4/29/23 Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, US names GM, Big TV Games, Man City demolishes Arsenal

Indy 11 Home Sat vs Pittsburgh 7 pm

A late goal from Columbus proved to be the deciding factor as Indy Eleven fell 1-0 to the Crew in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night at Lower.com Field in Columbus.  Indy return to league play Saturday, closing out a busy month at “The Mike” by hosting Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC for a 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff on “Kick Cancer Night” at Carroll Stadium (live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+ and Exitos Radio 94.3 FM). 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 

US Names New Sporting Director of US Soccer

Interesting hire for US soccer with the announcement that Matt Crocker is going to take over the US Sporting Director position overseeing the Men’s and Ladies National team programs.  Crocker successfully lead England to numerous Youth titles on the boys and girls side as director of the English Youth National teams before serving as Sporting Director for Southampton over the past couple of years.   


Wow Man City just demolished the Gunners this week at the Ettihad 4-1 as DeBruyner scored 2 and Haaland broke the EPL Single season Goal record at 37 goals with still 5 more to go.  The master class from Pep has City running on all cyclinders as Arsenal tried to play them straight up  – which allowed City’s midfield to just run roughshod on the visisting Gunners who still have a 2 pt lead but City has 2 games in hand. Now the question is can City win the Treble? EPL, FA Cup and Champions League? Of course holders Real Madrid may have something to about that come May 9 in UCL play.

Games to Watch

Of course the biggie is Sunday at Anfield as Liverpool hosts Tottenham in a battle for Europe top 6 spots at 11:30 am on USA Network. Also Sunday Fulham and American Captain Tim Ream and Jedi Robinson travel host Man City at 9am on USA, before traveling to Liverpool on Wed  again on USA. MLS has Nashville hosting Atlanta United on Fox at 1:30 Sat as a pair of top 5 teams in the East battle.  St Louis looks to keep its unbeaten homestreak alive against Portland at 830 pm on Apple TV, while Minn host Dallas Sun at 9 pm on FS1.  LAFC take 1-1 tie back home in Champions League Semi-Final action at 10 pm game on FS1 Tues, following Wed 10 pm affair for the Mexican half of the draw Tigres vs Leon also on FS1.


(American’s names in Parenthesis)

Sat, Apr 29

7:30 am USA                       Crystal Palace vs West Ham United

10 am USA                          Brentford vs Nottingham Forest

10 am Peacock                 Crystal Palace vs Everton

12 noon ESPN+                 Roma vs Milan  

1:30 pm  Fox                       Nashville vs Atlanta United

3 pm ESPN+                        Barcelona vs Real Betis

7 pm My Indy TV       Indy 11 vs Pittsburgh

7 pm  Para+                Racing Louisville vs OL Reign (Rapinoe) NWSL

7:30 pm Apple TV       Columbus vs Miami

7:30 pm Apple TV       DC United vs Charlotte

8:30 pm Apple+           St. Louis City vs Portland Timbers  

9:30 pm  Apple TV            Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders

10 pm CBS Sports Net    San Diego Wave (Alex Morgan) vs Orlando Pride (Marta) NWSL

Sun, Apr 30                        

6:30 am Para+                    Inter Milan vs Lazio

9 am USA                             Fulham (Ream, Jedi) vs Man City

9 am Peacock                     Bournemouth vs West Ham United   

11:30 USA                   Liverpool vs Tottenham  

6 pm Para+                         KC Current vs NY Gothem (Lynn Williams) NWSL

9 pm FS1                              Minn United vs Dallas FC  

Mon, May 1

1:30 ESPN+                         Mallorca vs Athletic Club  

3 pm USA                            Leicster City vs Everton  

Tues, May 2

1:30 ESPN+                         Barcelona vs Osasuna

3 pm USA                            Arsenal vs Chelsea

10 pm FS1                            LAFC 2 vs  Philly Union 0 CCL

Weds, May 3

12 pm CBS SN                    Juventus  vs Lecce

3 pm USA                            Man City vs West Ham United

3 pm Peacock                    Liverpool vs Fulham Fulham (Ream, Jedi)

3 pm CBSSN                        AC Milan vs Cremonese

7 pm Para+                         NC Courage vs NY Gothem NWSL

8 pm Para+                         Houston Dash vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

10 pm  FS1                           Tigres vs Leon  CCCL  

10 pm Para+                       OL Reign (Repinoe) vs Angel City (Ertz)  NWSL

3 pm USA                            Leeds United (Mckinney, Aaronson) vs Leicester City

Thurs, May 4

1:30 ESPN+                         Sevilla vs Espanyol  

3 pm USA                            Brighton vs Man United  

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Schedule

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

Indy 11

Indy Falls 1-0 to Columbus in US Open Cup Play

Asante Named to Team of the Week

Season tickets

Full Schedule   Promotions 

new stadium


Man City controls own destiny in EPL race  
Spurs fight back to hold Man Utd, Newcastle thrash Everton

Pep Guardiola made one big change that helped Manchester City destroy Arsenal
Arsenal froze like rabbits in headlights against Man City

Man City monstered lightweight Arsenal – this is how they strengthen next season

Man Utd’s future still uncertain as deadline for third bids looms

Tottenham claw back pride with stunning revival

Top PL goals and saves from Matchweek 33

Newcastle are living the dream Championship-bound Everton thought was theirs

Tale of two halves in Tottenham vs Manchester United draw

Tottenham haunted by day they snubbed Erik ten Hag over ‘lack of charisma’

Lampard says Chelsea woes shouldn’t ruin his reputation

Man City lets hair down to confirm Premier League dominance

How managers and pundits reacted to Man City’s evisceration of Arsenal

FA Cup final 2023, Manchester City vs Manchester United: What time is it and what TV channel is it on?


Title hopefuls Dortmund hoping to end poor away form at Bochum

i raring to party as title triumph nears
Julian Nagelsmann on four-man Tottenham shortlist – but wage demands a huge obstacle


MLS’s top two clash as Revs meet Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati set to host NYCFC at TQL Stadium in US Open Cup


GK How to Throw the Ball

GK Leaders in the EPL

Top Saves EPL Last Week

Top Saves in MLS


Become a Referee Must be 13

Who is Matt Crocker? From Southampton academy manager to US Soccer’s new sporting director

Dan SheldonApr 25, 202339

When Matt Crocker returned to Southampton as the club’s director of football operations in February 2020, he went on what proved a costly tour of their training ground.Crocker, 48, had previously worked at Southampton between 2006-2013, overseeing the academy, but upon his return he was disappointed by what he saw.



Southampton quickly committed £1million ($1.25m) to upgrade parts of their Staplewood training base off the back of Crocker’s recommendations. Improvements included a new sports science and analysis office space, plus a rehabilitation and medical lab for the academy, women’s and girls’ programmes.This is only a peek behind the curtain of what Crocker did during his second stint at Southampton, but it shows the kind of sporting director the US Soccer Federation is hiring.The Athletic answers the key questions about his appointment…

Where did his career start?

Crocker never played football professionally. His first notable appointment was at Welsh club Cardiff City, where he spent six years between 1999-2005 as their academy manager.

He was given responsibility for transforming a relatively small youth programme into a fully-functioning academy, which meant he had the autonomy to oversee all elements of their youth system.

At academy level he took charge of Cardiff City’s strategic direction, staff and player development, player recruitment and implementing a philosophy and culture for everyone to follow.

He surpassed his targets in Wales and took a role at the English Football League (EFL) as a youth development monitor, which made him responsible for supporting academy managers on all aspects of youth development.

Just over a year later, Crocker joined Championship side Southampton as the academy manager.

What did he achieve in his first stint at Southampton?

Crocker oversaw the academy programme from the under-9s to the under-21s, which included setting the strategy as well as coaching and player development plans.

“I’ve always liked projects,” Crocker told The Athletic in December 2020. “When I look back to my early days at Cardiff City, it was a long-term project to get them academy status. I then had the opportunity to come to Southampton as the academy manager at a difficult time for the club as we had just been relegated from the Premier League.”


At Southampton he managed to get the academy Category One status, the highest rating a club’s youth system can be awarded, and for good reason.

Players such as Gareth Bale, who went on to win multiple Champions League titles with Real MadridLiverpool’s Alex Oxlade-ChamberlainManchester United’s Luke Shaw and England international and Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse all passed through the academy when Crocker was in charge.

Did he succeed at the FA?

Without a shadow of a doubt, and that is what the US Soccer Federation should be most excited about.

When he joined the FA as their head of teams (coaching) in November 2013 after leaving Southampton, Crocker worked alongside Gareth Southgate, then the England Under-21s manager, and Dan Ashworth, who was the director of elite development, to launch ‘England DNA’.

Southgate is now the manager of the England men’s team, while Ashworth is the sporting director at Newcastle United.

“England DNA was a blank sheet of paper, and there was an opportunity to align a pathway from the junior teams to the senior teams,” Crocker previously told The Athletic.

The programme is designed for England’s youth teams from under-15s to under-21s and is the starting point for the FA’s elite player development. It is split into five parts: ‘who we are’; ‘how we play’; ‘the future England player’; ‘how we coach’; and ‘how we support the process’.

In his six years at the FA, Crocker also oversaw England’s national teams (under-15s to under-20s) on the men’s and women’s side, including the men’s wins at the Under-17 World Cup and Under-20 World Cup in 2017, and their European Championship at under-19s level the same year.

England’s under-17s squad at the time included Manchester City’s Phil Foden and current Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho, who cost the club £72.6million ($90.5m) when they signed him from Borussia Dortmund in 2021.


It was at the FA that Crocker started a technical directors’ course, too, which eventually led to a reunion with Southampton in February 2020.

Why did he return to Southampton?

“I feel like I’ve worked through my career to be in a position to do this type of role,” he told The Athletic. “It just felt like a really great opportunity for me and the time for another project.”

Southampton had recently overhauled their senior leadership team, with chairman Ralph Krueger, vice-chairman Les Reed and director of football operations Ross Wilson all leaving.

Martin Semmens, Southampton’s chief executive, had several conversations with Crocker before offering him the role. Given he had not been a director of football before, that could have been viewed as a risk.

“The conversation I had with Martin Semmens was very much about me being a behind-the-scenes strategy and process person,” Crocker said. “I’m someone that makes sure we hold ourselves accountable to the processes and plans we have in place.”

Matt CrockerCrocker (right) in conversation with Southampton chief executive Martin Semmens. Credit: Dan Mullan / Getty Images

What did he do as director of football operations?

“Some clubs have a director of football that is a trader: they fly all over the world doing deals that could be seen as the sexy stuff. But that’s not my strength,” Crocker said.

His influence and relationships were called upon when the club targeted young English players such as Tino Livramento, but his focus was not on player trading. Instead Crocker got his teeth into other areas of the club, such as modernising the academy.

Another of his ideas was to implement a review process after every sixth game, bringing all departments to the table to discuss performances.

There was however friction between Ralph Hasenhuttl — Southampton’s former manager — and Crocker, which limited his impact on the first team.

Then when Sport Republic bought Southampton in January 2022, Crocker’s role became somewhat reduced. Time has shown they have a different vision to the one being implemented.

Was he involved with Southampton’s club-wide playbook?

The ‘SFC Playbook’ was a club-wide project that led to radical change at the academy and, yes, Crocker was involved. Hasenhuttl was frustrated with how long it took academy players to get accustomed to his style, something Crocker sympathised with. The playbook was a way to get all age groups playing and training in the same style.

“I guess one of the big wins was to come in and really remove the under-23s from the academy and place it as a B team connected to the first team,” Crocker said. “We developed the SFC Playbook with a style of play, all the sessions that we do from a first-team perspective, and the position-specific profiles that are required for each of the six positions across the team, and we made sure we aligned that with the B team.”

The playbook is a digital archive of training sessions that was initially passed down to the B team’s coaching staff before it was implemented in the under-18s. At the beginning of this season, it was rolled out in the under-16s.

Has he shown an interest in women’s football?

Absolutely. Aside from Marieanne Spacey-Cale, the former England international and current manager of Southampton Women, Crocker has been the biggest driving force of the club’s recent successes.

Spacey-Cale works closely with Crocker, describing him as her “sounding board” and someone who is “heavily emotionally invested in the team”. They meet formally every month but keep in contact every week.

Southampton Women achieved back-to-back promotions and now play in the Women’s Championship, one tier below the Women’s Super League.

Under Crocker’s oversight, the club developed one of only four tier-one regional talent centres in the country and in August they were given a licence to run a new emerging talent centre, designed for girls aged between 10-12.

How well is he going to fit with US Soccer?

Sources who have worked closely with Crocker describe him as the “perfect fit” for US Soccer because of his experience in building up sporting infrastructure and implementing a strategy and culture.He is accustomed to working in high-pressure environments at the international federation and club levels.


“Strategy, planning and programme management are among his biggest strengths, so he will be well suited to his new role,” says a source, speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect relationships. “He knows what he is good at and focuses on that.”

U.S. Soccer Matt Crocker: USMNT coach interviews won’t start with, ‘What do you offer us’

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 24: U.S. Soccer Federation Sporting Director Matt Crocker poses for a portrait at the JW Marriott on April 24, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

By Pablo Maurer and Paul TenorioApr 26, 202325

U.S. Soccer sporting director Matt Crocker’s career has taken him to some enviable locales. With the English Football Association, Crocker watched Under-17 and Under-20 teams hoist World Cup titles in India in 2017. More recently, the 48-year-old was tasked with plotting the sporting direction of Premier League side Southampton. He has spent years working at the very highest level of the game.


But he started his career as a coach in a decidedly quainter place: Little Rock, Arkansas. 

At the time, Crocker was a 17-year-old apprentice player with Cardiff City and keen to start working towards his coaching licenses. A friend, as Crocker shared, had moved to the United States to start an indoor soccer center, dubbed “Soccer USA.” These were the halcyon days of the American soccer camp when the country’s developmental landscape was much more reliant on the “Soccer USAs” of the country than on complex, expensive academy systems.

“Six of us would jump in a van and we’d drive wherever they told us to on Monday,” Crocker said Tuesday during a roundtable discussion in Washington D.C., where he was introduced as U.S. Soccer’s new sporting director. “(We’d) coach all week, come back on a Friday night and play an indoor showcase game, then play an 11-v-11 game on Saturday and travel again on Sunday. What a perfect life, as a 17 or 18-year-old to be able to do that in a country like America.”

Crocker did this for a few summers before eventually landing in Kansas City, where he coached for a local club, Louisburg Legends. His wife, who was then his girlfriend, joined him for the adventure. The two were like “aliens,” Crocker said, and it took a bit of time to get used to the local wildlife.

“(The children on our street) had never really seen or heard our accent before,” Crocker said. “There were a couple of kids on the deck with my wife and I and there were a couple of, what are they called, lightning bugs? They flew past. My wife asked the kids, ‘What’s that?’ They said ‘That’s a lightning bug!’ and then the kid went ‘And that’s a dog! And that’s a cat!’” 

Now, Crocker has returned to the United States to take a decidedly bigger job than his first coaching gig in Arkansas. He is charged with overseeing U.S. Soccer’s sporting operations just three years out from the 2026 FIFA men’s World Cup, which the U.S. will co-host. It is a massive opportunity to make an outsized impression on the sport in this country. 

His first tasks, even before he officially starts in the position on Aug. 2, are substantial: hire a coach for the men’s team and oversee the women’s team as they seek a third consecutive World Cup trophy.



“I’m really excited,” Crocker said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared in some other ways as well, because I already know there’s some great work going on, but I already know I need to come in and have an impact and I need to show my worth. I’m excited and a tad bit scared at the same time.”

In January, the federation contracted consulting group Sportsology to conduct a thorough search for coaching and sporting director candidates, domestically and internationally. After that search concluded, the federation looked at how the sporting director candidates ranked in four “buckets,” as U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said on Tuesday.“This position is a huge position and nobody will be an expert in all of them,” Parlow Cone said. “So we looked at different expertise in the different buckets. We started contacting them and having initial conversations and then moved a number of people forward to Zoom interviews. Our group decided on who to move forward to the in-person interviews.”Parlow Cone said the federation eventually narrowed the field down to 10 candidates, then seven, and then three final candidates. Two of those finalists were diverse candidates, Parlow Cone said. From the beginning, though, Crocker stood out.

“(I had a) gut feeling after the first interview,” said Parlow Cone. 

Crocker’s role will be narrower than previous sporting director Earnie Stewart’s was. In March, the federation posted a job listing for a “chief soccer growth officer,” who will oversee the growth of the game at the amateur and youth levels. Oversight of referee and coaching education will also fall under the purview of other officials at the federation, leaving Crocker free to focus on the national team programs alone, from the youth levels through to the senior team. 

To Crocker, it was a golden opportunity. 

He filled a similar role at the FA, helping craft the “England DNA” coaching and playing philosophy that has helped England’s men’s and women’s programs ascend to challenge for, and win, trophies. He did so alongside current England men’s national team manager Gareth Southgate and current Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth. 

In his six years at the FA, Crocker also oversaw England’s national teams (under-15s to under-20s) on the men’s and women’s sides, including the men’s wins at the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup in 2017, and their European Championship at under-19s level the same year. 

He returned to Southampton in 2020 — in a previous stint he oversaw an academy that produced the likes of former Welsh winger Gareth Bale, Liverpool’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Manchester United’s Luke Shaw and England international and Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse — and helped establish the “SFC Playbook,” which focused on streamlining style of play from the youth levels through to the first team. Crocker was less involved in player transfers at Southampton and more focused on modernizing the academy, recruiting domestic players and building out the philosophy and organization within the club.



Crocker’s role reduced some when Sport Republic bought the team at the start of 2022, and he eventually decided to leave at the end of this current campaign, one which sees Southampton on the brink of relegation. When asked whether he’d learned any lessons from a trying campaign, Crocker pointed to the club’s injury woes and turnover before focusing on what he considered Southampton’s positives and how they might translate to the U.S. job.

“One of the things that I’d say is we’re a club that has a great business model,” Crocker said. “We’re a club that has a clear identity and a style of play and there’s definitely things that I’ve learned at Southampton that I believe I can transition into my role here. But without any context, I need to come in, listen, learn and understand and then see where there’s some potential to add some value. But I already know there’s some great work going on. My job is to identify that, nourish, support and grow it but maybe try and identify where there are some opportunities. That will take some time.”When Sportsology reached out about the U.S. sporting director job, Crocker immediately understood the magnitude of the opportunity.“I had to pinch myself,” said Crocker, who will remain at Southampton through the end of the season. “When you think of the size and scope of the (U.S.) program and the opportunities that are coming up both on the men’s and women’s programs, it’s been my sole focus outside of trying to help Southampton fight their way out of the position that we’re in now. It was the only thing I was interested in.”In many ways, his strengths — at both the FA and Southampton — appear to fit perfectly with what U.S. Soccer said it was looking for: someone who can help organize and manage the sporting department and also maximize the success and development pipeline of youth national teams.“I just think I’ve got a skillset that enables people to come together,” Crocker said. “We always talk about this ‘85/15’ rule. So, 85% of the time we agree, 15% of the time we may not, but when we leave the room we’re all aligned. … My job is to make sure in that 15% that I can make a decisive decision that everybody understands why we’re making it and also (be) the first one to hold my hand up if it goes wrong.”

Crocker’s first hire will be a crucial one not just because of the stage upon which that coach must succeed, but also because of the current state of the program. The U.S. men’s team is coming off of a strong performance at the Qatar World Cup but has also had to navigate significant off-field drama involving one of its young stars, Gio Reyna, and former coach Gregg Berhalter.



Crocker declined to speak about individual candidates on Tuesday, but his comments painted a clear picture. He seemed optimistic about the performances of the team under Berhalter, especially at the World Cup. He spoke about wanting the U.S. to be an aggressive team, one that can control games at moments and also play on the front foot. He said he also wants a team that is willing to play higher up the field and to defend in one-on-one moments. Crocker indicated that the hire would be charged with continuing the progress the team made in this last cycle, not tearing it down and restarting.Berhalter remains a candidate to continue as coach, but the federation no doubt is considering others. That likely includes American manager Jesse Marsch, who had a successful stint with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria’s Bundesliga before a short stint with RB Leipzig and then mixed results in the Premier League with Leeds.“The identity that Gregg has helped to build and obviously (interim manager Anthony Hudson) has taken forward, as well, we want to grow and build on that,” Crocker said. “Because we’ve got some players with huge potential and huge levels of creativity to be able to identify and then deliver those key moments in games.”Crocker, and the federation as a whole, are not searching for a candidate who is looking to instill his own philosophical approach to the position. Crocker, along with Parlow Cone and CEO JT Batson, spoke frequently on Tuesday about establishing and installing processes and roles. When it comes to the coaching hire, Crocker seemed to leave that hierarchy pretty clear.“I don’t see the interview process starting with, ‘What do you offer us,’” Crocker said. “For me it’s, ‘This is our program, this is our vision, this is where we’re gonna be going.’“I want to make sure the coaches understand that and they get excited about what they’re adding to that program rather than ripping it up and starting again and just bringing their own philosophy and their own ideas.” 

Crocker, who will have the final say on the coaching hire, mirrored Parlow Cone’s sentiments regarding the timeline for a new coach.



“For us right now, it’s about making sure we nail the process,” he said. “What exactly it is we want to find out — and making sure that we’ve got the right data modules to give us the information, making sure we’ve got the right background checks that give us the leadership style and then to make sure that we provide the right opportunities for the coaches to come in and show their best selves through the process of what they can offer.”

In some ways, Crocker stepping into the federation from the outside brings a fresh set of eyes to a landscape that needs it. 

While he acknowledged Crocker has a lot of work to do to better understand the scope of the job and the many areas that need help, he also was quick to point out that he is now overseeing a program that has shown plenty of progress on the men’s side and that sets the standard on the women’s side.

“During my time (with the English national teams) when I looked at the U.S. (men’s) teams that were coming through, they were unbelievably competitive,” Crocker said. “And I mentioned the group of (birth year) 2000 that have gone through and gone on to be great players currently and are even still developing. I actually don’t think they’ve underachieved. We still have to remember that the academy ecosystem in the MLS is still very much in its infancy. There’s still going to be time to grow”

The hope is that the men can continue to climb in relevancy and competitiveness and that the women’s national team will be able to hold off a number of teams that are closing the gap as investment in the game grows globally.

“I think it’s about continuing to harvest and grow that mentality,” Crocker said. “We should breed fear into the opposition again.”

Crocker sees the significant progress the country has made since he first showed up in Little Rock coaching at Soccer USA. And while it may not need a complete reset, he’ll now be tasked with overseeing the greatest chance the program has to leap forward since the 1994 and 1999 tournaments propelled the professional levels of the game in the U.S.

The USMNT is being held back by the idea that it needs to change how the world perceives the team

What needs to change is winning more gamesBy Parker Cleveland@Cleveland_FC  Apr 27, 2023, 7:00am PDT  

Netherlands v USA: Round of 16 - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

One of the consistent messages about the USMNT in recent years has been how its leaders want to change the perception of the team in international soccer. Gregg Berhalter had a frequent mantra of wanting to “change the way the world looks at American Soccer.” The team probably didn’t do that by coming second in the group getting an expected result by beating Iran, dropping a lead against Wales in disappointing fashion, and getting a gutsy draw in a well played game against England and then being outplayed by the Netherlands.

While I don’t presume to speak for the entire world, finishing second in the group and then losing an elimination game to a group winner is probably what was expected.

Yet again, a leader who is charged with setting the tone for the USMNT program has waded into setting grand expectations for the team. This time, it’s new US Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker who told reporters about the USMNT “we are going to be a nation that will be feared.” There’s no doubt that the USA can be a dangerous team, especially if a starting no. 9 emerges, and that can be scary At the same time, teams that strike fear into others like France, Argentina, Brazil, England, Holland, Italy, Spain or the USWNT cause actual dread in their opponents whose best outcome is often hoping to contain the damage.

These teams have strong benches with players running five eep at every position in the top leagues in the world. The USA ran itself into the ground and barely rotated in Qatar. As recently as last Spring the story about the USMNT was that there were nearly a dozen players playing in the Champions League and the conveyor belt of youngsters going from American academies and MLS teams to top five leagues in Europe was running full speed.

Now several of those players are fighting relegation with Leeds, have moved to stronger teams where they are fighting for playing time, are in the Championship or other second division leagues hoping for promotion, can’t seem to stay healthy, or can’t get into a starting XI. Meanwhile, there’s been a list of players who seemed to have been set for promising careers after making transfers that haven’t been heard from in quite some time. That’s not to say in three years that players in the pool currently and those emerging from the youth teams won’t move forward and can’t grow into a nation that is feared, but recently the steps have been sideways or backwards.


As a sporting nation, Americans love athletes and teams that are ambitious and back up their aspirations with trophies and do cause fear in the hearts of their opponents. Crocker and previously Berhalter reflect the optimism and ambition that sometimes borders on delusional that is a core value of Americans. Still, there’s another type of sporting narrative that inspires Americans: the underdog. Individuals and teams that overcome incredible odds, don’t back down and through nothing more than sheer self-belief win despite being outmatched has a sacred place in the American sports consciousness.Currently, the USMNT is much closer to the later than the former and yet the team’s leadership constantly sets the bar at “changing perceptions” and “being feared.” The USMNT has won two games at a World Cup once. Just once. Winning two games at a World Cup would be a great achievement and winning more than that would be astounding. It might also cause more fear for opponents if the USA is only concerned with winning and will do it whatever the odds and however it looks as opposed to trying to have more verticality.Aside from semantics though, Gregg Berhalter’s notion of changing the optics of the team to the world may have gotten in the way of how the team performed, his management of games, and prevented him from getting the best out of the players he did have rather than trying to get them to fit an ideal mold he had for the team. Crocker hitching his wagon to similar goals is concerning if it influences his decision making in bringing in another coach who is more focused on the aesthetics of the team rather than results.

Fox unveils 2023 Women’s World Cup broadcast schedule

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: A soccer ball is seen with FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 branding during a FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 Unity Pitch celebration, as today marks 100 days to go until the World Cup begins, at King George Square on April 11, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

By Richard DeitschApr 25, 202321

Summertime, and the viewing is easy if you are a Women’s World Cup fan.Fox announced Tuesday that its 2023 Women’s World Cup programming schedule will feature 29 matches on over-the-air Fox, the most Women’s World Cup matches ever on a U.S. English-language broadcast network. The tournament, which runs from Thursday, July 20, through Aug. 20 in Australia and New Zealand, features 64 matches live across Fox (29 games) and FS1 (35 games) with every match live streaming on the Fox Sports App.


Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, semifinals, third-place match and final will be televised on Fox, while 35 group-stage matches will air on FS1.
  • Five of the 29 matches airing on Fox will run in primetime, with 12 airing on the weekends.
  • The United States is FIFA’s No. 1 ranked team and back-to-back champions. No country has ever won three consecutive Women’s World Cups.

USWNT schedule

All U.S. group-stage matches will air on Fox. The USWNT opens against Vietnam on July 21 at 9 p.m. ET from Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. The second group stage match opponent is the Netherlands on July 26 at 9 p.m. ET from Wellington Regional Stadium in New Zealand.The USWNT’s final group stage match comes against Portugal on Aug. 1, at 3 a.m. ET from Eden Park.

How would you rate Fox’s programming commitment?

When a major media company with sports rights opts to put programming on its over-the-air channel as opposed to cable or a streaming product, it’s a clear sign of investment for the property. This is simply smart business.Four years ago the U.S.’s win over the Netherlands in the Women’s World Cup final averaged 14.3 million viewers despite the game being held at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT. The 2015 Women’s World Cup final between the United States and Japan averaged a massive 25.4 million viewers on Fox in primetime (with another 1.27 million viewers on Telemundo). The audience is clearly there. — Deitsch

NWSL Standings

Full Standings

7Angel City411257-24LWDL

Man Utd’s lapses keep Champions League hopes alive for Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa

6:26 PM ET Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Manchester United are keeping the race for Champions League qualification alive, but it is everybody else’s hopes that they are sustaining with their inability to seal the deal.

Erik ten Hag’s team should have slammed the door shut on the top four at Tottenham Hotspur, but by blowing a two-goal lead and holding on for a 2-2 draw, they have given us a Super Sunday double-header this weekend that could ignite a four-way sprint to the finish line for fourth spot.


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

Or they could simply get the job and make a top four spot their own. Leading by two goals at halftime against a Spurs side that were trounced 6-1 at Newcastle on Sunday and playing under their second interim-manager — Ryan Mason — since Antonio Conte’s dismissal last month, United had the opportunity to win convincingly and beat a top ten side away from home for the first time since defeating Fulham in November.


But they blew it as a combination of missed chances and goals by Pedro Porro and Son Heung-Min enabled Spurs to salvage a draw and go into Sunday’s encounter with seventh-place Liverpool at Anfield knowing that the top four is still within their reach.

“When you are 2-0 up, you are of course disappointed when you draw,” Ten Hag said. “After going to 2-1, we missed too many chances to take it to 3-1. “We need to manage the game, keep the ball. We gave so many easy balls away. It was so easy for them (Spurs).”

Spurs climbed to fifth, six points behind United having played two more games, but with United facing sixth-placed Aston Villa (also six points adrift of fourth) at Old Trafford on Sunday, the race for fourth could look a whole lot different by close of play. And that reality is largely down to United’s failure to pull up the drawbridge.

Premier League Table

1 – Arsenal33+4075
2 – Man City31+5373
3 – Newcastle32+3262
4 – Man United30+960
5 – Tottenham33+754
6 – Aston Villa33+554
7 – Liverpool32+2253
8 – Brighton30+1549
9 – Brentford33+747
10 – Fulham32+145

They sit eighth in the Premier League form table over the last eight games after winning four, losing two and draw two of those fixtures. Villa, who have found real form under Unai Emery in recent weeks, have stormed into contention by winning six and drawing two of their last eight games. If the season had started eight games ago, Villa would be third. Tottenham’s form has dropped off a cliff with two wins and three defeats their last eight, but United haven’t quite been able to shake them off. This game was the big opportunity to do that, but United failed to take it.

And Liverpool’s recent uptick of form, which has seen them win three games on the bounce, has given Jurgen Klopp’s side an outside chance of sneaking into the top four, although they are seven points behind United having played one game more. There are two obvious reasons why United are still labouring towards clinching a top four spot — a lack of goals and a defence that can’t keep it tight at the back — and they both reared their head against Spurs. In the top seven, only Villa (46) have score fewer goals than United’s 48. They are at least ten goals behind the rest, with Arsenal netting 78 and Manchester City already registering 82.

Defensively, United have the leakiest defence in the top four having conceded 39, but their goals against column is more favourable when measured against Spurs (53), Villa (41) and Liverpool (39).

United’s hunt for a proven goalscorer during the summer transfer window has already been well signposted, with Harry Kane and Napoli’s Victor Osimhen the leading targets.

ESPN reported last month that United’s concerns over dealing with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who is notoriously difficult to negotiate with when offloading one of players, could force them to abandon their interest in Kane, but the United supporters made their feelings clear during the first-half of this game by singing, ‘Harry Kane, we’ll see you in June.’

Optimistic, perhaps, especially as Levy is unlikely to even think about a deal until the final hours of deadine day on Aug 31, but with Kane in their line-up, United would be a completely different proposition. The chances they missed against Spurs would likely have been taken by Kane and his presence in Ten Hag’s team alongside Marcus Rashford, who put United 2-0 up following Jadon Sancho’s opener, would arguably make them City’s closest challengers next season. But it is because United don’t have a Kane in their line-up that they are still uncertain of their Champions League qualification ambitions.

They should clinch fourth spot thanks to the lead they have already built up, but until they get the job done, the question marks will remain. If United win on Sunday, they can start to breathe a little easier. But they should already be safely over the line, so nothing can be taken for granted.

“We need energy,” Ten Hag said. “We have to be ready for Sunday.”

If United aren’t ready, and Villa take advantage, the final month of the season will become far more nervous that it needed to be.

Which Premier League clubs will qualify for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League?

5:18 PM ET

  • Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC
  • The Premier League season is almost over, and the race for a place in Europe is reaching its climax.

We take a look at who is in contention to qualify for the Champions LeagueEuropa League and Europa Conference League, how the FA Cup could affect it and what impact an English team winning a European trophy could have.

– How VAR has affected every Premier League club

This page will be updated through the remainder of the season as the permutations develop.

How many teams qualify for Europe?

The maximum that can qualify from domestic performance in the Premier League — so either league position or by winning the FA Cup or Carabao Cup — is seven.

However, the places reserved for European titleholders are separate if a team does not qualify domestically. Therefore, it is technically possible, though unlikely, for the Premier League to have 10 teams in Europe — the seven domestic qualifiers plus the winners of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League if they are outside the European places.

With West Ham United in the quarterfinals of the Europa Conference League and unable to finish in the European places in the Premier League, it is possible that eight English teams could take part next season.

Which Premier League places will qualify?

At the start of the season, the top four in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League, while fifth place and the FA Cup winners enter the Europa League. The winners of the Carabao Cup qualify for the Europa Conference League.

Manchester United won the Carabao Cup, so they are guaranteed (at minimum) a place in the Europa Conference League.

Allocation as it stands:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, FA Cup winners
Europa Conference League: Manchester United

However, these places are subject to change depending on who wins the FA Cup, possibly where Manchester United finish — plus West Ham’s success in European competition.

Who is in contention for Europe?

Premier League Table

1 – Arsenal33+4075
2 – Man City31+5373
3 – Newcastle32+3262
4 – Man United30+960
5 – Tottenham33+754
6 – Aston Villa33+554
7 – Liverpool32+2253
8 – Brighton30+1549
9 – Brentford33+747
10 – Fulham32+145

Arsenal (75 points, 33 games) and Manchester City (73, 31 games) are sure of a place in the Champions League.

That leaves two UCL berths up for grabs. Newcastle United (62, 32 games) and Manchester United (60, 31 games) hold the cards in third and fourth, with Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa six points further back on 54 having played 33 games. Liverpool (53, 32 games) are in a slightly better position with six games left to play, while Brighton & Hove Albion (49, 30 games) can’t be fully ruled out either. The final Champions League places will go to two of these six clubs.

Two other teams in contention for Europe are Brentford (47, 33 games) and Fulham (45, 32 games) but their hopes of contesting for a European place will depend on whether seventh ends up qualifying, but even then appears to be slim.

How can the Premier League ever have 10 teams in Europe?

The three European titleholders would need to finish outside the European places in the Premier League.

This will definitely be the case with West Ham this season, but with only Manchester City left in the Champions League, and no representative the in the Europa League, there is no possibility of 10 teams anymore.

How does qualification work if a team wins a European trophy?

There are four overriding principles:
– The winners of a European competition have the automatic right to European football the following season.
– A team has the right to play in the highest-ranked competition they qualify for.
– One Premier League team cannot be adversely affected by another’s success in Europe.
– A Premier League team cannot get a place because of another’s success in Europe.

If a team wins the Champions League or the Europa League:
– They are guaranteed to play in the Champions League wherever they finish in the Premier League.

If a team wins the Europa Conference League:
– They will play in the Europa League unless they finish in the top four — then they will play in the Champions League.

What could happen to Man United’s Carabao Cup place?

Man United won the Carabao Cup, which comes with a berth in the Europa Conference League, but they will take the place in the higher-ranked competition if they win the FA Cup or finish in the top five; the Europa Conference League slot would transfer to sixth place in the league.

If Man United finish in the top four:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, Manchester United
Europa League: 5, FA Cup winners
Europa Conference League: 6

If Man United finish fifth:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: Manchester United, FA Cup winners
Europa Conference League: 6

If Man United finish sixth or lower:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, FA Cup winners
Europa Conference League: Manchester United

So how does the FA Cup affect the European places?

Manchester City will play Manchester United in the final on June 3. (stream live on ESPN+, U.S. only).

The effect on the European places works along the same lines as Man United’s Carabao Cup place: if the FA Cup winners qualify for Champions League or the Europa League via the league, the Europa League place for winning the FA Cup transfers to the league.

Manchester City have qualified for the Champions League next season, so if they win the FA Cup, the place in the Europa League goes to the Premier League.

If Man City win the FA Cup:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: Manchester United (subject to final league place)

If Man United win both cups, their place in the Europa Conference League definitely transfers to the league, and United would have a place in the Europa League. If United finish in the top four, they play in the Champions League and the place in the Europa League for winning the FA Cup goes to sixth place. If United finish outside the top six, the Europa Conference League place goes to sixth.

If Man United win both cups and finish top four:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, Manchester United
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: 7

If Man United win both cups and finish 5th or 6th:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: Manchester United, 5th or 6th
Europa Conference League: 7

If Man United win both cups and finish 7th or lower:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, Manchester United
Europa Conference League: 6

How can seventh qualify for Europe by league position?

This is only the case if Manchester United and the winners of the FA Cup finish in the top six of the Premier League. This would mean seventh gets the place in the Europa Conference League.

Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: 7

The performance of clubs in Europe cannot increase the number of places allocated to final places in the Premier League table.

Can eighth in the Premier League qualify for Europe?

It is impossible for eighth to qualify by league position. This team must win a domestic cup competition or a European title to play in Europe the following season.

What if Man City win the Champions League?

This will have no effect on the Premier League as Man City will finish in the top four. There is no “drop down” of places to give a fifth Champions League spot.

The position in the group stage for the Champions League titleholders is left vacant. This isn’t filled by giving another team a place, the qualifying rounds are rebalanced with clubs effectively receiving byes.

Ordinarily, the champions of the country ranked 11th in the UEFA coefficient table at the end of the 2021-22 season — Serbia — would go direct to the Champions League group stage, rather than having to qualify. However, Russia are ranked 10th and its clubs remain excluded from European competition. That means the Serbian champions are already guaranteed a place in the group stage.

So, if Man City win the Champions League, it will be the champions of the 12th-ranked country who are given a place in the group stage. This just so happens to be Ukraine.

What if West Ham win the Europa Conference League?

West Ham will earn a place in next season’s Europa League.

As West Ham will not qualify for Europe domestically, England would have eight teams in Europe next season — even if West Ham were to be relegated.

Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, FA Cup winners, West Ham
Europa Conference League: Manchester United

What if more than one English team wins a European trophy?

In principle, each scenario remains as above, applied in the same way individually to each competition.

So if Man City win the UCL and also finish in the top four, the allocation to the Premier League is unaltered.

As West Ham cannot qualify domestically, winning the Europa Conference League will add an eighth place — for them as titleholders — regardless of how any other team may perform.

Can fourth place miss out on the Champions League?

It would only be possible if the winners of the Champions League and the winners of the Europa League both finished outside the Premier League’s top four.

If that were to happen, fourth place would play in the Europa League as there’s a maximum of five teams from one country in the Champions League.

In that situation:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, Manchester City, Manchester United
Europa League: 4, FA Cup winners, West Ham
Europa Conference League: 6

As the Premier League no longer has a team in the Europa League, it cannot happen.

This is Manchester City’s era – there are only two ways that changes any time soon

Daniel TaylorApr 27, 2023496

In the end, it felt like a reminder to the whole of English football, not just Arsenal, that this is Manchester City’s era and you better come equipped if you really have aspirations about trying to remove Pep Guardiola’s grip, finger by finger, from the Premier League trophy.Arsenal have had a good stab at it this season, of course. They have given everything in their attempts to change the colour of the ribbons. Without Mikel Arteta’s side, the 2022-23 Premier League would have been a procession, a near-formality for the champions.



Yet the reality for Arsenal has just become clearer and it is the same one that faces any team that fancies having a crack at the title. This is City’s era, full stop. It has been that way for some time and, almost certainly, it will remain that way as long as Guardiola is on the touchline and the money men of Abu Dhabi occupy the executive seats.

That, more than anything, must be the scariest part for City’s rivals, given it needed something almost implausibly brilliant from Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on the only occasion in the past five years the trophy did not go end up in east Manchester.

Liverpool won the league that time with 99 points. The year before, they managed 97 yet came up short. It was the highest number attained by any club in England’s top division without securing a league title in the process. Arsenal can reach 90 points over the next month and, again, it might not be enough.

The numbers are mind-boggling, given that 90 would equal the haul of the greatest-ever Arsenal side: the team known as the Invincibles, who went unbeaten throughout the entire 2003-04 league season. This Arsenal team have already accumulated as many points as Arsene Wenger’s title-winning side from 2001-02. Their next win will match the total accrued by the club’s 1997-98 double winners.

But the levels have changed in recent years. The bar has been raised — and it all comes back to the modern City.

All of which conjured up one question in particular during last night’s 4-1 win over Arsenal, the latest demonstration of Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliance and the almost freakish statistics of Erling Haaland, superstar. And that question is: Who stops this, who can possibly halt the City juggernaut?


Kevin De Bruyne’s role at Manchester City means the tougher the game, the better he is

Newcastle United, with their Saudi Arabian ownership, might like to think it will be them one day. Not any day soon, though. It could take years before the team from St James’ Park have fully taken advantage of their new position among the super-rich.



Manchester United will always have haughty ambitions and, if this season’s title race is heading City’s way, maybe Arsenal can take some form of encouragement from the way Liverpool responded after the same happened to them in 2019. Klopp and his players used the disappointment as fuel in their title-winning season a year later.

At the same time, let’s not forget that over the previous five seasons City finished, on average, 27.8 points above Arsenal and 22.6 ahead of Manchester United. The numbers are astonishing. Until this season, there is only Liverpool who have managed to stay within 10 points of Guardiola’s team in any single title race.

Against that kind of backdrop, there are only two possible scenarios that might get in the way of City turning their domination of English football into something with even greater substance.

The first is that Guardiola’s wanderlust will return and he will decide that his current City contract, which runs until 2025, is his last. One theory is that winning the European Cup, maybe even emulating Manchester United’s 1999 treble, will mean he has accomplished everything he set out to do in Manchester and leave him wondering if there are new adventures to be had elsewhere.

Don’t bank on it, though. There have been lots of theories about Guardiola, and how long he will stay, during his seven years at City and usually it finishes with him extending his terms. He likes it there. There is an opportunity for him to create a dynasty.

If their latest freewheeling win is the prelude to another successful title defence, and a third in a row, Guardiola will have moved level with Sir Matt Busby, who won five league championships with Manchester United. Only two managers in post-war football have won more. One is Bob Paisley, with six for Liverpool. The other is Sir Alex Ferguson, with 13 at Old Trafford.



The other scenario goes back to the long and complex investigation into what, if proven, might be termed the biggest financial scandal there has been since the Premier League’s formation.

Nobody can be sure what will happen in relation to the charges that are facing City, only that there are lots of them.

They are accused of more than 100 alleged rule breaches, from 2009 to 2018, including falsely reporting income and salaries and failing to cooperate with a four-year inquiry.



Man City charges explained: The accusations, possible punishments and what happens next

This has been the background to City’s 2022-23 season and it looks like being their first championship since they were accused of building this empire through, in part, cheating. It could be years yet before the lawyers actually face off. Until then, it creates a difficult sub-plot for these nights when City look magnificent and their fans, like all fans, just want to bask in the joys that football can bring.

And let’s be clear about this: Arsenal have been brilliant this season. They have surprised everyone, perhaps even themselves, with their long run at the top of the table. Whatever is said and written about them over the coming days and weeks, this group of players have shown character all season.

Unfortunately for them and their fans, it doesn’t look like it is going to be enough and, barring something improbable, it will not be easy for them to shake off the disappointment. Arteta and his players may have to grow accustomed to the accusation that they lost their nerve. Or, in football parlance, bottled it. “Did they freeze?” he was asked after the match last night. “Were they scared?”

It is the obvious angle when, in the space of 17 days, they have surrendered a two-goal lead at Liverpool, done the same at West Ham and slugged out a wild, eccentric 3-3 draw at home to bottom-of-the-table Southampton.



Yet perhaps we should cut them a bit of slack, too. For a team of alleged chokers, this was Arsenal’s first defeat since February 15. Unfortunately for them, the last one also came against City, in the form of a 3-1 defeat in north London. Realistically, no team can expect to win the league if they lose twice to the side carrying Guardiola’s stamp.

Arsenal have won against Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur this season. Yet they have lost 12 on the bounce to City. They just don’t worry Guardiola’s team in the same way Liverpool did when Klopp’s teams were chasing titles.


And so, six minutes in, Haaland fixed his sights on a high, dropping ball that had been sent forward by John Stones from his own defence. The Norwegian’s sureness of touch, with Rob Holding pressed against his back, showed a footballer playing at the point of maximum expression. De Bruyne was running through the middle and what, if you are an Arsenal fan, goes through your mind in those moments?

OH Kevin De Bruyne! 🎯

A great takedown from Erling Haaland who passes to De Bruyne for a stunning run and finish! 😮‍💨 pic.twitter.com/Ex4pyouHVJ

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 26, 2023

Alarm, presumably.

These are the nights when De Bruyne, in Guardiola’s words, can seem unstoppable. His shot was true because, with De Bruyne, he seems to never snatch at chances. He epitomises City’s seen-it-all-before brilliance. And, boy, he loves the big nights, under the floodlights. De Bruyne, more than anyone, succeeded in making the rest of the night feel like an ordeal for Arsenal players.

Arteta did his best afterwards to remind everyone that, however wildly this victory was celebrated by the crowd, his team were still squatting defiantly near the top of the league and that he has been in football long enough to know that strange things could happen in City’s remaining fixtures.

He had to say this, of course. Nobody really believed it, though. The bottom line is that Arsenal’s lead has been whittled down to two points and the team in second place, who have just whacked them 4-1, still have a couple of games in hand. The momentum has shifted dramatically and Arsenal have been reminded that City, on Guardiola’s watch, might be an even bigger challenge than their rivals from these parts during the peak Wenger years.



Arsenal know what it is like to win the league at Old Trafford. They know what it is like to win the league at White Hart Lane. They still sing about both occasions. But winning the league at the Etihad? This is the era of City and, as David Moyes once said during his time with Everton, sometimes it can feel like going into a gunfight armed with only a knife.

Michael Cox: Arsenal just did not know how to press Manchester City’s 4-2-4

Michael Cox: Arsenal just did not know how to press Manchester City’s 4-2-4

By Michael CoxApr 27, 2023133

It was not a shock that Manchester City defeated Arsenal last night, and not a surprise they did so relatively convincingly, considering both sides’ recent run of form.

But the nature of City’s tactical approach was a surprise.

Having spent recent weeks building up with a three-man defence and pushing a defender forward into midfield, City played a simple 4-2-4 on Wednesday. Arsenal seemed unsure of how to press this system, and City were adept at progressing the ball through central zones and up to Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland between the lines.



Pep Guardiola’s tactics worked wonderfully.

“Normally, we play with two No 8s but Guardiola wanted more control because of the way Arsenal press, so Ilkay Gundogan was a ‘double No 6’,” said De Bruyne. “I had to choose moments, depending on who pressed out of Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey. If Partey was pressing, I would try to go on his back, and the other way around. It was difficult for (Arsenal centre-backs) Gabriel and Rob Holding. Do they go with me?”

That summarised City’s game plan.



In their biggest league game for two decades, this was not the Arsenal we have come to expect

Everything started with City’s left-sided centre-back, Ruben Dias. Clearly, Mikel Arteta had decided Arsenal should be happy enough if Dias — City’s least technically gifted player — was on the ball, so they set up to allow simple passes to him.

Here’s Ederson with the ball in the first half. Dias (circled) is completely free, but his goalkeeper seems reluctant to pass to him, despite Rodri’s encouragement.

And here is another situation that tells the story. Dias receives a pass, under no pressure. For seven seconds, he essentially just walks forward with the ball, and no Arsenal player even attempts to close him down.

The key to this game was what happened when Arsenal eventually did close Dias down.

Here, just over a minute into the game, Dias is on the ball and Arsenal are a little confused about how to approach the situation.

In basic terms, there are four City players — Dias, Rodri, Gundogan and De Bruyne — and Arsenal only have three to shut them down. Arsenal want this to be three-against-three in midfield, and Dias left spare. The plan is that when Martin Odegaard jumps forward onto Dias, Partey and Xhaka will back him up and close down the two deep City midfielders. But that would leave De Bruyne free.



This is the Manchester City era – there are only two ways their dominance ends any time soon

Arsenal end up with Xhaka pushing up as Partey stays back to watch De Bruyne. That means Dias can pass forward to Gundogan, who is unmarked behind Odegaard.

Gundogan then carries the ball forward 40 yards, all the way into the final third. City have broken through Arsenal’s press with one easy pass.

Here’s another example of Arsenal not wanting to shut down Dias.



Gabriel Jesus is positioned to block off a square pass to John Stones, and Odegaard is focusing on Gundogan. City play long, and give the ball away, but it is interesting that Gabriel Magalhaes has been drawn forward to shut down De Bruyne.

The opening goal came from another long ball.

Again, it starts with Dias simply standing in possession, waiting for pressure. Eventually, the ball is switched to Stones, Arsenal press in numbers, and the England defender hits the ball over them.

In mitigation of their setup, Arsenal should have had enough men back to cope here. This goal is more about Haaland outmuscling Holding, and De Bruyne’s run not being tracked by Partey. It also took an excellent finish to beat Aaron Ramsdale.

But City repeatedly managed to bypass the midfield zone and play the ball into what was effectively a strike partnership.

Here’s Odegaard pushing forward onto Dias. The other Arsenal midfielders back him up. De Bruyne is being marked — just about — by Gabriel, who is ready to push forward onto him if needed.

But De Bruyne plays this situation intelligently. He knows Gabriel cannot follow over to the opposite side of the pitch, so he angles a run so he’s behind Partey. Dias arrows the ball to him and suddenly, City have their most creative player on the ball between the lines.

Again, one pass has broken Arsenal’s press.

Here, with Dias again on the ball, there is a similar incident — De Bruyne making a run from right to left to collect a pass. Holding is forced out of the back line to try to close him down.

Arsenal never solved this problem of whether the player between the lines — usually De Bruyne, but sometimes Haaland — should be shut down by Partey or by a centre-back.

Here, in the first image, Holding is the player closing down De Bruyne and Partey is indicating that he’s got Rodri. But then Holding drops, Partey retreats to watch De Bruyne, and City work the ball to Rodri. They always found the free man.

Here is another good example of how Dias — this time retreating on the ball — waited for Odegaard’s press, then started a quick passing sequence through the midfield. This one also ended with De Bruyne collecting the ball between the lines, and Holding moving up to foul him.

De Bruyne and Haaland were sensational as a duo. Here is a situation that was nearly a replica of that first goal.

Here is the reverse — De Bruyne getting the ball between the lines again, and playing in Haaland. City could have been out of sight within half an hour if they’d taken their chances.

But they were out of sight by half-time, courtesy of Stones’ header doubling their lead from a free kick won after the same player had chipped a previous set-piece ball downfield towards the front two, and this situation neatly summed up the tactical battle.



In this situation, Arsenal’s midfielders are pushing forward to close down. Odegaard, never quite sure of his positioning, is not really affecting the game at all. There is a huge amount of space between the lines, while Haaland’s run from the left to the right allows De Bruyne to make the reverse movement and confuse Arsenal’s centre-backs.

“In this shape, (De Bruyne) moves behind Partey and Xhaka, and move a little bit freedom,” said Guardiola. “And when it’s long balls, second balls, long balls, second balls and winning, we contact with him with Erling up front. It’s so dangerous for the opponent.”



After all the hope came a brutal reality check. How are Arsenal fans supposed to feel now?

And amid all the tactical complexity of City’s systems under Guardiola in recent weeks, this all felt quite simple. The battles out wide were largely irrelevant. There was no one playing in different positions in different phases of the game. The only significant rotations came from the front two alternating positions.

But City’s surprise shape, combined with their patience to draw the press and their technical ability to play through it, outfoxed Arsenal and surely secured their fifth Premier League title in six years.

Fulham have defied the doubters and with seven games left have club records in sight

Fulham have defied the doubters and with seven games left have club records in sight

By Liam Tharme

Apr 23, 2023


Ironically, Fulham being labelled a team with “nothing to play for” on the run-in is a reflection of their having already achieved everything they set out to in pre-season following promotion back to the Premier League.

“We are always trying to find different targets. One of the main ones was, last week and the next, to make history for this football club,” said their head coach Marco Silva before Saturday’s home game against Leeds United.



The 3-1 win away to Everton last weekend saw them go past 40 points, and the 2-1 defeat of Leeds at Craven Cottage was their 13th league victory of the season — one more than they managed in their previous two Premier League campaigns combined (12: seven in 2018-19, five in 2020-21).

This is already the west Londoners’ best Premier League season in terms of points since 2011-12 (52, under Martin Jol), but with seven games remaining they have club records in their sight: two more wins and another nine points would set new bests for most victories and points in a Premier League season (their current records are 14 wins, which they have achieved four times, and 53 points from 2008-09).


“It shows how good this season has been for us. No one expected us to be where we are, outside of our dressing room,” added Silva pre-match yesterday. “Everyone expected us to be in trouble.”

FiveThirtyEight, an American data company, modelled Fulham as finishing 18th in pre-season, with a 41 per cent probability of a third straight one-season stay in the Premier League. What they’ve done since August means they will be nowhere near the relegation zone come the final round of fixtures on May 28.

If we exclude the ‘Big Six’ and rank the division’s other 14 teams in a mini-league against each other, Fulham have taken the third-most points (40). Only Newcastle United have more goals (39, Fulham 36) and nobody has won more games than their 12.


Fulham’s defence has not been watertight, without a clean sheet now in seven games, but on Saturday their defensive structure forced Leeds wide and into making erroneous passes. The 4-4-2 shape was the same one that thwarted Liverpool back on the opening weekend, where the wingers press the opposition full-backs, the front two cover passes into the defensive midfielder and Joao Palhinha tracks the opposition No 10.

Silva’s side have continued to show they can attack without the currently-suspended Aleksandar Mitrovic — this was their fourth league win in 10 games without the Serbia centre-forward — while Dan James, a false nine who ran the channels so effectively at Goodison Park, was ineligible against parent club Leeds.



Bobby De Cordova-Reid fulfilled that role yesterday, frequently looking to drop deep as Fulham’s inverted wingers played inside and their full-backs pushed on.

Here he is after Fulham make an early high turnover. With a better first touch, No 10 Andreas Pereira would have been one-v-one with goalkeeper Illan Meslier.

A key feature of Fulham’s attacking play was pushing central midfielder Harrison Reed forward (black dots), effectively creating a front five against Leeds’ back four and allowing him to make triangles with right-winger Harry Wilson and right-back Kenny Tete.

Once again, De Cordova-Reid looks for a through ball, but Wilson’s run is slightly too late.

These wide attacking patterns have been common from Fulham all season, and while further tactical adaptability will be needed for them to evolve further, their identity is clear and that part of it has become a super-strength: they have played the most open-play crosses and the fewest through balls in the Premier League.

Though Saturday did see a first.

Fulham attempted 24 crosses but failed to complete a single one — only twice in the past five seasons has a Premier League team hit more crosses in a match and not been successful with any (Southampton, 27 vs Sheffield United in 2019-20; Crystal Palace, 25 vs Norwich in 2021-22).

Yet Fulham still scored twice from these situations, even without 12-goal top scorer Mitrovic, thanks to incisive counter-attacking play and, fundamentally, having bodies in the penalty area.

For the opening goal, left-back Antonee Robinson skips inside Crysencio Summerville after picking up a loose pass, but keeps hold of the ball until Leeds right-back Rasmus Kristensen moves narrowly, opening the space for Willian on the outside…

… and his cross lacks precision. Meslier makes an error and can only tip it to the back post, but Fulham have four players plus Willian in the penalty area. Wilson is the deepest of those and it lands nicely for the Welshman, unmarked, to fire in off the crossbar.

The second goal was almost a carbon copy of the first.


Fulham had their most direct attacks (five) in a post-World Cup break league game. Opta defines direct attacks as sequences starting just inside a team’s own half, with at least 50 per cent forward movement and ending in a shot or a touch in the box. To put it simply: a counter-attack from deep.

Silva’s side can transition because their defensive shape is so compact, forcing Leeds to cross the ball.

Centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo clears — one of the 11 he made in the match, almost half of Fulham’s team total (23) — and Wilson pounces on the rebound, quickly releasing Pereira…

…who switches play to the onrushing Robinson.

And, again, Fulham have four bodies in the box attacking the cross. This time it falls to Pereira, and he doubles the lead.

Silva spoke afterwards about making “adjustments in our attack plan”, mainly playing Pereira closer to De Cordova-Reid, but also acknowledging they “could not allow the game to be broken” and let Leeds play transitionally.

This was by no means Fulham’s best performance of the season, yet Silva rightly repeated that they were the “best team on the pitch” in the second half. Fulham might have been yo-yo-ing between the Premier League and Championship in recent seasons but on Saturday they looked, tactically, miles ahead of opponents who are in their third consecutive top-flight season. Indeed, it is three wins out of three now for them against Leeds this season — a Premier League double plus a 2-0 home win in the FA Cup’s last 16.

Fulham have refined their style, achieved their targets and are now playing to break club records.

They might also finish as the division’s highest-ranked south west London side — they are one spot above 10th-placed Brentford and two ahead of Chelsea.

What a season.

Girls MS Soccer Camp (Grades 5-8, 2023-24 school year)- July 17 to 20

Thoughts & Numbers: What I’m watching for in MLS Matchday 10

Matthew Doyle Thursday, Apr 27, 2023, 11:11 AM

We’re two months into the season and entering “you are what your record says you are” territory.As always, all the stats are from TruMedia via StatsPerform unless otherwise noted. Let’s go.

Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United

I thought Nashville did a great job of playing through Dax McCarty at the back point of what was essentially a midfield diamond in last weekend’s 1-1 draw vs. LAFC. Dax is one of the best the league’s ever had at playing third-line passes to playmakers in the pockets.

The thing was, though, against LAFC it was mostly Teal Bunbury checking off the line as a hold-up 9 or Alex Muyl, who was the right-sided shuttler, receiving those balls from McCarty. Hany Mukhtar, on the other hand, only received two passes from Dax. That connection could/should be more fruitful.

Atlanta’s midfield rotations, from a defensive perspective, are a lot less reliable than LAFC’s. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Gary Smith run his ‘Yotes out in the exact same formation with the exact same XI and the exact same gameplan as Matchday 9. They just need a little more interplay between the No. 6 and the No. 10.

Columbus Crew vs. Inter Miami CF

Aidan Morris is fourth in the league in touches, behind only Gastón Brugman (LA), Riqui Puig (LA) and Jackson Yueill (San Jose). Wilfried Nancy is doing his damnedest to turn Morris, who’s always been more of a ball-winner or destroyer, into a tempo-setter.

Miami absolutely let you play through central midfield, so look for Morris to get on the ball a ton.

D.C. United vs. Charlotte FC

D.C. United haven’t entirely given up trying to play, but their issues building from the back, coupled with Christian Benteke’s dominance, point them in an obvious direction: when in doubt, hit it long.

So yeah, the Black-and-Red are second in the league in total long-balls, and third (behind only RBNY and Portland) in share of total passes hit that are long-balls. Charlotte have to know what’s coming.

New England Revolution vs. FC Cincinnati

Last year Luciano Acosta finished first in the league in expected assists with Carles Gil (New England) second. This year they are sixth and 11th, which speaks to neither team quite hitting their stride yet in terms of chance creation.

Orlando City SC vs. LA Galaxy

Greg Vanney insisted in the postgame of last weekend’s 2-0 win over Austin that his Galaxy were lined up in a 4-4-2, not a 3-5-2, and… fine. We can call it that, as long as we understand that it’s a 4-4-2 where the right back doesn’t overlap and the left one does, which means you’re always defending in a back three.

To that end, here’s Calegari’s pass map from that game:

Calegari v Austin

Not pushing up, not hitting crosses, not combining in the final third. It’s a right center back’s passing map.

If I was Oscar Pareja, I’d be preparing to face a 3-5-2 this weekend.

Toronto FC vs. New York City FC

I was actually surprised to see that when NYCFC go on the road, they press a little higher (as per passes allowed per defensive action, which is a rough measure of how hard teams press) and possess a bunch more (55.5% on the road vs. 49.5% at home) so far this season.

I think game states have something to do with that – they haven’t trailed much in New York City. I’m sure Toronto would like to get on the board early and put the numbers to the test.

Austin FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Austin are, yes, regressing to the mean. Last year they outperformed their expected goals differential by 22.06 goals according to the nerds at American Soccer AnalysisThis year they’re underperforming at -3.03.

Thing is, though, that even if they were hitting their marks, they’re still 27th in expected points as per the ASA model. So this isn’t just finishing: they’ve been poor in almost every phase of the game.

A win vs. San Jose would take some of the pressure off.

Chicago Fire FC vs. New York Red Bulls

The Fire allow the fourth-fewest shots in the league but the third-highest percentage of the shots they give up come from within the box. We’ll see if that plays into the hands of a RBNY team that shoots often (fifth-most shots in MLS) but lacks the build-up patterns or final third quality to generate high-xG looks.

Sporting Kansas City vs. CF Montréal

Sporting have won the ball in the attacking third 66 times, which is more than anyone else in the league. But they’re still allowing 5.5 passes per opponent possession, which is down near the bottom of MLS.

That tells you that when Sporting’s press gets broken, teams get real comfortable knocking the ball around against them, and using that possession to create chances. Montréal haven’t really had that in their bag this season, but maybe this weekend’s the time for it to show.

St. Louis CITY SC vs. Portland Timbers

RBNY are first in the league in total duels with 1,137. St. Louis are second in the league with 1,136.

If you’re not ready to win the physical battle when you face CITY SC, you’re going to get pummeled. Portland – who are third in the league with 1,034 total duels, though many, many more of those duels are in their own box – should consider themselves warned.

Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders FC

Seattle put on a clinic back on Matchday 2 when they hosted RSL. They held 59.5% of possession and generated 19 shots (while holding RSL to just seven), which was good for 2.79 xG to just 0.48 for the Claret-and-Cobalt.

We’ll see if things change in the rematch in Sandy.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Colorado Rapids

Brian White’s had a frustrating season, scoring just twice on 4.62 xG as per ASA. That G-xG is worst in the league and, while I run the risk of this blurb ending up in #OhBobby since some nerds will say that G-xG is demonstrably meaningless… nah. It’s a pretty good measure of form and confidence.

But on a long enough timeline, guys who have a track record of knowing where goals come from (White does) and a track record of actually putting the ball in the net (White does) find a way to come good.

That might already be happening as he’s got two goals in his past three MLS appearances for Vancouver. Expect him to test the Rapids defense, which has been very good lately.

Minnesota United FC vs. FC Dallas

While new signing Sang Bin Jeong hasn’t exactly set the world alight in his first three appearances, he has managed to create four chances in three games. That’s not a lot, but he’s literally the only player on the Minnesota roster who’s generating more than one chance per game, so I guess that does, in fact, make him the No. 10.

Dallas will have to deal with him on Sunday night.

Matthew Doyle –


Another thriller: LAFC take narrow CCL advantage over Philadelphia Union


Charles BoehmThursday, Apr 27, 2023, 04:27 AM

CHESTER, Pa. – LAFC and the Philadelphia Union just keep treating us to riveting slugfests, and so it was again during the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League semifinal series at damp Subaru Park on Wednesday night. But even with their last four meetings – all entertaining, agonizingly tight occasions – ending in draws, somehow the Californians keep finding an edge when it counts most.In all four of those matches, Philly clawed their way into a second-half lead, only to be stunned by late equalizers, most evocatively in last season’s MLS Cup final at BMO Stadium, where Gareth Bale’s towering header snatched a league championship out of the Union’s hands at the death.

On Wednesday, it was Kellyn Acosta’s injury-time equalizer that gut-punched the home side and put LAFC in pole position to advance to the CCL final on home turf in next Tuesday’s second leg. They hold the away-goals edge after the 1-1 draw.

“We’ve been up, again, by one goal, and they scored at the end,” said Union playmaker Dániel Gazdag postgame. “So yeah, it’s starting to be really annoying against them.”

It was a heavy psychological blow after so much had broken in his team’s favor on this evening.Storms rolled through the area in the hours before kickoff, soaking the choppy pitch and subjecting the visitors from the West Coast to a windchill off the Delaware River, helping the Union impose themselves on LAFC early. Carlos Vela and Dénis Bouanga could find little joy for the Angelinos, who were bailed out by a few sterling saves from goalkeeper John McCarthy, a Philadelphia native and former Union reserve.

“Much like what we saw in the second half of the MLS Cup final, it was quite direct from the center backs to the forwards, and often to the right wing to [Alejandro] Bedoya,” noted coach Steve Cherundolo. “That’s what we expected and that’s what we got – non-ideal conditions with the field, and that’s exactly how you should play this game against us.“What we didn’t do in the first half is get enough pressure on their center backs, and on some of the midfielders. They had too much time with the ball, the ball was uncovered and it’s always difficult for our back four to deal with those situations.”Cherundolo responded with a halftime adjustment – “we moved Kellyn a little bit next to me and then Cifu [José Cifuentes] was able to press higher, and that allowed also our forwards to put some pressure on the ball when their center backs had it,” explained holding midfielder Ilie Sánchez. But just like in Philly’s quarterfinal series with Liga MX’s Atlas, Gazdag’s late penalty kick conversation – the result of a Video Review handball decision against none other than Acosta – looked to have delivered the home win and clean sheet Philadelphia craved.“They had the game in their pockets,” said Sanchez.But then Jack Elliott shanked a late clearance off the back of Gazdag, gifting possession to Acosta, who played a pass forward and then raced into the box to bounce a nimble, resourceful finish past Andre Blake, redeeming himself by leveling matters as the tie shifts to Los Angeles.“They had the better of the chances, so we’re ecstatic with the result – obviously not with the performance,” said Cherundolo. “But one thing about this team, they find ways, and they never give up.”Jim Curtin wore a rueful smile as he addressed reporters afterwards.“We obviously have to do better to close the game out. But again, two really good teams, a match that could have gone either way, really,” he said. “My group right now is upset and angry, as they should be. Because we had a little lapse of judgment at the end of the game. But we’ll regroup, and go out to LA and make the city proud.”Have the Black & Gold crawled into the Union’s heads? Jack McGlynn dismissed the idea.

“No, I think for sure there’s none of that,” said the young homegrown center mid. “We know we can beat them. We showed that tonight, that we played really well against them. So I think we can go there with full confidence.”His club’s ability to conjure up two away goals vs. Atlas offers hope, as does their track record of scoring freely at LAFC’s house. Cherundolo’s side, though, still undefeated this season, have been dominant in Exposition Park of late.“We know we can go there and score. We did it in Mexico, we’ve scored a lot there before. So I think it’s just closing out the game is what we need to do there,” said McGlynn. “We all know that we deserved to win the game. These are competitions you need to come out with a win. I think that error, it could cost us, so we just need to get rid of that.”

=================RackZ BAR BQ ====Save 20% ====================== 


Try out the Best BarBQ in Town right across the street (131st) from Northview Church & Badger Field on the corner of Hazelldell & 131st. RackZ BBQ

Save 20% on your order  (mention the ole ballcoach) 

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

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

=====================RackZ BAR BBQ ======Save 20% ======================

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

Rent this Beautiful 4 BR Beach house at Myrtle Beach for as low at $250 a night.

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

American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.