with Carmel FC on their Spring Break Trip to London. What a Glorious visit!

Yes that’s a Wrexham pin and Luton Town – Coach Juergen Sommer’s First English team, along with my favorite Fulham.


Carmel FC Twitter Carmel FC Instagram The Ole Ballcoach in England Pics from Man City UCL Game


(American’s names in Parenthesis)

Tues, Apr 18     Champions League Quarterfinals- leg 2

3 pm CBS                      Chelsea  0  (Pulisic) vs  Real Madrid 2                    

3 pm Paramount+            Napoli 0 vs AC Milan 2

 Weds, Apr 19

3 pm CBS                             Bayern Munich 0 vs Man City 3                 

3 pm Paramount+            Inter Milan 2 vs Benefica 1

7 pm Para+                         Orlando Pride vs NC Courage NWSL CC

7:30 pm Para+                   Houston Dash vs Washington Spirit

10 pm Para+                       Angel City vs OL Reign NWSL CC

10 pm Para+                       San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs Portland Thorns   

10 pm TBS, Telemundo USA Men vs Mexico

Thur, Apr 20       Europa League

3 pm Para+                       Sevilla vs Man United                      

3 pm Paramount+            Juventus vs Sporting CP

3 pm Paramount+            Gent vs West Ham United

Fri, Apr 21

3 pm USA                            Arsenal vs Southampton

11 pm FS1                            Tijuana vs Leon

Sat, Apr 22

7:30 am USA/Peacock    Fulham (Ream, Jedi) vs Leeds United (Mckinney, Aaronson)

10 am USA                          Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest

10 am Peacoclk                 Crystal Palace vs Everton

11:45 am ESPN+                Man City vs Shelfield United (Cup)

12 noon ESPN+                 Dortmund (Reyna) vs Frankfurt  

7 pm Para +                        Orlando Pride vs NY Gothem FC  NWSL

7:30 pm  Apple TV           Cincy vs Portland

7 pm ESPN+                Indy 11 vs Monterey

7:30 pm Para+            NY Gothem vs NC Courage NWSL

10 pm  Para+              Portland vs Racing Louisville NWSL

10:30 pm  Apple TV         Seattle Sounders vs Minn United

Sun, Apr 23                        

9 am USA                             New Castle vs Tottenham  

10:15 am ESPN+                Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

11:30 USA                            Brighton vs Man United

11:30 pm ESPN+               Leverkusen vs RB Leipzig

1:30 pm ESPN+                  Mgladbach (Scurry) vs Union Berlin

2:45 pm Para+                   Juventus vs Napoli

4:30 pm FOX                       Atlanta United vs Chicago Fire

8 pm Para+                         Angel City (Ertz, Thompson) vs San Diego Wave (Morgan)  

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Schedule

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

that’s 10 pm ET on TBS

Champions League

Ancelotti: LaLiga, Serie A can compete in UCL

Inter Milan are a chaotic mess, making their epic Champions League run a blast

Vini Jr. hopes Ancelotti leads both Madrid, Brazil

UCL stats: Benzema joins Messi’s landmark, Haaland’s record 45

Reports: Sane left bloodied after run-in with Mane

Lampard: Chelsea need ‘special night’ at Bridge

Chelsea’s season on brink of collapse as Madrid take control

Madrid breeze past Chelsea in UCL first leg

Milan get crucial first-leg lead in UCL quarterfinal as Napoli miss Osimhen

Milan edge Osimhen-less Napoli in UCL 1st leg

Pep ’emotionally destroyed’ after win over Bayern

US Men

Sergino Dest headlines USMNT roster vs. Mexico

USMNT’s Dike stretchered off after horror injury
USMNT, Mexico learn Gold Cup group draws
  Cesar Hernandez
Steffen tells ESPN: Missing World Cup with USMNT ‘a bitter pill to swallow’
Rob Dawson

The real winners and losers from the U.S.’s international break

USMNT film room: Analyzing the El Salvador win

Cincy’s Brandon Vasquez Remains Commited to US

Gio Reyna scores 92nd minute go-ahead goal but then Dortmund inexplicably chokes

Aaron Long showcases his brilliance blocking a shot while face-down on the ground

American’s Struggle Abroad

US Ladies

With World Cup now in sight, USWNT face a balancing act to stay healthy  Jeff Carlisle
Losing star Mallory Swanson to injury doesn’t mean USWNT’s World Cup chances are lost, too

USWNT’s Swanson ‘in shock,’ OK after surgery

U.S. women playing Wales in WWC sendoff match

– Big questions for every Women’s World Cup team
– Women’s World Cup bracket and fixtures schedule

Can Women’s World Cup faves overcome infighting, injury, new coaches in 100 days?


Chelsea fans turn on Boehly as mess continues under Lampard Mark Ogden
Arsenal flop reignites Premier League title race, plus Bayern’s issues run deeper than manager
hGab Marcotti

Chelsea fans turn on Boehly as mess continues under Lampard Mark Ogden
Villa charge toward Champions League, Dortmund sunk again, Basque derby magic: Weekend Review

How Premier League clubs can qualify for Europe this season  Dale Johnson
Man United ratings: Antony, Fernandes help Red Devils take charge in top-four race
Nick Judd

United States adds Paxton Pomykal to friendly squad, Paul Arriola, Cristian Roldan out

Midfielder Cristian Roldan and forward Paul Arriola were dropped from the United States roster for Wednesday night’s exhibition against Mexico because of injuries and midfielder Paxton Pomykal was added.Arriola has tightness in his right hamstring and will remain with Dallas and Roldan has entered concussion return to play protocol after being diagnosed last week while with Seattle, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Sunday.Pomykal, 23, has two international appearances in exhibitions on Sept. 10, 2019, against Uruguay and this past Jan. 25 against Serbia.The U.S. plays Mexico in Glendale, Arizona. The match is not on a FIFA date and nearly all Europe-based players remained with their clubs.Interim coach Anthony Hudson’s team has a busy summer ahead of them where it will take part in the CONCACAF Nations League final and Gold Cup. The draw for the Gold Cup took place on April 14, with the U.S. landing in Group A alongside Jamaica, Nicaragua and a fourth team to be determined in the preliminary playoff round.Hudson has been in charge of the team since January after his predecessor Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired. He oversaw a pair of CONCACAF Nations League wins in March against Grenada and El Salvador that secured the U.S. a spot in the CNL finals from June 15-18 in Las Vegas.

USMNT striker Daryl Dike set for lengthy layoff after being stretchered off with injury

Apr 16, 2023 ESPN

United States international Daryl Dike is set to face a lengthy spell out of action after being stretchered off during West Brom’s 2-1 win at Stoke on Saturday.Just before half-time, the striker went down after landing awkwardly. He received lengthy treatment and required an oxygen mask. Dike, 22, was taken off the field on a stretcher, and West Brom manager Carlos Corberan fears he faces a long stint on the sideline.”It looks like an Achilles injury, and they never really are good,” he told Birmingham Live after the match. “Achilles injuries are never easy to manage, but still, we need to assess. But never, the Achilles injuries are good to manage.”Dike was not called up to the USMNT squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after struggling with injuries.He returned to international action last month, where he featured in wins over Grenada and El Salvador.The striker had put himself back into contention with the USMNT after scoring seven goals in 23 Championship matches for West Brom this season.On Sunday, the U.S. announced that Paul Arriola and Cristian Roldan had been dropped from the roster put together for a Wednesday friendly against Mexico on Wednesday and that FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal had been added.Dike was not part of that roster because the match fell outside of a FIFA international window and the team was almost entirely comprised of U.S. domestic players.

Just in case you wondered how we progressed under the leadership of Ernie Stewart, Brian McBride and Berhalter.

USA vs. Mexico, 2023 friendly: Scouting Mexico

The USMNT faces off against the big rival. By Brendan Joseph  Apr 17, 2023, 7:00am PDT  

With the United States Men’s National Team having already qualified for the upcoming World Cup as co-hosts, a need exists for a stronger schedule populated by challenging foes. The newly-established Allstate Continental Clásico is an “annual event” that will involve “a top-tier opponent from North, Central, or South America.” The inaugural match features the eternal rival, Mexico, presenting the opportunity to renew the old conflicts and perhaps create some new hostilities ahead of June’s CONCACAF Nations League Finals. The fixture will be hosted at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, a 63,400-seat venue with the expanded capacity to accommodate 73,000 spectators. This is the 75th all-time meeting between the two nations, with the visitors holding a 36-22-16 advantage, although the USMNT is currently enjoying a four-match unbeaten streak dating back to June of 2021. Ranked 15th internationally by FIFA, Mexico crashed out of the 2022 World Cup in the group stage, ending a run of seven consecutive qualifications to the Round of 16. Recent results in the Nations League are underwhelming (a 2-0-2 record against Jamaica and Suriname), but El Tri managed to grab a spot in the semifinals.Mexico appointed Diego Cocca to the manager role, replacing Gerardo “Tata” Martino who parted ways with the program after failing to reach the knockout stage in Qatar. The 51-year-old Argentine had recently been hired to lead domestic outfit Tigres UANL in January, adding to a lengthy résumé that includes stops at Godoy Cruz, Santos Laguna, Millonarios, and Atlas. The retired defender is described as a “smart leader with values and group management,” winning three league titles and being named Liga MX’s Manager of the Year in 2022.Despite having qualified for the 2026 World Cup as co-hosts, the manager already responded to criticism after his squad was booed at the Estadio Azteca. “The fans have the right to say what they want,” Cocca said after drawing with Jamaica. “We’re feeling strong and confident, and are focused on working hard and moving forward… This is a three-and-a-half-year process. I’ve been with the players for a month, and, in that time, we’ve reached a lot of conclusions. We know that we need to adjust things, improve and work together to do that. That’s the job we’ve got to do and the conclusions that we’ve reached so far are very positive.”Cocca named a 23-player roster for the Allstate Continental Clásico, a somewhat muted squad due to the match occurring outside of an international window. The majority of the group competes in the domestic Liga MX, with one familiar outlier on the books at Barcelona. Club América, Guadalajara, Pachuca, and Santos Laguna are home to more than half of the call-ups. Efrain Alvarez was called up late Sunday night to replace Henry Martin on the roster.


GOALKEEPERS (3): Luis Ángel Malagón Veláquez (América), José Antonio Rodríguez Romero (Tijuana), Carlos Acevedo López (Santos)

DEFENDERS (7): Néstor Alejandro Araujo Razo (América), Israel Reyes Romero (América), Julián Araujo (Barcelona), Gilberto Sepúlveda López (Guadalajara), Kevin Nahin Álvarez Campos (Pachuca), Jesús Daniel Gallardo Vasconcelos (Monterrey), Víctor Andrés Guzmán Olmedo (Monterrey)

MIDFIELDERS (11): Jonathan Ozziel Herrera Morales (Atlas), Aldo Paúl Rocha González (Atlas), Carlos Uriel Antuna Romero (Cruz Azul), Carlos Alberto Rodríguez Gómez (Cruz Azul), Roberto Carlos Alvarado Hernández (Guadalajara), Fernando Beltrán Cruz (Guadalajara), Ernesto Alexis Vega Rojas (Guadalajara), Luis Gerardo Chávez Magallón (Pachuca), Erick Daniel Sánchez Ocegueda (Pachuca), Omar Antonio Campos Chagoya (Santos), Alan Jhosué Cervantes Martin del Campo (Santos)

FORWARDS (2): Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy), Roberto Carlos de la Rosa González (Pachuca)


During his brief tenure, Cocca has used Mexico’s traditional 4-3-3 formation, although his preference is for the 3-5-2. He is described as having an orderly, defense-first style reliant upon “a highly-coordinated midfield core and pacey wing-backs” that press the opponent before shifting into a direct, vertical attack. Whether the manager’s ideas can be implemented at this early stage of his tenure appears an unlikely prospect, but matches outside of the international window present the opportunity for experimentation. In the previous Nations League fixtures, Mexico struggled to defend the counter, giving countless opportunities to Suriname. The goals came from set pieces and counter-attacks, utilizing wingers cutting into the box. As always, El Tri will shoot early and often, unafraid to blast speculative attempts from distance that tempt the opposing back line into stepping forward and, in turn, opening space.

Projected Mexico Starting XI (via BuildLineup.com)

The goalkeeper corps have a combined five caps, all of which belong to Carlos Acevedo of Santos Laguna. The 26-year-old is in his third season as a starter at the club level and was named a Liga MX All-Star last summer. While a touch undersized at 6’, he is an acrobatic shot-stopper and uses his entire body to keep the ball out of the net, equally adept at long-range and short-range denials. His low, line-drive punts enable quick transitions into the counter-attack and can catch opponents by surprise.

One of the squad’s veterans, Néstor Araujo was on the roster for the 2022 World Cup, serving as an outlet in the buildup. The 31-year-old América centre-back is a long, physical presence and shifts into tackles without any hesitation. There should be few chemistry issues as his likely partner is club teammate Israel Reyes, who started and played 90 minutes in the recent Nations League fixture against Suriname. He is another strong tackler and excels in one-on-one situations, also possessing the ability to occasionally contribute in the final third.Jesús Gallardo patrols the left side of the line, overlapping with the winger and serving as an additional attacker. The pacy 28-year-old from Monterrey can shuttle and break out with his skillful dribbling, looking to play low crosses across the goalmouth. The likely right fullback is Pachuca’s Kevin Álvarez, another advancing presence who is coming off two appearances at the World Cup. He is becoming more of a threat in the final third with three goals this season, comfortable unleashing dangerous shots from distance. Expect former United States international Julián Araujo – a strong tackler “with a proficiency for pressing, creating chances, and making interceptions” – to come off of the bench.Holding midfielder Luis Chávez had a transformative year in 2022, making his international debut in April and scoring at the World Cup with a jaw-dropping free kick. Despite reported offers from clubs in Spain and the Netherlands, the electric 27-year-old continues to dazzle with his technical dribbling and long-range passing at Pachuca. The shrewd Fernando Beltrán serves as a complementary piece, working hard off the ball to make himself available when combining with teammates. While not an overly physical presence, he throws himself into challenges and rarely surrenders possession. Completing the triangle is Carlos “Charly” Rodríguez of Cruz Azul, who appeared twice in Qatar as a substitute and covers the width of the field. His long runs and accurate distribution serve to drive the counter-attack, while also appearing as a trailing option to recycle loose balls at the top of the box.

Alexis Vega started all three matches at the World Cup after entering the competition on scorching form with three goals in three friendlies. Despite missing the previous Nations League fixtures, the creative attacker is an essential inclusion for El Tri, providing creativity and a constant desire to embarrass opponents off the dribble. On the other side of the formation is Uriel Antuna of Cruz Azul, another pacy and direct player who is always looking to put the ball on goal. He thrives in zone three, forcing defenders to decide between allowing him to cut inside or break toward the endline. There should also be an appearance from the buzzy Roberto Alvarado, bringing effective skill and the occasional eye-popping display of audacious trickery.While never quite being able to replicate his club production at the international level, Henry Martín continues to be relied upon by multiple Mexico managers. He is having a dominant season for América, contributing 26 goals and 11 assists in 36 appearances. His role is that of an undersized target striker, facilitating possession with his back to goal and finding a crucial yard space in the box. One of the (if not the) world’s most in-form attackers is expected to make an impact, even if by attracting the attention of the back line.

While this match will lack the star power of past or upcoming meetings, these two nations always manage to put on an entertaining show. Mexico is currently attempting to fix the downward-sloping trajectory of the program, although success at the international level can be an independent outcome determined by the born fruit of a current generation. With most eyes looking ahead to June’s Nations League semifinal round, expect spirited proceedings punctuated by moments of individual brilliance that take advantage of the lacking chemistry. The match is scheduled for Wednesday, April 19th at 10:22 p.m. Eastern, 7:22 p.m. Pacific. Viewing options include TBS, Telemundo, Universo, HBO Max, Peacock, and FUBO TV (free trial).

Bayern’s Sadio Mane back for Man City decider after suspension over Leroy Sane slap — Thomas Tuchel

dpatop - 13 April 2023, Bavaria, Munich: Soccer: Bundesliga, training FC Bayern Munich at the club's premises on Säbener Straße. Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane arrive for training. Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa - IMPORTANT NOTE: In accordance with the requirements of the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga and the DFB Deutscher Fußball-Bund, it is prohibited to use or have used photographs taken in the stadium and/or of the match in the form of sequence pictures and/or video-like photo series. (Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images)

By Kate Burlaga Apr 16, 2023

Sadio Mane will return for Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s Champions League decider against Manchester City, Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.Mane was suspended for Saturday’s draw against Hoffenheim for “misconduct” after leaving Leroy Sane with a bloodied lip.The spat followed Bayern’s 3-0 defeat to City in their quarter-final first leg, with Mane later apologising.https://19ab3a647bf068da64b3a1a7259d750b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-40/html/container.html

Tuchel had insisted the Senegal international retained his support after what he described as a “mistake,” and said the player would be back in the frame for the second leg in Munich.“Sadio Mane will be in the squad on Wednesday,” Tuchel said.“He has already shown his reaction. It’s over, he’s apologised. It’s not an issue anymore. He trained with us in the week and he’ll be in training tomorrow (Sunday).”

Bayern had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Hoffenheim after Andrej Kramaric cancelled out Benjamin Pavard’s opener at the Allianz Arena.But the Bundesliga leaders saw closest rivals Borussia Dortmund also pegged back after a last-gasp Silas goal earned 10-man Stuttgart a 3-3 draw.Tuchel criticised his players’ performance and admitted he had hoped for a display to boost morale ahead of their uphill take against City.“We need to work our way through this result,” the German coach said. “It’s a big step back in terms of performance level but also conviction and confidence.“Today was the moment to send a statement to go into the game to win it with all our power and put a bit of fire under everyone.“I felt the anger the desire to make things right again but we didn’t manage to put it into practice on the pitch. We missed a big chance to inspire an atmosphere in our fans that can lead to more success.”The winner of the tie between Bayern and City will face either Real Madrid or Chelsea in the semi-finals. Real hold a 2-0 advantage heading into Tuesday’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.

USMNT, Mexico learn Gold Cup group stage opponents

Apr 14, 2023 Cesar Hernandez

The draw for this summer’s 2023 Gold Cup has placed current champions the United States in Group A longside JamaicaNicaragua and a team that has yet to be determined through a preliminary round.Mexico, who finished second to the U.S. in the 2021 Gold Cup, were placed into Group B with HaitiHonduras and guests Qatar.– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)Elsewhere in the draw that was held on Friday in Inglewood, California’s SoFi Stadium — which is set to host the tournament’s final — Central American trio Costa RicaPanamaEl Salvador will be paired in Group C with team that makes it through the preliminary rounds, while Group D will contain CanadaGuatemalaCuba and an additional team yet to be determined.”Overall, I’m pleased with the draw,” USMNT interim head coach Anthony Hudson said. “I think Jamaica is a really tough team and our previous experience in this competition tells us that there are no easy opponents and every game is complicated. As we know, these teams are improving every year, and that’s good for everyone.”Details were also revealed Friday for the qualifiers that will decide the three additional teams that will enter the group stage of the tournament.The vacant spot in Group A will be determined by matchups between the winners of Curacao vs. St. Kitts & Nevis and French Guiana vs. Sint Maarten. In Group C, the remaining team will come from a contest between the winners of Martinique vs. St. Lucia and Suriname vs. Puerto Rico, while the winners of Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guadeloupe and Guyana vs. Grenada will compete for the final spot in Group D.m group stage of the Gold Cup will begin on June 24. The top two teams from each group will move onto the knockout stage, which will consist of a quarterfinal round (July 8-9), semifinals (July 12), and a final at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, July 16.Earlier this month, CONCACAF announced the 15 venues in 14 cities across the United States and Canada that will host this year’s Gold Cup matches. The announcement was highlighted by three new stadiums — Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium, San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium and St. Louis’ CityPark — that were selected as Gold Cup venues for the first time.A full Gold Cup schedule is expected to be announced in the coming days.The tournament is part of a busy summer schedule for the four Gold Cup participants that will also take part in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals — U.S. vs. Mexico and Panama vs. Canada — on June 15 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The CONCACAF Nations League final and third place game will take place at the same venue on June 18.The U.S. are the defending Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League champions. If they were to win the Gold Cup again this summer, they would match Mexico’s current record of eight titles in the tournament.Ahead of both the CONCACAF Nations League knockout round and the Gold Cup, the U.S. and Mexico will face-off in an April 19 friendly in Glendale, Arizona’s State Farm Stadium. Due to the match landing in a non-FIFA window, a majority of players called up for the friendly are from MLS for the U.S. and Liga MX for Mexico.


Group A
*Winner Prelims 9

Group B

Group C
Costa Rica
El Salvador
*Winner Prelims 8

Group D
*Winner Prelims 7

CityPark in St. Louis, Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium among new Gold Cup venues in 202

Apr 10, 2023 Cesar Hernandez espn

CONCACAF announced on Monday the 15 venues in 14 cities across the United States and Canada that will host games for the 2023 Gold Cup between June 16-July 16.Three first-time hosts highlight the list with new venues including Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium, Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego and the home of MLS expansion side St. Louis City SC, CityPark.SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, will host group-stage matches and the final, as well as Friday’s Gold Cup draw. While Cincinnati and St. Louis are debuting as hosts for the tournament, both San Diego and L.A. have previously held Gold Cup events.Venues in Canada were named for the second time in Gold Cup history with Toronto FC‘s BMO Field, which held a double-header in the group stage of the 2015 competition, making the list. Other U.S. venues include Soldier Field in Chicago and NRG Stadium in Houston — the two cities sharing the record for most Gold Cup tournaments hosted with seven each through the 2023 edition.”The host cities and venues we have selected all have strong track records of hosting elite football, and world class events. I want to thank each and every one of them for their commitment to CONCACAF, to our Gold Cup, and to our sport,” said CONCACAF President and FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani in a statement. “This is a tremendous time for football in the region with Nations Leagues, men’s and women’s Gold Cups, and other exciting national team and club competitions taking place over the next three years as we head towards the FIFA World Cup 2026.”The full tournament schedule is expected to be revealed in the days after the draw, with the Gold Cup being part of a busy summer for a handful of North American national teams (United States, Mexico, Canada, Panama) that will also take part in the CONCACAF Nations League Finals at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas between June 15-18.The United States is defending Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League champions.

Full list of 2023 Gold Cup host venues: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX), Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC), Soldier Field (Chicago, IL), TQL Stadium (Cincinnati, OH), DRV PNK Stadium (Fort Lauderdale, FL), State Farm Stadium (Glendale, AZ), Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ), NRG Stadium (Houston, TX), Shell Energy Stadium (Houston, TX), SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, CA), Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas, NV), Snapdragon Stadium (San Diego, CA), Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, CA), CITYPARK Stadium (St. Louis, MO) and BMO Field (Toronto, Canada).

USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen tells ESPN: Missing World Cup ‘a bitter pill to swallow’

Apr 13, 2023 Rob DawsonCorrespondent ESPN

MIDDLESBROUGH, England — Zack Steffen has had a strange 10 months. It started with a loan move from Manchester City to Middlesbrough and despite joining in July, his career there started with a winless run which lasted until early October. Then, in November, the goalkeeper got the devastating news that he would not be part of the United States squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.But now Steffen is back with the USMNT and is undisputed No. 1 at Middlesbrough, where he is a few games away from securing promotion from the Championship to the Premier League. The 28-year-old from Pennsylvania has had plenty of downs over the past year but his season could yet end on a significant high.Middlesbrough were one point and one place above the relegation zone when Michael Carrick took over as manager in October. The former Manchester United midfielder has overseen a push to fourth, six points clear of fifth-placed Millwall, that has fans talking of a Premier League return for the first time since 2017.”You’ve got to dream,” Steffen tells ESPN. “You’ve got to set goals and our goal is to get promoted in whatever way that happens. Football is crazy, life is crazy and I believe whatever will be, will be as long as you put in the hard work. As long as we keep focusing on training and each game, I think we can do it.”Middlesbrough have five games left, starting with a home clash against Norwich City on Friday (stream LIVE at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN+ in the U.S.). There are still enough points available to pip Sheffield United to the second automatic promotion spot behind Burnley, but it looks likely that Carrick’s team will have to earn a place in the top division through the playoffs.


The Championship playoff final — played at Wembley on May 27 — is often branded “the most valuable game on earth” because of the Premier League riches on offer for the victor. If Middlesbrough win, it would be worth around £170 million, jumping to approximately £300m if they avoid relegation in their first year.That Middlesbrough are in this position at all is remarkable given where they were when Carrick — taking on his first managerial role after ending his playing career in 2018 — took over when former boss Chris Wilder was sacked.”He’s very calm, and very clever and smart,” says Steffen when asked about Carrick. “He’s always bringing new exercises and drills into training. He makes things easy to understand and obviously he’s very experienced, so he gets the respect immediately when he walks through the door.”He brings lots of calmness, positivity and belief and he trusts us as well. He gives us tactics, but he’ll also let us go out there and won’t be screaming at us from the sideline where to play the ball. He trusts us with that and gives us confidence to go out there and get the job done. At the beginning of the season we struggled as a team, we struggled with leadership and guidance, and now we’ve found that it’s been easier just to play, have fun and enjoy everything.”Steffen has already played 38 games this season — more than in his previous two years combined, when he was mainly sat on the bench behind first-choice Ederson at Manchester City — and hasn’t missed one since mid-September, before Carrick was appointed.”It’s been a couple of years since I played consistently, week in, week out, so I think that at the beginning of the season, I struggled in some games and some moments,” he added. “It’s about adapting and getting used to things, getting used to new teammates and a new league.”It’s been great; definitely the right move for myself. Off the field, it’s great and on the field, we’re in a good spot although we’ve had a couple of tough results the last couple of games. The group of guys have been amazing, Michael and his staff have been amazing and just brought a lot of belief, confidence and passion into the club. Everyone has bought into it and that’s exactly what you need.”Steffen’s role in Middlesbrough’s impressive form was rewarded with a USMNT recall for the games against El Salvador and Grenada in March. It was the first time he had been back with the team since he was told by former coach Gregg Berhalter that he would not be going to the World Cup.He spent that time watching the tournament with family and friends, and dedicating time to his VOYCENOW Foundation — a non-profit that unites athletes from all over the world to highlight and eradicate racial inequality in America — but admits it was still hard to take.Steffen: I haven’t spoken to Berhalter since World Cup omission Zack Steffen opens up about missing the World Cup with the USMNT after he wasn’t selected by Gregg Berhalter.”It was really tough,” he says. “But I wanted to support the boys because the brotherhood we have is so special and that’s something you don’t really let anything get in the way of. It was tough to watch it with family and friends and not be there but that’s football and that’s life and everything happens for a reason.”Berhalter, Steffen’s former coach at Columbus Crew, said the decision was “heart-breaking” but also hinted that his desire to have an undisputed No.1 in Arsenal’s Matt Turner formed part of his thinking.”I didn’t hear about that until a couple of months later,” Steffen says. “I heard someone say it but I thought it was a rumour. He and I have a long history and, yeah, I thought it was a little bit different than it was. That was a tough pill to swallow for sure but if that’s the way it is then that’s the way it is.”To his credit, Steffen didn’t shy away from getting help to deal with the blow of missing out on a first World Cup appearance.”In the past I would bottle things up but that’s never a good thing to do so this time, I spoke about it to my family and my friends,” he says. “I have a life coach I spoke with, and a therapist. By getting it all out there and getting your feelings off your chest, that helped. It still took some time to get over but in time it just makes you stronger and you can use it as motivation to keep working and keep moving.”It has worked and since receiving the dreaded phone call from Berhalter, the only way has been up for Steffen. He has helped Middlesbrough win 12 of their 19 games since the season restarted to sit on the verge of a Premier League return. His rollercoaster year is approaching its climax.

The Jesse Marsch debate: Underrated manager or master of failing upwards?

Jesse Marsch Southampton manager

By Paul Tenorio and Amitai WinehouseApr 14, 2023

When Jesse Marsch and Leicester City failed to come to terms on a deal that would have seen the American take charge at the King Power Stadium, it was the second time talks with a Premier League team had broken down since his firing by Leeds United in February.That two Premier League clubs — Southampton also made an offer — were ready to hire Marsch so quickly after being shown the door by one of the other 19 must be considered progress for American managers. It was only in 2016 that Bob Bradley became the first American manager in the Premier League, and his 85-day tenure at Swansea City didn’t feel like it ever had a chance to progress the reputation of coaches from the U.S. Now, an American manager was getting job offers despite short, unremarkable tenures at his last two jobs.But Marsch’s potential appointment at Leicester brought up a question for those fans who felt his 11-month stay at Leeds was slightly less than impressive. Was Marsch better than he was given credit for? Or was he somehow falling upwards into more Premier League work? Our readers have been heavily debating this in recent weeks.To try to get to the bottom of it, we had American-based Paul Tenorio, who has written extensively on Marsch from his time at New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig and Leeds, discuss his work in Europe with editor Amitai Winehouse, a lifelong fan Leeds fan who has covered football in the UK for nine years.Below is their conversation, edited for length and clarity:

Paul Tenorio: I don’t understand why Jesse Marsch is thought of differently than other managers in Leeds’ recent history in terms of success or failure. I went through the 26 games prior to Marsch taking over at Leeds, under Marcelo Bielsa: they were at 0.88 points per game and a minus-31 goal differential. Marsch had 32 Premier League games, so six more games in charge, and he had 1.03 points per game and a minus-14 goal differential, so slightly better. Not great, but not awful. And not worse.And in the 10 games since he’s been sacked, Leeds are at 1.1 points per game, so 0.07 points per game better, with a minus-nine goal differential.Where I begin this argument in regards to Marsch’s work at Leeds is that Leeds are what they are, and it should have less to do with the perception around Marsch and more, in my opinion, with the perception of Leeds. To a degree, people who love Leeds think they should be better than they are, and recognize less that they kind of are what they are.Amitai Winehouse: That’s a really interesting point to start off with, that the crux of a lot of the issues Marsch faced as Leeds manager was who he followed.

Admittedly, Bielsa’s record in that final season was not great, but the fortunate thing for him in terms of how his reputation has sustained itself following his sacking is that he did what no one else had done in the 16 years prior: getting Leeds promoted from the Championship to the Premier League. And he did it in a way the Leeds fans were able to fall in love with. It was beautiful football. His philosophy came through both on the pitch and off the pitch.He was a very likeable person in terms of the way he presented himself. Anyone with any knowledge of football was well aware of the fact that he was highly regarded by the likes of Pep Guardiola and other top managers, but he didn’t appear to regard himself particularly highly at all in the way that he spoke publicly about himself.

The other element that is quite important is the way that Marsch was backed in the summer.Yes, Leeds sold Raphinha (to Barcelona) and Kalvin Phillips (to Manchester City), but Marsch struggled to get the best out of Raphinha — he even shoehorned him into the team at right wing-back in an attempt to play him wide enough to fit his system. That system also didn’t necessarily look for a midfielder who would receive the ball, turn and dictate play in the way that Phillips can, so it really didn’t get the best out of him.When Leeds sold them, they subsequently signed Luis SinisterraTyler AdamsRasmus KristensenMarc RocaWilfried Gnonto and Brenden Aaronson, so Marsch was backed financially — and this also speaks for the comparison between him and Bielsa.Bielsa himself said that Leeds needed to rebuild his entire squad in the summer between his first Premier League season (2020-21) and second. They didn’t. Marsch got that financial backing. So it’s this interesting sort of through-thread, where Marsch received more than previous Leeds managers and the results didn’t justify it. And that’s where a lot of the issue comes from with Leeds fans.Tenorio: I do want to acknowledge a couple of things in regard to Bielsa. There’s always going to be a special place for a manager who brings you back up to the Premier League after not being there for as long as a team with the history of Leeds were out of it. That stands in stark contrast to the challenge that Marsch has faced in his last couple of jobs.ADVERTISEMENT


He went to Leipzig and replaced Julian Nagelsmann, the best manager in that club’s short history, and he had the monumental task of following the ceiling of what that team can accomplish realistically — finishing second in the Bundesliga (in 2020-21) and reaching a Champions League semi-final (2019-20).

And emotionally with Leeds, you’re set up to fail in replacing Bielsa — I don’t care which manager was hired, you’re not going to be able to match what Bielsa was to Leeds fans. So Marsch has stepped into these jobs where he is not only up against — in the case of Leeds, keeping them up in a relegation battle — but you’re also having to figure out a way to replace a legend at the club.

What complicates that further, in my opinion, is that Marsch has been such an evangelist to the original Red Bull system of high-pressing football, and he not only replaced two top managers but also managers whose teams were playing really attractive football. Nagelsmann evolved that Red Bull system to fit really good players and have them actually play with the ball. And in the same way, when Marsch came to Leeds, you had a team that didn’t know how to defend at all, but had been an attacking team, a fun team, in the previous year and obviously when in the Championship.While the Red Bull system can be effective, I don’t think it’s ever attractive. And so there were these layers that were getting stacked on top of Marsch of, whether you have quality as a manager or not, it gets lost in the way you play — and no adaptation in how you play.We know that was the case at Leipzig because he came out and said it — and the club said it. Marsch went to management and said, ‘This team is not built to play the way I want to play. Maybe I’m the wrong fit.’The players wanted to stay with what they were doing well under Nagelsmann. And, of course, what footballer is going to want to go from having the ball to not having the ball? There’s a part of me that hopes that over these last few jobs maybe Marsch will recognize and realize that the Red Bull system has to evolve, because that’s what really hurt him, and even hurts him for how I evaluate him for the U.S. men’s national team job.The U.S. team, on the surface, is built for Jesse Marsch. There are a lot of athletic players who can run and press and win duels and all the things that American teams have been known for doing. But when you watched the way they played at the World Cup (in November and December), it wasn’t just about that. They did some really nice things with the ball, too.



So when you think about Marsch as a manager, and I’m sure Leeds fans do, they think, ‘Well, that was a regressive style of play compared to what we know this team could do, even if the results weren’t always great.’

Winehouse: One hundred per cent, that’s the biggest issue. It’s a bit of a stereotype of Leeds fans that they like blood, guts and thunder. If you go back to the modern history of the club, and Don Revie being the manager in the 1960s, which is far and away our most successful period as a club, we were known as Dirty Leeds but we played beautiful football. If you watch clips from that era, it’s closer to Guardiola-style football than anything else. And if you look at every period when a Leeds manager has been truly loved by the fans, they play aesthetically pleasing football. And to go from Bielsa to Marsch was such a ridiculous transition in terms of playing style.

One of the first away games Marsch had, my brother was in the crowd behind the goal. We won 3-0, against Watford (in April last year). I messaged my brother after the game, I’d watched on TV, and said, “Great result, that’s probably going to keep us up”. And his response wasn’t talking about the result, wasn’t talking about the league table. He was saying, “You do not understand how narrow we were. That was absolutely terrible to watch.”

I do think if Marsch is going to be a success in Europe, he has to acknowledge the fact that nowadays there isn’t any club where fans will be in favour of the traditional Red Bull style of play. People need something to believe in. And that needs to be nice football, basically. That might have to be a bit of a change for him.Tenorio: Part of it comes down to results too, right? When I went and visited him in Salzburg and watched that team play, they were tearing apart the Austrian Bundesliga. They played well in the Champions League as well. I saw the first Champions League game against Genk (in September 2019), and Erling Haaland had a hat-trick. I got there a few days earlier, they played a league game and Haaland had a hat-trick in that game, too. That helps a bit when you’re scoring goals and dominating with a world-class striker scoring brilliant goals. That was fun. And they were winning all of the games.I do think that, over time, when you get to places like Leipzig or Leeds, and you are on balance with the teams around you, to varying degrees, you’re not going to be able to hold the ball or be around their box for 70 per cent of the game as they did at Salzburg. And I just feel that there has to be some level of acknowledgement that this isn’t working to the degree that you wanted it to work, at Leipzig or Leeds.You hit on something else that kind of stuck out to me about Bielsa’s personality. This is where the idea of being an American comes into play for Marsch. He, in general, is a very confident person; it’s who he’s always been even back to his New York Red Bulls days. But I think he felt, understandably, a greater degree of constantly having to prove himself or justify himself in front of the press. And that is very much a part of being one of the first American managers ever in the Premier League, is that you do feel like you have to justify that you belong.Whereas a manager like Bielsa would never be concerned with something like that. He doesn’t even have to deal with it. There’s no chatter about it on social media. There’s no discussion about it among the press.Even with someone like (fellow American and former Manchester United and Leeds assistant) Chris Armas. It’s like, how many assistant managers in the Premier League and other top leagues wear AirPods or earpieces (in the dugout)? Many of them, but Chris Armas wears it and it gets highlighted differently, mostly just because people don’t know who Chris Armas is because he spent his whole career in MLS. He didn’t have that international reputation.That’s reflective of the current reality: it is still super-rare for American managers to work in Europe. I really think there is an element of that which also influenced Marsch’s personality.

Winehouse: What you initially said about Marsch following Bielsa and how difficult that would have been, I think there was a really interesting turning point for him. When he was first announced as manager, there was an element of, ‘We don’t know loads about him, but his track record is fairly decent’. He did his introductory press conference and came across fairly well. In his first game, Leeds actually played well and were quite unlucky to lose (1-0 away to Leicester), and then he got beaten (3-0 at home) by Aston Villa.

He then did an interview with talkSPORT, one of the radio stations over here, where he basically said Leeds’ players were overtrained by Bielsa, and that’s why they were getting so many injuries. And the implication there immediately is negative for Bielsa, and that was the turning point for a lot of people with him.

If he hadn’t made that declaration, I think the reception would have been very different because it felt as though he was taking an unnecessary dig at someone that people really still liked. That comes back to justifying yourself as an American in football, and he probably did that because he felt as though he needed to.

This is a ridiculous thing about me, but when I was a kid my highlight of the year was when America The Beautiful was sung at WrestleMania every year. I love and am utterly fascinated by Americana and the American outlook on life, especially when compared to the UK, where we are generally more cynical.But intelligent people will come across as intelligent wherever they are from in the world. I don’t believe an accent is a barrier to that. In fact, Marsch may even have dwelt on it more than other people did.When Bob Bradley came to the UK, being American was horrible for him because of the way the tabloid media was at the time, the existence of Soccer AM and the way they made jokes about him. That was a big thing. When Marsch came in, there was no huge desire to hammer him for being American. But maybe because, in his own mind, he had that idea, it probably made him put himself out there more. And that played against him.

Tenorio: What’s interesting is we’re having this conversation in part because Marsch has now turned down two Premier League jobs. From an American perspective, that’s significant. It’s significant for American managers — to your point in the evolution from Bob Bradley to Jesse Marsch — that he’s in the mix for these jobs. The fact that he can get fired from a Premier League job and have opportunities at two more teams in the same season is a massive step forward (for American coaches). I’m a bit disappointed, to be honest, that he hasn’t taken the Leicester job, specifically, because if you keep them up, that’s a club where you can stay in the Premier League and make an impression. It makes me wonder what he’s waiting for or what’s happened there that he hasn’t taken that job.

Considering everything we’ve debated, it’s also about what teams are seeing in Marsch to make him a candidate. Maybe we haven’t focused on some of the positives. He is charismatic; he does tend to do fairly well connecting in the dressing room with players and developing relationships. It matters when you’re fighting relegation that you have somebody that can immediately come in and motivate. And Marsch has certainly done that before. I just wonder whether there will be an evolution of his football, because I do think he’s got the charisma, personality and man-management.

Winehouse: I didn’t think of it that way, but the fact Southampton and Leicester were willing to appoint him shows that being an American can’t be this hugely consequential negative, because there wouldn’t have been chances for a second opportunity, if so. It would have been Leeds and done.

Generally, I always thought Marsch must be an absolute dream for an owner, director of football and chief executive because it strikes me that he’s probably very good at managing up and very good at managing down, and having that skill set is important.

I often think that if you get Marsch in the room with the director of football — with Leeds, it’s Victor Orta — he is very, very good at selling himself as a coach.

When it comes to the footballing elements, I’m not saying he’s bad, but I wonder whether what he needs is to surround himself at his next job — in the same way that Alex Ferguson (at Manchester United) used to do every few years — with a few people who have different tactical thoughts to him and different ways of approaching football, and he can do what he clearly is quite good at: managing up, managing down, managing the dressing room, and then getting the right people around him to help adjust his tactical ideals a bit.


Tenorio: For sure, I agree that at his next stop he has to show he can evolve. And evolution doesn’t mean that the principles are different. You can still have the elements of Red Bull football as the foundation of who you are as a manager. But you have to build around that in ways that get the best out of the players, and then get the results on the field. I’m very intrigued to see where he ends up next. After not finding an agreement at Leicester, I just can’t wrap my mind around what Marsch could be looking for.

Winehouse: Notionally, he said with Southampton and with Leicester that he was willing to work in the Championship (if he’d been relegated with either struggling club this season). I wonder whether that’s the best route for him. He has an opportunity then to put the system in place, he maybe has the summer to work with a team, a fresh start, and just go and get promoted. No one can have any biases, you’re out of the spotlight to an extent (working in English football’s second division), you could come up to the Premier League as a manager who’s won promotion and no one can say anything except for the fact you deserve to be in the Premier League.

Tenorio: It goes back to what we talked about in replacing Nagelsmann and replacing Bielsa. There’s an argument to consider the narrative part of it, too. Can you take a club that is down and bring them up? A club that is at a low point and get them to a higher point?

I want to end this by going back to one element. You’ve now had an American manager at Leeds, one of three Americans ever to coach in the Premier League. Do you think that there would be a more open door in the Premier League? Are fans more apt to welcome or be welcoming toward an American manager? Or do you really believe it no longer matters?

Winehouse: I don’t actually think it was an issue before Marsch got the job at Leeds, so this might sound quite harsh on him, but I don’t think he’s ‘improved the situation’.

Generally speaking, the Premier League is so cosmopolitan now and filled with managers from every corner of the globe that actually you could appoint an American tomorrow at any club, and the fact that he’s American would not be an issue.

There are elements of fanbases that would find fun in it, in the same way, those elements of fanbases would find fun in someone being Italian or German or this or that. They don’t make up the majority of Premier League fans anymore. You only have to look at the way that Leeds fans were singing about Brenden Aaronson after one good game. There’s no barrier here if you’re successful.

Tenorio: I actually took comfort when Graham Potter got sacked by Chelsea (two weeks ago) that in the story we did about it we wrote that people there were calling him ‘Harry’ and ‘Hogwarts’. Because it was like, ‘OK, it’s not just the Ted Lasso jokes’. Everyone’s gonna get the jokes around them in some form or fashion, no matter where they’re from. That’s just how it’s gonna be. Go make them sing your name instead, right?

With World Cup now in sight, USWNT face a balancing act to stay healthy after tough Ireland tests

Apr 11, 2023 Jeff Carlisle U.S. soccer correspondent

Vlatko Andonovski will be hoping that over the next three months before the World Cup, some of his attacking players find their sharpness, because over two matches with Ireland, the U.S. women’s national team looked well short of its best.Granted, the USWNT won both matches, 1-0 on Tuesday in St. Louis that had followed last Saturday’s 2-0 victory in Austin, Texas. But the only goal to come from an attacking player was Lindsey Horan’s penalty late in the first encounter. The other two came from defenders — Emily Fox and Alana Cook — with the latter goal providing the best possible birthday gift to Cook thanks to a goalkeeping blunder from Ireland’s Courtney Brosnan.The good news was that the U.S. — as it so often does — found a way. If it requires defenders getting the goals, so be it. Pre-World Cup friendlies aren’t always the best barometer for how a team will fare either. (Does anyone remember the 0-0 tie with South Korea prior to the 2015 tournament?)But Brosnan’s mistake aside, it was Ireland — not the U.S. — that improved the most over the course of two matches, and that is enough to give one pause. While the home team’s offensive struggles in Saturday’s match were largely down to poor finishing, the second game saw the U.S. generate an expected goals figure (xG) of just 0.61. That rivaled the paltry 0.46 the U.S. put up against Spain last October.On this occasion the opportunities rarely materialized, even as the U.S. spread out its attack and didn’t hesitate to go direct when the space was there. The lack of precision was evident.

There were other concerns as well. Set piece defending, while less of a pain point on Tuesday than on Saturday, still looked a bit rickety at times, with Ireland’s Louise Quinn a constant menace from such situations. Ireland also continued to find some success down the U.S. left side, even though Andonovski switched up his personnel with Kelley O’Hara starting the match in place of Crystal Dunn.Andonovski chalked up the team’s struggles to his desire to make the first game more about the team concept and solving problems as the game went on, while the second was more about individual performances.”We wanted to see the players that haven’t been in the environment for a long time,” he said after Tuesday’s match. “It’s not that just we wanted to see them, but we also wanted to give them minutes. So if and when some of them make the World Cup, their first minutes are not in the World Cup, but they have a chance to complete before they go there.”Andonovski also had a few explanations for why the attack sputtered. One of the biggest is that Ireland is a vastly improved side under manager Vera Pauw, which stuck to their game plan of being compact in defense, and being dangerous on set pieces and in transition.The U.S. was also rotating heavily in terms of personnel as Andonovski attempted to give his charges every opportunity to impress before he names his final roster later this spring.”The things that were missing is not something that worries me,” he said. “Cohesion, that’s what was missing. It was missing understanding between the players and we’re not surprised by that because we knew that miscommunication will happen, or a missed pass will happen, or player makes a run, doesn’t get the ball. Or makes a run to the left, gets the ball to the right.”It’s something that we expect to happen. And it did make the game go a little bit wild at times because we gave up the ball too quick after we won it.”That doesn’t mean more shouldn’t be demanded, and for the most part, the players with the most to prove, such as Trinity Rodman, Ashley Sanchez, Ashley Hatch and Alyssa Thompson — who made her first international start — only did so in flashes.With the time winding down until Andonovski announces his roster, the pressure will only increase. The U.S. manager estimated that there are 10-12 players competing for around six to seven spots.


One player who did plenty to help her cause was midfielder Julie Ertz. Granted, destruction is easier to accomplish than creation, but even as Ertz’s skills tend towards the former, she is proving her value. It might have been just her second game since the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021, but the impact she had in both games was noticeable.

As has been the case over the course of her international career, Ertz brings an edge to the field that the U.S. badly needs. If a game ever turns into a slugfest, the U.S. team’s odds of surviving improve with her on the field. One can only hope that Ertz’s game improves even more when she finds a club, which Andonovski said could happen by the end of this week.”Julie has this mentality. When she’s on the field, she imposes herself on in the game,” said Andonovski. “And the players rub off of that. I think that we could see that coming out a little bit more in this game. We’re hoping to see that more and more as she gets more games with her club team.”

Does Swanson’s injury change the USWNT’s World Cup ceiling?

Sebastian Salazar debates how Mallory Swanson’s injury will impact the USWNT at World Cup.Better health would help the U.S. both physically and mentally. The team is already reeling from forward Mallory Swanson’s torn patellar tendon, for which she underwent surgery on Tuesday. That has left Andonovski to wonder how much he should alter his approach after building the side around Swanson and Sophia Smith. Rose Lavelle was kept out of Tuesday’s game after picking up a knock on Saturday. The sight of Lindsey Horan leaving Tuesday’s match with what appeared to be a lower leg injury conjured up images of Andonovski covering each of his players in bubble wrap for the next three months.Therein lies the balancing act the players will have to manage over the next three months. Stay healthy, but play with an intensity. Andonovski will be watching the NWSL games with interest, and hoping that his players — and his team — reach their peak at the right time.

How does the USWNT replace the irreplaceable Mallory Swanson?

Jason Anderson  follow April 13, 2023 12:12 pm ET

Mallory Swanson has been world-class for nearly two full years now. U.S. women’s national team fans have seen her go from a teenager blessed with rare field vision and speed, to a player whose ability to influence games with those gifts would come and go. Over the last two years though, she’s grown in consistency and control, becoming a player that could start for any team on the planet. The potential has been fulfilled.

Cruelly for her and the USWNT, she’s also being robbed of the chance to show that to the biggest audience possible. Swanson hasn’t been ruled out of the World Cup by U.S. Soccer, but a torn patellar tendon is generally a six-month recovery at best, and the World Cup is in July. The USWNT’s quest to become the first team to win three straight World Cups will almost certainly require doing it without the player who is currently their most potent goal threat.

Any dominant team — and that’s what the USWNT aspires to be, but only sometimes is these days — creates high expected goal (xG) opportunities at a higher rate than average or bad teams, but in truth those chances are rare for everyone. Winning sides create more chances, period, whether we’re talking 0.03 xG no-hopers or 0.83 tap-ins from five yards. Volume is the way forward.

What Swanson has been doing for club and country is taking those far more common low-quality chances, and putting them into the furthest reaches of whatever corner of the goal she’s aiming for. Over the last 18 months or so, Swanson has been reliably improving the odds of her team getting a goal by turning the raw material that is their chances into higher-quality shots, as this piece from Kim McCauley for The Athletic breaks down in depth.

This matters a lot to the USWNT, who have seen their chance volume dip overall, and as a result seem to have to work harder or be more fortunate to get wins against top teams.

The SheBelieves Cup might be instructive. Facing three competitors that should all make the World Cup knockout round, a USWNT team missing Sophia Smith won all three games. That said, only one (their opener against an understandably distracted Canada) was remotely easy. The U.S. xG haul sat at 4.66, and they scored five goals. An average of over 1.55 on a per-game basis is pretty decent, but it’s not the kind of number that says this team is swaggering their way to a coronation Down Under. “Pretty decent” isn’t going to win this particular World Cup.

Swanson scored four of those goals, and at the time Pro Soccer Wire referred to her as “arguably the decisive player in women’s soccer right now.” This team has been working through some troubling faults: being too predictable in building from the back, struggling to recognize the shape and location of an opposing press until the game is already underway, a midfield shape that should have been readjusted to suit the starting group months before it actually was, and an attack that can at times go curiously stagnant. There are varying degrees of progress on all of these fronts, but Swanson conjuring up a goal has been the team’s “get out of jail free” card.The USWNT was able to win the SheBelieves Cup without one dynamite attacker in Smith, so they know they can get the job done while not at full strength. This is the world’s deepest team, and by a wide margin.However, we’re still talking about three games on home soil, and in truth there won’t be many bets on Canada, Japan, or Brazil to win the World Cup this summer. They’re not England, Germany, or Spain, and it stands to reason that the USWNT’s narrow wins get so narrow that we’re talking about a coin flip, or even a repeat of the 3-0 meltdown against Sweden back in 2021’s Olympic opener.

In other words, the USWNT had problems to solve with a cheat code in the form of Swanson, and now they have to solve those problems without her.

Change is a must, but how much change?

Speaking minutes after the USWNT’s win over Ireland on Tuesday, Vlatko Andonovski was understandably not ready to commit to whether the team would simply plug another player into Swanson’s spot, make a couple of tweaks and get on with it, or if the team would need to make more significant alterations.

“Losing Mal, obviously conceptually, we may look slightly different, right?” the coach said. “Because you’re looking at this team, the team was going to build around Mal and Soph [Smith] and their attacking power. Now with Mal not being there, we’re gonna have to make a decision. What are we going to go for? Like for like, and try the same way? Or, [Swanson’s production] is going to be replaced by a group of players? … It’s hard.”It’s very tempting for the USWNT to avoid trying to rebuild their game model this close to the World Cup. That opens them up to even more risk: What if the new approach isn’t quite right? What if it takes too long to work out? There aren’t enough games to try it out in, and the grass is not always greener on the other side.If continuity is the plan, it appears Andonovski is leaning towards deploying Trinity Rodman. She was the choice off the bench after Swanson’s injury, she got the start on Tuesday, and on raw talent she’s the best option available. She also just so happens to have scored the most Mallory Swanson-looking goal anyone has produced in this NWSL season:

However, she’s not Swanson, and fitting her game into the USWNT system will require adjustment. Rodman has been less of the focal point of the Washington Spirit’s attacks than Swanson is with the Chicago Red Stars, and as such doesn’t pile up the same sort of sky-high xG on volume. Where Swanson wants to get into the left half-space to ping shots from the top of the box into various corners of the goal, Rodman may opt to go wide to find a cross to another player, or look to combine.On the other hand, you gain some noteworthy positives with Rodman: a better aerial presence, and a player who was much more able to contribute progressive carries (per FBref, 87 to Swanson’s 58 in the 2022 NWSL season) and progressive receptions (160 to 127).This might actually help the USWNT avoid that aforementioned sluggishness moving the ball forward. Swanson beats defenders in the attacking third to score, which is great. Rodman has been beating defenders closer to midfield, which is less flashy but may boost the USWNT’s ability to generate chance volume. If they’re better at progressing the ball, it stands to reason they’ll be closer to goal with the ball for more of the game, which generally speaking means more looks.They can’t replace Swanson’s finishing, but the USWNT can be better at creating chances and hoping the math works out from there. Rodman seems to be the option that requires the least disruption to a team that frankly doesn’t need any more uncertainty.

Pressing machine?

Andonovski’s best periods as a coach, whether with the USWNT or in NWSL, have involved a withering high press. The USWNT hasn’t been as overwhelming on that front as they were in the past, but that’s by design: Swanson deserves all the flowers you can give her, but she’s not a pressing monster.

Credit: FBref.com

Swanson’s numbers with the ball are outrageous, but as a pressing force, she’s more in the category of denying passing lanes and funneling play towards someone else to force the turnover. If you build an attack around her, as Andonovski did, you accept that being a buzzsaw-style high press isn’t your forte.

Losing its ace finisher means the USWNT needs to bump its chance volume up and hope that the goals arrive, and in the last decade, it’s been reliably proven that you can create more chances by pressing than other methods. A beautiful, intricate build-up is the platonic ideal for soccer, but getting vertical after a turnover, with your opponent in disarray, is a lot easier than connecting 25 passes in a row.

That brings us to pressing champion Lynn Williams. The NJ/NY Gotham FC forward lost virtually all of 2022 to injury, but in 2021 her NWSL per-90 xG was a virtual dead heat with Swanson’s in 2022 (Williams was at 0.56, Swanson at 0.59). She’d also be completing a front line featuring two other forwards who are very used to a high press: Smith and the Portland Thorns are experts at disrupting opposition build patterns, while Alex Morgan and the San Diego Wave are extraordinarily well-drilled as a pressing unit.

Going this route — which may also leave Rodman in the frame, given both her excellent pressing numbers as well as the Spirit’s move towards centering a high press in 2023 — requires changes elsewhere. Pressing isn’t just about effort; it takes so much work to get 11 players to do it perfectly as a group, and one error in a press can undo the whole thing.

Andonovski would need to consider the make-up of his entire team, rather than just his front line. Given the need to push up high as a unit, can you afford a slower player on the back line? One-on-one defending becomes far more important, as does winning headers and (in the midfield) quickness to get to second balls. Stamina, physical durability, and an unyielding focus all matter more for pressing teams than they do for mid-block sides.

On top of that, Williams is a) just barely back to playing after a torn hamstring tendon kept her out for months, and b) dealing with an elbow injury of unclear severity. She played through it with Gotham FC and was present and in uniform for the USWNT in this camp, but didn’t play. Maybe it’s nothing, or maybe not.

At her best, though, Williams changes the center of gravity in games through her pressing instincts. She makes the right choice about when to take the risk of pursuing the ball, and due to her speed and tough tackling, teams have to plan around avoiding her or risk a series of turnovers. Williams breaks other team’s schemes in a way that makes the rest of the team more dangerous, and a high-pressing USWNT could take advantage of a non-summer World Cup (average highs around 58-59 degrees in the cities the USWNT would play in) to grind opponents into pulp.

Get weird with it

Andonovski has other options here as well. Alyssa Thompson is legitimately in the mix rather than getting call-ups to help her down the road. A healthy Megan Rapinoe was unstoppable for OL Reign late last season, and over the last year has been Swanson’s only peer as a set piece taker in the U.S. player pool. Given the fine margins and the USWNT’s laundry list of potential targets, a dead ball expert on her level will get serious consideration.

However, there’s one option that feels like a longshot even though it shouldn’t be. The USWNT has a series of fullbacks vying to be second-choice, while one of their starters is known to prefer playing further up the field.

Crystal Dunn’s return to an attacking role might read as fan service, but she’s also been so good as an attacker that it deserves to be thought about extensively. The USWNT would lose something at the back — Andonovski starts Dunn at left back not out of cruelty, but because she is the best left back on the team — but it could also gain something with her restored to a more free, attack-first role that she clearly desires. The talent as a Swanson-style goals/assists double threat, the invention, the balance on the dribble, is all there.

(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Realistically, for Andonovski to take that step, he’d need a fullback to also step up in a big way. Casey Krueger was the most impressive of the group given minutes on Tuesday, but that’s a very small sample size, and she has a vanishingly small number of games to make the case that she is even going to make the 23-player roster, much less become a starter. Sofia Huerta and Kelley O’Hara seem to be the other candidates here, but it feels like they’ve fallen on Andonovski’s depth chart.

But since we’re getting out there, what if a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 lifer like Andonovski concludes that he has to change his formation? If Andonovski’s solution to losing a starting forward is to simply pair Smith and Morgan and use the extra player somewhere else, the option to deploy a diamond 4-4-2 jumps out as a real possibility.

In a diamond, Andonovski has options. He could bring Julie Ertz into a midfield with Andi Sullivan and Lindsey Horan rather than having an either/or decision to make. He’s also looked at ways to get Rose Lavelle and Ashley Sanchez into games at the same time, and a diamond (with Lavelle deeper) makes that far easier. It also opens the door for Kristie Mewis to play in her best position, which in turn means another high-quality set piece taker is on the field more regularly.

“It’s hard for me to answer this question right at this moment, but once this camp is over and we review it, we hope to have a little better answer, or at least clearer understanding, of the direction that we want to take,” was how Andonovski closed his remarks on the team’s Swanson-less near-term future.

The coach has had a difficult tenure: the Covid-19 pandemic wiped away the perfect moment to institute a generational switch within the squad, the Olympics went worse than the bronze medal finish indicates, and Swanson is hardly the first locked-in starter to become unavailable or be majorly hampered this close to a big tournament since he took the job.

Sorting out how to adjust to the loss of such a crucial player while still improving a team that needs to get better will be his biggest challenge yet.


Only three match weeks into the NWSL season, no perfect team is left standing.

  • Portland and San Diego, the two undefeated teams going into this past weekend, each dropped points.

Portland dominated the Houston Dash but settled for a 1-1 draw after Maria Sanchez forced an equalizer.

  • San Diego then fell to OL Reign after conceding a goal in stoppage time.
  • Portland is now tied for first with the Spirit, each with seven points.
OMAR VEGA/GETTY IMAGES Julie Ertz has reportedly found an NWSL team, and it’s not too far from home.As reported by The Equalizer, Ertz will sign with Los Angeles club Angel City FC and could debut as soon as this Sunday against the San Diego Wave. Context: Ertz last played an NWSL game in May 2021 before leaving Chicago’s season opener with a knee injury.She returned for the Tokyo Olympics and then was absent from professional soccer after giving birth to her first child, until she featured in both of the USWNT’s friendlies this month.Ertz went into 2023 as a free agent, open to signing with any NWSL club.Ertz is pushing for a spot on the USWNT’s 2023 World Cup squad, and league games have been an emphasis for both her and head coach Vlatko Andonovski.”​I know where I want to be, and I know where the expectation is to be in order to be at my best just to be in the selection for the World Cup roster,” she said.Bottom line: Ertz is an asset to both the NWSL and the USWNT, and now fans will get a chance to see her play for one of the highest-profile clubs in the country.
BRAD SMITH/USSF/GETTY IMAGES FOR USSFWith the Challenge Cup kicking off Wednesday, NWSL coaches are managing player minutes coming off the international break — and being vocal about it.”The league, joyfully off the back of an international window, put three games this week, which is ridiculous,” said Wave head coach Casey Stoney.“I think we have to be naive not to have player safety in mind. What that looks like for each is slightly different,” Thorns coach Mike Norris also said.Angel City coach Freya Coombe specifically noted Alyssa Thomas’ 90-minute performance for the U.S. last week.
Broadcast troubles mar NWSL weekend

As five NWSL games kicked off on Saturday evening, fans missed a significant portion of two of them due to technical difficulties.
More than 30 minutes of game time in North Carolina vs. Washington and Orlando Pride vs. Gotham FC were lost before the broadcast resumed.
Background: After calls for better broadcasts, the NWSL announced last year it was making upgrades to improve coverage, including higher-quality cameras.
NWSL broadcasting rights are currently up for negotiation for 2024, after four years with CBS and production by Vista WorldLink.
“My nightmares will have this as background music forever,” NWSLPA president Tori Huster tweeted about what aired on Paramount+ instead of game footage.
The play-by-play stats for the impacted games also featured only the major plays (goals and cards) prior to the feeds coming back online.
Bottom line: The NWSL has been working toward easier access and better production for years, but Saturday showed just how far it still has to go.

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