8/7/20 – Champions League Fri/Sat CBSSN, Pulisic scores before Injury, Indy 11, MLS Back Finals Tues ESPN, Casillas Retires

Champions League is Back  Fri/Sat 3 pm

Champions League next Friday and Saturday, Aug 7 + 8.  Two Games on CBS Sports Network with the others on FUBO TV, TDUN, (streamed on CBS all-access).  I know they will be on fuboTV as Man City hosts Real Madrid up 2-1 on CBSSN along with Juve hosting Lyon tied at 1 on Friday at 3 pm, while Chelsea (sans Pulisic) will travel to Bayern Munich down 3-0, and Barcelona hosts Napoli tied at 1-1 on Sat at 3 pm on CBSSN to wrap up Round of 16 play.  The Round 0f 8 – will be held in Lisbon, Portugal with single elimination Playoff games played starting next Wed – Sat. on Fubo TV and CBS All Access.  CBS all assess does have Free Month option – so I guess its time to pony-up and at least try the Free Trial option for this month to see how CBS is going to handle Champions League and Europa League.  All the games will be available on the all access.  Many predict Man City as the favorite this year. I like Atletico Madrid along with Bayern Munich –(though we’ll have to see how the 1 month layoff treats them in this win or go home format).

GK Casillas Retires

Real Madrid’s legendary Goalkeeper Iker Casillas hung up the gloves this week.  The former Real Madrid captain Casillas won every major honour possible with Madrid – including five LaLiga titles and the Champions League on three occasions, while he also became a two-time European Champion and a World Cup winner with Spain. Casillas played 725 matches with Madrid’s first team over 16 seasons, winning 19 titles. He joined the club at age 9.The Best Spanish Goalkeeper of all-time and one of the best in the world!  Casillas had a heart attack last May while training with Porto and never actually returned to game play this season. Sure would be nice to see them honor him during the UCL game on Saturday.

MLS is Back Finals Are Set – Tues 8:30 ESPN

It will be the upstart Orlando City vs the Western Power Portland Timbers for the MLS is Back Championship on Tuesday night ESPN at 8:30 pm.  Orlando continued its impressive run under new coach Oscar Pareja Nani scored 2 first half goals to help them defeat Minn United 2-1.  Portland will look to maintain the west’s dominance over the east after their 2-0 win over Philly.  Again if you haven’t tuned in – this has been exciting and somewhat high scoring soccer from the Orlando Wide World of Sports.  The MLS went into the buble in early July and came thru with no Covid reports after the games got underway.  Now it sounds like the plan is to return to normal in season games as home starting in a couple of weeks.  It will be interesting to see how that works, as they look to return at least some fans for the home matches.

Indy 11

Indy Eleven tasted defeat at home for the first time in over two years, suffering a shocking 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City II at the Luke Sat night.  Despite the loss, Indy Eleven (5W-2L-0D, 15 pts.) remains solidly in first place in the Group E standings with a six-point cushion over Saint Louis FC, while Sporting KC II (2W-3L-0D, 6 pts.) drew even with Louisville City FC in third place courtesy of a fruitful road trip that saw it take wins in Kentucky and Indiana three days apart.  The result snapped a pair of remarkable regular season home streaks for Indy’s Team that ranked second in USL Championship annals, a 28-match home unbeaten streak (dating back to July 7, 2018) and an 11-game winning streak (dating back to July 20, 2019)..  It was their 5th game in 14 days and the Indy 11 honestly looked tired.   The 11 head to Louisville Saturday night for a 7 pm game on MyindyTV and ESPN+.  The 11 return home next Sat Aug 15 vs the Pittsburg Riverhounds.  Tickets are available for the7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or calling 317-685-1100.

Pulisic youngest US Goal Scorer in FA Cup History before Injury ends his Season

For about 20 minutes Saturday in the FA Cup Final at Wembley – all of England and much of the World could see what we American’s have come to know – Christian Pulisic is for real = and might have well be the best player on the field early on.  His constant running at defenders left Arsenal backpeddling early as Chelsea scored early off a beautiful combination pass and leave from Girould to Pulisic who slotted it in the left corner past the keeper for an early lead.  Chelsea’s chances at victory ended as Pulisic pulled up lame on a pulled hamstring as he made another dart towards goal just after halftime.  He managed somehow to get off a half shot despite the injury in what would be Chelsea’s best second half chance at scoring.  Without the elusive Pulisic the Chelsea attack just didn’t look the same.  Word is Pulisic will of course miss Champions League this week vs Bayern Munich – but will hopefully be recovered by the time the next EPL season starts up in Sept.  Congrats to Fulham and US player Tim Ream as they won the Championship playoff to advance to the EPL next season after a season away.  Of course who can forget those old Fulham-America teams with Capt Brian McBride?

Passing of Shooting Camp Legend – IU’s Ken Snow

I forgot to include this earlier in the month – but here is a great story on legendary Indiana Hoosier scorer Ken Snow from local online pub www.soctakes.com. Snow passed away in late June at the young age of 50 after a battle with COVID-19 like symptoms.  Snow had run shooting camps around Indy including at Carmel Dad’s Club and Carmel FC for years.  He even allowed my Goalkeepers from GK camp to jump in goal a few times for training purposes.  Our soccer community will miss him!

Lots of Carmel FC Players make High School Squads

Huge Congrats to All those making high school teams this past week at CHS and other schools across the area!  Remember if you didn’t make the team – please don’t give up on soccer – Carmel Dad’s allows late registration for Rec Co-Ed High School or of course if you are playing Carmel FC – we have fall season options available.

Ken Snow –Hoosier Scoring Legend and Shooting Camp Star Leaves legacy – SOCtakes.com

GAMES ON TV 

Thurs,  Aug 6

1 pm CBS All Access                     Leverkusen vs Rangers Europa League

3 pm CBS All Access                     Wolverhampton vs Olympiakos

8 pm ESPN2                                    MLS Semi-Final

10 pm FS1                                        Tijuana vs Tigres Liga MX

Fri  Aug 7

3 pm FuboTV, CBSSN                  Man City vs Real Madrid (Champs League)

3 pm Fubo TV                                Juve vs Lyon (Champs League) (streamed Free on CBS all-access).

Sat Aug 8

3 pm Fubo TV                                Bayern Munich vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  (Champs League)

3 pm Fubo TV, CBSSN                 Barcelona vs Napoli (Champs League)

7 pm ESPN+MyindyTV      INDY 11 @ Louisville FC

Tues,  Aug 11

8 pm ESPN                          MLS is Back Tourney Final

Wed,  Aug 12

3 pm FuboTV,                                Atalanta vs PSG  (Champs League)

Thur,  Aug 13

3 pm FuboTV,                                RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid (Champs League)

Fri, Aug 14

3 pm FuboTV,                                (Champs League)

Sat, Aug 15

3 pm FuboTV,                                (Champs League)

7 pm ESPN+MyindyTV      INDY 11 vs Pittsburg – Lucas Oil

Tues,  Aug 18

3 pm FuboTV,                                Champs League Semis

Weds,  Aug 19

3 pm FuboTV,                                Champs League Semis

Sun, Aug 23

3 pm FuboTV, CBSSN                  Champions League Finals

Champions League

Champions League, Europa League fixtures schedule

Champions League Predictions

Injured Chelsea trio set to miss Champions League clash against Bayern Munich         
Bale left out by Zidane for Man City test

Man City v. Real Madrid preview: Team news, start time, odds, prediction

CBS All Access + CBS Sports Network to show Champions + Europa League Matches

Aguero will miss Man City’s Champions League clash with Madrid, Guardiola confirms
Mbappe Injury puts PSG Champs League Hopes in Jeopardy

Valverde, De Jong and Llorente could be the difference for Spain’s giants in UCL

Barca Faces More Problems Ahead of UCL Tie

MLS is Back Final Tues

Championship Preview

Alexi Lalas Wraps Up MLS Is Back Video

Boehm: Orlando City Continues Run

Doyle: For Portland, the beauty (and the victory) is in the variety

Boehm: Gio is a tournament master and other PHI v POR takeaways

Best celebrations at MLS is Back? They belong to Timbers coach Savarese

Portland advances! Blanco, Ebobisse headers the difference

Garber gives update on regular-season resumption in home markets

Hey Son’s of Ben – You are No Timber Joey! Pretty clever though !

MLS Finals Bracket

Life inside the MLS Bubble

Onyewu praises courage of Black Players for Change

USA

Pulisic Watch: Goal, hamstring injury in FA Cup final

Rating Pulisic’s first Premier League season
Christian Pulisic issues injury update

US U20 Forward Soto’s Move to Norwich a Chance to Reignite Career
Chris Richards’ journey from Dallas to Munich: ‘I knew I’d be balling at Bayern’

INDY 11

RECAP | Indy Eleven Suffers Rare Home Defeat via 0-1 Loss to Sporting Kansas City II

Indy Falls to 4th in League Power Rankings

THE WEEKLY WRAP: WEEKS 5 & 6

RECAP | Indy Eleven Suffers Rare Home Defeat via 0-1 Loss to Sporting Kansas City II

OUIMETTE EARNS FIRST TOTW NOD IN 2020

Indy Eleven Teams with Red Cross for August 13 Blood Drive

INDY ELEVEN ANNOUNCES CONTRIBUTION TO THE BAIL PROJECT

Indy Eleven Signs Trio to USL Academy Contracts

Buy Tickets

Indy 11 Sponsor – Grab a bite at these local spots – https://www.thedistricttap.com/ & https://www.rosatispizza.com/location/carmel-in/

Goalkeeping

Spain and Real Madrid legend Casillas retires

Farewell Casillas Real and Spanish Great GK

Casillas 100 Great Saves

Great Saves at Madrid

Iker Tribute video 

MLS Dribblin Moves Gone WrongoalKeeping

EPL

Top 25 Goals of Season

Premier League start date ‘too early’ for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard

How Spurs, Arsenal and Leicester can catch up with Liverpool

How Chelsea can catch Liverpool and contend again for Premier League title

How Man United can catch Liverpool and contend again for Premier League title

How Man City Can Catch Liverpool

Ogden: Grading all 20 Premier League teams for 2019-20

Solskjaer confirms Sanchez permanent Inter move
Do Man United need to sign Jadon Sancho?

History will not repeat itself, vows Fulham boss Parker

Fulham return to Premier League promised land after play-off glory

Fulham return to Premier League after beating Brentford in ‘World’s Richest Game’

Fulham used to be Fulham-America as lots of US players made names there including this one
Premier League announces substitution, VAR decisions

Reflecting on a legend: The life of Ken Snow – Katheryn Knapp SocTakes.com

Every generation has one: a player who stands above all others; a player who people come to see; a player who is more than just a player. In the late 1980s, Ken Snow was that player for Indiana men’s soccer.Kenny, as those who knew him called him, was one of a kind. He could visualize the game. He was crafty and creative. He dodged defenders easily. And he scored goals. He scored goals with ease. He was small and sneaky. He was technical and precise. He made it look simple.“He was the best without question,” former IU head coach Jerry Yeagley said. “He had a gift where the game slowed down in front of the goal. He became calm. Most of his finishes were passes, toe pokes, a bender. They were off-speed goals.”Opponents wanted to shut him down. His teammates fed off his energy and work ethic. And the young kids in the stands or at IU Soccer Camp idolized him. Ken Snow was the reason the stands would fill up on game day. Snow ended his tenure at IU as the all-time leading scorer with 84 goals and 28 assists (196 points). To this day, no one has topped that feat.“I would sit up high and just watch him play,” current IU head coach Todd Yeagley said. “His movement and sophistication — you had a deep appreciation for him. I was old enough to understand that.”Snow passed away June 21 at the young age of 50 after a battle with COVID-19-like symptoms. His family and friends are mourning the loss of a legend gone too soon. And a whole new generation will miss out on learning from one of the best.“Todd and I watched all those games,” Yeagley family friend Omar Alani said. “It was adults versus kids. Kenny, he wasn’t big. He didn’t have ripping muscles. He wasn’t a great athlete. He could score from anywhere. He could chip at any angle. He would put a corner flag right next to the goal. He would practice his free kicks. He got it in every time. It was amazing. If my son was playing soccer, I couldn’t think of anyone better to teach him to score than Kenny Snow.”Snow grew up playing the game and learning all its secrets. He practiced non-stop with his younger brother, Steve. They focused on the little things. They perfected finishing. And it showed.“He and Steve from what I understood, they had a goal in the backyard,” Todd Yeagley said. “They played and finished all the time. That’s where he honed his craft. His vision and composure in and around the goal was just different. You’re never going to make an average goalscorer great. It’s something you learn from a young age. The daily battle with his brother definitely helped his game.”And it didn’t end there. Snow was often the first one at practice and the last one to leave, spending time perfecting the little things.“He was a soccer junkie,” Jerry Yeagley said. “He hung out after practice to work with the intricacies of the game. He was the last one to leave.”Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Snow made a name for himself starring for Hoffman Estates High School from 1983-86. He scored 128 goals in 74 matches, ranked no. 17 all time for most goals scored in Illinois High School Association history. Steve and Ken rank No. 1 and No. 2 in IHSA history for the most consecutive matches scored in. Steve scored in 49 straight matches, while Ken scored in 47.Snow lit up the nets for the Hoosiers from 1987-90. The first four-time All-American kicked off his career with a bang, scoring 28 goals in his freshman campaign, topping the record of 27 goals in a season previously held by Robert Meschbach (1980) and Armando Betancourt (1981).“Any inch a defender gave him, he would take and make them pay,” Alani said. “We would be invited to play in pick-up games. It was like shooting hoops with Steve Alford or playing catch with Peyton Manning.”Snow turned up the heat again in 1988. He kicked off the season by tallying four goals in IU’s annual Adidas Classic, topping North Carolina 2-0 and UCLA 2-1. Midway through the season, Snow tallied a hat trick in IU’s 3-0 win over St. Louis. Snow tallied 22 goals in 1988, leading the Hoosiers to the Final Four. IU hosted the tournament and earned its third national championship, topping Portland and Howard by 1-0 scores.“He was a great friend and a great person,” former teammate Ken Godat said. “He was always known as a fun guy. He was as smart as can be. He was a brain. On the field he was creative, crafty and all finesse — no power about it. He was always chipping, bending, dinking it in, doing something creative. He was a marked man. The year we won it he had 22 goals as a marked man. That’s impressive. He was an amazing player.”Ken and Steve played one year together at Indiana in 1989. In that year, their teammates witnessed magic. The Snow brothers sparked a 7-2 win over Harvard on Sept. 24. Ken recorded a hat trick in the first half, adding a fourth goal in the second half. Steve scored once and assisted on two of Ken’s goals. The duo combined for 12 points in the win.“When his brother was there, they could always find each other,” Godat said. “They always had a sense of where the other one was. Steve was strong, the opposite of Ken.”Snow ended the 1989 campaign with 20 goals and 1990 with 14. He won both the MAC Player of the Year Award and Hermann Trophy in 1988 and 1990. Players around the country knew who he was and idolized him.“I was excited when I found out Ken was my coach,” former Hoosier J.T. Cerroni said, reflecting on his IU soccer camp experience. “He is so much more than awards, records and accolades. He taught me how to get that half step and turn the defender. He taught me how to get that perfect angle. He was very analytical. He was always thinking. He knew exactly how to get away from his defender. He knew how to get the ball into the back of the net. I learned so much from him.”In 1988, Snow added two U.S. men’s national team caps to his resume. He played professionally from 1991-99, spending most of his indoor career with the Chicago Power. He played in 140 games for the Power, netting 151 goals. Snow played his best indoor soccer during the 1994-95 season, where he scored 56 goals in 40 games. Snow had a couple of trials with Major League Soccer teams, the Kansas City Wizards and Chicago Fire, but failed to make the cut. He hung up his cleats in 1999.“He was a natural goalscorer,” former Power general manager and Fire president and GM Peter Wilt said. “That’s what made him special. In the first preseason for the Fire we were desperate for another forward. I pushed Bob Bradley to bring him in. He was trying so hard, but he just couldn’t score. It was down to him and Ante Razov. By the time he finally did score, it was too late. Ante had pretty much made the team. If Kenny would have gotten on a hot streak, he might have had a great MLS career.”Snow remained active in the soccer community, with youth soccer camps in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. Snow’s camps focused on shooting and goal scoring. His camp website, com, emphasized that “players at every position need to be able to shoot the soccer ball.” His summer 2020 camps were postponed due to COVID-19.“He worked with young kids on finishing,” Jerry Yeagley said. “He was very smart, very intelligent. He was a hero, a role model. Basketball kids looked up to Steve Alford. Kenny was the one that people wanted to be like. People loved Kenny and loved watching him. People came to our games to watch Kenny.”It’s simple and tragic. Snow is a legend. He is a legend that left his mark on the game of soccer, and all who knew him. And sadly, he is a legend that was taken too soon.Follow Kathryn on Twitter: @Katknapp99.

IU soccer all-time great, goal-scorer extraordinaire Ken Snow dies at 50

Zach Osterman Indianapolis Star

BLOOMINGTON – Ken Snow, the most-prolific goal scorer in IU history and a throwback to an era when college and indoor soccer dominated the sport domestically, died last weekend of Covid 19. He was 50. Originally from suburban Chicago, Snow’s name is littered across Illinois prep and IU record books. In a college program decorated with legends across six decades, he sits on the short list for best all time. “You get one or two players in your career that were as special as he was,” said hall-of-fame coach Jerry Yeagley. “We were very fortunate to have Kenny Snow.”  Ken Snow was the Hoosiers’ first four-time All-American, playing for Yeagley. Snow still holds IU career records for points (196) and goals (84), and his 28 goals in the 1987 campaign are a single-season best as well. He is the only Hoosier to have won the MAC Hermann Trophy, awarded annually to college soccer’s most-outstanding player, twice. Speaking to IndyStar on Monday, Yeagley said simply: “He was the finest attacking player, the best attacking player that I coached in my 41 years.” “He had that unusual ability or gift that when the play got in the final third, in front of goal, things slowed down for him,” Yeagley said. “There are certain athletes every sport where you hear that. That was Kenny. He’s not rushed like most people are in that situation.“He could toe poke, he could chip, he could bend the ball. He did whatever it took to beat the keeper. In today’s world, he would’ve been one and done.”When he first arrived for that freshman season, in 1987, IU’s coaching staff believed Snow might make the travel squad — that he might prove good enough as a freshman to warrant a reserve role and a spot on the bus for away games. By the end of it, he’d set the program’s single-season goals record.

“When Kenny arrived, I remember the first week, I said, ‘Well, he might make the traveling squad, as a freshman,’ because a lot of them didn’t,” Jerry Yeagley said. “The second week, ‘Yea, he’s going to be a traveling squad member.’ It took him about three weeks for me to think, ‘This guy is going to be our top attacker.’”Todd Yeagley was in high school in Bloomington throughout Snow’s college career. As he got older, Yeagley — himself an eentual Hermann Trophy winner — began joining open training sessions and pickup games with his father’s teams. They gave him an up-close understanding of what made IU’s all-time leading goal scorer so special. “His decision-making and his technique in and around the final third was different from most American players,” said Todd Yeagley, IU’s current coach. “He’s not that fast, not that big, not that strong, but he just had a soccer sense. He had another gear when he needed it.”Snow never matched the goal return of that freshman season, but he also never finished a season with fewer assists than the five he clocked in 1987. A credit, his teammates say now, to a savviness that extended beyond simply putting the ball in the net. Indeed, Snow finished his IU career with 28 assists, still good for joint-15th all-time.“He just was one of those very few guys that when the ball came to him in the attacking third, you didn’t see it again until it left his foot and was passing the goalkeeper,” Big Ten Network and Columbus Crew analyst Chris Doran said. “He was magical in that sense.”In another era, that one season would have opened a door to Major League Soccer, or even to Europe. Snow likely wouldn’t have made it to his sophomore year. But the sport was different in American then. The old North American Soccer League had folded and the MLS was yet to be born. Indoor soccer was the primary professional option domestically. “We would’ve had him for a year, or two at the most, in today’s world,” Jerry Yeagley said. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t the attraction and the money in the professional leagues then that there is now.”Snow relied on guile and what Todd Yeagley described as “an edge.” While his brother, Steve, who played at IU in 1989 before heading overseas, could be a more physical forward, Ken Snow’s determination saw him through. That, and a great striker’s innate knowledge of where the goal was.

“He was a killer on the field,” former IU goalkeeper Juergen Sommer said. “One of the best finishers I’ve ever seen in and around the 18-yard box, around the goal. The guy just knew how to score goals.”Ken Snow never needed to see much of the ball.Once, facing Sigi Schmid’s UCLA on the road, IU heard Schmid had given his team one order above all others: Don’t let Ken Snow score. “I think Kenny had maybe five touches and he scored two goals,” Jerry Yeagley said.Years later, when former teammate John Trask and Ken Snow both found their way to coaching, they talked about transferring their on-pitch experiences to the bench. Snow would walk his teammate through his approach to forward play, Trask realizing he’d only appreciated the physical side of Snow’s gifts.“You can literally say he was a genius at understanding the physics of goal scoring,” Trask, now head coach at Wisconsin, said. “When he started talking about why he did certain things, it made so much sense, but no one else knew it. How did he?”

Todd Yeagley, who played four years at Indiana before a seven-year career in the MLS, never saw a striker chip the goalkeeper more often. Good in the air and with both feet, Ken Snow rarely needed to rely on power. He was capped twice by the U.S. men’s national team. In 2000, Soccer America named him to its All-Century team.“A lot of those goals he scored were unique,” said former teammate Kenny Godat. “Everything was a chipper or something cheeky. Off-speed shots, benders and stuff. Rarely did he hit just a total cannon.”Off the pitch, Snow could be reserved, but opened up around friends. He had a head for mathematics and an analytical side that never shut down, and he enjoyed a good time. “He was a blast to be around, always looking for fun, always having fun,” Godat said.Indiana reached the College Cup twice in Snow’s career, winning a national championship in 1988 before falling out to Santa Clara in the national semifinal in 1989. His goal return waned through his college career, opposing teams paying him increasing attention, but his impact never did.“Everyone knew of Ken Snow,” Todd Yeagley said. “That’s when his passing and his movement opened up other guys to get key goals and assists. Ken loved scoring, but he loved winning more. No doubt, without Ken Snow on that ’88 team, that team does not find their way to a national championship.”After college, Snow began an indoor soccer career that included stops in six different cities. He was most prolific playing in his hometown of Chicago.Snow flirted briefly with the MLS in its infancy but never stuck, spending the majority of his professional career playing indoors. In retirement he remained active in the sport, running the Ken Snow Goal Scoring Camp, which offered camps in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. “Ken was a lot like a pitching coach. He was a finishing coach. He could teach the game within the game, both mentally and technically,” said Sommer, who played all four years with Snow, roomed with him for two and traveled with him to national team events. “All the little attention-to-detail items and tricks of the trade, Kenny, he was a specialist. He was one of the best in the country at it.”The camp’s website claims more than 100 alumni in college and at least 25 playing professionally.And Snow’s site biography outlines a career the likes of which his former coach and teammates believe, with increased parity in college and a route to the professional game more readily available now, American soccer may never see again. Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.

Injured Pulisic vows to be ‘back in no time’ after hobbling out of Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat

Stats Perform News•August 3, 2020

Christian Pulisic has vowed to be “back in no time” after suffering a hamstring injury in Chelsea’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.The United States international opened the scoring at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, with another impressive finish added to his ever-growing collection.  He looked to be in again early in the second half, but pulled a muscle as he raced into the box and poked an effort wide of the post as he crumpled to the turf.Pulisic was clearly in pain before he got his shot away, with it immediately apparent that he was going to be in no position to continue.

With Cesar Azpilicueta and Pedro also picking up knocks on a testing afternoon for the Blues, Frank Lampard ultimately saw his side downed by a double from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.The 2-1 reversal represented a disappointing end to the domestic 2019-20 campaign for Chelsea and Pulisic, but there are plenty of positives for them to take from a season that delivered a top-four finish.They do not have to wait long either before returning to action, and Pulisic is hoping that he will soon be back in contention.He posted on Instagram when reflecting on the cup final and looking to the future: “Gave it everything we had. Wasn’t our day. Thank you guys for your support I’ll be back in no time”Lampard, whose side have the second leg of a Champions League last-16 clash with Bayern Munich to take in on August 8, told reporters of the ailments his players picked up against Arsenal.

He said: “I don’t know the full extent of the injuries, but I know the hamstrings with Azpi and Christian – they have to be scanned and assessed over the next few days. They clearly won’t be fit for next week [against Bayern].”Chelsea trail that contest 3-0 on aggregate and appear to be in a position to start planning for 2020-21, with the new Premier League season due to get underway on September 12.Lampard believes that may be too soon after what has been an elongated campaign this time around, with the Blues boss saying: “It’s not ideal if we carry on against Bayern and possibly go further.“The players need a break; they need to be given a break to play at the level of the quality product that the Premier League is. Worst case scenario, if we don’t go through against Bayern, the 12th seems too early to start playing again.“The players need a break. That is why we are pulling two hamstrings and having players pull out before this. I would like to think the Premier League will look seriously at that and look at the start for next season. I think we deserve it, as a Premier League club competing in the Champions League.”

Pulisic Watch: Goal, hamstring injury in FA Cup final

Joe Prince-WrightNBC SportsAug 4, 2020, 12:14 PM   [ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Pulisic, 21, scored a superb opener at Wembley as he dazzled for Chelsea early on but right at the start of the second half he raced clear of the Arsenal defense, again, but appeared to injure his right hamstring badly before he took a shot.

Frank Lampard gave a Pulisic injury update after the game and said that the USMNT star would not be fit to play in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg game at Bayern Munich next Saturday. Lampard also confirmed that Pulisic will have a scan on his injured hamstring to determine the severity of the damage.

Here’s a close look at a superb display for Pulisic which ended in injury.

2nd minute: Found on the ball and plays it back to Rudiger. Chelsea looking to play the ball direct early on.

7th minute: GOALLL! Finds Giroud centrally, then surges forward and finds Mount on the left.  A cross from Mount is flicked to Pulisic by Giroud and he dinks home over Emiliano Martinez. Pulisic becomes the first USMNT player in history to score in an FA Cup final.

9th minute: Man, is he up for this. Pulisic puts Bellerin under pressure and wins the ball back for Chelsea.

11th minute: Lovely feet from Pulisic as he ran past two Arsenal defenders and at another two, before hitting a shot right at Emiliano Martinez.

14th minute: A nice flick to Giroud who didn’t quite read it. Lovely creativity.

20th minute: Picks up the ball on the left and is calm and composed on the ball. Always looking to drift inside.

31st minute: Cuts in from the right and flies past two players but Alonso fouls and the attack is over. Chelsea struggling after Arsenal’s equalizer.

38th minute: Found by Kovacic and plays it wide as Chelsea try and possess the ball after losing captain Azpilcueta to injury, who had given away the penalty kick Arsenal equalized from.

41st minute: Almost gets away but Arsenal stop him. A real nuisance.

45th minute: Tackled by Kieran Tierney, as Arsenal win a free kick right on the edge of the box but it is flashed wide.

47th minute: Right at the start of the second half he accelerates towards goal and is away from the Arsenal defense, but he pulls up in agony with a right hamstring injury before getting a shot away which is just wide. Somehow he still had a shot despite being in agony.

48th minute: Pulisic is in agony as he is helped off the pitch and Pedro replaces him. A dream start to the FA Cup final ends in agony for the American. Chelsea and USMNT fans everywhere will be waiting anxiously to hear the latest Pulisic injury update.

UPDATE: Pulisic went straight down the tunnel and was seen late in the second half as the other Chelsea players sat in the stand and watched their team.

 

Champions League power rankings: As the competition restarts this week, who has the best chance to win?

 

Ryan BaileyYahoo Sports•August 4, 2020

With Europe’s premier domestic competition restarting this weekend in a condensed, single-elimination format, FC Yahoo ranks the remaining contenders.

12. Chelsea

Frank Lampard’s Chelsea has spent the entire season proving the doubters wrong. With a transfer ban, a hole where star player Eden Hazard used to be, a slew of untested youth products and a manager with no experience at top-flight level, the Blues finished in fourth place and reached the FA Cup final.However, they are an incredible long shot to reach the quarterfinal stage of this contest in Lisbon. Lampard’s side must visit Bayern Munich on Saturday, carrying a 3-0 deficit from an uninspired outing in the first leg at Stamford Bridge back in February. Not only is a comeback highly unlikely against a Bayern side that’s looked imperious since the restart, but the task is made more impossible by an injury list that includes Pedro, Willian, N’Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Christian Pulisic, the American star who’s been terrific this summer.There’s a reason Chelsea is the rank outsider with the bookmakers (they’re a phenomenal +20000 to win it all with BetMGM).With apologies to Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s chances of winning the Champions League this season are pretty slim.

11. Lyon

Lyon heads to Turin on Friday with the advantage over Juventus, thanks to a surprise 1-0 win at the end of February that represented the Ligue 1 side’s first Champions League knockout victory in over eight years.That win, however, was likely down to Juventus’ lack of chance creation, rather than their own domination (they had just 36% possession in that home game). Aside from a handful of friendlies, Lyon’s only competitive game since March was last weekend’s loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue final.Rudi Garcia’s team finished the shortened season seventh in the league, and they were inconsistent in the Champions League group stage. If Lyon somehow manages to fend off Juventus, they will certainly fall to either Barcelona or Napoli in the next round.

10. RB Leipzig

After leading the Bundesliga at the end of January, RB Leipzig fell off in the second half of the season. They failed to win a single home game after the restart, with the exception of a resounding 3-0 win over Tottenham that secured a quarterfinal berth against Atletico Madrid. This represents their deepest-ever run in Europe’s top domestic competition.Julian Nagelsmann’s side has looked less dynamic in recent months and will be hampered by the absence of their top goalscorer Timo Werner, who was sold to Chelsea. (The Blues will not be able to field him either.)The Germans are in the “weaker” side of the draw, and a date with either Atalanta or Paris Saint-Germain awaits in the quarterfinals. However, given their recent form and the sale of their star striker, a deep run seems unlikely.

9. Barcelona

uffice to say, this has not been Barcelona’s year. They ceded the league title to Real Madrid with a series of disappointing post-restart draws, they crashed out of the Copa del Rey in the quarterfinals, and they churned out a constant stream of chaos off the field.Anything is possible if Lionel Messi is having a good day, but it would be fitting for Barca to finish the season with nothing to show for it. They are fifth favorites to win the tournament outright (+900 at BetMGM), but that seems far too generous for a team that finished the season at a low point, who seem to have trouble with Quique Setien’s high press, and who have an inconsistent midfield that will be without Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal. A rumored switch to a 3-5-2 formation does not speak to their stability and confidence. A home win against Napoli this weekend may be possible, and even a 0-0 draw will see them through. However, it is likely that Bayern Munich will be waiting in the quarterfinals, where Barcelona’s European quest will almost certainly conclude.

8. Napoli

Since the restart, Napoli has looked strong, finishing Serie A with a comprehensive win over Lazio last weekend. Manager Gennaro Gattuso’s side also claimed the Coppa Italia, with impressive post-lockdown wins over Inter Milan and Juventus.However, they must score at the Nou Camp on Saturday to stand a chance of progressing, and incisiveness in front of goal has not been a strength lately. An injury to striker Lorenzo Insigne certainly does not help matters. Napoli has also kept only two clean sheets in the league since the restart, which might present an issue when coming up against Messi and his Catalan friends.Gattuso’s team has the quality to upset Barcelona, and there has seldom been a better time to do so. But they do not have the quality to overcome likely quarterfinal opponents Bayern Munich.

7. Juventus

Juve may have secured its ninth successive league title, but not in overly impressive fashion. Maurizio Sarri’s men won only two of their final eight league games.Relieving Max Allegri of his managerial duties after winning five straight league titles indicates the Italian giants’ ambition. They’ve reached the Champions League final twice in the past five years, but still haven’t won the competition since 1996.As majority owners, the Agnelli family has taken drastic measures to win Europe again, such as gambling on a blockbuster deal for Cristiano Ronaldo. All attacking play funnels through the Portuguese superstar, who will need to help overturn the first-leg deficit against Lyon before a taxing quarterfinal against either Manchester City or his former employer Real Madrid.Juventus is favored to advance past Lyon, but stands at a justifiably long +1600 with BetMGM to win the tournament.

6. Paris Saint-Germain

The perennial French champions are ranked in the top three of this tournament by most bookmakers. They may not have played a league game since March, but PSG has won two domestic cups in recent weeks and possesses one of the best squads in Europe.However, they fall down these rankings due to the lack of competitive games in recent months, injury concern for star striker Kylian Mbappe, and a recent tendency to falter when the going gets tough in the Champions League.In quarterfinal opponent Atalanta, PSG faces one of the most thrilling and entertaining teams in the world right now. If they manage to clear that hurdle, Champions League juggernaut Atletico Madrid will likely await at the semifinal stage.

5. Real Madrid

It may surprise some to see Real Madrid so high up these rankings. After all, they head to the Etihad Stadium on Friday trailing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City by a 2-1 scoreline. The bookmakers place them as ninth favorites in a field of 12 (+2200 to win the tournament with BetMGM).Having watched Real Madrid in recent months, this is baffling. They have powered their way to the La Liga title, often with clinical and narrow wins. With Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the back, Casemiro in the middle and Karim Benzema up front, their team has one of the best spines in the game.And most crucially, this is a team designed to win European tournaments. Zinedine Zidane has done it three times as manager in the past five seasons.It’s odd to call Real Madrid a dark horse, but if they can turn around their tie with Manchester City, they can very easily win this tournament.

4. Atletico Madrid

Much like their more celebrated city counterparts, it is never wise to underestimate Atletico Madrid.Atleti has continually featured in the latter stages of this tournament and booked a quarterfinal with RB Leipzig by virtue of eliminating reigning champions Liverpool in their own backyard.Furthermore, Atleti hasn’t lost since February. Diego Simeone’s charges are heavy favorites to progress past RB Leipzig and will find themselves potentially in the final (once again) after 90 minutes against either PSG or Atalanta.They may not have the defensive fortitude of seasons past, but discount Los Rojiblancos at your peril.

3. Atalanta

Hang on, what on earth is Atalanta doing so high in the rankings of a competition that seldom allows a smaller team to creep into its latter stages? Atalanta’s home stadium is so modest that they play Champions League home games at the nearby San Siro. Their crest looks like a shampoo label. But in their first-ever Champions League campaign, Atalanta is the team the big boys secretly fear. They scored a staggering 98 goals in 2019-20, with seven players on the roster scoring 10 or more goals. They press high and furiously, they can unlock any defense, and their passing combinations can be dazzling. They are daunted by no one.  Their matchup with Paris Saint-Germain is poised to be the highlight of the quarterfinals, such will be the firepower on display. Nobody could have possibly predicted the Italians would come this far, so who says they can’t go further? It’s 2020, and stranger things have happened.

2. Manchester City

 

Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are favorites to win the Champions League, just as they were for most of last season. They hold a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the tournament restart, they closed out the Premier League season in style with 21 goals in their final five matches, and they resoundingly defeated UEFA on the Away Lawyers Rule in the Court of Arbitration. Only an inexplicable FA Cup semifinal defeat to Arsenal blots their record in recent weeks.City is magnificent, they are in good form and Guardiola is long overdue an appearance in another Champions League final. There is, however, one team that is likely to stop that from happening.

1. Bayern Munich

Although they have very famously suffered at the hands of Chelsea in their home stadium in this competition, Bayern Munich will gently brush away the Blues when they conclude their Round of 16 tie on Saturday.After that, one must feel sorry for any other team that gets in their way. The Bavarians are on a 17-game winning streak, they are looking to complete their second treble in eight years, and they boast striker Robert Lewandowski, who is the Champions League’s top scorer with a mere 51 goals in all competitions this season.Bayern have been breathtaking under Hansi Flick and they are Europe’s most in-form team. A monthlong break in competitive action may work to their disadvantage, but a team that always seems to come back stronger after the German midseason break will likely take the time off in stride.This tournament is Bayern Munich’s to lose.

MLS is Back Tournament Final: Early preview of Portland Timbers vs Orlando City on August 11

August 6, 202011:15PM EDTMLSsoccer staff

Few will dispute that the MLS is Back Tournament has provided a final pitting the two best teams in the competition.  The Portland Timbers were the first to reach the championship match after a 2-1 semifinal win over the Philadelphia Union and they’ve been good value throughout this tournament. Although they didn’t arrive in Orlando as a popular favorite to win it all, they’ve definitely looked the part and played like a team that deserves to be recognized among the league’s elite in 2020. At no point have they looked outmatched in a competition that has seen them go toe-to-toe with fancied sides like LAFC, LA Galaxy and NYCFC.In the final they will meet the surprise team of the tournament in Orlando City, who knocked off Minnesota United in the semis. The Lions’ turnaround under new head coach Oscar Pareja has come much sooner than expected and they have played the tournament on the front foot. Pareja was always hoping to use this event as a game-changer: a way to rid the team of the pressure and burden that came with five MLS seasons in which Orlando failed to make the postseason. Mission accomplished after this run to the final. There will be an injection of renewed belief in the organization and the fanbase no matter the result. The stakes on August 11 are clear: One team will walk away with a Concacaf Champions League place, a trophy and chunk of prize money to boot. Here’s an in-depth look at the matchup:

Portland Timbers vs. Orlando City SC

Tuesday, August 11 (8:30 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US; TSN, TVAS2 in Canada)

The MLS is Back Tournament will culminate in an intriguing final between two teams that are mirror images in many respects, managed by coaches who are uncompromising in their beliefs.

It’s a sixth tournament final in eight seasons as a pro head coach for Portland’s Giovanni Savarese, who has excelled in building yet another tightly-knit group that can successfully execute a game plan to slow down any opponent. Savarese, who earned his first MLS head coaching role with the Timbers in 2018, will match wits against one of the most successful managers in recent MLS history who is looking to lead his new club to its first silverware in MLS. Orlando City, an expansion side in 2015, have never made the MLS Cup Playoffs or advanced to a final during their five years in MLS.

Portland Timbers

The Timbers have been convincing from the very start of the tournament with strong group stage showings against both LA clubs and Houston to finish top in Group F. Their moment of adversity came in the Round of 16 when they were pushed to a penalty kick shootout by FC Cincinnati, and they haven’t looked back since with decisive victories against NYCFC and Philadelphia to reach the final. Their style has been ruthless and effective throughout their run. The Timbers’ compact tactical structure—starring trusty midfield failsafe Diego Chara—has made them difficult to break down, and their attacking talent has delivered on the other end. Jeremy Ebobisse (4 goals) and Sebastian Blanco (3 goals) have been the stars with club legend Diego Valeri and new star striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda providing world-class quality in support.

Orlando City

The Lions were just as convincing as the Timbers during their matches and were also rarely outplayed. That’s saying a lot for a team that had to go through the likes of NYCFC (No. 1 in the East in 2019), LAFC (Supporters’ Shield winners in 2019) and Philadelphia (semifinalists at MLS is Back) to reach the final. It’s been a remarkable shift in mentality for a team previously accustomed to expecting the second shoe to drop. It’s been very different under Pareja: Orlando have put matches on their own terms using a fairly consistent starting XI throughout the competition. That familiarity has allowed them to grow and build momentum as the tournament has progressed with multiple players coming up with the big play. Team captain Nani has owned several of those moments, setting the tone for a team that plays with purpose and conviction.

Series History

Orlando City have the all-time edge over the Portland Timbers. As inter-conference opponents, the Timbers have faced Orlando City once in each of the last five seasons since the Lions joined the league in 2015. Orlando (3W-1L-1D) have the advantage with a 10-7 edge in goals scored across the matchups:More pertinent to this matchup might be the head-to-head meetings between Savarese and Pareja, who formerly coached FC Dallas. There are just two of them and they both came in 2018: a 1-1 draw on March 24 in Dallas and a 0-0 result on September 29 in Portland.

 

Armchair Analyst: For Portland, the beauty (and the victory) is in the variety

August 6, 202012:38PM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

It was easy to think of a typical pattern of play for last year’s Portland Timbers. They would get on the ball, try to transition. If it was on they were deadly; if it wasn’t, they were dead meat. They’d eventually get both fullbacks upfield and one of the other — but usually right back Jorge Moreira — would end up launching a cross toward the penalty spot.Those are low-percentage plays, and worse, they often turn into counterattacks going in the other direction. That’s how Minnesota United annihilated the Timbers way back at the end of February, at the start of this weirdest of MLS seasons.The Timbers left that version of themselves in February, it turns out. They bunkered their way to a home win in Week 2, then four months later as MLS is Back kicked off, they were an entirely new, entirely balanced team. One that — I’m not even kidding here — has been good at basically everything this tournament. This team that could only hurt you one way in 2019 has now discovered how to beat you on the break, via their occasional-but-often-deadly press, on set pieces and even via possession. They are getting numbers forward without taking unnecessary risks with their fullbacks, and that means they are scoring goals from patterns of play that did not exist for them in 2019:Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Union wasn’t about that, of course. Wednesday’s win was about being smarter and more opportunistic on set pieces, and getting a bit of luck when Sergio Santos went NASA with his first-half PK.But being lucky is good, and it’s especially good to be both good and lucky. Those are two boxes that it’s always nice to have checked in any kind of tournament. Beyond that, the Timbers are now also deep and multi-faceted, and while they weren’t quite clean enough on the ball through midfield to entirely take the Union out of the game, it says something about this Portland side that they didn’t have to be. Because they are so good at finding the cracks and controlling the game state — they have scored first in five of six games and have trailed for just 57 minutes over the past month — their margins have grown. They don’t actually have to control the game.And so because of that; because they can beat you so many ways, and with players like Diego Valeri or Jaroslaw Niezgoda (or both) off the bench; because they have the odds-on tournament MVP in Sebastian Blanco; because Jeremy Ebobisse and Eryk Williamson have come of age and come out of nowhere, respectively; because the defense and Steve Clark in goal have hung on just tight enough, and because Diego Chara is still Diego Chara, the Timbers are into the final.Truth be told, they deserve it.

Sebastian Soto’s move to Norwich City a chance to reignite his career

Aug 2, 2020Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

A wild and disappointing season has ended on a positive note for Sebastian Soto.The United States youth international completed his transfer to Norwich City on Tuesday, allowing him to exit what had become a difficult situation with 2. Bundesliga side Hannover 96. Because Soto didn’t qualify for a work permit, a loan move is needed, and is still to be completely hashed out. But Soto is pleased to latch on with the Canaries.”I’m truly humbled and happy and excited that this is my next step,” Soto told ESPN via phone. “And the path that [Norwich] had spoken to me about and the plan that they have for me was just great. I was so attracted to it. Norwich has such a good history with young players.”Coming off of a 2018-19 campaign that saw Soto, 20, break into Hannover’s first team and score four goals for the U.S. at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Carlsbad, Calif., native hoped to make even more progress in 2019-20.But a confluence of factors resulted in a lost season. Soto’s refusal to sign a new contract combined with the usual competition for places meant that first-team minutes were going to be hard to come by. So it proved, as he made just two early-season appearances that totaled 16 minutes. But even playing time with the reserve team was scarce, with Soto playing in just three matches in the fourth-tier Regionalliga.”I think all I can say about last season was it’s all an experience, man,” he said. “I guess that’s how football is. I just have to learn from what happened, and nothing against Hannover or anything, but I just have to look forward.”

TRANSFERS

On top of those disappointments, the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the league season was shut down for a time, and the Olympics were delayed for a year. The Tokyo games were looked at as a way to salvage a disappointing season. With that opportunity delayed, it made maintaining something close to match fitness an immense challenge.”I think, especially people that are close to me, knew that I did a lot on my own because I knew the future was coming and I knew something new is gonna come, so I had to be ready,” he said.”[COVID-19] was just something unpredictable. It’s tough being an athlete and having a long pause like that. But luckily in Germany, it was not as long as maybe other nations and we got back into it, and we were able to finish the German season. At the same time, I took advantage, staying in shape, staying as sharp as I could heading into the new season, because it’s just it all came really fast to be honest.”The move to Norwich, at first glance, looks less than optimal. The Canaries finished in last place and were relegated from the Premier League this season, and Soto’s inability to secure a work permit means that he will need to immediately leave Carrow Road and join another European club on loan.But Norwich has had success developing young players and has made use of loans in order to give players experience, with Todd Cantwell (at Fortuna Sittard) and Ben Godfrey (at Shrewsbury Town) the most notable examples. Given the limited minutes Soto saw this season, playing time is of utmost importance at this stage of his career.”All the conversations were extremely positive, from the sporting director, to the coaches, to everyone at the club, the staff was all really positive,” he said. “And I think the biggest thing they told me was that I needed to get experience, which is what this loan is all about, ultimately.”Making the most of his loan spell carries with it even more weight than it might otherwise. With the U.K. leaving the European Union in January, the expectation is that the rules for obtaining a work permit will become less strict. At the least, players from the EU won’t automatically qualify for a work permit, making it more of a level playing field.Soto played on the wing during the early part of his youth career, only for then-Real Salt Lake academy director Martin Vasquez to convert him into a center-forward. He has played in that position ever since, and off the ball movement, his ability to link up with teammates as well as finish his chances — like he did against France at the U-20 World Cup — has kept him in that spot. That doesn’t look likely to change with Norwich.”I think they do see me as a striker, but they also want to take advantage of my having good feet and going into good spaces,” said Soto. “But ultimately, they see me as someone who’s going to score goals.”After a difficult season, Soto is eager to get that opportunity once again.

Goalie Iker Casillas officially announces end of his playing days

Tales Azzoni, Ap Sports Writer Updated 11:09 am CDT, Tuesday, August 4, 2020

MADRID (AP) — Former Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas officially announced the end of his playing days on Tuesday, more than a year after his last match.

The 39-year-old Casillas was with Portuguese club Porto but hadn’t played competitively since a heart attack in May last year.“What is important is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not the destination to which it takes you,” Casillas said on Twitter. “With hard work, you will always arrive where you want. I can say, without a doubt, that it has been the path and the destination that I’ve always dreamed about.”In a long letter, Casillas said announcing his retirement was one of the “hardest” and “most difficult” days of his career.

His contract with Porto ended after the team defeated Benfica last weekend to win the Portuguese Cup. He didn’t play but celebrated with his teammats and lifted the trophy.

Casillas joined Porto in 2015 after helping Real Madrid win five Spanish league titles and three Champions League trophies. He also helped Spain win one World Cup and two European Championships.

Porto former goalkeeper Iker Casillas, center with hat, joins the players celebrating on the pitch at the end of the Portuguese League soccer match between FC Porto and Sporting CP at the Dragao stadium in … more

Real Madrid called Casillas “one of the biggest legends of our club and of world football” and “the best goalkeeper in the history of Real Madrid and Spanish football.”“Today one of the most important footballers in our 118 years of history calls it a day as a professional player, a player we love and admire, a goalkeeper who has made the Real Madrid legacy bigger with his work and exemplary behavior both on and off the pitch,” Real Madrid said in a statement. “He was formed here and defended our shirt for 25 years, becoming one of our most emblematic captains of all time.”Casillas played 725 matches with Madrid’s first team over 16 seasons, winning 19 titles. He joined the club at age 9.With Porto, Casillas won two Portuguese league titles, in addition to the Portuguese Cup and a Super Cup.He played 167 matches for Spain and won the Under-20 World Cup.“You’ve always been an example to be followed on and off the field,” Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for everything.”Former Spain and Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos posted a photo of him receiving a kiss on the cheek from Casillas during a game.“Soccer thanks you, my friend,” Ramos said. “A legend forever.”Several clubs and players from other teams also sent messages honoring the former goalkeeper.“They say competition makes us better than others but not perfect faced with ourselves. Maybe this futile pursuit of perfection is what made us who we are,” former Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. “#Grac1as Iker, without you, everything would have been less meaningful.”Casillas this year contemplated running for the presidency of the Spanish soccer federation but withdrew his candidacy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Farewell Iker Casillas, the saint who brought us saves, tears and clashes

Goalkeeper with a treasure trove of trophies from Real Madrid, Porto and Spain has retired but it will not be the end of his story

Barry Glendenning @bglendenningThu 6 Aug 2020 08.30 EDTLast modified on Thu 6 Aug 2020 15.00 EDT5

Iker Casillas kisses the trophy after Spain’s 2010 World Cup final victory over the Netherlands. Photograph: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

Put it down to the luck of the Irish. Specifically, the bad luck. Pitted against Spain in the second round of the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea, with their best player, Roy Keane, walking his dog on a Cheshire golf course thousands of miles away, nobody gave Mick McCarthy’s side a prayer. Despite this, God appeared to be smiling on the boys in green, the sides level at one goal apiece at full-time and an uncharacteristically out-of-sorts Spain reduced to 10 men for the additional half-hour through injury. Ireland pressed and probed, smelling blood, with Robbie Keane, Damien Duff and Niall Quinn wreaking havoc up front. They failed to score, a visibly exhausted Spanish rearguard somehow keeping them at bay.A thoroughbred surrounded by donkeys that day, Iker Casillas had kept his team in the game with a series of fine saves including a penalty from Ian Harte and one particularly eye-catching block at the feet of Robbie Keane. Spot-kicks from Kevin Kilbane and David Connolly in the shootout didn’t take much stopping but he repelled them anyway and at just 21 years of age his canonisation was complete: “Saint Iker” was among us. “He isn’t human,” wrote one excitable Spanish columnist in AS. “The day he came to earth, light shone down upon his house like it did at the gate of Bethlehem when Jesus Christ arrived in the world. He’s immune to pain, mistakes and bad luck.”

Real Madrid and Spain legend Iker Casillas announces his retirement

Immune? Not entirely. As a child he either forgot or didn’t bother to submit a quiniela coupon for Spain’s equivalent of the football pools, only for all 14 of his father’s predictions to come in. His mistake having cost somewhere in the region of £1m, it is not difficult to imagine that particularly large slice of bad luck resulting in some sort of physical or emotional pain.His fortune changed dramatically as a 16-year-old when he was summoned from the classroom to sit on the bench for Real Madrid, improved further when he replaced the injured César Sánchez during a Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen and began bordering on the outrageous when he earned his place in Spain’s 2002 World Cup side when the first-choice goalkeeper Santiago Cañizares severed a tendon while “trapping” a bottle of aftershave with a foot. “Luck?” Casillas mused in a 2004 interview with the Guardian. “Maybe. But if you let in three, what’s the point? You have to take advantage.”And how. After more than 1,000 senior appearances for Real Madrid, Porto and Spain, Casillas announced his retirement this week, his trophy cabinet a bulging treasure trove. One World Cup. Two European Championships. Three Champions Leagues. Five Spanish league titles. Two Copa del Reys. Two Uefa Super Cups. One Club World Cup. One Portuguese title.Of course not every day was a good one and like many saints, Casillas became a victim of persecution. Although renowned for his modesty, generally mild off-field manner and mantra of “never, ever forgetting where you came from”, he has a touchy, spiky side and his patience was tested to its limits by the pernicious dressing-room influence of José Mourinho. The pair clashed repeatedly and matters came to a head when Casillas was left out of the first team amid rumours of his involvement in dressing-room leaks, which he denied, and a particularly bitter player revolt.“There needs to be a little more respect to Iker, he’s well loved,” said his teammate Pepe, following a stinging public assessment of the goalkeeper by their manager. “What the coach said was not the most appropriate. Iker is a player who is part of Madrid. He’s an institution, both in this club and in Spain.” The Portuguese defender was dropped for his insubordination. “His intelligence and maturity have made us always respect each other and years later we have even been able to cultivate an honest friendship,” said the fabled authority on maturity that is Mourinho upon hearing of Casillas’s decision to hang up his gloves.Five years ago, sitting alone and visibly distressed in the media room at the Santiago Bernabéu, the player tearfully announced he was leaving Real for Porto after 25 years at the club. At a press conference so excruciating the Spanish club invited him back to do it again the next day in a futile attempt at damage limitation, he thanked the fans for “unconditional support” that had been anything but in a preceding season often soundtracked by jeers and whistles. Tellingly, he failed to thank the club president, Florentino Pérez, with whom his relationship had disintegrated.“He has suffered psychological pressure and they treated him differently to other players,” said his mother, Mari Carmen, who accused Pérez of drumming her pride and joy out of the club. “I have watched him suffer for many years. It is Florentino who is pushing him out because he wanted to end his career at Real Madrid.” Pérez denied that.Casillas has not played since a heart attack in 2019 and in February announced his intention to run for president of the Spanish Football Federation before withdrawing his candidacy because of the coronavirus. Apparently determined to swap his uniform of garish short-sleeved shirt for a blazer, in a comical and slightly sad development he is reported to be in advanced talks regarding a return to Madrid to work as a special adviser to the president widely considered responsible for his ignominious exit.“The important thing is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not the destination to which it takes you,” he wrote in the statement announcing his retirement. One suspects that for Saint Iker, a much-loved icon who has had his fair share of good and bad luck, there will be plenty more twists and turns in the road.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN SUFFERS RARE HOME DEFEAT VIA 0-1 LOSS TO SPORTING KANSAS CITY II

By Indy Eleven Communications, 08/01/20, 10:30PM EDT

Result Ends Two-Year Undefeated Streak at Home in Regular Season Play at 28 Games, One-year Home Winning Streak at 11 Games

#INDvSKC Post-Game Quotes – August 1    #INDvSKC Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center

Indy Eleven tasted defeat at home for the first time in over two years, suffering a shock 1-0 loss at the hands of Sporting Kansas City II at Lucas Oil Stadium.Despite the loss, Indy Eleven (5W-2L-0D, 15 pts.) remains solidly in first place in the Group E standings with a six-point cushion over Saint Louis FC, while Sporting KC II (2W-3L-0D, 6 pts.) drew even with Louisville City FC in third place courtesy of a fruitful road trip that saw it take wins in Kentucky and Indiana three days apart.The result snapped a pair of remarkable regular season home streaks for Indiana’s Team that ranked second in USL Championship annals, a 28-match home unbeaten streak (dating back to July 7, 2018) and an 11-game winning streak (dating back to July 20, 2019).“Obviously disappointed to lose our first game in Lucas Oil for over two years. It’s been a great run of mainly winning, a couple ties here and there. Tonight, I feel like we looked tired. We’ve played five games in 14 days. We created enough chances tonight to win the game, put in a great effort. All the guys put everything into the game, so it’s disappointing we couldn’t be a little more clinical in front of the goal.”

The opening of the match was quite an even one, both sides’ defenses allowing little across a first half hour that lacked rhythm. Making his first start of the 2020 season, Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr was forced into heavy work for the first time 31 minutes in, when he went low to smother Fredlin Mompremier’s hard effort from the left corner of the penalty area.Indy Eleven earned its best look of the stanza coming out of the hydration break in the 35th minute, when two more players earning their first 2020 starts – midfielders Kenney Walker and Felicien Dumas – linked up, the former chipping the latter into the left side of the area. Sporting KC II goalkeeper and Floyds Knobs native Brooks Thompson – making his second start in two weeks in his home state – did well to guard his right post on the 10-yard effort, looking big and deflecting out for a corner. The half ended without any more significant threats on frame, a statistically even first 45 minutes concluding as it started, 0-0.Rennie would go to his bench for a pair of halftime subs, bringing Ilija Ilic on in attack for Nick Moon and Drew Conner in for Walker in the middle of the park. The onset of the second half saw Pasher popping up in dangerous areas, his header to meet Dumas’ pinpoint diagonal ball near the penalty spot in the 49th minute a prime example. The chance ultimately missed wide of frame, but served as a harbinger of what the USL Championship’s Golden Boot leader could offer in attack.Rennie would bring on two more veterans to push for the full three points just before the hour mark with the introductions of wingers Matt Watson and Ayoze, the latter making his first appearance since suffering an injury against Sporting KCII two weeks prior.It was a Sporting Kansas City II substitute, Enoch Mushagalusa, that would set up the game’s first tally in the 70th minute, his cutback pass from the left endline finding the foot of Daniel Barbir, who placed his chance from the top of the area perfectly into the upper right corner past Farr at full stretch to give SKC the shock lead.While Indy would carry the possession from there on out, a true moment of danger would be delayed until the 84th minute when Ilic slipped Pasher into the right side of the area, only to see the Canadian fire his chance over the crossbar. The onslaught on SKC’s goal picked up in the 86th minute, but Thompson was on the spot – and on his line – when he stopped consecutive efforts by Andrew Carleton and Ilic near the six.Seven minutes of announced stoppage time was music to Indy’s ears, and Indiana’s Team continued to ramp up the pressure, beginning with defender Neveal Hackshaw’s header off an Ayoze corner than rang the crossbar in the opening minute of extra play. Carleton just missed from long distance one minute later, followed by defender Paddy Barrett steering another header towards goal, but the looping chance off Conner’s service hit the top netting. Thompson’s slide tackle of Watson in the 95th minute at the edge of the area drew calls for a point to the spot, but the center referee deemed the challenge clean, and that marked the final chance for the Eleven to equalize.“Now we need to get a little bit of rest and recover. The guys are on their knees basically. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, where guys were off for three months, they don’t get any preseason friendlies, hardly any training, and immediately we have to play five games in 14 days, including going to Saint Louis and Pittsburgh.” Said Rennie. “I think we’ve stood up to it really well. Overall, very pleased with the players and what they’ve done.”From here, Indy Eleven heads on the road for two of its next three contests, beginning with the first installment of a crowded Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest calendar over the next six weeks. The LIPAFC rivalry renews next Saturday, August 8, with Indy’s first visit to the new Lynn Family Stadium set for an 8:00 p.m. ET kickoff that can be followed live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+ and Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com.

Indy Eleven’s next home match follows on Saturday, August 15, when Indiana’s Team will welcome Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC to Lucas Oil Stadium (for a piece of league history). Tickets remain available for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff, and fans that can’t make it to the corner of Capitol & South can follow on WISH-TV, ESPN+ and Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSKC
Indy Eleven  0 : 1  Sporting Kansas City II
Saturday, August 1, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

Attendance: 5,409

2020 USL Championship records
Indy Eleven (5W-2L-0D, 15 pts., 1st place in Group E)
Sporting Kansas City II (2W-3L-0D, 6 pts., 3rd place in Group E)

Scoring Summary:
SKC – Daniel Barbir (Enoch Mushagalusa) 70’

Disciplinary Summary:

SKC – Jahon Rad (yellow card) 50’

SKC – Christian Duke (yellow card) 76’

IND – Ayoze (yellow card) 88’

IND – Mitch Osmond (yellow card) 90+7’
Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Jordan Farr; Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett (captain), Mitch Osmond; Felicien Dumas (Ayoze 59’), Tyler Gibson, Kenney Walker (Drew Conner 45’), Conner Antley (Matt Watson 59’); Tyler Pasher, Cam Lindley (Andrew Carleton 77’), Nick Moon (Ilija Ilic 45’)

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7/31/20 –  Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, FA Cup Featuring Pulisic’s Chelsea vs Arsenal 1 pm Sat on ESPN+, Champions League next Fri/Sat 

Indy 11

Our Indy 11 returned home and absolutely dominated Hartford Athletic – Wednesday night with an impressive 4-1 victory.  The result extends Indy Eleven’s (5W-1L-0D, 15 pts., most in USL Championship) daunting home unbeaten streak in regular season play to 28 matches (21W-0L-7D), now tied for the second longest such run in USL Championship history. Embedded in that stretch is a 12-game home winning streak in regular season play dating back to last July 20 that is also second longest in Championship annals – but could reach the apex with another three points the next time out this weekend. The 11 Return home at the Luke with a 7 pm game on Saturday, Aug 1 vs Sporting KC II.  Tickets are available for the7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or calling 317-685-1100.

Pulisic Helps Chelsea Win again – next Up FA Cup Final Saturday 1 pm ESPN+

While US starlet Pulisic didn’t have one of his best games Sunday his breakaway up the middle and release to Mount just before being taken down around midfield led to a fantastic Giroud goal that sealed Chelsea’s fate with a huge 2-0 win vs Wolverhampton.  Pulisic was hacked and fouled all day as he tried in vain at times to run at the Wolves defense.  He had a couple of looks at goal but overall he was held at bay by the Wolves defense.  Pulisic  will now look now to a Saturday visit to Wembley where I assume he’ll start vs Arsenal in the FA Cup final at 12 pm on ESPN+  The FA Cup Preview show will be on ESPN2 at 11:30 am.  Not sure why this game is not flowing over to a network ESPN station but currently its set for ESPN+ Saturday.

EPL Finishes Season with Excitement

The English Premier League showed why it’s the Best/most followed league in the world as everything came down to the last half on the final day of the season.  The finale certainly had plenty of excitement as Top 4 Champions League/Top 6 Europa League and of course Bottom 4 Relegation Battles were all still in play with 45 minutes to play in the last round of games on closing day.  I had 3 TVs going as I attempted to watch as much as I could.  In the end of course Chelsea and Man United secured top 4 slots for Champions League Qualification.  Man U had to win the final and the 2-0 win at Leicester did that for them.  It wasn’t easy and had Leicester not hit the post twice – who knows.  But a controversial awarded PK lead to Man U’s advancement.  Good to see the Red Devils back in Champions League along with Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea.  As for Europa League top 6 spots – somehow Tottenham is in as their rather lame tie at home – just edged Wolverhampton who loss to Chelsea on the road.  Wolverhampton can still qualify if Chelsea, who knocked them out Sunday, can beat Arsenal in the FA Cup Final on Saturday.   As for Relegation play – Aston Villa did just enough as their win kept them in the EPL for another season. Bournemouth and slide down.  Of course the return of Leeds United from the Championship for the first time since 1993-94 headlines the teams moving up, along with West Brom and one other. The Championship playoff is still on for one of my favorites Fulham with US defender Tim Ream they will play Brentford at Wembley on Tuesday to see who goes up.

World – Champs & Europa Leagues are Back

Juventus secured their 9th straight Serie A Title with their win on Sunday as Christiano Renaldo scored his 50th goal in his 3rd league played in, he becomes the first player to score 50 goals in the EPL, La Liga, and Italy.  The Serie A season wraps up this weekend on ESPN+.  As league play wraps up we turn our eyes towards Champions League next Friday and Saturday, Aug 7 + 8.  Two Games on CBS Sports Network with the others on FUBO TV, TDUN, (streamed on CBS all-access).  I know they will be on fuboTV as Man City hosts Real Madrid up 2-1 on CBSSN along with Juve hosting Lyon tied at 1 on Friday at 3 pm, while Chelsea will travel to Bayern Munich down 3-0, and Barcelona hosts Napoli tied at 1-1 on Sat at 3 pm on CBSSN to wrap up Round of 16 play.  Sure would be nice if they spread those games out.  The Round 0f 8 – will be held in Lisbon, Portugal with single elimination Playoff games played over the following 20 days starting Aug 12-15.

NWSL Finals

The NWSL wrapped up their tourney on Saturday with solid #s on CBS – over 650K people watched the final on Sunday, the best ever rating for a NWSL Game. They actually outdrew the Sunday morning EPL and many baseball games over the weekend.  Great news for the ladies still I am frustrated the final couldn’t draw 1 million viewers to the Champ game?  The Houston Dash edged Chicago Red Stars 1-0. The Dash with literally zero US National team players was lead by England’s forward Rachel Daly who ended up winning the golden boot.    Check some of these Saves from the Tourney.

GAMES ON TV 

Sat,  Aug 1

11:30 am ESPN2                ESPNFC FA Cup Preview show

12:10 ESPN+                       Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Arsenal FA Cup Final 

2:30 pm ESPN+                                 Juve vs AS Roma

2:45pm ESPN+                                  AC Milan vs Caglaiari

2:30 pm ESPN+                                 Napoli vs Lazio

7 pm ESPN+Wish                 INDY 11 vs Sporting KC – Lucas Oil

8 pm ESPN                                         MLS Playoff  QF3

10 pm FS1                                         MLS Playoff  QF4

Wed,  Aug 5

3 pm CBS All Access                     Man United vs LASK Europa League

3 pm CBS All Access                     Inter vs Getafe Europa League 

8 pm ESPN2                                    MLS Semi-Final

Thurs,  Aug 6

1 pm CBS All Access                     Leverkusen vs Rangers Europa League

3 pm CBS All Access                     Wolverhampton vs Olympiakos

8 pm ESPN2                                    MLS Semi-Final

10 pm FS1                                        Tijuana vs Tigres Liga MX

Fri  Aug 7

3 pm FuboTV, CBSSN                  Man City vs Real Madrid (Champs League)

3 pm Fubo TV                                Juve vs Lyon (Champs League)

Sat Aug 8

3 pm Fubo TV                                Bayern Munich vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  (Champs League)

3 pm Fubo TV, CBSSN                 Barcelona vs Napoli (Champs League)

7 pm ESPN+MyindyTV              INDY 11 @ Louisville FC

Tues,  Aug 11

8 pm ESPN                          MLS is Back Tourney Final

Wed,  Aug 12

3 pm FuboTV,                                Atalanta vs PSG  (Champs League)

Thur,  Aug 13

3 pm FuboTV,                                RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid (Champs League)

Fri, Aug 14

3 pm FuboTV,                                Napoli vs Barcelona (Champs League)

Sat, Aug 15

3 pm FuboTV,                                Real Madrid vs Man City (Champs League)

Tues,  Aug 18

3 pm FuboTV,                                Champs League Semis

Weds,  Aug 19

3 pm FuboTV,                                Champs League Semis

Sun, Aug 23

3 pm FuboTV, CBSSN                  Champions League Finals

 INDY 11

Indy 11 Lose 1st game at St. Louis

Indy 11 Win on Last Second Stunner

The Morning Tea – USL News

Indy 11 Ranked #1 in USL PowerRankings

Buy Tickets

HOMEGROWN HOOSIER SVETANOFF ADDED AS ACADEMY SIGNING

Indy Eleven Trio Named to USL Championship Team of the Week for Week 3

Indy 11 Sponsor – Grab a bite at these local spots – https://www.thedistricttap.com/ & https://www.rosatispizza.com/location/carmel-in/

EPL

A look at previous Arsenal v Chelsea FA Cup finals

FA Final Preview

FA Cup Preview 2
Klopp named LMA Manager of the Year

‘Manchester United must be ruthless with Lindelof and De Gea’ – Neville wants centre-half and keeper clarity

Premier League stat leaders: Golden Boot, Golden Glove, Assists  NBC Sports

Lampard not Rushing Kepa Decision at Keeper

‘Martinez is better than Kepa, Chelsea could get him’ – Wright fears goalkeeper raid on Arsenal

Who is Chelsea Targeting as a New Goalkeeper?

Liverpool targeting ‘multiple trophies’ after winning Premier League title, says Oxlade-Chamberlain
– Ogden: Grading all 20 Premier League teams for 2019-20

U.S. star could help Fulham return to EPL

Fulham and USMNT defender Tim Ream have a chance to qualify for the Premier League if the team can Brentford on Tuesday.Club has history with U.S. players »

USA

Pulisic is Fit for Sat FA Cup

 Pulisic Helps with Set up of Goal Sun

Rating Pulisic’s first Premier League season

Manchester United passed up chance to sign Pulisic, reveals ex-Red Devils scout
Changes to CONCACAF WC Qualifying Revealed for US  

USMNT prospect Soto signs with relegated Norwich City


USWNT star, Reign legend Megan Rapinoe to host new HBO series

NWSL

NWSL Crowns New Champion – Graham Hayes ESPNFC

NWSL shows other leagues how to have a season-Caitlin Murray »

MLS
Steve Clark shakes off mistake, becomes the hero for the Portland Timbers

Portland overcomes miscues, gets past Cincinnati in shootout

Rossi scores pair, LAFC gets revenge in win over Seattle

NYCFC upsets Toronto FC 3-1, advances to MLS quarterfinals

Life as a Pool Goalkeeper in the MLS Bubble


Champions League

Champions League, Europa League fixtures schedule

Champions League Predictions

CBS All Access + CBS Sports Network to show Champions + Europa League Matches

Aguero will miss Man City’s Champions League clash with Madrid, Guardiola confirms
Mbappe Injury puts PSG Champs League Hopes in Jeopardy

Valverde, De Jong and Llorente could be the difference for Spain’s giants in UCL

Barca Faces More Problems Ahead of UCL Tie

Lampard: UCL berth will get Chelsea better squad

WORLD

Ronaldo scores again as Juventus seals 9th straight title

Inter stay second ahead of Atalanta in Serie A final push

Ronaldo unveils new Juve kit: the stripes are back!

GK

MLS GK Miked Up

MLS Best Saves for Round of 16

Life as a Pool Goalkeeper in the MLS Bubble

NWSL Kailen Sheridan of Sky Blue Wins Golden Glove

Save of the NWSL Tourney

Save of the Week – USL

Best GK Saves Week 4 July

BK Saves Europe Week 3 July

GK Gone Wrong – 2020

Heroic Saves Oblak, Cortouis & more

Chelsea’s Pulisic declares himself ‘100% fit’ for FA Cup final

10:12 AM ETJames OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

Christian Pulisic has told ESPN that he is “100% fit” for Saturday’s FA Cup final between Chelsea and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard had said the 21-year-old was struggling with a minor unspecified problem in recent weeks, leading to his omission from the semifinal win over Manchester United.

Pulisic only featured as a substitute against Liverpool last week, and although he started Chelsea’s final Premier League game against Wolves on Sunday, which ended in a 2-0 win, the winger was replaced 12 minutes from time as a precaution.

However, in an exclusive interview with ESPN, Pulisic said, “I never had a real issue. I’m 100% fit.”The news will come as a boost to Lampard and Chelsea, who are seeking their ninth FA Cup success and second big final victory over Arsenal in a year after beating them 4-1 in Baku to lift last season’s Europa League trophy.Pulisic had not yet signed for the Blues at that stage, but he said he had exchanged messages with former Borussia Dortmund teammate and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, telling him “You can score one goal but you can’t win!”The pair remain close, with Aubameyang advising him on life in London prior to leaving Dortmund. But there has been no contact this time, as Pulisic singled out the Gabon international as a major threat after he amassed 27 goals in all competitions for the Gunners this term.”I know him quite well,” Pulisic added. “He is incredible, the way he gets in good areas. He’s always dangerous, so we are definitely going to have to be cautious of that, and they have some other good players. But he is definitely one guy that you have to look out for.”We’ll always be good friends. I played together with him for a long time. Right now, we are definitely focused and want to win. It is going to be a good battle; and not so much on the pitch, but we will always be friends off the pitch.”The final comes down to us against them, who is more ready to play on the day. Obviously, it gives us confidence that we’ve been in good form, we’ve been playing well, and we’re going to try and bring that into the game. In the end, it is one game, and in a final, anything can happen.”

Rating Pulisic’s first Premier League season

Joe Prince-Wright

July 28, 2020, 10:08 AM

Now seems like a good time for a rating on Christian Pulisic based on his first Premier League season as the USMNT star is well and truly in the news for his displays.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – Analysis ]

With his debut PL campaign for Chelsea in the books and an FA Cup final and UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg left for the USMNT star in the 2019-20 season, it’s safe to say Pulisic’s first season in England has been a rollercoaster.

From a decent start to being left out, then a hot streak in the fall followed by an injury and an even hotter streak to finish the season, Pulisic, 21, has pretty much experienced all of the highs and lows the Premier League has to offer and has consistently been in the news.

– ADVERTISEMENT –

All season long we’ve followed the journey the USMNT star has been on during our weekly ‘Pulisic Watch’ analysis which looks at how he’s fared in each game and the latest injury news and updates, plus comments from Lampard and his teammates.

He’s an overall look at how he performed in the Premier League and a Pulisic rating out of 10.

High points

  • Hat trick at Burnley– The moment the world stood up and took notice of Pulisic as he was truly big news to the rest of the planet. Up until that point he hadn’t scored in the PL, or for Chelsea, but his treble at Turf Moor ignited a purple patch which saw him put in fine displays and score against Palace and Watford soon after.
  • Goal v. Man City– After the restart he was majestic and this goal underlined his incredible form. Picking the ball up on the halfway line after a Man City mix up, he ran at goal with his searing pace, dropped his shoulder and finished across goal. This was pure Pulisic.
  • Sub performance v. Liverpool– With Chelsea losing 4-1 at Anfield, he jumped off the bench and had an amazing assist, missed a big chance and scored a beauty. All in the space of a few minutes. Jurgen Klopp, the man who bought him to Borussia Dortmund, had to stand there and laugh as Pulisic ran the show. Against Liverpool. At Anfield. On the night that hoisted the PL trophy.
  • General restart displays– His form since the June restart has been wonderful. Four goals, two assists, two penalty kicks won and ripping apart defenses time and time again. Lampard worked with him on his midfield runs during the break and he is popping up in more dangerous positions, plus looks fitter and stronger. Finally having a break did him the world of good. Lampard said he can reach the levels of Mane, Salah and Sterling. Woah.

Low points

  • Being benched for 5 out of 6 games straight in the fall– This was pretty much as low as it has been for Pulisic in recent years. I spoke with him in September after he was an unused sub for five games in a row following the home win v. Brighton. He said it was ‘very frustrating’ and that Lampard hadn’t really given him any feedback, as Pulisic was upset but determined to prove the doubters wrong. A few weeks later he was assisting off the bench and building his way back into the team.

“I knew it was going to be tough coming here. It is never going to be easy. I’ve got to grind it out,” Pulisic said. “I want to be back and be a part of the team and help the team win games. I want to play as many minutes as I can, that is really my goal, I want to be on the field… It is tough for me right now. I just have to continue to learn. Like I said, I want to be on the field really bad, I have to continue to work and prove myself to be there.”

  • Injury in January– Just when Pulisic was firing on all cylinders he suffered a nasty adductor injury in January which was then aggravated as Chelsea tried to rush him back. The injury kept Pulisic out from January 1 to March and then the pandemic arrived to shut down the league. In hindsight it forced Pulisic to have a long break as he’d been playing year-round for many years due to his USMNT commitments. The injury was very frustrating for Pulisic, and Chelsea, as their form dipped with him out of the team. Lampard and Chelsea’s players admitted they missed his creativity.
  • Champions League campaign– Not directly linked to his Premier League displays, but missing a big chunk of the Champions League games due to not being in the team in the fall, then injured for the first leg Round of 16 clash agains Bayern Munich was a bummer for Pulisic. He started three of Chelsea’s seven UCL games this season, so far.

Overall thoughts

Generally, this has been a very good first Premier League season for Pulisic who scored nine goals and added four assists in 19 Premier League starts. His form since the restart has left Chelsea fans salivating at what he can go on to achieve and he truly seems like he can have a similar impact to Eden Hazard, not just with his style of play but with the goals and assists.

Rating out of 10

I’m going to give Pulisic a 7.5 out of 10. If we base this rating purely on his form since the restart it would be 9.5 out of 10 but we have to take all of the ups and downs into account and there’s no doubt it took Pulisic a while, as expected, to adapt to the Premier League. Now that he’s physically at the top of his game we are seeing his skill and talent shine through. The USMNT star has a huge future ahead of him at Chelsea and although many believed Frank Lampard wouldn’t get the best out of him, the highest scoring midfielder in Premier League history is certainly teaching the American sensation how to time his runs into the box to perfection and helping him with his finishing.

Where does he already rank in USMNT stars in the Premier League

There’s a lot of talk in the news about Pulisic already being the best-ever American player in Premier League history. I hear you, I really do, but he’s played one season. He has a little way to overtake Clint Dempsey but he’s on the way and he’s having a huge impact at a huge club. Pulisic’s potential is greater than any other American goalkeeper or outfield player who has graced the Premier League before.

Here is where I would currently rank Pulisic in terms of the greatest USMNT players in Premier League history:

1.Clint Dempsey
2. Tim Howard
3. Brad Friedel
4. Christian Pulisic
5. Brian McBride

Christian Pulisic exclusive: U.S. star ready to help lead Chelsea to FA Cup glory, excited for next season

11:05 AM ETJames Olley   Senior Writer, ESPN FC

There is an image that Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic recalls when he wants to escape the pressure and scrutiny that comes with being an American soccer player in the Premier League.”Back home, especially, when I’m back on the farm with my sister, I watch her ride horses, kind of live a really simple life,” the Chelsea winger tells ESPN. “That’s just what I love to do.”Football is always around me, but there are times when you can’t let it stress you out too much.”Appropriately enough, Pulisic’s sister Devyn — or Dee Dee, to her friends — owns and runs a 13-acre farm called Tranquility Stables in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a short 30-minute drive from the family’s hometown of Hershey. It is perhaps a result of growing up surrounded by this serenity that Pulisic is able to navigate the highs and lows of a tumultuous debut season in west London with such equanimity.Pulisic bought the property for his sister, 17 months his senior, in a reciprocal show of support that emanates from his father, Mark and mother, Kelley. Both parents played football at George Mason University, enabling them to some extent to prepare their son for a journey that took him to Borussia Dortmund at age 15, continued with a £57.6 million move to Chelsea last summer and now, this Saturday, puts him on the brink of marking his first season in England with a major trophy as the Blues face Arsenal in the FA Cup Final. (Stream LIVE/U.S. only: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+).

Life for Pulisic in England began with daunting comparisons to Eden Hazard before Pulisic was even able to kick a ball for the club. Hazard departed for Real Madrid after seven years as the club’s talisman, dragging his team almost single-handedly to Europa League glory in his final match. Chelsea were unable to sign any other players, aside from making Mateo Kovacic‘s loan deal from Real Madrid permanent, due to a FIFA transfer ban and so the pressure on Pulisic to perform was immediate.”It was definitely just noise,” he said of the Hazard link. “People love to make comparisons, they do it in all sports I think and that’s just how it is. I understand that, but never was I looking to compare myself to him or trying to bring what he had. I never really looked at it like that. I always just focused on myself, wanting to do my best because that’s what I’m here to do.”I’ve definitely learned a lot — coming to a new league, a brand new team, a lot of things changed for me. I think I had a lot of stuff to overcome as well with an injury in the middle of it. Obviously COVID-19 changed a lot of things as well. To be here in this position after my first season, I think I can say I’m happy. I think I’ve come a long way.”Although he made a promising full debut in August’s UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool in Istanbul, Pulisic only started three of their opening nine Premier League games, as Lampard harboured concerns about the 21-year-old’s fitness levels despite joining up with the club earlier than expected last July, a week after the U.S. lost the Gold Cup final to Mexico. Pulisic seized his opportunity, however, in October, with a hat-trick against Burnley that triggered a run of 12 consecutive starts across all competitions. By the turn of the year, a groin problem halted his season and when he was close to a full recovery in March, the coronavirus pandemic reached England and shut the sport down.”Having a big injury was definitely tough for me,” he said. “I thought I was playing well and in good form. Obviously, that put a big stop on things at the time. When lockdown started, it gave me that extra time to really make sure I’m 100 percent fit, ready to go, and it put me on a level playing field when everyone was back because everyone hadn’t played for a while. It gave me a quick refresh and a chance to go again.”Pulisic worked closely with Chelsea’s strength and conditioning coach Adam Burrows to improve his physicality for English football, while Lampard has spent time working with him on an individual basis, pinpointing specific runs from deep that would make him more effective. The impact of that work behind the scenes has been clear.

Since the restart, Pulisic has started eight of Chelsea’s 10 games — only missing the FA Cup semifinal against Manchester United and a starting role at Liverpool due to a minor injury — and played a pivotal role in the Blues securing Champions League qualification by finishing fourth in the Premier League. Preparations for next season have already begun, with Chelsea attempting to sign German playmaker Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen in addition to new arrivals Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, who are already training with the first-team group.

All three can operate in a variety of attacking positions. With Tammy AbrahamCallum Hudson-Odoi, and Olivier Giroud among those vying for first-team minutes, it appeared at one stage that Pulisic faced a fight to form a key part of Lampard’s vision for the future, especially given Lampard regularly castigated his forwards for a lack of ruthlessness in front of goal.

“There have been a lot of occasions this year when we want to finish off games and that’s really important,” said Pulisic. “We’ve done a pretty good job of that lately and we want to keep that up. Bringing in guys with a lot of attacking ability is only going to help us.”It is really exciting. I’m getting to train with those guys now, getting to know them. They are big players, they’ve proved that at their old clubs. It is going to be a really exciting year moving forward. Obviously we have a lot of options and a really strong team. We are looking forward to seeing what we can do next season.”Any real attacking position, we are all used to. We have played in different spots. It is really important and it gives us different looks at times. Playing in different positions at times, I think that could be really effectiveBefore that, however, there’s a Wembley date against Arsenal to consider. The Blues have won the world’s oldest club knockout competition eight times and this is their third final in four years, having beaten Manchester United in 2018 but lost to the Gunners a year earlier. Although fans are prevented from attending due to COVID-19, the showpiece occasion will pull in a worldwide television audience in the hundreds of millions, including a growing following in America on ESPN+, hoping to celebrate the USMNT star lifting silverware. Typically, however, that level of hysteria washes over Pulisic.”When I’m over here [in England], I don’t really feel like [a vanguard] at all,” he said. “Obviously I’m in a team with incredible players and in a league with huge names, huge players, so I don’t really think of that too much. I understand the standing I have in the U.S. and with the national team. That’s a different story, but it isn’t something I think about too much.”I’m sure its grown a bit. The Premier League is the biggest league in the world. A lot of Americans follow it much more, so you could say that. When I’m in America, I kind of go off the grid and be with my family and friends.”In normal times, Pulisic’s family would be among the 90,000 spectators at Wembley.”I’m sure my family will be watching back home,” he added. “It is tough times, obviously. You’d love to have them there and fill out Wembley, but we’re going to do the best we can under the circumstances and they’ll definitely be watching and supporting.”That’s the thing my family is the best at, never letting me get too low, never getting too high either. They are always there to talk to me and discuss things that aren’t about football as well. They are always there. They have been the best support system for me, coming up from when I first started in Dortmund and then being here so I am really thankful to have them.”Wembley is a beautiful stadium. We’ve just played there and obviously without fans, it is going to be a little different but the feeling will be the same if we can get that trophy.”We want to go out on a high.”

FA Cup Final preview: Arsenal – Chelsea

Nicholas Mendola  NBC SportsJul 30, 2020, 4:17 PM

Arsenal-Chelsea: Frank Lampard wants Chelsea to bring silverware into the new season, having already clinched a place in the Champions League.

Mikel Arteta needs that silverware just to keep his project in the Europa League.

[ MORE: Sancho to Man Utd latest ]

Yeah, the stakes are high for Saturday’s FA Cup Final, where the tournament’s winningest side meets its blue London rivals at 12:30 pm ET.

– ADVERTISEMENT –

FA Cup history

Arsenal has won the FA Cup a record 13 times, one more than Manchester United and five more times than its Saturday opponents. Chelsea last won in 2018 while Arsenal won the previous season.

Last chance for silverware

While Chelsea is still technically alive in Europe, down 3-0 to Bayern Munich and the home leg of a Champions League Round of 16 tie, the FA Cup Final is far and away both clubs’ best chance at silverware in their new managers’ first seasons in charge.

Team news

Arsenal is without Bernd Leno, Calum Chambers, Shkrodan Mustafi, and Gabriel Martinelli. It looks like Hector Bellerin will be a game time decision.

Billy Gilmour is out for Chelsea, who is waiting on the fitness of stars N’Golo Kante and Willian.

Pulisic news

American star Christian Pulisic is not facing any injury problems and said he “never had a real issue” over the last few weeks of the season despite coming off the bench against Liverpool.

Pulisic also spoke about the final and challenging old pal and mentor Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for hardware. From ESPN:

“The final comes down to us against them, who is more ready to play on the day. Obviously, it gives us confidence that we’ve been in good form, we’ve been playing well, and we’re going to try and bring that into the game. In the end, it is one game, and in a final, anything can happen.”

Odds and ends

Arsenal is +235 to win while Chelsea comes in at +114 according to DraftKings with a +250 chance of it going to penalty kicks.

The Blues took four of six points off Arsenal in Premier League play this season, winning 2-1 at the Emirates on Dec. 29 and drawing 2-2 at Stamford Bridge three-and-a-half weeks later.

Prediction

It could go in any direction, as Chelsea’s shown itself to be a chance producer but also a chance waster and capable of defensive errors. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, and Bukayo Saka are electric talents who can punish the Blues. Pulisic has a huge chance to make another great moment in his young career. Let’s call this one as a going to kicks.

 

NWSL’s unlikely Houston Dash give sport its first coronavirus-era champion

The Houston Dash are the first professional American sports team to celebrate a championship amid the coronavirus pandemic. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Jul 26, 2020Graham HaysESPN.comEmail

The first professional sports league in the U.S. to resume competition amidst a pandemic, the National Women’s Soccer League proved that there was a way for the games to go on.In winning the monthlong NWSL Challenge Cup after never so much as reaching the playoffs in their first six seasons in the league, the Houston Dash showed those games could still matter.Why else would Houston midfielder Kristie Mewis struggle to contain the tears after a hamstring injury forced her out of the final in the first half? Why would defender Megan Oyster throw her head at a cross in the closing minutes, knowing she left her injured ribs open to the collision that inevitably knocked her to the ground when a similarly desperate opponent lunged at the ball?

Houston Dash beat Chicago Red Stars to capture NWSL Challenge Cup

Why would league MVP Rachel Daly, exhaustion showing in second-half stoppage time, find just enough energy to flick a pass to midfielder Shea Groom, who somehow still had the legs to run around Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and score the goal that sealed a 2-0 win?Why would forward Nichelle Prince even want to be in Utah, let alone creating chance after chance and chasing back on defense, barely a month after her father passed away — and mere weeks after she waited out quarantine alone in a Utah hotel room after returning to the bubble from her home in Canada?Why would anyone do any of that if their paycheck was guaranteed even if they opted out?In a year in which control over our world has never felt more fleeting, the ability to accomplish something is a powerful motivator. Even if only for 90 minutes on a field marked out in chalk.”We’re just winners today,” Daly said afterward. “And I think that’s what we want to be known as.”For the briefest of moments Sunday, it looked as if Houston would play the role often ascribed to championship newbies — the role that Chicago coach Rory Dames admitted his team filled a season ago in its first championship game when it came out flat against North Carolina in the opening minutes. On this occasion, with Houston at first hesitant at kickoff, Chicago’s Savannah McCaskill got loose down the flank in the opening minute and crossed the ball into dangerous space. The Dash eventually cleared the ball, but warning lights flashed brightly.Except Houston, which spent essentially the entire month in Utah ceding possession to its opponents and creating its own chances in short bursts with the ball or on the counter attack, continued to do just that. Mewis raced down the left side in the fourth minute, played in by Daly despite getting knocked to the ground in the process, and dribbled past defender Kayla Sharples, who tugged Mewis from behind for an obvious penalty.Daly, who said she was still reeling from the collision at midfield, ceded the penalty kick to midfielder Sophie Schmidt. The veteran Canadian international calmly converted the chance.”I don’t think it changes the game plan a bit because you’re in the fifth or sixth minute, so there’s a lot of game left,” Dames said. “But the worst thing to do, even if you’re in the regular season in a three-game week, the worst thing to do in that third game is to go down a goal early because now you’ve got to muster up energy to chase and be able to play higher and press.”The moment encapsulated much about the entire tournament. A promising but inexperienced second-year player, Sharples was in the starting lineup for the final because Casey Short, one of the best defenders in the league and a regular part of Vlatko Andonovski’s national team rosters, was out with a head injury. The Red Stars also played most of the tournament without standouts Tierna Davidson, Morgan Gautrat and Yuki Nagasoto because of injuries.Whether players were injured during the tournament or opted out of participating beforehand, there was a significant list of stars absent for some or all of the tournament. No team was going to win with its first-choice lineup. Everyone had to adjust — and that after a limited preseason.The only team without any members of the U.S. team that won the World Cup last summer, Houston wasn’t immune to the churn. Not long after she drew the penalty and appeared to grab her left hamstring in some discomfort — but long enough that she made at least one more all-out sprint down the left side — Mewis admitted to Dash coach James Clarkson the preexisting hamstring injury wouldn’t allow her to continue.Enter CeCe Kizer, who played just 32 minutes in her first five appearances in the tournament. The Dash barely missed a beat.”I think it’s really important to credit CeCe,” Daly said. “She’s been an integral part of our team. She stepped up today, she played phenomenal. And to fill somebody like Kristie’s boots is very difficult. For me, as a natural center forward with her behind me, I get communication, I get the ball fed to me. It’s difficult to lose a player like that, but credit where credit is due.”

And in stoppage time, it was up to Daly to offer one last example. So apparently exhausted on another blisteringly hot day at the end of a brutally long month that you could see her hands slip to her knees as the ball bounced around the midfield, Daly gathered herself long to pay Groom in for the final goal. The goal that guaranteed the Dash will never again be afterthoughts in the NWSL story.”I probably was running on E at that point, my tank is a little bit empty,” Daly acknowledged. “I just saw Shea go and I knew she was going to score. In the past, I might have tried to do that myself and try and dribble the whole field. But I think as a leader on this team, I’ve had to step up and be more for other people this year. Shea’s come in and done phenomenal. I mean, I just keep assisting her, but she doesn’t assist me.”She was, to be clear, just kidding about the last part — and according to Clarkson, the assist that earned Daly the Golden Boot via tiebreaker was even worth an extra $10,000.If the Dash played fewer games to earn their trophy than any other NWSL champion, they and the rest of the tournament field also passed a test unlike any sports has seen in our lifetimes.”This was a unique tournament for us,” Red Stars star Julie Ertz said afterward with a wry and weary chuckle. “But one of a lot of growth — a lot of growth on the field, a lot of growth off the field. For me, a lot of growth as a leader. This is definitely a tournament I’ll never forget, obviously playing soccer games and being able to come back and be with my team and grind every day. I think we’ve learned a lot about mental health for sure. Which is obviously important going through.”The first league to return, the NWSL now becomes the first to figure out what comes next. NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird this past week indicated, while stopping short of confirming or offering a timetable, that the league will explore ways to play more games this year.But pulling off the past month, which featured more than 2,000 minutes of soccer and, according to the league, more than 2,000 coronavirus tests without a positive result (excluding the positive tests that forced Orlando to withdraw before it traveled to the Utah bubble), was its own feat for all involved.”It’s interesting because each tournament or any team I’ve been a part of, it’s all about the journey to get somewhere,” Ertz said. “For us, this was really special for a lot of reasons that really only us 28 that are here plus the coaches really will ever understand.”The mood was slightly different for the Dash, Daly happily sipping a celebratory beer from a league sponsor as she answered questions. But that particular sentiment was shared.”We’ve faced so much adversity,” Daly said. “More than anybody in the world could understand — and they’ll probably never know.”The NWSL was the first league to get back on the field. The Dash were the first team to remind us how much that can mean.

Champions League draw: Ronaldo, Juve unlikely to win; how far can Man City go?

Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

The Champions League is back, but not as we know it. With 12 teams, 11 games and a World Cup-style last eight, it will take seven straight knock-out ties in the space of 12 days at two venues in Lisbon, Portugal, to decide who will be crowned European champions.With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the 2019-20 Champions League to be suspended in March with half of the Round of 16 still to be completed, UEFA has condensed the competition into a new format in order to play this season’s tournament to a conclusion. And following Friday’s draw, we now have a route map to the final, at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on Aug. 23.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2019-20

The quarterfinals, semifinals and the final will be played as a final eight straight knock-out tournament at the homes of Benfica and Sporting CP.

Round of 16 Aug. 7, 8
Quarterfinals Aug. 12, 13, 14, 15
Semifinals Aug. 18, 19
Final Aug. 23

ATALANTA:

Gian Piero Gasperini’s team are a dangerous outsider in their first-ever Champions League campaign, and although they will go into their quarterfinal clash against Paris Saint-Germain as underdogs, the form book suggests they should actually be fancied to progress to the semis.Atalanta are on a six-game winning streak in Serie A and have already booked their place in next season’s Champions League. They have also shown incredible fighting spirit to make it this far, having lost their first three games in Group C — conceding 10 goals in the process. But with PSG out of action since March due to the cancellation of Ligue 1, Atalanta should have a major advantage in terms of match fitness. They can definitely eliminate the French champions and make it to the semifinals.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Semifinals

ATLETICO MADRID:

Is this finally the year that Atletico Madrid end their agonising wait for Champions League glory? Diego Simeone’s team certainly have a golden chance to make it to the final, having been paired with RB Leipzig in the quarters before a match-up with Atalanta or PSG in the semis.Having eliminated holders Liverpool in the Round of 16, Atletico will go into the mini-tournament as favourites to reach the final having embarked on an eight-game unbeaten run in La Liga since the restart last month. Atleti possess the experience and quality to make it past Leipzig and whomever they face in the semis, but with an array of heavyweights lining up in the other half of the draw, they could be facing another heartbreak in the final, six years after losing to Real Madrid in Lisbon in the 2014 final.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Final

BARCELONA:

Barcelona must negotiate the second leg of their last-16 tie against Napoli before booking their trip to Lisbon, but with Quique Setien’s side earning a 1-1 draw in Italy in the first-leg, they will be favourites to make it to the last eight. They face a tough route to the final, though, with Bayern Munich — leading Chelsea 3-0 from their R16 first-leg tie — likely to be Barca’s opponents in Lisbon.Barcelona should be able to count on superior match fitness, having been in action throughout July, unlike Bayern, but while Lionel Messi will always be able to win any game on his own, it is doubtful that Barca will be able to keep it tight enough at the back to see off the German champions.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Quarterfinals

BAYERN MUNICH:

Bayern’s last-16, second-leg tie against Chelsea at the Allianz Arena will serve as a much-needed competitive work-out for Hansi Flick’s team, whose 3-0 first-leg win at Stamford Bridge makes the return game a formality.But once they get to Portugal, will Bayern be sharp enough to go all the way? Their last competitive game was against Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB-Pokal final on July 4, but their rivals in England, Spain and Italy have continued to play and will arguably have greater match fitness in mid-August.Robert Lewandowski, the leading scorer in this season’s competition, is the ace in the pack for Bayern, but they can also rely on the attacking quality of Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies. Bayern will travel to Lisbon as favourites to win the tournament.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Winners

CHELSEA:

The best that manager Frank Lampard can expect from the last-16, second-leg against Bayern Munich is a game that provides his young team with invaluable experience for the future.Chelsea were well beaten by Bayern at Stamford Bridge, suffering a 3-0 defeat that could have been much heavier. But with Lampard’s team on course to return to the Champions League next season, the trip to the Allianz Arena is the perfect opportunity to expose his emerging stars to playing against Europe’s elite.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Round of 16

JUVENTUS:

Maurizio Sarri’s team must still overcome Lyon in the second-leg of their last-16 tie, but with the game being played in Turin, the Serie A leaders will expect to progress, especially against a side that has played just once since March. Once in Lisbon, though, Juventus will face a daunting route to the final, with Manchester City or Real Madrid waiting in the quarters before a potential clash with Bayern Munich in the semis.In a one-off game with Cristiano Ronaldo in the team — and don’t underestimate how much he will want to win the Champions League in Lisbon again — Juventus are a genuine contender, but it’s difficult to see them resisting City’s firepower if they face Pep Guardiola’s team in the last eight.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Quarterfinals

LYON:

Rudi Garcia’s team emerged from Group G with just two victories in six games, but they remain alive in their last-16 tie with Juventus having earned a 1-0 win in the first-leg in France. They are capable of producing an upset if Juventus have an off-day in Turin next month, but Lyon realistically appear to have run their race in this season’s Champions League.

Lyon have already exceeded expectations this season, so the campaign has been a success, whatever happens against Juve.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Round of 16

MAN CITY:

Manchester City will probably never have a better chance of winning the Champions League … if they can finish the job against Real Madrid in the last-16 after winning 2-1 in the first-leg in Spain. City simply don’t lose one-off cup ties — their last defeat in any one-leg cup game was against Wigan in the FA Cup in February of 2018 — so the format in Lisbon will suit them and they will also be primed to peak just in time for the tournament by Pep Guardiola.From an attacking perspective, City will strike fear into every opponent, but their defensive weaknesses could be their downfall against teams as organised as Bayern or Juventus. Expect City to overcome Juve in the quarters, but if they meet Bayern in the semis, it could be the end of the road.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Semifinals

NAPOLI:

Napoli must get a result against Barcelona in the Nou Camp next month to progress to the quarterfinals, but Gennaro Gattuso’s have been inconsistent since the restart. They have won the Coppa Italia, but are out of the running for Champions League qualification, so they will travel to Barcelona needing to find their best form to pull off an upset.An empty Nou Camp may help them, but they still remain heavy underdogs against Lionel Messi & Co. over 90 minutes.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Round of 16

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN:

The decision by the French football authorities to cancel the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season in the wake of the coronavirus crisis has left Paris Saint-Germain with a mountain to climb if they are to end their desperate pursuit of Champions League glory.Thomas Tuchel’s team were impressive when eliminating Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16, but without competitive football since, they will prepare for Lisbon with friendly games against Le Havre, Shamrock Rovers and Celtic before domestic cup games against Saint-Etienne and Lyon. With all their opponents playing competitively since June, PSG must play catch-up — and fast.Atalanta may be the best draw they could have hoped for, but fitness may be PSG’s downfall.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Quarterfinals

RB LEIPZIG:

The loss of Timo Werner, who will not play in the remainder of Leipzig’s Champions League games following confirmation of his move to Chelsea, has left the German side without their most potent attacking weapon. And with a quarterfinal tie against Atletico Madrid awaiting them in Lisbon, the absence of their top scorer will leave Leipzig as big outsiders to make it to the semis.They will be organised and still carry a threat, but Atletico will have too much quality and nous for Julien Nagelsmann’s team.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Quarterfinals

REAL MADRID:

Real are on course for the La Liga title in Spain, meaning they will travel to the Etihad for their last-16, second-leg with the confidence to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit. But with captain Sergio Ramos suspended following a red card in the first game, Real will have to nullify City’s multi-pronged attack without their best defender.It’s dangerous to write off Real Madrid in any situation, especially a one-off game in which they need to fight back from 2-1 down, but City should be too strong for them on this occasion.

HOW FAR WILL THEY GET? Round of 16

PREDICTIONS

Semifinals:

– Man City vs. Bayern Munich
– Atalanta vs. Atletico Madrid

Final:

Bayern vs. Atletico

WINNERS:

Bayern Munich

Tyler Pasher scores. Indy Eleven win. Put it on repeat.

Kevin Johnston  Special for IndyStar

INDIANAPOLIS – After dropping their first result of the season Sunday, the Indy Eleven responded with a 4-1 victory over Hartford Athletion Wednesday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium, their fifth win in six matches.

What’s been the common denominator in all the wins? Tyler Pasher, Indy’s leading scorer and most dynamic offensive threat, was among the team’s starters. The Eleven are 5-0-0 this season when Pasher starts; they lost their only match when he didn’t.

Pasher came off the bench Sunday at Saint Louis FC as coach Martin Rennie rotated his squad to cope with a congested schedule. Pasher entered late, but only logged about 20 minutes and couldn’t find an equalizer as Indy fell 1-0.

“The Saint Louis game was tough,” said Indy forward Nick Moon. “It was like 90 degrees on turf, a match with a three-day recovery.”

Then again, Pasher hasn’t always needed ample time to make an impact. On the final possession of the match in stoppage time July 22 at Pittsburgh, Pasher chested the ball down on the other side of the hallway line before slaloming through the defense and hammering a shot from distance into the top shelf for a last-gasp 1-0 win.

And Pasher’s latest feat? He moved into second on the club’s all-time scoring list with another tally Wednesday, his 20th for the team, passed Justin Braun (19). He now trails only Eamon Zayed (27).

“Well, in the first part of the first half, I kind of was dropping in a little bit too much,” Pasher said. “I know that’s not what I’m meant to be doing in my space. So, what I had to do was kind of push forward a little bit more and kind of threaten the backline.”

The Eleven jumped out early on a link up between Macauley King and Moon in the fourth minute. King bended a ball toward the far post and Moon headed it by Hartford goalkeeper Parfait Mandanda. Pasher set King up with a square ball out wide to begin the sequence.

Hartford responded just after halftime, however, as Alex Dixon’s effort deflected through Indy defender Mitch Osmond’s legs and by goalkeeper Evan Newton.

But no Eleven match this season would be complete without a Pasher go-ahead goal. Once again, he obliged.

Ilija Ilic settled the ball on a broken play and tapped it to an accelerating Pasher, who found himself in on goal. His left-footed blast beat Mandanda to put Indy up 2-1.

Midfielders Drew Conner and Matt Watson ruined any hope Hartford had of a comeback by adding two more in the 81st and 87th minute, respectively. Karl Ouimette assisted on both strikes.

Conner put in a superb shift for Indy on both sides of the ball. Several timely slide tackles thwarted Hartford attacks, and he also started a few counters the other way with balls into space for Pasher and others.

“We know each other well,” Pasher said of the team’s success this season on passes in behind the defense. “We know what each player likes, and what each player dislikes. So, we can see the tendencies and what guys are doing. And that bond between all of us is getting stronger and stronger with every game.”

With the win, Indy has now defeated the current top-two teams in Group F, the other coming via the dramatic win over Pittsburgh.

The Eleven face another quick turnaround with Sporting KC II coming to town Saturday for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN REBOUNDS WITH DOMINANT 4-1 WIN OVER HARTFORD ATHLETIC

By Indy Eleven Communications, 07/29/20, 11:00PM EDT

Four Different Players Tally in 12th Straight Home Win at Lucas Oil Stadium; 28-game Regular Season Home Unbeaten Streak Now Tied for Second Longest Run in USL Championship History

#INDvHFD Post-Game Quote Sheet

#INDvHFD Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center

Indy Eleven scored four goals in a match for only the fifth time in club history – but for the second time already in 2020 – using tallies by four different players to soundly defeat the previously undefeated Hartford Athletic 4-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium.The result extends Indy Eleven’s (5W-1L-0D, 15 pts., most in USL Championship) daunting home unbeaten streak in regular season play to 28 matches (21W-0L-7D), now tied for the second longest such run in USL Championship history. Embedded in that stretch is a 12-game home winning streak in regular season play dating back to last July 20 that is also second longest in Championship annals – but could reach the apex with another three points the next time out this weekend at the corner of Capitol & South.After a back-and-forth first few minutes, it was Indy who broke the deadlock early and in style, a bullet header from Nick Moon counting for his first Eleven goal. Indiana’s Team broke forward exquisitely through Ilija Ilic, who held off a defender before spraying wide to Tyler Pasher, who played even wider to Macauley King on the right-hand side. It was King’s first-time cross that Moon met in the air, a beautiful lofted ball to the back post moving the scoreboard early.The Hartford Athletic press forced a few early mix-ups at the back for Indy Eleven, but none that proved too harmful. Around the quarter-hour play was stopped after a collision between two Hartford defenders, with both Sam Strong and Alex Davey coming up quite bloodied from the knock of heads. After several minutes on the pitch, Strong would walk off but be removed from the match, while Davey had his head wrapped and bandaged and eventually made his way back into the match.Hartford had the first true look at goal after the restart in play, a looping ball over the top that almost found Ever Guzman behind the Indy backline. However, the ball took a hometown bounce and saved Eleven ‘keeper Evan Newton from a difficult decision to exit his penalty area. The visitors followed that up with two more quick shots, both blocked in front of the goal by Karl Ouimette. Hartford midfielder Arthur Rogers forced a fine stop out of Newton in the 34th minute, a stinging effort from a yard inside the box. Newton could only parry it out however, and it fell to Tyreke Johnson who sailed the rebound effort wide.

Pasher won Indy a dangerous free kick toward the end of the half that he tried to curl in, but sent over the crossbar. The USL Championship’s leading scorer found his effectiveness limited during the opening stanza by the man-marking of Matheus Silva, but he grew into the match during first-half stoppage time and had a good shot saved by Hartford goalkeeper Parfait Mandanda. Pasher again created a great opportunity late into seven minutes of stoppage time, but was scythed down harshly by Davey, who received a booking. The ensuing freekick was built up into a shot from Conner Antley that Mandanda could only parry wide.Hartford equalized almost immediately into the second half, as Alex Dixon’s shot deflected off Mitch Osmond and fooled Newton, who couldn’t see it coming toward his net and was wrong-footed by a slight deflection. Harry Swartz had plenty of space down the left and played the ball in, which the Indy defense failed to deal with.The 1-1 deadlock would not last long, however, as Indy’s in-form talisman Pasher buried a shot past a helpless Mandanda after a great through ball from Ilic, making his first start of 2020 just days after the birth of his daughter. It was Pasher’s 20th goal for the club and sixth goal in six matches so far in the 2020 USL Championship, continuing a torrid pace that has him three goals clear of his closest competitors in the Golden Boot chase. The goal also marked his eighth goal in seven starts, a record dating back to the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinal at Nashville SC on November 2.Indiana’s Team about grabbed their third through Ilic, who was looking to get on the scoresheet himself after assisting the go-ahead goal. Once again, King whipped in excellent service, but the Serbian forward couldn’t quite direct his flick on target. King created another fantastic chance in the 56th minute, finding Pasher over-the-top, but again Indy were denied their third goal of the match as Pasher’s chip landed nervously wide, having beaten Mandanda. Pasher then blazed over the bar three minutes later, agonizingly close to his second of the match that would have been set up by Antley’s square ball towards the penalty spot.Indy finally grabbed their long-awaited third goal in the 81st minute. Midfielder Drew Conner burst forward and latched on to a beautiful pass from the midfield stripe by Ouimette before tucking the ball coolly beyond Mandanda for 3-1.It was 4-1 six minutes later thanks to a copy-cat goal of Conner’s, this time slotted in by captain Matt Watson, who bolstered his squad with his insertion in to the match the 71st minute. Using every bit of pace, Watson outraced a Hartford defender to another Ouimette service before chipping the ‘keeper.Indy Eleven will end its busy stretch of five games in 15 days this Saturday, August 1, the same way it began – with a home contest against Sporting Kansas City II. Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium are available starting at $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets. Fans unable to attend the match on Saturday evening can follow the action live on WISH-TV, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com (Spanish), and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvHFD
Indy Eleven 4:1 Hartford Athletic

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET

Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

Attendance: 4,775

2020 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (5W-1L-0D, 12 pts., 1st place in Group E)

Hartford Athletic FC (3W-1L-0D, 9 pts., 1st place in Group F)

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

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Great 2,000 SF place in La Porte, IN just 20 min from both Notre Dame and the lakeshore. 3 Br/2 Ba Place 4 beds on Stone Lake – check it out: https://abnb.me/EVmg/KjWULabehK

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

Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

7/24/20 – Undefeated Indy 11 on ESPN Desportes Sunday 5 pm, NWSL Final Sunday CBS 12:30, EPL Final Day Sun 11 am- Pulisic sparkles, MLS Playoffs begin   

Indy 11

So our Indy 11 remain undefeated to start with the best record in our history as USL leading scorer Tyler Pasher scored a stunner in the last seconds of a 1-0 win at top of the table foe Pittsburgh Wed night as a national TV audience saw on ESPN2.  A fairly even game was played throughout with some fine saves by Eleven GK Evan Newton.  But it was the stunner from Pasher as time expired that won the game to take the 11 to a league best 4-0 mark for the first time in club history.  The Indy 11 travel to St. Louis this Sunday for a 5 pm game showing on ESPN+ and ESPN Desportes.  The 11 Return Wednesday for 7 pm game vs Hartford at the Luke.  Buy Tickets online.

 Pulisic Dominates in 30 minutes in EPL

So Pulisic gave Chelsea manager Frank Lampard the ultimate screw you as he finally entered the game in the 58th minute –dribbled 4 Liverpool defenders then nutmegged Van Dyke as he sets up a tap in goal.  The United States international then grabbed one of his own 12 minutes later, bringing the ball down on his chest with his back to goal before turning and thumping it home.  Love Klopp’s reaction!  For 30 minutes Pulisic was the best player on the field – including the Champions Liverpool players.  For 30 minutes Pulisic was the best player in the EPL – you could argue since the break his 4 goals, 4 assists, and 3 penalty draws leading to goals has been the most impactful in the EPL since the return from break.  This despite the fact he missed 1 the FA Cup Semi and over half of 2 other games with a slight injury.  Obviously Pulisic WAS NOT TOO INJURED to play this game.  Who knows what happens if Lampard is smart enough to start him.  Assuming he will be starting Sunday as the Blues must Win or Tie Wolverhampton at home to Finish in the top 4 Champions League slot.  If Chelsea lose and Man United beats Leicester City at Leicester– the Blue will also advance.  If Chelsea lose and Man United and Leicester City tie – then those 2 teams advance and Chelsea pushes down to a Europa League spot.

EPL Final Day Sunday 11 am on NBC Networks

The final day of the EPL has plenty of excitement as Top 4 Champions League/Top 6 Europa League and of course Bottom 4 Relegation Battles will be decided on the final day of play across 5 NBC channels and Peacock free streaming.  Of course the games of the day are Chelsea and Wolverhampton on USA Network at 11 am – as Chelsea needs a win or draw to stay top 4.  Wolverhampton needs to outdo Tottenham so win or tie and have the Spurs lose or tie.  NBC will host the battle for 4th – Man United travels to Leicester City needing a tie or win make it.  Leicester needs a tie or win.

As for the Relegation battles – and honestly these games become almost life and death for a club.  Staying in the EPL means over $150 million dollars difference for the club.  When Dempsey scored for Fulham to help them stay in the EPL a few years back – it saved probably 50 jobs at the club – from the cooks, to the bottle washers, to the parking lot attendants to the ticket people, the boot washers, the assistant coaches and the players – many who would be forced to move for cuts in wages- the impact of staying in the EPL vs falling to the Championship is unbelievable.  Unlike anything in US Sports – so its these games that honestly might give us more entertainment.  Here’s the breakdown

Relegation – How teams can stay up

    • Aston Villa: Better Watford’s result OR draw and Watford draw
    • Watford: Better Aston Villa’s result
    • Bournemouth: Win and both Aston Villa and Watford lose

NWSL

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Challenge Cup final kicks off on Sunday at 12:30 pm on CBS between the upstart Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars a month after the league returned from the COVID-19 hiatus.  The games on CBS All Access and replayed on CBS Sports Network have been a success but having powerhouses Portland and Sky Blue knocked off in the semi-finals was interesting – Chicago was in the finals last year.  It will be interesting to see how many fans tune in – for this CBS televised game.  I don’t hear much talk about the game by the mainstream sports media since baseball has returned and the NBA is soon.  Non the less – flipping over from the excitement of the EPLs final games at 11 am on Sunday to a Women’s Final on CBS at 12:30 should not be difficult for the true soccer fans.  Ladies be sure to tune in – higher numbers will hopefully mean more CBS network time for women’s and eventually Champions League men’s soccer on CBS.

MLS is Back

I have to admit the MLS is Back Tourney has been mighty high scoring with lots of goals scored in extra time.  The Columbus Crew or Orlando look like the teams to beat out of the East – and surprisingly Cincy made the tourney while Atlanta is heading home. The Round of 16 Kicksoff is this weekend here’s with games at 8 or 9 and 10 or 11 on either ESPN or Fox Sports 1.  Here’s a Quick Preview

Carmel High Soccer

Good luck to those girls playing this weekend in the CHS Girl Tourney Saturday at River Roads Fields and good luck with tryouts the first week of August.  Same for the Boys on Tryouts in August.

Carmel High School Boys Soccer Tactical Camp

July 27 – 30 – River Road Soccer Complex. Camp offered for boys and girls ages 8 – 14. 9:00 – 11:00 am. $95

GAMES ON TV 

Sat,  July 25

1:30 pm ESPN+                  Genoa vs Inter

8 pm ESPN2                       MLS Playoff Orlando FC vs Montreal  

10:30 pm ESPN2                 Philly Union vs New England Revs  MLS Playoff

Sun  July 26  – EPL Final Day/NWSL Finals

11 am USA Network       Wolverhampton vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  (Top 4 on line)

11 am  NBC                       Leicester City vs Man United (Top 4 on line)

11 am CNBC                      Everton vs Bournemouth (Relegation)

11 am NBCSN                    West Ham United vs Aston Villa (Relegation)

11 am Peacock free           Crystal Palace vs Tottenham

11 an Golf Channel           Arsenal vs Watford (Relegation)

12:30 pm CBS                   NWSL Finals – Chicago Red Stars vs Houston Dash

5 pm ESPN+/Desp            INDY 11 @ St Louis

8 pm FS1                               Toronto FC vs NYCFC  

11 pm FS1                                Sporting KC vs  Vancouver Whitecaps

Mon,  July 27

9 pm FS1                                           San Jose vs Real Salt Lake –MLS Playoffs

 11 pm FS1                                       Seattle Sounders vs LAFC

Tues,  July 28

8 pm ESPN                                     Columbus Crew vs MinN United -MLS Playoff

10 pm ESPN                                     Cincy vs Portland Timbers –  MLS Playoff 

Wed,  July 29

7 pm ESPN+myindytv    INDY 11 vs Hartford Lucas Oil

Thus  July 30

8 pm ESPN                         QF1 Lake -MLS Playoff

Fri, July 31

8 pm ESPN                          QF2 -MLS Playoff

Sat,  Aug 1

1 pm ESPN??                       Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Arsenal FA Cup Final 

7 pm ESPN+myindytv        INDY 11 vs Sporting KC – Lucas Oil

8 pm ESPN                                   MLS Playoff  QF3

10 pm FS1                                        MLS Playoff  QF4

Sun,  Aug 2 – Italy last Day 

???  pm ESPN+                                Atalanta vs Inter

???  pm ESPN+                                Juve vs Roma

Wed,  Aug 5

3 pm CBS All Access           Man United vs LASK Europa League

3 pm CBS All Access           Inter vs Getafe Europa League

8 pm ESPN2                         MLS Semi-Final

Thurs,  Aug 6

1 pm CBS All Access           Leverkusen vs Rangers Europa League

3 pm CBS All Access           Wolverhampton vs Olympiakos

8 pm ESPN2                         MLS Semi-Final

10 pm FS1                            Tijuana vs Tigres Liga MX

Fri  Aug 7

3 pm FuboTV                       Man City vs Real Madrid (Champs League)

3 pm Fubo TV                      Juve vs Lyon (Champs League)

Sat Aug 8

3 pm Fubo TV                      Bayern Munich vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  (Champs League)

3 pm Fubo TV                      Barcelona vs Napoli (Champs League)

Tues,  Aug 11

8 pm ESPN                         MLS is Back Tourney Final

 INDY 11

Indy 11 Win on Last Second Stunner

The Morning Tea – USL News

Indy 11 Ranked #1 in USL PowerRankings

Indy 11 Wins Again

RECAP | Captain Paddy Barrett’s Second Half Stunner Sees Indy Eleven to 2-1 Win over Sporting Kansas City II

Buy Tickets

HOMEGROWN HOOSIER SVETANOFF ADDED AS ACADEMY SIGNING

Indy Eleven Trio Named to USL Championship Team of the Week for Week 3

Indy 11 Sponsor – Grab a bite at these local spots – https://www.thedistricttap.com/ & https://www.rosatispizza.com/location/carmel-in/

EPL

What’s at Stake Sunday in EPL Finals – Avi Creditor – SI

What’s at Stake on the Final Day of EPL Sunday

Leicester City vs Man U Preview

Predictions for Final Day
Premier League stat leaders: Golden Boot, Golden Glove, Assists

‘The others won’t sleep’: Klopp wants even more from Liverpool

Liverpool sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’

Klopp, Salah reflect on title-winning season

Liverpool lift first Premier League trophy

Pulisic reacts to his stunning display v. Liverpool

Pulisic can’t dampen celebrations, but Liverpool have work to do

USA

Is Pulisic Already the Best US Player Ever? – Doug McIntyre Yahoo Soccer

Pulisic Sparkles in 30 Minutes for Chelsea – s&S

Pulisic was Incredible vs Liverpool – Avi Creditor SI

Lampard Praises Pulisic

Pulisic Watch

Barca’s American 19 yr old Konrad De La Fuente nets 2

US Expects WCQ to start in Nov – no fans

NWSL &
Dash take on Red Stars as NWSL caps first tournament back

Red Stars beat Sky Blue in thrilling NWSL semifinal

Houston beats Portland to reach NWSL Cup final

(NWSL) Challenge Cup final kicks off

Discussing the Finals

NWSL Stays Covid Free for Tourney

All Women’s Ownership Group with former US Players, Actresses & more lands LA NWSL Franchise –

Natie Portman led Group Wins LA Expansion Team

Cool Video on LA Team

MLS

Sweet 16 Previews
Beckham’s Inter Miami eliminated from MLS tournament

FC Cincinnati moves on, beats Red Bulls 2-0 in MLS tourney

Nagbe Shows Why He’s so Alluring to US Men’s Coach

5,000+ Meals a Day inside the MLS Bubble

World

Real Madrid Win First La Liga Title since 2017 Renaldo last season

Renaldo hits 50 goals in Juve win. 1st to Score 50 in La Liga, EPL, Serie A

‘Ibrahimovic is a beast, a phenomenon’ – Donnarumma hails Milan striker and hints at San Siro stay

GOALKEEPING

USL Save of the Week

MLS Best Saves of Round 2

MLS Best Saves Round 1

Great Saves in NWSL Tourney

Dash take on Red Stars as NWSL caps first tournament back Sunday at 12:30 CBS

Amy Tennery

(Reuters) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Challenge Cup final kicks off on Sunday between the upstart Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars a month after the league returned from the COVID-19 hiatus, the first in North America to do so.A year since the U.S. national team won a fourth World Cup, Commissioner Lisa Baird said the goal was simple — to build on the momentum for the women’s sport on a tight timeline and show live sport can happen in the novel coronavirus era.”It was really hard to have this tournament be short,” Baird told reporters. “Four weeks is not a lot of time to win over not only avid soccer fans but casual fans. I think we accomplished that. We’re getting to that second level of casual fan — that’s what we need to do to be successful.”The announcement this week of a Los Angeles expansion team with owners including Academy Award-winner Natalie Portman, tennis champion Serena Williams and her husband, venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian, added to the lustre.Putting on a month-long tournament during a pandemic, however, was anything but glamorous, with players living inside a quarantined bubble, playing on a single-site without fans in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah.”No one had done this, going into this, not us, the NBA, the NHL and the MLS,” said Baird, who added that if the league has the chance to get players back on the field once the tournament is over “we will be doing so.”That is not to say everyone was intimidated. Dash midfielder Shea Groom, who has scored two goals in the tournament, told Reuters she quickly hit her stride in the “bubble” environment.”For me this year — whether it was going to be a regular league season or the Challenge Cup — (the key) was consistency,” said Groom.”I’m not sure exactly what changed – maybe it’s the environment and just being surrounded by different players — but there’s definitely been a freedom for me, feeling like myself again.”After powering past the Portland Thorns in the semi-finals, the underdog Dash are ready to face the Red Stars, who are out for redemption after a demoralising 4-0 thrashing in last year’s NWSL championship final to North Carolina Courage.The Chicago team comes equipped with top talent including U.S. national team goal keeper Alyssa Naeher, who has made 18 saves during the tournament, and 2019 U.S. Soccer female player of the year Julie Ertz.The Dash take on the Red Stars in the NWSL Challenge Cup final on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET (1630 GMT).

Pulisic reacts to his stunning display v. Liverpool

Joe Prince-WrightNBC Sports•July 22, 2020

The reaction from Christian Pulisic said it all. Chelsea came so close to grabbing the point they needed to secure Champions League action as they lost 5-3 at Anfield on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Top 4 scenarios ]

They need a point on the final day of the season at home against Wolves to seal a Champions League spot.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – News, analysis ]

With Chelsea trailing 4-1 with 30 minutes to go, Pulisic jumped off the bench and had an amazing assist to set up fellow sub Tammy Abraham to make it 4-2, then missed a great chance as he dragged a shot wide and then scored a superb goal to make it 4-3.The USMNT star has been suffering with a small injury in recent days so was left out of the starting lineup but boy, did he have an impact when he came on.Here is what Pulisic had to say to our partners in the UK, Sky Sports.“We were very close, we got it within one goal and the momentum was really changing,” Pulisic said. “I thought we had them but obviously it is just that one counter attack and it changed real quick. We weren’t quite there. In the second half the subs coming in and making a difference and getting a quick goal, that changes things. You could see thy were on the back foot for a while but they withstood our pressure. We were very close. We needed the result today, unfortunately we couldn’t get it, but luckily it is still in our hands and we have one more game to go. We go next game and we win and we qualify for Champions League and that’s the goal.”The latest news on Pulisic is that he was simply sensational when he came on at Anfield and swung the game in Chelsea’s favor.This cameo underline how importance Pulisic is to Chelsea and heading into next season he may be one of the most dangerous players in the Premier League.

Chelsea praise ‘big player’ Christian Pulisic

By Joe Prince-WrightJul 23, 2020, 9:15 AM EDT

Frank Lampard is starting to run out of superlatives for Christian Pulisic is the Pulisic news today.The Chelsea boss sent on Pulisic for the final 35 minutes with his side trailing 4-1, as Pulisic jumped off the bench and had an amazing assist to set up fellow sub Tammy Abraham to make it 4-2, then missed a great chance as he dragged a shot wide, then scored a superb goal to make it 4-3.That wonderful cameo helped Chelsea come incredibly close to grabbing the point they needed to secure Champions League action as they lost 5-3 at Anfield on Wednesday. They now need a draw on the final day of the season at home against Wolves to seal a Champions League spot.The USMNT star has been suffering with a small injury in recent days so he didn’t feature in their FA Cup semifinal at the weekend, and was left out of their starting lineup at Liverpool but boy, did he have an impact when he came on.After the game Lampard was asked how important Pulisic will be to his plans for next season.“Hugely important. He has had that impact. I was here for Eden’s first year and it is not easy coming to the Premier League, and for Eden in that first year it was adapting to the Premier League,” Lampard said. “Christian has had his moments of that but mid-season he had a really good patch and then since restart he has been in incredible form. Only the injury he picked up in the Norwich game has kept him out of the semifinal when he’s flying.“Against Liverpool he came on and played 40 minutes which is great for feeling confident about the injury and the qualities he has been showing. He is so young and he has such natural talent and he creates goals and scores goals. He is a big player for us so I’m delighted to see him come through fit. Clearly he will be a big player in these next few games for us and going forward as well.”Pulisic, 21, has now scored 10 goals and added five assists in his debut season at Chelsea and will start in the final game against Wolves, the FA Cup final against Arsenal on Aug. 1 and will do his very best to help Chelsea overcome a 3-0 deficit from the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 clash against Bayern Munich.Along with N’Golo Kante, the USMNT player is the first name on the teamsheet for Chelsea.

Christian Pulisic Scores, Assists Off the Bench for Chelsea vs. Liverpool

AVI CREDITOR20 HOURS AGO  SI

Christian Pulisic didn’t start in Chelsea’s vital match vs. Liverpool on Wednesday, but he certainly made an impact when given the chance.The U.S. international came off the bench and moments later delivered a highlight-reel assist to Tammy Abraham before scoring a sensational goal of his own, cutting into Chelsea’s deficit against the new Premier League champions in what was ultimately a 5-3 defeat.Chelsea trailed 4-1 before Pulisic came on, with Liverpool in fine form on the day it was due to receive the Premier League trophy. Pulisic, who used to play for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp when both were at Dortmund, entered as part of a triple substitution in the 59th minute, and two minutes later, the deficit was two.Pulisic weaved through Fabinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold, nutmegged Joe Gomez to breeze by him and then curled his cross by Virgil van Dijk, finding Abraham for the simple close-range finish to make it 4-2.Pulisic missed a golden chance to make it 4-3 soon after, as he ran onto a long Reece James pass before scuffing his shot and pulling it wide, but he made good on his next chance. Receiving the ball in the box off his chest, Pulisic took three touches, setting up his shot, turning and firing by Alisson to bring Chelsea within one. With a win or a draw, Chelsea would have secured a place in the Champions League next season with a game to spare, but that wasn’t to be, as Liverpool scored on a clinical counterattack in the 84th minute through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to restore the two-goal edge.”I thought the momentum was really changing. I thought we had them,” Pulisic, who missed Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal win over Manchester United on Sunday with an apparent minor injury, told Sky Sports after the match.Instead, Chelsea enters Sunday’s season finale vs. Wolves in fourth place, tied on points with third-place Manchester United (significantly behind on goal differential) and a point ahead of fifth-place Leicester.For Pulisic, he now has four goals and four assists since the Premier League restart, proving himself to be one of Chelsea’s–and the league’s–top players over the last month. On the season, Pulisic has nine league goals.

Pulisic now has nine goals and four assists in under 1650 minutes of Premier League action.  4 Since the Restart with 3 Assists and 3 Penalties Drawn for PKs.

Christian Pulisic stats versus Liverpool (SofaScore)

31 minutes
Goal, assist
23 touches
6/6 passes w/ 1 key pass
3 shots, 1 on target
3/4 dribbles
4/10 duels won
2 fouls, 1 foul drawn
1 interception

Christian Pulisic is already the best male soccer player the USA has ever produced, and it’s OK to be excited about it

Doug McIntyre

July 23, 2020, 12:05 PM

It stands to reason that when Christian Pulisic burst onto the international scene, an attacking phenom good enough to start games for Bundesliga titan Borussia Dortmund at 17, soccer types back in Pulisic’s native United States — and even a few fans — preached caution.“Look, nobody is more excited about this kid than I am,” Michael Bradley, then the captain of the U.S. men’s national team, pulled me aside to say in the spring of 2016 after I’d written that Pulisic should challenge for serious minutes during that summer’s Copa America Centenario. “But how many games has he played? Let’s not get carried away just yet.”A little more than four years later, it’s time to say with certainty and conviction what has become increasingly obvious, as Pulisic’s spectacular first season with English Premier League power Chelsea draws to a close: Pulisic, at the ripe old age of 21, is already the best American male to ever play the world’s most popular sport.This is where you point out that Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan were still producing for their country and clubs into their 30s. That both men retired with 57 international goals and well over 100 caps for the USMNT. That both scored in multiple World Cups. It’s a fair and valid argument.It’s also true that it will be years before Pulisic gets the opportunity to equal those accomplishments. And of course, there’s no guarantee he ever does. Every athlete in every sport is one unlucky injury away from the end. Pulisic’s slight (but quickly filling out) frame and desire to torch foes off the dribble makes him a magnet for rough play. And if there’s been any knock on Pulisic during his young career so far, it’s his tendency to miss matches because of muscle ailments.

Longevity and consistency do matter when crowning the king. By those measures, one could make a case for American goalkeepers Brad Friedel or Tim Howard, in addition to Dempsey and Donovan, as the best U.S. male player ever. Both enjoyed long spells as starters in the Prem. Both spent time wearing the No. 1 shirt with brand-name clubs.Still, the hardest thing to do in soccer is to score and create goals. And the way Pulisic has utterly dominated the world’s best league since it returned from its three-month coronavirus hiatus in June with his blistering pace, balance, control in tight spaces and all-important end-product is flat-out unprecedented among his countrymen.Pulisic has four goals and five assists in eight Premier League games since June 21. He’s scored or created a goal every 63 minutes he’s been on the field since Project Restart began. Add in his production from earlier in the season, when he was in and out of Chelsea manager Frank Lampard’s lineup as he adjusted to a new country, new team, and a new bruising style of play, and it’s 103 minutes per goal or assist. That’s a better rate of production than Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, Southampton’s Danny Ings or Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — the three leading scorers in the Prem — have managed during the 2019-20 campaign.It’s not just one good season, either. When Pulisic arrived in London last summer at 20 on a whopping $73 million transfer fee, almost four times the next-highest price paid for an American, he was a proven commodity. He’d put up 13 goals and 18 assists in 90 Bundesliga games.He has three goals — including a knockout-stage game-winner — and five assists in 26 career Champions League matches. His 14 goals in 34 games at the international level gives him a better strike ratio for the U.S. than Dempsey, Donovan or Jozy Altidore.

Should Pulisic’s age and lack of World Cup experience be held against him in the GOAT conversation? (The latter is no fault of his own; as a teenager, he was easily the USMNT’s best player during the failed 2018 qualifying cycle.) Does the lack of fans in the stadiums over the last five weeks take away from performances that seem to be getting better with each passing game? Should we wait a few more years before anointing him the best?

Maybe. This is subjective exercise, after all. And given the way American soccer history is littered with cautionary tales of prospects destroyed by premature and/or unrealistic hype (Freddy Adu), or who saw their once-ascendent careers at the top level derailed when their bodies failed them (Stuart Holden, John O’Brien), the desire for patience and perspective is understandable.“We have the tendency, and myself as well, to get ahead of ourselves,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter admitted on a conference all with reporters Tuesday, a day before Pulisic became the first U.S. player to score against Liverpool at Anfield. (He also collected an assist in the Blues’ 5-3 loss to the champions.) “If we would’ve made final judgment on Christian in the fall, we would’ve said, ‘Well, he’s not performing well.’ And now, all of a sudden, seven months later, we’re saying it’s the best signing ever.”Berhalter’s point is well taken, as Bradley’s was all those years ago. But it’s becoming impossible to ignore the fact that Pulisic is blossoming into a bona fide superstar before our very eyes. No American attacker before him has established himself as a key cog with one of the world’s truly elite teams, let alone its most dangerous player. On those cutthroat European proving grounds is where global reputations are forged.Christian Pulisic is next level already, and he’s only going to get better from here. It’s OK to be excited about it. Stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Premier League scenarios: Relegation, Top 4, Europa League, tiebreaker rules

By Joe Prince-WrightJul 23, 2020, 10:20 AM EDT

relegation, top 4 and Europa League scenarios and remind ourselves of the Premier League tiebreaker rules as the business end of the season is here.

[ MORE: Final day PL TV schedule ]

Strap in, folks, and get your calculators out and keep this page open as it will come in very handy in the final week of the season with things about to get wild.

Below we take a look at the latest scenarios for relegation, Europa League and the top 4, as there are many permutations which could play out during the final 90 minutes of the season.

Plenty could still be decided on the final day of the season.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Here’s a look at what needs to happen for relegation, Europa League and top four spots to be confirmed, while a look at the tiebreaker rules already has us imagining the madness of Watford, Bournemouth and Aston Villa all being tied on points, goal difference and goals scored when the final whistle arrives.

PREMIER LEAGUE TOP 4 SCENARIOS

Chelsea

  • Chelsea would clinch top-4 with:
    • Win/draw v. Wolves

OR

    • Loss v. Wolves AND Manchester United win at Leicester

Manchester United

  • Manchester United would clinch top-4 with:
    • Win/draw at Leicester

OR

    • Chelsea loss v. Wolves*

*Scenario assumes MU maintain GD advantage over Chelsea (MU: +28 / CHE: +13)

Leicester City

  • Leicester would clinch top-4 with:
    • Win v. Manchester United

OR

    • Draw v. Manchester United AND Chelsea loss v. Wolves

EUROPA LEAGUE SCENARIOS

Wolves

  • Wolves would clinch top-6 finish if:
    • They better or equal Tottenham’s result

Tottenham Hotspur

  • Tottenham would clinch top-6 finish if:
    • They better Wolves’ results

And 7th would qualify for Europa League if Chelsea win the FA Cup.

TIEBREAKER RULES

In terms of tiebreakers, here is the order and format in which league position will be sorted by if teams finish level on points:

  • Goal difference
  • Goals scored
  • Points won in head-to-head meetings
  • Away goals in head-to-head meetings

If the teams still can’t be separated after the above tiebreakers, a playoff will be arranged (at a neutral ground with the format, timing and venue determined by the Premier League Board).

RELEGATION SCENARIOS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 West Ham United 37 10 8 19 48 61 -13 6-3-9 4-5-10 38
 Aston Villa 37 9 7 21 40 66 -26 7-3-9 2-4-12 34
 Watford 37 8 10 19 34 61 -27 6-6-7 2-4-12 34
 Bournemouth 37 8 7 22 37 64 -27 5-6-8 3-1-14 31
 Norwich City 37 5 6 26 26 70 -44 4-3-12 1-3-14 21

Relegation – How teams can stay up

    • Aston Villa: Better Watford’s result OR draw and Watford draw
    • Watford: Better Aston Villa’s result
    • Bournemouth: Win and both Aston Villa and Watford lose

Aston Villa

last match: 11 am ET Sunday at West Ham

Villa needs a little bit more than a win or hoping Watford falls at Arsenal.

How could Villa go down with a win? If Watford beats Arsenal by at least two more goals than Villa defeats West Ham, it will climb over the Villans.

Similarly, if Bournemouth draws or loses, and both Villa and Watford lose, Villa could go down if it loses to West Ham by at least two more goals than Watford loses to Arsenal.

If both Villa and Watford draw, Villa stays up.

If Villa draws and Watford loses, Villa stays up regardless of what Bournemouth does at Everton.

Watford

last match: 11 am ET Sunday at Arsenal

A win over the Gunners would be enough if Villa loses.

A draw would be enough if West Ham beats Aston Villa.

Watford could even stay up with a loss if Bournemouth draws or loses and Villa loses to West Ham by two more goals than the Hornets loses to Arsenal.

Bournemouth

last match: 11 am ET Sunday at Everton

The Cherries need to win at Everton. Anything less and they’re down.

If Eddie Howe’s men take down the Toffees, they also need Watford and Villa to lose.

RECAP | LAST-GASP PASHER GOAL KEEPS ELEVEN PERFECT

By Indy Eleven Communications, 07/22/20, 9:45PM EDT

Tyler Pasher’s Last Gasp Strike Keeps Eleven Perfect via 1-0 Win at Pittsburgh

Red-hot Striker Tallies in Sixth Straight Game, Pushing Indy to Spotless 4-0-0 Record to Start 2020 Season

PITTSBURGH (Wednesday, July 22, 2020) – It appeared that Indy Eleven would settle for a share of points from its highly-anticipated contest at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC – until striker Tyler Pasher rewrote the script with a dramatic strike from distance at the death that gave Indiana’s Team a 1-0 triumph at Highmark Stadium.With the win, Indy Eleven (4W-0L-0D. 12 pts.), not only maintained its spotless record to start the 2020 USL Championship campaign, it snapped Pittsburgh’s (2W-1L-0D, 6 pts.) 25-game home undefeated streak in regular season play, the fourth-longest stretch in league history (behind Indy’s current 27-game streak that is third in USLC annals).

“I think it was a great performance for us tonight. Again, you got to see our fitness and resiliency, and I thought we controlled large parts of the game, especially considering we were away from home against a team that had not lost a game at home in at least two years,” said Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “It was a difficult game in the sense of it’s quite a tight field, there’s lots of contact and not a lot of opportunity just to relax and play. So given what we were faced with I thought our players executed perfectly.”

Post-game Quote Sheet | Head Coach Martin Rennie | PIT 1:0 IND

Pasher’s fifth goal of 2020 extended his lead atop the 35-team USL Championship’s Golden Boot scoring chart and improved his scoring streak to six consecutive games when accounting for Indy Eleven’s run in the 2019 postseason. With the tally, Pasher also became the first player in Eleven history to score in four straight regular season contests.“Those are the moments that are just really, really fun to be a part of,” Rennie continued. “When you are on a team or part of a staff and you see a goal that, in that minute, against obviously a very good team, it’s probably a highlight moment for Indy Eleven as a franchise. Tyler’s got the ability to do that, so it’s great to see him come through.”In what could be classified as a tight contest throughout, the first danger presented itself after 10 minutes when Pittsburgh forward Ropapa Mensah saw two crosses from the right flank go wanting, the first a foot too heavy for Kenardo Forbes’ far-post run and the second forcing a lunging stab by Ryan James that missed left of frame.

On the 15th minute, Pittsburgh defender Skylar Thomas continued the home team’s offensive flurry, his header from 10 yards out off a corner flashing just wide left as well. Looking to stem the tide, Indy center back Paddy Barrett tried to carry over his attacking flair from recent games with an audacious look from the opposite side of the midfield stripe, the attempt to catch Riverhounds goalkeeper Tomas Gomez off his line drifting just high.The 27th minute saw plenty of drama inside the Indy penalty area, starting when Eleven ‘keeper Evan Newton went low to come up big on Robbie Mertz’s blast set up by a give-and-go with Mark Forrest. Controversy reigned on the ensuing corner kick, which saw Kenardo Forbes’ redirect from the corner of the six ring off the underside of the crossbar, off the goaline and again off the crossbar before landing in the grateful arms of Newton. Despite pleas for a goal, center referee Eric Tattersall listened to his assistant who vigorously waved off any confirmation of a score, the two sides playing on from their scoreless stalemate as the half hour approached.The meaningful chances dried up as the half waned until deep into six minutes of stoppage time, when Indy Eleven defender Karl Ouimette had an open header at the six off of Tyler Pasher’s set piece service, only to see the chance sent right to Gomez on his line.The second half was a largely disjointed affair, spent mostly in the middle third and in search of a badly needed spark outside of five yellow cards – and even those were devoid of much venom, apart from Mensah’s unneeded challenge against Newton on an aerial ball in the 82nd minute.Neither team had a moment of true attacking danger in the half until the allotted six minutes of stoppage had expired. Indy’s last-gasp counter started with Neveal Hackshaw’s clearance from the Eleven penalty spot and continued when Drew Conner played a ball into midfield towards substitute striker Jeremy Rafanello, whose challenge led to Pasher collecting the ball. A 50-yard run, one cut centrally from the right flank and three dusted defenders later, Pasher set himself up on his preferred left foot for a 25-yard lash into the upper left corner that beat Gomez’s full extension, making Indy the first team to reach double-digit points in the 2020 USL Championship season.Indy Eleven will stay on the road for its next match this Sunday, July 26, when Indiana’s Team heads to the Gateway of the West to meet fellow Group E foe Saint Louis FC (2W-1L-0D, 6 pts.). Kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. for the contest that will air locally on MyINDY-TV 23 and nationally on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.Indy Eleven’s next two home contests come back to back next Wednesday, July 29, and Saturday, August 1, versus Hartford Athletic and Sporting Kansas City II, respectively. Tickets are available for both 7:00 p.m. kickoffs at Lucas Oil Stadium by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Regular Season – #PITvIND    Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC  0 : 1  Indy Eleven
Wednesday, July 22, 2020 – 6:00 p.m. ET      Highmark Stadium – Pittsburgh, Pa.   Attendance: N/A
2020 USL Championship records
Indy Eleven (4W-0L-0D, 12 pts., 1st in Group E)
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (2W-1L-0D, 6 pts., 1st in Group F)

 

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

7/21/20 – Undefeated Indy 11 on ESPN2 Wed 6 pm, NWSL Semi’s Wed, Final Sunday CBS 12:30, Chelsea vs Liverpool Wed 3 pm, Liverpool Trophy presentation at 5 pm

Indy 11

So our Indy 11 remain undefeated to start with the best record in our history as we knocked off Sporting KC 2-1 in front of close to 5K in the stands at the Luke. Indy 11 will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Riverhounds on ESPN 2 – at 6 pm on Wednesday night!   Four match-ups with Louisville FC headline the schedule along with 4 games vs St. Louis –these 3 teams should battle it out to make the expanded playoffs.

NWSL

So the semi-finals are on TV Wednesday at 12 midnight Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash and Thursday at 10 am Sky Blue vs Chicago Red Stars on NBC Sportsnetwork with the Final Sunday on NBC (finally) the Semi’s are on streaming Wed 10 am and 10 pm.  The games have been good –the ones I watch on replay on CBS Sports Network – I wish all the games were here – but we do get the big game on Sunday at 12:30 pm on NBC the finals!!

Pulisic Continues to Shine in EPL

So hopefully they were holding Pulisic back for the huge league games this weekend as he didn’t even see the field in the Semi-Final 3-0 win over Man United this weekend.  I was ticked off to say the least as I settled into watch on Sunday (he was injured)– Chelsea face Liverpool on Wed at 3 pm on NBCSN – hopefully he’ll be on the field in this hugely critical game as they need a win and a tie in the last 2 games at least to secure a top 4 Champions League finish.  Of course Liverpool will be presented the EPL Title Trophy after the game at Anfield around 5 pm after the game.   hopefully it will be after a tie as Chelsea need the points.  Its a 3 way battle between Chelsea 63pts/Man United 62/Liecester City 62 pts. for the 3rd and 4th spots.

MLS Is Back

I have to admit the MLS is Back Tourney has been pretty darn good – some really high scoring games as teams battle to win their group and advance on to the playoffs that start this weekend.  Great to see games featured on weekday mornings 9 am on ESPN and evening games a lot of nights at 8 and 10 on ESPN and Fox Sports.  The games have been really exciting and hopefully will give MLS a little bump in the US national Sports Scope before other sports start up later this month.

Carmel High School Boys Soccer Tactical Camp

July 27 – 30 – River Road Soccer Complex. Camp offered for boys and girls ages 8 – 14. 9:00 – 11:00 am. $95

GAMES ON TV 

Tues,  July 21

9 am EPSN                                         Toronto vs NE Revs

12:30 pm  NBCSN                             Watford at Man City

2:45 pm NBCSN                                Aston Villa  vs Arsenal  

8 pm ESPN2                                      Atlanta vs Columbus  

10:30 pm ESPN2                               Montreal vs DC United  

Wed,  July 22

9 am ESPN                                         Real Salt Lake vs Sporting KC

1 pm  NBCSN                                    West Ham at Man Unted

3 pm NBCSN                                      Liverpool vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  

6 pm ESPN2                                       INDY 11 @ Pittsburgh

8 pm ESPN                                        Cincy vs NR Red Bulls

10:30 pm ESPN                                 Colorado vs Min United

Thurs,  July 23

9 am ESPN                                         Chicago vs Vancouver  

1 pm  NBCSN                                    West Ham at Man Unted

1:30 pm ESPN+                              Udineese vs Juventus  

8 pm FS1                                            LA vs Houston

10:30 pm ESPN2                             LAFC vs Portland  

Sat,  July 25

1:30 pm ESPN+                              Genoa vs Inter

8 pm ESPN2                                      MLS Playoff Orlando FC vs ?   

10:30 pm ESPN2                              Philly Union vs New England Revs  MLS Playoff

Sun  July 26  – EPL Final Day/NWSL Finals

11 am USA Network                Wolverhampton vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  (Top 4 on line)

11 am CNBC                                   Crystal Palace vs Tottenham

11 am  NBCSN??                         Leicester City vs Man United (Top 4 on line)

12:30 pm CBS                               NWSL Finals – from Utah

5 pm ESPN+/Desp                           INDY 11 @ St Louis

8 pm FS1                                            Toronto FC vs 3rd Group A  

11 pm FS1                                          ??  MLS Playoff  

Mon,  July 27

9 pm FS1                                            MLS Playoff

11 pm FS1                                          MLS Playoff  

Tues,  July 28

8 pm ESPN                                        MLS Playoff

10 pm ESPN                                      MLS Playoff  

Wed,  July 29

7 pm ESPN+myindytv        INDY 11 vs Hartford Lucas Oil

INDY 11 

Pittsburgh to face the Riverhounds on ESPN 2 – at 6 pm on Wednesday

https://www.uslchampionship.com/news_article/show/1114043

Indy 11 Wins Again

NWSL & MLS

NWSL Semi-Finals – Who’s Going to Win – ESPNFC

All Women’s Ownership Group with former US Players, Actresses & more lands LA NWSL Franchise –

Natie Portman led Group Wins LA Expansion Team
Beckham’s Inter Miami eliminated from MLS tournament

EPL & World

Renaldo hits 50 goals in Juve win. 1st to Score 50 in La Liga, EPL, Serie A

‘Ibrahimovic is a beast, a phenomenon’ – Donnarumma hails Milan striker and hints at San Siro stay

USA

Pulisic’s 1st season Stats compare to Mane or Sterling – eSPNFC
Farke: Pulisic will be ‘world-class’; Lampard praises USMNT star

WATCH: Pulisic cross finds Giroud to give Chelsea lead

Lampard – Pulisics Game at Another Level

Lampard Thrilled with Pulisic – but don’t compare him to Hazard yet – GOAL.com

Pulisic Scores and has 8/10 Score in Win for Chelsea

How American Coach – became a coaching Star in Europe – ESPNFC
American coach Marsch named Austrian Bundesliga Coach of the Year

U.S. great Reyna: Son Gio enjoying Dortmund

Dest: I want to play with Ronaldo, Messi
Weston McKennie entertains offers

Ranking the eight USWNT Women’s World Cup teams
Op-Ed: If the goal is equity, the U.S. women and men should team up to bargain with U.S. Soccer
  -Grant Wahl

 

Indy Eleven at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

Wednesday, July 22, 2020 – 6:00 P.M. ET        Highmark Stadium | Pittsburgh, Pa.

Local/National TV: ESPN2

2020 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS

Indy Eleven: 3W-0L-0D, 9 pts., 1st in Group E

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: 2W-0L-0D, 6 pts., 1st in Group F

It’s an early-season showdown deserving of a national audience – and that’s just what Indy Eleven and Pittsburgh Riverhounds will have, courtesy of ESPN2, when they meet Wednesday evening near the confluence of the Steel City’s famed three rivers.

The contest features two of the three highest scoring offenses in the 35-team USL Championship through four weeks of action, Pittsburgh’s nine goals placing second, followed by Indy with eight. Eleven forward Tyler Pasher paces the league with four goals, while Riverhounds SC attacker Kenardo Forbes paces the USLC in assists with four helpers of his own.

“Pivotal” might be too heightened a term this early in a season for a game featuring two teams sitting atop their respective groups with spotless records. However, their form out of the gates have Indy and Pittsburgh as the East’s teams to beat in 2020 (don’t take our word … USLChampionship.com’s Nicholas Murray have Indy #1 and PIT #3 in the latest Power Rankings), which makes their first of two meetings during the shortened 16-game campaign one likely to be circled for end-of-the-season reviews come October.

Of the 17 Championship squads with at least three games under their belts, Indy Eleven is the only one to start off with three victories. A win Wednesday would not only make Indiana’s Team the first in the USLC to reach double-digit points, but it would also end Pittsburgh’s 25-game home undefeated streak in regular season play – a figure Indy might be in awe of were it not for the fact it’s similar run does the Riverhounds two better at 27.

SERIES HISTORY

Indy Eleven will look to even its all-time regular season series with Riverhounds SC, its record currently standing at 1W-2L-2D (6 GF/9 GA) after meetings across the 2018 & ’19 USL Championship campaigns.

Pittsburgh also had the leg up in their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup meeting last season, a Third Round affair the Riverhounds took via a 1-0 score at Highmark Stadium on May 29. Indy Eleven exacted a bit of revenge just three days later with a dramatic 2-1 win at Lucas Oil Stadium, while Pittsburgh took the return leg in regular season play via a 3-0 scoreline back in the Steel City in September.  Despite not being grouped together, the close proximity of the two growing rivals has them playing twice during the shortened 2020 season, with Indy Eleven set to host Riverhounds SC in the Circle City on August 15.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | DF PADDY BARRETT

We’ve noted the voracity of the Riverhounds attack, which means the Eleven back three – anchored by the Irish captain Paddy Barrett in the middle – will likely be under sustained pressure. Expect Barrett and the Indy defense to be up for the challenge, as the squad has conceded just once in the last 254 minutes of play after a two-goal hiccup in the first 16 minutes of the season opener at Memphis 901 FC. Pittsburgh will also have to account for Barrett in the opposite final third as well, as his deft finish in last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City II was preceded by eye-opening long-distance efforts in each of the last two outings.

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC PLAYER TO WATCH | MF KENARDO FORBES

The 2019 USL Championship MVP finalist and All-League First Team performer was a thorn in the side of Indy last year, as he notched a late game-winner in their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fixture in May and tallied twice in a 3-0 win late in the regular season. The veteran Jamaican playmaker is continuing his assault on opposing goals in 2020, already notching four assists – including a trio in last Saturday’s 6-0 drubbing of Philadelphia Union II. With five chances created and three successful crosses in just two matches, Forbes has entered the restart in midseason form and will once again need to be the focal point for Indiana’s Team all over the field.

Unlikely NWSL season will have an unlikely Challenge Cup champion

12:43 PM ETGraham HaysESPN.com

The Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, Portland Thorns FC and Sky Blue FC will breathe easier these days. Not because players are more accustomed to the altitude in the Salt Lake City area. Not because they will play all remaining games in the NWSL Challenge Cup on the Rio Tinto Stadium grass after five games on artificial turf. And not because the forecast offers any relief from the heat (it doesn’t).It’s mostly because that in proving themselves one of the best teams in the history of the sport, the North Carolina Courage suck the oxygen out of any room, or stadium, they occupy.But after Portland eliminated the top-seeded and previously unbeaten Courage in a quarterfinal, the NWSL will, for the first time since 2015, settle a championship without the team that won three championships and three NWSL Shields beginning in 2016, including its time in Western New York.A league now in the midst of the unlikeliest of seasons will have an unlikely champion.

That’s a good story especially in the cases of Houston and Sky Blue, franchises that began this year with no playoff appearances and 56 more losses than wins between them since Houston entered the league in 2014. It’s also an important story. A league in which bad franchises stay bad is a league that stagnates. A league in which they aspire to championships, even if only in a monthlong tournament necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, is a league that can thrive.

Houston has no playoff appearances in its history but has more often been mediocre than disastrous. Sky Blue, on the other hand, is only a couple of years removed from exploring the full depths of disaster. Amid a one-win season in 2018 came reports detailing inadequate facilities, poor housing and general dysfunction. The team at least adjacent to the biggest market in the league ranked last in attendance. Sky Blue had the second and sixth picks in the 2019 draft. Both players opted to sign instead in Europe, the only first-rounders to do so.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that people close to Alyse LaHue tried to talk her out of taking the job she now holds as the team’s general manager. Many people. But she did all the same, first on an interim basis early last season and then permanently last fall. Play improved throughout last season — not by miraculous degrees but steadily as a coaching carousel finally settled on Freya Coombe by the end of the campaign. With LaHue willing to listen to all complaints, at a full variety of volumes, from fans whose allegiance dated back to WPS a decade ago, the team’s image improved. A pair of games at Red Bull Arena late in the year drew big crowds — more than half as many in those games alone as the team drew the entire 2018 season.

Then came the offseason announcement that the team was finally trading its outdated and difficult-to-reach home at Rutgers for Red Bull Arena on a full-time basis. Suddenly, Sky Blue, which also traded for World Cup winner Mallory Pugh during the offseason, had a world-class facility far more easily accessible by public transportation.”It opens up for us a lot of new business opportunities as well,” LaHue said. “Really, Red Bull Arena was the next step for us in our growth as a professional club.”Except that is on hold after the sports world shut down before Sky Blue could make their full-time debut at Red Bull Arena.”You basically have a new job now,” LaHue recalled of the message to staff as the NWSL put its season on hold just as preseason training was commencing. “Whatever you did before, if you can figure out how to do it completely digital, that’s what you’re going to do now.”It says something about the shift from organizational dysfunction to, well, function that while there was plenty of outside debate about whether the NWSL could even survive a shutdown. Sky Blue spent more time on innovation than existential fretting. For starters, in addition to offering refunds to season-ticket holders who needed or wanted them, the team developed a digital season ticket service that offers fans regular online contact with players and staff. Those have continued through the tournament in Utah, connecting team and fans in a way likely to outlast the necessities of remote connectivity during a pandemic.But any turnaround is ultimately only as successful as what the players make it on the field.In a normal season and with a full roster that included additions Pugh, Midge Purce and McCall Zerboni, Sky Blue would have been a popular sleeper pick. LaHue even acknowledged the playoffs were the target. But with little in the way of a preseason to further adapt to Coombe’s system — and without franchise cornerstone Carli Lloyd and Pugh because of injuries — the NWSL Challenge Cup was, in the general manager’s words, aptly named.”I think you would have been able to see a much better-put-together picture that we are attempting to build right now,” forward Ifeoma Onumonu said of a longer season. “I think we’ve got a lot of good things going for us with the short amount of time we’ve had already.”And here they are in the semifinals, seven years after the team’s first and only playoff appearance.Sky Blue haven’t been a revelation in Utah, but it’s amazing how many breaks talented and well-run teams tend to catch. Start with some brilliant goalkeeping from Kailen Sheridan. Add steady veteran play from Gina Lewandowski, Nahomi Kawasumi, Estelle Johnson, Sarah Woldmoe and Zerboni, and suddenly surprises like Ghanaian midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe emerge from the positive environments in which they’re immersed.

“I’ve been blown away by what the technical staff and the players have pulled off,” LaHue said. “Obviously going into the semifinals of this tournament is just pure joy.”I don’t even have another word for it. It’s just pure joy.”North Carolina will be back, but it’s good to see what the rest of the league can do with a little room to breathe.So how do the semifinals set up?

Portland Thorns FC vs. Houston Dash (12:30 p.m. ET)

Portland is no stranger to semifinals, having reached at least that stage in six of the league’s first seven seasons. But even if its current No. 8 seed is a bit harsh for a team that lost just once in the preliminary round, and that in stoppage time, these aren’t the normal Thorns.

Tobin Heath opted out of the event. Adrianna Franch and Becky Sauerbrunn are out with injuries. Even Lindsey Horan had come off injured by the time Morgan Weaver scored the winner from a Rocky Rodriguez assist against North Carolina. Horan is listed as questionable for the semifinal with a left hip injury. But if she plays, Portland still has a special midfield with Angela Salem playing behind the developing chemistry of Horan and Rodriguez. Not to mention that it seems far more likely that Christine Sinclair still has a goal in her than that the Canadian legend will go without all month.

Houston scored five goals in its first two games, so in a tournament largely starved for it, there is clearly offensive potential. And yet the Dash have also gone more than 300 minutes since they last scored, the longest active streak among the semifinalists. So we’re not exactly working with convincing sample sizes either way.

There is so much to like about adding Shea Groom as a creative presence alongside Rachel Daly or watching Katie Naughton and Megan Oyster develop chemistry as center-backs in their first season together. But Houston has also ceded the edge in possession in every game and been less accurate in their passing than their opponents in the past four games. Playing on the counter and looking for the quick strike makes for a test of nerves in the team’s first semifinal.

Sky Blue FC vs. Chicago Red Stars (10 p.m. ET)

If the Red Stars win a title without scoring a goal, would we stop talking about Sam Kerr? It makes for an interesting thought experiment. At some point Kerr’s name will stop appearing (multiple times) in conversation about the team, but the Red Stars are still going to have to first prove they can score consistently without the former MVP. But with the team last among the eight participants with just 10 shots on goal, and the only goals scored by defender Casey Short and since-injured midfielder Morgan Brian, it’s a fair, if also repetitive, narrative.

It would have helped if the Red Stars had either Brian or Yuki Nagasato available for the semifinal. Both remain out with injuries after also missing the quarterfinal. Chicago has options, especially with Savannah McCaskill’s ability to play in a variety of attacking roles. But it’s worth noting that Chicago was the last team other than North Carolina to score multiple goals against Sky Blue, winning 3-0 in New Jersey last September against a defense that will probably look largely familiar Wednesday. Brian and Nagasato each scored a goal in that win. The other goal? Kerr, of course.

Natalie Portman part of L.A. ownership group for NWSL expansion team in 2022

Kevin BaxterLA Times•July 21, 2020

After a 12-year break women’s professional soccer is coming back to Southern California, with a star-studded ownership group led by actress Natalie Portman announcing Tuesday it has secured the rights to bring an NWSL team to the market for the 2022 season.“L.A. is a city that has a fanatical sports fan base. And obviously, we’ve shown that we have the ability to support multiple teams and multiple different leagues,” said media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, another of the principle partners in one of the few majority-women ownership groups in professional sports.“By bringing together this unique group of people, we actually have this ability to engage and promote and not only support the best players, but also grow the league by putting a spotlight on it and hopefully igniting a fire here that will touch other places,” Uhrman said.Others in that 30-member group include World Cup and Olympic champions Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Rachel Buehler, Tisha Venturini-Hoch and Abby Wambach; actresses Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain, venture capitalist Kara Nortman and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian.“We wanted to make sure that we brought in incredible partners who were from the soccer world, who are leaders in sport, in tech and business and entertainment because that’s really so much what our city is about. Each of us has our special ability to bring to the team,” said Portman, who began work on the Angel City project after the U.S. victory in last summer’s World Cup.“It just seems like it was ideal to bring [women’s] soccer to L.A. because we have such passionate fans here, such robust youth soccer,” she added. “It’s just an incredible kind of culture shift if we can bring more attention and light and celebration of these incredible athletes.”The franchise, which is using Angel City as its tentative nickname, is in discussions with several potential venue partners and hopes to announce both a venue partner and a permanent name by the end of the year. The Galaxy confirmed they are in conversations with Uhrman. The MLS team shared an owner and a stadium with the Sol, the last first-division women’s team to play in Southern California, before that team disbanded after one season in 2010. Women’s Professional Soccer, the league the Sol played in, folded two years later.LAFC, Southern California’s other MLS team, also said it was supportive of the effort to bring an NWSL team to the area.Last October the nine-team NWSL, the first professional sports league in U.S. to resume play during the COVID-19 pandemic, awarded an expansion franchise to Louisville, Ky. That team will begin play next spring. Angel City will have nearly two years to prepare for its launch, scheduled to take place the year between the two biggest events in women’s soccer — the Olympic Games and the World Cup.“There’s many steps that need to be taken along the way, so I think it gives us a good runway,” Portman said. “And with [COVID-19], it seems reasonable too.”

Natalie Portman-Led Group Wins Women’s Soccer Expansion Team in Los Angeles

Emily Caron and Scott SoshnickVariety•July 21, 2020

Academy Award–winning actor Natalie Portman and a group of predominantly female founders were awarded the rights to bring a National Women’s Soccer League team to Los Angeles in 2022, Variety’s sister site Sportico reports.

Portman and tech venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian, who led the investment with his fund, Initialized Capital, are sidelining the traditional ownership model. Founding the NWSL’s 11th team through an expansive investor ownership group that includes a number of Hollywood, tech, venture, media and sports stars, the startup-like setup is itself as notable as the names behind it.Twelve former U.S. Women’s National Team players, including FIFA World Cup champions Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Lauren Cheney Holiday and Abby Wambach were also announced as part of the founding investor group, as are actors Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba, America Ferrera and Lilly Singh, as well as author Glennon Doyle.A handful of other entrepreneurs, as well as executives from Netflix and Baby2Baby, round out the 32-member initial ownership group, which has also received local support. Well before the announcement, residents formed a grassroots local supporters group to help an L.A.-based NWSL team gain traction.“Normally in startups we think about finding product-market fit, and this is one of those [situations] where the market is very much asking for the product already. L.A. is ready,” Ohanian told Sportico. The Reddit co-founder also made a personal investment into the team on behalf of his wife, tennis star Serena Williams, and their daughter, Olympia — now likely the youngest owner in sports at two months shy of three years old.“I’m looking at this as a business decision. Yes, I believe there are a lot of good social reasons for this to be a successful enterprise, but this is first and foremost a capitalist one,” Ohanian added. “This is where esports was five years ago, except these teams are far more marketable; the athletes are far more popular and have already transcended the sport and culture. And while I am all for [what] this represents—a generation of athletes who should get paid what they’re worth, who should get treated fairly and equally—I also know this is tracking in the right direction. The free market is actually going to show that this has been undervalued for way too long by far too many people.”Without a team name or venue partner announced yet, the group — which established WFC LA, Inc. as a limited liability company in June with Uhrman listed as CEO and president — is calling itself “Angel City” as a nod to its future home. Angel City will join the Portland Thorns and OL Reign, located in Tacoma, Wash., as the league’s third West Coast team, and it will follow Racing Louisville FC, set to debut in 2021, as the NWSL’s next expansion franchise.“After spending time with the USWNT players, their union rep, and getting to know some of the owners of the NWSL and the league’s supporters, it became clear having a team in L.A. could not only elevate the league and players’ exposure, but also bring these incredibly talented women to the city of L.A. — my city,” Portman told Sportico. “We have the ability to engage, promote and support the best players in the world in the most popular sport in the world on a yearly basis, not just every four years.”

The expansion announcement comes on the heels of the USWNT’s 2019 FIFA World Cup win — where a record 1.12 billion viewers tuned into official broadcast coverage of the tournament — growth that continued with the NWSL’s own audience domestically and internationally. The league’s 2019 average attendance was up 21.8% over 2018 and 71.8% over its inaugural 2013 season. The ongoing Challenge Cup tournament in Utah drew a record-setting audience of 572,000 viewers for its opening match, marking a 201% increase over the NWSL’s previous high of 190,000.Los Angeles is already home to nine other professional sports teams, including two Major League Soccer teams, but has not had a professional women’s team since 2010, when the Los Angeles Sol of the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer League dissolved.“It’s clear that Los Angeles in particular is a huge soccer market. Every time the USWNT comes to play, they’re selling out Dignity Health Sports Park,” Urhman said of the home of the Galaxy, one of the city’s MLS teams, which seats 27,000 fans. “We felt like that was the recipe for success: having this incredible ownership group that believes in our mission and our purpose and having a fan base that already exists, that is really willing this to happen.”In addition to the rights to the newest NWSL expansion team, the group announced a community partnership with the LA84 Foundation. Now a formal supporter of the Play Equity Fund, which works to increase youth access to sport within underserved communities in Los Angeles, Angel City is focused on sport as a vehicle for social justice and gender equity as much as it is concerned with its on-field product.“Our story from the beginning was different — from starting with three founding women to building a movement before even having the money, stadium, rights or fans [to now] being able to grow our list of founding investors,” Portman said. “We believe in setting higher expectations on and off the field, for our team, players and fans. Success to us isn’t only on the field, but our impact in our community, payback to our players and entertainment of the world. We are not a legacy team but a team of activists, athletes and entrepreneurs who are used to challenging the status quo and reshaping expectations.”

Red Stars Win 4-3 on Penalties After 0-0 Draw With Reign Advance to Semi’s

ASSOCIATED PRESSJUL 19, 2020

HERRIMAN, Utah  — The Chicago Red Stars advanced to the semifinals of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup tournament, prevailing 4-3 on penalties after a scoreless draw with OL Reign on Saturday night.Lauren Barnes’ attempt for the Reign hit the post to seal it for Chicago, which will play Sky Blue on Wednesday night with a chance to play for the title.Three of the four quarterfinal matches went to penalties. Under tournament rules, tie games after regulation go straight to a shootout rather than to extra periods.Sky Blue advanced 4-3 on penalties after a scoreless draw with the Washington Spirit earlier Saturday. Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan secured the victory when she stopped Bayley Feist’s attempt.The eighth-seeded Portland Thorns, 1-0 winners over two-time defending champion North Carolina on Friday, will play the Dash in the first semifinal on Wednesday morning. The Dash also advanced on penalties after a scoreless draw Friday night against the Utah Royals.The Reign’s Jessica Fishlock got her first start since tearing her ACL in a game last July. She had one of the best attempts in the first half, but was thwarted by Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who was solid throughout the game.Naeher, who was in goal last summer for the U.S. team that won the World Cup, punched away a header from a wide open Sofia Huerta in the 59th minute. Later in the half, she tipped Kristen McNabb’s shot from some 30 yards out.Kealia Watt had a good chance for Chicago out in front of the goal in the 67th minute but it went just wide.Goalkeeping has been highlighted in the quarterfinals, with just one goal scored — by Portland’s Morgan Weaver — in the three other games.The Reign were playing without U.S. national team star Megan Rapinoe, who opted out of the tournament.Group results determined seeding for the eight teams in the Challenge Cup. The league’s ninth team, the Orlando Pride, withdrew before the tournament because of positive coronavirus tests.

 

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

 

 

7/17/20 – Indy 11 wins – home again Sat 7/18, NWSL Final Sunday CBS, FA Cup Semi’s Sat/Sun  

Indy 11

So our Indy 11 became one of the first US Sports back with fans – -as we knocked off St. Louis 2-0 in front of limited fans in the stands.   The 11 will host Sporting KC  in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium with limited fans in attendance again this Saturday at 7 pm .(click here for tickets)   Four match-ups with Louisville FC headline the schedule along with 4 games vs St. Louis –these 3 teams should battle it out to make the expanded playoffs.

NWSL

So the semi-finals are Friday 10 pm and on Saturday at 8 and 10 pm on CBS allacess.  The games have been good –the ones I watch on replay on CBS Sports Network (I refuse to sign for another soccer firewall) – I wish all the games were here on TV – but we do get the big game next Sunday 12:30 pm on NBC the finals!!  NWSL standouts move on to quarterfinals.

Pulisic Continues to Shine in EPL

I can’t tell you how exciting it has been for me to watch a healthy Christian Pulisic back on the pitch for Chelsea and playing well.  This weekend we get FA Cup action on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm with Chelsea vs Man United in FA Cup Semi’s on ESPN+.  Pulisic scored a goal and had an assist this week for a Chelsea side battling for a top 4 slot in the EPL and Champions League play next season.  FA Cup Semi-Finals are Sat/Sun this weekend as Arsenal faces Man City on Sat at 2:45 pm on ESPN+, while the Spurs and Leicester Sun at 11 am before Chelsea Man U at 1 all on ESPN+.  Man sure would be cool if ESPN picked up the Chelsea vs Man U game on ESPN 1 or 2 – could do a huge audience for that with a Sunday 1 pm kickoff.  God forbid we have a big game featuring our best American player playing for a top 4 club like Chelsea battling mega team Man United?  Anyway off my soapbox!

Carmel High School Boys Soccer Tactical Camp

July 27 – 30 – River Road Soccer Complex. Camp offered for boys and girls ages 8 – 14. 9:00 – 11:00 am. $95

GAMES ON TV 

Sat,  July 11

12:30 pm  NBC                                    Norwich vs Burnley

2:45 pm ESPN+                                   Arsenal vs Man City  FA Cup

7 pm ESPN+ TV4                                INDY 11 Host Sporting KC 2

8 pm ESPN                                          Portland vs Houston  

10:30 pm ESPN                                   LA Galaxy vs LAFC  

Sun, July 12  

7:30  am NBCSN                                 Burnley vs Sheffield United

11 am bIN Sport/FuboTV                Alaves vs Barcelona

11 am NBCSN                                     Tottenham vs Leceister City FA Cup Semis

1 pm ESPN+                                        Man United vs Chelsea  FA Cup

3 pm beIJN Sport                                Leganes vs Real Madrid

3:$5 pm ESPN+                                   Roma vs Inter

8 pm FS1                                             Chicago vs San Jose  

10:30 pm FS1                                      Seattle vs Vancouver  

USA

Pulisic’s 1st season Stats compare to Mane or Sterling – eSPNFC
Farke: Pulisic will be ‘world-class’; Lampard praises USMNT star

WATCH: Pulisic cross finds Giroud to give Chelsea lead

Lampard – Pulisics Game at Another Level

Lampard Thrilled with Pulisic – but don’t compare him to Hazard yet – GOAL.com

Pulisic Scores and has 8/10 Score in Win for Chelsea

How American Coach – became a coaching Star in Europe – ESPNFC
American coach Marsch named Austrian Bundesliga Coach of the Year

U.S. great Reyna: Son Gio enjoying Dortmund

Dest: I want to play with Ronaldo, Messi
Weston McKennie entertains offers

Ranking the eight USWNT Women’s World Cup teams
Op-Ed: If the goal is equity, the U.S. women and men should team up to bargain with U.S. Soccer
  -Grant Wahl

EPL & World
Lampard admits it is ‘going to be tough’ as Chelsea push for Champions League

Manchester United vs Chelsea, FA Cup semi-final: What time is kick-off on Sunday, what TV channel is it on and what’s our prediction?

• Buffon, 42, signs one-year deal at Juve

NWSL & MLS

Armchair Analyst Breakdown on MLS Tourney – Matt Doyle

https://www.mlssoccer.com/mls-is-back-tournament/standings

NWSL standouts move on to quarterfinals– 4hGraham Hays

Thorns FC’s Lindsey Horan provides a glimpse inside NWSL bubble
Thorns FC goalkeeper Bella Bixby gives us some perspective on playing with no fans

Crystal Dunn and Brianna Pinto talk about being Black soccer players

‘Pulisic can’t be compared to Hazard – he carried Chelsea!’ – USMNT forward still learning, says Burley

Goal.comJul 9, 2020, 5:44 AM

Christian Pulisic may be enjoying a stunning run of form at Chelsea but he cannot be compared to Blues legend Eden Hazard because the Belgian “carried one of the biggest teams in the Premier League for a few seasons”, says Craig Burley.Inevitable links are being made between two star turns to have filled a left-sided attacking berth at Stamford Bridge.When the decision was reluctantly taken to offload Hazard to Real Madrid in the summer of 2019, suitable cover was required to fill sizeable boots in west London.Chelsea always hoped that Pulisic would be the man to step up, with the United States international having been lured away from Borussia Dortmund at just 21 years of age.Time is very much on the American’s side when it comes to following in Hazard’s footsteps, with a flurry of goals since the Premier League restart suggesting that he is ready to become a talisman.

Frank Lampard has, however, been reluctant to start comparing Pulisic and Hazard, with piling such pressure on a player who still has much to learn considered to be both premature and unnecessary.Burley is another of that mindset, with the former Chelsea midfielder eager to point out that there is a long way to go before a star of the present can claim to have emulated one of the recent past.He told ESPN FC of the Pulisic praise: “They should take their heads out of the sand.”Eden Hazard carried Chelsea for a long time, and got his move to Real Madrid.”He’s a multiple league winner, and a hugely talented Belgian international. In the end, he was coveted by arguably the biggest club in the world – Real Madrid.”It’s typical of the rationale – trying to compare people too early. Christian Pulisic is a huge talent, but he’s a young man.”There’s no guarantee that come next season with all the new players coming in that he’ll get all the game time he needs.”All he needs is two or three quiet games, and any manager worth his salt will have [Callum] Hudson-Odoi in, or he’ll have [Timo] Werner on the left, or Mason Mount.”I think we need to go slowly with Christian Pulisic, it’s a learning curve for him, he’s doing great at the moment, but you can’t compare him to a player who literally carried one of the biggest teams in the Premier League for a few seasons.”Hazard took in 352 appearances for Chelsea over the course of a seven-year stay, with 110 goals and 92 assists recorded while helping the Blues to two Premier League titles and a couple of Europa League crowns.Pulisic has nine goals and eight assists to his name this season, with it still possible for him to end his debut campaign in England with an FA Cup winners’ medal.

 

USMNT’s Sergino Dest: I want to play with Ronaldo, Messi

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Fox Sports’ Milan van Dongen breaks down the link between Bayern and Sergino Dest. (1:22)

  • ESPN

Ajax and U.S. men’s national team (USMNT) defender Sergino Dest has said he wants to be the most expensive full-back in the world and play with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Dest has been linked with a big-money move away from Ajax this summer with several top European clubs, including Bayern MunichBarcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, said to be interested in him.

“I want to be the most expensive full-back ever because when you reach that it shows that you are one of the best full-back of the world,” Dest told NOS Jeugdjournaal.”I want to go over €50 million. No defender went above €100m”I want to play with [Kylian] Mbappe, Ronaldo, Messi or Neymar. Time will tell if it will come true. But it is possible.”Bayern Munich are reportedly leading the charge to sign the 19-year-old but Dest has yet to commit to leaving Ajax.However, the young defender is a self-confessed Barcelona fan and many believe should the Catalonian club make an offer Dest would be swayed there over the Bundesliga giants.”There are a lot of rumours. No, it has not been decided that I go to Bayern Munich and I haven’t really said anything yet. There is interest from clubs but I don’t know if I leave Ajax,” he said.Dest, who was born in the Netherlands, pledged his allegiance to the USMNT at the end of 2019 after securing his first senior caps in September of that year.”I chose the U.S. because I’ve played there in the youth teams,” Dest said of his decision. “It is my choice, everybody can have his opinion but [this] is my decision. I am the one who is in trouble when it doesn’t work out.”

 

United States’ Weston McKennie open to Schalke exit – sources

Stephan UersfeldGermany correspondent

United States international Weston McKennie is open to leaving Bundesliga side Schalke 04, sources told ESPN.

McKennie, 21, was one of the few Schalke players to not see his stock drop following a run of 16 Bundesliga games without a win this season.No longer 100% happy at Schalke, the versatile McKennie — who is one of the club’s biggest assets — would be in favour of leaving if the Royal Blues wish to sell him and his new club proves a good fit, sources say.A report by German outlet Sport1 has already linked McKennie, who could command a fee between €20-€25 million, with Hertha Berlin and fellow Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg also a possible option.”A departure can not be ruled out,” Schalke sporting executive Jochen Schneider said on Wednesday. “I can’t say it 100% right now. It’s a fact that Weston prolonged his contract through to 2024 last year.”This season, McKennie has been asked to play in several different positions — central attacking midfielder, holding midfielder and centre-back.The change of positions has been a common theme throughout his first few years as a professional. In 91 competitive appearances since his May 2017 debut, McKennie has played in eight different spots on the pitch. A pressing force and strong in the air, McKennie’s build-up play, however, proved to be one of his weakness when dropping deep behind the central defence. He now fancies himself as a No. 8 on the pitch going forward.Schalke on Wednesday announced they must reduce costs amid financial difficulties which were worsened by two factors in recent months. The club missed out on European football for the third time in four years this campaign and they were also hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, the club announced they ran up almost €200m in debt and the pandemic left them battling to remaining existence in April.Current Hertha Berlin coach Bruno Labbadia was reportedly interested in signing McKennie when he was in charge of Wolfsburg. And Hertha this week received another €150m cash injection from investor Lars Windhorst, who wants to turn the mid-table side into a permanent participant in the Champions League. And the club have an opening in midfield after Marko Grujic returned to Liverpool following his two-year loan at Hertha.

How Jesse Marsch became the most successful American coach in Europe

Jul 9, 2020Tom HamiltonSenior Writer

The young Jesse Marsch never dreamed of coaching a team in the Champions League. It was an outlandish, unrealistic thought. But now that he is a little older, Google “FC Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch,” and it comes with various qualifiers. Depending on what you read, he’s the “first American to coach a team in the Champions League” or, perhaps, “the first American manager to win a European trophy,” as he just did in Austria: His Salzburg side clinched their seventh straight Austrian Bundesliga title on June 28, a title to add to the Austrian Cup they won May 20 with a 5-0 thumping of SC Austria Lustenau. (He was named the league’s Manager of the Year after the season ended last weekend.)

It’s like a boxer. You can imagine hearing the big, booming introduction over the stadium speakers. All the way from Wisconsin, your double-winning champion manager of Salzburg … Jesse Marsch!Tell the young Marsch this, and he would’ve laughed at you. An American coach in Europe? Never. “They don’t take us seriously,” he grew up thinking.Back then, his dreams stopped at one day being able to live in Europe and watch the Champions League at night, as was intended. That was enough. Now, as a highly regarded manager in Europe with Austrian champions FC Salzburg, Marsch remembers those teenage hopes. Aged 15, he was on tour with an American regional side at a youth tournament in the U.K., and they were taken to Anfield to watch Liverpool. After watching John Barnes and Peter Beardsley, he went down to the pitch, and scooped up some of the Anfield turf as a keepsake, just in case he never got the opportunity to go there again.Late one evening in October at Anfield, 31 years on, Marsch was trying to inspire a Salzburg comeback, with his club 3-1 down to Liverpool at half-time in their Champions League group stage match. There were cameras in the changing room for a documentary the club is working on. The clip, which went viral when shared on social media, had us all watching as Marsch addressed his players passionately in a goulash of German, English, expletives and footballing terminology.”You can’t get emotional all the time … but you can be real,” Marsch told ESPN, remembering that team talk. “That’s a big part of leadership is inspiration but also understanding solutions and how to drive communication home.” Salzburg went on to level the match 3-3 and eventually lost 4-3, earning praise for the manner in which they went down swinging. (One of Marsch’s players that night, Takumi Minamino, ended up joining Liverpool when the January transfer window opened.)Marsch, 46, is tired of talking about that glimpse now. After all, he’s far more than a flash in the pan. That two-minute video embodied everything Marsch is about: He’s compelling, he shows vulnerability of his interspersing language, he is packed with passion, and he has unwavering trust in the system to be fearless and attack. That’s the philosophy he lives by, and it has seen him guide Salzburg, whom he joined ahead of the 2019-20 season, to even more domestic success. Job done.He is accustomed to proving doubters wrong, feeling that there’s a “stigma” around American football coaches, but as a trailblazer, he’s changing that to the extent that no one does a double take when they hear about the former midfielder from Racine, Wisconsin, who won a pair of USMNT caps against Trinidad and Tobago and China, being linked with the best jobs in European football.

Marsch won the Austrian league and cup double in his first season coaching FC Salzburg. David Geieregger/SEPA.Media /Getty Images

After starting his managerial career at Montreal Impact and then, after a brief hiatus, as a college coach at Princeton, Marsch took charge of the New York Red Bulls in 2015. He was highly regarded and improved the franchise immeasurably. But halfway through the 2018 season, with New York in a title chase and with the best win ratio in the team’s history, he left to take a role as Ralf Rangnick’s assistant at Leipzig.Rangnick, an extremely highly regarded German coach, has had a huge influence on Marsch’s life. The current head of sport and development at Red Bull GmbH has been heavily linked with a role at AC Milan, but he started the trend of gegenpressing in German football. Other Rangnick disciples include Julian Nagelsmann at Leipzig, Adi Hütter at Frankfurt, Marsch’s predecessor, Marco Rose, who is now at Borussia Monchengladbach, and Oliver Glasner at Wolfsburg.

When Marsch first spoke to Rangnick, it was like a fire had been lit inside him.”In terms of my tactical philosophies, I’ve gathered so much from Ralf,” Marsch said. “When we first met when I was at New York, when he started talking about football ideas, concepts and details he has, it really sparked my imagination. I like to play fast football but I learned so much more from him on how to prepare your team on how you can achieve that tempo at every moment in the game.”After a season at Leipzig, Marsch was appointed Salzburg manager last summer. Although Salzburg are now split from the Red Bull footballing arm because of UEFA rules, Marsch has that Rangnick/Red Bull DNA synthesis running through his veins. They play, in Marsch’s words, “a very strong version of Red Bull football” — attacking, high press, gegenpressing, challenging the opponent every second — and while he’s an unapologetic champion for this style, it comes with self-awareness.

“I don’t want to come across like I have it all figured out, though … [or like] that offense is the only way to do it,” he said. “That’s [the] way I like to do it. It’s the way I’ve found can breed success.”This goes back to that half-time team talk at Anfield, as he reminded his players of the Salzburg way. But systems are all well and good; you still need to add meat to the bones.Although Marsch was attuned to Rangnick’s footballing philosophy, he sees the game as 25% tactical and 75% mental, with good communication essential. Former USMNT coach Bob Bradley has long been one of Marsch’s mentors, but as Marsch embarked on his own trip to Europe at Leipzig, he remembered how Bradley struggled for acceptance at Swansea City.”Bob inspired me. I think one of the big reasons I even thought about the possibility of moving to Europe was because Bob tried it. I have the utmost respect for him,” Marsch said. “But I watched the way the media treated him [at Swansea], and I felt in some ways, it’s easier to go to somewhere that speaks a different language because they’re almost more forgiving when you make mistakes.”I understand the stigma involved with being an American coach in England, right? Like, they don’t take [it] seriously. That’s OK. We have to earn the right. My approach has always been holistic: to try to adapt [to a new club] but also be myself and make sure the team is a representation of things I believe in.

“Speaking German is a big part of that. I tell them [the players] I don’t speak German with them because I think I’m good at it. … I make mistakes in every sentence. German’s a brutal language, too. It’s brutal. But I’ve gotten much better. It’s really helped me understand the people within the communities I’ve worked on in both Germany and Austria. I’ll say that it’s been really anstrengend — the word for difficult, time-consuming, stressful — but it’s also been incredibly rewarding.”Marsch is fascinated by character and motivation, as well as the role language plays in coaching. In his office, he has a folder filled with a number of phrases and examples of motivational techniques taken from history, sport and literature. He also showed his players the documentary “The Last Dance,” and though they were too young to remember Michael Jordan in his prime, he wanted them to learn from his relentless push for success.The folder came out when Marsch sat with his captain, Andy Ulmer. He has 17 major titles to his name. Where do you go after you win your eighth title on the bounce at Salzburg? Well, for Ulmer, Marsch developed a narrative around his captain that he wanted him to feel like Austria’s version of Muhammad Ali.”At [New York Red Bulls], I used to talk about Ali. He used to talk a lot in the media, and he later said he did that because he was trying to convince himself he was a champion,” Marsch said. “So I used Ali and Ulmer. I even asked him about [how] he keeps himself successful. He spoke about his preparation and drive, and we created terminology around Andy being the greatest Austrian player to ever play. It’s about trying to uncover little clues to understand how and why players play.”His own player-facing growth narrative is about stretching his limitations. “Going out of your comfort zone and being vulnerable: Those are the only ways to grow,” Marsch said. “It’s the only way to get better: making mistakes, learning from mistakes. If I’m going to talk about that, then I certainly have to be the best example of it.”

His method works. Tyler Adams, the USMNT and Leipzig midfielder, worked under Marsch at New York. He is the archetypal Marsch player: Adams can play almost anywhere on the field, understands the philosophy from all sides and has a thirst for learning. When asked by ESPN how influential Marsch had been for him, Adams was effusive.

“Unbelievably… developing me as a player is one thing, but as a person, a lot of the quality traits I hold and how I felt I could develop as quickly as I could, a lot of it is down to how I could mature under Jesse,” Adams said. “He had these leadership qualities, could pull people aside and communicate. I want to be the best leader I can be — a lot of that came from Jesse. It doesn’t matter who you are. He treats you the same.”For Marsch, life experiences have helped mould his coaching philosophy and range of influences. He looks back to the time when he left his first managerial post at Montreal Impact in 2012. Instead of immediately hopping into another job, he took his family travelling. He, his wife and their three children (then aged 5, 9 and 11) went to 32 countries in six months and stayed in hostels, motels and on floors, rather than hopping from hotel to hotel. He met different people and embraced local culture, and it ignited a curiosity inside him.”It was about understanding humanity … that’s football as well. If you don’t understand multiculturalism or what it’s like for people to grow up in parts of Africa or South America or wherever, then how can you effectively lead a group and understand how to make them better?”This spell formed part of his itch to see what lay beyond the familiar four walls of MLS, and his career has shown that, as he has gone from New York to Leipzig to Salzburg.But what doesn’t help your push for relentless success or your reputation for growing talent is when you lose your best players every year. It is an annual challenge for Salzburg.

FC Salzburg’s alumni roster reads like a list of footballing who’s-who. Premier League-winning Liverpool duo Sadio Mane (2012-14) and Naby Keita (2014-16) played there. Minamino, who played in that 4-3 defeat at Anfield, joined them at Liverpool in January. Then there’s Erling Haaland, the prolific Norwegian striker who is scoring for fun in the Bundesliga for Borussia DortmundKevin Kampl, Peter Gulasci and Dayot Upamecano all went from Salzburg to Leipzig, too. It’s a well-trodden path; though the clubs are officially separate, they have an unofficial sister club relationship where Leipzig are traditionally the bigger side and scoop up some of the Austrian team’s best players.

Losing that number of brilliant players might seem careless, but it’s inevitable for a club such as Salzburg. Although they’re dominant in their own division, the money generated from the Austrian Bundesliga and stature of the competition isn’t in the same league as that of the German Bundesliga, Premier League, Serie A or La Liga. To survive and thrive, both domestically and on the balance sheet, Salzburg have to develop from within.The thing Marsch has always enjoyed most is coaching younger, promising players, and that marries with Salzburg’s philosophy.”We have a clear identity. It’s about the academy and finding those young, 15- or 16-year-olds and helping them understand the way we play. It’s a specific style, and they then grow as they adjust to the speed and the intensity.”Salzburg suffered a midseason slump when they lost Haaland and Minamino, going on a five-game winless run. But they found a way to readjust, and since the Bundesliga restarted amid the coronavirus pandemic, they have won seven and drawn two in the league, securing the title with two games to spare.”You have to be excited for those players when they get opportunities and move on, even though it means sometimes, in the short-term period, you suffer,” Marsch said. “But we used it [Haaland and Minamino leaving] to get better, to get stronger and to develop more, and by doing that, I think we set ourselves up for the success we have now. The goal here is always to try to find the right next young players to invest in our project and help them take their next steps.”Supporters don’t like it when they leave, but at the same time, we’ve had a great run in the Champions League, won eight titles in a row, so the success of the club’s not suffering. It’s thriving. The challenge here is making sure we aren’t not champions.”Not long after we talked, one of the club’s latest prospects, 24-year-old South Korean forward Hwang Hee-Chan, was being linked with a move to RB Leipzig. Salzburg are also braced for interest in others, such as young Hungarian midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai (AC Milan and Arsenal were said to be leading the race for his signature) and the Zambian duo of striker Patson Daka and midfielder Enock Mwepu, both of whom have been linked with moves to the Premier League.”I had this feeling with Haaland that we had the real chance to do something special with him. I have that with Dominik and the other guys. They’re not finished products, but they have the building blocks, and you can start to picture their development path, what they can look like in a month, six months, in one year or two years. It’s clear there are plenty of suitors for them.”On one level, you can always make an argument it’s better for them to [have] a little bit more time in a safe environment, but on another level, if the right opportunity comes, the last thing you want to do is deprive them of going somewhere that could be life-changing. We’ll see how things progress.”It comes back to that old maxim of controlling the controllables, and for Marsch, success is judged not only by silverware but also by whether he gets to the stage in managing his team where he has made himself redundant.”That’s a core principle of my philosophy,” Marsch told ESPN. It is anchored on players and staff taking ownership of their respective roles, leaving him to serve as the conductor. “I tell them what we’re doing in training, I set up the fields, and then before the game, I give them the tactical plan.”But then I want to be able to sit on the bench and just watch them play.”Marsch has come a long way from those days in Wisconsin daydreaming of watching the Champions League. He’s now coaching Europe’s best talent and against football’s brightest minds. He’s aware that other budding American managers will look to him as the example, and he might have the answers as to how they can succeed as pioneers in European football, but he’s wary of rushing.”People may now perceive me a little differently, and maybe the things I say matter a little more than they used to, but I like to think I’m the same when it comes to what I believe in,” Marsch said. “I’ve grown as a person and as a coach, but at the core, I’m still the same person, you know, as I was growing up in Wisconsin, just trying to do the best job I can do.”Sometimes when I talk to young coaches, and they ask me, you know, what’s the key to being a good manager, and for me, it’s don’t become a coach because you think you love the game and you want to tactically try to implement a plan. Be a coach if you want to be a leader. The football part is sort of the side effect or the first step. But then all the other things what matter are how you talk to and challenge a group, how you communicate with each other, how you treat each other, how you believe in each other, what kind of relationships you have. Those are the things that really, I think, define what a team is.”Marsch is happy at Salzburg and hopes for a long stay, but he is aware of his name being bounced around when other vacancies arise. He has been linked with Borussia Dortmund this season, with the Bundesliga giants still looking for a way to overhaul Bayern Munich, but gives these rumours short shrift.”I believe my secret to life is focusing on the moment,” he said.When asked if this is standard managerial speak, he added: “Look, it’s not B.S. I love being the manager of this club. It’s amazing — the people, the country, everything. I realise I won’t be here forever — good or bad! But the more I can focus on the moment, the better.”This season has brought the Austrian double, and the expectation will be to repeat next season and upset Europe’s established order in next year’s Champions League. (Salzburg will begin in the Champions Path of the playoff round, with a two-legged fixture between them and the group stage.) Marsch can’t wait to get going, seeing what young talent comes through the ranks and who will emerge from Haaland and Minamino’s shadow.One day, when he has finished his European adventure, he’ll return home to Wisconsin. There, alongside his medals, will lie a small part of Anfield’s turf. “I remember I put it in my pocket and have that in a plastic bag back home,” he said. “At the core, I’m still a football fan, you know? I’m living the dream.”Marsch’s journey into Europe and his success have now enabled others to stretch the limits of their hopes and expectations.

NWSL Challenge Cup standouts move on to quarterfinals

9:22 AM ETGraham HaysESPN.com

  • FacebookThe NWSL Challenge Cup offers the best women’s soccer being played anywhere in the world at the moment. And the competition, played behind closed doors in the Salt Lake City area as the coronavirus pandemicmade it impossible to play the eighth season as scheduled, is about to get even better as it moves to the knockout rounds.Granted, the preliminary round admittedly lacked drama. All eight teams were assured of quarterfinal progress and the games didn’t even do a particularly good job of settling seeding — the round concluding with a four-way tie for fourth place. All we really know as the quarterfinals begin Friday in the bubble at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, is that after winning all four of its games and allowing one goal, two-time defending champion North Carolina Courage remains the heavy favorite. We knew that going in.

But that same parity among the teams chasing North Carolina means there are no unappealing quarterfinals. And with four games to warm up, the quality of play should be compelling.To set up the games ahead of this weekend, let’s look at one player from each team — some familiar and some new — who used the preliminary round to make a favorable impression.

No. 1 North Carolina (4-0-0) vs. No. 8 Portland (0-1-3), Friday, 12:30 ET

Addisyn Merrick, North Carolina: The champions looked the part during a preliminary round. Coach Paul Riley leaned heavily on his most trusted names. With Merritt Mathias still coming back from a torn ACL and Heather O’Reilly retired, there was no familiar name available at right back. Enter Merrick, a fourth-round pick who Riley, the famously diehard Liverpool fan, is hoping will be his version of Andy Robertson or Trent Alexander-Arnold. The former Big 12 Defender of the Year has license to push forward just like Liverpool’s outside backs whose development from raw prospects into global stars was widely acclaimed as instrumental in making that team champions of England and Europe in a modern game that prizes fullbacks able to contribute offensively. While more passes and crosses still come from Jaelene Daniels on the left side, Merrick hasn’t been shy in either regard through her first three starts for a team that is constantly attacking.

Bella Bixby, Portland: The keeper made her first career start in the opener against mighty North Carolina. She lost perhaps the best security blanket in the world when a hip injury sidelined Becky Sauerbrunn after that game. She hasn’t had Tobin Heath to help score some goals at the other end (or injured No. 1 overall pick Sophia Smith, for that matter). But for all of that, Bixby and the Thorns allowed just three goals in the preliminary round. The goalkeeper who sat and watched the past two seasons was more about solid saves than flustered moments. She’s tied for third in the tournament with 11 saves, but her presence is as impressive as the numbers. No one is dislodging Adrianna Franch when the No. 1 keeper is healthy, but whether an insurance policy in Portland or perhaps an opening with expansion Louisville, Bixby is earning her place.

No. 2 Washington Spirit (2-1-1) vs. No. 7 Sky Blue FC (1-2-1), Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET

Ashley Sanchez, Washington: The last time someone from UCLA was the fourth overall pick in the NWSL draft, it worked out pretty well for Sam Mewis and the franchise that is now the North Carolina Courage. For that matter, the fourth pick worked out for Washington a year ago when it turned into Samantha Staab. But after watching Sanchez dazzle for the Bruins, it was still surprising to see her last even that long in this year’s draft. It is even more surprising after her first four pro appearances. Sure, she’s not a finished product. Some of the attempted moves didn’t come off. There aren’t a lot of numbers to point to through an initial 277-minute sample — she has one assist among Washington’s four goals (memorable as it was) and modest 58 percent passing accuracy — but the confidence to take risks, skill and creativity that made her a star at UCLA and earned her looks from the senior national team weren’t dulled a bit by the jump to the pros.

Sabrina Flores, Sky Blue: Without Carli Lloyd and Mallory Pugh because of injury, Sky Blue began the tournament as a case study in what was missing. But it would be difficult to single out a player who better illustrates the opportunity afforded than Flores. A short-term fill-in for Sky Blue last summer and her season with Sevilla in Spain then cut short by the coronavirus, Flores signed again with Sky Blue barely a week before the start of the tournament. She started the opener, played 273 minutes for the second stingiest defense in the preliminary round and earned player of the match honors against the Courage by putting a second-half shot just over the crossbar and helping keep all of North Carolina’s attacking options in check in a game in which Sky Blue finished with 58 percent of possession. They were the only team to have an edge on Courage in the round. That’s a dramatically different story than would have been written about the outside back without any kind of season this summer.

No. 3 OL Reign (1-1-2) vs. No. 6 Chicago Red Stars (1-2-1), Saturday, 10 p.m. ET

OL Reign defender Alana Cook, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, is making her case for USWNT consideration. Rob Gray/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Alana Cook, OL Reign: Put in a bad spot when Utah’s Amy Rodriguez punished a too-casual pass toward Cook around midfield, the OL Reign defender chased down one of the league’s all-time best finishers, timed her tackle perfectly and defused the problem early in her team’s eventual 1-0 win in the preliminary round in Herriman on July 8. And while it isn’t as if too many people doubted Cook’s ability to make such plays, it was still nice to see it unfold on this side of the Atlantic. A former Stanford standout who is making her NWSL debut on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, Cook only started two of Reign’s first four games. She’s far from alone in putting in quality minutes on a back line that has allowed just two goals, but every chance she gets in front of U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski, in attendance in Utah, should help her future.

Casey Short, Chicago: She scored the goal in the first-stage finale that kept Chicago from facing top-seeded North Carolina in a quarterfinal, which almost by definition makes it the most valuable goal of the preliminary round. But between that well-executed header late in the finale against Utah and the emotional scenes of Short in tears during the national anthem prior to the team’s opener, Short was a joy to watch. She’s almost always a joy to watch because of her ability to lock down her side of the field defensively while destabilizing an opposing defense with her own runs forward. It was no coincidence that when she struggled early in the opener after the emotional scenes beforehand, the Red Stars struggled right along with her. And in a tournament that was missing most of the defenders from the U.S. entry in Olympic qualifying earlier this year either through injury or virus-related withdrawal, Short keeps making a case to be a part of 2021.

No. 4 Houston Dash (1-2-1) vs. No. 5 Utah Royals (1-2-1), Friday, 10 p.m. ET

Royals FC defender Elizabeth Ball played every minute in Utah’s first three games and came on as an injury replacement in the first half of their regular-season finale. Rob Gray/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Elizabeth Ball, Utah: The defender logged the most minutes of anyone who didn’t start all four games in the preliminary round, playing every minute in Utah’s first three games and coming on as an injury replacement in the first half of the finale. The less heralded side of the offseason swap that sent Sauerbrunn to Portland, Ball was likely going to play a lot no matter what form this season took. So maybe she isn’t the quintessential Challenge Cup revelation. Still, in not only replacing Sauerbrunn (as best anyone can possibly do that) but adapting to first-year coach Craig Harrington’s three-back system, she has proved a rousing success.

Shea Groom, Houston: There might not have been a more entertaining player in the preliminary round, certainly through her team’s first two games. The midfielder scored a long-range wallop against Utah, then added an audacious assist and soaring header in a win against OL Reign. She pressured goalkeepers and jawed with Shirley Cruz. She was fun. Acquired from OL Reign, along with Megan Oyster, Groom meshed well with Rachel Daly, Kristie Mewis and a Dash team that finally earned a top-four finish. All right, it was only over four games and only thanks to the tiebreaker that sorted out the four teams with four points. But success starts somewhere.

 

 

7/3/20,  MLS Starts July 8 on ESPN, Indy 11 restart 7/11 with Fans @ Home Sat 7 pm

Indy 11 Back with Home Games Sat July 11 & 18 with Fans !!

Thank goodness we have a big stadium right?  Indy 11 will be back with limited fans in the stands starting July 11 vs St Louis at 7 pm on Saturday night on ESPN+ and maybe other channels.  Fans can visit indyeleven.com/safety-plan for details of the plan.  The 11 will host 10 of their 15 games in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium with fans in attendance.  Four match-ups with Louisville FC headline the schedule along with 4 games vs St. Louis –these 3 teams should battle it out to make the expanded playoffs.

 MLS Returns with robust schedule on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox and Fox Sports – July 8

MLS is still on track to return with some solid ESPN coverage when its season kicksoff July 8th from Orlando.  Morning 9:30 am games will be on ESPN, with late night evening and weekend games split between Fox, Fox Sports 1 and ESPN.  Hopefully this will help MLS get a better foothold in the US Sport pecking order if they do this right.  And hopefully the recent rash of positive tests won’t derail this thing.

NWSL

So the women’s league has started back up and unfortunately all anyone is talking about is kneeling during the national anthem.  I agree with MLS as there are no fans in the stands why do the national anthem at all –that way the controversy stays away.  The games have been pretty good – the largest ever crowd to see a NWSL game tuned in Sat on CBS with over ½ million watching – much better than Andy Griffin reruns – but not the kind of #s I was hoping for.  Seriously we can’t get 1 million people nationwide to tune if the start of the NWSL on CBS when nothing else is on?   Maybe there are not enough soccer fans of the women’s game to support a league?   Sad ? Anyway I have seen a few replay games on CBS Sports Network?  Sure would love to see more on CBS – but honestly if parents of girls who play soccer aren’t going to tune in – then you can scrap that far-fetched idea of having your daughter play in the pros someday.  Its honestly up to the soccer moms of this world ? Tune in and support the league – or let women’s pro sports die in the background.  Its up to us.

Pulisic Continues to Shine in EPL

I can’t tell you how exciting it has been for me to watch a healthy Christian Pulisic back on the pitch for Chelsea and playing well.  Man I almost feel like the days when I would scramble to watch Fulham games to see how Dempsey would score that game.  Pulisic has been electric at times and darn near the best player for a Chelsea side battling for a top 4 slot in the EPL and Champions League play next season.  He makes things happen – is always looking for a sneaky shot – and managed to draw both fouls that lead to goals in the last game.  If he keeps playing like this and can stay healthy – he can hopefully top the 10 goal mark – he has 7 along with 5 assists and 3 draws of PKs.

Stewart’ Bremen must Win to Stay in Bundesliga 

Josh Stewart’s Werder Bremen has one last chance to stay afloat in the top flight of German football when they play the last leg of the relegation playoff with Heidenheim Tues at 2:30 pm on FS2.  They tied the first round 0-0 in a game Stewart didn’t come into the last 10 minutes.  He almost scored on his only shot – hopefully he’ll be back to the starting line-up where he has been for this little 4 game unbeaten streak for Bremen.

INDvSTL-0711-1600x900

GAMES ON TV                              

Sat,  July 4

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Norwich vs Brighton

10 am NBCSN                                     Man United vs Bournemouth

11:!5 am ESPN+                                  Juve vs Torino                                    

12:30 pm NBCSN                              Wolverhampton vs Arsenal 

2 pm ESPN2                         Levekusen vs Bayern Munich                 

Sun, July 5  

7:30  am NBCSN                                Burnley vs Sheffield United

8 am bIN Sport/FuboTV                   Athletic Club vs Real Madrid

9:15 am NBCSN                               Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs West Ham

11:30 am NBCSN                                Liverpool vs Aston Villa

2 pm NBC                                          Southhampton vs Man City

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Athletico Madrid 

Mon,  July 6

3:15 pm NBCSN                                Tottenham vs Everton

2:30 pm Fox Sport 2                         Heidenheim 0 vs Werder Breman  0 (Stewart) Relegation Playoff++

Tues,  July 7

1 pm NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Pulisic) 

3 pm NBCSN                                     Arsenal vs Leicester City 

Wed, July 8                                    MLS Returns

1 pm NBCSN                                    Man city vs New Castle United (Yedlin)

3 pm NSNBC                                    Brighton vs Liverpool

8 pm ESPN                                         Orlando City vs Inter Miami

10:30 pm ESPN                                 Nashville SC vs Chicago Fire

 Thurs, July 9                                     MLS Returns

9 am ESPN                                       NYCFC vs Philly Union

1 pm NBCSN                                    Bournmouth vs Tottenham 

3 pm NSNBC                                    Aston Villa vs Man U 

8 pm ESPN                                        Montreal vs New England 

Fri, July 10                                         MLS Returns

8 pm ESPN                                        Toronto FC vs DC United

10:30 pm ESPN                                 Seattle Sounders vs San Jose Earthquakes 

Sat July 11                                        

8 pm FOX                                        Atlanta United vs NY Red Bulls

7 pm ESPN+ TV4                            INDY 11 Host St. Louis 

10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN             Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC,

Sunday, July 12
5 p.m. ET (ESPN2 / ESPN Dep)     Louisville City FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC,

Monday, July 13
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)                          Energy FC vs. FC Tulsa)
10 p.m. ET (ESPN Deportes)         Sacramento Republic FC vs. Tacoma Defiance,

 INDY 11 2020 Revised Schedule- all games on ESPN+ plus other possible channels 

DAY   DATE OPPONENT TIME (ET)/Result TV/Online
Saturday   March 7 at Memphis 901 FC 4-2 W  
Saturday   July 11 Saint Louis FC 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   July 18 Sporting Kansas City II 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   July 22 at Pitts Riverhounds 7:00 pm ESPN2/ESPN+
Sunday   July 26 at Saint Louis FC TBA TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   July 29 Hartford Athletic 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   August 1 Sporting KCity II 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   August 8 at Louisville City FC TBA TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   August 15 Pittsburgh Riverhounds 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   August 26 at Louisville City FC TBA TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   September 5 Louisville City FC 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   September 9 Sporting K City II 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   September 16 Louisville City FC 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   September 23 Saint Louis FC 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Wednesday   September 30 Sporting K City II 7:00 pm TBA/ESPN+
Saturday   October 3 at Saint Louis FC TBA TBA/ESPN+

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS

MLS Cup Schedule

Wednesday, July 8
Orlando City SC vs. Inter Miami CF, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Nashville SC vs. Chicago Fire FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Thursday, July 9
New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Friday, July 10
Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

INDY 11 Returns Sat July 11 7 pm vs St. Louis with fans

July 11 vs St Louis at 7 pm on Saturday night

The 11 will host 10 of their 15 games

indyeleven.com/safety-plan

Indy 11 Reveals Group

Click here for Group E team-by-team analysis on USLChampionship.com

Louisville Opens New Stadium on ESPN2 Sun July 12

Return to Play Groups in USL

USL Unviels 2020 Season Format

USL to allow 5 sub rule

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

USA

Tim Howard 6 Yr Anniversary of Most Saves ever in World Cup was this week

Pulisic shines again, but Chelsea fall to derby rivals West Ham

Lampard: Pulisic can reach Sterling, Salah, Mane level

American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo helps Stuttgart win promotion to Bundesliga

US coach Jesse Marsch’s Salzburg secures domestic double in Austria

Marsch leads Salzburg to league title (and the double)

MLS –returns July 8

MLS Is Back Preview –

Sources: 4 more FC Dallas members test positive

Inside the MLS bubble: What players, teams can expect in Orlando

Ex-MLS boss Marsch leads club to Austrian title

MLS Tourney Schedule Revealed

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

Power Rankings: The favorites ahead of eMLS Cup

 WORLD

Barcelona Falling Apart Down the Stretch
Buffon and Chiellini extend Juve deals until 2021

Brilliant Benzema helps Madrid go 2 points clear of Barca

Bremen snatch play-off survival chance, champions Bayern rout Wolfsburg

Predicting the Premier Leagues Finish for Champions League and Europa Spots – Mark Odgen ESPNFC

NWSL 

Lavelle, Hatch score and Spirit down Red Stars 2-1

Dunn: Kneeling is about what you truly believe

Crystal Dunn: The uncomfortable things can have the biggest impact

NWSL: Players can be on field or in locker room during anthem

ELEVEN TO RESTART SEASON JULY 11 VS. SAINT LOUIS

By Indy Eleven Communications, 07/02/20, 11:00AM EDT

Indy Eleven to Restart 2020 Season at Home Next Saturday, July 11

First of Four Meetings with Saint Louis FC Set for 7:00 p.m. Kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium, Presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers;

Group E Clash Part of USL Championship’s Nine-game “Reopening” Slate from July 11-13

TAMPA/INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, July 2, 2020) – The USL Championship announced today the opening weekend of games that will kick off the league’s resumption of the 2020 season – a nine-game slate that includes Indy Eleven’s return to Lucas Oil Stadium next Saturday, July 11, against Saint Louis FC, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.The first of four 2020 regular season meetings between the Group E foes is set for a 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff that can be seen live on ESPN+.Indy Eleven has coordinated with Lucas Oil Stadium, the Capital Improvement Board (CIB), and numerous public health organizations to create a comprehensive Health and Safety Plan that will allow a limited number of fans to enjoy games in a safe and responsible fashion next Saturday and throughout the 2020 season. Fans can visit indyeleven.com/safety-plan for details of the plan.“Every member of the Indy Eleven organization is excited to get back to action and working tirelessly to ensure games at Lucas Oil Stadium starting next weekend go above and beyond when it comes to providing a safe environment,” said Indy Eleven Chief Executive Officer Greg Stremlaw. “Indianapolis is world-renowned for our ability to host sporting events, and we look forward to helping our city establish the benchmark for how to host games safely and responsibly in home markets during these challenging times.”As Indy Eleven continues to prepare for the restart of its now 16-game regular season, the club will announce additional details regarding scheduling, ticketing, broadcasts and more – all with strict alignment with all local and state public health guidelines in mind – as they are finalized in the coming days.Five of the USL Championship’s opening nine games between July 11-13 will be aired live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, with the remaining games available on ESPN+. The complete schedule for the remainder of the 2020 USL Championship season will be released soon.For more updates on the 2020 season as they are made available, please continue to visit indyeleven.com and uslchampionship.com.

USL Championship 2020 Opening Weekend

Saturday, July 11
Real Monarchs SLC vs. San Diego Loyal SC, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN Deportes)
Indy Eleven vs. Saint Louis FC, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Atlanta United 2, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC vs. New Mexico United, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
El Paso Locomotive FC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Phoenix Rising FC vs. LA Galaxy II, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN Deportes)

Sunday, July 12
Louisville City FC vs. Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, 5 p.m. ET (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes)

Monday, July 13
OKC Energy FC vs. FC Tulsa, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Sacramento Republic FC vs. Tacoma Defiance, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN Deportes)

INDY ELEVEN 2020 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE SET

By Indy Eleven Communications, 07/02/20, 4:15PM EDT

Indiana’s Team to Host Ten of 15 Remaining USL Championship Games at Lucas Oil Stadium

TAMPA/INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, July 2, 2020) – The United Soccer League announced today the revised schedule for the 2020 USL Championship season. The league’s 35 clubs are set to play 263 games over 13 weeks to decide which 16 teams will advance to the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs, which will open in the second weekend of October.

Courtesy of the unbalanced schedule option unique to the 2020 season, Indy Eleven will host ten of its remaining 15 games at Lucas Oil Stadium, starting with next Saturday’s home opener against Saint Louis FC (7:00 p.m., live on ESPN+).

“This is the day we’ve been waiting for and working towards for more than three months,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “To have the schedule in hand is a wonderful payoff for the patience of our players and fans alike, and to have two additional home games is really the cherry on top. All that’s left now is to get to the games, and I know the squad is ready to deliver starting next weekend against Saint Louis.”Indy Eleven will implement a comprehensive Health and Safety Plan that will allow a limited number of fans to enjoy games in a safe and responsible fashion next Saturday and throughout the 2020 season. Fans can visit indyeleven.com/safety-plan for details of the plan.“Indy Eleven would like to thank Lucas Oil Stadium, the Capital Improvement Board, the City of Indianapolis, and the Marion County Health Authority – just to name a few organizations – for their pivotal help in formulating a health and safety plan that will allow our fans to enjoy games during the 2020 season,” said Greg Stremlaw, Indy Eleven Chief Operating Officer. “Our combined efforts have resulted in a thorough plan that should serve as a best practice for venues across the country and keep spectators, players, coaches and staff safe for every moment of their gameday experience.”As Indy Eleven continues to march towards next Saturday’s “re-opener,” the club will announce additional details regarding ticketing, broadcasts and more as they are finalized in the coming days.As announced last week, Indy Eleven’s schedule across the three months of regular season play will include four games against Group E foes Saint Louis FC, Louisville FC, and Sporting Kansas City II – the latter of which will come to Lucas Oil Stadium for all four 2020 matchups.The squad’s remaining non-group games will consist of meetings with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC both home (August 15) and away (July 22, live on ESPN2), and a home contest against Hartford Athletic (July 29). Indy Eleven’s 4-2 season opening win at Memphis 901 FC back on March 7 stands as the fourth out-of-group result in the Eleven’s 16-game regular season calendar.Indy Eleven’s heated rivalry with Louisville City FC could reach new peaks in 2020, as the border combatants will face off four times in a five-week span, starting with Indy’s first trip to the new Lynn Family Stadium on August 8. The Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (LIPAFC) participants meet once again in Kentucky on August 26 before coming to the right side of the Ohio River for pivotal late-season showdowns at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 5 & 16. Those two LIPAFC games are part of a rare five-game homestand spanning the month of September, leading into the season finale on October 3 at Saint Louis FC.Every game of the 2020 USL Championship season will air on the ESPN family of networks, with broadcasts on ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ bringing all the excitement of the first league in the United States to return to play in home markets directly to homes across the United States.

MLS is Back groups

Group A (Eastern Conference)
1. Orlando City SC
2. Inter Miami CF
3. New York City FC
4. Philadelphia Union
5. Chicago Fire FC
6. Nashville SC

Group B (Western Conference)
1. Seattle Sounders FC
2. FC Dallas
3. Vancouver Whitecaps
4. San Jose Earthquakes

Group C (Eastern Conference)
1. Toronto FC
2. New England Revolution
3. Montreal Impact
4. D.C. United

Group D (Western Conference)
1. Real Salt Lake
2. Sporting Kansas City
3. Colorado Rapids
4. Minnesota United FC

Group E (Eastern Conference)
1. Atlanta United FC
2. FC Cincinnati
3. New York Red Bulls
4. Columbus Crew SC

Group F (Western Conference)
1. LAFC
2. LA Galaxy
3. Houston Dynamo
4. Portland Timbers

MLS is Back schedule and tune-in info

Wednesday, July 8
Orlando City SC vs. Inter Miami CF, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Nashville SC vs. Chicago Fire FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Thursday, July 9
New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Friday, July 10
Toronto FC vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Seattle Sounders FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Saturday, July 11
Atlanta United FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. ET, Fox/TUDN
FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Sunday, July 12
Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Monday, July 13
LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN
LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Tuesday, July 14
Inter Miami CF vs. Chicago Fire FC, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Philadelphia Union vs. Nashville SC, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Wednesday, July 15
Seattle Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Thursday, July 16
Atlanta United FC vs. FC Cincinnati, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
D.C. United vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN
Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bulls, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Friday, July 17
Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Real Salt Lake vs. Minnesota United FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Saturday, July 18
Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
LAFC vs. LA Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Sunday, July 19
New York City FC v. Chicago Fire FC, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN
Philadelphia Union vs. Inter Miami CF, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Monday, July 20
Orlando City SC vs. Nashville SC, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
FC Dallas vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Tuesday, July 21
Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Atlanta United FC vs. Columbus Crew SC, 8 p.m. ET, TUDN
Montreal Impact vs. D.C. United, 10:30 p.m. ET, TUDN

Wednesday, July 22
Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Thursday, July 23
LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN
LAFC vs. Portland Timbers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes

Saturday, July 25
TBD round of 16 match, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
TBD round of 16 match, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes

Sunday, July 26
TBD round of 16 match, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1
TBD round of 16 match, 11 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Monday, July 27
TBD round of 16 match, 8:30 p.m. ET, FS1
TBD round of 16 match, 11 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Tuesday, July 28
TBD round of 16 match, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
TBD round of 16 match, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Thursday, July 30
TBD quarterfinal, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

Friday, July 31
TBD quarterfinal, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Saturday, Aug. 1
TBD quarterfinal, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
TBD quarterfinal, 10:30 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Wednesday, Aug. 5
TBD semifinal, 8 p.m. ET, FS1/TUDN

Thursday, Aug. 6
TBD semifinal, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes

Tuesday, Aug. 11
TBD final, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes

INDY ELEVEN 2020 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE SET

By Indy Eleven Communications07/02/20, 4:15PM EDT

Indiana’s Team to Host Ten of 15 Remaining USL Championship Games at Lucas Oil Stadium

TAMPA/INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, June 26, 2020) – The USL Championship announced on Friday the four groups made up of 17 Eastern Conference clubs that will battle for a place in the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs when the league returns to play on Saturday, July 11.

Group E: Indy Eleven, Louisville City FC, Saint Louis FC, Sporting Kansas City II
Group F: Hartford Athletic, Loudoun United FC, New York Red Bulls II, Philadelphia Union II, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Group G: Birmingham Legion FC, Charlotte Independence, Memphis 901 FC, North Carolina FC
Group H: Atlanta United 2, Charleston Battery, Miami FC, Tampa Bay Rowdies

“The squad is obviously buzzing to get back to playing games, and the focus on regional rivalries in this revamped regular season only heightens that anticipation,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The high level of competition is certainly one we look forward to tackling as we build on the victory we achieved in the first game of our season.”

As detailed in the Championship’s announcement of the updated season structure, each team in Group E, Group G and Group H will play its fellow group members four times during the regular season. Meanwhile, each team in Group F will play its fellow group members three times.

Clubs in Groups E-H will play their remaining regular season games against other Eastern Conference teams outside of their respective group, with geographic proximity a key priority in scheduling. With Indy Eleven’s 4-2 win at Memphis 901 FC back on March 7 counting on the regular season ledger, Indy Eleven will play three “out-of-group” matches.

As Indy Eleven continues to prepare for the restart of its now 16-game regular season, the club will announce details regarding scheduling, ticketing, broadcasts and more – all with strict alignment with all local and state public health guidelines in mind – as they are finalized in the coming days. For more updates on the 2020 season as they are made available, please continue to visit indyeleven.com and uslchampionship.com.

USLChampionship.com Preview – Group E

The Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (aka LIPAFC) and Kings’ Cup come to the fore with Louisville City FC set to take on its two biggest rivals in Indy Eleven and Saint Louis FC in what should be a fierce fight for the two playoff places. But don’t overlook Sporting Kansas City II, which has a strong collection of young talent that could make things interesting as it looks to make its fourth trip to the postseason in five years after missing out last campaign.

 

Championship Return to Play Preview – Group E

By NICHOLAS MURRAY – nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 06/26/20, 12:05PM EDT

PLAYOFF BATTLE BETWEEN INDY, LOUISVILLE AND SAINT LOUIS COULD GO DOWN TO THE WIRE

The group assignments for Groups E through H ahead of the USL Championship’s resumption of the 2020 season are being made on Friday, giving us a chance to take a first look at each of the teams as they get ready to return to action.

First today, we look at Group E, which features last year’s Eastern Conference Finalists – and noted rivals – Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC, a Saint Louis FC side that will be aiming to break through after a resounding opening performance, and a Sporting Kansas City II side that has the talent to cause the others problems.

Indy Eleven

Record: 1-0-0, 3pts | W @MEM 2-4 [3/7]

Head Coach: Martin Rennie

2019 Season: 19-9-6, 63pts; Eliminated Eastern Conference Final

OVERVIEW

The Eleven overcame an early scare to pick up victory on the road in Memphis back in March, and once again it was Tyler Pasher that shone the brightest in a 4-2 victory. The squad still looks deep front to back, which is going to be crucial against two sides that look to be built the same way in LouCity and STLFC, but Indy’s defensive strength should make it difficult to break down. If that’s the case, then a trip to the postseason beckons.

Player to Watch

Tyler Pasher
Pasher has been outstanding in his newly-found attacking role since the start of 2019, with Indy’s counterattacking ability a perfect fit for his speed of foot and speed of thought. That was on display in Memphis, and makes him one of the trickier players to defend in space in the Championship.

 

Louisville City FC

Record: 1-0-0, 3pts | W @NC 0-1 [3/7]

Head Coach: John Hackworth

2019 Season: 17-8-9, 60pts; Defeated in USL Championship Final

OVERVIEW

LouCity picked up a good road win to open things up against North Carolina FC as Cameron Lancaster fit right back into the lineup where he’d become the Championship’s single-season goalscoring record-holder in 2018. The notable thing about Louisville over their run of three consecutive trips to the USL Championship Final, though, has been the side’s ability to close a season strongly. Over the past three years, LouCity has gone 22W-9L-11D between the dates of July 11 and October 4, and if it achieves something similar here – say a record of 8-3-5 – that’s probably going to leave everyone else fighting for second place.

Player to Watch

Cameron Lancaster
There’s no-one that’s produced the strike rate that Lancaster has over the past three seasons in terms of goals-per-minute, and even with an abbreviated season the English forward has a great chance to reach 50 regular-season Championship goals by the end of the year – he resumes on 42 after his tally against North Carolina. If Lancaster is on form, the strength in depth behind him should allow Louisville to make another run at becoming the first team with three league titles to its name.

 

Saint Louis FC

Record: 1-0-0, 3pts | W vMIA 4-1 [3/7]

Head Coach: Steve Trittschuh

2019 Season: 11-14-9, 42pts

OVERVIEW

Saint Louis’ victory in its season-opener against Miami FC might have been the most eye-opening result of the weekend, with the hosts looking sharp from the off before pulling away for the victory. If that was a good early litmus test, though, the battles to come against Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC are going to put STLFC up against arguably the best the East has to offer. If Head Coach Steve Trittschuh’s side earns a place in the top two, and a second trip to the playoffs in club history, it’s really going to have earned it.

Player to Watch

Russell Cicerone
You might recall we put Cicerone in the collection of Forwards to Watch back in March. Two goals in STLFC’s opening game against Miami was a great start, but the defenses that Indy and LouCity bring are going to likely prove tougher to break down. If Cicerone can weave more magic over the next three months, though, Saint Louis’ chances are going to go up exponentially. .

 

Sporting Kansas City II

Record: 0-1-0, 0pts | L vCLT 1-2 [3/8]

Head Coach: Paulo Nagamura

2019 Season: 12-13-9, 45pts

OVERVIEW

There were silver linings to Sporting Kansas City II’s opening game of the season against the Charlotte Independence, especially in watching how the side controlled the tempo of the game and outshot its opponents 20-9, with 10 shots on goal. But, a loss is still a loss, and as talented as SKC II’s youngsters are they won’t be able to get away with many mistakes against three strong opponents in this group. If the resumption of play sees the side make a slow start, it’s going to be hard to find a way back into the mix.

Player to Watch

Wilson Harris
Harris was the highest-scoring teenager in America in 2019 across all professional levels, with his outstanding run of 10 goals in the club’s final 11 games showing the ability he brings every time he steps on the field. Given the opposition, it’s going to be difficult to produce something similar over the next three months, but if he can it would be a serious boost to SKC II’s chances of upsetting the odds, and also provide a launching pad for Harris’ own trajectory.

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

6/26/20,  Liverpool Wins EPL, Aus/NZ to Host 2023 WWC, NWSL Kicks off Sat 12:30 CBS, Pulisic Scores for Chelsea again,  Indy 11 restart 7/11, MLS 7/8

Wow – what to start with this week?  Well of course Liverpool clinching the EPL Title earlier than anyone is the first order of business.  Chelsea’s win over Man City where US Star Christian Pulisic started, scored and was perhaps the best player on the field, led to Liverpool clinching the title.  Huge for Liverpool as this championship club has finally returned to glory under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp.  He promised and has now delivered both last season’s Champions League title and this year’s EPL title – their first in 30 years.  My buddy and fellow Carmel FC coach Bill “Anfield” Spencer is why I became a Liverpool fan and boy is he happy today!!  Congrats to all you Liverpool fans – You’ll Never Walk Alone!  Ok I can’t go further without mentioning Christian Pulisic and his return to grace at Chelsea after injuries plague his last couple of months of play.  The refreshed Pulisic is back to looking like his old self making darting runs down the left wing and delivering some fantastic passing and now scoring along the way.  I am hopeful Pulisic will find his place and help keep Chelsea in the hunt for Champions League play next year as they now have a 5 point cushion over Man U for 4th.

NWSL Starts Sat 12:30 CBS/2023 WC to Australia/NZ

On the Women’s side of the game – the NWSL becomes the first US Sport back this Saturday as North Carolina faces the Portland Pride at 12:30 pm on CBS.  Not to soapbox – but US Women’s soccer fans – if you want to see the ladies games on broadcast TV – now is the time to watch and be vocal. Post on social media that you are watching – CBS has only agreed to show the first game of the tourney and the final on CBS.  The others are on CBS online and CBS SportsNetwork which many folks don’t have.  But maybe if millions tune in to watch on Saturday – maybe CBS will include at least more weekend games in the future.  Speaking of future – huge congrats to Australia/New Zealand for winning the rights to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup.  Not sure what time the US games will be on – as they are like 12 hours in front of us – but we’ll see what happens.

Indy 11 Return July 11, MLS July 8

Great news that the Indy 11 and USL will return on July 11 with a 16 game regular season followed by a single elimination playoff.  This World Cup style return should be fun for players and fans alike.  More details coming.  MLS is still on track to return with some solid ESPN coverage when its season kicks off July 8th from Orlando.  Morning 9:30 am games will be on ESPN, with late night evening games split between Fox Sports 1 and ESPN.  Hopefully this will help MLS get a better foothold in the US Sport pecking order if they do this right.

US – 10th Anniversary of Goal – Goal – GO USA

This past Monday was the 10th anniversary of Landon Donovan’s last second goal (92nd minute) vs Algeria in what some think is the greatest moment in US Soccer history from 2010’s World Cup advancing as group winners.  Lots of Stories below.

Here’s the call from Ian Durke for that Goal

But this call by the Legendary Andres Cantor in Spanish Really Brings it to Life

Reaction from Across the US

GAMES ON TV 

Fri  June 26

3:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus vs Lecce 

Sat,  June 27 

7:30 am NBCSN                                  Aston Villa v. Wolves, 7:30 a.m. NBCSN

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hoffenhiem

9:30 am FS2                                        Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich

12:30 pm ESPN+                                 FA Cup Norwich City vs Man United

12:30 pm CBS                                 North Carolina vs Portland Thorns NWSL                 

Sun, June 28

5 pm CBSSN                                        Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Sun, June 28 

8  am ESPN                                         Sheffield United vs Arsenal. FA Cup

11 am ESPN or +                                 Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Leicester City FA Cup  

11 am ESPN+                                      Milan vs Roma

1:30 pm ESPN+                                   FA Cup New Castle vs Man City

Monday, June 29:                            Crystal Palace v. Burnley, 3 p.m. NBCSN

Tues,  June 30

NBCSN

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Brighton v. Man United, 3:15 p.m.

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Athletico Madrid

Wednesday, July 1:                         Arsenal v. Norwich, 1 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, July 1:                         West Ham v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN

Thursday, July 2:                              Sheffield United v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. 

Thursday, July 2:                              Man City v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN, 

Wed, July 8                                         MLS Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | 12:30 pm CBS

OL Reign vs Sky Blue FC | July 1 10 am | CBS Sports Network,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash| July 2 10 am  | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS

WOMEN’S SOCCER TAKES CENTER STAGE

NWSL Challenge Cup’s biggest storylines as U.S. team sports return

NWSL Challenge Cup provides good look at future of USWNT -5hBill Connelly

How USWNT Roster is Taking Shape for 2023 World Cup – ESPNFC

Australia and New Zealand chosen to host 2023 women’s World Cup
A tournament of firsts: 2023 women’s World Cup will break new ground

How Australia and N.Z. won the right to host Women’s World Cup  21hJoey Lynch

LIVERPOOL WINS EPL, Pulisic Scores Again
Klopp delivers on Liverpool promise

Liverpool win Premier League

Liverpool’s Robertson praises ‘father figure’ Klopp

Liverpool’s overwhelmed Klopp leaves interview in tears of joy

Liverpool players past and present celebrate on social media

Dalglish hails ‘fantastic’ Klopp as Liverpool end 30-year title wait

Coronavirus: the final twist in Liverpool’s Premier League title tale

Earliest Premier League champion: Is Liverpool fastest to clinch?

Lampard on Pulisic: He has so much talent
Pulisic Watch: How USMNT star performed v. Man City

Watch Christian Pulisic goal that gave Liverpool Premier League title

Pulisic shines as Chelsea solidify their hold on fourth

Pulisic scores 7/10 in return for Chelsea

Inside the EPL Bubble of Calling Games in a Ghosttown – Ian Darke ESPNFC

USA

ESPN Remembers – USA Greatest World Cup Moment Ever in last Second Win vs Algeria

The Day Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey Lifted a Nation World Cup 2010- June 23

Here’s the call from Ian Durke for that Goal

But this call by the Legendary Andres Cantor in Spanish Really Brings it to Life

Reaction from Across the US

Yedlin Reconsidering Future with USMNT

Comparing US English Call to Spanish Call

WORLD
Bremen (Stewart), Hamburg both fighting for final chance of Bundesliga football next season

Gio Reyna Dubbed the American Dream after his deft assist to Haaland for Dortmund

Reyna’s Assist

US Players Overseas Last Week Wrap –

MLS –returns July 8

MLS Tourney Schedule Revealed

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

Power Rankings: The favorites ahead of eMLS Cup

Indy 11- Returns July 11

USL Unviels 2020 Season Format

USL to allow 5 sub rule

Club Statement on Black Lives Matter

USL Set to Resume Season July 11

Indy 11 Special to Support Healthcare Workers

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

NWSL Challenge Cup’s biggest storylines as U.S. team sports return

10:00 AM ETGraham HaysESPN.com

This was supposed to be the summer in which the National Women’s Soccer League built on the global success of last year’s World Cup. A chance to show off how eight years had nurtured a league that mass audiences could and hopefully would soon appreciate on its own merits.

But what might have been the next step for women’s soccer in this country is now more like a first step for sports in general in the United States, as the NWSL becomes the first league in a team sport to return to competition amidst the very much ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 NWSL season has, in all likelihood, morphed into the NWSL Challenge Cup, the monthlong tournament that will play out in the Salt Lake City area.

This is not a perfect arrangement. It wasn’t perfect before Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe opted out of the event over concerns about the pandemic, as all players had the right to do without penalty. It wasn’t perfect even before Orlando Pride withdrew en masse, the team unable to travel to Utah after 10 positive COVID-19 tests among players and staff.

But even without some stars on the field and without fans in the stands, this won’t be a summer without soccer. So after months of talk about how sports might return, let’s spend at least a little time looking at some of the stories that will shape this unique eighth season.

How does the Challenge Cup work?

It is probably worth starting with a quick refresher on exactly what we’re talking about. It helps that the format wasn’t all that complicated even before Orlando withdrew from the event.

There are now eight teams involved in the tournament, and every team is guaranteed to play at least five games. There aren’t specific groups in the preliminary phase, which begins June 27 and concludes July 13, but it works on the same basic premise as the group stage of any major tournament. With Orlando absent, all eight teams will advance to the knockout rounds. So the opening phase is now only about seeding and getting time on the field after the long layoff.

The league initially considered placing higher stakes on this phase of the tournament, with only four teams advancing and knockout play beginning with the semifinals, but settled on this as the wiser choice for players and teams coming out of three months of limited activity.

Teams may carry as many as 28 players. All players will be allowed to dress for games.

There will be no extra time played in any games in the tournament. Knockout games still tied at the end of 90 minutes will go directly to penalty kicks. As is the norm across the soccer world at the moment, teams will be able to make five substitutions during games (which can be made in no more than three stoppages). Yellow cards will be erased after the quarterfinals, but any player who picks up two yellow cards in the preceding games will be suspended for a game.

The quarterfinals will be played July 17 and 18, with the semifinals on July 22 and the final on July 26. The semifinals and final will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium, home of the Utah Royals and Real Salt Lake.

What hasn’t changed in the NWSL?

As you might have noticed, the world looks quite a bit different than it did three or four months ago, let alone when NWSL teams last took the field in real games in October.

One smidgen of familiarity amidst all of that change, at least when it comes to women’s soccer in this country, is that everyone is still chasing the North Carolina Courage.

Well past the plucky upstart that North Carolina coach Paul Riley still occasionally — and endearingly — tries to claim as an identity, the Courage are back-to-back NWSL champions and three-time reigning Shield winners as the regular-season champions. And at least on paper, they enter the Challenge Cup as strong as they were a season ago, when their goal difference was better than that of the other three playoff teams combined and they routed Chicago 4-0 in the final.

Midfield mainstay McCall Zerboni moved on to Sky Blue and Heather O’Reilly eased gracefully into retirement. But the Courage added Hailie Mace, the uberversatile No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft. The U.S. national team contingent of Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald, Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams are all on the Challenge Cup roster, along with Brazilian rising star Debinha, who was in the top 10 in goals and assists a season ago.

Rather than any sign of the standard slipping, the challenge remains finding a team to rise to it as the Courage seek to add to their collection of trophies.

Why is the Pacific Northwest still the center of attention?

Even as the Courage set the standard and Salt Lake City becomes the geographic hub for a summer, the Pacific Northwest remains central to the league’s identity.

The region has always been the league’s heartland, from the crowds, star power and wins in Portland to the success of Laura Harvey’s Reign in the early years and Vlatko Andonovski’s stopover en route to the U.S. women’s national team. The Pacific Northwest always matters.

Even without Heath and Rapinoe in the weeks ahead, it still does.

Reign FC is now OL Reign, the name a reflection of a potentially paradigm-shifting business model that saw French giant Olympique Lyonnais take a majority ownership stake. Previously among the models of independent ownership under Bill Predmore, who remains CEO, OL Reign is now a test case for the kind of European investment that has long been rumored from clubs like Barcelona and Manchester City. These days, that will also make it a test case for the effects of the coronavirus economy on such investment in women’s soccer.

Without Rapinoe, new coach Farid Benstiti must prove able to debut as smoothly as Andonovski did following Harvey. But befitting the new international ownership, bringing in new signings or loanees Alana Cook (PSG), Shirley Cruz (PSG), Adrienne Jordan (Birmingham City) and Yuka Momiki (NTV Beleza) makes for an intriguing start.

The offseason changes in Portland have nothing to do with the boardroom and everything to do with a restructuring on the field. The Thorns didn’t just tinker around the edges. They went for the renovation, trading U.S. national team defender Emily Sonnett among other moves in an effort to stock up on a youth movement led by No. 1 overall pick Sophia Smith. And with the demise of U.S. Soccer’s short-lived development academy program and college athletic departments facing coronavirus-related budget chasms, Smith isn’t just a talented young goal scorer. After leaving Stanford following just two seasons, she represents at least a toe in the water of an entirely different model of player development increasingly steered by NWSL clubs.

Yet even without Heath and after dispatching Australian rising star Ellie Carpenter to Lyon in recent transfer, the Thorns hardly tore things down to build from scratch. Christine Sinclair is on board for the tournament, and Portland also brought Becky Sauerbrunn home in a move that erases a weak spot. Win now and win later. That has always been Portland’s NWSL remit.

What is holding back the challengers?

Utah Royals appeared on the verge of showing off the league’s new system of allocation money when it was reported in April that the team was close to signing Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan and France’s Sarah Bouhaddi away from European giant Lyon.But as Utah now welcomes the rest of the NWSL to its home turf for the Cup, that megadeal appears to have been scuttled or at least put on long-term hold. The imports certainly won’t be around this summer. And even worse for the immediate future, Utah won’t just be missing Sauerbrunn, traded to Portland, but also Press, who cited COVID-19 concerns in opting out.Those personnel issues further underscore why North Carolina will be so difficult to dislodge. Every potential challenger has its own pressing issues. Some of those are pandemic-related — such as Press and Rapinoe electing not to participate in the Challenge Cup.Some are injury related. With a fresh start for Mallory Pugh and a remarkable rebuilding job under general manager Alyse LaHue, Sky Blue looked fast-tracked for playoff contention — no small feat for a franchise so recently a dysfunctional mess. New additions Midge Purce and McCall Zerboni still make this an interesting team in the Challenge Cup. But without Carli Lloyd and Pugh due to injuries, the revival may continue at a more measured pace.

Other issues come from the natural ebb and flow of any league even in normal times. The closest challenger a season ago and still a model of management stability, Chicago nonetheless must replace two-time reigning MVP Sam Kerr, who signed with Chelsea. If offseason addition Kealia Ohai is a significant part of that answer, the rest of the roster remains loaded.But that is still a big “if” when it comes to replacing someone like Kerr.Washington still has Rose Lavelle, Andi Sullivan and first-round pick Ashley Sanchez among its many youthful assets. But the very act of trading Pugh — envisioned as a franchise centerpiece when signed out of high school — is proof of how difficult it is for a team to move from potential to the playoffs, let alone championships.Like Sky Blue, and like Orlando before its withdrawal, Houston hopes to accelerate a rebuilding plan. And a knockout tournament may be more conducive to highlighting potential — all it takes to make an impression is one good day rather than season-long consistency.If the question is who can topple North Carolina, it’s not a promising sign that most of the challengers have more questions of their own than answers.

How could the Challenge Cup reshape 2021?

Instead of mere months to prepare for his first major tournament as coach of the U.S. women’s national team, Andonovski now has another year in which to get ready.

That is good news for someone whose almost obsessive commitment to preparation and scouting helped make him such a success in the NWSL and earn his current position.

That’s all the more true now that Andonovski will actually have at least a month of soccer to evaluate. Whether or not the Olympic audition process is wide open, there is at least a chance for players to make their case for 2021.

Granted, all the same constrictions of an 18-player roster remain. Andonovski already had enough depth chart congestion to ensure some World Cup winners would miss the Olympics. And now instead of an arguably long-shot candidacy a couple of months after giving birth to her first child, Alex Morgan will presumably be something close to a roster lock. That is one less spot.

But for emerging players like defender Mace, the former No. 2 overall pick who now joins North Carolina after beginning her professional career abroad, or Washington defender Tegan McGrady, it’s one more year of development. Perhaps even two-time reigning Hermann Trophy winner Catarina Macario, who gets another year to sort out her citizenship status and will be a professional by next summer, has time to get in on the discussion through a college season, whatever shape that takes, or national team camps later in the year.

The Challenge Cup is also an opportunity for veterans like Chicago’s Morgan Brian and OL Reign’s Allie Long to show Andonovski they have more tournaments to play. Both were part of the World Cup winners last summer but did not participate in Olympic qualifying earlier this year. And it’s a chance for Chicago’s Casey Short, Washington’s Sullivan and North Carolina’s Williams — all part of qualifying after missing the World Cup — to further enhance their cases.

How will the league handle the coronavirus during the tournament?

In his role as part of the league’s medical task force, Dr. Daryl Osbahr said when the NWSL announced the Challenge Cup that positive tests for COVID-19 were inevitable. And indeed, the league announced the first such test last week, without naming the player. Osbahr also said he hoped the protocols in place could forestall an entire team needing to shut down.

That obviously didn’t happen in Orlando, a reminder of how challenging it is to play team sports amidst a pandemic.

The league has been transparent about its health protocols for the tournament. Any positive test, asymptomatic or otherwise, triggers a sequence that includes quarantining the player in question and conducting contact tracing and testing for the rest of the team.

Players who test positive but remain asymptomatic can return to the training facility for light training and team meetings after 10 days and full training after 14 days.

Players who test positive and also show symptoms will receive local medical evaluation and hospitalization as necessary. They are prohibited from any exercise for 14 days and can resume light exercise only after seven days without symptoms and after an array of tests, including an electrocardiogram and echocardiogram.

Individuals who are deemed to have high-risk contact with anyone who tests positive will also be quarantined and players will be prohibited from returning to practice for 14 days.

Whether or not any plan is sufficient for current circumstances is difficult to predict. Numerous European soccer leagues have restarted in recent weeks without widespread problems, including the women’s league in Germany where Wolfsburg just wrapped up a title. But in this country, even putting aside the Pride for a moment, entities from professional baseball teams to colleges have paused workouts or shuttered facilities in response to positive tests.

And as in Orlando, geography might not help. According to data from The New York Times, Salt Lake and neighboring Utah counties are among those areas in the state experiencing an increase in cases over the past two weeks. The cities of Herriman and Sandy, where all games will be played, are in the southern portion of Salt Lake County just north of Utah County.

Pulisic, Willian help Chelsea expose Man City weakness to seal Liverpool’s Premier League title

6:46 PM ETJames OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

The inevitable is delayed no longer: Jurgen Klopp’s side may not be able to celebrate the club’s first title in 30 years with their supporters but they can enjoy a tour as champions with more dates than some theatre runs in London’s West End.Liverpool’s margin of victory with seven games to spare is a testament to their unrivalled mixture of class and consistency. It is also evidence of City’s defensive fallibility and the yawning chasm the chasing pack must make up to create more of a contest next season.The most encouraging thing for Chelsea is that, while this performance merely reinforced where City have fallen short, the home side produced evidence that they could bridge the gap and mount a sustained title challenge. Injured at the start of 2020, Pulisic watched during the league’s three-month lockdown as Chelsea quietly went about bolstering their attacking power. The American international arrived last summer as the heir to Eden Hazard‘s throne, a £58 million ($64m) lifeline for a club unable to sign players due to a transfer ban, yet a year later has watched as the club strengthens in the positions he wants to make his own.

Pulisic might have been alarmed further by being left out of the starting line-up at Aston Villa upon the resumption of play, but an equalising goal there preceded a place in the XI against City and he was not about to waste the opportunity.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard targeted the acquisitions of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner after bemoaning Chelsea’s wastefulness in front of goal. It is why the club continue to monitor Bayer Leverkusen‘s Kai Havertz, whose signing — if completed — would further alter the forward line.The onus is therefore on those in situ to respond and Pulisic did just that on Thursday, capitalising on an error to give Chelsea the lead after 36 minutes. When Benjamin Mendy passed the ball into space rather than to Ilkay Gundogan, Pulisic took the chance to run at goal.There was plenty to do from inside the centre circle in his own half, but a change of pace enabled him to breeze past Mendy and burst clear. Maintaining that unrelenting speed, Pulisic then curled a right-foot shot from the edge of penalty area, beyond Ederson and into the corner. The whole run comprised six touches. Composed, clinical, confident. Everything Lampard wants from his attacking players.”I wanted to protect [Pulisic] a bit against Villa, see if he could make an impact,” Lampard said. “I always planned to start him against City because I know what he can bring in these sort of games and he brought it. He did really well. He needs to keep working. He’s a young player but with so much talent, he can get better and better.”The opening goal came at a time when the hosts were just starting to find ways around the City press. Lampard shouted his orders from the touchline, coaching his players through practically every moment of those intense phases after Pep Guardiola’s side initially appeared likely to pass Chelsea into submission on a hot evening in London.The second half followed a similar pattern. City began strongly in search of an equaliser, albeit blunted by the lack of a potent centre-forward in Sergio Aguero‘s absence. Guardiola opted for Bernardo Silva as a false nin but abandoned the plan 10 minutes after the break, introducing Gabriel Jesus and  It was Kevin De Bruyne, however, who hauled City level with a 55th-minute free kick of such irresistible power and placement that Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga could only fall to his knees in response after the ball flew past him.

Knowing they need a win to delay Liverpool’s party, City continued to live dangerously at the back. Pulisic almost scored a second after rounding Ederson and steering a shot goalward, but Kyle Walker somehow scrambled it off the line.

Chelsea’s substitutes, amassed in the bottom tier of the East Stand next to the dugout, cried for video technology to intervene, but referee’s Stuart Attwell’s watch did not buzz. With 12 minutes to go, though, VAR intervened in decisive fashion.Willian burst clear down the right and found substitute Tammy Abraham, whose shot was saved by Ederson. As Pulisic and then Abraham tried to force the ball over the line, Fernandinho shovelled the ball away with his left arm.Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and a host of other guests every day as football plots a path through the coronavirus crisis. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).Attwell missed it, but Craig Pawson at Stockley Park did not. In a week that saw Lampard hail Willian’s professionalism and impact on younger players, the Brazilian international stepped up to slot home the winning penalty that consigned City to their fate and left Chelsea savouring a vital win in pursuit of Champions League football.Willian has won five major honours with Chelsea but news he had extended his contract until the end of the season got a mixed reaction, even more so the possibility of signing a new deal to stay beyond that. Six years on from writing the epitaph to Liverpool’s title challenge with a goal in Chelsea’s win at Anfield, though, the winger landed the decisive blow in the Anfield club’s maiden Premier League success.”I’m delighted with Willian this season,” Lampard said. “The players look up to him. He’s a senior professional within the group but he has quality, he has work ethic and it was a continuation of his form for big parts of the season.”Chelsea are addressing their flaws, though whether that improvement can extend to titles challenges remains to be seen. City, albeit starting from a higher level, have to do the same.

Full match schedule and TV info unveiled for MLS is Back Tournament

June 24, 20203:00PM EDTMLSsoccer staff  Mark your calendars: MLS revealed the schedule and TV info for all 54 matches of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando.

The tournament kicks off on Wednesday, July 8 with a Group A doubleheader: Orlando City SC face Florida foes Inter Miami CF (8 pm ET), followed by Chicago Fire FC taking on Nashville SC (10:30 pm ET). Both matches will air on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and TSN in Canada.

TV broadcasts

ESPN will oversee all game production for MLS broadcast partners throughout the tournament, delivering produced feeds of all matches, including unique and experimental technology. Each broadcast partner will use their own on-air talent and graphics packages.

  • USA: All 54 matches will be televised nationally on ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1, and TUDN. All ESPN/2 matches will also be streamed live on the ESPN App. FOX/FS1 matches and TUDN matches will be streamed on the FOX Sports App and TUDN App, respectively. In addition, the 10 matches that are broadcast on TUDN exclusively in the US will be streamed in English on the @TUDN Twitter handle.
  • Canada:TSN will carry every match, including streaming on the TSN App. TVA Sports will provide French-language coverage of all three Montreal Impact group matches along with select additional matches, including streaming on TVA Sports App.
  • World:The tournament will also air around the world via the league’s international broadcast partners.

Breakfast with MLS

A total of seven matches will take place at 9 am ET, all of which will air be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes in the U.S. and on TSN in Canada. The first morning match will be played on July 9 when New York City FC face the Philadelphia Union.

Rivalry Matches

Here are the dates and TV info for the marquee rivalry matches during the Group Stage presented by Heineken:

  • July 8: Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF (ESPN, TSN @ 8ET)
  • July 11: Atlanta United vs. NY Red Bulls (FOX, TUDN, TSN @ 8ET)
  • July 11: FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC (FS1, TUDN, TSN @ 10:30ET)
  • July 12: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids (ESPN, TSN @ 10:30ET)
  • July 15: Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC (TUDN & Twitter, TSN, TVAS @ 8ET)
  • July 18: LAFC vs. LA Galaxy (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN @ 10:30ET)
  • July 20: Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (TUDN & Twitter, TSN @ 10:30ET)

Format

The group stage will take place over 16 consecutive days with each group match counting toward the 2020 regular season standings. All clubs will have at least four full days between matches.

The Knockout Round presented by Audi will take place as follows:

  • Round of 16:Four straight days of doubleheaders (July 25-July 28)
  • Quarterfinals:Doubleheaders on July 30 & August 1
  • Semifinals:August 5 & August 6
  • Final: August 11 (8 pm ET)

June 23, 2010: The day Landon Donovan lifted a nation

10 years later, the moment still carries the day.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jun 23, 2020, 8:16am PDT

June 23, 2010. It’s a day that will live forever for fans of the United States Men’s National Team. Everyone knows where they were for the final group stage match for the USMNT in the 2010 World Cup: their first ever match against Algeria, with a spot in the Round of 16 very much in doubt.Sitting on 2 points after draws against England and Slovenia, the USMNT needed a win. England and Slovenia were playing each other at the same time, and while a England draw or loss would help in the event of a draw, any loss would see the USMNT leave South Africa much earlier than they wanted.So, on an abnormal Wednesday morning just a couple days into summer, we all called in sick to work or took an early lunch break. For me, I said I had a doctor’s appointment and that they had to run a bunch of tests. For those who weren’t lucky enough to be in Pretoria that day, we gathered in front of television sets and big screens in bars, restaurants, homes, parks, and plazas. We were dressed in red, white, and blue. We were hoping for the opportunity to advance out of the group that British media declared “E.A.S.Y.” when it was set at the World Cup draw. We would have to wait over 90 minutes from the start of the whistle for that hope to turn into reality.

Rewatching the game last night, for the first time in several years, brought me back to that day. I was at Molly Malone’s in Washington, DC, crammed into the second floor of the bar with the American Outlaws DC Chapter, which I helped start. My boss thought some doctor was checking my vitals and my blood pressure. I didn’t need a doctor to know my blood pressure was through the roof, just like the rest of the bar. We didn’t know what was coming at that point in time, and watching the match again last night brought me right back to the ups and downs of emotions we all felt during that match.How many times did we yell in frustration or clap our hands in anger when we came thisclose to scoring seemingly dozens of times? Whose hearts dropped into their toes when Algeria hit the crossbar in the first few minutes of the match? Did you become as apoplectic as I did when Clint Dempsey scored in the 21st minute, only for it to be wrongly called offside?

How many sitters did we miss during that match? 5? 10? 1234123423? Somehow, those numbers seemed small as the frustration built every time a ball went from 2 yards in front of the net into the stands. The hope faded little by little. We returned our minds to that Dempsey goal that was wrongly called back, thinking back to Maurice Edu’s goal that was wrongly called back against Slovenia, and we realized that the United States were about to be sent out of the World Cup because two referees jobbed us.

We knew that Jermaine Defoe had scored in the 23rd minute against Slovenia, so the chips were really against us. Only a win would suffice. We couldn’t rely on a goal from Slovenia, and we knew we couldn’t rely on the referees. We had to score a goal, free and clear, no take backs. Only, that goal never came. We entered the 89th minute and frustration turned to anger, at Bob Bradley and the guys for not getting it done.

We enter stoppage time, and 4 minutes are announced on the clock. We get another wave of hope. “LET’S GO BOYS!” “COME ON, COME ON!” “WE NEED THIS!” We enter the 91st minute and Algeria is pressing with the ball, and a small cross gets sent into the box and a short header by Algeria is handled by goalkeeper Tim Howard.

He immediately throws it forward to a sprinting Landon Donovan down the right side of the field. The crowd starts buzzing. The bars, homes, plazas all start buzzing as they see Landon Donovan sprinting down the right flank. They see the USMNT have numbers as Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey run up alongside him. Donovan passes the ball to Altidore, who dribbles towards the endline. “SEND IT IN!” Altidore sends the low cross towards the front of the goal, Dempsey tries to nutmeg Algerian goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi, but it bounces off him and pops out a few yards. A second seemed like a lifetime for all of us as we held our breath. “Not again,” we thought.

And then out of the right corner of our eye, everyone sees Landon Donovan…

He DID it. Landon Donovan scores. We listen to the call from Ian Darke and you try to hold back the tears. Here’s the call from Ian Durke for that Goal

If you watch the reaction of Andres Cantor, any tears you were holding back were set free: But this call by the Legendary Andres Cantor in Spanish Really Brings it to Life

Bedlam. Elation. Jubilation. Exhilaration. Ecstasy. We all react to the new shot heard ‘round the world. Some are with hundreds or thousands of our new best friends, some are at home by themselves. But, the bedlam, the elation, the ecstasy speaks all languages:

We all remember where we were. We remember who we were with. We remember the hugs, the kisses, the high fives, the beer thrown in the air. We remember how every player celebrated: Landon Donovan running with arms outstretched, sliding into the corner with his team jumping on top of him, taking the corner flag with them. Jozy Altidore jumping on top of the dogpile, followed by Jay DeMerit doing a full somersault on top of that. Tim Howard just patting the ground in front of his goal like he was replacing a divot, his emotions racing. Bob Bradley just running down the sideline, arms in the air triumphant, his staff emotional, fans in the stands jumping up and down, in disbelief of what they had just seen.

How could anyone process what that meant? At that moment, we had that euphoria and then realized we had 2 minutes or so left in stoppage time. Forget our hearts being in our throats, every single second was our hearts in our hands while we were squeezing it tighter and tighter. Finally, after what seemed like a decade, the final whistle sounds. We pause to look at that score: USA 1-0 Algeria. We look at the other match score: Slovenia 0-1 England. We were through. Not only that, we had won the group. An incredible wave of emotion. We were soaked in beer, sweat, tears, and maybe a few bruises from our celebrations.10 years ago today…we saw our moment. Landon Donovan provided a goal that lifted a nation. We all could fly that day. It’s the greatest moment in USMNT history, and that moment is forever etched in the history books:  Donovan 90+1’.

Donovan’s World Cup goal against Algeria 2010: The oral history of the most famous moment in USMNT history

Landon Donovan, USMNT midfielder 2000-2014: I’m thinking in my head like, “I just gotta cheat up the field as much as I can.”

It’s almost like [Tim Howard] had been surveying the field before he got the ball. In case he did get the ball, get his hands on the ball, he was ready. And so when he grabbed it, I knew there was a lot of space in front of me. So I took off in that moment, and he threw it perfectly.

At that moment, my thought was just make the right decision, because I’ve been in situations like that thousands of times in practice or in games. So I wanted to get the ball out in front of me, so we’re putting pressure on them quickly. And then when Jozy [Altidore] peeled out to the right, Edson [Buddle] peeled out to the left and Clint [Dempsey] was running centrally, and instinct kind of takes over at that point. Get it out to Jozy and I knew he was gonna put it in a good spot from there, and then it was crash the goal and put them under pressure.

There are not many forwards in the history of our country who would have run that hard to get across the goalie and put himself in position like Clint did. In the moment, I don’t think there’s any chance that the ball is going to end up anywhere other than in the back of the net, because once [Altidore] rolls it in front, I’m thinking through Clint or Edson or an own goal, somehow that ball’s gonna end up in the goal or at least close to the goal.

I was directly behind Clint, but I actually can’t even see the ball. And so their interaction happened and then [the ball] rolled out. I didn’t even know. I wasn’t thinking about timing my run, my momentum was carrying me into the box and then that’s where the ball ended up.

In the 91st minute of the United States’ World Cup group-stage finale against Algeria on June 23, 2010, in Pretoria, South Africa, Donovan pounced on that ball, scoring the goal that would send the Americans into the round of 16 after their 1-0 win and set off a cultural phenomenon, putting the U.S. men’s national team into the collective consciousness of the country like never before.   Ten years later, ESPN spoke to Donovan, his teammates, members of the media, fans, and those whose soccer careers were in part shaped by that moment. This is the story of that night in Pretoria, South Africa, the most historic moment in USMNT history.

Editor’s note: The text has been edited for length and clarity. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Noah Davis, Jason Davis, Arch Bell and Austin Lindberg contributed to this report.

Jump to: The ghost foul | The buildup | The game | The worry | The goal | The reaction | The celebration | The aftermath

The ghost foul

The U.S., arguably, should not have been in the position it found itself in against Algeria.

A welcome 1-1 draw against England in its opener positioned the Americans well to advance from the group. The Three Lions were widely expected to top Group C, and a point on the board, with encounters against Slovenia and Algeria to come, put Bob Bradley & Co. on course to reach the knockout rounds.

But a controversial 2-2 draw against Slovenia dampened that enthusiasm. A phantom foul called on Maurice Edu while he volleyed home a Donovan free kick cost the U.S. two points, and instead of heading into the group finale on top of the table and needing only a draw vs. Algeria to reach the round of 16, it now had to win.

Maurice Edu, USMNT midfielder 2007-2014: I’m still at a loss of words about how to describe what the hell went wrong during that play. I know I’m not fouling him because I’m ahead of him and now he’s trying to catch me. So I literally go through the box uncontested and Landon couldn’t have played a better ball, it hits me in stride, left foot, boom, goal. I’m not top 10 on SportsCenter, I’m No. 1! In the moment, I went back to being a kid, kicking a ball around the house, the commentary, “Mo gets the ball, it’s the last minute of the World Cup, he shoots, he scores!” So this was my moment, this was that moment.I hear the whistle blow and I’m like, “What the hell?” Everyone is up in arms, protesting, going crazy, Clint, Landon. They were arguing with the referee, who had no answer for us then, had no answer for us after the game and to this day he probably has no answer. If that goal counts, that’s probably the greatest comeback in U.S. soccer history.I look at it and think, “F—, that sucked, that was my moment, that was my goal, that was my place in history.” But you know what, it led to an incredible moment in the Algeria game and now you’ve seen what it’s made for.

Donovan: I saw it go in, but I didn’t know what happened. So at that moment, you just have to assume that something happened because I didn’t know any different. The only thing is the reaction of our players, looking around like, “Who are you calling that on?” Nobody can figure out who they are calling. And so I think it’s myself and Michael [Bradley], we go to the ref and I don’t think he only spoke French, but we were just trying to figure out like, “Can you just tell us what the call was and who you’re calling it on?” and he didn’t want anything to do with it. Maybe it was a language thing. It seemed like he made up his mind before the play that he was going to call a foul. I have known referees to do that if they feel that they got a previous call wrong. It just seemed like he had made up his mind. And you know, it wasn’t until later watching the replay that I realized that there was no foul, and actually if you’re going to call a foul, it should have been against a Slovenian player on a few of our guys.

Tim Howard, USMNT goalkeeper 2002-2017: The infamous shirt tug where everyone is like they’re in a WWE wrestling match. I don’t know what the referee saw. To be in with a shout of winning that game, and to show the perseverance and battle back said a lot about our team.

Bob Ley, ESPN 1979-2019: I was at that match, and I go back and I still look for that foul that took away [Edu’s] goal in much the same way that I look for how much Michael Ballack was offside in 2002. I still give him s—. “Ah Bob, you’re such an a–hole.”

Jonathan Bornstein, USMNT defender 2007-2011: We thought we got robbed. But, you know, very quickly, you’ve got to move on. It’s out of our hands now. Let’s focus on what we can control, and that was the next game. And so I think that’s kind of something Bob always instilled in us, that kind of, control what you can control and let go and don’t ponder on what happened in the past.

 

Alexi Lalas, ESPN 2009-2014: What people sometimes fail to realize is, we only had two points going into that third game. There was a real good chance we could have lost that game to Slovenia. But obviously, Michael scored, and we actually could have won it. But you had already seen a comeback-kid type of mentality that they had. But now you’re right back where we started in that you lose the game and we bomb out in the group stage. So from a drama and entertainment perspective, we were psyched to get this type of game and now we just needed them to perform.

Julie Foudy, ESPN 2006-present: I was at our ESPN studios in Johannesburg. You have hundreds of people in this room thinking, “Geez, we could be going home here.” And you obviously want the team to be successful, but you’re also thinking how much work has gone into a production like this and all the people that are over there, and you definitely want Team USA still in it, right? So, I think that’s always the interesting juxtaposition of, you are clearly so invested because it’s Team USA, but you’re also invested because you want the sport to grow and you realize, without USA in it, it’s a much different sell.

The buildup

So the U.S. headed to Pretoria for its game against Algeria, needing a win to ensure its progression to the knockout rounds. The result of Slovenia vs. England, kicking off simultaneously in Port Elizabeth, would have a huge bearing on how the group would shake out, but the Americans controlled their destiny: win and they’re in.

Donovan: All you can ask for, for a team like ours, is going into the third game with a chance to advance, right? Like, when you go into the tournament, that’s your thought process. If you’re one of the top five or six teams in the world, you want to be qualified by the third game. But for us, we wanted to go into the third game with a chance to get through and we felt like we were playing the weakest opponent in our group, and they needed like some crazy results to happen. I think they didn’t really have a chance to advance so there was excitement, optimism, but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. So I think we felt good heading into that game.

Howard: We had played in big games. We beat Spain at the Confederations Cup, best team in the world. We were up on Brazil in the final 2-0. OK, it didn’t go our way, but we had played in big games as a team. And so I think when it comes to World Cup, particularly if you’re with a U.S. team, all bets are off. So if you can put yourself in a position to go into that third game where your destiny is in your hands, that’s all the U.S. team could have asked for. Even if we had gotten a better result in the Slovenia game, we couldn’t just lose. It was all to play for and we felt confident we could do it.

Steve Cherundolo, USMNT defender 1999-2012: We still felt confident that we could make it out of the group, but I think we also felt the pressure was added on because people were expecting us to make it out of the group, and we felt the same. So we felt good, we felt confident, but we also knew that Algeria had some weapons as well and they were a good team. All the pressure was on us. We were no longer the underdogs, which is what normally we were.

DaMarcus Beasley, USMNT midfielder/defender 2001-2017: I know that everyone was more relaxed than what I thought the team would be. I wasn’t starting, so you kind of look around the locker room, see people’s mannerisms and their faces, and that’s one thing I do remember, is that the team didn’t seem rattled. Knowing that we needed to win, I think the team was confident in how we were playing throughout the tournament.

Bornstein: I remember the overall attitude of the team being very positive. We had previously played against teams like England, who we took a point from, we thought going into the Algeria game was a definite opportunity for us to prove something to the world.

The game

The game began with Algeria coming out motivated, striking the crossbar in the early exchanges. But the U.S. recovered.

Dempsey had a goal controversially ruled out for offside, then hit the woodwork. Altidore missed a chance with the net gaping.

Herculez Gomez, USMNT forward 2007-2013: It was crazy because at first it was Algeria. One in hits the crossbar, we get saved. But then I was out supplying a lot of pressure. I had a shot at like 30 yards out that caught the keeper by surprise. I had another shot that I hit straight into the keeper that I should have done way better with. I had a cross shot that ended up on Clint’s foot that he scores and it’s a legitimate goal, that’s called offside. So I thought we were knocking.

Lalas: I was more impressed with Algeria than I was the other two teams in the group, to be quite honest with you. They were sons of b—-es. And I say that in a good way, they were badasses. I wasn’t prepared for how badass they were.

The worry

The missed chances begin to add up. As the count of wasted opportunities rises, the clock continues ticking away. Time is running out to get three points from the game, and with it, a place in the round of 16.

Jozy Altidore, USMNT forward 2007-present: I’ll never forget, there was a play where I think I’m in, and I go down the side and I cross the ball, and they sail it clear. Clint comes and opens his hips up to go far post, rings the post and it comes back, and I thought for sure he scores the rebound, and he put it over. It was a tough bounce, to be fair. It’s not an easy finish. At that point, I was thinking to myself, “Wow, is it going to happen? We may not get through.”

Beasley: It was, “Are we going to sneak one in like we usually do? Are we not? Is this going to be a game where we almost had it and we didn’t? And we lost it?” And we started thinking about, “Oh man, the game before, we should’ve won that game.” So you start thinking about what could’ve happened to not be in the situation that you’re in. If we would’ve scored that one goal [vs. Slovenia], we wouldn’t even be in this situation right now.

Gomez: I thought it was there for the taking. But as the game progressed, then this feeling of, “Oh man, this could be our last game” started settling in. And it’s a World Cup game, so everything’s magnified. Everybody’s on edge. It almost feels like these moments are bigger than they really are, because at the end, it’s just a game, right? Maybe nine out of 10 times you play that at a neutral site and we blow Algeria out, maybe. But in this game, it was close. They were in it. It could have been anybody’s game, any moment could’ve changed it. And it came down to the very end of the show.

Ian Darke, ESPN 2010-present: Did you honestly have a feeling that [the U.S.] were going to get that goal? Not really, not deep in your heart. And you’re thinking, “Well, this is quite a damp ending for the World Cup campaign,” because as the group stood going into the 91st minute, they were going out of the World Cup having played reasonably well and they could have gone out without losing a match.

Ley: [ESPN analyst Steve McManaman] and I were both mesmerized, and so I got up from behind the desk, and I am just walking around like my wife is in labor — in the old days, you’re not in the birthing room. I have never been so nervous in my life.

Donovan: There was this real professional understanding that in the last 10 or 15 minutes, the attacking players had to cheat and we had to roll the dice. Like, if we gave up a goal and lost 1-0 vs. tying 0-0, it didn’t matter, we’re out either way. So we had to take chances. And I think people don’t realize how stressful that is for a backline and Michael and Tim to deal with basically 5-on-5 at the back and 5-on-5 at the other end for 10 minutes or so. And they just held down the fort and allowed us to kind of get wave after wave and keep trying to break them down and find the goal to win it.

Altidore: When you’re down, you just have this sense of going until you reach the goal. Especially when you need a goal. That’s kind of where we were at. We were still just trying to get after it. We wouldn’t stop. We had time. We just kept going, we just tried to be relentless in our approach of trying to create that one more chance to win the game. Because I think up until that last seize of the ball, we believed. And I think that played a huge part.

The goal

And then it happened.

In the first minute of stoppage time, the U.S. conceded a golden opportunity, as Adlene Guedioura delivered a cross to the back post where two Algerian attackers were unmarked. Rafik Saifi got his head on the ball, but he could only direct it straight into Tim Howard’s hands.

The goalkeeper immediately pushed forward and threw the ball into the path of a sprinting Donovan, who was already at midfield. Donovan continued his run, playing the ball to Altidore wide right, who squared a cross for Dempsey, whose shot was courageously saved by Rais M’Bolhi. But, thankfully for the U.S., Donovan followed the play and buried the rebound.

Bornstein: I think you can take it back to their chance right before Tim catches the ball. It could have been a very dangerous opportunity. I mean, they get a cross in and the guy’s alone in the box and he gets a free header off. Luckily, it goes straight to Tim’s hands. I think all of us on the bench, you know, when you’re looking at them inside of our box and you’re thinking “No, no, no, just get it out, get it out.” Tim catches it and everyone kind of stands up because he immediately throws it just like a bomb, like a quarterback to a wide receiver. And leads him perfectly running full speed, [Donovan] takes a great touch forward. And we’re already inside their half within 30 milliseconds. I think everyone at that point, at least for me, we’re all like, “This is it.”

Howard: There had been a series of getting the ball, rolling it out, throw it out, getting us on the front foot and attacking. So that was kind of the mode I was in for much of that second half. And then Landon, as he does, it just seemed like that was a connection that I made 1,000 times. He opens up wide, he wants the ball, he gets on his horse and then me being able to find him in an open lane, it just kind of seemed second nature. So he was just flying and I felt in that perpetual motion stage. [Dempsey] was getting ready to get moving, everybody seemed to be flowing toward the goal.

Darke: I remember, and I’ve obviously seen it a few times since then, Howard having the ball and I remember I sort of injected an extra urgency into my voice at that point, thinking, “This is now or never, it’s got to all come from this.” And I remember Howard throwing a great throw almost at the halfway mark on the right to Donovan and suddenly the move was on. Suddenly that Algeria defense seemed to just maybe look a little bit disheveled and disorganized, maybe for the first time. And you just have a feeling something could happen here. And then it looked like the frustration was going to continue because Dempsey’s shot got blocked, and you thought, “Ah, that’s it.” But there was that moment, you saw it was dropping to Landon Donovan, and that he had a magnificent chance. The rest is history, as they say. Banged it in the net, and then the mass celebration by the corner flag and my somewhat hysterical commentary. I had no idea what I’d said at the time, but eventually I did get the impression that people quite liked it, which is always good for a commentator.

Altidore: Landon would always tell me, “When I get it, just take off running.” So I just took off when I saw him taking off, we all took off when we saw the opportunity. It was a good throw by Timmy. They caught us. We’re cheating a little bit to try to stay in a good spot, to stay forward, you don’t want to break down. And it just worked out to be the perfect counter, the perfect play where we caught them. And then, actually, when I look back at it, Landon’s on for me to give it back to him. If I disguise it well enough, I can cross it back to him and he can also tap it in. And it’s crazy, but I was not paying attention to that. I just saw Clint arriving, and I saw he was open, and there was a window. And when Clint missed that, I was thinking, “No, another big chance!” And then Landon was there at the doorstep, following the play, staying with it, and then the rest is history, as they say.

Foudy: And the thing about Landon’s goal too, which is so iconic to Landon, is one, he starts it with that counter. And then you see he shows himself to Jozy, so he kind of holds, but he doesn’t stay there. A player without that ability to see what’s being done, I’d have been like, “OK, he didn’t use me, I’m good.” He gets in a position where he knows he’s going to get some type of deflection. And, in the 91st minute, to sprint — which he did, pretty much three quarters of the length of that field — and then to carry that run through so he’s in a position to make it look easy, that was everything of what Landon was about. And people miss that, they just see him at that end position. There’s so many people who wouldn’t have gotten to that position. I’d have still been at the mid-strut, “Yeah, I’m good.”

Howard: Credit to both Landon and Clint. They’re always smelling it, they’re always on the front foot. Landon doesn’t just play the ball and stop, and think, “This is going to be in the back of the net.” He continues his run.

Altidore: Landon was doing his Landon thing, man. Popping up in the right place at the right time.

Edu: When I look back at that play, it’s commitment from a group of players who said, “This isn’t it for us.” When it happens, it’s like, “Cool, last-minute goal,” but when you watch it back, there were so many plays along the way, so many steps on the way when it could have gone wrong. Maybe Landon takes the play off, maybe Tim doesn’t see Landon, maybe Clint doesn’t make the run in the box, maybe Jozy doesn’t go wide to get the cross. There are so many steps along the way when it could have gone wrong, but it didn’t because it was a group of committed players.

The reaction

After 91 minutes of nerves, of pressure building with each passing moment, Donovan’s goal triggered a release of emotion throughout the team. He found himself at the bottom of a dog pile in the corner flag consisting of most every player on the field and a good number of substitutes as well.

A handful of the team were so exhausted from the match that they couldn’t muster the energy to sprint to the attacking third and join in on celebrations, instead embracing one another at the center of midfield.

Donovan: I’ve been under a dog pile and it gives me serious anxiety, like real anxiety. I went to the corner, I saw Stu running down to meet me from the bench, and I’m like, with my momentum, there’s no way I wasn’t gonna slide because I was running so fast. But if you watch closely, right at the end, there is a minute where I’m like, “Oh f—,” because I realize what’s coming. I get like serious anxiety being there. Within about three seconds, and I don’t know if anyone heard it because everyone was yelling, I’m like, “Guys, get up! Get up! Get up! Please get up!” I’m just trying to get them off me because I didn’t want to hyperventilate.

Cherundolo: As soon as I saw the back of the net move, I looked over to the assistant referee. The flags did not go up, the goal is definitely counted. I looked for Tim and Jay and [Carlos Bocanegra] because it was too far to get up to Landon and at that point we were dead tired. I looked to anybody close to me who I could grab and hug. Because then we knew, “All right, this is it. This is our day. We did it.”

Darke: I don’t think that you can plan for that, and maybe you shouldn’t, either. Maybe I had a few words that I was going to say if the USA had gone out, you might prep that. But really something as dramatic, like a 10 on the Richter scale, an explosive moment like that, where one minute you’re out of the World Cup and the next millisecond, you’re top of the group, nobody can plan for that. So whatever came out, came out. It was instinctive and I’m a great believer that the best lines of commentary are exactly like that and happened in that way. I don’t know what made me say, “Go, go, USA!” I’m not American, as you well know. It’s just something that came out I thought that captured the mood.

Ley: I vividly remember it was like an out-of-body experience, like almost vibrating with excitement when the goal went in. It was like, “Oh, my God.” It’s like, “This is big. Don’t overstate it, don’t step on it.” I guess we didn’t screw it up. It was well received. As Ian has said so many times, he didn’t know where the “Go, go, USA!” came from. That’s a ringtone for some people still 10 years later. Ian doesn’t quite beat out my favorite John Lennon guitar licks.

John Harkes, ESPN 2006-2011: When it went in, I think I lost my headset and I couldn’t even communicate, so I couldn’t call anything. When I put it back on to speak, I just remember it cutting it out again so people couldn’t hear me making the commentary, and Ian had to speak again because my thing had gone out. We jumped on each other and it was all the camera guys around us. It was an amazing moment.

Andres Cantor, Futbol De Primera Radio: When I do the goal call before Bora [Milutinovic] and Marcelo [Balboa] speak, I was losing air. I never felt like I was going to faint, but I felt lightheaded because of all the euphoria and yelling and energy. And when I say, “Donovan the best player in U.S. history,” it doesn’t come off clean, it’s not what I wanted to say and I couldn’t find the words. At that moment I was on the verge of being breathless so I had to be quiet and recover.

Chris Kyak, fan at a watch party: At least half of us in there in that bar that day dropped to our knees [after Dempsey’s shot was saved] and weren’t even looking at the TV — I don’t even think I remember seeing the goal live. I remember seeing it in replay nonstop, minutes later. The people in [the bar] were probably on a pile-on. Beers were flying everywhere. I believe that was one of the first times the bar utilized plastic cups, knowing that something may have happened that day, whether it was good or bad.

Benny Feilhaber, USMNT 2007-2017: I think my favorite thing about that is how I had zero involvement in the entire build-up of that play and how much it meant to me. I think that’s a great representation of our team because there was no selfishness with that team, we wanted one thing and everyone wanted the same thing and it didn’t matter who was able to get the glory and you saw it in that moment.

Altidore: It’s like the things you say in your backyard when you’re playing around. Last minute of the game, for all the marbles! And to have that play come off and be able to have it and look back on it for the rest of our lives, it’s amazing. It’s a beautiful moment.

The celebration

The celebrations following that game became legend unto their own. Former President Bill Clinton was at the match, making his way to the dressing room to join in the festivities. Former NFL star Reggie Bush was there, too.

Upon their return to the hotel, U.S. Soccer had arranged for players’ families to be there waiting, and organized a reception complete with singing and dancing, including the hotel staff.

Howard: President Clinton was in there with the Secret Service and at one point we were drinking beers and everybody’s excited and guys are taking their boots off. Carlos [Bocanegra] asked for everyone’s attention and asked President Clinton to come to the center, and he waxed poetically about what Bill Clinton meant to us and to be a part of our group and to Carlos personally, and he asked him if he’d have a beer with us. And [Clinton] looked over his shoulder, took off his jacket, rolled his sleeves up, popped open a beer. It was a pretty cool moment because not many people can say that they have that opportunity.

Beasley: It was chaos as soon as we got in [the dressing room]. We were jumping and yelling and cheering. Everybody was happy. We celebrated. And, obviously, when Clinton came in the locker room, it was great for him to meet everybody and congratulate everybody, so that was really cool. But yeah, we celebrated a little bit, because it wasn’t so much us celebrating because we went through, it was how we did it. The 90th minute, basically the last play of the game, we had a do-or-die situation for us to go through to the next round, and we did that. So, I’m sure if we would’ve won the game say 4-0, it would’ve been different.

Gomez: I know that we’re a very patriotic country any time it’s the U.S. vs. the rest of the world. The country gets behind it. But it’s one thing to be there, it’s another thing to get together at a conference room in a hotel and have the president of the United States call you on speaker phone. He’s talking to you, he’s naming Timmy by name, he’s naming Landon, he’s congratulating us. That’s a surreal thing. It’s surreal when Bill Clinton, an ex-president of the United States, comes into the locker room and he’s sharing a Budweiser with you. When Reggie Bush, probably at one of the heights of his career, is in the locker room and he shakes your hand and he tells you how much a fan he is, it’s just surreal moments.

David Ridenhour, fan at the game: It was just minutes of pandemonium after [the goal], and then as soon as they blew the final whistle, we stayed in the stadium for probably 20 or 25 minutes and watched the players go around the field. As we were leaving, there was a group of probably 1,000 U.S. fans that were still inside the stadium gates, and for 15 or 20 minutes we just sang and danced and partied.

Donovan: Maybe we did [overcelebrate] a little bit. It’s not like we were getting hammered that night. But it’s so difficult to advance out of your group at a World Cup, and when you put in so much time and effort, it’s hard not to celebrate. It really is. Life is short. You can’t blame people for wanting to celebrate in that moment and appreciate it because once that moment is over, it’s gone forever. I don’t blame guys, especially you’ve got people like the former president in there, you have to appreciate and enjoy the moment.

The aftermath

The celebrations crossed the Atlantic at a rapid pace. The stoppage-time win over Algeria became a “Where were you when …” moment in this country’s sporting history.

That was compounded by the rise of social media, and the emergence of videos from watch parties across the U.S. They were featured in ad campaigns, they were picked up by morning shows and on the tongues of late-night hosts.

Walker Zimmerman, USMNT defender 2017-present: I think I was at a soccer tournament and at a restaurant or bar in between games with my mom just watching the game. It was an out-of-body experience while watching that final sequence go down. Everyone is holding their breath, ball goes in and you erupt and you say, “I don’t know any of these people around me, but I’m enjoying it.”

Donovan: We went back to the hotel, we went to bed. In the morning when I went to breakfast, [press officer Michael] Kammarman actually said, “Hey, dude, you got to see this” and he showed me that same video, and it was like, “Holy s—.” It was really powerful for those of us who have been in this game for a long time and never seen people care about soccer like that. And I think quickly after that, it started to sink in because it was like interview here, interview there, this person’s calling me, that person’s calling me. People had jumped on the bandwagon really fast.

Michael Kammarman, USMNT press officer 2001-present: At a World Cup, it’s always hard when you’re inside the team bubble to have a real sense of what the response is like back in the United States. We already had a large contingent of U.S. media in South Africa, and certainly there were a ton of media requests for Landon after the game, but what really hit home were the videos showing the reactions of fans around the country. Those took on a life of their own, and it was one of the first times that had really happened in sports. Landon came into the Studio 90 office and watched that awesome compilation video, and that was a real eye-opener for us on how big this was back home; you could see in that game and the week that followed that the focus of people in the United States was on the U.S. men’s national team in a way it probably had never been before.

Bornstein: I was roommates with Benny Feilhaber and we had learned about [the videos] just because people were telling us, “Oh my God, did you guys see the reaction?” So we watched them, like, immediately afterward. I remember watching them almost right after, then again and again and again. It was so motivating, to be honest, to see how the American people, all the fans reacted inside bars, inside homes, wherever they were. It was like everyone was in the same moment at the same time. It’s something that I’ll be able to share with my kids and hopefully grandkids for years to come.

Foudy: We’re in Johannesburg, so we have no idea what’s happening back in America, but it gave you a sense of the magnitude of that moment, and what it meant to soccer in our culture, which is something we’ve always had to convince people is a part of our culture. As a soccer player, they always say, “No, it’s not us. People aren’t passionate about it, it’s not in our blood like it is in other countries.” And that moment, I was like maybe it is! Look at us!

Lalas: It’s a wonderful piece of Americana and a piece of our soccer history.

Zimmerman: Gregg [Berhalter]’s first camp in January two years ago, we were doing a roommate questionnaire where at the end of a meal you had to stand up and share the answers to questions about your roommate, and one of the questions was, “What was your most memorable U.S. soccer moment?” It seemed like half of the team alluded to this goal as the most exciting and pivotal moment that they had witnessed in U.S. soccer history.

Lalas: That’s the defining moment for a player who’s had plenty of them. That’s the one that people will remember. And when I say people, I mean people that aren’t even involved in soccer.

Inside the Premier League bubble: A surreal ghost town where you have to bring your own sandwiches

11:23 AM ETIan DarkeESPN.com writer

So what is it like inside the bubble in the Premier League’s new biosecure world? My first experience of it, at Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal on Saturday, felt like being airlifted onto the set of a sci-fi movie.To get anywhere near the smart Amex Stadium in the first place you needed to have filled in a fair bit of paperwork to indicate you had no symptoms of the coronavirus, had not recently arrived from abroad and were not in a vulnerable category. On arrival, I was instructed to stay in the car and wear a mask (the club had provided one in their blue club colours, complete with a Seagulls logo). Then you had to wind down the window for a temperature check. I was declared healthy and allowed to park.Normally on a match day you would be among thousands of fans as you arrived, and swap banter with fellow commentators and media people while having a cup of coffee or tea and a bite to eat in the media room. But apart from Brighton club staff in those blue masks, there was almost nobody around the deserted stadium perimeter and that media room was closed, like all the food outlets. You had to bring your own sandwiches and refreshment. It felt like a sad and surreal ghost town.

The stadiums are divided into zones, with the players and officials and essential medical staff kept apart from everyone else in the red zone. All these people are tested for coronavirus twice a week, with anyone found to be positive ordered to self-isolate. First in the Bundesliga and now the Premier League, that has ensured a safe environment for the leagues to restart.All media are in the amber zone and are not allowed anywhere near the pitch or tunnel areas. My microphone and headphones were wrapped in a sanitised bag for use exclusively by me. All the other wires and equipment had been scrubbed clean.Behind the masks, there was a chance for a socially distanced chat about possible lineups with fellow commentators Jonathan Pearce, of the BBC, and Jim Proudfoot, who was working on the broadcast of the game sent out by the Premier League to the whole world. Normally we would put the finishing touches to our match preparation in the media room, and go down to the tunnel area where there may be the chance of picking up a vital morsel of information about players and tactics. Now that is impossible. I had to go straight to the outdoor commentary position, so just as well it was a warm sunny day on the south coast of England.When Arsenal arrived, I was able to phone a contact in that red zone who informed me that Gunners manager Mikel Arteta was likely to make a few changes; Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe among those expected to play, and Rob Holding was sure to get a rare outing in defenceThe conversation turned to the tricky travel logistics for away teams in this strange new world. The Premier League have advised clubs to make their journeys on match days to avoid the risk of transmission during overnight stays in hotels. Arsenal had taken some flak for flying up for Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester City as late as 5 p.m. for an 8 p.m. kick-off. They were accused of cutting it fine, and harming the players’ preparation.

But think about it. What are clubs supposed to do? Travel early and be left kicking their heels for hours in a faraway town? They cannot follow their normal routine of a sleep and prematch meal at a local hotel without breaking the guidelines. For this game, I learned that Arsenal had eaten at their training ground north of London in late morning and then made the 90-minute trip in two coaches to maintain social distancing on board. It is hardly ideal, but the away teams are facing a dilemma.And so to the game itself. The piped-in crowd noise may not be to everyone’s taste, but, for this commentator, at least it helps create a more authentic feel and buzz. Otherwise, no matter how good the game, it can feel like a reserve match with the players’ shouts echoing around a cavernous arena. TV broadcasters are giving viewers a choice, and most are opting to watch with the sound effects on.The clubs have done a fantastic job in dressing up the stadiums with attractive, colourful canvas covers for the empty seats, and Brighton have cardboard cutouts of 1,500 fans and famous ex-players sitting in their East Stand. They are doing their very best to make it feel like home, and managers are staging a lot of training sessions at the ground to get the players accustomed to the new environment.I think they need to tweak the drinks break idea. They are only necessary on a very hot day. It was farcical to see it in the pouring rain in Friday evening when Tottenham hosted Manchester United. The new five-substitute rule, meanwhile, is a nightmare for commentators. By the last 10 minutes, half the outfield players have changed. It is almost like a different game. I understand the increased risk of muscle injury after such limited preparation, but five subs makes it feel like a friendly.Clearly some teams are more rusty than refreshed. The restart is proving traumatic for Arsenal, with two defeats and a stack of injuries already. Brighton led the fight against staging matches at neutral grounds and it paid off with a dramatic late 2-1 win over the Gunners on home turf.Sad that their fans were not there to see it. As commentators we are privileged to be there to tell the story for those denied entry. It is good to have football back. And as weird as our “new normal” is inside the stadium bubble, it beats calling Bundesliga games off TV pictures from your office at home!

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

6/19/20  EPL Returns Huge Game today, MLS Tourney July 8, Carmel FC Tryouts Mon afternoon 6/22

So the EPL  is back which of course means that bad calls not overturned by VAR is back.  Yes in the first game back – Aston Villa gave up a goal to Sheffield United (well the GK fell into the goal with the ball) but evidently Goal Line Technology didn’t work (the ref pointing to his watch to say no).  However anyone who could see the replay VAR – it was painfully obvious it was a goal. Hell the keeper knew – he looked up and just threw the ball out and thanked his lucky stars.  I have no problem with it being missed on the field – it was a bang bang play with his own player pushing him into the goal – but the replay was obvious.   If VAR isn’t going to fix this – a 1-0 win turning into a 0-0 tie – costing Sheffield 2 pts in the table moving them down from 6th to 7th possibly.  Just Ridiculous.  Somehow VAR works just fine in almost all countries in the world – except in the EPL?  The “  “ biggest league in the world somehow can’t figure out how to use friggin replay.  Come-on guys get a clue.  Technology – ah dah.  Awesome news that the Champions League is returning with an elite 8 single game elimination tourney in Lisbon, Portugal in August.   The NWSL becomes the first pro team sport in the US to return to play on June 27th and I am thrilled that the opening game will be on Saturday at 12:30 I think on CBS.  However the rest of the entire tourney being limited to CBS online –($6 a month) really ticks me off.  With NO American Sports on TV – why not play more games on CBS – or at least CBS SportsNetwork – which has literally NO live sports programming now?  Why not show the games on that network and online for those who do have CBSSN.  And why not put a game or two on CBS on the weekends – maybe if Saturday’s TV Audience shows up for the 27th 12:30 game CBS might change their minds.

Turning to the field – my favorite GK Gigi Buffon at the ripe young age of 42 – was his normal legendary self in the Copa Italian Final as Juventus was playing Napoli.  Buffon made a spectacular save at the end of the first half and again in extra time down the stretch as he made back to back saves – to keep the goose-egg on the board for Juve.  However in the shootout Juve’s first 2 shooters blew it and Juve and Buffon lost 4-2 on PKs.  A heartbreaking end for what might have been the legend’s last shot at an Italian Cup.

This Weekend Top Games

Tottenham will host Man United in a huge game with Champions League implications today at 3:15 pm as the Spurs welcome leading scorer Harry Kane back from injury.  The only other sort of big EPL game of the weekend has Everton hosting league leading Liverpool in the Mersyside Derby Sunday at 2 pm on NBC.  Great to finally see NBC getting a decent game for a change!! Of course we’ll see if Christian Pulisic gets time off the bench for Chelsea when they travel to Aston Villa with American youngster Indiana Vassilev on Sunday at 11:15 am on NBCSN.  Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig travel to Dortmund and hopefully a well Gio Reyna on Sat at 9:30 am.   Congrats are due to German Champions Bayern Munich who won their 8th straight title.   Of course La Liga, and the Serie A have a full weekend and next week of games on tap.   Full TV Schedule online

Carmel FC Tryouts

Tryouts for kids from U8 -U18 are Monday, June 22.  Carmel FC is a community-based club who has put tons of kids on the local high school teams at Carmel High, Guerin, University and more.  Click here for more info about CFC TryoutsTo register for tryouts/evaluations use the following link:  GotSoccer Registration
Date: June 22, 2020 for all Players
Location: Badger Fields

Times are by Birth year (These are tentative and subject to change)
Birth Years 2011 to 2014 at 5:00pm to 6:00pm 
Birth Years 2010 to 2008 at 6:15pm to 7:30pm
Birth Years 2007 to 2002 at 7:45pm to 9:00pm

To register for tryouts/evaluations use the following link:  GotSoccer Registration

Can’t make June 22nd?  Email Juergen Sommer to schedule a time on one of the following dates for supplemental tryouts.
– Tuesday June 23rd
– Monday June 29th
– Monday July 6th

WORLD

Champions League Moves Finals to Portugal for Elite 8 Single Elimination Rounds
Champions League knockout tournament in Lisbon confirmed

Europa League Return Set as World Cup style Final
Bundesliga: Takeaways from Week 31

Werner Coming to Chelsea from RB Leipzig – ESPNFC

Premier League return: the issues to resolve
Premier League restarts with goal-line howler as players take knee

Tottenham v Man United preview: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Premier League returns with social issues high on the agenda

Premier League return: Previews of all 20 teams

Statement on Aston Villa v Sheffield United VAR, Goal Decision System error

USA

Bruce Arena Weighs in on Anthem Playing and Qualification for US Team
2020 Golden Boy award shortlist announced
– 2 US Players on List

Eric Leiija to leaves Hull City during Break

Eric Wynalda Fired as Las Vegas Lights Coach

Biggest Threats to USWNT Throne – ESPNFC

MLS
Kevin Durant joins ownership group of MLS’ Philadelphia Union

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

Indy 11

Club Statement on Black Lives Matter

USL Set to Resume Season July 11

Indy 11 Special to Support Healthcare Workers

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

Raising Their Voyce: Zack Steffen, Legion FC’s Crognale Team on New Initiative

Louisville FC Training Facility Plans Released

From the Pitch –Birmingham’s Asst Coach Talks BLM

GoalKeeping

Legendary Gigi Buffon

Great Saves Last Week

Best Keeper Saves Last Year’s Champions League

Spectacular Saves from Champions League Past

Evolution of the GK Position

Christine Endler Chile/PSG Great Saves 2020

Workouts You Can Do at Home 1

Workouts at Home 3

GAMES ON TV 

Fri,  June 19 

1 pm NBCSN                                     Norwich vs Southampton  

1:30 pm beIN  Sport                         Granada vs Villareal

3:15 pm NBCSN                                Tottenham vs Man United

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Sevilla vs Barcelona

Sat,  June 20 

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Watford vs Leicester City

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs Frieburg

9:30 am FS2                                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

10 am NBCSN                                    Brighton Hove Albion vs Aresnal

12:30 pm NBC                                    Wet Han vs Wolverhampton

Sun,  June 21

9 am NBCSN                                    New Castle (Yedllin) vs Sheffeld United 

11:15 am NBCSN                            Aston Villa vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

2 pm NBC                                         Everton vs Liverpool 

4 pm beIN Sport                               Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid

Mon,  June 22

3 pm NBCSN                                     Man City vs Burnley 

1:30 pm EPSN+                                  Leccee vs Milan 

3:45 pm EPSN+                                  Bologna vs Juventus

Tues,  June 23

1 pm NBCSN                                     Liecester City vs Brighton

3:15 pm NBCSN                                Tottenham vs West Ham

6 pm beIN Sport                              Barcelona vs Athletic Club

Wed ,  June 24

1 pm NBCSN                                     Man United vs Sheffield United 

3 pm NBCSN                                     Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Thurs ,  June 25

1 pm NBCSN                                     Southampton vs Aresnal

3:15 pm NBCSN                               Chelsea vs Man City 

Fri  June 26

3:45 pm ESPN+                                  Juventus vs Lecce 

Sat,  June 27 

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Aston Villa v. Wolves, 7:30 a.m. NBCSN

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Dortmund (Reyna) vs Hoffenhiem

9:30 am FS2                                        Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich

12:30 pm ESPN+                                FA Cup Norwich City vs Man United

12:30 pm CBS                                      North Carolina vs Portland Thorns NWSL      

Sun, June 28

5 pm CBSSN                                         Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Sunday, June 28:                       Watford v. Southampton, 11:30 a.m. NBCSN
Monday, June 29:                            Crystal Palace v. Burnley, 3 p.m. NBCSN
Tuesday, June 30:                            Brighton v. Man United, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, July 1:                         Arsenal v. Norwich, 1 p.m. NBCSN
Wednesday, July 1:                         West Ham v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday, July 2:                    Sheffield United v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday, July 2:                    Man City v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. NBCSN, *

Wed, July 8                                                            MLS Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | 12:30 pm CBS

OL Reign vs Sky Blue FC | July 1 10 am | CBS Sports Network,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash| July 2 10 am  | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS

Champions League knockout tournament in Lisbon confirmed

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports•June 17, 2020

The dates and details have been confirmed for a UEFA Champions League straight-knockout tournament held in Lisbon, Portugal in August to conclude the 2019-20 competition.UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin announced the news Wednesday, as the tournament will take place from August 12-23. The Champions League was halted on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic.The quarterfinals and semifinals will be one-off games instead of the usual two-legged format, while the remaining last 16 games will be played on August 7-8 either at home stadiums or either Porto or Guimares in Portugal if that is not possible.

Below are the Champions League dates, schedule and venue details for how the tournament will work, as UEFA also said they will make a decision in early July about whether or not fans will be allowed to attend. Ceferin said the coronavirus pandemic in Europe is ‘changing rapidly’ and UEFA will adjust accordingly in the coming weeks.The UEFA Champions League 2020-21 tournament will continue as planned, with the 2021 final now in Istanbul (the original 2020 final host), with Saint Petersburg the hosts for the 2022 final, Munich 2023 and Wembley 2024.All games will kick off at 3 p.m. ET for the remainder of the Champions League this season.

UEFA Champions League tournament schedule

August 7-8: Round of 16 second legs

Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (3-0)
Juventus v. Lyon (0-1)
Man City v. Real Madrid (2-1)
Napoli v. Barcelona (1-1)

August 12-15: Quarterfinals

Teams already qualified: Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig

August 18-19: Semifinals

August 23: Final

Venues to be used

Estadio da Luz, Benfica
Estadio Jose Alvade, Sporting Lisbon
Estadio do Dragao, Porto
Estadio D. Afonso Henriques, Guimares

Champions League set to resume in August as Lisbon plays host to remainder of tournament

Goal.com•June 17, 2020

UEFA has announced that the Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be held in Lisbon between August 12-23.The competition is set to resume following an extended break due to the coronavirus pandemic with four of the eight Round of 16 second-leg ties still left to be played.The remaining second-leg matches will be played on August 7-8, with a decision still to be made on whether they will take place at the home team’s stadiums or in Portugal.Paris Saint-Germain, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid and RB Leipzig have already solidified their place in the quarter-final round, which will take place between August 12-15 at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica and the Estadio Jose Alvalade.The semi-final round will be held on August 18-19 with the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica hosting the finale on August 23.With the condensed schedule, all remaining rounds will be played as single-leg ties with extra time and penalty kicks to decide winners.Istanbul, which was originally selected host this year’s final, will now host in 2021 with St. Petersburg hosting in 2022, Munich in 2023 and London in 2024 as host cities have seen their duties pushed back by one year.The Europa League, meanwhile, will be played as a straight knock-out tournament in  Germany, with Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen serving as hosts.In addition to the continuation of club competitions, UEFA confirmed that the 12 original host cities for Euro 2020 have been confirmed as venues for the rescheduled tournament in 2021.“I am delighted that we are able to resume almost all of our competitions. I am confident that we will not have to endure the fans’ absence for long and that they will be allowed into stadiums sooner rather than later,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.“UEFA took a bold decision when it decided to postpone EURO 2020.  But in doing so, we created the space which has allowed domestic club competitions across the continent to resume, where possible, and play to a conclusion.  While the game has suffered huge difficulties as a result of the pandemic, those blows would have landed much harder if we had not shown leadership in those early days.“The football community has worked together and shown tremendous unity during this unprecedented crisis. I would like to thank FIFA, our sister confederations, national associations, clubs, leagues, players and the relevant authorities for their continuous support and commitment and I am convinced that we come out of this crisis stronger and with closer links than ever before.

Bayern’s eighth straight Bundesliga title is both incredible and a problem

When it comes to underscoring Bayern Munich‘s dominance over German football, you can pick your poison. There’s the fact that the Bundesliga was formed in 1963 and the Bavarians have won it more times (29) than every other German team combined. There’s the fact that the Meisterschale they won Tuesday night is their eighth consecutive league title, and they won their previous seven by an average of 14.6 points. There’s the fact that since the Bundesliga moved to three points for a win 25 years ago, Bayern have recorded seven of the eight highest points totals in history in each of the past seven seasons. (Assuming they win one of their final two games, they’ll make it eight of nine.)

But perhaps the most remarkable fact is that they’ve dominated (again) despite so many things not going according to plan. For the second time in three years, they fired their manager in midseason, replacing him with an experienced assistant who hadn’t actually been a No. 1 since 2005.

They suffered injuries in key roles: their record signing, Lucas Hernandez, made only nine league starts, and their second-most expensive signing, Corentin Tolisso, only seven. Niklas Sule, who was supposed to partner Hernandez, suffered a season-ending injury in October. Philippe Coutinho — who is costing them close to $30 million a year in wages and loan fees and was supposed to play a critical role — turned out to be a bust, lasting 90 minutes in a league game only twice since early October. And, until last month, their goalkeeper and captain, Manuel Neuer, was in contract limbo, refusing to extend his deal after they locked down his long-term replacement, Alexander Nubel.

And they still won the title with games to spare.And before we hear the old cliche about the paucity of the competition, consider that RB Leipzig are Champions League quarterfinalists and Borussia Dortmund, who finished just two points back last season, invested heavily in the summer adding Julian BrandtThorgan Hazard and Mats Hummels, and doubling down in January with the arrival of Emre Can and Erling Haaland.There are two ways to read this and, yes, both can be true.

The first is that Bayern’s title is a prodigious feat because of the adversity the club had to overcome. Hindsight is 20/20 and we take things for granted, but think of the number of times we’ve heard about the importance of managerial stability, about avoiding injuries, about getting the big decisions right, about spending money wisely. Well, Bayern overcame all that, going on a prodigious tear that saw them take 52 of a possible 54 points since December. Credit manager Hansi Flick, credit the players, credit the strength and determination and winning culture of the club … whatever you like. But please credit them, because winning when so much goes wrong — whether it’s your fault (Niko Kovac, Coutinho) or whether you’re just unlucky (Sule, Tolisso, Hernandez) — is something special.But the other thing worth noting is that this is not normal. And, in fact, it hasn’t been normal in the history of football until very, very recently.

European football isn’t like U.S. pro sports. There’s no pretense or expectation of a level playing field; there is an acceptance that some teams are bigger and better resourced and, therefore, will win more. And winning more creates a virtuous cycle in which they earn more money and buy better players and continue winning. Yet if a team goes through as much adversity — both external and self-inflicted — as Bayern went through this season, you reasonably expect a closer finish.Not anymore — and it’s obviously not just a Bundesliga issue. Paris Saint-Germain have won seven of the past eight titles in France, while in ItalyJuventus are competing for their ninth in a row. Barcelona or Real Madrid have won La Liga in 14 of the past 15 seasons. Even in the Premier League, where the size of the TV deal means there are more wealthy clubs, only twice in the past five seasons has a “Big Six” team finished outside the top six.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve heard all this before. A combination of factors — from globalization to the boom in commercial rights, from the growth of broadcast revenue to the Bosman rule — have led to unprecedented polarization. And this has led to the scratching of heads and a search for fixes from salary caps and luxury taxes to super leagues. Heck, you can read my own modest proposal here.A lot of this is based on two assumptions that come from opposite sides of the spectrum. One is that this is somehow morally and ethically unfair and damages the spirit of competition, which is at the heart of the concept of sport. The other is that there’s a commercial imperative to make leagues exciting and hard fought, and that some semblance of parity is good for business: After all, a league where the same guys win year after year gets boring.Both arguments have their merits, but both ignore the reality. At the risk of sounding cynical, the moral/ethical/sporting argument has little traction. The big clubs have a stranglehold on institutions at every level. From UEFA to the Premier League right down to Greece and Scotland, the big clubs dominate with the argument that they bring in most of the money so they ought to get the lion’s share of the revenue. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, of course, but nobody is going to point that out. Especially not now, as leagues are increasingly independent of federations.As for the “bad for business” argument, the problem is simple: It hasn’t been. Germany is a perfect example. Bundesliga revenue has nearly doubled since 2012, when the current period of Bavarian hegemony began. Attendance has remained constant. Empty seats are a rare sight … obviously, before the pandemic.

Fans care about their teams and are willing to pay to see them. And while it necessarily doesn’t mean they’re happy with the lack of social mobility, it’s not enough to keep them away.There’s another wrinkle here, one that strikes deep at the differences between U.S. sports and European football — particularly the Bundesliga where, with a few exceptions, there is no single owner looking for a return on his investment. Sure, maybe the league could be more profitable with a different revenue-sharing model that gave more teams a chance to win. But when instead of an owner chasing profits, there are merely club boards whose sole goal is to reinvest everything in the club, there’s less of an urgency to milk the cow. Breaking even is more than enough.Obviously this isn’t the case everywhere and there are owners who pay themselves dividends out of club profits (the Glazer family at Manchester United are the obvious example). Elsewhere, there are others who extract money from the club in less transparent (and sometimes less salubrious) ways. But generally, the imperative is the same: Owners make their money, if they make it, when they sell the club, through capital appreciation. And their immediate return — a bit like the people who invest in thoroughbreds or America’s Cup teams — is through fame, networking and a seat at the table with other billionaire owners and private-equity guys.The reality is that two of the main drivers for a more level playing field — fans and owners — simply aren’t as strong in European football in general, but in the Bundesliga in particular. So we might as well get used to the idea of Bayern firing their manager, seeing three starters miss most of the season, spending lavishly on a superstar who turns out to be a dud and still winning the league by double digits.

USWNT’s biggest threats to the Women’s World Cup throne

On a match-for-match basis, France might have been the best team in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Jun 11, 2020  Bill Connelly  ESPN Staff Writer

In 14 combined Women’s World Cups and Olympic women’s soccer tournaments, the United States has failed to make at least the semifinals only once, losing in the quarterfinals to Sweden in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Its record is impeccable, and considering the Americans have won the past two World Cup finals by a combined 7-2, it’s safe to say they aren’t preparing to relinquish their best-in-the-world crown anytime soon.With each passing year, however, women’s soccer grows more tactically advanced. Based on how teams have played recently, and how their rosters are taking shape for 2023, let’s take a look at the 10 teams most capable of knocking the USWNT from its throne three years from now.

1. France

FIFA ranking: Third

2019 World Cup: Quarterfinals

On a match-for-match basis, France might have been the best team in the 2019 World Cup. In four matches against teams that made at least the knockout rounds, the French women averaged an expected goal (XG) differential of plus-1.62, far better than any other team in the past three tournaments. They dominated possession and were easily the most disruptive squad, averaging 13.4 possessions started in the attacking third against knockout-round teams. Opponents averaged only 5.3. If “field position” were a soccer term (and it should be), France would be a field-position master.Going by the box score, the French also probably should have beaten the U.S. in the quarterfinals. Megan Rapinoe’s early goal meant the U.S. was happy to let France possess the ball (60% of the time, with 347 completed passes compared to the 188 for the U.S.), and it could have easily backfired. France finished the 2-1 loss with double the shot attempts (20-10) and a 1.8-1.1 XG advantage. Sure, the French were at home, but at worst they were the USWNT’s equals.While a few key players might be in danger of aging out of the player pool — midfielder Gaétane Thiney (currently 34) and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi (33) — and longtime midfielder Élise Bussaglia has already retired, France has a young and dangerous core: forwards Valérie Gauvin (24) and Kadidiatou Diani (25), attacking midfielders Delphine Cascarino (23) and Grace Geyoro (22), etc. Plus, they have the best club team in the world to call on for reinforcements. Of the 27 players to have seen action for France in the past two years, eight play for four-time defending Champions League winner Lyon.

2. England

FIFA ranking: Sixth

2019 World Cup: Fourth place

Speaking of expected goals, the tally from the United States’ 2-1 victory over England in the World Cup semifinals was England 1.8, U.S. 0.8. The U.S. went up in the 31st minute, then held on for dear life for an hour straight. Ellen White saw a goal overturned by VAR in the 69th minute, Alyssa Naeher saved a Steph Houghton penalty in the 84th minute, and the outcome was uncertain all the way to the final whistle.It was England’s second consecutive heartbreaking loss in a World Cup semifinal — it fell to Japan in 2015 via an own goal in stoppage time — but it was also a reminder of how close England is. Over the past two years, 75% of its national team minutes have gone to players who will be between the ages of 28 and 35 in 2023. While Manchester City stars White (31), Houghton (32) and Jill Scott (33) are the veterans, they should still have something to offer, and the reinforcements — Lyon’s Nikita Parris, Arsenal’s Beth Mead, Chelsea’s aptly named Bethany England — will be entering their prime.Increased investment in the Women’s Super League in England can only help. Seventeen English players have logged at least 700 minutes for the national team in the past two years, and while three play for Lyon (Parris and fullbacks Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood), 12 play in the Super League, including six from Manchester City and three from newly crowned champion Chelsea. As this league improves, so will the competition level for national team candidates.

3. Germany

FIFA ranking: Second

2019 World Cup: Quarterfinals

Easily the second-most successful country in the history of women’s soccer, Germany is, like its men’s team, really good at hanging around. In 14 total World Cups and Olympic tournaments, the German women have reached at least the semifinals nine times. It was jarring to see them knocked out by Sweden in the quarterfinals last year.They, too, could take a peaking team to the next World Cup. Of the 12 players who have logged at least 500 minutes for the national team in the past two years, 11 will be between the ages of 28 and 33 in 2023. That’s pretty much exactly where you want to be, even if it means there might be some heavy roster churn after ’23.While they’ve got key contributors playing for Lyon (midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan) and Paris Saint-Germain (midfielder Sara Däbritz), they are also able to call on two very good club teams for depth: 37 players have logged time for the national team in the past two years, 11 play for Bayern Munich and eight play for a Wolfsburg team that is currently running rampant through both the Frauen-Bundesliga and Champions League (four wins and a 22-0 scoring margin in the first two knockout rounds). Forward Alexandra Popp, midfielder Svenja Huth and defender Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh are all Wolves and all in their prime.

4. Netherlands

FIFA ranking: Fourth

2019 World Cup: Runner-up

The Netherlands have overachieved its statistics of late, but it’s hard to ignore the simple fact that the Dutch won the 2017 Euros and reached the 2019 World Cup finals. Sure, they didn’t have to face France, England or Germany last summer, but the record is still awfully impressive for a rising team that didn’t even qualify for its first World Cup until 2015.Also impressive: Vivianne Miedema. The Arsenal forward has already scored 69 goals for her country and 203 goals in her club career, and she’s 23. Arsenal teammate Daniëlle van de Donk has been a mainstay for club and country and is still only 28, and they have excellent 27-year-old wingers in Lyon’s Shanice van de Sanden and Barcelona’s Lieke Martens.So if the Dutch have big wins and big stars, how are they not higher than fourth? For starters, their XG margin while winning the 2017 Euros was only plus-0.27 per match, seventh best in the tournament. Against knockout-round teams in the World Cup last year, it was minus-0.01. That’s not much margin for error. They also don’t appear to have the depth of the teams above them here, leaning on a smaller player pool for most of their minutes.Still, with Miedema the Dutch will contend.

5. Canada

FIFA ranking: Eighth (tie)

2019 World Cup: Round of 16

Canada has easily the strangest player pool among contenders. Over the past two years, only one player currently aged between 26 and 30 (defender Shelina Zadorsky) has logged serious minutes. Quite a few mainstays, such as forward and captain Christine Sinclair, might age out of the player pool soon. But the roster is littered with players who have both carved out national team niches and signed with big clubs: Manchester City’s Janine Beckie (25), Lyon’s Kadeisha Buchanan (24), PSG’s Ashley Lawrence (24) and Jordyn Huitema (19), OL Reign’s Rebecca Quinn (24), etc. Talent shouldn’t be an issue.No one dominated the ball like Canada at the 2019 World Cup — against teams that made the knockout rounds, the Canadians averaged 61% possession and took 6 more shots per match. Against Sweden in the round of 16, they had 59% possession, completed 132 more passes and attempted three more shots, but four of them were blocked and only one was on goal. Sweden didn’t manage much more than that but scored the lone goal. It was a missed opportunity.

6. Australia

FIFA ranking: Seventh

2019 World Cup: Round of 16

No contender has given more minutes recently to younger players than Australia. Of the 12 players to log at least 500 minutes in the past two years, eight are 26 or younger. That includes best-player-in-the-world candidate Sam Kerr (26) and fullback Ellie Carpenter, who has led the Matildas in minutes over these past two years despite just recently turning 20.Maybe this means Australia won’t be ready for true title contention until 2027, when this group is in peak age range and younger, and high-upside players such as Montpellier’s Mary Fowler (17) are further developed. But depth appears decent, and Kerr — the ESPYS winner for the best international player in 2018 and 2019 — makes the Matildas dangerous at all times, even if she’s been battling injuries since joining Chelsea this past fall. A large majority of their minutes go to players in the National Women’s Soccer League, but only a couple play for the same team. That makes familiarity and continuity tricky, but the upside is high.

7. Sweden

FIFA ranking: Fifth

2019 World Cup: Third place

Like Germany, Sweden always hangs around. The Swedes reached four World Cup semifinals and have only once failed to advance out of group play. They perhaps overachieved their stats last year in reaching the finals — they had a minus-0.3 XG differential per match — but they took only great shots (79% of them were in the box, easily the most in the tournament), blocked shots and crosses and scrapped like a veteran team should.They might be a little too veteran. Of the nine players who have logged at least 800 minutes for Sweden in the past two years, six will be at least 33 in 2023. There are interesting young players in the pipeline — Wolfsburg attacking midfielders Madelen Janogy (24) and Fridolina Rolfö (26) and Chelsea fullback Jonna Andersson (27). But while Sweden’s got talent and a track record, it might find itself between generations in 2023.

8. Japan

FIFA ranking: 11th

2019 World Cup: Round of 16

Japan has a strong women’s league to call on — the Nadeshiko League employs 10 of the team’s top 11 recent minutes-earners (eight play for either Nippon TV Beleza or INAC Kobe Leonessa). And like Canada and Australia, the Japanese women have already begun to get a look at their future: 18 players have logged at least 370 national team minutes in the past two years, and 12 are 24 or younger.

As far as known quantities, though, the lineup is a bit of a mess. Forwards Yuika Sugasawa and Mana Iwabuchi have been productive, but a large cast of midfield candidates hasn’t. Among players who are in the prime age range, only Lyon center back Saki Kumagai is a truly known entity. Having lots of young options is great, but some of them have to become key contributors — and quickly.

9. Norway

FIFA ranking: 12th

2019 World Cup: Quarterfinals

One of the sport’s early powers, Norway’s women have, of late, been most notable for who doesn’t play for them. For the past three years, they have been without Lyon striker and 2018 Ballon d’Or Féminin winner Ada Hegerberg. Only 24, she has already scored 220 goals in 182 appearances for the best club in women’s soccer. She would immediately make Norway a top-eight team at worst. (At least she would once she’s recovered from her current ACL injury.) She quit the national team in 2017 in protest of poor support of the women’s squad, so her future with the squad is uncertain.

What-ifs aside, Norway still has dynamite midfielders in Chelsea’s Guro Reiten (25) and Wolfsburg’s Ingrid Engen (22). Strikers Caroline Graham Hansen, Isabell Herlovsen and Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland are decent Hederberg stand-ins. It beat Australia to reach the World Cup quarterfinals last year, and the core roster should enjoy solid continuity in 2023.

10. Spain

FIFA ranking: 13th

2019 World Cup: Round of 16 (best finish)

In terms of raw talent, Brazil should probably hold a spot on this list. But it is still alarmingly reliant on 42-year-old Formiga and 34-year-old Marta, and an iffy home league means it has players in basically every league in the world. It’s hard to get home for international matches, and the Brazilians have played 49 players in the past two years. Even with former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage in charge, it’s going to be awfully hard to build a strong, familiar squad.

Instead, Spain gets the final spot. It had the second-best possession rate in the most recent World Cup (61%), attempting 177 more passes and creating 7.3 more chances per match than opponents. The Spanish women gave the U.S. fits in the round of 16, too, before falling via a late Rapinoe penalty.

Finishing was an issue. Against teams that made the knockout rounds, they averaged just 1.1 XG per match and actually scored 0.3 per match. Midfielders Virginia Torrecilla and Alexia Putellas will assure that the possession game remains strong, and 21-year-old Athletic Bilbao winger Lucía García has massive potential, but Spain needs a little more bite to move further up this list.

BACK TO WORK for Indy 11

By Spencer Sharpe, 06/17/20, 10:30AM EDT

Indiana’s Team Returns to Training at Grand Park Sports Complex

Indy Eleven took the field on March 7, kicking off the 2020 season with a match away to Memphis. It was a resounding 4-2 victory and laid down a strong benchmark for what was to come.  In the three months since, they have not taken the field again.As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country, sports became one of the many institutions put on standby as the nation tried to flatten the curve.In the interim, both the staff and players of Indy Eleven found themselves in limbo, awaiting a return to training and a chance to be back on the playing field.

“Obviously having that preseason, get one game under our belt and then suddenly have this big break was a bit weird,” Eleven captain Matt Watson said. “That’s something I’ve never experienced before in my career.”New signing Nick Moon shares that sentiment. As a younger professional, he got his first taste of action with Indy in that season opener, appearing off the bench and tallying two assists on his debut. Unlike many others on the squad and as a newcomer to Indianapolis, Moon does not have the commitments they do. As such, his lifestyle has become quite different.“[I] basically just have training, games, traveling, all that stuff is what I spend most my time, or my energy doing,” Moon said. “It’s such a weird time.”In recent weeks, that training portion has become more prevalent, as Indiana’s Team has returned to its home at Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield. Adhering to a strict set of safety protocols might seem like the most obvious change, but another difference to get used to has been having to train for a team sport as individuals – just one of several steps to check off in anticipation of when the season restarts.“The league set up a lot of different points that we have to align with,” Head Coach Martin Rennie said. “Since we’ve been back in practice it’s been really good to see the players.”Even though the players are back to soccer activities, training is not quite what the squad is used to. Split into groups of 10, based on roommates and those that live close to each other, the players are doing what they can to stay fit and focused on the resumption of the USL Championship season, with a provisional start date currently set for July 11.Simple, non-contact drills have replaced the typical five-a-side and 11v11 scrimmages the players would normally be engaged in. More shooting practice, more passing and more technical work is getting done in this time.“The shooting’s been fun though,” Watson said smiling. “I’ve had a lot of fun [shooting].”Rennie says that even though it is small groups, it is better than the individualized workout regiments the players were doing previously at their respective homes. Watson says that he prefers it to having to work-out by himself. “It’s good to get back out there, see the boys more,” Watson said.Rennie recently spoke to Soccer Saturday host Greg Rakestraw, expressing his happiness about the return to training.“It’s a really positive step forward,” Rennie said. “It’s fun to be a bit more involved in the training. We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”Though the players have been apart, Rennie believes the squad has done well to stay motivated during this time. Now back in practice, that motivation is being used to get back in the swing of things.“We have to make the most of the situation that we have,” Rennie said.Before the shutdown, the squad took the necessary steps to keep fit and so the transition has not been as rough as it could have been.“Obviously, we did a lot of work in preseason on the tactics and the team shape and so it shouldn’t take us too long to refresh everybody’s memory. Everybody is itching to get started,” Coach Rennie told the radio show.Come mid-July, Indiana’s Team will be prepared to continue their challenge for the USL Championship Cup.

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6/12/20 EPL Returns Wed, MLS Tourney July 8, Italian Cup Fri/Sat 2:45 pm, La Liga/Bundesliga weekend games

We welcome back English, Italian and Spanish Soccer this weekend and next week.  Italian Cup action starts today- Semi’s with Juventus and Renaldo hosting Milan on ESPN+ at 2:45 pm Friday and Napoli facing Inter at 2:45 on Saturday – the finals are Wed at 2:45 .  La Liga (Spain) returned Wed and features Barcelona 4 pm on Sat and Real Madrid at 4 pm on Sun both on beIN Sport.    Wed we get the EPL back with Man City facing Arsenal at 2:30 pm on NBCSN along with some decent games next weekend.

MLS Returns July 8

MLS has announced their return with an MLS is Back World Cup Style Tournament starting July 8 in Orlando Disney World Area.  Round of 16 games July 25-28, will be followed by Quarter Finals July 30,  Semi-Finals Aug 5/6, and the Final Aug 11 on ABC.   It looks like most of the games will be televised many on ESPN networks and the remainder on ESPN+, the Winner will qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League 2021 and MLS will return with regular season after that.  Nice to see the draws holding local rivalries in place.  We’ll get El Traffico LAFC vs LA Galaxy, A Cascadia Cup Clash between Seattle and Vancouver, The Canadian Classic Toronto FC vs Montreal, The Rocky Mountain Cup of Colorado vs Sporting KC and the newly minted Hell is Real Derby between Columbus and Cincinatti.  Great to see all the Rivalries on hand – hopefully MLS will use this to help bolster the sport – as the only major league men’s sport playing in Early July.  Of course NWSL- the ladies return June 27th on CBS Sports Network at 3 pm with their World Cup Style Tourney from Salt Lake City Utah.  Full Tourney breakout below.

This Weekend US Players in Germany

Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig travel to Hoffenhiem at 2:30 on FS2 Friday, while Sat gives us Dortmund and Gio Ryna still getting tons of playing time traveling to Dusseldorf 930 am on FS1 – where Morales came off the bench for 30 min last week and US Starting Keeper Zack Steffen is getting closer returning.  Timmy Chandler continues to start for Frankfurt and he’ll feature vs Hertha Berlin on Sat at 9:30 on FS2.  Sunday gives us Schalke and Weston McKinney vs Leverkusen at noon on FS2.  McKinney should return to start after sitting last game for yellow card accumulation.

Carmel FC has returned to Training !

Tryouts Confirmed for June 22

Anyone looking to workout 1 on 1 with Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr – can email him direct at farrjordn13@gmail.com   Not sure when CFC GK Training might return with new Corona Virus guidelines.

GAMES ON TV 

Fri,  June 12  

2:30 pm Fox Sport2                            Hoffenheim vs RB Leipzig (Adams)  

3:45 pm ESPN +                                  Serie A (Italy) Cup – Juventus vs AC Milan

4 pm beIN  Sport                                Valencia vs Levante

Sat, June 13

9:30 am FS1                                        Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Dusseldorf

12:30 pm FS2                                      Bayern Munich vs Mgladbach  

2:45 pm ESPN +                                  Napoli vs Inter Milan Copa Italia –

4 pm beIN  Sport                                Mallorca vs Barcelona

Sun, June 14 

8 am beIN Sport                                 Athetic Club vs Atletico Madrid

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Manz vs Ausburg

12 noon Fox Sport 2                            Bayer Leverkusn vs Schalke (Mckinney)

1:30 pm beI N Sport                           Real Madrid vs Eibar

Tue  June 16  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                          Mgladbach vs Wolfburg

2:30 pmFS2                                         Bremen (Stewart) vs Bayern Munich

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Leganes

Wed, June 17                                      EPL Returns

Wed,  June 17  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                          Frankfurt (Chandler) vs schalke (McKinney)

1 pm NBCSN                                       Aston Villa vs Sheffield United

2:30 pm NBCSN                                  Man City vs Arsenal

2:45 pm ESPN+                                   COPA ITALIA FINAL 

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Osasuna vs Atletico Madrid

2:30 pm FS2                                        Dortmund vs Mainz

Thurs,  June 18

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Real Madrid vs Valencia

Fri,  June 19 

1 pm NBCSN                                       Norwich vs Southampton  

1:30 pm beIN  Sport                           Granada vs Villareal

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Tottenham vs Man United

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Sevilla vs Barcelona

Sat,  June 20 

7:30 am NBCSN                                  Watford vs Leicester City

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Bayern Munich vs Frieburg

9:30 am FS2                                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

10 am NBCSN                                     Brighton Hove Albion vs Aresnal

12:30 pm NBC                                     Wet Han vs Wolverhampton

Sun,  June 21

9 am NBCSN                                       New Castle (Yedllin) vs Sheffeld United 

9:30 am Fox Sport1                            Bayern Munich vs Frieburg

9:30 am FS2                                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Dortmund (Reyna)

11:15 am NBCSN                                Aston Villa vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

2 pm NBC                                           Everton vs Liverpool 

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Real Sociedad vs Real Madrid

Mon,  June 22

3 pm NBCSN                                       Man City vs Burnley 

1:30 pm EPSN+                                   Leccee vs Milan 

3:45 pm EPSN+                                   Bologna vs Juventus

Tues,  June 23

1 pm NBCSN                                       Liecester City vs Brighton

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Tottenham vs West Ham

6 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Athletic Club

Wed ,  June 24

1 pm NBCSN                                       Man United vs Sheffield United 

3 pm NBCSN                                       Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

Thurs ,  June 25

1 pm NBCSN                                       Southampton vs Aresnal

3:15 pm NBCSN                                  Chelsea vs Man City 

Fri  June 26

3:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus vs Lecce 

Wed, July 8                                         MLS Returns

NWSL Challenge Cup schedule

NC Courage vs Portland Thorns FC | June 27 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Houston Dash | July 1 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

NC Courage vs Orlando Pride | July 5 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

C Courage vs Utah Royals FC | July 12 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup quarter finals | July 17-18 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup semi finals | July 22 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

Challenge Cup final | July 26 | CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access,

 WORLD

 When will Europe’s top leagues start and finish: all you need to know

US Players Weekend Viewing Guide

Home advantage a thing of the past in empty stadiums 8hTom Hamilton

Serie A is back: Everything you need to know  27mGabriele Marcotti

EPL Teams with Toughest Road

USA

U.S. Soccer repeals ban on kneeling during anthem

Beasley: You get taught certain things as a Black kid in America

Is Pulisic’s spot at Chelsea in Danger as New Players Arrive?  ESPNFC

How the USWNT became a dominant force 3dBill Connelly   

U.S. international Johnson to leave Gladbach

MLS

Groups Announced for MLS Tourney – LA Teams in Same Group

MLS Is Back with Tourney – all we know – ESPN

MLS Tourney Details on Groups Stages

MLS Provides Details on Olrando Tourney in July

MLS won the CBA talks, but lockout threat left players angry 8hJeff Carlisle

Wiebe: What MLS is Back means in our changed world

Chris Duvall: “We’ve still got a long way to go”

MLS Hopes to be Back with Fans in Stands in August? – ESPNFC

Q&A: How the NWSL plans to restart on June 27

Indy 11

Club Statement on Black Lives Matter

USL Set to Resume Season July 11

Indy 11 Special to Support Healthcare Workers

Indy 11 Racing Indiana Jersey Released

Is Pulisic under threat at Chelsea as Werner and Ziyech prepare to arrive at Stamford Bridge?

5:00 AM ETJames OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

Christian Pulisic recently claimed that “nobody even noticed me” on his first day with the Chelsea squad. As the Blues’ summer transfer strategy begins to take shape, he could be forgiven for wondering if that is still the case.The coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainty in the financial planning of many clubs, but Chelsea are so far taking a purposeful and proactive approach to their decision-making.

Timo Werner‘s imminent acquisition was a smart piece of opportunism after Liverpool hesitated in meeting the RB Leipzig forward’s release clause. The subsequently swift agreement on a five-year contract worth up to £200,000-a-week is a further sign of their resolute will to challenge for the Premier League title.Werner will join Hakim Ziyech, a £38 million signing from Ajax, but Chelsea are not done there. They are actively pursuing another attacking player with Kai Havertz now the most likely candidate, as senior figures at Stamford Bridge act in the belief Borussia Dortmund‘s Jadon Sancho is destined for Manchester United. A loan move for Barcelona‘s Philippe Coutinho remains possible, but Havertz is seven years younger and available for a similar permanent fee — around £75m — a fact that has also not gone unnoticed by United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.


– Ogden: Chelsea, United make moves to challenge Liverpool, City

There is no guarantee Chelsea will be able to sign another attacking target, but the mere fact they are pursuing several targets highlights Frank Lampard’s dissatisfaction with his current options — a situation that could make Pulisic feel like the forgotten man all over again.Lampard has repeated one clear message in video sessions with the first-team squad at Cobham: move the ball quickly. The 41-year-old has rotated formations between 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-2-1 during his maiden season in charge of Chelsea but, no matter how they line up, Lampard views speed in transition as vital to success. It is a key reason why Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi were preferred in attack while Olivier Giroud was made to wait an eternity for his chance; both players are more mobile, able to stretch defences by running in behind and opening up more space for wingers coming in off the flank.Lampard has long wanted an upgrade in his preferred mould: a quick, incisive forward whose sharp movement will create almost as many opportunities for his teammates as it will for himself. He also needed a proven track record in front of goal. Werner and Lyon‘s Moussa Dembele fit the profile, the former proving an easier deal to conclude.And so, with Ziyech’s arrival already confirmed, suddenly two of the three attacking positions in Lampard’s preferred 4-3-3 shape appear occupied. Indeed, Werner could even play off the left with Abraham through the middle. Pulisic already faces a fight to prove himself part of Lampard’s first-choice lineup even without Havertz, Sancho or Coutinho joining the club. Such competition for places is inevitable at a top club targeting silverware, but the impending overhaul completes a turbulent first season in England for Pulisic.Last summer, the winger decided to cut short his postseason holiday to just one week — despite representing the United States in the Gold Cup — in an effort to ingratiate himself to Lampard. First contact with his new teammates — when boarding the bus in Japan for a preseason training session — came through bleary, jet-lagged eyes. Pulisic may have felt that “nobody even noticed me” in that underwhelming welcome, but players quickly warmed to a softly spoken yet fiercely determined American with obvious talent in abundance.It is worth remembering that Pulisic signed for a manager he never actually played for. Maurizio Sarri was sacked in June and sources have told ESPN there was only the briefest of conversations between the Italian and his new £58m acquisition upon his arrival in London. Pulisic was unveiled prior to the Europa League final, at a point when Sarri already knew he would be leaving the club and therefore never manage the U.S. international at Stamford Bridge.Pulisic had to deal with both the uncertainty of a new, as yet unidentified, manager and the immediate task of replacing the colossal presence of Eden Hazard, who was set for Real Madrid after seven years in west London. Settling into the English capital was easier than arriving at Dortmund at just 16. There was no language barrier to overcome, but with a price tag exacerbated by Chelsea’s inability to make any further signings because of their FIFA transfer ban, expectations have been high from the outset.

He threw himself into preseason training, but concerns over fatigue and his robustness for the intensity of Premier League action led to a slow start. After a promising full debut in the UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool, Pulisic featured in just three of the club’s opening nine league games and none between Aug. 31 and Oct. 26. Burnley were the victims of his pent-up frustration on a cold evening at Turf Moor when he announced himself in English football with a superb hat trick.”I felt I’d done okay up to that point but I hadn’t really shown everything that I could do, so going into that game, I did have a chip on my shoulder,” Pulisic later recalled.Lampard could not hide his delight after Chelsea’s 4-2 win. “He’s going to be a big, big player for us,” said the Chelsea head coach. “He showed a lot of that today and now let’s see him go.”The Burnley outing marked the first of 12 successive starts across three different competitions as Pulisic hit a rich vein of individual form. However, Chelsea lost five times during that run as Lampard began to lament a cyclical problem: profligacy in front of goal. It wasn’t a failing laid solely at Pulisic’s door, but Lampard bemoaned the wastefulness of his attacking players with such regularity that by February he described himself as a “broken record” on the subject.This is the root of Lampard’s desire to reinvent Chelsea’s attack. With Willian and Pedro almost certain to leave when their contracts expire at the end of the season, Lampard has seen an opportunity for a changing of the guard. Werner is 24, Ziyech turned 27 in March. Abraham is 22, Mason Mount — who has played on the left wing and as a No. 10 — is 21, while Callum Hudson-Odoi is just 19. Aged 21, Pulisic can be at the forefront of this new era, but his prominence within it is in greater doubt than first appeared.Much will depend on Lampard’s preferred system in future. Lampard has opted for 4-3-3 in 15 of Chelsea’s 29 Premier League games this season. The pursuit of Havertz hints at a greater use of a No. 10 and a 4-2-3-1 shape in future. Pulisic can play there or off the flank.”I do really like playing on the left wing and also in that 10 spot essentially behind the forward,” he said. “I’d say those are my two favourite positions.”Yet rather than building a team around Pulisic in the same way Chelsea did for the player he replaced — Hazard — Lampard is keen for greater versatility and interchangeability of positions to make his team far less predictable than those irritating home defeats suggested. Werner’s ability to play off the left is a useful characteristic in that regard, also allowing Lampard to accommodate both him and Abraham should he so choose.An intriguing subplot in the coming weeks — and potentially months — is Abraham’s ongoing contract talks. He has two years left on his remaining deal, but having enjoyed a breakthrough season as Chelsea’s No. 9, he will understandably seek reassurances over his future role following the signing of Werner, who was convinced to join Chelsea partly on the basis he would be a first-team regular.Pulisic has no such contractual concerns to leverage any unhappiness. Instead, he simply has to deliver on his undeniable potential by becoming the “big, big player” Lampard previously forecast.

DaMarcus Beasley: You get taught certain things as a Black kid in America

June 10, 20201:09PM EDTJonathan SigalContributor

US men’s national team all-time great DaMarcus Beasley recently joined former teammate Jimmy Conrad for an interview on the latter’s Twitch channel, where they shared an honest conversation about race in America.Specifically, Beasley described the conversations his father had with his sons about how to act. His father grew up in Savannah, Georgia and experienced racial tensions first-hand.“We had those conversations and you had to act a certain way,” Beasley said. “He would say, ‘Make sure you don’t have anyone in your car that you don’t know, make sure you don’t wear your hat backwards if you wear a hat, make sure your hair is always cut, make sure you look presentable whenever you’re around people and outside doing whatever.’ Those things you get taught as a kid, growing up black in this country.”Before retiring as a Houston Dynamo defender last year, Beasley enjoyed a 20-year professional career that started with the Chicago Fire in 2000 and spanned more than 500 games for club and country, with stops at PSV Eindhoven, Manchester City, Glasgow Rangers, Hannover 96 and Liga MX side Puebla. He encountered players of all race and backgrounds, but diversity was difficult to find during his Fort Wayne, Indiana upbringing.“I only had three Black teammates through that whole process, throughout my whole soccer career in Fort Wayne,” Beasley said. “So, I didn’t really see color back then.”Eventually, Beasley went off to U.S. Soccer’s residency program in Bradenton, Florida. At that juncture, it was inspiring to see other Black players at the same level: “It was great to see and finally be with someone that looked like you and knew how hard it took to get there and to be able to joke a certain way, to get the jokes we’re kinda used to it.”For more from Beasley on race in America, his distinguished career and more, check out the entire interview here.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: things are getting interesting

There are some tight races to avoid relegation and qualify for European competition.

By jcksnftsn  Jun 12, 2020, 8:00am PDT

We remain focused on the Bundesliga this weekend, where four matchdays remain and positions are starting to be finalized, relegation is looming ever more threateningly, and the pressure of every match is clear. There will be five Bundesliga matches of USMNT significance broadcast nationally in the United States, along with two additional games on Fox’s more exclusive packages with significant European or relegation implications.

Friday

Hoffenheim v RB Leipzig – 1:30p on FS2

Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig have a three point advantage in securing a Champions League birth over Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach who are tied with 56 points. Leipzig could have pulled five points clear in the race for the European competition, but playing with ten men for half the match after Dayot Upamecano was sent off, the team gave up a goal at the death against last place SC Paderborn last weekend. Tyler Adams started the match in a central midfield role and played the full 90, but was moved to right back as the team shifted things around following the loss of their central defender. The team’s pattern since the return to break has seen Adams start every other match while coming on for 30+ minutes when he begins on the bench.

This weekend, the team will face Hoffenheim, who are currently in seventh place, within two points of Wolfsburg for Europa League qualification. Hoffenheim have picked up eight points over the past four weeks thanks to a soft schedule that has seen them face three of the bottom four and 12th place FC Köln.

Saturday

Fortuna Düsseldorf v Borussia Dortmund – 9:30a on FS1

Fortuna Düsseldorf and Alfredo Morales seemingly have more to play for on Saturday given their tenuous position in the relegation battle. Currently, Düsseldorf sit in 16th place, which is the relegation playoff spot. The team is 3 points behind Mainz 05 for guaranteed safety and 3 points ahead of Werder Bremen for guaranteed relegation to the second division. Morales came off the bench last weekend and played 24 minutes in the team’s 2-2 draw with Hoffenheim, who played nearly the entire match down a man. Zack Steffen is reportedly close to a return for Düsseldorf, but it remains to be seen if the team (perhaps with some “advice” from parent club Manchester City) will bring him back down the stretch or let him ride out the season to avoid any potential aggravation.

Düsseldorf’s opponent this weekend is second place Borussia Dortmund, who currently sit 7 points behind Bayern Munich for first place and 7 points ahead of ‘Gladbach and Leverkusen for 5th place. While not mathematically eliminated from either direction, such a move would be shocking and their fate could be determined this weekend. Giovanni Reyna continues to look for that first start, and it would be a bit surprising if he doesn’t see one down the stretch. Still, he continues to see regular minutes which, in and of itself, is a significant accomplishment for a 17-year-old at one of the top clubs in Germany.

Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt – 9:30a on FS2

Timothy Chandler started and went 90 minutes for Eintracht Frankfurt in their midweek loss to Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the dfb Pokal. Chandler came off the bench last weekend in the teams 0-2 loss to Mainz. The team has little to play for down the stretch, being 10 points from European qualification and 10 points above relegation. Chandler has seen a consistent role with the club in the second half of the season, though lately the starting opportunities have been more difficult to come by.

Eintracht faces Hertha Berlin this weekend, who are 3 points ahead of them and sit at 9th in the table. Seven points back of Wolfsburg, Hertha also seem unlikely to make a move for the Euro spots, but the club had been on a very impressive stretch picking up 10 points in the first 4 games since resuming play before losing 1-0 to Borussia Dortmund last weekend.

Looking through the paywall:

  • John Brooks and Wolfsburg look to solidify their Europa League position when they face a SC Freiburg team that is just four points behind them at 9:30a on Fox Soccer Plus.
  • Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen face Paderborn at 9:30a on Fox Soccer Match Pass in a match that is absolutely critical if they are to avoid relegation.

Sunday

Schalke 04 v Bayer Leverkusen – Noon on FS2

Weston McKennie missed Schalke’s 1-1 draw with Union Berlin last weekend due to yellow card accumulation. While a 1-1 draw with the 14th placed team might not seem significant, it did snap a four game losing streak for Schalke. It was just the team’s 5th point in their last 12 matches, and they are looking for their first win since January. The lack of results has seen Schalke drop from a European contender to 10th place. This won’t get any easier this weekend as they face fifth place Bayer Leverkusen, who are looking to crack the top four and a Champions League berth.Let us know what you’re watching this weekend as the Bundesliga rolls on.

MLS is Back Tournament draw sees LAFC, LA Galaxy picked together

4:21 PM ET  ESPN

Major League Soccer held its draw for the MLS is Back Tournament as the league prepares to return to action at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 8 in Kissimmee, Florida.The Eastern Conference portion of the draw saw Canadian rivals Toronto FC and Montreal Impact drawn against one another in Group C and 2018 MLS Cup champions Atlanta United paired with the Columbus Crew, FC Cincinnati and the New York Red Bulls.On the Western Conference side of the draw, defending MLS Cup winners Seattle Sounders were the seeded team in Group B and were paired with Cascadia rivals Vancouver. In Group F, LAFC was picked alongside the LA GalaxyHouston Dynamo and Portland Timbers.The tournament will consist of a group stage with each team playing three matches, followed by a knockout stage. The final will be played Aug. 11. The teams were drawn into six groups, with the top two teams in each group, plus the four best third-place finishers, qualifying for the round of 16.

MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT: KEY DATES

June 24: Teams begin arriving in Florida
July 8: Group stage begins
July 25-28: Round-of-16
July 30- Aug. 1: Quarterfinals
Aug. 5-6: Semifinals
Aug. 11: MLS is Back Tournament Final

GROUP A (Eastern Conference)
1. Orlando City SC*
2. Inter Miami CF
3. New York City FC
4. Philadelphia Union
5. Chicago Fire
6. Nashville SC

GROUP B (Western Conference)
1. Seattle Sounders*
2. FC Dallas
3. Vancouver Whitecaps
4. San Jose Earthquakes

GROUP C (Eastern Conference)
1. Toronto FC*
2. New England Revolution
3. Montreal Impact
4. D.C. United

GROUP D (Western Conference)
1. Real Salt Lake*
2. Sporting Kansas City
3. Colorado Rapids
4. Minnesota United

GROUP E (Eastern Conference)
1. Atlanta United*
2. FC Cincinnati
3. New York Red Bulls
4. Columbus Crew SC

GROUP F (Western Conference)
1. LAFC*
2. LA Galaxy
3. Houston Dynamo
4. Portland Timbers

* denotes seeded team in each group

All of the group stage matches will count in the regular-season standings, with the winner of the tournament earning a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, regardless of whether it is a U.S. or Canadian club. The first match pits MLS’ Florida teams Orlando City and Inter Miami in Group A against one another, with a total of 54 matches played over the course of the tournament.Teams will begin to head to Orlando starting on June 24, though arrival dates will vary because most teams will prefer to train in their home facilities. Teams must arrive no later than seven days before their first match.In addition to matches that count in the regular-season standings and the Champions League berth, players will have the opportunity to earn additional bonuses as part of a $1.1 million prize pool.”We are pleased to team up with Disney to relaunch the 2020 MLS season and get back to playing soccer,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said on Wednesday. “The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play.”MLS has been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic since March 12, when the regular season was just two matches old.

MLS is Back Tournament: What we know about player testing, groups, schedule

5:10 PM ET  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Major League Soccer’s plan for getting back on the field is now official, almost three months after the 2020 season shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The return will come in the form of a World Cup style competition to be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World. The competition, called the MLS is Back Tournament, will begin with a group stage followed by knockout rounds.

Plans for this competition have been in the works for almost the entirety of the shutdown, and they didn’t come to fruition until some tense negotiations with the MLS Players Association over a new collective bargaining agreement had been concluded. All told, the players gave up over $100 million in economic concessions.

With the plans now in place, here’s what you need to know — and the things we still don’t know — about MLS’s return.

– MLS is Back Tournament: Full draw includes LAFC vs. LA Galaxy
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

What will the tournament look like?

The league’s 26 teams were divided into six groups. There was one six-team group in the Eastern Conference — thanks to Nashville moving from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference — along with two four-team groups. The Western Conference consists of three four-team groups.

As the host city, Orlando was seeded in Group A, with Atlanta United, Toronto FC, LAFC, the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake comprising the remaining seeded teams. The games will begin on July 8, with each team playing three matches. (Fans in the United States will be able to watch games live on ESPN networks.) The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout stages, with the final being played on Aug. 11. (Full game schedule is TBC.)

What are some of the highlights from the draw?

Several top rivalries were drawn together in the group stages on Thursday, with LAFC and LA Galaxy ending up the highlight of Group F alongside Portland Timbers and the Houston Dynamo.

Defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders were drawn against their rivals in the Pacific Northwest, the Vancouver Whitecaps, in Group B while the team they defeated in the 2019 final, Toronto FC, were drawn in Group C against fellow Canadians Montreal Impact as well as D.C. United and the New England Revolution.

The two Florida teams, Inter Miami CF and Orlando City SC, were also drawn together in Group A alongside Philadelphia Union, New York City FC, Chicago Fire and Nashville SC in the tournament’s only six-team group.

The kickoff times are weird. Why is that?

At first glance, the schedule certainly seems bizarre. The games will be held at 9 a.m. ET, 8 p.m. ET, and 10:30 p.m. ET (2 p.m. GMT, 1 a.m. GMT and 3 a.m. GMT). The reasoning is simple: it will avoid playing games in the midday blast furnace — average high temperatures are 92 degrees, with an average low of 78 degrees — that is high summer in Florida.

How many people will be inside the bubble? And can they leave?

All told, there will be 1,200-1,500 inside the bubble, which will (mostly) consist of the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee. These include players, coaches and support staff, as well as league personnel. The players and staff from hometown club Orlando City will also be inside the bubble. Leaving the hotel for anything other than team- and/or league-approved events is prohibited for as long as that player’s team is in the tournament.Teams will head down to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World starting on June 24, but each club has some flexibility in terms of arrival time. Those teams operating in locales with loosening stay-at-home orders will opt to stay in their home markets as long as possible, helping to limit time spent away from families. That means it may be July before some teams arrive in Orlando.It’s expected that six to eight teams, usually those subject to more stringent local restrictions, will opt to get to Orlando closer to June 24.What if a player goes stir-crazy and leaves? In a subsequent interview with ESPN, Garber conceded that “the bubble is not airtight.” But in terms of the steps to be taken if a player decides to go out on the town, the protocol on that is still being crafted.In a bid to prevent players from breaking the bubble, Garber said, “There will be a significant amount of player-engaged activities that our group is now working with Disney on.”That said, discipline will be required. “We’re going to need our collective commitment to ensure that we’re not leaving that environment in any way because that’s only going to threaten the health of themselves and everybody around them,” Garber told ESPN.

 

What about on the field during game days?

Game days will see personnel divided into three tiers based on the level of testing they’ve undergone. The top tier includes players, coaches, club officials, referees and medical staff. Pool photographers, broadcasters, league staff, VAR staff, communications staff and the stretcher crew will fit into Tier 2. Tier 3 will be comprised of media, non-rights holder TV crews, photographers and a club’s digital staff.Tier 3 personnel will not be subject to testing for COVID-19. The league is considering having a limited number of media inside the bubble, which would require them to undergo testing. All told, 183 people will be on or close to the field for matches, with the number increasing to 189 for the opener and final. (More on testing further down.)

Have the players signed off? How do they feel about it?

The players have agreed to go, but there are definitely mixed emotions. On the one hand, players are eager to get back on the field; on the other, they don’t want to be away from home for six weeks to do it. The bitterness from the CBA negotiations — in which the league threatened to lock out the players — remains. Safety is an issue as well.”Players are going to show up. I think players are going to compete, and, we’ll do that part of it,” said Minnesota United midfielder Ethan Finlay. “But there’s a lot of ownership that these teams are gonna have to take because, frankly, we’re taking a bit of a safety risk, not just on the health and safety side but with fatigue. Injury risk is going to go up probably dramatically.”Guys understand that and know that, but they’re also willing to do it because of the circumstances that we’re in.”

Does every player have to go?

Exceptions will be made, but on a very limited basis. Players with an underlying medical condition that might make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 must get permission from the team medical staff to go to Orlando. A player might also be excused if their partner is pregnant, a situation that applies to both the LA Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and LAFC’s Carlos Vela, the reigning league MVP.

A recent report in the L.A. Times indicated that Hernandez would take part in the tournament. Vela’s status is still to be determined.

How often will there be testing?

All individuals deemed “essential members” of a team’s delegation will be tested both prior and after traveling to Orlando. Prior to travel, these tests include two Polymerase Chain Reaction (“PCR”) tests 24 hours apart. Players will also undergo a baseline serology (antibody) test as part of a physical exam that also includes a temperature check and the completion of a screening questionnaire.Players, coaches and support staff will be tested every other day for two weeks after arriving in Florida. Those individuals, as well as referees, will then be tested regularly, including prior to each matchday.

What other steps is MLS taking to prevent players and staff from contracting COVID-19?

In conjunction with leading health experts, MLS has created guidelines and best practices to help reduce risk and prevent spread of the coronavirus. These include wearing face coverings, social distancing, general hygiene (avoid touching face, wash hands frequently, avoid sharing food, bottles, towels or equipment, etc.), as well as disinfecting surfaces. These guidelines will be extended for matches.Players, coaches and officials are asked to exercise care when spitting or clearing their nose during games, and those sitting on the bench are required to wear masks and practice social distancing to the maximum extent possible. Players involved in the game are asked not to exchange jerseys or kiss the ball.The Walt Disney World Resort and the Swan and Dolphin Hotel will be providing enhanced cleaning of all venues and enforcing appropriate capacity management and other social distancing guidelines.

Is everyone at the complex getting tested?

The definition of “essential personnel” doesn’t include everyone. Individuals working at the hotels and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will undergo self-temperature screenings and a standardized screening questionnaire, but they will not be tested. A positive response to the daily questionnaire or a temperature check above 100.3 degrees must be reported, and the individual in question will be isolated immediately and PCR testing will be performed.The lack of testing would seem to create a vulnerability in the “bubble” that MLS has created, but Garber said he isn’t worried.”Those staff/people will not be coming in close contact with our players,” Garber said. “And if they were going to be in close contact, we would manage it through a different protocol. So we’re all going to be living in a world where we’re not going to be able to test every person that comes in contact with each other or comes in contact with us as we go on with our lives.”

What happens if someone tests positive?

Prior to traveling to Orlando, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will not travel and will be isolated and overseen by club medical staff. Contact tracing will also be triggered to identify close contacts. Individuals whose test reveals they had a previous COVID-19 infection may travel to Orlando if they are no longer symptomatic.If an individual tests positive while in Orlando, an isolation protocol will be implemented for the player along with contact tracing.In terms of what would happen if there were multiple positive tests, Garber said there is no specific protocol in terms of the tipping point that would cause the tournament to be suspended or canceled.”It’s why we’re so focused on regular testing and ensure that we do what we need to do to keep our players safe,” said Garber.

Given that the NBA will be in that location part of the time, what level of collaboration was there between the two leagues and Disney?

In the wake of the pandemic, sources tell ESPN that MLS has been in close contact with other sports leagues, collaborating on such issues as human resources, legal issues and security. That includes the NBA. Garber and NBA commissioner Adam Silver have a collegial relationship that sees them meeting every few months. That level of contact has increased given the upheaval the sports world has undergone.But in terms of the Orlando tournament, Garber told ESPN.com that there has “not been a lot of contact” between MLS and the NBA. Rather, the conversations have been with Disney executives in a bid to make sure the tournament runs smoothly.”We’ve been negotiating and dealing with Disney and our hotels to determine what our needs are operationally,” Garber told ESPN.com. “I haven’t had those conversations, but our staff has with Disney to ensure that we are able to both be accommodated in a very large resort and that both leagues’ needs are being met.”

Will these games count toward the regular-season standings?

Yes and no. The group stage games will count in the standings in the standard sense — three points for a win, one point for a tie — while the knockout stage games won’t count at all.So what’s to stop teams from putting all of their efforts into the group stage and none thereafter? A purse of $1.1 million should do the trick, though we don’t yet know the breakdown of how this money will be allocated. The winner of the tournament will also secure a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League.

What about the regular-season sch=dule after this is over?

MLS is hoping that by the time the tournament ends on Aug. 11, restrictions around the country will have loosened up enough that games can be held in a team’s home stadium. Those games are likely to happen without fans, though Garber offered hope that if the situation improves enough, fans might be able to attend games before the season is done.”Whether or not we’ll have any markets with fans is also uncertain, but we’re also hearing about different guidelines that have been established state by state where there’s even a possibility that some fans might be able to attend games,” Garber said.The hope is that the league will get an extra 18 games in after Orlando, which would make for a 23-game regular season. That’s about two-thirds of a normal league schedule. One scenario has MLS Cup being played in mid-December, but the situation remains fluid.

Assessing the USWNT one year after it won the 2019 Women’s World Cup

Jun 4, 2020Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the United States’ victory in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup — its second straight and fourth overall — it is a good time to look back at how this team has come to top the sport and where its largest vulnerabilities lie moving forward.

Let’s study as well and celebrate a decade of dominance. To do this, I’ll be calling on data from the past three World Cups plus other tournaments and recent friendlies at which Opta data was collected.

Looking back

After allowing a 117th-minute goal to Homare Sawa and losing in a penalty shootout in the 2011 World Cup final, the U.S. ruled the rest of the decade. In two Olympics (plus qualification) and two World Cups (plus qualification), the USWNT won 37 matches, drew just twice and lost only once, in a 2016 Olympic quarterfinal shootout versus Sweden. It scored 170 goals in these matches (4.3 per match), allowed 15 goals (0.4 per match) and won the two World Cup finals by a combined 7-2. And since the SheBelieves Cup began in 2016, pitting four of the world’s best teams in a round-robin competition, the U.S. has more titles (three) than losses (two).

It is fair to say the U.S. dominates women’s soccer to a degree unmatched by any team in men’s soccer. How does that domination take shape on the stat sheet? In what areas of the game has this team asserted its superiority?

Shot quality

In the 2019 Women’s World Cup, seven of 24 teams averaged at least 14 shot attempts per match. Six of them — Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, Spain and Sweden — averaged 16.2 shots and 1.5 goals per match. The seventh, the U.S., averaged 18.4 shots and 3.7 goals. The average goals-to-shots conversion rate in the tournament was 11.1%; the USWNT’s was 20.2%. While the U.S. averaged 2.95 expected goals (XG) per match, it averaged 3.71 actual goals, a difference of +0.76, the highest in any of the past three World Cups.That is probably unsustainably high. For one thing, this sample includes the team’s 13-0 pasting of an overwhelmed Thailand. For another, while the difference between goals and XG is certainly part skill, it’s also part randomness. Outliers will regress toward the mean. That said, it was also part of a trend. The U.S. enjoyed a +0.26 difference between goals and XG in 2015, too, and has been around +0.44 for other recent tournaments and friendlies.To the extent that skill is at play instead of randomness, it comes down to shot quality. In 2011, 34% of the USWNT’s shots were on target. In 2015 and 2019, it was 44%. In 2011, 60% of its shots were taken inside the box; in 2015, it was 72% and in 2019, 74%.

USWNT Goals-To-Shots Conversion Rates, Last Two Years

PLAYER SHOTS PCT. OF SHOTS IN BOX GOALS CONVERSION RATE
Carli Lloyd 90 87% 19 21%
Alex Morgan 80 84% 15 19%
Megan Rapinoe 54 48% 12 22%
Tobin Heath 37 68% 10 27%
Christen Press 59 75% 8 14%
Lindsey Horan 50 74% 7 14%
Mallory Pugh 27 82% 7 26%

The combination of brilliant crossing and strong positioning from forwards such as Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Mallory Pugh, with incredible long-distance accuracy from wingers like Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath, has given the U.S. the most consistent and deadly striking ability in the world.Two other areas of play deserve mention here: crosses and set pieces.Crosses can end up as a Hail Mary option when an attack hasn’t produced anything better, but in the right hands — say Rapinoe’s, Heath’s or Christen Press’ — they can be a direct route to success. The U.S. has slowed its use of crosses through the years — from 25.4 per 90 minutes in the 2011 World Cup to 18.4 last year — and simultaneously increased their effectiveness, from a 28% completion rate in 2011 to 34% in 2019. (The average completion rate at the 2019 World Cup was 25%.)Over the past two years in a U.S. shirt, Rapinoe, Heath and Press have combined for a completion rate of 35% on crosses, with Crystal Dunn not far behind at 29%. In fewer attempts, Pugh (36%), Tierna Davidson (47%) and Lindsey Horan (46%) have also been deadly. Obviously it helps to have players the caliber of Lloyd and Morgan on the end of these passes, but the quality of service has been impeccable.

It’s the same story with set pieces. Each of the past three World Cups produced an average of about 0.3 goals per match from set pieces; the U.S. improved its average from 0.3 in 2011 to 0.6 in 2015 to 0.9 in 2019. And it’s the same cast of characters involved: Rapinoe, Heath and Press serve up the chances when a pass is required, and Horan (six goals from set pieces), Lloyd (five) and Morgan (three) finish them off.

Ball control

When you’ve got a team as talented and athletic as the U.S., a lot of management comes down to keeping the players motivated and getting them ready to scrap.

USWNT Hustle Board

CATEGORY (PER 90 MIN.) 2011 WWC 2015 WWC 2019 WWC
Ball recoveries margin +4.2 +4.9 +14.3
Possessions won in attacking third (A3) 12.5 4.7 10.3
Possessions won in middle third (M3) 38.6 29.0 37.1
Poss. won in M3/A3 margin +8.6 +6.4 +21.4
Pct. of opponents’ shots blocked 26% 26% 31%

The current player pool is the scrappiest yet. Lavelle, Ertz, Dunn and Horan have all averaged between 7.1 and 7.3 ball recoveries per 90 minutes over the past two years (in a smaller sample of appearances, Morgan Brian has averaged 8.2), and the U.S. absolutely dominated loose balls at the most recent World Cup. Its plus-14.3 margin for ball recoveries per match was easily the best in France (second-best: France at +9.8).The U.S. also created a lot of opportunities to collect loose balls. Despite teams rapidly improving in terms of possession play and ball control between 2011 and 2019, the U.S. won nearly as many balls in the attacking third last year as it had eight years earlier. And over the past two years, Heath, Rapinoe, Pugh, Sonnett and Brian have all averaged between 5.1 and 5.7 possessions won per 90 minutes in the attacking third.The pressure often begins the moment you earn possession and never ceases. While 44% of U.S. possessions reached the attacking third in both 2015 and 2019, for opponents it was 33% in 2015 and 25% in 2019.

Goalkeeping

In a small sample, a team’s save percentage can portend upcoming improvement or regression. If it’s particularly high, it’s going to fall (and vice versa), no matter your talent level.That makes it pretty difficult to judge U.S. goalkeepers. Not only is the World Cup a small set of games to begin with, but American goalkeepers have rarely been challenged. Thanks to both defensive pressure and blocked shots, they faced the second-fewest shots on goal per match in 2019 and fourth fewest in 2015. Still, they’ve aced the tests they’ve been given. Alyssa Naeher recorded an 80% save percentage in the 2019 World Cup, while Hope Solo hit 75% in 2015 and 77% in 2011. The overall average was in the mid-to-high 60s in each tournament.Looking at a larger sample of U.S. matches (tournaments and friendlies) from 2017 to 2020, the team’s average save percentage was 74%. Even accounting for small samples and potential regression to the mean, it’s safe to assume that U.S. goalkeeping has been, at worst, consistently above average.Since this is an individual position and is therefore reliant on singular talents over depth of athleticism, it will be interesting to see whether the pattern continues moving forward. Over the past three years, only three keepers have seen action in U.S. matches: 32-year-old Naeher, Ashlyn Harris (34) and Adrianna Franch (29). Maybe Naeher remains atop the depth chart through the next World Cup cycle, but if or when players like the Washington Spirit’s/Sydney FC’s Aubrey Bledsoe (28), the Houston Dash’s Lindsey Harris (26) and Jane Campbell (25), OL Reign’s Casey Murphy (24) or the Chicago Red Stars’ Emily Boyd (23) become options, they’ll have a high bar to clear.

Vulnerabilities

As good as the USWNT has been, we probably shouldn’t pretend it is invulnerable. As dominant as the U.S. appeared for much of the 2019 World Cup, it was still tied with Spain in the 75th minute in the round of 16 before being granted a semi-controversial penalty kick. The USWNT was still outplayed by France for much of its high-profile quarterfinal match. And both England in the semifinals and France outdid the Americans from an XG perspective.In other words, the U.S. still needed good fortune. Every team does. But the competition was awfully tight at the top, and it will probably get only tighter moving forward.

Possession Rates At The 2019 Women’s World Cup

COUNTRY POSSESSION RATE POSSESSION VS. TEAMS THAT MADE KNOCKOUT ROUNDS
Canada 62.7% 60.7%
Spain 60.9% 57.5%
England 59.7% 57.4%
France 58.6% 56.6%
Australia 60.6% 56.6%
Germany 56.7% 56.0%
Netherlands 57.0% 54.8%
Norway 50.5% 52.0%
United States 56.9% 50.8%

The main reason? Ball control. Obviously the possession game isn’t the only way to win in soccer — holding on to the ball doesn’t mean much if you don’t get anything out of it — but there’s a reason why every rich club in men’s soccer is trying to play it.In the World Cup last summer, six teams possessed the ball a higher percentage of the time than the U.S. Looking only at games against teams that advanced to the knockout rounds (so, filtering out matches against teams like Thailand), the U.S. was ninth in possession. It was 12th in pass attempts per 90 minutes against this pool of teams. Its number of solo possessions increased compared to 2015, and its average passes per possession decreased.While the defense remained excellent against all comers, the U.S. attack mostly vanished against the best teams in the tournament. France averaged 2.3 XG per match against knockout-round teams, but the U.S. averaged only 1.9. Its aerial and duel win percentages sank — a sign that the Americans’ physical dominance was wavering in some ways — and the USWNT struggled to control games against other strong teams.Mind you, the USWNT was still elite in the finishing department, still excellent at set pieces (like Rapinoe’s strike that put the U.S. up on France), still brilliant at defending and goalkeeping (recall Naeher’s late penalty save or Becky Sauerbrunn’s goal-line clearance against England), still better than its opponents in terms of ball recoveries and still, by far, the most talented and athletic team.While now-retired coach Jill Ellis was known far more for her elite player-management skills than her tactical brilliance, there are plenty of signs that certain nations, especially in Europe, are catching up. As the game continues its rapid advance, as investment continues to grow in other countries, as the player pool continues to grow more talented worldwide, and as the coaching also continues to develop, the tactical bar for winning big will likely continue to rise. We’ll see what Ellis’ successor, Vlatko Andonovski, has in store in that regard.

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