5/30/2020  Germany – American’s score 2 in week 2, EPL Returns June 17, NWSL Back with tourney June 27

This week the NWSL – US Women’s soccer league confirmed it will be the first US Pro League to return to play as they will host a playoff type of tourney with all the games being played in Salt Lake City in late June thru mid July.  Games will be on the CBS Sports Ap streaming and the occasional game on CBS Sports Network and the finals on CBS.  This same approach is being considered by MLS in and around the Disney complex in Orlando but still no confirmation yet.  Of course huge news that the EPL is returning June 17 to resume their season in full and Serie A is back June 20th.  Oh happy late Bday to my favorite US Defender Carlos Bocenegra. 

Crowd Noise or No Crowd Noise –that is the question

As the German Bundesliga kicked off week 2 with games on the weekend and mid-week – things were just a little different.  The Sunday and weekday games featured artificial crowd noise added in over the broadcast.  Honestly I thought it was ok – and certainly the roar of the crowd to pull your eyes towards the TV on a goalscoring opportunity was a welcome return to normal.  I have seen those who say they love it and some who hated it.  What are your Thoughts?    Also what about the complete loss of home field advantage for German teams with no fans in the stands – the home team is just 5 Wins, 12 Losses and 10 draws since the return.  Even the 13K card board cutouts of fans at MGladbach didn’t help as they lost at home.   Yes fans YOU DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE !!

US Players better in German Week 2 

So the American’s definitely played better in the 2 matchdays this past week as Weston McKinney scored in a 2-1 loss for Schalke (man they are struggling with no wins in 11 games now), Timmy Chandler scored the tying goal for Frankfurt in a late sub role and Tyler Adams for Red Bull went the full 90 minutes for the first time this calendar year – unfortunately it was at right back not the 6 – but still a decent show by him.  Also Josh Sargent started for Werder Bremman, played 73 minutes and showed decent hold up play but no shots on goal, and John Brooks after being smoked by Dortmund on Sat, returned with a solid effort in a 4-1 win over Leverkusen.  Of course the big game was Dortmund and Gio Reyna vs Bayern Munich as the youngster came on in the 72nd minute down 1-0.  Bayern hung on to effectively clinch the lead with a now 7 point lead.  Dortmund who did not have the home fans to help them to victory fall back just 2 up on RB Leipzig for 2nd.  (See stories in the OBC)

They will get chances again this weekend as many of the games on TV feature teams with American’s at least on the roster.  Games start with doubles at 9:30 am on Sat on FS1 & FS2, with US forward Josh Sargent traveling to face Schalke and Weston McKinney at 9:30 on FS1, while John Brooks and Wolfsburg hosts Timmy Chandler and Frankfurt on FS2.  Sunday we get Dortmund and Gio Reyna traveling to Paderbourn at 12:30 pm on FS1.  Adams plays with Leipzig at 2:30 on FS2 Mon, while Sargent laces them up for Werder Bremen on Wed at 2:30 on FS2.

NWSL announces plan to start season on June 27 with month-long tourney
Premier League will reportedly restart on June 17 after three-month shutdown

Serie A Returns June 20th

Artificial Crowd Noise at games – Yes or No – S&S 

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.  


Fri, May 29  

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Frieburg vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sat, May 30  

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Schalke (Mckinney) vs Werder Bremen (Sargent)

9:30 am Fox Sport2                          Wolfsburg (John Brooks) vs Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler)

12:30 FS1                                           Bayer Munich vs Fortuna Dusseldorf (Morales)

Sun, May 24  

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Borrusia Mgladbach vs Union Berlin

12 pm FS1                                          Paderbuorn vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

Mon, June 1  

12:30 pm FS 1                                   Koln vs RB Leipzig (Adams) 

Wed, June 3  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                       Werder Bremen (Sargent) vs Frankfort (Chandler)

Wed, June 17                         EPL Returns

Sat, June 20                            Serie A (Italy) Returns 


USMNT’s Weston McKennie scores Bundesliga goal, ending long drought

USMNT’s Adams goes full 90 for first time since February

Yanks in Germany – How did they Do?  S&S


Weston McKennie Scores in 2-1 loss for Schalke

EPL and World

Earle: PL’s June return critical in many ways – Video

With the Premier League expected to now resume on June 17, Robbie Earle explains why it’s so important for the league to resume action this season.

Serie A Returns June 20th 

The coronavirus pandemic is undoing progress made by women’s soccer in Europe

Neville says he intends to leave England women’s national team for a club job

Serie A Returns June 20th

Champions League: Suspended indefinitely
• La Liga: Set for June 11 start
• Premier League: Set for June 17 start
• Serie A: Set for June 20 start
• Bundesliga: Restarted on May 16
• Ligue 1: PSG declared champions
• MLS: June tournament proposed
• Euro 2020: Postponed until 2021
• Copa America: Postponed until 2021
* NWSL – June 27 – month long Tourney from Utah

How the NWSL plans to become the first U.S. team sport to return to action

11:24 AM ET  Graham Hays  ESPN.com

Summer tournaments provided women’s soccer with its most indelible images, from Brandi Chastain in the Rose Bowl in 1999 to Megan Rapinoe in Lyon two decades later. Now the National Women’s Soccer League hopes a tournament without an array of international anthems can capture the imagination of fans eager for live sports amid a pandemic.Its eighth regular season on hold for more than a month because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced this week that it will host the NWSL Challenge Cup in the Salt Lake City area beginning on June 27. The monthlong tournament will feature all nine teams and, as things currently stand, mark the return of professional team sports in the United States. “There are some times when you see America and Americans fall in love with a sport,” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said. “It just felt like, with everything that has happened, professional women’s soccer was going to have a year this year to pay that off. I think the tournament format that we came up with was a very innovative solution that gives, in a compressed amount of time, Americans a really exciting single-elimination knockout tournament.”That’s an optimistic vision for a league that has survived far longer than its predecessors but still struggled at times to transform interest in the U.S. women’s national team into a consistent nationwide audience for a professional venture featuring many of those stars.How will the NWSL try to pull it off and what is still unknown? Here’s what you need to know.

How did we arrive at the NWSL Challenge Cup?

NWSL teams were in the early days of preseason when the sports world shut down in March in response to the pandemic. The league canceled its preseason schedule and issued a training moratorium on March 12, the same day the NCAA canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Soon after, the league extended the training moratorium into the first week of April, postponing the scheduled April 18 start of the regular season.The league subsequently announced that players could begin individual workouts at team facilities on May 6, subject to state and local health mandates — leaving players in markets such as Chicago, New York-New Jersey and Seattle-Tacoma initially unable to begin such sessions. For teams in areas where it was permitted, the second phase of a return began this week with small group training of up to eight players. The NWSL also announced that full team training could begin May 30, where allowed, providing five days of small group training had been completed.But instead of trying to play out a delayed version of its regular season, necessitating extensive travel and the use of nine facilities in nine states — some in very different phases of a reopening process than others — the league settled on the tournament plan announced Wednesday.According to Baird, the league received four bids to host the event but quickly focused on Utah. Baird cited the state’s overall record responding to the pandemic and the resources Utah Royals FC owner Dell Loy Hansen brought to the table — including Rio Tinto Stadium and Zions Bank Stadium, a training complex with multiple practice fields and plans for accommodations.Hansen told the Salt Lake Tribune that he also paid $700,000 to help subsidize the cost of the tournament. In a conference call with media, Hansen said there was a chance the event could pay for itself.

What is the tournament format?

All nine teams will participate in an opening group phase. The exact structure and draw is still to be determined, but each team will play four games in the opening phase. Only the lowest-ranked team will be eliminated, with eight teams advancing to the knockout rounds.OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore said there was extensive debate among owners about whether to move directly from the group phase to semifinals, eliminating five teams, or adopt the existing format with a quarterfinal round. Part of the thinking in opting for the quarterfinals, Predmore said, was allowing teams more leeway for lineup rotation in the group games as players regain match fitness. In other words, they won’t call the group games preseason, but they aren’t far off.The league will release more details on rules and format in the days ahead, but Predmore said teams will have five substitutions per game, as has been standard in Germany’s Bundesliga since it became the first major soccer league to return to competition earlier this month. He also said it was all but certain that teams will be able to have an active roster of 20 players.

Is this the only NWSL soccer that will be played this year?

It seems likely. Baird wouldn’t commit to that reality Wednesday, but it’s difficult to envision many scenarios in which a modified regular season could begin in August or September and still conclude with any sort of postseason. The regular season was originally scheduled to wrap up on Oct. 18, with semifinals on Nov. 8 and the final on Nov. 14 at a site yet to be announced”I think like many businesses and many leagues around the United States, they’re planning for what they can do now,” Baird said. “And we’re always going to be aware and attentive for what happens in the future. What I can assure you is that between us, the NWSLPA, our owners, anything that we do in the fall will be guided by the care and safety of our players and, of course, what happens with state and local public health guidance.”Predmore said OL Reign season-ticket holders were informed Wednesday of the option to roll over those tickets for 2021 or receive a full refund, indicating there are no plans to revive the schedule that was released in February. But he also said several teams have discussed continuing training beyond the summer tournament and further play isn’t out of the question — whether in the form of friendlies or even a second tournament-type event.”Nothing that was announced today would preclude any of those outcomes,” Predmore said. “I don’t think there’s any certainty on any of those right now. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Will there be any fans?

Very likely not, although Baird somewhat surprisingly also didn’t rule it out entirely Wednesday.”We need to develop a financial proposition that allows us to put on an incredible tournament,” Baird said of the thought process. “We’ve been able to do that with the help of Dell Loy and our sponsors that allowed our owners to unanimously vote in support of paying our players through the rest of the year. And the way we did it is we didn’t want to be dependent on ticket revenue to do that. … So right now we are not planning for any spectators.”What the states allow and what they don’t allow is the guidance we’re going to follow. And what the CDC allows and what they don’t allow is the guidance that we’re going to follow above all. Right now, we’re not looking at spectators at this point in time.”As of now, only the opening game and final will be televised on a linear network, with all other games available on CBS’ streaming platform and re-airing on its cable sports channel. The league and CBS agreed to a broadcast deal earlier this year.

Will the USWNT players participate?

There are still a lot of questions about what the Challenge Cup will look like, but this is likely to be the question that receives the most attention. A year after they won the World Cup (the Challenge Cup opener in Utah is a day before the one-year anniversary of the thrilling U.S. quarterfinal win against host France in Paris), the status of U.S. players is uncertain.One source with knowledge of the discussions confirmed to ESPN multiple reports that U.S. players are not of a collective mind about the NWSL tournament. And the national team’s union issued a statement Wednesday saying the decision would be an individual one for each player. A source with connections to U.S. Soccer confirmed that the players would continue to receive their full NWSL salaries, which are paid by the federation for allocated players, regardless of their participation in the Challenge Cup.The risk of injury posed by playing a monthlong tournament on predominantly artificial turf is no greater for national team players than non-national team players stuck without access to full training in recent months, but the prospect of the rescheduled 2021 Olympics does arguably raise the stakes for players reluctant to risk any injury that could jeopardize their 2021 status.That, in addition to understandable concerns about returning to play amid a pandemic in the here and now.Teams have until June 21 to submit final rosters for the tournament.Among early signalers, North Carolina Courage and U.S. midfielder Sam Mewis left little doubt as to her intentions.”I think we are just excited for the opportunity to play,” Mewis said of the Courage. “I know myself and my teammates just want to showcase what we can do and compete again. I think that’s what we’ve all been missing the most is that sense of competition and wanting to be the best.”

What about the rest of the players?

Baird confirmed what Yael Averbuch, co-executive director of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association, told The Athletic on Wednesday. Non-allocated players will receive their full salaries and benefits regardless of whether or not they take part in the Challenge Cup.That agreement was essential in getting the NWSLPA to give the plan its full support.”As the plans for the tournament unfolded, it was our priority as the NWSLPA to protect our players,” Averbuch and co-executive director Brooke Elby said in a statement. “And we feel that NWSL shares those values.”

A defender who is along the league’s all-time appearance leaders, OL Reign’s Lauren Barnes said she felt no pressure to play from either her team or the league.”I’m obviously really excited that we are going to be able to play soccer,” Barnes said. “Given the circumstances of the world right now, obviously it’s going to look different than a normal season, so you can’t really compare it to a normal season. … I think with Reign, they’ve provided and been super transparent and honest with [the medical protocols]. I think pretty much our whole team is on board, and we’re ready to go and excited.”Baird also said she spoke with players in the league who have children and is committed to finding a way to allow those children and a caregiver to be part of the traveling parties in Utah.On the other end of the spectrum, for players who might wish to participate but aren’t in the United States at the moment, Baird said that a recent order from the Department of Homeland Security designating athletes as essential personnel applied to the NWSL. That would allow international players to enter the country despite travel restrictions — OL Reign, for instance, has struggled to get defender Celia Jimenez Delgado back from Spain.The change could notably also affect German captain Dzsenifer Marozsan. The Salt Lake Tribune reported this spring that Marozsan was set to leave European club superpower Lyon for the Utah Royals, along with French national team goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.

What will the setup look like in Utah?

Predmore said OL Reign would use charter flights on planes owned by Hansen and that he anticipated multiple teams using that option. But what about once everyone gets to Utah?Expect to hear a lot about village life. Setting up a self-contained environment — the village, as everyone involved keeps calling it — appears central to the league’s plans for hosting around 250 players and accompanying coaches and training staff.Teams will stay in hotels or apartments in the area. Hansen said the league will take over one local hotel that he has equity ownership in for the duration of the tournament. Each team in the hotel will have its own floor, with minimal contact with outside parties (such as housekeeping staff). Other teams will set up in apartments connected to the Real Salt Lake training academy and another in a complex across the street from one of the stadiums.Baird joked about having plenty of toothpaste through a sponsorship with Procter & Gamble (a Bundesliga manager was barred from coaching his team’s first game back when he broke quarantine to obtain toothpaste). But she stopped short of saying players and staff would be definitively restricted to the area created for them or spelling out possible sanctions.”We have thought of all the incidences where a player might need some support that is external to the environment,” Baird said. “So each team is going to have resources available to them to go get supplies. … We want the environment not to feel like a restriction, we want it to feel like a welcoming village where they can focus on what they’re there to do without worrying about other things.”Hansen equated the assistance to team-specific “concierges” and said he had “opened the checkbook” for any needs.”We don’t see this as a restrictive environment,” Hansen said. “We think of it as a very, very energized environment when the players are there, not just hiding out from COVID.”

What about testing?

The league released its medial protocols in conjunction with the tournament announcement.Players will undergo PCR testing for COVID-19 before leaving for Utah and within 24 to 48 hours of games once there. The protocol says that facilities should close immediately if any player or staff member tests positive and contact tracing should commence for anyone present in the facility within 48 hours of the positive test. In Utah, that would cover the entire team.If a game took place within 48 hours before the positive test, the opposing team would also need to conduct contact tracing for its players and staff.The plans then spell out contact tracing protocol for low- and high-risk exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. High-risk contacts, assuming no symptoms develop, would still not be allowed to return to training for 14 days from the date of exposure.”Just as in every other city in the country, with or without soccer, we know for certain that people will test positive for CVID,” said Dr. Daryl Osbahr, a member of the league’s medical task force. “So we knew that we would have to have strategies to build upon that.”Hansen said the tests are sourced from ARUP Laboratories and come from out of state.”We have taken not one test away that would be available to Utahans,” Hansen said.

NWSL to return on June 27 with month-long tournament

Hays  ESPN.com

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) will return on June 27 with a 25-game tournament near Salt Lake City, the league announced on Wednesday.The start of the NWSL’s eighth season has been on hold since the coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down professional sports in the United States in March. As it stands, the NWSL would be the first U.S. league in a team sport to resume play since that shutdown.

“The United States Women’s National Team Players Association’s (USWNTPA) top priority is player health and safety — both physical and mental,” a USWNTPA statement read.

“The USWNTPA will continue to work with the USSF, the NWSL, and the NWSLPA to minimize the risk of injury and exposure to COVID-19 for those Players participating in the tournament.”The new tournament, which the league is calling the NWSL Challenge Cup, will involve all nine of the league’s teams. Each team will play four games in a preliminary round, with the top eight finishers advancing to a knockout round. The final will be played on July 26.Games will be played at Zions Bank tadium in Herriman, Utah, and Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Rio Tinto Stadium is home to the NWSL’s Utah Royals, as well as the MLS’ Real Salt Lake.

Fans will not be allowed at any of the games.”As our country begins to safely reopen and adjust to our collective new reality, and with the enthusiastic support of our players, owners, as well as our new and current commercial partners, the NWSL is thrilled to bring professional soccer back to the United States,” NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement.The NWSL did not clarify whether the tournament would take the place of the 2020 season or serve as prelude to a modified regular season.Among other questions unanswered is the participation of members of the United States women’s national team. One source close to the national team players confirmed to ESPN multiple reports that there is a lack of unanimity among the players about participating.Possible concerns, especially with the rescheduled Olympics in 2021, include playing a large number of games in a relatively short time after having little access to training for most of the past three months. Some of the games also would be on artificial turf.

“U.S. Soccer is supportive of the NWSL’s decision to bring professional women’s soccer back to the field,” the federation said in a statement. “Throughout the collaborative planning process, U.S. Soccer has worked closely with the NWSL and the USWNT Players Association to focus on the health and safety of the players, both regarding COVID-19 and the physical aspects of the players returning to a preseason and tournament competition, and ensure that each player would have the option of participating in the event.”

U.S. Soccer pays the NWSL salaries of national team players. A source connected with U.S. Soccer told ESPN on Wednesday that those players continue to be paid during the pandemic stoppage and nothing would change on that front, regardless of participation in the NWSL Challenge Cup.The union representing the United States women’s national team did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ESPN.The NWSL said Utah Royals and Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen would provide an “NWSL Village” for all teams and be responsible for housing and training needs, although it provided no specifics on procedures such as whether players and staff would be restricted solely to those spaces during the monthlong event.The NWSL said Baird and Hansen met with Utah Governor Gary Herbert and other state and local officials while planning the tournament.“Utah is home to strong health care systems and dedicated medical professionals — and public health and safety are always a top priority for our communities,” Herbert said in a statement. “Because of those factors, I believe our state will be a great location for the National Women’s Soccer League to host its competition in 2020.”Testing protocols state that players will undergo testing for coronavirus before traveling to Utah and within 24-48 hours of games.The protocols also lay out plans for quarantining of anyone who tests positive and contact tracing. Those deemed to have high-risk exposure to anyone who tests positive would be prohibited from training for 14 days. Interactions in the high-risk category include shared equipment or direct physical contact with the individual, contact of more than 10 minutes within 6 feet — including meeting rooms, weight rooms and locker rooms, and living in the same housing unit.

Those deemed to have low-risk contact with anyone who tests positive would also be quarantined but could return to training if they test negative, show no symptoms and their temperature remains normal.Germany’s Bundesliga became the first major professional league in a team sport to return to competition on May 16. The Frauen-Bundesliga, the top women’s professional league in Germany, will also resume its regular schedule this weekend without fans.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams plays first full 90 since February in RB Leipzig draw | Bundesliga Roundup

May 27, 20203:12PM EDTIan QuillenContributor

The Wednesday slate of German Bundesliga games began with Tyler Adams playing his first full 90 in more than three months — and at right back, no less — for the first time since February 9 in 10-man RB Leipzig’s 2-2 home draw with Hertha Berlin.The former New York Red Bulls star Homegrown Player was a late addition to the starting lineup after Kevin Kampl suffered an injury in warmups. Notably, he patrolled the same right defensive position that US national team manager Gregg Berhalter has appeared to favor for the 21-year-old.The match was level when Leipzig’s Marcel Halstenberg was sent off in the 63rd minute. Patrick Schick put Leipzig ahead five minutes later, but Hertha leveled on Krzystof Piatek’s 82nd-minute penalty, dropping Leipzig into third for the moment in the table, two points behind Dortmund and nine back of leaders Bayern Munich.Adams’ US teammate Weston McKennie was in the lineup for Schalke 04 in later action against Fortuna Dusseldorf, which had fellow American Alfredo Morales on the subs’ bench. American No. 1 goalkeeper and former Crew SC man Zack Steffen remained out injured for Dusseldorf.

Yanks in Germany: Chandler’s late equalizer

Chandler & McKennie get on the score sheet during a busy midweek Bundesliga schedule

By Cody Bradley@ThatCodyTho  May 28, 2020, 7:15am PDT

Weston McKennie – Central Midfielder, Schalke 04

Schalke eventually fell 2-1 at Fortuna Düsseldorf, but McKennie got the scoring started in the 53rd minute with a very nice header. He had the fewest touches, 36, of any outfield player. Watch the goal again below and read more about it HERE.

FotMob: 7.4 | WhoScored: 7.3
59% passing | 1/2 shots on target | 3/8 duels | 0/2 dribbles | 1 clearance | 6 interceptions

Timmy Chandler – Defender, Eintracht Frankfurt

The 30-year-old came off the bench in the 81st minute with his team down a goal and it would only take him three minutes to tie the match at 3-3 and take points from Frieburg. Chandler has five goals and an assist in 17 appearances this season. He had enough time to score but not enough time for FotMob to gather enough info for a rating. WATCH THE GOAL

WhoScored: 7
11 touches | 1/1 shot on target | 7/7 passing | 1/2 crosses | 1 throw in

John Brooks – Central Defender, Wolfsburg

It was a fantastic day for Brooks and Wolfsburg on Tuesday as they got a big 4-1 at Bayer Leverkusen, who are just above them on the Bundesliga table. He was subbed out in the 82nd minute and Leverkusen finally got on the board three minutes later.

FotMob: 7.6 | WhoScored: 7.7
77% passing | 4/6 long balls | 5/8 duels | 1 clearance | 1/1 tackle | 3 interceptions

Tyler Adams – Defensive Midfielder, RB Leipzig

Leipzig settled for a 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin with Adams playing all 90 minutes. They really could have used some actual home-field advantage because they missed a chance to go level on points with Dortmund for 2nd place. Adams had five tackles, the most in the match.

FotMob: 6.7 | WhoScored: 6.7
93% passing | 1 chance created | 1/5 crosses | 6/11 duels | 1 clearance | 5/5 tackles

Josh Sargent – Striker, Werder Bremen

He got the start and played the first 74 minutes as Bremen drew 0-0 with Gladbach. They will be quite happy with the point that keeps them within striking distance of safety.

FotMob: 5.5 | WhoScored: 6.2
61% passing | 0/1 shot on target | 5/14 duels | dispossessed twice | 1 interception

Gio Reyna – Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund

The youngster entered the match in the 72nd minute as Dortmund searched for the equalizer in Der Klassiker against Bayern Munich, but the match ended 1-0. Great to see the kid get on the field in such a big matchup. I’m sure he’ll never forget the roar of the Yellow Wall that day.

FotMob: 5.6 | WhoScored: 6
15 touches | 13/13 passes | 1/3 duels | 0/1 dribble

Alfredo Morales – Midfielder, Fortuna Düsseldorf

As disappointing as the loss was for Schalke, it was equally big for Düsseldorf who are fighting relegation. Morales subbed in for the last nine minutes to help secure the win.

Timothy Tillman – Midfielder, Greuther Fürth

21-year-old Tillman got the start and played the first half of a 2-0 loss to Osnabrück. He was subbed out for fellow yank, Julian Green.

FotMob: 6 | WhoScored: 6.2
82% passing | 1/2 shots on target | 4/9 duels | 1/1 dribble | 2/2 tackles | dispossessed once

Julian Green – Midfielder, Greuther Fürth

He replaced Tillman at halftime but wasn’t able to contribute much more than getting fouled five times, the most of any player. He also got a yellow card for a bad foul.

FotMob: 6.6 | WhoScored: 6.7
92% passing | 1/3 shots on target | 2 corner kicks | 8/10 duels | 1/2 tackles

The coronavirus pandemic is undoing progress made by women’s soccer in Europe

Leander SchaerlaeckensYahoo Sports•May 27, 2020

Women’s professional soccer in Europe, and some of the strides it had made, has now been victimized by the coronavirus pandemic.All 20 Premier League clubs voted on Wednesday to return to full-contact training, reaching another benchmark to get the popular soccer circuit back to competitive games and finish the coronavirus-ravaged 2019-20 season. The teams had been back to practicing in small groups, socially distanced, for a week. And a resumption of the campaign now seems likely in the near future.On Monday, however, it was announced that the Women’s Super League, the highest tier of the women’s game in the United Kingdom, would not be returning this season. “Following overwhelming feedback from the clubs, the decision to bring an end to the 2019-20 season was made in the best interest of the women’s game,” the Football Association said in a statement. “Supporting the welfare of the clubs and players will continue to be our primary concern throughout this process, which also involved a robust and thorough examination of the logistical, operational and financial challenges that the game currently faces.”

Let’s talk about those “logistical, operational and financial challenges.” The first two are no different from the men’s circuit. Those challenges are less daunting than on the women’s side, in fact, since there are fewer teams and the size of the squads and support staff is smaller. As for the financial piece, the reason the WSL was forced to conclude it didn’t have the resources to finish out the season under the necessary precautionary conditions is because the FA had told it two months earlier that it wouldn’t be providing financial support.Manchester City was leading the WSL table but won’t get a chance to finish the season. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)Morhat’s more, out of the 12 WSL teams, nine are the female counterparts of Premier League sides. The other three are tied to second-tier Championship teams. There is money there. Plenty of it. The FA has money. The clubs have money. They’re just choosing not to spend it on the women’s league.

In Spain, La Liga returned to practice last week and is cleared to resume league play as of June 8, with a likely kickoff on June 11. Yet the Primera División, the top women’s circuit, has already been shuttered for the rest of the season, even though there were nine rounds left to play – two fewer than on the men’s side. FC Barcelona Femení was announced as the champion by the Spanish federation. It had a nine-point lead, but there remained 27 points left to be played for.In Italy, Serie A, which was the first league to shut down due to COVID-19 in early March, is slated to return to action on either June 13 or June 20, depending on the conditions. But it looked for a long while like the Serie A Femminile, its female counterpart, would be shutting down because the pandemic-related cost of resuming was several hundred thousand dollars per team. There was an outcry, and the government eventually stepped in. The issue was that the women’s league isn’t technically professional, even though 10 of 12 teams are attached to well-established professional men’s clubs – including the powerhouses Juventus, Milan, Inter, Fiorentina and Roma. The season now looks like it will be saved and some teams have returned to training, but it was a close call.In the four major European pro soccer nations, only Germany will resume its women’s league without significant incident. But it’s worth noting that when the Frauen-Bundesliga kicks off this Friday, it will have done so a full two weeks later than the men’s league.It feels like the pandemic is undoing some of the recent progress in the women’s game. Men’s leagues are resuming largely because it is too costly – both financially and culturally – not to. But why isn’t that true for the women?For decades, the domestic women’s games in those four nations lagged embarrassingly far behind the men’s leagues. While Germany fielded a world power national team and was ahead of Italy, Spain and England in shoring up its domestic women’s league, it still had nothing like the institutional support the men enjoyed. Things were worse elsewhere.Finally, after three impactful and globally popular Women’s World Cups this decade, that was beginning to change. Momentum was building. The leagues gained popularity. A game between Athletic Club and Atletico Madrid in Spain drew more than 48,000 spectators in January 2019. Two months later, a Barcelona-Atletico game pulled in almost 61,000. Last year’s Manchester derby attracted 31,000 people and Chelsea-Tottenham got 24,000. Juventus once attracted 39,000 to watch it play Fiorentina. Those were outliers, certainly, but they weren’t all driven by post-World Cup bumps, either. The audience and interest was and is demonstrable. But for some reason, the willingness on the part of the domestic soccer federations or teams doesn’t match it. There is no good reason to play men’s professional soccer but not women’s, yet in three of Europe’s four biggest pro soccer nations, that will be the case for the rest of this season.Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports communication lecturer at Marist College. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.


5/21/2020   Soccer with no Fans – hum – Germany Wk2, NWSL Might be 1st US Pro League back in late June?  

It sounds like the NWSL – US Women’s soccer league might be the first US Pro League to return to play as they plan a playoff type of approach with all the games being played in Salt Lake City in late June.  This same approach is being considered by MLS in and around the Disney complex in Orlando.  We’ll see what happens – again I think if the TV networks will show the games on prime channels – this could be a good opportunity for US Soccer.  Unfortunately the 25th Anniversary of MLS and the resurgence of the NWSL both with new broadcast deals and plenty of planned exposure for this season has been blown to heck.  We’ll see how it turns out.   Interesting stories on the new MLS led Development Academy replacing the old DA – see stories under MLS below.

Live Soccer Returns

Interesting return of Live Soccer over the weekend as the German Bundesliga kicked off with no fans in the stands.  I have to say watching the games with no crowd noise was really weird.  What was even weirder to me was it seemed like the Announcers were not at the game.  Later with this story from ian Durke, I realize that indeed the announcers were not at the games.  Evidently in Germany on the broadcasts – they piped in crowd noise, singing and some goal celebrations on the broadcasts which made it a little better.  I was also extremely disappointed in Fox Sports 1 for having absolutely no pregame/half-time or post game shows at all.  I understand studios are not back up and operational but if NASCAR can do what they did on Fox – can’t soccer at least try to do something.  It just shows again that whoever is in charge at Fox has given up on soccer.  (Despite this – the Bundesliga did record ratings over the weekend on at least 3 of the televised games in the US.)  I wonder what would have happened if the games were on Fox rather than FS1.  Oh well.  The Bundelisga will not be on broadcast TV next year as ESPN+ has taken the rights. (Which means we will never again see a German or Italian game on broadcast TV) If ESPN at least put the good games of each league on the broadcast channels I would get it.  But they certainly haven’t done so –with only the very occasional game on so far.  So once again you pay to stream or you don’t watch overseas soccer.  I feel like we are back in the 90s again.  First it was Champions League barely on TNT moving next year to CBS Streaming with a single game on CBS Sports Network (woopie), then it was Italy and now Germany only on Streaming.  We are going backwards folks.  I guess thanks Fox for covering Champions League so very well in the past – and now Thanks for nothing!

US Players struggle in German Return 

So I should have known when Dortmund’s Gio Reyna got injured during warm-ups and he missed his first ever start – that things for the American players would be iffy this past weekend.  McKinney for Schalke was just ok as Dortmund put 4 up on the blues, Brooks gave up an own goal for Wolfsburg-but his team did win 2-1 at least, Adams played ok for RB Leipzig at Right back – but they tied losing ground in the title race, and most other American’s did not play or certainly didn’t start.  They will get chances again this weekend as most of the games on TV feature teams with American’s at least on the roster.  Games start with doubles at 9:30 am on Sat on FS1 & FS2, with US Defender John Brooks hosting Dortmund and maybe Gio Reyna.  The 12:30 game on FS1 is Bayern Munich hosting Frankfort and Timmy Chandler.  Sunday we get Adams and RB Leipzig traveling to Mainz at9:30 am on FS1.  We do get midweek games on Tues/Wed this week with the huge game between league leaders Bayern Munich and Dortmund on Tues on FS1 at 12:30 pm.  Not sure why this can’t be played on a weekend but oh well.

German Soccer Returns From COVID-19 Lockdown, Scores Record High Ratings For Fox

The return of Bundesliga soccer from COVID-19 lockdown (in an empty arena) hit a record high with its Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke matchup with a .33, marking the best metered market rating ever for a Bundesliga telecast on FS1.In the match, Dortmund beat Schalke, 4-0. On Sunday, Fox Sports released the following in the top five available markets: Cincinnati .91, Philadelphia .75, Washington DC .71, Kansas City .67 and Tampa .64.In the second matchup, Borussia Moenchengladbach defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 and the game earned .21, the second best metered for a Bundesliga game on FS1. The top five available markets were as follows: Kansas City .67, Cincinnati .47,  Washington DC .46, Tampa .45 and  Portland .41.

Carmel FC

Tryouts Confirmed for June 22


NWSL to Return with Tourney in late June?  Washington Post

MLS Mini World Cup Format to Start in Orlando? – EsPNFC

NWSL and coronavirus: Will pandemic crash women’s soccer …M


Sat, May 23  

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Wolfsburg (John Brooks) vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

9:30 am Fox Sport2                          Borrusia Mgladbach (Johnson) vs Bayer Leverkusen 

12:30 FS1                                           Bayer Munich vs Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler)

Sun, May 24  

7:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Schalke (Mckinney) vs Ausburg

9:30 am FS 1, FuboTV, Fox desp     Mainz vs RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams)

12:30 pm FS1                                    Koln vs Fortuna Dusseldorf (Morales)                        

Tues, May 26  

12:30 pm FS 1                                   Bayern Munich vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

2:30 pm FS 2, TUDN, FuboTV          Bayer Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg (John Brooks)

Wed, May 27  

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                       RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams) vs Hertha

2:30 FS2                                             Fortuna Dusseldorf (Morales) vs Schalke (Mckinney)

Fri, May 29  

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Frieburg vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sat, May 30  

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Schalke (Mckinney) vs Werder Bremman (Sargent)

9:30 am Fox Sport2                          Wolfsburg (John Brooks) vs Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler)

12:30 FS1                                           Bayer Munich vs Fortuna Dusseldorf (Morales)

Sun, May 24  

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Borrusia Mgladbach (Johnson) vs Union Berlin

12 pm FS1                                          Paderbuorn vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

Teenage USMNT star Reyna injured in Dortmund warm up

Rough Day for US Players as Bundesliga Returns – Doug McIntyre Yahoo Sports 

How MLS, USMNT exports fared as the Bundesliga returned

Challenges of Calling German Games from Home – Announcers Issues – Ian Durke ESPN

Quite Stands – odd Celebrations Mark return of Soccer in Germany ESPNFC
German league without fans like “old man’s football”, says Mueller

Haaland stars in Dortmund romp as Bundesliga makes ‘very strange’ return

Leipzig title hopes hit by Freiburg draw on Bundesliga restart

Sky Germany attracts record audience for Bundesliga restart

Neuer set for three more years at Bayern Munich 

Liga MX cancels 2020 Clausura due to coronavirus pandemic Goal.com


Berhalter: I’m open to altering philosophy to get results
Christian Pulisic gets an ‘incomplete’ in first English Premier League season with Chelsea

US youth int’l signs new contract with Aston Villa

USMNT teen Dest named Ajax young player of the year

Dest’s agent denies Barca move is a done deal
US youngster Reyna’s 1st Bundesliga start foiled by injury

How rejection paved Carli Lloyd’s road to stardom


MLS, USMNT legend Beasley making plans to become a team owner

MLS, US Youth Soccer announce groundbreaking partnership

For MLS’s new youth league, cooperation a critical component – MLS.com Charles Boehm

What’s Possible Down South in MLS – Charles Boehm MLS

Carlos Vela the multi-sport athlete? He’s ready, NBA

Are the Sounders a dynasty? Roldan, Morris weigh in

Bingham: El Trafico is the best rivalry in MLS

New renderings of Crew downtown stadium

Celtic declared Scottish champions as season canceled

Celtic declared Scottish champions and clinch ninth-straight league title as Hearts relegated 
‘Concrete plan’ for European season to finish in August, says UEFA president

USMNT: Stars set for pivotal Bundesliga weekend

Joe Prince-Wright NBC Sports
Week 27 of the 2019-20 Bundesliga season has plenty of intriguing clashes and USMNT fans will know there are plenty of young American players to keep an eye on too.

Bundesliga games will of course be played in empty stadiums, which is the plan for the rest of the season and beyond, and USMNT stars will feature in plenty of them.From Giovanni Reyna to Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie to John Brooks, plenty of USMNT stars are going to play pivotal roles as their teams battle for the Bundesliga title, European qualification and against relegation.

BTW, if you’re new to Germany’s top-flight, here’s a guide to help you pick a club to support.

Below is a look at what lies ahead this weekend for the USMNT stars, as you can check out the full schedulestandings and find out how to watch the action, while we will have you covered right here on ProSoccerTalk.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig – Started as a right wing-back for RB Leipzig and did okay, but was hauled off in the second half as Leipzig pushed for an equalizer and then a winner as they slipped up and drew against Freiburg. Adams’ best position is in central midfield but Leipzig are stacked in that area. Next up they face Mainz who are battling against being sucked into the relegation battle. Leipzig need a win to keep their title bid alive.

Matchweek 27: @ Mainz, Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET

Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund – He was supposed to make his first Bundesliga start the big 4-0 derby win against Schalke in the restart but the 17-year-old phenom was injured in the warm up. Reyna is highly-rated by Dortmund and Lucien Favre has admitted he could feature this weekend.

Matchweek 27: @ Wolfsburg, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET

Weston McKennie, Schalke – Worked hard in the humbling at the hands of Dortmund but not his best outing with the ball. McKennie and Schalke host struggling Augsburg and this is a big chance for them to gain some momentum and keep their push for a Europa League spot on track.

Matchweek 27: v. Augsburg, Sunday, 7:30 a.m. ET

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – Had a very solid outing against Augsburg as his distribution was lauded. A poor defensive header led to Augsburg’s equalizer but Wolfsburg got a late winner to climb to sixth as they push for Europa League qualification. Brooks will come up against Erling Haaland and this will be a big ask for the German-American center back.

Matchweek 27: v. Dortmund, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen – Jumped off the bench in the second half as Bremen were hammered at home by Bayer Leverkusen. There’s no shame in that because Bayer are superb. Bremen create a lot of chances and if Sargent is on the pitch, you’d fancy him to score.

Matchweek 27: @ Freiburg, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET

Timothy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt – It doesn’t get much tougher than this for Frankfurt. Chandler came off the bench late on in their defeat at home against Monchengladbach and given their defensive display last week, he should start probably at right back this weekend.

Matchweek 27: @ Bayern Munich, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET

Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf – Came off the bench in the second half of their draw against Paderborn at home, as they hit the woodwork multiple times but couldn’t break through. Morales and Fortuna need wins to get out of the relegation playoff spot.

Matchweek 27: @ Cologne, Sunday, 12 p.m. ET

Fabian Johnson, Zack Steffen: Did not feature in Week 26. Fortuna’s Steffen is recovering for a knee injury. Johnson was not in Monchengladbach’s squad.

Rough day for USMNT players as the Bundesliga resumes

Doug McIntyreYahoo Sports•May 16, 2020

The Bundesliga’s return to action on Saturday was celebrated by sports fans who have been cooped up for last two-plus months because of the coronavirus pandemic.But for some German-based members of the United States men’s national team, the day was mostly one to forget. Here’s a look at how the nine of the 10 Americans on Bundesliga rosters — Josh Sargent and Werder Bremen face Bayer Leverkusen on Monday — fared as play resumed.

M Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund

Saturday’s Revierderby against local rival Schalke was supposed to mark the first Bundesliga start for Reyna, the 17-year-old son of two-time U.S. World Cup captain Claudio Reyna and former U.S. women’s national team winger Danielle Egan.Instead, the prodigy picked up an undisclosed injury during warmups and was replaced in manager Lucien Favre’s lineup by Thorgan Hazard, who scored in Dortmund’s 4-0 win before he too limped off the field in the second half.It’s too early to know how long Reyna might be sidelined. What’s clear is this wasn’t the way Reyna wanted (re)opening day to go. The news seemed to set the tone for the rest of the day.  An injury sustained in warmups prevented 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna from making his first Bundesliga start.

M Weston McKennie, Schalke

The hard-running Texan made his seventeenth start of the season on Saturday, sliding into his preferred defensive role in central midfield. However, despite his best efforts, McKennie could do little to prevent Dortmund’s high-octane attack from repeatedly carving through the heart of Schalke’s defense.Although he was in the vicinity for all four BVB goals, it’s hard to pin any of them on McKennie. Maybe he could’ve closed down Erling Haaland a little bit more quickly before the Norwegian teenage sensation set up Raphael Guerreiro for the game’s final tally. Let’s be real, though: at that late stage, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome either way.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig

The 20-year-old might have been the bight spot by default. After missing much of the last year with lingering groin and toe issues, Adams made just his sixth league start of the season, going 68 minutes at right wing back and producing two near-misses offensively in a 1-1 tie with Freiburg.

D John Brooks, Wolfsburg

Things were going just fine for Wolfsburg, up 1-0 coming out of the dressing room at halftime at Augsburg. That changed shortly after the intermission, when the rangy center back Brooks jumped high to clear a corner kick and inadvertently directed the ball straight at his own goalkeeper, Koen Casteels, instead.Casteels did enough to parry the deflection off the underside of the crossbar, but Augsburg defender Tin Jedvaj reacted quickly enough to nod the bouncing ball home and erase Wolfsburg’s lead. Brooks wasn’t charged with an own goal, but it was his mistake nonetheless.Fortunately for Brooks, second-half sub Daniel Ginczek bailed out the visitors with a 90th-minute game-winner.

M/F Ulysses Llanez, Wolfsburg

The 19-year-old attacker was promoted to Wolfsburg’s first team a month ago, not long after his star turn for the USMNT in a February friendly win over Costa Rica.That move prompted speculation that Llanez could make his senior debut on Saturday. In the lead-up to the game, though, coach Oliver Glasner indicated that the youngster isn’t quite ready for primetime. “We’re doing the lad no favors if we immediately throw him into cold water,” Glasner said.Llanez’s next chance will come when Wolfsburg hosts Dortmund on May 23.

M Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf

Morales had been a starter for most of the season before losing his place in mid-February, just two games before the Bundesliga began its hiatus. The recently-turned 30-year-old — he celebrated his birthday May 12 — resumed that reserve role on Saturday, playing the final 22 minutes of Fortuna’s scoreless draw with fellow relegation candidate Paderborn.

G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf

After injuring his knee in training late last month, it was no surprise that Steffen, 25 years old and the USA’s No. 1 goalkeeper, wasn’t between the sticks (or even on the bench) for Saturday’s clash.

M Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt

Despite starting nine of Frankfurt’s last 10 games before the COVID-19 suspension, Chandler had to settle for a supporting role in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Borussia Monchengladbacch.  While the hosts did score their only goal after Chandler entered the match, he failed to make any real impact during his 18 minutes on the field.

D/M Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach

The 32-year-old 2014 World Cup standout has been limited to just three starts for Gladbach this season, in part because of injury. That was the case again on Saturday, with Johnson unavailable because of an undisclosed muscle problem.

Sources: MLS Orlando tournament taking shape with four groups

Jeff Carlisle S. soccer correspondent ESPNFC

The Athletic was the first to report the new details, with sources confirming that the situation remains fluid and that many details haven’t been finalized. Both the league and the MLS Players Association (MLSPA) would also need to agree on the tournament’s details in order for it to be played. At one point, the plan for the league’s teams was to head to Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports some time during the first week in June, with the teams using much of that month to get back in game shape. (ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Co.) Games would then commence about a month later.But sources told ESPN that with just 10 days remaining until a possible travel day for players and staff, there is a sense that it might be mid-June before all of the teams could arrive in Orlando. Once in Florida, the teams would be tested regularly and be quarantined.

Sources confirmed The Athletic’s report that there would be three groups of six teams and a last group of eight, giving teams a minimum of five games each. The top two teams in each group which would advance to the knockout round. Supporters Shield holders LAFC, reigning MLS Cup champions the Seattle Sounders FC, last year’s U.S. Open Cup winners Atlanta United FC, and hometown team Orlando City SC would hold the top seeds in each group. Toronto FC would also be a seeded team in the eight-team group. Nashville SC would take up residence in the Eastern Conference, accounting for the unbalanced groups. Group stage games would count in the league standings, but the knockout games wouldn’t.In terms of the league’s plans for after the tournament, one possibility is to schedule 18 regular season games with only intra-conference matchups, with nine teams from each conference qualifying for the playoffs. Similar to the mini-tournament, Nashville would be in the Eastern Conference.But the Orlando portion of the plan is meeting with resistance from the players, who are balking at being separated from families for upwards of 10 weeks while also existing in quarantine conditions, all while hotel staff will be able to come and go as the wish, creating a vulnerability within the MLS “bubble.” At minimum, there are plenty of questions that will have to be answered before the players agree to head to Orlando.”I would start off by saying that I think every one of us agree that we want to get back to playing,” Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya told ESPN’s Taylor Twellman. “I want to get back out there, being competitive, [playing] games. The staff wants to be out there, fans want to be watching games, but I will say that this all feels a little bit rushed.”Bedoya later added, “I think the players are taking all the risks by going down [to Orlando], being isolated, it’s a strong term to say, but it’s like being in a luxurious prison.”ESPN has previously reported that MLSPA has sent a counterproposal to the league regarding player salaries for the 2020 season, with the union confirming that the amount of economic relief would exceed $100 million.

Utah Royals to host summer NWSL tournament as league makes plans for return to play

By Alex Vejar

All nine National Women’s Soccer League teams will play a tournament this summer in Real Salt Lake venues, the Salt Lake Tribune has confirmed.

The tournament, first reported by The Washington Post, could be officially announced before the end of the week. The NWSL would be one of the first professional sports league to announce a return to play after COVID-19 shut practically everything down in mid-March.The tournament will go from June 29 to around July 22 and be played at Rio Tinto Stadium and Zions Bank Stadium in Sandy and Herriman, respectively. Rio Tinto is home to RSL and the Utah Royals FC, while Zions Bank Stadium is where the Real Monarchs play their home games.The plan is for the first three games to occur at Zions Bank Stadium, while the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament will be at Rio Tinto, per a source with knowledge of the plan. The source requested anonymity to discuss details not yet announced.Testing for COVID-19 will be “regular,” but the exactly frequency is yet to be determined. Players and staff won’t be quarantined, but will have restrictions on what they do off the field.Teams will stay in the dormitories near RSL’s training facility and at some hotels. Training sessions will be held mainly at the Herriman facility, with some at America First Field, where the Royals practice.The OL Reign, Sky Blue FC and Chicago Red Stars are slated to arrive in In Utah on Monday or Tuesday of next week.Whether spectators will be allowed is still to be determined. The hope is a small, possibly previously selected group of fans can attend to start, with numbers growing as restrictions in the state continue to lift. Most of Utah is currently under “yellow” risk level, but certain cities, like Salt Lake, are still in “orange.”Games will be broadcast on one of the many CBS platforms per the new deal between the network and the NWSL.

Internet issues and doorbell distractions: The challenge of calling ‘ghost games’ from home

May 20, 2020   Ian DarkeESPN.com writer

When the Bundesliga resumed last weekend, it was not just players, coaches and officials dealing with “the new normal” brought about by the coronavirus. Commentators also faced doing their job with the prospect of new problems; barking dogs and noisy toddlers might not realise someone is trying to do live coverage of Bayern Munich in the next room.Men and women behind the microphone, as well as producers and various technical staff, are having to work from home because of restricted access to the sanitised stadiums of the Bundesliga as well as TV studios. And so, live from my office in southern England, I described the scenes for BT Sport viewers as Hoffenheim lost 3-0 at home to Hertha Berlin. In the days leading up to the game, it felt as if enough electrical equipment to build the International Space Station was delivered to my home. With the help of a masked engineer operating at a safe distance, it was lashed together, but please do not ask me how it works.This technical wizardry left my office looking rather like the flight deck of a 747 preparing for takeoff. Armed with a set of instructions about which buttons to push and when, I was linked to the studios of BT Sport in East London as well as to producer Jayne Dinnin, who was also working from home and wearing her fluffy carpet slippers.I should say that, even pre-pandemic, it was not totally uncommon for commentators to broadcast games using TV pictures — we call it working “off tube” in the trade — but usually that takes place in a soundproof booth. Calling a game from home, though? That was a new one on me. I doubted it could even be done, but thanks to some very clever technicians, pictures from a stadium more than 500 miles away were beamed into my house.There was one snag: No matter how sophisticated the kit you are using might be, there is dependence on the strength of a broadband signal. Any weakness can lead to the picture freezing at a vital moment, which happened to me in the second half from Hoffenheim.Robert Skov was about to take a corner for the home team when the picture froze and the next thing I saw was Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein with the ball in his hands. What happened in those missing 20 seconds will remain one of life’s mysteries.

My colleague Paul Dempsey had an even better story as he commentated on Borussia Dortmund‘s 4-0 win against Schalke from his living room. During the first half, a delivery man from the local supermarket kept banging on his front door. How was he to know — or care — that Erling Haaland was about to open the scoring?How else did this experience compare with a commentator’s usual routine?For a start, there is no travel involved, which is not the worst thing if you are avoiding traffic jams, delayed trains and endless checks at airports. And sitting at home also means there is warmth and plenty of available refreshments, which is not always the case when you are stuck on a lofty, cold gantry at Everton or Watford. That is where the good news ends, though.

Covering a match in an empty stadium with no atmosphere — Geisterspiele, as Germans call these “ghost games” — is the biggest difference. However good the entertainment might be, the event feels like a reserve game. German viewers have the option of watching with added sound effects and that is worth a try to pump up the feel of it all.Then there are the small things that can prove vital in this job, but are denied by not being at a ground. For example, there is no chance for a bit of banter and swapping information with colleagues in the media room over a cup of tea and a bite to eat.Nor can we go to that privileged spot inside the tunnel where you might get the chance to check a snippet of vital late team news; think of the Ronaldo drama when he was out of — then back in — the Brazil team before the 1998 World Cup final. You might also get to learn a team’s tactical formation, though Jose Mourinho told me once: “You will work it out for yourself.”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).Remembering that 90% of a commentator’s job is identifying the players, another vital tool lost in lockdown is the chance to watch players warm up. At the ground, you can look through binoculars to check on anyone who might be unfamiliar.Hand on heart, I had not seen a lot of Hoffenheim and Hertha this season. It meant that, despite watching a few tapes ahead of their meeting, calling the game with those occasional picture freezes was one of my toughest assignments. I think we got away with it, though, and responses from viewers were kind. They understand there might be glitches in these troubled times, but most were glad just to have some proper football to watch.ut home-produced commentaries? They will never catch on, even if the commentator can be mowing the lawn five minutes after the game.I will do it all again on Sunday when title-chasing RB Leipzig play Mainz. Wish me luck.

For MLS’s new youth league, cooperation a critical component | Charles Boehm

May 14, 20201:32PM EDT

Charles BoehmNational Writer

If you read Wednesday’s announcement of founding members and other details of MLS’s new elite player development platform carefully, a distinct theme emerges.Need a hint? Consider this word cloud from the release: Collaboration. Collaborative. Co-create. Conversations. Collaborate. Alongside. Inclusive.With a centralized professional league like MLS standing up this new national competition as the successor to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, a project of the U.S. Soccer Federation, it might sound counter-intuitive that members will have more input and a greater voice. But that’s exactly what the non-MLS clubs involved are saying loud and clear.Did I say “non-MLS”? Scratch that – the preferred term is “elite academies,” another example of the consciously inclusive mindset at work.“We all felt that this is a step forward, for the simple reason that the USSDA was run by the federation. This is run by professional clubs, like in the rest of the world,” said Roberto Lopez, academy director at respected Florida youth club Clearwater Chargers and a former U.S. Soccer staff member, in a conference call with media on Wednesday.“Most important, we strongly feel that we’re partners. Every meeting we have with MLS, they emphasize the need for us to bring to the table our needs. They want our experience at our level, they want to know how to go about doing things. It’s very, very inclusive and we have a seat at the table. And that’s why I feel that this is a major, historical step forward.”Fueled by the coronavirus outbreak and a range of other factors, the collapse of the Development Academy unfolded along a startlingly short timeline last month, moving from hot rumor to official announcement in under a week’s time. That left many member clubs in the dark and unsure of the future, a particularly uncomfortable situation in the midst of a global viral pandemic that’s severely destabilized both the professional and youth landscapes.So openness and stability were paramount concerns as MLS went about conceiving its new youth platform, explained Fred Lipka, the league’s Technical Director of Youth Development. That means many of the DA’s existing standards and principles will carry over, at least in the first season or two, while consultation continues on longer-term improvement and evolution.“We had to find an environment that was going to be equal to or greater than what was the Development Academy. And I think if you look out in the landscape, there really wasn’t a current league or platform that met our requirements,” said Jeffrey Saunders, sporting director at historic New York club Metropolitan Oval, an affiliate of NYCFC that’s groomed Justin Haak and a long list of other future professional players over the years.“We worked in conjunction with the MLS leadership over the last four or five weeks to craft what a league could look like and what would be the best design to meet the goals of MLS and non-MLS clubs, as well as youth players as well as elite clubs. … in a way, we’ve created a bespoke professional player pathway that will facilitate quality and quantity of professional player development.”

Perhaps inevitably given it was a federation undertaking, the DA took on a top-down character over most of its 13 years of existence. That said, it’s widely agreed to have moved the North American game forward and leaves a positive legacy for its successors to build upon.“I personally felt that it gave us the standards that we needed at the time to allow us to compete on a higher level with international teams, to develop our players,” said Lopez. “Simple things like a requirement of coaching licenses, 10-month seasons, training four times a week, not playing more than one game a day – I think that took us to another level. And I think, in my opinion, within a very short time the results were evident. And now, with this new platform coming up, I think this is going to take us a step further on what the USSDA had done.”A perceived rift between professional and youth member clubs reportedly complicated the running of the DA in its final years. But the tenor has changed dramatically among those involved in the working groups that laid the groundwork for MLS’s new project. It’s believed clearer communication and a collaborative mentality can break down barriers and misunderstandings of the past.“There was a lack of trust with elite academies,” Mickey Kydes, technical director at Connecticut club Beachside Soccer and an MLS player in the league’s 1996 inaugural season, told MLSsoccer.com. “There was a lack of trust and the first thing we said to [MLS] was, if we don’t collaborate and we don’t have a voice at the table, we can’t go forward with this.“But I can tell you right now, it’s pretty impressive. I’ve never been part of anything like this where we’re actually sharing ideas and giving feedback back and forth and working together. It’s not like they’ve come in and said ‘we need this, this and this, and you have to do this, this and this.’ It’s really different. It’s really discussions and conversations that are on a different level that I’ve never experienced in my 45 years in this country.”As Sporting Kansas City manager and sporting director Peter Vermes pointed out, no one has invested more time and money into youth development in recent years than MLS and its clubs, and the league taking a more active leadership role may serve to clarify the big-picture goals of domestic player production.“It’s been made very clear by MLS leadership that they wanted to take a fresh approach to not just the structure of a youth platform, but also the execution of it and the philosophy or ethos of it,” said Saunders. “Both elite academies like Metropolitan Oval and MLS understand that without collaboration, we can’t achieve our mutual goals.“It’s the old adage: We’re looking for one plus one equals three. Together, we’re far more powerful, and can have a much greater effect on youth development in this country than we would separately.”

Total of 95 clubs join forces as part of MLS’s elite player development platform

May 13, 20202:24PM EDT

MLSsoccer staff

It’s a new era for soccer development in North America.A total of 65 elite academy clubs which formerly participated in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy will join MLS’s existing club academies as part of a new elite player development platform that is set to transform youth player development in the United States and Canada.The 95 clubs become founding members of the new platform which will include more than 8,000 players throughout the U.S. and Canada and will consist of elite year-round competition, as well as player identification initiatives, coaching education opportunities, and additional programming to create the premier player development environment.The platform will operate with a groundbreaking governance structure that promotes collaboration, innovation and input across all areas of the soccer landscape. Within the structure, technical working groups will provide recommendations on the platform’s strategic objectives and standards, outline competition guidelines and formats, as well as introduce platform programming. By unifying the elite player development landscape and creating a collaborative structure, the new platform will accelerate and enhance player development in North America.Applications for additional clubs to join will be available in the coming weeks. More information about the competition structure as well as the platform’s official brand will be announced at a later date.With a focus on maximizing each player’s potential, the new development platform will not only provide high-level, year-round competition for players, but will provide important programming, education and innovation in the key areas of player development:

  • Player Identification
  • Coaching
  • Environment
  • Personal Growth
  • Community Outreach

“There is strong positive momentum and excitement among MLS club academies and elite academy clubs to co-create a platform that will deliver an unparalleled experience for the nation’s top players and clubs,” said Fred Lipka, VP and Technical Director of MLS Player Development. “The development of professional and elite players requires a comprehensive and integrated approach, beyond just the competition format, and we are having daily conversations with academy clubs across the country who are committed to building that environment with us.”Since launching the MLS club academy initiative in 2007, Major League Soccer has demonstrated unprecedented commitment to the development of top level professional players in the United States and Canada, including an investment of more than $70 million last season alone. This investment has produced more than 250 homegrown players that have become professional and national team players, including recent standout players such as Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas, Solar Soccer Club), James Sands (New York City FC academy, New York Soccer Club) and Matt Real (Philadelphia Union, FC Delco).The elite academy clubs that are Founding Members of the new platform have also been leaders in the development of players for college, MLS and the national teams. Combined, MLS Academies and the elite academies joining the platform have produced more than 90 percent of the U.S. Youth National Team players in the last year, making the new platform the top destination for the best young players in North America.With the launch of this new platform, MLS and the elite academy clubs will not only continue to develop world class players but will create a world class soccer development culture that supports and inspires elite players throughout the countries.“The Sockers FC Chicago organization is excited about this great opportunity to collaborate with MLS, in the development of this new competition platform,” said David Richardson, Sockers FC Chicago Technical Director. “In our soccer communities we feel that our work as leaders of Elite Academies alongside the leaders of MLS Academies will help to shape a world-class soccer culture in our country. This will be a benefit to all that play, coach, referee, and support our game from the grassroots to the professional level.”“Major League Soccer’s inclusive approach to the greater soccer market is the most exciting aspect of this movement,” said Ryan Miller, Portland Timbers Academy Director. “This new competition will continue to provide a platform for the top player development clubs in the country to get the most meaningful games. Elite player development requires the highest level of competition and this platform will provide that.”

Will the Pandemic Crash the National Women’s Soccer League?

With interest at a peak following the World Cup, the NWSL seemed poised to finally make a leap—until COVID-19 stopped the 2020 season before it could begin.


Emily Menges likes to move. Before games, the Portland Thorns FC defender generally strolls around town, stopping at a farmers’ market (“So Portland,” she says. “I know.”) before heading to Providence Park to warm up. So on Saturday, April 18, which should have been the Thorns’ National Women’s Soccer League season opener—broadcast on CBS All-Access—she awoke with a pit in her stomach. The game had long been canceled. So had the farmers’ market.Menges just hopes this break, caused by the pandemic, doesn’t become permanent. “I do worry,” she says. “Every player knows how precarious this league is. It is scary to think about.”She is right to be concerned. Since its 2013 launch, the NWSL has faced a central paradox: Despite featuring beloved World Cup heroes, the league has failed to attract widespread notice. This season, though, it finally seemed poised for a breakthrough: Stars like Megan RapinoeAlex MorganCarli Lloyd and Rose Lavelle have reached new heights of celebrity—and the media was catching up. On March 11, the NWSL announced a landmark deal with CBS that, for the first time, would air games on network TV. Just a few hours later, though, Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA shut down. The NWSL followed, wiping away not only Menges’s season opener in Portland, but that day’s CBS headliner, between Lavelle’s Washington Spirit and Rapinoe’s OL Reign.While all U.S. professional sports leagues face challenges—the pandemic has already shuttered the XFL—few run on quite the same shoestring as the NWSL. The league does not divulge revenue, but its minimum salary this year is $20,000. In the WNBA, it’s $57,000. In the NFL, it’s $510,000. For players, the travel is commercial and the perks nonexistent: Some teams work out not in state-of-the-art complexes, but local gyms.U.S. Soccer, the national governing body, helps keep the NWSL afloat by paying club salary and benefits for the 23 players on the national team—$1.4 million last year—and providing other management services, which included $843,000 of administrative expenses last year, according to an internal audit. Some people in women’s soccer have expressed concern over the status of that arrangement. In April, amid laying off and furloughing dozens of employees, U.S. Soccer applied and was approved for government relief via a Payroll Protection Program loan. This week, however, U.S. Soccer decided to return the loan. Asked whether its subsidy of the league could be imperiled, a spokesman for U.S. Soccer said, “Nothing has changed in terms of our financial support.”Amanda Duffy, the former NWSL president who is now executive vice president of the Orlando Pride, points out that the league is well-suited to survive, since it’s used to budgeting as if it can afford no extravagance. “The NWSL was going to be entering its eighth season of operating but is still very much in its infancy,” she says. “We haven’t moved out of that stage of making every single decision related to keeping the league in business.” Still, the league had moved forward with plans to grow its profile, in part by attracting more international stars with lucrative opportunities. The introduction of an allocation money system–akin to the one implemented in MLS, where an extra allotment of money can be used to spend beyond the salary cap on players whose salaries can exceed the league maximum–promised to lure some big names. One of them, France’s dynamic Kadidiatou Diani, was potentially headed from Paris Saint-Germain to Portland. But the pandemic and the logistical and medical concerns it has carried changed everything. Diani, 25, wound up re-signing with PSG through 2023 earlier this month.”Just didn’t make sense given all the variables of these times. Respect the decision and will see what happens in the future….” Thorns FC owner Merritt Paulson, who also cited Diani’s personal and family aspects, wrote on Twitter.The timing of all of this could scarcely be worse: Many Americans seem to care deeply about women’s soccer only when the U.S. women’s national team is playing in the World Cup or Olympics. Those are offset such that every four years, there is a World Cup one summer and an Olympics the next. Those 12 intervening months represent the best chance for professional women’s soccer to break through the public consciousness.People within the NWSL expected this to be the best stretch yet: Last July, the U.S. national team had defended its title at the World Cup in France with an average live audience of 82.18 million people for the final. NBC said it expected 200 million Americans to watch the Olympics. And last year’s NWSL attendance was up 21.8% per game over 2018, to an average of 7,337 fans. Seven of the nine teams drew franchise-record crowds.U.S. national team veteran Becky Sauerbrunn, traded from Utah to Portland in the off-season, was supposed to open 2020 with her new team on CBS All-Access as part of a new NWSL media deal.Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated However, they now face a foreseeable future without fans. Epidemiologists agree that it will likely be unsafe to gather large crowds until a coronavirus vaccine arrives—potentially more than a year from now. In the meantime, people familiar with the NWSL’s plans say clubs are split on whether the league can afford to stage contests in empty stadiums. Some teams, such as the Thorns and Utah Royals FC, which draw well, rely on gate revenue; others, such as the Houston Dash, were not expecting much in the way of ticket sales anyway. They might be able to forge an agreement if a sponsor is willing to eat some of the cost.The alternative might be worse: a season without games at all. And here is another place the NWSL faces a disadvantage. Even if the 2020 season is canceled entirely, Yankees fans are not going to forget that they are Yankees fans. Sky Blue FC fans might need some reminding.

“You’re going to lose the margins,” says Julie Foudy, the two-time World Cup winner and two-time Olympic gold medalist who now calls soccer for ESPN. “You’ve got to continue to keep [fans] emotionally engaged, to give them a reason they’re going to spend their limited resources [on the NWSL] when the games do open up.” Until then, the NWSL is trying to navigate a path forward. When President Donald Trump held a conference call with league commissioners in April, he notably left off NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird, but people familiar with the league’s plans say that the NWSL hopes to be among the first leagues to return to action. (Baird, through a representative, declined to be interviewed for this story.) Players have been asked by teams to return to their areas by May 16—a date that, as of press time, had not been changed—and have begun planning socially distanced workouts at their facilities: one player at a time, each with her own ball and cones, wiping down everything she touches afterward. Eventually they hope to progress to small-group training with coaches directing from the stands.“I think the league is going to do every single thing they possibly can do to stay open and have some kind of a season,” says Menges. And, she points out, the NWSL is not alone in its dashed plans. The coronavirus has also pushed back the Olympics. Maybe women’s soccer can sustain some of its momentum after all.

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5/15/2020 Pro Soccer Returns Germany Kicks off Sat on Fox, EPL looking at June Start, MLS in June maybe ? No word on Indy 11 or USL

It has certainly been an interesting 2 months without soccer – sorry but with no games to preview and being swamped at work – I gave the Ole Ballcoach a break.  Good to be back though !  Of course lots has happened from the cancelation of seasons – see the French and Dutch leagues, to postponements (everyone else) things have been interesting.  Here in the US MLS, the NWSL and USL have all gone on hold like all sports in the country.  Interesting to see MLS might return with some sort of tourney set up in mid June from Disney perhaps – possibly making them the first pro league to return to play.  While I do want them to do this safely – I do think if MLS could get a 1 or 2 week headstart on everyone else – it could do the league good being the only games on TV could certainly help – although not having fans in the stands might not properly display the pageantry and beauty of MLS soccer – especially in places like Seattle, Portland, LA, and Atlanta.  I for one am hopeful our Indy 11 can return in some form – good to see they plan to play games out at the Luke somehow.  Interest US news as the USWNT is appealing the their unequal pay ruling and both Alex Morgan and Hope Solo had kids this month.  (See full US update below)

German Soccer Returns  

Ok soccer fans so Soccer/futbol is back, at least partially, with the return of the German Bundesliga this weekend.  Of course Germany has the most US players on rosters of any other overseas league so now is a good time to pick your favorite German team based on which ones have American’s of course 😊.   Long time US favorite Dortmund – currently 2nd in the table – is probably the one team that many US Soccer fans may recognize (other than the powerhouse NY Yankees of German soccer Bayern Munich).   Dortmund of course had US Starlet midfielderChristian Pulisic make his debut a few seasons back as a 16 year-old star in the making.  Now Gio Reyna has taken that slot and at just a little younger age has made his way into games off the bench in the midfield as well.  Contributing the assist on a goal that helped Dortmund win a Champions League game a couple months back.  Dortmund will host Schalke in their derby this Saturday at 9:30 am on Fox Sport 1 and they face US mid Aaron McKinney.  Set up 2 TVs as RB Leipzig and US Tyler Adams who sit 3rd in the table will be on hosting Freiburg on Fox Sports 2 and TUDN.  Sunday gives us German teams with no American’s playing – Koln vs Mainz at 9:30 am on FS1, and Union Berlin- the little team that could vs Bayern Munich at 12:30 on FS1.  Monday we get Werder Bremen and hopefully American forward Josh Stewart at least as a sub vs Bayern Leverkusen on FS2 and Fox Desportes at 2:30 pm.

Interesting Things During our Downtime

Here’s Arlo White in this great Global Isolation Sensation from Early April,  Arlo White calling a header training at home.  Here’s Arlo’s Call as Leicester City became the biggest underdawg Champion back on May 2, 2016


Sat, May 16   (Americans in Parathensis)

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Schalke (Aaron Mckinney)

9:30 am FS 2, TUDN, FuboTV          RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams) vs Freiburg

12:30 p.m. ET: FS1                           Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler) vs Borrusia M’gladbach (Johnson) 

Sun, May 17   

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Koln vs Mainz 05

12:30 pm FS1                                    Union Berlin vs Bayern Munich

Sun, May 17   

2:30 pm FS 2, Fox Desp                   Werder Bremen (Josh Stewart) vs Bayern Leverkusen

Sat, May 23   

9:30 am Fox Sport1                          Wolfsburg (John Brooks) vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

12:30 FS1                                           Bayer Munich vs Frankfurt (Timmy Chandler)

Sun, May 24   

7:30 am Fox Sport 1                         Schalke (Aaron Mckinney) vs Ausburg

9:30 am FS 1, FuboTV, Fox desp     Mainz vs RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams)

12:30 pm FS1                                    Koln vs Fortuna Dusseldorf

Mon, May 25   

2:30 pm FS 2                                     Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Bayern Munich

2:30 pm FS 2, TUDN, FuboTV          RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams) vs Hertha


Saturday, May 16

9:30 a.m.: Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04 (FS1, Fox Deportes); RB Leipzig vs Freiburg (FS2, TUDN); Augsburg vs. VfL Wolfsburg (Fox Soccer Plus); Fortuna Düsseldorf vs. Paderborn; TSG Hoffenheim vs. Hertha Berlin (Fox Deportes tape-delayed at 11:30 a.m.)

12:30 p.m.: Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (FS1, TUDN)

Sunday, May 17

9:30 a.m.: Köln vs. Mainz (FS1, Fox Deportes)

Noon: Union Berlin vs. Bayern Munich (FS1, UniMás, TUDN)

Monday, May 18

2:30 p.m.: Werder Bremen vs. Bayer Leverkusen (FS2, Fox Deportes)

 MLS + Indy 11

Indy 11 plan to play in Lucas Oil – with or without fans – Indy Star

MLS Could Return Sooner than other US Sports with Orlando Based Tourney in June – LA Times

MLS proposing all 26 teams come to Orlando to resume season this summer

MLS, NWSL resisting short-term benefits of making soccer first American sport to restart

Indy 11 Cam Lindley and Carleton at same Career Stage


German Bundelisga First to Return to Live Play

How to Watch Bundesliga  Return, American players to watch and what you need to know – Jonathan Tannewald Philly Inquirer

Bundesliga’s return is exciting, but it also stands upon the edge of a knife Leander Schaerlaeckens

Which American’s to Root For at German Bundelisga Starts Up – s&S

US Players in Promotion/Relegation Battles at German Clubs -SS

Bundesliga Games This Weekend

German Bundesliga returns: Bayern’s title fight, must-see matches and players to watch ESPNFC

Lewandowski urges Haaland to stay in Bundesliga amid Real Madrid rumours

The Bundesliga is back, so can Dortmund catch Bayern?


Chelsea chance too good for Pulisic to turn down as USMNT star  Goal.com

Morris is managing his diabetes in the face of coronavirus pandemic

USMNT’s road to World Cup: The players who should join Berhalter’s core

US Youngster Uly Llanez is the bright spot 2020 needs

ESPN Top Soccer Moments – ESPNFC

Alex Morgan gives birth to baby girl, aims to become fifth mom to make U.S. Olympic soccer team

·        Alex Morgan has Baby Girl – SI

·        Hope Solo Gives Birth to Twins

US women’s national team files appeal after legal setback

USWNT file motion to appeal in equal pay fight

Key Issues in the US Womens Team vs US Soccer Case – SI

Times For US Ladies to Get the Respect and Equal Pay they Deserve – SocTakes
World Cup winner Ellis perfect for England – ‘and pay her same as Southgate’


From Empty Stadiums to Red Cards for Spitting – New Rules in the Game
Rule change allows five substitutions per team; VAR can be stopped

Five substitutions are now allowed to be made by each team during a game, as IFAB ratifies temporary rule change to help with coronavirus pandemic impact.

Soccer-Inter director says Serie A risks not finishing due to coronavirus
A letter from Quarantine – Rather Touching

Simeone anticipated tough spell but happy Atletico stayed patient
Van Basten: Those who think Ronaldo’s better than Messi know nothing about football

GK Training Sessions during Quarantine

Goalkeepers:  3 Tips for Young Goalkeepers

GKs –  GK At-home activities

Bundesliga Table

Bayern Munich 25 17 4 4 +47 55
Borussia Dortmund 25 15 6 4 +35 51
RB Leipzig 25 14 8 3 +36 50
Borussia Monchengladbach 25 15 4 6 +19 49
Bayer Leverkusen 25 14 5 6 +15 47
Schalke 04 25 9 10 6 -3 37
VfL Wolfsburg 25 9 9 7 +4 36
SC Freiburg 25 10 6 9 -1 36
TSG Hoffenheim 25 10 5 10 -8 35
FC Cologne 25 10 2 13 -6 32
FC Union Berlin 25 9 3 13 -9 30
Eintracht Frankfurt 24 8 4 12 -3 28
Hertha Berlin 25 7 7 11 -16 28
FC Augsburg 25 7 6 12 -16 27
Mainz 25 8 2 15 -19 26
Fortuna Düsseldorf 25 5 7 13 -23 22
Werder Bremen 24 4 6 14 -28 18
SC Paderborn 07 25 4 4 17 -24 16

With or without fans, Indy Eleven still plan for season at Lucas Oil Stadium

David Woods  -Indianapolis Star

INDIANAPOLIS – Despite the pandemic, the Indy Eleven plan to keep their training base at Grand Park and home games at Lucas Oil Stadium. But when the United Soccer League season begins, there is no certainty fans will be allowed into the 67,000-seat football stadium.Greg Stremlaw, president and CEO of Indy Eleven, declined an IndyStar interview request but agreed to reply to submitted questions. One question was about financial ramifications of playing without fans.“While our preference is always to have our full fan base in attendance, as mentioned, different formats and scenarios are being modeled out, all of which we will be prepared to facilitate for our matches,” Stremlaw said in a statement.Last year the USL and ESPN agreed to a three-year deal paying the league about $1 million a year. But USL clubs rely more on attendance than those in Major League Soccer. According to The Athletic, top USL clubs can make more than $200,000 per game across 17 home matches, representing their largest revenue source.Stremlaw said there are no plans to move games to IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, where the Eleven played from their inaugural 2014 season through 2017.USL clubs were allowed to resume non-contact training in small groups this week. Such groups are limited to up to four players, with no more than one athletic trainer and one coach allowed on each field during a session.Protocols and clearances for full training are not available yet, Stremlaw said. According to the governor’s reopening policies, Grand Park will be available May 24. The 400-acre sports park is in Westfield.USL is still aiming for a complete season.“While a complete season remains the preferred outcome of any return to play scenario, a variety of alternative competitive formats are also being explored as the USL and Indy Eleven continue to prioritize the health and wellness of everyone involved,” Stremlaw said.Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at david.woods@indystar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: It’s good to be back

At least we hope it is. By jcksnftsn  May 15, 2020, 9:02am PDT

Welcome back! After an extended layoff due to obvious reasons, the Bundesliga is back this weekend with games Saturday through Monday, including a number of games that could feature United States internationals in action. After a full two month layoff, it’s difficult at best to get a good handle on how all the players stand with their clubs, but the good news is that everyone playing in Germany should be healthy and ready to participate.


Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04 – 9:30a on FS1 (as always, all times listed are Eastern – do the math)

The Revierderby could once again feature Americans on each side, as Weston McKennie and Schalke take on Giovanni Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund. McKennie’s Schalke side were struggling prior to the break, going winless in their past seven matches. They currently sit in 6th place, one point ahead of Wolfsburg and Freiburg for the Europa League qualifying spot. McKennie has been a regular starter for Schalke when healthy, and he is in line for a full slate Saturday as well.

It’s a rivalry match, but it’s one without momentum, so certainly expect the unexpected. Still, Schalke will have their work cut out for them as they face a second place Dortmund side. Giovanni Reyna was consistently had seen minutes in every match since joining the senior side and that seems likely to continue, particularly now that teams will have five subs at their disposal and a compressed calendar that could lead to the young man’s first start before too long.

RB Leipzig v Freiburg – 9:30a on FS2

Get your second screen ready as well Saturday morning as Tyler Adams and third place RB Leipzig will be facing SC Freiburg, kicking off at the same time. Adams had been having a bit of trouble working himself back into the team after a long layoff, so it’s possible the two month break has actually helped him. Third place Leipzig currently sit five points behind first place Bayern Munich and just three points ahead of fifth place Bayer Leverkusen and a slip down the stretch of this resumed season would see them miss out on the Champions League.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Mönchengladbach – 12:30p on FS1

Back in March, we might have made some sort of wisecrack about Timothy Chandler and Fabian Johnson. But at this point, we’re so happy to have any soccer back, we’ll take anything and everything we can get our grubby little hands on. It’s quite possible that neither player will appear, but we better watch every second just to make sure. Fabian Johnson and ‘Gladbach are currently in fourth place, two points ahead of Leverkusen, while Timothy Chandler and Frankfurt have just 28 points (though one fewer match played) which has them all the way down in 12th place, just six points clear of the relegation scrum.


Feel free to catch both of the Bundesliga games on Sunday, but neither one features USMNT representation so we’ll be moving right along to…


Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen – 2:30p on FS2

Josh Sargent’s usage by Werder Bremen was a bit all over the place prior to the unplanned break, but he did manage to pick up a goal in the team’s last game, a 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin. Bremen is going to need more from Sargent, and more positive results down the stretch if they’re to avoid relegation. Currently the team has just 18 points through 24 games and sit four points behind Zach Steffen’s Fortuna Düsseldorf for the relegation playoff spot, which would give them a bit of hope. In order to truly reach safety, they would have to catch Mainz 05, who currently have an eight point advantage.

So what are you watching this weekend, other than everything? Let us know in the comments below and welcome back everyone.

Which Americans can you watch in the Bundesliga?

A guide for the new, and a refresher for the veterans.By Donald Wine II@blazindw  May 8, 2020, 6:02am PDT

The Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 season will resume from May 16th. In both leagues, the season will continue with the 26th matchday. The other matchdays will follow in the order originally scheduled.Because the leagues are coming back at a time where most major sports are still sidelined, there is renewed interest in the league among diehard soccer fans, and new fans are beginning to research the league to find a team to latch onto for the next couple of months.As many diehard fans know, the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga have several American players that call it home, including quite a few of the young core of the United States Men’s National Team. Whether you’re looking for a team to call your own or you’re just excited to see live soccer once again, checking out the matches involving teams with American players is always a great idea.So, which American play in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga? Here’s the running tally of players that are on a German first team or youth team:


Borussia Dortmund – Gio Reyna

RB Leipzig – Tyler Adams

Bayern Munich – Chris Richards (youth team)

Schalke – Weston McKennie, Nick Taitague (youth team)

Werder Bremen – Josh Sargent

Wolfsburg – John Brooks, Ulysses Llanez, Michael Edwards (youth team)

Fortuna Düsseldorf – Zack Steffen, Alfredo Morales

Borussia Mönchengladbach – Fabian Johnson

Eintracht Frankfurt – Timothy Chandler

Union Berlin – Malick Sanogo (youth team)

1.FC Köln – Brady Scott

Hoffenheim – Royal-Dominique Fennell (reserve team)

  1. Bundesliga

Hamburg – Bobby Wood

Greuther Fürth – Julian Green, Timothy Tillman

Jahn Regensburg – Jann-Christopher George

St. Pauli – Kevin Lankford

Osnabrück – Marc Heider

Hannover – Sebastian Soto

At least 18 teams in Germany have at least 1 American player that you can root for when the leagues resume Saturday. You have a week to figure it out. Which teams (and players) will you keep your eye on when the leagues resume? Hit the comments and let us know which teams have drawn your interest!

Inside Giovanni Reyna’s life at Dortmund: Son of Captain America on wild goals, hanging with Haaland and shrinking his laundry

10:43 AM ETTom HamiltonSenior Writer

Giovanni Reyna has a pile of match jerseys neatly stacked in one of the unpacked cardboard boxes in his new apartment, located roughly 15 minutes from Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park home in Germany.”There have been a lot of firsts for me,” he says. He has the Borussia Dortmund jersey from the first time he was included in a matchday squad, then another from his debut. There’s a shirt to mark his first goal and another from his first Champions League game.”There have been cool little milestones I’ve hit so far.” He swapped another jersey for Kylian Mbappe’s shirt when Dortmund took on PSG in the Champions League round of 16. “That was pretty amazing.”

All of these events took place in the past four months, but it’s no fluke. He arrived at Dortmund as a young, promising American forward in July 2019. It came with echoes of the past. His dad, Claudio Reyna, won 112 caps for the U.S. and played in the Bundesliga from 1994-99. Dortmund had just bid farewell to their beloved American Christian Pulisic. Their narratives are intertwined, but Gio is forging his own path.

Pulisic scored his first Dortmund goal at 17 years and 212 days old. Gio was 17 years and 83 days when he opened his account for Dortmund. It was no ordinary goal. Having made three appearances for Dortmund in the Bundesliga from the bench, he was thrown into their DFB Cup game against Werder Bremen on Feb. 4 as a 66th minute substitution for Dan-Axel Zagadou. Twelve minutes later he received a pass from Julian Brandt 20 yards from goal, took the ball through two Werder defenders, cut inside the third, opened his body and curled it into the top right-hand corner. It was outrageous.

“Gio Reyna is officially here” announced Borussia’s Twitter account. But there was no chance of the young American getting carried away. “My first thoughts were, ‘We have to get the ball’ and go score another as we were 3-2 down. The goal was great, and people say to me, I may not score a goal like that in the rest of my career … but it was just instinct.”The last few months have been a lot for a 17-year-old to process. “I’m learning a lot,” Gio told ESPN via Zoom.After all, being away from home and his family, living through a unique time with the coronavirus pandemic changing our routines and rituals, trying to improve as a young player at one of Europe’s most demanding clubs in one of soccer’s most challenging leagues: Gio is taking things in stride.”There have been some difficult times, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But all I need to do is keep my head looking forward, eyes on the future and hopefully I can do some more pretty cool stuff.”At the time of Reyna’s Bundesliga debut on Jan. 18, the noise around Dortmund concerned another new arrival. Erling Haaland, a highly sought after striker, had signed for Dortmund that January from Red Bull Salzburg, scoring nine goals in eight games to open his Bundesliga career, and the two became close friends.ogether with Jadon Sancho, they’re arguably the most exciting trio of attackers on the same team in world soccer. The partnership has already paid dividends against PSG where Reyna teed up Haaland for the winner in their first-leg victory in the Champions League last 16.”I look up to him because he’s done so many things in a young career, and he’s a great guy,” Gio says of Haaland. “He’s encouraged me, as he sees something in me.” Gio talks of how in training, if they’re playing 11 vs 11, or five-a-side, if he sees Haaland with the ball in the box, he starts to head back for the restart as he will inevitably score.aaland has become Gio’s chauffeur as the U.S. midfielder is too young to drive. He smiles a lot as he talks about Haaland, and then about Sancho — this triumvirate of promising young attacking players, with Gio the youngest of the group.Sancho, now 20, broke through into Dortmund’s first team almost immediately after arriving from Manchester City in 2017.”I think the biggest thing for any young player is to be confident. … I’m here because I belong,” Gio says of the advice Sancho gave him. “Those guys told me mistakes happen, even Messi and Ronaldo make mistakes. You make it, then put it behind you and move on. Jadon knows how I felt. He’s been there for me and I could always go to him with stuff if I needed help off the field.”Claudio Reyna, now sporting director at Austin FC — which will join Major League Soccer as an expansion club in 2021 — was at an MLS meeting at a ranch 90 minutes outside of Kansas City, Missouri, when Gio came off the bench against Werder Bremen. He remembers watching his son’s goal on his phone.”I kind of picked up more in the second half to start watching when there was an opportunity he could come on. It was obviously a great moment … it was great,” Claudio told ESPN.Claudio and his wife, Danielle, had planned to travel to watch Gio in the second leg of Dortmund’s Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain back in March. But they cancelled their trip as the match was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.The cooking lessons Gio had been hoping would be conducted in person are now done via WhatsApp with his mom. “I haven’t yet got a speciality,” Gio says. “I mean my eggs are pretty decent, but I’m sure everybody’s eggs are decent.”His mom has also tried to talk him through the complexities of a washing machine in German — the first few attempts spat out shrunken hoodies and T-shirts. “She tells me what soaps to use, how to do the dishes and stuff,” Gio says. “… It’s a process right now moving into my own apartment for the first time, but I’m learning a lot. It’s cool.” He catches up with his younger brother and sister, Joah-Mikel and Carolina, over Fortnite and FaceTime.”It’s been challenging for sure for both of us because, you know, not being able to be around him and he’s still young,” Claudio says. He laughs as he hears about Gio shrinking his hoodies. And then, as he talks through Gio’s goal, there are memories of the nerves he feels whenever he watches his son play.

Claudio won 112 caps for the USMNT and enjoyed a 13-year career with Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Rangers, Sunderland, Manchester City and New York Red Bulls. But those nerves …

“It’s the worst by far now, it’s not even close to when I played,” Claudio says. “In management you have the nerves, absolutely … but as a dad … man! That’s a whole other … it’s crazy. I’ve talked to other parents of kids who are professional footballers and we’ve asked them, I said ‘Is this how it always is?’ They said, ‘Yeah … no, actually it gets worse.'”It’s exciting to feel that excitement and tension again, but it’s bad … it’s tough!”Football runs in the family — Danielle (she was Danielle Egan then) played six times for the U.S. women’s national team. While Gio says he feels it was predestined that he was always going to be a professional footballer — “it’s in my genes”, he says — it was more chance than design, from Claudio’s perspective.”We never set out to make that happen, but you know, he loved kicking a ball from the moment he could walk around the house,” Claudio says. “From the beginning, something I remember is when he was younger, he would sit there at 3, 4, 5 years old and watch football matches live and kind of understand the movement of players and where they’re going. He was trying to figure it all out.”I remember when he was younger and he played he would cry, he would scream, he would yell if he lost … he loved competing.”Gio talks football with Claudio every day, his dad offering him feedback in an understated, interpretative way. “He knows how it works,” Gio says. “Football is such a big part of his life; I don’t think he really has ever left it. I love talking about it and he finds a way to tell me [feedback] in Dad mode, but also in a football mode where he understands what it takes. It’s all very relaxed but putting no pressure on at the same time.”Claudio’s advice to Gio revolves around pacing himself. Though Gio is versatile as a player, Claudio reckons he will end up being a box-to-box attacking midfielder. “He can interpret that area well in space, but you know …” Here comes the fatherly qualification: “I do think that area on the defensive side, tactically with experience, from watching some of his teammates he will continue to improve. But his strengths are being able to create, finding teammates and being able to roam in different areas.”If Claudio is good cop, then mom, Danielle, has played bad cop in the past. “She’s more about effort,” Gio says. “If I had a bad training and she saw me slacking off … I definitely would get an earful in the car ride home. But she’s very focused on my sleeping and eating habits and the way I take care of myself. I’ve certainly learned from her, and so thankful to have her.”Claudio hears this account of Danielle offering the tough love. “I’m glad you’re bringing this up,” he says as he laughs. “She was harder on him than me! But mom knows best with all this stuff and he’s certainly taken a lot of her attributes as well.””He’s on his way,” Claudio continues. “I’m proud of that because he eats well and takes care of his body. Some players struggle with that, but he has good habits and is in a good place with a good foundation.”That family unit means the world to Gio. “We are very close,” he says. “They’ve done a lot for me to help me reach where I am now. I try to stay as close as possible.” Tattooed on his right arm is “Love Jack,” in memory of his late older brother who died from complications of cancer in July 2012.When it’s breakfast in the Reyna household in the U.S. Gio is propped on the end of the family table via FaceTime. It’s their way of negotiating the six-hour time difference.When he’s in and around the club, he loves hearing stories from the club’s staff about when they played against his dad. “A few of my coaches like [15-year Dortmund veteran] Sebastian Kehl played against my dad and said he was a great player. It’s kind of all hitting me now that he was obviously a very seasoned pro and did a lot throughout his career.” But there was no fatherly influence behind Gio’s similar start to his career.”The decision to go to Dortmund was Gio’s,” Claudio says. “But I just told him the good thing about the Bundesliga are the habits you learn in the locker room, it’s very disciplined and it’s physically demanding. It’s a great league in itself.”This is his path; this is what he wanted to do. He wanted this life challenge and he’s on his way. He’s so happy, he’s learning, and we’re excited for him. We just want him to be happy and he is there.”

The Reyna family planned to be in Eindhoven in March for what looked to be Gio’s USMNT debut against the Netherlands. Despite being qualified to play for EnglandPortugal and Argentina, he was always going to declare for the U.S. In his own polite way, he said no thanks to other overtures and is now an active member of the USMNT’s WhatsApp group.”I want to play for the national team and kind of also carry on my dad’s legacy there, so that’s really cool,” Gio says.Claudio laughs at that talk of legacy in a here-we-go-again way.”I just want to be in the background, just be his dad at any of those games and be his father throughout this journey,” Claudio says. “We just crack jokes now about how I used to play. He doesn’t feel any pressure, which is great. There’s no … he’s trying to live up to Dad or do anything like that or achieve more. He’s well on his way, way further than I was at the same age.”Everyone has their own path. It’s been obviously so much fun as a dad seeing him grow and develop and become the player he is up and until now, because he’s got a long way to go. For all of us in the family, we’re rooting him on, and we just wish we could see him soon.”

Pulisic: Nobody at Chelsea noticed me when I joined


Christian Pulisic has said “nobody even noticed me” at the start of his career at Chelsea and that he has had to earn the respect of the dressing room during his first season in English football.

The United States international made his move to Chelsea official last summer, after they agreed a £57.6 million deal with Borussia Dortmund in January 2019 before loaning him back for the rest of the 2018-19 campaign.

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Pulisic’s first season in the Premier League has been disrupted by injury, with six goals in 23 appearances before the coronavirus pandemic halted sport across the world.He told the 13&ME podcast of his experiences at Chelsea: “It was all pretty crazy what happened. I had to fly straight from my summer break right after the Gold Cup. I had one week off and I didn’t really get a summer.”The team had already started preseason in Japan so I flew straight there and I had to literally fly by myself and then meet the team who had flown from London.”I had to go straight to the hotel and the next thing on the schedule was to go straight to training. I was tired, nervous and didn’t know what to think but: ‘I’m at Chelsea and this is insane.'”I got on the bus, they had just arrived as well. Everyone is half asleep, I go and sit on the bus and nobody even noticed me. Nobody said anything. There were maybe one or two guys who said: ‘Hey, hello’ and I was like: ‘What’s going on here?'”Those first couple of days of training I was nervous. You know how it’s like when you move to a new team.”The 21-year-old, who features in ESPN’s list of the best players aged 21 or under, said he needed to win over his new teammates following his move from the Bundesliga.”They’re nice guys off the field but to earn that respect you have to show on the field you have that ability, that’s just how it is,” he added.”I had to go in on day three when I had a really good training, scored some goals, had some nice plays and assists and then I felt the guys coming and talking to me and getting their respect.”It’s interesting how it works but they’ve been great guys and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Chelsea chance too good for Pulisic to turn down as USMNT star picks favourite position

Goal.comMay 14, 2020, 4:11 AM

Christian Pulisic admits the opportunity to link up with Chelsea in 2019 was too good to turn down, with the United States international having always wanted to test himself in the Premier League.The 21-year-old saw a transfer door open after proving his worth at Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

Having broken through in Germany under Jurgen Klopp, impressive progress has been made for club and country over recent years.Chelsea were happy to buy into that potential, with a £58 million ($71m) deal put in place.Pulisic would likely have found plenty of other options to consider had he delayed the decision to leave Dortmund, but he jumped at the chance to head for Stamford Bridge.Discussing his career path with BT Sport, the USMNT star said: “I always wanted to play in Europe.“Going to Dortmund was definitely a perfect first step for me. It was awesome, and I learned so much. I grew up there – I went over there when I was 15.“Now, to be here and come to the Premier League when I was 20, I think it all worked out very well so I’m really happy with the path.“I was confident and felt like I had a good couple of years in the Bundesliga, and obviously with the opportunity to come to a club like Chelsea – it was just something I couldn’t turn down.“I just felt like the timing was perfect and I’m really happy that I made that choice.”Pulisic endured a slow start to his time with Chelsea, but he now feels fully adjusted to the demands of life in English football.He added on the challenges that he has faced:  “The intensity, especially the schedule when you get to that winter period where you are playing games all the time.“Every couple of days it’s about recovery it’s about tough games where you’re fighting for everything. It’s something I wasn’t 100% used to.”After finding his feet, Pulisic has recorded six goals and as many assists across his debut season in west London.That is a decent return, with the youngster hoping that Frank Lampard will continue to give hum regular game time in one of his favoured positions.“I do really like playing on the left wing and also in that 10 spot centrally behind the forward,” said Pulisic.“I’d say those are my two favourite positions.”

Which Americans are in Bundesliga promotion and relegation battles?

Some are pushing to move up, while others are fighting to avoid the drop.

By Brendan Joseph  May 15, 2020, 6:00am PDT Stars and Stripes

The German Bundesliga is set to return to action following a long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the first and second divisions plan to complete their 34-match seasons over the next six weeks, with a very ambitious schedule that includes regular testing and quarantines. While most eyes will be on the stars and super clubs at the top of the table, there is plenty of drama and excitement to be found elsewhere. With fewer than ten matches remaining, six American players and one manager find themselves in tightly contested promotion and relegation battles in Germany’s top two divisions.

Josh Sargent — Werder Bremen

Things are not looking good for the Northern German club, which is currently in 17th place and eight points away from safety. After finishing in eighth place last season, Werder has managed a dismal four wins, including one in the last 11 matches. Josh Sargent has three goals and two assists in 18 appearances, but his output will have to increase for his club to avoid the drop. Should Werder be relegated, it’s probably not the end of the world for the young American. The 20-year-old striker would likely receive several transfer offers or a substantial increase in playing time in the second division.

Key matches: at SC Paderborn (June 13th), at Mainz 05 (June 20th)

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales — Fortuna Düsseldorf

Currently in 16th place, Düsseldorf is in a dangerous position, but all is not completely lost. If the season were to end today, the club would head to the relegation playoffs against the third-highest finisher in the 2. Bundesliga. It will be tough sledding, as four of their nine remaining matches are against Schalke 04Bayern MunichBorussia Dortmund, and RB Leipzig. They’ll also likely be without their top choice goalkeeper. Zack Steffen, having only recently recuperated from a knee injury, “sustained another injury during training” two weeks ago. Alfredo Morales has been a regular presence in the starting lineup, which propelled him back into the national team picture.

Key matches: vs. SC Paderborn (May 16th), at FC Augsburg (June 20th)

Bobby Wood — Hamburger SV

In 2018, Hamburg experienced its first ever relegation. Two years later, the club could jump back into the top flight and is currently one point out of an automatic promotion spot. The remaining schedule is difficult, but the upcoming six-point matches against the second, fourth, and sixth place clubs present the opportunity to rise up the table and build some distance. Bobby Wood is decidedly and, most likely permanently, out of favor at the Volksparkstadion. He’s made a mere six appearances this season and none since November. The 27-year-old striker was connected to MLS clubs FC Cincinnati and D.C. United, but neither move was completed. Despite not playing for Hamburg, he has consistently been on the match day roster. Due to fixture congestion brought on by the rush to finish the season, it is possible Wood plays a role in the promotion hunt.

Key matches: at Greuther Fürth (May 17th), at VfB Stuttgart (May 28th), at FC Heidenheim (June 21st)

Julian Green — SpVgg Greuther Fürth

Promotion to the top flight may be a little out of reach for Greuther Fürth, as they currently sit eight points behind Hamburg. Julian Green has enjoyed a strong run of form since joining the Cloverleaves in 2017. This season, he was struck by the injury bug, dealing with a ruptured knee ligament and an ankle issue. With four goals in 13 appearances, Green was on track for a career season. His contract is up in June, but it might be in the 24-year-old’s best interests to stick around at a club at which he can thrive and lead back to the Bundesliga for the first time since 2013.

Key matches: vs. Hamburg (May 17th), vs. FC Heidenheim (June 16th)

Marc Heider — VfL Osnabrück

Osnabrück earned promotion last season after winning the 3. Liga. This year, the Lilac-Whites’ position in the 2. Bundesliga should be safe, but a four-point gap could evaporate very quickly. Captain Marc Heider has five assists in 23 appearances. The 33-year-old midfielder was born in Sacramento, California and played for Werder Bremen II and Holstein Kiel. He was a starter during the first half of the season, but dropped into a substitute role following the winter break.

Key matches: vs. VfL Bochum (June 14th), at Dynamo Dresden (June 28th)

Pellegrino Matarazzo — VfB Stuttgart

Die Roten made a managerial change in December, firing Tim Walter and hiring American Pellegrino Matarazzo. He’s led them into second place and an automatic promotion spot. The 42-year-old New Jersey native played ten years in the lower divisions of Germany before coaching in the FC Nurnberg and Hoffenheim systems. He described himself to American Soccer Now as a coach with “a very pragmatic approach to the game” who believes that his teams “need to have a sense of variability… based on clear principles regarding creation of space… and changing speed.” Matarazzo, who has a degree in mathematics from Columbia University, has primarily utilized a 3-4-2-1 formation during his eight matches in charge. With five of the nine remaining fixtures against the league’s worst teams, Stuttgart should coast to promotion.

Key matches: vs. Hamburg (May 28th), vs. SV Darmstadt (June 28th)

German Bundesliga returns: Bayern’s title fight, must-see matches and players to watch

may 14, 2020Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

After a two-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bundesliga will become the first major European soccer league to return to action, resuming the 2019-20 season this Saturday. There’s still a lot of anxiety and uncertainty with the proceedings — not every player loves the idea, and second-division team Dynamo Dresden had to enter a two-week quarantine last weekend following a couple of positive tests — but thus far, the first division’s tentative schedule for completing its final nine matchdays remains a go for launch.

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While the eyes of the sports world will be monitoring whether the league’s safeguards and safety measures are effective, the most open and enjoyable big soccer league in Europe is now basically the only soccer show in town. Here’s everything you need to know about the league’s 2019-20 season, what’s at stake, and who you absolutely need to watch between now and the end of June.

Jump to: What makes Bundesliga fun | Breaking down title race | Teams ready to resume | Must-see matches | Americans in Bundesliga | Young stars you need to know

People always talk about how fun this league is. What do they mean? How is it different?

First thing’s first: If this is your first dip into the Bundesliga pool, you’re not going to get an entirely adequate impression. The league is generally considered one of the more fan-friendly in the world, eschewing at least a couple of layers of corporate influence, keeping ticket prices down as much as possible and crafting a reputation for great crowds. You aren’t going to get any sense of that because fans won’t be allowed to attend.

While it’s always a big match when Bayern Munich travels to Borussia Dortmund, it won’t be quite the same with an empty Yellow Wall. And while it will still be a big deal when Union Berlin, a first-division team for the first time, hosts Bayern this weekend, it is deeply unfortunate that Union fans won’t be there to see it. Still, the amount of television revenue on the line — and the potentially crippling financial impact cancellation of the season might create — ensured that games would be played one way or another if at all possible.

So far, it’s possible, and the unique conditions will at least create some enjoyably odd circumstances: Borussia Mönchengladbach is placing cardboard cutouts of fans in seats, for instance. And with high-fives and any excess contact between players banned, there’s a chance for some creative — and hopefully choreographed — goal celebrations. (If someone from Bayern scores a goal and somehow doesn’t attempt to dance like forward Robert Lewandowski in his TikTok videos, I will be extremely disappointed.)

It will be different, but it will also still be the Bundesliga, and as far as what makes this league’s play so enjoyable, allow me to refer you to a league styles piece I wrote in December.

What remains at stake in the title race?

The top four teams in the league qualify for the 2020-21 Champions League, while fifth and sixth head to the Europa League. And the top five teams are still close enough that a really good team is going to end up out of the Champions League running.

When the coronavirus stopped play in March, the Bundesliga table was a little bit more cluttered at the top than usual. Things had begun to sort themselves out: After falling behind early for the second straight year, 29-time champions (and winners of seven straight titles) Bayern Munich (55 points) had eased ahead of both Borussia Dortmund (51) and RB Leipzig (50) at the top. But Bayern still has to play not only Dortmund, but also fourth-place Borussia Mönchengladbach (49) and fifth-place Bayer Leverkusen (47). Put simply: We’re one upset result from a dogfight.

Gladbach led the league for much of the fall, but Leverkusen were hot on the trail before stoppage. The race to avoid fifth place should be heated: FiveThirtyEight’s club ratings trust the top three to secure bids and deem the fourth-place battle a toss-up between Gladbach and Leverkusen.

Which teams are ready to resume?

Bayern Munich: Finally they catch a break, right? Before the stoppage, it appeared as if forward and league-leading scorer Robert Lewandowski was going to miss an early-April trip to Dortmund, the match probably most vital to maintaining a true league title race, with a groin injury. But it appears he should be ready to roll when action resumes. (Dortmund’s Marco Reus could also have returned from injury by then.) The same goes for winger Ivan Perisic, who was playing brilliant ball before suffering an ankle injury in early February. Bayern continued to roll without them, of course, but manager Hansi Flick now has quite the choice of lineup options.

aria-label=”Kevin Baxter” style=’box-sizing: border-box;touch-action: manipulation; color:inherit’ class=” imageLoaded lazyloaded” data-image-container=.inline-photo v:shapes=”_x0000_i1026″>Bayern have won seven straight Bundesliga titles and appear on course for No. 8 if they can keep their cool. Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images

RB Leipzig: Julian Nagelsmann’s side were the story of the Hinrunde (the first half of the season), leading a crowded field into winter break and reaching the knockout rounds of the Champions League. (And yet, they’re arguably the least-liked team in Germany.) Their form didn’t hit a major wall or anything — they lost only once in eight league games after the break, allowed only six goals in the process and torched Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League round of 16 — but they were leaking points. They suffered four draws in those eight matches, and their offense had scored a pedestrian 14 goals (seventh in the league in that span). For a team that has never been in this kind of high-pressure situation before, the rest probably did them some good.

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).

Schalke 04: Once near the top of the table, Schalke was heading quickly in the wrong direction in March. They had won just once in their past eight matches, scoring a league-low four goals. Forwards Michael Gregoritsch and Benito Raman had lost their finishing touch, combining for 6.3 Expected Goals (xG) but only two actual goals on 35 shots. Regression to the mean should lift them up a bit, though a little bit of extra rest would be ideal, especially if it means getting defenders Salif Sane and/or Benjamin Stambouli back. They both went down in November, and the defense was more scattershot as well.

FC Augsburg: Augsburg has been the league’s moodiest team this year. The Fuggerstädter began the season by losing to fourth-division SC Verl in the German Cup and pulling just seven points from their first 10 league matches. They allowed at least three goals in five of those 10. They suddenly outscored opponents 15-4 in a six-match unbeaten stretch … then won only once between Dec. 21 and the stoppage. From relegation-threatened to contender-for-Europe and back. They are in 14th place, five points out of the relegation playoff; we’ll see if the pause turned their mood back around.

What are the biggest remaining matches?

There are 34 matchdays in the Bundesliga schedule, and we’ve got nine remaining — the league is adamant on getting them all finished before June 30. With that in mind, here’s the biggest match from each round.

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Matchday 26 (May 16-18): Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04
This is one of the biggest rivalries in Germany and the biggest this weekend by far. Borussia can’t afford to drop many, if any, more points in the title race, and with a loss, Schalke will likely drop out of sixth place, aka the final Europa slot.


Matchday 27: Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen
The race for the final Champions League position is nearly a dead heat between these two, and obviously the odds shift significantly if one of these teams secures three points against the other. The aesthetics of this match are pretty lovely, too: Gladbach might be the most creative passing team in the league, especially on the attacking end, while Leverkusen, led by 20-year-old future/present star Kai Havertz, have been a goal-scoring machine since winter break.

Schoenfeld: Havertz is destined for big things beyond Germany

Matchday 28: Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich
This has been the biggest battle in the Bundesliga for a while now: These clubs have taken 10 straight league titles and 22 of the past 26. And as mentioned above, both teams could be awfully close to full strength. If you watch only one league match the rest of the year, this is the one you need to catch. (But seriously, watch as many as possible. Satisfaction is guaranteed.)

Matchday 29: 1. FC Köln vs. RB Leipzig
With Bayern and BVB both playing relegation teams (Düsseldorf and Paderborn, respectively), the biggest matchup is either this or Freiburg vs. Leverkusen. I chose this one because it offers an opportunity to both catch a delightfully volatile Köln squad and take a sustained look at RBL. For each team’s remaining goals — Köln to Europa, RB Leipzig winning the title — taking three points here is a must.

Matchdays 30 and 31: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich; Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
On Nov. 30, two Leon Bailey goals gave Leverkusen an upset win over Bayern in Munich; a week later, Gladbach held onto first place with a stoppage-time goal from Ramy Bensebaini and a spirited 2-1 win over Bayern. Bayern hasn’t lost a single game in any competition since that day. If either team takes more points off of the league leader, that would provide a huge Champions League lifeline. But Bayern revenge attempts are often pretty cruel and relentless.

Matchday 32: RB Leipzig vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf
With all three primary title contenders playing relegation-threatened opponents, take this time to get to know RBL. Leipzig has a real “corporation bought its soul” issue, and German fans have rebelled against both the club and their success with relish. But Nagelsmann’s team is also intense and fun, loaded with players who could fetch a hefty sum on the transfer market in coming years: forward Timo Werner, attacking midfielders Christopher Nkunku and Marcel Sabitzer, defenders Dayot Upamecano and Lukas Klostermann, and so on.


Matchday 33: RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Dortmund
The stakes could have changed pretty drastically by this point, but the odds are decent that this is either a title-elimination match or a battle to secure second place in the league. Either way, the first battle between these two teams was a raucous 3-3 draw. This could be similarly fun whatever the stakes.

Matchday 34: Wolfsburg vs. Bayern Munich
The title will likely have been decided by now (with Bayern the likely champion, of course), but if it’s not, this is a “who blinks first” final set of matches. The three title favorites all face tricky opponents (Bayern vs. Wolfsburg, Dortmund vs. Hoffenheim, Leipzig vs. Augsburg), and the odds are decent that one of them will drop a couple of points.

Aren’t there a lot of Americans in this league?

Indeed! Some of the USMNT’s most exciting young players — and a few steely old veterans — are, when healthy, Bundesliga stalwarts.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (21)
Adams has dealt with a series of groin/adductor issues over the past couple of years, but the former New York Red Bulls star was quickly slotted into RBL’s rotation once healthy. He’s versatile and perfect for Germany: a defensive midfielder capable of creating danger in attack.

Weston McKennie, Schalke 04 (21)
McKennie is an aggressive and integral part of the Schalke attack. He’s not the best finisher in the world (you could say that about a lot of Americans), but he pushes the ball up the pitch offensively and pressures well on defense.

Zack Steffen, Fortuna Düsseldorf (25)
The first-choice keeper for both the USMNT and Düsseldorf, Steffen’s 2019-20 campaign was wrecked by injury. He suffered a patella injury in mid-January, and while the stoppage could have helped him get back on the pitch, he instead strained his MCL in late April and could miss the rest of the season.

Ale Moreno likens Borussia Dortmund and USMNT’s Gio Reyna’s style of play to his father, Claudio.

Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund (17)
The son of USMNT great Claudio, Reyna debuted for BVB early in 2020 and immediately fit in. Like Nkunku, he’s dangerous from both the wings and more central areas and scored a gorgeous goal against Werder Bremen in the DFB Pokal. The US boasts a lot of fun attacking midfielders, but Reyna could quickly move up the priority list.

Hamilton: Inside U.S. phenom Reyna’s life at Dortmund

John Brooks, Wolfsburg (27)
Another USMNT mainstay with a lengthy injury history, Brooks missed time in September but has still logged 16 starts for the team in bright green. And if you haven’t seen him play in a while, breaking news: He’s still tall. He still wins most aerials and plays standard, sturdy central D.

Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Düsseldorf (29)
A Bundesliga veteran who has also played for Hertha Berlin and Ingolstadt 04, Morales has put in over 1,400 minutes for Fortuna this season, scoring once and logging two assists. He remains one of the better ball-pressure guys in the USMNT player pool.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt (30)
Chandler’s USMNT days are probably done, but he worked his way back into the Frankfurt rotation after missing all but 17 minutes of the 2018-19 campaign to a knee injury. And in 14 matches, he has scored four goals and logged one assist for the enigmatic Eagles.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach (32)
The longtime fullback was capped 57 times for the U.S. in the 2010s but dealt with roughly 57 back injuries as well. He played in 18 matches for Gladbach in 2018-19 but has seen action only six times this season.

Ulysses Llanez, Wolfsburg (19)
Llanez scored in his first USMNT appearance but hasn’t logged any minutes for the senior team — at least not yet. He put in 11 goals in 15 matches with the under-19 team, though. This is more of a “file away for next season” name.

Chris Richards, Bayern Munich (20)
Another name to file away for later. The 6-foot-2 center back moved up from Bayern’s U-19 team and put in nearly 2,000 minutes for Bayern II this season. He might need to get loaned out to see Bundesliga time soon, but it’s quite possible that’s exactly what happens.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (20)
Already a feature player for the USMNT, Sargent has made 22 cup and league appearances for Bremen, scoring three times and dishing three assists. He had two goals in 10 appearances last season as well.

If this is a fun, young league, who are the fun, young players I should get to know?

Obviously the top teams feature some established names that you might recognize — Lewandowski, Reus, Bayern’s Thomas Müller, etc. — and if you followed the Champions League this year, then you likely became very familiar with 24-year-old stars like RBL’s Werner and Bayern’s Serge Gnabry. (Tottenham Hotspur definitely remembers Gnabry, anyway.)

This league gives young players more of a run than any major league.play

Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich
In barely three years, 19-year-old Davies went from Vancouver Whitecaps prospect to a starter for a Champions League favorite. He’s quite possibly the fastest player in Europe’s big five leagues, but even more impressively, he’s a sponge. His knowledge and his game have developed at a nuclear rate, and he could soon be one of the best left-backs or left wingers in the world … if he’s not already. Barring injury, he will almost certainly end up the best Canadian player of all time … if he’s not already.

Denis Zakaria, Borussia Mönchengladbach
Already a stalwart on the Swiss national team, Zakaria, 23, is one of the biggest pests in the league: He’s one of four players to have combined 170+ ball recoveries with a duel success rate of 57% or higher. (The other three: Upamecano and two established stars, Bayern’s Thiago and Dortmund’s Mats Hummels.) He challenges you constantly and usually wins.

Christopher Nkunku, RB Leipzig
Somehow acquired for just $14.3 million from PSG last summer, Nkunku is a standout creator — from the center or the wings — in a league full of them. His 65 chances created lead the Bundesliga, and his 4.03 chances per 90 minutes are second in all of the Big Five leagues, behind only Marseille‘s Dimitri Payet (4.04). Kevin “damn” De Bruyne is only at 4.01. Nkunku, still only 22, is astounding.

Kai Havertz, Bayer Leverkusen
Havertz is a unicorn: He’s a great, agile attacking midfielder — only he and Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho have combined 20+ goals with 200+ ball recoveries over the past two seasons — but at 6-foot-2 and 183 pounds, the 20-year-old playmaker is also bigger than a lot of defenders. He’s a matchup nightmare, and it’s probably no surprise that transfer rumors have linked him to Bayern and basically every big Premier League club over the past 12 months.

 Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund, and Erling Haaland, Borussia Dortmund

From Lewandowski (Bayern) to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) to Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona) and many others, BVB has earned a reputation as basically the finishing school for future stars. Lewandowski led them to a Champions League final before departing for Bayern. They deploy a young roster, flash significant upside, finish second or third in the league, sell players for a hefty profit, bring in some new youngsters and do it all over again, year after year. This guarantees financial health, but it also creates a nonstop set of what-ifs. They haven’t advanced past the Champions League quarterfinals since 2013, and there’s always a feeling of “if they could have just kept [insert young star(s) here] for one more year …”

We’re about to enter one of the stranger transfer windows in recent memory. Because of the money lost during the coronavirus stoppage, no one can tell how many clubs will be in position to buy megastar talent this offseason (whenever the season is officially “off”). And it’s easy to secretly hope that, despite nonstop transfer rumors regarding both January acquisition Haaland and, especially, Sancho, BVB keeps the band together for one full season, just to see what this group can do.

Sancho, 20, has already succeeded at an unfathomable level. I mentioned that he and Havertz are the only league players with 20+ goals and 200+ ball recoveries in two years; Well, Sancho also has 20+ assists. He, Leo Messi and PSG’s Angel Di Maria are the only to hit 20 and 20 in that span. This year alone, Sancho is leading the league with 29 combined assists and goals (Lewandowski and Werner both have 28). He is a good defender, a great scorer and an elite passer. And he’s 20. Whenever he does leave, be it this summer or next, he will likely command an incomprehensible transfer fee.

The 6-foot-4, Thor-esque (sans the beard) Haaland, meanwhile, went from hipster favorite to world-renowned in a heartbeat. That’s what happens when you not only score a first-half hat trick in your first Champions League appearance and become the first teenager to score in your first five Champions League matches — he had eight goals in total for Red Bull Salzburg during the UCL group stage — but also then join BVB and score 12 goals in your first 11 appearances in black and yellow. In just two years, the 19-year-old has gone from playing in the Norwegian Eliteserien to becoming the Next Karim Benzema at worst. He’s a world-class poacher and finisher, and he’s got one of the best passing teams in the world feeding him the ball.


How to watch the Bundesliga return, American players to know, the best and worst teams, and whom to root for

by Jonathan TannenwaldUpdated: May 15, 2020- 8:08 AM

This weekend, Germany’s Bundesliga becomes the first major soccer league in Europe to return to action after stopping because of the coronavirus pandemic.Here’s a viewer’s guide to the players to know about, how to watch the games, and picking a favorite team.

If you’re new to this

Let’s get the simple stuff out of the way first. The Bundesliga has long been one of the world’s best soccer leagues. There are star-studded powerhouses like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and many other teams sign top players from everywhere. There’s also the vast domestic talent pool that has fueled Germany’s four men’s World Cups and three European championships. Few countries anywhere are better at the sport.

The Bundesliga is also one of the world’s most entertaining soccer leagues, routinely leading Europe in average goals per game. Before the season was stopped on March 13, the Bundesliga was averaging 3.20 goals per game — not only topping the continent for the third straight year, but also beating its own average from the last two campaigns.


Along with entertainment on the field, there’s a great tradition of entertainment off the field. The Bundesliga has some of Europe’s top attendances, including the highest per-game average among the continent’s leagues in the last two full seasons. And fans don’t just show up, they brings flags and scarves and unveil giant displays of banners that sometimes cover entire stands. Dortmund’s “Yellow Wall,” a 25,000-capacity end of their stadium, is the most famous example.

Unfortunately, you won’t see any of that right now, or for a while. All games will be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

Dortmund’s “Yellow Wall,” a 25,000-capacity end of their stadium.

How can you watch games?

Fox and Univision have U.S. broadcast rights. Games generally air on FS1 and FS2 in English, and on TUDN, UniMás and Fox Deportes in Spanish. The TV schedule for this weekend is at the bottom of this article. (Hopefully you’ll read the rest of it first.)

» READ MORE: Betting on the Bundesliga has local sportsbooks’ attention

Why can the Bundesliga play when other leagues aren’t?

Germany’s government has been a world leader in moving on lockdowns and widespread testing for COVID-19. As such, the country has been able to move back toward normal life faster than others. The Bundesliga’s testing needs would take up just 0.4% of the nation’s capacity.

But it’s still a gamble. When tests were run on the 36 teams across Germany’s top two leagues, there were 10 positive cases. Two players from second-division team Dynamo Dresden tested positive, sending the entire team into quarantine and postponing their first game back.

Public opinion on playing games is far from unanimous — in fact, recent polling by German news organizations found nearly a 50-50 split.“Everyone has to be clear: we’re playing on probation,” Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert said when the green light was given to resume. “I expect everyone to live up to this responsibility.”Seifert has spoken with U.S. sports leagues about how Germany has handled the pandemic.“That we’re allowed to play again boils down to German politics for managing this crisis, and the health system in Germany,” he said. “If I were to name the number of tests that I was asked about in teleconferences with other professional leagues, with American professional leagues, with clubs from the NFL, the NHL, Major League Baseball and others, and I tell them how many tests are possible in Germany, they generally check, or there’s silence, because it’s just unimaginable in the situation over there.”

Which teams should you know about?

Bayern are Germany’s Yankees. They make the most money, sign the biggest players, and have won the most trophies by a mile: 29 league titles (including the last seven straight) and five European Cups. They’re in first place this season, too.Current stars include prolific Polish forward Robert Lewandowski, who’s one goal away from his fifth straight 40-goal season; 19-year-old Canadian left back phenom Alphonso Davies; and veteran German forward Thomas Müller.

Dortmund are the country’s No. 2 club, and No. 1 in many hearts. In addition to their colorful fan base, they excel at turning young players into stars and selling them for huge profits.The most famous to Americans, of course, is Hershey native Christian Pulisic. He made his pro debut there as a teenager, and last year was sold to English club Chelsea for $73 million. Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ($70 million) and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé ($137.5 million) are also alumni.

The current team has a new crop of stars, led by Norwegian sensation Erling Braut Håland and American Giovanni ReynaHåland, age 19, has 12 goals in 11 games since joining the team in January — including a hat trick in his Bundesliga debut. Reyna, the son of U.S. legend Claudio Reyna, is already a regular at 17.

RB Leipzig are another big team, and they’re entertaining. But they aren’t very popular, because they’re bankrolled by the Red Bull corporate conglomerate. (The same company owns MLS’ New York Red Bulls and Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg).

Bayern (55 points), Dortmund (51), Leipzig (50), Borussia Mönchengladbach (49) and Bayer Leverkusen (47) are all in the title race.

Schalke 04 are Dortmund’s big rivals, 20 miles across the Ruhr Valley in Gelsenkirchen. The Revierderby is one of German soccer’s biggest games — and the latest edition is Saturday at Dortmund. Schalke have a long history of signing Americans, from Thomas Dooley in the 1990s to Jermaine Jones in the 2000s to Weston McKennie today.

Mönchengladbach made headlines when more than 16,000 fans signed up to buy cardboard cutouts of themselves to put in the closed stands. On the field, forward Marcus Thuram is the son of French World Cup legend Lilian Thuram.

Borussia Mönchengladbach has been filling the empty stands of their stadium with cardboard cutouts of fans.

American players

The Bundesliga has long been a top destination for American players, and right now is a golden era. Not only are there lots of big time U.S. national team players in Germany these days, they’re almost all getting regular playing time. Here are some names to know.

Zack Steffen: Goalkeeper, Fortuna Düsseldorf, age 23, Coatesville, Pa. (Unfortunately, he’s out injured.)

» READ MORE: Zack Steffen enjoying Germany’s Fortuna Düsseldorf, latest chapter of soccer career

Ulysses Llanez: Forward, VfL Wolfsburg, 19, Lynwood, Calif.

Josh Sargent: Forward, Werder Bremen, 20, O’Fallon, Mo.

Tyler Adams: Midfielder, RB Leipzig, 21, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

Fabian Johnson: Midfielder, Borussia Mönchengladbach, 32, Munich, Germany (One of many Americans born in the country to U.S. servicemen.)

Weston McKennie: Midfielder, Schalke 04, 21, Little Elm, Texas

Alfredo Morales: Midfielder, Fortuna Düsseldorf, 30, Berlin, Germany

Giovanni Reyna: Midfielder, Borussia Dortmund, 17, Sunderland, England (He was born when Claudio played for Sunderland.)

John Brooks: Defender, VfL Wolfsburg, 27, Berlin, Germany

Timothy Chandler: Defender, Eintracht Frankfurt, 30, Frankfurt, Germany

Which team should you root for?

Here are a few suggestions.

If you like teams that win all the time: Of course you’d pick Bayern.

If you’re a Union fan: Sporting director Ernst Tanner used to be in charge of TSG Hoffenheim, where he developed current RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann. Former Union assistant coach Dick Schreuder is currently on Hoffenhem’s staff. Tanner also has ties to the Red Bull organization, and brought their high-pressing playbook to Chester.

If you’re looking for Philadelphia ties: Frankfurt is Philly’s sister city, so Eintracht Frankfurt fits the bill. Or Fortuna Düsseldorf because of Steffen. Or Hoffenheim, and not just because of Tanner. Bucks County native Zach Pfeffer, the Union’s first homegrown player, went on loan there in 2013. (And their sponsor, SAP, has a headquarters in Newtown Square.)

If you’re a hipster: Dortmund have been cool for so long that they’re almost establishment now. If you really want to buck the trend, go for Union Berlin. This is their first ever season in the top flight.

If you’re a win-at-all-costs type: Leipzig.

If you only watch English soccer: National team winger Jadon Sancho plays for Dortmund. Bayern has ex-Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho (though he’s injured) and ex-Arsenal regular Serge Gnabry.

If you enjoy suffering: The teams currently in the relegation places are DüsseldorfWerder Bremen and Paderborn. But really, pick Hertha Berlin. The biggest team in Germany’s biggest city hasn’t won the Bundesliga since 1931 and has never won the German Cup. They haven’t even made the final since 1993.

If you want the real answer: A lot of American fans will tell you Dortmund, and they’re right. There’s no team in Germany — or anywhere — quite like them. If you used to watch when Pulisic played there, it’s time to tune back in. Reyna is a rising star with must-see creative talent.

Soccer newsletter: MLS could be back sooner than most other sports

By KEVIN BAXTERSTAFF WRITER MAY 12, 2020  Hello, and welcome to another edition of the L.A. Times soccer newsletter. I’m Kevin Baxter, The Times’ soccer writer, and we start today with MLS where, in the last six days, 11 of the 26 teams saw players return to their training centers for individual workouts under strict social-distancing rules.What are they training for? Well the Washington Post’s Steve Goff, sourcing multiple people familiar with the plan, reported late Monday that the league has proposed bringing all of its teams to Orlando, Fla., to resume the season early this summer at the Disney sports complex and other locations in the area.The players, coaches and support staff for the teams, numbering more than 1,000, would be quarantined at a resort near Disney World for an undetermined amount of time. Disney owns ESPN and ABC, MLS rightsholders who would broadcast the games played behind closed doors.

The plan apparently has come together rapidly because the league was also considering another proposal that would see teams go to as many as three sites – Dallas and Kansas City, Kan., in addition to Orlando – to stage competitive games in late June or early July. That plan has not been totally abandoned.All three states were among the first to reopen after brief coronavirus lockouts with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis going so far as to declare sports as essential business, clearing the way for Jacksonville to play host to a televised UFC card in an empty arena last weekend. A formal announcement of the new plan could be made before the end of the month, which would probably make MLS the first major professional sports league in North America to resume games since the COVID-19 pandemic suspended competition in early March.Under the proposal players and staff members would be tested regularly, the Post reported, but several other hurdles remain including approval from the players. And Galaxy defender Daniel Steres appeared to speaking for many when he said he’s not sure the idea of a team-wide — much less a league-wide — quarantine can work.“You have to go to a single location and wherever that may be, there can’t be more spread of the virus there,” he said. “Then you have to put us in a hotel that’s got to be essentially locked down. You can’t have any touch with the outside world. That’s nearly impossible.”Many players are also likely to balk at the prospect of being separated from their families for an extended period. However the league may have a substantial card to play to win their approval. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, who has been closely following the financial ramifications of COVID-19, reported Monday that the league has made a formal proposal to the union that calls for 20% pay cuts across the board, in addition to other financial reductions that could run into the tens of millions of dollars.MLS executives, including commissioner Don Garber, agreed to 25% pay cuts of their own last month. Might Garber retract the request for player salary reductions if the union signs off on the Orlando plan?In an interview with Nashville SC’s website last week – one the league has been sharing widely – Garber said he was “more optimistic about what a return-to-play plan would look like. A month ago, we were very pessimistic.”Eventually MLS would like to see teams return to their home markets to play in front of their fans; the league’s two largest sources of revenue are sponsorships and ticket sales so a season without fans would be a severe blow to the bottom line. The slow reopening of training facilities may be something of a test balloon to see how feasible that might be as well.MLS has teams in 17 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces and each jurisdiction has its own guidelines regarding the novel coronavirus. So while staging games in Florida, home to two MLS teams, might go forward without a problem, more than half the 26 teams play in states still observing COVID-19 restrictions.In California, home to three MLS teams, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he could not promise the state would be able to hold Major League Baseball games, even behind closed doors, by July. That was optimistic compared to the opinion of Dr. Jeff Smith, executive officer for Santa Clara County, where the San Jose Earthquakes play.“Sorry to say, I don’t expect that we’ll have any sports games until at least Thanksgiving,” he said last month. “And we’ll be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving.”Pushing forward is a gamble for MLS, whose teams suspended play March 12 after just two of 34 games. But if Garber can make it work and make MLS the first league to restart play, it’s a gamble that could pay off handsomely. The league would gain long term in terms of attention and prestige while in the short term it would gain in terms TV ratings and sponsorship dollars while the rest of the U.S. sports landscape remains vacant.

A question of timing

A hint at just how fast the Orlando plan came together can probably be found in the league’s rush to reopen team training facilities for individual workouts last week.MLS put a moratorium on team practice sessions on March 13 – a ban it has extended five times.But then, before the last ban expired, it announced clubs could reopen training complexes last Wednesday for voluntary, closely supervised workouts. Four teams — Atlanta United, Inter Miami, Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City — had players on the field that first day. Five others, including LAFC, began a day later.Four more teams, including the Galaxy and Colorado Rapids, were scheduled to have players work out Monday but both teams failed to receive clearance from local health officials. A Galaxy spokesman said the team will try again on Wednesday. LAFC also hopes to resume individual workouts at its Performance Center later this week after being asked by the county to temporarily postpone them.To open their training centers, teams must follow a detailed protocol that includes standardized screening and temperature checks; staggered arrivals and departures for players and staff to assure safe-distancing in the parking lot; and the use of personal protective equipment, including facemasks, on the way to and from the field.Only four players can train at a time and they must stay in their own clearly-marked quadrant on an outdoor field. Teammates are not allowed to interact with one another while training and players are banned from using locker rooms, weight rooms and most other indoor facilities.Teams must also adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines, but the sessions are a clear first step toward the resumpton the small-group training sessions that would be needed to prepare teams for the resumption of games in June or July – in Orlando or wherever.

Daniel Guzman, the head performance coach for LAFC, estimated teams would probably need a three- to four-week training camp. The sessions teams have held in the last week consisted mainly of agility drills, some running and limiting ball-handling. But for both the players and staff, just getting inside the training facility and seeing one another in person for the first time in two months was a sign of progress.“It’s obviously a great feeling,” LAFC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye said, who has been biking to keep fit. “Just that team aura again felt good. It’s a lot of fitness-based things now. You can’t really pass. We just did a lot of running to get that base back together.”Added coach Bob Bradley: “Everybody’s being smart about it but yes, just in a general way, I prefer to have some interaction. I’ll find out how they’re doing, ask how their families are. See them have a chance to get on the field and run around, all those things are positive.“The return to play in all sports, that’s different. So all of use are adapting. We all understand the importance of following the guidelines for each phase.”

Coronvavirus roundup

The English Premier League moved a big step closer to resuming when the government on Monday gave the go-ahead to a June 1 restart behind closed doors, providing certain criteria including no new spikes in COVID-19 cases have been met.

It is up to the league how and when the season would resume, with one option calling for the use of neutral sites.

The EPL, which suspended its season March 13, is the second of Europe’s five major soccer leagues to be given government approval to return. Germany’s Bundesliga and the second-tier Bundesliga 2 are scheduled to resume their seasons in empty stadiums this weekend while Spain’s La Liga has set a tentative restart date of June 12, although Spain’s health minister said recently no final decision has been made and it may be later in the summer before games resume.

Teams in Italy’s Serie A have been cleared to resume training May 18 but the league has no date to begin play. The rest of the soccer season in France, meanwhile, was canceled by the government two weeks ago, days after the Dutch Eredivisie canceled its season.

The EPL has 92 games left on its schedule and Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that restoring some sports “could provide a much-needed boost to national morale.” Yet clubs remain divided over the use of neutral sites and the possibility of abandoning the season was discussed on a league conference call Monday night.

The U.K.’s COVID-19 death toll topped 32,000 on Monday, trailing only the United States. Only the U.S. and Spain have had more cases.EPL teams have already returned to their respective training grounds while observing government-mandated social-distancing guidelines. Once-beaten Liverpool (27-1-1) leads second-place Manchester City (18-7-3) by 25 points atop the table, meaning it needs just six points in nine games to clinch its first-ever EPL title.

Let’s make a deal

As expected, lawyers representing the two-time reigning World Cup champion women’s national team have filed an appeal of a ruling they lost in their gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer.That may be a bad idea.Earlier this month district court Judge R. Gary Klausner rejected the players’ arguments that they were paid less than the men’s national team for performing the same work, pointing to a collective-bargaining agreement the team negotiated with the federation that guarantees the women a base salary of $100,000 a year, plus another $72,500 for playing in the National Women’s Soccer League, the domestic league U.S. Soccer subsidizes.The federation pays players on the men’s national team only game-day bonuses that max out at $17,625. That’s nearly double what the women can earn for playing one UWSNT game but the women’s bonuses are paid in addition to the salary and benefits they get from their CBA.

“The argument that women gave up a right to equal pay by accepting the best collective-bargaining agreement possible in response to the federation’s refusal to put equal pay on the table is not a legitimate reason for continuing to discriminate against them,” Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the USWNT, said in a statement announcing an immediate appeal to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals.Lawyers for the players requested a June 8 hearing on the matter and also asked for a postponement in the main trial, scheduled to begin June 16 in Los Angeles. The trial has already been delayed once by the COVID-19 pandemic.Yet despite the flurry of legal activity, momentum seems to be building toward a settlement that will fall far short of the $66 million in damages and back pay the women were seeking. And as we discussed here last week, that may be the best remedy given that the appeals process could take as long as two years with no guarantee of success. (And it would almost certainly end with the federation and many other sports organizations, including the NWSL, dealing with dire financial circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic.)

“I think that we’ve been very transparent about our openness to a settlement,” world player of the year Megan Rapinoe said last week on “CBS This Morning.” “Ultimately what we want to get to is something that’s fair and equal. And if that comes in the form of a settlement, we are definitely open to that.“I don’t think anybody is dying to go into litigation or go to trial or go through a lawsuit. This has been a very arduous process as players. We’re always open to that.”Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone understands and sympathizes with the arguments the current national team is making in court. But her time in office may be limited; a special election to fill the remainder of former president Carlos Cordeiro’s term will be held in February and Cone does not seem eager to run.That leaves the USWNT with less than nine months to negotiate an agreement with a favorable president or roll the dice and bet on the longshot chance that they win their appeal.If the USWNT is serious about wanting lasting change and not just more money for the players on the current roster, the opportunity to make a deal is there. But with the clock ticking down to February’s election, it may not be there for long.

Soccer mom

Speaking of the U.S. women’s national team, Alex Morgan, long the face of that team, and her husband, former Galaxy midfielder Servando Carrasco, welcomed their first child last week.

Daughter Charlie Elena Carrasco was born May 7 at 11:30 a.m.

Morgan, who was working out deep into her pregnancy, was expected to give birth in April and had hoped to be back on the field in time for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, where the soccer competition was scheduled to begin in late July. With the Olympics now delayed a year by the COVID-19 outbreak Morgan, 30, has an additional 12 months to prepare.

Here’s one place Morgan’s daughter won’t be able to play

The abrupt closure of the Galaxy’s five-team elite girls’ academy last month has caused substantial ripples in a local development community already bruised by U.S. Soccer’s April 15 decision to end support of a nationwide development academy program that had been home to several dozen girls’ programs, including the one run by the Galaxy.

Yet in the period between U.S. Soccer’s decision and the shuttering of the Galaxy’s groundbreaking program – the first girls academy fully funded by an MLS team – two weeks later, players and parents say the team kept them in the dark. So while girls on other DA-affiliated teams quickly moved to ones belonging to the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), the Galaxy players stayed put. And when the Galaxy academy also closed its doors, many of its 80-plus players were left stranded.

Most members of the academy coaching staff were also let go. Kevin Hartman, the two-time MLS Cup champion goalkeeper who was director of the 3½-year-old academy, will remain with the Galaxy as part of the soccer operations department.

The father of one player affected took issue with the team’s statement that it made an immediate effort to help girls find place with other clubs.

“This is simply not true,” said the father, who did not want his named to be used. “The LAG team failed to communicate with the girls for three weeks [following] the announcement by U.S. Soccer. This left players scrambling to find spots on teams throughout Southern California.”

Other players, who had put themselves in position to be recruited by top colleges, suddenly found themselves having to wait to try out for a new team or being forced to drop a level or more in play, potentially hurting their college opportunities.

“The staff treated my daughter very well overall and created a great training environment,” the father added. “She had a good coach and really liked the staff.”

Donovan’s World Cup heroics, Leicester’s long-shot title, Man United’s UCL miracle: The best moment I have seen

Apr 2, 2020   ESPN

Over the years, our writers have been present for some of the game’s greatest occasions. In the latest installment of a multi-part series, they tell the story of the best moments they have seen in person, which include Landon Donovan‘s late World Cup winner, Leicester winning the unlikeliest of titles and Man United turning around the 1999 Champions League final.

Jeff Carlisle’s pick: Donovan sparks World Cup delirium

The match: United States 1-0 Algeria (2010)
The place: Pretoria

When the draw for the 2010 World Cup was made, followers of the U.S. men’s national team let out a sigh of relief; their group, featuring England, Slovenia and Algeria, was easier — relatively speaking — than anyone dared to expect.

At which point the goal was laid out in stark terms for Bob Bradley and his side. Advance to the knockout round, and the tournament would be hailed as a success. Fail, and questions would be asked about the direction of the program.


Heading into the final day of group stage matches, and after draws with England and Slovenia, the U.S. was in control of its fate. A win against Algeria in Pretoria would be enough to advance. Anything less, however, and the Americans would exit the tournament.

The U.S. created better chances against Algeria and thought it had a first-half goal from Clint Dempsey, only for it to be ruled out by a questionable offside call. Dempsey hit the post 12 minutes into the second half, before Edson Buddle had a point-blank header saved by Algerian keeper Rais M’Bolhi.

And so it was that, as the match went into stoppage time, stories of monumental failure were being written in the press tribune, with recriminations at the ready. If the U.S. could not advance from this group, how could it expect to do so in the future? Moreover, it seemed unlikely that Bradley would survive a first-round exit.

Landon Donovan scored one of the most memorable goals in U.S. men’s team history against Algeria. AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Then everything changed in an instant. Goalkeeper Tim Howard released Landon Donovan with a pinpoint, long throw into space. Donovan played in Jozy Altidore down the right wing. Altidore’s centering feed found Dempsey inside the penalty area. Dempsey’s close-range shot was denied by M’Bolhi. But the goalkeeper could not hold the ball …

Donovan reacted quickest and slotted home the rebound. As the entire U.S. squad raced to mob their No. 10 in the corner of Loftus Versfeld, ESPN’s Ian Darke uttered the now-immortal line “Go, go, USA!” in the commentary box and a nation erupted in a mix of joy and relief. In the press tribune, one colleague was so overcome that he hugged me and — gently — hit me in the gut.

The goal not only turned obits into plaudits, but also amounted to redemption for the U.S. — and Donovan especially — after a disappointing 2006 World Cup. The ensuing years brought plenty more criticism and accusations of underachievement, but that one, never-to-be-forgotten moment turned his career trajectory again.

– Stream ESPN FC TV, 30 for 30 soccer stories and live games on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– I was there: Zlatan’s MLS introduction | Zidane sees red with Materazzi

Mark Ogden’s pick: Leicester win the league

The match: Leicester 3-1 Everton (2016)
The place: Leicester, England

This is not one moment, but being there to witness Leicester City’s Premier League title triumph was as good as it gets. From December onward, it was clear that something remarkable — and unthinkable — was going to happen. The biggest clubs usually win, but it was all so unexpected with Leicester — rated 5000-1 at the start of the season — and everyone at the club approached it with so much joy and excitement. The abiding memory is manager Claudio Ranieri laughing and smiling his way to the title.

Leicester’s title win was arguably the biggest shock in Premier League history. AP Images

Tom Marshall’s pick: Mexico upset Germany

The match: Germany 0-1 Mexico (2018)
The place: Moscow

Not every nation or club can, has or will win a major trophy, but that does not mean the emotions provoked by this sport are any less volatile or real. When the final whistle blew against Germany after a 1-0 group stage win at the 2018 World Cup, tears of joy were shed by Mexico fans inside the Estadio Luzhniki as they celebrated Hirving Lozano’s winner. Personally, after four years covering the team, El Tri had recorded its best-ever win and one that, at the time, felt like a game-changer. Alas, they were unable to go beyond the round of 16… again.

Tim Vickery’s pick: Koeman wins Barcelona’s first European Cup

The match: Sampdoria 0-1 Barcelona (1992)
The place: London

I had gone to Wembley for the European Cup final in a Barcelona scarf, hoping they could win the big trophy for the first time, while London had turned into the Mediterranean, thanks to a glorious late-May heat wave. The game was terrific, full of ebbs and flows with two fine sides battling for supremacy, and there could have been plenty of goals, but it was still 0-0 in the second period of extra time. I really did not want penalties; I wanted a winner for either side, but preferably Barca. Cue Koeman’s magnificent free kick!

Nick Miller’s pick: Forest make a father and son happy

The match: Derby County 1-2 Nottingham Forest (2015)
The place: Derby, England

Of the games I have attended as a fan over 31 years, only a handful have been without my dad. He had a heart attack five months before this match in January 2015 but was well enough to attend and we suffered together as Forest, our team, were terrible for most of it, only for academy graduate Ben Osborn to score a 92nd-minute winner. Given the circumstances, it was the perfect moment and we should have agreed never to go to another game: not much was going to top that.

Tom Williams’ pick: Robson-Kanu extends Wales’ fairy-tale run

The match: Wales 3-1 Belgium (2016)
The place: Lille, France

I have been fortunate to witness some incredible moments — Champions League finals, a World Cup final and Leicester winning the Premier League — but from a personal perspective, Robson-Kanu’s goal against Belgium in the Euro 2016 quarterfinals meant the most. The Cruyff turn, the pinpoint finish, the roar of the Welsh fans. I never thought I would see Wales qualify for a major tournament, let alone reach the semifinals.

Rob Dawson’s pick: Solskjaer caps Man United’s Champions League final comeback

The match: Man United 2-1 Bayern Munich (1999)
The place: Barcelona, Spain

Seconds after Teddy Sheringham had equalised, United won a corner and the roar from the crowd just before David Beckham’s delivery gave you goosebumps. When the ball hit the roof of the net off the foot of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to see a stadium the size of Camp Nou erupt is something no one there will ever forget. A truly incredible moment in the last seconds to become the first — and only — English club to win a treble.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s injury-time winner in 1999 completed the greatest Champions League turnaround in history. Photo by Matthew Ashton – EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Graham Hunter’s pick: Casillas denies Robben

The match: Netherlands 0-1 Spain (2010)
The place: Johannesburg, South Africa

I traveled with Spain throughout the 2010 World Cup, stayed in their hotels, watched them work, interviewed them and shared sleepless plane journeys. During the final, I was pitchside — yards from La Roja’s bench — hoping fervently they would win as Netherlands attempted to kick them off the pitch. All of a sudden, with the score 0-0, Arjen Robben went through on goal and I felt like my heart would stop. Iker Casillas’ save, off his outstretched little toe while diving the wrong way, still seems like a miracle and was a critical moment as Spain went on to lift their first and only World Cup trophy.

Gab Marcotti’s pick: Italy beat hosts Germany

The match: Germany 0-2 Italy (2006)
The place: Dortmund, Germany

Beating the Germans in Germany at the enormous — and raucous — Westfalenstadion for a spot in the World Cup final … football fandom does not get any better. Andrea Pirlo’s reverse pass for Fabio Grosso is what everyone remembers about a game in which the Italians scored twice late in extra time, but my favourite memory is Germany keeper Jens Lehmann losing his temper after Alessandro Del Piero’s goal. Priceless.

Colin Udoh: Nigeria finally overcome Cameroon

The match: Cameroon 1-2 Nigeria (2004)
The place: Monastir, Tunisia

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).

The long Nigeria-Cameroon rivalry is full of painful memories for the Super Eagles, so when the countries were pitched against each other in the 2004 African Cup of Nations quarterfinal, many fans had already given up. In fact, media in Tunisia were already packing their bags to leave the next day! Sure enough, Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring for Cameroon and it looked as though Nigeria’s woes were set to continue, until a goal from Jay-Jay Okocha turned things around and John Utaka delivered the win. Breathtaking.

Tor-Kristian Karlsen: Placente helps Leverkusen stun Man United

The match: Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Man United (2002)
The place: Leverkusen, Germany

There were three minutes left of the Champions League semifinal second leg and the aggregate score was 3-3 when Leverkusen’s Diego Placente cleared Diego Forlan’s goal-bound shot off the line. I was working for the German club and sitting next to a stoic Sven-Goran Eriksson during the game. Rather unprofessionally, I kept jumping up and down throughout the nerve-wracking encounter as Leverkusen, who never led throughout the tie, went through on away goals.

Julien Laurens: Mbappe delivers World Cup for France

The match: France 4-2 Croatia (2018)
The place: Moscow

It is one thing to experience watching your country lift the World Cup as a fan, but to cover the team throughout a tournament and be present as they are crowned champions is very special. There were doubts on the road to Moscow — France won by one goal only once before the final — but Didier Deschamps’ men turned up when it counted and Kylian Mbappe‘s coming-of-age display saw him score against Croatia to seal glory. It was a fantastic adventure.

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

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3/8/2020   Indy 11 wins Season Opener, US Ladies beat England face Spain today at 5 on ESPN, MLS Week 2, Man Derby Sun, Italy behind closed doors, UCL Tues/Wed

USA – Ladies Play today at 5 pm on ESPN

The US ladies got off to a great start stomping the English 2-0 Thursday in Orlando. The US got a fantastic goal from Christen Press and another from Lloyd who also had the 1st assist in a dominating 2nd half.  England did have 6 shots on goal and looked dangerous on Corners – as the stupid US zone coverage was busted for almost 3 goals on the night !!!! Put someone on the post and play man or woman to woman – come on coaches!!!  Anyway – overall the US dominated possession almost 2 to 1 and had more dangerous looks all night.  The English talked a good game coming in but did not deliver on the field. On the men’s side US Christian Pulisic might make the bench for Chelsea this weekend as he has returned to training.


  • Date Matches Stadium City Kickoff (TV)
  • Sun Mar. 8 USA vs. Spain Red Bull Arena Harrison, N.J. 5 p.m. ET on ESPN, TUDN.
  • Weds Mar. 11 USA vs. Japan Toyota Stadium Frisco, Texas 7 p.m. CT on ESPNews, TUDN.

Full U.S. roster:

Goalkeepers (3): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders (8): Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride)

Midfielders (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (7): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

Indy 11 Wins 1st Game

The Indy 11 fought back from 2-0 down in the first half to win 4-2 in a spectacular 2nd half of play at Memphis.  The 11 – made former US Goalkeeper Timmy Howard look like he should retire again as they slotted shot after shot past him in the 2nd half.  The insertion of Nick Moon at mid in the 2nd half sparked the 11 to 3 goals with his fantastic play and 2 assists to Tyler Pasher.  Just an amazing 2nd half display by the 11 who will be on the road again next week at Swope Park Rangers Sat at 5 pm on ESPN+.

The Manchester Derby between Man U fighting for a top 4 spot and Man City – in 2nd in the table is slated for 12:30 pm today – see stories in the OBC.  Also Italy is back to playing with no fans in the stands as Juve will host Inter at 3:45 pm on ESPN+.  Great to see American stars in Germany get off the snide for 2020 as 2 scored fantastic goals on Saturday. McKinney and Josh Sarrgent both scored great goals on the day.    Of course Champions League is back this week Tues/Wed.  as Liverpool look to turnaround the 1 goal deficit to Atletico at home Wed on TNT at 3 pm. while PSG will look to make up their 2 goal deficit at home to Dortmund and American Gio Reyna at the same time.


Sun 3/8 

10 a.m.  NBCSN                Chelsea vs Everton  

9:30 am Fox Sport2          Bayern Munich vs Ausburg

12:30  NBC                  Man United vs Manchester City   

12:30 NBCSN                    Burnley bs Tottenham

2:15 pm ESPN3                 Japan vs England (She Believes Cup)

3:45 pm ESPN+, Uni         Juventus vs Inter  

5 pm ESPN                 USA Ladies vs Spain (She Believes Cup)

7 pm ESPN                         Portland vs Nashville   MLS

10 pm FS1                          LAFC vs Philly Union  MLS

Mon  3/9 

4 pm NBCSN                     Aston Villa vs Leicester City  

Tues 3/10– Champions League

3 pm Gala, fubotv, B/R     Valencia vs Atalanta

3 pm TNT                            RB Leipzig (adams) vs Tottenham

Weds 3/11 – Champions League

3:30 pm NBCSN                 Man City vs Arsenal

4 pm TNT                            Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid

4 pm Gala, fubotv, B/R      PSG vs Dortmund (Reyna)

7 pm ESPN News       USA Ladies vs Japan (She Believes Cup)

8 pm Fox Sport 2               NYCFC vs Tigres (CCL)

10:30 pm Fox Sport 2??   America vs Atlanta United  (CCL)

Thur 3/12– Europa League+ CCL

3 pm BR Live/fubotv,   LASK Linz vs Man United

10:30 pm Foxsport.com  LAFC vs Cruz Azul (CCL)

Sat, 3/14 

8:30 a.m.  NBCSN             Watford vs Leicester City

10:30 am Fox Sport2      Dortmund (Reyna) vs Schalke (Mckinney)  

11 am NBCSN                    Man City vs Burnley

1:30 NBCSN                      Aston Villa vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

2:30 pm FOX               Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy  MLS

5:30 pm ESPN+                 Cincy vs DC United

5 pm ESPN+               Swope Park Rangers vs Indy 11

7 pm ESPN+                      Atlanta United vs Sporting KC

Sun 3/16 

10 a.m.  NBCSN                Chelsea (Pulisic?) vs Everton  

10:30 am Fox Sport2        Frankfurt (Chandler)  vs B Mgladvach

12:30  NBC                  Tottenham vs Man United

3:45 pm ESPN+                 Milan vs Roma   

7 pm FS1                            Min United vs NY RB MLS


Don’t recognize this USWNT lineup? It’s part of Andonovski’s plan  2hAndrea Adelson

USA Women vs England Women result: Revenge mission falls flat as world champions see off Lionesses

England handed stinging defeat by the USA in SheBelieves Cup opener   The Telegraph

Press, Lloyd on target as USA sink England in SheBelieves Cup

USA Women vs England Women result: Revenge mission falls flat as world champions see off Lionesses  The Independent

Phil Neville says England lack mentality to beat the best but insists they are getting betterThe Telegraph

Spain downs Japan 3-1 in SheBelieves Cup opener

Rapinoe adjusting to life in the spotlight
Megan Rapinoe ‘positive’ over equal pay dispute before England clash

Ertz becomes 40th U.S. woman to earn 100 caps

‘The U.S. is my home’ – Reyna shuts down reports of England call-up
Chelsea issue positive injury update on Pulisic

Games to Watch to see US Players Play


  • Date Matches Stadium City Kickoff (TV)
  • Sun Mar. 8 USA vs. Spain Red Bull Arena Harrison, N.J. 5 p.m. ET on ESPN, TUDN.
  • Wed Mar. 11 USA vs. Japan Toyota Stadium Frisco, Texas 7 p.m. CT on ESPNews, TUDN.


Liverpool warned Atletico will be ‘more difficult’ to overcome than Barcelona
Real Madrid can emulate Man Utd & stun City in Champions League, says Mijatovic

Bad news for Dortmund: Mbappé’s becoming even more prolific


Serie A to resume with last weekend’s postponed matches

Can Conte’s prodigious man-management skills lift Inter to win Serie A?

Soccer-Inter director says Serie A risks not finishing due to coronavirus
Simeone anticipated tough spell but happy Atletico stayed patient
Van Basten: Those who think Ronaldo’s better than Messi know nothing about football


Premier League drop pre-match handshake over coronavirus concern

Man City and Man United will be Liverpool’s rivals next season  1dMark Ogden

Harry Maguire a doubt for Manchester derby with ankle injury

Manchester United star Ighalo matches personal record in Derby County FA Cup victory

Soccer-Guardiola sweats over De Bruyne fitness ahead of Manchester derby
Solskjaer slams fixture list as Man City get extra day’s rest before Manchester derby

A must-win Manchester derby up next for Manchester United

United will try to make Manchester derby a ‘classic’ – Solskjae

Soccer-Inter director says Serie A risks not finishing due to coronavirus
Simeone anticipated tough spell but happy Atletico stayed patient
Van Basten: Those who think Ronaldo’s better than Messi know nothing about football
FA Cup Draw: Chelsea draw Leicester; Man City visit Newcastle

FA Cup Wrap: Norwich stun Spurs


Hernandez: no pressure to replace no-title Ibrahimovic in MLS
MLS Week 2 preview: Rapids aim for 2-0; LAFC hosts Philly
26 Thoughts: Bruce Arena says Carlos Cordeiro has ‘no business being’ USSF president, and details his plan in New England

Indy 11 & USL

Indy 11 Schedule Released

Season and Half Season Plans on Sale






Howard back in goal, for USL Championship club Memphis 901 FC


USA Women vs England Women result: Revenge mission falls flat as world champions see off Lionesses

England’s attempt to exact World Cup revenge on the United States fell flat as they were outplayed by the world champions in a 2-0 defeat in their SheBelieves Cup opener in Orlando. The Lionesses, who won the competition for the first time last year, struggled once again to compete with their long-standing foes who scored twice in two minutes to pile pressure on Phil Neville. Christian Press, who headed the Americans to World Cup victory in Lyon, scored the opener before Carli Lloyd wrapped up the win with her 123rd international goal to consign the Lionesses to their first defeat of the year.There were four changes to the England starting eleven that lost to USA in last summer’s World Cup semi-final in France, with Alex Greenwood, Leah Williamson, Georgia Stanway and 19-year-old Lauren Hemp coming in to replace Demi Stokes, Rachel Daly and injured duo Lucy Bronze and Beth Mead. And just like that fateful night back in July, it was all USA in the opening stages as Lloyd and Rose Lavelle both tested Carly Telford early with the Lionesses struggling for control under pressure early on. England’s first chance came from nowhere when Keira Walsh lifted the ball into the box for Nikita Parris but after taking the ball down beautifully, the winger headed directly at Alyssa Naeher before the lineswoman ruled her offside.Somehow the USA had nothing to show for their efforts despite dominating the first half of action, Telford coming to England’s rescue again when she smothered a one-on-one effort from Lindsey Horan.The Lionesses rode their luck in the first half and breathed a sigh of relief to go in goalless at the break, especially after the USA saw their penalty shout turned down when Tobin Heath was taken down by Greenwood in the box, prompting jeers from all corners of the Exploria Stadium. It came 43 minutes later than it did in Lyon but once again it was Press, who scored five goals in Olympic qualifying, who gave the Americans the lead against England as she cut in from the left to curl into the top right corner from 25 yards out.It wasn’t all World Cup déjà vu though as instead of seeing an Ellen White equaliser, the Lionesses found themselves fighting a 2-0 deficit just a matter of minutes later. The Americans doubled their lead on 55 minutes through Lloyd, who ran onto a perfectly lifted ball from Horan to scoop over Telford, England’s backline in no man’s land to deal with her run. For an England side struggling for cohesion at both ends, the bright spark of the evening was without a doubt Hemp, who on her starting eleven debut, consistently caused trouble for the experienced Kelly O’Hara down the right flank. Jordan Nobbs, Toni Duggan and the in-form Bethany England were brought on by Phil Neville to help provide more attacking impetus for Hemp, but no matter what the Lionesses did going forward they continued to struggle with the pace of the USA frontline, Lloyd almost making it three when she blazed over the bar. Julie Ertz, making her 100th international appearance, thought she’d wrapped up the win in Orlando when she thumped a superb strike from a tight angle into the back of the net, but the USA midfielder was denied by the offside flag. The introduction of Chloe Kelly couldn’t change England’s fortunes as shaky defending and a lack of ruthless edge in front of goal once again cost the Lionesses as the World Cup semi-final rematch reached the same conclusion of a dominant US victory.

Lionesses outclassed by imperious USA in SheBelieves Cup opener

Suzanne Wrack in Orlando

The GuardianMarch 5, 2020, 9:09 PM EST

Any ambition Phil Neville’s Lionesses had of asserting their claim to be the biggest rivals to four-times world champions the US took a heavy bruising as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat in their SheBelieves Cup opener.

It will not be the defeat that sees the pressure ramp up on Neville, whose side laboured to two wins in their seven games sandwiched by this tie and their defeat to the US in the World Cup semi-finals, more the manner of it.

Related: Lauren Hemp gives Lionesses hope with feisty performance against USA

If attempting to determine which side has the majority of their players domestically in their off-season and which is made up of those in the middle of a fiercely competitive league season you would have been forgiven for guessing incorrectly. “I think that shows the mentality of this team and what we’re trying to do,” said Lindsey Horan. “We’re not in season so we’re not in full fitness and this tournament is going to help us out with that.”

England’s passing was sloppy at best and the Lionesses were second to every loose ball. It contrasted brutally with the slick confidence and intuition of an American side that has not lost in 14 months.

Neville, though, insisted he sees progress in a team many deem to be going backwards, one which has dropped from third to sixth in the world rankings since the start of the World Cup. “I don’t see a team that lacked confidence in terms of the way that we want to play,” he said. “I see a team that are trying to play the right way and it feels as if we are so close but yet so far at this moment in time, and that is how the players feel as well. We’ve got to overcome that.”

If there was a feeling that any bad blood between these two sides would be watered down by the friendly occasion then the booming pyrotechnics and rambunctious chanting led by the American Outlaws fan group helped ratchet up the tension.

The absence of Ballon d’Or winning forward Megan Rapinoe from the starting lineup for the USWNT seemed strange. Last summer she sat out with injury, this time the decision to sit her out was more about preservation of their 34-year-old talisman. The only change to the starting XI from the World Cup semi-final game was forced, the pregnancy of Alex Morgan meaning Carli Lloyd stepped in for her 292nd cap. Their biggest change was offthe field, with Jill Ellis replaced by Vlatko Andonovski as head coach.

Neville had been caught out by the benching of Rapinoe in Lyon, having broken apart the powerful Lucy Bronze, Nikita Parris and Jill Scott axis on the right to try and find a way to stifle the attack. Instead it had stunted England’s previous fluidity.

Seven players remained from that game for England and, bar players missing through injury, the line up and formation was much more familiar. The addition of 19-year-old Lauren Hemp, for her first start, proved fruitful. Within the first 15 minutes the fearless teenager had tested right-back Kelley O’Hara and she was England’s brightest outfield outlet. “There was a girl there that played without fear. She’s literally a bull,” said Neville.

Her performance was matched only by Chelsea goalkeeper Carly Telford. The No 1 saved smartly after a header by Julie Ertz – the defensive midfielder making her 100th appearance who was described by Neville as “phenomenal” and “probably the one player I would take out of that team” – before pulling off a fantastic double save to deny Horan.

Related: USA 2-0 England: SheBelieves Cup – as it happened

The Lionesses were extremely fortunate to be level at the break with the US pressing them hard and high and Neville’s somewhat makeshift back line, with Leah Williamson standing in for injured Bronze at right back and a not very defensively minded Alex Greenwood at left back struggling with the pace and slick passing of Horan and Press.

It was only a matter of time for the US to make the breakthrough and to rub salt in the wound they hit two in two minutes. First, Press curled into the top right corner from 25 yards to cruelly end Telford’s resolute stand. Then, Horan cheekily clipped the ball into the run of Lloyd who had crept between Millie Bright and Steph Houghton before firing low past the England goalkeeper with ease.

The rapturous cheering for Rapinoe as she warmed up was rewarded just past the hour mark when the stadium erupted on her introduction. While Andonovski’s changes were, on the whole, like for like as they looked to see out the game, Neville’s were baffling. In a game crying out for more fluidity from England up top, the manager waited until the 81st minute before bringing on joint WSL top scorer Beth England. By then the damage was well done and in the end the scoreline flattered the visiting team.

“We as a team feel like we have [gone up a level],” said Ertz of their performance. “It’s just about getting better and holding yourselves to a higher standard. We know that what we did in 2019 isn’t going to win us the Olympics. We learned that in 2015 [after winning the World Cup] and 2016 [when they lost to Sweden in their Olympic quarter-final].”

Chelsea issue positive injury update on Pulisic

Joe Prince-WrightNBC Sports•March 6, 2020


Chelsea finally have a positive injury update on USMNT star Christian Pulisic.Hurrah!Pulisic, 21, last played for Chelsea on Jan. 1 as he suffered a nasty adductor injury in training.Frank Lampard has given plenty of updates on the fitness of the American winger in recent weeks and not many of them have been positive. The latest was.“Actually we just had an in-house game which Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] and Pulisic took part in. Great to see Pulisic playing but he is short on match fitness. It is a big step forward. Ruben is trying to find match fitness,” Lampard said.Chelsea host Everton on Sunday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a massive game in their battle for a top four finish.With Man United and Wolves breathing down their necks, Chelsea’s form over the last few months has been terrible compared to their fast start to the season.The Blues have made it through to the FA Cup quarterfinals (where they will travel to Leicester City) after beating Liverpool in midweek and although they look likely to exit the UEFA Champions League at the Round of 16 stage, a top four finish and an FA Cup final appearance would be a good first season in charge for Lampard and his young players.There’s no coincidence that Chelsea’s poor run has coincided with Pulisic’s absence as the American winger was finding his stride in the fall and his creativity and direct running gave Chelsea something different in the final third. With Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi out injured, Chelsea will be keen to have Pulisic back as soon as possible and he may be fit enough for a place on the bench this weekend or next.Lampard and Chelsea have admitted they’ve missed Pulisic and the Pennsylvanian native pushed hard to come back sooner than expected but suffered a setback in February.With big games coming up against top four rivals between now and the end of the season, Pulisic will be hoping to finish the season strong after a injury-hit first season in the Premier League.


By Indy Eleven Communications, 03/07/20, 10:45PM EST

MEMPHIS (Saturday, March 7, 2020) – For Indy Eleven, it wasn’t how it started its 2020 USL Championship opener, it was how it finished it, as the Boys in Blue put four unanswered on the board after spotting Memphis an early lead to post a 4-2 victory at AutoZone Park.Indy Eleven’s 2019 leading scorer, forward Tyler Pasher, picked up where he left off with equalizing and game-winning goals midway through the second half that were assisted by new strike mate Nick Moon. The wing back tandem of Ayoze and Carl Haworth opened and finished the scoring, respectively, to give Indy Eleven an emphatic road win to start a promising campaign on the right foot after some early adversity.“I’ve always thought the best team-building event you can ever do is to go and win a game, especially on the road, and that’s what we did tonight. Everybody enjoys winning, and especially a comeback win like that,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “Scoring four goals on the road – I don’t think we’ve done that since I’ve been coaching here. There were a lot of things there tonight that can help bring the team together and obviously we’re just getting started and have a lot to look forward to.”

Head Coach Martin Rennie Quote Sheet: #MEMvIND (03-07-20)

Memphis struck first, and a bit against the run of early play, nine minutes in through Brandon Allen, who took Pierre Da Silva’s looping ball inside the area and curled a shot into the left side of goal to give the home side the quick advantage. Memphis would double up on the quarter hour, when Zach Carroll got to Marc Burch’s corner kick at the six and buried a low header to push the Memphis lead to 2-0. Indy dodged a bullet off another corner in the 22nd minute, when goalkeeper Evan Newton did well to kick save 901 FC defender Liam Doyle’s eight-yard effort, keeping the visitors within reach.It was Newton coming up big again just minutes before the half when he used both hands to parry away Memphis striker Duane Muckette’s breakaway attempt from near the penalty spot. That stop would prove big as Indy clawed one back just before the three minutes of added time elapsed via Ayoze, who ran onto Haworth’s square ball at the top of the area and lashed a low, first-time blast to the right post that gave recently unretired Memphis goalkeeper Tim Howard no chance and halved the Indy deficit.“First of all, full credit to Memphis because they started the game and with a lot of energy, and I think they caught us cold a little bit. They were 2-nil up very early on and showed us things we definitely could improve upon,” Rennie said. “But even at 2-nil down I still felt confident that we would come back and do well in the game, and it was really important to get the goal just before halftime because that gave us a bit of momentum going into the break.A very active second half began with Indy getting the better chances, first Pasher seeing a low shot flash just past the left post in the 51st minute and Yeferson Contreras having a header saved by a diving Howard a few minutes later. Minutes after coming on for Contreras in the 63rd minute, Moon would rue missing contact on a through ball that put him in alone on Howard, but the Eleven debutant would soon make amends by assisting on a pair of vital goals by Pasher.The Canadian forward did the heavy lifting himself in the 69th minute, accepting Moon’s through ball at the midfield stripe and racing inside the area before beating Howard low to even things at 2-2. Just three minutes later it was Moon taking advantage of a defensive miscue at the edge of the final third and carrying into the area before playing an early cross to the six, where Pasher easily swept past a stranded Howard to put Indy in the lead at 3-2. In the 83rd minute it was Pasher playing provider, his cross from the left going through the area and meeting the late run of Haworth, who smashed first time from near the corner of the six to give Indiana’s Team a vital insurance tally. Rennie was indeed correct, as tonight’s opening game of Indy Eleven’s seventh season marked the first time the club had scored four times away from home.“As we came out in the second half thought we improved a lot, had better possession and obviously finished better with three scores, and we could have had even more,” Rennie said. “Hopefully this will help us brighten up and start the next game better, and overall we can still take a lot from this game in how we finished it off.”Indy Eleven will continue its month-long road trip to begin the 2020 USL Championship regular season next Saturday, March 14, when the Boys in Blue travel west to face Sporting Kansas City II. Kickoff from Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kan., is set for 5:00 p.m. for a match that fans can watch live on ESPN+.

USL Championship Regular Season – #MEMvIND
Memphis 901 FC  2 : 4  Indy Eleven
Saturday, March 7, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET
AutoZone Park – Memphis, Tenn.
Attendance: 8,571

2020 USL Championship records
Indy Eleven (1W-0L-0D, 3 pts.)
Memphis 901 FC (0W-1L-0D, 0 pts.)

Scoring Summary:
MEM – Brandon Allen (unassisted) 9’
MEM – Zach Carroll (Marc Burch) 16’
IND – Ayoze (Carl Haworth) 45+3’
IND – Tyler Pasher (Nick Moon) 69’
IND – Tyler Pasher (Nick Moon) 72’
IND – Carl Haworth (Tyler Pasher) 83’
Disciplinary Summary:
IND – Yeferson Contreras (yellow card) 11’
MEM – Marc Burch (yellow card) 12’
IND – Andrew Carleton (yellow card) 13’
MEM – Duane Muckette (yellow card) 17’
IND – Ayoze (yellow card) 88
Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton; Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze, Drew Connor, Tyler Gibson, Carl Haworth; Yeferson Contreras (Nick Moon 63’), Andrew Carleton (Ilija Ilic 70’), Tyler Pasher (Matt Watson 86’)

IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Conner Antley, Mitch Osmond, Cam Lindley

IND Stats: Shots: 15, Shots on Goal: 7, Possession: 51%, Passing Accuracy: 68%, Fouls: 16, Corners: 4, Offsides: 4

Memphis 901 FC (4-3-3, L–>R):  Tim Howard; March Burch (captain), Liam Doyle, Zach Carroll, Mark Segbers; Michael Reed, Jose Baxter (Dan Metzger 82’), Jean-Christophe Koffi; Pierre Da Silva (Rafael Mentzingen 75’), Duane Muckette (Matthew Hundley 64’), Brandon AllenMEM Substitutes: Jimmy Hauge (GK), Jackson Morse, Keanu Marsh-Brown, Leston Paul

MEM Stats: Shots: 11, Shots on Goal: 5, Possession: 49%, Passing Accuracy: 69%, Fouls: 11, Corners: 6, Offsides: 1


MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Tyler Pasher picked up where he left off in 2019 with two goals and one assist as Indy Eleven spoiled the Memphis 901 FC debut of Tim Howard in a 4-2 victory before a crowd of 8,571 fans at AutoZone Park on Saturday night.

901 FC took the lead in the ninth minute on its first good look at goal when Pierre Da Silva floated an angled cross from the left to the back post where Brandon Allen controlled, turned back centrally and fired into the top-left corner. The hosts doubled their lead seven minutes later as Zach Carroll arrived unmarked at the back post on Marc Burch’s corner kick from the right to send a diving header into the bottom-right corner.Memphis threatened again in the 22nd minute from another corner as Liam Doyle’s low shot was kept out by a kick-save from Indy goalkeeper Evan Newton before the visitors found their first big chance of the game on the half-hour mark. A quick throw-in wasn’t dealt with by Memphis’ defense, but Andrew Carleton sent his finish from the right of the penalty area high and wide of the far post, failing to test Howard.

The hosts almost added a third just before halftime as Jean-Christophe Koffi stole possession in the Indy half and was played in for a shot by Duane Muckette that was parried by Newton, but instead it was Indy that hit back in first-half stoppage time when Ayoze rifled home a finish into the bottom-right corner of the net from the top of the penalty area after good work by Carl Haworth.

Memphis had a big opportunity to restore its two-goal advantage when Da Silva got a clear look on goal two minutes into the second half, only to fire over from 15 yards. Indy also had a good chance 11 minutes after the break when Yeferson Contreras’ header toward the bottom-right corner forced a save from Howard.

The Eleven pulled level with 21 minutes to go, however, when Pasher broke forward quickly on a counterattack, cut past a defender and shot low into the bottom-right corner of the net. Two minutes later, Pasher added his second of the night as he slid home to convert a low cross from the right by Nick Moon after a miscue in the Memphis defense.

Indy then put the game away with seven minutes to go as Pasher added an assist, with his low cross from the left being met by a first-time finish at the back post by Haworth to cap his debut for the Eleven with a goal. Newton was forced into one final big save in stoppage time to keep out Rafael Mentzingen, but Indy’s big second half earned all three points to open the new season.

USLChampionship.com Man of the Match

Tyler Pasher, Indy Eleven – Pasher scored twice, including a phenomenal solo effort, and added an assist to lead his side to a big comeback on the road to start the campaign.




2/28/2020   MLS Season Kicks off-Nashville vs Atl Sat 8 pm Fox, Indy 11 & USL Start next weekend, US Ladies Cup starts Thurs, El Classico Sun  

So I have to start with Champions League play and just how good it was over the past 2 weeks – and not just UCL from CCL – Concacaf Champions League featuring 5 MLS squads and 4 Mexican squads and others.  The games especially last night’s LAFC vs Cruz Azul and Seattle hosting Olimpia were fantastic.  LAFC overcame a 2 goal deficit after round 1 to win 3-0 at home on 2 goals from MLS MVP Carlos Vela.  In Seattle – the MLS Cup Champs gave up an 86th minute goal to draw at 2-2, (4-4 on aggregate) then lost in a shootout 5-3.  Still 4 MLS teams advanced to the round of 8  – which is quite impressive – had me watching 2 TVs at 11:30 pm last night on FS1 and FS2.

Of course – the Champions League UCL had a few surprises – as Man City marched into Real Madrid and stole a 2-1 win on a last minute PK.  Questionable Red Card on Ramos for me.  Also Juve laid an egg in a 0-1 loss at Napoli   and of course Liverpool was held scoreless by Atletico Madrid in a 0-1 loss in Spain.  The 2nd legs next month will be exciting !


MLS kicks off their 25th season this weekend as the league welcomes new clubs Nashville and Inter Miami.  Nashville kicks off their in-augural season by hosting Atlanta United in the Titans football stadium Saturday night at 8 pm on FOX.  Yes network TV !  Also Saturday a whole host of games on ESPN+ – (as almost every MLS game is available on the Plus all season long – see full schedule below.  Sunday gives us Defending Champs Seattle hosting newly revamped Chicago at Fire at 3 pm on ESPN, followed by LAFC hosting Inter Miami Sunday at 5:30 pm as David Beckham returns to LA where he played for so many years.   Fox Sports 1 takes over with the 7:30 pm game featuring Portland and Minn United.


The US ladies have announced the roster for the She Believes Cup matching the top 4 of the top teams in the World in a round robin in the US starting next Thurs as the US opens with England at 8 pm on ESPN2.  On the men’s side Dortmund 17 year-old American Gio Reyna fresh off his assist on the winning goal for Dortmund 2 minutes after he came on last week vs PSG has been announced to the roster for the US Men next month when they play in Europe.


  • Date Matches Stadium City Kickoff (TV)
  • Thurs Mar. 5 USA vs. England Exploria Stadium Orlando, Fla. 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, TUDN.
  • Sun Mar. 8 USA vs. Spain Red Bull Arena Harrison, N.J. 5 p.m. ET on ESPN, TUDN.
  • Weds Mar. 11 USA vs. Japan Toyota Stadium Frisco, Texas 7 p.m. CT on ESPNews, TUDN.

Full U.S. roster:

Goalkeepers (3): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders (8): Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride)

Midfielders (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (7): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)


El Classico the battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona takes place this weekend on Sunday at 3 pm on beIN Sport and FUBO TV – see all the stories on the OBC..  Barcelona has a 2 point lead on the home standing Madradistas as both teams battle for La Liga supremacy as the next team is 10 points back.  Still both squads have already suffered more losses than last year in the much more competitive league.  For Real – the chance to bounce back after the stunning loss to Man City at home is huge.

Indy 11-april_4_home_opener



Sat, Feb 29  MLS Season Opens

7:30 a.m. ET: NBCSN         Brighton vs CP

9:30 am Fox Sport2           Frieburg vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

9:30 am FS1                       Hoffenhiem vs Bayern Munich

10 am NBCSN                     Bournemouth vs Chelsea

11:30 am beIN Sport         PSG vs Dijon

12:30 p.m. ET: NBC           Watford vs Liverpool

3:30 pm Univision             Houston vs LA Galaxy (Chichirito)

6 pm ESPN+                        Dallas vs Philly Union  

5:30 pm ESPN+                  San Jose vs Toronto FC

6 pm ESPN+                        Dallas (CHS Matt Hedges) vs Philly Union

8 pm FOX                            Nashville vs Atlanta (Nashville 1st game)

Sun, 3/1 

9 a.m. ET: NBCSN              Everton vs Man United

9am NBCSN                       Tottenham vs Wolverhampton

11:30 am ESPN+                Aston Villa vs Man City – (LEAGUE CUP)

1 pm ESPN+                        NY Red Bulls vs Cincy

3 pm beIN sport/Fubo     Real Madrid vs Barcelona  (El CLassico)

3 pm ESPN                          Seattle vs Chicago Fire

5:30 pm ESPN                    LAFC vs Inter Miami

7:30 pm FS1                       Portland Timbers vs Minnesota United

Thur 3/5

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Napoli vs Inter  Copa Italia

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Derby Co vs Man United (FA Cup)

7 pm ESPN2                USA Ladies vs England (She Believes Cup)

Sat, 3/7 

730 a.m.  NBCSN               Liverpool vs Bournmouth  

9:30 am Fox Sport2           Wolfsburg (Brooks) vs RB Liepzig (Adams)

10 am NBCSN                     Arsenal vs West Ham

12:30 NBCSN                      Burnley bs Tottenham

1:30 pm ESPN+                  NE Revs vs Chicago Fire

3:30pm ESPN+, Uni           DC united vs Inter Miami 

5 pm ESPN+                        Toronto vs NYCFC 

7 pm ESPN+                        Atlanta United vs Cincy 

7 pm ESPN+       Memphis vs Indy 11

10 pm ESPN News             San Diego Loyals (Donovan) vs Las Vegas Lights  USL


CCL Wrap: LAFC makes history, Sounders eliminated

Your 2020 MLS Season Preview is here!

MLS Power Rankings – Jason Davis – ESPN


Cincinnati Season Preview: Will FCC’s attacking makeover pay off?

Columbus Season Preview: Watch out for the Crew in 2020

Chicago Season Preview: New-look Fire will need time

Nashville Season Preview: Strategy is clear for 2020 expansion season

Atlanta Season Preview: 2020 could prove an even bigger challenge for De Boer

FC Dallas Season Preview: Luchi’s men no longer underdogs in 2020

Portland Season Preview: Timbers reload with new strikeforce

Seattle Season Preview: Can Sounders survive CCL and contend again?

MLS’s most interesting team? What to make of Chicago Fire in 2020

Beckham: Inter Miami have great opportunity to sign Messi and Ronaldo

‘It’s the hardest thing I’ve done’ – Beckham reveals Inter Miami struggles ahead of MLS debut  Goal.com

Beckham’s Miami MLS team to kick off after 7 years of twist


Juve fans are fed up with Sarri. Can he rally before it’s too late?

How coronavirus is affecting soccer in Italy2dGabriele Marcotti

Connelly: Barca are having a much better year than you think
– Hunter: Real overtake Barca as “academy kings”
– Toe Poke: Ramos’ red card total not even close to a record
What’s it like being the referee for Real Madrid vs. Barcelona?

Soccer’s best duos: Which pairs of the modern era work best together?

Pep masterminds biggest Champions League win in Man City history

Champions League
Europa League last 16 draw: Man United, Wolves face tricky tests

Pep masterminds biggest Champions League win in Man City history

Chelsea’s flaws laid bare by rampant Bayern

Madrid stunned as KDB inspires City fightback

Werner pen earns Leipzig crucial win at Spurs

Atalanta fairytale continues as Italians thrash Valencia

Zen-sational stats! Dortmund striker Haaland has more UCL goals than Barca

Sources: Atletico fuming at Klopp accusations

Atletico make Liverpool’s Supermen look like Clark Kents

Atletico stifle Liverpool with defensive effort

Record-setting Haaland leads Dortmund past PSG

Lacazette 3/10 as Arsenal crash out of Europa League


U.S.’s Reyna, 17, emotional after UCL record

Gio Reyna to receive first USMNT call-up in March

Americans at home: Yanks to watch in MLS, 2020 edition – Part I ~ guys we know

Lucy Bronze out for England

Pugh returns to U.S. roster for SheBelieves Cup

U.S. Soccer accused of telling ‘false’ story on pay

U.S. Soccer, players file opposing motions in suit

U.S. Soccer, players file opposing motions in suit


  • Date Matches Stadium City Kickoff (TV)
  • 5 USA vs. England Exploria Stadium Orlando, Fla. 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, TUDN.
  • 8 USA vs. Spain Red Bull Arena Harrison, N.J. 5 p.m. ET on ESPN, TUDN.
  • 11 USA vs. Japan Toyota Stadium Frisco, Texas 7 p.m. CT on ESPNews, TUDN.

Indy 11

Indy 11 Schedule Released

Season and Half Season Plans on Sale






Arrival of the MLS season means an even deeper slate of games to follow

By jcksnftsn  Feb 28, 2020, 7:40am PST

The kickoff of MLS this weekend, including four games on the major networks, has significantly increased the pool of games available to follow this weekend and along with a solid slate of Bundesliga action there are quite a few games that we can track through the weekend. So here we go:


Fortuna Dusseldorf v Hertha Berlin – 2:30p on FS2

The weekend kicks off with a Bundesliga match that should see Alfredo Morales take the field with Fortuna Dusseldorf when the team faces Hertha Berlin on Friday afternoon. Morales came off the bench last weekend which snapped a streak of seven straight starts for the American. Dusseldorf won the game thanks to two goals before Morales came on and the win snapped a five game winless streak so perhaps that doesn’t speak well to the role Morales has been playing with the team. The victory was a crucial one for the team though as they need every point they can get to avoid relegation. With the win they remained in 16th place and the relegation playoff spot but drew within two points of Mainz for 15th place.

This weekend Dusseldorf will be playing 15th place Hertha Berlin who are coming off a humiliating 5-0 loss to FC Koln despite out possessing them nearly 2-1. Another victory for Dusseldorf this weekend could very well raise them out of the relegation zone and set them on a trajectory for safety this season.


Borussia Dortmund v Freiburg – 9:30a on FS2

Giovanni Reyna still awaits his first Bundesliga start but continues to get significant minutes off the bench for Borussia Dortmund and has looked the part every time he has seen the field for the team. BVB currently sit in third place, four points back of league leading Bayern Munich and are coming off a 2-0 win over toothless Werder Bremen. Dortmund may be looking ahead to the second leg of their Champions League match-up with PSG which could lead them to rest some of their normal starters and could provide additional minutes for Reyna though it did not seem to impact his usage when they had a short turn around after the first leg.

Dortmund will take on a Freiburg side who are coming off a 2-0 loss to Fortuna Dusseldorf and who have three losses and just one win in their last five games, a stretch which has included losses to 13th place Koln and last place Paderborn. The team is clearly struggling at this point and BVB would be wise to take advantage if they want to retain any hopes of a Bundesliga title this season.

Other Notes:

  • Nashville SC get their MLS debut and their national TV debut simultaneously on Saturday at 8p on Fox. Walker Zimmerman will be lending a sense of MLS experience for Nashville but it could be a rough debut for the new MLS club as they face what looks to be another tough Atlanta United side who have lost a couple key players including Darlington Nagbe but Emerson Hyndman and Brooks Lennon both look to see a good number of minutes this season and Brad Guzan continues to mind the net. Miles Robinson missed the Concacaf Champions League games for Atlanta and his time frame for return is unknown.
  • Ventura Alvarado and Necaxa have lost three straight and fallen all the way down to 11th place in Liga MX. They’ll have their work cut out for them this weekend when they take on league leading America at 8p on ESPN Deportes.
  • Sebastian Saucedo and third place Pumas UNAM face Tigres UANL at 10p on TUDN. Saucedo has been a consistent performer for his team as they continue to push for the top of the table.

Looking through the paywall:

  • Fabian Johnson’s Borussia Monchengladbach side play Augsburg at 9:30a on Fox Soccer Plus. Unfortunately Johnson has barely sniffed the field this season and was not even included in the squad for last weekends 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim.
  • Weston McKennie started but played just 54’ in Schalke’s 5-0 loss to RB Leipzig last weekend. If you’re looking for a silver lining it’s probably that 4 of the 5 goals were scored after McKennie left the field. The team will look to bounce back this weekend with a more favorable match-up against Koln at 11:30a on Fox Soccer Plus.


Werder Bremen v Eintracht Frankfurt – Noon on FS2

Timothy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt will look to take advantage a favorable match-up against a struggling Werder Bremen side to snap a two game losing streak on Sunday afternoon. Chandler has produced instant results in his new role on the right wing for Frankfurt but a bad loss to BVB followed by a second to 12th place Union Berlin has dampened things a bit.

Things could turn around quickly for Frankfurt however as they face a Werder Bremen side that has lost five straight and nine of their past ten with just three goals scored over that time. Clearly it’s been a rough stretch for Werder Bremen and things haven’t looked good for Josh Sargent either who has seen time of the bench but has been unable to provide any significant impact. The team sits squarely in the relegation zone and it’s hard to see that changing without a drastic turn around.

Other Notes:

  • John Brooks has started the past two league games for Wolfsburg after being benched for the previous three. Wolfsburg has won both matches so perhaps Brooks can work himself out of the doghouse. The team plays Union Berlin at 7:30a on FS1 Sunday morning.
  • RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen meet Sunday at 9:30a on FS1 in a top five match-up. No word at this point on Tyler Adams return from his most recent injury.
  • Jordan MorrisCristian Roldan and the Seattle Sounders will face the Chicago Fire at 3p on ESPN as they kick off their respective seasons.
  • The Los Angeles Football Club will welcome David Beckham and Inter Miami to the MLS Sunday evening when the teams play at 5:30p on ESPN. The over / under on cutaways to David Beckham in the stands has tentatively been set at seventy bazillion.
  • The Portland Timbers and Minnesota United finish up the weekend when they meet at 7:30p on FS1.

Pugh, Davidson return to USWNT roster for SheBelieves Cup

Feb 26, 2020

Graham HaysESPN.com

Mallory Pugh and Tierna Davidson have returned to the United States Women’s National Team roster for the 2020 SheBelieves Cup, U.S. Soccer has announced.

The United States will face England in the opening game of the competition with a new coach but 20 of the 23 players who were on the roster when the same teams met in a Women’s World Cup semifinal last summer.

Pugh left off USWNT’s Olympic qualifying roster

U.S. Soccer accused of telling ‘false’ story on pay

U.S. Soccer, players file opposing motions in suit

As was the case in Olympic qualifying earlier this year, U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski’s roster for the SheBelieves Cup relies on the core of players who helped produce a fourth World Cup title last summer. But unlike Olympic qualifying, World Cup winners Pugh and Davidson are restored to the roster for the upcoming games against England, Spain and Japan.

Davidson was left off the smaller qualifying roster, limited to 20 players, as she continued to recover from an injury sustained at the end of the 2019 NWSL season. Pugh was omitted for performance reasons, although Andonovski invited the 21-year-old former NWSL No. 1 pick to continue training with the team during qualifying and said she remained an important part of the team’s plans.

Pugh was traded from the NWSL’s Washington Spirit to Sky Blue FC in January.

Julie Foudy breaks down the USWNT’s first tournament under Vlatko Andonovski and his experimentation with different lineups.

The only 2019 World Cup winners not on the SheBelieves roster are midfielders Morgan Brian and Allie Long and forward Alex Morgan. The World Cup Silver Boot winner as the tournament’s second-leading scorer, Morgan continues to await the birth of her first child.

Taking their places are defenders Casey Short, midfielder Andi Sullivan and forward Lynn Williams, none of whom was part of the World Cup team. Sullivan and Williams were part of the team that completed Olympic qualifying undefeated to reach Tokyo 2020.

The SheBelieves roster also includes veteran midfielder Julie Ertz, whose next appearance will be her 100th for the national team. She will join eight players on the current roster who have reached the century mark in appearances (as has Morgan).

The U.S. will play England in Orlando on March 5, before playing Spain in Harrison, N.J., on March 8 and Japan in Frisco, Texas, on March 11.


England and Japan are among the teams that have already qualified for the Olympics.

England’s roster includes 15 of 23 players who were included in manager Phil Neville’s World Cup squad, including eight of 11 players who started the semifinal.

World Cup semifinal starters Karen Bardsley, Lucy Bronze and Beth Mead are injured.

Among the new faces are three players with recent U.S. college connections. North Carolina forward Alessia Russo has a year of eligibility remaining, while defender Grace Fisk (South Carolina) and goalkeeper Sandy MacIver (Clemson) concluded their eligibility last fall.

Full U.S. roster:

Goalkeepers (3): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders (8): Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride)

Midfielders (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (7): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

2/17/2020   Champions League Sweet 16 Back Tues/Wed, CCL MLS vs Concacaf starts Tues/Wed, Man City UCL Ban?

The return of EUFA Champions League Play this week and next (Tues/Wed 3 pm) leads of the week of huge games.  Its Sweet 16 time – with huge match-ups including Defending Champions Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid on TNT 3 pm on Tuesday and Dortmund (with subbing American youngster Geo Reyna) hosting Paris St. Germain at the same time.  Wednesday we Tottenham, last season’s 2nd place finishers, hosting RB Leipzig who will not have American Tyler Adams in the line-up as he is hurt.  That game is 3 pm on TNT.  Next Tues its Chelsea hosting German league leader Bayern Munich and Wed we get powerhouses Real Madrid hosting Man City.  Of course Liverpool will knock out my Atletico – so sad to see the spectacular coach Simeone on the bubble with Leti Madrid – injuries have crippled this team this season and I am not sure this is the same team in the new digs as it was at the legendary Caldron downtown.  Good to have Champions League back!

Concacaf Champions League

The CCL kicks off this Tues/Wed/Thurs on Fox sports 1 & 2 with evening games each next over the next 2 weeks and MLS squads Atlanta United, Seattle, LAFC, Montreal, NYCFC match up against teams from Mexico, Costa Rica, and other CONCACAF country teams.  Mexico has dominated the competition mainly because the season hasn’t even started yet in MLS while they are mid season in Mexico and other countries – but with 3 powerhouse squads – perhaps MLS can break thru this year?  (see full schedule on http://theoleballcoach.com)

Man City UCL Ban?

Wow huge news with EUFA handing down a 2 year suspension of Man City for Champions League for breaking rules on how much they spend on players.  If this sticks it will be huge – imagine would Pep leave Man City – would their top players like DeBruyne or leave with no Champions League player for 2 full years.  With regards to money it could cost Man City 200+ million in Champions League payouts.  The ramifications are huge.  I can certainly say while I was excited to see City win their first title a number of years back – over the past 3 years since Pep Guadiola has arrived – they have become the best team money can buy and spent billions on players while winning back to back titles.


Great to see the US Ladies have no issues with Olympic Qualifying as they destroyed everyone including Canada in the finals with a huge 3-0 blanking.  Great to see 2nd string forward/Wingers Christian Press and Amanda Williams get on the board with some huge goals.  The US seriously probably has the 2 most talented teams in the America’s if not the world.  It will be interesting to see if the new coach will work in some youngsters – or stay with the same team that won the World Cup last summer.


Tues 2/18– Champions League

3 pm Gala, fubotv, B/R     Dortmund (Geo Reyna) vs PSG  

3 pm TNT                            Atletico vs Liverpool  

10 pm Fox Sport 2             Leon vs LAFC (CCL)

10 pm Fox Soccer/fubo     Motagua vs Atlanta United (CCL)

Weds 2/19– Champions League

2:30 pm NBCSN                 Man City vs West Ham

3 pm TNT                            Tottenham vs RB Leipzig (Adams?)

3 pm Gala, fubotv, B/R      Atalanta vs Valencia

8 pm Fox Sport 2               Deportivo vs Montreal Impact (CCL)

10 pm Fox Sport 2             Comunicaciones vs America (CCL)

Thur 2/20– Europa League+ CCL

3 pm TNT, TUDN fubotv,   Club Brugge  vs Man United

8 pm Fox Sport2                San Carlos vs NYCFC (CCL)

10 pm FS2                           Olimpia  vs Seattle Sounders (CCL)


10 pm   FS1                         USA Ladies vs Mexico (Olympic Qual Finals)

Saturday, 2/22
7:30 a.m. ET: NBCSN         Chelsea vs Tottenham

10 am NBCSN                     Crystal Palace vs Newcastle United

9:30 am Fox Sport2           Bremen ( ) vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)

10 am beIN Sport               Barcelona vs Eibar

12 noon ESPN+                  SPAL vs Juventus

12:30 pm FS2                     Schalke vs RB Liepzig  
12:30 p.m. ET: NBC           Leicester City vs Man City

3 pm beIN Sport                 Levante vs Real Madrid

6:30 am ESPN2                  Genoa vs Granada

9 a.m. ET: NBCSN               Man United v. Watford

11:30 a.m. ET: NBCSN       Arsenal vs Everton

3 pm beIN Sport                 PSG vs Bordeaux

Monday 2/24

.3 pm  NBCSN                     Liverpool vs West Ham

Tues 2/25– Champions League

3 pm TNT                            Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Bayern Munich  

3 pm TUDN fubotv, B/R    Napoli vs Barcelona

8 pm Fox Sport 1               Atlanta United vs Motagua  (CCL)   

Wed 2/26 – Champions League

3 pm TNT                            Real Madrid vs Man City  

3 pm TUDN fubotv, B/R    Lyonnais vs Juventus

6 pm Fox Sport 2               NYCFC vs San Carlos  (CCL)

10 pm FS2                           Montreal Impact vs Deportivo Saprissa

Thur 2/27– Europa League+ CCL

3 pm TNT, TUDN fubotv,   Man United vs Club Brugge

3 pm fubotv                        Olympiackos vs Arsenal

10 pm Fox Sport 1             LAFC vs Leon (CCL)

10 pm FS2                           Seattle Sounders vs Olimpia

Sat, Feb 29  MLS Season Opens

Sun, 3/1 

9 a.m. ET: NBCSN               Everton vs Man United

9am NBCSN                       Tottenham vs Wolverhampton

3 pm beIN sport/Fubo      Real Madrid vs Barcelona  (El CLassico)

3 pm ESPN                          Seattle vs Chicago Fire

5:30 pm ESPN                    LAFC vs Inter Miami

7:30 pm FS1                       Portland Timbers vs Minnesota United

WORLD, Champions League

How will Premier League clubs fare in UCL last 16?

Guardiola admits City can’t be sure Sterling will be fit to face Real Madrid

Liverpool most difficult team in UCL says Atletico Boss

Could Neymar, Mbappe antics derail PSG as season enters crunch time?
‘I don’t fear Haaland’ – Meunier backs PSG to overcome Borussia Dortmund in Champions League

Champions League squads changes for four PL teams

– Man City’s ban: What it means and what happens next
– Source: Guardiola fears for players after UEFA ban
– Klopp reacts to ban: “Complete wow!”


US women beat Canada 3-0 in Olympic qualifying final

USMNT: Brooks is back! Defender makes Bundesliga return

Tyler Adams to miss out on UEFA Champions League clash vs. Spurs
Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

Klinsmann removed from Hertha board after “unacceptable” departure


Doyle: Which MLS team has the best CCL chance?

CCL Fever! Predictions, team-by-team capsules and scouting reports

Club Leon president calls LAFC match “life or death”

Vela among reasons why MLS can finally topple Liga MX

Atlanta hit by injury bug heading into CCL opener

Report: FC Cincy closing in on deal for Ajax attacking midfielder

“Oh my gosh, I’m getting traded:” Zimmerman talks Nashville

Cincinnati Season Preview: Will FCC’s attacking makeover pay off?

40k and counting: Nashville eyeing attendance record

Wiebe: What Zimmerman trade means for LAFC, Nashville and the future

What the new CBA means for MLS: Players get their share  Jeff Carlisle

Champions League last-16 preview: don’t miss Dortmund-PSG, Man City under pressure, Liverpool to get upset?

4:03 PM ET  ESPN

With the Premier League race over, PSG running away with Ligue 1, Bayern and Juventus seemingly in charge of the Bundesliga and Serie A respectively, we might have to look to the UEFA Champions League for our soccer drama between now and May. The action returns in force this week with the start of the last-16: all 16 teams still standing are from Europe’s top five leagues and there’s upset potential up and down the draw.Will holders Liverpool successfully defend their crown or are we destined to get a new champion? What can we expect from Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona? How about RB Leipzig, who have soared from nowhere to challenge Bayern domestically but have more than enough talent to cause a shock in Europe, too? Consider this your ultimate guide to the first knockout round of the biggest club competition in soccer.

Jump to: Viewing guide and predictions | Burning questions

Your first leg viewing guide and predictions

Presented in order of watchability from “must-see TV” to “DVR for later,” Gab Marcotti breaks down all eight first legs of the last-16.

– First leg: 2/26, 3 p.m. ET

Despite a string of injuries this season, most notably to record signing Eden Hazard, Real are leading la Liga and would love nothing more than crushing Pep Guardiola’s dream of a third Champions League crown. Especially given the fact that after his City side have been hit with a two-year ban from European competition, he won’t be getting another crack at it for a while.

PREDICTION: Tense, thrilling draw sets up possible drama at the Etihad

– First leg: 2/18, 3 p.m. ET

This has the potential to be the most wide-open and popcorn-worthy tie of the round. Both sides love to score, and score often: Kylian Mbappe and Neymar may be the most glamorous pair of forwards in the game right now, but the Dortmund duo of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho could one day supplant them. The German side aren’t what they used to be defensively but have more than enough in attack to trouble the French champions.

O’Hanlon: Guess what, folks? PSG are going to win the CL

PSG have suffered their share of Champions League heartbreakers over the years, whether against Barcelona or Real Madrid. With former Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel leading the way, is this the year it all comes together for PSG?

PREDICTION: Borussia Dortmund to strike first against French elite

– First leg: 2/19, 3 p.m. ET

Free-scoring Atalanta’s high-energy, high-press, all-out attack have made them among the highest scorers in Europe and they’ve done it on a shoestring budget, coaxing goals galore from Papu Gomez, Josep Ilicic and Luis Muriel. Sometimes, it looks as if they’re simply playing a different sport. Valencia have had a rough season and have already changed managers this year, but they’re a classic feast-or-famine foe and you just don’t know what you’re going to get.

PREDICTION: Atalanta to take advantage

– First leg: 2/25, 3 p.m. ET

Bayern had a major wobble at the start of the campaign, but are back to their laser-focused selves in 2020, marching towards more silverware domestically and, they hope, in Europe. Interim boss Hansi Flick has revived Thomas Muller‘s form and gotten more out of Serge Gnabry, while Robert Lewandowski might be the best pure scorer in the modern game.

Chelsea have punched well above their weight with a bunch of home-grown youngsters in Frank Lampard’s first season as manager, but it remains to be seen if they can hold their own against one of the most relentless and experienced footballing machines around.

PREDICTION: First-leg draw sets up fun in Munich

– First leg: 2/19, 3 p.m. ET

Jose Mourinho — as he’ll no doubt remind you — has won this competition twice and knows what it takes to get it done in a two-legged format, though he’ll be without star striker Harry Kane, who is injured. Without the talismanic No.9, plenty will be expected of Heung-Min Son around goal while Giovani Lo Celso looks ready to be the anchor of Tottenham’s midfield and transition game.

Leipzig are the ultimate intangible: at 32, manager Julian Nagelsmann is a veritable wunderkind who relies on a defensive beast (Dayot Upamecano), a deadeye pest of a scorer (Timo Werner) and plenty of hard running and tactical creativity in between. They have the talent to catch teams on the counter.

PREDICTION: Tottenham to seize control

– First leg: 2/18, 3 p.m. ET

The contrast in styles is sharp — deep defending vs. high energy, hunt ’em down, full court press — but the ethos is the same for both teams known for their gritty, tough and uncompromising attitude. The problem is that Atletico Madrid are trying to (unsuccessfully) transition from the system that brought them to a success to a more open style, whereas Liverpool boast clockwork efficiency and are finding many different ways to win games under Jurgen Klopp this season.

PREDICTION: Liverpool to walk on with first leg win

– First leg: 2/25, 3 p.m. ET

Funnily enough, these are the only two teams that have beaten Liverpool’s first team since Jan. 3, 2019 but both are going through a bumpy patch. Napoli changed managers in December, have a number of players in contractual disputes and are midtable in Serie A. Europe appears their only hope for joy this season. Barcelona have suffered key injuries (Luis SuarezJordi Alba), have also changed managers and are still coming to grips with new boss Quique Setien’s old school, press-and-possess style.

Past editions of Barca have been reliant on Lionel Messi for that burst of inspiration but it’s become a dependence in 2020. If he’s on, this game becomes routine. If he’s not, they’re in trouble.

PREDICTION: Barcelona to take a lead back to Camp Nou

– First leg: 2/26, 3 p.m. ET

Lyon are yet another club to have changed managers in midseason and while Rudi Garcia has righted the ship to some degree, they’re still mid-table in Ligue 1. The silver lining: they’re getting great performances from the most hyped 16-year-old in the game, Rayan Cherki.

After eight straight Serie A crowns, Juventus did a 180-degree turn in the summer, bringing in new boss Maurizio Sarri with a view towards becoming more attack-minded. It’s definitely a work in progress though Cristiano Ronaldo‘s run of 10 straight Serie A games with a goal (and 20 league goals in 20 games) has been their saving grace on many occasions this season. At 35, he’s in the form of his life: will that continue in the Champions League?

PREDICTION: Juve all the way given Cristiano Ronaldo’s scoring spree

Big questions to be answered in the round of 16

Looking to make sense of the talking points in Europe’s top competition? ESPN’s writers have you covered.

Who’s under more pressure: Zidane or Guardiola?

There’s more pressure on Pep Guardiola, no question about it. It’s not just the 25 points separating Manchester City from the top of the Premier League, or the fact that he may be watching the next two Champions’ Leagues on TV due to his club’s FFP violations, or even the fact that having won two Premier League titles delivering the biggest trophy in club football is the last unconquered peak. Rather, as Guardiola himself has admitted, he puts an absurd amount of pressure on himself. Not so much in terms of achieving results, but in terms of the process his teams go through to get there.

– Man City’s ban: What it means and what happens next
– Source: Guardiola fears for players after UEFA ban
– Klopp reacts to ban: “Complete wow!”

Real Madrid, on the other hand, is a perpetual hot-seat, but Zinedine Zidane has more padding than most. The great stone-face has been there, done that and his team are sitting top of La Liga, a competition they’ve won just once in the last seven years. — Gab Marcotti

Can Simeone spring a surprise vs. Liverpool?

Something odd happened when Atletico Madrid played Leganes on Jan. 26. Or, perhaps more accurately, nothing happened. And that’s exactly the point.

There was a moment in the second half when Diego Simeone turned towards the fans and began to do the kind of gesture he has done a thousand times before, raising his arms to try to get them going. But as he began, the reaction was not as immediate or as unanimous as it used to be (it barely existed at all, in fact) and almost as soon as he had started, he stopped again. It wasn’t a big deal, perhaps, and most people wouldn’t even have noticed, but for those that did and who know it wasn’t normal, it added to the feeling that something is not right.


For a brief moment, it was as if the man Unai Emery once described as “war personified” wasn’t fighting any more. He stood alone. In front of him, Atletico don’t look like his team, the players are not his sort of players, the demands are not what they once were, the identity is not either, and the results are worse than they have ever been under him. They’re not even the second-best team in Madrid any more, let alone the first. Out of the cup, out of the league and, most suspect, soon to be out of the Champions League.

There is little faith, an inescapable, overwhelming awareness that Liverpool are the better team and that the odds are stacked against them. But then, that’s the way Atletico always liked it. And if they are to get back in touch with themselves, if this is to feel like a Simeone side again, a rebellion with the odds stacked against them, maybe that’s what they need. — Sid Lowe

Dortmund vs. PSG is the best game of the round, right?

I don’t even need to tell you as you know this already. Regardless of your team or who you support, you know that this is the tie of the last-16. There is nowhere else this month where you will find so much attacking talent, so many ballers. Who will have the most nutmegs: Neymar or Jadon Sancho? Who will score the most beautiful goal: Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappé? Who will be the most exposed defensively: Keylor Navas or Roman Burki? Who will get his tactics right: Lucien Favre or Thomas Tuchel?

– Okwonga: What makes Haaland so special

You know there will be loads of goals, loads of entertainment and loads of drama. The pressure is certainly on PSG and Tuchel, for his return to Dortmund (and it will be fascinating to see what reception he gets from the Yellow Wall). The French champions can’t afford to be knocked out early again in this Champions League. They believe they have the best and most balanced squad they have ever had. But the Germans also have faith in themselves and in their ability to cause problems for any opponent. — Julien Laurens

Who will step up next to Messi for Barcelona?

If there was any quiet jubilation around the Camp Nou when the Champions League draw paired them with Napoli, it has firmly dissipated now.

Napoli don’t have a pedigree in this competition, let alone one that bears comparison with FC Barcelona. Napoli closed out 2019 needing to change coach, seventh in Serie A and already 17 points off the top. Barca, under Ernesto Valverde, topped their Champions League group, led La Liga and their two strikers had shared 28 goals between Europe and the domestic title chase. Now Luis Suarez is injured, Valverde sacked, Messi goal-shy, Ousmane Dembele out for the season and Messi’s other great playing ally, Jordi Alba, won’t be fit to play in the San Paolo stadium.

Moreover, while new manager Quique Setien is introducing ideas that this team badly needs — a sharper use of possession, much more intense training sessions — it somewhat feels as if Barcelona’s depleted squad are struggling to cope. His side looks obedient, but they also look sluggish. All Setien’s victories have been by a maximum of one goal, have looked in jeopardy and are unlikely to frighten Rino Gattuso’s re-energised Napoli.

Fundamentally, Barcelona’s recently unrequited love-affair with the Champions League simply has to spark some kind of elemental competitive reaction, Messi must start scoring again and Marc-Andre ter Stegen needs to continue his glittering form or else, remarkably, Napoli will look like slight favourites to many. — Graham Hunter

Is the Champions League too top-heavy or should we just enjoy the show?

This year’s last-16 feels like a logical end point to a direction of travel that’s been glaringly obvious for some time. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with the best teams in Europe facing one another: that’s the whole point of the competition and taken on its own, there are bound to be some exceptional games of football.

It is also true to point out that certain match-ups between the continent’s elite are slowly gaining their own folklore in the eyes of the modern fan, such is their regularity. But the overwhelming domination of five super-wealthy leagues and their clubs comes at the expense of the diversity, intrigue and genuine unpredictability that makes the sport itself so great. It said plenty that Ajax, who have won this competition four times, were regarded with such astonishment when they reached the semi-finals last year.

Football’s landscape is an ever-shifting one and nobody is expecting a return to the period between 1981-91, when sides from seven different countries – including Yugoslavia and Romania – won the European Cup, at least not yet. But surely the possibility of that is what should make this competition great.

The spectre of a closed shop is drawing ever nearer; it should concern everyone and, while nobody should be discouraged from enjoying the games in their own right, it’s worth asking yourself if this is the future you want for our sport. — Nick Ames

Can Nagelsmann seal his status as the next “Special One” vs. Mourinho?

Julian Nagelsmann quickly became Germany’s most promising coach, but now the 32-year-old is looking to take the next step. Before coaches become great by winning, most show signs of moving in that direction. Nagelsmann has done that, and now his next opportunity to move towards greatness has come. If Nagelsmann can get the better of a serial winner like Jose Mourinho, it will show that the young coach has more than promise: he has the ability to win when it really matters. The Bundesliga might be exciting, but the value of success on the European stage is unparalleled.

Victory against a Premier League opponent and a coach like Mourinho would be a massive step forward for Nagelsmann. He’s already on the coaching map, but win here and he becomes a major attraction. To do that, he’ll have to outfox a coach and a personality who has been here many times before. He will also have to prove that he can create a plan to handle deep-lying, counterattacking opponents. After RB Leipzig failed to do so against Frankfurt and only showed up for half the game vs. Bayern, this is the ultimate test for the young head coach. — Jonathan Harding

Which Serie A side has the best shot of moving on?

Jurgen Klopp has named Juventus favourites for the competition, which is odd timing considering how vulnerable the Old Lady appears at the moment. Napoli have tended to raise their game against top sides this season, taking four points from six against Liverpool and recently defeating Italy’s top three. Honestly though, it’s hard to look beyond Atalanta.

Manager Gian Piero Gasperini feels the draw for the Round of 16, against Valencia, couldn’t have been kinder and his players have shown they’re acclimated to the speed and skill expected at this level. After becoming the first team ever to qualify for the knockouts with zero points from their opening three games, impossible is nothing to the Bergamaschi. Atalanta have already made more in TV and prize money than the total cost of their wage bill and with a return to the competition looking likely next season, they can play with minds at rest and smiles on their faces.

It may still be a bit of a leap to nominate them this season’s Ajax, but for now, Atalanta seem the healthiest and most in-form Italian side left in the Champions League. — James Horncastle

Which young talent will seize the spotlight in the last-16?

The latter stages of the Champions League is when whispers become roars regarding certain up-and-coming stars, so who should we keep an eye on as the last 32 approaches? Let’s start with someone who has already announced his arrival. Erling Haaland has eight goals in 305 Bundesliga minutes for Borussia Dortmund, and is about to face a fragile PSG defence. They also have this kid called Jadon Sancho, too.

Ideally, Ansu Fati would only be on the fringes of the Barcelona team, but things are far from ideal at the Nou Camp. Injuries to Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele mean that the 17-year-old is a regular by necessity though he certainly has the talent: Fati could do some damage against Napoli. At 16, Lyon’s Rayan Cherki is even younger than Fati: Lyon have been more cautious because they’re able to be, but if things aren’t going to plan against Juventus, we could see him unleashed.

Finally, Callum Hudson-Odoi has endured a slightly stop-start time at Chelsea since he rejected Bayern Munich and stayed at Stamford Bridge, but he’s found some form recently. It would be very apt if he did some damage against the very team he turned down. — Nick Miller

Simeone’s Atletico Madrid tenure may come to its Champions League conclusion in Liverpool tie

12:52 PM ETGraham HunterSpain writer

There’s a scenario whereby, completely unnoticed, we might be witnessing Diego Simeone’s last Champions League match at home in charge of Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.Those who’ve been thrilled by his intense, brooding, winning ways, his Johnny Cash-in-football-boots persona, will fervently hope that it’s not so. Those at Atleti who’ve benefitted from the hundreds of millions of euros he’s earned them across nearly a decade of exhilarating European exploits will be praying the same.But here’s the deal: Who’s the favourite in this tie? It’s Liverpool, by a distance. And for several reasons. Not just because they are Champions League holders but because Jurgen Klopp has his side doing a passable impersonation of peak Simeone Atletico, only better: the intensity, the fervor for winning, the same squad unity, the same feeling that everyone at the club, all the fans and owners aren’t just singing from the same hymn sheet, they wrote the words.Liverpool’s footballers are all consistently performing on a range of eight-out-of-ten to ten-out-of-ten and have been doing so for a couple of seasons. It’s an incredibly rare feat, but one that Simeone and assistant “Mono” Burgos also achieved for a couple of years around their 2014 La Liga title win. That was Atleti’s first such triumph in 18 years, somewhat less of a drought than Liverpools will be when, some time in the coming weeks, they become England’s champions for the first time in 30 years.Nevertheless, the similarities between the two clubs’ ideas, attitudes and achievements make this an extra-intriguing tie. Sadly, it comes at precisely the wrong time for Atleti.To have seen Los Rojiblancos of 2013-14 or 2015-16 take on Klopp’s Liverpool of the past two seasons would be reason enough for someone in Silicon Valley to finally confirm that, thanks to billions spent on research and development, time travel was now an app available to all of us.The stifling, aggressive press and rob of that Atleti era: the remorseless registering of clean sheets, their utter brilliance at imposing themselves in attacking set plays, the bullishness of peak Diego Costa, world-class Antoine GriezmannArda Turan‘s impishness, imperial Diego Godin; you’d pay handsomely to watch them play Alisson, Virgil van DijkAndy RobertsonTrent Alexander-ArnoldJordan Henderson and the magical forward trident of Roberto FirminoMohamed Salah and Sadio Mane across two legs of knockout football.But Liverpool are not only a mirror, showing in stark detail how Atleti have declined, England’s champions-elect are arguably a better XI and a better squad than even the remarkble levels Simeone has reached since taking over at the Vicente Calderon in 2011.The greatest thing that unites the two clubs has been messianic belief in the coach.From the day he crossed the threshold, taking a moribund bunch and immediately winning Atletico their fifth international trophy, Simeone has been the club’s benign dictator. They are defined by his standards, his rules, his personality, his spiky, relentless need to win.Klopp’s not too dissimilar, in effect at least. This is his Liverpool. The German’s personality floods Melwood and makes him an all-permeating influence, from those who serve the tea to the leading goal scorer to the academy kids who polish the first team’s boots to the data technicians. It is extremely evocative of how Simeone and Burgos have been at their Majadahonda training ground, the Calderon or now the Wanda Metropolitano during their golden years.But Klopp and Simeone want to see their football achieve different objectives: the Argentinian winning 1-0 at any cost, the German almost equally happy to win 4-3 or 6-0 so long as the three points head to Anfield and the game was entertaining. These two leaders of men convene with their most rabid followers, the fans, on a weekly basis. If they are angry, the fans are furious; if they are jubilant, the fans are ecstatic. They appeal a decision and the lava of fan anger pours down on the official. The supporters are a sea of certainty: “In Klopp/Simeone we trust.”Or at least it was that way at Atleti. Not necessarily now.Once it was like an evangelical preacher exhorting his flock to raise their their voices heavenwards. Simeone would hop from foot to foot with anxiety, imagined or real, and after spinning around like the Tasmanian devil, often with three or four minutes left on the clock, he’d flap his condor-wing arms up and down and the response would be a guttural roar of beseeching, unconditional support from the supporters to the 11 souls in red and white on the pitch. Simeone’s energy and standards were communicated via the voices of 50,000 disciples. It was magical.Then, last week, as Atletico were still holding on 80 minutes after Angel Correa gave them an early — and slender — lead over Granada, Simeone reached for the arm-flapping trick. It was like an old champion boxer knowing what punch to throw but with reactions so slow that the challenger sees it coming a mile off. There was no reaction from the fans, no messianic “we believe” roar. Instead, there was apathy, frustration and very little impact.Strange, changed times. Football is weird, let’s agree on that.

More surprising things have happened than Liverpool perhaps feeling just a little gentler than they were before their winter break and the globetrotting holidays Klopp’s players were able to cram in. They’ll benefit from the time off, eventually, but can they get back to ramming speed immediately?Stranger things, too, have happened than the warriors at Atleti — Jan Oblak, Koke, Saul, Yannick Carrasco, Correa and perhaps even newly fit Alvaro Morata — bucking themselves up sufficiently for a home win. But over the two legs, with Simeone’s troops now beginning to show the same “we’re not really sure whether we believe in Simeone anymore’ lethargy, Liverpool are demonstrable favourites to go through.Let’s say that happens. There’s a brilliant five-way race for the crucial fourth Champions League-qualifying slot in la Liga. Atletico will be most people’s favourites and, should they qualify, it’s much easier to see Simeone moving a year further towards the end of his contract, which extends until 2022. But the two clubs closest to Atleti in fourth, Sevilla and Real Sociedad, are either level on points or just two behind, while Valencia and Villarreal are, respectively, two and four points off Simeone’s team. It’s not comfortable. It will be a battle royal.If Atletico don’t qualify for next season’s Champions League, I doubt it would lead to Simeone being sacked — not after such lengthy success. However, do you doubt that Atleti are casting about just in case there’s a better alternative out there?Talking of better alternatives, it’s the gossip of the Spanish football industry that Mono Burgos — fluent in English — is starting to get itchy feet, beginning to wonder whether he could win trophies and earn a huge salary increase by heading out on his own. Will he? Would that damage Simeone at Atleti? You’d guess so.And Simeone’s infamous, brutally demanding fitness coach, “Profe” Oscar Ortega? Atletico’s players no longer maul other teams with their suffocating pressing, they no longer shut down a single-goal lead so effectively; in fact, they no longer look as if they are enjoying their football. Ortega, it would appear, has scalded those who’ve worked with him for years and, just as happened when Real Madrid said thank you and adios to fitness coach Antonio Pintus before appointing Gregory Dupont last summer, change seems both inevitable and vital.Some of you may believe that Atletico knocking out Liverpool is within Simeone’s remarkable compass. Fair enough. Some may believe that even if he’s defeated and has nothing to play for other than Champions League qualification from March onwards, he’s certain to stay with Los Colchoneros next season. OK, no problem.But the concept of this elimination either leading to a mutual agreement to change at the end of this season or yet another year in the Europa League, and then either the club or their manager deciding it’s time to part ways in summer 2021, well, neither of those scenarios now seem terribly unlikely. Each would mean that this gargantuan match against Liverpool would be looked back on as an unheralded “Adios” for Simeone in the Champions League with Atleti.It’s not the right way for a great reign to end. I hope it isn’t so.But don’t rule it out.

PSG to win the Champions League? Neymar, Mbappe & Co. compare closest to past 10 winners

How do you win the Champions League?

It turns out that “be Real Madrid” is not a bad place to start. The Spanish giants have won 13 European Cups, and no other club has more than seven. They’ve won four of the past six, and their current manager, Zinedine Zidane, has never not won the Champions League. Three tries and three trophies for Zizou, so that’s that, huh?

Although Zidane The Manager has yet to be eliminated from the Champions League, other teams have in fact won the tournament.

As I wrote about in my newsletter, Liverpool grabbed it last year with a slightly throttled-down pressing approach that relied on their defense and their goalkeeper — a sentence that would’ve been unthinkable just a year prior. Barcelona nabbed the trophy in 2015, thanks to the devastation wrought by Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. Bayern Munich did it the year before Pep Guardiola came to town by essentially fielding the entire World Cup-winning German national team, plus Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Chelsea took down Bayern the year before that despite finishing sixth in the Premier League, and the year before that was the most recent time Guardiola won it, with the Barcelona team that Sir Alex Ferguson said was the best side he’d ever seen.

Since the 2010-11 season, only five clubs have won the Champions League title. What did they have in common?

At first glance, there isn’t a lot connecting any of those teams. But using domestic-play data from TruMedia, we can look at the statistical profiles of the past nine winners, see what the minimum benchmarks have been and compare them to all 16 remaining teams in this season’s competition. We’ll go through a number of categories and eliminate the 2020 teams that aren’t up to snuff before landing on our One True Champion.

Let’s get to it.

Measurement No. 1: Scoring enough goals

In domestic play, all of the previous nine winners averaged at least 1.7 goals per game. That low-point number, unsurprisingly, belongs to Chelsea. After all, they finished sixth in their own league that season; however, they sported a solid plus-19 goal differential and won the Champions League while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were at their peaks. We’re not talking about a bunch of scrubs here. Plus, including an outsider team such as Chelsea in the numbers makes this exercise more interesting, as it accounts for the possibility of a non-favorite winning the whole thing.

We must say goodbye to Tottenham (1.6 goals), Napoli (1.57), Lyon (1.54), Valencia (1.43) and Atletico Madrid (1.00) at the first hurdle. No big surprises there, as none of those five sides is favored to advance to the quarterfinals, per FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index. Goals, especially given that we’re dealing with just more than half a season, can be statistically noisy; in other words, goals aren’t necessarily predictive of more goals. But even if we look at expected goals — a more predictive measure — only Napoli (1.93) break the 1.7 threshold.

Teams eliminated: Tottenham, Napoli, Lyon, Valencia, Atletico Madrid
Teams remaining: Bayern Munich, Man City, Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atalanta, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, RB Leipzig, PSG

Measurement No. 2: Goals against

Defense, it turns out, has tended to win championships over the past decade. Who knew?

Of the previous nine winners, five gave up fewer than one goal per match, and four of them — both Barcelona sides, Liverpool and Bayern Munich — were below 0.6. In fact, no team in this season’s field is below 0.6 goals allowed per match, with Liverpool landing exactly on that mark. However, weaker defenses have won titles, too. Two of Zidane’s Madrid teams, along with Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid team, allowed north of one goal per match. The worst defense, though, was, again, Roberto di Matteo’s Chelsea, who let in 1.21 goals per game on their way to the trophy.

Despite that high figure theoretically creating a low barrier for entry into our exercise, four more teams are eliminated at this stage: Barcelona (1.22), Atalanta (1.35), Chelsea (1.36) and Borussia Dortmund (1.52). Dortmund are scoring at a higher rate than any team left in the tournament, a wild 2.82 goals per game, and Atalanta are third, with 2.65 goals per game. Plus, Atalanta are doing it in Serie A, where it has traditionally been difficult to score goals. Both teams should be neutral fan favorites, but their porous backlines mean their opponents are never out of a game.

Chelsea’s defense doesn’t seem likely to stand up against round of 16 opponent Bayern Munich (second among all teams with 2.76 goals scored per game), and as has been the trend the past few years in Catalonia, it’s a shame Lionel Messi can’t play defense, too.

Teams eliminated: Barcelona, Atalanta, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund
Teams remaining: Bayern Munich, Man City, Juventus, Real Madrid, Liverpool, RB Leipzig, PSG

Measurement No. 3: Game control

Rather than looking at pure possession numbers, the next step after goals scored/allowed is to look at how the remaining teams control the field. How good are they at all the things that happen before the ball ends up in the net? To do this, we can see how many passes a team allows in their final third and compare that to how many passes a team completes in their opponent’s final third. Then we can take those two numbers and determine a team’s percentage share of final-third passes.

Unsurprisingly, Barcelona lead the way among the previous winners, but perhaps surprisingly, No. 1 is Luis Enrique’s team, not Pep Guardiola’s. The 2014-15 vintage completed 74% of the final-third passes in their matches, compared to the 10-11 side’s measly 73.1%. Bayern, Liverpool and 2017-18 Madrid were also all north of 60%. Last place, once again, was Chelsea, with 56.1% of final-third passes.

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Of the remaining seven teams, none of them is below Chelsea’s mark. City and Bayern are both above 70%, and Liverpool, Juventus, PSG and Real Madrid are all above 60%. RB Leipzig sit last, with 58.6%.

If looking at how teams tilt the field doesn’t eliminate anyone, we can then look at how long a team keeps the ball when they get it. Opta records a statistic called “sequences” — essentially, an interrupted chain of possession — and no team that has won the Champions League since 2011 has had an average sequence time below 9.4 seconds. That low (again!) comes from Chelsea, but Ancelotti’s Madrid weren’t much higher, at 9.6. That means goodbye for Leipzig, whose average sequence time is 8.7 seconds, the second-lowest figure of all 16 knockout-round teams, above only Atletico Madrid’s manic (7.3 seconds) approach.

Teams eliminated: RB Leipzig
Teams remaining: Bayern Munich, Man City, Juventus, Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG

Measurement No. 4: Shots, shots, shots

The six teams left in this exercise are a bit harder to separate. If we look at how they press, all six are above the threshold of the previous winners. The minimum average starting point for all of their sequences — a proxy for how high up the field they win the ball back — is 47.7 meters from their own goal. That number belongs to Real, but they’re still significantly above 2011-12 Chelsea’s mark of 45.9 meters. Man City, for what it’s worth, start their average sequence 53 meters from their own goal, which is higher than that of any of the past nine winners.

In terms of how fast they win the ball back — something known as “passes allowed per defensive action” (PPDA) — all six are lower than Chelsea’s 13.26. Liverpool’s high mark of 11.02 is still below where they were last season, when they, you know, won the Champions League. This season’s most aggressive pressers are PSG (8.03), but they’re still significantly behind Barcelona’s mark of 6.98 in 2014-15. That side also scored more goals and gave up fewer goals than any other team in this season’s field.

(Side note: Luis Enrique’s team really might be the best of all time.)

Looking at how often the teams cross the ball doesn’t do us any good either, so we’re back to shots: How many do they take, and how many do they allow?

Like in PPDA, Liverpool are at the bottom, with 15.56 shots per game, but like in PPDA, that number is still better than that of last year’s title-winning team. Because they’re bottom in almost every number we’ve looked at so far, let us note that 2011-12 Chelsea took more shots (17.66) than all but three of the past nine CL winners.

How about shots against? Finally, some progress! Chelsea gave up 11.82 shots per game during the 2011-12 season, and this season, Juventus are giving up 12.3. That’s actually the third-highest figure among all of the round of 16 participants, better than only that of Valencia and Tottenham. FiveThirtyEight’s SPI gives Juve just a 3% chance to win the whole thing, and their inability to suppress shots is one of the biggest reasons they aren’t in the top tier of contenders.

Burley sees Sancho as an investment in Liverpool’s future

Craig Burley says Jadon Sancho could take pressure of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah if he joined Liverpool.

What about the quality of those shots?

All of the five teams left take above-average shots, in terms of their xG per shot. However, none of the previous nine winners allowed their opponents to take particularly good shots. The worst mark goes to Zidane’s 2017-18 team (0.12), but that’s right around the Europe-wide average. This season, though, there are two teams living by the mantra of “we don’t normally give up shots, but when we do, we give up great ones.”

Manchester City are conceding shots with an average of 0.15 per shot (worst among all remaining teams), and Bayern Munich are conceding chances with an average xG value of 0.13, which is third worst. Per FiveThirtyEight, Bayern (20%) and City (17%) are third-favorites for the title behind Liverpool (21%). The low-quantity-high-quality defensive approach works in domestic leagues in which both clubs have a significant talent advantage over almost all of their opponents, but it could implode once the competition heats up.

Teams eliminated: Bayern Munich, Man City, Juventus
Teams remaining: Real Madrid, Liverpool, PSG

Measurement No. 5: Fouls

Listen, we’re nitpicking here, all right? One of the only remaining differentiating factors for these three teams is how often they foul their opponents. Among the past nine champs, only one committed more than 12 fouls per match: 2012-13 Bayern Munich, who hacked down the opposition 13 times per match. At the other end sit last season’s Liverpool, who committed 8.29 fouls per game.

While the highlight of the Real Madrid season so far is Federico Valverde’s game-saving, last-minute, last-man, red-card tackle on Alvaro Morata in the final of the Spanish Supercopa, the team’s wider penchant for foul play earns them the boot from our list. Zidane’s team commits 13.22 fouls per match.

For whatever reason, none of the recent winners other than Bayern has fouled anywhere near that much. It could speak to a larger lack of control that then shows up in other areas of the game. It could lead to too many set pieces, which lead to the kind of scripted moments that often decide knockout games. Or, as Madrid fans will surely be hoping, it could be totally random.

Teams eliminated: Real Madrid
Teams remaining: Liverpool, PSG

Measurement No. 6: Passes

And then there were two: Liverpool and PSG, who played a pair of the more thrilling group-stage matches in last season’s tournament.

It sure seems as if PSG are trying to find a new absurd way to exit the competition every year. First, it was La Remontada, when they blew a 4-0 first-leg lead to Barcelona. Then they bought Neymar, the Barcelona player who led that comeback, only for him to miss the second leg of their round of 16 matchup with eventual winners Real Madrid. Then last year, of course, Neymar didn’t play in either match against Manchester United, and despite winning the first leg at Old Trafford 2-0, PSG were eliminated by a last-minute penalty awarded by VAR for a handball on a shot that probably wasn’t going to end up anywhere near the goal frame.

However, this season’s PSG have more in common with the previous nine Champions League winners than anyone else, including last year’s champ. None of those teams completed fewer than 84.5% of their passes, with both Liverpool and Chelsea tied at the bottom of the threshold. This season, Liverpool have dropped down slightly, to 83.7%, a barely perceptible shift that, for the purposes of this exercise, eliminates them from the list.

As long as they’re both out there, PSG can beat anyone. Of course, they’ve played together in only one Champions League knockout match since they joined the team in the summer of 2017.

PSG kick off the round of 16 against Dortmund next week, and like clockwork, Neymar hurt his ribs and hasn’t played a league game in more than two weeks. (Mbappe is also skipping this weekend’s game vs. Amiens.)

We’ll give them one more shot, but depending on how things go over the next few months, next season’s version of this exercise might include another filter, one that says “Not PSG.”

UEFA’s new Champions League Man of the Match award is truly a thing of beauty

With the Champions League due to resume this week, UEFA has introduced a brand new award to the mix and it is a glorious sight to behold…

The Toe Poke Daily is here every day to bring you all the weirdest stories, quirkiest viral content and top trolling that the internet has to offer, all in one place.

From the round of 16 onward in this season’s Champions League, the best performers in every match will be bestowed with a dazzling new “Man of the Match” award after the full-time whistle.The award comes with a trophy, which is a gorgeous D manifestation of the ournament’s iconic logo. You can hear the choir heralding “The Chaaaaaaampiooons” in your head just by looking at it.UEFA have previously handed out official Man of the Match awards as ordained by their technical observers, but only in the final — last year’s winner being Virgil van Dijk.The recipients of the new award will be chosen by a special advisory panel of technical observers, including Gareth Southgate, Roberto Martinez, Aitor Karanka, Phil Neville and Robbie Keane.According to UEFA, the beautiful trophy will be awarded to the player deemed to have excelled in decisive moments as well as tactical maturity, creativity and inspiration, exceptional skill, and fair play.


2/7/2020   US Women Olympic Qualifying Tonight on Fox Sport 1 10 pm, MLS avoids strike, US Men look good, German Derby 12 Sun Bayern vs RB Leipzig

The US Ladies continued to roll thru Olympic qualifying in front of alarmingly small crowds after they shutout Costa Rica 7-0, after destroying Panama and Haiti.  The US will face Mexico tonight at 10 pm on Fox Sports 1, right after Canada plays Costa Rica at 7 pm on FS1 with spots in the Olympics on the line for the winners.   Hopefully fans will show up tonight at the LA Galaxy Home Stadium in LA.  The US Ladies have looked amazing with Christen Press on the left wing and Williams on the right with Carli Lloyd in the middle forming a deadly attacking trio while Alex Morgan is out pregnant.  Midfielder Horan has scored 6 goals and has some assists to lead the way for the US Ladies.  The Defense has barely been tested at all – with Ertz holding down the #6 slot in front of the veteran 4 person backline from the World Cup.  This will be the toughest test tonight – as Mexico is probably the 3rd best team in the region behind the US and Canada.  Set the recorder if you can’t watch it live tonight and let’s see if the US can advance on to the Olympics this summer!

US Men Youth Wins 1-0

The US men – or boys if you will looked pretty good vs a solid first team Costa Rican side last Saturday.  The 1-0 victory probably should have been 2-0 US – but certainly the US dominated all phases of the game – including possession.   Youngster Ulyssess Llanez (just 18 years old) from Wolfsburg stole the show in his first cap with solid attacking midfield play and a great awareness in the box.  His PK goal just before the half was the only goal for the US team that probably deserved at least 1 or 2 goals from the run of play.  Most impressive was the US ability to maintain possession as they must have had at least 70 to 30 possession throughout – including solid play moving the ball from the back to the front without turnovers.  A veteran backline of Long and Zimmermann along with Cannon on the right and new comer Sam Vines on the left looked good and barely took a misstep most of the game.  Newly mented 18 year old forward Jesus Ferreira started in the 9 jersey and had some good hold up front – before giving way to Zardez who almost scored in his 25 minutes on late.  All in al l thought it was a fine showing by the young US squad with plenty of U23’s playing in anticipation of Olympic Qualifying in March.  I can honestly say our U-23 group is looking pretty strong – I hope enough of them will be released from club play in March to allow us to qualify for the Olympics – so Pulisic, McKinney, Reyna, and Adams can join this summer.

Games on TV

As for Big games this weekend the biggest is of course the German Derby Sunday at  between league leaders Red Bull Leipzig and US mid Tyler Adams and Bayern Munich at 12 pm on Fox Sports 2.  Plenty of stories on the https://theoleballcoach.com/ for this one.  Its winter break time in the EPL with just 4 games this weekend Everton host Crystal Palace Sat at 7:30 am on NBCSN while  Brighton vs Watford is on NBC at 12:30 (don’t ask me why they have shit games like this on NBC – just the screw up the ratings I guess – seriously why???  Also at 12:30 on FS2 Leverkusen hosts Dortmund and US mid Gio Reyna- coming off bench).  Sunday at 2:45 pm we also get the Milan Derby – Inter vs Milan on ESPN+.

USWNT guarding against letdown with Olympic berth on line

USMNT Betting on Veterans not young Stars to Capture Olympic Gold – Leadner Schaerlaneckens – Yahoo

Boehm: US win again in a rout, but two players face Olympic cut

Doyle: The big winners from the USMNT’s January camp

Olympic boost? Youngsters provide “snapshot” of USMNT future

The kids are alright: Ferreira, Llanez lead the way for youthful US

Three things we learned from USA-Costa Rica

Player Ratings: Llanez, Berhalter get highest marks in win vs. Ticos

Man of Match – S&S

Jay Berhalter steps away from U.S. Soccer

Saucedo denied USMNT call-up by Pumas, eyes Olympic qualifying

The former Real Salt Lake winger instead played 71 minutes in his fourth Liga MX appearance for the club during the Clausura.

Watch: Gio Reyna scores stunner for Borussia Dortmund

Bradley echoes Arena with bold USMNT prediction

Three reasons to believe in Bruce Arena’s bold USMNT prediction

USMNT: Dest’s rise continues; named Man of the Match in Ajax win

MLS’s 25th anniversary won’t be marred by strike

MLS, MLSPA agree to new CBA

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High-profile influx of Latin American talent is altering Major League Soccer for the best

Chicharito positioned to deliver a David Beckham-level impact with the Galaxy

Reports: NYCFC to play CONCACAF CL game at Red Bull Arena

FC Cincy continue adding to attack with Regattin


WORLD, Champions League

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Guardiola admits City can’t be sure Sterling will be fit to face Real Madrid

Liverpool most difficult team in UCL says Atletico Boss
Real Madrid & Barca in 65-year first after Copa del Rey elimination



10 pm   FS1                         USA Ladies vs Mexico (Olympic Qual Finals)

7:30 a.m. ET: NBCSN         Everton v. Crystal Palace

9:30 am Fox Sport2           Schalke vs Paderborn

12:30 pm FS2                     Leverkusen vs Dortmund (Gio Reyna)
12:30 p.m. ET: NBC            Brighton v. Watford

9 a.m. ET: NBCSN               Sheffield United v. Bournemouth

9 am ESPN2                        Napoli vs Lecce
11:30 a.m. ET: NBCSN       Man City v. West Ham United

12 noon FS2                       Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig  (Adams)

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Inter vs Milan

3 pm beIN Sport                Real Betis vs Barcelona


2:45 pm ESPN+                  Inter vs Napoli (Coppa Italia)

12:30 beIN Sport               Dijon vs PSG (Coup de France)

3 pm beIN Sport                 Lyonnaise vs Marseille


2:45 pm ESPN+                  Milan vs Juve (Coppa Italia)


2:30 pm FS2                       Dortmund vs Frankfurt

3 pm NBCSN                       Wolverhampton vs Leicester


9 am NBCSN                       Aston Villa vs Tottenham

1130 am NBCSN                 Arsenal vs Newcastle United (Yedlin)

USWNT seems to be betting on veterans — not its plentiful young stars — to capture Olympic gold

Leander SchaerlaeckensYahoo Sports•February 6, 2020

Carli Lloyd (10) has been a focal point of the USWNT’s attack in Olympic qualifying, and that appears to be the plan for this summer too. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Meet the United States women’s 2020 Olympic soccer team, same as the United States 2019 Women’s World Cup team. Or largely, anyway.If all goes as it should, the American women will qualify for the 2020 Summer Games on Friday with a win over Mexico in the semifinals of the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. Which, by the way, begs the question why there will be a title game on Sunday, since it isn’t an actual championship but a qualifying event and there is no prize other than an Olympic berth for the winning semifinalists. While the team has a new coach in the Macedonian-American Vlatko Andonovski, it looks remarkably similar to that of Jill Ellis, who left the job late last year after a second straight World Cup title.

In December, Andonovski held an identification camp in Florida, inviting 24 players who hadn’t made the 2019 World Cup roster to do his due diligence, to get a better sense of the player pool. Yet when it came time for the new head coach to submit his roster for this qualifying tournament, 18 of the 20 names on it had also been to the World Cup. And of the two who didn’t go to France – Andi Sullivan and Lynn Williams – neither had been part of the identification camp and both were well into double-digits in caps prior to the tournament.Which is to say that the national team has stayed much the same. Even Alex Morgan, the star striker seven months pregnant with her first child, has actually been practicing with the team in Southern California, in a feat more impressive than anything her peers have done in actual competition.That also means that, absent the 30-year-old Morgan, the national team is anchored by veterans very much in the last flush of their careers. Carli Lloyd, now leading the line, will be 38 by the time the Olympics begin, although her conditioning remains irreproachable. The defense is still anchored by Becky Sauerbrunn and the revived Ali Krieger, who are 34 and 35, respectively. Megan Rapinoe, who provides much of the creative impetus, will be 35 in Tokyo. Even the sparkplugs Tobin Heath, Christen Press and Kelley O’Hara all turn 32 this year. A young team this is not.ertainly, there isn’t time to rebuild a team between the Women’s World Cup and the Olympics. Such is the nature of the women’s international cycle that the two major tournaments fall in back-to-back summers, followed by almost three years of nothing other than friendly tournaments and a single and typically unchallenging World Cup qualifying event.

Ellis ran into much the same quandary. She was appointed a year out from the World Cup and had no time to shape her team until after the Rio Olympics, almost a year and a half later. Only then could she begin cutting players who were aging or didn’t fit her vision, and integrate new ones and introduce her ideas. But what rankles about this roster is that not so long ago, the impression of this team was of a young, talented bunch with a future every bit as rosy as the recent past. Yet the attacking prodigy Mallory Pugh and upstart defender Tierna Davidson, both 21 years old, were left off the qualifying roster, as was 26-year-old midfielder Morgan Brian. The latter decision was understandable, considering the logjam in central midfield and the similar age of her competitors. Pugh, however, was supposed to be the future of this team. And her omission meant there is no player on the team younger than 24. Fully half of it is 31 or older. Only the midfield is young, with Sullivan, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and Lindsey Horan all between 24 and 27 years of age. The trouble with that is the Olympics force the two finalists to play six games in just 17 days. And the roster is much smaller than at the World Cup – 18, instead of 23. The tournament will scatter its games all over Japan, but it’ll be warm in all of them in July and August. The Olympics weren’t pretty for the Americans in 2016, in the aftermath of a first World Cup title in 16 years. In Brazil, the group stage was a slog. And then they were eliminated by a well-organized Swedish team – the “cowards” in Hope Solo’s famous putdown – in the quarterfinals. It was the first time the Americans hadn’t reached the final at the Olympics, after four gold medals and a silver.There still isn’t a country that has won Olympic gold the year after winning the World Cup. Judging from this qualifying tournament, the Americans seem to be betting on veteran experience, at the expense of youth, to become the first. Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports

Match preview and schedule: USA vs Mexico, Olympic qualifying

Win and the USWNT are in the Olympics.  By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Feb 6, 2020, 6:00am PST

The United States Women’s National Team have completed the group stage of the 2020 CONCACF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, and the scene shifts to Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California for Friday’s semifinal against Mexico. The winner of that match will punch their ticket to Tokyo, Japan and the 2020 Olympics. The loser will not be in Tokyo, falling short of the goal.The USWNT have not allowed a goal so far in Olympic qualifying, scoring 18 goals in Group A play. After struggling a bit in their opening match against Haiti, the USWNT has settled in and dominated Panama and Costa Rica on their way to the semifinals. For Mexico, they’re here after beating St. Kitts and Nevis as well as Jamaica, but their loss Tuesday to Canada meant they finished 2nd in Group B and will have to go through the Americans to get to Tokyo.

Predicted USWNT lineup

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski will likely go back to a similar lineup that he had to open the group stage against Haiti:

Predicted Lineup vs. Mexico

Andonovski clearly has several options at every position. Lindsay Horan could very well get the start in the midfield alongside Julie Ertz and Rose Lavelle, but Andi Sullivan could also factor as well. Up front, Tobin Heath could get a shot, but Lynn WilliamsCarli Lloyd, and Christen Press have thoroughly destroyed every team they’ve faced. It’s likely they will get another chance to do just that.

Time, TV, and streaming options

USA vs. Mexico

Friday, February 7, 2020

10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM PT


US women beat Costa Rica 6-0, win Olympic qualifying group

Costa Rica midfielder Gloriana Villalobos (9) goes over the back of United States midfielder Samantha Mewis (3) during the first half of a CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying soccer match Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

HOUSTON (AP) — Christen Press and Samantha Mewis each scored a pair of goals and the United States beat Costa Rica 6-0 on Monday night to finish atop its group in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament.The World Cup-winning U.S. team extended its unbeaten streak to 26 games. The Americans wrapped up the group stage with three shutouts and 18 goals.Both teams had already earned a spot in the semifinals of the tournament later this week in Carson, California. Eight teams are playing in the tournament, which will determine the region’s two berths to the Tokyo Olympics this summer.The semifinal matchups will be determined on Tuesday when Canada plays Mexico on Tuesday in Edinburg, Texas. The winner of that match will avoid the top-ranked Americans.Press extended her scoring streak to four straight games with a goal in the fourth minute. Lindsey Horan, who had a hat trick in the U.S. team’s 8-0 victory over Panama on Friday, scored some six minutes later.Press, who plays for Utah of the National Women’s Soccer League, added her second goal in the 36th minute.Mewis scored on a free kick by Press in the 63rd minute and Jessica McDonald added a goal in the 77th before Mewis’ second goal, which appeared to just barely hit the line after deflecting down off the crossbar.The crowd at Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium was announced at 7,082. Already eliminated, Haiti beat Panama 6-0 in the other group game earlier in the day.Costa Rica rested top players Shirley Cruz and Raquel Rodriguez in anticipation of the semifinals on Friday.The U.S. has qualified for every Olympics since women’s soccer was introduced in 1996, and has won the gold medal four times. The team has five consecutive titles in the qualifying tourname.  Six teams have already made the field for Tokyo: Japan, Brazil, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and New Zealand.

Three reasons to believe Bruce Arena is right about USMNT reaching World Cup 2022

February 2, 20209:12AM ESTGreg SeltzerContributor

This week, former US boss Bruce Arena went out on a limb we didn’t think existed a few years ago to declare he holds “no doubt” the US men’s national team will escape a dark cloud period by making their way through the forthcoming World Cup qualifying campaign to see the sunny other side once again.It was the type of reassurance we’d want in the lingering wake of a stunning Concacaf hexagonal failure that left the US men’s national team on the big dance sidelines for the first time since 1986. Since that fateful, sobering night in Couva, so many of us have spent two years and counting reaching for hope that missing out on Russia 2018 was a mere blip. But is Arena right? Was that qualifying calamity just a perfect storm of letdown circumstances not to be repeated? Can the US pick themselves up off the mat to start a new World Cup attendance streak in Qatar 2022.Of course, you can’t notarize an official blip explanation by rebounding to qualify for just one or two World Cups. No no, this program wants to get back to being a regular invitee routinely found at the top of hex tables. While the last couple of years have involved a lot of soul-searching and fretting about the USMNT’s place in the Concacaf hierarchy, there are reasons to believe Arena’s declaration is sound and the ship will then remain righted for qualifying campaigns to come. Here are three.

Outside factors

There’s a lot that goes into a World Cup cycle, good or bad. A lot had to go wrong for the US to court disaster enough that a phantom goal could help knock them out. The good news is, in my estimation at least, the variables that led to the downfall don’t seem repeatable. Take Concacaf’s competitive level of play. Helped in part by an improving MLS, several of the so-called “second-tier” Concacaf teams have closed the gap on the US and Mexico a bit. Countries like Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and Panama got a little stronger and a little deeper. They then proved an ability to up their game for stretches to hit historic program-high notes and, umm, end our streak of playing in World Cups at seven. Each of these countries had many good recent times authored by national team icons who now have and/or will soon leave their international playing days behind. A lot of guile and skill in key positions will need to be adequately replaced, a task harder and slower to do for these smaller nations. The US is in a rebuilding period, but those teams appear headed for their own bumpy phases. As the entire USMNT bubble knows, growing new linchpins is a time-consuming task. It feels like the Nats have a head start on that and can soon re-open that gap for a while. They should also bounce back stronger once better fitness luck returns. These injury bug sprees come and go, but it can’t be missed that injuries have consistently taken major bites out of Gregg Berhalter’s selections. So far we’ve seen Tyler Adams, Jozy Altidore and Christian Pulisic together in red, white and blue on the same field a grand total of zero times. Guys like John Brooks, Weston McKennie, Jordan Morris and Timothy Weah have often missed time. It’s always harder to regain team swagger when it’s not complete, let alone missing multiple key cogs and hot prospects. Once depth is no longer stretched thin and the team can go about more ideal business, USMNT bubble confidence will repair much faster.

Growing pain relief

There’s no denying it. Some missed growth opportunities at the Under-20 level some years back combined with the cruelly bunched retirement of numerous national team stars set us back big. The roster needed a restock, plain and simple. Of course, the star men that came before had to fight through a development process before racking up international accomplishments. Happily, we have a squadron of notable young talent now doing the same.They’re all over the map. We have guys who are already important to big clubs in their respective leagues like Chelsea, RB Leipzig and MLS Cup champs Seattle. Several are at talent farms like Ajax, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Even behind greener full internationals such as Miles Robinson and Josh Sargent, there’s a loaded Under-17 pool. Heck, the FC Dallas youth set-up could probably cobble together a full lineup of future promise.Systems can be drilled all you like, but what usually matters in the end is a capable crew on the pitch. Blooming standouts like Adams, Pulisic, McKennie, Morris, Zack Steffen and Sergino Dest are gaining experience and confidence that should pay off big. I could go on all day dropping names like Chris Richards and Paxton Pomykal and Gio Reyna and Julian Araujo and Gianluca Busio and Joe Scally and Ulysses Llanez (you get the point). We could stack a hefty depth chart with exciting talent on a collision course with the senior team. Even if half our strong stable of youngsters fulfills expected potential, USMNT happy days would come back to us, possibly hit new heights and probably stick around.

It’s all about balance

Real quick, scroll back up to gander at all the players mentioned thus far. You may notice a pleasant even distribution around the field. Go ahead, draw up an actual working formation from the names. You’ll see a lineup and bench pieces that could cause trouble now. There’s no barren spot on the field and it’s fun just to imagine them combining into a unit.I often say balance is the key to everything. That goes double for soccer. Winning teams need solid pieces that fit together, they need flexibility and depth, they need to stop wishing for a left back (and yes, there are even a handful of good prospects aiming to fix that). I’m not sure if a more evened-out field cover in the squad will cancel all those fiery “he’s out of position!” debates or light more off, but settling them both on and off the field will be much more fun either way. It’s not just a straight depth chart thing, either. Tilt our squad outlook on another axis, and you’ll find the names mentioned above also strike a good balance across age levels. Chart everyone in the pipeline and it starts to look like a wave pool. The young risers won’t arrive all at once (which would be one of those annoying “good problems”), but they should consistently arrive in groups over the coming years.Frankly, I’m ready to move on from feeling down about the last few years. Even a conservative estimate of the double dose of USMNT roster balance we’re set for is the best reason for World Cup optimism going. Now we just need to start that new qualification streak, prove Arena right and take it from there.

Three things we learned from the US national team’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica | Charles Boehm

February 1, 20206:36PM ESTCharles BoehmNational Writer

The US men’s national team kicked off a busy year with a deserved, if somewhat incomplete 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica on Saturday. Here are a few thoughts on the outing.

Give Gregg his due

Look, if you’re reading this you probably know all about the overarching negativity that’s lingered around the USMNT since the woes of 2017. While you could argue that Gregg Berhalter and his players might have done more to vanquish that with a couple more big wins last year, they deserve the chance to keep their heads down and do their work, and be evaluated fairly on days like this.And Berhalter deserves some praise for giving new faces a chance, both in Saturday’s lineup and the January camp roster in general. The starting XI was 23 years, 216 days on average, the youngest in “Camp Cupcake” history and marked by four debutants, all 20 or younger. Another three came off the bench to mark their first caps. And I’d contend that all over them looked like they belonged, at the very least.The coaching staff looked to offer some stability with the familiar Aaron LongWalker Zimmerman center back duo, Sebastian Lletget and Paul Arriola in the attacking band of three, and Reggie Cannon and Jackson Yueill look increasingly like nailed-on regulars. The core ideas they’ve worked on over the past year were recognizable and often pleasing to the eye. As for the top newcomers…

Jesus and Uly

For many of us one of the long-running asks of the national team is the desire for greater Latino representation, not only in personnel but also style. And there were genuinely exciting signs of progress here as Jesus Ferreira and Ulysses Llanez shined on their first exposure to this level.Confident on the ball, full of ideas and already showing promising chemistry, they linked play and drifted into dangerous spaces around the attacking third. Given their modest top-flight experience, this really should encourage supporters. Though it would’ve been a tremendous boost to see one of them score in the run of play, Llanez will savor his game-winning goal from the penalty spot in front of a big hometown crowd of family and friends. Maybe some US fans can even watch his Kobe Bryant-tribute celebration and dream of a someday where “Uly”, too, can become a first-word household name across the nation.As for Ferreira, the intelligence and variety of movement he showed in the No. 9 role belied his tender years, and troubled the Tico defense. As new USMNT GM Brian McBride said at halftime:“I thought Jesus Ferreira was excellent in dropping into that hole and really making the game, connecting, opening things up. [Costa Rica] realized it, they condensed the space, and then we started going wide.”

Time for transitions?

Nothing’s perfect, of course, especially in January. Amid plenty of positive buildup play, the finishing nous wasn’t quite there for the home side. And if I were to nitpick further, I’d wonder why the USMNT continue to look uninterested in quick, aggressive counterattack bids for long periods under Berhalter.Given that some of Costa Rica’s most dangerous moments came off transitions and set pieces in their direction, it might’ve behooved the Yanks to respond in kind where and when balls turned over in promising areas going the other way. When such situations arose, it didn’t appear that there were practiced collective movements at front of mind for those in positions to stretch the opposition.It was a recurring theme in 2019 and at this point I’m not sure whether Berhalter has pushed it down the to-do list, or just doesn’t see it as a priority at all in his system. Time is short in most international windows, so January is a period in which you’d expect to see more signs of automation in this regard.