7/31/21  US Men vs Mexico Gold Cup Final – Sunday 8:30 pm FS1, USA Women Win in PKs face Canada Mon 4 am on USA  

7/31  US Men vs Mexico Gold Cup Final – Sunday 8:30 pm FS1, USA Women Win in PKs face Canada Mon 4 am on USA  

US Men vs Mexico GOLD CUP FINAL Sunday 8:30 pm FS1  

WOW the 2nd half of the US 1-0 win over Qatar was fabulous full highlights.  The 85th minute goal by sub Zardes from sub Giochinni had been building up for the 20 minutes prior to the goal as Berhalter’s subs we spot on.  Roldan, Cannon and Zardes really made a difference in the final 20 minutes of the game as they put huge pressure on the Asian Cup Champions.  Listen this Qatar team is good – the best team in Asia – winners of the Asian Cup 2 years ago – tons of experience – the leading scorers and assist men in the Gold Cup.  But when Qatar missed the PK early in the 2nd half – the young US team grew up and found a way to win it.  GK Matt Turner stood on his head and kept the US in the game – in the first half with 3 SPECTACULAR Saves –  as the US gave up way too many shots in the first half. (He’s making his bid to put the pressure on Coach to consider him as a starter come Qualifying time especially if he can keep the US in the game vs Mexico.  (Listen Turner starts and plays 90 minutes every game for New England – so having him start over 2 guys sitting on the bench in Horvath and Steffan may not be so crazy).  But back to this game – I thought Hoppe was good again tonight in his 75 minutes along with Sam Vines at left back.  Dike, and Arriola just didn’t work up top.  Hopefully Dike is hurt – because he did not look good.  (I love that Coach B started him again because he’s giving his young guys chances to get better- but he’s simply not ready yet.)  Zardes was great off the bench along with Giochinni – both might deserve starts vs Mexico or perhaps Hoppe at the #9.  For the US this was the youngest/least capped team to ever start a Gold Cup knockout game – much less a Semi-Final with a berth vs Mexico on the line. 

Now can this team beat Mexico?  Wow – Mexico brought their A team and coach Tata Martino is under a lot of pressure right now – honestly if he loses – they might fire him.  I think Mexico has too much against our very young B/C team but Canada took them to the wire Thurs night when Mexico needed a 99th minute goal to win 2-1.  Full highlights  If the US can keep it close – 2-1 loss maybe?  That would be huge – and if Matt Turner stands on his head in Vegas – in what will be a 70/30 Mexican ROAD GAME then Berhalter will have really proven he’s making some serious progress on building the US program back up.  Remember the US has not lost on US soil in 13 games – but this will be THE BIGGEST test especially without our European starters.  Either way – I am fully back on board – this young, exciting US Men’s team deserves your time, deserves you buying back in again !! Go USA !! Oh and by the way tickets will be on sale soon for US Men Qualifying games in Columbus Oct 13 vs Costa Rica (Anyone wanna roadtrip??) and in Cincinnati vs Mexico on November 12.  Interesting to see the US Men putting their opinion out regarding the equal pay argument as they support the US ladies

Here’s my starting line-up for Sunday night vs Mexico  I like Mexico 2-1 (refs will give Mexico a PK)

Zardes

Hoppe //Arriola 

Lletget //Williams

Acosta

Vines/Robinson/Sands/Cannon

Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

US Ladies vs Canada USA Network Mon 4 am Semi-Finals

Thank goodness I was wrong – I thought the Dutch would beat us 3-2 and in the 85th minute I looked to be right as the Netherlands got a PK.  But US GK Alyssa Naeher proved once again that she is probably the least respected yet one of the best Goalkeepers in the world.  She dove and made the save to keep it tied.  GK Naeher Saves US vs Netherlands Then as the US went to penalties – she did it again saving the first against the leading scorer in this game and this tournament Dutch’s Vivianne Miedema before making the 3rd save sending the US into the Semi-Final against Canada who also won on penalties.   Coach A surprised everyone by starting winger Lynn Williams, the 2nd leading scorer in NWSL history, on the right side and sending Heath to the left with Lloyd up top.  The combo was effective as Williams scored the Brace in her first legit action in this tourney.  (She’s been injured some).  The Dutch were lethal most of the game  peppering Naeher from all over the field.  Miedema (10 goals) scored two goals as she bossed America’s center backs Sauerbrunn and especially Dahlkemper most of the night.  Dunn was strong defensively in helping especially in the 2nd half when the game really opened up.  Coach A may have been thinking PKs as he sat some of our top scorers – as subs Morgan, Press and Rapino all scored from the spot to close out the game.  I don’t think Canada is as good as the Netherlands – but this is still a huge game with Sweden probably waiting in the Gold Medal game. 

About Canada – They got out of their group with a win (Chile) and two draws (Great Britain and Japan), and then played a goalless 120 minutes with Brazil before besting them in the shootout. We most recently faced them back in February in the SheBelieves Cup, winning 1-0 c/o Rose Lavelle. That match didn’t feature Christine Sinclair, the all time leading scorer in the known universe. This one very likely will. Three of her 187 goals for Canada came in the 2012 Olympics semifinal match, which … well, if tomorrow’s match is half as nuts as that one was, it’ll be a classic. Win, and we play Sweden or Australia again for the gold. Lose, and we play Sweden or Australia again for the bronze.

Here’s the team I would send out if I were coach A against Canada Monday morning.  Dahlkemper really struggled – she has to come out this game.  I like getting Press back into the starting line-up and giving Williams a shot up top – she’s plays the 9 for her club and maybe she’ll actually stay onsides unlike Morgan and Lloyd.  (The US had 2 more goals called back on offsides for an Olympic Record 9 goals wiped out to the flag.) 

Announcer Arlo White was classic when he said – the Americans would like to get their HANDS ON THAT FLAG – man he’s good!!  Horan needs a rest at mid and Kristie Mewis deserves a run along with Lavelle in the middle. 

My Starting Line-Up Monday – US Wins a tight one 2-1

Press/Williams/Heath

K Mewis, Lavelle

Ertz

Dunn/Davidson/Sauerbrunn/Ohara

GK Superwoman -Naeher

US Ladies Roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars),

MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Catarina Macario (Lyon),

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

Olympics Local Ties

Lori Lindsey – a former US National Team Midfielder who is an Indiana Native and former Pike High School star who went to UVA has done a great job as an analyst on NBCSN for the Women’s Olympic Coverage.   Lori’s the blond with short hair giving us the half-time updates and occasionally serving as analyst on the non US ladies games.  Cool to see !! 

US Men    Sunday – 8:30 pm vs MEXICO FS1 Gold Cup FINALS

CONCACAF Gold Cup Final: Scouting Mexico


Zardes rewards Berhalter’s faith, wins Gold Cup semi for USMNT
  ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle
Gyasi Zardes’ goal pushes the USMNT past Qatar and into Concacaf Gold Cup final

USA squad blanks Qatar to reach Gold Cup final

Gold Cup: USMNT survives Qatar scare, sets up USA – Mexico final
Gold Cup: Mexico tops Canada, reaches final amid controversy involving homophobic chant

US Ladies –Mon 4 am USA vs Netherlands

Greatest Game Part 2? – Dan Wetzel Yahoo Soccer
Why USWNT won’t get an easy game vs. Canada in Olympic semifinal
  ESPNFC
Caitlin Murray
Opinion: Canada believes it can beat USWNT in Olympic semifinals. Except it rarely has

GK Naeher Saves US vs Netherlands – the 18
Vlatko Andonovski’s big gamble paid off in setting up USWNT showdown with Canada

U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Advances to Olympic Semifinals After Close Win Against the Netherlands

How USWNT beat dangerous Dutch: Naeher No. 1, Williams takes her chance  ESPN – Caitlin Murray

Video  USWNT wins thriller vs. Netherlands, Team USA swimmers make statements in and out of water | What You Missed  

The USWNT needed a hero, up stepped Alyssa Naeher

U.S. Women’s Soccer Goes Where It Hasn’t Gone In 9 Years After Win Over Netherlands

The hero of the US Women’s Soccer knockout stage win took a winding journey to Tokyo after a 2019 World Cup snub

Re-Watch USWNT’s Full Shootout vs. Netherlands, with Red Stars Goalie’s Diving Saves
Opinion: Alyssa Naeher lets her play do the talking in USWNT’s win over Netherlands at Tokyo Olympics

U.S. women’s soccer team edges Netherlands on penalty kicks to advance at Olympics

USWNT uses penalty kicks to escape with quarterfinal win against Netherlands at Tokyo Olympics

Is Mexico the Best Men’s Team Left Standing?  

GAMES ON TV

Sunday, Aug 1

2:45 pm     Super Cup France Lille vs PSG (beIN Sport)

8:30 pm GOLD CUP FINAL USA vs Mexico FS1

Monday, Aug 2 Women’s Olympics

4  am        Semis – USWNT  vs Canada (USA)

7 am           Semis – Aust vs Sweden (USA)

Tuesday, Aug 3 Men’s Olympics

4  am         Semis – Mexico vs Brazil (NBCSN)

7 am           Semis – Japan vs Spain (NBCSN)

Wednesday, Aug6

8 pm          Indy 11 @ FC Tulsa myIndy TV, ESPN+

Thursday, Aug 5

4 am          Bronze Medal-Ladies (USA)

7 am           Gold Medal-Ladies (USA)

Saturday, Aug 7

7:30 am     Men’s Olympic Finals – (NBCSN)

12 noon Leicester City vs Man City Community Shield (ESPN+)

3 pm Troyes vs PSG (beIN Sport) French League 1

Sunday, Aug 8

8:30 am Fulham (Ream, Robinson) vs Middlesbrough ESPN+

7:30 pm     Indy 11 @ Atlanta United ESPN+

USMNT, Mexico meet in Gold Cup final with expectations high for differing reasons

Jul 31, 2021Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

LAS VEGAS — When the U.S. men’s national team and Mexico meet in Sunday’s 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, it will be the second time in 56 days that the longtime rivals have faced each other with a continental title on the line. And yet the two matches could not be more different in terms of the relative stakes involved.Back on June 6, the sides met in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final, and it was the U.S. in desperate need of a win because, for the entirety of manager Gregg Berhalter’s tenure, there had yet to be a victory that confirmed that the team was back on an upward trajectory. A statement was needed, not only to generate some confidence in the coach’s methods but also to give this generation of players something tangible to go with its undeniable talent. And, regardless of the wild sequence of events that took place during the game, the collective group stepped up, absorbed the pressure — and a bottle or two to the head — to ultimately walk away with a 3-2 win after extra time.As for Mexico, while the loss stung — they always do against the U.S. — there was a belief that Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s men had played well enough to win, having led twice and with the chance to make it 3-3 but for Ethan Horvath to save Andres Guardado‘s penalty. As it stood, El Tri would be back to fight another day. So what has changed heading into Sunday’s encounter at Allegiant Stadium? In a word: expectations.

The U.S. came into this tournament with an intentionally youthful, inexperienced roster, with one fundamental reason the desire to give presumptive first-team regulars — Christian PulisicWeston McKennieGiovanni Reyna and others — rest ahead of what is expected to be a busy season for both club and country.But there was also a need to get a better idea of how impactful up-and-coming members of the player pool could be at the international level. This is especially important given that triple-fixture windows dot the horizon for World Cup qualifying, which begins in September, and depth will be tested.Expectation-wise, this left the U.S. in a bit of a conundrum. Berhalter has said from the beginning that the goal was to win the tournament, regardless of roster construction. And yet there have been times when the team’s youth has been trotted out as an explanation for shaky performances.

A 1-0 group-stage win against Canada, who had a slight edge in experience but also fielded some new faces in the absence of stars such as Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, was seen as a case in point, yet it was not so much the young players who let the U.S. down that day but rather veterans who did not step up.In Thursday’s semifinal win, Qatar looked a cut above in the first half but were unable to find a way past the impressive Matt Turner in goal, which allowed the Americans to rally late in the game and seal victory through an all-important Gyasi Zardes goal.That this U.S. squad has reached the final speaks well of its ability to adapt, grow and grind out results. Moreover, while injuries to the likes of defender Walker Zimmerman, midfielder Paul Arriola and defender Reggie Cannon have limited options, they have also given Berhalter data points on players like Shaq MooreMiles RobinsonJames Sands and Matthew Hoppe.Given those developments, the U.S. would seem to be playing with house money on Sunday, although Berhalter denied that was the case in his pregame press conference. Its objectives have largely been achieved and little is expected against the pre-tournament favorite. Yet Berhalter wants his side to be greedy and finish the job.

“We’re not done, and that was the message to the team,” the U.S. coach said after the semifinal. “It’s nice to make the final, but we want to win the final. Our No. 1 goal is to win the Gold Cup. We said that before the Gold Cup, and we’ll say it again.”By contrast, the stakes for Mexico could not be more different. This is a game it dare not lose, even if it almost cannot win; beating a short-handed U.S. team to claim a 12th Gold Cup title would prove little, even if there are a players absent like Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano.But in the event of defeat, pressure would increase and doubts would be raised heading into World Cup qualifying. Would it even be enough to cost Martino his job?There has certainly been that impulse at times in the past, but the tenure of predecessor Juan Carlos Osorio is instructive. The Mexico Football Federation stuck by him after a 7-0 thrashing by Chile in the 2016 Copa America Centenario quarterfinals, and that patience and emphasis on stability was rewarded with World Cup qualification and a famous victory over holders Germany in Russia.This Mexico team has found a way to get results, even if the actual play has sometimes fallen short of its lofty standards. Jonathan dos Santos has been rallied around following the death of his father, and one would expect that its experience edge all over the field, but especially in a midfield led by Hector Herrera, will tell at some point.Berhalter noted how poor his side was in terms of winning duels against Qatar, with just 42.7%, while the tackle success was even worse at 30%. If that happens again, the likes of Rogelio Funes Mori should benefit and make it a long night for a back line that has performed so well.But the very nature of this long-standing rivalry means that another drama-filled chapter seems inevitable. Given the mental fortitude shown over the past few weeks by the U.S., as well as the must-win nature of the game for Mexico, expect another compelling encounter.

USA vs Mexico, 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup final: What to watch for

The two regional titans meet for another trophy.By Brendan Joseph  Aug 1, 2021, 10:07am

The United States Men’s National Team has the opportunity to win a second trophy this summer, progressing to the final of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Once again, the opponent is Mexico, which Gregg Berhalter and an almost wholly different roster dispatched in June’s Nations League championship. The rivalry is renewed one again at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada, the last remaining test in advance of World Cup qualifying.Neither team has looked completely convincing during the competition, an understandable state considering the squads range from the C+ to B+ range. The struggles have provided the opportunity for both managers to discover and integrate depth options, mild experimentation that should continue into the final. However, this is still the United States versus Mexico, with all of the elevated tensions expected from such a fixture. Both programs would receive a slight boost from winning this Gold Cup, although perhaps El Tri manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino would face more criticism after a second consecutive defeat.“We are calm to be in one more final,” the Argentine said in his press conference. “It is what always has to happen with Mexico and more because we know that it is not easy despite the favoritism. We are going to face the United States team. We have the United States jersey in front of us in another final and we will seek to win it.”

What To Watch For

Limit defensive mistakes. Playing in possession is always a risk, with harsh lessons ideally learned in less meaningful matches. The USMNT back line has made a few catastrophic mistakes in the defensive third. Opponents have thus far been unable to take advantage, failing to get past goalkeeper Matt Turner during the run of play. Mexico’s attackers, which includes elusive target man Rogelio Funes Mori, will not be as forgiving.

Keep pace. Outside of the rout against Martinique, there is a paucity of goals. Striker Daryl Dike appears to have hit a mild cold streak relative to his high standards and could probably use a break. If Mexico scores multiple times, the USMNT might not be able to keep pace. The team that finds the back of the net first will probably win.

Fullbacks will be tested. Sam Vines and Shaq Moore have been two of the better USMNT players at this competition, likely solidifying inclusion on future rosters. Both have been involved in the build-up while helping to put out defensive fires, although the occasional opponent counter attack has outpaced their arrival. This final presents their greatest test, as wingers Jesús Corona and Orbelín Pineda play high up the field and cut inside, making space for additional raids from overlapping fullbacks. The American defenders may be instructed to commit fewer runs forward, in turn limiting their influence in possession.

Lineup prediction

Berhalter has some interesting choices to make, particularly in light of recent results. The attacking group has experienced the most rotation throughout the competition, although the same lineup featured in both knockout round matches. Expect the same team except for a major change up top.

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Predicted Lineup vs. Mexico (via LineupBuilder.com)

There is no sense in making any great alterations to the defense this late in the competition. Matt Turner has likely cemented himself as the permanent back-up or third choice at goalkeeper. The back line has continued to put in “bend but don’t break” performances, looking to see out one last match.The midfield could experience some changes, but Berhalter appears to have settled on this three as his preferred group. Mexico’s press will challenge Gianluca Busio, looking to force the young player into bad decisions. If the manager chooses to go with a more aggressive option, Cristian Roldan is available and put in an impressive performance against Qatar.The wingers appear established, as Paul Arriola overcame an injury and Matthew Hoppe displays intriguing positional versatility. After scoring the game-winning goal against Qatar, Gyasi Zardes could be rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup. Dike struggled to score outside of his brace against Martinique, possibly forcing Berhalter to instead select the veteran. Both players will likely feature, but the decision of which would serve as the greater impact substitution could wield the greatest influence over the result.

Prediction

The already precarious USMNT defensive depth was further stretched by the injury to Walker Zimmerman. James Sands has performed admirably, even stepping into a four-player back line against Qatar. Unfortunately for this group, Mexico simply has more talent and experience on the roster, handing Berhalter a 3-1 loss.

Gyasi Zardes rewards Gregg Berhalter’s faith, wins Gold Cup semifinal for USMNT

Jul 31, 2021Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

LAS VEGAS — When the U.S. men’s national team and Mexico meet in Sunday’s 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, it will be the second time in 56 days that the longtime rivals have faced each other with a continental title on the line. And yet the two matches could not be more different in terms of the relative stakes involved.Back on June 6, the sides met in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final, and it was the U.S. in desperate need of a win because, for the entirety of manager Gregg Berhalter’s tenure, there had yet to be a victory that confirmed that the team was back on an upward trajectory. A statement was needed, not only to generate some confidence in the coach’s methods but also to give this generation of players something tangible to go with its undeniable talent. And, regardless of the wild sequence of events that took place during the game, the collective group stepped up, absorbed the pressure — and a bottle or two to the head — to ultimately walk away with a 3-2 win after extra time.As for Mexico, while the loss stung — they always do against the U.S. — there was a belief that Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s men had played well enough to win, having led twice and with the chance to make it 3-3 but for Ethan Horvath to save Andres Guardado‘s penalty. As it stood, El Tri would be back to fight another day. So what has changed heading into Sunday’s encounter at Allegiant Stadium? In a word: expectations.

The U.S. came into this tournament with an intentionally youthful, inexperienced roster, with one fundamental reason the desire to give presumptive first-team regulars — Christian PulisicWeston McKennieGiovanni Reyna and others — rest ahead of what is expected to be a busy season for both club and country.But there was also a need to get a better idea of how impactful up-and-coming members of the player pool could be at the international level. This is especially important given that triple-fixture windows dot the horizon for World Cup qualifying, which begins in September, and depth will be tested.Expectation-wise, this left the U.S. in a bit of a conundrum. Berhalter has said from the beginning that the goal was to win the tournament, regardless of roster construction. And yet there have been times when the team’s youth has been trotted out as an explanation for shaky performances.

A 1-0 group-stage win against Canada, who had a slight edge in experience but also fielded some new faces in the absence of stars such as Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, was seen as a case in point, yet it was not so much the young players who let the U.S. down that day but rather veterans who did not step up.In Thursday’s semifinal win, Qatar looked a cut above in the first half but were unable to find a way past the impressive Matt Turner in goal, which allowed the Americans to rally late in the game and seal victory through an all-important Gyasi Zardes goal.That this U.S. squad has reached the final speaks well of its ability to adapt, grow and grind out results. Moreover, while injuries to the likes of defender Walker Zimmerman, midfielder Paul Arriola and defender Reggie Cannon have limited options, they have also given Berhalter data points on players like Shaq MooreMiles RobinsonJames Sands and Matthew Hoppe.Given those developments, the U.S. would seem to be playing with house money on Sunday, although Berhalter denied that was the case in his pregame press conference. Its objectives have largely been achieved and little is expected against the pre-tournament favorite. Yet Berhalter wants his side to be greedy and finish the job.

“We’re not done, and that was the message to the team,” the U.S. coach said after the semifinal. “It’s nice to make the final, but we want to win the final. Our No. 1 goal is to win the Gold Cup. We said that before the Gold Cup, and we’ll say it again.”By contrast, the stakes for Mexico could not be more different. This is a game it dare not lose, even if it almost cannot win; beating a short-handed U.S. team to claim a 12th Gold Cup title would prove little, even if there are a players absent like Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano.But in the event of defeat, pressure would increase and doubts would be raised heading into World Cup qualifying. Would it even be enough to cost Martino his job?There has certainly been that impulse at times in the past, but the tenure of predecessor Juan Carlos Osorio is instructive. The Mexico Football Federation stuck by him after a 7-0 thrashing by Chile in the 2016 Copa America Centenario quarterfinals, and that patience and emphasis on stability was rewarded with World Cup qualification and a famous victory over holders Germany in Russia.This Mexico team has found a way to get results, even if the actual play has sometimes fallen short of its lofty standards. Jonathan dos Santos has been rallied around following the death of his father, and one would expect that its experience edge all over the field, but especially in a midfield led by Hector Herrera, will tell at some point. Berhalter noted how poor his side was in terms of winning duels against Qatar, with just 42.7%, while the tackle success was even worse at 30%. If that happens again, the likes of Rogelio Funes Mori should benefit and make it a long night for a back line that has performed so well.But the very nature of this long-standing rivalry means that another drama-filled chapter seems inevitable. Given the mental fortitude shown over the past few weeks by the U.S., as well as the must-win nature of the game for Mexico, expect another compelling encounter.

USWNT won’t get reprieve vs. Canada in Olympic semifinals: Why this could be another classic in the rivalry

ESPNFC Caitlin Murray

After the U.S. women’s national team eked past the Netherlands, the reigning champions of Europe, following a grueling 120-minute slugfest and penalty shootout, it would be tempting to see Monday’s semifinal against Canada (4 a.m. ET) as a chance to take things easier. After getting clobbered by Sweden and landing in arguably the toughest quarterfinal of the Tokyo Olympics, Canada is the USWNT’s reward, right?

Not so fast. “This is probably going to be our hardest game: We know that, and we are preparing for it that way,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said Sunday. “It’s a semifinal — it’s four of the best teams in the world,” he added. “Regardless of who plays who, it will be a difficult game.” Whether Andonovski really feels that way deep down or not — cynics will surely doubt it — the U.S. ought to know better than to write Canada off. Here is a look at the history of these two teams, and why Monday’s semifinal could be an explosive one:

Could this be another Olympic classic?

It would be difficult to top the excitement of the USWNT’s quarterfinal match over the Netherlands, but the semifinal against Canada surely has the potential, especially considering what happened the last time these two sides faced off in an Olympics.If you’ve never seen the 2012 Olympic semifinal, then do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers, set aside 2½ hours, and go watch it. If you need your memory jogged: that was the wild back-and-forth shootout where Christine Sinclair scored a hat trick and the USWNT somehow came back three times to win 4-3. Alex Morgan scored the game-winner at the last possible moment in the 123rd minute.That match holds firm as a testament to the USWNT’s tenacity and never-say-die attitude, but it’s also the moment where Canada asserted itself as a top-tier team on the global stage. At the time, it was a bit of a shock to see the Canadians giving the Americans such a battle, but the Canadians earned a bronze medal in 2012, and then earned bronze again in 2016.”In 2012, we were kind of on a hope and on a prayer,” Canadian veteran Desiree Scott said Sunday. “We were hoping we could get to that match, but now we truly believe in ourselves and what we can do on a soccer pitch, and we believe we can get to that gold medal game.”What is perhaps most memorable about that 2012 semifinal at Old Trafford is the way Abby Wambach loudly counted into the ear of the Norwegian referee every time Canada’s goalkeeper, Erin McLeod, held the ball. After McLeod had been warned about time-wasting at halftime — there is a six-second limit on goalkeepers holding the ball that referees almost never enforce — Wambach counted to 10 and the referee blew her whistle, awarding an indirect free kick at the spot McLeod was standing. On the unusually close free-kick inside the box, the referee then called a Canadian defender for a handball, allowing Wambach to score a crucial penalty.As far as USWNT wins go, it was a messy one, but it was thanks in large part due to the gamesmanship and shamelessness of Wambach to needle the referee. That ref has never officiated in another major tournament since, but does the USWNT have another player like Wambach, willing to be a pest and do whatever it takes to win?The players have credited defender Kelley O’Hara as being the one who brings out the most aggression on the field — “I think we could all hear her voice the whole game,” Rose Lavelle said, as if she was putting it as politely as she could, after the U.S. beat New Zealand. O’Hara was also the one who gave a post-Sweden pep talk about being “absolutely ruthless” going forward.Then there’s Megan Rapinoe. Given her performances so far in Japan, it seems unlikely she will reprise her heroic role from 2012, but maybe she’ll dazzle for old time’s sake.The flagship game of Rapinoe’s career will surely be the quarterfinal against France at the 2019 Women’s World Cup — when the president of the United States tries to pick a fight with you and you then score two goals to shut him up, it’s hard to argue otherwise — but her 2012 Olympic semifinal against Canada is runner-up. She scored a pair of sensational goals, including an olimpico (at an Olympics!), and was an all-around menace to Canada.Another unforgettable aspect of that game? Canada’s brutal physicality, which included a pre-VAR incident of Melissa Tancredi stomping on Carli Lloyd’s head after she got taken out on a set piece.Canada’s game plan was pretty clear: do everything possible to disrupt the USWNT so they get frustrated and can’t get into an attacking rhythm. Monday’s semifinal will probably be a bruising affair again, but Canada is also plenty capable of bringing some extra sophistication.”Our team is completely different now,” Scott said compared to 2012. “We’ve developed as a program and the brand of soccer that we play has evolved. Now we’re an attacking threat: we’re not just that defensive Canadian grit.”

The one-sided rivalry due for a revival

The thing about that previous USA-Canada game is that it was the first time in the past 20 years the North American rivalry between these two teams has really felt real. That’s because Canada hasn’t beaten the United States since 2001. In their last 36 meetings, the USWNT won 30 of them and tied in six.As far as Canadians are concerned, the USWNT’s win at the 2012 Olympics deserves an asterisk because of the bizarre refereeing, and they are right. But at times it’s felt like optimism has fueled the rivalry. To wit, after Canada lost to the U.S. in 2019 Women’s World Cup qualifying, then-coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller was asked what it would take to close the gap with the Americans. His answer? “There is no gap.” He offered no further explanation.Ever since 2012, however, Canada has been firmly on the rise. In addition to their bronze medals at the last two Olympics, they reached the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup and the knockout stage of the 2019 edition after back-to-back group stage exits before that. Even if Canada covets the rivalry a bit more than the Americans do, it doesn’t matter — if one team plays like it’s a rivalry, the other one will have to follow suit.”It’s easy to get up for it because of the rivalry,” USWNT defender Casey Krueger said Sunday. “We know that they are going to bring their best and we have to do the same.”Although the Americans have comfortably had the upper hand in this rivalry and are the favorites heading into Monday’s semifinal, tournament soccer is often different, and Canada in particular has seemed to learn how to step it up on the world stage. The USWNT has played Canada more than any other team in history, and while that could be an advantage for the U.S., it’s certainly an advantage for the Canadians too.Canada’s coach, Bev Priestman, said that she, a non-Canadian, is more motivated by the last time the U.S. faced her team. In February, the U.S. barely eked out a 1-0 win after a tight match in which Canada did well to cut off the Americans’ chances for most of the game.”I do see the same opportunities available that we’d seen in February, so I’m excited,” Priestman said. “We have some freshness in areas where they don’t, which is critical in a game like this. The Canadian-U.S. rivalry is there — I don’t need to even talk about it, it’s a given. But more importantly, when you talk about having a strong vision and that driving everything, this is the game that changes the color of the medal.”There’s one more thing that stands out about that 2012 semifinal, and it’s the sheer brilliance of Christine Sinclair. She put the Canadian team on her back, scoring three goals while the supporting cast around her wasn’t nearly as talented.That’s still a bit of a future worry for this Canada team: once 38-year-old Sinclair retires, will the goals still come as often? The team does have quality attackers in Janine Beckie and Nichelle Prince, with fullbacks Ashley Lawrence and Alysha Chapman also adding attacking threat when they bomb forward. But Sinclair is irreplaceable.No man or no woman has scored more international goals on the planet than Christine Sinclair, who now boasts 187 goals for Canada. (She’s also two shy of tying Christiane’s record for the most goals in women’s Olympic play.) But crucially, Sinclair isn’t just a goal-scorer — she is the glue of the attack. It’s easy to see in Portland, where she plays for the Thorns, in the middle of the field: her vision for distribution is impeccable, she’s excellent at keeping possession in transition, and she sets up her teammates as much as she scores herself.The USWNT will need to limit Sinclair’s impact, in whatever form it comes. If not, Sinclair, who may be playing in her last Olympics, could be playing for a gold medal to cap off her international career.

USWNT’s Rose Lavelle on Alyssa Naeher’s Tokyo 2020 heroics: No one else I’d rather have in the net

12:20 PM ETESPN

United States women’s national team midfielder Rose Lavelle has said there is “no one else” she’d have in goal other than Alyssa Naeher, who stopped three penalties and made several other crucial saves in their Tokyo 2020 quarterfinal win over Netherlands on Friday.Naeher saved a penalty from Lieke Martens in normal time before saving two spot-kicks after the game ended 2-2 following extra-time.

“There’s no one else I’d rather have in the net than her,” Lavelle said. “She’s saved us so many times.”Netherlands were awarded a penalty on 80 minutes when Lineth Beerensteyn was brought down by Kelley O’Hara in the box. Martens stepped up to take the spot-kick but was denied by Naeher.The Chicago Red Stars keeper then saved two penalties from Vivianne Miedema and Aniek Nouwen to see the USWNT go through, 42, to the semifinal, where they will face Canada.”This team just kept pushing for 90 minutes, 120 minutes, and we just kept believing that we were going to find a way to get it done,” Naeher said. “Very proud of the four players to step up and score their four penalties to go four-for-four. That is huge.”Lavelle, Alex MorganChristen Press and Megan Rapinoe scored the USWNT’s penalties.”I just try to be calm,” Rapinoe said after the game. “I say to myself, the worst that’s going to happen is that we lose the whole thing.”Both Morgan and Press had found the net within four minutes of each other in extra-time which would have given the USWNT the lead but both were adjudicated to be offside.”I’m incredibly proud of them, proud of the way they handled, not just this game, but the way they’ve handled this tournament,” coach Vlatko Andonovski told a news conference after the match.”Coming in and losing the first game, and actually, not just losing but getting our butt’s kicked, it’s not easy for this team that is not used to losing. They’re not even used to having a bad game, and to lose like that was not easy.”It’s not easy to handle the pressure, to handle the loss, and to bounce back in to play the game that we did against New Zealand. That was not easy to do, to win by multiple goals and then to be disciplined enough to do something that is not quite who we are but to be disciplined enough to take it because it’s going to help us get to the point where we want to go.”Then to come in here and impose yourself from the first second, and literally I mean, I felt like we took the game over at the beginning of the game and showed who we are.”

With legendary core on its way out, USWNT will need guile to win gold in Tokyo

Dan Wetzel

Dan Wetzel·ColumnistSat, July 31, 2021, 5:38 AM·5 min read

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TOKYO — When the United States women’s soccer team’s starting lineup was released ahead of Friday’s quarterfinal against the Netherlands, many fans were dumbfounded.The frontline that started the previous game against Australia — Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press — were all on the bench.Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s reasoning speaks to the underlying story of the Americans at these Olympics — if it’s legendary, yet aging, core is going to secure gold here in a last-dance, last-chance run to glory, it will be achieved through guile, strategy and duct tape. That includes the starting lineups.“I didn’t know if they started the game, if they would have been available at the end,” Andonovski said.It was the end, Andonovski correctly predicted, when they would be most valuable. As the 2-2 tie went to a shootout after 120 grueling, humid minutes, it was his veteran scorers (along with 26-year-old Rose Lavelle) who were most capable of rising up — rather than crumbling — under the pressure of the moment.Each was a second-half sub so they could do just what they did — step to the dot and bury shots into the back of the net, sending the U.S. to a semifinal showdown with Canada on Monday (4 a.m. ET).“If you noticed, those are the four players that took the penalty and scored,” Andonovski said.This is how it has to be for a team that is attempting — in its current form — one final run at a major international title. This crew has little to prove — they’ve already won two World Cups and an Olympic gold. But U.S. Soccer doubled down that an encore performance was possible.Rapinoe (age 36), Press (32) and Morgan (32) have a combined 520 appearances and 224 goals for the national team. They can still be great players, just not for 90, let alone 120 minutes, of grueling knockout-round play anymore.It’s the same for Carli Lloyd (39) and Tobin Heath (33), who started but were replaced by the others. Then there are backline mainstays Becky Sauerbrunn (36) and Kelley O’Hara (32). All but Press (who joined the team in 2013) won gold at the 2012 Olympics.

“2012 is a long time ago,” Morgan said.Back then no one wondered if she, or the others, could run for an entire game and still deliver late. Morgan was on her 123rd minute of play in the semifinals of those Olympics when she soared in the air to head in a game-winner against Canada in the semifinals. These aren’t tireless 23-year-olds anymore, though. They still have talent and tenacity and a will to win, but the challenges are different. Time is undefeated. It’s the opponents who have youth on their side.The Americans’ median age is 29.5. Canada’s is 26.“Right now it’s just getting our bodies ready,” Morgan said of the lack of rest days and quick turnarounds at the Olympics. “This tournament is incredibly short for six games.”That means Andonovski has had to find ways to find rest so the team isn’t shot in these later stages. All 16 of the active roster field players have started and 15 of them have also not started (only Crystal Dunn has begun each game).Andonovski even had to convince a notoriously competitive group to lay back in a 0-0 tie with Australia at the end of group play because that result was all they needed and they could preserve energy in the process.“We are disciplined enough to do something that isn’t who we are but will help us get to where we want to go,” Andonovski said. If that means the players best equipped to deliver on penalty kicks are fresh and ready, then so be it. Under the enormous stress of the situation on Friday, the Americans just shrugged. It was just another big moment in careers full of them.“[I just think], ‘The worst that is going to happen is you are going to lose the whole thing,’” joked Rapinoe. “’You are going to lose the Olympics for your country.’”

She laughed. That’s how you win shootouts. That’s why you have Megan Rapinoe in the game.There isn’t much public talk thus far about any potential finality to this tournament, but it’s there. By the time the U.S. heads to the 2023 World Cup in Australia, new blood will have to be pumped into the roster, perhaps drastically. Lavelle, at 26, is the youngest regular contributor. This isn’t a sport that is typically kind to 30-somethings.The greatness of this group is beyond reproach. They’ve been victorious. They’ve been dominant. They’ve been champions over and over.Now they are going for one last title, one last run for gold. No World Cup champ has ever followed up with an Olympic title. It may be their final accomplishment.It can’t be done the old way, though, just run them out and watch them run people over. You can see that in the starting lineup.

Let’s hope this USWNT-Canada Olympic semifinal lives up to the greatest women’s soccer game ever played

Dan Wetzel·ColumnistSun, August 1, 2021, 4:29 AM

TOKYO — Abby Wambach was desperate. A Christine Sinclair goal — her third of the game — had put Canada up 3-2 in the 2012 Olympic women’s soccer semifinal. Now the seconds, and the United States’ gold medal hopes, were melting away.And so Wambach did what he was always so brilliant at doing. She found a way to change the game … by counting.The referee’s decision that Wambach would inspire/force/bully would go on to infuriate the Canadians, give life to the Americans and set the stage for Alex Morgan’s epic winner in the 123rd exhausted, exhilarated minute to send the U.S. to the Olympic final, 4-3. They’d capture gold a few days later over Japan.It’s been hailed as the greatest women’s soccer game of all time. Comebacks. Heroics. Gamesmanship. Bitterness. Legacy.Nine years and two Olympics later, the two rivals, with plenty of familiar faces, meet again in the semifinals.“Are you guys hoping it’s like that again?” Morgan asked.Yeah, pretty much.Morgan’s goal — where she summoned the energy to win a Heather O’Reilly cross in the air and slip the ball just under the crossbar — is what is most remembered in the United States. In Canada, it’s what happened late in regulation, when Wambach managed to steal the game via clever referee manipulation.“We felt like we didn’t lose,” Sinclair said that night. “We feel it was taken from us … the ref decided the result before the game started.”Wambach was America’s all-time great goal-scorer and one of the most competitive athletes ever. Part of her game was to constantly seek any advantage in any way possible. Might be the intimidation of an opponent. Might be the working of a ref.“She’s well aware of the ‘dark arts,’” Riahn Wilkinson told the Globe and Mail in a 2015 retrospective of the game. “She uses them when she needs to.” Wilkinson’s comment wasn’t meant as a compliment. To Wambach, it might be.Either way, early in the contest Wambach noticed that Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was trying to slow the game down by holding the ball for a long time before punting it away.For example, in the 27th minute, with the Canadians leading 1-0, McLeod held a ball for 16 seconds. The rule is no more than six seconds, although it is rarely, if ever, enforced, especially in a major international tournament.Wambach didn’t care. She later told Yahoo Sports that she began running toward Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen and counting as McLeod had the ball. In the 60th minute, McLeod held it for 17 seconds. In the 68th, about 15 — 10 or 11 of them while she was on her feet.Wambach said she would get into the teens, but Pedersen would ignore her. No whistles were blown.At halftime, though, an assistant referee had warned McLeod to be quicker on her kicks, but the goalkeeper told the Globe and Mail she assumed it concerned goal kicks.When the U.S. again trailed, 3-2, in the 78th minute, now with time drawing short, McLeod hauled in a Megan Rapinoe corner kick. Wambach again approached Pedersen and started counting.McLeod got possession of the ball at 76:36. She got up from the ground at 76:40. Wambach said when she got her count to 10, Pederson blew the whistle.The clock read 76:49, just as McLeod was kicking it away. Too late. Pedersen had called a delay and awarded the U.S. an indirect kick in the box.There was confusion and pandemonium at Old Trafford in Manchester — England’s ancient and storied “Theatre of Dreams” — where the game was played. The Canadians were confused. So were many Americans. No one on either team could recall such a decision.“The referee said I had the ball for 10 seconds,” McLeod said after. “She, obviously, counted the time when I was on the ground with the ball. Once I got to my feet, I calculated I only had the ball for five seconds.”It was at least nine, but you can understand McLeod’s immediate reaction.“Very harsh,” McLeod said.Sinclair and teammate Jonelle Filigno aggressively sought an explanation but got little they could accept. “[Pedersen] actually giggled and said nothing,” Sinclair claimed. “Classy.” Others couldn’t believe Wambach’s incessant counting had worked.

“I was by her when she was counting on that play,” Lauren Sesselmann told the Globe and Mail. “I wanted to punch her.”But she didn’t. No one did. Canadian coach John Herdman later said his team’s failure was not matching Wambach’s antics by either getting in her face, distracting the referee or, well, whatever it took. Of course, Wambach, at 5-foot-11, was an intimidating presence.Regardless, Rapinoe, who scored two brilliant goals that night, including curling in a corner kick (an Olympic Olympico), took the indirect kick. Her shot hit the arm of Canadian defender Mary-Eve Nault.The U.S. now had a penalty kick. Wambach would take it and, of course, make no mistake, banking a shot in off the left post. Just like that, it was 3-3.

Over the ensuing 40 minutes of regulation and extra time, there was a relentless back and forth, chances for both sides that just missed, crossbars and posts hit, incredible saves and inspired defensive stops, not to mention pushing, shoving, clawing and even more pushing.The game was a frenzy with Old Tafford (full of mostly neutral English fans) hitting states of delirium. At the 2019 World Cup, members of English women’s national team credited the game — its intensity, quality and dramatics — with helping the women’s version of the sport gain credibility in their country. Even skeptics of women’s soccer couldn’t deny this.Eventually, in the last moments, Morgan would end it.The United States won, the Canadians fumed.“[Pedersen’s] got that to live with,” Herdman said. “We’ll move on from this, I wonder if she’ll be able to.”“Put on your American jersey,” Canadian Melissa Tancredi said she told Pedersen. “That’s who you played for today.”For the Canadians, this was an upset denied. They hadn’t defeated their rivals in 11 years, a stretch that included 26 games. The Americans were the global powerhouse, rich with funding and talent, the chosen team of the establishment. They were … well, Canada.When they arrived that night for the game, the U.S. was given the opulent locker room of Manchester United, the stadium’s famed tenant. Canada got a small visitor’s space. The decision by Pedersen just played into it all. They would go into win the bronze medal, but it never felt right.One person with no regrets was Wambach. In this case, a woman whose 184 international goals were the most in the sport’s history (until Sinclair broke the record herself) figured out how to impact the game even when she didn’t even have the ball.“Yes [the call] is uncharacteristic,” Wambach told Yahoo Sports the next day. “But the rules are the rules. You can say it’s gamesmanship, you can say it’s smart, but I’m a competitor. We needed to get a goal. They’re trying to waste time, I’m trying to speed it up.“I wasn’t yelling, I was just counting,” Wambach continued. “I got to 10 seconds right next to the referee and at 10 seconds she blew the whistle.”

It was genius. Eventually even Herdman, the Canadian coach, would agree.“Good on her …” he said a couple days after the match. “She knows how to win matches … She’s a quality player who’ll do whatever it takes to win.”Both Herdman and Sinclair were “investigated” by FIFA for their comments about the refereeing. There are rumors of a heated exchange between Sinclair and Pedersen, but details are unknown. Sinclair eventually served a four-game suspension.Pedersen, meanwhile, returned to ref in Norway, but, according to the Globe and Mail, resigned from working international tournaments with FIFA in 2013, not long after the Olympics.The legacy of the game carries on. And now it’s back. Same two teams. A number of the same players (Sinclair, Morgan, Rapinoe).Same Olympic semifinals.So, yes Alex Morgan, one more like that on Monday, one more U.S.-Canada classic, would be quite fine.

7/29/21 USA Men vs Qatar tonite Gold Cup Semis 7:30 pm FS1 , US Ladies vs Dutch Fri 7 am USA

7/30 US Men vs Mexico Sunday 8:30 pm FS1 

WOW the 2nd half of the US 1-0 win over Qatar was fabulous.  The 85th minute goal by sub Zardes from sub Giochinni had been building up for the 20 minutes prior to the goal as Berhalter’s subs we spot on.  Roldan, Cannon and Zardes really made a difference in the final 20 minutes of the game as they put huge pressure on the Asian Cup Champions.  Listen this Qatar team is good – the best team in Asia – winners of the Asain Cup 2 years ago – tons of experience – the leading scorers and assist men in the Gold Cup.  But when Qatar missed the PK early in the 2nd half – the young US team grew up and found a way to win it.  GK Matt Turner stood on his head and kept the US in the game – in the first half with 3 SPECTACULAR Saves –  as the US gave up way too many shots in the first half. (He’s making his bid to put the pressure on Coach to consider him as a starter come Qualifying time especially if he can keep the US in the game vs Mexico.  (Listen Turner starts and plays 90 minutes every game for Philly – so having him start over 2 guys sitting on the bench in Horvath and Steffan may not be so crazy).  But back to this game – I thought Hoppe was really good again tonight in his 80 minutes along with Sam Vines at left back.  Dike, and Arriola just didn’t work up top.  Hopefully Dike is hurt – because he did not look good.  (I love that Coach B started him again because he’s giving his young guys chances to get better- but he’s not ready yet.)  Zardes was great off the bench along with Giochinni – both might deserve starts vs Mexico or perhaps Hoppe at the #9.  For the US this was the youngest/least capped team to ever start a Gold Cup game period – much less a Semi-Final with a berth vs Mexico on the line. 

Now can this team beat Mexico?  Wow – Mexico has brought their A team and coach Tata Martino is under a lot of pressure right now – honestly if he loses – they might fire him.  I think Mexico has too much against our very young B/C team.  But if the US can keep it close – 2-1 loss maybe?  That would be huge – and if Matt Turner stands on his head in Vegas – in what will be a 80/20 Mexican ROAD GAME then Berhalter will have really proven he’s making some serious progress on building the US program back up.  Remember the US has not lost on US soil in 13 games – but this will be THE BIGGEST test especially without our European starters.  Either way – I am fully back on board – this young, exciting US Men’s team deserves your time, deserves you buying back in again !! Go USA !! Oh and by the way tickets will be on sale soon for US Men Qualifying games in Columbus Oct 13 vs Costa Rica (Anyone wanna roadtrip??) and Cinncinatti vs Mexico on November 12. 

Here’s my starting line-up for Sunday night –

Zardes

Hoppe //Arriola 

Busio//Leitget

Acosta

Vines/Robinson/Sands/Cannon

Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

US Men vs Qatar Thurs 7:30 pm FS1 

The USMNT found a way to pull off a solid 1-0 win over Jamaica last weekend moving into the Semi Final match-up with the surprise of the Gold Cup – Qatar.  Qatar is the Asian League Champion and has shown their worth in this tourney as they have 3 of the leading scorers in the tournament.  This will not be an easy game for the US men as they face off at 7:30 pm followed by Mexico vs Canada at 10 pm – the winners meet Sunday at 8:30 pm on FS1.  If the US is going to book their rematch with Mexico in the finals they will need to find a way to score more vs Qatar.  Dike started up front and continued to show he is just not ready to be the #9 for the US just yet.  His hold up play, his combinations – just not there yet.  Young forward/winger Mathew Hoppe has been another revelation this tourney – and he was borderline player of the game as he scored the goal vs Jamaica.  He reminds me of Seattle & US winger Jordan Morris with his relentless hustle and willingness to at least try to run at defenders.  He didn’t always make it thru – but it wasn’t for the lack of trying as he was actually taken down twice in the box and could have gotten a PK call along the way.  His motor is fantastic and he’s definitely adding to his name to the WC qualifying roster list with his play this Gold Cup.  Another player who was fantastic – this time at the #6 Dmid was Kellyn Acosta – he played as a true #6 and shut down no fewer than 5 attacks in protecting the young backline.  While his passing could be better – and he’s not necessarily going to release a 50 yard bomb pass ala Michael Bradley – this hustle, and defensive work – tells me he’s playing his way into the #2 slot in the dmid slot behind an often injured Adams.  Let’s see if he can keep it up and help get us into the final.  The 19 year old Busio was actually huge in the right mid slot – as his hustle and cover was key in helping Acosta protect the D.  In the back Miles Robinson was POG last weekend and has been the best defender in this tourney so far for the US.  Sands was solid next to him even if his passing was a little off this past weekend.  The US has a big chance- if they can get past a good Qatar team.  I think GK Matt Turner will be a key as Qatar will get some shots off – but the US has only given up 1 goal (a PK) this tourney and if they can keep that intact – the desired matchup with Mexico will follow on Sunday! I like the US 1-0 in a tight game.

Here’s my starting line-up for tonight –

Zardes

Hoppe //Arriola 

Busio//Leitget

Acosta

Vines/Robinson/Sands/Moore

Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

US Ladies vs Netherlands USA Network Fri 7 am Olympics Knockout Round

Well its time for the US to put up or shut up as they will face-off against the team they beat 2-0 to win the 2019 World Cup.  The worry I has is this is not the same US team.  I am not sure happened in the 0-0 tie vs Australia – other than we just sat back and settled for the tie.  I have never witnessed the US ladies – the most dominant Ladies soccer team ever sit back and not try to score.  If that was Coach A’s plan to just tie and secure advancement to the next round – I am not sure he understands what it means to be an American when it comes to ladies soccer.  I think the US is so poorly coached in this tourney that I am not sure there is any way we win the next game – much less move on to the Gold Medal game with 2 more wins.  The offense is not working, the midfield is being overrun and our defense has shown more weaknesses than anytime I can remember.  I sure hope I am wrong – but when I wake up at 7 am for the showdown with the Netherlands I will have my fingers crossed but my hopes lowered.  Here’s the team I would send out if I were coach A – and we are going to have to score this time because the Dutch will score at least 1 maybe 2 against this defense – so it will take a 3-2 to win it. I am not sure we can score that many against a good team. I see 2-1 Netherlands. Again – hope I am wrong!

Rapino/Morgan/Press

Lavelle//Heath

Ertz

Dunn/Davidson/Sauerbrunn/Ohara

Naeher

US Ladies Roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars),

MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Catarina Macario (Lyon),

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

Tryouts for most High School Soccer Teams around the area are next week – good luck to everyone – especially our Carmel FC players trying out!

US Ladies –Fri 7 am NBCSN vs Netherlands


USWNT underdogs in Olympic quarterfinal, but players are trusting the process under Andonovski
 
Caitlin Murray
Soccer-USWNT get $1 million from women’s apparel company amid equal pay fight

Familiar foes: USWNT, Netherlands ready for quarterfinal clash

Showdown vs. Netherlands could offer a new start for Alyssa Naeher and the USWNT

USWNT progress but fresh approach needed to be gold medal contenders
 
Caitlin Murray

USWNT vs. Netherlands, 2020 Olympic quarterfinals: What to watch for
Opinion: In playing for a tie to advance at the Tokyo Games, is USWNT losing its edge?

USWNT notches scoreless draw against Australia to advance at Tokyo Olympics

Olympics-Soccer-Misfiring U.S. reach quarters, set up Dutch clash

Lloyd navigates her 4th Olympics for the US women’s team

Dunn wants Olympic gold, but inspiring future Black women’s players is her goal
Olympics-Soccer-China women’s revival will take generations, says coach Jia

 

MEN

Olympics Men’s Standings
Men’s Soccer at the Olympics: How to watch knockout rounds, schedule, start time, odds

Mexico make men’s soccer quarterfinals: Now it’s Olympic medal match or bust for El Tri

Olympics 2021 top men’s soccer goal scorers: Updated rankings from the Tokyo Games

 

US Men    Tonite Thurs – 7:30 pm vs Qatar FS1 Gold Cup

US, Mexico seek wins to book rematch in Gold Cup final

Gold Cup semifinalists: Who’s peaking at the right time?
Expectations on Hoppe keep rising, and he keeps exceeding them
  ESPN Jeff Carlisle

Hoppe rises to the occasion as U.S. withstands Jamaica test

Q&A with USMNT’s McKenzie: Racial abuse ‘happens a lot more than people think’  Jeff Carlisle

Analysis: Hoppe, Robinson, Turner, And Acosta Lead The USMNT To 1-0 Win Over Jamaica In The Gold Cup

USMNT player ratings: Kellyn Acosta, Matthew Hoppe lead US to Gold Cup Semifinals

Exclusive: USMNT’s Sebastian Lletget on how he’s perceived, MLS narratives and more

When Berhalter went to Qatar: A camp that never was and the lessons learned

Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium To Host USMNT – Mexico Qualifier In November

USMNT to play Costa Rica World Cup qualifier in Columbus

USMNT to host Mexico in World Cup qualifying outside of Columbus for first time since 1997

 

GAMES ON TV

Thursday, July 29th

7:30 pm     Gold Cup Semi – USA vs Qatar (FS1)

10 pm       GOLD CUP Mexico vs Canada FS1

Friday, July 30th  Women’s Olympics

4  am         Canada vs Brazil (NBCSN)

5 am          Great Britain vs Australia (universo)

6 am          Sweden vs Japan (NBCSN) 

7 am          USA Ladies vs Netherlands (USA Network)

7:30 pm     Orlando vs Atlanta United (ESPN)

10 pm        LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers (ESPN)

Saturday, July 31st Men’s Olympics

4 am         Spain vs Ivory Coast (NBCSN)

5 am         New Zealand vs Japan (USA)

6 am         Brazil vs Egypt (??)

7 am          South Korea vs Mexico (??)

5:30 pm   MLS – Seattle vs San Jose (ESPN+)    

Sunday, Aug 1

2:45 pm     Super Cup France Lille vs PSG (beIN Sport)

8:30 pm    GOLD CUP Final FS1

Monday, Aug 2 Women’s Olympics

4  am         Semis – USWNT/Dutch vs Canada/Brazil (USA)

7 am           Semis – GBR/Aust vs Sweden/Japan (USA)

Tuesday, Aug 3 Men’s Olympics

4  am         Semis – (NBCSN)

7 am           Semis – (NBCSN)

Wednesday, Aug6

8 pm          Indy 11 @ FC Tulsa myIndy TV, ESPN+

Thursday, Aug 5

4 am          Bronze Medal-Ladies (USA)

7 am           Gold Medal-Ladies (USA)

Saturday, Aug 7

7:30 am     Men’s Olympic Finals – (NBCSN)

Sunday, Aug 8

7:30 pm     Indy 11 @ Atlanta United ESPN+

LADIES OLYMPIC RESULTS


Women’s soccer at the Olympics — Standings

Group E

Great Britain – 7 points (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Canada – 5 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Japan – 4 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Chile – 0

Group F
Netherlands – 7 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
Brazil – 7 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
China – 1
Zambia – 1

Group G
Sweden – 9 points (Qualified for quarterfinals)
USWNT – 4 (Qualified for quarterfinals)Australia – 4 (Qualified for quarterfinals)
New Zealand – 0

Familiar foes: USWNT, Netherlands ready for quarterfinal clash

Joe Prince-WrightThu, July 29, 2021, 10:53 AM

For the USWNT and Netherlands, it’s simple: on to the rematch.The USWNT plays the Netherlands on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament — bringing together the two teams that played in the World Cup final two years ago in France.

The USWNT won that one 2-0 and afterward the crowd chanted “Equal Pay!” in support of the team’s legal fight for equity with the men’s national team.

This time, there won’t be any crowds and the case is before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals back home in the United States, with no ruling expected in the near future. And obviously there’s greater weight on a World Cup final than an Olympic quarterfinal.

But the game in Yokohama has taken on significance because the normally indomitable Americans showed vulnerabilities in the group stage: Notably a 3-0 loss to Sweden in the Olympic opener.

After a 6-1 rebound win over New Zealand, the USWNT played to a scoreless draw against Australia, which, while uncharacteristic for the offensively dominant Americans, got the team through to the knockout stage.

The USWNT hadn’t been shutout since 2017 before this Olympics, and now the team has been blanked twice in less than two weeks.

“I think a lot of people understand that we’re here to compete and win a gold medal and however we get there, winning is the most important thing. So, yes, fans and outsiders looking in are probably like, ’Oh, this is so different.′ You’ve never seen the U.S. do this,” defender Crystal Dunn said.

“But at the same time, it’s about executing a game plan, moving on from one round to another. And whatever tactics, plans that we have that we’re given, it’s our job as players to trust and believe in ourselves and each other and live to fight another day.”

Netherlands flying at Olympics

Instead, it’s the Netherlands that has become a high-scoring juggernaut. The Dutch scored 21 goals in the group stage — smashing the previous record of 16 set by the United States in 2012.

Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema has an Olympic-record eight goals, and that’s only from the group stage.

Miedema, who plays professionally for Arsenal, is just 25 and already the all-time scoring leader for the Netherlands with 81 goals in 99 appearances. She is also the top career scorer in the Women’s Super League in England.

The United States has played the Netherlands since the World Cup final, winning by an identical 2-0 scoreline in Breda last November. The Americans were undefeated in 44 straight matches before the loss to Sweden.

“We have an understanding of what they like to do as a team, and their style of play. However, that was a friendly game and we understand that we are in knockout rounds and everything can be completely different,” Dunn said Thursday.

“It’s about focusing on our game plan and what we’re trying to do because we can’t get caught up in thinking about ‘Oh, we played them before, so therefore, this is exactly what this game is going to be like.’ That is nearly impossible to do in the knockout round.”

In the other quarterfinal matches on Friday:

CANADA v. BRAZIL, Rifu: Another rematch, but this time of the third-place game at the Rio de Janeiro Games. Canada was triumphant in that one for the team’s second straight Olympic bronze medal, spoiling Brazil’s shot to medal on home soil.

There are many of the same faces in Japan. On Canada’s side, there’s Christine Sinclair, soccer’s all time international scorer among men and women. Brazil has Marta, the six-time FIFA Player of the Year.

Brazil is now playing under coach Pia Sundhage, who led the U.S. women to the gold medal in London in 2012. Canada’s coach in Brazil, John Herdman, now coaches the nation’s men team.

BRITAIN v. AUSTRALIA, Kashima: The Australians advanced to the knockout round as one of the top third-place teams after the group stage. This is the Matildas’ fifth trip to the Olympics and third time they’ve made it through to the quarterfinals.

Britain finished atop Group E. In a quirky rule, Britain’s Olympic teams must include Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, and all four teams must be in agreement to participate. For that reason, the only other Olympics that has included a Team GB is London 2012.

SWEDEN v. JAPAN, Saitama: The Swedes won all three of their games in Group G to advance, including that 3-0 victory over the Americans in their opener. Sweden famously knocked the United States out of the 2016 Games in the quarterfinals. The team went on to the final, but lost the gold medal to Germany.  Japan, as hosts, made the quarterfinals as one of the top third-place finishers. The Nadeshiko won the silver medal at the London Games, but did not make the field in 2016.

USWNT vs. Netherlands, 2020 Olympic quarterfinals: What to watch for

1We’ve reached the kockout stage, and our first opponent is a tough one. By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jul 29, 2021, 6:00am PDT

The United States Women’s National Team have reached the knockout stage of the 2020 Olympics, and from here on out the margin for error is gone. One loss, and they will not see through to their goal of inning the program’s 5th gold medal. Standing in their way tomorrow is the team that faced them in the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final, the Netherlands. The Netherlands arrived at this position by way of winning group F, scoring 21 goals and allowing 8 in their group stage matches. The USWNT were the Group G runners-up, scoring just 6 goals and allowing 4.The USWNT will have a tough road to the gold medal, and it starts with this quarterfinal matchup. The two teams last faced each other back in November, where the USWNT won 2-0 in Amsterdam. Now, the winner of this match will move on to have 2 chances to win a medal.

What To Watch For

  • Control Miedema. Vivianne Miedema has been the best player in the tournament so far, scoring 8 goals in the group stage. The USWNT will have to keep an eye on her and make sure she can’t engineer any offense. Of course, Miedema’s not the only Dutch player that can make you pay. Lieke Martens and Daniëlle van de Donk are also potent goalscorers that the Americans need to check. However, if they can keep Miedema at bay, that will really help the confidence of the USWNT.

Assert themselves. The USWNT has not played to their capability yet in this tournament. Tomorrow would be a great time to assert themselves and play like they are the best team on the planet. They should play with confidence, but also with chips on their shoulders. People are saying the world has caught up and that their chances of getting a gold medal, or a medal of any kind, aren’t nearly as promising as we thought. The Gals should come out ready to squash all doubt and show they are the team that needs to be feared.

Put shots on goal. The Netherlands may have scored 21 goals, but they’ve also allowed 8 so far. The Dutch defense hasn’t played particularly well, so the Americans should do all they can to light up the net with shots. Make the defense have to make plays, and eventually they will stop doing that. Goals can come. They need to have a focus on creating those scoring chances and then taking those shots.

Prediction

This is a hard one to predict. The USWNT can beat anyone in the field, but they haven’t yet played like the team we expect to see on any given day. It’s another tough one, but the USWNT break through late and it’s Christen Press with the goal to win 1-0.

USWNT underdogs in Olympic quarterfinal, but players are trusting the process under Andonovski5:02 PM ETCaitlin Murray

If the U.S. women’s national team wants to win their fifth gold medal in an Olympic women’s football tournament, they need to get through Friday’s quarterfinal (7 a.m. ET) against a team that has looked like an early favorite: the Netherlands.While the U.S. is limping out of Group G with a loss, a draw and a win, the Netherlands are flying. They topped Group F with a plus-13 goal differential, and even their one draw of the group stage was a wild 3-3 shootout with Brazil, another top team competing in Japan this summer. But the shaky performances of the group stage need to be behind the U.S., because if they lose to the Netherlands, they are going home, and they will match their worst-ever finish in a major tournament.”This is where the real tournament starts,” said Alex Morgan. “You have to win and beat the best to get to that gold-medal match.”

USWNT as the underdog

Today, the USWNT finds itself in unfamiliar territory. For perhaps the first time, the USWNT arrives in an Olympic quarterfinal as the clear underdog. Dutch midfielder Danielle van de Donk told reporters that the Netherlands’ high-scoring performances in the group stage should serve as proof that “we are not afraid of America.””Somehow I feel like, save the best for last, but maybe they are not the best at all, this tournament,” she added of meeting the USWNT so early in the tournament.The U.S. has certainly gotten to know the Dutch team quite well. The USWNT beat them 2-0 in the 2019 World Cup final, and when the USWNT resumed playing after about eight months of dormancy due to the pandemic, their first game back late last year was in the Netherlands. But those meetings don’t mean much for the Americans, U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said — not because the Netherlands are expected to change their approach, but because they aren’t.”The Netherlands are not a big surprise for the simple fact that they believe in their system, and they believe in what they do,” Andonovski said. “They’re very rigid at times, which makes them who they are and as good as they are. Their system works and they’ve shown that over and over in different games.”If the USWNT is going to get past the Dutch team, they need to turn off the faucet of goals coming from Vivianne Miedema. She has been on fire, with eight goals in the group stage at a rate of one goal every 22 minutes on the field. She has already set the women’s record for the most goals scored in an Olympics prior to the knockout rounds as her team racked up 21 goals over the three matches.But what makes the Dutch team dangerous is that it’s not just Miedema the USWNT needs to worry about, in the way that all of their attention against Australia focused on Sam Kerr. Lieke Martens and Van de Donk are also two especially potent pieces of the Dutch attack that the USWNT will need to contain. The Dutch attack oozes chemistry — the attackers have an uncanny ability to read each other on the field, and they are well-drilled on set pieces, meaning the threats are varied.Limiting the Dutch attack ought to be enough on Friday; the Dutch team has shown defensive vulnerability, and the USWNT should feel confident they can score goals. In the group stage, the Netherlands surprisingly conceded three goals to Zambia, a first-time Olympic team that isn’t on the level of most of the other teams in Japan. Then they conceded twice to China, another underpowered team known more for its disciplined defensive bunkering and organization than its firepower. (The Dutch conceded eight times in the group stage, more than any other team that reached the quarterfinals.)The question is whether the Netherlands will stick to their approach from the previous games or give Andonovski the surprise he suggested he isn’t expecting.”I don’t know if they are very vulnerable: they are very good defensively and they are very disciplined and we’ve seen that in numerous occasions,” Andonovski said. “Obviously, as open as they play sometimes, they do have areas of the field that are more open, so hopefully we can take advantage of it.”

Andonovski’s tactics under the microscope

When a manager switches up how his team plays, the success or failure that follows will almost certainly be pinned on him. As former USWNT coach April Heinrichs once said: “In coaching, you’re either a jackass or a genius.”After a disastrous opening 3-0 loss against Sweden, the USWNT unleashed itself against New Zealand to run up the goal differential with a 6-1 win, but then played with a conservative — some might say “scared” — approach against Australia for a 0-0 draw. Vlatko Andonovski and his staff knew that the U.S. only needed a draw against Australia to advance, so the thought process seemed to be: why risk a loss going after a win?In the end, the USWNT clinched its spot in the quarterfinals, but the team didn’t look like the USWNT fans have been watching for years. The team that dominates and imposes itself was nowhere to be found. When told Thursday about the reaction to the USWNT’s style of play against Australia, it seemed to be news to Crystal Dunn, who said: “I’m not on social media. I have no idea what’s going on in the outside world: it’s been the best thing.”But it’s funny you say that because I think a lot of people don’t understand we’re here to compete and win a gold medal. However we get there, winning is the most important thing.”Yes, fans, outsiders looking in, are probably like, ‘Oh this is so different, we’ve never seen the U.S. doing this,’ but at the same time, it’s about executing a game plan and moving on from one round to another,” Dunn added. “Whatever tactics, plans we’re given, it’s our job as players to trust and believe in ourselves and each other and live to fight another day.”When asked about making the difficult call to rein the USWNT’s attacking instincts, Andonovski admitted it’s a bold approach and probably not what the players would prefer.”It’s not easy, and sometimes you have to sacrifice some of the things that we believe or we’ve worked on to be able to execute the game plan,” he said. “We saw that in Game 3 in the group stage — that was not something that we’ve done in the previous games, but it was a game plan and I felt like we executed it well from the defensive standpoint.”It’s not easy for the players from the tactical and technical standpoint to execute it, but they’ve done a great job,” he added. “Also, from the mental standpoint, it’s not easy, but again lots of credit to them in being ready to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful.”

Echoes of the 2015 World Cup

The prevailing memory of the 2015 World Cup for Americans may be Carli Lloyd’s goal from the midway line en route to her hat-trick in the final. But before that — and before the USWNT’s dominance — the U.S. looked to be struggling. The U.S. never lost in that tournament before they won the trophy, but they played some bad soccer early on, leading fans and pundits alike to worry the USWNT was in for a short tournament.The players stuck to a common refrain: we’re just doing what the coaches want.”We’re just following the direction of our coaches, the coaching plan, doing everything they ask of us,” Lloyd said before the 2015 quarterfinal. “At the end of the day, I’ve got full faith and confidence in everyone that we’ll find our rhythm. We’re working, we’re grinding, the effort’s there.”After the USWNT won their semifinal against Germany and finally played their best soccer of the World Cup, Megan Rapinoe echoed that sentiment: “We stuck to our game plan and stuck to what our coaches were telling us. We always stayed true to what we were doing and felt it was going to come together.”That sounds a lot like the players in this Olympics so far.”It was a tactical decision by Vlatko for us to shift defensively, play a little more conservatively and allow them to get impatient and play it long and give it back to us,” Morgan said after the 0-0 draw to Australia.”The tactics we’ve been given is what we need to execute and we trust our staff to put us in the best position to succeed,” Dunn said Thursday. “So yeah, every game is different and every opponent is different and with that comes new tactics we need to execute.”The USWNT advances to the knockout stages in Tokyo, but fails to impress in a 0-0 draw with Australia.While the players haven’t openly said it, there is a slight tinge of dissatisfaction in their comments, a wish that they could unleash themselves and show the world what they are capable of. But it’s probably fine that the players feel this way, especially if the 2015 World Cup is any guide. After all, the Olympics is a lot of games packed into a small time frame, and teams can risk burning themselves out and peaking too early if they go full throttle from the beginning.Christen Press hinted (ever so slightly) that she and her teammates would prefer to play a more attacking style, but she also made it clear she understands why the game plan worked, and that just because that’s how the U.S. played in the group stage, that doesn’t mean the knockout round will be the same.”This tournament is really tough, with the amount of games you need to play without as many days in between as other tournaments, so there has to be tactical sophistication in how we manage,” Press said Thursday. “Ultimately, when this team’s at its best, we are relentless and we are lethal.”She later added: “In the last three games you’ve seen us take different tactical approaches in the group stage, and now we’re in the knockout phase and I think that’ll look really different. The team is really hungry, and the group stage has left us feeling like we have more to give — I think that’s a great thing, it’s a powerful thing and it’s intimidating.”

USMNT-Qatar semifinal clash presents “very different” Gold Cup test

By Charles Boehm @cboehm  Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021, 12:24 PM

The US men’s national team have had to grind out results at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, edging past three of their four opponents by narrow 1-0 scorelines, all of which involved some scrappy play, and suffering, on the part of the host nation and favorites.

They’re expecting a change of pace in Thursday’s semifinal against Qatar at Austin FC’s Q2 Stadium (7:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, TUDN).

“I think this game coming up is going to be very different from all the rest,” said LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget during a Tuesday media availability. “That’s one thing you get in Concacaf, just different styles. Jamaica was a very physical team and now going against Qatar is going to be quite [the] opposite. They’re going to want to play the ball on the ground and they’re going to want to attack and throw numbers forward.”Invited to participate in the tournament as a guest team in keeping with a strategic partnership between Concacaf and the Asian Football Confederation, Qatar have turned out to pose the competition’s most prolific attack. Asia’s reigning champions banged in nine goals across their three group-stage matches and netted another three in their pulsating 3-2 quarterfinal win over El Salvador as they aim to become the first-ever invited team to win the Gold Cup.The Maroon also carry a 12-game unbeaten streak, recording 10 wins and two draws since a November 2020 setback against the Korea Republic. Their entire roster is based in Qatar and hails from the same four clubs, allowing for increased chemistry that’s rarely found on the international stage. Each layer makes the first-ever meeting between these two senior national teams only more challenging. “Qatar is definitely a great team. They’re a very offensive-minded, counter-attacking team and they’ve scored a lot of goals so far this tournament,” said Atlanta United center back Miles Robinson, one of the USMNT’s most eye-catching starters thus far. “So it’s just a matter of us sticking to our game plan and trying to stay solid defensively.”Qatar’s Almoez Ali is currently the Gold Cup’s leading scorer with four goals, one of several skillful, vibrant performers in the pass-and-move style overseen by Spanish manager Felix Sanchez, a former FC Barcelona academy coach. Conversely, the USMNT have been the stingiest side, conceding just one goal.

“We’re definitely aware of it; we definitely respect them,” said Lletget. “They’ve done really, really well overseas and now they come here and not many people know much about them and they’re doing good.“They play a very attacking [style],” he added, “so we definitely have to respect that. But I think we have a lot of tools that can hurt them, and I think we can exploit their weaknesses.”

As potent as the 2022 World Cup’s host country has been this month, the USMNT might welcome a change of pace from the rugged affair with Jamaica they survived on Sunday. And they sound highly enthusiastic about their first visit to brand-new Q2 Stadium, which has been a vibrant venue in its opening weeks and was recently announced as the site of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifier vs. the Reggae Boyz in October.“I’ve heard it’s a great stadium, a great atmosphere, I’ve heard the fans are energetic and just the stadium as a whole is really great,” said Robinson, who also said the squad is ignoring “the outside noise” about the rough edges on their performances thus far. “So I’m definitely excited to play there for the first time. We checked out the training ground today, when we were training, it’s nice. So I’m expecting big things from Austin.”It’s the first visit to Texas’ capital city for Lletget, whose LA Galaxy don’t visit Austin FC until late September.

“It’s definitely been a topic of discussion, just being in the new stadium, and everything’s just fresh,” Lletget said. “We’ve heard a lot about this place and the fans that are in the city, so we’re definitely hoping for a really good crowd.”

Expectations on USMNT, Schalke forward Hoppe continue to rise, and he continues to exceed them

Jul 28, 2021  Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Time was running out for Matthew Hoppe, in more ways than one. There was little more than seven minutes left in Sunday’s Gold Cup quarterfinal between the U.S. and Jamaica, but Hoppe’s night was going to end before the full-time whistle. Nicholas Gioacchini was on the sidelines ready to replace him. The next stoppage in play would see Hoppe carry a night’s worth of frustration with him to the bench.

At which point, Hoppe, 20, made sure he went out on a high. With Cristian Roldan’s deft cross arcing across the Jamaica goalmouth, Hoppe skied at the far post, outleaping Jamaica’s Oneil Fisher, avoiding attentions of Reggae Boyz keeper Andre Blake and headed the ball home to give the U.S. men’s national team a 1-0 victory.Hoppe then exited the pitch, his job done. Nothing that happened before the goal mattered, be it the two times that Blake had stymied Hoppe’s fierce drives, or the occasional missed pass. What mattered more was the relentlessness with which Hoppe played and helped his team.”When a guy puts that type of effort in, and hangs in there and keeps going, we want to stick with him because we thought it was doing a good job and because he’s goal dangerous,” said manager Gregg Berhalter about Hoppe. He later added, “It’s also something we talked about; no space between the backline and the goalie. We’ve got to get it to the far post, and so it was a good play.”

For Hoppe, it was the latest milestone in a year full of them. Last November he made his first-team debut with club side Schalke 04. Six weeks later he became the first American to record a Bundesliga hat trick in a 4-0 win over TSG Hoffenheim, one that allowed Schalke to avoid setting a dubious Bundesliga record for longest winless streak in league history. He was soon adorning the front page of Kicker, the German soccer bible. (Hoppe made sure to grab a few extra copies.) People were soon stopping him in the street, although due to COVID-19 restrictions, neither as many nor as often as in normal times.

“A lot changed for me,” Hoppe told ESPN. “But at the same time, I tried to make everything the same, so I can just keep focusing on what I had to do because we were in a relegation battle. We didn’t have time to celebrate anything. We just had to focus and get on to the next game.”Schalke was unable to avoid the drop, but that didn’t stop Hoppe’s run of success. He impressed Berhalter enough during a U.S. training camp prior to the CONCACAF Nations League finals that he was named to the Gold Cup roster. His debut came against Martinique and now he’s bagged his first international goal, all while playing an unfamiliar position on the left wing.”I’ve been having to adapt to that, except it’s not something that’s new to me necessarily, because when I play striker, I like to move around to confuse the defenders, create spaces for myself and for other people,” he said. “So I’m used to not only stretching the backline, making runs in behind, but also dropping into the pocket to get the ball, and turning and driving at the opponent. I have what it takes to be a complete player, a complete attacker. I just have to keep developing my skills.”There is a swagger to how Hoppe plays. Outwardly, there’s no shortage of confidence given the way he attacks opponents off the dribble, and strikes the ball with venom. But in the past year, new challenges have emerged. That transition from unknown to the cover of Kicker has waylaid plenty of players. Expectations get raised. Attention increases.Hoppe admits there have been times during his career when expectations have weighed heavy. When he was at Barcelona’s residence academy in Casa Grande, Arizona, he said it wasn’t uncommon for him to throw up before games. Perhaps it was residual hurt from being cut from the LA Galaxy’s academy at age 14, or not getting called into U.S. youth national team camps. Or maybe with his dream of being a pro getting closer, he sensed what was at stake.”I’d just be so tough on myself because I expected a lot from me,” he said. Over time, Hoppe learned to make pressure his friend and not his enemy.”Embrace how you feel,” he said. ” And [it’s about] how you adapt, rather than how you react to it, you know? However you feel, that’s how you’re supposed to feel, and you’re supposed to work with it no matter what.”By the time he got to Schalke, Hoppe had become more adept at being comfortable with being uncomfortable. When he moved up to the first team, he spoke of feeling “good nerves,” the kind that didn’t cause him to freeze up, but gave him the energy he needed to excel on the field. It made each step up the ladder easier to manage, although the demands to perform never completely went away.”When I made my move to the first team, I guess there’s some pressure on me at first, things like, ‘Why are you playing this guy? Why are you letting him play forward? Why are you letting him lead the team?’ I got some goals and then eventually I just stopped letting the pressure get to me, and just decided to play.”That freedom is now emerging with the U.S. team. Berhalter noted how Hoppe took some time off following the camp prior to the Nations League, and that it has been a process for the attacker to get up to speed. Now he sees progress.”[Hoppe’s] improving with the concepts, with the position, with his fitness, the sharpness, so all these things have been progressing during the tournament in a positive way,” said Berhalter. “We know we’re asking him to play at times out of position, but it is what it is. We don’t have wingers on this team and it’s an opportunity, and sometimes that’s what you need to really make a difference.”With Schalke set to spend the 2021-22 campaign in the 2. Bundesliga, the expectation is that the club will transfer Hoppe elsewhere. Various reports have clubs from six leagues — including the Premier League quartet of Newcastle UnitedSouthamptonTottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers — showing interest in the American. One source cited AS Monaco and Eintracht Frankfurt as being among those who are chasing Hoppe.”I don’t know what the future holds,” said Hoppe. “My focus is on winning Gold Cup and getting another trophy for the USA.”And meeting increasing expectations.

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7/23 USA looks to bounceback vs NZ Sat 7:30 NBCSN, US Men vs Jamaica Sun 9:30 pm FS1 Gold Cup Quarters, Indy 11 home vs Birmingham 7 pm, Full TV game Schedule, Westfield/IU’s Eriq Zavaleta plays for El Salvador Sat on Fox 7:30.

US Ladies vs New Zealand NBCSN Sat 7:30 am Olympics

Wow- so I was wrong with my prediction last week.  I could have seen a 2-1 or possibly a 2-2 game – but 3-0 a$$whipping from Sweden?  Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised – Sweden has played the US the best over the past 8 years and they were obviously very prepared for this game.  I had to watch the game 2 times to really get a feel for what happened.  Sweden found a weakness attacking down the right side constantly putting Crystal Dunn in 2 v 1 situations.  I think Sweden took advantage of Dmid Julie Ertz missing to confuse and perplex the US midfield and defense. Without the protection centerbacks Dahlkemper and Sauerbrunn were split and exposed at times especially Becky no supporting Dunn properly.  With Horan clueless at the #6 Dmid spot – and Sam Mewis completely disappearing – the Sweden side countered the US 3 forward alignment with their own 3 forward line-up and an overlapping right back who crossed the ball into danger no fewer than 7 times.  They scored on 2 of them as Dunn was left to decide by herself which of 3 players to cover at times. Amazingly poor coaching by the US – as an adjustment was NEVER made and the Swedes probably should have won this game 6 to nothing – they blew 2 one v one’s and another breakaway before finally scoring in about the 30th minute.  While Coach A finally did bring in Ertz to add some bite to the midfield – she was sloppy with her passing as she rarely completed a pass.  Heck Dunn turned the ball over 9 of 13 times that I counted in before finally being pulled thankfully late in the 2nd half. Oh and Alyssa Naeher played fine – I have heard some folks questioning our GK – she made 3 early saves that kept us in this game.  Yes she could have maybe handled the corner better by coming to punch out – (no back post defender by the way-AGAIN!! but overall she was fine.  While the defense was the worst that I have seen the US play in years – the offense was honestly not much better.  Again I didn’t count more than 4  passes completed by the US in a row until late in the game.   Sweden won every 50/50 until Ertz came in and was first to the ball almost every time.  I was surprised Heath got the start over Rapinoe on the front line – just because I thought he would ease Heath back in and Rapinoe is such a Big Game player – I thought she would start.  We know Rapinoe can’t go 90 – but I honestly think Coach A got this wrong.  Heath had a nice shot early – but when Rapinoe finally came on down 2-0 – she immediately made hay as she almost beat the keeper near post before setting up Press with a perfect cross that Press dinked off the post.  The US actually hit the post twice – as Levelle blew a perfect pass from right back O’hare when she headed past the open net and into the post.  Two post balls and perhaps this is the 2-3 game this should have been.  Still we kept waiting for the US to wake up – and it never happened.  I am not sure if they overtrained or partied too hard pregame but they looked worn out and tired and not like the US team we are used to.  I still expect coach A to mix things up Sat vs New Zealand – they are not good – and we should win at least 4 or 5 to nothing.  Australia looked equally as weak in just beating this terrible New Zealand team 2-1 so the US should cruise thru the next two games.  But as the #2 team from the group the US will have a tougher road with the Netherlands, and Great Britain sitting in the other bracket.  Of course you didn’t expect the US to coast did you?  At least this way you have to watch – as this is anyone’s Olympics and don’t forget NO Team has ever won the World Cup and then won the following Olympics.  We’ll see if the US can fight their way back and compete for this title – I wouldn’t bet against them – but I also think this could get tricky as we get to the knockout rounds- I am just not sure we have a go to scorer when down by 1 with 5 minutes left.  We’ll see !!

US Ladies Roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars),

MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Catarina Macario (Lyon),

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

US Men vs Jamaica Sun 9:30 pm FS1 

So the US men found a way to survive Canada with a hard fought 1-0 victory last weekend.  After scoring in the first 30 seconds – the US dominated for about 10 minutes with their flexible new look 3 man back line with a wondering center mid James Sands introducing himself full scale to the US fans.  But when captain Walker Zimmerman, MLS Defender of the Year went out at the 11 minute mark it all changed.  Sands and a newly subbed in left center back Donovan Pines -now meant there were 3 relative newcomers on the 5 man back line with about 10 caps between them all.  What happened next was the US held on for dear life while Canada continued a barrage on the US goal.  GK Matt Turner stood strong and center backs James Sands and 20 year old Miles Robinson turned into stars as each player put in Man of the Match performances with their last second saves and incredible defending against a Canadian team bent on getting the equalizer.  US Coach Gregg – tried a back 3/5 with 2 forwards in Dike and Zardes up top.  I will admit I was excited to see two forwards in the line-up.  But this did not work as both #9s simply did not work off of each other very well.   Zardes moves better and has better quick passing while in the #9 slot – and while I thought Dike would shine – he was surprisingly week in his hold up play and willingness to battle for balls now that he was playing a real soccer team.  Dike is no Altidore – yet – he’s like 5 notches below that right now – but has tons of potential.  His movement is ok – but his hold-up play and passing off that hold-up play leaves A LOT to be desired.  He’s young – its just his 2nd year as a pro and It shows – but again he’s got potential.  The US really never threatened to score after the opening stanza which is worrisome moving forward for the US.  Coach B – needs to figure some things out.  For 1 – we don’t have a next level Dmid #6 on this roster (well James Sands maybe- but he’s playing center back for us).  Jackson Yueill is showing he can’t match up vs better competition just yet and the young Italian KC man Gianluca Busio  who played so well vs Martinique – was completely overrun by Canada last weekend.   Busio might well be the future but he’s no Adams just yet.  Coach B truly has a challenge as we move forward in the tourney – anything less than a finals matchup with Mexico will be seen as a failure – even with a B team – edging on C team at the moment.  Still its exciting to watch – can some players from this young US team emerge and contend for a World Cup birth next winter?  I think so as Sands, Robinson and Sam Vines are all making themselves a lot of money with the potential for moves to Europe after this showing.  I could see those players replacing – Ream, and Yedlin at least along with back line.  Here’s who one writer thinks we should start – I have no idea what the US will do or what alignment they will use vs Jamaica on Sunday night – I just know I will be watching and rooting us on!  Ah heck – so here’s my line-up. 

Dike (if healthy/if not) Zardes

Hoppe //Leitget

Williamson//Roldan

Acosta

Vines/Robinson/Sands/Moore

Matt Turner

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids),

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

Gold Cup Bracket

Huge quarter finals as 2022 World Cup Host Qatar faces former US Asst Coach Hugo Perez and the most exciting team in the tourney El Salvador Saturday at 7:30 on Fox.  Watch as former Westfield and Indiana University forward Eriq Zavaleta (son of Carlos Zavaleta, owner of Indiana Soccer Academy/futsal in Noblesville) plays centerback!  The Toronto FC Defender has become quite the young centerback and should give Qatars tourney leading scorer all kinds of fits. 

Indy 11 host Birmingham @ the Mike — Sat 7 pm ESPN+, TV 8

Fresh-off a disappointing tie at home to Memphis last weekend, the Indy 11 are home this Saturday to face Birmingham at 7 pm at the Mike!   Tickets at a special Discounted Price are Available Here– Friends of Indy 11.  On the MLS side check out  this goalazo by Seattle’s Raul Ruidiaz as Seattle remained top of the MLS with a 1-0 win over Austin with 5 home-grown players under the age of 19 starting the game. 

The State Runner-Up Carmel High School Girls will be hosting a soccer tourney Fri/Sat 7/24 at River Road (126th & River Road).  Drop on by to see some solid soccer and of course good luck to those trying out starting Aug 2.  

US Ladies –Sat 7:30 am NBCSN vs New Zealand

True Grit US Must Dig out of Olympic Hole – Dan Wetzel
Opinion: USWNT has time to turn around Olympic prospects, but they’ll have to be ‘ruthless’

‘We Got Our Asses Kicked, Didn’t We?’ USWNT Reels After Olympic Loss BY MOLLY GEARY SI

USWNT determined to not let blowout loss to Sweden derail its gold-medal hopes
Why the USWNT shouldn’t panic about their Olympic thrashing by Sweden (yet)

USWNT already in tough spot after losing to Sweden 3-0 in Olympic opener

USWNT 0-3 Sweden: Not great Bob, not great!

Rapinoe: ‘No time to dwell’ on loss to Sweden
USWNT looked lost, confused as Sweden end unbeaten run
  Caitlin Murray ESPN FC

Tactical Approach Used by Sweden to SWAMP the US
Sweden dominates USWNT in a 3-0 victory in their opener at Tokyo Olympics

All About Megan Rapinoe, Olympic Soccer Star and USWNT Leader

Australia find winning formula in Olympic opener

The Standings

 Men
France thrashed by Mexico in Olympic opener as Brazil beat Germany

From Copa America to Olympics, Richarlison nets 3 for Brazil

 

US Men   Sunday 9 pm vs Jamaica FS1 Gold Cup

Zimmerman Out While Kessler And Cowell Join USMNT Camp Ahead Of Jamaica

Analysis: USMNT Starts Strong, Holds On In 1-0 Win Over Canada by Brian Sciaretta ASN

Defender Miles Robinson Making the Most of his Chances – S&S

Walker Zimmerman departs USMNT camp By Donald Wine II

 USA v. Canada, 2021 Gold Cup: What we learned

USA vs. Canada, 2021 Gold Cup: Man of the Match

2021 Gold Cup Recap: USA 1-0 Canada – The Americans score early and come away with a lucky win

USMNT player ratings: Miles Robinson, James Sands shut down Canada in group-topping win

Three USMNT takeaways from a skin-tight Gold Cup win over Canada

Exploring James Sands’ rapid USMNT rise: “It’s not a surprise to me”

USMNT icon Hugo Perez has made El Salvador the Gold Cup’s best story so far

What we learned from the USMNT Gold Cup group stage showing

 

MLS and Indy 11


MLS Atlanta United dumps Heinze as coach after poor start

Why Atlanta United parted ways with Gabriel Heinze

·      PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HOSTS BIRMINGHAM LEGION FC FOR KEEP INDY LIVE NIGHT

·      USL CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP: INDY ELEVEN 1 : 1 MEMPHIS 901 FC

·      INDY ELEVEN AND FORWARD CAMMY SMITH MUTUALLY AGREE TO END CONTRACT WITH CLUB

 

Goalkeeping

MLS Keepers Make Great Saves Last week

Best Saves Copa America

GAMES ON TV

Saturday, July 24 Women’s Olympics

4:30 am        Sweden vs Australia (NBCSN)

7 am               Netherlands vs Brazil (universo)

7:30 am        USA vs New Zealand Ladies  (NBCSN)

3:30 pm        MLS Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew  (ABC)

7:30pm         Gold Cup Qatar vs El Salvador (Westfield’s Zavaleta)

10 pm            GOLD CUP QF Mexico vs Honduras FS1

Sunday, July 25th Men’s Olympics

3:30 am        Egypt vs Argentina (telemundo)

4 am             New Zealand vs Honduras (univserso)

4:30 pm        Brazil vs Ivory Coast (NBCSN)

7 am             Japan vs Mexico (NBCSN)

3 pm           Racing Louisville vs Washington Spirit NWSL (paramount+)

7:30 pm        GOLD CUP QF Canada vs Costa Rica FS1

10 pm            GOLD CUP USA vs Jamaica FS1

Tuesday, July 27 Women’s Olympics

4 am             USA vs Australia Ladies  (USA)

4:30 am        Sweden vs New Zealand (NBCSN)

7 am               Canada vs Great Britain (??)

7 am               Netherlands vs China (universo)

Wednesday, July 28th Men’s Olympics

3:30 am        Germany vs Ivory Coast (NBCSN)

4 am             New Zealand vs Romania (univserso)

7 am             Japan vs France (NBCSN)

Thursday, July 29th

7:30 pm        GOLD CUP Semi FS1

10 pm            GOLD CUP Semi FS1

Friday, July 30th

4 am               Olympic Ladies QF  NBCSN

6 am               Olympic Ladies QF NBCSN

7 am               Olympic Ladies QF USA vs ? (USA) 

7:30 pm        Orlando vs Atlanta

10 pm            LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers

Saturday, July 31st

4 am               Olympic Men QF  (NBCSN)

5 am               Olympic Men QF (USA)

7 am               Olympic Men QF (USA)

Sunday, Aug 1

8:30 pm        GOLD CUP Final FS1

Monday, Aug 3

4 am               Olympic Ladies Semi US Ladies?   (USA)

7 am               Olympic Ladies Semi (USA) 

United States looked lost and confused in Olympic opener as Sweden ended its unbeaten run

Jul 21, 2021Caitlin Murray

There was a moment early in the first half of the United States women’s national team‘s opening match of its Olympic campaign when midfielder Rose Lavelle, dribbling into Sweden‘s half with the ball at her feet, looked around furiously and put her hands out, as if she was lost. Even without being able to hear what she said in Tokyo’s cavernous Ajinomoto Stadium, it’s easy to imagine it was something along the lines of, “Where is everyone?”

That, in a nutshell, was how the USWNT began its 2020 Olympics, looking confused in a 3-0 loss to open Group G play.The defeat was notable, first, because the team rarely loses. It came into Wednesday’s match unbeaten in its previous 44, with 40 of them wins. Its last loss was in January 2019, at a friendly in France.To say the reigning Women’s World Cup champions arrived in Japan as a favorite is perhaps an understatement. The U.S. has reached the gold-medal match in five of the six Olympics since women’s soccer became an event, and unlike some of the teams in Tokyo, the USWNT has played warm-up games for the months leading up to this amid the pandemic.But the defeat was also notable because of just how bad the loss was. Confused expressions abounded as players, including Lavelle, looked for an open American to pass the ball to but couldn’t find anyone. As Sweden swarmed, pressing and bossing the midfield, the Americans looked rattled and gave the ball away too cheaply.”It felt like there were holes everywhere defensively,” striker Alex Morgan said. “I didn’t feel like we were pressing together, and then when we were on the attack and we’d lose the ball, we didn’t have the numbers around the ball to win it back.”The hopelessness and confusion wasn’t in spurts, as is wont to happen for even the best teams sometimes — rather, it endured for the full 90 minutes and the USWNT never looked close to waging a comeback. That is a rare feeling in USWNT history. The last example might have been at the 2007 World Cup, where Brazil pummeled the U.S. 4-0 — but there were the extenuating circumstances of then-coach Greg Ryan bizarrely benching first-choice goalkeeper Hope Solo on nothing more than a hunch.There was no reason for the USWNT to lose as badly as it did Wednesday, but plenty of credit belongs to Sweden, a team that over the years has become the tactical thorn in the USWNT’s side. After all, the only Olympics the USWNT crashed out of were in 2016 when Sweden, playing a disciplined, ultra-defensive bunker, knocked the Americans out in the quarterfinals.This Sweden was not a bunker-and-counter team, however. This Sweden was out for the jugular, delivering crunching tackles to stop any whiff of American possession and committing numbers forward to slice through the American defense and strike.Sweden’s first goal, in the 25th minute, went seemingly just as planned: the USWNT got stuck in the midfield with nowhere to go and lost possession, springing Sweden in the other direction. Yellow shirts flew forward and, before the U.S. even seemed to know what had happened, Stina Blackstenius headed the ball into the back of the net.When the USWNT dominates games, it likes to use every inch of the field, spraying the ball around and using the wide spaces to its advantage, and Sweden certainly recognized that, closing passing lines and choking those spaces. That rendered the U.S. midfield a turnover machine. But as much as Sweden deserves credit, the Americans also deserve blame.”We got our ass kicked a bit,” Megan Rapinoe said afterward. “There’s a lot of stuff we can clean up — trap the ball, pass the ball to your own team is probably the first one.”In other words, the USWNT looked flummoxed and unprepared for what it faced Wednesday. It would be easy to say that perhaps the USWNT was just overconfident. Maybe the No. 1-ranked team in the world and the favorite in this tournament had expected it to be a breeze. On the contrary, the USWNT seemed to lack confidence from the opening whistle. That put the Americans in trouble immediately because their confidence is perhaps their deadliest weapon — the mentality that no matter the score, they always believe they can win and find a way to outwork the other team.”We were a little tigh, a little nervous — doing dumb stuff like not passing the ball,” Rapinoe said. “… I think a lot of it was just us not playing free and not being who we are and not enjoying it.”If there is a positive spin to put on the performance, it’s that at least it happened in the tournament’s opener. After 44 games unbeaten, the USWNT might have needed a reminder of the pain of losing.”We’ve had a long string of wins, and we haven’t had a lot of games where we’ve had to come back or anything like that,” forward Christen Press said. “I think it was actually really good to have this match.”Take, for instance, the 2008 Olympics. There, the U.S. lost 2-0 in its opening match to Norway. It bounced back without losing the rest of the way and won gold. While the U.S. doesn’t usually lose in major tournaments, the Americans do usually have bad performances. During the 2015 World Cup, which the U.S. later won, calls to fire then-head coach Jill Ellis over the lackluster performances came from the media and even from former members of the team.At the 2019 World Cup in France — where on paper the U.S. dominated, scoring within the first 12 minutes of every match en route to the final — the round-of-16 match against Spain was shaky, and mistakes allowed Spain to score, making for a surprisingly close match given Spain’s still-rising status in women’s soccer.But the proper lessons will need to be learned, which includes by coach Vlatko Andonovski, whose substitutions projected panic and nervousness rather than the composure that comes from a clear game plan. At halftime, he yanked Morgan, who was the least of the U.S.’s problems as the most advanced player on the field, in favor of Carli Lloyd, who has usually been reserved for late-game minutes. He also took off Samantha Mewis for Julie Ertz, the stuck-in defensive midfielder he surely would’ve preferred to have started Wednesday. After all, Ertz is known as a midfield enforcer who flies in challenges and wins balls. But crucially, Ertz is coming off an injury and hasn’t played competitive soccer since May, and some rust was evident, making her an unlikely solution in a game as difficult as this.The good news, at least, is that New Zealand, the USWNT’s next opponent in Group G, is not at Sweden’s level. It’s also hard to imagine the USWNT can play any worse, so its Olympic campaign can only improve from here.”We, like Vlatko said, got ourselves into this mess,” captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. “Now it’s our responsibility to get ourselves out of it.”

Plunged into an Olympic hole, the USWNT now must prove it can still fight like hell out of it

Dan Wetzelbbv ·Columnist   Wed, July 21, 2021, 8:33 AM

TOKYO — Even as they stacked up victories and championships, even as they were celebrated and decorated in ways women before them could never have imagined, this core group from the United States soccer team always focused on their grit more than talent.This was a team full of fury and fight, they’d tell you, mentally and physically tough, the best in the world because they could always dig deeper and push harder. It wasn’t just skill. It wasn’t just tactics. That was their mantra, at least. You can’t argue with the results.Now, after a shocking and humiliating 3-0 loss to Sweden in their Olympic opener, the Americans are going to have to prove it, this time in a way they never have before.If the U.S. is going to take gold — and when you arrive as the World Cup champs on a 44-game unbeaten streak, that’s the only goal — it’ll need every bit of the tenacity it can muster.It didn’t just lose to Sweden, the Americans were dominated in ways they just never are.“We got our asses kicked, didn’t we?” Megan Rapinoe said afterward.Sure did.Now what are they going to do about it?This is just a 12-team event, so the U.S. has ample opportunity to get out of group play and reach the eight-team knockout stage. It needs to finish second in its group, or be one of the two best third-place teams.The U.S. plays New Zealand on Saturday and Australia on Tuesday. It can certainly bounce back, but there is little margin for error.Even then, if Sweden can push the U.S. around like this, do the Americans have what it takes to come back and win this tournament?It wasn’t like they just slept-walked into this. Sweden was a circle-the-date matchup, a true contender and a chance to gain a measure of revenge over the team that eliminated them in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics.“One of the worst results that the senior national team has had in a major tournament,” captain Becky Sauerbrunn called that loss. 

Yeah, well …The U.S. was slow to the ball, poor in possession and outclassed from start to finish. The team looked like it was wilting in the heat and humidity of Japan, despite a training camp based mostly in Florida and Texas.“I don’t even know how many goals we have given up this whole year,” Rapinoe said with a laugh. “I don’t even remember the last time we gave up a goal.”The Americans had given up one goal in their previous 13 games … in a tie with Sweden in April.“So to give up three is … not great,” Rapinoe said.It’s not like this is a group that is just learning to play together. This is essentially a run-it-back roster. Coach Vlatko Andonovski favored experience over youth when putting together the roster. Ten of the 18 active roster players available Wednesday were 30 or over, including seven over 32. Seven of the 10 starting field players saw action in that 2016 Olympic loss. Six starters had 100 or more international appearances, and that didn’t include Carli Lloyd (306), Megan Rapinoe (177) or Julie Ertz (110), who were the first three to come off the bench.This was an encore performance for this group, a curtain call trying to do something (follow a World Cup with Olympic gold) that no team ever has.“This is not something we expected,” Andonovski said. “We don’t expect to lose to begin with, especially not 3-0 … I don’t think this team has ever been in a situation like this. It’s a bit of a shock.”So now what? Is there an adjustment to be made? Is there an attitude to fix? Is there a lineup that works? Was this just a bad night after years of near invincibility?Alex Morgan lasted just a half before being pulled. Same with Sam Mewis. The midfield was particularly exposed. Really, no one played well other than perhaps goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who kept it close for awhile.One loss doesn’t end the dream or destroy a dynasty. This is one of the greatest teams of all time, legends to the sport. It can absolutely spring back and win it.Yet age is undefeated. Sweden’s three goals were scored by a pair of 25-year-olds: Stina Blackstenius (two) and Lina Hurtig.And with just two off days, the Americans need to regroup. New Zealand offers a chance for that, it’s ranked 22nd in the world. Australia, however, is different, a top-10 team capable of — and likely eager to — beat the suddenly bloodied top-ranked USA.This is when we’ll see what this group still has. Lloyd. Morgan. Rapinoe. O’Hara. Sauerbrunn. Dunn. Press. Heath. Ertz. They’ve won and won to the point where it looked effortless. They were always quick to remind everyone that it wasn’t, that behind the success and behind the commercials and behind the parades these were women who fought like hell to get to the top.Now here’s the chance to show it, this time with a stunned soccer world suddenly doubting them.

‘We Got Our Asses Kicked, Didn’t We?’ USWNT Reels After Olympic Wake-Up Call vs. Sweden

A 3–0 defeat to Sweden was a rude awakening for the U.S., whose gold medal outlook got a lot cloudier in Tokyo.

MOLLY GEARYJUL 21, 2021

For the last five years, even as the U.S. women’s soccer team won a World Cup and rattled off victory after victory, its quarterfinal Olympic exit to Sweden has lingered.It lingered in the run-up to the two sides’ meeting at the 2019 Women’s World Cup (the United States won, 2–0, against a less-than-full-strength Sweden XI). It lingered ahead of an April friendly in Stockholm, a pre-Olympic test for both heavyweights (the two sides drew, 1–1, after a late penalty by the U.S.). And it lingered—of course—as the countries returned to the scene of the crime, with the USWNT fittingly opening up its Tokyo Olympics run against the same opponent it left off against in 2016 on a field in Brasília, stunned after its earliest elimination ever in the tournament.On Wednesday, Sweden took that enduring narrative and kicked down the door, setting an unsettling Olympic tone for the U.S. and giving itself a leg up in its own quest for gold.Dominating in just about every facet, the Swedes put on a clinic against the world’s No. 1-ranked team, executing a note-perfect game plan in a 3–0 win that exposed the United States in a way that even the ‘16 iteration of Sweden did not come close to doing. “We got our asses kicked, didn’t we?” forward Megan Rapinoe, who subbed on in the 64th minute Wednesday with her team already down 2–0, succinctly said afterward.From the start, you could sense something was amiss with Vlatko Andonovski’s team, normally the one stepping on the gas pedal from the first whistle and never letting up. “Off days” for the U.S. are usually code for days when it struggles to finish chances, eventually figuring it out enough to build what had been a 44-game unbeaten streak and a torrid run across the last four years, when its only defeat came to France in January 2019.But in Tokyo, it was the U.S. that was put on its heels almost immediately, repeatedly succumbing to Sweden’s relentless pressure and disruptions and failing to generate any kind of cohesive attack.Missing star Julie Ertz—who entered the Olympics as a major question mark, having not played since May due to a knee injury—the normally formidable U.S. midfield was thoroughly outplayed in the first half, and the defense sliced and diced amid uncharacteristic games from the likes of Crystal Dunn and Abby Dahlkemper. Pointed halftime subs by Andonovski—bringing in Ertz for Sam Mewis and Carli Lloyd for striker Alex Morgan—did little to change the match trajectory and failed to stop the bleeding as the Swedes tacked on two more. Back in 2016, Sweden received plenty of attention for the defensive style of play that successfully led that game to penalties and cracked the U.S.’s code, including then-U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo’s famous postgame remarks.“We played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today … They didn’t want to open play. They didn’t want to pass the ball. They didn’t want to play great soccer,” Solo said that day.No one could make a similar accusation this time. Sweden was brave and assertive, discombobulating the U.S. in a way few opponents can and consistently applying attacking pressure on the Americans and GK Alyssa Naeher. And while Naeher made a series of highlight-reel saves early—and kept the game from being an even worse blowout than 3–0—there was little she could do to stop an onslaught that grew increasingly inevitable.

The United States’s chances, meanwhile, were few and far between, summed up by the fact that it took nearly an entire half for the team to earn its first corner kick. Attempts by Rose Lavelle and Christen Press that clanged off the post were about as riveting as it got for the U.S. attack, normally so potent and unyielding but held to five shots on goal by the Swedes, who were playing without star center back Magdalena Eriksson.“We need to learn from our mistakes this game and then we need to move on. We need to forget about it,” Morgan told Telemundo. “We need to take each game as it comes and then obviously it’s taking care of our bodies because it’s a shorter tournament than a World Cup, so the turnaround is a lot faster.”The U.S. arrived in Japan with a clear expectation—anything less than its fifth gold medal will be a disappointment. Andonovski opted for a battle-tested—and also older—roster filled with experience; of the original 18 that made the cut before rosters expanded to 22, only 30-year-old Kristie Mewis was not a part of the 2019 World Cup-winning squad. This is a team that has long embraced and prided itself on its ruthlessness, its confidence and its will to win. It has felt defeat just four times since that 2016 Olympic exit, three of which came during a five-month period in 2017 when the team’s seeming invincibility displayed real cracks and had then-coach Jill Ellis on thin ice.The response to that rough patch—losing just once in the four years since—is a testament to the group’s mentality and resiliency. Those traits will now be fully tested in Japan, where the U.S. still controls its own destiny but has complicated its path to the podium.Sweden is now in the driver’s seat of Group G with two group-round games for both (vs. New Zealand and Australia) remaining. The winner of the group will face a third-place team from one of the other two groups in the quarterfinals, while the runner-up gets a difficult draw with the Group F winner, very likely to be the Netherlands or Brazil (third place would not necessarily doom the U.S., either, as eight of the tournament’s 12 teams advance to the knockout rounds).Brutal draws are nothing new for the USWNT—look no further than its ’19 World Cup run, when it took down host France in a raucous quarterfinal atmosphere before winning a slugfest with England in the semis—but it hasn’t had to answer to such an early disappointment at a major tournament in quite a long time. And aside from Lloyd and Tobin Heath, the current roster is in uncharted waters.“2008 Olympics, I was part of that team, we lost our first game as well and came away with a gold medal,” Lloyd told Telemundo after Wednesday’s defeat, recalling the U.S.’s 2–0 opening loss to Norway in the Beijing Games. “It’s really, really important for us not to dwell too much on this game.”There won’t be much time to, with New Zealand waiting on Saturday before a group-stage finale vs. Australia on Tuesday. The U.S. will be favored to win both, and New Zealand in particular presents an excellent opportunity to bounce back nicely and get itself on track. With the need for lineup rotation, it will have to be a true team effort on Saturday after Andonovski put what was seemingly the U.S.’s best foot forward against Sweden.Ultimately, the U.S. women will be judged by one thing in these Games—whether or not they bring home the gold medal that they failed to in Rio. To get there, they might not be done with the Swedes, either. Presuming they finish 1-2 in the group one way or another, when is the next time these two sides could possibly meet, and further add to their decorated rivalry?The Olympic final.You want story lines? Nothing could quite beat that.

Megan Rapinoe after USWNT loss to Sweden in Tokyo Olympics: ‘No time to dwell’

Jul 21, 2021ESPN

Megan Rapinoe said the United States women’s national team must move on quickly after a surprising 3-0 loss to Sweden in its Olympic Games opener on Wednesday.

The USWNT saw a 44-match unbeaten record end in humbling style as the tournament favorite and world No. 1-ranked side was undone by two Stina Blackstenius goals and one from Lina Hurtig.With four gold medals, the United States has more than any other nation and is vying to become the first team to win Olympic gold following a World Cup title.To do that, though, the team must move on quickly after the loss to Peter Gerhardsson’s side. Speaking after the match, Rapinoe said: “We got our asses kicked, didn’t we? … I thought we were a little tight, a little nervous, just doing dumb stuff.”There’s no time to dwell and think about if Sweden is living in our heads or not. We’ve got another game in three days.”Rapinoe, who came on in the 64th minute with the score 2-0, added: “Did we expect this result tonight? No.”It’s frustrating, and it’s frustrating that it’s Sweden. They found a lot of space on us. I don’t even know how many goals we have given up this whole year. I don’t remember the last time we gave up a goal. So to give up three is not great.”Sweden, ranked No. 5, has been the U.S. team’s nemesis of sorts in recent years. The Swedes bounced the Americans from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in the quarterfinals, their earliest U.S. Olympic exit ever, by making a defensive stand.In April, Sweden played the United States to a 1-1 draw in Stockholm, which snapped a winning streak dating back to January 2019 when the Americans lost to France in the runup to the World Cup. It was the U.S. team’s only draw this year.U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said: “It’s obvious we put ourselves in a big hole, but we’re the only ones who can get ourselves out of it.”It’s not going to be easy. We’ve got to get positive results in the next two games, but the fact there is still a chance [means] I know this team is not going to give up.”Sweden leads Group G heading into Saturday’s game against Australia in Saitama, while the United States faces New Zealand. The top two teams in the group advance to the knockout round.”We have very brave players and very good leaders,” Gerhardsson said. “Brave attitude to win the ball and transition so well. Yeah, I’m satisfied.”In 2008, the United States also lost its first match (2-0 to Norway), but went on to win the gold medal.”I think ultimately as an athlete you go through ups and downs, and this is a hard result, but it’s the nature of a tough tournament,” U.S. forward Christen Press said. “It wasn’t going to be easy. We weren’t going to breeze through six games no matter what. So here we are.”

Zimmerman out while Kessler and Cowell join USMNT camp ahead of Jamaica

Gregg Berhalter took the first steps towards potentially changing his roster ahead of the quarterfinal matchup against Jamaica on Sunday. Walker Zimmerman has been rulled out. Henry Kessler and Cade Cowell have joined the team’s camp in Dallas. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta is here with his thoughts. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA  JULY 21, 2021  7:00 AM

UNITED STATES national team manager Gregg Berhalter revealed important news to his Gold Cup roster on Tuesday night when he announced that winger Cade Cowell and central defender Henry Kessler were going to join the team’s camp on Wednesday. It was further announced that defender Walker Zimmerman has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.Per the amended tournament regulations, teams can replace injured players up to 24 hours prior to the quarterfinal. At this time, however, the United States national team has not made a formal change to the roster. These plans simply give Berhalter more leeway to make a switch.The U.S. team learned it will face Jamaica on Sunday night at 9pm EST in the quarterfinals in Dallas. Changes for the knockout rounds therefore need to be made by Saturday night. Here are a few thoughts on the potential changes. 

EXTREMELY INEXPERIENCED CENTRAL DEFENSE

 If New England Revolution defender Henry Kessler replaces Walker Zimmerman, the central defense is extremely inexperienced with it now consisting of Kessler, Miles Robinson, James Sands, and Donovan Pines. Prior to the Gold Cup, three of those four central defenders had zero caps and Robinson had just three. While Robinson and Sands have played well, it’s very little experience in the back and that will come into play as the tournament gets harder.ne thing to consider is whether this limits Berhalter’s ability or confidence to play three central defenders in the back. Pines was shaky at times against Canada and with these changes, three central defense adds to the inexperience of the entire team.  To drift away from the three central defense lineup, it will depend on how the winger situation is resolved. This team is thin on wingers and that limits the usage of the typical 4-3-3. To return to the 4-3-3 will depend on Paul Arriola getting healthy or Cade Cowell being ready. Otherwise, Berhalter will have to revert to variation of a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1.

 COWEL’S VERSATILITY GIVES OPTIONS

 Paul Arriola has missed the past two games and Daryl Dike played the final 10 minutes against Canada with a hurt shoulder. Cowell has versatility to play both forward and winger so it remains to be seen who he could be brought into replace.Cowell, 17, has been playing very well recently for San Jose so he has momentum heading into this tournament. This is a very big opportunity for Cowell who could get his first cap in a very big moment.

BERHALTER HAS TIME TO MAKE MORE CHANGES

 One thing to consider is that the rules of the tournament give Berhalter until Saturday to make a change. Kessler and Cowell have yet to appear for the U.S. national team and it’s good that they are arriving on Wednesday for an added training session.It’s important to note that MLS has a big slate of games on Wednesday night (and another two games on Thursday). Perhaps more announcements are on their way after these games?
There are a few possibilities – bearing in mind the names must come from the 60-player provisional roster. Moses Nyeman and Kevin Paredes recently trained with the U.S. team before the start of the Gold Cup. Chris Mueller is also playing well for Orlando (which plays on Thursday) and he plays as a winger, which could be needed. Jeremy Ebobisse is also in form for Portland and he is a striker option. Justin Che could add defensive depth and he at least trained with the team in May.We will see if more players arrive in camp and if any changes are being made but for now it’s in flux.

Analysis: USMNT starts strong, holds on in 1-0 win over Canada

In its biggest test of the Gold Cup so far, the USMNT got the result it wanted but it didn’t necessarily get the performance. In the end a strong start gave the U.S. team a 1-0 win over Canada to win Group B. Now Gregg Berhalter will have a week to prepare and hopefully have his team healthy for the quarterfinals. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta is here to give his throughts.

BY BRIAN SCIARETTAPOSTEDJULY 19, 20211:30 AM

THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL team scored early and hung on to defeat Canada 1-0 in Kansas City to win Group B with a perfect nine points. While Group B might have been secured, the performance was far from good enough if the team wants to win this tournament ahead of the knockout stages.The U.S. team once again rolled out with a three-central defense set up (Walker Zimmerman, James Sands, and Miles Robinson).The U.S. got on the board very quickly with one of its fastest goals ever – 20 seconds into the game. Kellyn Acosta swung the ball to Sebastian Lletget inside the box, left of the goal. The California native hit the bouncing ball with his first touch back across the goal and it found Shaq Moore at the far post for an open finish.Gregg Berhalter was forced into an early change in the 10th minute when Walker Zimmerman was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury following a collision. He was then replaced by D.C. United’s Donovan Pines.After a strong start, the U.S. team faded around the half hour mark following the first hydration break. After that, Canada controlled possession of the game and the U.S. was pinned back. Liam Fraser, Tajon Buchanan, Samuel Piette, and Richie Laryea all had strong games for Canada which impressed in the midfield and will likely be a tough out in the knockout stages. Still, the U.S. team limited Canada’s dangerous despite struggling to maintain possession. Buchanan was the most dangerous offensive player in the game for either team and he was effective getting the ball on the left side and cutting in. In the second half, he nearly equalized when his bending shot just missed bending into the far side of the post.The U.S. team was able to see out the win and will now have an entire week off to prepare for the quarterfinal against either Costa Rica or Jamaica next Sunday.Here are some thoughts on the game.

ROBINSON AND VINES STANDOUT

 The U.S. team’s two best players on the day were Miles Robinson and Sam Vines who were fantastic on the backline. Both players were the reason why, despite losing the possession battle, the U.S. team was able to drastically limit Canada’s number of very dangerous opportunities – which were few.

1-0 #USMNT defeats Canada to win group. Not a great performance.
some thoughts
?Miles Robinson was terrific. Wow
?Vines had a very good game
?Lletget had his moments, great assist
?Hoppe solid off bench
?Buchanan: best player on the field
?Injuries are a huge concern

— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) July 18, 2021

 This was the performance many hoped Robinson could deliver for the U.S. team. This was the first time he was significantly tested for the U.S team and the Massachusetts native delivered with important clearances, duel wins, and passes out of the back. He was a massive obstacle that Canada could not get around and, in my opinion, the most influential player in the game.Robinson has an opportunity to crack into the national team for World Cup qualifying as there are so many questions in central defense. John Brooks is a lock starter for the national team when healthy but Mark McKenzie isn’t quite a set starter at Genk. Meanwhile Matt Miazga, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Cameron Carter-Vickers are all yet to have their club situations sorted out.Sam Vines, likewise, had a massively important game both for the U.S. team and for himself. Long thought of as an offensive left back, Vines showed his defensive attributes in this game – which were always the questions surrounding his game. He was simply everywhere defensively while also being one of the team’s few assets getting forward.Sam Vines: raw # for the #USMNT in 1-0 win over Canada
90 mins
71 touches
0 shots
2 key passes
41/46 passing
3/3 accurate crossing
0/1 long balls
5/7 duels won
5 clearances
2 interceptions
1/1 tackles
1/1 dribbles
0 fouls
1x fouled
2/3 aerials won
– very good game

— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) July 18, 2021

 Vines is likely heading to Royal Antwerp after this tournament on a transfer from the Colorado Rapids and anyone who has been paying attention to his game has noticed his improvement every single season. It is possible he cracks into the World Cup qualifying team this fall.

FORMATION ISSUES AND STRUGGLES

 The U.S. team seemed to fall off dramatically after the hydration break at the 30th minute. Canada adjusted and the U.S. team didn’t respond.Canada put a lot of pressure on the U.S. team’s deeper central midfielders in Gianluca Busio and Kellyn Acosta. Neither of those two players had strong games and that is where the possession game fell apart. One of the big consequences is that the two outside backs, Sam Vines and Shaq Moore, were pinned back. As wingbacks, the plan was to push them into the midfield on a regular basis but the lack of possession saw them pinned back.The design was that the U.S. team would defend with five in the back but that, when in possession, it would shift to a narrow diamond with James Sands moving to the six and the fullbacks pushed aggressively into the attack to provide width. It never really materialized.The U.S. team played with a two-forward set in Gyasi Zardes and Daryl Dike but was never able to get the benefit given the midfield’s lack of possession. Instead, it turned into a wasted player. If the fullbacks were able to get forward, it would have been a different story as the midfield would have had more outlets out wide and more crosses could have been sent into a pair of forwards who are both good in the air.The U.S. team’s mostly poor performance was a chain of things that went wrong and it started with Acosta and Busio. That led to the outside backs being pinned back and not enough offensive outlets – with everything being geared up the middle. Sebastian Lletget, meanwhile, had a nice game for the U.S. team. His outstanding assist was the defining moment of the game but he was given a very tough task as his two midfielder partners were struggling, and the wingbacks were pinned to the backline. His forward outlets were limited. Canada’s backline was able to mark Zardes and Dike out of the game. Still, Lletget was able to help the team hold the ball better than just about everyone else and help to set up whatever offensive chances it had.

INJURIES MOUNT

It was welcome news for the U.S. team to have Reggie Cannon return from injury and be able to play off the bench. The Boavista-based fullback was effective defensively and Shaq Moore, who started all three games, has been almost overworked given his preseason form.Meanwhile, Paul Arriola remains out and that limits the ability to play from wide positions.The U.S. team badly needs Walker Zimmerman to be healthy and his hamstring will be evaluated this week. Meanwhile, Daryl Dike suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury after falling on it awkwardly in the second half after the U.S. team used all of its substitutions. He was able to continue but clearly wasn’t 100%. James Sands also finished out the game after having to spend some time getting treatment.

 PLAYER RATINGS

THE STARTING LINEUP

 Matt Turner: The New Jersey native made all the saves that were asked of him and was confident whenever called upon. Rating: 6.0

Shaq Moore: The Tenerife-based fullback took his goal very well with a nice run to back post. For the rest of the game he defended well but struggled to make an impact offensively. Rating: 6.0

James Sands: The New York City mainstay played two roles. Defensively he was a centerback but when the U.S. team had the ball, he shifted to a No. 6 in a narrow diamond. He was relatively solid although didn’t do much in his midfield role. Rating: 6.5

Miles Robinson: This was an important game for Robinson where he showed a lot of defensive quality in helping the U.S. team see out the win. His made a lot of important clearances, won several important duels, and his passing out of the back was solid. He was the MOTM and Robinson should have a lot of confidence moving forward. Rating: 8.0

Walker Zimmerman: The Georgia native left the game early due to injury and his loss was a big setback for the team. Rating: N/A

Sam Vines: Along with Robinson, Vines was one of the few U.S. players to have a solid performance against Canada. His defense was important at several key moments and he shut down Canada on his side of the field. Rating: 8.0

Kellyn Acosta: Aside from his important pass to Lletget on the goal, it was a poor outing from Acosta who was outplayed by the Canadian midfield and was not able to help the team much in possession. It is never good when a central midfield manages just 22 touches in 74 minutes. Canada clearly wanted to shut him out and Acosta had no response. Rating: 4.5

Gianluca Busio: The Sporting Kansas midfielder is a newcomer to the deeper No. 6 and No. 8 positions as opposed to the No. 10 position he grew up playing. He failed to win many duels to win the ball back for the U.S. team. Once in possession, he didn’t make much of an impact and was mostly invisible. Rating: 4.0

Sebastian LLetget: The U.S. team’s best performer in the midfield. He not only assisted, but was the only one capable of getting the ball into dangerous spots and holding the ball. Rating: 7.0

Daryl Dike: Along with Zardes, Dike was effectively controlled by Canada. He was fairly dangerous in the first 25 minutes but after that was quiet. It was admirable how he was able to play hurt the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time. Rating: 4.5

Gyasi Zardes: The Columbus forward had his moments early and worked hard to run down some long balls. At times, he stretched the defense and could send in some crosses. But overall it wasn’t nearly enough and Canada contained both him and Dike. Rating: 4.5

 THE SUBSTITUTES

 Donovan Pines: Some decent moments but also some moments when he looked extremely nervy in the back and new to the moment. Rating: 5.0

Reggie Cannon: The Boavista fullback defended well off the bench for the U.S. team but mishit a good chance on a goal. Rating: 6.0

Cristian Roldan: Mostly invisible in his 16 minutes off the bench and didn’t do much or enough. Rating: 4.5

Jackson Yueill: Managed to get on the ball a little bit to help see the game out. Rating: 5.5

Matthew Hoppe: Very lively off the bench. Dribbled into trouble a few times but overall brough some energy and helped advance the ball. Rating: 6.0

Who will, and who should the USMNT start vs. Jamaica?

By Ives Galarcep | July 23, 2021 1:50 pm ET  https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.06c6ee58c3810956b7509218508c7b56.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-1&lang=en&screen_name=soccerbyives&show_count=false&show_screen_name=true&size=m&time=1627063338462

The Concacaf Gold Cup group stage was a learning experience for Gregg Berhalter’s young U.S. men’s national team squad, and the team’ 3-0 record would suggest the group passed some tests along the way.With the knockout rounds up next, the USMNT will need to shift away from the learning portion of the tournament to the testing phase, and it will be pass-fail the rest of the way. For that reason, it is a good bet that Berhalter starts to shift toward his more experienced players.Of course, there will be some new blood in the mix to start based on some impressive group stage showings. James Sands is at the top of the list, having made himself an indispensable starter after his group stage showings. Shaq Moore has also been one of the revelations of the Gold Cup, and Berhalter will have a tough decision to make between starting Moore and starting Reggie Cannon, who has recovered from the injury that kept him out of the USMNT’s first two Gold Cup matches.Daryl Dike and Gianluca Busio had some impressive moments as well, but both struggled in the win against Canada, making it less certain that they will be in the starting lineup on Sunday against Jamaica. There is also some concern about whether Dike will be forced to withdraw after suffering a shoulder injury against Canada.You also have some veterans who haven’t necessarily lit it up at the Gold Cup. Cristian Roldan had a good second half against Martinique, but had forgettable cameo against Canada, putting his chances of starting against Jamaica into question. Kellyn Acosta hasn’t quite maintained the high level he set at Nations League, but should still have a key role to play against Jamaica.With all that in mind, here is the starting lineup we could see the USMNT deploying against Jamaica on Sunday, as well as the lineup we would deploy if we were making the final lineup decisions:


Projected USMNT Starting Lineup vs. Jamaica

Zardes

Hoppe/Gioacchini

Lietget/Roldan

Acosta

Sam Vines/Miles Robinson/James Sands/Reggie Cannon

https://sbisoccer.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2021/07/USMNT-Projected-XI-vs.-Jamaica.png?w=300

SBI’s Preferred USMNT Starting Lineup vs. Jamaica

https://sbisoccer.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2021/07/SBI-Preferred-USMNT-XI-vs.-Jamaica.png?w=300

GOALKEEPER


Who will start: Matt Turner

Who should start: Matt Turner

Not a big mystery at goalkeeper, where Turner has been solid in goal.


DEFENDERS


Who will start: Reggie Cannon, James Sands, Miles Robinson, Sam Vines

Who should start: Shaq Moore, James Sands, Miles Robinson, Sam Vines

Sands and Robinson are locks to start in any scenario. It is at fullback where things get interesting.Moore has had a solid Gold Cup, but if Berhalter is forced to go with a 4-3-3 it can be argued that Reggie Cannon is a better fit and better defender than Moore as a right fullback, whereas Moore was more adept at handling a right wingback deployment. Walker Zimmerman’s injury will likely force Berhalter to shelve the 5-3-2.At left back, Sam Vines has been solid and has the experience edge on George Bello, who didn’t impress in his start against Martinique.


MIDFIELDERS


Who will start: Sebastian Lletget, Cristian Roldan, Kellyn Acosta

Who should start: Eryk Williamson, Kellyn Acosta, Gianluca Busio

Two players who are safe bets to start are Sebastian Lletget and Kellyn Acosta. The question is where will they be deployed?

Lletget has operated strictly as a midfielder at the Gold Cup, but he has played on the forward line in the past and is no stranger to being deployed on the wing. It is something Berhalter should consider as he deals with the absence of wide threats.The safe bet for Berhalter is the Lletget-Roldan-Acosta midfield, with Acosta in a defensive midfield role. Berhalter knows this trio, and has used them in important matches before.That being said, Roldan’s Gold Cup hasn’t been a memorable one, and as much as Busio struggled against Canada, he could find more success playing against a Jamaica side that doesn’t boast as strong a collection of central midfielders as the Canadians.One player who has shown well in his Gold Cup appearances is Eryk Williamson, and he could help bring some defensive bite. Partnering Williamson with Acosta in front of Busio would give the midfield an edge that could serve the USMNT well against Jamaica.


FORWARDS


Who will start: Matthew Hoppe, Gyasi Zardes, Nicholas Gioacchini

Who should start: Matthew Hoppe, Gyasi Zardes, Sebastian Lletget

Dike’s health status complicates things a bit because if he is healthy he will absolutely be in the mix to start.Having said that, look for Zardes to step into his more familiar target striker role ahead of Dike in a 4-3-3. Zardes’ superior hold-up play gives him the edge, and he also has experience playing against Jamaica.Hoppe has impressed every time he has been on the field, and why he isn’t the prototypical wide player, Hoppe has shown a liveliness and skill on the ball to be an effective wide forward option. The only doubt about him being a starter is whether there is a concern about his fitness and if he can give Berhalter 70+ minutes as a starter. Berhalter could decide that Hoppe is a better weapon off the bench, and start Lletget on the left wing.Then you have the right forward spot, which could go to Nicholas Gioacchini, or Paul Arriola if he is recovered from the injury that has sidelined him since the opening win against Haiti. Gioacchini has been a lively threat in the opportunities he has been given, and could be a problem for Jamaica’s suspect defense.If trying to maintain possession and dominate the ball is what Berhalter will ultimately be hoping for, then deploying Lletget as a wide forward would serve the dual purposes of giving the USMNT a player who can provide effective service from the wing, and also help free up a midfield spot for someone like Eryk Williamson to provide some added bite and creativity to midfield.


What do you think of our projected lineups? Which would you start? Who are you most excited to see play?

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7/20/21 Olympics Soccer – US Ladies vs Sweden Wed 4:30 am on USA Network, Sat 7:30 am on NBCSN vs Australia

Ladies Soccer and the US get things underway before the actual Olympic games opening Ceremonies – as soccer kicks things off on Wednesday AM. The US ladies of course will play their nemesis #5 ranked Sweden who knocked them out of the last Olympics in the Quarterfinals. Of course the US dispatched of Sweden in the World Cup 2 years ago – but the sting is still there. Christen Press: USWNT loss to Sweden in Rio drives its quest for Olympic gold

Lots of discussion about who will start vs Sweden and who will play and how the roster will be adjusted for the 3 games in the group stages – but I look for Coach A to throw a knockout punch in the first game. I think he starts his strongest possible team looking to knock off Sweden and take control of the Group. For that reason I think he starts Rapinoe – she’s a big game player and was the MOP of the Olympics, I like Alex Morgan up top and Christen Press on the right. Press can play any of the top 3 slots – but she’s lethal on the wings and is our top and most dangerous scorer since the World Cup. I expect to see Lavelle (assuming her ankle is ok) along with Sam Mewis in the mid along with either Lindsay Horan or Julie Ertz at the #6. If Ertz is healthy I think she starts – as Horan could sub in at either of the 3 midfield spots or even as a 2nd forward if behind late. The normal back line of Dunn on the left, Sauerbrunn and Dahlkemper in the middle and O’Hara on the right should front Naeher in goal.

I think Tobino Heath will be the first sub in for Rapino the other subs will depend on the situation. Assuming the US beats Sweden I would think Heath and Lloyd will get starts in game two vs New Zealand with Williams and Macario seeing some time off the bench in game two. Coach A will need to work in rest for Rapinoe, Morgan, Heath, Lloyd, Ertz and possibly Lavelle as I don’t think any of them can play all 3 matches. I look for the US to get started strong and to claim a 1 maybe a 2-0 win over Sweden. If you miss the game live – the game will be REPLAYED ON NBCSN at 8:30 am and again at 6 pm on NBCSN and of course the replay will be on NBCOlympics.com.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars),

MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Catarina Macario (Lyon),

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

GAMES ON TV

Wednesday, July 21 WOMEN’s Soccer

3:30 am Britain vs Chile Ladies (Olympic Channel)

4 am China vs Brazil Ladies (NBCSN)

4 am Soccer Preview Show (USA)

4:30 am USA vs Sweden Ladies  (USA)

7 am Zambia vs Netherlands (Olympic Channel)

7:30 am Japan vs Canada Ladies (NBCSN)

8:30 am REPLAY USA vs Sweden (NBCSN)

6 pm REPLAY USA vs Sweden (NBCSN)

8 pm MLS Cincinnati vs Atlanta United (FS1)

10 pm MLS Portland vs LAFC (FS1)

Thursday, July 22

3:30 am Egypt vs Spain Men (Olympic Channel)

4 am Mexico vs France (USA Network)

6:30 am Argentina vs Australia Men (Olympic Channel)

7 am Japan vs South Africa Men (NBCSN)

7:30 am Brazil vs Germany Men (USA Network)  

7:30 pm Orlando City vs Philly Union ESPN

10 pm  Austin FC vs Seattle Sounders ESPN

Saturday, July 24

4:30 am Sweden vs Australia (NBCSN)

7:30 am USA vs New Zealand Ladies  (NBCSN)

3:30 pm MLS Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew  (ABC)

7:30 pm GOLD CUP QF Qatar vs Panama  FS2
10 pm GOLD CUP QF Mexico vs Honduras FS1

Sunday, July 25th

10 pm GOLD CUP USA vs Jamaica FS1

US Ladies

 Murray: Are the Olympics too easy for USWNT?
Opinion: Grudge match with Sweden the perfect opener for USWNT at Tokyo Olympics

Top 3 Threats to Olympic Gold for US

USWNT’s Heath, Matildas’ Carpenter, Team GB’s Weir among Olympic players to watch

US women shut out the noise in quest for 5th gold medal
US Women Stars in Tokyo

USWNT vs. Sweden, 2020 Olympics: What to watch for

USWNT has all the tools to be first team to win Olympics after winning World Cup  Julie Foudy

USWNT have few weaknesses as they begin the pursuit of Olympic gold   Jeff Carlisle

Quick Preview – Video –

Julie Ertz | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Profile

Becky Sauerbrunn | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Profile

Crystal Dunn | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Profile

Lordanic: Micah’s quest for gold, from UCLA to the Olympics

2020 Olympics: Group G Preview

2020 Olympics: Group F Preview

2020 Olympics: Group E Preview
Men’s Soccer at the Olympics: How to watch, schedule, start time, odds

US Men –

Walker Zimmerman departs USMNT camp By Donald Wine II

 USA v. Canada, 2021 Gold Cup: What we learned

USA vs. Canada, 2021 Gold Cup: Man of the Match

2021 Gold Cup Recap: USA 1-0 Canada – The Americans score early and come away with a lucky win

Opinion: Grudge match with Sweden the perfect opener for USWNT at Tokyo Olympics

Nancy Armour, USA TODAY

Tue, July 20, 2021, 9:20 AM·3 min read

TOKYO – Nothing like a good ol’ fashioned grudge match to kick off the Olympics.The U.S. women begin play Wednesday with a game against Sweden. Yes, that would be the same Sweden that knocked the Americans out of the Rio Olympics in the quarterfinals, their earliest exit ever at a major tournament.“What happened in 2016 was one of the worst results that the senior national team has had in a major tournament,” captain Becky Sauerbrunn said Tuesday. “From playing in that game, I know how disappointed we all were. It has lit a fire going into (the World Cup in) 2019, and also here for 2020.”The rivalry between the USWNT and Sweden was already feisty before Rio. The U.S. has faced no team more often at the Olympics and World Cup than Sweden – the group-stage game in Tokyo will be their ninth at a major international tournament – including at each of the last five World Cups.Seven of their last eight games overall have been decided by one goal or less, including a 1-1 draw in April that snapped the USWNT’s 16-game win streak, the third-longest in team history.But it’s that 2016 loss, on penalty kicks, that still stings.The U.S. women don’t lose often – all of six times since 2015 – and it’s really a rarity when big prizes are on the line. Since the World Cup began in 1991, the Americans have won it four times, including the last two. They have won the gold medal four times since women’s soccer was added to the Olympic program in 1996.And when they don’t win, they usually come close.They were runners-up at the 2011 World Cup, and finished third in 1995, 2003 and 2007. Before Rio, the Americans were silver medalists at the one Olympics where they didn’t win gold.So to lose in 2016 was galling enough. To do it before even the medal rounds? It was almost incomprehensible.“The players who were there in 2016, it’s in the back of our minds,” Alex Morgan said before the April friendly. “And those who weren’t there, we’ll be sure to remind them.”Sweden has potent forwards, and it has the size and strength to go toe-to-toe with the Americans. But it’s the Swedes’ attitude that makes them such a formidable foe.If they’re intimidated by the Americans and all their success, you’d never know it. They will do whatever it takes to win, even bunkering down as they did in Rio to take the game to extra time and then penalties.“I think it’s more a question to the U.S. team, what do they think we do very good against them,” Sweden captain Caroline Seger said Tuesday, when asked to explain her team’s success against the USWNTThat doesn’t mean Sweden takes the Americans lightly, either.“We know we have to be very prepared. We have to step up to a level that is very high,” Seger said. “The U.S. brings its best when it needs to be the best. It’s going to be very tough game tomorrow, but I also know we’re very prepared.”The Americans are hoping to become the first reigning World Cup champion to win the Olympic title, and a loss – or draw – against Sweden would not end those chances. But beating Sweden would put the USWNT in control of Group G and, theoretically, an easier path through the medal rounds.Those are concerns for another day, however. For now, the Americans have one thought and one thought only in mind.“It’s a loss that I’ve thought about a lot over the last five years, and how am I, how are we, going to get revenge?” Kelley O’Hara said. “Hopefully we’re going to beat them.”Let the grudges, err, Games, begin.

USWNT’s Tobin Heath, Matildas’ Ellie Carpenter, Team GB’s Caroline Weir among Olympic players to watch

Jul 19, 2021Kathleen McNamee

While the men’s football competition at the Olympics is often an opportunity to get a sneak peek of some up-and-coming talent, the women’s competition is stacked with both new and recognisable names.With no age limits in the women’s comp and with squads being expanded this year thanks to COVID-19 precautions, there will even more talent on display in Tokyo. Coaches can bring 22 players but must pick 18 for matchday.While many stalwarts of the game return, several young prospects will be looking to make a name for themselves. The United States women’s national team have the best claim to being tournament favourites — they are looking to make history by becoming the first team to win a World Cup and Olympic gold back-to-back — there are 11 other nations looking to derail them.Here are ESPN’s picks of the players who might just be the ones to look out for during the competition.

Christiane Endler (Chile)

The six-time Chilean Player of the Year has often been described as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and her experience will be needed as they come up against medal contenders Canada and Great Britain in their group, as well as hosts Japan. She conceded just four goals in the Division 1 Feminine last season and helped Paris Saint-Germain win the league for the first time. This earned her a move to European behemoths Lyon. Endler’s distribution is one of her strongest assets and alongside her confidence in defending set pieces, she is always one to watch.

Caroline Weir (Team GB)

Team Great Britain is often dominated by players from England, but it is a testament to the talent of Scotland’s Caroline Weir that she would be the first name on many people’s teamsheet. The attacking midfielder is known for scoring stunning goals from the edge of the box, drawing comparisons to Eric Cantona from her teammates. Besides scoring, it is her technical ability that makes Weir an important component of Hege Riise’s squad. She has a pass-completion rate of over 85% and is confident with the ball at her feet, averaging between 60 to 70 touches per game. With much of the squad made up of her Manchester City teammates, she’s well positioned to score some more Puskas Award-worthy goals.

Mana Iwabuchi (Japan)

There was surprise in some quarters when Iwabuchi opted to join Aston Villa last season. The experienced forward has played with some of the world’s best. She managed just two goals, but her average of over 70 touches per game shows she’s invested in build-up play. A big move to Arsenal at the start of the summer — where she will be reunited with former Bayern Munich teammates Vivianne Miedema and Lisa Evans — will hopefully give her more opportunity to shine and no better way to start that than with Japan at the Olympics. Precise and deliberate on the ball, she poses a serious threat.

Lieke Martens (Netherlands)

Vivianne Miedema is often put forward as the star of Netherlands’ squad and while her goal-scoring record speaks for itself, there is plenty of other talent in the European champions squad. One such name that sticks out is Martens, who won the Primera Iberdrola and Champions League this season with Barcelona. The Catalan club’s dominance at home and abroad was second to none and Martens has played a vital role in getting the team to that point. Elegant on the ball, she likes to play wide before using her technical ability to either get behind defences or take a shot. Netherlands have arguably the easiest group in the competition — with matches slated against China, Brazil and Zambia — but that opens things up to some magical moments from Martens.

Ellie Carpenter (Australia)

The young player from Australia has made a remarkable name for herself in Europe, and her skills will be needed as her side face one of the toughest groups in the draw. The Matildas have struggled in games in the run-up to the Olympics, but Carpenter has been consistently a standout player. With oppositions well aware of the threat of the side’s star Sam Kerr, having other options going forward have been key and Carpenter’s ability to scarper up the wing from the defence and turn attacker has only heightened her usefulness to Tony Gustavsson. While she’s the fifth-youngest on the squad, she brings a mature style of play which if utilised correctly could be a key element to the Matildas’ success.

Magda Eriksson (Sweden)

The Chelsea captain led her club to domestic glory, and with Sweden tipped as one of the main challengers to the USWNT’s bid to make history, her experience is going to be crucial. The squad is packed full of young exciting talent like Hanna Bennison, but the importance of Eriksson can’t be underestimated. She was part of the squad that won silver at Rio 2016 and after a disappointing defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League final, Eriksson will be on the hunt for silverware. Technically she’s very gifted, with Chelsea manager Emma Hayes often saying she could have a career in coaching, such is the level of her football brain. Watch her marshal the Swedish defence against some of the world’s best forwards and marvel at how she seems to know what they’re about to do before they even make a move.

Tobin Heath (United States)

Tobin Heath is far from a lesser-known name, but she has had a difficult season with injuries. Having missed out on the second half of the Women’s Super League season with Manchester United, she faced a race to get fit in time for the Olympics. There was a question mark over whether Vlatko Andonovski was right to pick her to travel but she answered all these and more with her comeback against Mexico. Two goals in two games showed she is ready to compete for a starting spot and after such a lengthy spell out, we could be treated to some Heath magic in Tokyo. Look out for her stealing the ball from the opposition and darting through the defence before releasing a powerful strike that leaves even the best goalkeepers stuck to the spot.

The Top Threats to the USWNT’s Quest for Olympic Gold

The U.S. is a clear favorite to bounce back from 2016 humiliation and capture a fifth gold medal, but the tournament field features some familiar foes capable of preventing that.

MOLLY GEARY  JUL 19, 2021

Set your alarms and keep the coffee at the ready.The Olympic women’s soccer tournament begins Wednesday in Japan, with Great Britain vs. Chile kicking off at 3:30 a.m. ET as the first of six group-round games that day. The U.S. follows an hour later with its opener vs. Sweden, and additional group matches on July 24 and July 27 will precede the knockout rounds, with an eventual gold-medal match taking place on Aug. 5 (it’ll Aug. 6 in Tokyo).The tournament features 12 teams, with the FIFA world No. 1 USWNT being widely considered the favorite. The U.S. has not lost since a road defeat to France in January 2019 (44 matches), and it’s attempting to become the first reigning Women’s World Cup champion to win the subsequent Olympic gold medal (not to mention, aiming to avenge its shocking Olympic quarterfinal exit five years ago).The road to the podium, however, will not include a couple of familiar heavyweights. France, the world’s No. 3 ranked team, will not feature in Japan because of European qualification rules (the confederation’s three Olympic spots went to the three countries that finished highest at the ’19 World Cup), and No. 2 ranked Germany won’t have a chance to defend its 2016 gold medal for the same reason. Spain, a rising threat in the women’s game, won’t be there, either, after its round-of-16 exit to the U.S. two years ago.Despite those absences, intrigue still abounds as the rest of the world tries to knock the U.S. off its perch. And if you’re a fan of chaos and underdogs, consider that if the USWNT doesn’t win gold, we are guaranteed to get a first-time women’s Olympic champion. The tournament groupings are as follows (Groups A-D are part of the men’s tournament, which kicks off Thursday):

Group EGreat Britain, Canada, Japan, Chile

Group FNetherlands, Brazil, China, Zambia

Group G: United States, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand

Who should U.S. fans be most concerned about? We break down the seven teams most likely to stand in the way.

Top threats

Netherlands

FIFA world ranking4th

The U.S.’s 2019 final opponent is lurking again in these Olympics. The Dutch should be regarded as the favorite to win Group F, and doing so could put them on another championship collision course with the U.S. (should both countries win their respective groups, they would be on opposite sides of the knockout bracket). The Netherlands is led by Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, one of the world’s premier strikers at age 25, as well as Barcelona forward Lieke Martens, Manchester United midfielder Jackie Groenen and PSV goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, the last of whom gave the U.S. fits in said World Cup final. The U.S. successfully kept Miedema and the Dutch attack in check in that game, but she’ll be a major key to any gold medal push this team makes in Japan.Generally, scoring isn’t a problem for the Netherlands. The Dutch can put up goals in bunches and have tallied some eye-popping results in 2021, pummeling Australia 5–1, Belgium 6–1 and Norway 7–0. But 1–0 defeats to Italy and Spain, as well as a 2–0 loss on home soil to the United States last November (a game that had key absences on both sides, including Miedema), show they are still trying to get over that final hurdle since bursting onto the scene by winning the Women’s Euros in 2017.This tournament is also a sendoff for Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, who has brought this federation to the cusp of global glory and is taking the England women’s job in September. Ending her tenure on a high, though, may require putting the type of offensive pressure on the U.S. that they’ve failed to do in the sides’ last two meetings. That starts in the midfield, where Groenen, Lyon’s Daniëlle van de Donk and others will play a pivotal role in any Olympic run.

Sweden

FIFA world ranking: 5th

The Swedes are one of just two teams since April 2019 that have played the U.S. and not lost (the other, South Korea, is not at these Games). Three months ago, the USA needed an 87th-minute penalty kick by Megan Rapinoe to salvage a 1–1 draw in Stockholm. They’ll meet again on Wednesday in a sneaky-critical opener for both sides—the victor, should there be one, will have the inside track at winning Group G, which comes with the award of avoiding a scary quarterfinal matchup (Group G’s second-place team will draw the winner of Group F, very likely to be either the Netherlands or Brazil. The Group G winner will face a third-place finisher in the quarters). https://74d7e61e4dbff740f1569a37bc073e66.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html A number of the Sweden players who were on the 2016 Olympic roster when it stunned the U.S. are back, including star center back Magdalena Eriksson, midfielder Kosovare Asllani, forwards Sofia Jakobsson and Fridolina Rolfö and captain Caroline Seger. This group shouldn’t be intimidated by the prospect of facing the U.S.—or anyone else—and if there’s a silver lining to opening with such a high-profile match, it’s that there can’t be a rematch until the final.

The next tier

Brazil

FIFA world ranking: 7th

Two former USWNT head coaches will be on other sidelines in Japan—Brazil’s Pia Sundhage is one, and New Zealand’s Tom Sermanni is the other. Sundhage, of course, famously won gold while coaching the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics in London, then stepped down and took the job in Sweden, where she managed the 2016 team that knocked out the U.S. in the quarterfinals. In 2019, she took over for Brazil and now leads an intriguing group looking to cause some real damage at the Tokyo Games.In the last decade-plus, Brazil has struggled to replicate its women’s soccer golden days, when it was runner-up at both the 2007 World Cup and 2008 Olympics, and when Marta—now 35 and still a very good player—was at her incredible peak. But there’s plenty of talent here in 2021, and under Sundhage, this group has evolved into one on the upswing. Marta is still here, of course, and amazingly so is 43-year-old Formiga, who has played in every single Olympics that has had women’s soccer (since 1996) and is making her seventh(!) trip.The title of Brazil’s top playmaker now, though, belongs to Debinha, a dynamic midfielder who stars in the NWSL and is a scoring threat whenever she approaches the 18-yard-box. Brazil will need her at her best in its quest for a medal. This group did see the U.S. earlier this year, losing 2–0 at the SheBelieves Cup (it beat both Canada and Argentina by multiple goals in its other matches in the event). Brazil had its chances against the U.S. and will need to be more clinical if it’s to break through in Japan, starting in a crowded Group E.

Canada

FIFA world ranking: 8th

Could we get a U.S.-Canada meeting at a major tournament for the first time since that instant classic at the 2012 Olympics? It’s certainly a possibility, with Canada right in the mix again for a medal and a number of potential paths to these sides meeting in the knockouts. The Canadians gave the U.S. a ride at the SheBelieves Cup in February, holding the hosts scoreless for 78 minutes before a Rose Lavelle goal proved to be the difference. And while Canada left that event having scored only once, it was playing its first matches under new head coach Bev Priestman.Priestman hasn’t had a lot of time to implement her vision on the team ahead of the Olympics, but there have been some encouraging results. Canada beat England 2–0 on the road in April, tied Brazil 0–0 in June and drew with the Netherlands 3–3 last week in a pre-Olympic training match.The roster is a mix of experience—like all-time international goal-scoring leader Christine Sinclair (38 years old) and a player with 205 caps in Sophie Schmidt (33)—and youth, like standout defender Ashley Lawrence (26) and midfielder Jessie Fleming (23) and promising young forwards Jordyn Huitema (20) and Evelyne Viens (24). The big question for Canada, though, is a familiar one: Can this team score enough? With a variety of attacking options—which also include Janine Beckie and Nichelle Prince—Priestman is hoping to find the right mix that gives Canada the clinical finishing it needs to get on the podium.

Great Britain

FIFA world ranking6th (for England; however, Great Britain could also pull from the rosters of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)

In certain ways, Team GB is a bit of a mystery heading into this Olympic tournament. The England team that pushed the United States to the brink in the 2019 Women’s World Cup semifinal has taken multiple steps back in the two years since, winning just three of the nine friendlies it’s played and most recently falling to France and Canada by an aggregate score of 5–1. Meanwhile, manager Phil Neville moved on to MLS, and Hege Riise has taken the reins (including those of Team Great Britain) until Wiegman arrives in September.Many of the England players who were on that 2019 team are now part of Team GB, and only three of its 22 players (Scotland’s Kim Little and Caroline Weir; Wales’s Sophie Ingle) are from outside that federation. So the concerns around England’s recent form are real, as is the fact that Great Britain will enter its opener having scarcely played together (a scheduled July friendly with Zambia was canceled, but it did recently beat New Zealand 3–0 in a closed-door Olympic warm-up friendly).Perhaps of chief concern is the Team GB defense, as England posted just two clean sheets (vs. 30th-ranked Portugal and 48th-ranked Northern Ireland) in its last 11 official games. The defender list is familiar, including The Best FIFA Women’s Player honoree Lucy Bronze at right back and Millie Bright, Steph Houghton and Leah Williamson at center back, but that group hasn’t always proven to be the most effective unit at the international level, particularly on set pieces. Look for the talented 24-year-old Williamson, of Arsenal, to have a larger role this time after barely appearing at the ‘19 World Cup.In the attack, Team GB definitely has the pieces to be dangerous, including Ellen White, Fran Kirby, Nikita Parris, Georgia Stanway and promising 20-year-old Lauren Hemp. Kirby is coming off a brilliant season with Chelsea, while White starred two years ago in France. Still, Team GB will need to gel quickly to succeed in a tricky group and avoid falling behind the eight ball—or worse, missing the knockout phase entirely.

Japan

FIFA world ranking: 10th

The host side has been building toward this Olympic tournament for some time, sacrificing experience for youth at the ’19 World Cup to rebuild for the future. Those growing pains were still on display at the 2020 SheBelieves Cup, when Japan lost all three games just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports, and it’s only played five friendlies since. The good news: it dominated four of those matches by a combined score of 27–1, and won the fifth, 1–0, over Australia. The bad news: The average FIFA ranking of the non-Australia opponents is 42.3, so those routs are largely not indicative of the quality of team it will face in these Olympics.While this is a young group, not everyone on this Japan roster is inexperienced on the big stage. Mana Iwabuchi, 28, has been on the scene since the 2011 Women’s World Cup, and the creative forward has scored six goals across the five 2021 matches. Captain and 30-year-old Saki Kumagai, meanwhile, was a stalwart at Lyon and is an anchor of the Japanese defense.With a lack of high-quality games to go on, it’s hard to gauge exactly what to expect out of Japan in these Games, but make no mistake: It has its eyes on the podium, including a push for gold. Group play will be critical, with Japan, Canada and Great Britain all conceivably able to finish anywhere from first to third. The difference in placement is steep and will largely shape who is most likely to advance past the quarterfinals.

The wild card

Australia

FIFA world ranking: 9th

On paper, The Matildas are a perfectly solid team. They have one of the best strikers in the world in Sam Kerr, who is always a threat to score so long as her teammates can get the ball to her feet (or head). They have a team filled with players with major (and varied) club experience, ranging from the NWSL to the WSL to the local W-League. And of the 18 players on the initial Olympic roster before it expanded to 22, only one (Kyra Cooney-Cross) is making her debut on a major tournament roster.The problem? For one thing, Australia is on its third head coach since 2019, and the turnover—on top of the pandemic—has taken its toll. Interim coach Ante Milicic managed the team at the 2019 World Cup and was intended to also coach the team in Japan, but he left the position a year ago. Former USWNT assistant Tony Gustavsson took over in September and has gotten off to more than a rocky start. After going a year without an international game, the Matildas got their doors blown off by Germany and the Netherlands and have lost four of five games in 2021, drawing a fifth with Sweden.Australia’s defense has long been leaky, but if its attack isn’t going to compensate, it makes any road to what would be a surprise medal in Japan a particularly tough one. It also finds itself in a brutal group, and it likely needs to steal points from the U.S. and/or Sweden to avoid a third-place finish and potential elimination. Still, this roster feels too talented and experienced to write off, and if it can get some confidence going early, it has the potential to disrupt either its own narrative or someone else’s.

Great Britain vs. Chile

Wednesday, 3:30 a.m. (Olympic Channel, Universo)

The long-awaited Olympic women’s soccer tournament kicks off Wednesday, two days before the Opening Ceremony kicks off the Tokyo Games in full. Great Britain plays as a unified country only in the Olympics, and its team has plenty of talent. England’s Fran Kirby and Lucy Bronze, and Scotland’s Kim Little are among the headliners.But the English contingent has underwhelmed at the international level, and this is a trap game for them. Chile goalkeeper Christiane Endler is one of the world’s top netminders and will be an even bigger deal on the world stage when she starts playing for Lyon after the Olympics.

Assessing the Matildas’ Tokyo Olympics opponents: New Zealand, Sweden, USWNT

  • Samantha LewisAustralia Correspondent

It’s a cliche that each Olympic Games will be unlike anything we have seen before. But this time, after the pandemic forced a year-long delay to Tokyo 2020 — resulting in no crowds, fragile athlete bubbles, a city still in a state of emergency, and a national population largely against the whole idea — they will, for once, be right.There can be no downplaying how fundamentally the pandemic will shape performances at the Tokyo Games, especially when it comes to the football. With many more moving parts and more participating athletes than most other sports at the Olympics, the football tournaments must be viewed and assessed through a lens deeply informed by the history and context of the past 18 months.While sport is always touted as a level playing field, it never is — especially when something like a global pandemic has exacerbated the natural and structural advantages of some national teams over others.Group G is a tantamount example. Australia are joined in this group by New ZealandSweden, and the United States: three teams that have, by virtue of their resources, their player pool, their geographic location, and their league availabilities, enter Tokyo 2020 from very different starting points.

Two of the teams in Group G (Australia and New Zealand) didn’t have a national team camp or international-level game for over a year, while Sweden and the USWNT were able to cobble together camps and matches throughout 2020 and 2021. By contrast, even though he formally started his role in January, Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson didn’t meet some of his players face-to-face until June.To Football Australia’s credit, the Matildas were able to play a series of friendlies against top-ranked opponents in the months leading up to the Games, allowing Gustavsson and his players to re-introduce themselves to each other before they take the pitch for one of the biggest tournaments of their careers.Tokyo 2020, then, carries with it an enormous asterisk. These wider, uncontrollable circumstances have affected different teams in different ways, and it is likely that the pointy-end of the women’s football tournament will be filled by those nations who were able to wiggle their way through the various lockdowns and suspensions with their squads and systems intact.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the three teams Australia will be facing in Group G and how far each of them could go.

New Zealand

When vs. Australia: Wednesday 21 July, 9:30pm (AEST)
Where: Tokyo Stadium
Head coach: Tom Sermanni
FIFA rank: 22
Key players: Abby Erceg (North Carolina Courage), Ria Percival (Tottenham Hotspur), Ali Riley (Orlando Pride), Annalie Longo (Melbourne Victory)

History: Despite their decade-long dominance in the Oceania Football Confederation, New Zealand have never made it past the quarterfinals of an Olympic Games or senior Women’s World Cup. However, they have performed admirably over the past few years under the watchful eye of former Matildas and USWNT head coach Sermanni, most recently finishing fourth in the 2020 Algarve Cup after defeating Belgium on penalties and narrowly losing to Norway 2-1 in the semifinals.When it comes to major tournaments, though, things look a little different. The Football Ferns finished third in their group at Rio 2016 following a win over Colombia, but their inferior goal difference saw them bundled out of the “best third-placed team” spot behind Sweden and Australia, both of whom advanced to the quarterfinals from other groups.In France in 2019, New Zealand were also knocked out at the group stage, though they did put up a fight against eventual runners-up Netherlands (losing 1-0) and Olympic dark horses Canada (losing 2-0), while also controversially losing to Cameroon 2-1 in the 95th minute. What is pleasing for New Zealand, unlike the other teams in their group, is the promise of their next generation. The Kiwis finished third at the 2018 Under-17 Women’s World Cup, sensationally defeating youth powerhouses Japan on penalties and then beating Canada 2-1 to claim bronze.  Some of those players — including goalkeeper Anna Leat, Marissa Van Der Meer, and striker  Gabi Rennie — have all been included for Tokyo, while the head coach of that triumphant campaign, Leon Birnie, is Sermanni’s assistant

New Zealand’s Olympics run, then, can be seen in a similar vein to Australia’s: laying the foundations and introducing the next generation for a stronger showing at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which the two nations will be co-hosting. With the promise of home-ground advantage and a squad of impressive emerging players, it’s that World Cup, not the Olympics, that the Kiwis are building towards.

Prediction: While they have been on the cusp in a number of major tournaments, New Zealand are one of the Tokyo sides whose pandemic-affected circumstances seem just too difficult to overcome.With players already scattered across the world, border restrictions and suspensions have made it nearly impossible to organise full-team camps and international-level friendlies to the same extent as their Group G rivals. In fact, their first and only friendly of 2021 came just last week, where New Zealand lost 3-0 to the Great Britain squad.In addition to their lack of preparation, which will likely manifest on the pitch in technical rustiness and international-level fitness, New Zealand are also missing key players such as defender Rebekah Stott and striker Rosie White, both due to illness

Aside from defending their way to a best third-placed finish, it would be miraculous for New Zealand to get out of their group. Getting through their three games without any major injuries would be a success; anything else is a bonus.

Sweden

When vs. Australia: Saturday 24 July, 6:30PM (AEST)
Where: Saitama Stadium
Head coach: Peter Gerhardsson
FIFA rank: 5
Key players: Hedvig Lindahl (Atletico Madrid), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea FC), Kosovare Asllani (Real Madrid), Stina Blackstenius (BK Hacken)

History: Sweden are a team designed for major tournaments. Outside of the United States and Germany, they are one of the most successful national teams across Olympic Games, European Championships, and World Cups — even though they have never won the top gong in any of them.They were runners-up in Rio, losing to Germany 2-1 in the gold medal match after sensationally defeating both the U.S. and Brazil on penalties earlier in the tournament. They finished third at the 2019 Women’s World Cup after defeating a fancied England; a result that doubled as both teams’ qualification for Tokyo 2020.Sweden also have the benefit of being an older, wiser, and more weathered playing group. The majority of them went to France and to Brazil for the past two major tournaments, and as Swedish football journalist Mia Eriksson told The Far Post podcast recently, there has not been as much player turnover or introduction of new blood as some other national teams in Tokyo.Given the unpredictability of the tournament, this may play in Sweden’s favour: these are players who are highly familiar with each other (both at national team and club level) and with big tournament experience.Captain Caroline Seger alone has 214 caps to her name, becoming Europe’s joint-most capped player in history against Australia last month. Seger is joined by players currently working at some of the world’s best clubs including goalkeeper Lindal (Atletico Madrid), Eriksson (Chelsea FC), Asllani (Real Madrid), and Sofia Jakobsson (Bayern Munich); all of whom have been playing together at national team level for several years.This is a team, then, that knows the toll that high-intensity, high-turnover tournaments like the Olympics can take. Having played several more games over the course of 2020 than their other Group G opponents, including both friendlies and competitive European Championship qualification matches, Sweden are not just more willing but also more prepared — physically, tactically, and psychologically — to take it on.

Prediction: Australia have more of an edge over other teams in Group G when it comes to Sweden, having played them most recently in a 0-0 friendly in June. However, Sweden weren’t fully stocked that day, missing or giving limited minutes to a handful of key senior players who have been included in the Tokyo squad.Their recent record is particularly impressive: Sweden haven’t lost a game since March of last year, a run that has included a 1-0 win over traditional rivals Norway and a 1-1 draw against gold medal favourites, the U.S., in April.Experience, consistency, talent, fitness: Sweden are unquestionably capable of a podium finish at Tokyo 2020. They will likely finish second, if not first, in Group G — but just where they finish up in the tournament overall will depend on which opponents fall their way in the knockout stages. If they can get past these early hurdles, they’ll have proved themselves worthy of a medal even before the big day arrives.

United States

When vs. Australia: Tuesday 27 July, 6:00PM (AEST)
Where: Ibaraki Kashima Stadium
Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski
FIFA rank: 1
Key players: Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Christen Press (unaffiliated), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride)

History: They’re already the winningest national team in the history of the women’s game with four World Cups (1991, 1999, 2015, 2019) and four Olympic gold medals (1996, 2004, 2008, 2012) to their name. And yet, despite winning all there is to win, the USWNT are still out to create more history at Tokyo 2020 in potentially becoming the first team to win gold after also winning a World Cup the previous year.

Of all the teams competing at Tokyo 2020, this is certainly the one capable of doing just that. The U.S. come into the Olympics on an extraordinary 44-game unbeaten streak, with their last loss being delivered by France in January 2019. Since then, they’ve played out just four draws, three of which came against teams they could potentially face in Tokyo’s latter stages (Japan, England, Sweden).

Like Sweden, the U.S. have a squad overflowing with big game experience. All but three of the Tokyo roster went to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, while majority — including veterans Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Morgan, Ertz, Sauerbrunn, and Kelley O’Hara — also went to the Rio Games, a tournament that still haunts them after their shock elimination by Sweden in the quarterfinals (the first time the USWNT failed to medal in an Olympic Games).

– Carlisle: USWNT must heed the warnings of 2016’s heartbreak

The talent and experience of the squad itself aside, the U.S. have also been playing consistently (both at club and national team level) throughout the pandemic, including 12 games in 2021 alone. Across those 12 games, which featured a mix of top 10 and lower-ranked sides, the USA scored 37 goals and conceded just once (against Sweden), with goal-scorers coming from all over the park.

At club level, all the players have received game-time either in their very own National Women’s Soccer League or across the pond in England’s FA Women’s Super League throughout 2020. Those with more recent European experience, too, such as former Manchester City players Lavelle and Sam Mewis, will likely draw upon those valuable months of technical and tactical insight if they find themselves face-to-face with their old team-mates or club-based opponents.

Alongside Sweden, the U.S. are the other team in Group G who have been able to navigate the various spanners COVID-19 has thrown at them. And of all the teams competing at Tokyo’s women’s football tournament, it’s the USWNT who have the resources, the talent, the preparation, and the determination to make the kind of history that a team like them are worthy of.

Prediction: It’s not often you say that the USWNT have a point to prove, but the 2016 Rio Games is the albatross this team are determined to shake from their necks. Tokyo is the U.S.’s chance to return to the summit of the Olympics, fuelled from within by a core group of experienced players who know what it takes to get there.

This is, however, Andonovski’s first major tournament as a national team head coach, having replaced Jill Ellis after the 2019 Women’s World Cup. How well he deals with Tokyo’s pressure-cooker environment and manages his squad could determine how far they go. If he does it well, they are undoubtedly gold medal favourites. Anything less, given the players at his disposal and their recent history, will be a disappointment.

2020 Olympics: Group G Preview

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jul 19, 2021, 9:00am PDT  Stars and Stripes

The final group in the Olympic women’s football tournament will likely be the toughest. Group G has the two-time defending world champions, the defending silver medalists, and two other incredibly tough teams. There will be a team strong enough to win a medal that will not get out of this group, and that’s why it will be the group that most people pay attention to when the games begin next week.

USA

The 2-time defending world champions. The #1 team on the planet, the favorites of the tournament. The USWNT is looking to become the first women’s team to win a gold medal right after winning a World Cup. For them, anything less is failure, and they’ve brought an experienced lineup full of some of the best players in the world to go for gold in Tokyo.

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 1/1

Recent Record: The USWNT haven’t lost in 2021. They did have 1 draw that took place on the road against Sweden, but every other match has been the USWNT showing why they’re the world’s #1.

Odds of Winning Group: Favorite

One to Watch: Forward Christen Press has been involved in 37 goals in her last 37 international appearances. She not only scores, but she creates goals for others. She’s ready to be the best at this tournament.

Sweden

Sweden is a team that will always compete, and they have the silverware to prove it. The 2016 silver medalists, Sweden is back for more and to show that they can get all the way to the end and stand tall with the gold medal.

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 5/6

Recent Record: Sweden has 4 wins and 2 draws in 2021, including a draw against the United States. They’re the only team that has managed to score a goal on the USA since March 2020.

Odds of Winning: In The Running

One to Watch: Midfielder Kosovare Asllani has star quality and is a terrific scorer for Sweden. She can also create scoring chances, and defenses will have to focus on her every match.

Australia

The Matildas are a team that can be dangerous in this tournament. They have some superb players, and they have played well recently against the United States. Still, that hasn’t yielded any trophies or medals. Australia exited in the quarterfinals in Rio 2016 and the Round of 16 in the 2019 World Cup, but they’re hoping that 2021 is the year that the yellow and green are atop the podium.

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 9/7

Recent Record: Australia has not had a good run lately. In 2021, they do not have any wins, managing a lone draw to Sweden in 5 matches.

Odds of Winning: In The Running

One to Watch: Samantha Kerr is one of the best players in the world, and she’s going to be counted on to carry Australia throughout the tournament.

New Zealand

The Ferns are the team that’s rated the lowest of the 4 in Group G, but that doesn’t mean they’re the weakest. They always possess a tough mentality on the field and have the players to beat anyone. In their quest to be considered among the top 10 programs in the world, they have the biggest test of all being in this group. New Zealand appears to be ready for the challenge.

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 22/26

Recent Record: New Zealand only has one match played in 2021. They lost 3-0 to Great Britain in a tune up match earlier this week.

Odds of Winning: Outside Chance

One to Watch: Hannah Wilkinson is their best goalscorer, and she hopes to make a leap to the next level in helping New Zealand beat the giants.

No games, shock illnesses and late arrivals: New Zealand ready to fight despite horror Olympic lead-in

Jul 19, 2021Stephanie BrantzESPN Columnist

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Imagine trying to prepare a team to face the best in the world at an international football tournament, having played just one competitive match together in the preceding 498 days.It’s not an ideal situation at any level of the game, but that is precisely the one in which the New Zealand women’s national team find themselves — playing just one friendly match in 16 months ahead of heir opening match at the Olympic Games against Australia on Wednesday.Prior to the closed-doors friendly against Great Britain at the Todoriki Stadium in Tokyo last week, the Football Ferns’ last collective outing — competitive or otherwise — was at the Algarve Cup on March 10, 2020.New Zealand’s third-place playoff at that tournament was in fact the last match played there.Germany were declared winners after the final was cancelled when Italy withdrew due to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic in their home country — in hindsight, it was an ominous precursor to a developing global crisis.The Ferns finished fourth after a 2-1 loss to Norway and, while head coach Tom Sermanni recalls the match with perfect clarity, he also remembers having no inkling at that point that it would be their last time together for well over a year.Instead of planning a series of camps and international friendlies for the lead-in to Tokyo, Sermanni spent the rest of the year stranded in Australia as the coronavirus spread around the world slamming borders shut. He travelled around the country where possible, to watch the four New Zealand players plying their trade in the W-League, but had to rely on television broadcasts, match streaming and written reports to keep tabs on the balance of a squad scattered around seven different countries on three separate continents.While 17 members of that side who participated in the 2020 Algarve Cup will pull on a New Zealand shirt once more in Tokyo this month, health issues have resulted in the absence of two important names from the team sheet.Rebekah Stott was planning to appear in her third Olympic campaign for the Ferns in Japan before being diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in February 2021.On the day her teammates run out on the pitch in Tokyo to face Australia in their opening Group G match, Stott will be in Melbourne awaiting the results of a PET Scan which will tell her if she is in complete remission.The popular defender, who made a heart-warming return to the football pitch with NPLW side Bulleen Lions in Melbourne last week, is an important part of the Ferns’ culture and she has written in her blog that her absence from the team is tough to take even though she knows her health is the priority at this time.“I am fortunate enough to have represented my country at two Olympic Games already, but it doesn’t make the heartbreak of missing out this year, in one of my favourite countries, any easier,” Stott wrote.The 28-year-old might have played for Australia at under-17 and under-20 level, but her loyalties are very much with her country of birth.”Having represented both New Zealand and Australia, it’s always a special game for me, and although I hope my Aussie friends have great games, I hope for nothing but Kiwi success,” she wrote.Forward Rosie White, who has 100 international caps herself, will also be cheering her team on from home after she was sidelined with chronic illness.”I am heartbroken not to be able to compete with this incredible team inTokyo,” White announced on Instagram, expressing her disappointment.”Unfortunately, I’ve had a big health set back and have to slow down for the time being.”Life is mysterious and unpredictable but I couldn’t be more grateful for all the support I have received.”I’m so proud of all the women named in this squad and I can’t wait to be their biggest supporter.”While the combined experience of Stott and White will be hugely missed on the park, the Ferns have said they are using their teammates’ fighting spirit as inspiration.”We’re flipping it around and using it as something to go into this tournament firing with, to really push us on in the tournament,” Ria Percival told Goal.Percival will be the most experienced player in the Ferns side in Tokyo, with the Tottenham Hotspur defender chalking up 152 national team appearances with her last outing.Alongside veterans Ali RileyAbby Erceg and Iceland-based CJ Bott, Percival will make up a backline charged with repelling the forays of some of the best strikers in the world.

Ferns captain Riley, who plays for Orlando Pride in the NWSL and Erceg from North Carolina Courage were the last two players into camp last week after their clubs kept them in the States for the Round 8 of the NWSLdrawing the ire of their national team coach.

While Sermanni reiterated that the reason for his outrage was solely based on what he termed the “unprofessional and discriminatory behaviour” of the two clubs in releasing their Brazilian players early and not extending the same courtesy to the New Zealanders, he was understandably relieved when Riley and Erceg — who are halfway through an NWSL season — arrived match fit.”It was the unfair treatment from the two clubs that was my only complaint,” Sermanni told ESPN.”However, the fact they [Riley and Erceg] have been playing, is so important. We have only five outfield players who have had competitive football in the past two months and they are at a different level of readiness compared to the other 14 outfield players we have.”Striker Hannah Wilkinson is one of those who has had a six-week break away from regular football, after completing her club season with MSV Duisburg in the Frauen Bundesliga at the beginning of June, travelling back to New Zealand and then completing the required 14 days of quarantine.The scorer of New Zealand’s last goal in international competition, 29 year-old Wilkinson will lead the attack, supported by the likes of Betsy HassettKatie Bowen and Olivia Chance.Although the Ferns’ strike-force failed to find the back of the net and the team conceded three goals in their one and only warm-up match, it doesn’t overly concern Sermanni.”The performance, in regards to where we were at in relation to Team GB is what I expected,” he said. “Many of their side play together in the top clubs in Europe and have played together in the last 12 months.”I think the value for us is that we got 90 minutes together for the first time in 16 months.”I said before the game that the result was not critical. The match gave us the opportunity to assess what we need to do going into the tournament, it gives both the staff and players a focus now on what we need to correct in a very short and unusually intensive period of time.”With an ominous task ahead, Sermanni is realistic about the disparity in preparations between the New Zealanders and their Group G rivals Australia, Sweden and the United States.”The USWNT has played 15 games this year. We’ve only played that many matches in the last two-and-a-half-years — and that included a World Cup year. Even Australia has managed to stay together since the June window,” he said.”I think preparation time will be the biggest difference, it magnifies the gulf now that the game is more professional but you go into the tournament with the hand you’re dealt and then you go in with the best preparation you can in the circumstances, to get the best results.”The Tokyo Olympics will be Sermanni’s last tournament in charge of New Zealand with the Scot stepping down after its conclusion. But his focus until then is solely on what he can control and, despite the disadvantages faced in the lead-in, he believes no one should be writing the Ferns off just yet.”For New Zealand, we need to get our tactics, preparation and selection spot on,” he said.”Obviously everyone has to turn up on the day but we feel if we can get those three things right, then we always have a chance and that’s what we are looking to do in this tournament.”

Mens Olympic Soccer Games to Watch

Mexico vs. France

Thursday, 4 a.m. (USA Network, Telemundo)

There’s a lot of buzz around Mexico’s men’s team going into the Olympics, and for good reason. Diego Lainez, the 21-year-old winger, is a star and surrounded by key veterans in goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, midfielder Luis Romo, and striker Henry Martín.This game will be a great measuring stick. France defender Timothée Pembélé is a rising star with Paris Saint-Germain, and two of Les Bleus’ three over-age players play for Liga MX power Tigres: winger Florian Thauvin, and prolific striker André-Pierre Gignac.

Also Thursday: Egypt vs. Spain, 3:30 a.m. (Olympic Channel, Universo); New Zealand vs. South Korea, 4 a.m. (NBCSN); Ivory Coast vs. Saudi Arabia, 4:30 a.m. (Olympic Channel); Argentina vs. Australia, 6:30 a.m. (Olympic Channel, Universo); Japan vs. South Africa, 7 a.m. (NBCSN); Honduras vs. Romania, 7 a.m. (NBCOlympics.com); Brazil vs. Germany, 7:30 a.m. (USA Network, Telemundo)

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7/16/21 US Men Gold Cup vs Canada Sun 5 pm Fox, US Ladies Olympics starts Thurs 4:30 am vs Swe on USA, Argentina/Messi win Copa, Italy beats England in Euro’s

 USA vs Canada Sunday 5 pm on Fox

So the US made quick work of Martinique finishing with a solid 6-1 win as Daryl Dike scored the double.  The win means Canada and the US will play for top spot in the group on Sunday 5 pm on Fox.  The US need a win to advance as the top team to avoid a match with Mexico in the semi-finals setting up this nice must win game against the Canadians.  Canada is of course missing their best player in Bayern’s Alphonso Davies while the US is fielding a B team at best with most of our European starters off.  Still both teams will want to avoid a match-up with tourney favorite Mexico who has brought their full A team with plans to win the Cup.  Of course Canada won in their last matchup in the nations league group stages with the US.  After an uninspiring 1-0 win the first match with Haiti – the US men changed most of the starters and the tactics in beating the worse team in the group and possibly the Gold up in Martinique 6-1. Forward #9 Dike just missed a hat trick as he scored 3 goals but had his 2nd goal ruled an own goal later.  (hate that rule!)  All in all the youngsters played well. 

Full USMNT roster for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

Defenders (8): George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

Midfielders (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

Forwards (6): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

 

US Ladies start Olympics with Sweden Weds 4:30 am USA Network

So the #1 Ranked and World Cup champion US ladies will kick off their Olympics with a match with nemesis Sweden on Wed at 4:30 am on USA.  Sweden of course knocked the US out of the last Olympics in the Quarter finals – their worst finish ever.  The US will look to avenge the 2016 loss to Sweden which knocked them out last Olympics by getting on the board early.  Olympics Women’s Soccer on TV

 USWNT has all the tools to be first team to win Olympics after winning World Cup  Julie Foudy

USWNT have few weaknesses as they begin the pursuit of Olympic gold   Jeff Carlisle

EURO AND COPA FINALS EXILERATING

Wow the Copa and the Euro’s wrapped up the first stanza of the summer of soccer in style as Argentina and specifically Messi (the GOAT) finally won their first international tournament with the 1-0 win over Brazil in the Copa Finals.  Messi fell to his knees and both teams gave huge congrats to this player as he finally lifted his homeland of Argentina to a win after so many disappointments in the past.  (World Cup finals lost in PKs, Copa 2 times in Final)  Brazil’s Neymar was especially classy as he congratulated his old teammate from Barcelona Messi.  It was a good game – and while Messi didn’t score in the final – he left as the leading scorer in the tourney, the leading assist man and the MVP of course.  Congrats to Messi !!  You are the GOAT!   

As for the Euro finals – wow !!!  The game came down to a 1-1 game after an incredible 120+ minutes of play.  I thought the refs were great – letting them play and not being suckered into calling crap fouls for the home English squad like had happened all tourney.  In the End – Italy’s old guard of Juventus center backs Chilini and Bonnuchi average age 36 – took home the trophy after Italy won 3-2 in PKs.  Of course England’s coach Southgate blew the decision on the PK takers and order when he left the poor 19 year old Saka as the last shooter.  What and idiotic thing for a coach to do.  The kid had never taken a PK for Arsenal and he’s only 19.  ALL OF THE BLAME for the loss should not be on the 3 guys who missed but on the coach for putting them in that situation.  OF course the racism that has followed on the 3 young black players is unforgivable and horrific.  But I say Southgate should bare the blame for his selection of shooters – more than the shooters themselves.  Italy finished allowing just 4 goals in the tourney as GK Gigi Dolurama won the tourney MVP and Golden Glove.  The amazing return of Italy just 3 years removed from not making the 2018 World Cup gives hope to us US fans looking ahead to next winter’s World Cup.  In the meantime Italy’s BRINGING IT HOME to Rome!! Viva Italia !    Great Saves Euro 2020

Indy 11 host Memphis @ the Mike — Sat 7 pm ESPN+, TV

So last weekend’s game has been moved to Sept 29th after it was cancelled due to the power outage.  Of course they return home this Saturday to face Memphis at 7 pm at the Mike!   Tickets at a special Discounted Price are Available HereFriends of Indy 11.

GAMES ON TV

Friday, July 16  GOLD CUP 

6:30 pm: Guadeloupe v Jamaica  FS 1
8:30 pm: Suriname v Costa Rica  FS1

Saturday, July 17

5 pm Atlanta United vs New England ESPN

7 pm NWSL North Carolina vs Houston Dash  Paramount+

7:30 pm: Grenada v Qatar              FS1
9:30 pm: Panama v Honduras       FS1

Sunday, July 18

2 pm MinnUnited vs Seattle Sounders ESPN

Gold Cup USA vs Canada 5 pm (FOX)

5 pm: Martinique v Haiti    (FS2)

10 pm Gold Cup Mexico vs El Salvador (FS1)

10 pm: Guatemala v Trinidad & Tobago  (FS2)

Tuesday, July 20

7 pm: Costa Rica v Jamaica  (FS1)
7 pm: Suriname v Guadeloupe (FS2)
9 pm: Panama v Grenada  (FS1)
9 pm: Honduras v Qatar (FS2)

Wednesday, July 21

4 am China vs Brazil Ladies (NBCSN)

4:30 am USA vs Sweden Ladies  (USA)

7 am Zambia vs Netherlands (Olympic Channel)

7:30 am Japan vs Canada (NBCSN)

Saturday, July 24

4:30 am Sweden vs Australia (NBCSN)

7:30 am USA vs New Zealand Ladies  (USA or NBCSN??)

3:30 pm MLS Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew  (ABC)

7:30 pm GOLD CUP QF Winner Group D v Runner-up Group A  FS1
10 pm GOLD CUP QF Winner Group A v Runner up Group D  FS2

Sunday, July 25

Match 27: Winner Group C v Runner-up Group B
Match 28: Winner Group B v Runner-up Group C

Tuesday, July 27

7:30 am USA vs Australia Ladies  (USA)

Thursday, July 29        Gold Cup Semi Finals

Match 29: Winner match 25 v Winner match 28
Match 30: Match winner 26 v Match winner 27

Friday, July 30              Women’s Olympics QF

4 am and 7 am NBCSN

Sunday, August 1    2021 Gold Cup Final

Match 31: Winner match 29 v Winner match 30

MLS Schedule

NWSL Season TV Schedule

Olympics Women’s Soccer on TV

USMNT, USWNT schedules: How to watch U.S. in Gold Cup, Olympics

US Men

Daryl Dike scores twice as USMNT routs Martinique 6-1 in Gold Cup

Dike, Hoppe show they’re ready for bigger tests

3 Takeaways USA vs Martinique

CONCACAF Gold Cup: Scouting Canada  S&S By Brendan Joseph

No, Gold Cup attendance won’t hurt KC’s World Cup hopes. But there’s more to the story

El Salvador asks to play qualifier in US amid virus surge

VIDEO: USMNT’s Sargent bags preseason hat trick for Werder Bremen

USMNT GK, Nations League hero Horvath signs for Nottingham Forest
Ranking which U.S. cities should host 2026 World Cup

 

US LADIES

 USWNT has all the tools to be first team to win Olympics after winning World Cup  Julie Foudy

USWNT have few weaknesses as they begin the pursuit of Olympic gold   Jeff Carlisle

Quick Preview – Video –

Alex Morgan focused on bringing home the gold medal  video

Becky Sauerbrunn | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Profile

Crystal Dunn | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Profile
Men’s Soccer at the Olympics: How to watch, schedule, start time, odds

 

Gold Cup
How an anti-gay chant could silence Mexico’s World Cup fortunes

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/the-pitch-sunday-s-usa-canada-match-to-feature-mls-heavy-rosters-that-showcase-n 

 

Euro’s 

https://www.yahoo.com/sports/italy-england-shootout-sets-time-214523175.html

Italy-England Shootout Sets All-Time Ratings Record for ESPN

Euro 2020 final ‘could have been abandoned’: police
Soccer-VAR scores Euro win with clinical and fast decision-making – research

EURO 2020 star, free agent Donnarumma signs for PSG

 

COPA AMERICA

Argentina topples Brazil, and Lionel Messi finally gets the Copa America title he deserves

Argentina win Copa America to end Lionel Messi’s long wait for major title

Indy 11

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HOSTS MEMPHIS 901 FC FOR COMMUNITY HEROES NIGHT

ROAD CONTEST AT OKC ENERGY FC RESCHEDULED FOR SEPT. 29

Tickets at a special Discounted Price are Available HereFriends of Indy 11.

 

The Pitch: Sunday’s USA-Canada Match to Feature MLS-Heavy Rosters That Showcase North American Player Development –MLS.com

Sunday’s USA-Canada Match to Feature MLS-Heavy Rosters That Showcase North American Player Development

Concacaf Gold Cup squads for the U.S. and Canada feature a combined 70 percent of players (32 of 46), who currently hail from Major League Soccer clubs. As the two countries prepare to meet head-to-head in the Group Stage of the tournament on Sunday (5 p.m. ET, Univision / TUDN / FOX), the progress of MLS player development is contributing in a big way to the future of fielding North America’s national teams.

When the U.S. Men’s National Team’s opened Gold Cup action against Haiti last Sunday, the starting lineup included 10 active MLS players of the 11 on the field. As a handful of MLS academy products made their international debuts, Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio earned his first cap at home at Children’s Mercy Park, and 23-year-old Portland Timbers midfielder Eryk Williamson reminisced on attending the 2013 Gold Cup, with dreams of one day representing his country.

MLS personalities are shining in a major way for Canada as well, with five academy products named starters and three more coming off the bench in their 4-1 victory over Martinique on Sunday. Toronto FC academy products scored key goals when Jonathan Osorio finished the game-winner in the 26th minute, and Theo Corbeanu put away Canada’s fourth goal in the 89th.

Canada will take on Haiti on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / TUDN), followed by the USA vs.  Martinique (9:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / UniMás / TUDN) before the two sides square off on Sunday.

Gold Cup Grants Mexico A Highly Touted Homegrown

LA Galaxy forward Efraín Álvarez is the rising 19-year-old dual-national who last Saturday forever solidified his ties to the Mexican National Team when he appeared in the Gold Cup Group Stage match against Trinidad & Tobago.

As Álvarez is gradually earning minutes for country, making his second full international appearance for Mexico in the game, the now cap-tied teenager has the national team support and guidance from a pair of his current club teammates. LA Galaxy midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, who was also called up to Mexico for Gold Cup, will be on his side throughout the tournament before both resume club competitions alongside Mexico’s all-time leading goalscorer in the Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who is tied for the Golden Boot lead in MLS.

With a bright future ahead, Álvarez has sided with Mexico as he joins an ever-growing crop of young players developed in MLS, who are fielding the next generation of North American national teams.

 

United States beats Martinique with Daryl Dike double to reach Gold Cup knockouts

The United States rode a pair of Daryl Dike goals to an easy 6-1 win over Martinique to book a spot in the knockout rounds of the 2021 Gold Cup on Thursday night in Kansas City.The U.S. improved to 37 wins, one loss and four draws in the Gold Cup group stage.Dike opened the scoring for the U.S. with a glancing header from a nice cross into the box from Matthew Hoppe.A Martinique own goal led to the second for the Americans, when after a goalmouth scramble and a near miss from Gianluca Busio the ball trickled into the net off of defender Samuel Camille.The U.S. started hot after the break with Miles Robinson scoring before Dike netted a classy second to put Gregg Berhalther’s side up 4-0 before the hour mark.Emmanuel Riviere struck from the penalty spot to get Martinique on the scoreboard, but Gyasi Zardes offset that strike soon after with a clinical shot on the back of a nice team move to restore the four-goal lead for the U.S.Nicholas Gioacchini added further gloss to the scoreline, finishing a close-range shot from a Busio cross to make it 6-1 in favor of the U.S.Hoppe, who started, and Donovan Pines, who entered in the 70th, raised the total to 47 debuts in 31 matches under Berhalter.Berhalter changed seven starters from last weekend’s opening 1-0 win over Haiti, inserting defender James Sands along with Busio, George Bello, Eryck Williamson, Christian Roldan, Hoppe and Dike. The lineup averaged five international appearances and was in effect a junior varsity, with only Roldan regularly getting much time with the primary player pool.Dike, coming off a breakout loan from Orlando to second-tier Barnsley in England’s second-tier League Championship, raised his international goals total to three. He put the U.S. ahead in the 14th minute with a header off a long cross from Hoppe.Next up for the U.S. is a Group B-deciding match against Canada on Sunday to see which nation takes top honors and earns a No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals.

Are Olympics too easy for USWNT, and too small for women’s soccer?

11:04 AM ET             Caitlin Murray

When the U.S. women’s national team finally begins its Olympic campaign in Japan, it will be the massive favorite. There are some good reasons for that, including its No. 1 world ranking and its title as the reigning World Cup champion.But there’s an even better reason: there’s just not a ton of competition. With only 12 teams in the entire tournament, many of the best teams in the world won’t even be there. Germany, the gold-medal winner of the 2016 Olympics and the No. 2-ranked team in the world? It’ll be watching from home.France, the world’s No. 3-ranked team with seven players in ESPN FC’s Women’s Rank, the most of any country aside from the U.S.? Also at home.

So, why won’t the best teams be there?The short answer is that the women’s soccer tournament is too small and governing bodies haven’t seemed to mind. With just 12 teams, it’s smaller than the men’s Olympic tournament and has room for just three participants from Europe, the dominant region of the world.Even worse, there’s no qualification tournament for European teams, which sends a signal of complacency and reduced expectations.While the men’s teams all have regional qualifiers and fight for their spot at the Olympics, placement at the previous Women’s World Cup decides which European teams compete at the following Olympics. Seven of the eight quarterfinalists at the 2019 Women’s World Cup were from Europe.So, when France lost to the U.S. team in an electric, thrilling quarterfinal match in Paris, it got hit with a double whammy: it was not only out of the 2019 World Cup, it was out of the 2020 Olympics, meaning it wouldn’t get to compete in another major tournament until the European Championship in 2022 at the earliest.”There has to be something that changes this,” former U.S. team captain Abby Wambach tweeted at the time. “UEFA needs to spend the money and do a proper qualifying tournament. France is too good not to be at Olympics. Total shame.”That’s not to say there won’t be any good teams in Japan. The U.S team’s opening game will be against Sweden, the team that knocked the U.S. out in 2016. The Netherlands, the team that reached the 2019 Women’s World Cup final, will also feature.But if the U.S. wants to reach its fifth-ever gold-medal match, it has to get through a three-game group stage in which merely coming in third place in a four-team group is enough to advance, and then just two knockout games. It’s not exactly a robust competition — the Women’s Euros are tougher — and it will only continue to lose relevance as the Women’s World Cup expands to 32 teams in 2023.So, can it be fixed?The International Olympic Committee has no excuse for keeping the women’s soccer tournament at just 12 teams. The men’s tournament features 16 and fits into the Olympic schedule just fine, especially because most of the soccer tournaments take place outside the host city.Critics say there is simply no time for a proper qualification tournament in Europe because quickly after the World Cup, teams start using their international windows on European Championship qualifiers, which take months. But that’s only true if UEFA is unwilling to tweak its calendar slightly.CONCACAF’s Olympic qualification tournament, for instance, happens in just one FIFA window. UEFA has more teams, but there’s no reason it can’t stage a similarly truncated event with World Cup placement or world rankings serving to weed out teams and avoid drawn-out early rounds.It might require a little effort, but making the Olympic women’s soccer tournament bigger and more prestigious would be good for everyone.Women’s soccer as a whole lacks events with consequential games, and the sport needs more high-stakes competition. While European teams have the Euros, there’s otherwise a dearth outside of the World Cup and the Olympics, and national teams can only grow and garner more investment if they play games.At the same time, the IOC would benefit from women’s soccer earning a higher profile at the Olympics. The U.S. team, for instance, garnered record TV ratings for NBC in 2012 — the last time it won a gold medal — which translate to more value for the IOC. The Women’s World Cup in 2019 drew record TV ratings around the globe. As the interest in women’s soccer grows, the IOC would be foolish to not want to join in.To be sure, the IOC wouldn’t want to face backlash from FIFA if women’s Olympic soccer became as prestigious as the Women’s World Cup. On the men’s side, FIFA has required the Olympics serve mostly as a U2 evet to avoid overshadowing the World Cup. The women, on the other hand, compete with their full senior squads.But the IOC probably won’t have to worry about that.For FIFA to feel compelled to water down the women’s Olympic tournament, it would first need to know the value of the Women’s World Cup, which it does not and has shown little interest in finding out. That’s why FIFA assigns all its World Cup revenue to the men’s version of the tournament, and no one can say how much the women’s tournament generates.The women’s soccer community, by revering the Olympics as the No. 2 event in the sport behind the World Cup, has done its part to help soccer blossom at the Olympics. Now it’s time for the IOC to return the favor and expand the women’s field to be on par with the size of the men’s tournament, or make it even bigger.It’s the least it can do.

Tickets at a special Discounted Price are Available HereFriends of Indy 11.

#INDvMEM Gameday Preview     Indy Eleven vs. Memphis 901 FC

Saturday, July 17, 2021 – 7:00 P.M. ET   Michael A. Carroll Stadium | Indianapolis, Ind.

FOLLOW LIVE  

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23 Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)    Radio (Spanish): Exitos Radio 94.3 FM / exitos943.com


2021 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS

Indy Eleven: 4W-5L-3D, 15 pts. (-2 GD); 4th in Central Division

Memphis 901 FC: 3W-4L-3D, 12 pts. (-3GD); 8th in Central Division

What the Boys in Blue absolutely did not do last Saturday was play 46’ of a soccer game. There certainly wasn’t a weather delay followed by a power outage at OKC Energy FC’s Taft Stadium. Cammy Smith totally did not score his second goal of the season in the first half to initially put Indy Eleven up 1-0, before Energy FC found the back of the net to equalize. None of that happened, alright? Instead, OKC Energy and Indy Eleven will play at a later date. The Time Variance Authority forgives you for your confusion and encourages you to get ready for Indy Eleven’s match against Memphis 901 FC this Saturday at Carroll Stadium.Indiana’s Team returns home looking to turn around its fortunes at The Mike, a task that will once again need to get done without defender Neveal Hackshaw, one of four USL Championship standouts representing Trinidad and Tobago at the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Indy will have to continue to patch the hole he leaves in their defense, as opposing teams average just over five more shots when Hackshaw isn’t present in the backline (11.5-16.75). Results have not favored the Boys in Blue when the 25-year-old has been absent on national team duty, but while their 0W-3L-1D record in such games could be cause for alarm, only one goal conceded in each of those last two outings – including the latest performance last Wednesday at Atlanta United 2 that saw the Eleven boast a season-high eight shots blocked and 12 interceptions – shows the coping mechanisms are coming into form.Something that certainly isn’t lacking for Indy is the high volume of production they’re seeing from its goalkeepers. Jordan Farr, Bobby Edwards and Eric Dick have all stepped in between the sticks across the first 13 12 games, the first time in franchise history that Indy has had three different goalkeepers appear in goal in one season, with each making a significant impact. Farr, now in his fourth season with Indiana’s Team, is the #1 in the box, having registered 25 saves before he was sidelined with a wrist injury in June. Edwards stepped up in a big way, registering eight saves in his Indy Eleven debut at Sporting Kansas City II on June 20 that helped elevate his side to a much needed 2-1 victory. The Butler University Alumnus Dick was brought in on loan from Major League Soccer side Columbus Crew SC in response to Farr’s injury and made his debut against ATL UTD 2 with an inspired performance that saw seven saves from the Carmel native. With top showings from a rotating cast of ‘keepers, there’s no doubt that there are safe hands in goal for Indy, making Interim Head Coach Max Rogers’ top of the lineup sheet decision both easy and difficult at the same time.Memphis 901 FC come into this weekend trying to find their way out of the basement of the Central Division – although their situation is not as dire as it first appears. Memphis has been riddled with injuries and players missing due to international duty throughout the 2021 season, but are starting to find solid footing and carry multiple games in hand on all but one Central foe. Kyle Murphy has caught fire in the goalscoring department for the Bluff City squad, having netted four times in the past three games and earning a nod to the bench of the USL Championship Team of the Week for Week 11 after scoring twice against Atlanta United 2.It wasn’t all blue skies for Memphis in that game against ATLUTD 2 however, as they lost starting goalkeeper John Brener to a season-ending injury. However, Memphis signed former Saint Louis FC goalkeeper Kyle Morton on loan from MLS’ Houston Dynamo, providing a more than suitable back-up plan. Morton wasted no time, grabbing a clean sheet and helping Memphis take down Central Division leaders Birmingham Legion FC 1-0 in his debut last Saturday.

SERIES HISTORY

USL Championship Regular Season: 3W-1L-0D (11 GF/ 4 GA)

USLC Regular Season Home: 1W-1L-0D (4 GF/2 GA)

Indy Eleven will look to avenge its loss last time out against the Memphian side, which featured some questionable calls that didn’t fall in Indy’s favor. The most infamous was perhaps the “no-goal” call on forward Manuel Arteaga’s shot that banged off the bar and straight down across the goal line before rebounding back into play, for what would’ve been his third on the season at that point. It wasn’t meant to be for Arteaga or the Eleven that night, as they would eventually fall to Memphis 2-1, nearly clawing their way back into it after a goal from defender Karl Ouimette six minutes into second half stoppage time and a surge of Indy play right before the final whistle.

The Boys in Blue have historically owned this series, never scoring less than three goals in a meeting before first meeting of 2021. That includes their only previous meeting in Indy prior to 2021, a 3-0 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 5, 2019. 

IND PLAYER TO WATCH: MF NICK MOON

Another game, another player to watch nod for Nick Moon. Since (again) Indy definitely in no way played a game last Saturday, it’s only fair to highlight Moon for the Eleven’s matchup with Memphis (again). Moon’s versatility has been on full display through the 2021 campaign. In his second year with the Boys in Blue, Moon has featured in several different roles for Indy, mostly on the right side. Last year, Moon mostly played in a forward position for Indy, but Moon has experienced playing in both offensive and defensive positions through his collegiate career and into his rookie season with former USL League One side Lansing Ignite, where he earned a spot on the inaugural All-League Second Team for his efforts.That hasn’t stopped his offensive production though, as the 25-year-old is currently second on the team with two assists on nine chances created. Moon looked dangerous once again in Saturday’s scrimmage, dribbling up and down that right side and looking for opportunities in attack.Moon has been impressively on the wing, having won 66 duels so far this season (only trailing Arteaga’s 80) as well as adding 15 clearances and nine interceptions. Numbers don’t lie – Moon is a strong contributor up and down the flank for the Eleven, and they’ll need him to step up on both sides of the ball in order to send Memphis home to face the music.

 MEM PLAYER TO WATCH: GK KYLE MORTON

Morton returns to USL Championship play once again after the former Saint Louis FC goalkeeper made the move to Major League Soccer with Houston Dynamo during the offseason. With Brenner now out due to a season-ending injury, Morton has been brought in on loan by Memphis to boost the side’s goalkeeping corps. The 27-year-old has spent a bevy of time with different USL Championship sides including the Rochester Rhinos, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, and most recently Saint Louis FC (R.I.P). Indy tallied a 1W-2L-1D record against Morton-guarded goals in 2020, the ‘keeper collecting a clean sheet and clinched playoff berth for STL along the way. Morton was also named as a 2020 USL Championship Goalkeeper of the Year for his efforts.

In Morton’s Memphis 901 FC debut he helped propel his new team to perhaps its biggest victory of the season so far, taking down division leader Birmingham Legion FC 1-0. The West Chester, Pennsylvania, native came up in a big way with eight saves over the course of the match, earning a spot on the USL Championship Team of the Week for Week 12 for his performance. The James Madison University alum is going to be a tough one to beat Saturday, but one of Indy’s missions will no doubt be throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, at Morton.

 

 

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7/10/21 Euro Finals Sun 3 pm ESPN, US Men Gold Cup Sun 8:30 pm FS1

 

Sorry soccer fans on vacation this week so not much time this week.  The summer of soccer’s first stanza wraps up this weekend with the Copa Final matching Brazil and Neymar vs Argentina and Messi looking for his first ever international title, having reached the finals 3 times.  Of course after a fabulous Euro Cup – nothing more than a spectacular final between surprising upstarts Italy (missed the 2018 World Cup just like the US) and England looking to “bring it home” for the first time since the 1966 World Cup.   Honestly with the home field advantage and the refs calling EVERYTHING for them – how could England not make the finals Sunday at Wembley.   Assessing the final – Italy has been the more impressive side with a surprisingly potent counter attack to go along with the Best Defense in the World.  Those two experienced centerbacks combined with the great – Gigi Donaroma in between the pipes and the calm Mancini with his Armani suits – this Italy team looks the better side coming in.  That being said – you know the 60K or however many they let into the stadium will be rooting hard for England.  The chance to end over 50 years of frustration with a Euro title won at home would be great for the 3 Lions.  (England).   It will certainly be must watch soccer Sumday at 3 pm on ESPN (Coverage starts 2:30 pm).  Don’t miss the anthems – Italy singing their anthem defines the soccer in Europe.   I think like in every important game for England this Euro’s that the Ref will gift them a goal for sure.  So Italy will have to score at least 2 goals to steal the win on foreign soil.  I like Italy in a 2-1with a goal in extra time by the Juve man bringing the title back to Italy.

 

US Starts Gold Cup on Sunday Eve 8:30 vs Haiti FS 1

The US rolls out the B team with mostly MLS players  for this edition of the Gold Cup which started this weekend.  The US contigent still has a bunch of possible US World Cup players on the roster.  I am excited to see Atlanta’s Miles Robinson along with Nashvilles’ Walker Zimmerman in the middle and Reggie Cannon on the right back spot.  Yuelle will get a chance to see if he can solidify a backup spot at the #6 slot behind Adams.  Up front should also be exciting as Orlando’s Dike will look to try to claim that #9 spot with some goals this summer.  I will have much more on this next week – as the US should certainly advance to the knockout rounds.  Huge game next Sunday with the US facing Canada on FS 1 at 5 pm.  Of course Mexico has brought their A team – so look for them to definitely make the finals – against hopefully this US MLS team.

 

GAMES ON TV

 

EUROS + COPA America FINALS

(Euro’s all times ET; coverage starts about 30 minutes before kickoff; all games also stream on ESPN+, Copa on Fox, FS1, FS2

Saturday, July 10 

COPA Final 8 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup – Mexico vs T&T(Hackshaw) 10 pm (FS1)

Sunday, July 11

EURO Final (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Gold Cup Canada vs Martinique 6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup USA vs Haiti    8:30 pm (FS1)

Monday, July 12

Gold Cup Jamaica vs Surinam 6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup Costa Rica vs  Guadeloupe  8:30 pm (FS1)

Wednesday, July 14

Gold Cup Mexico vs Curacoa 9:30 pm (FS1)

Thursday, July 15

Gold Cup Canada vs Haiti   6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup USA vs Martinique 8:30 pm (FS1)

Sunday, July 18

Gold Cup USA vs Canada 5 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup Mexico vs SLV   10 pm (FS1)

MLS Schedule

NWSL Season TV Schedule

Euro’s TV Schedule

Copa Schedule

 

EUROS  England vs Italy Sun 3 pm ESPN


Soccer-Reality is ‘coming home’ as England face Italy final

Soccer-England told to stop lecturing on diving after ‘cheap’ penalty

Three things we learned from England v Denmark at Euro 2020

England Headed To Euro 2020 Final! Tournament Curse Shattered In Semi-Final Win Over Denmark From Harry Kane & Team

‘Bitter’ defeat ends Denmark’s dream after emotional Euro 2020 ride
Soccer-Heroic Danes show heart despite fall at final Euro hurdle

Player ratings: England v. Denmark

England charged after fan targets Denmark goalie with laser before deciding goal
England survive Denmark scare to reach first major final in 55 years


Mancini delights in defying expectations as Italy reach final

Profligate Spain pay the penalty against Italy

Three things we learned from Italy v Spain
Bonucci brands Italy – Spain ‘toughest game I’ve ever played’

Player ratings: Italy v. Spain

 

COPA Final –  Brazil vs Arg Sat 8 pm FS1

Magic Messi, Villa keeper Martinez put Argentina in Copa America Final

Stellar Brazil vs Argentina final for emergency Copa America

 

USA Ladies


Five things to know about the USWNT before the Olympics in Tokyo

For the USWNT’s veteran core, Tokyo Olympics provide one last hurrah
10 to Watch: USWNT’s Crystal Dunn steps into the spotlight, on and off the field

VideoCrystal Dunn and USWNT want historic back-to-back World Cup championship and Olympic gold

Ref waved off a stunning goal from US soccer star Christen Press because of an accidental whistle
U.S. wins last pre-Olympic women’s soccer match, reaches second-longest win streak

A viral lie about the USWNT was amplified by right-wing media. It wasn’t the first time

Soccer-US women out to reassert dominance, Brazil eye men’s title defence

7/1/21 USWNT Tonight 8 pm, Euro Quarters Fri/Sat ESPN, COPA Final 8 Fri/Sat FS1, Indy 11 vs Birmingham $3 Concessions Sat @ Mike

 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS  – Fri/Sat-Quarter Finals as Favorites Fall 

Wow – the last few days of Quarterfinal action in the Euro’s has been scintillating.  First it was Italy needing extra time to finish off Austria 2-0, then Belgium sent home the defending champs Portugal and Renaldo in ET.  Then #2 ranked and defending World Cup Champs France were shocked by Switzerland in Penalty kicks as France talisman Mbbape’s shot was saved by the Swiss Keeper.  Then England quieted the ghosts of past vs Germany in a tight 2-0 win at home at Wembely as 45K delirious English fans went crazy.  Then finally not to be outdone the Ukraine upset Sweden in ET as 2-1 as Sweden went down to 10 men –  to advance to the quarters vs England.  All in all 8 spectacular games with many going to Extra Time-  WOW!  And Some Spectacular saves along with a GK nightmare.

Now it leaves us with some intriguing matchups as Belgium vs Italy Fri at 3 pm – matches two of the favorites awaiting the winner of Spain and Switzerland.  It could be called the Euro’s of Redemption as Italy, Spain and England have advanced further than they have in forever.  Can Spain keep up the scoring vs the counterattack of the Swiss?  Will sentimental favorites Denmark continue its magical run without their best player Christian Erikson watching from home?  Will Belgium’s Golden Generation get them past Europe’s best defense in Italy?  Will England win one on the road in Rome to return home for the semi’s at Wimbley?   Hopefully it will continue to delight.   I of course missed the same 2 of the Elite 8 that everyone else did I am sure as France and Sweden surprisingly fell.  This time I see Belgium continuing their run to face the Swiss, while England and Denmark prevail in the other bracket.  Who do you like?   

FRIDAY, JULY 2
• Switzerland vs. Spain (11:50 a.m. ET)  ESPN
• Belgium vs. Italy (2:50 p.m. ET) ESPN

SATURDAY, JULY 3
• Czech Rep vs. Denmark (11:50 a.m. ET) ESPN
• Ukraine vs. England (2:50 p.m. ET) ESPN

Indy 11 vs Birmingham, 7 pm TV 8, ESPN+

COPA on Fox

Ok am I the only one not paying attention to the COPA after spending 5 hours all afternoon watching the EUROs?  I mean Fox is doing a fine job covering the games – but the drama just hasn’t really been there. That should all change this week ast the quaraterfinals get underway with some solid match-ups including Brazil and Chile, Friday at 8 pm and Uraguay vs Colombia Saturday afternoon. 

BRACKET – QUARTERFINALS

Friday, July 2
21 – Peru vs. Paraguay (Goiania; 5 p.m. ET, FS 1 )
22 – Brazil vs. Chile (Rio de Janeiro; 8 p.m. ET, FS1)

Saturday, July 3
23 – Uruguay vs. Colombia (Goiania; 6 p.m. FS1)
24 – Argentina vs. Ecuador (Brasilia; 9 p.m FS1 )

BRACKET – SEMIFINALS

Monday, July 5
25 – Brazil or Chile vs. Peru or Paraguay (Rio de Janeiro; 7 p.m. ET,)

Tuesday, July 6
26 – Argentina or Ecuador vs. Uruguay or Colombia (Brasilia; 7 p.m. ET)

US Ladies Face Mexico Thurs Night 8 pm FS1, Mon 7/5 5 pm ESPN

Huge news that the Olympics is going to allow 22 players on the roster now instead of the 18 originally planned.  The addition allows the 4 alternates who were on the travel squad to actually play now which is fantastic and allows youngster Caterina Macario to be in the mix.  I still would have liked another youngster on the forward or backline – heck Margerie Purse would have filled both rolls and given us a little more diversity.  I wonder why we don’t have ANY Hispanic players on the ladiers side?  Anyway will be interesting to see if Heath or Ertz play tonight or Mon vs Mexico – games the US should win obviously – no matter who they roll out there.  Interesting Story on Mara Gomez Argentine Player  Also Mia Hamm’s Rookie card just sold for 34K  Lots of Stories on the Ladies in The Ole Ballcoach.    

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage),

FORWARDS (6): Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Tobin Heath

Alternates – On full roster now – Catarina Macario M (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Lynn Williams (F), Casey Krueger (D), Jane Campbell (G)  5 Subs per game will be allowed like the men. 

Thursday, July 1 USA Women vs Mexico 8 pm (Fox Sport 1)

Monday, July 5 USA Women vs Mexico 5pm (ESPN2)

Indy 11 host Birmingham July 3 — $3 concessions Sat 7 pm ESPN+, TV 8

Huge tie for Indy on the road last week at Louisville as the 11 secured a solid 3-3 tie!  Of course they return home this Saturday to celebrate America July 3rd with Celebrations golare and $3 Concessions on everything from hot dogs to popcorn to sodas and even beers I think!!   Tickets at a special Discounted Price are Available HereFriends of Indy 11.

Good luck to Former Carmel FC player Rosie Martin as she competes at the ENCL National Championships with her U14 Fire team this weekend !!   

 CHS Boys -2021 Hounds Soccer Camp – July 12-15, 2021  9 am to 11 am $95 per Boys/Girls 8-14 2021 Boys Soccer Tryouts

Carmel High School Girls – 2021 Middle School Camp – 6/7/8th Graders  July 19-22  Murray Stadium  2:30 to 4:30 pm   2021 CHS Girl Team Camp July 19-22 and Tourney July 23/24. 

GAMES ON TV

 EUROS + COPA America 2021

(Euro’s all times ET; coverage starts about 30 minutes before kickoff; all games also stream on ESPN+, Copa on Fox, FS1, FS2

 Thursday, July 1

USA Women vs Mexico 8 pm (Fox Sport 1)

Austin vs Portland Timbers 9:30 pm (FS1) 

Friday, July 2

Euro QF Switzerland vs. Spain (11:50 a.m. ET)  ESPN St Peter
Euro QF Belgium vs. Italy (2:50 p.m. ET) ESPN Munich

COPA Peru vs. Paraguay (Goiania; 5 p.m. ET, FS 1 )
COPA Brazil vs. Chile (Rio de Janeiro; 8 p.m. ET, FS1)

Saturday, July 3

Euro Czech Rep vs Denmark  (Baku) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univision)
Euro Ukraine vs England (Rome) – 2:30 p.m. (ABC, Univision, TUDN)

Columbus Crew vs New England 5 pm (ESPN)

Racing Louisville vs Portland Thorns NWSL  7:30 pm (Paramount +)

COPA QF  Uraguay vs Colombia 6 pm (FS1)

Indy 11 vs Birmingham, 7:30 pm ESPN+, TV 8

COPA QF Argentina (Messi) vs Ecuador 9 pm (FS1)

Mexico vs Nigeria 11 pm ?

Monday, July 5

USA Women vs Mexico 5pm (ESPN2)

COPA Semi  Brazil/Chile vs 7pm (FS1)

Tuesday, July 6

Semifinal I (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Wednesday, July 7

Semifinal II (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Friday, July 9

COPA Semi-Final 8 pm (FS1)

Saturday, July 10  GOLD CUP STARTS

Gold Cup – Mexico vs ??   10 pm (FS1)

COPA Final 8 pm (FS1)

Sunday, July 11

Final (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Gold Cup Canada vs Martinique 6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup USA vs ???   8:30 pm (FS1)

Monday, July 12

Gold Cup Jamaica vs Surinam 6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup Costa Rica vs  ????   8:30 pm (FS1)

Thursday, July 15

Gold Cup Canada vs ???   6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup USA vs Martinique 8:30 pm (FS1)

Sunday, July 18

Gold Cup USA vs Canada 5 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup Mexico vs SLV   10 pm (FS1)

MLS Schedule

NWSL Season TV Schedule

Euro’s TV Schedule

Copa Schedule

 

  USA

 USA vs Mexico W2W4  S&S

5 things to Know – USA vs Mexico Send off Series

Women’s soccer Olympic squad to tune up against Mexico at Rentschler Field – The Collinsville Press

Winning gold, not developing young players, is the USWNT’s objective at Tokyo Olympics

Rose Lavelle on Tokyo Olympics: ‘Women’s soccer is starting to get the attention it deserves’

For Carli Lloyd, winning Gold in Tokyo would be “the best feeling in the entirety of my career”

Carli Lloyd history as US Soccer Player  – Philly Inquirer – Jonathan Tannenwald

USWNT vet Harris reacts to being left off roster

USSF blasts USWNT ‘equal pay’ doc portrayal

USWNT Documentary ‘LFG’ Shows Players’ Fight For Equal Pay  

Mia Hamm rookie card sells for more than $34K, breaking record for female athlete
Angel City FC reveals crest celebrating the team’s values, Southern California roots

Men

Looking for Depth from MLS for the Gold Cup?  SS
USMNT teen De La Fuente leaves Barcelona for Marseille

Pulisic Gives Back

EUROS


Who is going to win Euro 2020? Our experts make their predictions

England the New Betting Favorite – yahoo soccer
Eight things we learned from EURO 2020’s Round of 16

England begin to heal their inferiority complex by beating Germany
Euros’ wild 24 hours continued with Harry Kane’s special Wembley goal for England

‘No, it wasn’t a dream’ – How the papers reacted to England’s win over Germany at Euro 2020

England defeat ‘hugely disappointing’ for Loew as Germany bow out

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is spiky, courageous, demanding – and now winning the nation’s hearts

Southgate warns England are in ‘dangerous moment’  4hReuters
Player ratings: England v. Germany

France blows 3-1 lead, stunned by Switzerland in Euro 2020 on penalty kicks
Kylian Mbappe the fall-guy as France lose penalty shootout to Switzerland and exit Euro 2020

3 things we learned from France v. Switzerland

France’s shocking Euro loss to Switzerland falls on manager Deschamps
 
ulien Laurens

Switzerland’s upset of France caps wild day at the Euros: How social media reacted 
Belgium prove vs. Ronaldo’s Portugal that they’re more than just goals
 
2dRob Dawson
Analysis: Soccer-Belgium show grit and discipline to beat Portugal at own game

Portugal talents stall to leave questions over style, approach

Hazard stunner enough for Belgium to oust Portugal and Ronaldo from Euro 2020

Tantrum tactics, cynical fouls and Ronaldo’s awful free-kicks: How Portugal crashed out of Euro 2020
Ukraine defeats 10-man Sweden deep in extra time stoppage

3 things we learned from Croatia v. Spain

Spain prevail in extra-time epic with Croatia to reach Euro 2020 last eight

Dutch coach Frank de Boer quits after Euro 2020 exit

Czechs upset 10-man Netherlands to reach Euro 2020 quarter-finals

3 things we learned from Netherlands v. Czech Republic

Chiesa takes the spotlight as Italy suffer to keep Euro 2020 dream alive

Analysis: Soccer-Super subs to the rescue as Italy draw strength from the collective

 

COPA

Copa Bracket
Messi at the double as Argentina trounce Bolivia in Copa America

Will Messi Finally win Copa?  –

Messi sets Argentina’s all-time appearances mark

Brazil draw with Ecuador in Group B finale

Peru seal place in Copa last eight with 1-0 win over Venezuela

Colombia want ref suspended after loss to Brazil

Brazil’s Tite doubts Copa final pitch will improve

 

 GOALKEEPING

Top Saves Round 3 Euro’s

Best Saves Euro 2021

Best Saves Round 2 Euro 2020

Top Saves Euros with Music

A Look Back at US GK Ethan Horvath vs Mexico
VIDEO: Spain score shocking long-range own goal

Spain’s astonishing own goal: Everything that was wrong with Pedri and Unai Simon’s calamity

 

Indy 11

·USL CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP: LOUISVILLE CITY FC 3 : 3 INDY ELEVEN

DEFENDER NEVEAL HACKSHAW NAMED TO USL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF THE WEEK PRESENTED BY CLEER AUDIO

INDY ELEVEN ACQUIRES CARMEL NATIVE ERIC DICK ON LOAN FROM MLS SIDE COLUMBUS CREW SC
Indy Eleven and Head Coach Martin Rennie Mutually Agree to Part Ways

 

 USA vs Mexico Ladies Thurs Night 8 pm FS1

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage)

FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)

ALTERNATES: Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars), Catarina Macario (Lyon), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

What To Watch For

How much will Tobin Heath play? Julie Ertz is not expected to appear tomorrow as she recovers from injury, but we will likely see the first of Tobin Heath in a USWNT jersey in 2021. Heath, who also has been recovering from an ankle injury sustained at Manchester United, looks to be ready to get some minutes as she dials up her fitness for the Olympics. Will we see her for an extended period of time, or will any appearance from her be just a cameo?

How aggressive will the high press be? Storms are forecast for Thursday, so the high press could be tricky should the weather indeed be wet. Still, Andonovski will want to see how his high press will work against a team that is aggressive on the ball and who wants to quickly possess the ball and move it downfield. With 18 players in the Olympics, he’ll look to see how often he can turn up the intensity and when he has to dial it back.

Keep focus. Eyes on the prize. The USWNT needs to work on the things they know they will need to improve if they are going to win the gold medal, and that should be their focus. Keep up the intensity and the stellar play that has carried them this far, but continue to hone in on the details and don’t lose sight of the goal: winning gold in Tokyo.

Prediction

The wet weather will keep the fireworks on the field at bay, and it will be a slow affair. However, the USWNT break through with a couple of goals to beat Mexico by a familiar scoreline: 2-0.

Winning gold, not developing young players, is the USWNT’s objective at Tokyo Olympics

WRITTEN BYMIKE DECOURCY  @TSNMike

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This may seem surprising or disconcerting, but in the past two years, the average age of the United States Women’s National team has advanced two years.If you need a moment to get over the shock, it’s understandable.After the USWNT reached for the stars Wednesday to announce the roster for the upcoming Olympic Games – “Ted Lasso” leads Jason Sudekis and Brandon Hunt on Twitter, decorated striker Alex Morgan joining Robin Roberts on ABC’s Good Morning America – there was plenty of criticism regarding the dearth of young players and the advancing age of those who made the team.Forward Carli Lloyd (below) will be 39 at the Olympics. Defender Becky Sauerbrunn will be 36. There are more players over 30 than not. However, every player included save one was part of the 2019 World Cup championship squad.y “No huge surprises in the USWNT squad which, I think, is quietly disappointing. The likes of Midge Purce, Catarina Macario, Casey Short etc. are all names more than worthy of a spot in the 18-player squad,” wrote Olympic journalist Courtney Hill, “but, as is the theme with (national teams), age and experience prevails once again.”“Could we please get younger players experience? The whole front line is over 32,” was the comment from Twitter account maizenblu52.Here’s the thing: The task at the Olympic Games is not to gain experience. It’s to win. Vlatko Andonovski’s objective in assembling his first major tournament roster as USWNT head coach was to select the 18 players best suited to winning the games necessary to claim the gold medal. One can debate whether he achieved this with the players chosen, although those lining up on the side opposite the coach should be aware that squads fielded for his first 20 games won 19 and drew once. He’s undefeated in actual competition, so he’s probably winning any argument with you.

MORE: USWNT vet Harris reacts to being left off roster

“I was very happy with a lot of those players that didn’t make it. I was very thankful for everything they did, for the effort they put in, and in some ways they helped this team grow and develop and prepare for the tournament,” Andonovski told Sporting News. “We still believe those players are good players; just in evaluating them and analyzing them and comparing them with some of the other players we have on the roster, we believe the ones that made it are slightly ahead and give us the best chance to win the tournament.

“But with that being said, we keep an eye on all of the players that didn’t make it, especially the young ones, to have them back as soon as the Olympics are over and start preparing them for the World Cup and beyond that.”With Olympic rosters accommodating only 18 players, there is not a lot of room for experimentation, for the luxury of including a young player who is unlikely to appear but would benefit from the experience of being in camp.The fair question is how particular veterans might hold up to such a compacted schedule: three games in six days at the group stage, a total of six over 17 days for those teams that reach the gold medal match. Among the healthy players, that is particularly a concern involving Megan Rapinoe (above), who’ll be 36 when the Tokyo Games start. Even at the 2019 World Cup, she did not demonstrate great speed covering the left flank and often could be seen abandoning still-promising movements if there was some possibility they could fail, allowing her to conserve energy. It’s a pattern repeated through several appearances in this calendar year. However, at the World Cup, Rapinoe scored six times and earned the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. And in 2021, she has scored seven goals in nine appearances, including three from open play during the SheBelieves Cup.What coach would leave home that player?(Yes, the obvious answer is Jurgen Klinsmann. It was a test).“I don’t look at players by age, because there’s so many other things we look at,” Andonovski said. “The most important thing is whether they perform or not, whether they’re going to be able to help us win the Olympics or not.“We do look at data, and every data we get from a physical perspective, they’re hitting all the numbers that they need in order to fulfill the tests that we believe are going to be given to them. On top of that, you can look at the statistical data, you’ll see that Megan Rapinoe has scored the most goals in 2021, and Carli Lloyd has the most assists.”The greatest risk Andonovski has taken with his roster is with Julie Ertz and, more to the point, forward Tobin Heath.

MORE: USWNT makes big bet by taking Heath, Ertz to Tokyo

Although Andonovski said Heath is closer to regaining full health than Ertz and could play in pre-Olympic friendlies against Mexico on July 1 and July 5, Ertz was an easy choice because of the absence of an experienced replacement at the defensive midfield position. They’ll wait as long as necessary for her, even if she can’t open the tournament.Heath has played only nine times in 15 months because of pandemic cancellations, her decision to opt out of the NWSL Challenge Cup in June 2020 and knee and ankle injuries that ended her season at Manchester United and kept her from any recent national team involvement. But the substitute rules are such the USWNT could withdraw her, for legitimate injury reasons, even after the Olympics began and bring in a replacement such as 28-year-old Lynn Williams or 21-year-old Catarina Macario (below).ettys

“Catarina is an exceptional player … a player with exceptional potential,” Andonovski said. “She’s not quite ready, I think, right now, at this moment. I wouldn’t say she’s not ready, but other players were more ready than her to be at the Olympics. We believe she has the potential to be on this team for a long time.”To this point, it hasn’t made much difference to Mallory Pugh’s career to have been included on the 2016 Olympics roster at age 18, except, possibly, to frame her past five years as a disappointment. She was a part of the 2019 World Cup roster and scored six goals in 19 total appearances that year, but Pugh has earned only one cap since.At 19, when a deep reserve for Bundesliga titan Bayern Munich, Julian Green was included on the 2014 USMNT squad at the World Cup in Brazil – some viewed his as the spot that should have belonged to Landon Donovan – and Green even scored an extra-time goal against Belgium. But he has spent most of his club career since playing in Germany’s second division and hasn’t earned a cap since 2018.Playing a young player on a major-tournament roster can have its benefits, but it is not a magical device for conjuring future superstardom. No sport is conquered so easily. Were the USWNT to be forced to field a less-prepared player because youth was valued over, well, value, that could cost a game that costs a gold medal. The U.S. women have won 67 percent of all golds ever awarded in women’s soccer. Andonovski knew the standard he was expected to maintain when he accepted the job.

WHO’s Gonna Win the Euro’s

Below, our writers select the team they believe will be lifting the trophy on July 11.

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https://s.yimg.com/rq/darla/4-6-0/html/r-sf-flx.html Sam Wallace – Italy

The tournament just seems made for Italy. Euro 2020 has doused the talent of so many individual greats, with injury or fatigue or poor form, and venerated the team. Italy are greater than the sum of their parts, and some of those parts are players who come from the likes of Atalanta, of Sassuolo, and with whom Mancini has persisted throughout their 30-game unbeaten run. They really seem to know what they are as a side and have faith in that. They are on a scorching run which they only need to extend by three games.

Jason Burt – England

There is nothing to fear and they have as much chance as Belgium, Italy or anyone else. Their half of the draw has opened up and – hopefully – there is a realisation now that Gareth Southgate has mapped out this campaign and is not going to be affected by outside noise. England will draw even more belief from beating Germany.

Oliver Brown – Italy

If England can conquer one 55-year hex by knocking out Germany, they can banish another by reaching the final. But I am yet to be convinced they have enough options in attack to trouble Italy. To watch the poise with which Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina took their late goals against Austria was to be reminded that Roberto Mancini’s players remain the outstanding team of this tournament.

Jeremy Wilson – England

It is not blind optimism or myopic patriotism that now makes England the tournament favourites. It is the logic of the best draw, their performances, the depth of their squad and home advantage. Knockout football can always still be defined by one freak incident – and Belgium would represent especially formidable opponents – but a wonderful opportunity awaits.

James Ducker – Italy

Italy to pip England in the final. Roberto Mancini’s side are in the toughest half of the draw and were given a scare by Austria but they are on an incredible unbeaten run and, collectively, look the best of a bunch of quarter-finalists who all have their flaws or problems; in Belgium’s case the likely absence of two of their stars, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.

Thom Gibbs – Italy

England winning a final feels a bridge too far, a wrong to be avenged in Qatar next December? Italy look the strongest team in the draw’s other half, in a tournament where collective might keeps besting stellar groups of individuals.

Chris Bascombe – Belgium

They are the number one international side so logic dictates they should win it from here. Roberto Martinez’s team also have an excellent record against England, who they will meet in the Wembley final…

Matt Law – England

Yes, I might have woken up slightly heady after the victory over Germany at Wembley. And, yes, I know Gareth Southgate has warned this is a dangerous moment as the nation expects England to stroll their way into the final. But we’ve never had a better chance and it’s time to trust Southgate and his players. It’s coming home!

Luke Edwards – Belgium

I want to say England with all my heart and they could do it. They really could. But Belgium, on paper, are the best team left in the competition and beat England twice in 2018 with relative ease. But Hazard and De Bruyne will miss their quarter-final…

Euro 2020 talking points: England-Belgium final? Highlights of an epic round of 16? What’s with all the own goals?

ESPN

What were your round-of-16 highlights?

Gab Marcotti: The sheer drama of most of the games: Croatia‘s comeback against SpainSwitzerland‘s comeback against France, Ukraine‘s winner against Sweden, the scares that both Belgium and Italy got. And there was a ton of breathtaking skill as well, though I think I liked Paul Pogba‘s goal (and celebration) best. Overshadowed in all this is one of the best storylines of the tournament in my opinion, Denmark‘s run to the quarterfinals. And while the England vs. Germany game was a bit of a dud, sometimes football is all about the outcome and that’s OK, too.

Mark Ogden: The day that gave us Spain vs. Croatia and France vs. Switzerland will go down as one of the most memorable and exhilarating at any tournament. But my highlight was being at Wembley for England’s 2-0 victory against Germany to witness, and hear, the explosion of joy and relief that greeted Harry Kane‘s goal — England’s second — which confirmed the win. England hadn’t beaten Germany in a knockout game at a tournament since 1966, and it has weighed heavily on previous teams. But this victory was a cathartic one, and it seemed as though 55 years of pent-up frustration was released at the final whistle.

James Olley: Being at Wembley to witness England beat Germany in a tournament knockout match for the first time in 55 years. The stadium may only have been half-full, but it has never been louder for an international fixture. There was a real sense that anything could be possible, in part created by results elsewhere in what is surely one of the most entertaining knockout rounds there has ever been. Spain’s victory over Croatia will take some beating as the game of the tournament, but Switzerland’s comeback against France was more dramatic given they were 3-1 down with nine minutes left.

Julien Laurens: In terms of pure drama, and even if it broke my heart, France vs. Switzerland was just exceptional. It will forever be a classic in Euros history. There was everything: the upset, the penalties, Karim Benzema‘s control for his equaliser, the Swiss comeback, Didier Deschamps’ tactical shambles, the belief. Another highlight was Raheem Sterling feeling at home at Wembley again and kicking the Germans out of London. Spain vs. Croatia was mad, too, another classic. Credit to Alvaro Morata and Luis Enrique for never giving up and believing in themselves and their team — it paid off.

Rob Dawson: Spain vs. Croatia and France vs. Switzerland were both thrilling games. If you’re a neutral, you can’t beat a late fightback from nowhere. In terms of individual moments, it’s hard to look past England’s win over Germany. In his postmatch interview, Gareth Southgate spoke about seeing his old teammate David Seaman smiling on the big screen at Wembley and that he hoped he had managed to ease some of memories from Euro ’96, when he missed in the shootout against Germany in the semifinal and England went out. You could tell something had lifted from his shoulders, and it was mirrored all over the country.

Tom Hamilton: We’ve been overindulged with this round of matches. Each was fascinating and exhilarating in its own way, with Spain’s 5-3 win over Croatia an astonishing seesaw of a game, and then later matched by Switzerland’s penalty shootout win over France. Pogba’s goal was fantastic, as was Thorgan Hazard‘s winner for Belgium against Portugal. Also, spare a thought for Benzema’s Dennis Bergkamp-esque first goal against the Swiss, while will fall into the haze of France’s exit. And it’s been impossible not to get caught up with Denmark’s journey through these Euros with Kasper Dolberg their latest hero. But after everything he’s weathered in this tournament, you had to smile when Morata scored against Switzerland. He’s been near the headlines the whole way through this championship — for better for worse — and he deserved his goal.

Do you need to revise the final match-up you predicted before the last 16?

Olley: Er, just a little. France were my clear pre-tournament favourites, even in the tough half of the draw, and Switzerland looked the perfect springboard into the latter stages. To make it worse, I thought Netherlands would push on after three Group C wins. Italy against Belgium is too close to call, but Austria caused the Italians problems and Belgium’s greater firepower can win the day. England have it in their hands to reach the final from the other half.

Laurens: I do need to revise my final match-up because I predicted a France vs. Germany final and they have both been eliminated! One side of the draw is easy to call now: England will go to the final because no one in that bracket can stop them. The other side of the draw is tougher to predict. I will go this time for a place in the final for Belgium. They have learnt a lot from the 2018 World Cup and their semifinal defeat against France. Now this group of players are ready for their first final and for a first trophy in a big tournament.

Dawson: My prediction was France vs. England, but that was before France bottled it against Switzerland after being 3-1 up with 10 minutes to go. England should make it out of a bracket containing Ukraine, Denmark and Czech Republic. Even though Belgium have got the toughest quarterfinal against Italy, they have the players to get to Wembley on July 11, too.

Hamilton: Well my shout of France reaching the final and winning the whole thing now looks a little foolish, so let’s go for an Italy-England match-up on July 11 at Wembley. I tipped Denmark to go far in the tournament from the outset and they could yet surprise us all and win the championship, while Belgium are ticking along nicely, but I fear injuries could derail their bid. Italy are brilliantly coached by Roberto Mancini, and with England riding the crest of the wave after their win over Germany, that could be a very tasty match-up in the final.

Marcotti: I had Belgium vs. Germany, so obviously I need to revise Germany since they lost. Logic suggests England at this point, but I still want to believe in the Danish fairy tale, so I’ll go with them. I’m less confident about Belgium following Kevin De Bruyne‘s injury, but feel I should stick with them.

Ogden: I predicted a France vs. England final prior to the round of 16, but wouldn’t have been surprised if England had succumbed to Germany. France losing to Switzerland was never in the equation, though, and the world champions’ defeat has blown Euro 2020 wide open. With Les Bleus out, I am going for Belgium to reach the final instead — but it all depends on the fitness of De Bruyne and Eden Hazard for their quarterfinal against Italy.

Which coaches have impressed you, and who has struggled?

Dawson: Luis Enrique showed how strong a character he is by sticking with Alvaro Morata when the easy decision would have been to bow to outside pressure and pick someone else. It paid off, and not only because Morata scored Spain’s fourth goal in their 5-3 win over Croatia. His all-round performance was fantastic, especially the way he held the ball up and brought others into the game. Kylian Mbappe missed the decisive penalty for France against Switzerland, but Deschamps should take most of the blame for the result. There was no need to change his system, and it put France on the back foot from the first whistle.

Hamilton: Denmark’s Kasper Hjulmand has been my star of the tournament. He’s managed to navigate everything that’s been thrown at his side, and still they play wonderful football and have a real shot at winning this tournament. Luis Enrique has stayed true to his coaching philosophy and that’s finally paid off, while England’s Southgate and Italy’s Mancini have both made bold choices which have paid off. But for those who have struggled, look no further than the managers already back home, in France’s Deschamps and Germany’s Joachim Low. Both teams have been far poorer than the sum of their parts.Marcotti: Mancini, tactically, has been hugely impressive in the way he reinvented Italy and this group of players. Luis Enrique, too, is very good, though his personnel choices leave me scratching my head sometimes. And I have to give a shout out to Hjulmand, just from a man-management perspective, given what Denmark have been through. On the flipside, Frank de Boer lived down to expectations I guess. I knew Low was going to struggle, I didn’t expect it to be to this degree. As for Deschamps, I’ve long been a critic, so I can’t say I’m surprised, but switching to a back three was such an extreme choice (and an extremely bad one), I can’t let it go without mention.

Ogden: Vladimir Petkovic has been in charge of Switzerland since 2014, but he rarely earns headlines or receives plaudits. Perhaps Deschamps and France underestimated him ahead of their meeting in Bucharest because Petkovic inspired the Swiss to a famous victory with a tactical game plan and smart use of substitutions. Switzerland are well organised, but they also have flair, and that is down to Petkovic’s astute coaching. As for strugglers, Low looked like a man out of ideas during Germany’s brief stay at the tournament. He has overseen a period of success during his 15-year reign, but he should have left after their group-stage exit at the last World Cup.

Olley: Southgate deserves credit for tackling this tournament with a clear plan. It has caused consternation among some England fans, chiefly because it isn’t what anyone expected: A squad brimming with attacking potential has prioritised safety-first football and defensive stability. It isn’t pretty — and there remains a suspicion the balance could tip too far the other way — but it is highly effective. Contrast that with Germany’s Low, who had talented players at his disposal but never moulded them into an effective unit during the tournament, albeit still finding a way to put four goals past Portugal. Equally, Deschamps’ decision to change system and personnel against Switzerland clearly contributed to France’s surprising exit given how much they improved when going back to a more trusted 4-4-2 shape in the second half, only to then fail to tighten things up to close the game out.

Laurens: Let’s start with the disappointments. France’ failure is on Deschamps. He picked the wrong tactics and the wrong players against Switzerland. Fernando Santos’ choices for Portugal were as bad against Belgium, while De Boer failed as soon as the level of Netherlands’ opponents rose, and it was still only Czech Republic. But well done to Luis Enrique for always believing and not changing anything for Spain, to Mancini and Hjulmand for giving Italy and Denmark a real identity and to Roberto Martinez and Southgate for having dealt well so far with extreme pressure.

We have seen nine own goals; any theories as to why?

Ogden: When you consider the individual own goals, it can be nothing more than a bizarre coincidence that so many have been scored. There is no direct comparison, for instance, between Martin Dubravka‘s own goal for Slovakia against Spain and Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simon‘s failure to connect with Pedri‘s back-pass against Croatia. A lack of familiarity with the tournament ball may be a small factor, but a ball is a ball — it’s round and it moves, so blaming the ball would be looking for excuses.

Marcotti: I think it’s just sample size and randomness. Two of the goalkeeper own goals were freak mistakes. I don’t think there’s much to read into it other than domestic leagues seem to be a bit happier awarding goals even with big deflections, possibly because it suits both the attacker and the defender. UEFA seem a bit more rational in that regard.

Olley: A cynic might argue it is the consequence of a dilution in quality arising from an increase to 24 participants given the second-highest number of own goals (three) occurred at Euro 2016, when the format changed for the first time. But the elite nations have been heavily involved. And the two Portugal ‘scored’ came from overloads in wide areas and defenders left with little alternative. The same is true, to a lesser extent, of Germany’s Mats Hummels against France. That can happen anywhere — Dubravka is unlikely to make the same mistake he did against Spain for the rest of his career. Ditto Simon’s error for Spain against Croatia.

Laurens: Is there a rational explanation? Not really; more bad luck and bad plays. There were moments of pure madness, from Dubravka smashing the ball into his own net or Simon thinking about his pass before even controlling the ball. And moments of pure mediocrity like when Hummels and Juraj Kucka couldn’t get their feet right. Merih DemiralRuben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro are all really good players but they were victims of great crosses. Wojciech Szczesny and Lukas Hradecky were unlucky with the ball bouncing off the woodwork onto them.

Dawson: It’s an anomaly. You can’t account for mistakes like Dubravka’s or Simon’s. Play the same tournament another nine times and you wouldn’t get the same number of own goals. It’s just one of those things that can happen in football.

Hamilton: A large swathe of players in this tournament will no doubt be suffering from mental fatigue after this never-ending season, and so this may have impacted some of the decision making at key moments. A couple of own goals — Demiral’s and Hummels in their respective openers — can be accounted for by poor positioning. Some have just been plain unlucky: Szczesny could have done nothing about his own goal against Slovakia when the ball rebounded off his post to hit him and go in. Then you had Croatia’s farcical opener against Spain, as Pedri’s back-pass slipped past Simon. There doesn’t seem to be any uniting factor between the nine, other than football’s staples of misfortune: bad luck and pressure.

6/25/21 Euro’s Sweet 16 Sat-Tues, US Ladies Olympics team announced, COPA Round of 16 next week, Indy 11 @Louisville Sat on MyIndyTV

  EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS Sat-Tues Knockout Round of 16

Sorry soccer fans – been on the road traveling some last week and this – but man has the soccer at the Euro’s been spectacular. What a final 2 days of Group Stage games as Hungary was just 10 minutes from knocking out Germany and defending Euro champs Portugal and Renaldo were on the ropes two as they needed a tie vs France in the group of death to advance.  In the end 3 powerhouses of France, Portugal and Germany all 3 did advance but things were touch and go their as Hungary gave it a go at home.  Tuesday gave us the battle royal as Sweden edged Poland despite the world’s leading goalscorer Lewandowski’s 2 spectacular goals to tie it up late. Sweden would advance as Poland lay exposed trying to get the go ahead goal needed to advance.  It made for some super exciting futbol as I am sure the knockout Rounds will provide us as well.  Some huge games with Sunday’s Netherlands vs Czech Rep at noon and #1 Belgium vs Portugal at 3 pm.  Portugal’s Renaldo looking to become the leading scorer in international games his 107 goals tied for 1st.  I picked Italy as my surprise team of the tourney and they have come thru – with 3 shutouts and goals galore – we’ll see if they can keep it up vs Austria on Sat at 3 pm.  Of course the Biggest game of the Sweet 16 is Tuesday’s Germany vs England game at Wembley at noon – tons of stories below as England looks to quiet the ghosts of past international losses to Germany.  Of course I am almost forgetting the biggest moment so far of the Euro’s was of course Denmark great Erickson having a heart attack on the field and actually needed a shock to revive him on the field.  Huge news that the 29 year old father of 2 is fine and will survive a normal life moving forward without playing again.  I for one will be rooting for Denmark to make a run past Wales and Garreth Bale on Sat at noon.  I like Denmark, Italy, Dutch, Belgium, Croatia, France, England and Sweden to advance – should be fun – all the games on ESPN, where the coverage has been fantastic – nice 30 minute lead ins – good announcers and solid analysis overall. 

SATURDAY, JUNE 26
• Wales vs. Denmark (11:50 a.m. ET)
• Italy vs. Austria (2:50 p.m. ET)
SUNDAY, JUNE 27
• Netherlands vs. Czech Rep (11:50 a.m. ET)
• Belgium vs. Portugal (2:50 p.m. ET)
MONDAY, JUNE 28
• Croatia vs. Spain (11:50 a.m. ET)
• France vs. Switzerland (2:50 p.m. ET)

TUESDAY, JUNE 29
• England vs. Germany (11:50 a.m. ET)
• Sweden vs. Ukraine (2:50 p.m. ET)

 

US Ladies Roster Announced for Olympics

I haven’t had much time to dive into the roster – not surprised to see Llyod, Rapino and of course Heath assuming she’s healthy on the roster – these are 3 difference making forwards – and while you would like to start grooming some youth up front – I am not sure who in that group I would leave home.  I was a little surprised to see both Mewis – as Kristie at 30 earned her way back on the team with her performances this year.  I would have probably taken her as an alternate and given Macario the nod.  On the back line – no issues here – except I might have considered taking right back/right winger Margaret Purge over Emily Sonnett.  Especially since I think Horan showed she can cover for our #6 superstar Julie Ertz in case she has lingering issues with her knee.  This team’s average age is the oldest at the Olympics – almost 30, obviously coach decided it is more important to win now – A World Cup Winner has never won the Olympics the following year, as opposed to building for the next world cup.  I certainly can’t argue with Coach A’s result so far – and an Olympic Win would be huge – can’t wait till July 23rd !!

GOALKEEPERS (2): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit),

MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Julie Ertz (Philly)

FORWARDS (6): Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Tobin Heath

Alternates – Travel but only play if players get hurt — Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA),

Thursday, July 1 USA Women vs Mexico 8 pm (Fox Sport 1)

Monday, July 5 USA Women vs Mexico 5pm (ESPN2)

 

Indy 11 take on Louisville Sat 7:30 pm ESPN+, My Indy TV

So since I left my friend and our starting keeper Jordan Farr has gone out with a broken hand and we fired our coach Martin Rennie.  Get well soon Jordan !! To fill in as backup which he’s down a former Carmel High School, Carmel Dad’s Club, and Butler University Alum Eric Dick has been loaned from Columbus in MLS.  Welcome home Eric!! Of course back-up goalie Bobby Edwards played great in his first start with 9 saves as his man of the match performance helped or Indy 11 take one on the road at KC last week.  Not surprised to see Rennie out – as that has been mumbled for weeks now – honestly I am happy to see what we look like under a new head man to close the season.  The 11 are just one game back of Louisville and beat them at their place earlier this month – hopefully the boys in blue can repeat the performance before their July 3rd home game with Birmingham at the Mike.  Hopefully Jordan Farr can return in a month and continue his stellar season. 

COPA on Fox

Fox takes over some Copa big boys this weekend as Sunday gives us Neymar and Brazil vs Ecuador at 5 pm on Fox, and Monday evening Argentina and Messi (who’s staying at Barcelona) take on Boliva at 8 pm on Fox.  The knockout rounds start next Sat July 3. 

 

 

GAMES ON TV

 

EUROS + COPA America 2021

(Euro’s all times ET; coverage starts about 30 minutes before kickoff; all games also stream on ESPN+, Copa on Fox, FS1, FS2

Friday, June 25

MLS Inter Miami vs Orlando City 8 pm (FS1)

Saturday, June 26

• Wales vs. Denmark (11:50 a.m. ET)
• Italy vs. Austria (2:50 p.m. ET)

MLS Sporting KC vs LAFC 5 pm (ESPN)

Indy 11 @ Louisville, 7:30 pm ESPN, My Indy TV

Sunday, June 27

Netherlands vs. Czech Rep (11:50 a.m. ET) ESPN Round of 16 (Budapest) –  
• Belgium vs. Portugal (2:50 p.m. ET)   ESPN Round of 16 (Saville)

Copa   Brazil vs Ecuador 5 pm Fox, Univision

Copa   Venezuela vs Peru 5 pm FS2, Univision

MLS   Austin vs Columbus Crew 8 pm (FS1)

Monday, June 28

• Croatia vs. Spain (11:50 a.m. ET)  ESPN
• France vs. Switzerland (2:50 p.m. ET) ESPN

Copa   Uruguay vs Paraguay 8 pm FS2, Univision

Copa   Argentina vs Boliva 8 pm FOX, Univision

Tuesday, June 29

• England vs. Germany (11:50 a.m. ET)
• Sweden vs. Ukraine (2:50 p.m. ET)

Thursday, July 1

USA Women vs Mexico 8 pm (Fox Sport 1)

Austin vs Portland Timbers 9:30 pm (FS1) 

Friday, July 2

Quarterfinal I (St. Petersburg) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Quarterfinal II (Munich) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday, July 3

Quarterfinal III (Baku) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Quarterfinal IV (Rome) – 2:30 p.m. (ABC, Univision, TUDN)

Columbus Crew vs New England 5 pm (ESPN)

Racing Louisville vs Portland Thorns NWSL  7:30 pm (Paramount +)

COPA QuarterFinal 6 pm (FS1)

Indy 11 vs Birmingham, 7:30 pm ESPN+, TV 8

COPA QuarterFinal 9 pm (FS1)

Mexico vs Nigeria 11 pm ?

Monday, July 5

USA Women vs Mexico 5pm (ESPN2)

COPA SemiFinal 7pm (FS1)

Tuesday, July 6

Semifinal I (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Wednesday, July 7

Semifinal II (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Friday, July 9

COPA Semi-Final 8 pm (FS1)

Saturday, July 10  GOLD CUP STARTS

Gold Cup – Mexico vs ??   10 pm (FS1)

COPA Final 8 pm (FS1)

Sunday, July 11

Final (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Gold Cup Canada vs Martinique 6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup USA vs ???   8:30 pm (FS1)

Monday, July 12

Gold Cup Jamaica vs Surinam 6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup Costa Rica vs  ????   8:30 pm (FS1)

MLS Schedule

NWSL Season TV Schedule

Euro’s TV Schedule

Copa Schedule

 

Euro 2020 round of 16 preview: Form, key players, predictions and everything you need to know

 

Predictions

Who’ll make it through to the final eight? Our experts make their picks.

Hamilton: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Spain, England vs. Sweden, Netherlands vs. Denmark

Ogden: Belgium vs. Italy; France vs. Croatia; England vs. Sweden; Czech Republic vs. Wales

Olley: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Croatia, Germany vs. Ukraine, Netherlands vs. Denmark

Dawson: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Spain, England vs. Sweden, Netherlands vs. Wales

Marcotti: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Spain, Germany vs. Sweden, Netherlands vs. Denmark

Laurens: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Spain, Germany vs. Sweden, Netherlands vs. Wales

First there were 24 teams and now, after a wild two-week group stage, just 16 teams remain as the Euro 2020 knockout rounds begin Saturday. Will France add Euro glory to their World Cup from 2018, or will Portugal become just the second team ever to defend a Euro title after Spain did it in 2008 and 2012?England and Germany have looked far from their best so far: which of them will be left standing after they meet at Wembley on Tuesday? And how about Spain or Italy, both flying slightly under the radar, given low expectations, but with more than enough talent to make a deep run?Let ESPN FC get you ready for the round of 16 with a comprehensive look at every fixture, all of them streaming LIVE on ESPN and ESPN+ over the next four days, and our experts pick the eight teams they think will advance to the quarterfinals.


Wales vs. Denmark

Saturday: Noon ET/6 p.m. CET, ESPN/ESPN+

Form guide: Wales got through Group A after drawing 1-1 with Switzerland and then producing a remarkable performance to beat Turkey 2-0 thanks to goals from Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts. They finished with a spirited 1-0 defeat to Italy in Rome and ended up second in Group A.

Denmark’s campaign began with the traumatic events in Copenhagen as Christian Eriksen collapsed against Finland. Despite the midfielder suffering a cardiac arrest, Denmark restarted the match later that night and lost 1-0. They rallied against Belgium in the next match but lost out 2-1. They then knew they had to beat Russia in the final match, and they hammered them 4-1 to go through in third place in Group B.

Key players: It’s impossible to look past Gareth Bale for Wales. He’s been the heartbeat of this side through their Euro 2020 journey but they are more than a one-man side. Ramsey is showing signs of being back to his best, while Kieffer Moore is a real handful up front. Danny Ward has also been magnificent in goal, despite having played more matches for Wales in the Euros than he did for Leicester City this season. Daniel James will also cause Denmark‘s right side all manner of difficulty.

For Denmark, Yussuf Poulsen and Martin Braithwaite are a danger up front, while they have a neat spine to the team with Andreas ChristensenSimon KjaerPierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney. But keep an eye on 20-year-old Mikkel Damsgaard. He had the unenviable task of filling Eriksen’s spot in the team, and he played well against Belgium and then scored a wonderful goal against Russia.

How they stack up: Wales will try to operate on the counterattack, looking to soak up the pressure and then hit them on the flanks through James and Bale, and then trying to find Moore to cause havoc in the penalty area. They’re happy to operate a low block but are most effective when they’re pressing higher up the field, looking to pounce on any opportunities. Much of their attacking play goes through Bale, and he’s happy to play on the wings or through the middle. Denmark will be mindful of Wales’ first goal against Turkey: Bale dropped deep like a quarterback and floated a beautiful pass into the path of Ramsey, who slotted it home. Also expect plenty of energy from the bench.

Denmark are a neat passing team and will play a 3-4-3, looking to get balls in to Braithwaite and Poulsen. Damsgaard and the tricky Joakim Maehle are their other main threats, but they are also happy to have a go from anywhere: they had the most shots in the group stages out of any team (61). Beware the hammer-shot of defender Christensen after he smashed one in from distance against Russia, while Damsgaard’s ability to come in off the left and play through the middle of the park is also a threat.

Hojbjerg and Delaney are canny operators in midfield and will try to lock up that middle third; Ramsey and Joe Morrell will need to unpick that.

This match will be played back at Eriksen’s old Ajax home in Amsterdam, so expect the bulk of the support to be in Denmark’s favour. We think they’ll continue their Euro 2020 journey with a win against Rob Page’s spirited Wales. — Tom Hamilton

Italy vs. Austria

Saturday: 3 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CET, ABC/ESPN+

Form guide: Italy sailed through their group with three wins and was able to rest eight players for the third and final match against WalesAustria finished second, performing as expected in the first two games — beating up on North Macedonia and losing to the Dutch — before winning the de facto playoff for second against Ukraine.

Key players: Jorginho isn’t the only Italian midfielder who can pass, but he’s the “point guard” for this team, setting the tempo and controlling the play. Fellow midfielders Manuel Locatelli and Nicolo Barella are equally important, setting the pressing triggers, supporting the attack and sharing the creative load.

David Alaba is Austria’s biggest name and most gifted player. He might be lining up at center-back for Real Madrid next season, but he has played three different positions (none of them in central defence) thus far at Euro 2020. Martin Hinteregger is a defensive stalwart, and Marcel Sabitzer and Christoph Baumgartner are dynamic midfielders who can get in the box and shoot.

How they stack up: This isn’t like the Italy sides of old. Roberto Mancini’s teams play an up-tempo, press-and-pass game that sees them dominate possession and commit plenty of men forward. Austria like to build play from the back as well — certainly more than any of the teams Italy faced in the group stage — and it’ll be interesting to see how they cope with the Italian press. Up front, Marko Arnautovic is a physical, edgy striker (Sasa Kalajdzic off the bench is even bigger), which in some ways should suit Italy’s veteran central defenders.

Italy will need to deal with the threat of Sabitzer and Baumgartner running into the box, whereas Austria’s main concern defensively will come on the flanks. Both wide forwards Domenico Berardi and Lorenzo Insigne (not to mention Federico Chiesa, if he starts) love to take on fullbacks, and they should get plenty of support, particularly down the left, from Leonardo SpinazzolaCiro Immobile is a very busy forward who’s useful even when he’s not scoring (which he has done freely at club level, less so with the national team) and he’ll be looking to stretch the expert (but not overly mobile) defensive partnership of Hinteregger and Aleksandar Dragovic.

Italy are coming off a 30-game unbeaten streak and haven’t conceded in 10 matches, so despite their front-foot approach, they’ve coped well defensively. It’s hard to see that run coming to an end against Austria.— Gab Marcotti

Netherlands vs. Czech Republic

Sunday: Noon ET/6 p.m. CET, ESPN/ESPN+

Form guide: Playing in their first major tournament since the 2014 World Cup, the Netherlands coasted through Group C with a 100% record and eight goals scored in three games. The Dutch played all those games in Amsterdam, however, so they’ll be playing away from home for the first time in the tournament when they face the Czechs in Budapest. Despite finishing third in Group D, the Czech Republic had secured qualification before losing 1-0 to England in their final group game, with a win against Scotland and draw against Croatia highlighting their ability to get results in the competition.

Key players: Georginio Wijnaldum is the man who makes the Dutch tick. While much of the focus is on Memphis Depay, who has just completed a move from Lyon to Barcelona, former Liverpool midfielder Wijnaldum has been the star man to date by excelling in a more advanced role than he played under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield. He has hit three goals in three games so far and will be crucial if the Netherlands are to progress to the latter stages.

Patrik Schick has been the outstanding performer for the Czechs so far, with the Bayer Leverkusen forward also netting three goals in three games. His long-distance strike in the 2-0 win against Scotland is the leading contender for goal of the tournament and, while defenders Tomas Kalas and Vladimir Coufal have been impressive at the back, Schick is the man who is carrying Czech hopes on his shoulders because he is most likely to score the goals to get them beyond the Dutch.

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SATURDAY, JUNE 26
• Wales vs. Denmark (11:50 a.m. ET)
• Italy vs. Austria (2:50 p.m. ET)
• Chicago vs. Philadelphia (8 p.m. ET)
• Portland vs. Minnesota (11 p.m. ET)

SUNDAY, JUNE 27
• Netherlands vs. Czech Rep (11:50 a.m. ET)
• Belgium vs. Portugal (2:50 p.m. ET)
• NYCFC vs. D.C. United (6 p.m. ET)
• Dallas vs. New England (9 p.m. ET)

MONDAY, JUNE 28
• Croatia vs. Spain (11:50 a.m. ET)
• France vs. Switzerland (2:50 p.m. ET)

TUESDAY, JUNE 29
• England vs. Germany (11:50 a.m. ET)
• Sweden vs. Ukraine (2:50 p.m. ET)

How they stack up: The Czechs are a well-drilled and disciplined outfit, but they also have players capable of hurting the Dutch, including Schick, Tomas Soucek and 18-year-old Adam Hlozek. They will be happy to sit deep and soak up pressure before attempting to strike on the counterattack, and they are likely to be the biggest test faced by the Netherlands so far.

Having already faced England and Croatia, two of the strongest teams in the tournament, the Czechs may be more match ready for this one than the Dutch, who emerged from a weak group with UkraineAustria and North Macedonia. And although they beat Ukraine in a five-goal thriller in their opening game, the Netherlands’ defensive shortcomings were exposed in that match and could be punished by the Czechs.

But while the Czech Republic should not be underestimated, it is clear that momentum is with the Dutch after their winning start to the tournament. The absence of injured Virgil van Dijk has not been an issue as yet, with Daley BlindMatthijs de Ligt and Stefan de Vrij forming a three-man defensive partnership.

The Dutch do lack a cutting edge, though, and might may prove their downfall, if not against the Czechs then against a more formidable later opponent. Denzel Dumfries has brought pace and goals out wide, but centre-forward Wout Weghorst is a workhorse rather than a thoroughbred in the mould of previous Dutch strikers such as Marco van Basten, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Robin van Persie.

Both teams have their limitations, yet both are capable of producing a big performance to get through this tie. It will be tight and an example that group results count for nothing in the knockout stages. — Mark Ogden

Belgium vs. Portugal

Sunday: 3 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CET, ABC/ESPN+

Form guide: Except for 45 minutes against DenmarkBelgium were comfortable in Group B, finishing top with a perfect record and scoring seven goals. Portugal‘s path out of Group F was more complicated. They looked good in some spells and awful in others, conceded goals but scored them too, and eventually finished third to sneak through.

Key players: Portugal have got enough attacking talent in Cristiano RonaldoDiogo Jota and Bruno Fernandes to cause Belgium problems, but they gave up too many chances in the group stage, and they will need Ruben Dias in top form if they are going to stop Eden HazardKevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in Seville on Sunday. He has had a fantastic first season at Manchester City but will need to be at his best against Lukaku, who has looked sharp.

Belgium’s key man is De Bruyne. His link-up play with Lukaku was devastating in their last group game, against Finland, and if he can find the same space against Portugal, he will create enough chances for Roberto Martinez’s side to win the game.

How they stack up: Belgium and Portugal prefer to attack than defend, so there should be goals. Both teams scored seven in the group stages with at least two in each game. Belgium will look to get De Bruyne on the ball in little pockets around the penalty area as much as possible so he can flick passes in to Lukaku, something that worked well against Finland. To stop it, Portugal will have to cramp De Bruyne for space, and it might come down to Renato Sanches to be the man to try to smother the Manchester City midfielder.

If fitness is an issue after such a long season, Belgium should have the edge. Martinez was able to make eight changes for the last group game, with Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker given the night off, while Portugal needed a full team to earn a 2-2 draw with France to make sure they didn’t go home early. At one stage, trailing France and with Hungary beating Germany, they were going out. Belgium are the No. 1-ranked team in the world and have shown enough in the group stage to be considered favourites against Portugal, who were dismantled by Germany, but with Ronaldo in form with five goals already, you never know. — Rob Dawson

Croatia vs. Spain

Monday: Noon ET/6 p.m. CET, ESPN/ESPN+

Form guide: Spain started slowly with two draws but punished a very poor Slovakia performance to win 5-0 and ensure they finished second in Group E behind SwedenCroatia also needed a big win against Scotland in their last group game to finish second in Group D after losing to England and being held by Czech Republic.

Key players: Spain were struggling for goals until they came up against a Slovakia side seemingly determined to concede as many as possible. Despite finding the net against PolandAlvaro Morata has looked short of confidence, and he will need to be more clinical if Spain are going to make it through to the later rounds. For Croatia, Luka Modric reminded everyone how good he is during the win over Scotland. Even at 35 years old, he can keep a midfield ticking over with his movement and ability on the ball. His goal against Scotland — bent into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area — wasn’t bad either.

How they stack up: Spain will go into the game as favourites because they’re, well, Spain. But Croatia won’t have seen a lot in their group-stage performances to scare them. Croatia have won two out of the past three meetings, one at the last Euros and again in the Nations League in November 2018.

Spain will need the experience of Sergio Busquets to help win the midfield battle against Modric, and the pair should know each other well after their many clashes playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid. It’s likely Croatia will have to withstand a lot of pressure, but if they can keep Spain playing in front of them rather than getting in behind, they will be hard to break down. It might end up being a game of few clear-cut chances and could come down to which team is most clinical on the day. — Rob Dawson

France vs. Switzerland

Monday: 3 p.m ET/9 p.m. CET, ESPN/ESPN+

Form guide: France topped the group of death with an impressive win against Germany (1-0), a laborious performance against Hungary (1-1) and two big mistakes resulting in two penalties for a draw against Portugal despite a commanding second half (2-2). Switzerland qualified only as one of the best third-place finishers in the group stage. They managed only a draw with Wales (1-1), then were given a lesson by Italy (3-0), only to react well against Turkey (3-1) with a convincing victory. https://thepodium.espncreativeworks.com/poll/60c21f1a41dd37005a7aca32/60c221eb3e2dac002fe1d61d Key players:Paul Pogba has been the most consistent French player in the group stage. He was superb against Germany and Portugal with the quality of his passing and his work rate. He will be one of the keys again in Monday’s game. If the Swiss can’t cope with him, he’ll be able to dictate the pace of the game and will be able to find his front three. Kylian MbappeKarim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann will have a big impact on this tie too. Mbappe is the only one yet to score in this competition so far among the three, something he’ll want to change in the round of 16.

For Switzerland, the leaders have been disappointed so far. Xherdan Shaqiri scored twice against Turkey, but was poor in their first two games. Simply put, Switzerland cannot win if the Liverpool forward is not leading the way. Granit Xhaka also needs to have a bigger impact in midfield. His battle with Pogba will be interesting.

How they stack up: These two teams know each other so well after meeting at Euro 2016 as well as in the 2006 and 2014 World Cups. However, it will be the first time Switzerland play them with a three-man defense and a 3-4-1-2 formation. Could this change the dynamics?

That said, Les Bleus are big favourites regardless of how the Swiss play. We saw France deal really well with Germany’s 3-4-3 formation in the group stages, meaning the key to this game will be Pogba and N’Golo Kante: they’ve never lost when starting together and have yet to find an opponent capable of causing them problems. Switzerland struggle without the ball and could really struggle to prevent the French from developing their attacks. If Didier Deschamps’ side gets control of the ball and can set the tempo of the game, there will be no way back for the Swiss even with the extra rest since the end of the group stage. And even if Vladimir Petkovic’s men have the ball, they will have to be really creative and good in the last 30 yards to put the French defence under pressure.

Psychologically, France’s dominance vs. Switzerland in the past 20 years could have an impact too. The last time the Swiss beat their neighbours was in 1992 — seven encounters ago! — Julien Laurens

England vs. Germany

Tuesday: Noon ET/6 p.m CET, ESPN/ESPN+

Form guide: England were one of only two teams to keep three clean sheets during the group stage (along with Italy), beating Croatia and the Czech Republic either side of drawing against ScotlandGermany were six minutes from going out of the tournament but snatched a late equaliser against Hungary to finish second in a tough group during which they lost to France but beat Portugal 4-2.

Key players: Harry Kane hasn’t scored yet at these finals, but he remains the England player most feared by other countries. Manager Gareth Southgate has rotated the supporting cast behind Kane to generate the movement in advanced areas that can give him the space to thrive, but it looks as if Raheem Sterling and one other from Jack GrealishBukayo SakaMarcus Rashford or Jadon Sancho will form England’s forward line. None of them can finish like Kane, however, who won the Golden Boot at the last World Cup, and if England are to continue creating only a limited number of chances, they’ll need the Tottenham Hotspur striker in top form to take what comes his way.

There is consternation in Germany over Joachim Low’s use of Joshua Kimmich, given he has established himself as an excellent defensive midfielder only to be often used as a right wing-back in this tournament. Wherever he plays, however, the 26-year-old can still use his excellent range of passing to good effect. Kimmich is precisely the kind of midfield metronome England lack, and any rhythm the Germans find at Wembley will likely come through him.

How they stack up: Southgate adopted a cautious, disciplined approach during the group phase, content to take what England had as they entered the final phase of a game and see that result out. That is due to a combination of factors: fatigue in the squad, England’s historically suspect game management in tournament football and concerns over the robustness of his defence. England almost always struggle to retain possession in Euros and World Cups. Arguably his biggest decision is how much risk he is willing to inject into England’s setup. There is pressure on him to do so from fans excited by the attacking talent contained within the squad, and there are big decisions ahead, not least whether he switches to a back three to match up with Germany as he has often done against top sides.

There is a sense of structure to England that, surprisingly, Germany have lacked so far at these finals. Their chaotic qualification points to an unusually porous back line and a lack of cohesion in attack, relying on individual brilliance to a significant extent even in their win against Portugal. Doubts remain over the 3-4-2-1 shape with Serge Gnabry as a false nine, but the Bayern Munich winger performed well there before Euro 2020 and the individual quality Germany possess make it eminently possible they could begin peaking at the right time, as they have so often done in past tournaments.

Southgate has rotated his full-backs, and whoever is asked to stifle Kimmich, assuming he plays on the right again, will have a key role to play. The presence of two No. 10s could tempt England into playing two defensive-minded midfielders again, but with that comes pressure to use the ball more inventively than Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips have largely done to date. There will also be the majority of 45,000 fans willing them on.— James Olley

Sweden vs. Ukraine

Tuesday: 3 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CET, ESPN/ESPN+

Form guide: Sweden started with a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Spain in their opener, then edged past Slovakia 1-0 thanks to Emil Forsberg‘s 77th-minute penalty. That was their first goal in 365 minutes of Euros action, dating back to their opener in Euro 2016, so they have found goals hard to come by. They finished with a 3-2 win over Poland, thanks to a double from Forsberg and Viktor Claesson‘s late winner, to top Group E.

Ukraine managed to get through as one of the best third-place teams despite losing two of their three Group C matches. In their opener against the Dutch, they came back from two goals down to level the match, only to lose 3-2 thanks to Denzel Dumfries‘ 85th-minute winner. Next up they managed to get past North Macedonia 2-1 thanks to strikes from Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk. But they finished the group with a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Austria in Bucharest.

Key players: Sweden’s 21-year-old striker Alexander Isak is one of the players of the tournament so far. Although he hasn’t yet scored, he’s been outstanding for Sweden and is usually not far removed from whatever they’re doing well. Forsberg will get plenty of headlines for his three goals in as many matches, and he has been outstanding, but Isak is a wonderful player who has delightfully tricky feet and a tendency to drop deep and fashion his own chances. With several of Europe’s top teams hunting a new striker, you can imagine plenty will be casting envious eyes at Real Sociedad for having Isak. Also beware Dejan Kulusevski, who’s waiting to be unleashed. The Juventus maestro has played just 35 minutes in the tournament so far, having missed the Swedes’ opener due to testing positive for COVID-19. But in that 35-minute cameo against Poland, he teed up Forsberg’s second and Claesson’s winner.

For Ukraine, they’ve been reliant on West Ham United‘s Yarmolenko. He has scored twice for Andriy Shevchenko’s side. His first was a delightful arching, curled effort against the Dutch, and his other, against North Macedonia, was more straightforward as he tapped in at the far post to help his side to that key win. Oleksandr Zinchenko offers a threat down the left, while keep an eye on Shakhtar Donetsk‘s centre-back Mykola Matviyenko, who’s been linked with Arsenal. They’re likely to target set pieces, but expect the front three of Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk and Ruslan Malinovskyi to knock the ball about. Teams won’t have it easy to dwell on possession against Ukraine, as they have three players (Matviyenko, Oleksandr Karavaev and Illia Zabarnyi) in the top five for ball recoveries in the group stage.

How they stack up: Sweden can play a variety of ways, but their style will likely be a hybrid of how they tackled their second and third group matches rather than their opener against Spain, in which they had just 15% possession. They’ll likely employ a 4-4-2 and look to funnel the ball through the brilliant Forsberg, who’ll play off the left or through the middle. Isak and Robin Quaison offer a threat up front, but this Sweden team is built on belligerence, durability and work ethic. They are a tricky team to break down — with Victor LindelofMarcus Danielsson and Robin Olsen their defensive rocks — but have that dab of class up front to grab the necessary goals.

Emil Forsberg has been sensational at Euro 2020, and another fine performance vs. Ukraine could propel Sweden to the quarterfinals. KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine will play a mix of 3-4-1-2 and 4-3-3 and know they have it in their locker to frustrate big teams, having drawn with France earlier this year. They’ll be underdogs for this match, but it’ll be fascinating to see where Shevchenko plays Zinchenko. The Manchester City man has been used on the left wing by Ukraine, but he looked more effective when operating slightly deeper, giving him license to overlap the winger and get in behind the back. Their options up front are dangerous, with Yarmolenko dovetailing neatly with Yaremchuk and Malinovskyi, so there are zero concerns there, but they must find a way to improve their transitional play and service to the front men. Their defence has given up chances — conceding five goals to date — but still have class in Matviyenko. Also expect Viktor Tsygankov to make an impact from the bench, if he fails to make the starting XI.

With the outstanding Isak one of the players of the tournament so far, expect Sweden to get through to the quarterfinals, but this will be a match where there will be plenty of shadow boxing before we get a knockout blow. — Tom Hamilton

Predictions

Who’ll make it through to the final eight? Our experts make their picks.

Hamilton: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Spain, England vs. Sweden, Netherlands vs. Denmark

Ogden: Belgium vs. Italy; France vs. Croatia; England vs. Sweden; Czech Republic vs. Wales

Olley: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Croatia, Germany vs. Ukraine, Netherlands vs. Denmark

Dawson: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Spain, England vs. Sweden, Netherlands vs. Wales

Marcotti: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Spain, Germany vs. Sweden, Netherlands vs. Denmark

Laurens: Belgium vs. Italy, France vs. Spain, Germany vs. Sweden, Netherlands vs. Wales

 

6/11/ 21 Euro’s Start Today on ESPN, Copa Starts Sun on Fox, US Ladies beat Portugal 1-0, play Jamaica Sun 10 pm FS1, Carmel FC Tryouts Mon – June 14

 

 

US Men Wrap up Winning week with 4-0 win over Costa Rica

So lets start with the US wrapped up a fantastic week of CONCACAF Soccer with a solid 4-0 win over a Costa Rica team that tied Mexico 0-0 just 1 week earlier and lost on PKs. Right after winning the most significant game and Championship vs Mexico in a decade for this young US team.   The US changed out 8 starters from Sunday night – and didn’t miss a step.  Twenty-Year-old Brendan Aaronson looked dangerous all night long as he scored the first goal of the game and had huge darting runs behind the backline.  Adams started at the #6 and showed why he might be the most important player on this team – he simply protects that backline like no other in the US player pool – always in the right spot to cover for centerbacks and outside backs alike.  Dike got his goal late in the first half after occupying the middle of Costa Rica’s defense for most of it.  He should had another probably – but overall he adds his name to that look for starting #9 for the US.  Tim Weah looked dangerous on right wing and just missed his shot on goal while Musah also looked solid and teamed really well with Weah on the right side.  McKensie started Centerback with Tim Ream and showed the 2 could cover against 2nd class CONCACAF competition.  I still think Ream is just too old at 33 to not be replaced by a younger Centerback for the US – good to see Walker Zimmerman provide a solid half after his last call-up for injured Brooks last night.  We should see some new guys battle for those Centerback spots in the Gold Cup I would think.  Horvath started in goal on his 26th birthday and solidified his spot as he barely faced a shot with his clean sheet.  Horvath will now hopefully get some looks from other European teams as his backup contract with Club Brugge in Belgium has run out. Overall another great night in front of a nearly full Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake and a great week of soccer.  Oh Musah is cap tied – I learned during the broadcast.  Hope to see him on the Gold Cup roster along perhaps Reggie Cannon, Lletget, Zimmerman, Dike, and GK Ochoa. 

US Ladies Beat Portugal 1-0 – Play Sun 10 pm FS1

So the US ladies played last night without their legendary #6 D Mid Julie Ertz as she is injured until next month.  That allowed the US ladies to play Lindsay Horan at the 6 spot and she really handled it well.  The top US midfield of Lavell and Mewis usually shares time with Horan – but this allowed all 3 to play featuring all 3 of the best US mids on the field at the same time.  The question was could Horan defend that back line like Ertz does – the answer well yes.  Portugal barely got past midfield much less registered many shots – the shot chart was like 24-3 overall for the US.  Good to see going into the Olympics in case Ertz is still struggling – either way nice to have a solid backup plan and perhaps be able to give Ertz a break now and then during the Olympics this summer.  I will be interesting to see if coach plugs in the youngster Davidson into the 6 slot for Sunday’s game to see how she fills that role as well.  Already we saw her on the left side for 20 minuutes and she play centerback for club – so she might also cover 3 spots with her inclusion.  Overall it was a frustrating game for the US – as Portugal sat back and their Goalkeeper had some spectacular saves to keep the game at 1-0 after facing 24 shots on her goal.  I thought Christen Press was Woman of the match – as she was dangerous on both the left and right sides all game.  She provided the corner to Mewis who headed home the winner in the 75th minutes or so.  Not a bad game for the US – but they are going to need to finish chances better in the final 3rd in Japan this summer.  The US plays again  vs Jamaica at 10 pm on Sunday June 13th on FS 1 and finally Wed night at 9 pm on ESPN2 vs Nigeria live from Austin.  The 3 game series features most the usuals except Tobin Heath – still recovering from injury (though she is training and will be at camp) and Julie Ertz (MCL expected back for Olympics) and Mallory Pugh.  The US has added the Send off Series vs Mexico in July just before the Olympics as well. 

This Sun, June 13

10 PM ET, FS1    USWNT  vs Jamaica ,

Wed, June 16

9 PM ET, ESPN2  USWNT  vs Nigeria

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

European Cup Starts today

The European Cup kicks off the Summer of Soccer today with Turkey facing one of the darkhorse favorites Italy in Rome at 3 pm on ESPN.  They will play almost daily as many as 3 games a day on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC until July 7th.  France come in as the favorites but defending champs Portugal, #1 Ranked Belgium, England, Germany or Spain may have something to say about that.  Also on Sunday the Copa America – which has been moved to Brazil– will kick off – giving us day games evening starts  (5 and 8 pm) to watch nearly every day in June.  Sunday’s game features Brazil and Neymar hosting Venezuela on Fox at 5 pm.  While the featured games for the European Cup this weekend include Wales and Bale vs Switzerland at  9 am on Saturday on ESPN, followed by #1 Belgium vs Russia at 3 pm on ABC, and Sunday has England vs Croatia on ESPN at 9 am from Wimbley, followed at 3 pm by Netherlands vs Ukraine on ESPN.

Summer of Soccer 

European Championships  June 11 – July 7  ESPN

Copa America  June 13 to July 10 FS1, FS2, Univision

Olympics US Ladies July 21-Aug 5  NBC

Gold Cup July 10 –  Aug 1 FS1, FS2, Fox

 

CARMEL FC  2021 Tryouts Monday June 14th

All evaluations and tryouts will be held at Shelborne Fields. 3451 W 126th St, Carmel, IN 46032.

June 14, 2021- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2003 to 2011)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007: 7:30pm to 9pm.
—————————————————————————————————————————
Registration Link: Click Here To Register  Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions. 

2021 Alumni/College Age Soccer League
High School graduates, college students, young professionals come join our soccer league this summer!

Who can play? ages 18-30, experienced, new to the sport and anyone wanting to be active and meet new people. 
When does it start/end? Mid- June through early August  Where? Shelborne Soccer Fields 3451 W. 126th Street
Cost? 105.00 (no annual fee or volunteer fee apply to this league).  Do I have to be a Carmel resident? There is no residency requirement for this program. 
Please click here to register for this league.  Registration is open now- June 12   Jerseys and socks are provided  Questions please contact the office 317-846-1663 or email info@carmeldadsclub.org

GAMES ON TV

 EUROS + COPA America 2021

(all times ET; coverage starts about 30 minutes before kickoff; all games also stream on ESPN+)

Friday, June 11

Group A – Turkey vs. Italy, 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)

Saturday, June 12

Group A – Wales vs. Switzerland, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Denmark vs. Finland, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Belgium vs. Russia, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)

Sunday, June 13

Group D – England vs. Croatia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Austria vs. North Macedonia, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Netherlands vs. Ukraine, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

COPA   Brazil vs Venezuela 7 pm FS , Unimas

COPA   Colombia vs Ecuador 10 pm FS2, Univision

USA Women vs Jamaica  10 pm (FS1)

Monday, June 14

Group D – Scotland vs. Czech Republic, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Poland vs. Slovakia, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Spain vs. Sweden, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

COPA   Argentina vs Chile  5 pm  FS1, Univision

COPA   Paraguay vs Bolivia 8 pm  FS1, Univision

Tuesday, June 15

Group F – Hungary vs. Portugal, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group F – France vs. Germany, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)

Indy 11 vs Pittsburgh 8 pm (ESPN+/ESPN Desp)

Gold Cup Qualifying Canada vs Haiti 9 pm (Paramount +)

Wednesday, June 16

Group B – Finland vs. Russia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Turkey vs. Wales, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Italy vs. Switzerland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

USA Women vs Nigeria 9 pm (ESPN2)

Thursday, June 17

Group C – Ukraine vs. North Macedonia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Denmark vs. Belgium, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Netherlands vs. Austria, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Copa    Chile vs Bolivia 5 pm  FS 1

Copa   Argentina vs Uruguay 8 pm FS 1, Unimas

Friday, June 18

Group E – Sweden vs. Slovakia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group D – Croatia vs. Czech Republic, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group D – England vs. Scotland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

COPA   Colombia vs Venezuela 7 pm FS 2

COPA   Peru vs Brazil 10 pm FS2, Univision

Saturday, June 19

Group F – Hungary vs. France, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group F – Portugal vs. Germany, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univ, TUDN)
Group E – Spain vs. Poland, 2:30 a.m. (ABC)

NWSL North Carolina Courage vs OL Reign (NY/NJ) 4 pm (CBS)

Sunday, June 20

Group A – Switzerland vs. Turkey, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Italy vs. Wales, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)

MLS Atlanta United s Philly Union  2 pm (ESPN)

NWSL Portland Thorns (Rapino) vs KC 4 pm (CBS)

Copa    Uruguay vs Chile 4 pm FS1, Univision

Sporting KC 2 vs Indy 11 5 pm (ESPN+)

Copa    Argentina vs Paraguay 7 pm FS1, Univision

Monday, June 21

Group C – North Macedonia vs. Netherlands, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Ukraine vs. Austria, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Group B – Russia vs. Denmark, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Finland vs. Belgium, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Tuesday, June 22

Group D – Croatia vs. Scotland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Group D – Czech Republic vs. England, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Wednesday, June 23

Group E – Slovakia vs. Spain, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Sweden vs. Poland, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)
Group F – Portugal vs. France, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Group F – Germany vs. Hungary, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Copa   Brazil vs Colombia 8 pm FS1, Univision

Copa    Ecaador vs Peru 5 pm FS2, Univision

Friday, June 25

MLS Inter Miami vs Orlando City 8 pm (FS1)

Saturday, June 26

Round of 16 (Amsterdam) – 2A vs. 2B, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (London) – 1A vs. 2C, 2:30 p.m., London (ABC)

MLS Sporting KC vs LAFC 5 pm (ESPN)

Sunday, June 27

Round of 16 (Budapest) – 1C vs. 3DEF, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (Saville) – 1B vs. 3ADEF, 2:30 p.m. (ABC, Univision, TUDN)

Copa   Brazil vs Ecuador 5 pm Fox, Univision

Copa    Venezuela vs Peru 5 pm FS2, Univision

MLS   Austin vs Columbus Crew 8 pm (FS1)

Monday, June 28

Round of 16 (Copenhagen) – 2D vs. 2E, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (Bucharest) – 1F vs. 3ABC, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Copa    Uruguay vs Paraguay 8 pm FS2, Univision

Copa   Argentina vs Boliva 8 pm FOX, Univision

Tuesday, June 29

Round of 16 (London) – 1D vs. 2F, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Round of 16 (Glasgow) – 1E vs. 3ABCD, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)

Thursday, July 1

USA Women vs Mexico 8 pm (Fox Sport 1)

Austin vs Portland Timbers 9:30 pm (FS1) 

Friday, July 2

Quarterfinal I (St. Petersburg) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Quarterfinal II (Munich) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday, July 3

Quarterfinal III (Baku) – 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)
Quarterfinal IV (Rome) – 2:30 p.m. (ABC, Univision, TUDN)

Columbus Crew vs New England 5 pm (ESPN)

Racing Louisville vs Portland Thorns NWSL  7:30 pm (Paramount +)

COPA QuarterFinal 6 pm (FS1)

COPA QuarterFinal 9 pm (FS1)

Mexico vs Nigeria 11 pm ?

Monday, July 5

USA Women vs Mexico 5pm (ESPN2)

COPA SemiFinal 7pm (FS1)

Tuesday, July 6

Semifinal I (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Wednesday, July 7

Semifinal II (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Friday, July 9

COPA Semi-Final 8 pm (FS1)

Saturday, July 10  GOLD CUP STARTS

Gold Cup – Mexico vs ??   10 pm (FS1)

COPA Final 8 pm (FS1)

Sunday, July 11

Final (London) – 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN)

Gold Cup Canada vs Martinique 6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup USA vs ???   8:30 pm (FS1)

Monday, July 12

Gold Cup Jamaica vs Surinam 6:30 pm (FS1)

Gold Cup Costa Rica vs  ????   8:30 pm (FS1)

MLS Schedule

NWSL Season TV Schedule

Euro’s TV Schedule

Copa Schedule

 

 Euro’s 


What you need to know about the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament

Euro 2020 betting: Picks for all of Saturday’s group stage games

De Bruyne ruled out of Belgium’s EURO 2020 opener; Hazard update

Italy raring to go at Euro 2020 after World Cup failure – Chiellini

England boss Southgate speaks of ‘pride’ on eve of Euro 2020

Benzema exits early as France beat Bulgaria in final pre-Euro friendly

‘Career highlight’ for captain Bale ahead of Wales’ Euro return

Kroos ready to prove Germany’s doubters wrong against France

Euro 2020 betting: The money keeps pouring in on France to win

 

USA Ladies


USWNT breaks through late as Mewis powers win over Portugal

Mewis on target as US extend unbeaten streak

Sam Mewis scores in U.S. women’s 1-0 win over Portugal

Which 18 players will make the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer roster?

US women’s soccer team experiments in Julie Ertz’s absence

 

USA Men
USMNT player ratings versus Costa Rica

Three things we learned from USMNT – Costa Rica

WATCH: Aaronson’s third USMNT goal, off Dike feed, puts Yanks ahead

Highlight USA vs Mexico

Extended Hightlights USA vs Mexico
USMNT’s wild win against Mexico was just the beginning of a huge 

 

Goalkeeping

Storybook Appearance for US GK Ethan Horvath

Horvath Makes the Save

GK Ethan Horvath from Denver  

Does Horvath Deserve a Look at #1 GK Spot?  SBI

 

COPA AMERICA


Copa America: How to watch, schedule, odds, predictions

Nearly two thirds of Brazilians oppose hosting Copa America amid pandemic – poll

Soccer-Brazil score early and late to defeat Paraguay 2-0

Neymar helps Brazil to perfect six in WC qualifying

Brazil’s players say ‘against Copa America’ but won’t boycott

EPL 
Tuchel signs Chelsea contract extension

Manchester City wins trio of Premier League awards

Conte to Tottenham off; now what for Spurs?

Liverpool Keep or Dump: Mo Salah, Naby Keita, Adrian all worth replacing
  Mark Ogden and James Tyler

Indy 11

·      USL CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP: EL PASO LOCOMOTIVE FC 2 : 0 INDY ELEVEN

·      Neveal Hackshaw to Represent Trinidad & Tobago National Team in World Cup Qualifiers

·      RECAP | Indy Comes Back for 2-1 LIPAFC Win

·      Indy Eleven Forward Jordan Hamilton Named to USL Championship Team of the Week for Week 6

·      USL Championship Recap: Indy Eleven 1 : 1 OKC Energy FC

Indy 11 Schedule

Single Game Tickets as low at $13 each

Attention INDY 11 FANS Discounted Tix: Opportunity to purchase Discount Tickets for home INDY ELEVEN games at Carroll Stadium.

Please order on Link Below “Friends of Indy Eleven”   https://fevo.me/indyelevenmh

 

 Ian Darke’s take on Euro 2020: Why France and Italy are my favourites, but watch out for Denmark

Jun 9, 2021Ian DarkeESPN.com writer

Euro 2020 might be a European Championship that defies prediction. Spread across 11 cities in the midst of a pandemic, who can know what fate has in store? One COVID-19 outbreak could derail even the most gifted of teams and even the schedule. Mix in the fatigue factor for players who have had an even more congested and hectic season than normal, and the tournament could develop into a survival of the fittest and freshest.

The peculiar, 24-team format also can produce tales of the unexpected. Portugal lifted the trophy in 2016 after finishing third in their group and only winning one game in 90 minutes throughout the whole tournament. Remember, the Euros have given us shocks before: Denmark got off the beach as late replacements for Yugoslavia and won the whole thing in 1992, and then there was the barely believable 150-1 triumph of Greece in 2004.

England have never won the competition or even made the final, but they’re among the favourites to do so this time. Drawn in Group D, they also have the added advantage of potentially playing all but the quarterfinal at their Wembley Stadium home, though no hosts have won since France in 1984.

Led by World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, Gareth Southgate’s squad is full of exciting young attacking talent like Mason MountPhil Foden and Jadon Sancho. But key defender Harry Maguire is in a race to be fit, and without him, the defence looks vulnerable against the top teams.

There are also worries over the form of Marcus Rashford and Raheem SterlingJack Grealish, though, could be one of the players of the tournament if his shin injury is managed successfully and Southgate has faith enough to pick him. As in 1996, when England reached the semifinals and the nation sang “Football’s coming home” (it didn’t, as it turned out), Wembley will be a factor.

France are also fancied, as they still have nine of the 11 players who won the World Cup final three summers ago. Add in the return of Real Madrid‘s in-form striker Karim Benzema from his six-year international absence and the team looks more formidable than ever.

A front three of Kylian Mbappe, Benzema and Antoine Griezmann is frightening, and there is quality everywhere, though goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has not had his most convincing year at Tottenham Hotspur. France, though, are in arguably the hardest group — Group F — with Germany, Portugal and Hungary, who must be wondering what they did to deserve such awful luck in the draw.

Led by Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and the recently recalled Karim Benzema, France’s front three is more dangerous than ever. Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

Germany hope to give their long-serving coach Joachim Low a winning farewell, but confidence in this team does not seem high after a 6-0 humiliation against Spain and a shock 2-1 defeat against North Macedonia in the past nine months. Low has recalled veterans Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels to a squad that still possesses enough quality to be dangerous. The first match, at home to France in Munich, could be a barometer of their mood and form.

Portugal have a stronger squad than the one that triumphed rather freakishly in 2016. Cristiano RonaldoBruno Fernandes and Ruben Dias lead a star-studded cast list, and if ultra-conservative coach Fernando Santos loosens his restraints, they are capable of retaining their crown. He probably won’t though.

Hungary look like cannon fodder against such powerhouses, especially after losing their star player Dominik Szoboszlai to injury on the eve of the tournament. But home advantage in a rocking Puskas Arena in Budapest might just help them pull off a surprise or two.

Belgium, ranked No. 1 in the world, will be strongly fancied for another long run like they had at the World Cup in 2018, when they reached the semifinals. They have more or less the same group of players, but talisman Eden Hazard has struggled for form and fitness, while the wonderful PFA Player of the Year, Kevin De Bruyne, has had eye surgery, which will at least mean he can avoid playing with a face mask. It will surely affect him, though. There’s also an ageing defence, which might get found out in the latter stages.

Denmark are in Group B with Belgium, as well as unpredictable Russia and debutants Finland, who will rely on the goals of Norwich City’s promotion hero, Teemu Pukki. The Danes look lively outsiders; with Kasper Schmeichel in goal, a tough defence that shut out England at Wembley, bags of experience and the clever promptings of Christian Eriksen, they are capable of giving anyone a hard time.

With Christian Eriksen leading the way, could Denmark pull a surprise or two at Euro 2020? Photo by Jan Christensen / FrontzoneSport via Getty Images

Italy are less cautious than in years past and on a long unbeaten run under Roberto Mancini. Ciro Immobile can bang in the goals with help from wide men Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne, while the Azzurri also feature a classy midfield, grizzled veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in defence and flying full-backs in Alessandro Florenzi and Leonardo Spinazzola. A doubt over the fitness of key midfielder Marco Verratti is a concern, however.

The Italians kick off the tournament in Rome on Friday with a Group A clash against a Turkey team boasting their best-ever defence, which let in just three goals in qualifying and took four points off France. This is a tough group that also includes Switzerland, tournament last-16 regulars, and Wales, for whom Gareth Bale might not be the force he was in their surprise run to the semis in 2016. Italy should top the group, but it looks tight after that.

What about Spain, who won three big tournaments in a row from 2008 to 2012 with a vintage team? That 6-0 win over Germany, in which Ferran Torres scored a hat trick, served notice of their talent, but there are questions to be answered.

Spain’s preparations have already been severely hit by positive COVID-19 tests for Sergio Busquets and Diego Llorente, forcing others in the squad to train alone and Spain to hand debuts to 16 players in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Lithuania. Only an optimist would believe that other teams can dodge similar trouble, and there’s a feeling that this is an unpredictable team doomed to fall short unless Alvaro Morata or Gerard Moreno deliver plenty of goals.

Spain should have too much for Group E rivals Sweden (what a pity Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not fit), Marek Hamsik‘s Slovakia and Poland, who could nick second place in that group if Robert Lewandowski can maintain his record 41-goal Bundesliga form and avoid the nearly invisible showing he endured at the prior World Cup.

In England’s group, World Cup finalists Croatia still have 35-year-old Luka Modric pulling the strings, and while results this season have been modest, there is new talent in the likes of strikers Bruno Petkovic and Nikola Vlasic. Regardless of recent form, they still have enough good players (including Ivan PerisicMarcelo BrozovicMateo Kovacic) to give England a tough opening game at Wembley.

The Czech Republic, finalists in 1996, are hard to read; but West Ham’s Tomas Soucek was one of the players of the season in the Premier League, and they’ll hope to recreate the exciting 2-1 win they had over England in Prague during qualifying, rather than repeat the 5-0 pasting they took at Wembley.

Also in that group are improving Scotland, who qualified for their first major tournament in 23 years. Led by Liverpool‘s Andy Robertson and shrewdly managed by Steve Clarke, a 2-2 draw away to Netherlands in a recent tuneup game served notice that the Tartan Army are likely to be very competitive. Clarke has cleverly downplayed the hype surrounding the clash with England, reasoning that games against Croatia and Czech Republic at Hampden Park represent their best chances of getting the necessary points to advance.

Netherlands themselves have missed the past two tournaments, and not everyone is sure Frank de Boer is the man to usher them into a more successful era. With no Virgil van Dijk to lead the defence, it’s hard to fancy them as possible winners. That said, with home-field advantage in all three games of a kind Group C that contains North MacedoniaUkraine and Austria, the Netherlands look sure to advance to the knockout stages.

North Macedonia’s presence in their first-ever Euros comes via the Nations League D4 route, and it sparked a nationwide party. Veteran Goran Pandev, 37, is their torchbearer, and that amazing win over Germany in March will encourage them to believe they are not just making up the numbers. Could they be this year’s Iceland?

Forced to make a call at this range, France would be my pick to win it, with Portugal and Italy in contention and Denmark as a lively long shot.

 

 

Euro 2020 preview: Picks, scouting reports, must-see games, biggest ‘upset’ teams and much more

Jun 9, 2021ESPN The Euros are here! Get ready for Euro 2020 with our comprehensive preview. Will England dazzle? Will France dominate? Can Ronaldo lead Portugal to a second consecutive Euro title? ESPN Illustration


FRANCE: Can they make history with a second ‘double-double’?

Germany is dangerous, but they’re the most unpredictable of the big nations at the Euros. Will they rise to the challenge or crumble under the pressure? Getty Images

The double-double of World Cup and European Championships: they did it in 1998 and 2000… but can they do it in 2018 and 2020?France could be the first country to achieve this twice. None of their biggest rivals — Germany, Spain, Italy — has been able, but France will never have a better opportunity to do it than this summer. The Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps generation in 1998 was great, a team built around collective spirit over individual stars, and they won the World Cup with no prolific striker and an incredible defence. In 2000, however, they were at their peak and added individual brilliance to their strength; with Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Youri Djorkaeff and David Trezeguet, they finally had a wonderful attacking line.

There are many similarities with the team of 1998/2000 and this group, anchored by Antoine GriezmannPaul Pogba and, beyond them, the Kylian Mbappe generation. Deschamps is the common thread and Les Bleus have never looked so strong.

This team has the DNA of its head coach, like 1998 had with Aime Jacquet, one of Deschamps’ mentors. Deschamps is first and foremost a pragmatic, conservative manager. His team will defend well and be well-drilled. He is also astute. After five years and 237 days without Karim Benzema since their falling-out over the Mathieu Valbuena scandal, the France boss eventually called him back in May to make this squad even stronger. At 33, the Real Madrid striker is in the best form of his life. He’s coming off another great season in Spain (23 goals, 9 assists in La Liga) and he’s hungrier than ever after missing on the success of 2018 and the near-success of 2016.

No other team at the Euros has this much talent up front. There’s a bit of everything: pace, efficiency, power, skills, strength, height, intelligence, nous. Mbappe is this team’s Henry. Benzema plays like Anelka, a goal scorer who liked to drop deep and organise the play. Antoine Griezmann is a bit of everyone. Olivier Giroud is like Trezeguet, a poacher and a box player. Ousmane DembeleKingsley Coman and Wissam Ben Yedder can start or come off the bench, bringing speed, close control and more goals.

PREDICTIONS: So who’s winning this thing?

Belgium. The window is closing for the Golden Generation, but Euro history is filled with guys who didn’t play much or perform during the season, only to excel for four weeks in the summer. I’m counting on you, Eden Hazard and Axel Witsel… — Marcotti

Deschamps’ squad is head and shoulders above every other nation in the tournament. France have so much quality and depth that it’s virtually impossible to see the world champions failing to win this. – Ogden

Engl… I’m only kidding. France, France and France. Deschamps could have fielded two 23-man squads, and they’d end up meeting in the final. The strongest XI has everything, and Benzema now, which will be too tough for any opponent. – Laurens

France. The World Cup winners boast the strongest squad, and teams are able to make five substitutions in each game. Only a relatively tough draw has stopped France being shorter in the betting markets. – Olley

It’s France‘s to lose. When you can sleep easy after losing Aymeric Laporte to Spain, you know they’ve got incredible strength in depth. If you’re after a surprise package, though, keep an eye on Denmark. – Hamilton

France. Generally speaking, it seems pretty smart to bet on whichever team has a healthy Kante in it, especially when you can team him with Pogba and Mbappe. — Connelly

Portugal: They’re good from front to back and are stacked with players who are coming off impressive seasons with their clubs. If they can get through their group, they’ll fancy their chances against anyone. – Rob Dawson

I think it’s going to be a France vs. Turkey final, but whether that’s right or not, there will need to be a stewards’ enquiry if France don’t win this tournament. Blessed with abundant talent, they also demonstrably possess a tough ‘winning’ mentality. Plus ça change… – Graham Hunter

Runners-up in 2016 and winners in 2018, they already had Griezmann, Mbappe, Pogba and Kante and the rest. Now they’ve got Benzema, too, which is just cheating. France, of course. – Sid Lowe

 Clear your calendar! The must-see games

From a plot perspective, the Euro schedule is nicely drawn. You begin with a couple of days of new-tournament honeymoon vibes and excitement, then you get to the good stuff. Here are the 10 group-stage matches that pack either the most intrigue or the most importance.

– June 13: Croatia at England. Per Caesars, England is the No. 2 favorite to win behind France. Their first match is a doozy, however, against a Croatia squad that is advancing in age but still features a lot of the talent that brought them to the World Cup finals — and past England in the semifinals — three years ago.

– June 13: Ukraine at Netherlands. We’ll find out a lot of what we need to know about the Dutch against a Ukraine squad made up primarily of Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk players, plus a couple of Premier Leaguers (Man City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko, West Ham forward Andriy Yarmolenko) for good measure.

– June 15: France at Germany. Group F is the Group of Chaos, featuring both the past two World Cup champions (France and Germany) and the defending Euros champ (Portugal). Germany have been the shakiest of the three, but they get to play all their matches in Munich’s Allianz Arena.

– June 16: Switzerland at Italy. Switzerland is loaded with talent from Europe’s elite leagues. If this turns out to be a bumpy road for the Italians, favorites in Group A, this is about when things might go awry.

– June 17: Belgium at Denmark. Belgium might be the best team in Group B, but the home team here could be the second best. Might home-field advantage and a sturdy midfield give the Danes an unexpected edge?

– June 17: Austria at Netherlands. Austria’s squad is loaded with talent from Europe’s best clubs. If Ukraine can’t get to the Dutch, it’s possible that Alaba, Sabitzer, Baumgartner & Co. still could.

– June 18: Scotland at England. English fans know exactly how talented their team is, but the sense of “waiting for the other shoe to drop” paranoia could be at a high approaching this rivalry match against Robertson, Tierney and the neighbors up north.

– June 19: Portugal at Germany. If we assume that France advances from Group F — not a given, but they are the overall favorites — then this becomes maybe the biggest match of the group stage, an eliminator between two of the most talented teams in the entire world.

– June 23: Sweden vs. Poland. Spain got what appears to be an easy draw in Group E, but this match could be another eliminator for second place, not to mention a showcase game for Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Sweden’s burgeoning stars (Dejan KulusevskiAlexander Isak) in attack.

– June 23: France vs. Portugal. Few international matches are capable of fielding more pure talent among its 22 competitors than this one. We don’t yet know the stakes — Group F might be all sewn up, and it very much might not — but this one will please the eye regardless. — Connelly

NOVIS GUIDE TO THE EUROS

The UEFA European Football Championship, a mouthful better known as the Euros, brings together Europe’s top men’s national soccer teams once every four years to duke it out for continental glory (and a lot of money, naturally).

  • After two years of qualification rounds, Europe’s 55 eligible teams are whittled down to 24 nations that move on to month-long Euros, which begins today.

The tournament consists of two stages: First, the three-game round robin group stage, which splits the 24 teams into six groups (more on them in a bit). The top two teams from each, along with the next four best teams overall, based on points during the round robin — three for a win, one for a draw — advance to the knockout stage.

  • The knockout stage includes the round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals and final that’s set for July 11th.
  • While most Euros are hosted in one or two countries, this year’s tournament is pan-European, with 11 countries playing host during the group stage and first two knockout rounds before London takes over for the semis and final. Jolly good.

Second only to the FIFA World Cup, the Euros are an international BFD, even for us North Americans. So if you don’t have a nation to cheer for yet, here’s “the gist” on every group to help you pick.

Group A – Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland

The favorite: Italy. Riding a 27-game unbeaten streak, the Azzurri, as they’re known, are playing all three of their group stage matches in front of a home crowd in Rome. The world-ranked No. 7 team won’t have an easy run, but with one of the tournament’s best defenses, they have what it takes to go far.

The dark horse: Turkey could give Italy a run for their money, but to be fair, any of the three in the group could. We’ll get a good sense of things right off the bat though, when Italy and Turkey kick off the whole tournament today at 3 p.m. ET. We’re calling it: the winner of today’s match will win the group.

Who to watch: Gareth Bale, Wales. He’s the best thing to come out of the country since singer Tom Jones, but this tournament will show if the 31-year-old superstar still has it. If he sets the right tone, the rest of his team should follow, and they could surprise us all.

Group B – Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia

The favorite: Belgium. They’re calling this the golden generation of Belgian soccer. The roster is strong, experienced, and like Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke of Hastings, has undeniable chemistry. This tourney is the moment of truth for stars like Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne to finally seal the deal.

The dark horse: Denmark. They may not have a ton of starpower, but their midfield is reliable, their defense is solid, and their goalie Kasper Schmeichel (whose father Peter, also a goaltender, led Denmark to their 1992 Euro win) is one of the top in the tournament.

Who to watch: As previously mentioned, Lukaku, Belgium. An early prediction for “Player of the Tournament,” Lukaku is Belgium’s all-time highest goal-scorer and is only expected to add to his record and grow his lead, especially if Belgium can make it all the way.

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Group C – Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia

The favorite: Netherlands. This shouldn’t be too hard for them. Though the Dutch team missed the last Euros, they have a light schedule, a solid squad and a new-but-knowledgeable coach in Frank de Boer this time. They’ll also play all of their group stage matches at home, which helps.

The dark horse: Though we heavily debated Ukraine, we’re going with Austria, final answer. They’ve played in two Euros before but never made it past the group stage. We think third time’s a charm for the world’s 23rd ranked team. Time to make the von Trapp family proud.

Who to watch: Memphis Depay, Netherlands. Aside from having a burgeoning music career, he’s also a pretty great soccer player. He’ll likely be the main Dutch goal scorer during the Euros, and given the relatively easy matchups he’ll be facing, could be a top contender for the Golden Boot (awarded to the tournament’s highest goal scorer).

Group D – England, Croatia, Scotland, Czech Republic

The favorite: England. The team that consistently underperforms has one of its strongest rosters in decades, and they have a lot to prove. They’ll face their longtime rivals Scotland and the team who ousted them from the last FIFA World Cup, Croatia, in the group stage; the quest for revenge should help boost their gameplay.

The dark horse: Croatia. They surprised many as the runners-up in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and though they’ve lost a few big names since then, they’re still scrappy contenders. The Czech team will be their biggest challenge, though.

Who to watch: Harry Kane, England. He’s the biggest name in English soccer these days, and as the captain, all eyes will be on him to lead The Three Lions (Lannister vibes, anyone?) to their first national championship since the 1966 World Cup, and their first ever Euros win.

🇪 Group E – Spain, Sweden, Poland, Slovakia

The favorite: Spain. A perennial favorite who won back-to-back Euros in 2008 and 2012. And though the roster has changed from that experienced squad to a fresher, younger group of top talent, high expectations remain. The only problem? Two players, including captain Sergio Busquets, just tested positive for COVID-19.

The dark horse: Poland, but we’re going out on a limb here. Sweden might be everyone’s second favorite Group E team, but Poland has one of the all-time best goal scorers in their arsenal: captain Robert Lewandowski. He’s the reigning UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, and we think his leadership is powerful enough to get Poland through to the round of 16.

Who to watch: Alexander Isak, Sweden. With Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic (pronounced ee-brah-HEE-moh-vich) out of the Euros, Isak is the next big thing. He scored 17 goals in 34 games for his Spanish league team Real Sociedad, and he’s the youngest-ever goal scorer for his national team.

🇭 Group F – Hungary, Portugal, France, Germany

SOURCE: ARMANDO FRANCA/AP

The favorite: Portugal. The reigning champs are looking for a second Euros title, and with top talent like Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and up-and-comer Nuno Mendes, they have most of the tools on hand to repeat their 2016 success.

The dark horse: Not Hungary. In this “Group of Death,” three teams are powerhouses in international soccer, with Germany co-leading alongside Spain for most Euros titles (three), and France, the most recent FIFA World Cup winners. Sorry, Hungary.

Who to watch: Kylian Mbappé (pronounced mm-BAP-eh), France. At the age of 19 (and during his first senior international tournament with France, no less), he became the second-youngest goal scorer in a FIFA World Cup final, and is often compared to the GOAT Pelé. Now 22, he’s quick, controlled, experienced, and ready to win again.

👀 How to watch

SOURCE: UEFA

Buckle up, we’re in for a heck of a month. The group stage starts today and continues until June 23rd, then two rest days before the knockout stage begins. Check out the full schedule here, download the UEFA EURO 2020 app to keep up-to-date and watch all the games live on TSN in Canada and ESPN in the U.S. Olé!

THE GIST’S PICKS

🎉 HOW TO PLAN LIKE A PRO:

Ahh…the group trip! In theory, it’s very fun and easy. In practice, it’s a lot of planning. That’s where BACH comes in. Perfect for Bachelorette parties, the free app is your go-to for coordinating schedules, splitting bills and even booking group experiences (did someone say bar crawl?).

  • So when it’s safe to get the squad back together, don’t forget to bring the most important guest — download BACH today!*

🎵 WHAT TO SING ALONG TO:

The Azzurri, Italy’s national soccer team, usually has a theme song to celebrate big soccer events (not joking). And while most of them are painful to listen to, this rendition of “Azzurro”, featuring the 2004 Euro squad, is particularly comical.

📖 WHAT TO READ:

The English team always has a lot of pressure heading into international tournaments, facing intense backlash when they couldn’t perform. Manager Gareth Southland wrote an open letter to his country, reminding English fans to be proud, gregarious and excited, but most of all, respectful.

🎧 WHAT TO LISTEN TO:

Speaking of English fans, they’ve been in the news lately for booing as the England team takes a knee before games. Check out this episode of The GIST of It for all the details on this awful act of racism.

🎽 WHAT TO WEAR:

Now that you have the info on all the best teams, it’s time to pick your favorite and grab some national gear from the UEFA Euros online shop to show your support.

6/9/21  US Men face Costa Rica 7 pm ESPN 2 fresh off Mexico win, US Ladies start 3 game series tomorrow vs Portugal 8:30 pm FS1, Carmel FC Tryouts Mon – June 14

US Men win thriller over Mexico 3-2 in OT

If you had a chance to stay up and watch the US vs Mexico game on Sunday night congrats – you saw one of the best and wildest US vs Mexico games ever.  The thrilling 3-2 win in OT – the 124th minute in front of a majority Mexican crowd In Denver.  The Drama was intense- 2 PKs on 2 VAR Reviews, 5 goals scored, Mexico’s Manager tossed for hugging the ref – Mexico takes the lead on a horrific giveaway by McKensie deep and then Mexico has a goal called back by VAR for offsides, then the US scores, the Mexico, then the US in the 85th minute.  The drama and excitement just oozing on the screen.  Finally Pulisic finally delivers late after he is taken down in the box in the 115th minute.  He calmly steps up and delivers the dagger and the win for this young US team as the US wins its first game in tourney competition a game that really mattered in a long time.  Is this the first for this new Golden Generation of American players raised in DA – now playing in Europe?  Only time will tell – but McKinney, Reyna and Pulisic scoring the biggest goals in the biggest game of their young US careers is certainly a huge step !!   Honestly one of the most exciting US vs Mexico games I have seen!  The USA is back !!

Now what to expect tonight is unknown – I expect some rotation of players tonight – the big work done. I expect Dike to start up top with Musah stepping in for McKinney perhaps along with maybe Acosta in the #8 roles and Yueill back in the #6 role.  I assume Adams will not play tonight.  Not sure on the back line – but perhaps Ochoa in the net tonight after Horvath more than proved his worth vs Mexico.  I do expect the US to try to win vs Costa Rica – we’ll see how they match up as well.  Definitely worth the watch tonight at 7 pm on ESPN2!!   

Expected Line-up

Aaronson DIKE Weah

Musah/Acosta

Adams

Robinson/Brooks or McKensie/Zimmerman/ Cannon  

The Ole Ballcoach – PLAYER RATINGS

THE STARTING LINEUP

Zack SteffenRating: 6.0

DeAndre Yedlin: Rating: 5.0

Mark McKenzie: Rating: 4.5

John Brooks: Rating: 7.0

Tim Ream: Rating: 4

Sergino Dest: Rating: 5.0

Kellyn Acosta: Rating: 6

Weston McKennie: Rating: 7.5

Gio Reyna: Rating: 7.5

Christian PulisicRating: 7.0

Josh Sargent: Rating: 5.5

THE SUBSTITUTES

Tim Weah: Rating: 6.5

Jordan Siebatcheu: Rating: 5.5

Ethan Horvath: Rating: 9.0 (MAN OF THE MATCH)

Sebastian Lletget: Rating: 5.5

Tyler Adams: Rating: 6.0

Reggie Cannon: Rating: 5.5

US Women play Portugal Thurs, June 10 8:30 pm FS1, June 13, June 16

The games will start with the US playing Portugal at 8:30 pm ET on FS1 on Thurs June 10, followed by US vs Jamaica at 10 pm on Sunday June 13th on FS 1 and finally Wed night at 9 pm on ESPN2 vs Nigeria live from Austin.  The 3 game series features most the usuals except Tobin Heath – still recovering from injury (though she is training and will be at camp) and Julie Ertz (MCL expected back for Olympics) and Mallory Pugh.  The US has added the Send off Series vs Mexico in July just before the Olympics as well. 

Thur, June 10

8:30 PM ET FS1                 USA WNT vs Portugal,

Sun, June 13

10 PM ET, FS1     USWNT  vs Jamaica ,

Wed, June 16

9 PM ET, ESPN2                USWNT  vs Nigeria

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

European Cup Starts this Friday

The European Cup kicks off the Summer of Soccer next Friday as they will play almost daily as many as 3 games a day on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC until July 7th.  The games start with Turkey vs Italy in Rome as for the first time multiple nations will host the Euros with the finals in London July 7th.  France come in as the favorites but defending champs Portugal, #1 Ranked Belgium, England, Germany or Spain may have something to say about that.  Also this weekend the Copa America – which has been moved to Brazil– will kick off – giving us day games (9 am, noon and 3 pm) and night games (5 and 8 pm) to watch nearly every day in June. 

Summer of Soccer 

European Championships  June 11 – July 7  ESPN

Copa America  June 13 to July 10 FS1, FS2, Univision

Olympics US Ladies July 21-Aug 5  NBC

Gold Cup July 10 –  Aug 1 FS1, FS2, Fox

CARMEL FC  2021 Tryouts Start Mon June 14th

All evaluations and tryouts will be held at Shelborne Fields. 3451 W 126th St, Carmel, IN 46032.

June 14, 2021- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2003 to 2011)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007: 7:30pm to 9pm.
———————————————————————————————————————————–
Registration Link: Click Here To Register  Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions. 

Good Luck to the 4 Carmel FC teams advancing to this weekend’s President Cup and Challenge Cup Finals games at Grand Park 2009 Gold Girls, 2010 Boys Gold, 2008 Gold Boys, 2007 Gold Boys.  

2021 Alumni/College Age Soccer League
High School graduates, college students, young professionals come join our soccer league this summer!

Who can play? ages 18-30, experienced, new to the sport and anyone wanting to be active and meet new people. 
When does it start/end? Mid- June through early August  Where? Shelborne Soccer Fields 3451 W. 126th Street
Cost? 105.00 (no annual fee or volunteer fee apply to this league).  Do I have to be a Carmel resident? There is no residency requirement for this program. 
Please click here to register for this league.  Registration is open now- June 12   Jerseys and socks are provided  Questions please contact the office 317-846-1663 or email info@carmeldadsclub.org

US Ladies
The three biggest questions facing the USWNT in its upcoming friendlies

Nigerian Coach Weary of US ahead of next week’s game

USWNT’s Heath, Ertz ‘on schedule’ for Olympics  ESPNFC

Ellis to lead NWSL expansion team in San Diego
NWSL Power Rankings: Pride on top going into break

US Men

USMNT-Mexico rivalry, post-Nations League classic: What’s next? – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

USMNT inspired by expected, and unexpected, heroes in “classic” Nations League win  – Charles Boehm MLS
USMNT’s epic Nations League triumph over Mexico provided plenty of lessons
  ESPNFC jeff Carlisle 

Three takeaways from the USMNT’s Nations League win over Mexico  ARMCHAIR ANALYST: MATT DOYLE

U.S.-Mexico marred by anti-gay chants, thrown objects
USMNT tops Mexico 3-2 in extra time amid controversy, goalkeeping heroics, madness

Horvath and Pulisic lift the USMNT to a gutsy and signature win over Mexico
USMNT ‘golden generation’ revels in glorious, crazy win v. Mexico

USMNT wins CONCACAF Nations League in illogical extra time affair

The Kids Came Thru – Ratings  Greg Seltzer MLS
USMNT player ratings from trophy-claiming ET win over Mexico

US Beats Mexico

Angry fans shower USMNT with objects from stands

USA tops Mexico in absurd Nations League final 

USMNT-Mexico rivalry, post-Nations League classic: What’s next? 5hJeff Carlisle and Eric Gomez

CONCACAF Stretcher Girls Steal The Show From USA-Honduras Nations League Clash

Euro’s Start Fri-ESPN


Ranking the EURO 2020 teams

Euro 2020 stars entering red zone: How fresh are Europe’s top players?
 ESPNFC
Bill Connelly
England ‘more determined than ever’ to take the knee in defiance of boos

Ranking the top 20 players at EURO 2020

From Kane to Benzema: Six strikers to watch at Euro 2020

Euro 2021: ranking the 50 best players you will see this summer, part one – 50-41

Buoyed by Champions League winning goal, Havertz eyes Germany 

Sweden to face Euros without Ibra but still have aces up sleeve

Euro 2020 betting: Belgium and Denmark should both move on out of Group B

EURO 2020: Pragmatism the key to success in pandemic soccer

Euro 2020 Group E: Spain’s new era

GAMES ON TV

Wed, June 9

7 pm ESPN2                US Men vs Costa Rica

9 pm ESPN+                El Paso vs Indy Eleven

Thur, June 10

8:30 PM ET FS1           US Women vs Portugal

EUROS + COPA America 2021

(all times ET; coverage starts about 30 minutes before kickoff; all games also stream on ESPN+)

Friday, June 11

Group A – Turkey vs. Italy, 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)

Saturday, June 12

Group A – Wales vs. Switzerland, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Denmark vs. Finland, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Belgium vs. Russia, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)

Sunday, June 13

Group D – England vs. Croatia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Austria vs. North Macedonia, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Netherlands vs. Ukraine, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

COPA   Argentina vs Chile  5 pm  FS2, Univision

COPA   Paraguay vs Bolivia 8 pm  FS2, Univision

USA Women vs Jamaica  10 pm (FS1)

Monday, June 14

Group D – Scotland vs. Czech Republic, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Poland vs. Slovakia, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group E – Spain vs. Sweden, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

COPA   Brazil vs Venezuela 7 pm FS , Unimas

COPA   Colombia vs Ecuador 10 pm FS1, Univision

Tuesday, June 15

Group F – Hungary vs. Portugal, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group F – France vs. Germany, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN, Univision, TUDN)

Indy 11 vs Pittsburg Riverhounds home 8 pm  TV 8 and ESPN Desportes, ESPN+

Wednesday, June 16

Group B – Finland vs. Russia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Turkey vs. Wales, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group A – Italy vs. Switzerland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

USA Women vs Nigeria 9 pm (ESPN2)

Thursday, June 17

Group C – Ukraine vs. North Macedonia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group B – Denmark vs. Belgium, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group C – Netherlands vs. Austria, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Copa   Chile vs Bolivia 5 pm  FS 1

Copa   Argentina vs Uruguay 8 pm FS 1, Unimas

Friday, June 18

Group E – Sweden vs. Slovakia, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group D – Croatia vs. Czech Republic, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group D – England vs. Scotland, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

COPA   Colombia vs Venezuela 7 pm FS 2

COPA   Peru vs Brazil 10 pm FS2, Univision

Saturday, June 19

Group F – Hungary vs. France, 8:30 a.m. (ESPN)
Group F – Portugal vs. Germany, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN, Univ, TUDN)
Group E – Spain vs. Poland, 2:30 a.m. (ABC)

MLS Schedule

Indy 11 Schedule

NWSL Season TV Schedule

Euro’s TV Schedule

Copa Schedule

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Injured USWNT stars Tobin Heath, Julie Ertz ‘on schedule’ for Olympics – coach

5:36 PM E   Jeff Carlisle   U.S. soccer correspondent

U.S women’s national team manager Vlatko Andonovski says that attacker Tobin Heath and midfielder Julie Ertz are both “on schedule” to recover from their respective injuries in time to play in the Tokyo Olympics.Heath suffered an ankle injury with club side Manchester United last January, and later sustained a knee injury during her recovery. Ertz suffered an MCL sprain in the season-opening 5-0 defeat to the Portland Thorns back on May 16. Heath is back training with the U.S. ahead of friendlies against Portugal, Jamaica and Nigeria, but isn’t on the roster for the matches.”Tobin is a little bit ahead of Julie in her progression,” said Andonovski. “She’s in camp here and training every day, and she’s medically, pretty much ready. The only thing now for Tobin is physically we’ve got to prepare her and build her stamina on the field.”Andonovski added that the U.S. team medical staff will check in on Ertz in the coming days, though he’s liked what he sees so far in terms of the player’s recovery.”We’re excited [with] where she’s at right now,” Andonovski said about Ertz. “But we’re going to have to be very careful with our approach, and make sure that she’s fully recovered before she plays a game.”That Heath isn’t on the roster for Thursday’s game, as well as subsequent friendlies against Jamaica on June 13 and versus Nigeria three days later, means by the time Andonovski names his roster he will not have seen Heath play in a match for the U.S. since last November. Andonovski said that while the circumstances are less than ideal, and “makes us think a little bit,” he likes Heath’s chances of making the squad.”If she’s 100%, or if we know that she’s going to be close to 100% by the Olympic camp, her chances to make the team are pretty good.”

The three biggest questions facing the USWNT in its upcoming friendlies

Clare Brennan  Wed, June 9, 2021, 8:00 AM

ANP Sport/Getty ImagesThe United States women’s national team’s Summer Series kicks off Thursday with an international friendly against Portugal, followed by games against Jamaica and Nigeria. The Houston-based series will serve as an inflection point for the USWNT ahead of this summer’s Olympics. While certain roster spots, like back line pillars Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper, feel locked in, others are still up in the air.Only 18 players will make the Olympic roster, with the series providing a final opportunity for athletes to state their case.Here are the biggest unanswered questions heading into the USWNT’s June friendlies.

Can Kristie Mewis make the team?

Kristie Mewis’s career has undergone a renaissance over the last two years. The Dash midfielder received her first national team call-up under coach Vlatko Andonovski in 2019 when the midfielder was named to a 24-player identification training camp. Mewis went on to lead the Houston Dash to the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup championship, earning herself subsequent USWNT call-ups.After six years away from the team, Mewis logged her first USWNT cap with Andonovski in a November 2020 friendly against the Netherlands. Mewis put an exclamation point on her return to the pitch, scoring a goal in the game’s 70th minute, a record 2,722 days after her first goal with the national team.Welcome back! Kristie Mewis scores in her first game with @USWNT in 6 years“It was truly such a rewarding thing. I had wanted to be back on that field with that team for so long. It was definitely really special,” Mewis told JWS back in February when asked about the goal.Battling back from an ACL injury and making her triumphant return to the USWNT would’ve been an extraordinary comeback story in its own right, but Mewis has continued to shine for club and country. In the 2021 NWSL season, Mewis has appeared in four games for the Dash, netting one goal and two assists. Mewis wasn’t awarded much playing time in the national team’s April friendlies, however, making her recent NWSL dominance all the more consequential.Fighting for a spot in a stacked midfield which includes Rose Lavelle, sister Sam Mewis, Lindsey Horan and Julie Ertz, Mewis has the likes of Lyon-phenom Catarina Macario and the Spirit’s Andi Sullivan to contend with. With Ertz out on injury, the Summer Series could provide Mewis the extended minutes necessary to stamp her ticket to Tokyo.

Who is the backup goalkeeper?

Alyssa Naeher has secured her role as the starting goalkeeper for the national team following a dominant 2019 World Cup performance.Andonovski’s attention now turns to Naeher’s backup. Adrianna Franch and Jane Campbell have both been called into the national team’s June camp. Franch was previously on the 2019 World Cup roster, while Campbell has been receiving consistent USWNT call-ups as of late.Both keepers have started the NWSL season strong, Franch for the Thorns and Campbell for the Dash. In her five regular-season games with Houston, Campbell has one clean sheet and a 68.4 percent successful save rate. Franch executed a notable penalty save to win the Thorns the 2021 Challenge Cup and has three clean sheets in Portland’s five regular-season games. If one or both of the keepers get minutes in the upcoming slate of friendlies, that may indicate who Andonovski is learning toward as second in line to Naeher.

What’s going on with Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath?

The term “indispensable” can be carelessly thrown around, but in the case of Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath, it’s hard to think of two more critical players. Both USWNT veterans, however, will miss the June friendlies due to injury.Heath has been off the pitch since the beginning of 2021 after incurring a knee injury while playing with Manchester United. Ertz has been missing from action after suffering an MCL injury during a May 16 Red Stars game against the Thorns.Heath seems to be a bit further along on her road to recovery and will at least participate in the USWNT June training camp. Andonovski has stated that he expects Ertz to join in the team’s send-off series in July.As the team’s holding midfielder, Ertz plays a crucial role on both sides of the ball, connecting the back line to the midfield. Outside of being one of the most dangerous players with the ball at her feet, Heath also fills an essential role in Andonovski’s high press. If Health and Ertz’s rehab timetables don’t allow for a trip to Tokyo, the door could open for rising stars like Sophia Smith, Catarina Macario or Andi Sullivan to make their Olympic debut.Tune in: USWNT vs Portugal, June 10 at 8:30 p.m. on FS1.

USA vs. Costa Rica, 2021 friendly: What to watch for

We end the window with a match against another Concacaf foe. By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jun 8, 2021, 9:00am PDT

The United States Men’s National Team will take the field tomorrow for the first time as Concacaf Nations League champions. However, they will want to make sure they don’t bring a hangover onto the field as they finish out their international window with a friendly against Costa Rica. The USMNT have used this window to prepare for World Cup qualifying in the fall, and they will want to end the window with a win against a team they will certainly need to be

USA

W (3-2) – Mexico – Concacaf Nations League Final

W (1-0) – Honduras – Concacaf Nations League Semifinals

L (1-2) – Switzerland – Friendly

W (2-1) – Northern Ireland – Friendly

W (7-0) – Trinidad and Tobago – Friendly

Costa Rica

D (2-2) – Honduras – Concacaf Nations League 3rd Place*

D (0-0) – Mexico – Concacaf Nations League Semifinals*

L (0-1) – Mexico – Friendly

D (0-0) – Bosnia & Herzegovina – Friendly

*Lost both matches 5-4 on penalties

What To Watch For

Rotations. With the Nations League finished, expect to see a lot of rotations with players who didn’t get to play during the tournament seeing the field. This is also a chance for head coach Gregg Berhalter to evaluate how he would make this rotations should this be a World Cup qualifier to keep guys fresh but also field a solid lineup.

Emphasis on defense. The defense hasn’t had terrific outings as a whole the past 3 matches, so against the Ticos, we should expect to see the team focus on getting a clean sheet and doing so aggressively.

Who will step up? Which of the bench guys will assert themselves into this match? Sure, we can expect to see a fe of the big stars, but this will be a chance for those players not locked into the starting lineup to show that they can be dependable when their number is called.

Lineup Prediction

Given some of the heavy minutes our stars have produced, Gregg Berhalter will likely look to shake it up and give minutes to other guys on the roster. Accordingly, we may see a lineup that looks like this:

Aaronson DIKE Weah

Musah/Lletget

Adams

Robinson/Brooks/McKensie/Zimmerman/ Cannon  The hero of the Mexico match, Ethan Horvath, gets the start at goal. Mostly as a reward, but also due to the knee injury that was suffered by Zack Steffen that prompted Horvath’s entry into the Mexico match and his heroics. The back line will still feature John Brooks, but Matt Miazga gets the nod alongside him, with Antonee Robinson and Reggie Cannon getting the start at left and right back.Tyler Adams gets the start at the 6, getting his chance to see how long he can go with his back, while Yunus Musah finally gets to appear in a match at midfield. Sebastian Lletget also gets the start at midfield to provide some work rate and allow Musah to be more creative on the attack.Up front, Brenden Aaronson gets the start at left wing, with Tim Weah in the lineup at right wing. Daryl Dike, who was not on the Nations League roster but traveled with the team to Denver, gets the start at the 9. Expect Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Sergiño Dest to get some action as 2nd half subs.

Prediction

The USMNT will be motivated after their win in Nations League to finish out the window in strong fashion. It won’t be a pretty match, but they’ll do enough to secure a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica.

The USMNT’s thrilling victory over Mexico meant as much as we wanted it to

Joey GulinoMon, June 7, 2021, 2:19 AM

It’s been a long few years. The fateful October 2017 night in Trinidad stands out, when the United States men’s national team was officially eliminated from the World Cup for the first time since we started caring to field a competitive national team, but there have been plenty of other lows.A couple of them have come against Mexico, from the Gold Cup final two summers ago to one of the worst collective USMNT performances ever a few months after that.The losses sting more because it was Mexico, because it was the USMNT’s chief rival in the region. Games against El Tri are hard to win, and they mean more. Even when they don’t mean anything.That was pretty much the case for the CONCACAF Nations League final. What, exactly, was at stake this tournament? World Cup qualifying and Gold Cup positioning, both of which the USMNT and Mexico would’ve almost certainly gained anyway. It was hard to see how the competition would do much beyond further stratify the haves and have-nots in North and Central America and the Caribbean. Plus, this inaugural edition of it stretched all the way back to the fall of 2019 thanks to the pandemic.

So for as fierce as the rivalry is, you’d be excused for struggling to muster enthusiasm. Except the USMNT’s 3-2 comeback victory over Mexico in extra time was much more fun and compelling and bats*** than it had any right to be. And more importantly, fans of not only soccer but sports in general have been waiting for exhalations like this for a long time.The pandemic scrambled every sports league across the planet — not that they were really that important in its context — and major events were either delayed, canceled outright or held in zombified fashion. Fans weren’t allowed at stadiums across the globe, either, draining whatever spectacle and energy the grim reality of the situation hadn’t already eradicated.

As fans have slowly resumed packing stadiums, the returns have been partly concerning but broadly well-received. That neatly coordinates with Sunday’s crucible, with some idiots acting dangerously but most of them gassing up a game that was thrilling enough on its own merit.Everyone was tweeting about it. Everyone was lauding it. Everyone was getting mad about it. Mexico scores a minute into the game? Same old USMNT. Weston McKennie equalizes late in regular time? That’s new.

Was this a penalty that Christian Pulisic drew against Mexico? Ehhh.Did backup keeper Ethan Horvath really save Mexico’s own penalty shortly after? Yes!How was Hector Herrera not shown a red card multiple times? Don’t get us started.The tension was elevated as ever, even if the stakes were not. Both nations realized what kind of opportunity it was, and that’s one of the few credits to the Nations League. If CONCACAF and soccer’s other governing bodies are going to continue to shamelessly cash-grab, might as well set things up so its best national teams have the chance to square off more often. That’s how the USMNT and Mexico treated this game. In a vacuum, neither side had its first-choice lineup out there, but they were close. Besides, international soccer doesn’t take place in a vacuum. It’s all about how your program can pick up and put down shifting rosters and tactics during an already-packed calendar at the club level. Starting your best XI in any given match is a privilege, not an ordained right.

So both the teams and the fans lent the game weight. How much weight will it carry going forward?That’s perhaps the most important question. For one night, it was a big thing on people’s radars. It can become a bigger thing if it serves a springboard for this generation of American men’s soccer players, which has been dubbed “golden” for deserved reasons.This is the first time this group — which on Sunday included a Champions League winner, a Premier League winner, a Ligue 1 winner, and key cogs at scores of big clubs across Europe — came together to win something at the international level. Fans hope it won’t be the last, with this group hoping to qualify for the World Cup in 2022 before hosting the event (along with Mexico and Canada) in 2026.There will be other opportunities to win trophies in the interim. This triumph over Mexico, the first in a so-called “competitive” match in nearly eight years, can become iconic in U.S. soccer lore if the USMNT wants it to be.Don’t undersell that desire. It’s what made Sunday so special, when it had plenty of reasons not to be. We didn’t need to attach import. We just decided to.

Three takeaways from the USMNT’s Nations League win over Mexico

By Matthew Doyle @MattDoyle76  Monday, Jun 7, 2021, 11:38 AM  

I’m going to borrow my own line from last weekend following the USMNT’s friendly loss to Switzerland: Friendlies are friendlies, and good teams know how to work their way through them and find good stuff to learn and take away from them, then apply them for real when the whistle blows in official competitions.

But history is littered with teams who did only part of that and were just never able to flip that switch, get out of third gear and get into “must-win” mode.

This is especially true of young teams. Veteran sides have, by definition, been there before and more often than not know where to find the switch and how to turn it on. Young teams? Well, it’s a journey.

This is a point I’ve made repeatedly over the past few years, but especially in the past week. I was not sure if this team even knew how to begin looking for the switch, and was worried they’d become somewhat complacent.

That worry was unfounded. The biggest takeaway I will have from the initial Concacaf Nations League is that this almost impossibly young US men’s national team collectively found that switch and, after a good deal of effort, figured out how to turn it on. They navigated the distance between “friendly” and “this game has stakes.”

We saw the beginnings of it in the 1-0 win over Honduras. They at least located the switch, and a few of the players on the team — most notably John Brooks — flipped it on.

“We needed this kind of game,” said US head coach Gregg Berhalter afterwards, and he has never been more correct. Without suffering through the win over the Catrachos there is no momentous, wild-as-all-hell 3-2 win over Mexico Sunday night, a game in which, after 25 minutes, the US finally, collectively found the switch and met the urgency of both the moment and their opponents.

So before you read anything that I or anyone else writes about tactics, remember the very simple foundation of what we just saw from the US is that good things happen when you play really hard, and play with confidence. If you don’t do that, you can suffer the most ignominious of defeats (cough *Couva* cough cough) no matter how weak the competition.

If you do the above and have lots of talent? If that’s the case, then great things are possible. And coming from behind twice against a veteran Mexican side that has dominated this rivalry for a decade qualifies as great.

The players knew it. You could see it in how they carried themselves even after being rocked back by an early uppercut. You could see it in their goal celebrations, and you could see it in the way they matched or exceeded Mexico’s energy not just on the field, but in the extracurriculars that are very much part of this rivalry.

I’m not going to go so far as to say nothing matters beyond achieving that level of urgency. But I will say if the US hit, as a baseline, the level of urgency we saw from minute 25 onwards Sunday night, then this group will qualify for the World Cup with ease no matter what the tactics are.

That said, the tactics did indeed help! Let’s take a quick look:

1 The shape change

There was talk of a massive formation switch from the US in the hours before the game, and when the lineups came out that seemed to be confirmed: The US would play in a 3-4-2-1. And they did, except for a lot of times when they didn’t.

The US played what Berhalter called “an adaptive shape,” one that often looked as much like an unbalanced 4-4-2 with the right back (DeAndre Yedlin) and right midfielder (Gio Reyna) pushing higher and tucking in a bit compared to the left side, where Tim Ream as a stay-at-home left back and Sergino Dest was an old-fashioned wide left midfielder.

You could see it early both in simple possession (of which there wasn’t much), as well as in regular defensive sequences:

Berhalter explained it afterwards in fine detail.“We started with a five in the back. But if you think about this shape, it was an adaptive shape. So any time they went to build with two, we would move to press with two; any time they built with three, we would move to press with three,” Berhalter said. “And then our wingbacks fluctuated between Sergino being a left midfielder and being a left wing back … and then Gio being a high winger or a right midfielder, basically.”

This is weird! We’ve seen a lot of different looks from the US before under Berhalter, but not this one. It’s a huge gamble to go with something so different in a game of this magnitude.

But I would say it worked. The front line did a good job of closing Mexico down out of the mid-block and the backline won a ton of the long-balls El Tri were forced into. The US got forward a good amount in transition, and since they were essentially playing with two up top, they almost always had numbers to put the Mexican backline under pressure and force them to scramble.

2 A game of transition

One of the things Berhalter has talked about a ton in his two-and-a-half years in charge is the concept of disorganizing the opponents without the ball. The US are going to face a lot of bunkers in Concacaf; they always have. And they’ve often struggled against those bunkers, while Mexico — who have long been more comfortable breaking teams down with the ball — have a habit of taking the smaller Concacaf sides apart.

So the coach has seen it as his mandate, from Day 1, to get the US to play better in those situations, and at times (including and especially in the most recent meeting with Mexico, a 3-0 friendly loss in which the US repeatedly tried to play through the Mexican press and couldn’t) it felt like they were doing it to their detriment. There has been a sense in certain corners of USMNT fandom that when the time came, Berhalter would instruct the team to go out on their shield instead of being a little bit more pragmatic.Those fears turned out to be unfounded. Playing more of a mid-block and using a double pivot of Weston McKennie and Kellyn Acosta gummed up central midfield — Mexico created almost nothing up the gut — and turned it into a game of second balls and transition momentsThe US got into a lot of good spots in those transition moments. As was the case vs. Honduras, they simply were not sharp in the final third:

El Tri, meanwhile, were forced to just repeatedly play into the channels.

There are always trade-offs in any gameplan. The US were never going to completely dominate this game, and I think Berhalter got the trade-offs correct here. Yes, Mexico were dangerous playing into those channels, but pushing Yedlin up high dulled a lot of Jesus “Tecatito” Corona’s influence in the build-up, while Brooks was almost flawless in his reads and rotations to contain Hirving “Chucky” Lozano playing as a false 9.

So the gamble was to try to limit those guys and force Uriel Antuna to make plays, or force Carlos Rodriguez to win the game bursting out of central midfield.

They could not. Berhalter gambled well.

3 The adjustment

When Tim Weah came on for Dest at the hour mark I’d argue the “adaptive back five that can, and did often, look like a back four” ended up becoming an adaptive back four that can and sometimes did look like a back five. That is the nature of the game, though: formations are supposed to be liquid.

The hard-and-fast change, though, came late when Tyler Adams came on, Tim Ream came off and Acosta went to left back. That became a real 4-3-3 with Adams destroying everything through central midfield and Acosta tasked with shutting down Diego Lainez, who’d created more danger in two touches than Antuna could’ve in two hours.

The adjustment obviously came a bit too late. Lainez got on the field in the 78th minute and scored in the 79th, while Adams didn’t get onto the field until three minutes after that. But it was the right adjustment, and I would argue it gave the US a little more control over the game down the stretch and then throughout all of the extra time festivities.

If you go back and watch those final 40 minutes (50 minutes when stoppage time is factored in) you’ll see that Mexico were limited to long-range blasts or set pieces, while the US ended up becoming more and more dangerous via possession. They didn’t turn the game on its head, precisely, but they did change the way it was played — and eventually they reaped the rewards of that.

A few bullet-points:

  • McKennie was a one-man wrecking crew on set pieces. Tata Martino is taking a beating for a lot of things in the Mexican press this morning, but the one they should really be going after him for is the inability to contain the US on restarts when the US lineup really only had two good targets in McKennie and Brooks.
  • When the ball was live, Christian Pulisic was poor right up until he made what turned out to be the match-winning play. I kind of wonder if, now that he has this wonderful moment vs. Mexico under his belt, he’ll stop trying to recreate Maradona’s World Cup goal on every touch and become more willing to play within the framework of the game.
  • Dest looked completely out of gas and I think part of Berhalter’s “adaptive shape” was a concession that Sergino is not ready to play as a true fullback in a back four against a team as good as Mexico.
  • As demonstrated by the performances of Ream and Mark McKenzie, the race to be Brooks’ partner in central defense is wide open. I hope we’ll see a lot of Miles Robinson and Walker Zimmerman at the Gold Cup, and Chris Richards as well.
  • I don’t think anyone helped himself more with regard to where he stands in the pool than Acosta, who put in a more-than-credible shift at two spots.

The US play Costa Rica on Wednesday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN) in a friendly, a game added to the schedule in order to replicate the conditions of the three-game windows that are going to be a feature of the upcoming run through World Cup qualifying.  Somehow harnessing the fortitude to recover from such an emotional win and summon the energy necessary to beat the Ticos, even in a friendly… well, Berhalter scheduled this game for a reason. It’s another big test, and another switch this young US team needs to flip. It’ll be fascinating to see if they can manage it once again.

 
USMNT analysis

Horvath and Pulisic lift the USMNT to a gutsy and signature win over Mexico

The USMNT, with its current generation of players, finally delivered a signature win under Gregg Berhalter with an epic 3-2 victory over Mexico in the final of the 2021 Nations League tournament. It was a performance that showcased grit, hard work, and determination – which are the needed traits in World Cup qualifying. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta is here with this thoughts on the game. 

BY BRIAN SCIARETTA   JUNE 07, 202112:25 AM

WHEN THE WHOLE concept of the CONCACAF Nations League was introduced, it generated little enthusiasm and it’s easy to understand why. In a four year cycle, this region was set to be saturated with two Gold Cups, two Nations Leagues, and an octagonal World Cup qualifying tournament. For most people, that’s just too much CONCACAF.If you were to go back in time and tell these people that one of the region’s most riveting and entertaining games in recent years would take place in the 2021 Nations League final, most would laugh. After all, how could the final of a tournament which was viewed skeptically from its onset produce a game so compelling?The answer is simply that the United States – Mexico rivalry is always capable of producing something compelling and emotional. When both teams want to beat each other and both teams are emotionally invested in the game, it doesn’t matter the stage or the trophy attached. It’s just winning for the sake of beating your archrival.On Sunday night, both the United States and Mexico were all-in and for over 120 minutes – wanted to beat each other badly. In the end, it wasn’t really about the Nations League. It was just the regions top rivals doing whatever it took to beat each other in something that was more than a friendly.

THE GAME


The game itself wasn’t necessarily well played by either team. The United States started off very poorly – making mistakes and conceding the opening goal in the opening minute on a series of errors from DeAndre Yedlin, Kellyn Acosta, Weston McKennie, and most of all Mark McKenzie. Just like the U.S. Olympic team, the senior team was caught making a brutal mistake out of the back as opposed to making a basic clearance and regrouping when the press was intense after the errors.The United States responded in the 27th minute when Weston McKennie headed a corner kick from Christian Pulisic off the post. The ball subsequently fell to Gio Reyna who easily slotted home the equalizer to make it 1-1.The team continued to trade blows into the second half. Zack Steffen had to be removed due to a knee injury in the 69th minute. But Diego Lainez put Mexico up in the 79th minute when he exploited space left by Tim Ream and beat Horvath to the low near corner of the game. But Horvath responded making two acrobatic saves soon afterward.Weston McKennie once again responded for the United States. After having three dangerous opportunities on corner kicks earlier in this game, he skied above four defenders and beat Guillermo Ochoa inside the post with a header to make it 2-2.Extra time turned out to be wild with both teams fighting and scrapping their ways for opportunities. In the 114th minute, Pulisic was awarded a penalty on VAR after it was judged that he was taken down on the box. He promptly took the penalty himself and put the U.S. team up with an unstoppable shot into the top of the goal.he dramatics were then saved for the 120th minute when VAR confirmed a handball on Mark McKenzie. Andrews Guardado stepped up for the penalty but again Horvath was up to the task with a perfect save outstretched to his right side.Minutes later, the final whistled sounded on one of the most emotional games in this storied rivalry.Here are some thoughts.

 USMNT PLAYED HARD & TOUGH

 This game was very reminiscent of the old-school U.S – Mexico games where the game would often devolve from the beautiful game and into a slugfest of grit. It’s best to accept that, as much as fans sometimes want to see a classic, well-played game, it is probably always going to be a very rare occurrence when these two teams meet.But that’s okay. The most important takeaway is that this generation of players answered the call of the rivalry in this game. It’s more important and more positive that the team played so hard and so gritty than it is that they played well. If they’re as talented as a group as they showed with their clubs, they can play well.But in this game, they showed they are willing to suffer for results, stand up for each other, and not cave when things don’t go their way. While not everyone on the U.S. team played well, everyone played hard. This was reminiscent of the U.S. – Mexico games in the past that featured Donovan, Beasley, McBride, and Claudio Reyna – among many others.When the Mexican team resulted in chippy and shoving play, the U.S. team responded in a manner where they didn’t get a red card, but sent a message.This was also a game about the U.S. being able to respond.It was very easy to let the game get out of control after conceding in the first minute. But the team adjusted, kept it at 1-0, and then scored the equalizer. From then, the game was even.The U.S. team responded losing its starting keeper. Horvath conceded with his first shot but then responded making save after save.When Lainez put Mexico ahead, the lead lasted less than three minutes.In extra-time, VAR correctly awarded each team a penalty but the U.S. was able to make its play.This was a game where the U.S. team seemingly willed itself to victory and this was the type of game that should give the players a huge boost in momentum heading into World Cup qualifying – where it will rarely be pretty and it will come down to find a way, anyway, to emerge with the upper hand after a 90-minute slog.

 HORVATH MOTM

 Ethan Horvath was the MOTM for this game – and it’s a great story. The seldom used backup goalkeeper has rarely played for club or country the past two years and is now searching for a new club. In this game, he put on a fantastic performance that saved the U.S. team. It will also surely impress any scout who was watching.After conceding a goal soon after coming on (on a shot Horvath had no chance of saving), he made a series of very difficult saves that essentially won the game for the U.S. team. It completely redefined him as a keeper and clearly gave him the edge to be Zack Steffen’s backup.It was also a great story that such an important moment in his career came near his hometown of Highlands Ranch, Colorado. When he wanted to move abroad at an early age, his family sacrificed just about everything to make it happen – moving to Norway so that Horvath could join Molde.After three excellent saves from the run of play, Horvath was playing so well that it seemed like he was up to the task to stop Guardado on the penalty – even as he was taking his line to prepare for the shot.It was an absolutely special performance from Horvath.

 THE 3-4-3 FORMATION

 When the starting lineup was announced, the big takeaway is that Berhalter was rolling with a 3-4-3 formation with three central defenders and two wingbacks. Part of this was to get more width in the attack – which would ideally create more space up the middle.By design, the wingbacks would have an opportunity to move forward into the attack better with defensive coverage. On the flip side, this would leave just two central midfielders ( as opposed to three in a 4-3-3) and it would be quite burdensome on Weston McKennie and Kellyn Acosta.It took the U.S. team awhile to really adjust to the formation. For long stretches the 3-4-3 showed some promise but it was eventually abandoned late once the subs came into the game with extra time approaching.This formation, unfortunately, came at a time when too many in the backline were having rough games. Sergino Dest has been at his best for Barcelona once the team adopted a 3-4-3 formtion in Manchestr City. Dest, however, hasn’t been up to his high-level form for the U.S. team since camp opened in Switzerland. In this game, he really wasn’t able to get his offense going. Yedlin as well was only rarely pushed into the attack.Tim Ream and Mark McKenzie both also had some tough moments. Ream struggled with the pace from Mexican attackers and McKenzie seemed to struggle with confidence, particularly with the opening goal.So, was it a case of the formation not working, or the players having off-nights and not optimizing the benefits of the formation? It’s too early to say for certain, but Berhalter should keep this formation as a possible approach in games. If Dest is in better form (which is realistic to expect) and the U.S. has three central defenders playing well, it might work well.

 REYNA, PULISIC, MCKENNIE, & BROOKS SHOW QUALITY

In this game, the U.S. team got special moments from four of its top players.Christian Pulisic was invisible early on but came a live in the second half and injury time to be the difference maker. While opponents can focus in on stopping him, he is of such quality that stopping him over 90 or even 120 minutes is impossible. He will eventually get really good chances.Gio Reyna, meanwhile, has simply had a great week. Ever since camp opened in Switzerland, Reyna has been the best and most consistent field player for the U.S. team. The son of the former U.S. national team captain has had an interesting year.He began the season with Borussia Dortmund playing extremely well but then struggled for several months after Lucien Favre was fired. From late December through the start of March, Reyna simply was in poor form. Starting in March, however, Reyna has completely reversed course where he has re-emerged as a key player for both Borussia Dortmund and the United States. He was key to helping Dortmund making a magnificent run to end the season and improbably qualify for the Champions League.That momentum clearly carried over into this camp with the U.S. team and Reyna has been so smooth with the ball, and his vision in connecting with his attacking teammates has been first-rate.McKennie, meanwhile, was asked to do a lot in the 3-4-3 as one of just two central midfielders. In terms of being a disruptive presence, he was big. His aerial ability on set pieces has been special the past week. Against Honduras, he was in position several times. In this game, he scored but also forced saves and headed one off the post which resulted in the opening goal.As for Brooks, it was a huge outing in central defense and it was made more difficult with Ream and McKenize struggling at times with the game. Brooks seemed to enjoy the hostile nature of the U.S. – Mexico game even if he has only limited experience in the rivalry. The question now with Brooks is for him to find a partner (or partners in a three central defender set) that can consistently play well. McKenzie had a rough game, but he will and should remain in the mix. 

ACOSTA GREW INTO THE GAME

 While Tyler Adams came into the game in the 82nd minute, it is clear he was rusty and not at his normal level. When the U.S. team is without Adams, it is always a question who should start in that role. Berhalter has explored a lot of options and in this game went with Kellyn Acosta along with Weston Mckennie in the two-man central defender set-up.Like it was with McKennie, it was taxing on both players as the wingbacks weren’t able to get deep into the attack and everything was geared up the middle.
Acosta didn’t have a good first 15-20 minutes but grew into the game nicely and worked well with McKennie – especially when the game got intense and physical in the later stages.Acosta’s versatility was also a help in the later stages when he shifted to play left back to help with defense and move out of the 3-4-3. Mexico had a tougher time going down his side of the field late in the game.Overall, Acosta made a strong statement to be in the rosters for World Cup qualifying and a player who is a serious option for playing time if there are injuries or suspensions to Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie.

 PLAYER RATINGS   

THE STARTING LINEUP

Zack SteffenRating: 6.0

DeAndre Yedlin: Rating: 5.0

Mark McKenzie: Rating: 4.5

John Brooks: Rating: 7.0

Tim Ream: Rating: 4.5

Sergino Dest: Rating: 5.0

Kellyn Acosta: Rating: 6.5

Weston McKennie: Rating: 7.5

Gio Reyna: Rating: 7.5

Christian PulisicRating: 8.0

Josh Sargent: Rating: 5.5

THE SUBSTITUTES

Tim Weah: Rating: 5.5

Jordan Siebatcheu: Rating: 5.5

Ethan Horvath: Rating: 9.0 (MAN OF THE MATCH)

Sebastian Lletget: Rating: 6.0

Tyler Adams: Rating: 6.0

Reggie Cannon: Rating: 5.5

 

 

USMNT player ratings from trophy-claiming ET win over Mexico

Nicholas Mendola  Mon, June 7, 2021, 12:25 AM

The United States men’s national team won the CONCACAF Nations League in a non-descript match versus rivals Mexico that betrayed the nations’ usual rancor.Only part of that is true, as Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT scored him a statement 3-2 win in extra time that included a penalty made, another saved, two American equalizer, a surprising red card for Mexican coach Tata Martino, a surprising non-red card for Mexican star Hector Herrera, a pause in the game after a homophobic crowd chant, and a pitch invasion.Oh, and the Americans allowed a first-minute goal that would lead any neutral fan to believe the score was going to be 300-0 for the Mexicans.What say you we rate the USMNT players?

USMNT – Mexico player ratings

Zack Steffen (Off 69′): 7 — The non-contact injury will be a concern for Pep Guardiola and Gregg Berhalter alike and came after he was hung out to dry for Mexico’s opening goal. We’re giving him an extra point because if he stayed in the game it wouldn’t have played out like it did. Butterfly effect.

DeAndre Yedlin: 5 — Looked unfamiliar with his surroundings, which is odd for a 64-times capped back before you remember that he’s played all of nine minutes for the USMNT since the calendar hit 2020, and that those were the only nine minutes he’s ever played next to Mark McKenzie. Risky and unnecessary error on the first-minut goal.

Mark McKenzie: 3 — Nightmare start as the ringleader of a series of first-minute mistakes that put Mexico ahead. Nearly made amends for extremely shaky play at the back with a header off a corner that was collected by Ochoa with 15 minutes left to play. Then saw the second goal go through his legs on its way past Ethan Horvath. The good news is that he’ll know one of his worst nights — McKenzie is a pretty darn good young back — still wound up with a winner’s medal.

John Brooks: 7 — A mistake early in the buildup to the Mexico opener and another bad giveaway but otherwise another exceptional performance from the excellent-passing, physical leader of the back line. Still adventures more than necessary but there’s no one in the player pool anywhere near his skill set as a center back.

Tim Ream: 4 — He’s not a left back and we’d say, “but don’t tell Gregg Berhalter” if we weren’t positive that dozens of people have told Gregg Berhalter just that. The Fulham center back that started at left back for the USMNT over the man that Fulham coach Scott Parker usually chose at left back at Craven Cottage was exposed for pace. But really, that’s not Ream’s fault. At all.

Sergino Dest (Off 60′): 4 — The good news for Dest is that two-fold. No. 1: He’s really good so it’ll be easy to bounce back from a poor performance. No. 2: So much wacky stuff happened that few will remember said poor performance.

Kellyn Acosta: 5 — The penalty wasn’t his fault, as no one should call a handball when a cross turns off a head from super short range, and — again — it’s not his fault that Berhalter keeps putting him out there fro a player pool that includes a load of options including but not limited to Julian Green, Jackson Yueill, and – yes – even Michael Bradley. Bad touch on the opening Mexican goal, out to lunch but with a great view of the second.

Weston McKennie: 9 — He nearly scored with his header of Pulisic’s corner that became Reyna’s goal, then scored anyway off another set piece. He is the embodiment of what most USMNT fans want their team to be, and his massive long throw to set up the corner on Reyna’s goal was weighted like a through ball. Incredible stuff.

Giovanni Reyna (Off 86′): 9 — Why he was lifted before full-time, I have no idea. The son of Claudio Reyna showed the big game mettle of his dad in getting a goal and an assist and finding space more often than not as Tata Martino tried to shut down Christian Pulisic.

Christian Pulisic: 7 — Delivered the corner for the opener and won the decisive penalty, one he dispatched with vicious accuracy into the camera in the upper 90. When the USMNT captain eventually lifted the CONCACAF Nations League trophy, weeks after holding the European Cup, you had a feeling he’d transitioned from USMNT star to all-time great. He’s 22 and has 16 USMNT goals on 37 caps, one away from the program’s all-time top ten.

Josh Sargent (Off 68′): 5 — Slipped twice in the first few minutes and both were huge. One led to Mexico’s opener (though his slip was merely the catalyst for bigger errors by others) and the second came on a great run that could’ve made it 1-1 if he didn’t slip. Still, he’d find his real and proverbial footing before the end of his short shift.

Timothy Weah (On 60′ for Dest): 8 — Pace to burn and he did just that, solidifying the right side. Made a quick pass that should’ve left Mexico with 10 men when Herrera scythed down the three-time Ligue 1 champion.

Jordan Siebatcheu (On 68′ for Sargent): 6 — No super sub day, but still okay.

Ethan Horvath (On 69′ for Steffen): 9 — Save after save after save after … oh yeah, one of those was a penalty save on Andres Guardado up 3-2 in the second period of extra time. Can’t give a 10 due to the wrong-footing on Mexico’s second goal, though he was far from a culprit. Pretty good, guy.

Sebastian Lletget (On 86′ for Reyna): 6 — Not bad, not great, and kinda weird to see him out there for an 18-year-old Reyna boasting a goal and an assist through 86 minutes.

Tyler Adams (On 86′ for Ream): 6 — Please get fit and stay healthy, Tyler. The USMNT is much better with you in the fold.

USMNT player ratings: The kids are alright in wild Nations League Final win vs. Mexico

By Greg Seltzer  Monday, Jun 7, 2021, 09:59 AM

The US national team had to dig deep multiple times in order to celebrate a 3-2 comeback triumph over Mexico in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League championship match on Sunday night.

In a chaotic, contentious game, the home side had to battle individual mistakes, the familiar El Tri swarm, unfamiliar tactics, injuries and some debated officiating that featured three VAR decisions. In the end, Weston McKennie led the way to victory with a comprehensive display that included an 89th minute rescue goal to send the game to extra time.

United States Men’s National Team Player Ratings

7 Zack Steffen

Goalkeeper · USA

The US netminder might like another shot at stopping Jesus Corona’s fast opener, but the danger was upon him so suddenly it would be harsh to fault him on it. Before leaving with an injury, Steffen was solid, with a monster 43rd minute save his top highlight.

3.5 Mark McKenzie

Defender · USA

I did not ding the Genk defender for his late penalty foul, as the ball skimmed off his hand from mere inches away. There were much bigger problems caused by McKenzie’s shaky work on the ball. His errant pass gifted Mexico the first goal only a minute in, and he was later bailed out on similar giveaways. The youngster did make some strong clearances and blocks, and he possesses the talent to mean this performance could very well prove a valuable learning experience.

5.0  John Brooks

Defender · USA

Perhaps thrown off by the formation change, Brooks made a string of tentative errors that put the team in trouble. The Wolfsburg center back did not have his usual passing lanes, so his incisive distribution game was mostly offline. He did do well to play the last 110 minutes carrying a yellow card, and made a few important interventions along the way, but the overall showing wasn’t up to his expected standard.

4.5  Tim Ream

Defender · USA

The veteran center back pitched in by offering plenty of possession support, but was simply pulled out and beaten by pace far too often for comfort.

5.5 DeAndre Yedlin

Defender · USA

With so much of the play away from his flank, Yedlin didn’t take part in many instances of note during regulation. The Galatasaray right-sider did fit in a couple of timely defensive stops during extras before departing with a knock, though.

5.5  Kellyn Acosta

Midfielder · USA

The first half hour of the game was pretty rough on the Colorado Rapids midfielder, but he grew into it and started helping McKennie run things. Acosta found ways to play the team out of the back and added some heady defensive work when shifted over to left back in the late going, but picked up one more sizable demerit for being among the guilty that didn’t properly close down Diego Lainez on his goal.

9.0  Weston McKennie

Midfielder · USA

For all those wondering if McKennie could develop into a guy who’d put on a do-it-all star show in the big game, you now have the answer. The Juventus midfielder was everywhere, doing a little bit of everything and he had a hand in nearly every positive development for the US on this night. One restart header put the team’s first equalizer on a tee and another one bagged its second in the nick of time. Long story short, McKennie was the best player on the field by a mile.

4.5 Sergino Dest

Defender · USA

The Barcelona talent got loose for an impressive early scamper, and you thought that might be an omen. However, Dest just could not shake Luis Rodriguez after that, and he also came up short defensively on various occasions.

7.0 Giovanni Reyna

Winger · USA

The Borussia Dortmund kid definitely disappeared from the match for stretches, but was present in the big moments. Reyna was on the spot to tap home the first US goal, and picked out McKennie with a fine corner kick delivery for the second equalizer. He also tracked back well to contribute some needed defensive interventions.

5.5 Josh Sargent

Forward · USA

Though not served by the team’s lethargy for much of the first half, Sargent managed some link play and one decent attempt on goal. That was about it for the Werder Bremen forward.

7.0  Christian Pulisic

Forward · USA

The newest Captain America’s oddly loose touch hampered several rushes in a poor first half, but he atoned for it with a few terrific corner serves, one of which pulled the US level the first time. After the break, Pulisic pulled it together to initiate some dangerous rushes with great turns in between the lines. And with everything on the line, he made the winning penalty conversion look easy.

Head coach

6.5 Gregg Berhalter

I’m still not convinced the shape change to a 3-4-3 was wise, and the same can be said about some of the personnel decisions for this game. That said, the boys never dropped their heads when mistakes happened and never packed it in when they were trailing. There’s a certain team atmosphere that allows them to pull off a double rally against an archrival that has typically foiled them in recent years, and Berhalter gets due props for that.

Subs

6.0 Timothy Weah

Forward

The Ligue 1 champ put the team on the front foot a few times with bursts up field, but could not turn those rushes into chances.

10.0  Ethan Horvath

Goalkeeper · USA

Well, gosh, I’m not sure one could ask any more of a injury replacement goalie in a title match. Horvath had little chance at stopping the Lainez strike that temporarily put Mexico ahead, and shook it off to save the USMNT’s bacon after they’d tied the game near the end of regulation. Of course, he capped off the win with a dutiful chips-down penalty save on Andres Guardado.

5.5 Jordan Siebatcheu

Forward · USA

The substitute striker did a bit of road plowing, but was never able to threaten the Mexico defense.

6.5 Tyler Adams

Midfielder · USA

The first thing Adams did upon entering the fray was make a big tackle. He kept his intensity high at the back until the job was done.

6.0  Sebastian Lletget

Midfielder · USA

The LA Galaxy man was largely invisible for the majority of his 38 minutes, but picked up his two-way play over the decisive waning moments of overtime.

6.0 Reggie Cannon

Defender · USA

 

USMNT’s epic Nations League triumph over Mexico provided plenty of lessons

Jun 7, 2021Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

DENVER — The United States men’s national team headed into Sunday’s CONCACAF Nations League final against Mexico as a side heavy on potential but light on experience. Yet in an engrossing contest that lasted almost three hours, this young U.S. team grew before the collective eyes of those in attendance, prevailing 3-2 after extra time to claim the inaugural edition of the trophy.It was a match in which the U.S. navigated myriad twists and turns, rallying twice, converting a pressure-packed penalty through Christian Pulisic in extra time, and then surviving a penalty against it with substitute keeper Ethan Horvath saving brilliantly from Andres Guardado.There was also the usual venom that accompanies this rivalry. Pulisic and his teammates were showered with debris (and Giovanni Reyna being hit in the face with an object) after his penalty conversion. There were heavy challenges, more than a few scuffles — including a hand around the neck of midfielder Weston McKennie — and even fans invading the field.And in the end, the U.S. prevailed over El Tri in a competitive fixture for the first time in eight years. And while the game carried extra importance with a trophy on the line, the actual prize seemed almost secondary to the events that transpired throughout the evening.”For this group, it’s really important,” U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter said about the victory. “We’re a young side and we need to learn how to win. These games are very difficult, and for us it was about having a game plan and executing the game plan, but then it’s also about the fight in the spirit.”The future will determine just how much this victory will galvanize the U.S. team. World Cup qualifying starts in a mere three months, and qualification remains by far the most important prize for this side. To a degree, the U.S. men’s program is still smarting from its failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. But this win means plenty for the players in that it provides a massive boost of confidence that its potential is being translated into results in big moments. It also gives Berhalter the kind of signature win that increases belief in his methods.At minimum, this is a game that these U.S. players will remember for the rest of their lives, especially given the wild swings in momentum. And none more so than Horvath, who struggled for playing time with Club Brugge this season and was penciled in as the backup to Zack Steffen. Yet when Steffen was forced off with a knee injury in the 69th minute, Horvath stepped in and made a series of game-changing plays to the delight of the more than 20 friends and family who were in attendance to see the Colorado native.”Just thinking about how difficult it is for goalkeepers to come into the game, in that stage of the game, and then to make the impact that he made was remarkable,” Berhalter said. “It’s been a tough season for him and to come and have a performance like that in his hometown was, you know it’s stuff that storybooks write about.”The talking point in the run-up to kickoff was Berhalter’s decision to go with a three-man backline, presumably in a bid to free up Sergino Dest from his defensive responsibilities and get more into the attack.

But before the U.S. could even settle into any kind of rhythm, disaster struck as a too-casual pass from defender Mark McKenzie was picked off by Jesus Corona, allowing him to advance toward goal and rifle his shot past Steffen. The game was a mere 63 seconds old.The U.S. struggled to settle in during the ensuing minutes, unable to connect passes and looking suspect in defense, especially with Tim Ream often left isolated to defend Uriel Antuna one-on-one.But a critical sequence around the 27th minute highlighted that as much as the U.S. labored at times both individually and as a team, it showed near-endless reservoirs of resolve and revealed an ability to learn on the fly. One moment, Hector Moreno nodded home Hector Herrera‘s cross, only for VAR to come to the U.S. team’s rescue and disallow the tally. Then, in a flash, they were level, as Reyna cleaned up a rebound after McKennie’s header hit the post. In between, Reyna was everywhere, getting into the attack but also contributing on the defensive end. McKennie began to impose himself all over the field, and John Brooks put in an immense performance to help stabilize the U.S. defense.There were still warning signs, however. Pulisic was ineffective for most of the night. The back line was wobbly. Dest, thought to be a key component in the U.S. breaking down Mexico’s defense, looked completely out of sorts and unsure of what he was supposed to do and where he needed to be.The second half saw the U.S. play with more composure and on more level terms, even if it wasn’t completely in full flow. McKennie forced a trio of saves from Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa as he consistently shook free on set pieces.

And yet it was a substitution from Mexico manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino — the introduction of attacker Diego Lainez — that nearly turned the tide. The Mexican side had been attacking Ream relentlessly all game, and Lainez’s shiftiness and fresh legs gave him a decided advantage. It paid off in the 79th minute as Lainez cut inside and unleashed a shot that beat Horvath.At that point, it seemed as though all Mexico had to do was see the game out, yet McKennie wouldn’t be denied, finally getting the better of Ochoa with his header from Reyna’s corner just creeping into the goal.

The regional heavyweights continued to land haymakers, and Horvath needed to be at his sharpest to deny Lozano in the 90th minute. And if the first 90 minutes delivered drama, extra time took matters beyond the red line. Pulisic won a penalty in the 109th minute after being felled by Mexico defender Carlos Salcedo, one that required a five-minute VAR review, and also saw Martino red-carded for placing his hands on the referee. Brooks couldn’t stand to watch, facing toward his own goal. He missed seeing Pulisic convert a cold-blooded penalty, and he celebrated by taking off his shirt and shushing the crowd, at which point the U.S. players were pelted with debris. Reyna appeared to take a projectile to the head, though Berhalter said he thinks the attacker “is going to be OK.”Of course, there was one more dose of drama. McKenzie was adjudged to have handled Luis Romo‘s shot in the box, requiring another lengthy VAR review. Guardado stepped up to take the spot kick, and while his shot lacked placement, it had plenty of power, forcing a spectacular save from Horvath. The keeper said he, Steffen and David Ochoa spent 30-40 minutes with goalkeeper coach David Hyde studying the tendencies of the opposition.”It’s down to us doing our homework,” Horvath said.The U.S. then smartly ran out the clock, even as more projectiles rained down on them. At the final whistle, players collapsed to the ground and were soon celebrating with the U.S. fans behind Horvath’s goal.For the U.S., the tournament has been a rousing success. Yes, the team showed its inexperience in managing big occasions. But it also revealed an adaptability and a mental toughness, even in the face of incidents like one in the second half when Hector Herrera grabbed McKennie.

“I don’t know what it is, but they seem to like to grab my neck,” McKennie said. “It’s a rivalry that’s been there for generations and it’s rivalry that will still carry on. We just got the upper hand this time, and hopefully it stays that way.”The younger generation is growing up.

USMNT-Mexico rivalry, post-Nations League classic: What’s next?

10:24 AM ET ESPN FC  Jeff Carlisle  Eric Gomez

Following Sunday’s instant classic between the United States and Mexico in the Nations League final, there’s still plenty to break down from the USMNT’s 3-2 win over El Tri.

Did the USMNT live up to the potential promised by its young stars like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie? Is Mexico still considered the best team in CONCACAF despite the heartbreaking loss? And while Gregg Berhalter won his first trophy as USMNT manager, Gerardo “Tata” Martino may start to feel the pressure that comes with being in charge of Mexico.ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Eric Gomez look back at the epic match in Denver, while assessing both the state of both teams with CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying looming ahead.

What did we learn about both teams (the good, the bad and the ugly)?

Carlisle: The biggest takeaway from the CNL triumph is that the increase in talent the U.S. has brought through in the past 18 months is beginning to translate into results, all while getting a taste of what competitive fixtures in CONCACAF will be like.

Sure, players like John Brooks and Pulisic are well-versed in the kind of gamesmanship and shenanigans that go on in CONCACAF, be it subpar field conditions, crazy weather or provocations of any kind. But these past two games were a baptism of sorts for some of the younger elements in the squad like Giovanni Reyna, Josh Sargent and Sergino Dest. And while some individuals coped better than others — you can count Reyna among those who really impressed — the U.S. did enough collectively to get two victories, including a massive confidence-booster against rivals Mexico.Even better is that players like McKennie, Brooks and Pulisic have started to take on more of a leadership role, stepping up in big moments. McKennie took the U.S. team on his back in the Mexico game, and Pulisic, while quiet overall, delivered in a clutch moment with his penalty. These are all vital developments for this side.Much is made about the continued barren spell in front of goal for Sargent. The good news is that the U.S. is scoring goals without him, but he has to break out at some point. How much patience will U.S. manager Berhalter have on this front?

Outside of Brooks, the defense remains very much a work in progress. Berhalter used a four-man backline against Honduras, and then a three-man setup (or five-man, depending on how you look at) at the start against Mexico before returning to four at the back later. Weaknesses were exposed in both systems. Against Honduras, the U.S. looked vulnerable in transition. Against Mexico, the U.S. struggled at times to build out of the back — including a giveaway by Mark McKenzie that led to Jesus Corona‘s opener — and was vulnerable on balls over the top. The system clearly asked too much of Tim Ream, who was repeatedly isolated in one-on-one situations against Mexico and struggled.And what of Dest? The move to a three-back system was supposed to free the Barcelona man up to get more into the attack; not only did he fall short in that regard, he gave Ream little help defensively.

It leaves Berhalter with a conundrum of sorts, one that might be solved if Tyler Adams can stay healthy. The team’s defensive shape solidified when he came onto the field against Mexico, providing help out wide when needed. But getting Dest back on track, and finding a defensive system that can work even if Adams isn’t available, is his biggest task at the moment.

Gomez: Mexico’s night in Denver started about as well as it could possibly script it: Corona barreled through the left side of the pitch, leaving American defenders behind, and after losing the ball, he got it back after an errant pass from McKenzie left him one-on-one against keeper Zack Steffen. Corona’s goal set the tone for most of the first half: El Tri took advantage of a high defensive line by lofting long balls to its wingers, often setting up chances against backpedaling opponents.

As subsequent attacks from Mexico in the first half showed, El Tri’s strength on offense comes from its speedy wingers who can stretch out the field, creating opportunities either by the strength of their own ability or by forcing mistakes from overwhelmed defenders. However, after the United States shored up its defensive alignment in the second half to better prepare for wide attacks, Mexico’s cracks began to show.

Without Raul Jimenez to shoulder the load up front, Gerardo Martino and Olympic team manager Jaime Lozano have a shallow pool of center-forwards to choose from this summer. In the Nations League final four, Mexico got by mostly through flashes of brilliance from individual performers. It’s hard to fathom seeing this team even making the final if not for goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. On Sunday, Ochoa, Corona and second-half sub Diego Lainez undoubtedly kept the team afloat in key stretches.

Moving forward, Martino’s focus needs to be on two key issues. Mexico gave up two goals off corner kicks against the United States, and nearly every other dead ball posed a threat. In previous years, under Juan Carlos Osorio, special attention was focused on this part of the game and became less of an issue. In addition, while Martino can’t do much about the player pool to shore up his team’s areas of need, his confidence in clearly out-of-form players such as Uriel Antuna, Luis “Chaka” Rodriguez and Alan Pulido needs to come to an end.

Finally, as the game neared its close, the Mexican players were obviously affected by the mounting pressure, committing silly fouls and becoming embroiled in scrums with the Americans even before Pulisic scored the defining penalty kick. In recent years, El Tri seemed unburdened with playing the United States on the Americans’ home soil, grabbing key wins in the process. Sunday night, the ghosts of the dos a cero era seemed to roam among them.

Carlisle: Let’s just state up front that even if the U.S. had lost that game, Berhalter wasn’t going to get fired, nor should he have been. You don’t hire a coach, have him manage the team through all the difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic, and then fire him three months before World Cup qualifying because of … some tactical quibbles?Up to Sunday’s match, he’d gotten the results that were expected. The win over Mexico now cements his position and gives him the signature win that his tenure needed in order to generate some momentum for the program. And while players have their own motivations for playing for the national team, it’s obvious that on Sunday this team went to the mat to get this win. That speaks well of the environment Berhalter has created, along with how well his message is getting through.That doesn’t mean some of Berhalter’s decisions can’t be questioned. The reliance on Ream at the expense of Matt Miazga is a head-scratcher. You have to wonder how many more opportunities Sargent is going to get, and Pulisic needs to get on the ball more. But the team is growing, and Berhalter deserves some credit for that.Now he has the luxury to experiment at the Gold Cup. World Cup qualifying then beckons, which will be the ultimate judge of his tenure.

Gomez: Early on in the Nations League final, it seemed as if Martino was dispensing a tactical masterclass to an overwhelmed Berhalter. Within the game’s first 30 minutes, Mexico was a VAR replay away from a 2-0 advantage. As we all know, however, the match was flipped on its head moments later when Reyna turned an American corner kick into an equalizer.From there, Mexico’s aforementioned tactical advantage dwindled slowly, as Martino was increasingly unable to rely on his speedy wingers to wreak havoc on his opponent as the game wore on. Though Berhalter’s use of substitutions can be rightfully critiqued on the winning side, Martino was equally baffling in his player selection and in-game formation rearrangements.El Tri seemed lost at times when it was not able to count on the likes of Corona, Lozano and Lainez to create instant offense. When Henry Martin subbed in for Corona (who was on a time limit due to a pre-existing injury), the Argentine manager’s gambit to balance his offense failed. As they did against Costa Rica a few days before, Mexico was far less dangerous up front with a true center-forward than without. Borrowing a page from Los Ticos, Berhalter dared El Tri to attack his team through the middle by stymieing the wingers — it worked.

On defense, against talented players with line breaking speed, it was borderline irresponsible to keep 33-year-old Hector Moreno in for exactly 100 minutes. Though Hector Herrera was gassed and in constant danger of picking up a red card when extra time rolled around, bringing in 34-year-old Andres Guardado to fill the role was a questionable move. Even with his fresh legs, Pulisic and McKennie tore into the Real Betis midfielder at will.

Yes, some of these poor decisions can be chalked up to Mexico’s looming generational switch and the aforementioned lack of depth, but Martino’s decision-making will be increasingly under the microscope from now on.

How does this project for the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying?

Carlisle: The roster that Berhalter takes to the Gold Cup is bound to be completely different than the one that contested the Nations League. He wants and needs his Europe-based players to get a rest after long club seasons. The clubs will be grateful for his judicious use of those stars as well. Instead, Berhalter will go with a group derived mostly from MLS. That should help him get some answers as to who will comprise his depth pieces, and he even might uncover a player or two — Daryl Dike, perhaps? — who can become steady contributors.

World Cup qualifying is easily the biggest priority, and that is when the viewing public will next see the players who were on show Sunday night. While the CNL has no direct impact on that competition, the confidence boost gained from that competition should set the U.S. up well when qualifying commences in September with a triple-fixture window. Part of the reason the U.S. scheduled a pair of friendlies around the CNL was to mimic the cadence of such a window, and Berhalter is no doubt already gleaning data from the current camp.Included in the September window is an away game with Honduras, always a tricky encounter. The match at Honduras counts as a frontier that this group of U.S. players has yet to navigate, that being an away date in Central America. Recall that in the group stage of the CNL, the U.S. fell to Canada 2-0 in Toronto in an environment that, while not friendly, is far from the most inhospitable it will find in the region.The U.S. is riding a wave of momentum heading into World Cup qualifying. A poor result anywhere would put a stop to that, something Berhalter will be mindful of going forward.

Gomez: The next few months have the potential to saddle Mexico fans with plenty of disappointment, celebration, or a combination of both. Losing to the United States in any official capacity is unacceptable for El Tri, which means the team will now look to the Gold Cup to make up for missing out on the inaugural Nations League crown.However, Mexico will also field a team at the Olympics in Tokyo. Given the difficulty that stems from negotiating with European clubs to allow their players to participate (as it overlaps with the start of their season), it seems more likely El Tri will draw on Liga MX or MLS players to fill in the roster gaps, including the three overage players each country is allowed to bring. We’ve already mentioned the player pool limitations Martino has had to deal with for the senior team; those are only compounded when it comes to filling two full-strength sides.Mexican fans and media have lofty expectations for their Olympic squad since the 2012 team won gold against a heavily favored Brazilian side in London, and this group is no exception. Even with El Tri’s talent on display, getting past hosts Japan and medal favorites France in the group will be no easy task. This sets up a scenario where if Mexico fails to win the Gold Cup and say, does not make the quarterfinals in Tokyo, the program will roll into September’s World Cup qualifiers under abundant pressure.A quick look at newspapers and TV show pundits after the loss to the United States makes it clear: Martino’s extended honeymoon period with Mexico is over, and it can only get worse as time goes on. Thus, it’s critical for Mexico to have a good summer after this initial letdown at the Nations League.

Where does the rivalry go from here?

Carlisle: The rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico has suffered of late on two fronts. One is the fact that prior to Sunday night, Mexico had won the games that mattered in recent years. You had to go back to 2013 in a World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, to find the last time the U.S. won a game with something more than pride on the line.Another was the frequency with which the two teams had been meeting. Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic put that on hold to a degree, but prior to 2020, you had to go back to 2010 — a World Cup year — to find the last time the two teams did not square off in a given calendar year. Rather than being special occasions, these encounters were becoming commonplace, diluting the rivalry’s passion. Yes, the friendly games are money-spinners for both federations, but a “less is more” approach might help to maintain the intensity.The improvement of the U.S. squad will also play a part in ratcheting up the rivalry. It used to be a novelty to have a U.S. player taking part in the UEFA Champions League. Last year, 10 players alone were on Champions League rosters for the group stage, which was followed on by 13 players claiming 10 trophies over the course of the club season. That kind of experience will certainly help close the gap with Mexico, which has the stronger domestic league compared to the U.S.

Gomez: The United States had not beaten Mexico in an official match since 2013. It had not won a final against El Tri since 2007. Despite a few blood-pumping moments in some of the friendlies (Miazga vs. Lainez, anyone?), Mexico could claim a near-absolute dominance of its biggest rival in recent years. Factor in other big wins at other age groups on the men’s side, such as the win keeping the U.S. out of the Olympic Games last spring, and deeming the rivalry as one-sided was apropos.But Sunday’s intensity, aided by CONCACAF’s absolute incompetence (featuring horrible refereeing, a trophy that might or might not be made out of foam, and oh yeah, the VAR tent inexplicably placed between benches) yielded a game for the ages. This rivalry needs more of what made the Nations League final great. Frankly, it’s primed to do so given the Americans’ budding generation of stars coupled with Mexico’s willingness to couple its talent with top-tier coaches in recent years. It’s hard to argue against anyone predicting each game featuring these two teams will be fun in the near future. If both teams make it to the Gold Cup final, we’re looking at four direct matchups — counting World Cup qualifiers — in the next nine months.

Frankly, what does nothing to intensify the rivalry or make it better is some of the fan behavior observed in Denver. Authorities need to crack down on fans continuing to yell anti-gay slurs at games, and they most certainly need to figure out a way to protect players from those who launch projectiles from the stands, like the ones that could have injured Reyna and Martin. The half-hearted campaigns from the Mexican federation and the weak, almost laughable, enforcement of CONCACAF’s three-step protocol have done little to curb misbehavior.

These types of unfortunate actions fall under the purview of both federations and should lead them to come together in an effort to stop them once and for all.