12/5 Megan Rapino, Messi Win Ballon D’Or, Manchester Derby Sat, Carmel FC Coaches Gathers Tonight, Champions League Tues/Wed

Nice to see Megan Rapino take home the World’s Best Player award on Monday, she really has become more than just a soccer player after her performance in the World Cup – helping the US Ladies win their record 4th World Cup Title, I for one was rooting for Virgil Van Dyke to become the first defender in forever to win the Men’s Best Player Award but of course Messi wins it again. Hard to deny Messi again had a great year but I really wanted to see someone different win it this year – I guess it was the closest ever vote as Van Dyke lost by less than 1%.  Too bad.  Big Games this weekend on Saturday at noon on NBC we get Manchester City hosting Manchester United in the Manchester Darby, and Saturday morning on Fox Sports 2 at 9:30 am we have the top 2 teams in Germany as US midfielder Johnson and top seeded Borussia Mgladbach host Bayern Munich with their new coach looking to take themback to the top of the league.   

Champions League Final Group Games Next Tues/Wed

I have had a blast watching US Starlet Christian Pulisic at Chelsea not only start but also score important goals.  His Champions League goal 2 weeks back helped Chelsea garner the tie – which leaves them in prime position to qualify for the knockout rounds (Sweet 16).   The two U.S.  players who have been getting regular minutes in the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Sergino Dest of Ajax, both head into next week’s final group stage matchday with a spot in the knockout stage on the line. It would be foolish to bet against Pulisic pulling the Blues, though. The Pennsylvania native’s otherworldly recent displays for Frank Lampard’s team have been flat-out unprecedented for an American at the highest level.  Games are Tuesday and Wed with 4 groups still open as to who will either win the group or who will qualify.  Chelsea faces Lille Tuesday at 3 pm on FuboTV and BR Live, while Ajax must win to hold onto 1st in the group vs Valencia at 3 pm on BR Live,  If Ajax and Chelsea win they are thru.  American Coach Jesse Marsh, the first American to ever coach in Champions League, will lead his Salzberg squad into a loser goes home match vs Champions League Holders Liverpool.  Salsberg has the GD lead – so they only need a win to advance while a tie or win on the road will put Liverpool thru to the round of 16.  If course this game will be on Tuesday at 1 pm on TNT, while at 3 pm Tuesday on TNT Inter hosting Barcelona will be needing a win to advance on assuming Dortmund win.  Barca is already thru as the group winner.  Wednesday we get Bayern vs Tottenham on TNT at 3 pm- a game that means nothing, while Athletico Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen battle for their Sweet 16 lives in games vs Lockomotiv and Juve (top team) respectively on BR Live and FuboTV.  Wow how I hate TNT and BR Live having Champions League (man I miss Fox’s old Soccer coverage)

IU loses in Elite 8

I got a chance to tune in and watch the Elite 8 Match where the Hoosiers Lose Heartbreaker at Home in OT of Elite 8.  Horrible conditions with snow blowing sideways found IU tied thru regulation before losing in the 100th minute on an unlucky slip and quick goal from Cal Santa Barbara.  Still a great season for Indiana who has a very young team with most of their starters coming back from this Big Ten Champion Team.

REMINDER TO ALL CARMEL FC COACHES — GATHERING AT WOLFIES THURSDAY EVE 5:30 pm  to say thank you for all your hard work this season.

When: Thursday, December 12th 2019 / 5:30 pm to late

Where: Wolfies Grill – 1162 Keystone Way, Carmel 46032

Why: Carmel FC Social, celebrating 2019/2020 season

What: Light appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided; additional      food & beverages can be purchased separately.

Who: All Carmel FC coaches

GAMES ON TV

Fri Dec 6

3 pm eSPN+                                   Inter vs Roma Berlin

3 pm FS2                                         Frankfurt vs Hertha

3 pm beIN Sport                           Villarreal vs Atletico Madrid

Sat, Dec 7   

7:30 am NBCSN                               Everton vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

9:30 am Foxsoccer            Borussia Mgladbach (Johnson) vs Bayern Munich

9:30 am FS2                                      Dortmund vs Dusseldorf (Morales & Steffan)

10 am??                                             Bournmouth vs Liverpool

12:30 NBCSN                      Man City vs Man United

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Lazio vs Juventus

3 pm beIN Sport                               Barcelona vs Mallarca

Sun, Dec 8

9 am NBCSN                                      Aston Villa vs Leciester City

11:30 am   NBCSN                            Brighton vs Wolverhampton

12 noon FS1                         Paderborn vs Werder Bremen (Stewart)

2:45 pm ESPN News                        Bologna vs Milan

Mon, Dec 9 

3 pm NBCSN                                      West Ham vs Arsenal

Tues, Dec 10   – Champions League

1 pm TNT                                         Salzburg (US Coach Jesse Marsh) vs Liverpool

3 pmTNT                                          Inter vs Barcelona

3 pm fuboTV/BR Live                 Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Lille

3 pm Galavsion/BR Live             Ajax vs Valencia

3 pm                                                  Lyonais vs RB Leipzig (Adams)

3 pm                                                  Dortmund vs Slavia Praha

Weds, Dec  11 – Champions League

1 pm TNT                                         Dinamo Zagreb vs Man City

3 pm TNT                                         Bayern Munich vs Tottenham

3 pm TUDN/fubotv                     Club Brugge vs Real Madrid

3 pm futboTV/galavision          Bayer Levekusen vs Juventus

3 pm futboTV/                              Atletico Madrid vs Lokomotiv Moskov                     

Thur Nov 28

11 am BRLive/fuboTV/TUDN   Astana vs Man United

1 pm BRLive/fuboTV/Unimas Standard Legiege vs Arsenal

WORLD

Messi tops Ronaldo, wins sixth Ballon d’Or award

Messi’s Ballon d’Or form might not be enough for Barca 

Rapinoe wins Ballon d’Or but is so much more than a soccer star

Rapino wins Ballon d’Or

Euro 2020 Draw is Set

Marocotti’s Musings – Football Around the World ESPNFC

Griezmann is an outsider at Barca and an outcast at Atleti

Euro Championship on US network TV for 1st time since ‘08

USA

McIntyre’s USMNT Stock Watch: Christian Pulisic’s unprecedented rise continues

Tyler Adams returns to RB Leipzig training

DMid Yeul had great end to the Year for USMNT

https://sports.yahoo.com/looking-back-at-the-usmn-ts-upanddown-2019-170701640.html

Will MLS have a Work Stoppage ?  ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Does Playing Pro Soccer Increase the Risk of Degnerative Disease – Soc Takes

Champions League

Table

Christian Pulisic scores Champions League goal for Chelsea

Liverpool left with work after draw vs. Napoli

Salzburg beat Genk to set up group decider with Liverpool

Chelsea denied UCL knockout spot by Valencia

Kepa blows hot and cold in Chelsea draw with Valencia

Forsberg double sends Leipzig into UCL round of 16

Inter beat Slavia to keep knockout hopes alive

Messi breaks Ronaldo UCL record in 700th game

Mourinho has ball boy’s ‘assist’ to thank for UCL comeback

Zenit beat Lyon 2-0 to stay in contention for last-16 spot

Barcelona ratings: Messi 9/10, Suarez 8/10 in convincing win

Sancho benched vs. Barca for lacking focus – boss

Mourinho high-five ‘made my life’ – Spurs ball boy

Spurs Ballboy Joins Team Dinner

Jesse Marsch, who will be first American to coach in Champions League, already eyeing Liverpool test

EPL

Arsenal sack Emery after worst run in 27 years

Marcotti: Arsenal hung Emery out to dry, but he’s not blameless

·        Arsenal interim boss Ljungberg: From CK model to Prem manager

Chelsea are young, rich and among the world’s best — and will only get better

At Man United, Mourinho was right man at wrong time. At Tottenham, it just works

Goalkeeping

Some of Alisson’s Great Saves at Liverpool last year

Pretty Funny parity Alisson Becker Video accepting Best GK

Great Saves International Break

Best Saves Week 4 Nov
Liga MX goalkeeper scores from his own box

Cilicen was a god vs Chelsea in Champions League Wed

Navas Earns Cheer from Real Madrid Crowd after PSG Champions League Game

Megan Rapinoe takes home 2019 Ballon d’Or but is so much more than the best player in women’s soccer

Dec 2, 2019Simon KuperESPN.com writer

PARIS, France — Megan Rapinoe, the second-ever winner of the women’s Ballon d’Or given to the best player on earth, had better things to do than pick up her award in Paris on Monday. “Bonsoir everyone!” she called out cheerily to the theater packed with dinner jackets and ballgowns, in a video that looked as if it was recorded in the corner of her Seattle living room. She apologised for not making it over: “It’s a bummer.” Lionel MessiKylian Mbappe and Virgil van Dijk were among those who had shown up to applaud her, yet her snubbing of the ceremony seemed fair enough: judged by her off- as well as on-field impact, she may be soccer’s biggest icon today.

A really good icon arrives at just the right moment in history. We’re living in an era when women, sexual minorities and non-white people are saying we won’t be treated as second-class humans anymore. Certain men in the traditional ruling class reply we get to decide that. And into that battle walks Rapinoe. Her expressive face, uninhibited humor and sense of style make her an ideal spokeswoman for almost any cause, and as an activist she’s an update on past stars of her sport.The face of American soccer 20 years ago, Mia Hamm, “was sort of a gateway to the world becoming used to female soccer players,” says Gemma Clarke, author of Soccerwomen. “She was marketed as wholesome, as the girl next door.” By contrast, adds Clarke, Rapinoe wouldn’t have been accepted as an icon “even five years ago.”

Messi tops Ronaldo, wins sixth Ballon d’Or award

Ballon d’Or: Messi wins (again), Rapinoe honoured, but where’s Ronaldo?

Why Megan Rapinoe’s brother Brian is her greatest heartbreak, and hope

Messi, Rapinoe win Ballon d’Or prizes

Now 34, Rapinoe spent most of her career just short of front-rank status. Yet even without the protection of stardom, she never shied away from unpopular causes. She campaigned for prisoners’ rights on behalf of her brother, Brian, who has been in and out of prison with drug problems. A former white supremacist with swastika tattoos, he watched many of his sister’s triumphs from behind bars.In 2016, she became the first white American athlete to kneel during the national anthem in solidarity with the anti-racism campaigner and NFL player Colin Kaepernick. “It took guts. It could have ended her career,” says Clarke. The U.S. Soccer Federation responded by banning the act of kneeling. Meanwhile, Rapinoe and her girlfriend, WNBA star Sue Bird, were “normalizing a lesbian relationship” in American public life, notes Brenda Elsey, coauthor of Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America.But Rapinoe’s joint careers as athlete and activist reached their crescendo this summer. If the U.S.’s victory at the World Cup in France was expected, her domination of the tournament wasn’t. She hasn’t been the best female player of her era, but she peaked when it mattered. “She’s a big-time player,” says the USWNT’s coach Jill Ellis. Rapinoe’s confidence — exemplified by her trademark arms-outstretched celebration, known as “the Rapinoe” — was a rejection of old-style submissive femininity, and particularly stunning coming from a working-class woman.Rapinoe dared take on Trump, the candidate who had swept most voters in her rural northern Californian hometown — including her own father. She promised she wouldn’t be visiting the “[expletive] White House” if the U.S. became world champions. “Megan should win first before she talks!” tweeted Trump. A few days later she’d not only won her second World Cup, but also the Golden Ball for best player and Golden Boot for highest scorer. playRapinoe has called herself “a walking protest” and her advocacy of the U.S. team’s lawsuit for equal pay was another feet-first leap into one of the social issues of 2019. Her own career had almost been cut short by gender inequality: four years ago, she tore her ACL while practicing with the USWNT on a grass field in Hawaii so bad that it was lined with plastic-covered sewer plates. “Equal pay!” the crowd in Lyon chanted after the Americans defeated the Dutch in the World Cup final, a chant that’s resounded through stadiums across the National Women’s Soccer League this year. But the USWNT’s lawsuit shines a light for women beyond sport, and beyond the U.S. too.In modern sports, activism is usually treated as a potential distraction. Speaking in platitudes or sponsor-fed slogans is considered the professional thing to do. Even some of Rapinoe’s teammates on the national team seem to take that view. They talked about wanting to “stay in their bubble” during the tournament, says Caitlin Murray, author of The National Team, about the USWNT. Rapinoe’s spat with Trump threatened to pull them out of it, but the furor didn’t distract them; equally, it seemed to energize her.

Rapinoe is more than a professional: she is a performer. On the pitch she’ll joke with the referee, banter with opponents, or acknowledge a fan, says Murray. “She always looks like she’s having fun.” Her irreverence seems to help her stay loose on the field, and lets her relax a potentially overstressed locker room.Wowing the world has left her little time for her Seattle club, Reign FC: her stats for this season are no goals and no assists in just 333 minutes of play. But then, she’s made for greater things, like further investment in women’s soccer. In a video celebrating her Ballon d’Or, her father mused: “I don’t know where you go from here: the best player of the universe?” In fact, her international playing career may culminate with next year’s Tokyo Olympics, but that would surely just unleash her onto a new path, or maybe various paths. “At this point she’s so popular that she could do almost anything,” says Elsey. It’s easy to picture her running for political office, but that feels perhaps too tritely obvious for her.”That’s the thing about the greatest icons,” says Clarke. “There’s really nobody to compare them to.”

Euro Championship on US network TV for 1st time since ‘08

The Associated Press•December 3, 2019

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — The European Championship is returning to U.S. network television for the first time since 2008.ESPN said Tuesday that five of the 51 matches will be televised on ABC. In 2008, ABC carried two of 31 games: a quarterfinal and Spain’s victory over Germany in the final.All of ABC’s telecasts will be on weekends: Belgium-Russia on June 13, Spain-Poland on June 20, round of 16 matches on June 27 and June 28 and a quarterfinal on July 4.Ian Darke will be ESPN’s lead commentator and will broadcast the opener between Italy and Turkey at Rome on June 12 and the final in London on July 12, paired with analyst Taylor Twellman.Thirty-nine games will be on ESPN, including the opener and the final, and seven on ESPN2.Univision has U.S. Spanish-language rights.

McIntyre’s USMNT Stock Watch: Christian Pulisic’s unprecedented rise continues

Doug McIntyreYahoo Sports•December 3, 2019

It’s early December and the year is already over for the United States men’s national team and all of its MLS-based players. For those members toiling away in Europe, though, things are as busy as ever. The Bundesliga is hurtling toward its month-long winter break, with German Cup games also on tap this week.

There’s a full slate of midweek English Premier League fixtures, the Prem schedule now ramping up ahead of the jam-packed festive period at the end of the month. Meantime, the two U.S. reps who have been getting regular minutes in the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Sergino Dest of Ajax, both head into next week’s final group stage matchday with a spot in the knockout stage on the line.

It would be foolish to bet against Pulisic pulling the Blues, though. The Pennsylvania native’s otherworldly recent displays for Frank Lampard’s team have been flat-out unprecedented for an American at the highest level. The news isn’t as rosy for others, but that’s as good a place as any to kick off our latest USMNT Stock Watch.

USMNT players trending up

M/F Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England)

Pulisic wasn’t able to prevent Chelsea from losing at home to West Ham over the weekend, but he’s been Lampard’s best player for the last six weeks, scoring seven goals across all competitions — including in last week’s thrilling 2-2 tie at Valencia in the Champions League — in his last eight outings.

Takeaway: Mexican striker Raul Jimenez took home PFA Fans’ Player of the Month honors for November, but it could’ve just as easily gone to Pulisic. After a rough start to life in London, the 21-year-old is now in the form of his young career and hitting heights never before seen from a U.S player. After a quiet outing on Saturday, expect a strong response from Pulisic in Wednesday’s contest vs. Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.

M Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany)

After entering as a substitute against Werder Bremen on Nov. 23 following international duty, McKennie reclaimed his starting job for last Friday’s 2-1 win over Union Berlin.

Takeaway: The Texan might not have a goal or an assist yet, but the versatile 21-year-old —who has even played a little center back this year — is quietly having an excellent season under new coach (and former USMNT midfielder) David Wagner, helping Schalke rebound from an awful 2018-19 and into third place in the Bundesliga.

G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

After a rough outing against Bayern Munich two weekends ago, the U.S. No. 1’s five stops stole a point for Fortuna away to Hoffenheim.

Takeaway: The best news of all regarding Steffen is that the 24-year-old only has to play four more Bundesliga matches before the break provides some badly needed rest for his sore left knee.

M Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

The Berlin-born central midfielder, 29, has started four consecutive games for Fortuna, going the distance in each of the last three.

Takeaway: No player in the U.S. pool forced his way into U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter’s plans though club performances more than Morales — who hadn’t been capped since 2016 — did this year. He’s clearly established himself as a regular, if not a starter, heading into 2020.

D Antonee Robinson, Wigan (England)

Robinson has played almost every minute of second-tier Wigan’s 19 league games this season and has also been a mainstay with the U.S. U-23s.

Takeaway: The Latics have struggled mightily this season and while Robinson, 22, has struggled at times he continues to pick up valuable experience. In March, he’ll be key part of the U-23s effort to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. And given the U.S.’s ongoing depth issues at left back, don’t be surprised if he gets the opportunity to add to his seven caps later in the new year.

USMNT players trending down

M/F Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey)

Boyd was pulled at halftime of last week’s 2-1 Europa League win over Slovan Bratislava, and the New Zealand-reared attacker has played just 14 minutes over Besiktas’ last seven Super Lig matches, including Monday’s 4-1 win over Kayserispor.

Takeaway: The third-place Black Eagles have won six times and drawn once in seven games over that span, making it unlikely that the 24-year-old will see a ton of action over the club’s final four league matches before Turkey’s winter break. Whether Boyd retains his starting Europa League role next week at Premier League Wolves remains to be seen.

D/M DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle (England)

A hip injury rendered Yedlin unavailable for Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City.

Takeaway: The timing stinks for the veteran right back, as Newcastle is back in action Wednesday against Sheffield United. Yedlin had started the Magpies’ previous six Prem matches. But if he can’t go midweek, and if Javier Manquillo produces another strong showing in his stead, the 26-year-old Seattle native could be forced to win back his spot when healthy.

M/F Julian Green, Greuther Furth (Germany)

An MCL injury has forced Green out of the second-tier club’s last two matches.

Takeaway: Although he’s been ignored by Berhalter so far, Green — who is still just 24 — was quietly having a strong season for Greuther Furth, with four goals in 13 total 2. Bundesliga games, when he went down. Green will probably have to pick up where he left off, at the least, in early 2020 to earn a USMNT look in March.

F Bobby Wood, Hamburg (Germany)

After going all of October without seeing the field in the 2. Bundesliga, Wood played in each of Hamburg’s last three games. But he was yanked at halftime of Die Rothosen’s most recent match, a 2-1 loss to Osnabruck, and still hasn’t scored this campaign

Takeaway: It’s been a miserable year for the 27-year-old, who went without a cap in 2019 for the first time since breaking in with the U.S. in 2012. Even with the USMNT’s lack of depth up top, Wood figures to remain on the outside unless and until he reverses his fortunes at club level.

USMNT Stock Watch: Surprise November standout Jackson Yueill trending up

Doug McIntyreYahoo Sports•November 25, 2019

For the U.S. men’s national team, recent wins against Canada and Cuba did more than qualify the Americans for June’s CONCACAF Nations League semifinals. The two matches also provided some valuable insight into where a number of players fit within the positional pecking order under coach Gregg Berhalter.That matters, because the twin victories also guaranteed that Berhalter will remain at the helm of the USMNT through at least next summer. Berhalter’s first year had some low lows, with shocking losses against the Canadians and fellow border rival Mexico sticking out. The fanbase remains cynical, quite understandably after missing last year’s World Cup.But if Berhalter is to lead the USMNT to a more convincing 2020, he’ll likely lean on many of the names listed in the section immediately below. As for those Americans whose national team sock is trending the other direction at the moment, they should be heartened by the knowledge that fortunes can change quickly at the sport’s highest level.With the program’s 2019 slate finished, here’s a snapshot of where some of the national team’s most interesting players stand right now.

USMNT players trending up

M Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

The crafty central midfielder started both U.S. games in November, turning in two fine performances despite having not logged a minute of action since the Quakes’ season ended in early October.

Takeaway: No player helped himself more this month than the 22-year-old Yueill, who will head into 2022 as a presumed starter even when veteran Michael Bradley returns from the ankle injury he suffered during MLS Cup. “I really liked his intensity,” Berhalter said after naming Yueill his man of the match against Cuba. “He didn’t let up for 90 minutes, and to turn around from a very physical Canada match to now play again in these conditions, I thought he did a great job.”

D Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands)

The USMNT officially cap-tied the Dutch-born fullback against Canada, and Dest looked like a man with a weight lifted off his shoulders in the 4-1 win.

Takeaway: With Dest’s decision to represent the U.S. now made, the 19-year-old figures to quickly establish himself as a key player on both sides of the ball. “It feels great if you can do both,” Dest said after the Canada match. “I also want to make an impact on the team defensive-wise and attacking-wise.”

M Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy (MLS)

With Christian Pulisic nursing a hip injury, Lletget stepped into a playmaking role against Canada and provided some of the attacking swagger that was missing in October’s 2-0 loss north of the border.

Takeaway: “Sebastian is a guy that gives you a little bit more of the game-changing quality that that Christian possesses,” Berhalter said after his side exacted revenge on Les Rouges in Orlando. Lletget probably returns to the bench when Pulisic’s healthy, but he definitely didn’t hurt his case for more minutes in 2020.

M/F Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders (MLS)

Morris scored five goals in the final five U.S. matches of 2019, including two in last week’s 4-0 rout of Cuba.

Takeaway: The all-action 25-year-old is coming off a career season for club and country; Morris was the USMNT’s best player during the second half of 2019. Don’t be surprised if European suitors come calling. “I’d never rule anything out,” Morris told Yahoo Sports after helping his hometown Sounders to a second MLS Cup in four years earlier this month. “If an offer or something came along that I really enjoyed and thought was right for me, I would have no quarrels with making a jump.”

D John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany)

Brooks made just his second appearance under Berhalter in Orlando, and his experience and pedigree made a huge difference defensively. “He’s got that quality about him that’s very calming,” center back partner Aaron Long said. “He’s very smooth on the ball, definitely a guy that calms the game down for us.”

Takeaway: While Brooks’ ability has rarely been in doubt, questions about his commitment and ability to stay heathy remain. Only time will tell if the 26-year-old answers them in 2020.

F Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew (MLS)

U.S. fans’ favorite whipping boy at least temporarily silenced his haters with two well-taken strikes in Orlando.

Takeaway: Goals aside, Zardes still had an excellent match, making smart decisions on and away from the ball. He might not be Berhalter’s first choice up top when everyone is available, but in a paper-thin forward pool he proved that he should remain in the conversation for minutes.

F Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany)

Sargent didn’t let the disappointment of not playing against Canada linger versus Cuba, against whom the 19-year-old scored twice.

Takeaway: It was a fitting way to end the year for Sargent, who wasn’t even in the coach’s plans as recently as June’s Gold Cup. “Overall I think you can tell he was hungry to score goals and that’s what I liked,” Berhalter said. “He had a very good mentality in this match.”

D Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls (MLS)

The 27 year-old scored the backbreaking third goal against Canada and went the distance in the 2019 finale, too.

Takeaway: It was a strong way to finish the year for Long, who suffered late summer swoon with both his club and national team after the Red Bulls turned down an offer from English Premier League strugglers West Ham.

USMNT players trending down

G Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

With tendonitis in is his left knee, Steffen was allowed to skip both games and rest. But he struggled in his return, gifting Bayern Munich its second goal in Saturday’s 4-0 loss.

Takeaway: Steffen remains the U.S. No. 1. But his position is perhaps less secure than it was a few weeks go. The 24-year-old continues to struggle playing out of the back, and veteran Brad Guzan acquitted himself well in Steffen’s absence.

D Matt Miazga, Reading (England)

Four months after Miazga started both the Gold Cup semifinal and final, the 24-year-old central defender was left off the U.S. roster entirely this month.

Takeaway: The snub is especially head-scratching considering that the New Jersey native has been ever-present for Reading in the English second tier when healthy. He even scored a game-winning goal against Preston North End shortly before Berhalter’s latest squad was announced.

F Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC (MLS)

Although he was able to recover from a quad injury enough to come off the bench (and score) in the Nov. 10 MLS Cup, Altidore did not join up with the USMNT afterward.

Takeaway: Given the circumstances, no huge surprise there. Still, the fact is that Altidore, who just turned 30, wasn’t around much during Berhalter’s first year in charge. When he was during last summer’s Gold Cup, the coach used him sparingly. It’s fair to wonder how much he fits into the plan going forward.

M Duane Holmes, Derby County (England)

After October’s embarrassment, it stood to reason that Berhalter would call in a fresh face or two. Holmes had been called in earlier in the year, and the hard-running and versatile 25-year-old seemed like an obvious candidate after starting eight of the Rams’ 10 matches before the break.

Takeaway: Holmes’ next chance to play for the U.S. comes in March. Perhaps a few goals between now and then might compel Berhalter to reconsider.

MLS CBA: Will there be a work stoppage? And what do the league and players want?

Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

During the MLS offseason, there will be countless discussions about player signings and trades. There will be various drafts and other roster maneuverings as teams try to retool for next season.Yet the biggest talks of all will involve every player from every team in the league. On Jan. 31, the existing collective bargaining agreement between MLS and the MLS Players Association will expire. The hope is that a new deal will be hashed out, and the two sides have actually been engaged in negotiations for the better part of the past year, but if an agreement can’t be found before the start of the season, the league faces the prospect of a work stoppage.

What’s at stake?

MLS has experienced considerable growth since the last CBA was hashed out in 2015. Heading into that campaign, the league had 20 teams. MLS will begin next season with 26, with another three set to join in the following two years. There has also been sizable investment made by owners, and not just in stadiums. Training facilities, once considered a luxury item, are now becoming ubiquitous. There has been greater investment in salaries as well, with the implementation of targeted allocation money (TAM) having the effect of increasing the salary budget for each team by $4 million a year. As such, according to Forbes, the average valuation of MLS teams has increased by 30% from 2017 to an average of $313 million.Complicating the negotiations is the fact that the current media rights deal is set to expire at the end of 2022, meaning a new media deal will be approved in the middle of the term of the new CBA. It is expected that the next media rights deal will be multiples higher than the existing deal, which pays MLS $90 million a year. That figures to be a complicated topic to tackle, although that hasn’t stopped the union from trying.”We have made detailed proposals to the league on how to deal with that [media rights] issue,” said MLSPA executive director Bob Foose.For these reasons, a work stoppage of any kind would blunt this momentum, although to what degree obviously depends on its length.

What are the odds that there will be a work stoppage?

Historically, the union and the league have been able to avoid a work stoppage, although there have been close calls in the past, including the 2015 deal that was struck just days before the start of the regular season. Mediators were also needed to help the two sides hash out an agreement.”The league isn’t seeking to have a work stoppage, and based on the discussions we’ve been having with the union, we don’t think they are either,” said Mark Abbott, MLS president and deputy commissioner. “I think both we and the union are working in good faith to reach an agreement to extend the CBA. That being said, we certainly recognize that you can’t eliminate entirely the possibility of work stoppage and we’ve been working with our teams over the course of the last year to ensure that they’re prepared and that we’re prepared in case that happened. Again, it’s not something that we’re seeking.”The MLSPA leadership has certainly made more noises about its willingness to go on strike, and has spoken of contingency plans players are making in case there is a work stoppage.”We’ve been talking about and preparing for work stoppage for two and a half years now,” Foose said. “At this point, talking about the details of what that would look like and how we would proceed, and how we would all work together, the players are very serious when they say they’re ready to do what’s best for the full player pool and the future of the [players’ association] and the league.”A strike would see the MLSPA flying in the face of some serious headwinds, however. The fact remains that MLS’ billionaire owners can withstand losing revenue to a much greater degree than the players can cope with missing paychecks. The latest annual filing from 2018 shows that the MLSPA has total assets of $10.5 million, a reflection of not only how relatively young the union is but also how low its salaries are compared with those of players in other North American sports.By comparison, the National Basketball Players Association has total assets of more than $200 million. For the MLSPA, that $10.5 million would disappear pretty quickly in the face of an extended work stoppage. Foose stressed that union funds are not the only resource players can dip into should there be a work stoppage. The players have been preparing on their own as well.”We obviously don’t have the luxury that some of the other [players’ associations] have with an extra zero in [their] resources,” Foose told ESPN. “But we certainly have plenty of money to do what needs to be done on the [players’ association] side of things.”All of that said, it behooves all involved to reach an agreement.”We understand exactly where the business is, and I think we have a very good feel for where it’s going,” Foose said. “And we have no incentive to damage that.””I think we were able to get a bit of a foundation [in late 2018], so going into 2019 we were further along on many issues than we ever had been,” said executive board member Ethan Finlay. “But the process, it’s still early.”So what are the chances that the two sides won’t be able to come to an agreement and a work stoppage will interrupt MLS’ 25th season? There is a 20% chance of that happening; both the league and the players have too much at stake to go down that road.

What’s the timeline?

The CBA might expire on Jan. 31, but the real deadline will take place weeks later. The CONCACAF Champions League round of 16 begins in mid-February, and as long as there isn’t a work stoppage, those games could go forward. The real deadline for a new CBA is the start of the MLS season, which will take place on the weekend of Feb. 29.To hear the union tell it, the league has tended to take a long time to respond to proposals, so while there’s a little more than two months to go until the CBA expires, time can get short in a hurry.”If things don’t move more quickly and [the league] takes the same approach that was taken the last time through, the odds of a stoppage skyrocket, so hopefully that won’t be the case,” Foose said. “A strategy to run out the clock is not going to be looked upon favorably by the player pool or the [players’ association].”

What the MLSPA wants

The growth and investment of MLS has been noticed by the MLSPA, and it understandably is keen to carve out a bigger chunk for its members. But the union’s core issues are centered less on total salary numbers and more on systemic changes such as freedom of movement and allowing the players a greater ability to compete for the league’s dollars.A greater degree of free agency is one of the union’s goals. Although the union faced criticism in 2015 for not extracting more concessions from owners, one goal it did achieve was a limited form of free agency. As it stands, players who are at least 28 years old and who have played in the league at least eight years can be free agents when their contracts expire. They can also receive raises of only between 15% and 25%, depending on their salary level. The union wants the age and time of service threshold to be reduced and wants the cap on salary increases removed or at least raised considerably.The MLSPA would also like to see the salary budget rules simplified. Although the union was pleased to see the league pump more money into player salaries during the existing CBA, the implementation of TAM grated in that it was money that was available only to players making a salary of between $530,000 and $1.5 million. That excludes a large chunk of the rank and file, who are shoehorned into senior, supplemental and reserve roster categories that limit what those players can make.The union would also like to see the league allow its teams greater autonomy in terms of how they build their rosters, rather than have rules dictated by league headquarters.”In the simplest terms, TAM is silly,” Foose said. “It’s not necessary to try and tell our front offices how to sign players; they’re perfectly capable of doing that themselves. And frankly, if they’re not, then they should suffer the consequences, and that’s the kind of accountability that we want to see happen.”The union’s stance is that simplifying the rules would lead to more of a meritocracy. Players’ earnings would be a reflection of how they have performed on the field. It’s worth noting that, according to salary data provided by the MLSPA, 37.4% of the players make annual salaries under $100,000.The union also wants increased spending on charter flights. At present, the vast majority of teams fly commercially, which can lead to long travel days, especially when teams are flying through multiple time zones. This can hamper a player’s physical recovery. Teams are allowed four discretionary charter flights a year, but there is no mandate that they have to use them. Philadelphia Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya recalled how his team didn’t use a single charter flight during the regular season. Foose added that, at the end of 2018, only about half of the available charter flights were used.”It’s unfortunate that this is discussed in a CBA context, because this isn’t a CBA ssue,” Foose said. “It isn’t in other sports and shouldn’t be in ours. It is an infrastructure issue and is tied to player performance.”t’s difficult to imagine this being a “hill to die on” issue for the MLSPA, but Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said, “This is one piece of the pie for us, a very important piece, a commonsense piece, but one that we’re taking very seriously.”

What MLS wants

Broadly — beyond avoiding a work stoppage — MLS wants the same thing it always wants: a level of cost certainty as it pertains to player expenses. Its single-entity structure, whereby the player contracts are with the league rather than with individual teams, has helped achieve this to a large degree. This is especially true to the extent that in most instances teams retain the MLS rights of players even after that player has been transferred or his contract has expired.But MLS also wants control over where that money goes. The introduction of TAM is proof of this, whereby it wanted its teams spending more on players within a specific salary range. The league feels that a program such as TAM has been successful, and MLS will want to retain that kind of discretion as to where investments are made. Could the league have gotten to where it is without TAM? Who knows, but MLS doesn’t sound as if it wants to find out.”There are a variety of different areas that will be the subject of discussion as to where we should be making investments, whether it’s the senior team, whether it’s player development, whether it’s on other benefits,” Abbott told ESPN. “And in the CBA what we’re seeking to do is within the limits of what we’re able to spend that we ensure that we’re allocating those expenditures in the areas that are most likely to have the most impact.”

What happens now?

There were rumblings that an agreement was almost reached in 2018, although that ultimately didn’t take place. At present, the respective positions have been laid out and the two sides have exchanged proposals, but it’s also still early. The talks likely won’t get into serious mode until early January.”We have a ways to go to reach an agreement,” Foose said.Foose had stated previously that the league has been fully transparent in terms of its financials at the league, team and SUM [Soccer United Marketing] level. He has no doubt that MLS is leveling with the union on this topic. He added, “We also have a common understanding with them on the cost of various proposals, so we’re clear on what the changes that we’re seeking are going to cost.”

Euro 2020 draw: Will Germany, France or Portugal be the odd ones out? England, Croatia meet again

Nov 30, 2019James HorncastleItaly writer

Now the Euro 2020 draw has been made, the previews and predictions can begin! The tournament can be viewed LIVE in the U.S. on ESPN networks, from June 12 to July 12.

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Jump to: Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F

Group A

Prediction: 1. Italy 2. Wales 3. Turkey 4. Switzerland

Overview: Italy were one of two teams (Belgium) to finish qualifying with a perfect record, but avoiding France and Portugal must come as a relief. Turkey took four points from six against France and go to the Euros with the best defensive record on the continent: an almost impregnable wall comprising Merih DemiralOzan Kabak and Caglar Soyuncu. Wales went the furthest of any of these teams at Euro 2016, and we all know where Gareth Bale‘s priorities lie. Switzerland have a wily coach in Vladimir Petkovic and keep games close.

X factor: The atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico, starting with the tournament opener on June 12 against Turkey. Italy manager Roberto Mancini has talked up replicating the fervour he experienced at Italia `90, and doing so could give an intrepid and fresh-faced side an edge, providing an emotional charge their opponents will find tough to play against.

Must-watch game: Italy vs. Wales (June 21) If Italy knock their heads against Turkey’s brick wall and find it hard to play through a stodgy Switzerland side, the Wales game at the end of this group could light some fireworks. For all his troubles in Madrid, Bale is the arguably the one attacking player in this group who can win a game on his own, while Aaron Ramsey will know all about that Italy backline, having spent a year either training or playing against it.

Group B

Prediction: 1. Belgium 2. Denmark 3. Russia 4. Finland

Overview: No.1 in the FIFA rankings, Belgium had the best attack and defence in qualification and should not be worried by Russia, having beaten them 7-2 on aggregate during their journey to the finals. The Danes are an altogether different proposition and will fancy their chances. Finland, meanwhile, have nothing to lose after reaching a major tournament for the first time in their history. Teemu Pukki scored 10 goals in qualifying.

X factor: Looking beyond Belgium’s array of stars, Christian Eriksen ended qualifying as Denmark’s top scorer and the qualifying rounds’ second-best chance creator behind Antoine Griezmann. Out of contract in the summer, unless he extends with Tottenham, the playmaker could be playing to attract the calibre of interest he was unable to arouse [Real Madrid] at the end of last season.

Must-watch game: Finland vs. Russia (June 17) Saint Petersburg is a ferry ride away from Helsinki so expect the boats to be full. Routinely biffed by bigger neighbours, the Finns impressed in qualifying, and Pukki’s battle with Artem Dzyuba, the towering Zenit striker with the best xG numbers of any forward in qualifying [inflated by games against San Marino, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and Scotland], should be fun.

Group C

Prediction: 1. Netherlands 2. Ukraine 3. Kosovo (assuming qualification) 4. Austria

Overview: After missing the past two major tournaments, Netherlands’ run to the Nations League final, combined with Ajax making the final four of last season’s Champions League, is undoubtedly to the benefit of the Euros. Ukraine were so good in qualifying that they forced their way into the top seeds, dumping France into pot two. Austria are reliant on maverick striker Marko Arnautovic, but have talent elsewhere in Marcel Sabitzer, Valentin Lazaro and David Alaba. Of the playoff teams competing to complete the group, Kosovo were such a joy to watch in qualifying that it’s hard not to root for them to reach their first major tournament.

X factor: The Dutch have arguably the best centre-back partnership at the Euros. No centre-back has gone closer to becoming the first defender to win the Ballon d’Or since Fabio Cannavaro than Virgil van Dijk, while his partner Matthijs de Ligt emerged as perhaps the brightest talent of his generation in that position. Moreover, the pair also present a real threat from attacking set pieces.

Must-watch game: Netherlands vs. Ukraine (June 14) Andriy Shevchenko’s side are a tough cookie, having kept five clean sheets in eight unbeaten qualifiers. Draws in Portugal and Serbia indicate Ukraine won’t be fazed in Amsterdam, meaning it is a trap game for the Dutch. Atalanta playmaker Ruslan Malinovskyi looks like he came through Ajax’s finishing school, such is the refinement of his technique, while Gent striker Roman Yaremchuk — four goals in seven qualifiers — could not wish for a better mentor than Sheva himself.

Group D

Prediction: 1. England 2. Croatia 3. Norway (assuming qualification) 4. Czech Republic

Overview: If England go one better than at the past World Cup when Gareth Southgate’s team reached the semifinals, five of their seven games will be at Wembley. World Cup runners-up Croatia should push them for top spot, although the Czechs beat England in qualifying. When it comes to the playoff teams, a home nations game between England and Scotland appeals, but what about Norway and the talent emerging in their ranks? Don’t you want to see Erling Haaland, Martin Odegaard and Sander Berge putting on a show?

Euro 2020 begins on June 12, with the final in London on July 12. Getty

X factor: Haaland firing Norway to the Euros would be a fantastic story, particularly in the same year he became the first teenager to score in his first five Champions League games. Not guaranteed to see that, we can at least count on the presence of Harry Kane, who finished top scorer in qualifying with 12 goals in eight games.

Must-watch game: England vs. Croatia (June 14) Group D’s opener is a repeat of the 2016 World Cup semifinal and a Nations League tie, in which England came from behind to win late, even if much has changed in recent times. After winning the Ballon d’Or on the back of inspiring his country to the final in Russia, Luka Modric has had one of the worst years of his career, while Ivan Rakitic is on the margins at Barcelona. England, meanwhile, have more talent with Jadon Sancho having burst onto the scene, but have not necessarily pushed on in the past two years.

Group E

Prediction: 1. Spain 2. Poland 3. Sweden 4. Bosnia and Herzegovina (assuming qualification)

Overview: Tensions are high in the Spain camp following Luis Enrique’s return and subsequent war of words with former assistant Robert Moreno; whether the ripple effects are still felt by June remain to be seen. Poland have the best striker in the world in Robert Lewandowski, skilful midfielders like Piotr Zielinski and Wojciech Szczesny, who is overlooked whenever there is a conversation about the best goalkeepers on the planet. Sweden made the quarterfinals of the last World Cup — without Zlatan Ibrahimovic — and look to have found an exciting talent in Dejan Kulusevski. Joining this trio through the playoffs could be Bosnia and Herzegovina. Edin Dzeko would be the third-most prolific international goal scorer at the tournament behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lewandowski, while watching Miralem Pjanic against Spain’s midfield would be quite something.

X factor: Look no further than Lewandowski. Just when you thought he could not get any better, particularly in an unsophisticated and poorly-coached Bayern team — that is, until Hansi Flick replaced Nico Kovac — the 31-year-old is hitting new heights and has scored 31 goals already this season, including four in 14 minutes against Red Star in the Champions League. There is not a more complete No. 9 on the planet.

Must-watch game: Spain vs. Poland (June 20) The question is whether talented Poland can fulfil their potential has been an issue for them since the 1982 World Cup (hosted by Spain). Watching Lewandowski against Sergio Ramos will be one of the matchups of the group stages, and while Spain have a ridiculous amount of skill and can fold in the winners of last summer’s Under-21 Euros, it is also true that they no longer inspire the same fear as a decade ago.

Group F

Prediction: 1. France 2. Germany 3. Portugal 4. Romania (assuming qualification)

Overview: Didier Deschamps (France) laughed, Joachim Low (Germany) looked ashen-faced and Fernando Santos (Portugal) stared into the distance. Group F, with its six European Championship titles, features holders Portugal and the most recent two world champions in France and Germany, all three of whom reached the semifinals in 2016. Whichever team makes up the numbers via the playoffs, it will be hard to avoid the thought they have simply won the right to finish bottom.

X factor: This could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final international tournament, and, recently his best form has been reserved for Portugal, with 10 goals in qualifying. The 34-year-old is 11 goals away from passing Ali Daei’s mark of 109 as the most prolific international goal scorer of all-time. Ronaldo tends to turn it on against elite nations; remember that hat trick against Spain in the last World Cup?

Must-watch game: France vs. Germany (June 16) Since the end of Spain’s dominance, France and Germany have become Europe’s preeminent nations, with one knocking the other out of two of the past three major tournaments. Recent results suggest France have the edge; Antoine Griezmann, for example, inspired a comeback win in the Nations League. This game will set the tone for the rest of the group, and eyes will be on Low. Can he go again after disappointing at the past World Cup and in the Nations League, where Germany only avoided relegation because the competition got restructured and expanded.

For more on the Euro 2020 finals, click here; details of the playoffs for the final four places can be found here.

Does playing pro soccer increase risk for neurodegenerative disease?

October 23, 2019by Nipun Chopra   www.soctakes.com

Zlatan Ibrahimovic rises for a header over Victor Ulloa in the LA Galaxy’s 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati on June 22. Photo credit: Jamie Smed/Soc Takes

A new article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Daniel F. Mackay et al. raises the question of whether soccer follows the trend of “contact” sports in terms of increased risk of neurodegenerative disease for athletes. My article attempts to (1) summarize the key findings of the article with limited use of scientific jargon, and (2) place it in the larger context of where the beautiful game currently stands in its understanding of head injuries.

What did the study show?

The study showed that a subset (more on this later) of professional soccer players exhibited an increased risk of dying due to neurodegenerative disease than non-soccer players did. It also showed that professional soccer players — aside from the neurodegenerative disease part — seemed to be less likely to die from traditional killers such as heart disease and cancers such as lung cancer.

Which neurodegenerative diseases did they look at?

  1. Alzheimer’s disease – The most common form of dementia. Risk factors include age and a history of brain injuries.
  2. Parkinson’s disease – A primarily motor disease affecting a specific part of your brain.
  3. Motor neuron disease – This is a type of neurodegeneration that affects the nerves controlling your movement. A common example is Lou Gehrig’s disease (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
  4. Non-Alzheimer’s dementias – Dementia is a catch-all term for change in cognitive function. Non-Alzheimer’s dementias are diseases that have some overlapping symptoms as Alzheimer’s, but involve different symptoms as well. These differences are due to brain regions affected, particularly during early stages of the disease. An example is frontotemporal dementia.
  5. Dementia NOS – All dementias (Thank you Dr. Stewart for this correction).

It is important to note that this study did not measure rates of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) directly. This was due to limitations in how the authors were able to procure the data (not their fault, by the way).

The sampling question

Something that is being missed in the analysis is that it was a study of male professional soccer players. This unavoidable bias is due to the fact that pro soccer players in Scotland are men. Therefore, the controls were required to be age and sex-matched, and hence all of this data comes from male soccer players and male controls. Whether this is applicable to women soccer players is an unanswered question. This is an important consideration as some data suggests that the rates of head injury in women’s soccer exceed those in the male version of the game.

Additionally, is this a Scotland-only effect? I ask this because there was a study that showed increased Lou Gehrig’s disease in a sample of Italian soccer players. To the best of my knowledge, this result had not been shown in soccer players from a different geographic region. This would suggest a synergistic effect of genetics (Italian for ALS or Scottish for soccer) and sport. To put it simply, this data may not be applicable to the soccer population at large. (It should be noted that this article shows an increased rate of motoneuron disease generally, but not ALS specifically.)

A particular strength of this study is that it mitigates a prevalent problem in the field of brain injury research — the self-selection bias of “bad brains.” The idea is that when someone is experiencing symptoms of neurodegeneration, they are more likely to donate their brain to science. Therefore, the percentages we get are skewed. In this study, the authors examined data to basically ascertain how it was that a person died. Therefore, they eliminate the “bad brains” bias, and their data can be interpreted as representative of — at the very least — the male soccer-playing population of Scotland.

Other takeaways

  1. No soccer position-specific effect on neurodegeneration, but existing one on prescription for dementia.
  2. Increased rate of dementia-related prescription in soccer players versus controls (reason unknown and the authors don’t speculate, but it could be due to increased awareness or socioeconomic status.)

Where is the sport with head injuries?

The sport is dragging its feet. FIFA needs to mandate harsher penalties on high-impact contact to the head, regardless of intention/getting the ball. Recently, the USL explored temporary substitutions for head injury diagnoses, which deserves applause. MLS, on the other hand, has failed to update its concussion protocol in spite of telling Four Four Two and the Associated Press that it would. It’s been over three years.

The overarching question about the risk of heading resulting in CTE remains unanswered in the literature. Previous work suggests that technically proficient headers of the ball are unlikely to be concussed due to ball to head impact. However, the hand-wavy question of subconcussive injuries (due to an impact on the brain that causes minor, externally unnoticeable changes in the brain) remains under-explored. Given that we have a case report of CTE in a soccer player who had no history of concussion, the subconcussive question is an interesting one. (The TL;DR version is that it’s just too early to say anything about heading the ball and CTE. I previously explored the question of heading in youth soccer.)

Overall thoughts

This is a well-powered and important study — the first of its kind for soccer — that shows that professional soccer players are likely to have an increased risk for neurodegeneration later in life. This is in agreement with data from other more traditional “contact” sports such as MMA and American football. Future work will need to expand this data set to include women soccer players, amateur soccer players and soccer players from different geographic/genetic backgrounds.

Follow Nipun on Twitter: @NipunChopra7.

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11/26 Champions League this week Tues/Wed games

American Christian Pulisic becomes youngest American to score in Champions League as he scores for Chelsea vs Valencia Wed.

Pulisic’s Goal

Some huge games this week in Champions League !

GAMES ON TV

Tues Nov  26

1 pm TNT                                         Galatasaray vs Club Brugge

3 pm fuboTV                                  Juventus vs  Atletico Madrid

3 pm                                                  Man City vs Shaktar

3 pm TNT                                         Real Madrid vs PSG

Wed, Nov 27

1 pm TNT                                         Valencia vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

3 pm TNT                                         Liverpool vs Napoli  

3 pm fuboTV/BRLive                   Barcelona vs Borussian Dortmund

3 pm                                                  RB Leipzig vs Benefica

3 pm                                         Genk vs Salzburg (US Coach)

·       
UCL Tuesday preview: Man City, Spurs, Real Madrid can all clinch knockout place

Klopp ‘not worried’ over Salah fitness ahead of Napoli clash

Who needs what to qualify for Champions League last 16?
Ancelotti’s future in spotlight as troubled Napoli visit Liverpool

Champions League: Who will qualify from the group stage?

Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

The Champions League group stage is drawing to a close, but who is best placed to make it through to the knockout rounds?We look at each group, with the top two going through and third dropping into the Europa League.

– Champions League group stage: All you need to know
– ESPN Champions League fantasy: Sign up now!
– Champions League tables | Fixtures Statistics

WHO HAS QUALIFIED: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain

GROUP A

Nov. 26: Galatasaray vs. Brugge, Real Madrid vs. PSG
Dec. 11: Brugge vs. Real Madrid, PSG vs. Galatasaray

Paris Saint-Germain have qualified and will secure top spot if they avoid defeat at Real Madrid on Nov. 26.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, would need to beat PSG to seal their place on Matchday 5, though they would also be through if Club Brugge fail to beat Galatasaray.

If third-placed Club Brugge win at Galatasaray and Real Madrid do not beat PSG, the Belgian club will definitely qualify with a home win over Madrid on Dec. 11.

The only hope for Galatasaray is now the Europa League, but even that dream will die if they lose at home to Brugge.

GROUP B

Nov. 26: Red Star Belgrade vs. Bayern Munich, Tottenham vs. Olympiakos
Dec. 11: Bayern Munich vs. Tottenham, Olympiakos vs. Red Star Belgrade

Bayern Munich have qualified with two games to spare and will be confirmed as group winners if they win at Red Star, or Tottenham fail to beat Olympiakos, on Nov. 26.

Tottenham Hotspur look to be almost there too, through with a win at home to Olympiakos, or if Red Star to not beat Bayern.

For Red Star Belgrade to go through they must win at home to Bayern and at Olympiakos, and hope Spurs pick up no more than one point.

Realistically it now looks to be a battle for the Europa League spot, which is likely to be decided when Red Star go to Olympiakos on Dec 11.

GROUP C

Nov. 26: Atalanta vs. Dinamo Zagreb, Manchester City vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Dec. 11: Dinamo Zagreb vs. Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Atalanta

Manchester City are five points clear at the top and will qualify with a point at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Nov. 26, or if Dinamo Zagreb fail to beat Atalanta. Victory against Shakhtar would secure top spot, as would a draw if Dinamo do not win.

Shakhtar Donetsk were in deep trouble until they scored twice in injury time to draw at Dinamo Zagreb. They sit second on the head-to-head rule which means their fate in is their own hands. They can qualify on Matchday 5 with a win at Manchester City should Dinamo lose at Atalanta. They know two victories guarantees progress regardless of Dinamo’s results.

Third-placed Dinamo Zagreb now must pick up more points than Shakhtar in the remaining two games to qualify, and cannot secure anything on Matchday 5.

At the foot of the table, Atalanta finally have a point, but need to win both remaining games and hope neither Shakhtar or Dinamo win against Man City. Despite not winning a single game yet, they certainly are not out of it.

GROUP D

Nov. 26: Juventus vs. Atletico Madrid, Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Dec. 11: Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen vs. Juventus

Juventus are through after winning at Lokomotiv Moscow and can top the group if they win or draw 0-0 or 1-1 at home to Atletico on Nov. 26.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid need to win in Turin to guarantee their passage on Matchday 5, though a draw would also send them through if Lokomotiv-Bayer Leverkusen is a draw too.

Lokomotiv Moscow will still be in contention if they avoid defeat against Leverkusen, but they will need help from Juve to give them a shot at qualifying when they host Atleti on Dec. 11.

Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen have to beat Lokomotiv and win at home to Juve, and hope Atleti pick up no more than one point.

It is more likely to be a battle for a Europa League place, which Lokomotiv would definitely seal and Leverkusen could seal by winning the head to head in Moscow on Nov. 26.

GROUP E

Nov. 27: Genk vs. Salzburg, Liverpool vs. Napoli
Dec. 10: Napoli vs. Genk, Salzburg vs. Liverpool

Liverpool top the group ahead of Napoli, and the winners of the head-to-head meeting at Anfield on Nov. 27 will be through. Both would go through if Salzburg do not win at Genk that night.

That means FC Salzburg must secure victory against Genk and win at home to Liverpool on Dec. 10. They are guaranteed qualification with six points as long as Liverpool do not beat Napoli.

Bottom club Genk have been eliminated and must win at home to Salzburg to stay in Europa League contention.

GROUP F

Nov. 27: Barcelona vs. Borussia Dortmund, Slavia Prague vs. Inter Milan
Dec. 10: Borussia Dortmund vs. Slavia Prague, Inter Milan vs. Barcelona

Barcelona are almost there and victory at home to Dortmund on Nov. 27 would secure their safe passage. A draw will also be enough if Inter Milan do not win at Slavia Prague. If Barca lose to BVB, the group is thrown wide open.

Borussia Dortmund are second, three points ahead of Inter Milan — but it is the Serie A side who hold the head-to-head advantage. Dortmund can only qualify on Matchday 5 if they better Inter Milan’s result, while four points from their last two matches would also secure qualification.

While Inter Milan are third, they can go into the final day in second if they win in Prague and Dortmund lose at the Camp Nou. But with Barcelona to visit the San Siro on Dec. 10, they may face a tough task to win that final match to guarantee progress.

Slavia Prague sit on two points and must win at home to Inter to stay in contention.

GROUP G

Nov. 27: RB Leipzig vs. Benfica, Zenit vs. Lyon
Dec. 10: Benfica vs. Zenit, Lyon vs. RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig will be through with a point at home to Benfica on Nov. 27.

In second sit Lyon, who will guarantee their place in the round of 16 with victory at Zenit. A draw of 2-2 or higher-scoring would also do the job as long as Benfica do not win in Leipzig.

Zenit St Petersburg most likely need to win at home to Lyon, which would move them second on the head to head and leave them requiring a win at Benfica on Dec. 12 to be sure of progressing.

The outsiders are now Benfica, but if they win both of their remaining games and Lyon pick up no more than one point they would be through.

GROUP H

Nov. 27: Lille vs. Ajax, Valencia vs. Chelsea
Dec. 10: Ajax vs. Valencia, Chelsea vs. Lille

Ajax, Chelsea and Valencia share top spot on seven points in a group that could go any way, but both Valencia and Chelsea know they are guaranteed to be in the knockout rounds if they win their meeting in Spain on Nov. 27. Valencia know that a draw would leave them needed a win at Ajax to definitely go through, while Chelsea would definitely be through by then winning at home to Lille.

If Ajax, who cannot qualify if Chelsea beat Valencia and then all three teams finish on 10 points, win in Lille next time that would leave them needing a draw at home to Valencia on Dec. 10.

Lille have been eliminated and have only a slim chance of qualifying for the Europa League.

UCL Tuesday preview: Man City, Spurs, Real Madrid can all clinch knockout place

A number of teams have an opportunity to snag a spot in the Champions League knockout phase as the group stage begins the home stretch on Tuesday.

Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid highlight the list of teams that would see their way into the next round with victory tomorrow.

Gabriel Jesus gets the opportunity of his Man City career as the club begins a three-week stretch without injured striker Sergio Aguero. Jesus has often spoken about his lack of playing time at the Etihad and now his time comes to prove he can lead the lines. As City welcomes Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester, the hosts can seal qualification to the knockout stage with a win, while a draw and a Dinamo Zagreb loss or draw would also do the trick with their magic number at just two. Shakhtar is a familiar opponent for City, drawn with the Ukranian club into each of the last three Champions League groups, with a comprehensive result in four of the five matches in that span, earning a clean sheet in all four wins.

Jose Mourinho gets his first taste of European football inside the beautiful Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which he dubbed the best ground in the world upon his hire. Spurs host Greek side Olympiakos, and while outside results could see them through despite dropped points at home, a win would do the trick on its own. Spurs will be up for the match knowing that with the Premier League outlook still questionable with regards to their initial goals, the European journey is still very much a theater of opportunity.

Real Madrid can secure passage to the knockout stage with victory against group leaders Paris Saint-Germain at the Bernabeu. Angel Di Maria was Real Madrid’s worst nightmare when these two teams met in the French capital back in mid-September, but the Spanish side is in much better form of late. While all the focus seems to be on Gareth Bale, Madrid has quietly gone unbeaten across its last six matches in all competitions, outscoring opponents 19-1. Madrid could still go through with a less successful result, so long as Club Brugge does not beat Galatasaray in Turkey.

Editor’s note: Looking for last-minute tickets to today’s games? Click here

A slumping Atletico Madrid side has the tough task of a trip to Turin to face Serie A leaders Juventus, but will be boosted by the knowledge that a win could see them through. Any less, however, and things become quite dicey, especially should either Bayer Leverkusen or Lokomotiv Moscow win in Russia. A draw for Atleti would see them through to the knockout stage if Bayer and Lokomotiv draw, but otherwise the final place in Group D remains up for grabs. Diego Simeone’s side has won just three of its last nine matches across all competitions, with just three clean sheets across that span. Cristiano Ronaldo was rested by Maurizio Sarri over the weekend as he looks to manage a knee problem, but is likely available for the match at home.

Bayern Munich has already secured passage to the knockout round, but could again put Robert Lewandowski on display as they travel to Serbia to take on Red Star Belgrade. The Ballon d’Or candidate failed to score for the first time in 12 Bundesliga matches this season over the weekend, but still remains in white-hot form. He has also found the back of the net in each of Bayern’s four Champions League games to date, but could potentially be rested with the German side already confirmed through and the top of the Bundesliga table clogged with challengers to the throne. They could do Spurs a favor by winning and confirming Tottenham’s place in the later stages no matter their result against Olympiakos.

Atalanta’s Champions League journey has not gone to plan, but the surprise Serie A contenders last season still have a chance to save face as they host Dinamo Zagreb before finishing out the European campaign with a visit to Shakhtar later on. The Italians have just one point through four group stage matches thus far, and they have not won any of their last five matches across all competitions, falling 3-1 to Juventus over the weekend in league play. However, a 1-1 draw with 10-man Manchester City last time out in Europe will give them hope that a challenge can be mounted. They are not eliminated yet, given they are just four points behind both Shakhtar and Dinamo in the group, but the opportunity is a longshot that would require victory in both their final matches.

Finally, both Galatasaray and Club Brugge look to mount a last-gasp challenge to a Group A that seems destined to see PSG and Real Madrid through to the knockout stage. The Belgian club sits on just two points while Galatasaray welcomes them to Istanbul with just one of their own. Two victories down the stretch are required by either side to stay alive, and even then Real Madrid could end the battle with a win over PSG who has already clinched a spot. The road gets even tougher for the home side who will see Radamel FalcaoFlorin Andone, and Ryan Babel all out with injuries, leaving the Turkish side aching for attacking players.

 

11/22 US Men Advance to Finals, Chelsea vs Man City Sat 12:30 NBC, Champ League Tues/Wed, IU host UK in NCAA’s Sun 12 noon, Jordan Farr returns at GK for Indy 11

US MEN Advance to Final 4 on Nations League

So the US men did what they had to do this last week to secure the expected first place finish in the CONCACAF Nations League after pounding Canada at home 4-1 before defeating Cuba 4-0 in a neutral site game on Tuesday night.  Some good things we saw was a solid defensive effort led by Aaron Long and John Brooks in the middle.  Sergio Dest put in a solid game on the right side vs Canada – as he flew up and down the wing and actually provided our first assist.  Tim Ream continued his captaincy playing the left side vs Canada before moving to the middle (his more natural position) vs Cuba.  He continues to show ability to pass out of the back under pressure – combined with his defensive efforts in the air, are certainly valuable especially against CONCACAF sides.  He’s still a starter for Fulham in the English Championship and it shows.

EPL & World

Wow Tottenham – really? Mourinho for Pochitno?  Hard to believe – the Spurs have taken this move now – but they pulled the trigger earlier this week. I for one don’t see it working – Jose will call out his players, turn the top players against him and have this team flailing just outside top 4 if you ask me.  He certainly doesn’t have the money – in the winter window to buy players – which is what he normally does.  As for big games this weekend none is bigger than Chelsea vs Man City this Saturday at 12:30 pm on NBC.   US star Christian Pulisic is expected to play after resting his injury over the 10 day international break.  The American has notched 5 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 league games.  Other EPL games of note have Mourinho and Tottenham heading to West Ham at 7:30 am on NBCSN Saturday followed by Liverpool traveling to Crystal Palace without Mane at 10 am on NBCSN.  In Germany American’s Mckinney (Schalke) and Stuart for Werder Bremen will faceoff at 9:30 am on Fox Sports 2 or Fox Soccer while US GK Steffan and dMid Morales of Dussledorf will host Bayern Munich at 9:30 on Fox Sports 1.

Carmel FC Goalkeeper Coach Jordan Farr Returns to Indy 11 for 2020 Season! 

Fantastic news that Carmel FC Director of Goalkeeping Jordan Farr is returning for his 3rd season for the Indy 11 next season!  Jordan started the final 5 games of the season and helped lead the Indy 11 to the Eastern Conference Finals.  In 12 combined USL Championship regular season and playoff games (10 starts), Farr registered an impressive 0.66 goals against average (seven goals allowed in 956 minutes), while notching a 7W-1L-2D record and five shutouts – including clean sheets in both of Indy Eleven’s 1-0 wins during postseason play.We look forward to having Jordan back coaching our Carmel FC goalkeepers again this spring!

 

 

GAMES ON TV

Sat, Nov 23 

7:30 am NBCSN                                West Ham vs Tottenham

9 am ESPN+                                       Atalanta vs Juventus

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                       Dusseldorf (Morales & Steffan) vs Bayern Munich

9:30 am Fox Soccer                         Schalke (Mckinney) vs Werder Breman (Stuart)

10 am NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

12:30 pm NBC                                  Man City vs Chelsea (pulisic)  

3 pm beIN Sport                               Real Madrid vs Real Sociadad

Sun, Nov 24

9 am beIN Sport                               Monaco vs Bordueaux

11:30 am NBCSN                              Sheffield United vs Man United

12 noon FS1                         Hoffenhiem vs Mainz

Mon,  Nov 25 

3 pm NBCSN                                     Aston Villa vs New Castle (Yedlin)

Tues Nov  26

1 pm TNT                                         Galatasaray vs Club Brugge

3 pm fuboTV                                  Juventus vs  Atletico Madrid

3 pm                                                  Man City vs Shaktar

3 pm TNT                                         Real Madrid vs PSG

Wed, Nov 27

1 pm TNT                                         Valencia vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

3 pm TNT                                         Liverpool vs Napoli  

3 pm fuboTV/BRLive                   Barcelona vs Borussian Dortmund

3 pm                                                  RB Leipzig vs Benefica

3 pm                                                  Genk vs Salzburg (US Coach)

Thur Nov 28

11 am BRLive/fuboTV/TUDN   Astana vs Man United

3 pm BRLive/fuboTV/Unimas Arsenal vs Eintracht Frankfurt

Fri Nov  29

3 pm FS2                                         Schalke (McKinney) vs Union Berlin

Sat, Nov 30 

7:30 am NBCSN                               New Castle (Yedlin) vs Man  City  

9:30 am Foxsoccer                          Hoffieheim vs Dusseldorf (Morales & Steffan)

9:30 am Fox Soccer                         Hertha vs Dortmund

10 am??                         Liverpool  vs Brighton

10 am NBCSN                                   Chelsea (pulisic) vs Westham

3 pm beIN Sport                               Real Madrid vs Real Sociadad

 

Sun, Dec 1

9 am NBCSN                                      Norwich vs Arsenal

11:30 am                                           Man United vs Aston Villa

11:30 am   NBCSN                            Leciester vs Everton

12 noon FS1                         Wolfsburg vs Werder Bremen (Stewart)

12 noon  ESPN News                       Napoli vs Bologna

3 pm beIN Sport                              Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona

Wed, Dec 4

2:30 pm NBCSN                                Man United vs Tottenham

2:30 pm ???                                      Chelsea vs Aston Villa

3:15 pm ??                                        Liverpool vs Everton

 

 

 

 

USA

Does the U.S. have a leadership problem? 8hNoah Davis

USMNT takes care of what’s expected — but same questions persist  16hJeff Carlisle 

Berhalter: USMNT responded well to challenges of 2019

US to face Honduras in CNL semis

Warshaw: Three things from USMNT’s win over Cuba

U.S. ratings: Sargent, Morris solid in win

Player Ratings: Who was USA’s MOTM?

US Finally Shows Fight in 4-1 blasting of Canada ESPNFC  Jeff C

No Consistantcy with this US Squad – Leander Schaelaeckens – Yahoo Soccer

Brooks 8/10, Zardes 7/10 as U.S. avenges last month’s Canada defeat

Player Ratings: Who got top marks for USMNT, CanMNT?

Berhalter: USMNT “were ready to overcome anything” in revenge win over Canada

Sources: U.S.’ Konrad set to extend Barca deal

Some Ajax teammates ‘didn’t like’ Dest’s U.S. choice
US, Canada U-20s learn qualification path for 2021 World Cup

US Players on TV

 

 

Local College NCAAS

IU Hosts UK in NCAAs Sunday 12 noon

#8 Indiana U wins Big 10

Butler loses in 1st Round at home to WV

 

  • MLS

MLS Allstar Game vs Liga MX Allstars for 2020

MLS Players in Euro 2020

Piette on Henry as coach: Biggest announcement Impact could have made
Reyna quits New York City for Austin expansion team in MLS

Chicago Fire FC arrive as part of major rebrand

EPL

Chelsea-Manchester City Preview

PREVIEW-Soccer-Pressure on Man City as Lampard returns to the Etihad

Mourinho: Tottenham can win the Premier League

Hard to See how Mourinho will help Spurs before a messy Ending –
PL Preview: Can anyone put pressure on Liverpool?

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

Stag’s Take – Gameweek 13

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs
Mourinho seeks quick fix to win over Spurs doubters

WORLD

Euro 2020 qualifying: All you need to know

·        Mexico beat Bermuda on Antuna’s last-gasp goal

·        Messi makes the difference but Argentina, Brazil remain works in progress

Brazil boss on Messi spat: He told me to shut up

Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup

Ronaldo has goal record in his sights, Kane hot on his heels

Sources: Luis Enrique to return as Spain coach

England top Kosovo to secure seed for Euro ’20

GOALKEEPING

Below are the 10 goalkeepers shortlisted for the 2019 Yachine Trophy:

  1. Andre Onana (Cameroon/Ajax)
  2. Wojciech Szczesny (Poland/Juventus)
  3. Jan Oblak (Slovenia/Atletico Madrid)
  4. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Spain/Chelsea)
  5. Samir Handanovic (Slovenia/Inter Milan)
  6. Hugo Lloris (France/Inter Milan)
  7. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany/Barcelona)
  8. Alisson Becker (Brazil/Liverpool)
  9. Ederson (Brazil/Manchester City)
  10. Manuel Neuer (Germany/Bayern Munich)

 

 

 

 

Hard to see how Jose Mourinho will help Spurs before the inevitably messy ending

Leander Schaerlaeckens  ,Yahoo Sports•November 20, 2019

For the fourth time in his career, Jose Mourinho has been hired for a Premier League job. On Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur installed the Portuguese in his ninth managerial position, following the instantly controversial sacking of Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday.Mourinho’s English appointments trace the arc of his much-discussed career, spanning from the cocky-yet-charming managerial prodigy upon his first appointment at Chelsea in 2004, to his return in 2013 as a highly decorated manager, to his 2016 arrival at Manchester United as both a three-time Premier League champion and damaged goods, to, now, a point where his signing by Spurs is widely considered a huge risk.It is, any way you look at it, a strange marriage. Mourinho, somehow still only 56 and out of work for almost a year since his December firing by United, might well be the most divisive manager in the sport’s history. His personal trophy case is inarguable: three Premier League titles; two Serie A titles; a La Liga title; two Champions League trophies; two UEFA Cup or Europa League trophies; eight domestic cups. The thing is, Mourinho has provoked as many crises and skirmishes and meltdowns as he has won prizes. And you don’t get one without the other.So for Spurs, of all teams, to hire him under the rule of the ever-sensible, risk-averse chairman Daniel Levy, feels like an odd fit. But there are other pressing and worrying considerations.The downturn in Pochettino’s last eight or so months in charge – the miraculous run to the Champions League final very notably excepted – was much to do with a widespread fatigue among the players, who slumped to their present 14th place in the league. Pochettino was a demanding manager, imposing a strict and imposing playing system. There is a habit among soccer teams to vacillate between opposites in your managerial hires. After the disciplinarian, you go with the nice-guy players’ manager to give the players a fresh experience. And then the cycle resets. Yet Mourinho is no less demanding than Pochettino, albeit in different ways. Rather than a dogmatic, Marcelo Bielsa-inspired high press, Mourinho applies something antithetical, a sort of reactive non-press. But he drains his players in different ways. Mourinho creates a culture of perpetual tension through instigation and conflict. That might not work particularly well on players who appear to be burned out as it is, while many of them were already itching to leave the club. What’s more, Mourinho relies heavily on massive investment in his teams to solve problems, rather than developing existing players or ushering in academy products – although Mourinho has always disputed this reputation of ignoring youth, even if the stats clearly support it.“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me,” Mourinho said in a statement. “Working with these players is what has attracted me.” Yet historically, that’s not what he has actually ever done. It could be that he may have evolved during his time away from the game, mostly spent doing TV punditry in England, but that feels unlikely when you consider that Mourinho has replicated the same playbook everywhere he’s gone – until it stopped working, and then simply did it all over again someplace new. Mourinho would arrive, demand heavy spending on new players, foster urgency in a pressure-cooker environment, win a few major trophies, and move on when it all blew up.But at Spurs, the institutional lack of investment in players drove Pochettino to despair – and it’s likely that the failure to refresh the squad caused its steep decline. It’s doubtful that Mourinho got concessions from Levy that he denied his predecessor. Taken together, it’s hard to see how any of this ends very happily. Mourinho doesn’t give you happy endings. He gives you a few highs and then a crash. And maybe that’s the plan. One of the many things that jarred about Pochettino’s firing is that the timing was so awkward – toward the end of an international break with almost no qualified managers available. But then maybe this is a short-term play. Veteran regulars Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen all have expiring contracts. Perhaps hiring Mourinho is a last-ditch attempt to win something with a splendid, carefully cultivated squad before it inevitably breaks up.Because the only structural problem Mourinho will solve in short order is the erosion of intensity. He isn’t a long-term solution because he doesn’t do the long term. He’s a fresh face, yet a familiar one.“In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football,” Levy said in the statement. “He has a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician. He has won honors at every club he has coached. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”Belief? Perhaps. Energy? Sure. But what kind, exactly?Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports

Soccer-Fit-again Pulisic available for Chelsea against Man City

Reuters 11 minutes ago

Nov 22 (Reuters) – Chelsea’s in-form forward Christian Pulisic has shaken off a hip problem and will be available for Saturday’s Premier League game at Manchester City, manager Frank Lampard said on Friday.Pulisic sustained the injury in Chelsea’s 2-0 Premier League victory over Crystal Palace earlier this month and missed the United States’ CONCACAF Nations League matches against Canada and Cuba during the international break.The 21-year-old former Borussia Dortmund player has been in superb form for third-placed Chelsea after a slow start to his career at Stamford Bridge, scoring five goals in his last three league matches.”He didn’t go (to the U.S. camp), he was struggling against Palace. He has been training and is in contention,” Lampard told a news conference on Friday.Winger Callum Hudson-Odoi is a doubt for the match due to a hamstring issue he picked up on international duty with England.Lampard said that he was pleased with the understanding between his midfielders N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic with all three players fit and playing well ahead of the clash with the defending champions.”I want it to be a positive issue… it is great for me. It is something we have done pretty well. We have had fluidity in our midfield. We can use them all collectively,” Lampard added.”You have to give Jorginho the freedom to leave his position. He has a perception for the press.”Former Chelsea midfielder Lampard, who ended his Premier League career with a season at City, said he was looking forward to facing City who are one place below his side.”The levels they have reached have been incredible. For us to be in that position, I am pleased with. But I want more,” Lampard added.”It’s not the end story, they are a strong outfit. I won’t make huge judgements on tomorrow, our story is three months in the making.

Chelsea-Manchester City Preview

The Associated Press 11 hours ago

For all the talk of Manchester City’s relentless offence, their hopes for a third consecutive Premier League title as well as any silverware they may add to their collection this season could hinge on the guy who prevents goals rather than scores them.Ederson could make his return between the sticks for the Cityzens in a top-four crunch encounter with Chelsea at the Etihad on Saturday.The Brasil international has been sidelined since suffering a muscular injury in the first half of City’s 1-1 draw versus Atlanta in Champions League play on Nov. 6. It kept him out of their 3-1 loss to Liverpool before the international break four days later, a defeat that dropped Manchester City (8-1-3) nine points behind the table-topping Merseysiders and into fourth place behind both Leicester City and Saturday’s opponents Chelsea (8-2-2).

Ederson returned to practice this week, though manager Pep Guardiola has yet to confirm if he will reclaim his spot from deputy Claudio Bravo. Ederson is not the only City player tipped to make a return, as midfielder and playmaker David Silva and holding midfielder Rodri are also potential inclusions into the first XI.Another part of the defence still in flux is in the spine, where Fernandinho has been deployed as Aymeric Laporte continues to recover from a knee injury. The 35-year-old had been City’s linchpin in midfield but is making the adjustments to form a partnership with John Stones.”I feel good,” Fernandinho said of his new position to the Manchester Evening News. “Of course, I have the help of my teammates and manager. It’s been great for me, trying to do my best as always since I signed for City.”Sometimes you feel you have to improve a little bit – but that’s beauty of football. You can. Every morning, you can make it happen.”City forward Sergio Aguero looks to continue his stellar strike record versus Chelsea. The Argentina international has 13 goals in 17 matchups versus the Pensioners in all competitions, which includes his time with Atletico Madrid, and had a hat trick in the most recent league meeting when City smashed six past Chelsea without reply at the Etihad in February.”In terms of an out-and-out goalscorer, Aguero is the best I played with,” Chelsea boss and one-time City midfielder Frank Lampard told SkySports in 2017. “He can be quiet for much of the game and then he’ll score the winning goal. He’s lethal around the box.”Lampard, though, has a few goal-scorers who could eventually realise a level similar to Aguero at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have won six on the spin in league play, and their 27 goals trail only fellow top-four sides City (35), Liverpool (29), and Leicester City (28).

Tammy Abraham has shown his scoring prowess at the Championship level can transfer to the top flight, pacing the Pensioners with 10 goals in league play – putting him joint-first with Jamie Vardy for the Premier League lead — and 11 overall. U.S. international Christian Pulisic also went into the break in fine form with all five of his league goals coming in the last three wins.Pulisic, though, is a question mark for this game with a hip injury that also prevented him from crossing the Atlantic to play for the U.S. during the international break.Despite the impressive string of results, Lampard has yet to record a signature Premier League victory. Chelsea have lost their two matches against fellow Big Six sides Liverpool and Manchester United, while one of their two draws came against surprise package Leicester City.The sides split their league matches last term, with Chelsea recording a 2-0 victory before City hammered them in the return encounter. Guardiola’s side won the rubber match on penalties after a scoreless 120 minutes in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.]Raheem Sterling converted the winning penalty in the fifth round after a bizarre incident towards the end of extra time in which keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga defied then-manager Maurizio Sarri’s bid to sub out the keeper as he was dealing with cramps. Arrizabalaga did make one save during the shootout, but it was not enough to prevent City from completing the first leg of an unprecedented domestic treble.Chelsea have just two wins in their last 11 visits to the blue side of Manchester (2-1-8) after going 10-1-1 in the first 12 of the Premier League era.

 

 

Does the U.S. men’s national team have a leadership problem?

11:42 AM ETNoah DavisESPN

Winning a soccer game requires two things: an off-field plan and on-field execution. The first part is a coaching challenge; the second is one for the players, who need to prevail in dozens of individual battles all over the field.Against Canada in October, the United States men’s national team had the first in head coach Gregg Berhalter’s much-discussed “system” but failed in the latter. All over the field, the Americans lost to their northern opponents in specific moments. There were obvious failures, such as Alphonso Davies‘ outworking Aaron Long and DeAndre Yedlin to the back post to tap in Canada’s opener, and subtler ones, such as 50-50 ball after 50-50 that went to the Maple Leafs. The result was a 2-0 loss, the first since April 1985, a frustrating and lackadaisical effort too reminiscent of many lost matches under Jurgen Klinsmann.Defeats are excusable. Not showing up isn’t.After the match, Berhalter noted as much. “We need to compete on every single play in games like this,” he said. “I don’t think it was lack of effort. I don’t think it was purposeful, but I wasn’t happy with the desire we displayed tonight to win the soccer game. Too many 50-50 balls we lost, and that hurt us.”Trying hard is an intangible thing, tough to measure with stats but obvious enough to teammates. Is a player giving everything, the proverbial 110 percent, or is he slacking? More importantly, who will hold accountable a player who isn’t? Doing that requires strong leadership, an individual willing to say the unpleasant truth and get results. For too long, the American team has lacked this person.”We’ve been waiting for this leader to step into the role,” said Jay DeMerit, a former U.S. captain who knows something about leadership.So far, Berhalter seems to be searching for a leader. Although his Columbus Crew captain, Wil Trapp, got the armband eight times in the U.S.’s 11 2018 matches, Berhalter has picked 10 players across 18 games in 2019. The list is long and varied. Tim Ream leads with six times as captain; Aaron Long, Zack Steffen and Christian Pulisic have done so two times; Trapp, Yedlin, Michael BradleyMatt MiazgaOmar Gonzalez and Weston McKennie have each gotten it once. This is, at least in part, by design.”The group has done a good job of sharing leadership,” the coach said in a news conference before the Canada fixture. “When I think about meetings we have, there’s not two players that speak up. There are probably 15 players that speak up. When we analyze video or talk about team goals or talk about expectations, it’s by committee … For us, it’s been refreshing. There’s not two guys talking and the rest being quiet. It’s many guys sharing leadership, and we think that’s been effective.”Ream echoed the sentiments of the manager. “There are guys like myself, Michael [Bradley], Brad [Guzan],” he said. “We’ve been around the block. We’ve played a lot of games, a lot of meaningful games. We can kind of pass on our expertise or not, whatever these guys want to know, but it’s more leader by committee. The young kids aren’t shy. That’s fantastic.”Shared experiences, multiple opinions and a plethora of ideas are valuable things, but so is having a player or two to hold everyone accountable.”Guys that may not be the prettiest on the ball, but they will put their head through a wall for the team,” DeMerit said. “Is there enough of that right now? I don’t know.””Roy Keane is a strong personality. You don’t even see that. Somebody who is kind of an a–hole out there. I think we lack that a little bit,” former U.S. defender Jimmy Conrad said. “Sometimes your best 11 players aren’t necessarily your most talented 11 players. A lot of that does come down to chemistry, report and trust — and counting on guys in tough moments, having personalities on the field. Who is going to step up and hold people accountable? All that stuff matters.”Spend enough time around the team, and it’s clear that there’s a lack of personality, at least outwardly. McKennie, likable and fun in Germanyis dull and demure. Others, such as Tim Weah, have electric personalities that are muted with the national team. It’s a trend that started under Klinsmann, so desperate to be the largest personality in the room, and has continued through a vanilla 2018 and 2019. It’s too bad, considering that there’s nothing wrong with showing a little bit of personality. Look how doing so, combined with success, vaulted the women’s national team into the popularity stratosphere over the summer. In the past, the men weren’t the best in the world, but at least they were interesting.”Bob Bradley did a great job creating character within the dressing room,” DeMerit said. “If you look down the line at teams we have from 2008 through the 2010 World Cup, we had a wide range of characters. We had a wide range of leaders. Guys like Michael Bradley, fantastic work ethic, people who came in, kept their head down. Guys like me and Clint [Dempsey] riding their horses into training camp, saying, ‘Let’s go!’ I think Bob appreciated that about me, how I brought that renegade spirit to the group. Frankie Hejduk comes in and brings a bit more character.”Although being a leader and having a personality aren’t the same thing, the lack of both is an example of how the U.S. keeps falling short of its potential. It isn’t an intractable problem, but it’s one that needs to be fixed for the team to progress.Tyler Adams, a natural and intense leader who willed himself to the Bundesliga, has been absent for months. Could he be the answer when he rejoins the squad? Let’s hope he steps up or someone else does. Otherwise, the Americans are in danger of remaining a collection of individuals, desperate for someone to show them the way.

USMNT takes care of what’s expected — but same questions persist

10:10 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

The U.S. men’s national team did what was needed against Cuba in the group stage finale of the CONCACAF Nations League, prevailing 4-0 over the Lions of the Caribbean.

Jordan Morris continued his renaissance with two goals, with Josh Sargent adding two of his own. The win secured the Americans’ place in the semifinals of the competition, as they edged Canada in Group A on goal differential.Beyond that, there weren’t any overriding takeaways from the match. Cuba’s struggles with defections and organization — the match was played in the Cayman Islands due to stadium issues in Cuba — are well-documented. As such, it was a game the U.S. should have dominated, and it did, with a 69%-31% edge in possession and a 14-6 advantage in chances created.That said, there was some sloppy play mixed in among the goals, as the U.S. clearly took its foot off the pedal in the second half. The match will not be included in any 2019 highlight reels.One might argue that the Nations League gave a young U.S. side some needed experience for when World Cup qualifying comes around. Certainly, the Americans got punched in the face when they were beaten by Canada 2-0 last month, and the poor field conditions on display against Cuba might well be encountered again next year. But the Cayman Islands aren’t exactly San Pedro Sula in terms of difficult environments. Neither is Toronto, for that matter. As tests go, there are much, much tougher ones to come.As such, 2019 ends with many of the same questions that were present at the beginning. The U.S. won 11 games during the year, but there was no signature win among them to put a stamp on the Gregg Berhalter era. The Canada loss means the nerves present since the 2018 World Cup qualifying failure haven’t really gone away. Granted, the fact that the U.S. secured passage out of the Nations League group stage counts as a positive. But such sentiments have more to do with the fact that if the U.S. had been eliminated from the Nations League, a full-blown crisis would have ensued. Now the pressure will ease a bit, and the U.S. can regroup when the calendar moves into 2020.If there was one reason for optimism on Tuesday, it was the continued emergence of Morris. After a torn ACL wiped out almost all of his 2018, the Seattle native was an afterthought. But Morris found his form, settled into a wide position, won a title with the Sounders and added plenty to his team’s attack, whether it was for club or country. The five goals in his past five games for the U.S. were the same total he had in his first 34.Morris’ progression might end up being a critical development for a U.S. team that has long been too dependent on Christian Pulisic. The fact that Morris provides more of a classic wing presence than Pulisic gives the U.S. attack an added wrinkle.Sargent’s two goals came in vastly different ways, bundling home Paul Arriola’s deflected cross with the game just 36 seconds old and then a powerful finish from Tyler Boyd’s deft pass in the 66th minute. His performance highlighted what a critical season this is for him. Gyasi Zardes might lead the U.S. with six goals this year, but it is Sargent who has the higher ceiling. He’ll need to develop with Werder Bremen and show his ability when Berhalter calls him in. With Jozy Altidore still struggling to be consistently fit, having Sargent play at a high level would be a boon for the U.S.

But the same could be said for so many other players on the U.S. team from front to back. The matches in 2020, be they Nations League, World Cup qualifying or even Olympic qualifying for the U-23s, will be more intense.Success on those fronts means the level needs to be raised.

 

Player Ratings: Who earned the highest marks in USMNT win over Cuba?

November 19, 201911:07PM EGreg SeltzerContributor

The US national team sealed first place in League A, Group A of the Concacaf Nations League with a slightly underwhelming 4-0 defeat of Cuba in the Cayman Islands on Tuesday night. Gregg Berhalter’s boys lacked energy for large portions of the proceedings, but still made light work of an easy foe thanks to braces from Jordan Morris and Josh Sargent. Either way, they’re into the semifinals of the Concacaf Nations League against Honduras.

United States Player Ratings

Starting XI:

Brad Guzan (6.5) — The veteran backstop came up with a couple of solid saves, including one on a tricky deflected shot that wrong-footed him slightly in the first half.

DeAndre Yedlin (5) — The Newcastle right back helped the Nats drive to the final third plenty of times, especially early, but played inaccurately once they got there. Regardless of how he performs in the EPL, Yedlin will find himself chasing green youngsters if he can’t snap a string of flat US outings.

Aaron Long (6) — The Red Bulls defender was tested so little at the back, his grade mostly came down to a few contributions on offensive restarts.

Tim Ream (7) — The skipper was by far the most active US player at halting Cuba advances and at moving the ball positively out of the back.

Daniel Lovitz (6) — While the new Nashville SC left back did well leading Morris into attack and served some dangerous corner kicks, he also had a couple of hiccups in defense.

Jackson Yueill (5.5) — The San Jose midfielder had his moments knocking the ball around Cuba’s end, but was a lot less firm defensively than he was against Canada on Friday.

Cristian Roldan (6.5) — As one of the few Nats intent on making overload runs, Roldan did his best to liven up the attack. He was also robbed on a diving bullet header.

Weston McKennie (6) — For the second game in a row, McKennie adequately found the game in central park. Even with an assist to his credit, though, he fell short of offering enough cutting edge to shine bright.

Paul Arriola (5) — After darting down the right to help set up Sargent’s quick opener, Arriola was largely ineffective the rest of the night. To boot, most of his restart deliveries were weak.

Jordan Morris (8) — The in-form Seattle flank ace was easily the best player on the field, making two goals and some tempting crosses look like child’s play.

Josh Sargent (7) — The Werder Bremen forward applied a fatal doorstep touch in the opening minute, but was all but invisible the rest of the first half. Sargent markedly picked up the pace after intermission, and was rewarded with a second goal.

Coach Gregg Berhalter (6) — The boss went with a very straightforward game plan against a clearly overmatched opponent. The result was the expected run-of-play dominance and a bare minimum margin of victory.

Subs:

Tyler Boyd (5.5) — It was rather disappointing to see the Besiktas winger be so lackadaisical in attack, but he somewhat rescued his grade with a nifty leaping backheel assist.

Reggie Cannon (6) — Although his defensive work was less than stellar, Cannon should have been credited with a second assist for the excellent cross that led to Sargent’s second.

Alfredo Morales (7) — If not for a pair of outstanding saves by the Cuba netminder, Morales could have made it three US players with a brace. It was a strong all-around 21-minute shift for the Fortuna Düsseldorf man.

 

 

Brooks 8/10, Zardes 7/10 as U.S. avenges last month’s Canada defeat

Nov 15, 2019Jason DavisU.S. soccer writer

The United States men’s national team put in something of a redemptive performance in Orlando, Florida, on Friday night, besting Canada 4-1 at Exploria Stadium. The victory not only earned the Americans some relief from the negativity that has marked the past month and a measure of revenge against Canada, it set them up to advance atop their Nations League group with a win over hapless Cuba on Tuesday.

Positives

The Americans responded to the call for more fight with a spirited performance in a must-win game. Last month’s 2-0 loss in Toronto prompted serious questions about the lack of effort under Gregg Berhalter that were refuted, at least on some level, on Friday. The USMNT used tried-and-true methods, set pieces and counterattacks, to punish a sloppy Canadian side and ease some of the pressure.

The U.S. didn’t play the cleanest match, and Berhalter’s preferred possession-based approach was sacrificed on the altar of winning. After calls for change and a more pragmatic plan, that can’t be used to criticize the coach now. Still, the Americans won’t point to this victory as an example of an ideal performance.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Berhalter gets credit for streamlining the tactical approach and playing to the strengths of his team. Pregame worries about the lineup proved unfounded, though it’s still worth asking why several players (Gyasi Zardes and Jackson Yueill among them) earned a place in the first XI despite long layoffs. That said, Zardes delivered for his manager, scoring a brace amid widespread criticism from USMNT supporters.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Brad Guzan, 7 — Faced limited action and made no obvious mistakes with possession. Controlled his box well and was hung out to dry on Canada’s goal.

DF Sergino Dest, 7 — Solid on defense facing the explosive Alphonso Davies, he was as adventurous as ever going forward in an excellent overall competitive debut.

DF Aaron Long, 6 — Contributed on the attacking end with the set piece goal and was part of a strong defensive performance for the Americans during open play.

DF John Brooks, 8 — Dominant physically and smart with his positioning. Notably was good in possession, particularly when under pressure in the first half.

DF Tim Ream, 5 — Complicit at the back post on Canada’s goal and wasteful with possession on occasion. Provided little going forward, by design.

MF Jackson Yueill, 6 — Played proactively, helping to set the tone with energy and industry in the first half. On the other hand, he was a step slow tracking runners in midfield.

MF Weston McKennie, 5 — Poor in possession but gave the midfield a much-needed toughness. Not influential, but not poor.

Gyasi Zardes’ selection for the national team has come under fire, but the 28-year-old answered the bell with a brace vs. Canada. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

MF Sebastian Lletget, 8 — Consistently dangerous, he often took advantage of reactive defending from Canada. Integral in setting up numerous chances.

FW Jordan Morris, 7 — Got the U.S. off to a great start with an opportunistic early goal and laid on the second for Zardes. Industrious and put in a good shift, particularly after playing in an MLS Cup final just five days earlier.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 7 — Scored two goals in his return to the lineup, rewarding Berhalter for his faith. Added to the defensive effort with effective back-pressing.

FW Paul Arriola 5 — Solid on both sides of the ball and set up the second goal with a smart pass on the counter.

Substitutes:

MF Alfredo Morales, N/R — Chaotic and overexuberant in a short cameo.

DF DeAndre Yedlin, N/R — Showed his danger up the wing as a sub, setting up Zardes’ culminating goal.

FW Tyler Boyd, N/R — The Besiktas man came on for injury time after the U.S. had already sealed things with a fourth.

 

 

Indiana Punches 33rd-Straight Ticket to NCAA Tournament, Earns No. 5 Seed

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – After winning both the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles, the Indiana University men’s soccer team earned the No. 5 overall seed for the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Indiana earned a bye in the first round and will host the winner of Kentucky and Loyola-Chicago on Sunday, Nov. 24. First kick is scheduled for noon at Jerry Yeagley Field at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth (18 & under)and can be purchased at IUHoosiers.com.

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets online to avoid game day lines. Reminder that there are no service fees for tickets purchased at IUHoosiers.com.

Indiana University students will get in free as IU Athletic Director Fred Glass and IU Athletics will purchase their tickets for each round of the NCAA Tournament that the Hoosiers host. Students must show student ID at the ticket window to redeem free ticket.

The berth for the Hoosiers is the team’s 33rd-straight bid to the NCAA Tournament and the 44th overall in the program’s history. The 33-straight berths are the longest active streak in the country.

Indiana earned the No. 5 national seed for the second time since the tournament expanded to the current seeding. The Hoosiers secured the fifth seed in the 2014 season and lost to Xavier, 2-1, in the second round.

Since the NCAA began its current seeding format in 2003, the Hoosiers have earned a top-16 seed in 15 of the 17 tournaments and a top-8 seed 10 times. IU has appeared in 20 College Cups, which leads all Division I teams, and won its eighth national title in 2012.

The Hoosiers enter the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 14-2-4. Indiana repeated as Big Ten regular season and tournament champions for the first time since going back-to-back in the 1998 and 1999 seasons. The regular season title marked the 16th in program history, while the tournament crown is the 14th won by IU. The championship double marked the 10th time in the storied history of Indiana men’s soccer.

IU posted a mark of 5-2-4 against NCAA Tournament teams this season, including victories over No. 13 Michigan and No. 15 Penn State. Maryland also secured an at-large bid out of the Big Ten Conference into the NCAA Tournament.

The Hoosiers played to a 0-0 draw earlier this season against the Kentucky Wildcats. Overall, IU has an all-time record of 25-2-4 against UK and have not matched up against Loyola-Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

11/14/19 US Men face Canada Fri 7 pm ESPN2, Cuba Tues 7:30 pm FS1, International Games Thur-Tue, Seattle Wins MLS Cup, Indy 11 fall to Louisville

US Men vs Canada Friday 7 pm ESPN2

Nations League play returns this Friday night on ESPN2 at 7 pm as the US Men’s National Team will look to pay back Canada for the loss last month in Toronto. The US will be home in Orlando for this critical Nations League match which could determine if Canada or the US Advances as the top seed.  Of course the US will be missing talisman Christian Pulisic who was injured scoring in his 3rd straight game for Chelsea over the weekend.  Pulisic scored another header giving him 5 goals and 3 assist on the season for Chelsea.  The US will also be missing starting GK Zach Steffan, who was hurt for German side Dusseldorf last weekend.  Look for Brad Guzan of Atlanta United to take the gloves this week for the huge games along with the return of centerback John Brooks, who is back from injury for Wolfsburg.  Sergino Dest, fresh off pledging his allegiance to the US over the Dutch, looks to be cup tied in a starting role on defense as well this week.  I certainly hope to see D-mid handled by Alfredo Morales who has returned from injury for Dusseldorf and played so well vs Mexico a few months back.  His bite in the middle could lead to good things as we wait for Tyler Adams to return from injury. (Bradley is hurt from the MLS Title game and Will Trapp stinks).

As I see it this is a HUGE game for US Manager Gregg Berhalter, who does he put where, and how does the US play in what many see as a must win game for the new manager.   There were whispers that a 2nd straight loss to Canada (a team we hadn’t lost to since 1986) could end the tenure of the US headman, but GM Earnie Stewart shot those down.  It doesn’t mean the US doesn’t need to win this game and big on Friday night.   I still think the big issues with US soccer are at the top – all the way down.  Still not sure Tab Ramos, who took our U20s and U23’s to the Quarter Finals of the last 3 WC’s shouldn’t have gotten a shot at least at the interim role.  Anyway hopefully the US shows up with some pride and dominates Canada at home the way we need to.

 The 23-man USMNT roster:

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

DEFENDERS (9): John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Sergiño Dest (Ajax), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Düsseldorf), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Besiktas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)

 MLS CUP – Seattle Wins !

Wow as a longtime Seattle Sounders Fan – (someday I will get to that stadium!) – it was fantastic to see not only a win – but the extreme jubilation with 70,000 fans – the largest to crowd to see a sporting event in Seattle on hand.  Yeah the game was just ok – as Toronto dominated the first half – only to have Seattle strike back in the 2nd with a lucky off the defender goal.  Toronto dominated possession, but without Altidore up front to finish – they simply could not get a solid shot on goal.  And when they did Sounders GK Steffan Frie was up to the task. A 2nd goal on the counter attack followed by a third sent the crowd into a frenzy before Altidore finally subbed in late to make it 3-1 the final and Championship #2 to Seattle in the last 4 years.  Great to see the TV #s come back strong – as over 2 million watched on TV on an NFL Sunday on ABC.  Great to not only have the game on Network TV again – but to have a high scoring game that fans tuned into as well.  MLS is on the rise, the new playoff format with 1 game win or go home formats combined with more story lines and better TV viewership can only mean good things for the league as #s on ESPN+, Fox Sports and ESPN were up this year. Also ending the season in November rather than early December has to help.  With new cities like Nashville, Miami, Austin and more on the horizon – the future is looking for MLS.  Me  I am happy to see a city like Seattle that embraces their Sounder’s and soccer get to raise the Cup in their home stadium.  Someday Seattle – I will be amongst your masses !  Oh late note – sorry to see Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not returning to MLS and the LA Galaxy next season – he was a big personality and gave people someone to dislike or at least played the role of BAD GUY as well as anyone in the history of the league. Not sure El Traffico will be the same without him – I know the league will not.

Indy 11 Fall At Home in Eastern Finals

Disappointment city for our Indy 11 – as they let their 1 goal lead slip in the 94th minute in route to a 3-1 Championship game loss to Louisville at home Saturday afternoon.  A pretty good Indy 11 crowd – bolstered by over 1500 traveling Louisville fans was on hand to see the excitement.  The Indy 11 took a 2nd half lead on Tyler Pasher’s goal.  Louisville however kept the pressure on and when a questionable 4 minutes of extra time was added – Louisville capitalized on a 94th minute goal off their 3rd corner in extra time. Louisville scored 2 goals in Overtime including a horrible call when 11 GK Jordan Farr was whistled for a penalty on a perfect slide out to protect his goal.  The PK was the 3rd and final goal for Louisville as they now move on to their 3rd  USL Championship Final on Sunday night at 7:30 pm on ESPN2. (ah what could have been).  For the Indy 11 a disappointing finish to a really good season. I will have more wrap up next week.

US Ladies Wrap-Up Year with 2 Big Wins

The US Ladies wrapped up the year with a huge 6-0 win Costa Rica after surviving Sweden 3-2 last week.  A Good start for new coach Andonovski as he made some needed tweaks that seems to have helped the US team. He worked in some new players and some old stalwarts -like Carli Llyod (3 goals) really stood out in this looser, more attacking approach. The Olympics are right around the corner – so the US Ladies will look to continue tweaking things.  Lots of games during this international break England, Spain, Germany, Italy will be on ESPN+ a couple of times for Euro Cup Qualifying, Brazil faces Argentina in a Friendly Fri at noon on beIN Sport and of course the 2 huge US Games. 

CARMEL FC CLINICS SAT

Carmel FC would like to offer its youngest members, U8-U14 Boys and Girls, the chance to participate in the first ever Pass, Shoot, and Play Fall Clinics this SATURDAY ONLY – Nov 16th at Murray Stadium.  The sessions will focus on enhancing players’ basic abilities such as foot skills, passing, touch, and shooting featuring different perspectives and tips from our diverse and experienced coaching staff.  Coaches from throughout the club have volunteered to make this clinic a completely FREE opportunity for your player to experience a new, unique training environment with other members from around the club!  The schedule will be as follows:

Friday, November 15 – CANCELLED DUE TO COLD WEATHER

Saturday, November 16

  • U8s through U10s from 12 – 1 PM
  • U11s and U12s from 1 -2:30 PM
  • U13s and U14s from 2:30 – 4 PM

Please RSVP in this link if your player is interested in participating http://carmeldadsclub2016.org/81dd903881283f0fe6f402d9ac64aba4.form

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Nov 15

12 noon beIN Sport           Brazil vs Argentina (friendly)

2:$5 pm EPSN+                                 Boznia vs Italy

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Spain vs Malta

7 pm ESPN2                        USA vs Canada (Nations League)

10 pm FuboTV, TUDN   Panama vs Mexico

Sat, Nov 16

12 noon EPSN3                                 Russia vs Belgium

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Germany vs Belarus

Sun, Nov 17

9 am  ESPN News                            Luxenberg vs Portugal

12 noon  ESPN+                               Kosovo vs England  

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Albania vs France

5 pm Fox Sports 2                           U17 World Cup FINALS

7:30 pm ESPN2                  Louisville City vs Real Monarchs  USL Championship Game

Mon, Nov 18

2:45 pm ESPN News                        Ireland vs Denmark

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Italy vs Armenia

TUes, Nov 19

2:45 pm ESPN2                                 Germany vs Northern Ireland

7:30 pm Fox sport 1          Cuba vs USA (Nations League)

7:30 pm FuboTV, TUDN                   Mexico  vs Bermuda

Sat, Nov 23 

7:30 am NBCSN                                West Ham vs Tottenham

9 am ESPN+                                       Atalanta vs Juventus

9:30 am Fox Sport 1                       Dusseldorf (Morales & Steffan) vs Bayern Munich

9:30 am Fox Soccer                         Schalke (Mckinney) vs Werder Breman (Stuart)

10 am NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

12:30 pm NBC                                  Man City vs Chelsea (pulisic)  

3 pm beIN Sport                               Real Madrid vs Real Sociadad

Sun, Nov 24

9 am beIN Sport                               Monaco vs Bordueaux

11:30 am NBCSN                              Sheffield United vs Man United

12 noon FS1                         Hoffenhiem vs Mainz

USA

Is Berhalter the Right Guy for the US Head Job – ESPNFC – Jeff C

How Will US Line-up vs Canada?  -yahoo sports

What’s at Stake – especially for Canada

Stewart on Berhalter: “What I’ve seen today, I’m a pleased man”

Stewart assures Berhalter safe as USMNT boss – Jeff C ESPNFC

Doyle: Latest USMNT roster has one job

Berhalter: “I can guarantee” vastly improved display vs. Canada

U.S. Soccer to honor RunDMB on Friday

Zach Steffan to Miss US Nations League Games with Injury

 

USWNT put 6 past Costa Rica in friendly

Andonovski purposeful, thoughtful with early USWNT tweaks

Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian, Williams inspire US Past Costa Rica

Rose Lavelle, Lynn Williams shine bright in 6-0 USWNT win

US Women beat Sweden 3-2 in Andonovski’s Managerial Debut

Match Stats vs CostaRica

MLS Finals

Sounder’s Cement Love Affair with Seattle after MLS Cup Home Win

Sounders take down Toronto to win 2nd MLS Cup

Sounders’ MLS Cup triumph reward for team that took its chances

Seattle Takes Rubber Match vs Toronto – Avi Creditor – SI

Sounders Step Up in Decisive Moments to Win MLS Cup – Grant Wahl SI

Toronto ‘our own worst enemy’ in MLS Cup – Vanney

Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey Reaches the Cup Final Again – Grant Wahl – SI

Monchengladbach pay seven figures for NYCFC teenager

Zlatan’s best goals of 2019

Doyle: Zlatan leaves Galaxy without conquering

He’s back: Thierry Henry is the Impact’s new head coach

Indy 11

Indy 11 Stunned by Louisville in Final – Indy Star – Kevin Johnston

Indy 11 Defender makes 1st Team

Indy 11 Loses Heartbreaker in Conference Finals 3-1

EPL

Pulisic Watch: How U.S. star is doing at Chelsea, game by game

Premier League Player Power Rankings

Unstoppable Liverpool, not VAR, the story as Reds make title statement vs. City

Mourinho declares title Liverpool’s barring injuries

Pep’s shallow squad |

Liverpool’s title to lose |

Emery is throwing stuff at a wall |

Foxes better than Claudio’s heroes |

West Ham sweating on Fabianski |

Luckiest moment of the weekend |

A final word on VAR … again

Power Rankings – Liverpool stay top ahead of Juventus

Arsenal and Emery are regressing in real time  3dGabriele Marcotti Getty

World

European Cup Qualification

– Qualifying tables | Upcoming fixtures

Euro 2020 qualifying: All you need to know

Who will take part in the playoffs? | Finals draw seeds and pots

USA vs. Canada: Here’s what’s at stake in the Nations League rematch

November 12, 20195:43PM ESTDylan ButlerContributor

There will be a lot on the line for both the US men’s national team and Canada when the teams meet up Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN) at Exploria Stadium.By virtue of a historic win at BMO Field a month ago, Canada hold first place in Nations League Group A with a perfect nine points heading into its final group stage match.  A win or draw would put John Herdman’s squad into the tournament’s final four and earn them valuable points in the FIFA rankings as they seek to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup.Following the 2-0 victory in Toronto a month ago, Canada moved into a top-six spot among Concacaf teams where they need to be in June 2020 to ensure a spot in the Concacaf Hexagonal for FIFA World Cup qualifying. But there is little room for comfort, with El Salvador, Curacao and Panama all within striking distance.“The USA have their motivations for this match, but for us it is another cup final, another game that could decide our fate for qualification to the Hex, so we will give absolutely everything we have to move this country one step closer to achieving that goal,” Herdman said.Canada have already secured a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup by guaranteeing a place in the top two teams in the group. The US have also effectively sealed their qualification, given their huge goal-differential advantage over bottom-placed Cuba.A USMNT win would pull them within three points of Canada heading into the final group stage match against Cuba on Nov. 19. Canada currently have a +4 goal differential advantage over the USMNT.

How will the USMNT line up versus Canada?

Nicholas Mendola,NBC Sports 15 hours ago

No Christian Pulisic.  No Tyler Adams.  No Timothy Weah. No Michael Bradley, Matt Miazga, and no Zack Steffen, either.  Ugh.Still, the United States men’s national team will be favored to get a home decision over Canada on Friday as the CONCACAF Nations League begins its final two match days of the group stage.How will Gregg Berhalter line up his team without so many key components?

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan is probably going to get the start here, and he won’t kill the team, but we’d love to see Sean Johnson get a chance to improve on his 100% clean sheet success rate across two tournament caps for the U.S.

Back line: It would be insane if Sergino Dest didn’t start at one of the full back spots given his election of the USMNT over the Netherlands. Also insane would be not starting a finally-healthy John Brooks.After that, it seems likely Berhalter will opt for Aaron Long to pair with Brooks. If his left back option is Dest, then it’ll be DeAndre Yedlin at right back (or Reggie Cannon). If Dest is on his preferred right side, than Daniel Lovitz may get a look over Tim Ream on account of the speed in Canada’s attack.

Midfield: Might Berhalter pull back an attacker and use a four-man midfield against the Canucks? Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales will take two spots, and it seems pretty likely Jackson Yueill will get the chance to be a deep-lying playmaker with McKennie and Morales running their shorts off to make his life easier. We suppose Berhalter could opt for Wil Trapp over Yueill. It’s possible. A little too possible.

Attack: Josh Sargent is going to get the center forward spot, and it would be wild if Jordan Morris doesn’t join him. Then it’s down to Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola, exciting versus a bit safer. And Arriola would give him more of a midfield presence than the forward-thinking Boyd.Here’s how we think Berhalter starts in Orlando:

Guzan

Yedlin — Long — Brooks — Dest

Yueill

Morales — McKennie

Morris — Sargent — Arriola

Is Berhalter right for the U.S. men’s national team? 10 burning questions for the USMNT in 2019

3:13 PM ET   Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

On a conference call with the media on Tuesday, U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart had a Chip Diller moment. Despite some poor results by the U.S. men’s national team, including a humbling loss to Canada, Stewart said Gregg Berhalter’s job as manager is safe no matter what the results of the next two games are, and that the U.S. was making progress.It’s Stewart’s duty to back the work of Berhalter, of course. He hired him, after all. But Stewart’s assessment flies in the face of reality. Even if the U.S. gets the wins it needs against Canada on Friday (7 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN2) and Cuba four days later, and thus advances to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Nations League, the team has at best treaded water and more accurately taken a step backward in 2019. The insistence on playing out of the back seems misguided. The competitiveness that was once the U.S. team’s hallmark has nearly evaporated. Most sobering of all is the fact that while the U.S. roster has plenty of good players, outside of Christian Pulisic, there are few — if any — great players. There aren’t any Clint Dempseys or Landon Donovans coming to this team’s rescue. That last aspect isn’t Berhalter’s fault, but it does magnify mistakes, and there have been a few.Here are 10 questions that need answering for the U.S. as it goes forward.

1. Is Berhalter the right man for the job?

It’s looking more and more like he isn’t. New England Revolution manager Bruce Arena was right when he said in October that Berhalter was running the national team like it was a club team. Berhalter has been stubborn in terms of his style despite the scant time he gets with the team, but Stewart is clearly intent on keeping him on board for the foreseeable future.

The U.S. manager’s chances of survival hinge on his willingness to find a pragmatic streak. Soccer is a results-driven business; Berhalter needs to win any way necessary rather than insisting on his ideal way of playing. Sure, the U.S. reached the final of the Gold Cup, but that was a case of the Americans dispatching teams that they should beat on a regular basis. Against the likes of Mexico, other than the first 25 minutes of the Gold Cup final, the U.S. has come up well short, and last month’s defeat to Canada revealed that his side continues to lose ground to its regional competitors. Berhalter needs to accept the realities of what the player pool is handing him and regroup.

2. What have we learned about Berhalter’s approach?

So far Berhalter has been too rigid in his tactics and squad selection. The September friendly against Mexico was a case in point, when he praised his side for continuing to play out of the back even as it became evident that the U.S. didn’t have the ability to play through El Tri‘s press. There needs to be a mix of playing direct and indirect, depending on what the opponent gives you. Against an Uruguay team that was content to sit back, the U.S. wisely engaged in a patient buildup. Against Canada, the U.S. was guilty of some brutal giveaways in its own half that led directly to goals.Then there’s the broader question of whether the U.S. has the personnel — and perhaps more importantly, the time — to implement what Berhalter is asking of his players: to control the game by way of long spells of possession and unbalancing opponents to create goal-scoring opportunities through the individual brilliance of Pulisic and utilizing the wings. Against run-of-the-mill CONCACAF sides, it does. Against better teams, it doesn’t. This isn’t a surprise. It sums up the state of the U.S. team going back 40 years. Berhalter and the U.S. need to show more flexibility in terms of their style.

3. Does Berhalter know what his first-choice XI is?

Only in bits and pieces. I’d say roughly half of the starting lineup in his preferred 4-3-3 has solidified, while the remaining positions are open with varying degrees of competition. Some of that is health-induced, with the absence of Tyler Adams especially problematic. Here’s a stab at a starting XI assuming Berhalter has a full complement of players to choose from:

Zack SteffenDeAndre YedlinAaron LongJohn Brooks, Sergino Dest; Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic; Jordan MorrisJozy AltidorePaul Arriola.

4. Which players form his core?

Steffen is the entrenched starter in goal. Brooks, health permitting, will take up one of the center-back spots, while Yedlin has reclaimed his position at right-back. McKennie, Adams and Pulisic have to be on the field in some form or another, although they haven’t all been in camp together enough for Berhalter to settle on how that will be done.McKennie thrives as a No. 8 with his box-to-box running. Adams is the midfield engine adept at breaking up plays and his passing has improved to the point of him being able to link defense and attack. Pulisic is the creative linchpin, although he could use some help in this area.

5. Which positions are still unsettled?

Left-back remains a sore spot, with Dest looking to be shoehorned into that position even though he plays on the opposite flank for Ajax. The center-back situation is more solid, with Long, Tim Ream and Walker Zimmerman in contention to play alongside Brooks, although why Matt Miazga did to not get called in this time — despite playing regularly for Reading in England’s Championship — remains a mystery.In the absence of Adams, Berhalter is still looking for the right balance in midfield, especially in terms of which player (or players) sits in front of the back line. Michael Bradley remains an option, but his advancing age (32) demands that Berhalter look at other possibilities. Alfredo Morales, who plays with a bite that in large part is missing from this team, could be a solution, but he’s not exactly youthful at age 29. That merely highlights the fact that Adams can’t return to health soon enough.Altidore is still the best option as the lone striker, but health remains an issue for him. Based on the Gold Cup, he also doesn’t seem to have the faith of Berhalter, leaving Josh Sargent as the heir apparent. On the wing, Morris has made steady progress this season, while Arriola and Tyler Boyd are still in contention.

6. Is Berhalter getting the most out of Pulisic?

Not yet he isn’t, and it’s still not clear what Pulisic’s best position is in Berhalter’s setup. Pulisic has excelled playing out on the wing for Borussia Dortmund and now Chelsea, looking dynamic when he cuts inside from wide positions. But for the U.S. there’s a question of whether he can get the ball with enough frequency in that spot and whether the USMNT can afford to have him so isolated. Playing as one of two advanced central midfielders, Pulisic has looked promising at times, and this approach ought to be looked at again. It gives him a bit more freedom within the U.S. side to find space, whether its centrally or out wide.There’s also the question of how much Pulisic is chafing at how he’s being used. He showed visible frustration when he was subbed against Canada. No player wants to come out, ever, but against Canada, Pulisic’s insistence that he wasn’t feeling ill — as Berhalter stated — hints that player and coach aren’t always on the same page.

7. Which players should be shown the door?

In many ways, this process has already started. Wil Trapp, as good as he is on the ball, hasn’t shown the necessary physicality to excel with the national team, and his playing time has decreased as a result. Gyasi Zardes is everyone’s favorite whipping boy, and his playing time has largely been a function of Altidore’s injuries. But at this stage, he should make way for others.

8. Which players should get more chances?

There has been plenty of clamoring to see more of the U20 squad that reached the quarterfinals of last summer’s FIFA U20 World Cup. Berhalter has established a standard whereby players have to be getting minutes with their first team in order to get called up. I have zero problem with this. Too often in the past, players with minimal club achievements have been called into the national team, often to their detriment.Despite fans’ enthusiasm for a youth movement, a better development path for these players is to cut their international teeth with the U23s and focus on qualifying for the Olympics. It’s a tournament that is often derided as being far down the totem pool in terms of international cachet, but it’s still international experience, and can provide an important step in terms of the international game.However, one player who should be exempt from the above line of thinking is Paxton Pomykal, who has shown in 2019 that he’s deserving of additional opportunities. Injuries late in the season meant he hasn’t been able to build on his initial call-up in September, and he recently had surgery to repair a core muscle injury. But his skill on the ball would seem to suit what Berhalter is asking for. The potential, composure on the ball and playmaking ability of the Philadelphia Union’s Brenden Aaronson makes him another to watch.If the likes of Ulysses Llanez and Alex Mendez break through at Wolfsburg and Ajax respectively, by all means call them into the senior squad. The same can be said for Richie Ledezma at PSV. Until then, they should be left to develop with their clubs.In the absence of Pulisic, Sebastian Lletget is one player who ought to get some more looks. He’s crafty on the ball, and can pop up for the occasional goal, although there wasn’t enough of that last season for the LA Galaxy. So far, he hasn’t gotten all that many minutes when Berhalter has had first team available. If the U.S. manager is really intent on playing Pulisic out wide, Lletget may be the key to making that work. If Pulisic and Lletget are installed in these roles, Sargent could be suited for being the connection in front of goal given his skill set.Sargent is one player who needs to see the field more often given his all-around game and Altidore’s health issues.

9. What’s the U.S. team’s most glaring deficiency?

Depth or creativity, take your pick, although one tends to bleed into the other. The biggest problem with the attack is that there is no one to take the creative load off of Pulisic. If no one emerges to provide a secondary attacking outlet, then the Pulisic can expect a steady stream of tactical fouls.

10. What must Berhalter and the U.S. do better in 2020?

Besides everything? First, find the aforementioned pragmatic streak. The U.S. has historically been at its best when it has known its limitations and played within them. That’s not to say that playing a more expansive style can’t be tried, but it shouldn’t be the only club in the U.S. team’s stylistic bag.Find a dedicated place for Pulisic to play and then build the attack from there. And pray that Adams returns to health.The U.S. also needs to rediscover its competitive streak. The Canada game in October was embarrassing in terms of how badly the U.S. was outworked. If the U.S. is to make any progress at all in 2020, that trait needs to return in abundance.

Earnie Stewart: USMNT has made progress under Gregg Berhalter

1:31 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart indicated that Gregg Berhalter’s job as men’s national team manager is safe, no matter what the results are in the upcoming Concacaf Nations League matches against Canada and Cuba.Berhalter has come under fire recently for some poor results, namely a 3-0 friendly defeat to rivals Mexico back in September in which the U.S. was thoroughly outplayed, as well as a 2-0 loss to Canada in the Nations League last month. The latter defeat makes Friday’s rematch against the Reds in Orlando a must-win if the U.S. is to progress in the competition.

– Watch U.S. vs. Canada live at 7 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2
– CONCACAF Nations League: All you need to know

Speaking on a conference with reporters, Stewart was asked directly if Berhalter’s job was safe, no matter what the results are against Canada and Cuba, Stewart said, “We’re looking at the future, so yeah. When I evaluate Gregg and the coaching staff, and what I’ve seen today, I’m a pleased man. An individual result is not going to change that. I think that answers the question in itself.”Stewart admitted that the performance against Canada “wasn’t good enough”, but he believes the U.S. men have made progress in the last year.”I do think there’s been progress, I really do,” he said. “What we’ve seen in the Gold Cup is that in Concacaf we have a really good level, and that we can play the game we want to play. Getting to a place where we can do that over 90 minutes, that’s the place we need to get to. That progression is there, except against teams like a very good team in Mexico and a very good team like Uruguay, it becomes a little bit more difficult.”Berhalter has also come under criticism for implementing a possession-based, play-out-of-the-back style. The U.S. has at times struggled to implement this approach, leading to concerns that it doesn’t necessarily fit the collective skillset of the player pool. Stewart believes he seen enough positive moments that the approach is the right one.”Our players showed that they can perform at a really, really high level. The question is not so much, can these players do that, because they’ve already shown that they can. What I would say is we need to do that over 90 minutes, and that’s something that we’re constantly talking about. How can we get there? How can we progress to have enough players to keep that an maintain that for 90 minutes.”Stewart’s optimistic outlook extends to qualification for the 2022 World Cup.”I have no fear that we’re not going to qualify for the World Cup,” he said. “I’m very, very confident about that.”Stewart also hit back against what he called “conspiracy theories” about the process in which Berhalter was hired. Berhalter’s brother Jay is currently the USSF Chief Commercial Officer, and there have been suggestions that he had an unhealthy influence on Stewart during the coaching search, especially given the fact that just two candidates were interviewed.Stewart was also asked about the role that the Hispanic community plays in the U.S. program. Hispanics are not well represented in the USSF hierarchy, and a newly created a 59-person youth soccer task force that outside of USSF president Carlos Cordeiro, doesn’t contain a single Latino member.”When we put it together, we were just looking for the best people, it’s as simple as that,” said Stewart, speaking generally about Hispanic representation.”There’s not other stuff that goes on or anything like that. Is the Hispanic community an important part of the U.S. and U.S. Soccer? Yes, I truly believe that. Should there be representation? I believe that as well. That is hopefully what the future will also entail and what that will look like. But it’s also about the quality of people that you bring in and everything. It’s an important part of our heritage, it’s an important part of our community, so that should also be represented within the USSF. And I don’t believe anybody within the USSF thinks differently than that.”

Anything less than revenge win over Canada is unacceptable, say United States

November 12, 201912:47PM ESTAustin DavidContributor

ORLANDO, Fla. — Over the past few weeks, a number of billboards sprung up around the city of Orlando advertising the US men’s national team’s Concacaf Nations League match against Canada on Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN), with the word “payback” written on top.After the team’s disappointing 2-0 loss to Canada in October, this game has been billed as a revenge game by many. Now, with the team facing a must-win home match against their northern neighbors, the players seem to feel the same way.“I don’t like to put that pressure, but in reality, it is,” defender Reggie Cannon said on Monday. “We lost and now it’s time to step up and respond to the challenge that we’re placed in. We dug ourselves in this hole but we can definitely get out of it.”That self-imposed pressure is one that seems to resonate through the entire team. With some frustrating performances and results over the last few months, the USMNT are eager to show their fans just what they’re capable of and put on a show for the Orlando faithful.

United States vs. Canada

Friday, November 15 at 7:00pmExploria StadiumGET TICKETS

“You use that game to learn from and get better,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “We certainly weren’t good enough on the night and we need to make sure that when we step on the field, come Friday night, we give ourselves the best chance to get three points.”Building off the performance in October, head coach Gregg Berhalter felt that his team lacked intensity against Canada, a part of the game he’s hoping his players not only learned from but also build on.“I can guarantee you that it will be a different-looking game on Friday,” Berhalter said. “Sometimes it takes a fire getting lit under you to get that response and we’re always striving a mixture. We want that super-high intensity but we also want to be able to pick teams apart and play our way.”With the team missing two of their star players in Zack Steffen and Christian Pulisic, others will need to fill their shoes with a next-man-up mentality, as they hope to rectify the result of the previous game and produce a better performance in a match the US must win handily if they are to retain any hope of winning Group A of CNL League A and advancing to the new competition’s knockout stages.“Nothing less than a win is going to be good enough,” Guzan said.

Armchair Analyst: Berhalter’s latest USMNT roster has one job

November 12, 20192:14PM ESTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

There was justifiable anger, frustration and despair from the US national team fanbase last month following a humiliating and one-sided 2-0 loss at BMO Field to Canada in the Concacaf Nations League.It was a very, very bad loss. Not because Canada are a bad team – the US have lost to much worse teams this past decade (Guatemala, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago) – nor because the stakes were particularly high (the losses to those above teams all came in World Cup qualifiers, and Jamaica won in the 2015 Gold Cup semifinals as well).What made it bad was how slow and defensively disorganized the US were all over the pitch, and how soft and uncompetitive the US were in central midfield. Michael Bradley and Cristian Roldan were put in a no-win situation by Gregg Berhalter, asked to play 2-v-4 basically all night against Canada’s box midfield. But even so they were just overrun by their Canadian counterparts. Sam Piette and Liam Fraser are good players, but they are not prime Arturo Vidal and Charles Aranguiz.Against the US, they looked like it.  So here’s a list of things that I want to see from the USMNT for these upcoming Nations League games, in which they host Canada in Orlando on Friday (7 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, TUDN) and then travel down to the Cayman Islands to face Cuba next Tuesday (7:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, TUDN):

1. Change the defensive shape

At some point it has to be recognized that the 4-4-2 mid-block is too passive, too prone to losing numerical superiority in central midfield, and too simple to game plan against (hence Canada’s box midfield). Berhalter has to put another guy in there.I’m open to seeing how the US look defensively in a 4-2-3-1 with a double pivot. Or Berhalter could invert the triangle and go with a single pivot in a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1. Either way, it’s time to get more numbers there.

2. Change the defensive function

Can you think of a single dangerous transition moment from the past half-dozen games? Can you remember a single time the US won the ball and then just immediately vamos‘d into the attacking third?Neither can I. The US plan under Berhalter is to bottle teams up in that mid-block, force a turnover, and then methodically go about breaking them down with the ball.When you can do that, that’s good! But if everybody already knows you’re doing that, and is planning to stop you from doing that, and you don’t have a Plan B, then that’s bad! That’s how you get absolutely punked by Canada!ore than anything else, the modern game is about transition moments. The US in 2019 do not do transition moments. It is weird, and it is worrisome, and it is wearing me out. Win the ball and run.

3. Return the Punking

Canada out-toughed, out-swaggered, out-coached and out-Concacaf’d the US in October. It was a pure beating, a one-sided lesson in aggression, game-planning and will.And if you’re a member of the USMNT, a national team that had not lost to Canada for 34 years prior last month’s embarrassment, you can not let that stand. You have to go out there and, first and foremost, win the rock fight. Yes, soccer is a game of high strategy and subtle tactics and nuance and beauty, but at its heart it will always be a physical competition. Those Barcelona teams that played the most gorgeous soccer anyone’s ever seen? To a man they’d push you in front of a bus if they thought it would give them an edge. To a man they went out there not just with the desire to play their game and impose their tactical will, but to dominate and demoralize their opponents.The US have too often looked like they were going through the steps of an academic exercise, just processing information and forgetting that there was a sporting competition happening around them (or maybe “to them” is a better way of putting it). Tata Martino had El Tri just press the US into oblivion back in September, and John Herdman simply wouldn’t let the bedrock principle of the academic exercise – Bradley’s long diagonals to the flanks – be a thing.The US got punked. The players played soft, confused and frustrated.

Here’s the XI I’d like to see:

Morris/Sargent .Arriola

Mckennie Yueill

Morales

Dest, Brooks, Long, Cannon

Johnson

A few notes:

  • Jordan Morrislooked exhausted after MLS Cup, but with Christian Pulisic officially ruled out, he will have to step up for the USMNT, while Tyler Boyd is an off-the-bench option.
  • Bradley is officially out after turning his ankle in MLS Cup, which means it’s Jackson Yueillor Wil Trappas the regista.

I have my doubts about Yueill’s ability to do some of the physical work required of a No. 6 – he’s become good at winning the ball in a scrum, but isn’t one to cover much ground or inflict much pain (yet) – but I think this is a fairly easy call. If he does well, great! If he doesn’t… well, at least it’s a useful data point for evaluating a young, high-upside player in the pool.

  • A more traditional look would have Alfredo Morales as the No. 6 with Weston McKennie and Yueill as dual No. 8s. You could also talk me into Sebastian Lletgetas the more advanced, left-sided CM, McKennie as the No. 8 and either Morales or Yueill on the bench.
  • Yes, I went with Reggie Cannonover DeAndre Yedlin. As with Roldan and Bradley, there has to be accountability for a performance as poor as last month’s. Plus Yedlin’s defensive inattentiveness has not lessened over the years.
  • Tyler Adams and Timothy Weah have returned to training. Zack Seffen, Paxton Pomykaland Miles Robinsonwill be healthy come January. Richie Ledezma is on the verge of breaking through into the PSV first-team squad. Duane Holmes continues to impress at Derby County. Bobby Wood is playing actual minutes again, maybe. And the U23s – who also have a camp this week – are stacked.  Help is on the way.

Most to gain (or lose) from decisive USMNT matches

By Nicholas MendolaNov 12, 2019, 4:23 PM EST

The United States men’s national team will not be changing coaches regardless of the scores against Canada and Cuba this month, giving added incentive to 23 men called into the team to get the job done.Long- and short-term injuries continue to open the door to players well past Gregg Berhalter’s top 23, even deeper considering the concurrent U-23 camp and the coach’s apparent disinterest in some other players still performing well in Europe.Christian PulisicZack Steffen, and Michael Bradley picked up injuries that won’t allow them to join the team, while Timothy Weah and Tyler Adams have just restarted training with their clubs after long injury absences. Miles Robinson is still absent after being injured at the last camp and missing Atlanta’s playoff runThrow in Berhalter’s decision not to call up Matt Miazga, Duane Holmes, and Julian Green to go with Jozy Altidore‘s lack of fitness, and you’ve got another month for some players to surprise (We haven’t even mentioned Antonee RobinsonCameron Carter-Vickers and Richie Ledezma are at a loaded U-23 camp).Edit note: Maybe we need to write up a Top 50 USMNT depth chart this evening or soon…

Chase Gasper and Corey Baird were sent home from camp ahead of the European arrivals, so here are the players whose fortunes could hinge on delivering for a coach who needs it. Make no mistake about it: Earnie Stewart’s vote of confidence means the coach is going nowhere, but anyone who helps Berhalter score a berth in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals will take a place near his heart.

Who’s gotta carpe sabbati? Read on…

Sebastian Lletget ,Jackson Yueill, Cristian Roldan (in that order) — We probably wrote something similar to this last month, but future camps without Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic, and Weston McKennie are only going to happen if all are (again) injured or there is absolutely nothing on the line against Jamaica’s B Team.

Include Bradley’s absence and you’ll get an even deeper understanding of why who is chosen alongside McKennie and (probably) Alfredo Morales for this big match against Canada is a big deal. Lletget is 27 and Berhalter hasn’t shown a lot of love for him despite bringing a unique skill set and decent performances when he’s been given time on the USMNT pitch. Roldan might be the best non-prospect American player in MLS. Yueill is just 22, but again there are a lot of absent players ahead of him. We’re not included Wil Trapp in this discussion because he’s clearly a Berhalter favorite.Out-fight Scott Arfield and out-fox Jonathan Osorio, and give Berhalter a reason to keep calling you into the fold.

The goalkeepers — There’s no reason to expect Zack Steffen to lose his first XI spot through injury, especially given his status as a Bundesliga starter on loan from a Champions League outfit — Oh, and he was Berhalter’s club No. 1, too! — but at some point these goalkeeper call-ups and their performances will determine who will be Nos. 2 and 3 for qualifying and for, probably, the 2022 World Cup.

Jonathan Klinsmann, Ethan Horvath, and Brady Scott aren’t here, and boy did Leicester City’s Chituru Odunze open some eyes during the U.S. flame-out at the U-17 World Cup.

So here’s Brad Guzan, the presumptive No. 1 in a post-Tim Howard world who proved presumptions aren’t foolproof.

Only two of Sean Johnson‘s eight caps were not friendlies, and both were Gold Cup clean sheets (six years apart). Might he get a chance in Orlando?

And Matt Turner is new here after an outstanding 2019 season in MLS. You can bet Berhalter rang up a respected Bruce Arena to get plenty of info before calling in the New England Revolution’s No. 1.

Aaron Long — This isn’t about gaining a spot on the squad, as the 27-year-old Long looks like a mainstay for Berhalter, rather a steady place in the XI. Miazga not being here could’ve been heard as a clarion call to the center backs who were called up.

Long has struggled in his past few months wearing the national team shirt, and a healthy John Brooks is an automatic starter. That leaves one spot, a pivotal one given Berhalter’s preferential formation, and Walker Zimmerman is a better passer than Long. This is a big camp for proving whether the Red Bulls man is a starter or security blanket.

Seattle’s home MLS Cup win cements Sounders in the city’s rich sporting legacy

Kevin PeltonESPN Senior Writer

SEATTLE — Seattle’s 3-1 win over Toronto FC to claim MLS Cup 2019, in front of a sellout crowd of nearly 70,000 fans on Sunday, was the culmination of a love affair between the city and the Sounders a decade in the making.

It’s easy to forget, in the wake of the successful expansion launches of Portland, LAFC and particularly Atlanta — which won MLS Cup in front of a similar sellout crowd last year and has surpassed the Sounders as the attendance leader — just how unbelievable Seattle’s support once seemed. When the Sounders played their first Major League Soccer game 10 years ago, no team in league history had averaged 30,000 fans per match. The Sounders broke the MLS record in their inaugural season, and again in each of the next four before eventually peaking at more than 44,000 fans per game in 2015.None of that was predictable in 2009. At the time, the big question in Seattle sports circles was whether the excitement over the Sounders’ debut could last. After all, it’s common for expansion franchises to see their attendance decline in Year 2. The WNBA’s Seattle Storm, for example, saw their average decrease by almost a third during their second season. And though the Storm have carved out an important place in Seattle’s sports scene, winning three championships of their own, they’ve still yet to reach that inaugural attendance again.Several factors helped the Sounders not only maintain, but actually improve their fan support in Year 2 and beyond.First, the timing of the team’s debut on the MLS stage couldn’t possibly have been better. Without question, 2008 was the most miserable year in Seattle sports history. The University of Washington fielded the only winless FBS team. MLB’s Mariners lost 100 games for the first time in 25 years. The NFL Seahawks, just three years removed from reaching the Super Bowl, bottomed out at 4-12. And, most painfully, the NBA SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City after 41 years in Seattle.Though the Sounders could never replace the history lost with the Sonics’ move, their arrival helped fill a void in the Seattle sports landscape and the Sounders took full advantage by nailing the expansion process. Even their one misstep — the team originally excluded Sounders, part of Seattle’s soccer heritage dating back to their NASL participation from 1974 to 1983, from a fan naming vote — only ended up increasing excitement when they reversed course.Second, the atmosphere created by Sounders supporters made CenturyLink Field an experience unlike almost any in American professional sports at that point, with the Emerald City Supporters in the south stands leading chants for the full 90 minutes. That made Sounders matches more entertaining for casual fans and the home stadium a fortress for the team, rather than depressingly cavernous like other NFL stadiums used by MLS teams.Thanks in part to their home crowd, the Sounders won — and kept winning. From Day 1, they’ve consistently been one of the best teams in MLS. They’ve reached the playoffs in all 11 of their seasons, a new league record. And while it wasn’t until Brian Schmetzer’s promotion to head coach in 2016 that the Sounders were able to break through in the postseason and reach MLS Cup, they claimed the US Open Cup three consecutive years starting in their inaugural MLS season and added a fourth in 2014.Still, none of that — not even the MLS Cup the Sounders did win on the road in Toronto in 2016 — could compare to the enthusiasm hosting MLS Cup generated in Seattle.– Replay MLS Cup: Seattle Sounders 3, Toronto FC 1 (U.S. only)  “This week was a week I will not forget,” majority owner Adrian Hanauer, who led the group that brought the Sounders to MLS, said in the winning locker room. “Starting 10 days ago with Toronto knocking off Atlanta and realizing, ‘Holy crap, we’re going to host an MLS Cup,’ I made a concerted effort to appreciate it and breathe it all in a little bit, because that’s not really in my nature.”The first two Sounders wins en route to the MLS Cup, over FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, were modestly attended by Seattle standards with 37,000-plus fans. The combination of the Sounders’ improbable upset over Supporters’ Shield winner LAFC in the Western Conference finals and the opportunity to win a league championship at home — something only the Storm, among the city’s major pro sports teams, have done — put them in the front of Seattle sports fans’ consciousness and made the Sounders a hot ticket. When MLS Cup tickets went on sale nine days ahead of the match, the building sold out within 20 minutes, guaranteeing both the largest attendance ever for a sporting event at CenturyLink Field as well as the largest to watch soccer in the state of Washington. On resale sites, tickets were running more than $200 just to get in the door.For Sounders forward and Seattle-area native Jordan Morris, the chance to play for a trophy in his hometown was a unique experience.”I got emotional before the game because I was thinking about that,” said Morris, whose father is the team’s chief medical officer. “I was here at the first game 10 years ago, and now I’m on the field playing for a championship. It’s pretty special.”Hanauer had a similar feeling a few hours earlier, when he reached Pioneer Square and saw fans already gathering hours before the match. More than anyone, he knows the hard work, planning and luck it took to get to this point.”You’re never quite sure how it’s all going to shake out, but obviously you want to play for championships, you want to win championships,” Hanauer said. “Doing it in your home city, where you were born and raised, it’s pretty special to see the joy that you give fans and how beloved these players and coaches are. It’s pretty cool.”Sports moves communities and brings people together. To see what this group of players and coaches was able to do for this community, for those 69,000, for the hundreds of thousands watching on TV and giant watch parties, it’s awesome. It’s great for the city.”

Seattle Steps Up in Decisive Moments to Win MLS Cup Rubber Match vs. Toronto

For a second time in four seasons, the Sounders have won MLS Cup, and based on how the club is structured, they’re not finished making noise.GRANT WAHL19 HOURS AGO

SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC 3-1 to win the 2019 MLS Cup final on Sunday, sending a sellout crowd of 69,274 at CenturyLink Field into a frenzy. With second-half goals by Kelvin Leerdam, Víctor Rodríguez and Raúl Ruidíaz, Seattle won its second MLS championship and first at a final in front of its rabid home fans. Jozy Altidore scored a late goal for Toronto.Here are three quick thoughts on the game:

Seattle won the rubber-match despite being dominated in possession

This was a better game than either of the previous two finals these same two teams played in 2016 and ’17, but the biggest surprise of Seattle-Toronto III was Seattle having only 35% of possession and looking to counter much more than anyone had expected coming into the game. Toronto didn’t park the bus by any means and actually played the better soccer for much of the game. Alejandro Pozuelo was fantastic at times on the ball in the Seattle half, but Toronto never created enough truly dangerous chances despite all that possession and suffered for it. When it came down to it, Toronto also didn’t have anyone quite as good in the decisive moments as Seattle’s Nicolás Lodeiro, whose brilliant pass to Víctor Rodríguez set up the second Seattle goal—and the team’s second MLS Cup title in four years.

Michael Bradley played like a man with $6.5 million on the line

The fact of the matter is that Bradley plays like someone with his hair on fire all the time anyway (if he had hair), but with a Toronto win reportedly set to trigger an extra year of his contract at $6.5 million, Bradley was everywhere on Sunday. Has there ever been a bigger single-game win bonus in the history of the sport? Bradley orchestrated the Toronto build-up when TFC had the ball, and whenever Seattle had a counter it was Bradley who would race back and try to put out the fire. Bradley’s range was incredible in this game, and you would have to think that even with the loss he’ll come back to Toronto next year and continue to play a major role—even if it’s at a lower salary number than it would have been with a victory in the final.

If we’re deciding to name eras, this may well be the Seattle Era in MLS

This was obviously the third Seattle-Toronto final in the last four years, and while Toronto’s 2017 team makes a great case as the best single-season team in MLS history, the best teams are the ones who can reign over a period of several seasons.AWith its second win over Toronto in a final, Seattle now has a better claim to this era than TFC. What’s more, this Seattle run may not be over. Sounders pillars Lodeiro and Ruidíaz are nowhere near the end of the line, the roster put together by GM Garth Lagerwey is stacked, and now the Seattle homegrowns (which have been winning age-group titles for the last two years) could really start impacting the team starting next season. f the Seattle championship era started in 2016, the end-date on this era has yet to be decided.

Let’s call it what it is: MLS Cup has been cruel to Toronto FC

Joey Gulino,Yahoo Sports 18 hours ago

  • Michael Bradley and Toronto FC have had a ridiculously hard time solving Seattle in MLS Cup finals. (Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports)

SEATTLE — You-know-who said it. You know what he said.Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t factor into Sunday’s MLS Cup final whatsoever. But his comments on how the league determines a champion – “I think the system is s***” – rang loud back in August.They ring even louder now thanks to Toronto FC.Three times, Toronto has met the Seattle Sounders with a championship on the line. Three times, Toronto has a strong claim to being the better side.One time, they hoisted the trophy. That’s it.“That’s how it goes,” TFC captain Michael Bradley said. “Nobody’s feeling sorry for themselves. It’s frustrating. … On these days, things hang in the balance, and you need a little bit of quality, skill, a break, a little bit of luck. By and large, that’s what opens these games up.”By and large, that’s not what Toronto has gotten.Sunday’s 3-1 scoreline was unflattering of the bravery the Reds displayed on the road for the third time in as many games this postseason. They’d already gone to Eastern Conference top seed New York City FC and won. They did the same against defending MLS champion Atlanta United in the conference final.With 69,274 fans stuffed into CenturyLink Field, almost all of them rooting vociferously for the Sounders, Toronto was the aggressor for the first half and beyond. Their exchanges were crisp, their ideas clever, their lack of a goal verging on obnoxious.There wasn’t one chance that necessarily stood out as unfortunate, just the entire run of play.“It’s frustrating, because I thought we were fluid,” TFC coach Greg Vanney said. “I thought generally we had good organization. I thought they didn’t have a great answer for some of our movement and some of the ball circulation.”By the time Seattle’s goal arrived in the 57th minute, officially credited to Kelvin Leerdam but thoroughly attributable to TFC defender Justin Morrow’s deflection, the game changed completely.Toronto broke it open. They just did it against themselves.“I thought it was a gut punch, just in terms of how we played,” said striker Jozy Altidore, who battled back from injury to come on as a substitute. “We dominated the game. It’s shades of 2016 a bit.”What happened in 2016? Oh nothing, just Toronto FC bossing the run of play with zilch to show for it, thanks to Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s heroics and the wrong spin of a penalty shootout wheel.A year later, when the Reds returned to MLS Cup with arguably the best team in league history, they dominated the Sounders again but didn’t score until Altidore’s 67th-minute strike, and didn’t feel truly comfortable until an insurance goal in stoppage time.Then came Sunday. Three games. Well over 300 minutes of play. Nearly 500 more passes attempted, and still a higher percentage of passes completed. An aggregate of nearly 60 percent possession. Toronto even registered nearly as many shots on goal (23) and Seattle registered shots period (24). “It doesn’t matter,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “You put the ball in the back of the net, you’re dangerous in attack, and that’s how championships are won.”He’s right. That’s how soccer works sometimes. The most important statistic is MLS championships, and that reads Sounders 2, Toronto FC 1.There’s an art form to winning when you don’t have as much of the ball, when you live on the back foot. When, to borrow Zlatan’s terminology, the “s***” system works in your favor.“They’re a team that knows how to counter,” Altidore said. “They know how to absorb pressure, create. They’ve been doing it a number of years. Credit to them, they did it again to us tonight. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”This run for Toronto FC will do nothing to quiet one of the sport’s signature debates in America. No, these Reds did not win the Supporters’ Shield, but their superiority over vast stretches still goes unrewarded, much like how the regular season champion isn’t just hot at the right time, but all the time.Take nothing away from the Sounders. Toronto FC isn’t.Cruelly for them, that’s not all they’re leaving Seattle without.

Premier League review: Manchester City’s depth is a problem, despite their financial might

Nick MillerESPN.com writer

nother wild weekend in the Premier League is done and dusted. We get you caught up on the action with the Weekend Review.

City’s depth is becoming a problem for them

Instinctively it feels slightly absurd to suggest one of Manchester City’s weaknesses is their strength in depth. After all, on Sunday £60 million worth of Riyad Mahrez didn’t make it off the bench and Gabriel Jesus would start every game for about 98 percent of other teams on the planet. But in specific areas, City’s squad is shallow, it cost them the game against Liverpool and it could cost them the Premier League title.

EDITOR’S PICKS

The most obvious place to start is in goal, where Claudio Bravo wasn’t quite the calamity he was in the Champions League against Atalanta (36 minutes, no saves, one goal conceded, one red card) but he was terrible in a more low key way, letting in three goals that, for at least two if not all, you thought “Ederson would’ve saved that.”

Maybe Bravo would be a safer bet with some proper defenders in front of him. The decision not to recruit a centre-back when Vincent Kompany left in the summer seemed odd at the time, but looks even worse now. Perhaps City thought they could muddle through with Aymeric Laporte and someone beside him, but when the Frenchman was struck down with his knee injury, their options looked bleak. Guardiola has always been fond of playing midfielders in defence, but he’s learning pretty quickly that it’s not always a good idea.

And then there’s left-back, a position that Guardiola has never really nailed at City but is proving particularly tricky this season. To illustrate the point Benjamin Mendy wasn’t injured for Sunday’s game, but Guardiola preferred to give Angelino just his second league start, which turned out to be a pretty thankless task. Asking the Spaniard to deal with Trent Alexander-ArnoldJordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah — probably the toughest right flank in the world to face — was ambitious, and went about as well as you’d expect.

All of this was a big reason for Man City’s 3-1 defeat at Anfield. Sure, Liverpool got a little lucky, but they also exploited City’s weaknesses ruthlessly and as a result are nine points ahead with a third of the season gone.

Liverpool can’t throw this away from here … can they?

Since three points for a win was introduced in 1981, only three teams have been eight points or more ahead after 12 games: Manchester United in 1985-86 and 1993-95, and City in 2017-18. The first United side collapsed pretty soon afterwards and finished fourth, but the latter two strode on and won the title at a canter.

“Other people will 100 percent say that from now on Liverpool can only lose it,” said Klopp, who had a similar lead with Borussia Dortmund in 2010-11 when he won his first title there. “That’s a very negative approach, but you can see it like this. But we don’t care.”

The question now is how Liverpool deal with being such emphatic front-runners, given how they stumbled after taking a big lead last season. Klopp, as with most things, seems aware of that.

“It’s not important because who wants to be first in November? You want to be first in May. The pressure is not there yet,” he said. “It will come, but at the moment it’s just opportunity.”

Emery is throwing stuff at a wall, but not much is sticking

Unai Emery has now said after three straight games, none of which Arsenal won, that for at least some of the match his team followed the plan and carried out his instructions. After the 2-0 defeat to Leicester on Saturday, you could sort of see what he was getting at, because Arsenal weren’t too bad in the first-half. But surely anyone with even a little self-awareness would realise that continually saying that the team were doing what you tell them to, but not winning, will make you look like an idiot.

A charitable interpretation would be that he’s trying to take the heat off the players, but there isn’t much charity in the Arsenal fanbase at the moment. They have won just two of the last 10 league games, two away games of any description all season, and Emery is showing the telltale sign of a floundering manager by throwing formations and team selections at a wall and seeing what sticks.

But not much is sticking, and it just looks like Emery is guessing at this stage: Brendan Rodgers observed that, as far as he could tell, Emery had only used the 5-2-1-2 system deployed on Saturday once before, in last season’s Europa League final. You will probably recall that Arsenal lost that one 4-1.

If Leicester win the title again, it would be better than the first

To give a small illustration of the work Rodgers has done at Leicester, they were a whopping 32 points shy of second place when he took charge of his first game last March. Now they are second, with broadly the same players, a point above City going into the international break and one of the most exciting teams to watch in the Premier League.

Implausibly, they’re very much in the title race again, and you could feasibly argue that A: This team is better than the one that won the league in 2015-16, and B: If they managed it again this time, it would be a better achievement due to the higher calibre of opposition they’re facing.

West Ham are praying for Fabianski’s return

If a player’s value is determined by the difference in quality between them and their replacement, then Lukasz Fabianski might be the most important player in the Premier League.

It probably wasn’t a great sign when his back-up Roberto played in West Ham’s Carabao Cup game against League One Oxford United and conceded four times. The man with the neck tattoos has very much continued that form since replacing the injured Fabianski in the Premier League side.

With Fabianski in goal this season West Ham conceded eight goals in six-and-a-half Premier League games, five coming in one game against Manchester City, which happens. Since Roberto took the gloves they’ve let in 12 in five-and-a-half games, winning none of them, the latest being the 3-0 defeat at Burnley this weekend where Roberto was responsible for at least two of the goals conceded.

The current third-choice is David Martin, who had a solid enough career in the Football League before joining the Hammers in the summer — surely he can’t be much worse than Roberto. In the meantime, expect Manuel Pellegrini to use the international break to take Fabianski to Lourdes and dip his entire body in holy water.

Luckiest moment of the weekend

On the weekend when his side moved another place higher, to fifth in the Premier League with a draw against Tottenham, it’s worth reminding ourselves that when Chris Wilder arrived at Sheffield United in 2016, his team had failed for a fifth season to escape League One, finishing in a limp 11th place.I’m tired of talking about VAR,” Wilder said, after his midfielder John Lundstram’s big toe apparently meant he was offside and ruled out a goal for the Blades.”The main talking point for me was seeing my team go toe to toe with a team that got to the Champions League final last year.”Damn right, and Tottenham can consider themselves fortunate to have got away with a point.

Hislop: VAR has become a ‘monstrosity’ in Premier League

After a day of more VAR controversy, Shaka Hislop says the way it’s been implemented in England is “not working”.

VAR oscillates between one extreme and another

With apologies to Wilder, a quick word on VAR — pun intended. It feels like the ways the system is being implemented this season are oscillating wildly from one extreme to the other. A couple of weeks ago we had a few penalties very softly overturned after weeks of none, and now after most people agreed that reviews were taking too long, some came in the Liverpool vs. City game that were so quick it was doubtful they actually watched the incidents properly.

There is a middle ground to all of this, guys. It doesn’t have to be one extreme or another. That, or scrap VAR completely. That would work too.

Late Comeback Leads Louisville City FC to 3-1 Win over Boys in Blue

Indy Eleven was a minute away from qualifying for its first USL Championship Final, however, it was back-to-back defending league champion Louisville City FC that would have the final say in a 3-1 victory after added extra time in front of 7,171 fans at IUPUI Carroll Stadium.Indy forward Tyler Pasher pushed the home side forward midway through the second half with a goal that looked as if it would stand as the match-winner. And it would have until the fourth of as many minutes of stoppage time, when LCFC striker Antoine Hoppenot stunned the crowd with a shot off a corner kick that snuck through traffic, pushing the match to 30 minutes of added extra time. In the first extra session it was Magnus Rasmussen giving the visitors the lead four minutes in, while Luke Spencer’s conversion from the penalty spot seven minutes from time sealed the result for the defending champs.The defeat ended the most successful season in Indy Eleven’s six-year history, as the Boys in Blue notched club records in regular season wins (19), standings points (63) away wins (6), and home wins (13), while also adding its first two victories in USL Championship play. Despite the numerous accomplishments achieved across the season, Indiana’s Team will head into the offseason thinking about the opportunity that was in front of it this afternoon at Carroll Stadium.“The reality is we’ve done really well this season. The club has come forward a long way,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We put ourselves in a great position to host the Eastern Conference Final.”It was Indy Eleven who would create the most opportunistic looks of the first 15 minutes as neither side gave the other an early edge. A pair of crosses from Pasher nearly connected with forward Dane Kelly and midfielder Kenney Walker, respectively, but neither materialized into shots on goal as the tug of war for the Eastern Conference Final got off the ground.Fans would wait 36 minutes before the game’s first true chance would present itself. Indy midfielder Macauley King played a lofted ball into the box after a Walker effort on goal had been blocked. King’s cross would find Kelly at the penalty spot, where the Jamaican snapped a header that forced Louisville ‘keeper Chris Hubbard into an impressive, acrobatic tip save.Six minutes later, King connected with a header from a Walker corner that nearly gave the Boys in Blue the lead, but the effort glanced inches wide of the right post. Indy continued the pressure 60 seconds later when Pasher drove into the Louisville box before laying a driven cross down for a teammate, but Hubbard would coolly collect, his action ending a tight first 45 minutes.The first chance of the second half came from out of nowhere a minute in, as Indy defender Paddy Barrett nearly caught Hubbard off his line with a lofted ball from midfield, but the LCFC ‘keeper scampered back to get both paws on the ball to steer it wide. Two minutes later, a deep corner connected with Louisville defender Paco Craig, whose headed effort softly glanced past the post. Indy generated a chance from a corner as well seven minutes later, but Karl Ouimette was unable to redirect fellow defender Ayoze’s service on frame.Despite a flurry of Louisville corners, it was a quick counter by the Boys in Blue that broke the deadlock 67 minutes into the match. A lofted back-heel flick by Kelly over Louisville’s backline freed Pasher into space. The Canadian took one large touch forward before slotting home a low, left-footed effort, giving Indy the upper hand down the stretch.Louisville began pressing harder in search of an equalizer, which they nearly found in the 81st minute. Indy ‘keeper Jordan Farr was caught in no man’s land after an awkward clearance that turned into a shot from Louisville’s Abdou Mbacke Thiam. The chip hung in the air for what seemed an eternity before clonking off the cross bar and away from the net, keeping Indy’s lead alive at 1-nil.  Louisville substitute George Davis IV tested Farr again six minutes later after the forward played a whipping cross into the box, forcing Farr to into an aerial save. From there, Indiana’s Team launched a counter that freed Pasher for a clean look on goal in the Louisville box, but the Canadian’s effort flew over.Despite Indy’s best efforts to hold onto the lead, Hoppenot leveled the match in the 94th minute after a corner was cleared to the waiting midfielder. Hoppenot sent in a one-time effort that glided through a box full of players and somehow into the back of the net, sending Louisville’s sizable away support into a frenzy – and the match into extra time at one all.Four minutes into stoppage time Louisville took their first lead of the match, set up by a back heel flick from Thiam that connected with Rasmussen in the Indy box. Rasmussen took one touch before passing the ball into the bottom left corner of Farr’s net, keeping the momentum squarely on the side of the visitors.Indy almost drew level in the 101st minute after a darting run from Pasher resulted in a cross for Indy substitute Ilija Ilic, who would settle and send an effort on net only to see a Louisville defender block the equalizer attempt.Louisville earned their chance to put the game away after a being awarded a dubious penalty in the 111th minute after Farr collided with LCFC’s Brian Ownby in the box. Spencer stepped up to take the penalty in the 113th minute, which he placed in the top right corner to secure the insurance goal.Louisville went on to withstand Indy’s attempts from there on out, bringing an end to the Eleven’s impressive postseason run and a home undefeated streak across all competitions that spanned 27 games dating back to last July.“Those players have done us proud,” Rennie said. “We’re going to keep improving and make sure we’re right up there at the top.”

Louisville City through to 3rd-straight USL Cup final after topping Indy Eleven in thriller

Kevin Johnston, Special for IndyStar   Published 7:11 p.m. ET Nov. 9, 2019 | Updated 7:46 p.m. ET Nov. 9, 2019

Louisville City FC’s Magnus Rasmussen celebrates his game-winner against the Indy Eleven in the USL Eastern Conference finals at Carroll Stadium. (Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski/Indy Eleven)

INDIANAPOLIS – Louisville City FC has already proven itself as a juggernaut in the USL Championship entering 2019. Now, the club might be approaching dynasty status.LouCity will host the USL Cup final with a chance to make it three titles in a row after downing the Indy Eleven 3-1 in dramatic fashion Saturday afternoon at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium.And about that word “dynasty,” LouCity attacker Brian Ownby has thoughts on it.“We want to be considered that,” he admitted. “I think (our goal is) — starting from the beginning of this club — to reach this point every year. So, we’ll start talking about that hopefully after we get another win in the USL Cup. But we’re going to enjoy this one tonight and start preparing for the next.”It took Louisville City some brilliance in the desperate waning moments of the match to send it to extra time before the visitors tacked on two more goals to close the door on Indy’s season.With about a minute remaining in stoppage time, Louisville City stunned the crowd at Carroll Stadium with an equalizer from outside the box. Antoine Hoppenot found some space and ripped a shot through heavy traffic that avoided all bodies and limbs on its way into Indy’s net.“I think I need to be in a better position when that shot comes in,” confessed Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr. “Granted, I don’t see it until it’s right in front of me, but I think my positioning needs to be better.”Before the late stunner, the often-dangerous left foot of Tyler Pasher opened the scoring for Indy. He blasted in a flicked pass from Dane Kelly in the 67th minute, a goal that seemed destined to put Indy through to the final until Hoppenot’s heroics. “We thought we had the game won,” Eleven manager Martin Rennie said. “Pretty much the last kick of the ball we lose a goal, so that was really disappointing. I didn’t feel like it was four minutes of stoppage time. There were no injuries and there were only four subs. So, there shouldn’t have been that long and that could’ve made a difference in the game.Magnus Rasmussen quickly gave Louisville a 2-1 lead in the first few minutes of stoppage time, then Luke Spencer converted a penalty after a questionable foul call on Farr to settle the scoreline at 3-1.The loss also snaps Indy’s home unbeaten streak at 27 games across all competitions.While LouCity departs Indianapolis with the spoils, the Eleven can find solace in putting together their best campaign since 2016. That year, Indy made the NASL title game but fell in penalties to the New York Cosmos. But that league only had 12 teams; the USL Championship boasts 36 squads.Louisville City will host the SLC Monarchs, winners of the Western Conference, in the USL Cup final next Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Mark & Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium and on ESPN2.

Euro 2020 qualifying: Who will reach the finals?

Nov 14, 2019Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

Euro 2020 kicks off in June next year and 20 of the 24 places at the tournament will be secured this month. Here is a look at the latest qualifying permutations and scenarios. hich is based on UEFA Nations League performance.Ten nations have sealed their place so far.

QUALIFIED FOR FINALS
Belgium
Czech Republic
England
France
Italy
Poland
Russia
Spain
Turkey
Ukraine

JUMP TO: Who will take part in the playoffs? | Finals draw seeds and pots

GROUP A

Nov. 17: Bulgaria vs. Czech Republic, Kosovo vs. England

England have qualified and need a win in Kosovo to guarantee they are seeded in the draw.

Czech Republic have also made it to finals, while Kosovo will take part in the League D playoffs.

GROUP B

Nov. 17: Luxembourg vs. Portugal, Serbia vs. Ukraine

Ukraine have qualified but may need at least a point in Serbia to secure a place among the seeds for the finals draw.

Portugal will be through if they can win in Luxembourg.

Serbia must win at home to Ukraine and hope Portugal fail to beat Luxembourg. Serbia are guaranteed a playoff if they finish outside the top two.

GROUP C

Netherlands control their own destiny after beating Northern Ireland. Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Nov. 16: Germany vs. Belarus, Northern Ireland vs. Netherlands
Nov. 19: Germany vs. Northern Ireland, Netherlands vs. Estonia

Netherlands will qualify for the finals if they avoid defeat in Northern Ireland on Nov. 16. Even if the Dutch suffer a defeat, leaving the two nations level on points, they would remain favourites with Estonia to play at home while the Irish travel to Germany.

Germany are level with the the Dutch on 15 points, but second on head to head. They will qualify if they win at home to Belarus next time, and Northern Ireland do not win. A point would also see them to the finals if the Irish are beaten.

Northern Ireland are three points behind but all 12 have come against the group’s lesser lights. To have a chance of qualifying automatically, Northern Ireland will now surely have to win at home to Netherlands and in Germany, and hope one of their rivals drop surprise points.

There is an unlikely scenario where all three nations finish on 18 points, which means it would come down to head-to-head goal difference as each team would have beaten each other once and lost once.

GROUP D

Nov. 15: Denmark vs. Gibraltar, Switzerland vs. Georgia
Nov. 18: Republic of Ireland vs. Denmark, Gibraltar vs. Switzerland

Republic of Ireland remain on top of the group from Denmark on head to head. They only have one qualifier remaining, at home to the Danes, and are guaranteed to qualify with a win as long as Switzerland do not draw one of their two remaining games.

If Switzerland do draw a game (and win the other), and Denmark beat Gibraltar, the three teams will finish on 15 points and they will also be level in the head-to-head mini-league, meaning it comes down to goal difference in games between the three teams. In this scenario, Ireland will have to win by two goals to qualify at Denmark’s expense; Switzerland would be guaranteed to qualify.

If Denmark get at least a point against Gibraltar, they would be then assured qualification with a point in Dublin. They cannot qualify if they lose to Ireland and Switzerland win both matches.

Although Switzerland sit outside the top two, they are now firm favourites to qualify. They are sure to go through with four points from games against Gibraltar and Georgia. Their injury-time second goal against Ireland means they no longer have to win both matches.

Denmark and Switzerland are both sure of a playoff, should they need it.

GROUP E

Nov. 16: Azerbaijan vs. Wales, Croatia vs. Slovakia
Nov. 19: Slovakia vs. Azerbaijan, Wales vs. Hungary

Croatia lead on 14 points, and will be guaranteed qualification if they at least draw at home to Slovakia on Nov. 16 — their final qualifier.

Second place is held by Hungary on 12 points, and they too have only one match remaining, away in Wales. If Slovakia fail to beat Croatia, Hungary would be guaranteed to qualify with a win in Cardiff.

Slovakia sit third on 10 points, and while they face the difficult trip to Croatia, the final fixture is at home to Azerbaijan, who have only one point. Win both games and they will qualify. If Slovakia do not win in Croatia, they will still be guaranteed to qualify if they beat Azerbaijan and Wales draw at home to Hungary.

Wales only have eight points and must win both their matches to have a chance, the first being away to Azerbaijan. They must also hope Slovakia fail to win one of their matches. If Slovakia and Wales finish level on 14 points, Wales will qualify on the head-to-head rule.

There is a combination of results (it would need Slovakia drawing at home to Azerbaijan) that leaves the three teams tied on 14 points. In this eventuality, it would be 1. Croatia, 2. Wales, 3. Slovakia.

GROUP F

Spain clinch qualification for Euro 2020 with a late equaliser against Sweden. Getty

Nov. 15: Norway vs. Faroe Islands, Romania vs. Sweden
Nov. 18: Sweden vs. Faroe Islands, Malta vs. Norway, Spain vs. Romania

Spain have secured their place, but the real battle follows behind as Sweden sit in second, one point ahead of Romania with Norway a further three points behind.

Sweden should only need a point in Romania as they have Faroe Islands to play at home on the final day, but need a victory to absolutely confirm it on Thursday.

It means Romania know they must beat Sweden to be in contention. If Romania win against Sweden and in Spain, qualification is guaranteed. If draw their final match in Spain, they would need to have beaten Sweden 1-0 or by two goals or more to be second on the head to head. Because Sweden play Faroe Islands, it is very unlikely they are able to qualify if they lose to Spain.

Norway must beat Faroe Islands and Malta, plus hope Romania-Sweden is a draw and that Romania get no more than a draw in Spain, and Sweden lose to the Faroes. Again, the Sweden-Faroes fixture effectively rules that out.

Sweden and Norway have a guaranteed playoff should they need it.

GROUP G

Nov. 16: Slovenia vs. Latvia, Israel vs. Poland, Austria vs. North Macedonia
Nov. 19: North Macedonia vs. Israel, Latvia vs. Austria, Poland vs. Slovenia

Poland are through and Austria are almost there too, five points clear of Slovenia and North Macedonia with two games left to play. They will qualify with a point at home to North Macedonia. Even if they lose the first game, a point in Latvia then will almost certainly see them in the finals.

North Macedonia must win in Austria to stay in contention, then beat Israel at home and hope Austria lose in Latvia (who do not have a point). If Austria draw in Latvia, North Macedonia would need to have overturned the 4-1 head-to-head deficit with Austria in their meeting.

Austria and North Macedonia would both be guaranteed a playoff.

There’s only slim hope for Slovenia, who must win at home to Latvia and away to Poland plus hope Austria lose both their games, and North Macedonia fail to beat Israel.

Israel have a similar situation to Slovenia. They must win at home to Poland and in North Macedonia, and need Austria to lose both fixtures as well as Slovenia fail to win a game. They are almost sure of a playoff.

GROUP H

France are assured of a place at Euro 2020. Getty Images

Nov. 17: Albania vs. France, Andorra vs. Turkey

France and Turkey have both qualified for the finals, while Iceland will be in the playoffs.

France have a chance of being seeded in the finals draw should they win in Albania.

GROUP I

Nov. 16: Russia vs. Belgium

Nov. 19: Belgium vs. Cyprus, San Marino vs Russia

Belgium and Russia have qualified, while Scotland will take part in the League C playoff path.

Belgium need a point in Russia to top the group and line up a likely place among the seeds in the finals draw.

GROUP J

Nov. 15: Armenia vs. Greece, Finland vs. Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Italy
Nov. 18: Italy vs. Armenia, Liechtenstein vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece vs. Finland

With eight wins out of eight, Italy are through to the finals but may need one more point to be seeded in the finals draw.

Finland are almost there and will qualify for their first-ever finals with a win at home to Liechtenstein, or if Bosnia fail to beat Italy that day.

Bosnia and Herzegovina must beat Italy and Liechtenstein and hope Finland pick up no more than one point (second match is vs. Greece), and also must hope that Armenia do not win both matches. Bosnia lose the head to head with Armenia, and if the three teams finish level on 16 points it will be Finland who advance to the finals. Bosnia are guaranteed a League B playoff.

Armenia‘s defeat to Finland all but ended their hopes. They must win both remaining games, their final group match being away in Italy, and hope Finland lose both matches.

PLAYOFFS

The best-performing nations from the UEFA Nations League who do not qualify automatically for Euro 2020 will get a playoff place.

There will be 16 teams in the playoffs, with four in each from a UEFA Nations League path.

The winners of the two one-legged semifinals will meet in the final for a place at Euro 2020.

The playoff system is explained in greater detail here.

The UEFA Nations League rankings are below.

As it stands, the teams in bold would enter the playoffs. Romania would likely be drawn into the path of League A because, as hosts, they require a playoff route to the finals that does not include another host and Scotland, as Nations League group winners, have the right to take the League C path.

There would be a draw to decide which of Bulgaria and Israel takes the remaining slot in the League C path.

*Guaranteed to take part in playoffs

League A: Portugal, Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Germany, Iceland

League B: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland

League C: Scotland*NorwaySerbia, Finland, BulgariaIsrael, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania

League D: Georgia*MacedoniaKosovo*Belarus*, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta, San Marino

It means the playoffs, at present, would look like this:

Switzerland vs. Bulgaria/Israel/Romania
Iceland vs. Bulgaria/Israel/Romania

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Northern Ireland
Wales vs. Slovakia

Scotland vs. Bulgaria/Israel
Norway vs. Serbia

Georgia vs. Belarus
North Macedonia vs. Kosovo

FINALS DRAW

The draw will be held on Saturday, Nov. 30 in Bucharest, Romania. The draw ceremony will begin at midday ET (6 p.m. CET) and is expected to last 50 minutes in total (with 20 minutes for the draw itself).

– Euro 2020 finals draw: All you need to know

As it stands, based on teams in automatic qualifying positions, the draw pots would be:

Pot 1: Italy, Belgium, Ukraine, England, Netherlands, Spain
Pot 2: Poland, France, Croatia, Republic of Ireland, Russia, Germany
Pot 3: Denmark, Czech Republic, Portugal, Turkey, Austria, Sweden
Pot 4: Finland, Hungary, Switzerland, Bosnia, Scotland, Georgia

*Highest-ranked nations are used for the playoff winners in this illustration.

One team from each pot would be drawn into the six groups.

ATP_Gen_350x250

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11/7/19 Indy 11 host Louisville in Finals Sat 3 pm, MLS Cup Sun 3 pm ABC, US Ladies vs Sweden tonight 7:30 pm FS1

Indy 11 host Eastern Conference Finals vs Louisville at the MIKE – Sat 3 pm

Huge 1-0 win for our Indy 11 at Nashville as Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr again had a standout night in the victory with a couple of fantatic saves! Indy Eleven forward Tyler Pasher’s goal just inside the hour mark and a second straight shutout helped Indy Eleven advance past Nashville SC 1-0 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown in Nashville.  Our Indy 11 will now host Louisville in the Eastern Conference Finals this Saturday afternoon at 3 pm at Mike Carroll Stadium on the IUPUI Campus downtown.  The Weather looks to be pretty warm – now is the time to get those tickets and join me in rooting on GK Jordan Farr and our Indy 11 to victory at home!!  The BYB is sold out but tickets are still available in what should be an electric atmosphere for the finals visit indyeleven.com/tickets or call for your tickets today at 317-685-1100.  Here’s CFC GK Coach and Indy 11 Starter Jordan Farr calling on everyone to come out at cheer him on!    

MLS CUP – Sunday 3 pm ABC – Seattle vs Toronto

Unbelievable that both road teams pulled off victories last week – in the Eastern and Western Conference Finals – as Toronto stunned Atlanta in front of 65K at Mercedez Benz Stadium 2-1 and Seattle shocked LAFC, the leagues’ top point scorer in MLS history.  With the newcomers sent home – the blue bloods of MLS soccer Seattle and Toronto will battle for MLS Supremacy as they are about to meet in the finals 3 of the last 4 years, with each team claiming the cup 1 time – both in Toronto.  For Seattle it will be their first time hosting the MLS Final (now that the Finals are played at the time with the best record).  The Stadium is a sellout = marking the 2nd straight year that MLS has filled a football stadium for its final.  The Game will be on Network TV – ABC for the first time in over 8 years – as MLS continues to make strides in the US sports world.  The exciting new 1 game format has been a huge hit – and I for one and thrilled to see the MLS Season and MLS Cup wrap up in early November rather than the 1st week of December.  The final kicks off at 3 pm on Sunday on ABC!

USA Ladies vs Sweden  Tonight in Columbus on FS1 7:30 pm

New US Coach Andonovski will coach his first game for the US Ladies tonight vs arch nemesis Sweden in Columbus. Quite a first game to manage – vs the only team to knock off the US in games that matter over the past 4 years.  It will be interesting to see how they look tonight on ESPN2 at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Of course the US Men have announced their roster for next weekend’s Nations League games vs Canada (Fri 8 pm) and Tuesday vs Cuba.  See full breakdown below.  Oh and boy do I love having a player like US Starlet Christian Pulisic playing in the EPL and Champions League competition.  Pulisic had a fine game Tuesday as he drew a penalty and had an assist in the amazing Chelsea comeback tie vs Ajax.  Chelsea battled back from a 4-1 deficit midway thru the 2nd half to time the game and stay alive as they look to advance to the round of 16 if they can edge our last season’s 2nd place finishers Ajax. Sorry to see the U17 Men out in 3 games in the U17 World Cup –  Mexico got to the round of 16 but for the US is was 3 games and 3 losses.  It appears on the US Men’s side –unfortunately we are consistently bad across the board.  Lets hope the U23’s do better in Olympic Qualifying.

Great Games on TV this Weekend

On top of the Indy 11 Final match-up Sat at 3 pm on ESPN+ (go and see it live!!), and the MLS CUP Final on Sunday on ABC at 3 pm, we have a ton of league match-ups in this last weekend before the international break.  The top 2 teams in the EPL – league leader Liverpool hosts 2nd place Man City at 11:30 am on Sunday on NBCSN, also Sunday we get the US Ladies hosting Costa Rica at 8 pm on ESPN2, and Milan vs Jueventus on ESPN+ at 2:45 pm.  Saturday gives us Leicester City vs Arsenal on NBC at 12:30 pm, after American’s are featured early as Chelsea and Pulisic host Crystal Palace at 7:30 am on NBCSN in the EPL and in the Bundesliga as McKinney and Schalke host American Goalie Zach Steffan and Fortuna Dusseldorf at 9:30 am on FS1. Finally Satuday Bayern Munich host Dortmund at 12:30 pm on FS2.

CHS_OliviaFray

Congrats to the Carmel High School Lady Greyhounds as the Defending State Champions finished 2nd to Noblesville 0-1 in the Finals.  Former Carmel FC player Olivia Fray, the daughter of former Carmel FC Director Andy Fray (left), won the Mental Attitude award.  Great to see so many former Carmel FC players on that roster – looking forward to next year.

CARMEL FC CLINICS NEXT FRI/SAT

Carmel FC would like to offer its youngest members, U8-U14 Boys and Girls, the chance to participate in the first ever Pass, Shoot, and Play Fall Clinics on November 15 and 16th at Murray Stadium.  The sessions will focus on enhancing players’ basic abilities such as foot skills, passing, touch, and shooting featuring different perspectives and tips from our diverse and experienced coaching staff.  Coaches from throughout the club have volunteered to make this clinic a completely FREE opportunity for your player to experience a new, unique training environment with other members from around the club!  The schedule will be as follows:

Friday, November 15

  • U8s through U10s from 6 – 7 PM
  • U11s and U12s from 7 – 8 PM
  • U13s and U14s from 8 -9 PM

Saturday, November 16

  • U8s through U10s from 12 – 1 PM
  • U11s and U12s from 1 -2:30 PM
  • U13s and U14s from 2:30 – 4 PM

Please RSVP in this link if your player is interested in participating http://carmeldadsclub2016.org/81dd903881283f0fe6f402d9ac64aba4.form

Indy 11

Indy 11 Defeats Nashville 1-0 advances to Eastern Finals Sat

Indy 11 Earn 1st Franchise Postseason Road Win at Nashville – Soctakes.com

Pasher Lifts Eleven Past Nashville, Into Eastern Final

Vote Indy 11 Most Impactful goals

USL Playoffs

DelPiccolo’s Header Sends LouCity Back to East Final

MLS CUP FINAL Sun 3 pm ABC

Warshaw: How the Sounders can topple TFC in MLS Cup

MLS Cup 2019: What you need to know about Seattle vs. Toronto FC 4hArch Bell

Spotlight on Schmetzer as Seattle returns to MLS Cup ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Seattle ready to regain spotlight from Atlanta, LAFC

Wiebe: Michael Bradley is the model for American players

Vanney: “It will take a lot to keep Jozy out” of MLS Cup

How much will home-field advantage help Seattle?

Kasey Keller: Seattle will show what MLS Cup means to the city

Vanney the master tactician? TFC players make the case

How TFC have fared with and without Jozy

MLS Cup in Seattle is hottest MLS ticket … EVER

The best moments in Seattle-Toronto MLS history

Jozy: It’ll take “a bit of a miracle” for me to play in MLS Cup

The neutral’s guide to MLS Cup

Carlos Vela wins Landon Donovan MLS MVP in a landslide

Vela is not just MLS MVP — he may be the best in all of North America

USA

The USWNT’s Andonovski era begins with familiar foe – Graham Hayes ESPN

USWNT players revved, ready for Andonovski era

Dest, Pulisic called into USMNT camp ahead of Nations League matches

who-should-the-usmnt-call-for-the-november-nations-league-matches

five-foreign-based-players-the-usmnt-should-call-in-for-novembers-nations-league

Reality checks for USA, Canada at U-17 World Cup

Champions League

chelsea-and-ajaxs-champions-league-epic-showed-both-sides-strengths-and-weaknesses

Lampard hails Chelsea spirit after ‘mad’ Ajax draw

Son refuses to celebrate out of respect to Gomes

Rodrygo, 18, nets hat trick in Real Madrid win

Leverkusen spring to life with win over Atletico

Icardi scores as PSG beat Brugge, reach last 16

Superb Costa winner seals Juve round-of-16 spot

Bayern reach round of 16 with Olympiakos win

City’s Ederson a doubt for crunch Liverpool clash

Man City average all over field ahead of Liverpool match

Goalkeeping

Highlights of Playoff Win – Including GK Jordan Farr’s Saves

Great Saves by Farr for Indy 11

PSG GK Kaylar Navas Saves the PK in UCL

GAMES ON TV

Thur, Nov 7

7 pm Fox Sports1               USA Ladies vs Sweden in Columbus

Fri, Nov 8

11 am Big 10 Network                     Penn State vs Purdue Ladies

3 pm NBCSN                                      Norwich vs Watford

Sat, Nov 9 

7:30 am NBCSN                                Chelsea (pulisic)  vs Crystal Palace

9:30 am Fox sports1                       Schalke (Mckinney) vs Fortuna Dusseldorf (Steffan)  

10:30 am NBCSN                              Tottenham vs Sheffield United

12:30 pm NBC                                  Leicester City vs Arsenal  

12:30 pm FS2                                   Bayern Munich vs Dortmund

3 pm ESPN+                        Indy 11 vs Louisville (Playoffs)  @ IUPUI

3 pm EPSN+                                       Real Monarchs vs El Paso Locomotive (Western Finals)

3 pm beIN Sport                               Eibar vs Real Madrid

Sun, Nov 10

7:30 am Fox sports1                       Mgladbach (Johnsnon) vs Werder Bremen (Stuart)  

9 am NBCSN                                      Man United vs Brighton

10 am bein Sport                             Athletico Madrid vs Espanyol

11:30 NBCSN                      Liverpool vs Man City  

12:30 pm FS1                                   Ausburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

2:45 ESPN+                                       Milan vs Jueventus

3 pm ABC                    Seattle Sounders vs Toronto FC  MLS Cup

8 pm ESPN2                        USA Ladies vs Costa Rica

Mon, Nov 11

2:30 pm FS2                                      Spain U17 vs France U17  wC QF1

6 pm FS2                                            TBD vs Brazil U17 WC  QF2

Fri, Nov 15

12 noon beIN Sport           Brazil vs Argentina (friendly)

2:$5 pm EPSN+                                 Boznia vs Italy

7 pm ESPN2                        USA vs Canada (Nations League)

10 pm FuboTV, TUDN                     Panama vs Mexico

Nations League Game Sat-Tues

TUes, Nov 19

2:$5 pm EPSN+                                 Boznia vs Italy

7:30 pm Fox sport 1          Cuba vs USA (Nations League)

RECAP | INDY QUIETS THE MUSIC CITY, ADVANCES TO EAST FINAL sat 3 pm at IUPUI

By Indy Eleven Communications, 11/03/19, 12:30AM EDT

Pasher goal and another shutout sets up LIPAFC showdown for East crown

Indy Eleven forward Tyler Pasher’s goal just inside the hour mark and a second straight shutout helped Indy Eleven advance past Nashville SC 1-0 in their Eastern Conference Semifinal showdown at First Tennessee Park. Indy Eleven put together one of its most composed away efforts of the season at the biggest time possible, calmly controlling the run of play and having the bulk of the chances until Pasher’s breakthrough finally came in the 59th minute.The gritty road win, coupled with fourth-seeded Louisville City FC’s upset at top-seeded Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, set up Indiana’s Team to host the USL Championship Playoffs Eastern Conference Final between the regional rivals next Saturday, Nov. 9. Kickoff for the biggest Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest in history is set for a 3:00 p.m kickoff at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium. ndy Eleven Season Ticket Members can already save their seats for next Saturday’s Eastern Conference Final via an exclusive on-sale opportunity, while tickets will go on sale to the public Monday at noon via indyeleven.com/tickets and by phone at 317-685-1100. “It’s really exciting for the club … it’s going to be a fantastic occasion,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie of next weekend’s match-up. “Two really good teams, two close, local rivals. Two of the best teams in the country outside of MLS playing against each other for the right to host the league final. It will be a fantastic day at Carroll Stadium.”It was Indiana’s Team that controlled the first half, using high defensive pressure, calm possession, and a steady stream of corner kicks to keep Nashville back on its heels. The pressure nearly paid off in the 20th minute on a flurry of chances, starting with Pasher’s cross from the left that was spilled by Nashville SC goalkeeper Matt Pickers and just missed an onrushing Dane Kelly deep inside the area. Thirty seconds later it was another Pasher cross that drew calls for a handball when it ricocheted off center back Jimmy Ockford inside the area, followed shortly thereafter by a lash by Indy midfielder Kenney Walker that again forced Pickens into action.The action got heated a minute later when Eleven defender Ayoze stopped Alan Winn’s run up the middle of the field with a tackle from behind that resulted in pushing and shoving by both teams and yellow cards for Ayoze, Indy defender Karl Ouimette and Nashville midfielder Taylor Washington.The rest of the half would see the teams trade shots at goal that were handled relatively easy by Pickens and his opposite number in the Eleven goal, Jordan Farr. Pickens would stop efforts from within the area by Kelly, Pasher and defender Paddy Barrett, while Winn served as Farr’s nemesis on net, stopping one chance and watching another come perilously close to his right post.“I thought we played really well tonight. We possessed the ball with a lot of composure and played in their half a lot, especially in the first 25 to 30 minutes, which was important because that allowed us to settle into the game,” explained Rennie. “We had a few corners and opportunities around the goal, quite a few decent shots that [Nashville goalkeeper Matt] Pickens made some good saves on.”Farr would be forced into his best stop of the night just minutes into the second half, going low to his right to bat away forward Daniel Rios’ dangerous sidewinder from the penalty spot. It took until the 59th minute for another quality chance to come to pass, and this time Pasher would not pass it up. The Canadian striker would notch his team-leading 12th goal of the campaign with a first-time, half-volley touch that put Tennessee native Tyler Gibson’s pinpoint ball over the top of the backline inside the left post, giving the Boys in Blue a deserved advantage heading into the final half hour.  From there on out Nashville would wrestle control of the possession, but Indy absorbed the pressure well, allowing mostly half chances that struggled to make it through Indy’s increased numbers inside the penalty area. The hosts thought their moment to equalize had come in the 90th minute when defender Justin Davis tapped home Matt LaGrassa’s ball deep into the six-yard area, but the assistant referee’s flag was immediately – and correctly – raised to deem the play offside, allowing Indy Eleven to breathe easily and hold on for the massive result.“In the second half I thought we continued to play well. We got a great goal – great run, great pass over the back line and ended with a good finish,” Rennie said. “We continued to do pretty well on the ball after that and then in the last five minutes we had to really defend a few balls around the box. I thought we handled it all really well to give ourselves a great win. One of the great nights of Indy Eleven’s history, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

USL Championship Playoffs – #NSHvIND
Eastern Conference Semifinals
(#2) Nashville SC  0 : 1  Indy Eleven (#3)
Saturday, November 2, 2019 – 8:00 p.m. ET
First Tennessee Park – Nashville, Tenn.
Attendance: 4,174

Scoring Summary:
IND – Tyler Pasher (Tyler Gibson) 59’

Disciplinary Summary:
IND – Ayoze (Yellow Card) 21’
IND – Karl Ouimette (Yellow Card) 23’
NSH – Taylor Washington (Yellow Card) 23’
NSH – Matt LaGrassa (Yellow Card) 81’
NSH – Jimmy ckford (Yellow Card) 90+2’
Indy Eleven lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Jordan Farr; Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze, Drew Conner, Tyler Gibson, Kenney Walker, Macauley King; Dane Kelly (Cristian Novoa 70’), Tyler Pasher (Matthew Watson 86’)
IND Substitutes: Holden Brown (GK), Nicolas Perea, Mitchell Osmond, Eugene Starikov, Ilija Ilic
Nashville SC lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Matt Pickens; Justin Davis, Forrest Lasso, Jimmy Ockford, Darnell King; Taylor Washington (Derrick Jones 62’), Boluwatife Akinyode, Matt LaGrassa, Alan Winn (Kharlton Belmar 82’); Lebo Moloto (Ropapa Mensah 67’), Daniel Rios

NSH Substitutes: Connor Sparrow (GK), Ken Tribbett, Bradley Bourgeois, Kosuke Kimura

The USWNT’s Vlatko Andonovski era begins with a familiar foe

Vlatko Andonovski faces a challenge in his first game as head coach of the U.S. women’s national team. Sweden is No. 5 in the world and a team that has got the best of the United States in major tournaments. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Graham HaysespnW.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Maybe it’s for the best that Vlatko Andonovski’s first game as head coach of the United States women’s national team will skip right past the beginner stage.Rather than easing in, Andonovski gets Sweden. The team that finished third in the most recent World Cup. The team the U.S. can’t seem to escape in World Cups and Olympics. The only team that ever knocked the Americans out of one of those major tournament before the medal round. Pesky Sweden, ranked fifth in the world and already safely qualified for next summer’s Olympics in Japan. And just for good measure, forecasts for this part of Ohio call for temperatures dropping into the 20s by kickoff Thursday night with the potential for rain, sleet, snow — or all of the above.It doesn’t matter that the game, well, doesn’t matter. There’s nothing on the line for either team, and the U.S. players are tantalizingly close to a well-deserved break that begins next week. But it’s Sweden, and it’s going to be a soccer game. And that’s the one thing that will feel familiar to Andonovski right now.

– USWNT players revved, ready for Andonovski era
– U.S. Soccer names Andonovski manager
– How Reign FC coach made a name for himself
– Without Jill Ellis, what’s next for the USWNT?

So as much as the team’s first training camp with Andonovski is about introductions — of himself, of new assistant Milan Ivanovic, of a playing style, a philosophy and expectations — it is also about the more routine act of preparing for 90 minutes on the field.”He has touched on Sweden a bit,” U.S. midfielder Rose Lavelle said this week. “Obviously we’re pretty familiar with them, but he’s already shown us film of us playing against them. I think it’s obviously going to start to ramp up even more so in the next two days, but he’s already getting us prepared.”Those are comfortable rhythms for Andonovski. As a coach in the National Women’s Soccer League, the remit wasn’t to prepare a team for games of consequence months down the road. Whatever game in front of him was the game that demanded his attention. The standings demanded as much.That will change as coach of the U.S., which plays a lot of games that aren’t really about the result but instead about building toward those handful of weeks in World Cups or Olympics when the results matter more than anything he has yet experienced in the sport.It’s just one way in which Andonovski’s new job, his first at the international level, differs from any previous job he held. He’s coached two of the players who will be available Thursday — Allie Long and Becky Sauerbrunn. He’s coached against almost all of the others, Paris Saint-Germain defender Alana Cook the lone exception. But it’s still different in this environment.”Any leap between professional and international, you’re bringing together all the players that are the best in the league and putting them together,” Sauerbrunn said. “It’s not a big step, but it’s just an elevation of the speed of play, of tactics, obviously the pressure of having so many people watching you.”So it’s a little bit of a leap, but also a leap I know Vlatko can do because when I first met him, he had never coached the women’s game [at the senior level]. And he did all this research.”That was in Kansas City when the NWSL launched. He wanted that coaching job so much that he made himself an expert on the player pool of a league that hadn’t played a game — watching film, talking to other coaches, doing whatever he could to learn. He learned quickly enough that the team reached the playoffs that first season.”So when he got hired [for the U.S.], I knew he was going to be staying up late watching all this film,” Sauerbrunn added. “I have no doubt in my mind he has researched and is very thoroughly knowledgeable of all the Swedish players, all the formations that they’ve played in the past — he’s probably watched all their games from the past year. He’s just that type of coach.”In that sense, Sweden is the perfect opening opponent. This isn’t really a meaningful game, a friendly at the end of a long year. But that doesn’t mean it will be an uncompetitive game. It is something to prepare for.”I’ve never had Vlatko before, but I feel like I’ve already learned so much from him,” Lavelle said. “Individually and as a team, too, I feel like he’s just somebody who is going to make us better.”He’ll have to make do this week without Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara and Megan Rapinoe, all of whom started when these teams played in the World Cup (Tierna Davidson and Ali Krieger are also absent with injuries, leaving the back line seriously depleted in experience).Sweden’s roster isn’t at full strength, either. Captain Caroline Seger didn’t make the trip, with coach Peter Gerhardsson making that sound like a load management decision at the end of a long year. Also missing are defenders Nilla Fischer and Linda Sembrant and midfielder Elin Rubensson, all of whom started the World Cup semifinal against the Netherlands.Conversely, the reigning Olympic silver medalists are bringing uncapped forward Hanna Bennison, who just turned 17 last month. She’s the youngest of four uncapped players on the roster, while three more players have single-digit appearances for the national team.With confirmation Tuesday that the United States will host CONCACAF Olympic qualifying next January and February, the sites still to be announced, the timeline begins to take shape. This is just the beginning.After playing for him for five years in Kansas City, Sauerbrunn knows Andonovski better than anyone on the roster. She described a meeting between the two this week in which he asked about things the team had done before, ways they went about their work that they liked and that he might be able to incorporate. There will be a lot of that in the weeks ahead, a learning curve.”It’s just so early that I didn’t really have any feedback to give him,” Sauerbrunn said. “But I think that was his way of seeking me out in case there is something that I see that players would prefer over how it’s been going the last few days.”But for all that is to come, Thursday offers something familiar to go with all that is new.Thursday is a game that won’t be easy to win, a game that merits preparation. And that should make Andonovski feel right at home.

MLS Cup 2019: Familiar foes Seattle and Toronto FC face off in an MLS Cup grudge match

10:39 AM ETArch BellU.S. soccer writer

And then there were two.After a pair of major upsets in the conference finals, MLS Cup will again be contested by the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC on Sunday at CenturyLink Field (3 p.m. ET; ABC/ESPN 3 | Tickets).According to FiveThirtyEight’s SPI, the Sounders are a 65% favorite to win it all on Sunday and are fancied by the sportsbooks, too (-210 Seattle, +185 Toronto). But you can’t always trust the numbers. Here’s everything you need to know heading into Sunday’s final.

Backstory: It’s deja vu all over again. For the third time in four seasons, these two teams square off for MLS’ biggest showpiece. The previous two meetings occurred at Toronto’s BMO Field, with Seattle winning in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw in 2016 and Toronto winning 2-0 in 2017. There’s a fair bit of history among the players themselves, too: 10 of the TFC and Seattle players in this year’s postseason also appeared in their previous two finals: six from the Sounders (Nicolás Lodeiro, Cristian RoldanJordan MorrisJoevin Jones, Román Torres, Stefan Frei) and four from Toronto (Michael BradleyJustin MorrowJonathan OsorioDrew Moor).

These two have met plenty outside the playoffs, too. In their all-time head-to-head series, Seattle has won nine of the 14 regular season meetings.

Playoff path: It’s fair to say that the East’s No.4 seed and the No.2 team in the West have had a serious journey this postseason. With a revamped playoff schedule and the added tension of a single-elimination format, both teams arrive at Sunday’s final with some miles in their legs. They both emerged from the first round and coincidentally, both needed extra time to do it.Seattle survived a wild affair with FC Dallas, 4-3, before rolling to a 2-0 victory against Real Salt Lake in the conference semifinal and an enormously impressive 3-1 win at Supporters’ Shield-winning LAFC in the conference final. They not only managed to nullify 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela at the Banc of California stadium, but scored with three of their five shots on target. Economical, to say the least.

As for Toronto FC, they scored a whopping four goals in extra time to overcome Wayne Rooney and DC United 5-1 in the first round before edging top seed New York City FC 2-1 in the conference semifinal thanks to a late penalty from Alejandro Pozuelo. (The foul by Ronald Matarrita was so inexplicable and so unnecessary that he should almost be credited with an assist.) The Canadians played the upset card again in downing reigning champions Atlanta United 2-1 in the conference final via a late, outside-the-box golazo from substitute Nick DeLeon — don’t let him shoot from range, Seattle, as as three of his six playoff goals have been launched from beyond the penalty area — and leaving the near-70,000 in Mercedes-Benz Arena sitting in stunned silence.

Connecting thread: As mentioned above, this is the third MLS Cup meeting between the two in four years, but perhaps providing a bigger hint of what’s to come Sunday was their lone regular-season meeting earlier this season, in which Seattle overcame a Jozy Altidore brace to win 3-2 at home at CenturyLink Field.

Another thread running between these storied foes is Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei. He was traded from TFC to Seattle back in December, 2013 and has been an institution between the posts in the Pacific Northwest ever since. Frei has played in 13 postseason wins since then, the most in MLS over the past six seasons. The only other players with more than 10 wins over that span are fellow Sounders Cristian Roldan (12) and Nicolas Lodeiro (11). Could his experience prove crucial in settling Sunday’s contest?

Tactical contrast: It will be a genuine chess game considering that both sides leaned heavily on strong defensive and counterattacking performances to reach this point. In short, they can’t both sit deep and wait for the other team to make a move: soccer’s come a long way from its days getting skewered by The Simpsons. With Seattle playing at home and having full use of its stable of attackers — unlike TFC, who might be without Jozy Altidore — the feeling is that Seattle will be the more aggressive of the two and leverage its flying full-backs to spread open the TFC defense. Still, TFC are a team that likes to press and can use that tactic to slow down the Sounders’ midfield.

Toronto and Seattle have a lot of experience in the postseason: Sunday marks their third meeting in MLS Cup in the past four seasons. ESPN

 

Headache: At this stage, one would be hard-pressed to think of a selection headache for Seattle. The XI that took the field in Los Angeles will likely take the field again Sunday against TFC. The only potential foreseeable change could be at center-back if coach Brian Schmetzer feels like restoring Roman Torres in place of Xavier Arreaga to add experience and a bit more muscle.

One thing that might be a no-brainer is continuing with the winning combo of Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz. (More on both of them in a minute). According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Sounders are 21-5-4 (regular season) and 4-1-0 (postseason) when these two are in the starting lineup together.

The big question for Toronto FC boss Greg Vanney is the status of Altidore. If the big man is 100 percent, you have to think he’ll get the start, though Nicolas Benezet and Richie Laryea have shown in this postseason that they can help fill the goal-scoring duties.

Star man: It seems like Seattle has a different star man each match. Against FC Dallas, it was Jordan Morris; Lodeiro stepped up against Real Salt Lake and Ruidiaz was the star in toppling consensus favorite LAFC. In this case, we will continue with the Peruvian striker, whose big game pedigree is beyond reproach: four postseason games, four goals and three assists.Overall, Ruidiaz has been a revelation for the Sounders. His six playoff goals since joining the team at the end of June, 2018. Not only has that pulled him level with Clint Dempsey for No.2 on Seattle’s all-time playoff scoring chart, but he’s tied for second-most goals in a player’s first five MLS postseason games behind LA Galaxy legend Carlos Ruiz (seven).

Despite a more discrete performance against Atlanta United, Alejandro Pozuelo is still the main man in red, and he will relish the challenge of playing spoiler in attack. His 12 goal, 12 assist season made him just one of four players to break double digits in both categories in 2019, with Vela the only one with more than 12 in both categories. He’s also scored twice and assisted twice in the playoffs, making him TFC’s most potent threat.

Where the game will be won or lost: Seattle took advantage of a soft LAFC midfield to put Bob Bradley’s men to the sword. TFC’s midfield trio of Michael BradleyJonathan Osorio and Marky Delgado aren’t afraid to get nasty, so chances are it will come down to whether Seattle can handle and beat the TFC press in midfield.

X factor: If Seattle find themselves struggling in the second half and are in need of a goal, Victor Rodriguez is a pretty nice playmaking option to have coming off the bench.

TFC’s penchant for big goals off the bench or from unheralded players is remarkable, with the likes of Benezet, Laryea and DeLeon scoring massive goals, so it would be no surprise if Patrick Mullins or Tsubasa Endoh somehow tilts things in TFC’s favor.

This could also be a spot where home field advantage factors in. Toronto has only won in two of its eight all-time visits to the west coast. The last time they did it? A 1-0 victory decided by Jozy Altidore’s penalty on May 6, 2017. That said, they have the third-best record away from home in MLS this season, picking up six wins and seven draws in 19 games. Only conference champions LAFC and NYCFC managed more, but they’re watching the remainder of the playoffs at home.

Toronto FC will win because: Unbeaten in their past 13 MLS matches, TFC have become a team of destiny, with contributions from almost everyone on the squad. That confidence and belief will bear out in Seattle to complete an unlikely Cup conquest.

Seattle will win because: Buoyed by their boisterous crowd, the Seattle attacking trio of Ruidiaz, Morris and Lodeiro will overwhelm TFC’s defense in the second half to lift the trophy. If they can break the game open in the first half, even better: the Sounders are 12-0-0 when leading at the break this season, including in the playoffs.

Prediction: Seattle 3-2 Toronto. The 2019 postseason has been the highest scoring in MLS history, with a current average of 4.1 goals per game, so we’d expect this game to bring the fireworks rather than offering up another tight, tense affair decided by a solitary strike.

Seattle’s third MLS Cup final in four years shines spotlight on Schmetzer — whether he likes it or not

3:32 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

In Seattle, it has become a rite of autumn. The Sounders make the MLS Cup playoffs, they usually make a deep run toward the final, and the spotlight shines on manager Brian Schmetzer to the point of discomfort.One would think that given his nearly 40-year association with the Sounders — from his playing days to managing the team in the second tier to being an assistant in MLS to managing the team in the top division — Schmetzer would welcome some deserved praise. But any attempt to bestow accolades on the Seattle native is met with near instant deflection. One can almost hear him squirm over the telephone. Praise is for the players, his assistants or even opposing coaches. That’s why the word “steward” is most often applied to Schmetzer, and it fits. He is the organization’s conscience, its north star. “The club is in his DNA,” Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey said of Schmetzer. “When he speaks, he speaks sincerely and humbly, and those are things that really resonate with not just our fanbase but the wider community.”That ethos will be put to the test Sunday, when the Sounders square off against Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final (3 p.m. ET, watch live on ABC). It marks the third time in four years that the two sides have met with MLS supremacy on the line, and it amounts to the rubber match, with each team having hoisted the trophy once. Yet this is the first time Seattle has hosted the title game, so for Schmetzer, it resonates even more.”I am immensely proud of this franchise,” he said. “Being a guy from Seattle and this being your hometown team, and then the way my career path kind of happened — [starting in Seattle with] a couple of stops down in San Diego, a year in St. Louis and Tulsa — to have the MLS Cup final here, you’re so fired up.”Seattle’s run of MLS Cup finals would normally catapult a manager into discussions about the league’s best coaches, yet Schmetzer’s name hardly ever comes up. Granted, the fact that the Sounders are always in the playoffs — they’ve reached the postseason every year since joining the league in 2009 — means there’s no “most improved” component to get him attention. There haven’t been many wow moments in the regular season, either, with Seattle finishing second in the Western Conference each of the past three seasons. There’s also the matter of high expectations, given that the Sounders have 13 players making above the maximum salary.That lack of notoriety matters not at all to Schmetzer. He is a nearly perfect fit for the organization and the city at large.”I’ll let all the experts tell me whether I deserve all the praise for all this stuff, whether it’s the team, whether it’s Garth, whether it’s [owner Adrian Hanauer], whether it’s my assistants,” he said. “I think there’s a successful enough organization and what we all have are small bits and roles and parts within the team.”How has Schmetzer achieved so much success? His approach is all about balance: when to push and when to ease off in terms of tactics and in his talks with players. His steady accumulation of experience as a player and coach positioned him well to impart his vision.Schmetzer’s style can be traced to his modest but lengthy playing career that spanned the heyday of the old North American Soccer League in the early-1980s, its demise and the transition to the alphabet soup of various indoor leagues.”My gift to the game was my endurance,” Schmetzer said with a trace of humor. “I could run, I could get up and down the left wing. Steve Daley used to raise his arm and say, ‘Schmeeetz!’ And I’d take off, and I’d run, and he’d pass the ball somewhere else.”Schmetzer recalled that when he was an indoor teammate of Preki’s, he was always aware of where his more talented teammate was, the better to pick up the defensive slack when the ball was lost.”Those little things helped me have a pro career just because I was smart enough to figure out a way how to get people to say, ‘That Schmetz, he’s a pretty handy guy,'” he said.Along the way, he made note of the different locker room dynamics on the teams for which he played. There was an American-Brit divide in Seattle, and the Tulsa Roughneck team “was the tightest group of players I’ve ever seen.” In San Diego, there were multiple cliques, so Schmetzer made sure to bounce around among them. The experience of bridging those divides was useful during his coaching career, given the disparity in pay in MLS and the impact that can have on a locker room.When Schmetzer transitioned into coaching, his time managing youth teams gave him an understanding of how to develop young players. He spent seven seasons managing the Sounders in the various second divisions of the time and then took on the role of assistant under Sigi Schmid for another seven-plus years. Under Schmid, Schmetzer would imagine he was making the decisions, and if the head man did something different, Schmetzer would tease apart the reason.Schmid passed away in December, adding another emotional layer to Sunday’s final. Schmetzer’s gratitude toward his old mentor remains clear.”Sigi’s memory was unbelievable. Organizationally, structurally, he was better than I was,” Schmetzer said. “I learned a lot from Sig as far as how to win in MLS.”It made for an extensive apprenticeship at all levels, so when the call to take over from Schmid came midway through the 2016 season, Schmetzer was ready. That included the knowledge of how his role would change once he was the man in charge.”Their livelihood is now in your hands,” he said of his players. “What they require is honesty, whether it’s the brutal honesty of, ‘Hey, you’re not playing this weekend,’ or the brutal honesty of, ‘We’re not going to renew your option for next year.’ How you say that is massively important, as much so as when you compliment a player for a good job, trying to boost the player’s confidence. It’s different as a head coach than when I was an assistant.”Schmetzer emerged as a well-rounded coach, adept in all aspects. He describes himself as a players’ coach in the mold of former Sounders manager Alan Hinton, who signed Schmetzer as a teenager in 1980. He has also shown that he can throw out a tactical wrinkle or two, as he did in the Western Conference final against LAFC.

“I think to get to the level that you need to get to in order to coach in MLS, you can’t be too light on the tactics piece,” said Sigi Schmid’s son Kurt, previously Seattle’s director of player personnel and now the technical director for Inter Miami. “But that being said, he’s definitely very good at man management. I think some people can manage big groups really well, big personalities really well. I think Brian is really good at managing individuals really well. No one bats 1.000 in that department, but I think for the large majority of players who were there, he was always pretty good about just developing good relationships with those guys and even if guys walked away after hearing things they didn’t like.”That ability to connect with players spans young and old alike. He has moved youngsters such as Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris along and bonded with veterans such as Roman Torres and Stefan Frei.”There’s a closeness there within the group because they know that we as a staff have their best interests at heart,” Schmetzer said. “That closeness is developed out of mutual respect. It doesn’t mean we’re going to go on double dates with the players and their wives.”Schmetzer has been adaptable as well. Lagerwey notes that the 2016 team that Schmetzer led to that year’s MLS Cup was more rugged following the midseason loss of Clint Dempsey to a heart ailment. The following year, there was the challenge of repeating as MLS Cup champions. The disappointment of being eliminated to archrival Portland last season was eclipsed this year by the run to the final, with Seattle dispatching LAFC along the way.”I think that his kind of enduring quality has been that he can coach that 2016 run-and-fight team, and now he can coach this team which can play soccer,” Lagerwey said. “We can score a bunch of different ways and be more varied in our attack and our approach and how we play. The credit to him is he can manage both. His message resonates with both groups.”Schmetzer called 2019 his toughest year, given the forced retirement of defender Chad Marshall, the injury to forward Will Bruin and the suspension of Torres for using performance-enhancing drugs. But now Schmetzer is on the cusp of another title.”If I can get them all to believe that if they work for each other and fight for each other, that’s the best way they can win, then I’m doing my job as a manager,” he said.With a win Sunday, praise from outside will surely follow, whether Schmetzer wants it or not.

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10/29/19 Indy 11 Advance to face Nashville Sat, MLS Semi-Finals Wed/Thur Eve, CHS Girls Advance to State Finals at Fishers Sat.

Huge congrats to the #1 Carmel High School Lady Greyhounds as the Defending State Champions are advancing to their 2nd straight Finals after a huge 1-0 victory over Castle in horrid conditions in Evansville on Saturday.  Former Carmel FC player Olivia Fray scored the winning goal on a long shot from outside the box!  Olivia, the daughter of former Carmel FC Director Andy Fray, is a senior this season – looking for her second straight state title along with a number of former Carmel FC players on the squad including All State Goalkeeper Erin Baker – who made 2 huge saves in the victory.  Here are Highlights.   /Indy Star Story .   The State Final will have undefeated Carmel (18-0-3) Facing 2nd ranked and undefeated Noblesville (16-0-3) at 4 pm at Fishers High School Saturday.  All the Indiana State finals games will be there Friday night and Saturday so head over to catch some great soccer – including the Zionsville Boys vs Lake Central at 6 pm. Sat.

CHSGirls_Olivia_Fray

Carmel’s Olivia Fray (20) is embraced by her team after making the first and only goal of the game during the second half of the IHSAA Class 3A semistate matchup against the Castle Knights at Bundrant Stadium in Evansville, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. The Greyhounds will advance to the Class 3A state championship.  (Photo: SAM OWENS/ COURIER & PRESS)

MLS Playoffs – Tues 10 pm LAFC vs Seattle ESPN &  Wed 8 pm Atlanta vs Toronto FS1

So I don’t have a ton of time to pontificate here – but El Traffico between LAFC and the LA Galaxy was epic last week !!  As LAFC behind 2 goals from league MVP and the leading scorer in a season Carlos Vela beat Zlattan Ibrahimovich and the LA Galaxy 5-3 (should have been 4-4).  LAFC were gifted the first goal with a horrible no call or VAR overrule and later the LA Galaxy had a pretty bad pushing call overturning a Zlattan goal.  That being said LAFC deserved the win and to advance on to play the Seattle Sounders in the Final Tuesday night at 10 pm on ESPN.  A boisterous crowd in the 3252 (fan section) at Banc of California carried LAFC on and Vela and coach Bob Bradley finally broke the Galaxy’s spell on them (0-2-2) and finally won when it counted.  Sad if that is the way Ibra has to go out – as if he just had a defense – 31 goals in 31 games should be good enough to get teams thru the playoffs to at least the Championship game. Either way despite little defense being played – the 5-3 finish was ridiculously exciting!   In the Eastern Conference – Atlanta United use a full house at Mercedez Benz Arena and Josef Martinez to secure at hard fought victory over the Philly Union – setting up a home match with Toronto for the Easter Conference Finals on Wed Night at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Should be a doozy.  I have loved the 1 game and done format – although I have this feeling I would prefer a home and away format for the Finals.  Either way – Exciting soccer to Watch – Playoffs – MLS Style!

Indy 11 Win Home Playoff Classic 1-0 at the Mike

Huge 1-0 win for our Indy 11 as Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr again had a standout night in the victory with a couple of great saves!  The threat of Rain and Storms kept the crowd at the MIKE small as only just under 6,000 fans ventured to IUPUI to watch our Boys in Blue win their first home playoff game in a few years.  The 11 scored midway thru the 1st half and held on late to take home the victory as a sold-out BYB section cued the Smoke and carried the sound thru the windy night air in victory for our Indy 11.  The 11 next face Nashville in round 2 Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be on ESPN+.  You can watch all the USL Playoff action on ESPN+.

Ladies Soccer

Defending NWSL Champs North Carolina Courage made it 2 in a row with US star Heather O’Reilly as they defeated the Chicago Red Stars 3-0 in the Finals Sunday.  Also the US Hired Vlatko Andonovski – NWSL Coach to coach USWNT.

USA

Finally a huge week for Christian Pulisic at Chelsea as he records a Hat Trick in his start vs Burnley this past Saturday as the Chelsea fans yelled USA, USA.   The 21 Year Old American earned back a start and rewarded coach Frank Lampard with some spectacular goals – making him just the second US Player to Ever score a hat-trick in the EPL!!  Can anyone tell me the other ??? Chelsea and Pulisic return to action in League Cup play vs Man United on Wed at 4 pm on ESPN+ and Sat vs Watford at 12:30 pm on NBCSN or NBC – not sure which?  Oh and a huge get for US Coach Berhalter as Dutch Defender Sergino Dest of Ajax chooses the US over the Netherlands to play his international soccer.  Hope to see him in uniform next month for the rematch with Canada.

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Oct 29

3:45 pm ESPN+                                 Man City vs Southampton – League Cup

4:!5pm  beIN Sport

10 pm ESPN                LAFC vs Seattle – Western Conference Finals (MLS Playoffs)

WEds, Oct 30

3:30 pm ESPN+                                 Liverpool vs Arsenal – League Cup

4 pm ESPN+                                       CHelea (Pulisic) vs Man United– League Cup

4 pm Fox Sport 2                              U17 World Cup – Korea vs France

4:15pm  beIN Sport                         Real Madrid vs Leganes

7 pm Fox Sport 2               U-17 World Cup USA vs Japan 

8 on Fox Sport 1         Atlanta United vs Toronto -Eastern Conference Finals (MLS Playoffs)

Fri, Nov 1

3 pm NBCSN                                      Southampton vs Leicester City

 Sat, Nov 2  

7:30 am NBCSN                                Bournemouth vs Man United

9 am ESPN news                               Roma vs Napoli

9:30 am Fox sports1                       Frankfort vs Bayern Munich  

10:30 am NBCSN                             Man City vs Southampton

12:30 pm NBCSN                        Watford vs Chelsea (pulisic)  

4 pm beIN Sport                               Real Madrid vs Real Bettis

7 pm Fox Sport 2                             USA U17 vs Netherlands U17 World Cup

8 pm ESPN+                                      Nashville vs Indy 11 (Playoffs) 

Sun, Nov 3

7:30 am NBCSN                                Crystal Palace vs Leicester City

11:30 NBCSN                                    Everton vs Tottenham

12:30 pm FS1                                   Ausburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

2:45 ESPN+                                       Milan vs Lazio

3 pm FS2                                            Cameroon U17 vs Spain U17 WC

6 pm FS2                                            Mexico U17 vs Solomon Islands U17 WC

Tues/Wed Nov 5 & 6 Champions League

Indy 11 

Indy 11 Advance with home Playoff Win – Jordan Farr Saves the Day

Highlights of Playoff Win – Including GK Jordan Farr’s Saves

Indy 11 Win Home Playoff Game Advance to Next Round in Nashville

MLS

MLS Conference Finals preview and predictions

FiveThirtyEight projects Conference Finals

Doyle: Keys to victory in the 2019 Conference Finals

For first time ever, no founding clubs in Conference Finals
MLS Best XI includes three LAFC stars, Zlatan

ATL’s Ambrose: Opposing teams “in awe” when they come to MBS

USA

US Hires Vlatko Andonovski – NWSL Coach to coach USWNT

Andonovski aware of expectations as new US women’s coach
Americans Abroad: Pulisic shines with hat trick, Sargent assists

Berhalter apologizes to USMNT supporters for actions after Canada loss

Dest commitment a big win for Berhalter, Stewart’s USMNT

Biggest Win Yet – Dest Comitting to US Team – yahoo sports

Why Sergino Dest’s decision is such a big win for the USMNT     
USMNT left back Robinson making waves with Wigan

Busio scores early, US U-17s unravel late in WC opener

2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup Schedule

EPL

VIDEO: Every touch from Christian Pulisic v. Burnley

Pulsic Scores First EPL Hat Trick

Chelsea ratings: Pulisic hat trick nets perfect 10
Pulisic watch: U.S. star makes huge impact vs. Burnley

Goalkeeping

Highlights of Playoff Win – Including GK Jordan Farr’s Saves

Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr with some good Saves in last game

MLS GK of the Year from Minn United

MLS Save of the Year – Retiring Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake & US National Team

NWSL Save of the Week

USL Save of the Month – NCFC GK

No. 1 Carmel survives challenge from Castle to win semistate title

Kyle Sokeland, Indianapolis StarPublished 10:10 p.m. ET Oct. 26, 2019

VANSVILLE – Frank Dixon has coached soccer at Carmel High School for nearly 30 years. Only one time can he recall anything like this.Mother Nature did not cooperate on Saturday with those wishing to watch the soccer semistate at Evansville North’s Bundrant Stadium. A persistent, annoying rain combined with swirling gusts of wind made the evening miserable for all involved.Well, the Greyhounds don’t hate it anymore. The defending state champions left the turf field with smiles and hugs, unlike their opponent.No. 1 Carmel survived the elements to defeat No. 5 Castle 1-0 in the Class 3A semistate. The Greyhounds advance to the state championship at Fisher High School to face Noblesville.”It was survival of the fittest,” said Dixon. “As I told Doug (Diedrich, the Castle coach) I wish we could come back on Monday or Tuesday and play in the right kind of weather. We got one ball to go in there.” Diedrich concurred with his counterpart. During his playing days, he had to combat snow, rain and winds. But this was a different beast.The winds, which gusted over 30 miles per hour, eliminated any designed game plan. It came down to when the Knights wanted to kick with the wind or against it. Take advantage of it.”I couldn’t imagine playing in it,” said the Castle coach. “Just the wind and the rain tonight was worse than anything I’ve been involved with since coaching high school. Both teams have to play in it, they took advantage of the opportunity they had.”Castle elected to go with it in the first half. Its best chances came in those 40 minutes with senior Jessica Jacobs nearly fitting a free kick under the crossbar. Carmel goalkeeper Erin Baker also corralled a loose ball in front of the net. By halftime, neither side dented the scoreboard.”When we didn’t score in the first half, we knew things were going to be a little more difficult,” said Diedrich. “We had some opportunities, but the wind made it so difficult to do anything.”Even in the second half, Castle felt confident with its possession. That changed with 15 minutes left after Carmel had a corner kick cleared.Senior Olivia Fray took possession and did what she was supposed to do: send the ball back in. The shot was high enough to avoid any defenders and the wind kept sending the ball toward the net.It sneaked past Castle keeper Kassidy Elkin to give the Greyhounds a 1-0 lead.”Those players are supposed to put it back in, not over the goal,” said Dixon. “It went a little better than she thought it was going to do.” Over the final 10 minutes, the Knights sent a flurry of chances at Carmel. Addie Turnock had a free kick outside the 18 sail high, while Jacobs had a flurry of corner kicks go unanswered. She later had a free kick clang off the corner.The loss ends a stellar postseason run for Castle (17-3-1). The Knights won their first regional title in five years and took the defending state champions to the brink.Castle won the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference and graduates 10 seniors.”They came to work every day and had fun,” said Diedrich. “This group played loose most of the year and did what you asked them to do. When you get players like that, they’re going to do well. It’s a lot of fun to coach.”Making it back to the state championship was no guarantee for Carmel. The Greyhounds graduated a strong senior group, which included a pair of all-state defenders.But they took everybody’s best shot and remain perfect in the loss column going to Fishers next weekend.”These senior, who were junior last year, just picked it up,” said Dixon. “I have the best goalkeeper in the state. She kept us in that first half. If not for her, we would have been down two or three to nothing.”Follow Courier & Press sports reporter Kyle Sokeland on Twitter @kylesokeland.

When Sergiño Dest pledged his commitment, the USMNT got more than just a great prospect

Leander SchaerlaeckensYahoo Sports•October 28, 2019

Since taking over as head coach of the United States men’s national team at the start of the year, Gregg Berhalter has won nine games. On Monday, he got a 10th victory when 18-year-old Dutch-American fullback Sergiño Dest decided to stick with the USA when the Netherlands, where he was born and raised, had recruited him as well.The long-awaited announcement by Dest, who made his debut for the U.S. against Mexico last month and can play on either flank, felt like a coup. Because he’s forsaken a chance to play with a golden generation of Dutch prospects who have already reached an international final in the UEFA Nations League. Instead, he committed to Berhalter’s wholesale rebuilding project in the wake of a humiliating loss to Canada.But Dest’s choice doesn’t represent the capture of a coveted player. It means something bigger than that.The thing to remember in all of this is that Dest probably never expected to break into the starting lineup at Ajax Amsterdam as quickly as he did this season, or indeed next season.Even though Ajax had moved on from right back Rasmus Nissen Kristensen and part-time left back Daley Sinkgraven over the summer, the logjam at both positions still made for very long odds for Dest. In Noussair Mazraoui and Nico Tagliafico, manager Erik ten Hag had well-established starters in both wing spots. And central defenders Daley Blind and Joel Veltman were the preferred alternatives. Dest didn’t figure in anybody’s projections for significant playing time, as underscored by the number he was assigned – 28.Which is all to say that chances are, not even Dest figured on having to make a difficult choice about which national team to pick. Because he likely didn’t think there was a choice at all. You don’t get a look for the Dutch national team until you’re getting steady playing time at a well-established club. So when Dest did break out during the preseason he put himself on Ronald Koeman’s map. Dest’s senior debut with the U.S. in September evidently sent alarm bells ringing at the Dutch federation headquarters, and an effort to retain the newly minted and suddenly coveted defender was quickly mobilized. A meeting with Koeman followed. And Dest rejected invitations from both nations for the October international window, in order to prevent cap-tying himself to either.Dest was likely surprised and unprepared for the choice between the country that had nurtured his international career – the United States, by bringing him to two youth World Cups – and the nation where he’d been born and raised, the Netherlands.   Monday’s choice for the American program, then, followed weeks of agonizing, a process Dest said he didn’t particularly enjoy.

“I chose America because to me that was the best choice,” Dest told Ajax’s website. “It wasn’t an easy choice. I spent a long time thinking about it. America, I spent my entire youth [national team career] playing with and they treated me well. On the Netherlands, of course, you play with the best players in the world. They have a very good team. And that’s great. But in the end, it was my gut feeling that was the most important.”Dest said he’d had several conversations with both managers and admitted to being tempted by Oranje. He felt a lot of pressure, he said, but in the end he simply followed his gut, rather than make some kind of grand calculation about playing time and positional competition. “I don’t think I have any certainty on either team,” he said. “Maybe the players are a little less good there [on the USA], I can admit that, but I still have to do my best.”Landing Dest means more than just securing a very promising player who can be slotted into two problem positions. It will inject the program with some optimism. Since the missed World Cup of 2018, it’s felt like the senior men’s national team has careened between regression and being entirely rudderless. Morale has gotten so low that Berhalter sent a letter apologizing to fans for not going over to thank them for their support during the loss to the Canadians on Oct. 15, the first loss to them in more than a generation.

Dest’s commitment finally imbues the program with some desperately needed momentum, a flash of hope that a strong new core really is forming, alongside midfielders Christian PulisicWeston McKennieTyler Adams and forwards Josh Sargent and Tim Weah.And there could be a knock-on effect down the line. In a globalized world, where dual-nationalities threaten to become the norm, any program with pretensions of belonging to the elite will need to win more of these battles for the biggest prospects than it loses. One such prospect tends to beget more. Players are sensitive to fashions. And seeing Dest pick the U.S. might reassure some other player wrestling with the same decision down the line that it’s a sensible move.Most of all, Dest signaled publicly that he buys into Berhalter’s project, that he can see his vision. National team coaches have to be salesmen too. Berhalter sold an 18-year-old on passing up on a better team, which he’d grown up fantasizing about.  Dest, above all, is a vote of confidence.Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports

USWNT officially hires Vlatko Andonovski as coach. Who is he, and what’s next?

Caitlin Murray,Yahoo Sports 17 hours ago

Vlatko Andonovski has officially been hired as the next coach of the USWNT. (AP)

The U.S. women’s national team has a new coach.Vlatko Andonovski, who has coached in the National Women’s Soccer League for the past seven years, was announced Monday as the eighth coach in USWNT history.“It’s a huge honor and I’m very excited to get started with this group of players and staff as we work towards continued success for this program,” Andonovski said in a statement. “All of the talented coaches and players that have come before have built a legendary tradition of excellence and I’m committed to working very hard to continue to move this program forward.”

Vlatko Andonovski? Who is this guy?

Anyone who has been watching the NWSL since its inception in 2013 will know Andonovski well, especially since he has coached his way to two NWSL titles – but everyone else will probably have no clue who he is.Andonovski left his native Macedonia in 2000 to play professional indoor soccer, and he ended up at the Kansas City Comets, which competed in the Major Arena Soccer League. When the owners of the Comets started a women’s team to launch with the NWSL named FC Kansas City, they asked Andonovski to be the coach.Although he had experience as a youth coach on the girls side, no one in the upper echelons of women’s soccer had ever heard of him, and some USWNT players listed FC Kansas City as their one allocation veto due to concerns over the unknown coach.But he quickly earned a reputation for the attractive possession-style soccer his team played, and he led FC Kansas City to back-to-back league titles in 2014 and 2015.He was poached by Seattle-based Reign FC last year and led the team to two straight playoffs, including this year despite the team being ravaged by injuries, as he employed a pragmatic approach that required fielding more than 30 different players over the course of the year. For that, he was named the 2019 NWSL Coach of the Year.

Why did Andonovski get the USWNT job?

Aside from his success in the NWSL, it seems to boil down to his work with the USWNT player pool.On one hand, U.S. Soccer is getting a manager who is already deeply familiar with the players on the USWNT and on the bubble. He has coached the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Allie Long and Becky Sauerbrunn, who were all on the USWNT’s recent World Cup-winning squad, and he has coached against most of the rest of the USWNT pool.That’s important because the clock is ticking down to the 2020 Olympics, which begin in nine months, and Andonovski won’t have much time to get his team ready.

But USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf also emphasized that player input would be part of the coach selection process, and Andonovski has reportedly been the most popular choice amongst the USWNT core.That also matters because it wasn’t long ago that a group of veterans on the USWNT tried to stage an unsuccessful coup to get coach Jill Ellis fired. Ellis had the last laugh, sticking around and winning another World Cup, but even after that, the relationship between Ellis and the players seemed surprisingly cold for a team that had enjoyed so much success.When Ellis announced her plan to step down, sources close to the team told Yahoo Sports the decision was probably affected by a dynamic where the veterans didn’t seem to like Ellis very much. When Ellis coached her final game at the helm, newer players who Ellis brought into the fold offered kind parting words in videos produced by U.S. Soccer, but veterans were absent, and the players’ social media channels offered deafening silence.Of course, the players don’t need to like the coach, as Ellis’ World Cup win in France proves. But it’ll be better for the federation and the players alike if the team isn’t trying to stage mutinies.It’s worth noting that every coach of the USWNT since Tony DiCicco has been the subject of a player revolt. Whether Andonovski will break that streak remains to be seen.

What kind of coach is Andonovski, and will he be a good fit?

Although he arrived in the NWSL as an unknown, he quickly won praise for the style of play he implemented in Kansas City. It was positive, possession soccer that involved knocking the ball around in the way soccer fans say they love.But he has also proven himself tactically flexible, willing to adapt and pragmatic, which the 2019 season demonstrated in a nutshell. Each week, the Reign FC injury report looked like a page torn from a phone book, but Andonovski kept conjuring up ways to keep his team afloat. He finished the year giving minutes to 34 different players, which is impressive since the maximum roster size in the NWSL is 22.Andonovski is also known for his intensity and his thorough preparation at the most granular level. Staff at FC Kansas City can tell stories about surreptitiously moving Andonovski’s perfectly aligned cones for drills, which the coach always noticed and fixed, frustrated with himself for messing up.Players rave about playing under him and say he makes them better players. He is also talked about as being a very direct and blunt with players, but a good people manager who is generally well-liked and offers a calming influence.

Are there any concerns about Andonovski?

Perhaps the biggest concern is a lack of experience, which was the primary reason he was left off Yahoo’s list of top coaching candidates when Ellis stepped down.Andonovski has never coached at the international level – not even at the youth level – and he hasn’t played on national team duty either. National teams and club teams are very different, and the transition from club coach to international coach isn’t always an easy one.For a clear example, look no further than Gregg Berhalter, who took over the U.S. men’s national team last year. Berhalter was lauded for the complicated possession system of triggers and movement he built with the Columbus Crew, but he is finding it much more difficult to implement something similar with the USMNT.The USMNT hasn’t shown much progress since Berhalter took over, losing in a shock upset to Canada, and there is growing concern that a system-oriented coach like Berhalter is a bad fit for the USMNT. After all, there is a big difference between training with a club team everyday year-round, and getting together with a national team every couple months for a week or two at a time.But, keep in mind, the USMNT is not the USWNT.The USMNT, which lacks talent relative to the rest of the world, probably needs a pragmatist to put the country’s best players in their best positions and worry less about finding players for specific tasks. The USWNT, on the other hand, has a glut of talent and the apparent capacity to execute just about anything Andonovski can dream up.After all, going into the 2019 World Cup, much of the conversation around the USWNT was that the team wasn’t playing its best and players weren’t being used in their optimum positions. There was a feeling that the team had more potential – and yet they won the whole darn tournament in France. That’s the difference.

What should be his first order of business with the USWNT?

How do you take a World Cup-winning team and make it better? That’s the seemingly impossible question that Andonovski has signed up to answer.If Andonovski has any grand notions of expanding the player pool to find the next wave of USWNT stars, or implementing a new system with a different style of play, he’ll probably need to wait.The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo start in July, but the qualification tournament comes much more quickly – that schedule hasn’t been announced yet, but usually the CONCACAF qualification tournament is held in January.For all of Ellis’s success in the World Cup, the less-discussed part of her coaching tenure was a disastrous 2016 Olympics where the USWNT suffered its earliest exit in a major tournament in program history. In other words, winning a World Cup is not a guarantee of success at the Olympic stage.Although Andonovski is already set to host an identification camp in December that will include only players not already in the USWNT fold, he actually needs to shrink his USWNT before he expands it. That’s because the Olympic roster has only 18 spots, down from the 23 players that go to the World Cup.When a team is as good as the USWNT, paring down to just 18 players may be the toughest part, and there’s an argument that Ellis’s roster selections in 2016 ultimately doomed her, particularly bringing an unfit, recently injured Megan Rapinoe over Heather O’Reilly.Andonovski has to decide what to do with the likes of Carli Lloyd, who has said she’d rather retire than rot on the bench for the USWNT, or Alex Morgan, who will have recently given birth by the time the Olympics roll around.There are no easy decisions when it comes to the USWNT roster, and Andonovski doesn’t have a lot of time to figure it out.Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports and her book about the U.S. women’s national team, The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer, is out now. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.

Armchair Analyst: Previewing the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Finals

October 28, 20199:53AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

MLS is now just shy of a quarter century old. The past half-decade of this existence – the TAM era, for all intents and purposes – has seen the league at least partially shed its previous skin. As in: This is no longer a league of parity.Atlanta UnitedToronto FC and the Seattle Sounders have accounted for the past three MLS Cups. LAFC are trying to join them this year after breaking all sorts of records en route to winning the Supporters’ Shield and the admiration of neutrals across the continent. These four teams also (not entirely coincidentally) have four of the seven highest payrolls in the league, as per the MLS Players Association release, and when you factor in all the ancillary stuff – transfer fees, scouting and analytics departments, academies and reserve teams – it probably stands to reason that these are four of the five or six highest-spending teams in the league.They mostly showed that in the regular season (Toronto FC are the only stragglers in that regard, though they had a great second-half of 2019 after splashing out during the summer window), and have mostly reaped the rewards by achieving and then capitalizing upon home-field advantage in the playoffs.Is this the new normal, the endpoint after salary budgets really started to expand in 2015? Or is there now a blueprint that others will follow, as the early majority begin catching up to the early adopters?

I honestly don’t know. But the story of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs thus far is that the most holistically ambitious clubs have put themselves in position to win MLS Cup. Let’s take a look at what’s to come:

Western Conference

LAFC vs. Seattle Sounders
Tuesday, 10 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Bob Bradley did his work in 2018. He didn’t just lay the foundation – it wasn’t just the core players that he acquired and the core principles that he drilled. No, the LAFC boss went out and got literally all but two of his rotation players throughout an extremely busy inaugural season. He was wheeling and dealing all last year, even while pushing for a high seed in the playoffs, with the idea of getting into this season at a running start.  It’s worked. Saying it’s worked spectacularly probably sells it short, because LAFC just had the best regular season in league history and they are literally the best team I’ve ever seen in MLS. The 2017 Toronto FC team will still go down as the most successful, but LAFC are better.  What they do so well is … everything. It’s like Bradley saw last year’s MLS Cup-winning Atlanta team and last year’s Shield-winning New York Red Bulls and said “I think, with this group, we can press like the Red Bulls and pass like the Five Stripes.”

If that was his line of thinking, he was right. LAFC finished third in possession, second in possessions won and possessions won in the final third, second in chances created and first in big chances created. Bunker in and they would pass through you. Try to build out vs. them and they would turn you over and jam it down your throat. Let them build back-to-front, or get out into any sort of transition and…

Carlos Vela is the best player in the league and is currently having the best season in league history. Eduard Atuesta is the best d-mid in the league. Diego Rossi will probably be sold for $10-15 million this winter. And Adama Diomande just missed six weeks and scored a brace in his first game back, which included a goal where he looked like prime freaking Ronaldo.  Yeah, you can’t let them do that.

How to beat them: Throughout the year, the best recipe was either “bunker and hope they’re not sharp” or “have Zlatan.” The Galaxy tried to do both the other day and LAFC beat them 5-3, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Of course, LAFC didn’t exactly let the Galaxy sit deep, did they? They were entirely willing to let their next door neighbors have the ball, with the idea of pulling them upfield and scoring goals exactly like that one above (and the first one of the night, and the second). LA didn’t have the personnel or the discipline to pull it off, and LAFC suckered them into digging their own grave.  Which is to say that I still think the only thing you should try against LAFC at this point is putting numbers behind the ball and trying to hit on the counter. Frustrate them, be physical and chippy with them, and keep the game compact. Because if it gets open you’re going to lose.

The Big Question: Are the Sounders good enough in their own 18 to play like that?

Seattle have a match-winning goalkeeper in Stefan Frei. Just ask FC Dallas about that:

They also have three shutouts in their last four games, including a pair of 1-0 wins at San Jose and then against Minnesota United to end the season, There’s also a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semis. That’s a good run of results. But that wild 4-3 win over Dallas in Round One of the West playoffs is a worry, one that is in keeping with the not-so-great defending we saw from this team over a 7-8-2 stretch from mid-May to early September. The Sounders conceded 33 goals during that 17-game run, and while they’ve mostly done better than that lately, they still lean heavily on Frei and still often sit way too passively in their deep blocks. That wasn’t a problem against RSL, but “home vs. RSL” and “at LAFC” are entirely different types of tests.  Of course, Seattle have survived stern tests in the playoffs before. I do think this is one where we should see Nico Lodeiro sit deeper and try to spray through-balls – like he did back in 2016 when he first arrived – as opposed to moving upfield and trying to run the show.

Two matchups to watch:

1) Latif Blessing vs. Gustav Svensson

  • Blessing’s been this season’s biggest revelation, and his work at the front of LAFC’s press is what changed this team from “Shield favorites” to “historical juggernauts.” If he’s able to either disrupt Svensson’s distribution or drag the Seattle d-mid out of Zone 14 – or both – Seattle could be in real trouble.

2) Jordan Morris vs. Empty Space

  • I’m pretty sure LAFC aren’t going to sit in again like they did against the Galaxy. I’m pretty sure they want to attack and use the ball and win emphatically like they have most of the season. That means both fullbacks will be pushing up, which should leave Morris room to hit out on the counter. It would be a risk for Brian Schmetzer to just leave Morris high – have him cherry pick – but there’s an argument that it’s the risk that’s worth taking when playing this team, especially when you’ve got a through-ball artist like Lodeiro to lean on.

X-factor: Mark-Anthony Kaye‘s health. I’m convinced that the other reason (besides being cleverly pragmatic) Bradley didn’t have LAFC press against the Galaxy is that Kaye was not available with a hamstring strain. His replacement, Lee Nguyen, is a different type of player, one who’s more functional these days as a field-opening orchestrator than a creature of the final third on either side of the ball.

In a not-entirely-unrelated development, Nguyen had three secondary assists on Thursday night.  Anyway, if Kaye is good to go even for 30 minutes, then Bradley’s got multiple looks he can throw out there. Schmetzer can’t say the same.

Atlanta United vs. Toronto FC Eastern Conference

Wednesday, 8 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

It’s wild to try to think through and pick apart all the various iterations of this season’s Atlanta United team. A small sample: the turgid and slow 3-4-2-1 of the early part of the year; the unadventurous and uninspiring 4-2-3-1 of spring; free-flowing and open 3-4-2-1 of mid-summer and early autumn; the methodical and opportunistic 4-3-3 of the Conference semifinals.

Frank de Boer’s first year in Georgia has been a journey. It hasn’t always looked nice and it doesn’t make sense that they got here looking like this, but they’ve already won two trophies and are 180 minutes away from a third. You can quibble with the aesthetics, but this is a results business – and the results say something’s going right.

Here’s what “going right” looks like:

Where’s that Pity Martinez been? And Ezequiel Barco had an equally gorgeous assist in Atlanta’s first game of the playoffs, a 1-0 win over New England.

This team can throw out a metric ton of attacking talent – arguably more than LAFC, depending upon how highly you rate each side’s youngsters.

And even with all that, they’re probably better defensively than they are going forward. Their 2-0 win over Philadelphia was their 18th shutout of the year across all competitions, and they’ve managed it all while juggling some pretty serious injuries and squad rotation throughout the year, especially in October. It’s been a seriously impressive title defense, even while being weirdly up-and-down.

How to beat them: Back when they were playing that 3-4-2-1, I would’ve told you long diagonals to the flanks behind the wingback in order to disorganize the backline. In that 2-0 win over the Union, though, they almost completely took that ball away. Haris Medunjanin had maybe his worst game of the year, and I think I’m chalking a good chunk of that up to Atlanta.

But we don’t know if they’re going to play a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-2-1, do we? If Miles Robinson or Michael Parkhurst are back, then it’s probably the latter. If they’re not it’s likely the former. Or maybe it’s the former anyway, given how thoroughly they outplayed the Union.

I really don’t know. But I will say this: Atlanta never look good if you get inside their OODA loop. If you press the hell out of them or you possess with purpose, the goal should be to make them react to you and play the game you want. When that happens, they collectively get frustrated – and it shows.

The Big Question: Will the Reds have enough firepower to make it count?

Toronto surprised almost everyone by not just beating New York City FC without Jozy Altidore, but by largely dominating them both in the first half and over the game’s final 10-15 minutes. They managed it despite starting Alejandro Pozuelo as a false No. 9, which disoriented the Pigeons’ entire defensive structure:

It was a really good game plan from Greg Vanney, and it produced no actual goals. What produced actual goals were catastrophic NYCFC mistakes.

Atlanta haven’t made a ton of mistakes this year, and you probably can’t count on an inexplicable backpass or one of the worst tackles in league history as a bailout mechanism from week to week. The Reds need to take what possession and danger they create and turn it into actual goals, and 15 minutes of madness against D.C. United aside, they haven’t been particularly great at doing that lately.

They will get their chances. They have to do better with them than New England and Philly managed.

Two match-ups to watch:

1) Michael Bradley vs. Darlington Nagbe

  • Bradley has had two strong defensive performances, but it’s not exactly a secret that he struggles these days against quick players who are able to progress the ball via the dribble. And nobody in the league is as quick nor as adept at advancing the ball via the dribble as Nagbe, who was poor vs. the Union but has put in some breathtaking performances these days. On the flipside, Atlanta’s central midfield (Nagbe included) have to do to Bradley what they did to Medunjanin.

2) Josef Martinez vs. Chris Mavinga

  • By a few measures, I’m actually more impressed by what Josef’s done this year than what he accomplished last season, when he justifiably won the 2018 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award and then MLS Cup MVP. His goalscoring hunger and ability are unchanged, while he seems to be even more of a leader. And as he showed against Philly, he’s still always looking to get out into the open field. Obviously Mavinga – who had his best game in damn near two years against NYCFC – has to make sure that doesn’t happen.

X-factor: Robinson’s health? Parkhurst’s? Altidore’s? Omar Gonzalez‘s?

Yeah, all of those. But I actually think it’ll be whatever curve ball Vanney comes up with. The TFC manager conjured up a good one in Queens, and has always been willing to change it up a bit, whether it’s formation, line of confrontation, where and how to press, and obviously personnel.Vanney’s been dealt a lot of weird hands as manager and has mostly played them very well. I kind of expect that to be the case again here.

NC Courage defends NWSL title with 4-0 win over Chicago Associated Press

CARY, N.C. (AP) — Debinha scored in the fourth minute and the North Carolina Courage beat the Chicago Red Stars 4-0 Sunday for their second straight National Women’s Soccer League title.Jessica McDonald, Crystal Dunn and Sam Mewis added goals for the Courage, which won the NWSL Shield for the third straight year with a league-best 15-5-4 regular-season record.Debinha was named the game’s MVP, the first Brazilian to win it. North Carolina’s four goals were the most in an NWSL title match.Debinha’s rebound shot got past Red Stars goal keeper Alyssa Naeher to open scoring early before McDonald’s header off a feed from Lynn Williams in the 26th minute. After Dunn scored in first-half stoppage time, Mewis added a goal off a long ball from Abby Dahlkemper in the 61st.A sellout crowd of 10,227 attended the championship at Sahlen’s Stadium.The Red Stars had a six-game winning streak heading into the final, including a 1-0 victory over the Portland Thorns in the semifinal. The Courage beat Reign FC 4-1 in extra time in the semifinals.

It was the third time the Courage and Red Stars had met in the playoffs. The Courage also won the first two and didn’t give up any goals.The game capped an eventful week for the league.Chicago’s Sam Kerr was named the league’s MVP this season after scoring a record 18 goals in just 21 games. The Australian forward was absent for part of the season because of the Women’s World Cup.Kerr won her second league MVP award, after earning it in 2017 while with Sky Blue.”Eighteen goals doesn’t just come from one player, so thank you to my teammates. I love playing for Chicago,” Kerr said. “I love the girls, I love the team, and they allow me to be the best player I can be.”The Reign’s Vlatko Andonovski was selected the league’s Coach of the Year after leading the Reign to the playoffs despite a spate of injuries and the World Cup absences of several key players, including U.S. star Megan Rapinoe.Andonovski is expected to be hired as the new coach of the U.S. national team at a news conference on Monday in New York. He replaces Jill Ellis, who led the United States to back-to-back World Cup titles.The nine-team league also announced an expansion team in Louisville, Kentucky, to start play in 2021.The game Sunday was the last for Courage midfielder Heather O’Reilly. The former national team star is retiring from pro soccer and joining the staff of the women’s team at North Carolina.O’Reilly retired from the national team in 2016, finishing with 231 caps and 47 goals, along with the 2015 World Cup trophy and three Olympic gold medals. She earned an FA Cup from her time with Arsenal and two College Cup trophies at North Carolina.

MLS clubs’ interest in NWSL continues to grow behind the scenes

October 27, 201912:00PM EDTJonathan SigalContributor

e National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) championship match between the North Carolina Courage and Chicago Red Stars capped a 2019 season — the 7th in the league’s brief history — of increasing buzz, steady expansion news and greater overall attention. The spring in its step this year was in no small part helped by the U.S. women’s national team winning back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cups. After knocking off Japan in 2015, they beat the Netherlands this past July to become the tournament’s first repeat champions. “That week-in and week-out competition for the US national team players and other internationals has helped us move forward,” said Houston Dash player Amber Brooks, who has played for three different clubs NWSL since 2014. “It’s not a coincidence.”That momentum is only building. Louisville was announced as the NWSL’s 10th club earlier this week and speculation has since surrounded potential NWSL clubs for Cincinnati and Sacramento, which was named as an MLS expansion on October 21And there are still other MLS clubs engaged in fact-finding about the prospect of joining NWSL, according to interviews with the four MLS clubs currently fielding teams in the women’s pro soccer league.

MLS ties to women’s soccer

The Houston Dash (Houston Dynamo), Orlando Pride (Orlando City), Portland Thorns (Portland Timbers) and Utah Royals FC (Real Salt Lake) are all under the purview of ownership groups that are also fully cemented in MLS.

They form four of the NWSL’s nine sides, with four others – Chicago, Reign FC, Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit – sharing metropolitan areas with MLS clubs under separate ownership groups. But they still work together: This season Sky Blue have played at Red Bull Arena, home of the New York Red Bulls, and Washington have played at Audi Field, opened last year by D.C. United. Chicago, meanwhile, have shared SeatGeek Stadium with Chicago Fire, who will be moving back to Soldier Field beginning next year.

MLS clubs are also involved in youth development of boys and girls. An additional five MLS clubs operate teams or have affiliates in the girls’ division of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA) which is in its third year of operation: FC DallasLA GalaxySan Jose EarthquakesFC Cincinnati and Sporting Kansas City. Houston, Portland and Utah are also in the DA, while Orlando competes in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL founded in 2009), a league New York City FC recently joined after a prior stint in the DA

Merritt Paulson, chief executive officer at Portland, said those numbers are only going to grow, with the recent World Cup success acting as a catalyst. In an interview with MLSsoccer.com this past July, Paulson said he expected three more clubs will launch NWSL teams by 2022. And he noted that the Timbers have hosted two different MLS clubs at Thorns games this season, as they ponder starting their own NWSL teams.“We open up everything for them,” Paulson said of hosting the prospective clubs. “We show them the good, the bad and the ugly. We show them our books, our numbers. We’re uniquely successful, but we paint a realistic picture about the opportunities and challenges that other teams have faced, so we don’t want there to be any surprises. Our goal isn’t to get people in, it’s to have them be successful when they’re in.”That’s not hyperbole from Paulson, who asserted the Thorns are “the most successful professional women’s sports team in the world.” That’s partially because Portland, led by the Rose City Riveters supporters’ group, recently set an NWSL record for attendance (25,218) in an Aug. 11 match against North Carolina, the defending league champions. But it’s also because of the infrastructure on hand.The Thorns play at Providence Park, just like the Timbers, and there’s access to the same front-office staff for each club. Even Thorns head coach Mark Parsons has struck up quite the relationship with Timbers’ manager Giovanni Savarese.“I’m at the training facility and giving someone a tour a couple months ago, showing them around,” Parsons started. “[The Timbers] were in a staff meeting and I said to my guest ‘They look like they’re in a meeting, let’s make sure they don’t catch our eye. Gio will welcome us in and tell us what they’re doing for the weekend and tell us how they’re doing it.’ I know they don’t have that time.”That was a common theme as MLSsoccer.com connected with the four groups that operate both MLS and NWSL clubs, and it’s one that Orlando’s Erik Ustruck echoed. He’s director of soccer operations for Orlando City, plus general manager for the Pride.The clubs’ respective coaches are regularly in touch, Ustruck said, with Pride coach Mark Skinner forming a strong relationship with his counterpart at Orlando City, James O’Connor, before the latter’s dismissal in early October. Both teams use Exploria Stadium, just like those in Houston share BBVA Stadium and the pair in Salt Lake City share Rio Tinto Stadium.“They’re able to bounce ideas off each other and ask what works for both,” Ustruck said of the collaboration between Orlando Pride and Orlando City head coaches. “The men’s and women’s games can be completely different, but I think there are also some similarities. That relationship was a pretty easy one to establish and maintain.”

The business of women’s pro soccer

As aligned as the front-office and technical staffs often are, another theme that emerged was that the fanbases are largely distinct.Andy Carroll, chief business officer in the front office that oversees Real Salt Lake (MLS), Utah Royals (NWSL) and Real Monarchs (USL), said only about 30 percent of Utah Royals season-ticket holders are also RSL season-ticket holders.There’s some overlap, but they’ve found the clubs have entirely different groups to which they market.

“It’s been interesting because we have bifurcated our fanbase and last year we grew soccer consumption in this market 28 percent,” said Carroll, who helped build the Utah Royals on short notice in 2018 following the folding of FC Kansas City. “We gave ourselves a very short runway with it and did something that most organizations wouldn’t do, which is launching a brand new team in four months.“It’s been additive to sponsorship, gives us more games in the stadium, gives us an entire narrative of being a constant soccer conversation in Salt Lake and throughout Utah. That will drive the overall business.”Portland and Houston echoed similar figures for fan overlap, though they all agreed that more growth is needed as the NWSL enters a pivotal stage. The 2019 World Cup bump is alive and well, with Budweiser signing a multi-year sponsorship deal with the NWSL and the league reaching a short-term deal with ESPN to air games domestically and internationally through season’s end.But Paulson said a post-World Cup “lift” is needed, not just a “bounce.” That means a longer TV deal, more sponsorships, more media attention, increased attendance and more investment. The whole nine yards.“Any time you have success at the national team level, people can fall back and think it’s going to be a different trajectory, and that’s not always the case,” Paulson said. “People need to make sure that they’re continuing to build and positioning themselves for growth, not just in the several games or the remainder of the season, but the next season and the season after that.”

What the future holds

Everyone agreed there’s no silver bullet, though Brooks argues that more can be done with marketing players of all backgrounds.“You have the best player in the world in Sam Kerr playing in Chicago and she’s not a U.S. national team player, but she’s known and she’s a great player,” Brooks said. “If clubs, if the league in general think of us more as assets with great individual stories and different selling points, that’s something that could push us forward more.”From Carroll’s perspective, it comes down to serious investment across the board.“There has to be a commitment from the overall soccer community that this is the right thing to do,” Carroll said. “It’s very similar to where MLS was when RSL came on board when you hear commissioner [Don] Garber talk about where the league was. So the owners, like Dell Loy [Hansen] did with launching a team all-in across four months — you need that commitment.”Now, as the NWSL seeks to capitalize on the USWNT’s latest World Cup victory, it’s clear that MLS-backed clubs will continue to play an important role. Houston Dash and Dynamo president of business operations John Walker noted that expansion interest has never been higher.“There are direct conversations with some franchises who might be far down the line in the thought process,” Walker said. “Probably every MLS team has had an inkling or notion to jump in, but some are more ready than others.”Walker confirmed that “a couple” have gone in-depth with Houston on evaluating the idea, while Carroll said Utah has “kicked the tires” with two other clubs.“There are extreme synergies and efficiencies whether you’re an MLS team or a USL team in operating an NWSL team that an independent operator doesn’t have,” Paulson said. “It does make it easier, there’s no question about it.”

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN DEFEATS NEW YORK RED BULLS II IN USL CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFFS OPENER

By IndyEleven.com, 10/26/19, 11:15PM EDT

Defender Karl Ouimette’s First Half Finish Marks Only Goal Needed in Eleven’s Return to IUPUI Carroll Stadium

Indy Eleven leaned on its trademark stout defense in tonight’s USL Championship Playoffs opener against New York Red Bulls II, so fittingly it was a goal by defender Karl Ouimette that made the ultimate difference in a 1-0 victory in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal showdown.The victory for the #3 seed Indy Eleven in its return to IUPUI Carroll Stadium set up an away fixture in the Conference Semifinal round next weekend at #2 seed Nashville SC, which defeated Charleston Battery 3-1 this evening. The date and time for next weekend’s match is still to be announced.“It wasn’t really one guy, and that’s how it needs to be in the playoffs,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The guys who came on did well. They replaced guys who put everything into the game. Everyone did their job and did it well. A clean sheet and goal for a defender was fun.”In a tightly played contest, it was a stroke of brilliance by Ouimette in the 27th minute that moved  the scoreboard, his sidewinding effort set up by a smooth touch by midfielder Macca King squeezing just inside the far left post past diving Red Bulls II goalkeeper Evan Louro. Indy Eleven ‘keeper Jordan Farr made two saves on the evening, none more important than his stop on Sean Nealis’ header from close range in the 88th minute.“It means a lot. It just shows the direction we are going right now,” said Ouimette. “It just shows that now we can win and we can win in important moments. Obviously, we are going to try and continue on that path. It just shows how confident we are, how good we are, and the willingness to win we have.”Both squads came out with plenty of energy, but also looked to feel out not only each other, but the Carroll Stadium turf that was foreign to the participants. The 27th minute goal was set up at midfield by defender Paddy Barrett’s pinpoint, slicing diagonal to King, whose fourth assist of the season set up Ouimette’s volley, his third goal of the season and his first using his feet in two seasons with the squad.

Windy weather would limit chances in the first half with the Ouimette’s goal acting as the most mentionable action in the first stanza. Indy created the bulk of the chances in the choppy start, outshooting Red Bulls II 3-2 by the end of the first 45 minutes.The first 10 minutes of the second half were just as difficult when it came to creating looks towards frame. As a result, both sides worked to make the most out of set pieces, a Red Bulls II corner in the 50th minute being squandered while Indy defender Ayoze saw his free kick five minutes later seeking danger but finishing over the endline.Pressure from the Boys in Blue nearly paid in the 70th minute. After a pair of enticing back-to-back corners from Indy, Kelly took a crack at a clean look on goal, but the Jamaican’s left-footed strike from just outside the box carried over the crossbar.Six minutes later, Indy midfielder Tyler Pasher nearly “cued the smoke” after a ball played in freed the Canadian inside the box. Despite his speed, NYRBII goalkeeper Evan Louro was quick off his line to deny Indy’s goal leader in 2019 an opportunity.Red Bulls II created its best chance of the match in the 88th minute, again from a corner kick. New York defender Jordan Nealis got his head on the end of a ball played to the penalty spot, but Indy ‘keeper Jordan Farr collected the effort as he looked to record his first playoff clean sheet.New York would not seriously threaten during four minutes of stoppage time, resulting in Indy Eleven walking away with a playoff win for the second time in six seasons, and its first time since November 5, 2016, also at “The Mike.”“Really happy. I think that is the overwhelming emotion. All of our fans celebrated and seeing what it means to them was really fun. It’s fun to win big games. You notice how much it means for the organization,” stated Rennie.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvNY

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
(#3) Indy Eleven  1 : 0  New York Red Bulls II (#6)    Saturday, October 26, 2019 – 7:30 p.m. ET       Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.    Attendance: 5,175

Scoring Summary:
IND – Karl Ouimette (Macauley King) 27’

Indy Eleven lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Jordan Farr; Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze, Drew Conner, Tyler Gibson, Kenney Walker, Macauley King; Dane Kelly (Matt Watson 76’), Tyler Pasher (Cristian Novoa 85’)

IND Substitutes: Holden Brown (GK), Nicolas Perea, Mitchell Osmond, Eugene Starikov, Ilija Ilic

New York Red Bulls II lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Evan Louro; Rece Buckmaster, Allen Yanes (Janos Loebe 50’), Sean Nealis, Jordan Scarlett; Jean-Christophe Koffi, Christopher Lema, Jared Stroud, Vincent Bezecourt (captain) (Omar Sowe 77’); Mathias Jorgensen (Sebastian Elney 72’), Tom Barlow

NY Substitutes:  Rashid Nuhu (GK), Ben Mines, Preston Kilwien, Kyle Zajec

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

10/24/19 Indy 11 host Playoffs @ Mike Sat, MLS Playoffs El Traffico Thur 10 pm, Carmel Girls to Semi-State Sat

MLS Playoffs – El Traffico Thur Night 10:30 pm LAFC vs LA Galaxy -Zlattan Ibra vs Carlo Vela

I have to give MLS Credit – the one and done approach for Playoffs has really been a huge hit.  The first round game – gave us 3 overtime games and tons of goals being scored as teams put everything into each game.  2 Games were 4-3 thrillers as all but one home team won their games  – which gives more meaning to the season long results. While I love the Champions League 2 game (1 home and 1 away) – I think for these playoffs – the Excitement generated and the quality of the games – gives credence to a fantastic change for MLS. Folks if you haven’t tuned in – you missed some really great games.  I watched the two 4-3 thrillers including the Dallas vs Seattle game that featured a goal by Carmel High Grad Matt Hedges and a hat trick by Sounders and US winger Jordan Morris for the win in front of a packed house at Seattle’s Century Link field.  Of course I also watched Ibra and LA become the only road team to advance when they took on newcomer Minnesota United 2-0 setting up EL TRAFFICO – PLAYOFFO !!  Tickets are going for over $350 at LAFC’s Banc of California stadium for this classic.  Of course LAFC has NEVER beaten the Galaxy – including 2 draws at home – 1 of which I was at.  I can tell you the 3252 fan section is legit – as that is where we stood for our El Traffico experience last summer.  Set the DVR or turn it on live at 10:30 pm on ESPN as the best 2 players in the League  – Zlattan Ibrahimovich for the Galaxy vs MLS MVP Carlos Vela for the BEST TEAM in MLS this season LAFC.  Video Review.  Not to leave poor Atlanta United out – the defending MLS Champions and last season’s leading scorer Josef Martinez will host the Philly Union at 8 pm on ESPN 2 at 8 pm.

Indy 11

Huge 2-1 win for our Indy 11 at Carmel FC GK Coach Jordan Farr again had a standout night in the victory with numerous great saves!  Our Indy Eleven will host a First Round Playoff Game this Saturday night vs NY Red Bulls 2 at the MIKE – Carroll Stadium at IUPUI. The return to their former home for the playoffs should make for added excitement – as the Brick Yard Battalion section has already sold out – and the more intimate stadium might well sell out as well – so get those tickets early!!  The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be live locally on MyINDY-TV 23.  ESPN+.  Tickets for the first Home playoff game in years remain available for as little as $15 by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100. You can watch all the USL Playoff action on ESPN+.

NWSL Ladies FINALS Sunday

The NWSL has reached the Finals of their playoffs with the game on ESPN2 on Sunday as the Defending Champs North Carolina Courage with US star Heather O’Reilly host the Chicago Red Stars with US Goalkeeper Alysa Neurer and world’s best player Sam Kerr of Australia at 4:30 pm on the Duece.

Carmel High Girls on to Semi-State

The defending State Champion Carmel High Girls defeated Lawrence North 7-0 and Avon 2-0 last weekend to advance on to Semi-State this weekend at 5 pm in Evansville where they will face Castle on Saturday.  Great to see so many former Carmel FC girls both starting and playing well.  Good luck lady Hounds!  See Story Below.

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Defending State Champs Carmel High head on to Semi-States Saturday in Evansville.

GAMES ON TV

Thurs, Oct 24

8 pm Fox ESPN2                Atlanta United vs Philly Union – MLS East Semi

10:30 pm ESPN                  LAFC vs LA Galaxy MLS West Semi – El Traffico

Fri, Oct 25

3 pm NBCSN                                      Southampton vs Leicester City

Sat, Oct 26

7:30 am NBCSN                                Man City vs Aston Villa

9 am ESPN+                                       Juventus vs SPAL

9:30 am Fox sports2                       Schalke (Mckkiney) vs Dortmund

12:30 pm NBC              .?                 Burnley vs Chelsea 

12:30 pm FS2                                   Beyarn Leverkusen vs Werder Bremen (Sargeant)

3 pm beIN Sport                               Atletico Madrid vs Atheltic Club

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls II (Playoffs) 

Sun, Oct 27

7:30 am NBCSN                                Newcastle (Yedlin) vs Wolverhampton

11:30 ??                                            Arsenal vs Crystal Palace

11:30 am NBCSN               Liverpool vs Tottenham

12 noon ESPN+                                 Roma vs Milan

12:30 pm FS1                                   Borussia MGladbach (Johnson) vs Frankfurt

4;30 pm ESPN2                  North Carolina Courage vs Chicago Red Stars – NWSLadies Final

Tues, Oct 29

3:45 pm EPSN+                                 Man City vs Southampton – League Cup

4:!5pm  beIN Sport                          Real Madrid vs Leganes

7 pm Fox Sport 1               Eastern Conference Finals  (MLS Playoffs)

WEds, Oct 30

3:45 pm EPSN+                                 Man City vs Southampton – League Cup

4:!5pm  beIN Sport                          Barcelona vs Real Valladiolid

7 pm Fox Sport 1               Western Conference Finals  (MLS Playoffs)

7 pm Fox Sport 2               U-17 World Cup USA vs Japan 

Indy 11

Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr with some good Saves in last game

Indy 11 Beats Swope Park Rangers 2-1 to claim 3rd place Playoff Slot

Indy 11 to Host Post Season Game at Carroll Stadium

Which Indy 11 Team will show for Playoffs – Indy Star – Kevin Johnson

·        Road to the 2019 USL Championship Final Unveiled

League’s ninth season to conclude Sunday, November 17 in primetime on ESPN2

USL Playoffs Bracket Challenge

US Power Rankings Week 33

USL Save of the Week 33

MLS Playoffs
EL TRAFICO –EL PLAYOFFO Promo

EL TRAFFICO – The Game Everyone Wanted – eSPNFC

Tickets for MLS Cup Playoffs version of LAFC-LA Galaxy are hottest of the MLS season

Bell: New playoff format delivers insanity, drama
A lion among men: Where Zlatan ranks in DP history
— Marshall: Vela lives up to the hype of a prodigy

It had to be the Galaxy”: Bradley relishing chance to overcome LA rivals

LAFC have smashed MLS Records in Year 2 – yet to beat Galaxy Though ESPNfC

The 3 big lineup decisions facing ATL’s de Boer

Josef Martinez is your 2019 AT&T Goal of the Year winner

Bob Bradley wins 2019 Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year

Morris takes home Comeback Player of the Year award

Real Salt Lake-Sounders Preview

Galaxy beat Minnesota United 2-1, move on to face LAFC


Red Stars defeat Thorns 1-0 to reach NWSL championship

Thorns FC’s struggles continue in postseason, fall in NWSL Semifinal

Once primed for a home semifinal game, Portland Thorns FC continued to struggle and it doomed their season.

Champions League

Pulisic sets up Game Winner for Chelsea In Champions League

Lampard Hails Pulisic as Chelsea Babies Come of Age in Win – ESPNFC

– Ames: Chelsea’s young team comes of age in gritty win
– Chelsea Player Ratings: Batshuayi 8/10, Pulisic 7/10
Chelsea grab huge win late on at Ajax

Lampard proud of ‘best win’ as Chelsea manager

Sterling, Mbappe light up Champions League with hat-tricks while Spurs claim key win

Dybala double rescues Juventus against Lokomotiv Moscow
Kane, Son double up to reawaken Tottenham’s Champions League challenge

Dybala scores 2 as Juventus rallies to beat Lokomotiv 2-1

Substitute Mbappe gets hat trick, PSG routs Club Brugge 5-0

Neuer annoyed as Bayern need Lewandowski double to win at Olympiakos

– Hunter: Real shouldn’t fire Zidane, they should promote him

EPL 

Man United Hiring of Solskjaer is a Warning to Other Clubs – ESPN

– Miller: Kane becomes Tottenham’s playmaker-in-chief
– Ogden: Are Man United bold enough to go for Kane?
Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal

PGMOL explained that the incident did not represent a clear & obvious error.
Liverpool winning streak ends with draw at United

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Defending State Champs Carmel High head on to Semi-States Saturday in Evansville.

El Trafico rivalry hits MLS playoffs: Vela vs. Zlatan is exactly what fans want

oah DavisESPN

Great rivalries are supposed to develop over time. Players come and go, fans grow old and bring their children, the games continue. Longevity is the appeal.The New York Red Bulls and D.C. United have played 95 times since 1996, with United prevailing 43 times and winning 13 Atlantic Cup titles to the Red Bulls’ 11. The Seattle Sounders-Portland Timbers rivalry dates to Seattle’s 1-0 win over their southern foes on May 2, 1975. In total, they’ve played 102 matches across 44 years and five leagues, which equates to roughly three generations of bad blood and bruising tackles.AThen there’s LA Galaxy vs. LAFC. It will have been just 572 days since the start of El Trafico when the two squads meet in the Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday at Banc of California Stadium (10:30 p.m. ET, watch live on ESPN). It took a little more than 18 months for these matchups to morph into one of MLS’ strongest, tensest and most entertaining rivalries, with this week’s game — the first with real stakes — promising to add to the rapidly developing plot. Get your tickets if you can.It’s remarkable how quickly El Trafico has become a thing, but it shouldn’t be all that surprising. Consider the squads. The Galaxy always thought of themselves as MLS’ glamour franchise. They wanted to be the U.S.’s answer to Real Madrid, an American Galacticos that could export itself internationally. This is the team of David Beckham and Hollywood, a five-time MLS Cup winner that never wavered in its ambition, even if the results on the field suffered. The team projected style and class and largesse, regardless of results.Then LAFC showed up, all black-clad and badass, bringing a downtown cool. This team was a startup that had history with the Chivas USA fanbase, only with a team and a front office that made all the right decisions. Banc of California Stadium, located just off the freeway and near public transportation, exudes confidence and embodies what MLS needs to be in 2019 and beyond. If the Galaxy wore the crown, LAFC were coming for it — and coming for it fast.The games between the two helped. In that first match, Carlos Vela scored in the fifth minute and again in the 26th while a Galaxy own goal saw LAFC jump to a 3-0 lead. The Galaxy clawed back through Sebastian Lletget, then Chris Pontius, down a goal with 15 minutes to play. Enter The Lion. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, less than 48 hours removed from landing at LAX, scored a laser from deep in the 77th minute, then won the game in stoppage time.”Since an MLS Cup, I haven’t felt that much energy,” Andrew Alesana, a capo for Galaxy supporter group the Riot Squad, said of the match.In the July rematch, LAFC again jumped to a 2-0 lead, only to watch goals from Romain Alessandrini and Ola Kamara after the 82nd minute tie the match. In August, Zlatan scored first, Vela tallied a penalty kick, and the teams tied. The Galaxy finished 2018 one point out of the playoffs, and those three matches with LAFC were the highlights.Move to 2019, and there’s a narrative that LAFC can’t beat their rivals. A 3-2 loss at Dignity Health Sports Park did nothing to change that, especially considering that Bob Bradley’s side had been the best team in the league by far up to that point. A wild 3-3 late August affair, featuring five first-half goals and a 53rd-minute equalizer from Vela, was the last match before Thursday’s meeting. Tally so far: two Galaxy wins, three draws and zero LAFC victories.hat’s fun and all, but a good rivalry needs more than exciting games to attract the casual fan. It needs characters and villains. El Trafico succeeds there, too.

It starts with the big man. Ibrahimovic talks the talk and walks the walk. He’s a physical specimen unlike any other that MLS has seen, a goal scorer nonpareil and kind of a jerk in the (mostly) most wonderful ways. There’s a real venom in his comments about LAFC, an obvious dislike that occasionally crosses the line. On the other side, there’s Vela, an elite enigma with the league’s best left foot hidden behind a grinning, aloof expression. He’s the MLS equivalent of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — maddening, brilliant, whatever. Ibrahimovic and Vela get there in different ways, but they are equally captivating, and the rivalry benefits.As for the name, well, El Trafico is a name that’s perfect, dumb and perfectly dumb. Bob Bradley isn’t into it, and that’s fine. He’s probably not wrong. It is silly. But it’s memorable and special, too, something that stands out in a league dominated by FC this and United that. It is, like the rivalry itself, growing into something special.Seattle vs. Portland boasts the history and the passion, and the Cascadia Cup is a thing of North American soccer brilliance. The Atlantic Cup, contested between D.C. United and New York Red Bulls, has some of that same flair. Same goes for the California Clasico (LA Galaxy vs. San Jose), Hudson River Derby (NYCFC vs. New York Red Bulls), Rocky Mountain Cup (Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids) and, even now, Hell is Real between FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew SC. These all have their moments, occupying special places in the hearts and minds of an MLS club’s most rabid supporters.  But if you’re a neutral, El Trafico is perfecto.

Indiana high school soccer regional roundup: Top-ranked Carmel girls, Zionsville boys advance

Staff reportsPublished 10:40 p.m. ET Oct. 19, 2019 | Updated 12:00 p.m. ET Oct. 20, 2019

Saturday’s IHSAA soccer regional finals involving Indianapolis-area teams:

Carmel 3, Avon 0: When Kelsie James needs motivation, she looks down at her armsOn the underside of her left forearm, written in black Sharpie, the letters “FTB” are on her wrist, dedicated to the Carmel boys soccer team, which was knocked out of the sectional tournament by Zionsville last week in the semifinals.A symbol of solidarity, James says, as the top-ranked Class 3A Carmel girls continue to steamroll toward the state finals in their honor.Next to those three letters is “Mamaw,” reserved for her grandma, who passed away during her junior season a year ago. On the Carmel senior’s right arm, in all capital letters, is where her and her teammates’ hearts are focused, right now, in this moment.

HARGIS.

Mike Hargis, the father of Elizabeth Hargis, who is currently at Mercer after helping the Greyhounds win a 10th state title last year, owns that spot on the Valparaiso recruit’s arm.“Her dad has been in the hospital since August, waiting for a heart transplant,” James explained. “I’m really close with the family, so I’ve had him on my arm all season. A lot of the players have Hargis written. Our goalie has it written on her leg.”When Susie Soderstrom stole the ball in the 14thminute and fired the New Palestine regional championship’s first goal into the net on Saturday night, it was for Hargis.After the Greyhounds defeated the Orioles 3-0 for their 15th regional title in program history and 17th win this season, it was for family.“Elizabeth was really close to a lot of us, and Mike was a big part of it. He would announce during our games at home. The Hargis family is really close to all of us,” James said. “We like to keep ourselves reminded and play for him.”The Greyhounds gave everything they had in the title game, rolling toward their 12th shutout victory with Erin Baker in net and a 10-goal day after defeating Lawrence North 7-0 in the regional semifinal.“I love the game and this team especially. We’re all like sisters out there, and it’s an amazing feeling to keep winning with them,” James said. “Our motivation is that we’re all so close, and we don’t want our season to end. We want to keep playing together. We don’t want to go back to club season and all go to different teams. We want to keep driving and working hard, so we can stay together.”For one more game, they will be and if tradition holds true, they will be for two more and possibly the program’s first back-to-back state title runs since winning five straight from 2000-2004.“We’re always trying to win a state championship. That’s my expectation. That’s their expectation,” Carmel head coach Frank Dixon said. “But sometimes, it’s bad. We’ve had a great year. We haven’t lost a game, and if we would lose one of these next two, then we feel like we didn’t have a great year, and they shouldn’t feel that way, but that’s the way they will take it, if they can’t run it all the way through.”At 17-0-3 so far, the Greyhounds have never tasted defeat, and with their motto of “Back For More,” they don’t intend to this October.James made sure of it with an assist to Emma Antoine for the Greyhounds’ insurance goal with 23:21 left in the second half. She later added the team’s 54th goal this season (vs. only six allowed) in the 62nd minute off a free kick to make it 3-0.“Last year’s state championship really helped us prove to ourselves that we can get through our sectional and we can push all the way,” James said. “That drove us this year.”Along with Hargis.Friends with the Hargis’ since she was 6, James calls Elizabeth and her brother Charles, family. Much like both boys and girls program’s themselves. It’s more than a game. It’s tradition.“FTB means, for the boys because our boys lost in sectional. Both soccer teams support each other a lot. We come to each other’s games,” James said. “Every win is for (Hargis) and our family.” — Rich Torres

 

Tickets for MLS Cup Playoffs version of LAFC-LA Galaxy are hottest of the MLS season

October 23, 20196:22PM EDTAlex DwyerContributor

LOS ANGELES – For Thursday’s version of El Trafico (10:30 pm ET | ESPN in US; TVAS, TSN4 in Canada) in the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, the media credential requests have already exceeded 300, according to a club source.That’s a staggering number in and of itself, but what about ticket prices for the Western Conference Semifinal clash between LAFC and the LA Galaxy? Tom Penn, president and co-owner of LAFC, has seen how high those figures are.“It’s not unlike our last El Trafico, where the demand for tickets is just super high,” Penn told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. Exactly how high are we talking?

LAFC vs. LA Galaxy

Thursday, October 24 at 10:30pmBanc of California StadiumGET TICKETS

According to SeatGeek, the league’s official ticketing partner, as of Wednesday evening the lowest-priced ticket was just under $160, with the highest one listed at just over $750. The average resale price for the game is $307. Those numbers easily make it the hottest game of the MLS season, with the next being the regular-season matchup between these L.A. rivals in late August (average resale price of $214). In fact, SeatGeek indicated that the last matches to garner a higher average resale price were the 2017 MLS Cup final between Toronto and Seattle (average resale price of $336) and the 2018 MLS Cup final between Atlanta and Portland (average resale price of $308).But even before LAFC knew they’d be facing their rivals from down the 110 Freeway, most tickets had already been purchased.“The vast majority of our tickets were already sold prior to the playoffs beginning, because such a high percentage of members took all their seats [for the postseason],” said Penn. “Like any other first-rate event in LA, it really rewards the people who are season-ticket holders because the members of LAFC have those tickets at a deep discount for what the market says the value is, which is great.”With the limited inventory left, LAFC have accommodated an estimated 300 visiting Galaxy supporters for the marquee matchup that again pits MVP finalists Carlos Vela against Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The game comes days after the 2019 NBA season opened with the Clippers beating the Lakers, 112-102, bringing together stars like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard at the Staples Center. Tickets for that marquee matchup hovered at or below the asking price for the postseason El Trafíco.That also doesn’t surprise Penn, who worked extensively in the front office of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. “I went to that game last night,” Penn said of the Clippers-Lakers meeting. “Our event is more exciting and better.”For both regional and national attention – not to mention the global eyeballs that Vela and Ibrahimovic bring to the table – it’s shaping up to be a memorable LA night. And odds are as the game nears, ticket prices will continue to climb.“It was really surprising to us, the last [match against the Galaxy], how high the value was [on the secondary market],” said Penn. “It’s a real good sign for the health of MLS here.”

Frank Lampard hails Christian Pulisic as Chelsea’s ‘babies’ come of age

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic was left out of the squad entirely when they beat Lille in the Champions League earlier this month, but the 21-year-old’s career sprang to life against Ajax Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The forward joined Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund for a fee of around €64 million in the close season to become the most expensive American player in history but has struggled for minutes, making only three Premier League starts. Pulisic gave manager Frank Lampard a timely reminder of his talent by setting up fellow substitute Michy Batshuayi to score the winner in Chelsea’s 1-0 triumph over last year’s semifinalists Ajax at the Johan Cruijff Arena.

– Ames: Chelsea’s young team comes of age in gritty win
– Chelsea Player Ratings: Batshuayi 8/10, Pulisic 7/10
– Pulisic Watch: How U.S. star is doing at Chelsea, game by game

– Who will qualify from the UCL group stage?

“Sometimes the toughest part of management is leaving out players that really want to play week-in, week-out. You rely on them being positive and coming on to make an impact,” Lampard told reporters.”You have to give Christian huge credit because he looked so lively and the assist is just as important as the finish.”Pulisic had admitted to being frustrated by limited playing time, with the media speculating that he could leave Chelsea on loan during the January transfer window.”I’ve tried to shut my ears to a lot of the outside talk … I understand his quality, his young age and the fact that it’s a big move for him,” Lampard said.”He wants to know what I want from him, what the Premier League is like and that’s not always an easy ride but we’ve stayed calm and kept looking at the big picture.”Lampard said the result, which left Chelsea with six points after three games in Group H, had set the benchmark for his youthful side.”It feels huge. That always scares me because there’s a lot to do and it’s just six points halfway through the group now, but we’re entitled to be excited,” he said.”It can be a bit of a blueprint for us in terms of the work from the midfield players which was outstanding … but there’s no excuses for us now to dip from that.”The younger players are still babies in Champions League minutes so this was a huge test … but the balance of our team between young players … and experienced players who they rely on to set examples was good.”

Who will qualify from the Champions League group stage?

6:21 PM ET  Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

The Champions League group stage has reached the halfway stage, but who is best placed to make it through to the knockout rounds?We look at each group, with the top two going through and third dropping into the Europa League.

GROUP A

Paris Saint-Germain have won all three game and will be through if they avoid defeat at home to Club Brugge — who they beat 5-0 in Belgium — at the Parc des Princes on Nov. 6. They would also be through with a loss if Real Madrid vs. Galatasaray is a draw.

Real Madrid have had a poor campaign so far, and only got their first win away to Galatasaray on Matchday 3. They only have a two-point advantage in second, but victory at home to Galatasaray next time out, coupled with defeat for Brugge in France, would almost have them over the line.

– Hunter: Sack Zidane? Madrid should promote him

Club Brugge and Galatasaray, who will be eliminated if they lose at the Bernabeu, are most likely to be battling it out for a place in the Europa League, unless either can pull off a shock on Matchday 4.

ESPN FC’s Julien Laurens revels in Kylian Mbappe’s performance off the bench in PSG’s 5-0 win vs. Club Brugge.

GROUP B

Like PSG, Bayern Munich have dominated their group, having won all three matches, and a draw at home to Olympiakos in the next fixture will qualify them.

Tottenham Hotspur go into Matchday 4 in second place but with much work to do, one point ahead of Red Star Belgrade. They next travel to Red Star, who they beat 5-0 at home, and victory, together with a win for Bayern over Olympiakos, would give them a four-point advantage. A win at home to Olympiakos on Matchday 5 would then see them through. But fail to win in Serbia and the group remains wide open, especially as Spurs finish their group campaign away to Bayern.

Red Star Belgrade still have two home games left, with Spurs and Bayern to visit, so cannot be ruled out, but Olympiakos look an outside bet as they must visit Germany and England in their next two games and only have one point.

Steve Nicol says Tottenham’s win vs. Red Star will have Mauricio Pochettino rethinking his plan for Liverpool.

GROUP C

Manchester City have a 100% record and are all but assured of progressing. Victory away to Atalanta in their next game will complete the job.

Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk both have four points, and much will depend on the meeting of the two sides in Croatia on Nov. 6 — especially as the winners would go clear and hold the head to head between the sides. A draw would probably leave qualification down to how the teams perform against Atalanta, with Shakhtar having a home fixture against the Serie A side.

Atalanta have lost all three matches and will be eliminated if they lose at home to Man City and there is a winner between Dinamo and Shakhtar. If Atalanta can shock City, or if Dinamo and Shakhtar draw again, there is the outside chance of a late challenge for second place.

GROUP D

Juventus and Atletico Madrid top the group on seven points, having drawn with each other and beaten both group rivals.

Juve will be through with a win over Lokomotiv Moscow on Matchday 4, while Atletico can advance with a victory at Bayer Leverkusen as long as Juve win too.

Lokomotiv have four points to make up on the top two and may need to take something from their home game against Juve to stay in contention, and realistically need to win with a trip to Atletico on the final matchday.

Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen have yet to record a point and will be eliminated with defeat at home to Atleti. It is more likely to be a battle for a Europa League place with Lokomotiv, and Leverkusen to visit Moscow on Matchday 5.

GROUP E

Napoli lead the group on seven points, and will qualify with a win at home to FC Salzburg on Nov. 5 as long as Genk do not win at Anfield.

– Reddy: Oxlade, Keita provide options in midfield

Liverpool are second, a point further back, and will also move to the brink of qualification if they beat Genk but they cannot get over the line.

FC Salzburg have been one of the success stories of the competition this season, but still look unlikely to emerge from the group. Should Salzburg lose at Napoli, and Liverpool win against Genk, the Austrians would need to win their two remaining games, and Liverpool lose both, to go through.

Bottom club Genk have only one point and will be out if they lose at Liverpool and Napoli avoid defeat.

GROUP F

Barcelona sit top of the table, three points ahead of Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund.

Barca cannot seal their place in the knockout stages when they host Slavia Prague on Nov. 5, but victory will leave them needing just a point to be absolutely certain.Inter are looking good after winning at home to Borussia Dortmund, and they know that a victory in Germany next time will put them in a very strong position. Dortmund’s chances may rest on winning at home to Inter, as a draw would leave them behind the Serie A side on the head-to-head rule going into the final two games. Dortmund still must go to Barcelona, while Inter will host the Spaniards.

Slavia Prague sit on one point and will be all but eliminated should they lose and there is a winner between Dortmund and Inter.

GROUP G

RB Leipzig hold top spot in what is a very tight group, with three points separating the four teams. Victory for Leipzig at Zenit Saint Petersburg on Nov. 5 would move them to the brink of a place in the round of 16. If Zenit win that game, however, and the group will remaining wide open — especially if there’s a victor in the other match between Lyon and Benfica to truncate the picture even further.

Realistically, Benfica may be out of contention if they lose in Lyon on Matchday 4.

GROUP H

Ajax and Chelsea share top spot in the group on six points, with the two teams meeting next at Stamford Bridge on Nov. 5. If Chelsea can get the home win, they will almost be over the line due to their superior head to head with Ajax and would need a point at Valencia on Matchday 5 to qualify.

– Ames: Chelsea’s young team comes of age

A win in London for Ajax would be almost as decisive and, as long as Valencia do not win at home to Lille, a point in France on Nov. 27 would put them through.