10/18/19  MLS Playoffs Start Sat, Indy 11 to host Playoff Game next Sat at the MIKE, US Men lose to Canada, Carmel High Girls on to Regionals

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!  Dane scored the winner late as the 11 secured their 3rd place finish in USL Championship division.  Our Indy Eleven will host a First Round Playoff Game next Saturday night at the MIKE – Carroll Stadium. 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.

MLS Playoffs Start this Saturday

So its MLS Playoff time – and for the life of me I can’t understand how all the games are not on network TV? Wow we just aren’t there yet are we?  The games are on ESPN+ if not one of the big games on TV.  – the first round playoff games are 1 game affairs at the home of the higher ranked team – so positioning really matters.  Lose 1 and you are going home.  So the LA Galaxy last home loss sends them to expansion side Minnesota United for their first round game!  Other intriguing matchups include Philly hosting NY Red Bulls and Seattle traveling to FC Dallas and Carmel Alum Matt Hedges.

NWSL Ladies Semi-FINALS Sunday

The NWSL has reached the Semi-Finals of their playoffs with both games on ESPN2 on Sunday as the North Carolina Courage host Reign FC at 2 pm while the Chicago Red Stars host the Portland Thorns at 4 pm also on the Duece.

US Loses to Canada

Canada 2- USA 0 – that’s not a typo folks.  Yes the US Men’s National Team lost 2-0 in Toronto in a Nations League game in Toronto.  The first lost to Canada by the US Men since 1985 – yes 1985 – the year  I graduated for high school.  Canada deserved the win and quite honestly could have won by more as they were definitively the better team.  On a night when America’s shining light Christian Pulisic pulled a disappearing act so bad he was pulled in the 60th minute in a game where he didn’t complete 10 passes. Its only a Nations League game – but honestly this rivals the loss to Trinidad and Tobago 2 years ago that knocked us out of the World Cup?  Analyst Taylor Twellman was not wrong when he said after the game – the US has some serious questions to answer.  After some moments and games where it looked like Berhalter ball was beginning to take a shape – tonight EVERYTHING fell apart?  Yedlin was horrible at right back and partially responsible for the first goal as he simply didn’t care to defend the back post on a well crossed ball.  Not sure he should be on the field for the US again anytime soon.  But it wasn’t just Yedlin – the entire team was horrific save perhaps Center Back Aaron Long.  Sloppy balls, poor passing, almost no 50/50 wins and it looked like they really didn’t want to be there – much less playing a soccer game vs a Canadian team playing for their lives.  Yes Canada looked good – but this was more about the US looking like it had no clue – and didn’t much care to play on this night.  No fight – no leadership, no one seemed to care. I am not sure if Berhalter has ALREADY LOST THIS TEAM – or they just weren’t mentally ready to play – but its not a good sign for a US team  – which at this point – might have a hard time qualifying for the next World Cup – AGAIN!  Oh the US did beat Cuba 7-0 on Friday night – making one wonder why National League in CONCACAF even exists – I am pretty sure our U15 boys team could have challenged this Cuba team.  The US returns to play in mid-November – Berhalter best get his team together by then – losing to Concacaf teams not named Mexico or Costa Rica is simply not acceptable !!

Carmel High Girls on to Regionals

The defending State Champions defeated Guerin High at home last weekend 2-0 to advance on to the Regional this weekend at New Palistine on Saturday.  Good luck lady Hounds!

 

Canada played with emotion and we failed to match it, say humbled US national team

October 16, 20191:10PM EDT

James GrossiContributor

TORONTO – It’s never fun to be on the wrong side of history.The US men’s national team lost a tough one on Tuesday night in Toronto, falling 2-0 to Canada in Concacaf Nations League action, a result that sees the Canadians remain top of Group A ahead of November’s final round and marks their first defeat to their northern neighbors in 34 years.“The first thing that stands out to me was desire, the desire of Canada,” said USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter post-match. “Give them credit, but the minimum we expect is to match that. We need to compete on every single play in games like this.”Matching that aspect of a contest is the baseline.“It’s very disappointing,” said Christian Pulisic. “It’s one thing that we can control.”Added Berhalter: “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. Sloppiness with the ball, too many miscontrolled touches, too many missed passes. Too many things we normally make that we weren’t making tonight.”As the first match played outside of the US under Berhalter, the trip to BMO Field was a new experience for the group.”I wouldn’t make a statement about the program based on this game,” he said. “The reason why is that these games are difficult. It was never going to be easy and come here and win the game. There was no way. When you look at their team, when at their quality, when you look at where they are right now, it wasn’t going to be an easy game. We have to accept that. I think all of us have to accept that.”We wanted to win the game, and hopefully we’re going to keep improving and hopefully we’re going to start winning games on the road, but tonight wasn’t the night to do it.”While the US had their chances – most notably Pulisic when Jordan Morris squared to his wide-open teammate deep in the hosts’ penalty box in the second half – from basically the opening whistle the balance gradually tipped in Canada’s favor.“[Canada] put a lot into that game, treated it like it was a cup final,” said Michael Bradley. “They stepped up harder, reacted quicker to every loose ball. In all the little ways in a game like that, they were on top of things. We can talk about tactics, this, that, the other. On a night like tonight, over the course of 90 minutes you have one team that, play by play, minute by minute, manages to gain the upper hand and has a better grip because of what they put into it.Absolute SCENES at the full-time whistle!!This was for you, Canada. “We’re disappointed with ourselves,” he concluded. “That we couldn’t do more in terms of better reactions, stepping up harder, coming away with little plays in different parts of the field that make a bigger difference.”hat frustration was most visible when Pulisic was removed in the 60th minute, replaced by Paul Arriola.“He was struggling with flu-like symptoms, light fever for the last two days,” explained Berhalter of his decision. “He wanted to continue, you could see the disappointment in his face. We wanted to inject some energy into the team.”Pulisic admitted to being troubled in recent days, but said he was “fine” and thought, as his reaction indicated, that he had more in the tank.“I still felt like I could help my team,” he said. “No one wants to come out of the game, so I was just frustrated a little bit.”That it was such a physical contest, much more so than the five yellow cards indicated, sets up the November rematch in Orlando, Florida nicely. Berhalter said he’d expected it would be. Who’s moving up and who’s moving down?“Desire leads to physical games, leads to them competing on every single play,” he said. “When you saw the emotion that they played with, guys like [Samuel] Piette, [Steven] Vitoria in the back, these guys were playing with emotion and we didn’t match that.

“It carried them into being physical on every play, sometimes on the borderline of being a little bit dirty, but that’s soccer. That’s how the game is played sometimes,” he added. “We have to come to terms with that side of the game.”The US have two games left in the Nations League next month, first the return fixture against Canada and then an away match against Cuba in the Cayman Islands. To take top spot and move on to the knockout stage of the competition, they will need to win both and score some goals to overcome Canada’s plus-9 goal differential. Until then, they must ruminate on this result and regroup.“We’re going to lose games, we’re going to win games,” summed up Pulisic. “It’s a tough one tonight, but we’re going to be alright. We’re going to move forward.”

Why Sergino Dest should represent Netherlands instead of the U.S.

Oct 10, 2019  Simon KuperESPN.com writer

Oct. 2 was quite a day for Sergino Dest. First, Ajax’s 18-year-old Dutch-American right-back was unexpectedly missing from the U.S. men’s roster announced for the upcoming games against Cuba and Canada. These are competitive matches, in the CONCACAF Nations League, so if Dest had played, he would have been bound to the USMNT rather than the Netherlands for his career. That evening, he played all 90 minutes in Ajax’s 0-3 triumph at Valencia in the Champions League. After the game, he appeared on Dutch TV.Dutch fans hoped he would announce that he had decided to play for their national team. Instead, he said he hadn’t chosen either country yet. “I still need to think longer about both options … It is a decision I have to make for the rest of my life and I want to handle that carefully.”He said he hoped to have a decision by next month. Gregg Berhalter, the U.S. coach, who had previously found Dest “enthusiastic” about playing for the USMNT, now sounded guarded. “I’ve had conversations with Sergino. The conversations were positive, and the content of these conversations is going to remain private,” Berhalter told the Washington Post.The cautious conclusion must be that the Netherlands are favorites to win this race. Certainly, they would be the rational choice for Dest. And though it’s far too early to tell, he may prove a prize worth having for the next 15 years.Dest was born and raised in Almere, a working-class town just outside Amsterdam, with a Dutch mother and a Surinamese-American father from Brooklyn. The first time he set foot in the U.S., on a visit to his dad’s hometown, was in 2014. “At home in Almere we just spoke Dutch,” Dest told the Ajax website. “In fact, a couple of years ago my English was still very mediocre. And I wasn’t thinking about my American roots [until] I started to play in U.S. youth teams. From then on my English improved, and I kept feeling more American. I realised: hey, this is my nationality too. And the U.S. passport is one of the most beautiful in the world.”

Dest had arrived at Ajax from Almere City as a child winger in 2012, and gradually transformed into an attacking right-back. Other Dutch boys’ teams enduring the ritual humiliation at Ajax’s youth complex, De Toekomst in those days, recall him flashing down the touchline, while his teammates queued in the box shouting “Serra,” each begging Dest to grant them the final touch. After every cross, Dest would trot tirelessly back to position and resume his tackling, dribbles and “pannas” (Dutch-Surinamese slang for nutmegs). He was the Everywhere Back, sometimes popping up at center-forward, but for all his activity he made few mistakes, despite being a year younger than his teammates.Yet the Dutch federation didn’t pick Dest for its national youth teams. “I never got a chance,” he says. The U.S. Soccer Federation pounced after Dutchman Dave van den Bergh, then one of the federation’s youth coaches, heard from Ajax about the boy’s American passport. Dest represented the U.S. in the Under-17 World Cup in 2017 (Ajax didn’t wanted him to go) and excelled in the team’s run to the quarterfinals of this summer’s Under-20 World Cup.For a long time, Ajax seemed ambivalent about Dest, possibly because although he’s dedicated, he was also rather headstrong. Even last fall, when he was already 18, he looked headed for the exit in Amsterdam. Only in December did Ajax finally come through with a professional contract.This summer, his career took off. After the Under-20 World Cup, Ajax head coach, Erik ten Hag, requested that Dest be given just 10 days holiday. Ten Hag had plans for him. Dest made his first-team debut in late July, and since then has become a regular, usually as a starter.

You can see why, because he is the full-back that a high-pressing modern side needs. Ten Hag says, “A back at Ajax has to be able to function as a midfielder and winger, too. It’s a very dynamic role. We want to introduce a lot of variation into our game, to surprise opponents.”That’s Dest’s way. He told Amsterdam’s Het Parool newspaper, “I think of myself [as someone who has] a good technique. I don’t get frightened when I get the ball — also not when under pressure, or on the opponents’ half.”His high-risk game gives Ajax an attacking threat from right-back that they lacked even in their extraordinary last season. “Maybe in the past, when I first got into a higher team, I’d take it easy,” Dest says. “But I’ve stopped doing that. Now I show at once what I can do.”In Ajax’s opening Champions League game in September, a 3-0 win over Lille, he produced a roulette through two opponents from the full-back position — a showboating move that Ten Hag may not have enjoyed as much as the fans did. Dest also has the good fortune that his partner on Ajax’s right wing is Hakim Ziyech, a world-class player whose continued presence in the humble Dutch league is a mystery.Dest’s main shortcoming, for now, is that for a defender, he isn’t great at defending. Being the speediest member of Ajax’s back four, he’s essential in snuffing out counter attacks, but he sometimes gets caught out of position. (Ajax’s opening two clean sheets in the Champions League are above all down to keeper Andre Onana, surely headed for a giant club next summer.) Ajax demands that players “defend forward,” that is, charge into challenges to try to win the ball back fast rather than sit back and cover space. Dest has yet to master this difficult art.The consensus in the Netherlands is that he isn’t ready for Oranje. Still, the Dutch federation knows it has to act fast. In September, Berhalter gave him his debut for the USMNT, starting him against Mexico and Uruguay. But these were non-binding friendly games; Dest retains the option to switch to the Netherlands. The Dutch would like to give him a full cap in a competitive match to claim him for life, then let him mature in the under-21s side.The Dutch federation still laments missing out on Ziyech, who trained with Oranje in 2015 before choosing Morocco. It’s determined not to make that mistake again. It is focused on recruiting Dest and the possibly even more talented 17-year-old Dutch-Moroccan Mohamed Ihattaren, PSV Eindhoven’s playmaker who is tearing up the Dutch league.Like the U.S., the Netherlands is short a top-class right-back: PSV’s Denzel Dumfries, who has been filling the role with Oranje, lacks the technique for international level. Netherlands’ coach, Ronald Koeman, and the Dutch FA’s director of “topvoetbal,” Nico-Jan Hoogma, sat down with Dest in September. Hoogma reported afterwards: “You can’t promise someone a first-team place, but you can indicate who their rivals are. Based on our story, Dest has to make a decision.”Koeman said, “I’m not promising anyone anything, but I indicated to him that I see a future for him with the Dutch team. He decided to take his time. That he hasn’t travelled to the U.S. now shows that the issue isn’t decided for him.”The Dutch have a good story to tell. Since the U.S. returned to World Cups, in 1990, the Americans have progressed further than Oranje at a tournament only once, in 2002. (Of course, both countries failed to qualify for 2018 in Russia.) Moreover, if Dest chooses the Netherlands, he won’t have to spend his career making disruptive exhausting trips to play second-rate national teams from the CONCACAF region.On the other hand, Dest has an emotional attachment to the U.S., and the USSF was good to him at youth level when the Dutch FA ignored him. The Americans have a chance. But as battles for binationals become the norm in international soccer, the Dest case ought to be a prompt for the U.S. to ask itself: Why does the tiny fraction of American passport-holders raised in western Europe still produce such a disproportionate share of this giant country’s best players?Meanwhile, in a joint interview on the Ajax website with the U.S.-Mexican Alex Mendez, who plays for Ajax’s reserves, the conflicted Dest turned to Mendez and asked: “What would you do if you were in my shoes?”These decisions are always in part matters of the heart, but the betting must be that Dest chooses Oranje.

Wiebe: Why your team will (or will not) win MLS Cup in 2019

October 17, 20196:07PM EDT

Andrew WiebeSenior Host & Producer

Back in 2017 and 2018, I wrote this column ahead of opening weekend of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Here’s what I had to say about the eventual champions from the past two seasons, edited for brevity…

From 2017…

Toronto FC will win MLS Cup because the best players in the league refuse to be denied this time around. The roster that took them to the brink of an MLS Cup triumph is even better this time around, and lifts the treble (Canadian Championship, Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup).

And now 2018…

Atlanta United will win MLS Cup because nobody can slow down Tata’s Four Horsemen. The Five Stripes wreck opposing defenses on the counter as King Peach pulverizes the league’s top attacks, building on their fourth-best MLS defense from 2017 with the help of a TAM d-mid picked up during the summer.

In summation: NAILED IT, I AM ALL-SEEING

Just ignore the cases I made for all those other, not-championship teams. That stuff absolutely could have happened! The TFC treble absolutely did! And you can’t deny the existence of Almiron and Martinez’s insane partnership (the only two horsemen who matter) and that TAM d-mid did arrive in the summer (Eric Remedi) just as I predicted.

Now that you know I mean business, let’s get down to staring into the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs crystal ball ahead of Saturday and Sunday’s Round One matches. We’re going in alphabetical order so you can’t claim I’m biased in any way.

Atlanta United will win MLS Cup because

… they have the most ruthless, single-minded, voracious goalscorer in MLS. Yes, in a league that boasts Carlos Vela and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, that’s still Josef Martinez. Plus, Darlington Nagbe is capable (yes, I know it’s not an every-game occurrence) of taking over games singlehandedly, and Brad Guzan is more than capable of erasing any defensive mistakes, which is important because…

Miles Robinson is likely to be out until at least MLS Cup with a hamstring injury suffered with the USMNT. That, more than any other, is reason to believe the Five Stripes won’t repeat.

D.C. United will win MLS Cup because

… they strangle the life out of teams defensively – oh my Gawwwwwd, is that Bill Hamid’s music? – and get some breaks. Emotionally, I wanted to predict the return of LuchoRoo. Logically, I just can’t do it. That era is dead, but they’ve got five straight shutouts, harkening back to a different era with a catchy name! The first break came when Jozy Altidore stepped on a defender’s leg and did his quad. Greg Vanney says he won’t be 100 percent for Saturday. Second break, NYCFC won’t play at their usual home, should D.C. get that far.

Why won’t they win it? They can’t score. Fewest goals scored in the playoff field, fourth lowest total (42) in the entire league. Gotta score to win, or just throw up scoreless draws and bang the ball home from the spot, I guess.

FC Dallas will win MLS Cup because

… the Cobra goes absolutely crazy. Zdenek Ondrasek went from a big, fat TAM goose egg from March through August to unstoppable (in MLS and on the international level) from August onward. That, and Paxton Pomykal plays like March and April Paxton Pomykal instead of the beat up Pomykal we’ve seen the past two months. This long break to rest up ought to help.

But they’re not going to win – zero offense intended – because they’d have to go 4-for-4 on the road, where Luchi Gonzalez’s team is 3-11-3 in 2019. Never. Gonna. Happen. I will go ahead and Baerantee it.

LAFC will win MLS Cup because

… they’re the best team in the league. They have the best player in the league. They only have to win three games, all at Banc of California Stadium, to get it done. Pretty simple math here.

If you were watching Canada’s big win on Tuesday night, you know there’s now an unknown variable introduced to LAFC’s previously straightforward MLS Cup equation. Mark-Anthony Kaye’s hammy. First Robinson, then Kaye? It’s a cruel world we live in. Lee Nguyen is more than capable, but he’s a different sort of player. Will it matter? We’ll find out. Heal up, MAK.

LA Galaxy will win MLS Cup because

… Zlatan thrives on big moments, and that Galaxy backline doesn’t have to keep teams off the board for 180 minutes thanks to the new playoff format. LA are a flawed team, but anything can happen in a single game. The draw was kind, too. Minnesota have never been here before. LAFC can’t seem to get over the rivalry hump. The other side of the West bracket is sort of meh.

They won’t win because this is a team that lost to Vancouver and Houston to finish the regular season. Flawed might be a kind word for the Galaxy. Probably is, actually. They’re sorta … bad. Like, third most losses in MLS (14) behind FC Cincinnati and Houston since the start of May bad.

Minnesota United will win MLS Cup because

… they’ve got a championship spine and one of the strikers gets hot. Vito MannoneIke OparaOzzie AlonsoDarwin Quintero (I’m counting the good Darwin) and … I’m gonna say Mason Toye is the guy who goes on a heater. Ike vs. Zlatan is must-watch stuff. That’s the sort of matchup that might just quiet the big man. Plus, they’re the only team in the league to win at LAFC this year. Gimme all the Adrian Heath “You never believed in us!” shade and a lemonade to sip on while I sit in it.

Why won’t they win it? Because this is their first time in these waters. I feel like a gut punch is coming after all the good vibes. Also, the comment section said it better than I ever could: Minnesota won’t win the Cup, not because it’s our first time on this stage, but because we are a Minnesota team.

New England Revolution will win MLS Cup because

… they have arguably the three best players on the field, no matter the opponent. Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou are that good. The third? Matt Turner. Goalkeepers on a heater are going to play a big part in this new postseason format. Like D.C., the Revs got a big break when Robinson got hurt over the international break. They’ve also got the only manager in the playoffs with multiple MLS Cup wins.

But Bruce Arena will probably have to wait at least another year for his sixth ring because New England, like FC Dallas, would have to win four straight on the road. They don’t lose much on the road, but they don’t win much either. Bad odds there, less than one percent according to 538.

NYCFC will win MLS Cup because

… they’re arguably the most balanced team in MLS. Goalkeeper? Sean Johnson got my vote for Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year. Backline? Not a weak link. Midfield? Maxi Moralez (4th in my internal MVP vote), Alex Ring and whoever Dome Torrent figures is best for the moment. Goalscoring? Three players in double digits, and a potential hatty off the bench in Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.

Home-field advantage (11-1-5 at Yankee Stadium in 2019) is the other reason they’ll win MLS Cup, unless it isn’t. The club announced Citi Field will host the Conference Semifinal match. Will it matter? We’re gonna find out.

New York Red Bulls will win MLS Cup because

… there’s no pressure this time around – well, less pressure than in previous seasons – and being on the opposite side of the bracket of NYCFC is a pretty sweet reward for finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference. On paper, the backline could chuck a couple straight shutouts. They could also get the Revs in the Conference Semifinals, a home game. If they got that far, maybe New York is red in the Conference Finals.

Lots of maybes here. Maybe the Red Bulls are going to come up short in the playoffs again. Almost certainly they will, in fact.

Philadelphia Union will win MLS Cup because

… all the pieces fit together and some of those pieces are game-changers. Looks like Kacper Przybylko, he of 15 regular season goals, is gonna be good to go. Same for Alejandro BedoyaJamiro Monteiro can boss a game on his own. Ilsinho can change it off the bench. The collective is greater than the individuals, which is a credit to Jim Curtin and all the players.

They won’t win it because their form is poor and, to borrow some Calen Carr logic, the Union don’t have veteran central defenders. That seems to matter a lot in the playoffs. Find me a team that was missing experience in that position who won the Cup. Good luck.

Portland Timbers will win MLS Cup because

… nobody believes they’ve got it in them, and that might be just what Giovanni Savarese needs to light a fire under this sleepwalking team. They’ve been in a daze for the past month. Their big summer signing is out dealing with personal issues. The soul of the club, Diego Valeri, seems disconnected. Win a playoff game and maybe something changes. Win two and who knows!

I feel like I just made the case for why they’d win and lose in the same graf. They don’t have Brian Fernandez. Their form is poor. They look uninspired. They go to Real Salt Lake, who are tied for the second-most home wins in the league, one behind LAFC. They’ll be lucky to repeat last year’s epic almost.

Real Salt Lake will win MLS Cup because

… adversity and distractions don’t seem to faze them. This season has been … interesting. And yet, RSL are the third seed in the West with a reeling Timbers side missing Fernandez and their mojo coming to to town and a ho-hum Sounders team likely up after that. They could easily win both games. If they do that, who knows? July-to-August Real Salt Lake was sort of a menace.

But also … Mid-August-to-September Real Salt Lake, far less menacing. Why should you believe in them? That’s sort of the problem. I can make a decent case for RSL, but it doesn’t feel that convincing. They could win a couple games, and I wouldn’t be surprised. They could get bounced and same. What sets them apart?

Seattle Sounders will win MLS Cup because

… they’ve got a bunch of gamers in the squad and home-field advantage against everyone but LAFC. Their side of the playoff bracket shouldn’t put fear in Brian Schmetzer’s heart. The Sounders should push through to set up a showdown with, I am assuming, LAFC. Bad news is that LAFC whooped them at the Banc early in the season, 4-1. Good news is that that was a long time ago!

They won’t win it because there just seems to be something missing from this team. I can’t put my finger on it, but they look more vulnerable more often. Oh wait, they don’t have Chad Marshall. The theorem exists for a reason. Plus, Raul Ruidiaz hasn’t scored in five games. If that continues, not gonna happen for Seattle.

Toronto FC will win MLS Cup because

… Jozy Altidore’s quad injury is more headline than real concern and he goes full-on beast mode. If he’s in the laboratory, cooking up some great stuff for the Toronto faithful, we know that’s liable to end in a parade. Two years ago, it was with Sebastian Giovinco at his side. This time it’s Alejandro Pozuelo. Toronto FC have the talent. They are on a 10-game unbeaten run. They are absolutely capable of winning four straight games. I’m talking myself into this now.

They won’t win it because it is NYCFC’s year and Dome Torrent gets some revenge for the 4-0 whooping the Reds laid down in late March and the 1-1 draw at Yankee Stadium a month ago, a game in which Pozuelo missed a PK and NYCFC was denied a spot kick in second-half stoppage time. Please please please let me see the rematch in the playoffs.

NWSL Playoffs: Key Questions, Players for All 4 Contenders

The North Carolina Courage, Portland Thorns, Chicago Red Stars and Reign FC are vying for NWSL’s title.

MOLLY GEARYOCT 17, 2019

The 2019 NWSL playoff bracket is set, with four teams having punched their ticket to the semifinals: the North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns and Reign FC. The Courage will host the Reign and the Red Stars will host the Thorns on Sunday, Oct. 20, with the winners advancing to the final in Cary, N.C., on Sunday, Oct. 27.

Here’s what you need to know about each team heading into this year’s playoffs:

No. 1 Seed: North Carolina Courage

One Big Question: Can They Make It Two in a Row?

No NWSL team has gone back-to-back since FC Kansas City in 2014 and 2015. The Courage though, recently wrapped up their third straight NWSL Shield and will enter the playoffs as the favorite to repeat. Their quest is not without challenges though: for one thing, they recently lost right back Merritt Mathias to a torn ACL, thrusting veteran Heather O’Reilly into a starting role that no one saw coming. O’Reilly is retiring at the end of the season and had largely played a bench role this year for the Courage, but she’ll now be counted on in a big way. One year ago, North Carolina overcame the loss of midfielder McCall Zerboni, who had been playing like the team’s MVP, right before the playoffs and still went on to win the title. Can they do it again?

X-Factor: Debinha

The Courage are littered with high-quality and high-profile players—the likes of Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Jessica McDonald, Abby Dahlkemper, Lynn Williams and more—but Debinha has quietly been integral to their success. The Brazilian midfielder has come into her own in 2019, recording seven goals and six assists, and has generally been a force in the North Carolina attack with her vision, mind-bending passes and goal-scoring ability. The Courage have won all seven of the games in which she’s scored, and she figures to play a crucial role if this team is to repeat.

Why They Will Win It All: While its season wasn’t quite as dominant as in 2018, North Carolina is still the NWSL’s most complete team and actually scored one more goal than it did last season, breaking its own league record. The Courage’s relentless, high-pressure attack (they’ve taken an absurd 103 more shots than the next closest team) wears opponents down and has been known to have a snowball effect, turning a 1-0 or 0-0 game into a two or three-goal margin in the blink of an eye. Motivation isn’t a problem for this squad, which has fully bought into Paul Riley’s system and famously embraced an underdog mentality in 2018 despite being anything but that. Additionally, North Carolina has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, with the final already set for Sahlen’s Stadium—where the Courage haven’t lost this year.

Why They Won’t: The Courage have looked strangely vulnerable at times of late, including needing a highly questionable PK call to edge the Houston Dash 1-0 at home in September and then falling 2-1 to the Washington Spirit less than two weeks later. In both games, a familiar issue plagued North Carolina: finishing. Houston opted to crowd the box in its matchup, conceding possession and getting as many bodies as possible in the way to either block or alter shots. Against Washington, N.C. logged 27 shots, including nine on target, but only found the back of the net once. This is the same team that took 40 shots to score twice in a last-second win over Manchester City in the summer ICC tournament, a reminder that despite all its weapons, one collective bad or unlucky day in the playoffs could sink the Courage.

No. 2 Seed Chicago Red Stars

One Big Question: Can They End Their Semifinal Curse?

Being in the NWSL playoffs is nothing new for the Red Stars, who are making their fifth straight appearance. That’s the good news. The bad news is that their last four trips all ended in the semifinal round, by a combined score of 8–1. Needless to say, one goal in four years is not going to cut it. But there is more good news for Chicago: this year, it avoids North Carolina in the semis after being eliminated by the Courage in back-to-back seasons. If the Red Stars, a team that’s been around since 2009 in the WPS days, can get by Portland and wind up facing N.C. for the championship, it may give them the mentality shift they need to win their first title.

Key Player: Sam Kerr

It’s hard to picture Chicago snapping its semifinal curse without a big day from Kerr. A full-fledged star, the 26-year-old Australian striker has scored a combined 51 goals in the last three seasons and broke her own NWSL single-season record this year with 18. In the 12 matches Kerr has scored in this season, Chicago has gone 9-1-2. She’s still looking for her first career NWSL playoff goal, having been held scoreless in last year’s semifinal and in two starts back as a 20-year-old for the Western New York Flash in 2013.

X-Factor: Casey Short

Painfully left off this summer’s USWNT World Cup roster, Short responded by putting together a campaign that could win her NWSL Defender of the Year. The left back has had a brilliant season and is someone Chicago can trust to lock down the wing and make life miserable for opposing attackers. In the regular season, she logged 43 clearances and 26 interceptions and even chipped in offensively with two goals and three assists. Short was the league’s only player named to all six NWSL Team of the Month lists in 2019, a testament to her consistency. The Red Stars’ defense will need to be staunch against an attack like Portland’s (and in a potential final matchup with North Carolina), and that starts with Short.

Why They Will Win It All: The Red Stars have gone through their share of highs and lows this season, but their highs are as good as anyone. After hitting a rough patch in August, Chicago won five straight in September to end the regular season, outscoring those opponents by a combined 10–2. The connection between Kerr and Yuki Nagasato is the best in the league and tough for anyone to contain, and the defense has the likes of Short and Julie Ertz in front of goalie Alyssa Naeher.

Chicago will enter the Oct. 20 semifinal having last played a club game on Sept. 28, a break of 22 days (the other three playoff teams played on Oct. 12). Rust is a natural concern, but the Red Stars’ lowest points this season have felt influenced by the fatigue of a crazy year around the league. Six of Chicago’s players spent the offseason playing in Australia’s W-League, and four more are U.S. players who went the distance at the World Cup. And while those U.S. players had a couple friendlies since their last NWSL game, the bonus time off could be a difference-maker.

Why They Won’t: For one thing, there’s that aforementioned semifinal curse. Chicago must get that monkey off its back before it can even think about winning a championship, and to do so it must beat the Thorns for the first time this season. Beyond that, the Red Stars’ attack can at times grow too dependent on Kerr, and if they’re struggling to keep possession or create chances, they may be tempted to revert to lobbing balls over the top and hoping their star can get on the end of them. It’s not a bad strategy with someone as good in the box as Kerr, but Chicago is at its best when it’s giving different looks in the attack. Only three Red Stars (Kerr, Nagasato and Vanessa DiBernardo) have scored at least three goals this season; compare that to Portland and North Carolina, who have five players apiece.

No. 3 Seed: Portland Thorns

One Big Question: Can They Turn Things Around Quickly?

Unlike its semifinal opponent, Portland certainly isn’t entering the playoffs on a high note. Since winning three straight in August, the Thorns are 1-3-1 over their last five games, the lone win being a 1-0 home victory over the Houston Dash. Even more concerning is the fact that the one goal against Houston, scored by Tobin Heath, was Portland’s only goal in that five-game span. That window also included a brutal 6–0 loss to the Courage in front of 17,500 of its home fans, a game that the Thorns had entered as the first-place team in the league table. Instead, they sputtered down the stretch and now must win on the road if they are to reach their third-straight final.

Key Player: Lindsey Horan

It’s been an interesting year for Horan, who was coming off a career season in which she scored 13 goals won the 2018 NWSL MVP award. Even acknowledging a club season cut short due to the USWNT’s time in France, Horan hasn’t had nearly the same production in her 13 games in 2019, scoring just one goal and adding two assists. The 25-year-old also recently returned from a concussion but played 78 minutes in the Thorns’ regular-season finale and seems to be a go for Sunday. Portland needs Horan to be a force in the midfield and could especially use some of the set-piece magic that helped her score seven goals with her head alone in 2018.

X-Factor: Midge Purce

With the likes of Horan, Heath, Christine Sinclair and Hayley Raso all missing time at the World Cup this summer, it was Purce who stepped up in the Portland attack and helped the Thorns go 5-2-2 in the span when their U.S. players were away. With six goals in eight games, Purce proved she deserved minutes even after the Thorns’ stars returned and has continued to play a role in the attack. While she’s cooled off in terms of scoring (her only goals since were a brace against Chicago) and may come off the bench on Sunday, she could be a valuable piece for Mark Parsons if Portland is hunting for a goal in the second half.

Why They Will Win It All: Portland is not lacking in playoff experience, having played in each of the last two finals and winning the championship in 2017. Parsons has a star-studded roster led by Heath, Horan, Sinclair, Adrianna Franch, Meghan Klingenberg and Emily Sonnett, plus a number of promising young players like Purce, Ellie Carpenter, Simone Charley and Andressinha. This team had a great shot at the Shield before its late-season slide, and it has too much talent to think it isn’t capable of flipping the switch. The semifinal matchup could work in its favor as well; the Thorns went 2-0-1 against the Red Stars this year and have only lost once to Chicago (back in 2013) in 20 all-time meetings.

Why They Won’t: The Thorns’ disappearing attack (which perhaps not coincidentally coincides with midfielder Gabby Seiler’s season-ending injury) is a major concern, and something that must be corrected before going against a Red Stars team with Kerr and Nagasato at its disposal. And while Portland is certainly capable of turning it on, it’s hard to look at its recent form and feel confident it can win one game, let alone two in a row. If it were to get past Chicago and potentially meet North Carolina in the final for a third straight year, that 6-0 blowout will linger in everyone’s minds (Portland did previously beat the Courage back in August, but it took a pair of N.C. own goals to do it). Even if the Thorns meet Reign FC, they lost all three matches against their Pacific Northwest rival this year.

No. 4 Seed: Reign FC

One Big Question: Will the Vlatko News Loom Large?

On Monday morning, the BBC reported that Reign head coach Vlatko Andonovski will be the next USWNT coach, news that U.S. Soccer told SI’s Grant Wahl is not a done deal yet and Andonovski himself has since tried to play down. While Andonovski was long rumored to be a serious candidate, the report comes just days before Sunday’s semifinal, naturally leading to questions about whether this could potentially affect Andonovski’s team, especially mentally. It’s possible knowing their coach is (likely) leaving could give them extra motivation to play for him, or it could serve as a distraction at an inopportune time. Both can also be true. Regardless, this story is sure to hover over the semifinal weekend.

Key Player: Megan Rapinoe

After missing the vast majority of the NWSL season due to a combination of injuries and the World Cup, Megan Rapinoe is back. Fresh off winning the FIFA Best Women’s Player of the Year award, Rapinoe brings a new dimension to the Reign FC attack, especially when it comes to her service into the box or on set pieces, where the USWNT forward is known to shine. For a team that has struggled to create this season (the Reign’s 27 goals lag far behind the other three playoff teams) amidst a string of injuries, Rapinoe’s presence alone makes them more dangerous.

X-Factor: Bethany Balcer

Balcer has been one of the biggest surprises of the entire NWSL season. In a perfect example of Andonovski’s keen ability to find and develop talent, she was invited to the Reign’s preseason after going undrafted out of NAIA school Spring Arbor, then earned a supplemental contract to open the season. She started the second game of the year and scored her first career goal, then made her mark when internationals were away at the World Cup with two more. Balcer has continued to get starts and minutes throughout the season and has especially come on of late, scoring three goals in the Reign’s last five games. Rapinoe gets the headlines, and English international Jodie Taylor has also stepped up her game down the stretch, but don’t be surprised if Balcer comes up big for the Reign.

Why They Will Win It All: No team has been more snakebitten by injuries this season than the Reign, who played most of the season without stars Rapinoe and Jess Fishlock (the latter of whom remains sidelined), lost two goalkeepers and now start rookie Casey Murphy. They have had their depth tested so much that they had to sign and start assistant coach Steph Cox out of retirement at one point. Yet despite all of this, here they are, one of just four teams still standing. They’ve been one of the league’s most consistent teams, losing back-to-back games just once, and they’ll be playing with house money against the Courage. The Reign have been defying the odds all season—why stop now?

Why They Won’t: Even with Rapinoe back, the attack remains a question mark. The Reign’s goal differential of 0 is the worst of the playoff teams, despite the fact that they’ve held their own defensively and conceded three or more goals in just three of 24 games. Their 17 assists rank sixth in the league, and they’re going up against a Courage team that’s had 42 assists and a plus-31 goal differential. Keeping North Carolina off the scoreboard will be a Herculean task—it’s been shut out just once this season, and that was without its U.S. players—and the Reign will need to be clinical with whatever chances they do get if they are to keep pace. One other thing of note: the Reign led the league in fouls committed and are well ahead of the other playoff teams, and set pieces are not something you want to be giving out in an elimination game.

Forward Dane Kelly’s Brace Lifts Boys in Blue to 2-1 Victory over Swope Park Rangers

 

A second half brace by forward Dane Kelly paced Indy Eleven to a 2-1 win over Swope Park Rangers in tonight’s regular season finale at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The victory, Indy’s seventh straight at home, not only capped the team’s most successful regular season on a winning note, but also secured a top four finish in the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference – and the home Quarterfinal Round game that comes with it.

Indy Eleven (19W-9L-6L, 63 pts.) will begin its postseason run next Saturday, Oct. 26, back at its old home of IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, with kickoff against a yet-to-be-determined opponent at 7:30 p.m. (live on MyINDY-TV 23). ​ Tickets will be available to the general public starting this Friday, Oct. 18, at 10:00 a.m. at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

Indy Eleven, which will finish the regular season in third place in the 18-team conference, will play host to one of the troika of the Tampa Bay Rowdies (58 points), New York Red Bulls II (57 pts), or Louisville City FC (57 pts.), with this Saturday’s slate featuring those teams determining the foe.

“I think that the crowd are even more of a factor in that stadium,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “I think it’ll be a really hectic atmosphere and I think that will be a big positive for us. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for us. Playing at Lucas Oil Stadium, it was something that we felt we could make a home-field advantage – and we have. So we need to do that at Carroll [Stadium] as well.”

Despite Swope Park’s struggles this season, the Kansas-based side made Indiana’s Team work for the full three points tonight. After a physical first half, Kelly put the Eleven up in the 56th minute, but Rangers countered quickly through Wilson Harris just a minute later. Kelly would stamp his mark on the match with a gutsy effort in the 67th minute, taking a hard knock just after touching his shot past former Butler goalkeeper Eric Dick in the SPR goal for his 10th of the season.

Indy Eleven finished its 2019 home campaign undefeated with a 13W-0L-4D record and pushed its unbeaten streak at the corner of Capitol & South to 25 games dating back to last July.

“We’ve broken a lot of records this year. We’ve had more wins than ever before, more points, I think more clean sheets than ever before, more wins away from home, a longer unbeaten streak at home than ever before,” Said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The club is building these records and these milestones and it’s making progress. It’s making excitement and a positive culture.”

A physical first half saw the two teams combine for more yellow cards (5) than shots on goal (4). Indy Eleven nearly struck first just under the quarter-hour mark when Kelly rocketed a header off the crossbar. A whipped in cross from the foot of defender Ayoze connected with the Jamaican on the penalty spot, but luck favored Swope as his effort was denied by the woodwork.

Ayoze looked to assist again 10 minutes later after stealing the ball just outside the Swope Park 18-yard box. The Spaniard slipped in forward Cristian Novoa, who took a touch in stride and attempted to place the ball past goalkeeper Eric Dick, but the Butler University alumnus ultimately denied the Venezuelan’s chance. Indy’s offensive tempo continued to flow through the Spanish maestro as he played yet another key pass in the 34th minute, this time through defender Mitchell Osmond, but his header ended wide of the goal.

Indy goalkeeper Jordan Farr made sure the sides went into the locker rooms even after saving Swope Park defender Rennico Clarke’s open header from a corner kick in the third minute of first half stoppage time. Despite a first half that saw Indiana’s Team control 63% possession, both sides were unable to break the deadlock.

Ayoze would finally help crack the egg 11 minutes into the second half, a cross from his smooth left foot connecting with Kelly on Swope’s penalty mark. The USL Championship’s all-time leading goal scorer adjusted in the air to redirect into the bottom-left corner, garnering a 1-nil lead for the Boys in Blue. The advantage was short-lived, however, after Swope Park would draw level a minute later in the 57th minute via a header from Harris on the doorstep off Ethan Vanacore-Decker’s clipped cross from the endline.

Indy Eleven edged back into the lead ten minutes later. A quick one-two play between Kelly and midfielder Kenney Walker played the Jamaican attacker into the Swope Park box before dinking the ball past Dick – and absorbing a heavy challenge from the SPR ‘keeper in the aftermath of the shot. The Boys in Blue went on to create a few more decent looks from distance in the final 20 minutes of the match, mostly coming from midfielder Tyler Pasher, but the score line would remain 2-1 in favor of Indiana’s Team at the final whistle.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSPR
Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Swope Park Rangers

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ET

Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.Attendance: 10,251

2019 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (19W-9L-6D, 63 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference)

Swope Park Rangers (6W-20L-8D, 26 pts., 18th in Eastern Conference)

Scoring Summary:
IND – Dane Kelly (Ayoze) 56’

SPR – Wilson Harris (Ethan Vanacore-Decker) 57’

IND – Dane Kelly (Kenney Walker) 67’

Disciplinary Summary:

SPR – Ze Pedro (Yellow card) 16’

IND – Mitchell Osmond (Yellow card) 23’

SPR – Ethan Vanacore-Decker (Yellow card) 29’

SPR – Felipe Hernanadez (Yellow card) 37’

IND – Drew Conner (Yellow card) 40’

IND – Neveal Hackshaw (Yellow card) 61’
Indy Eleven lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Jordan Farr; Ayoze, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette, Mitch Osmond (Neveal Hackshaw 45’), Tyler Gibson, Drew Connor, Kenney Walker, Tyler Pasher, Dane Kelly (Nicolas Perea 83’), Cristian Novoa (Ilija Ilic 62’)

IND Substitutes: Holden Brown (GK), Eugene Starikov, Matthew Watson, Gabriel
Swope Park Rangers lineup (4-2-3-1, L–>R): Eric Dick; Alexsander Andrade, Rennico Clarke, Graham Smith (captain), Jaylin Lindsey, Camden Riley (Tyler Freeman 88’), Felipe Hernandez, Wilson Harris, Wan Kuzain (Tucker Lepley 75’), Ze Pedro, Ethan Vanacore-Decker (Mark Segbers 75’)

SPR Substitutes: John Pulskamp (GK), Jacob Davis, Kaveh Rad, Luis Olivera

10/10/19  US Men Begin Nations Cup Play Fri 7 pm vs Cuba on FS1, Playoff Bound Indy 11 on Road Sat,  MLS Playoffs Set, Euro Qualifying

Its time for the US Men to show what new coach Berhalter has taught them over the past 10 months – as we take on Cuba tonight on FS 1 at 7 pm and Canada on Tuesday at 8 pm on ESPN2.  Hard to say – but new coach Berhalter has a plan and he appears to be sticking to it.  Not sure we have the player quality to play out of the back and possess all game –but he seems heck bent on doing it.  I do think the US has perhaps its strongest set of U23s  – really U20’s since the Donovan/Beasley/Bocanegra group. I love that our coach wants to possess the ball and take it to teams rather than absorb pressure and counter attack.  Its going to take some time and but I like the idea of expecting to play better teams hoping to dominate or at least be even on possession.  Now we can see if the US can dominate possession and destroy these 2 light weights in our CONCACAF Region – honestly playing Nations League games against this poor quality competition DOES NOT HELP the US or Mexico or Costa Rica – and not being able to play strong South American or European teams is going to hurt in the long run.  I suspect almost no one will be watching tonight – which can’t help TV ratings for FS 1 or ESPN as well.  But it is what it is – in Europe Nations League has been pretty cool – in our Region – well we’ll see. Or perhaps no one will watch and we won’t see.  Hey at least our US Ladies are still World Cup champions – best of luck to the winningest US Coach Jill Ellis as she moves on to the next Chapter in her life.  Will be interesting to see who the US gets to take the new head spot next as we head to the Olympics next summer.

Indy 11

Our Indy Eleven will close out its regular season slate over the next two matches, starting with a huge top-five fixture this Saturday at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be live locally on MyINDY-TV 23 and online via ESPN+.  After this Saturday’s crucial top-five clash at Tampa Bay, Indy Eleven will close out its sixth and most successful regular season in club history this Wednesday, Oct. 16, against Swope Park Rangers, at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff for Fan Appreciation Night, presented by Community Health Network Foundation, is set for 7:00 p.m. (live on ESPN+ and MyINDY-TV 23). Tickets remain available for as little as $15 by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

MLS Playoffs Start Oct 19

I missed MLS Decision day as teams battled for Playoff positions that final Sunday of the season.  Remember this year – the first round playoff games are 1 game affairs at the home of the higher ranked team – so positioning really matters.  Lose 1 and you are going home.  So the LA Galaxy last home loss sends them to expansion side Minnesota United for their first round game!  Other intriguing matchups include Philly hosting NY Red Bulls and Seattle traveling to FC Dallas and Carmel Alum Matt Hedges.

GAMES ON TV

Thur, Oct 10

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN3                Netherlands vs Northern Ireland (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN3                Russia vs Scotland  (Euro Qualifying)

9 pm Fubo TV , Univision                Haiti vs Costa Rica (Concacaf Nations League)

Fri, Oct 11

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN+               Czech Republic vs England (Euro Qualifying)  

2:45 pm Fubo TV,ESPN 2               Iceland vs France  (Euro Qualifying)  

7 pm Fox Sport 1, FuboTV,              USA vs Cuba (Concacaf Nations League)

9 pm Fubo TV , Univision                Bermuda vs Mexico (Concacaf Nations League)

Sat, Oct 12

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN+                Norway vs Spain (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm Fubo TV,ESPN+                 Italy vs Greece (Euro Qualifying)

7 pm ESPN+                                       Tampa Bay vs Indy 11

Sun, Oct 13

12 pm Fubo TV, ESPN3                    Belarus vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm ESPN                                  Wales vs Croatia  (Euro Qualifying)  

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 Estonia vs Germany (Euro Qualifying)

Mon, Oct 14

2:45 pm ESPN +                               Bulgaria vs England  (Euro Qualifying)  

2:45 pm ESPN+                                 France vs Turkey (Euro Qualifying)

Tues, Oct 15

2:45 pm Fubo TV, ESPN+                Lichenstien vs Italy  (Euro Qualifying)

2:45 pm Fubo TV,Univision            Sweden vs Spain (Euro Qualifying)

7 pm ESPN2, FuboTV                    Canada vs USA (Concacaf Nations League)

9:30 pm Fubo TV , Unimas              Mexico vs Panama (Concacaf Nations League)

Sat, Oct 19

7:30 am NBCSN                                Everton vs West Ham

9 am ESPN+                                       Juventus vs SPAL

9:30 am Fox sports2                        RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Wolfsburg

10 am NCBSN                                   Chelsea vs New Castle United

10 am beIN Sport                             Atletico Madrid vs Valencia

12:30 pm NBC                                  Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

12:30 pm FS2                                   Dortmund vs Borussia MGladbach (Johnson)

3:30 pm Fox Sport 1                      Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas (MLS PLAYOFFS)

7 pm ESPN+                                      Indy 11 vs Swope Park Rangers (home)

10 pm ESPN Des/ESPN+                 Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers (MLS Playoffs)

Sun, Oct 20

11:30 am NBCSN                            Manchester United vs Liverpool 

12:30 pm FS1                                   Hoffenheim vs Schalke (McKinney)

3 pm Fox Sport 1                           Philly vs NY Red Bulls (MLS Playoffs)

8:30 pm ESPN                                 Minnesota United vs LA Galaxy (MLS Playoffs)  

USA

What’s the best USMNT XI for games v. Cuba, Canada?

US Must show they have turned corner under Berhalter –Jason Davis – ESPNFC

Gregg Berhalter explains the USMNT’s role in player development

US star Pulisic confident in form despite Chelsea benching

– CONCACAF Nations League: All you need to know

— Pulisic keen to prevent Chelsea woes from carrying over

— Kuper: Should Dest pick the U.S. or the Netherlands?

Without Jill Ellis What’s Next for US Ladies – ESPNW

– Ellis’ winning legacy? Giving USWNT a bigger voice
– U.S. draws with South Korea in Ellis’s final match

GK

Great Saves by US Keeper Zach Steffan for Dusseldorf

Dutch Keeper Van Sari is Women’s GK of Year – WC Save

Great Save  of Zlattan shot

Nice to See Navas Starting Again now for PSG

De Gea vs Kasper Schmiechel Great Saves

Hugo Lloris Great Saves for Spurs

MLS Playoffs

All 14 Playoff Teams Could Lift the MLS Cup – ESPNFC

MLS Cup playoffs 2019: All you need to know
— Marshall: Vela’s goals record lives up to the hype of a prodigy

Indy 11

Which Indy 11 Team Shows up for the Playoffs – Indy Star – Kevin Johnson

Indy 11 Preview of Tampa Bay Game Saturday

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

 

EPL and World

Argentina surges back for draw with germany

World Rankings

Pulisic not Throwing Fit not giving up at Chelsea – SB Nation

Pulisic needs to Get Nasty at Chelsea – Klinnsman Says – Goal.com

Breaking Down Pulisic’s competition at Chelsea –NBCSports

What’s the best USMNT XI for games v. Cuba, Canada?

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports 22 hours ago  [ MORE: Pulisic previews Cuba, Canada ]

Christian Pulisic will be eager for minutes after a testing few months at Chelsea, while DeAndre Yedlin and Matt Miazga are back from injury and Michael Bradley is back in the squad after being left out last month.Injuries have once again limited Berhalter’s options (Tyler Adams, John Brooks, Alfredo Morales and now Jozy Altidore are all missing) and that provides plenty of chances for youngsters and a few more for experienced veterans. This could be the last chance for a few of the former.Below we select the best possible XI for the U.S. in their games in Washington D.C. and Toronto, and provide some analysis on the current squad situation.

USMNT’s best possible XI v. Cuba, Canada

—– Steffen —–

— Yedlin — Miazga — Ream — Lima —

—- McKennie —- Bradley —-

—- Boyd —-  Lletget —- Pulisic —-

—- Sargent —-

Analysis

Zack Steffen has been playing well in the Bundesliga and should get the nod over veteran Brad Guzan, while Yedlin will likely slot back in at right back with Sergino Dest not in this squad and his future with the USMNT uncertain. Matt Miazga and Tim Ream have travelled together from England to the U.S. and could provide a good partnership at center back, although Aaron Long will be knocking on the door and Walker Zimmerman would have but his nasty injury rules him out of these games. Brooks will also come straight back into the lineup when he returns from injury. Left back remains a problem area for Berhalter and San Jose’s Nick Lima will once again be the most likely starter in that position after being solid enough in recent games.

In midfield Berhalter will likely go with two more defensive-minded players and with Adams out injured, Weston McKennie and Michael Bradley are the most likely to play in the deeper roles.  Of course, Adams could come back in at right back, but we’d all rather see him in the engine room… Wil Trapp and Christian Roldan will be pushing for those spots too, and it would be nice to see Sebastian Lletget play in a more advanced role in lieu of any true No.10’s in this USMNT squad.

Going forward Christian Pulisic should remain on the left wing, his best position, instead of trying to shoehorn him into a central position. Yes, he could get on the ball more there, but he’s better taking players on in one-on-one situations and cutting inside to cause havoc. Josh Morris, Tyler Boyd or Paul Arriola will line up on the other flank and it’s really a toss of a coin between those three right now. Up front the USMNT don’t have many options but Josh Sargent could get the nod after racking up plenty of minutes for Werder Bremen in recent weeks. Gyasi Zardes has become a scapegoat among U.S. fans during recent struggles and if Altidore didn’t have to pull out of this squad due to injury, he probably would have started up top centrally. Morris can also start centrally too and he’s looked decent in recent USMNT cameos.

U.S. must use Nations League to show it has turned the corner under Berhalter

Oct 10, 2019Noah DavisESPN

WASHINGTON — On Friday night, the United States men’s national team opens its CONCACAF Nations League campaign at Audi Field. The opponent? Cuba, the 178th-best team in the world and 25th-best team in CONCACAF, according to the most recent FIFA rankings.It’s a game the Americans should not just win but dominate. They’ve done so in the past, posting a 3-0 record and a plus-14 goal differential over the past three home matches against the island nation. “It’s an athletic team, they have a standard level of technical ability and they will present some challenges,” U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter said of the opposition. “For us, it’s about speed of play, breaking them down and trying to get the ball in front of goal as quickly as possible.”Sure, but anything other than a lopsided scoreline will be a failure, full stop.The same, frankly, could be said of Tuesday’s game at BMO Field in Toronto. Canada is a quickly improving side, bolstered by a growing investment in the youth levels of the country’s Major League Soccer teams and beyond, a handful of stars playing abroad, and a developing soccer culture.That said, Canada still remains well behind the U.S. in all facets of the sport. This isn’t the time to eke out a victory. It’s a time to control the ball, create chances, finish them, get six points. This is about reestablishing an air of inevitability surrounding the results of matches against lesser CONCACAF foes.

To help him do so, Berhalter has called in arguably the most complete roster he has had during his now 10-month tenure as coach of the national team. DeAndre Yedlin is back for the first time since March, and newly pain-free after an 18-month saga that ultimately required groin surgery. Matt Miazga is here, too, as is D.C. United’s own Paul Arriola. There are absences — John Brooks (will he ever get healthy?), Jozy Altidore (hurt again, disappointingly), and Tyler Adams (how much can we judge this team without one of the best players at one of the most important positions?) — but even so, it’s a squad that should be able to play how the coach wants, and show more progress in terms of mastering “The System” to build on the last year-and-a-half.So let’s talk about Arriola.”What comes to mind when I think of Paul is his relentless attacking,” Berhalter said. “He just goes and goes and goes, and that has a cumulative effect on the opponent. We think with him being able to repeat his high-speed running puts us in positions to create goal-scoring opportunities.”On one hand, yes, this is true. The D.C. United winger has a remarkable ability to make things happen, tallying three goals in 11 national team matches so far this season, putting in dangerous crosses, and generally running riot on the flank. He has been effective, for sure.On the other, there’s little elegance to his game, as he is largely about straight lines, verticality, work rate and repeated sprints. MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle called it “attritional soccer,” which is a perfect phrase. This is not meant to be a criticism. Much of the traditional success of U.S. Soccer is a direct result of attritional soccer: wearing down opponents, playing together, leaning on good goalkeeping and being relentless and fit. Getting away from attritional soccer cost the Americans a spot in the 2018 World Cup.Yet isn’t the hope that the team moves beyond attritional soccer and finally get to a better place? That’s part of the excitement, the forward progress fans desperately want. Cuba (and to a lesser extent Canada) are perfect opponents to see how far along this project is. One player who can help get them there is Sebastian Lletget, a creative visionary fighting for the No. 10 spot.”I’ve had a good go at it so far,” the LA Galaxy playmaker said. “There is a lot of good competition in that position. That’s the fun part. You’re playing for a spot, and I think there’s room in there for me or for a lot of guys.”The hope is that he he gets it, and hope Christian Pulisic plays out on the wing where he can create (a major part of Berhalter’s system is getting his most dynamic attacker alone in pockets of space). Hope Jackson Yueill, another young guy with vision, makes a leap and presses for time. Hope that Josh Sargent, who with Altidore out should get more opportunities up top, continues to develop into his generation’s lethal finisher. Berhalter likes what he has seen from the 19-year-old, who responded well after being left off the Gold Cup roster over the summer.”He has gained confidence [at Werder Bremen],” the coach said. “They’ve been playing him sometimes on the wing and in different positions. For Josh, it’s just a matter of two things: him getting rest and being fresh in his mind, and him attacking. Him saying, ‘I want something. How am I going to go about getting it?'”“I want something. How am I going to go about getting it?” If you were thinking about a motto for the U.S. men’s national team over the next 12 months, you could do worse than that refrain.

 

Gregg Berhalter explains the USMNT’s role in player development

Doug McIntyre,Yahoo Sports Tue, Oct 8 12:47 PM EDT

Last week, United States men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter went on SiriusXM show Counter Attack and, in response to a question from co-host and former U.S. defender Janusz Michallik about the USMNT’s role in making players better, gave the following answer:“We’re not responsible for developing players — the responsibility for the most part falls to the clubs,” Berhalter said. “We’re not together that often that we can really develop a player.”On the surface, it was a perfectly reasonable reply. Most national team managers, who only get to work in-person with their squads for three or four 10-day windows per year outside of international tournaments such as the World Cup, would say some version of the same. Context is also important. The quote came as some impatient U.S. fans had been clamoring for the promotion of several youth national teamers who have yet to make a mark professionally.Berhalter’s words were still interesting, though. Because since he accepted the challenge 10 months ago of trying to steer the U.S. program back to respectability after its epic failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the former Columbus Crew boss has often spoken of trying to improve the quality of the American players, both individually and as a group.“To me, it’s about developing players,” Berhalter said, explaining why his team insisted on playing though Mexico’s eight-man press during last month’s 3-0 friendly loss in New Jersey.During a conversation with Yahoo Sports on Monday, Berhalter took the time to drill down on what could be seen as conflicting messages.“I think the starting point for me is looking at the level of the player and saying, ‘Is this player a national team-level player right now?’” Berhalter said. “If the answer is no, I’m not going to be able to get him to the national team standard. He’s going to need to do that through playing games with his club.“If the answer is yes,” Berhalter continued, “now it’s about the specifics of developing him within our system, what he still needs to work on despite already being a fantastic player.”In other words, you can’t make a national team player. But you can make a national team player better.The example Berhalter used after the Mexico game was midfielder Weston McKennie, a 21-year-old Champions League veteran with Schalke in the German Bundesliga. Schalke plays differently than the U.S. does, and as a result, Berhalter asks McKennie to do different things.For other players, the transition to the national team is smoother because their roles don’t really change when they travel between club and country.“Sergino Dest plays the same way with Ajax,” Berhalter said, speaking of the 18-year-old Dutch-American defender who won’t participate in the CONCACAF Nations League match Friday against Cuba [7 p.m. ET, FS1] in Washington, D.C., or at Canada next week. “Even though he’s young, it’s relatively easy for him to pick up what we’re doing.“You have other guys like Weston that don’t necessarily play like that with their clubs. But because they’re high-level players, you would expect that they can take on information, take on concepts. That’s why they got to the level they’ve gotten to.”Like most of his teammates, McKennie struggled against El Tri’s relentless chasing. Berhalter is hoping that the experience pays off this month, especially against Canada. While the Cubans will likely sit back defensively, allowing the U.S. to control the match, Canada’s hopes of reaching the final round of World Cup qualifying for the first time since 1997 could hinge on the Oct. 15 contest in Toronto. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they approach the game,” Berhalter said.If Canada comes out hard, the U.S. will be prepared, or at least more prepared than they were last month. Berhalter pushed back against the notion that his system is too complex to implement during short international windows.“The difficulty learning the system, I think that’s a little bit exaggerated,” he said. “It’s just time together and layering. We’re focusing on certain concepts in one camp and then we’re building in the next camps. It has a multiplying effect where the guys will be able to understand it as we go.”Competition also raises an athlete’s level, the international game providing exposure to different coaches, teammates, stakes, styles and experiences.For Berhalter, that process doesn’t stop when a particular camp ends. He and his staff remain in frequent communication with players. They’ve also been actively working with their clubs, sharing information so that both teams and the player benefits.“It’s a collaboration,” Berhalter said, admitting that some clubs are more open to it than others. “When a guy is at a high level, we want to work on specific things with him, together with his club, to get him better. I’m the type of coach that wants to create an environment where we’re always looking to improve. We make a concerted effort and say, ‘OK, this guy is a top-level player. How do we make him a world star?’“That,” he added, “I think is development as well.”

US star Pulisic confident in form despite Chelsea benching

BEN NUCKOLS,Associated Press 13 hours ago

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Christian Pulisic said he won’t let his benching with Chelsea affect his play for the U.S. national team as it prepares for a match against Cuba, pronouncing himself in peak form despite scant playing time of late.”I feel the best I ever have. I feel very confident in my game. I’m not going to let any of that affect me,” Pulisic said Wednesday before training with the national team at George Mason University, where both of his parents played college soccer. “I feel very strong, and I’m really looking forward to this game Friday.”The 21-year-old midfielder has been mostly a spectator in his first season in the Premier League, limited to two appearances since August: a League Cup start against fourth-tier Grimsby Town on Sept. 25 and a 10-minute substitute stint versus Southampton in the EPL on Sunday during which he contributed an assist. Pulisic arrived at Chelsea in the offseason for $73 million from Borussia Dortmund.Pulisic has previously voiced frustration with his playing time under Chelsea manager Frank Lampard but declined to elaborate on those feelings.”I’m here now to be focused with the U.S. national team, so that’s really all that’s on my mind right now,” Pulisic said.The United States will play Cuba on Friday in Washington and then visit Canada in Toronto on Tuesday, its opening two matches of the CONCACAF Nations League.While he’s been a role player with Chelsea, Pulisic is the undisputed star of the rebuilding U.S. team, which is trying to recover from its failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup in Russia. He said he’s looking forward to seeing what 18-year-old midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who was added to the roster last week, can bring to the squad.”It’s fun to play with these younger guys,” Pulisic said. “He’s younger than me, right? Yeah, he’s much younger. … I don’t see myself as young anymore, but whatever.”For this week of practice, Pulisic will be in the shadow of his mother, Kelley, and his father, Mark.”My dad texted me after the first training. He’s like, ‘I scored 38 goals on this training field, and your mom scored 10,” Pulisic said. “It’s great, it’s cool to see where they used to play. I haven’t really been here, so it’s exciting.”

Can Atlanta repeat? Why all 14 playoff teams could lift MLS Cup – and why they won’t

10:57 AM ETArch BellU.S. soccer writer

Decision Day has come and gone, leaving Major League Soccer’s 14 postseason-bound sides with nearly two weeks to contemplate their paths to MLS Cup glory. In the regular season’s afterglow, playoff hopes will never be higher for many, which is why we’ve detailed precisely why each team can win MLS Cup … and, similarly, why each can’t.

Western Conference

 

1. LAFC

Next playoff match: 10:30 p.m. ET Oct. 24 vs. Minnesota or LA Galaxy (watch live on ESPN)

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Why they will win MLS Cup: The league’s best player, Carlos Vela, makes sure there is no letdown and leads the league’s best team to the title.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: The lack of a second striker and an opponent savvy enough to cut off the Eduard Atuesta-Vela connection lead to a nightmare scenario for Bob Bradley’s men.

 

2. Seattle Sounders

Next playoff match: 3:30 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. FC Dallas

Why they will win MLS Cup: Seattle is well versed in the postseason panorama and has the firepower in Raul RuidiazJordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro to do something special.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A team that has been plagued by defensive issues, poor road form and inconsistency simply can’t last.

 

3. Real Salt Lake

Next playoff match: 10 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. Portland (watch live on ESPNEWS)

Why they will win MLS Cup: The attacking trident of Jefferson SavarinoAlbert Rusnak and Damir Kreilach get on a roll, and Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando turn back the clock to 2009.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: RSL’s inconsistency rears its head at the wrong time to end a season overshadowed by off-the-field controversy.

 

4. Minnesota United

Next playoff match: 8:30 p.m. ET Oct. 20 vs. LA Galaxy (watch live on ESPN)

Why they will win MLS Cup: Their “us against the world” mentality, on top of a solid defense, takes Adrian Heath’s men on a surprising Cup run.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Ten road losses this season suggest that winning back-to-back away from home in the biggest games of the season is too big an ask.

 

5. LA Galaxy

Next playoff match: 8:30 p.m. ET Oct. 20 at Minnesota (watch live on ESPN)

Why they will win MLS Cup: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede is a threat to score anytime he has the ball, and with Cristian Pavon in the mix, the Galaxy have the offensive weapons to take down anyone.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A poor record away from home and a tendency to switch off and commit errors in defense make it only a matter of time before the Galaxy get sent packing.

 

6. Portland Timbers

Next playoff match: 10 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Salt Lake (watch live on ESPNEWS)

Why they will win MLS Cup: Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco. The Argentine playmakers are as formidable as any in the league, and Blanco in particular has turned it up a notch the past month. Plus midfield warrior Diego Chara and the experience of coach Giovanni Savarese give Timbers fans every reason to believe.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Valeri’s contract status is looming uncomfortably over the team, and Savarese has yet to figure out how to shake his team’s inconsistent form in 2019.

 

7. FC Dallas

Next playoff match: 3:30 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Seattle

Why they will win MLS Cup: Luchi Gonzalez’s young pups will be playing with no fear and have nothing to lose in this postseason. It’s just the type of attitude that can wreak havoc on opponents.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Their lack of experience can also work against them in a hostile environment, such as trying to hang on to a result in the last 15 minutes in a full house on the West Coast.

Eastern Conference

 

1. New York City FC

Next playoff match: 7 p.m. ET Oct. 23 vs. Toronto or D.C.

Why they will win MLS Cup: No team is cooler when pressured by opponents, thanks to one of the league’s best midfields, which lays the groundwork for a title run.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Jozy Altidore and Toronto FC have a habit of making life difficult for NYCFC and could prove to be the roadblock even before a date with high-powered LAFC.

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2. Atlanta United

Next playoff match: 1 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. New England

Why they will win MLS Cup: They know how to get the job done, and with a healthy and hungry Josef Martinez, a second straight crown is theirs for the taking.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: The mental lapses have been there too often this season, and in a single-game elimination format, that proves costly.

 

3. Philadelphia Union

Next playoff match: 3 p.m. ET Oct. 20 vs. New York Red Bulls

Why they will win MLS Cup: Their balance from back to front is a big asset, and Kacper Przybylko has become the goal scorer this team desperately needed.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Teams will look to take Przybylko out of the equation, and the lack of a second scorer will limit the Union.

 

4. Toronto FC

Next playoff match: 6 p.m. ET Oct. 19 vs. D.C.

Why they will win MLS Cup: One of the hottest teams in the East boasts the experience to win MLS Cup and has the firepower up front with Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A spotty road record all season means that this 4-seed can’t string together the wins away from home to lift the trophy.

 

5. D.C. United

Next playoff match: 6 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Toronto

Why they will win MLS Cup: On his way out the door, Wayne Rooney will deliver his best soccer since arriving in the nation’s capital and replicate countryman David Beckham’s feat of leaving MLS as a champion.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: Ben Olsen’s reluctance to start Luciano Acosta and the resurfacing of late summer defensive woes rear their heads in the postseason.

 

6. New York Red Bulls

Next playoff match: 3 p.m. ET Oct. 20 at Philadelphia

Why they will win MLS Cup: With postseason expectations lower than in previous seasons, the Red Bulls ride a pressure-free playoffs all the way to the promised land.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A defense that gave up a lot of goals to the league’s top teams can’t maintain a high enough level through four matches.

 

7. New England Revolution

Next playoff match: 1 p.m. ET Oct. 19 at Atlanta

Why they will win MLS Cup: Led by five-time MLS Cup-winning coach Bruce Arena, the Revs ride the playmaking of Carles Gil and the scoring boots of Gustavo Bou to a stunning title run.

Why they won’t win MLS Cup: A team that still struggles to put together a consistent 90 minutes will see its postseason end fairly quickly.

‘Pulisic needs to get nasty at Chelsea’ – Klinsmann convinced USMNT star can thrive in England

Goal.com Mon, Sep 30 9:28 AM EDT

Christian Pulisic needs to get nasty at Chelsea, says Jurgen Klinsmann, with the United States international more than capable of proving his worth in the Premier League.Those at Stamford Bridge are still waiting on that potential to be unlocked, with a marquee arrival in west London yet to deliver on a consistent basis.That has led to Pulisic slipping down the pecking order under Frank Lampard, with the 21-year-old back on the bench for a 2-0 win over Brighton on Saturday.Questions are being asked of whether a promising talent who burst onto the scene at Borussia Dortmund is capable of handling the demands of life in English football.Klinsmann, who has worked with Pulisic in the USA set-up before, remains convinced that the talented playmaker can come good.The former Tottenham striker has, however, offered some words of advice, telling ESPN: “You never know it’s the right fit unless you do it.”Christian did well to say: ‘I’m going to throw myself in another cold water, go over to London and throw myself in the Premier League, and I have to fight through the system there’. So that’s what he’s in.”He’s a very special player, he’s tremendously talented, but this is a big step, because Borussia Dortmund was also basically the club where he got formed into a professional player.”He came out of the youth system there, he moved himself up, he had all the support within the club and now going to London – also to one of the biggest clubs in the world – you’ve got to bring your elbows out.”Klinsmann added, with Pulisic having taken to airing his frustration over a lack of playing time for Chelsea: “He will go through a phase now where more and more he needs to bring his elbows out to fight himself through the system there.

“Can he do it? Yes, absolutely he can do it, but you need to be patient, too, sometimes you forget he’s a very young player.”You’re basically in a daily competition. Maybe in Dortmund he knew: ‘I established myself already within the club to be a very special player. I get my minutes in, I get my games in, I’m a starter most of the time’.”You don’t have that automatic assurance at Chelsea. At Chelsea it goes from game to game, week to week. You’re basically in training and you have to tell the coach: ‘I’m in, I’m going to start this game’. So it’s a little bit more cold, it’s a bit more nasty.”What I mean with the elbows is that you have to become nasty in order to make yourself a starter.”Pulisic initially impressed upon his arrival at Chelsea, but has not started a Premier League game since August 31 and has seen only 90 minutes of game time in the Carabao Cup during September.

Breaking down Pulisic’s competition at Chelsea

Kyle Bonn,NBC Sports Mon, Sep 30 12:01 PM EDT

 

Christian Pulisic has gone three Premier League games without seeing the field. An unused substitute again at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea topped Brighton 2-0 on Saturday, the 21-year-old told NBC Sports that his lack of playing time is “very frustrating” and that “it is tough for me right now.”Frank Lampard is under no obligation to play the American despite his hefty $73 million price tag on the move from Borussia Dortmund over the winter. With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the performances of his competition at Chelsea and determine whether the Blues boss is making the right decision in keeping Pulisic on the bench.There seems to be at least four other attacking players above Pulisic in the depth chart: Experienced international wingers Willian and Pedro, and youngsters Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Here’s a closer look at each player’s season so far.

Mason Mount

The 20-year-old England youth international has exploded onto the scene this campaign, forced into the rotation due to Chelsea’s transfer ban. He has taken his chance marvelously, proving a massive threat to opposition defenses on the ball. The sample size is still small, but Mount is currently rated as WhoScored’s 14th best player so far this season with an impressive 7.45 rating. He has delivered three goals thus far, and has produced over two key passes per game and just under two successful dribbles per game.Lampard has begun to deploy Mount more centrally, pairing him in midfield with Ross Barkley and allowing him to venture forward. He created three chances against Brighton last time out and won the penalty that saw Jorginho put Chelsea in front just after halftime. There is no doubt that in his current form, Mount should be starting every match for Chelsea at this point, and Pulisic can have no qualms about sitting behind the fellow youngster.

Pedro

Since arriving from Barcelona in 2015, Pedro has been a versatile player that has seen significant time under a host of different Chelsea managers who have all noticed his value. Playing as a true winger, a central creative force, or a wing-back in various formations, Pedro has been able to contribute in a number of ways.This season, Pedro has been of decent quality. He started slow against Brighton last time out but ended up with a solid overall performance, testing the goalkeeper a few different times and creating opportunities for his teammates. Still, that was his first league appearances since August and he was withdrawn for Hudson-Odoi after an hour. Lampard doesn’t seem to fully trust the Spaniard. His appearance in the lineup against Brighton instead of Pulisic was probably the most surprising given his lack of playing time thus far, but he proved a valuable asset.

Willian

While a hamstring problem carried over from summer international duty limited him early in the season, the 31-year-old Brazilian has seen significant playing time over the last month. Racking up three straight 90-minute showings in a row in league play, Willian is a trusted servant for Frank Lampard early on. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat difficult to determine why.Aside from the demolition of Wolves in which he was brilliant, the performances have been quite spotty for Willian thus far. While his passing accuracy is 80 percent this season, a closer look shows a host of square passes well outside the box that inflate that total. Against Brighton, Willian added little creativity, especially in the first half when Chelsea as a whole struggled to produce much of anything. Still, he came away with the game’s second goal, a tight-angled strike out of basically nothing that was deflected in and punished poor one-on-one marking and even worse goalkeeping.Another key part of Willian’s game is his defensive contributions which often can neuter his overall attacking threat. He came away from the Brighton with four completed tackles on the right flank, an impressive total for a winger. A look at his performance in the loss to Liverpool shows he was pinned back by his defensive duties for much of the game, and when he did get forward he was unable to produce much, completing just two of his six attempted passes in the penalty area and failing to come away from the match with an official chance created. Willian is a good squad player, but he hasn’t exactly dazzled in the early going. His fans will say he’s never been a dazzling player, and that’s a fair retort.

Callum Hudson-Odoi

Just having returned from an Achilles injury, the 18-year-old is clearly a fabulous talent. With the Blues having rejected Bayern Munich’s advances. There’s a feeling of obligation to play Hudson-Odoi now that Bayern has been rebuffed to confirm the club’s commitment to his future. Still, there’s a reason he sees the field. In 30 minutes against Brighton, he picked up an assist and proved valuable defensively, completing two tackles in two attempts and completing 21 of 24 passes. It wasn’t an inspiring passing chart, but Chelsea was playing with a lead the entire time.Plenty remains to be seen here how he gets on after returning from injury, but as a huge talent that has already broken into the England senior squad, there’s little reason to think he won’t see a lot of the field.

The verdict:

This is a difficult one to analyze as aside from Mason Mount, there are plenty of question marks remaining among those in front of Pulisic on the depth chart. Willian and Pedro are older, experienced players who don’t light up the field but managers love them for their dedication to the team effort and game plan, while Hudson-Odoi has plenty to prove on his way back from injury but figures to be given the chance to do so.Given the unknowns, there’s no reason to think Pulisic can’t work his way back up the ranks. Chelsea is clearly committed to youth this season, and there is plenty of incentive to develop Pulisic into a regular contributor given his promise, his age, and the club’s financial commitment. Eventually, it’s logical to think Willian and Pedro will be phased out in favor of the younger attacking players.Let’s also remember, Christian Pulisic isn’t the only good player struggling for time at Chelsea. Jorginho has proven an improved asset at Stamford Bridge, while Kante has also struggled with injury, the improved play of Jorginho has enabled Lampard to be careful with the French midfielder, confirming Kante missed the Brighton squad with a hamstring problem that left Chelsea to be cautious. Had Jorginho not been playing so well, Kante may have been risked.While it’s natural to panic over Pulisic’s small workload early on – and certainly frustrating for the player given his phasing out at Dortmund at the hands of Jadon Sancho – it’s not time to push the big red button. Lampard has clearly told Pulisic to improve his training, and nobody but the team knowns what goes on there. All we can judge is what happens on the field, and until someone at Chelsea struggles greatly and deserves to be replaced, it’s tough to see a way back in for Pulisic in the short-term.

Which version of Indy Eleven will show up for playoffs?

Kevin Johnston, Special for IndyStarPublished 1:28 p.m. ET Oct. 6, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – A Sept. 14 home win against Bethlehem Steel FC had the Indy Eleven feeling on top of the world. With 56 points at the time, the Eleven had sewn up a spot in the USL Championship playoffs and were every bit a contender for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, tied with New York Red Bulls II atop the standings.But it’s hard to put a finger on this 2019 Indy Eleven group. Four games later, they were still sitting on 56 points.Consecutive road losses to Birmingham, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Ottawa quickly quieted Indy’s top-seed aspirations and, in fact, even left the team with work to do to secure a home playoff match. To confound matters, an Indy player was sent off with a red card in three of the four losses.Saturday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indy finally halted its four-game skid while extending another streak in the process. The team moved its home unbeaten run to 24 matches by taking out Memphis 901 FC 3-0 before 13,134 supporters. More importantly, Indy — now in second place and three points back of first-place Pittsburgh — is back in the mix to secure at least one home playoff fixture, if not more.“We needed it,” Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr confessed. “Like, it was a need tonight, to get three points. The clean sheet is an added bonus, but right now the boys needed a win and we were just champing at the bit to get home. Being here, in front of this crowd, probably the most we’ve had since the opening night, is just perfect. We honestly, literally, right now can’t do it without the (supporter’s group Brickyard Battalion). This was much needed and refreshing for all the boys.”Aerial services proved Memphis’ undoing, especially early. Despite the relative lack of height in Indy’s starting attack, Memphis defenders were consistently out-timed and out-jumped on dangerous crosses into their own box. Indy’s first and second tallies came from winning balls in the air.Indy’s first tally came on an in-swinging corner kick by Kenney Walker. Dane Kelly flicked the ball on with his head at the near post, allowing Cristian Novoa to head it home at the back post, his first goal with the club. The second came on an Ayoze cross and Karl Ouimette header from the run of play.“I thought our delivery on our set plays was very good and our movement was good on those,” Eleven coach Martin Rennie explained. “In addition to that, I think we had a number of other chances… We had good movement, good balls in. I think we are still trying to find that right mix, but tonight we found it well.”Indy’s third strike came from a familiar source in leading-scorer Tyler Pasher. He settled a pinpoint long ball from Paddy Barrett and cut right toward the end line as Memphis defender Liam Doyle overplayed his dangerous left foot, then nutmegged goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell with a right-footed shot from a difficult angle.Farr drew the start in net for Indy after regular starting goalkeeper Evan Newton picked up an injury late in Indy’s previous match. Farr produced a nice diving stop on a hard-hit volley among his three saves.“I feel very confident (when Farr plays),” Rennie said. “We have two great goalkeepers and they’ve done an excellent job all season long. I think that Jordan has been focused and ready for his chances, and I thought tonight he did everything that he was asked to, and he made it look fairly comfortable.” The Eleven will host the Swope Park Rangers on Oct. 16 in their final home game of the regular season. Before that, they’ll travel to face Tampa Bay next Saturday. Two more matches, then it’s onto the playoffs.After all the strange ebbs and flows of the 2019 season, the million-dollar question remains: Which version of the Indy Eleven will show up for the playoffs — the team that just lost four straight on the road while earning three red cards, or the team that hasn’t been beaten at home in over a calendar year?“It got us out of a big ol’ rut,” Farr said of the Memphis win. “A four-game losing streak, you never like it. I mean, you never like to have that.”

MATCH PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN CONTINUES FIGHT FOR TOP OF THE TABLE AT TAMPA BAY ROWDIES

By IndyEleven.com, 10/10/19, 7:45PM EDT

 

Boys In Blue Head to St. Petersburg for Final Regular Season Away Contest

Indy Eleven at Tampa Bay Rowdies 
Saturday, October 12, 2019 – 7:30 P.M. ET
Al Lang Stadium  |  St. Petersburg, Fla.    

 

FOLLOW LIVE:

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click for a free 7-day trial)

Radio (Spanish): N/A

In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Honda

 

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 18W-9L-5D, 59 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Rowdies: 16W-7L-9D, 57 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

FIRST 2019 MEETING:

Indy Eleven 0 : 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies | Wednesday, May 1

The first meeting between age-old rivals ended in a stalemate in Week 9 of the USL Championship season. The Boys in Blue put on a sturdy defense display and kept the Rowdies from registering a single shot on goal after an early red card forced defender Paddy Barrett from the match. Indy secured a point from the shutout and kept the club’s home undefeated streak alive.

#INDvTBR:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

LAST TIME OUT:

Indy Eleven  3 : 0  Memphis 901 FC  |  Saturday, October 5

Indiana’s Team extended its home undefeated streak to 24 games after a 3-0 win against Memphis 901 FC. Indy forward Cristian Novoa netted his first goal since joining the team in August in the 13th minute, with midfielder Dane Kelly recording his fourth assist in the process. Two additional goals from defender Karl Ouimette and midfielder Tyler Pasher helped Indy leapfrog to second place in the Eastern Conference.

#INDvMEM:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

Loudoun United FC 2 : 0 Tampa Bay Rowdies  |  Friday, October 4

Tampa Bay Rowdies road record dropped to 8W-4L-4D after a 2-0 loss to 14th-place Loudoun United FC. Two second-half goals from Loudoun’s Alioune Ndour and Gordon Wild were enough to hand the Rowdies their seventh loss in 2019, keeping the race for a top four finish in the Eastern Conference tight heading into the last final two games of the regular season.

#LDNvTBR:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

#TBRVIND STORYLINES

  • Indy Eleven and Tampa Bay Rowdies are long-time rivals, dating back to both teams’ North American Soccer League (NASL) days. The two teams’ inaugural match-up was on April 19, 2014, and ended in a 1-1 draw.
  • Indy’s all-time record against the Rowdies sits at 3W-2L-7D, with a goal differential of +2 (16GF/14GA). The only year the two sides didn’t meet was 2017.
  • The first meeting between the two clubs in the 2019 USL Championship took place on May 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium and ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
  • If the Boys in Blue win on Saturday, Indiana’s Team could regain a share of first place in the Eastern Conference with a Pittsburgh loss at Saint Louis FC and either a loss or tie by Nashville SC at home against North Carolina FC.
  • Saturday night’s match-up will feature the second-best defense in the USL Championship in Indy Eleven (27 goals allowed) and the third best in Tampa Bay (30 GA). The clean sheet race remains close as well, as the Boys in Blue have recorded 13 shutouts (3rd in East; T-4th across the league) and Rowdies 11 of their own (6th in East; 9th across the league).
  • Forward Cristian Novoa scored his first goal since joining Indy Eleven last weekend against Memphis 901 FC, netting the game’s opening goal in the 13th minute.
  • Tampa Bay Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti is no stranger to facing Indiana’s Team. Guenzatti spent 2013-16 with New York Cosmos alongside Indy Eleven’s Ayoze. Guenzatti leads the Rowdies’ scoring charge with 17 goals to his name, setting a new modern era single-season goals record for the club. Additionally, his 17 goals puts him second in the Eastern Conference goals chart (behind only Nashville forward Daniel Rios’ 18) and third in the USL Championship.
  • Indy Eleven Assistant Coach Juan Guerra is no stranger to the Florida-based team. Guerra spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Rowdies, tallying three goals and one assist in 45 appearances during the club’s NASL era.
  • Indy Eleven’s Neveal Hackshaw was named to the Trinidad & Tobago Men’s National Team roster ahead of Thursday night’s 2019 CONCACAF Nations League fixture against Honduras at Hasely Crawford Stadium Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.  At the time of writing, the 24-year-old was available as a substitute on the bench. Hackshaw made his 11th full international appearance for Trinidad & Tobago back on June 23, when he went the full 90 minutes against the United States in CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage action at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | DF KARL OUIMETTE

Karl Ouimette’s performance against Memphis 901 FC at home last Saturday was enough to secure a bench spot on USL Championship’s Team of the Week. The defender contributed on both ends of the pitch, putting up stellar defensive numbers and scoring the second goal of Saturday’s contest, his second of the season.The Canadian was a wall in the back third, racking up the most clearances and tackles of the game with five and four, respectively, and helped lead Indy to its 13th clean sheet on the season. Ouimette brings peace of mind to teammates when in the backline according to captain Matt Watson, who has played in front of the 27-year-old for the majority of the season.

TAMPA BAY ROWDIES PLAYER TO WATCH | FW SEBASTIAN GUENZATTI

Indy’s defense will need to be at its best come Saturday night, when Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti comes to town. The 28-year-old is in the thick of a breakout season, currently leading the scoring charge for the Floridian team with a franchise record-breaking 17 goals. Guenzatti, the Eastern Conference’s second highest goal scorer, sits just four goals off the top spot in the league-wide Golden Boot race, raising the stakes for the striker ahead of the final two matches of the regular season.

Guenzatti registered four of Rowdies’ 14 shots against Indy at Lucas Oil Stadium on May 1, but like the rest of his teammates, was unable to test Eleven ‘keeper Evan Newton with an on-target attempt.The pressure to create in front of net by Guenzatti has the potential to increase on Saturday night with the possibility of the Rowdies being without midfielder Dominic Oduro and runner-up goal scorer Juan Tejada. Oduro was subbed off 25 minutes into Tampa’s previous game against Loudoun. The 22-year-old Tejada, who has scored 10 goals in 2019, was subbed off at halftime two matches ago against Louisville City FC and has not clocked in any playing time since. Guenzatti will need to find form after struggling to put a single shot on frame against Loudoun United FC, as he faces the second-best defense in the East in Indy.

Indy Eleven will close out its regular season slate over the next two matches, starting with a huge top-five fixture this Saturday at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The action begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be live locally on MyINDY-TV 23 and online via ESPN+.

After this Saturday’s crucial top-five clash at Tampa Bay, Indy Eleven will close out its sixth and most successful regular season in club history this Wednesday, Oct. 16, against Swope Park Rangers, at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff for Fan Appreciation Night, presented by Community Health Network Foundation, is set for 7:00 p.m. (live on ESPN+ and MyINDY-TV 23). Tickets remain available for as little as $15 by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

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9/27/19  Playoff Bound Indy 11 on Road Sat/Wed, Champs League Thrills returns Tues/Wed, MLS Closes in on Playoffs, Madrid Derby Sat 3 pm

Man its great to have Champions League back!!  Matchday 1 of the Group Stage is complete and man were there some surprises.  Liverpool losing 2-0 in Napoli, Real Madrid being destroyed at PSG 3-0 and Chelsea (with American Christian Pulisic on the bench) losing 1-0 to Valencia after missing a PK late. The world’s top keeper Ter Stegan saved a penalty and had some great saves at Dortmund as Messi finally returned to the field in a 0-0 tie for Barcelona.  Great games – though tough to watch with just a few games on TNT and the others on BR Live and FuboTV.   The 2nd leg kicks off this week Tues/Wed as Tottenham hosts Bayern Munich at 3 pm after Real Madrid hosts Club Brugge.  While Wed gives us Barcelona vs Inter on TNT and the American connections Chelsea and Pulisic (if he plays) and American coach of Salzburg travels to Cup Holder’s Liverpool – both at 3 pm on B/R Live.

Tues, Oct 1

1 pm TNT Real Madrid vs Club Brugge

3 pm          Juventus vs Bayer Leverkusen

3 pm TNT Tottenham vs Bayern Munich                   

3 pm          Galatasaray vs PSG

3 pm          Man City vs Dinamo Zagreb

Wed, Oct 2

1 pm TNT Praha vs Borussian Dortmund

3 pm TNT Barcelona cs Inter

3 pm           RB Leipzig vs Lyonnaise

3 pm          Lille vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

3 pm          Liverpool vs Salzburg (US Coach)

USA

The US Men recovered a little from the embarrassing 3-0 loss to Mexico with a solid 1-1 draw with Uraguay.  Hard to say – but new coach Berhalter has a plan and he appears to be sticking to it.  Not sure we have the player quality to play out of the back and possess all game –but he seems heck bent on doing it.  I do think the US has perhaps its strongest set of U23s  – really U20’s since the Donovan/Beasley/Bocanegra group. I love that our coach wants to possess the ball and take it to teams rather than absorb pressure and counter attack.  Its going to take some time and but I like the idea of expecting to play better teams hoping to dominate or at least be even on possession.  We just need to solidify things on the back line and get a healthy Adams in at the 6 Role in front of that line and we’ll see where we go.  Its going to take time however – and there will be some growing pains along the way.  The US Ladies will be in Chicago on Oct 6th at 1 pm at Soldier Field as part of their Victory tour vs Korea – tickets are less than $35 and available here.  Oh and great to see Megan Rapino win Women’s FIFA Player of the Year and Jill Ellis Coach of the Year!!

Indy 11

Indy Eleven move to a 17W-7L-5D (56 pts.) record on the season, engaged in a three-way tie on points for first place with New York Red Bulls II and Tampa Bay Rowdies, with Nashville SC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC trailing by one.   Indy Eleven continues its four-game road trip this Saturday at Highmark Stadium, squaring up against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at 7:00 p.m. ET.   Indiana’s Team travels north of the border four days later to take on Ottawa Fury FC for another 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff. Both matches will be streamed live via ESPN+.Indy returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on October 5 for Fall Fest against Memphis 901 FC. Kickoff for the contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

MLS

So 3 more teams clinched Playoff Spots last week and there are just 4 slots left with 1 in the East and 3 in the West.  Zlattan Ibrahimovich and the LA Galaxy secured their slot last week while LAFC claimed the Supporters Shield finally as the team with the most overall points in MLS.  Sorry to see Josef Martinez go down for Atlanta United – his 15 game goal scoring streak came to an end when we was carted off last week – hopefully Atlanta’s best player and last season’s MVP can return for the playoffs.  The Playoffs started earlier this year – with the new single game elimination first round games at the team with the best record starting in just 3 weeks – Oct 19th.   This Sunday teams battling for playoff position on Fox Sports 1 at 5 pm with NYRB hosting DC United and 7:30 pm Minn United looking for the #2 spot behind opponent LAFC.

World

A bit early in the season but the Madrid Derby kicks off Sat at 3 pm on beIN Sport – as Atletico Madrid will host Real Madrid and ESPNFC says Atletico might have the edge.  In Germany Top of the table RB Leipzig might return American Tyler Adams from injury on Sat as they host American Weston Mckennie and Schalke at 9:30 am on Fox Sports 2 followed by Josh Sergent and Werder Breman traveling to Dortmund at 12:30 on FS2.  The EPL gives us Chelsea vs Brighton at 10 am on NBCSN followed Everton hosting Man City at 12:30 pm on NBC Saturday and Leicester City hosting New Castle United Sunday at 11:30 am on NBCSN.

LOCAL

Good Luck to our Carmel FC teams playing in the Tourney at Grand Park this weekend!  A reminder GK Coach Jordan Farr will be at both Carmel FC GK trainings the next 2 Weeks – Monday night at Badger 5-7 pm and Thurs nights 5:30 pm till 7:30 pm.   

 The CHS Boys have not lost a game in their last 9 and now stand at  8-3-2 overall as they enter the last week of play on the road at Guerin tonight 5 pm, Harrison High Tues before Sectionals at Zionsville.

CarmelFC-CHSGirls

The #2 Ranked Carmel High School Girls squad hosted #1 Noblesville on Monday night and the top 2 ranked teams in the state played to a 1-1 tie as a packed house – including a ton of Carmel FC players who showed up.  Sure was great seeing so many former Carmel FC players starring for the Carmel High Varsity and JV teams !  The CHS Girls play at Zionsville at 1 pm Sat before returning home for Senior Night vs Westfield Monday at 5 pm JV / 7 pm Varsity at Murray Stadium vs Westfield.

GAMES ON TV

Sat, Sept 28

7:30 am NBCSN                                Sheffield United vs Liverpool

9 am ESPN+                                       Juventus vs SPAL

9:30 am Fox sports2                       RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Schalke  (McKinney)

10 am NCBSN                                    Chelsea vs Brighton

12:30 pm NBC                                  Everton vs Manchester City

12:30 pm FS2                                   Dortmund vs Werder Bremen (Josh Sargent)

3 pm beIN Sport                Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid (MADRID DERBY)  

Sun, Sept 29

9:30 am FS 1                                     Dusseldorf (Steffan) vs Freiburg

11:30 am NBCSN                             Leicester City vs New Castle United

5 pm Fox Sport 1                             NY Red Bulls vs DC United

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                       Minn United vs LAFC  

Tues, Oct 1

1 pm TNT                     Real Madrid vs Club Brugge

3 pm TNT                     Juventus vs Bayer Leverkusen

3 pm                              Tottenham vs Bayern Munich                   

3 pm                              Galatasaray vs PSG

3 pm                              Man City vs Dinamo Zagreb

Wed, Oct 2

1 pm                              Genk vs Napoli

3 pm TNT                     Barcelona cs Inter

3 pm                               RB Leipzig vs Lyonnaise

3 pm                              Lille vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

3 pm                              Liverpool vs Salzburg (US Coach)

7 pm ESPN+           Indy 11 vs Ottawa

Fri, Oct 4

2:30 pm F2 Dusseldorf (Steffan /Morales) vs Hertha

Sat, Oct 5

10 am NBCSN             Liverpool vs Leicester City

Sun, Oct 6

9 am NBCSN               Southampton vs Chelsea

11:30 am NBCSN       New Castle United vs Man United

 

EPL & World

Is Pulisic’s Lack of Playing Time Cause for Alarm?  – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Pulisic Struggling for Time at Chelsea – ESPNFC

Top Premier League storylines: Week 6

Premier League player Power Rankings

Pulisic Relegated to Bench as Chelsea’s Young Stars Pound Wolverhampton

Atletico’s spending gives them an edge over ‘new’ Real

– Messi beats Van Dijk, Ronaldo to FIFA The Best

– Toe Poke: What you mised from FIFA The Best awards

GK

Great Saves by US Keeper Zach Steffan for Dusseldorf

Dutch Keeper Van Sari is Women’s GK of Year – WC Save

Great Save  of Zlattan shot

Nice to See Navas Starting Again now for PSG

De Gea vs Kasper Schmiechel Great Saves

Hugo Lloris Great Saves for Spurs

GK

Great Saves by US Keeper Zach Steffan for Dusseldorf

Nice to See Navas Starting Again now for PSG

De Gea vs Kasper Schmiechel Great Saves

Hugo Lloris Great Saves for Spurs

Champions League

Marsch becomes first U.S. manager in Champions League history

Champions League: Jesse Marsch’s RB Salzburg runs wild in 6-2 rout

UCL AT HALF: Marsch’s Salzburg rolling; Champions holding firm; Chelsea’s Mount hurt

Americans in Champions League: Marsch’s RB Salzburg runs wild, Pulisic stays on bench

Five things we learned from the Champions League
Napoli scores on late penalty, rare Van Dijk error in 2-0 win

PSG Routs Real Madrid; Tottenham, Juventus Throw Away Leads in UCL

Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

Barkley sails late penalty, Chelsea falls

Christian Pulisic was an unused sub for Chelsea, who out-attempted Valencia 22-8 on the day.

Pochettino needs all of his squad to fight ahead of hectic schedule

Ter Stegen saves penalty as Barcelona draws 0-0 at Dortmund

Ter Stegen covering defence that jeopardises Barca’s European hopes

 USA

Megan Rapino Win’s Best Player of Year from Fifa

Yedlin nears return, hoping for October USMNT call-up
The USMNT heading into the end of Berhalter’s first year

Where does USMNT stand after Mexico, Uruguay friendlies?

Berhalter believes USMNT on the right path

Three things from USMNT 1-1 Uruguay

Work in Progress USMNT Earns Draw vs Uruguay

Sacchi: Guardiola, Klopp and Pochettino are innovators of the Premier League’s ‘golden age’

‘Who wouldn’t want to coach the best team in the world?’ – Andonovski confirms interest in USWNT coaching job

USWNT to close out 2019 with matches against Sweden and Costa Rica

The Gender Equal Pay Argument is Flawed – Yahoosoccer

 

MLS

Doyle: What I’m watching in the final two weeks

Golden Boot update: It’s down to a two-horse race

LAFC Secure Supporters Shield with Win over Houston

LAFC win 2019 Supporters’ Shield, lift first major trophy

LA Galaxy and Zlattan secure Playoff Spot with Win over RSL

Wiebe: Five MVP candidates in any other season…

Josef Martinez extends record scoring streak to 15

Could MLS and Liga MX Merge?

Zlattan Breaks LA Goal Record with 3 Goals in Rout

MLS Power Rankings: LAFC, NYCFC remain on top as playoffs near

Indy 11

Indy 11 Clinch Playoffs with 2-1 home Win

Indy 11 lose close 1-2 to Atlanta United 2

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

Is Christian Pulisic’s lack of playing time at Chelsea cause for alarm?

Sep 25, 2019   Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

When Christian Pulisic‘s $73 million move to Chelsea was announced in January, there were equal parts excitement and trepidation.The anticipation came from having the American heading to one of the world’s biggest clubs for a fee more than three times the previous record for a U.S. international. If Pulisic could break through with the Blues, there was a chance that he could live up to the predictions — or hopes — that he would become the first transcendent American star.But the enthusiasm was tempered by concern over how much he would actually play, especially coming off a season with Borussia Dortmund in which his time decreased due to a combination of injury and the emergence of Jadon Sancho. When Maurizio Sarri — Chelsea’s manager when Pulisic’s transfer was agreed upon — returned to his native Italy and Frank Lampard came in to replace him, the American’s position looked even more vulnerable.Just six weeks into the season, Pulisic has shown flashes of ability, like when he set up Olivier Giroud‘s goal against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup, but has found minutes harder to come by recently. When he has featured, he struggled to make much of an impact, often opting to play it safe.

“OK” is the word that keeps coming up from those assessing the American’s performances. That hasn’t been enough to keep Pulisic in Chelsea’s starting lineup, even as he returned from international duty early. In fact, heading into Wednesday’s Carabao Cup match against Grimsby Town (ESPN+, 2:45 p.m. ET), he has been an unused substitute three games in a row.

The lack of minutes has, in some cases, been circumstantial. During last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, Lampard was forced to burn two substitutes in the first half when defenders Emerson Palmieri and Andreas Christensen were injured.But other signs are more disheartening. When Mason Mount was injured early in Chelsea’s 1-0 Champions League defeat to Valencia, Pedro was summoned, not Pulisic. The return of Willian, hurt at the start the season, has also made minutes tougher to come by. With Callum Hudson-Odoi also on the mend, the competition is set to get more intense.

“It’s so early,” said former U.S. international Landon Donovan, who enjoyed two loan spells in England with Everton. “You don’t want to get carried away, but the signs don’t look great so far for Pulisic, especially when you have Pedro, Ross Barkley and Michy Batshuayi also not starting in [the Liverpool] match. You would think he’s moving down the pecking order.”Pulisic was already operating at a deficit, given that Mount spent all of last season on loan at Derby County, where Lampard was manager. While Mount has endured uneven moments of his own, he has scored three goals. Pulisic, by contrast, has yet to find the back of the net. Others like Pedro and Willian are more proven, even as they are getting on in years (32 and 31, respectively).

“The number that they bought Pulisic for helps, but the shake-up in management doesn’t because there’s no tie,” said former Leicester, Tottenham and Fulham goalkeeper Kasey Keller. “Lampard isn’t tied to Pulisic. He’s not saying that this is the guy I wanted and give him the benefit of the doubt. He had nothing to do with signing Pulisic.”So how does the 21-year-old earn Lampard’s faith? There’s really only one way, and that is through his performances during training and in games.”There’s very little politics that goes into playing time over there,” said Brad Friedel, who spent the bulk of his career in the Premier League with the likes of Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham. “It’s a very straightforward scenario where the best play. It doesn’t matter what your last name is. It doesn’t matter generally how much they paid for you, although if you get into the stratospheric wages that can put a little bit of pressure on.”It will be turning up for training, working hard, being better than the other players in your position, and the most important thing: scoring and assisting and winning games. If you’re not involved in the scoring and winning and assisting and all that, you will not play over there, especially at a club like Chelsea, because they’re going to be under pressure to win.”In some respects, the fact that Pulisic is having difficulty breaking through is not surprising. The Premier League, and Chelsea in particular, has witnessed supremely talented players struggle during their initial foray in England. Neither Kevin De Bruyne nor Mohamed Salah managed to make the grade at Stamford Bridge, only to return to England and flourish at Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively. It speaks to how difficult the adjustment can be, even if you’re moving from a quality league like the Bundesliga.”The Bundesliga, the quality is really high, but the EPL is just crazy physical, beyond what people can imagine,” Donovan said. “There’s definitely an adjustment period for any player going there. It’s not easy.”There’s consensus that Pulisic will get additional opportunities, starting with Wednesday’s Carabao Cup match. Lampard has said as much, while the fact that Chelsea is operating under a transfer ban until the summer gives the manager few options but to persist with what’s at hand. The key for Pulisic is to seize his chance and leave Lampard with no choice but to play him. That will be an ongoing process, one that will be monitored closely stateside, given that World Cup qualifying starts next June.It’s not time to hit the panic button, but by the middle of the season, if it’s not changed, then he needs to consider what his options are because leading into [World Cup] qualifying and hopefully the World Cup, he needs to be playing games,” Donovan said.The flip side is that if Pulisic does break through, he’ll emerge a stronger, more refined player. Moreover, time is on his side, given the size of his transfer fee and the fact that he signed a five-year contract.”I think it’s great for players when it happens, though it’s probably not nice for them at the time,” Friedel said. “But it really makes players grind out to earn their place and learn how to play in a new league. It should in the end be really good for him if he takes it the right way.”U.S. fans will be hoping that is the case.

Sept 27-29 viewing guide and open thread

By jcksnftsn  Sep 27, 2019, 9:00am PDT

a number of USMNT regulars in action as well as a few fringe players available to keep track of in nationally-broadcast games. Additionally, Tyler Adams and DeAndre Yedlin are reportedly closer to returning, potentially increasing the viewing opportunities. Here’s what we’ll be watching this weekend:

Saturday

RB Leipzig v Schalke 04 – 9:30a on FS2

Tyler Adams has reportedly returned to full training with RB Leipzig and thus is nearing return to game action, though it’s unknown if he will be available for this weekend’s top five matchup with Weston McKennie and Schalke. Currently, RB Leipzig sit in first place in the Bundesliga and are coming off a 3-0 win over Werder Bremen. The team has the third most goals in the league and their stingy defense has allowed just three goals through five matches.

Schalke who sit in 5th place in the Bundesliga, have won three straight games. Weston McKennie was back in a starting role for Schalke last weekend in their 2-1 win over Mainz 05. The young man was once again playing a bit all over the place and it will be interesting to see if the team looks for a consistent role for him moving forward or if “a bit all over the place” role is his consistent role.

Other Notes:

  • Christian Pulisic started midweek for Chelsea in their 7-1 Carabao Cup win over fourth-tier Grimsby Town. While Pulisic picked up an assist, he didn’t do much to distinguish himself either positively or negatively which means he’s likely back to the bench on Saturday when Chelsea face Brighton & Hove Albion at 10a on NBCSN.
  • Josh Sargent received his second start of the season last weekend in the teams 0-3 loss to RB Leipzig. Werder Bremen are in 10th place with two wins and three losses thus far, and this weekend they will be facing third place Borussia Dortmund at 12:30p on FS2.
  • Ventura Alvarado and Necaxa are coming off a 2-1 win and looking to keep pace at the top of the table. Currently the team is in second place, three points behind Santos Laguna (though with a point in hand). They take on Juarez this weekend at 8p on ESPN Deportes.

Sunday

Fortuna Düsseldorf v Freiburg – 9:30a on FS1

Zack Steffen continues to get lots of work behind a league-worst Fortuna Düsseldorf defense that has given up 89 shots through five games. The team is currently in 13th place with four points and based on their current form, it’s going to take a phenomenal season from Steffen for the club to avoid relegation. The team is coming off a 2-1 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach and is looking for their first win since the opening weekend of the season. This weekend, Düsseldorf will be facing fourth place Freiburg, who are coming off a 1-1 draw with Augsburg and have just one loss on the season.

Other Notes:

  • DeAndre Yedlin is available for selection but was left out of the 18 last weekend, so it seems unlikely he’ll be right back in the starting lineup this weekend when Newcastle faces Leicester City at 11:30a on NBCSN.

Five things we learned from the Champions League

Jed CourtAFPSep 18, 2019, 5:19 PM

Paris (AFP) – Champions League holders Liverpool suffered defeat at Napoli this week, while Paris Saint-Germain laid down a marker by brushing aside Real Madrid and Juventus were held by Atletico Madrid.ere, AFP Sport takes a look at five things we learned from the opening round of group-stage matches:

PSG can cope without ‘MSN’

Paris Saint-Germain faced their first real test without the suspended Neymar and the injured duo of Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani at the Parc des Princes against Real Madrid.But Thomas Tuchel’s men showed they can cope without their star front three, as Angel Di Maria’s double and Thomas Meunier’s late strike secured a 3-0 victory over the record 13-time winners.The French champions were not short on firepower, with close-season signings Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia both providing a threat going forward.With Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe all to return, hopes will be higher than ever in the French capital this season that PSG can reach a maiden Champions League final.

Liverpool not unbeatable

Holders Liverpool came unstuck for the second straight season at Napoli as a combination of poor finishing and sloppy defending cost Jurgen Klopp’s men in a 2-0 loss at the Stadio San Paolo.The famed front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were all guilty of wasting chances on Tuesday, while UEFA men’s player of the year Virgil van Dijk made an uncharacteristic error to gift Fernando Llorente Napoli’s late second.It was a first defeat for Liverpool, on a club-record 14-match winning streak in the Premier League, since their 3-0 loss in last season’s semi-final, first leg at Barcelona.”It should hurt because there were opportunities for us,” said Klopp, whose team lost 1-0 in Naples last year before going on to lift the trophy.

Tottenham’s soft underbelly

Last season’s runners-up Tottenham let a two-goal lead slip for the second time this season in a 2-2 draw at Olympiakos.Mauricio Pochettino criticised his team’s desire after a tame performance which was only enough for a point thanks to Harry Kane and Lucas Moura scoring in four first-half minutes.”It’s not about tactics, it’s not about quality players, it’s about the quality of preparing yourself to be ready to fight,” bemoaned Pochettino, who also saw his team draw after leading 2-0 against rivals Arsenal earlier this month.Spurs have won just three of their last 12 matches in all competitions.

Salzburg hoping to be ‘new Ajax’

Austrian champions Salzburg laid down a marker in their first group-stage game since 1994 as teenage sensation Erling Braut Haaland scored a hat-trick in a 6-2 demolition of Genk.The 19-year-old striker, who has scored 17 goals in nine matches this term, thinks his team can emulate Ajax, whose young side knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus in a surprise run to the semi-finals last season.”Everything is possible. We all saw Ajax last year, it would be nice to be the new Ajax,” the Norwegian told uefa.com.

Atalanta’s attacking style exposed

Italian debutants Atalanta claimed third place in Serie A and a spot in the Champions League last season after a thrilling campaign that saw them finish as the leading goalscorers in the Italian top flight.But their hopes of transferring that form to European club football’s top competition suffered an early blow with a 4-0 thrashing at Dinamo Zagreb.It was only a second win in 25 Champions League group-stage matches for the Croatian champions, and leaves Atalanta with plenty to do to get out of a group which also includes tournament favourites Manchester City.

Messi beats Van Dijk, Ronaldo to FIFA The Best

 

Sep 23, 2019

ESPNLionel Messi beat Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo to win FIFA’s The Best award, which is given to the top men’s player, on Monday.

The award was handed to the Barcelona and Argentina captain at a ceremony in Milan.Messi, 32, led Barcelona to a fourth La Liga title in the past five seasons, scoring 36 goals and providing 15 assists in 35 league matches last campaign. He posted 51 goals and 22 assists in all competitions.Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric won the award last year — as well as the Ballon d’Or, which is awarded by France Football — breaking up a decade-long duel between Messi and Ronaldo for the prize.However, this is Messi’s first The Best award, having gone without a top personal honour since 2015.Ronaldo and Messi had won every main individual honour since Kaka’s triumph in 2007. They each won the last two FIFA World Player of the Year awards — Ronaldo in 2008 and Messi in 2009 — as well as the Ballons d’Or in those years.From 2010, the two awards merged and became the FIFA Ballon d’Or with Messi claiming four in a row. In 2013 and 2014, the Ballon d’Or returned to Ronaldo before Messi won a fifth in 2015.

In 2016, FIFA introduced The Best award, which ran alongside the Ballon d’Or and Ronaldo won both that year and retained them in 2017 before Modric’s clean sweep in 2018.Messi’s win is somewhat of a surprise with Van Dijk, a centre-back who transformed Liverpool’s defence on the way to the Champions League crown, having won the European best player award.In the final voting, Messi finished with 46 points, while Van Dijk (38 points) and Ronaldo (36) finished second and third respectively. The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah (26) and Sadio Mane (23), Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe (17), former Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong (16), ex-Chelsea forward Eden Hazard (16), ex-Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt (9), and Tottenham striker Harry Kane (5).Additionally, Debrecen forward Daniel Zsori won the Puskas Award for his overhead kick against Ferencvaros during a Hungarian league match.Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp took home coach of the year, while Reds goalkeeper Alisson was named best keeper.United States head coach Jill Ellis and midfielder Megan Rapinoe collected women’s coach and player of the year, respectively, for the USWNT’s World Cup triumph this summer, while Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal was voted women’s goalkeeper of the year after helping her country to the final of the competition.Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa was given the fair play award.

Lampard praises Chelsea youngsters. What now for Pulisic?

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports Sat, Sep 14 1:55 PM EDT

Chelsea’s young English core stood tall in the 5-2 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, as Tammy Abraham scored a hat trick and both Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount scored goals.All 10 of Chelsea’s Premier League goals have been scored by Englishman, and USMNT star Christian Pulisic was dropped from the starting lineup and was an unused sub as Frank Lampard watched Chelsea’s best performance of the season after switching to a 3-4-3 formation.Speaking to the BBC’s Match of the Day after the game, Lampard had high praise for Chelsea’s young stars.“Delighted for them all but particularly for Fikayo Tomori. He has worked so hard from where he started to now it’s superb. Also Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount – we are trying to give chances to the youngsters and they are scoring, taking their chances and showing us why we should keep putting them in the team,” Lampard said. “They deserve it, they have the quality but they also have a love for the club because they have come through the ranks. It’s not just the youngsters though – players like Willian are having fantastic performances that are just as key.”The fact that Lampard is not only praising Chelsea’s other young stars but also the man who came in to take Pulisic’s place, Willian, is hardly good news for the Pennsylvanian winger.Yes, he will get plenty of minutes due to Chelsea being in the League Cup, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup this season, but the fact Chelsea performed so well in a 3-4-3 formation doesn’t bode too well for Pulisic going forward.He can play in one of the wide forward positions tucking in, but Lampard is likely to want a player who is a little more powerful and adept at the defensive side of the game in those wide positions.After being handed valuable minutes early in the season, Pulisic has already struggled to provide Emerson and/or Cesar Apzilicueta with defensive cover so far this season. His safe passes and failure to take games by the scruff of the neck have really restricted his impact for Chelsea in the Premier League.He is still just 20 years old, but Pulisic has to start delivering when he gets minutes for Chelsea. The Premier League is a ruthless environment and right now Willian, Mount, PedroCallum Hudson-Odoi and probably even Ross Barkley are ahead of Pulisic in the pecking order.That might be harsh, but that’s the reality of being in the PL and at Chelsea.

LAFC beat Dynamo to lift MLS Supporters’ Shield

1:06 AM ETReuters

Carlos Vela scored his 30th goal of the season, and Diego Rossi connected on the go-ahead score in the 70th minute as LAFC clinched the 2019 MLS Supporters’ Shield with a 3-1 victory Wednesday over the visiting Houston Dynamo.LAFC midfielder Eduard Atuesta put the game away with a goal off a direct free kick in the 82nd minute when he curled a shot from just outside the corner of the penalty area into the right side of goal. LAFC (20-4-8, 68 points) finally clinched the best record in the league, in just its second season, by ending a five-match winless streak. The team did have four ties during that stretch but had not won since Aug. 21 against San Jose.Vela became just the second player in MLS history to score 30 goals in a season as he moved one away from the record set by Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez last season. Vela became the first player in league history with 30 goals and 15 assists in the same season.LAFC seemed doomed to another tie, which would have left them just short of clinching the Supporters’ Shield. But Rossi scored an opportunistic goal late in the second half off a diving header.Dynamo defender Maynor Figueroa tried to clear a ball out of the Houston penalty area, but the ball hit off the crossbar and came back onto the field. Rossi went with a diving header off a high bounce and beat Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis for his 16th of the season.Vela scored a goal in his seventh consecutive game when he converted on a penalty kick in the 23rd minute for a 1-0 lead. Lee Nguyen earned the attempt when he was fouled in the penalty area by Houston’s Kiki Struna.The Dynamo (11-17-4, 37 points) tied the score 1-1 in the 28th minute on an LAFC own goal. Struna directed a loose ball in the LAFC penalty area toward goal. The ball was cleared off the line by LAFC’s Mohamed El-Munir, but it rebounded off goalkeeper Tyler Miller and into the net.

With two games to play in the regular season, LAFC are now three points behind the New York Red Bulls’ MLS record of 71 points in a season set last year.

Armchair Analyst: What I’m watching for over the final two MLS weekends

September 26, 201912:23PM EDT Matthew DoyleSenior Writer

 

OK, here we are: The very end. The final 180 minutes of the year for all 24 teams.As always, there’s a lot on the line this time of year as teams try to elbow their way into the playoffs, or into home field advantage. Let’s think about that, and what might come next – in the playoffs themselves. One eye on the present, one eye on the future, and off we go…

Are LAFC still the favorites?

A month ago LAFC weren’t just the presumptive Supporters’ Shield winners, nor even the presumptive runaway Supporters’ Shield winners. They were the runaway best team in MLS history, seemingly on an inexorable journey toward records for points, points per game, goals, goal differential and winning margin. They played soccer as beautiful as it was irresistible.  And then 60 minutes into last month’s El Trafico, Carlos Vela pulled up lame. They still might break all those records above, and they did officially clinch the Shield on Wednesday night. But it’s still probably fair to say that things haven’t quite been the same, for one reason or another, since last month against the Galaxy.  The good news is that Vela is back, but there are two other issues now. One is that smart teams have adjusted to how LAFC play and are harder/better/faster/stronger at exploiting space when the Black-and-Gold’s fullbacks overlap:

That’s fixable. Coach A has a certain style of play, and Coach B makes an adjustment, and it’s back to Coach A to figure things out. Bob Bradley’s been playing this game for damn near 40 years, and I’m sure he’s got something up his sleeve.The second problem is a bigger one. Adama Diomande “voluntarily entered into MLS’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (“SABH”) Program” according to LAFC comms last week, and there’s no known timetable for his return. Obviously Diomande getting well is the only real priority here, but from an on-field perspective… after LAFC traded Christian Ramirez, they didn’t go out and get another center forward. Dio’s it.So now they’re playing a busted-up 4-3-3 wherein their fullbacks can’t get as high as early in the play as they used to, and Vela is no longer playing the position where he was having the best season in MLS history (right wing), and is instead playing as a false 9, and there’s no actual remedy for this on the roster as it’s constructed right now.Over the past month LAFC have trended from “might not smash the record” to “might not set the record” to “might not even be the favorites.” They’re a very different team than they were at the start of August.Worth noting, though: Toronto FC and Atlanta United both kind of went into the tank down the stretch each of the last two seasons (it cost Atlanta the Shield), so maybe LAFC are just trodding a well-worn path.

Can Atlanta United cope without Josef?

No. And I felt that way before NYCFC murked ’em on Wednesday night.Josef is the second-best player in the league, and is arguably the most important player in the league. Bobby Warshaw came up with his “break in case of emergency” plans for how Atlanta could maybe go about replacing their MVP, and I respect the effort he put into that as well as the fact that the Five Stripes still have a ton of talent on that roster.But I don’t think there’s any real way for them to replace Josef Martinez. He is not just their GOAT-level goalscorer, he is an inimitable tactical piece with his off the ball movement, and – most importantly – their emotional and spiritual leader. When their season was fading in mid-July, it was Josef who put them on his back. Now he’s gone.I think Wednesday night in the Bronx is a sample of what’s to come until he comes back healthy… this year or next.

Are NYCFC just a regular really good team, or something beyond that?

First, read Bobby’s column breaking down the Pigeons’ smashing of Atlanta, which is instructive in terms of both what they do and who they are. This is the key point:

NYCFC use their positional play to set up the field in a way that suits them. Before you know it, Moralez and Mitrita and Heber and Valentin Castellanos and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi are flying at you and you’re cooked like the chewy stew at grandmas. Nobody wants that.And if you over-compensate to compress the middle of the field, they switch to a 3-4-2-1 and release their wingbacks to attack the space down the flanks. Instead of piercing through the middle, they get the ball wide and crash the box.NYCFC have weapons and they use them. They also have one of the best defenses in the league, have been one of the best teams in the league both at home and on the road, and they’re going to have home field advantage in the East. They are 17-4-5 since mid-April, which is not just “good” that’s “they’re a steamroller.” They’ve done it with and without a whole cadre of key players. They are easily – easily! – the favorites in their conference.That said, they’ve been thoroughly outplayed by TFC twice this season and historically don’t have a great record against the East teams that have dominated the past few years (TFC, RBNY and Atlanta). Nor have they ever done anything of note in the playoffs.If the Reds in particular advance out of that 4/5 game and are NYCFC’s first opponents, it’ll be a very nervous team in light blue taking the field.

Yeah but who’s second in the East?

Atlanta have, by almost any measure, an easier final two games (at Montreal, home vs. New England), but Philly (at Columbus, home vs. NYCFC) are not missing their best player. Even though I’d want no part of NYCFC at home on Decision Day presented by AT&T, I still think I’d rather be the Union. Philly have a one-point lead and a “we don’t give a damn” toughness/swagger that’s so much fun right now.Look at this staredown!!!!That is just lovely. And to be perfectly clear: Philly need that No. 2 seed more than Atlanta do for the culture and for the proof of concept, while I think Atlanta need it a lot more for reasons that are about to be made clear.”Yeah, getting second in the East matters because then you get to host the game against the third seeded team in the Conference Semifinals,” but that’s only true if you both get there. And you’ve got a much, much better chance of getting there from the second seed than from the third seed, because the third seed likely has to play Toronto, RBNY or D.C. United. Do you want to face one of them in a one-off, even at home?The second seed, meanwhile, will face…

Oh man, that East seventh seed is rough

New England got a miracle result Wednesday night with a goal in the 87th and then another seven minutes into stoppage. They had no business being in that game, but came away with a point thanks to a late Timbers meltdown en route to a 2-2 draw. It was a great moment for the Revs, and they justifiably celebrated like they’d won.But they sure haven’t been doing any actual winning lately. New England have just one W in their past nine games, and have NYCFC and Atlanta rounding out their schedule. They have been poor by almost every metric. The same goes for the Fire (home vs. Toronto, at Orlando) and Orlando (at Cincy, home vs. Chicago) either of whom can pass New England if the results break right.Any of those three teams is massively preferable to matching up against any of the three teams that could occupy the sixth spot.The second seed in the East is the biggest prize on the table right now. Both Philly and Atlanta desperately need to snag it.

And the final two spots in the West?

Also not great! Portland blew a 2-0 home lead to draw and San Jose blew a 1-0 home lead to lose just last night. The Quakes have lost four straight, the Timbers are 2-4-2 in their last eight – all at home – and the third member of this dance, FC Dallas, are winless in three. Right now it’s the Timbers in sixth (45 points + the first tiebreaker, which is wins), Dallas in seventh, and San Jose in eighth (44 points).All three teams control their own destiny. Dallas control it a little bit differently, though:

Jacob’s math is correct.Anyone who claims to know how this one is going to shake out is a big fat liar. Any of these teams can beat pretty much anyone, and have proven it. Any of these teams can lose to pretty much everyone, and have proven it.I have a sneaking suspicion, though, it’s going to come down to that final weekend when the Quakes pay Portland a visit at Providence Park. I imagine that game will have the intensity of a steel-cage death match.

What is the West hierarchy beyond LAFC?

Wait, are we back to accepting that LAFC are the absolute favorites? We are, for the sake of this argument? OK then…

In general, I have three rules of thumb in the playoffs:

  • If you have multiple match-winners in attack, you can really mess teams up (LA Galaxy)
  • If you have proven, veteran winners up the spine, you can 1-0 your way through the bracket (Minnesota)
  • If you’ve been there before and don’t get rattled, you’re probably in good shape (Seattle)

That’s the order I’ve got those teams in right now. The Galaxy are still a mess defensively, but I’d be utterly terrified of lining up across from Zlatan and Cristian Pavon. I think that’s a scarier proposition for any playoff team than lining up against Ike Opara and Ozzie Alonso, which is more “unpleasant” than “scary” because you know they’re totally content to just bunker in and wait you out, then annihilate you on the break or set pieces.

Of course, they really do need to play better than they did on Wednesday. Sporting missed about five tap-ins

Seattle are 3-4-3 in their past 10 games, and I’m not sure they even deserve to be in this conversation. They’re not scaring anybody and I really, really question whether they have the team or the ethos to wait you out and wear you down. But they’re Seattle, and Nico Lodeiro‘s still Nico Lodeiro so here they are.But yeah, back to LA for a second: Zlatan has 12 goals in his last eight games, and wow, wouldn’t you know it! That coincides almost perfectly with Pavon’s arrival!Turns out adding an in-his-prime Argentine international attacker to your team is a good way to boost attacking production (the Galaxy are crossing less and soccering more). They have scored 23 goals in Pavon’s nine appearances, and a lot of those have come against good teams.

D.C., Toronto and RBNY coming alive…

I mean, maybe. I think it’s kind of hard to say a team that just lost to Montreal is “coming alive,” but certainly in the regular season the Reds have been legit. Same goes for D.C. (they’ve won three straight, all by shutout) and RBNY (back-to-back 2-0 wins that might’ve saved a job or two).With D.C. it comes down to Wayne Rooney looking free and unencumbered by whatever it was that was holding him back earlier this season, combined with a new-look, press-everywhere-out-of-a-mid-block midfield that is just miserable to play through. With their defense, and Rooney’s work – he’s one of the superstars in this league who actually defends – suddenly the backline hasn’t been engaged in pure rearguard actions (though they showed a few weeks back in Portland they can still do that if called upon).And then when they do win the ball, Wayne goes and does whatever he wants while everyone else just runs. There’s not a lot of set patterns of positional play, it’s “see space, take space, trust Wayne.” It’s a good plan.TFC, as I mentioned above, have been legit in the regular season with a 6-1-5 record since late June. Truth be told it should be 9-1-2, but a howler from Quentin Westberg at New England, a missed penalty at Yankee Stadium and a late, ridiculous challenge from Chris Mavinga vs. LAFC turned a trio of wins into draws. The Reds have actually been at least six points better than their already good second-half-of-the-season record indicates.But while I think Westberg’s biff was a one-off, Mavinga showed again on Wednesday night that he’ll still make those kinds of plays and cost his team points. As for finishing penalties… if I were a betting man, I’d see how much I could get for hitting “Toronto FC will miss a penalty in the postseason.” And if it goes to a shootout I would be shocked if they advanced. I bet they would be, too.The Red Bulls have been less convincing despite their back-to-back excellent results, and just based on pure talent they don’t have match-winners like Rooney, Jozy Altidore or Alejandro Pozuelo. For what it’s worth, here are a few arguments in RBNY’s favor:They’re 5-4-2 against Eastern Conference playoff teams, with just one loss in their last five.They’ve dropped a ton of points from winning positions this year, mostly through lack of intensity.”Lack of intensity” should cure itself down the stretch.It is easier to press for 90 when the weather cools down a bit.After last year’s lesson, I bet Chris Armas will have his team pressing no matter the situation.We’ll see what happens this weekend against D.C. My money is on United, but I think if I was an Atlanta fan I’d be rooting like hell for the Red Bulls because the last thing I’d want to see is a fired-up RBNY team coming into that 3/6 game looking for blood. And they absolutely would be.

So that means RSL are the sleeper team everybody’s forgotten about?

One of the under-the-radar stories of the past month is that the Claret-and-Cobalt just haven’t been good enough. They played well in Portland, and lost 1-0. They went to Minnesota and were pretty good, but the Loons were plain better in a 3-1 win. They were smart to rest their regulars and got a well-earned point in New England this past weekend, but having a fresh group of starters did nothing for them on Wednesday in a 2-1 home loss to the Galaxy. LA didn’t out-play them; they out-talented them. he margin for a team like RSL is slim, and in order to expand that margin they needed home field for at least a game. A month ago, they had it in their grasp.Now they need to win both their remaining games (which they should), and for Seattle or LA to entirely fall on their faces. It all seems unlikely.So yes, that means RSL are still under the radar and are indeed the sleeper team everybody’s forgotten about. The silver lining is that’s exactly how they entered last year’s playoffs before beating LAFC and giving Sporting a real scare, and… well, it’s the 10-year anniversary of this:”The underdog has won.” It seems implausible to suggest they could do so again, but that’s what we all thought the first time. Maybe history’s ready to repeat itself.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN FALLS 2-1 AT ATLANTA UNITED FC 2

By IndyEleven.com, 09/25/19, 11:45PM EDT   Boys In Blue Fall After Netting First-Half Equalizer, Remain Tied for First Place in Eastern Conference

Despite a hard-fought effort, Indy Eleven falls on the road 2-1 to Atlanta United FC 2. Indiana’s Team drew level in the 36th minute when defender Paddy Barrett recorded his first goal of the season, but a second-half goal by Atlanta’s Andrew Carleton proved to be the game-winner for the home side.“I think it was a very open game. We’re disappointed to give away a goal on a set play because we really hadn’t given up too many chances, so that was something we have to improve on,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “It’s not something we really have made too many mistakes on this season, but that was one we needed to improve on.”Indy Eleven move to a 17W-7L-5D (56 pts.) record on the season, engaged in a three-way tie on points for first place with New York Red Bulls II and Tampa Bay Rowdies, with Nashville SC and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC trailing by one.The first chance of the game came just seven minutes in when Indy Eleven midfielder Tyler Pasher followed a pacey run with a square pass across the face of Atlanta’s goal. The grounded pass skid just inches out of reach of Indy forwards Gabriel Rodrigues and Eugene Starikov to tap the ball in, the opportunity ending wide of the far post. Two minutes later, Starikov nearly headed home a free kick swung in by Indy defender Ayoze, but his effort landed comfortably in Atlanta ‘keeper Brendan Moore’s arms.The home side began to ask questions in the 14th minute, Atlanta’s George Bello ripped down Indy’s right flank after gaining possession in the midfield as Eleven defender Karl Ouimette gave chase. Indy goaltender Evan Newton did enough to take away the near post as Bello shot far and struck the iron, keeping the scores level.Atlanta would strike first, though. After absorbing the 10 minutes of pressure from Indy that followed, a corner played in the 24th minute by Atlanta’s Mikey Ambrose connected with defender George Campbell at the penalty spot. Campbell headed the ball down and forced Newton to go to ground to make the save, but the attempt forced through the goalkeeper’s glove and into the net.The lead was short-lived as Barrett drew level 12 minutes later. Starikov came up big with another headed effort on frame off a direct free kick from Ayoze. The nod was pushed wide by Moore for a save but fell short enough for Barrett to grab the tap-in equalizer on an open net.Indiana’s Team nearly took the lead into the half after striking the post in the 44th minute. Eleven midfielder Matt Watson flicked a square pass back to Ayoze at the top of the 18-yard box. Ayoze’s one-time effort looked on target before first deflecting off the foot of Starikov, followed by redirecting away off the post as the sides went into the locker rooms level at one.The Boys in Blue began the second half similar to the first, immediately applying pressure and creating a chance in the 46th minute. A long ball from Ayoze located defender Neveal Hackshaw unmarked at the back post. The Trinidadian made solid contact with a header, but the effort flew straight into Moore’s arms as the game remained level.Atlanta surged back into the lead in the 61st minute, forward Luiz Fernando played a short pass to Carleton at the top of Indy’s penalty area. Fancy footwork saw Carleton weave through the 18-yard box before slotting home into the bottom left corner, his fourth goal in as many games.Newton stood strong to keep the game at 2-1 in the 74th minute after a ball to the right side of Indy’s box freed up Fernando for a shot on goal. Luckily for Newton, the shot was directed to the covered near post, making for an easy save. Newton came to the rescue again eight minutes later as Jack Metcalf carried the ball into the Indy box before playing a square pass to Fernando. The forward took a quick touch before taking a shot, a wide attempt that Newton would push away to safety.Indy’s final chance of the evening came in the first minute of stoppage time, Ayoze played in a cross from the left flank into a packed Atlanta box. Despite the excellent service, the ball ended up on the roof of the net as the last opportunity of the night went begging and the final score read 2-1 in favor of the home team.“We feel disappointed today because we feel like we missed a couple of chances in the last few weeks to put ourselves clearly out in front of everybody, but at the same time, we knew that this phase of the season would be quite a challenge,” Rennie said. “We have a lot of games in a short space of time, so we need to keep perspective on things. I think that most teams would like to be in the position we are in at the moment, but we now need to capitalize on it.” Indy Eleven continues its four-game road trip this Saturday at Highmark Stadium, squaring up against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at 7:00 p.m. ET. Indiana’s Team travels north of the border four days later to take on Ottawa Fury FC for another 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff. Both matches will be streamed live via ESPN+.
Indy returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on October 5 for Fall Fest against Memphis 901 FC. Kickoff for the contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Regular Season – #ATLvINDbb     Indy Eleven  1 : 2  Atlanta United 2

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 – 7:30 p.m. ETFifth Third Bank Stadium – Kennesaw, Ga.Attendance: 1,026

2019 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (17W-7L-5D, 56 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference)

Atlanta United 2 (8W-16L-6D, 30 pts., 14th in Eastern Conference)

Scoring Summary:
ATL – George Campbell (Mikey Ambrose) 24’

IND – Paddy Barrett (unassisted) 36’

ATL – Andrew Carleton (Luiz Fernando) 61’

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN CLINCHES PLAYOFF BERTH WITH 2-1 WIN OVER BETHLEHEM STEEL FC

By IndyEleven.com, 09/14/19, 11:30PM EDT

Forwards Ilija Ilic and Dane Kelly score in second half to push Boys in Blue back to top of Eastern Conference standings, home unbeaten streak to 23 games

Goals from Indy Eleven forwards Dane Kelly and Ilija Ilic secured the club’s 23rd undefeated match in a row at Lucas Oil Stadium and a spot in the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs in a 2-1 win over Bethlehem Steel FC.

With the win – the sixth in Indy’s last eight games – Indiana’s Team again shares the top of the Eastern Conference table with New York Red Bulls II, tied on points (56) and overall league wins (17). While New York technically holds the goal differential tiebreaker, Indy Eleven still has one game in hand on the Empire State squadThe 80th minute game-winner by Kelly was his third for the Boys in Blue in less than a month, and all have come at home after the 80th minute of play. The goal allowed is the first on home turf since Charlotte Independence snuck one past ‘keeper Evan Newton on August 25, and just the fifth all season for the USL Championship’s top defense.“The character to come back was excellent. Obviously there are a bunch of really good players on this team. Most teams have that, but there is a connection between the players,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “They fight for each other and care about each other. They have a good culture in the locker room. It’s a unique group of players and that’s what I think makes the difference on a night when players are tired.”The Boys in Blue nearly opened the scoring seven minutes into the game via leading goal scorer and midfielder Tyler Pasher. After defender Ayoze played a lofted ball into the box that freed Pasher on the right, the Canadian took a touch into space and placed a shot that nearly forced through the legs of Bethlehem goalkeeper Matt Freese.Indiana’s Team continued to press and nearly broke the deadlock 10 minutes later. Forward Cristian Novoa, receiving his second consecutive start, played a back-heel pass to Ilic inside the left side of Bethlehem’s penalty area. The Serbian took a touch onto his right foot and attempted a curling shot that ultimately struck the crossbar and edged over the goal.Ilic nearly found his place on the scoreboard again in the 23rd minute of play. Multiple give-and-goes between Pasher and Ayoze eventually led to a cross from the Canadian that connected with the head of Ilic at the back post. Ilic’s header bounced off the ground and nearly crossed the line, if not for a goalline clearance from Freese, who continued to have an impressive first half of play.Bethlehem Steel created their best chance of the first half in the 25th minute after forcing Indy defender Neveal Hackshaw into a turnover near the center line, Bethlehem forward Michee Ngalina stealing the ball before bursting down the right flank. After making an impressive run into the Indy box, Ngalina unleashed a driven shot in a one-on-one attempt with Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton. The 31-year-old goaltender denied the first effort before a quick second came his way, which he again denied for a quick double-save.Indy continued to dominate possession and generate chances the rest of the half, but remained unable to convert as the sides entered the locker rooms even at nil-nil.Ilic finally broke the deadlock eleven minutes after the start of the second half, scoring the goal he looked certain to get in the first half. Indiana’s Team earned a corner after an extremely impressive point-blank reaction save from Freese, the ensuing set piece finding midfielder Macauley King, who played a lofted pass into the box that connected with Ilic. The Serbian displayed remarkable control taking the ball down in the six-yard box with a head-high touch before smashing home a first-time shot for his second goal the of season.“I’ll tell you something – the strikers win you the game, but defenders win you the championships,” said Ilic, who was quick to credit the other side of the ball after the match. “So if you have a good defense throughout the season, that’s how you get to the top. I would say that this year the defenders are actually much better than the strikers for us. We have the best defense across the league and I’m really happy for the guys. They just keep providing clean sheets.”Bethlehem nearly answered in the 59th minute through a corner kick. Steel FC defender Nathan Harriel nearly nodded a corner over Indy’s goal line, but the crossbar came to Newton’s rescue, deflecting the ball back into play. Harriel returned fire as the redirected ball fell back to his feet,  but a goalline clearance by defender Paddy Barrett kept Indy’s sheet clean for the time being. Despite Indy’s best efforts to retain the lead, Steel FC equalized from a short corner in the 76th minute. The ball would be pushed off to Bethlehem’s Ngalina, who played in a cross to the back post that found teammate Ben Ofeimu lurking in Indy’s six-yard box. The center back caught Indy’s Newton off his line and tapped into an open goal, bringing the scores even at 1-1.Bethlehem’s equalizer wouldn’t last long, as four minutes after scoring Indy would surge back into the lead. A long ball by Indy midfielder Drew Conner found Pasher at the top of Bethlehem’s 18-yard box, and Pasher played a square pass with his head just prior to being fouled by Freese, who rushed off his line to attempt to clear. Kelly played on and took full advantage of Bethlehem’s open net with a half-volleyed strike to regain the lead at 2-1.Hungry for more, Kelly nearly doubled the lead twice in the final 10 minutes, but Indy would eventually settle to possess quite comfortably through the end of regulation and six minutes of stoppage time – and then some – to secure yet another home win and a second consecutive berth in the USL Championship’s postseason.“We made the playoffs tonight with five weeks to go. That’s a huge achievement. Every club looks to make the playoffs and we’ve done that,” Rennie said. “We have much higher aspirations than that. We want to be at the top and give ourselves the best chance to win when the playoffs come. But that’s quite a while away. We’ve still got a lot to play for, but we’ve got playoffs to look forward to in the future. Finish first would be our goal.” Indiana’s Team will hit the road its next match, as the Boys in Blue travel to Alabama to take on Birmingham Legion FC next Friday, September 20. The first match in a three-game, nine-day road trip kicks off at BBVA Field at 8:00 p.m.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvBSTIndy Eleven  2 : 1  Bethlehem Steel FC

Saturday, September 14, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ETLucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.   Attendance: 12,103

2019 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (17W-5L-5D, 56 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference)

Bethlehem Steel FC (7W-14L-6D, 27 pts., 13th in Eastern Conference)

9/10/19 US Men vs Uruguay Tues 8 pm FS1, Indy 11 Wed/Sat 7 pm games at the Luke, European Leagues back this weekend

So I watched the game a 2nd time before writing down my thoughts.  Let’s start with the good – listen the US men out-possessed Mexico 53-47.  Yes you didn’t read that wrong – the US had more possession of the ball than Mexico.  Mexico – THAT has never happened before -heck we are normally like 35-65 – versus Mexico.  Heck 70 minutes into this match – it was 0-1 on 1 incredible play by Mexico.   And this was without Altidore and Bradley, still two of our best players (thanks MLS – for not recognizing the International Break Again– IDIOTS!)

So you can see what Berhalter is trying to do.  He’s trying to possess not just kick and run and play defense with 10 behind the ball. Listen Mexico is better than us right now – better players, better manager – but I truly think our U23s are better than Mexico’s And if our kids can keep getting better – and play and start in Europe – we have a chance to catch up.   While I like the possession – I am not sure we are good enough to play out of the back ALL of the time.  I am not sure Steffen can do it honestly – if he’s going play this way – he may need to find a keeper that is better with his feet.  Steffen is really good and is probably our best keeper right now – but his footskills are just average – and I am not sure he can play this style.  Especially without dmids that will protect him rather than leaving him out to dry.

Interesting overall game – again we were in the game until the 70th minute – but unlike the Gold Cup – I didn’t feel the US had ANY chance to actually win this game.  We had maybe 2 shots on goal – 1 off a corner – (Morales post ball) – in the Gold Cup I thought we outplayed them completely in the first half before finally getting outplayed and losing a close one in a game when we outshot them overall. This time – Mexico had more shots, more chances, more corners and even though we had more possession – we really didn’t threaten the goal very often.  (Of course Zardes stinking up the forward position is nowhere close to what Altidore can do – and did vs Mexico in the Gold Cup.  How our coach didn’t start Josh Sargent tonight is mindblowing !!  Zardes is a Joke at the international level and has to be the 4th or 5th best forward option for us – why ???

I have given Fox Sports credit for coverage in the past – especially after the Women’s World Cup – but they screwed this one up big time.  After the US took an butwhipping at the hands of our hated rival Mexico – someone needed to explain what the heck happened post-game.  So what does Fox do?  Flip 30 seconds after we lose to stupid Baseball WhipAround.  Seriously?  Listen Fox I know you lost Millions when the US didn’t make the World Cup  -but if you are going to cover the US team – you have to have a postgame show?   Hell on FS 2 or Fox Soccer or something?  This was inexcusable and made the 3-0 loss to our hated rivals even worse.  Either cover the sport or Don’t Fox – Don’t HALF-A__ it though.

Tuesday night we’ll see if the US can bounce back vs a very good Uraguay team.  Hate to see Pulisic and McKinney and Steffan heading back to Europe before this game but I also understand its important to keep them starting at their club teams – especially in a friendly.  Still the chance to play this kind of competition doesn’t come along all the time for the US and I hate to see us not take advantage to have our best players playing.  We’ll see how we do Tuesday night at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1 again.  Hopefully we’ll show a little more fight tonight!

Indy 11 Host Games Wed/Sat this Week @ 7 pm

Indy Eleven fell to Charleston Battery on Sunday evening 0-1, the team’s first loss since July 27 on the road to Nashville SC. Battery midfielder Romario Piggott notched the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute off a strong counter attack with a low shot just out of Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton’s diving reach. The fixture is also the first time the Boys in Blue have been shut out since losing to Nashville, having scored at least once in each of the last five matches. Despite finishing the game with 71% possession and 17 shots, the Boys in Blue couldn’t muster the equalizer. Next Games are Wed, Sept 11 vs Ottawa at 7 pm at Lucas Oil followed by Hispanic Heritage night next Sat, Sept 14.   Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

MLS

I am purposely not writing about MLS this week in protest of them playing games during the international break.

TV Games

Not a lot of good games on this weekend – maybe RB Leipzig vs Mayern Munich on Sat at 12:30 on FS1. A couple of good games in MLS –

3:30 pm FS1                                           Portland Timbers vs DC United

6 pm ESPN                                               Seattle Sounders vs NY Red Bulls

Of course Champions League Group Stage Games start next week – no idea what channel they might be on TNT for 1 Game per day?

Tues

3 pm        Dortmund vs Barcelona

3 pm        Benefica vs RB Leipzig

3 pm        Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Valencia

3 pm        Napoli vs Liverpool

Wed

1 pm        Olympicos Piraeus vs Tottenham

3 pm        Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

3 pm        PSG vs Real Madrid

3 pm        Shakhtar vs Man City

Shane’s Player Ratings for US Game vs Mexico

Coach Gregg B – Manager – 4 – hard to find much to like on this night.  His subs were late, his player choices questionable and his system for this game – I don’t know – but it didn’t work.  Oh and his rotating Captain – once again the guy who he makes captain Played Horrible – Zack Steffan was the captain and played possibly his worse game in a US Jersey.  Same for Trapp and Pulisic and McKinney in other games.  Still missing Adams and was hindered without Altidore and Bradley.

GK Zack Steffen, 4 – Steffen’s worse game in a US Jersey – too bad it happened on a night when his hero Tim Howard was presented his Framed Jersey for his many years of service and 3 World Cups.  Steffen was horrific with his feet making multiple miss-touches and bad passes.  He was responsible for the 2nd goal and could have done much better on the 3rd goal as well.  Will be interesting to see hopefully Gonzalez on Tues vs Uruguay.

DF Reggie Cannon, 6 — Held things up well enough on the right – Cannon did well not to stand out. Should have probably been marking Chicarito on the 1st goal but was pulled to the front post player when Zimmerman didn’t back off properly and got stuck in no-mans’ land.

DF Walker Zimmerman, 5 – Ok – had his moments – but also did not cover anyone on the first goal as the backside central defender – he got caught in no man’s land 3 feet in front of the front post – HORRIFIC position for a Center Back – would have like to have seen Brooks in there.  Zimmerman can’t hang at this level.

DF Aaron Long, 6 — Is cementing himself as a key member of this squad.  Made some solid plays to keep it close.  Might have done better on the 3rd goal.

 DF Sergino Dest, 5 – Just ok – so he’s 18 years old – and for a kid he played ok – Handled many of his defensive duties well but he was OUTRIGHT EMBARRASSED by a Corona nutmeg for Mexico’s opening goal.  Did push forward well and seemed ot have some chemistry with Pulisic – other than their shared giving up the first goal.

MF Christian Pulisic, 7 – The Chelsea star has his moments and was the best player on the field for the US – made some really good runs but did not find that final pass for his teammates and barely got a shot on goal.  Oh and he has to take the penalty kick – just has too.  He’s the best player on thethis team – its time for him to step up and act like it.  He’s no Landon Donovan (yet) – but it’s a bit early for him to achieve that level of play in this game just yet.

MF Weston McKennie, 5 – I like his toughness and he has some moments – but he also delivered a HORRIBLE ball back to Steffan and it was HIS FAULT the US gave up the 2nd goal.  Listen he’s ok – but I don’t think he turned and headed up field more than twice all game – someone in the midfield besides Pulisic has to turn and relieve pressure – that’s something McKennie has not figured out how to do yet.

MF Wil Trapp, 3 – Ok this guy is horrible and should not be playing for the US NATIONAL TEAM PERIOD!!!  He can’t carry Bradley’s jockstrap much less take his spot on the field.  THIS IS Berralter’s folly – not sure if he has pictures on the coach or what  – but this guy has got to go.

MF Alfredo Morales, 6 — Chaotic but brought the kind of energy the US Needs in the middle – could probably player a disrupting role as a dual #6  -he did not back down to the typically dirty Mexican team.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 1  — ok this is beyond a joke now – this guy shouldn’t start for his MLS team much less the National Team.  He has no business on this squad.  I know Josie was unavailable – but my gosh – there have to be 10 other guys better than Zardes for the forward slot.  Seriously – Gregg playing his BOYS from Columbus has to STOP!!!  He touched the ball maybe 1 time in the offensive half the entire time he was in the game.  Sargent came in the game and in 10 minutes on the field did more than Zardes has done in 3 games up top.  Zardes can simply not play at this level !!

.FW Tyler Boyd, 4 – Really disappointing show from him – after the great start against the minnows in the Gold Cup I am not sure he can hang at this level – it was just 1 game but we need a lot more from him.  I am not sure “(not growing up in America – that he truly understands what this game means – he certainly didn’t play like it) his sub DID!

Substitutes

DF Miles Robinson, 5 (on for Zimmerman, 58 minutes) — The Atlanta United FC product got a well-deserved debut but man he showed he is NOT READY for this level of play!!   Not sure the center backs are anywhere close to average and Miles didn’t prove to be an improvement.  We gave up 2 goals in his 20 minutes on the pitch.

FW Jordan Morris, 7 (on for Boyd, 58 minutes) – I thought Morris was one of our best players on the night – made run after run after coming on for Boyd and won the penalty that should have given us a goal.   Gave the kind of effort required vs a Mexico – had best start Tues!

FW Josh Sargent, 5 (on for Zardes, 67 minutes) – Interesting start – horrific that our coach did not start him tonight and didn’t bring him on until 20 minutes were left.  His impact was felt immediately upon coming on the field and he had a couple of chances.  Surprised he took the PK – he didn’t take it that well –  too bad.

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Sept 10

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    England vs Kosovo(Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Andorra (Euro Qualifiying)

8 pm FS1                                               USA vs Uruguay

9:30 pm Fox Desportes                  Hondurus vs Chile

10 pm Univision, FUBOTV             Argentina vs Mexico

Weds, Sept 11

7 pm MyindyTV                              Indy 11 vs Ottawa

7 pm ESPNNews                                  Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Fri, Sept 13

2:30 pm    FS2                                        Dusseldorf (Steffan /Morales) vs Wolfsburg

Sat, Sept 14

7 am beIN Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Levante

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Liverpool vs New Castle United

9 am ESPN+                                             Fiorentina vs Juventus

9:30 am FS1                                            Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen

10 am NCBSN                                         Tottenham vs Crystal Palace

12:30 pm NBC                                       Norwich City vs Manchester City

12:30 pm FS2                                        RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich

3 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Valencia

Sun, Sept 15

9 am NBCSN                                            Bournmouth vs Everton

9 am ESPN+                                             Fiorentina vs Juventus

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Watford vs Arsenal

12:30 pm FS1                                        Paderborn vs Schalke (McKinney)

3:30 pm FS1                                           Portland Timbers vs DC United

6 pm ESPN                                               Seattle Sounders vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Fox Sports 2                           LA Galaxy vs Sporting KC

Tues, Sept 17

3 pm        Dortmund vs Barcelona

3 pm        Benefica vs RB Leipzig

3 pm        Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Valencia

3 pm        Napoli vs Liverpool

Wed, Sept 18

1 pm        Olympicos Piraeus vs Tottenham

3 pm        Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

3 pm        PSG vs Real Madrid

3 pm        Shakhtar vs Man City

USA

GB Needs a Better Gameplan or Different Players – SB Nation
Why the USMNT’s supposed ‘progress’ vs. Mexico was extremely flawed

Preview: USMNT v. Uruguay

Gregg Berhalter insists USMNT is progressing, but ugly Mexico loss ramps up scrutiny

Pulisic criticised over USMNT ‘fear’ comment and told to be a leader
Sargent’s Resilience Emblematic of USMNT’s Growing Pains, Process

WORLD

So far, so great for American coach Marsch with Red Bull Salzburg

Salzburg is 6-0 to start the league campaign, and has scored 27 goals while conceding just four.

Kane treble fires England in Bulgaria rout

Pickford pleased to take Everton form to international fold after solid England display

Harry Kane sets sights on next England goalscoring landmark before future target of Wayne Rooney’s record

Ramos equals Casillas’ Spain appearances record

Ramos equals Casillas’ Spain appearances, closes in on men’s world record

Indy 11

Indy 11 lose 1-0 on the road

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

Gregg Berhalter insists USMNT is progressing, but ugly Mexico loss ramps up scrutiny

Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsSep 7, 2019, 5:34 PM,

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When Gregg Berhalter was hired to coach the United States men’s national team last December, more than a year after the USMNT failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in over three decades, one of the biggest questions was if the possession-based playing style he preferred was compatible with the players he had at his disposal.Those questions came roaring back to the fore following Friday night’s embarrassing 3-0 loss to blood enemy Mexico, for good reason. The U.S. had no answer for El Tri’s high press, which forced the Americans into error after error. And had Mexico been a bit more ruthless, the score line could’ve been even worse.“As you can see,” attacking standout Christian Pulisic said afterward, “we still have a lot to work on.”Yet in his testy postgame press conference, Berhalter insisted that he was actually happier with Friday’s performance than he was two months ago, when the Americans lost the Gold Cup final to this same Mexican team on a late Jonathan dos Santos goal.“I see where the narrative is going now, it’s ‘Why are we playing the way we’re playing?’” Berhalter said. “The second is, ‘We don’t have the players to do it.’ That’s what all of you guys are thinking. And to me, it’s about developing players. We’re making progress. That’s not going to be your narrative right now, and I understand that. But internally, we believe we’re making progress.”Long-suffering fans of the national team could be forgiven for not seeing it that way. For the progress Berhalter was referring to wasn’t about the actual execution of his plan, but rather that his players didn’t abandon it, even after it became painfully clear, in this match at least, it wasn’t working., it’s admirable that Berhalter wants to stick to his principles. It’s also fair to wonder if it’s the right thing to do. For a program that is desperately trying to restore its reputation as a hard-to-beat team that consistently punches above its weight, getting routed at home by its biggest rival isn’t a sign that things are improving.Berhalter’s system is complicated enough that players are studying it while with their club teams. “You have to,” said midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who along with Pulisic was one of the Americans’ few bright spots against El Tri. When the team actually gets together, there are only a few days of training to make sure everybody is on the same page. It’s not easy.“It’s the hardest thing in the world,” Pulisic said after Friday’s defeat. “You have short periods to train, and it’s hard to teach a real system and be very specific with it.”The cold reality is, it seems to be impacting the Americans’ confidence against Mexico.“We still play with fear against them,” Pulisic said. “That is what I can’t really live with. So that needs to change.”It didn’t help that starters such as Tyler Adams, Jozy Altidore, John Brooks, Michael Bradley and DeAndre Yedlin were unavailable because of injuries or club commitments. And Mexico’s roster for this match was arguably stronger than the one that beat the U.S. in the Gold Cup.El Tri’s all-time scoring leader Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was back after missing the regional championship, and sure enough an unmarked Chicharito ended up nodding home the eventual game-winner just 21 minutes into the contest. But dos Santos, Marco Fabian and other veterans didn’t even dress for the match, and it was hard to shake the feeling afterward that the U.S. basically beat themselves.“We could’ve played to our forward a little bit more, play a little bit more direct, change it up a little bit. Obviously the scoreline is what it is, but we played the way we wanted to play,” said U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen, whose mixup with midfielder Alfredo Morales led to the back-breaking second goal in the 78th minute. “When I get the all, I gotta have at leat two options. It’s all based off movements and the way the [other] team is pressing. And yeah, at times it’s a little sketchy.”“It’s a tough system and we’re playing very tough teams right now,” said defender Aaron Long. “It’s easy to just kick long in these games and play direct and maybe get a better result or get more chances, but if we want to be a team that plays out of the back — and that’s what we want to do — then these are the best games to try it.”This was only a friendly, of course. No points were on the line. But the U.S. program is still not in a position where it can afford to shrug off a lopsided defeat to of all foes Mexico.Several U.S. players talked this week about how they want to improve the perception of American soccer. It’s clearly a responsibility they’ve discussed and take seriously. But the public will judge this team first and foremost on results.“I’m not going to say ‘Listen guys, there’s going to be growing pains and you should expect losses,’ because they shouldn’t,” Long said when asked what message the performance sent to already-cynical USMNT supporters.Something will have to change if the U.S. is to get a better outcome against FIFA No. 5 Uruguay on Tuesday in St. Louis.“There needs to be a lot more movement and a lot more creativity within the team and just confidence when we go out and play against good opponents,” said Pulisic, who will miss the match against Uruguay as he and five of his teammates return early to their clubs.“We have to go out there and play like we’re good enough to be out there and be confident and play without thinking twice about it. That’s how it needs to be. And that’s just not where we’re at right now.”

Player Ratings: USMNT struggle to make grade in friendly loss to Mexico

September 7, 20191:40AM EDT Greg SeltzerContributor

The US national team lost control of matters early on Friday night, suffering an irksome 3-0 friendly defeat to border war nemesis Mexico in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The hosts raced out of the blocks terrifically thanks to about 20 minutes of gutsy ball movement, but a Javier Hernandez goal ended the fun and completely changed the tenor of the match.The Nats had their positive spells of play here and there, but never fully recovered and missed the chance to gain quick revenge for their Gold Cup final loss to Tata Martino’s swarming crew.

Zack Steffen (3) — There’s no reason to fault the netminder on Mexico’s opener or capper, but his distribution was rather spotty even before he gifted their back-breaking second with a horrid pass up the middle. Steffen is a fine ‘keeper, but damaging decisions with the ball at his feet have become a concerning trend now.

Reggie Cannon (4.5) — The FC Dallas youngster picked some good moments to get forward, but was ineffective when the delivery moment of truth came. Though Cannon also had his moments defensively, a few dangerous crosses did emanate from his corner.

Walker Zimmerman (5) — While he committed no major errors at the back, one would expect the LAFC defender to come up with more stops, especially when the opponent spends a large portion of the game swarming the US end. More distressingly, there were simply too many risky, errant passes coming off his boot.

Aaron Long (3) — It was an off night from the Red Bulls center back, to say the least. On the first Mexico tally, Long wandered into no man’s land, forcing near post cover from Zimmerman that left tons of goalmouth space for Chicharito to exploit. He was also ineffectual when the team needed an intervention on El Tri’s third and uncharacteristically whiffed on a couple of clearances. Finally, no one needs him rushing out to commit a yellow card foul on a player facing the crowd next to the sideline near midfield.

Sergino Dest (5) — Like the team as a whole, the debutant was pretty terrific during the first 20 minutes. Dest showed no fear in handling business up and down the flank, and even drew a decent save from long range. After getting ruthlessly nutmegged on the opening goal play, he faded a good deal. Still, it was a fairly encouraging first US outing.

Wil Trapp (3) — When he’s not pinging diagonal leads to speeding wingers, the Columbus skipper struggles. Trapp did not do that in this game, which only makes his defensive frailties stand out all the more. His biggest demerit comes for neglecting to pick up the Hernandez run on Mexico’s first. It was a big no-no.

Alfredo Morales (4.5) — Back in the team after a long absence, Morales certainly came to play. He was stuck in all night, and definitely had some solid episodes. The problem is, he’s a lot better as a disrupter around or across the midfield stripe than he is in his own end. With that being the case, the limitations in his passing game tend to stick out like a sore thumb.

Weston McKennie (4) — Stop me if you’ve heard this before: we need more consistent activity on and near the ball from the Schalke talent. McKennie made zero defensive stops in the middle of the field and did not drive play forward as much as he usually does.

Tyler Boyd (5) — It’s hard to ding the Besiktas winger too much because he went long stretches without seeing the ball. Even so, Boyd was much more of a possession facilitator/track-back helper than an attacking headache for the opponent in this one. Just because the volume of touches drop, there’s no need for his aggression to do the same.

Christian Pulisic (4.5) — The Chelsea ace had a threatening look about him early, and contributed some strong pressure valve work throughout the contest. That said, he was oddly hesitant in the final third over the last hour. The bigger problem, though, was repeated instances of checking out defensively on Mexico advances down his side, such as on the first goal.

Gyasi Zardes (5.5) — Some may gripe over the Columbus striker’s performance, but there’s not a whole lot he can do when the team doesn’t get him any touches within, say, javelin-throwing distance of the goal. They weren’t even trying to use him for hold-up play. To his credit, Zardes did work his tail off defensively.

Coach Gregg Berhalter (3) — I could air a few objections about construction of the lineup (and the selection, for that matter), but let’s instead focus on in-game decisions. The match started well enough, but there was never a real tactical reaction from the boss after Mexico pushed their pressure line deep into the US end and grabbed the opening goal. Yes, it was a friendly and the players need to drill things. But Berhalter needs to drill things, too, like game management and putting your charges in an ideal position to succeed.

Subs:
Miles Robinson (6) — I’m not going to fault the debutant defender for his step into traffic on Mexico’s jailbreak for the third goal, as some might. From my view, there was nothing overly constructive or calamitous in Robinson’s half-hour-and-change on the field.

Jordan Morris (6.5) — The Seattle speedster looked lively and more full of intent than his right wing predecessor, and his expert body shaping to a lead pass earned the penalty.

Daniel Lovitz (5.5) — The Montreal left back got away with failing to track a back post runner. Other than that, there was nothing especially noteworthy about his 22 minutes of action.

Josh Sargent (5) — The sub striker pitched in with a few nice link touches, but he has to do better than a weak penalty try to the direction the ‘keeper is already cheating.

Sebastian Lletget (6.5) — Not everything he tried worked, but the LA Galaxy man provided nearly as many true moments of impact as all three starting midfielders combined. Lletget’s excellent entry pass led to the spot kick.

Jackson Yueill (-) — Stoppage time cameos generally don’t merit grades, but the San Jose midfielder did manage one positive attacking half pass completion per minute played.

 

U.S. ratings vs. Mexico: Pulisic 7/10, plenty of subpar performances in heavy loss

Sep 6, 2019  James TylerSenior Editor, ESPN FC

The U.S. always hates losing to Mexico, but even the most ardent of supporters could find little fault with Friday night’s 3-0 defeat at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez opened the scoring with a sharp, predatory effort following Jesus “Tecatito” Corona‘s cheeky nutmeg of U.S. debutant Sergino Dest to set up room for a well-weighted cross. The U.S. struggled to get back into the game, but well and truly folded after the second-half substitutes began coming on. Zack Steffen‘s careless giveaway led to Erick Gutierrez‘s fine, low strike for 2-0, but late on, the the hosts chasing, substitute Uriel Antunafinished yet another counterattack to put the result beyond doubt.There is little time for reflection as the U.S. travel to St. Louis next, where the Americans will face Uruguay on Tuesday, yet they need to seize what moments they have in order to assess what went wrong against Mexico and Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who remains perfect since taking over as El Tri manager.

 

Positives

Forget the result: It was a narrow defeat, but some players who figure to be vital in the 2022 World Cup cycle got valuable experience against the kind of team the U.S. must match up with in order to reach that fabled next level. Mixing Dest, an under-20 standout, in with the senior side was a nice boost, and it was good to see the continued rapport between Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman at the back. After all, a strong center-back partnership can make a big difference in tournament play.

Beyond that, there was a subtle uptick to the Americans’ style of play; it felt like they’d received their homework prematch and set about applying the new principles at every opportunity. Whether playing out from the back — very much the hip trend for top clubs in Europe — or applying clever pressure on Mexico in certain areas of the field, it’s clear Gregg Berhalter is trying to do something new and different with this squad.

Negatives

It’s always nice to see new things, but the panicked nature of many U.S. possessions when the ball was at Steffen’s feet or those of a nearby defender showed there’s a way to go. Also, the midfield was constantly bypassed with ease by Mexico from start to finish; the Mexico players were consistently quicker to intercept wayward passes or seize upon heavy touches.

Still, it feels harsh to call these things a negative, because they at least show a willingness to evolve. And that enhancement will be most welcome in the future if the U.S. can strike the right balance.

Manager rating out of 10

6 — It feels as though Berhalter is moving at a glacial pace with implementing changes, but there is something to his U.S. team that looks a little different even if the end product is just as uneven was it was under his predecessors. Like a good coach should, he won’t dwell too much on a handful of individual errors no matter how glaring, given that it’s to be expected in a new system and with a new group of players.

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

GK Zack Steffen, 4 — Struggled at times with his distribution, looking for risky passes out from the back at times when a more simple approach would have been smart. Failed to recover to deny Hernandez with the opening goal, and then his continued efforts to play it out from the back resulted in a woeful pass from which Gutierrez scored. Needs to be better about knowing when to be adventurous and when to play it safe, else his swashbuckling attempts to reinvent the goalkeeper position will do much more harm than good.

DF Reggie Cannon, 6 — Held things up well enough on his flank. The best defenders are rarely seen because they just do their jobs. Cannon did well not to stand out.

DF Walker Zimmerman, 6 — Fine defensive play. Managed to keep his cool in the 25 minutes of the first half following the opening goal when it seemed like Mexico could score four or five.

DF Aaron Long, 6 — Typically steady but lost Hernandez for the opener. Is cementing himself as a key member of this squad.

DF Sergino Dest, 5 — A genuine mixed bag. There’s obvious potential here given his ascent at powerhouse Ajax, but there are also a lot of obvious edges to his game that will require refining over time. Showed genuine positivity and purpose on either side of the ball, which is a plus. Yet he lacked positional awareness at times with regard to off-the-ball runs. Handled many of his defensive duties well but he was humbled by a Corona nutmeg for Mexico’s opening goal.

MF Christian Pulisic, 7 — Another extremely busy performance from the Chelsea star and undisputed leader of this side. Hurled himself into more than one 50-50 challenge, fought for every ball and showed little restraint when it came to trying to unsettle Mexico on the ball or forcing his opponents to think quickly in transition. Yet he can’t do it all alone.

MF Weston McKennie, 6 — Always plays on the front foot, something that the U.S. sorely needs in midfield against tough opponents. Had a couple of positive, promising moments with the ball at his feet. Unafraid to shoot but rarely caused trouble from 25-30 yards out.

MF Wil Trapp, 5 — It feels like he’s constantly in over his head. I can’t put my finger on why that might be. Lost the ball a lot and in dangerous positions, something you can’t do as that defensive midfield “pivot” upon whom much of the transition play falls.

MF Alfredo Morales, 6 — Chaotic but brought the kind of energy that can benefit the U.S. in midfield. Battled hard, disrupted Mexico on more than one occasion and also provided a bit of bite. A real character that this team needs. Seeing him get under the skin of more than one El Tri player brought a smile to my eye.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 3 — It’s time to try some other options up front. There are certainly alternatives to the long-serving Crew striker, who touched the ball just six times in a woeful first half. (Only one of those touches could be judged to be inside the Mexico half, too.) So much of a striker’s performance is down to the team play around him, but even then, Zardes failed to find himself in threatening positions or in situations where he could receive the ball and make something happen.

FW Tyler Boyd, 4 — It seems like an eternity ago that USMNT fans were freaking out over the New Zealand-born striker’s FIFA switch to represent the Stars and Stripes. And yet, his brace in the Gold Cup against Guyana might have been misleading. Barely involved in the final third, went searching for the ball a number of times to little avail and failed to link play with his passes, something you can’t go without if you’re playing with two up front. There has to be cohesion but so far, Boyd looks a bit lacking.

Substitutes

DF Miles Robinson, 5 (on for Zimmerman, 58 minutes) — The Atlanta United FC product got a well-deserved debut and grappled well enough. Fortunate with one dangerous giveaway close to the U.S. net in his first five minutes of action, but his inexperience showed with Mexico’s late goals. Still, when his team is chasing the game as the U.S. needed to, few defenders would fare better when outnumbered.

FW Jordan Morris, 5 (on for Boyd, 58 minutes) — Hustle and bustle. Worked hard to get in the position to win a late penalty.

FW Josh Sargent, 5 (on for Zardes, 67 minutes) — Not the best game state in which to show his skills, but he battled gamely all the same. Wasted a late penalty with a weak effort that could have added some shine to a streaky evening for the U.S. men.

DF Daniel Lovitz, 5 (on for Dest, 67 minutes) — Existed.

MF Sebastian Lletget, NR (on for Trapp, 77 minutes) — Was on the field.

MF Jackson Yueill, NR (on for Morales, 90 minutes) — Came on as a late injury cameo.

 

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HOSTS EASTERN CONFERENCE FOE OTTAWA FURY FC IN MID-WEEK CLASH

By IndyEleven.com, 09/09/19, 8:30PM EDT

Boys In Blue Return Home to Host Canadian Club for First Time in 2019

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. ET              Lucas Oil Stadium  |  Indianapolis, Ind.    

FOLLOW LIVE:

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23    Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click for a free 7-day trial)

Radio (Spanish): Exitos Radio 1590 AM     In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Honda

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 15W-5L-5D, 50 pts., 4th in Eastern Conference

Ottawa Fury FC: 10W-7L-9D, 39 pts., 8th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

LAST TIME OUT:

Charleston Battery  1 : 0  Indy Eleven  | Sunday, September 8

Indy Eleven fell to Charleston Battery on Sunday evening 0-1, the team’s first loss since July 27 on the road to Nashville SC. Battery midfielder Romario Piggott notched the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute off a strong counter attack with a low shot just out of Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton’s diving reach. The fixture is also the first time the Boys in Blue have been shut out since losing to Nashville, having scored at least once in each of the last five matches. Despite finishing the game with 71% possession and 17 shots, the Boys in Blue couldn’t muster the equalizer.

Atlanta United FC 2 3 : 2 Ottawa Fury FC  | Saturday, September 7

Ottawa Fury FC’s third loss in a row came at the feet of Atlanta United FC 2 in the Peach State last Saturday. ATL forwards Andrew Carleton and Patrick Okonkwo gained the high ground with strikes in the 17th second and 26th minute, respectively. Ottawa nullified the host’s lead with a penalty from Wal Fall in the 39th minute and closed the gap in the 70th minute with a goal from Hadji Barry, only to concede the game-winner to ATL’s Carleton two minutes later. The trio of goals allowed brings Fury FC concession count to eight goals in its last three matches, converting just two through the winless streak.

#INDVOTT STORYLINES

  • While Indy Eleven enters Wednesday in fourth place on the crowded Eastern Conference table with 50 points, a win would move the Boys in Blue level with first-place New York Red Bulls II and leapfrog past both the Tampa Bay Rowdies (52 pts.) and Nashville SC (51 pts.).
  • Wednesday reunites Indy Eleven and Ottawa Fury FC, which were “Class of 2014” mates when they entered the North American Soccer League together six seasons ago.
  • The Canadian club has long been a thorn in the side of Indiana’s Team over the last six seasons. Indy owns a 2W-6L-3D all-time regular season record against Fury FC.
  • Ottawa is the only Eastern Conference foe the Boys in Blue have yet to face in 2019. The two sides will wrap up their season series on Wednesday, October 2 at TD Place Stadium.
  • Indy Eleven dropped the season series against Ottawa in its first USL Championship campaign in 2018, losing 0-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 4 and settled for a scoreless away draw on August 18.
  • Last year’s Independence Day loss to Ottawa was the last time Indy fell at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy is currently on a 21-game undefeated run at home, tying the club’s previous record set between the 2015-17 seasons.
  • The Eleven’s current home run is now tied with Rochester Rhinos for the fourth longest home undefeated streak in USL Championship history. Ahead of Indy on the list is Richmond Kickers, 2012-14 (30 games); Charleston Battery, 2014-16 (28); and Orlando City SC, 2011-13 (25).
  • It’ll be a reunion of sorts Wednesday evening for four of the Boys in Blue. Indy’s Tyler Gibson and Karl Ouimette once shared the pitch with Ottawa’s Nana Attakora and Maxim Tissot during their single-season stint with San Francisco Deltas (NASL) in 2017. Additionally, Indy’s Dane Kelly and Tyler Pasher appeared on the same roster as Fury’s Kevin Oliveira during the trio’s 2016 season with Swope Park Rangers.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF MATT WATSON

When facing a tough stretch of games in a short span, it always helps to have an experienced veteran who can positively impact his teammates both on and off the field. For Indiana’s Team, that veteran is captain and midfielder Matt Watson. The 34-year-old has made 23 appearances, six of which have been starts, in 25 games for the Boys in Blue.With age comes experience, as Watson has played 387 games in his 13-year professional career. After starting the majority of games in his first season with Indy Eleven, the captain now plays a super sub role with the ability to play almost any position in Head Coach Martin Rennie’s system. The Englishman lurked in the center of the pitch for the majority of 2018, but has added play along the outside of Indy’s midfield and backline to his repertoire this season. Despite the rotation, Watson remains effective in all roles, having completed 80% of his passes, won 70% of his tackles and has contributed a goal through the 2019 campaign (so far).

OTTAWA FURY FC PLAYER TO WATCH | FW CARL HAWORTH

Watson might not be the only veteran present on Wednesday night. Ottawa Fury FC forward Carl Haworth will most likely feature in the Canadian Club’s starting XI come kickoff. Haworth, now in his 10th year of professional play, is no stranger to facing the Boys in Blue, something he’s been doing since both team’s inaugural NASL seasons in 2014. The 30-year-old has racked up 153 appearances for Ottawa and scored 24 goals.Eight of those 24 career goals have come in the 2019 USL Championship season, a statistic that lands Haworth as the team’s joint leading goal scorer. Much like Indy’s Watson, the forward has the ability to play multiple roles when called upon, showing his versatility on the pitch. Pending Ottawa’s game plan, Haworth may field as a forward in an attempt to break down a seemingly impenetrable Indy home defense or as an outside back in an effort to contain Boys in Blue midfielder Tyler Pasher.

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY WING PLAY VS. OTTAWA BACK THIRD

Playing on the road doesn’t appear to favor Ottawa Fury FC. The side holds a 3W-5L-5D record on the road, a distant cry from its 7W-2L-4D home record. Moreover, the Fury is currently on a three-game losing streak, with the last two defeats coming away from home and the team continuing its away stint in Indianapolis this Wednesday evening.The last loss came against Atlanta United FC 2 in a match where attacks down the flanks plagued the Canadian side and all three goals allowed came from wing play. The first acted as a quick breakaway down the left flank in the 17th second, the fastest goal scored in ATL UTD 2 history. The second goal came from an early cross into the six-yard box off the right flank in the 26th minute to trail 2-0. Lastly, the final concession came in as a cross from the right flank that caught Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving off his line and edged Atlanta into the lead once more to secure three points.Indy has thrived on wing play in 2019. With a pair of arguably the league’s best wingers in Tyler Pasher and Ayoze, the Ottawa back third will need to be aware of their positioning and ready for balls played into the box. In the last two home matches against New York Red Bulls II and Charlotte Independence, the Boys in Blue played in a total of 26 crosses. Forward Dane Kelly’s header that toppled first-place NYRBII last Wednesday was the result of a ball played in early from the flank. Not only will Ottawa need to be prepared for crosses, but also pacey runs from the flanks into the box by Pasher and shots from distance courtesy of Ayoze.Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium for its first of two matches this week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night on Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

RECAP | DESPITE DOMINANT EFFORT, INDY ELEVEN FALLS 1-0 AT CHARLESTON

By IndyEleven.com, 09/08/19, 9:45PM EDT

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Boys in Blue Control Run of Play but Fall Short in Game Postponed by Hurricane Dorian

Indy Eleven saw its five-game undefeated streak snapped on the road tonight via a 1-0 defeat at the Charleston Battery. Despite holding distinct advantages in possession, (71%-29%), shots (17-8) and shots on goal (6-1) on the evening and playing with a man advantage for much of the second half, Indiana’s Team could not capitalize in attack, suffering just its second shutout loss in 25 outings this season.Tonight’s match was delayed one day from its scheduled Saturday kickoff due to Hurricane Dorian’s pass through the Carolinas late in the week. The result kept Indy Eleven (15W-5L-5D, 50 pts.) in fourth place in the crowded Eastern Conference standings. However, the Boys in Blue still sit within a win of and hold at least two games in hand on all three teams in front of them – New York Red Bulls II (53 pts.), Tampa Bay Rowdies (52 pts.), and Nashville SC (51 pts.).

Click here for full 2019 USL Championship standings

“It’s a disappointing loss for us. We dominated most of the game and we hardly gave up any chances and we ended up losing 1-nil,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The big thing is that we feel as though we should’ve taken more out of the game than that. We had quite a lot of chances and hardly gave any up. It’s not what you would expect from a game where you have that much of the ball and that much territory of the game.”The Battery began the proceedings with a trio of set pieces in the opening 10 minutes, but none of those opportunities, nor forward Jarad van Schaik’s 20-yard blast from the run of play, were put on frame. Indy’s attack flipped a switch in the 15th minute, when forward Dane Kelly was put in alone by Macauley King’s through ball, only to see Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky come up with a 1-v-1 save. Kelly recovered the rebound and cycled a cross to the far post that was headed on by debutant midfielder Nico Perea, whose shot was also stopped by Kuzminsky at his right post.Kelly was unfortunate to not take advantage of a miscue between Charleston defender Taylor Mueller and Kuzminsky in the 32nd minute, the two Battery backliners’ collision at the top of the area leaving the net wide open. However, Kelly took the chance early with another defender bearing down, the resulting shot dribbling just inches wide of the right post. Rather than sulk, the play seemed to spark the Jamaican striker, who ripped a more conventional shot from the same spot barely wide just two minutes later.Indiana’s Team felt hard done to give up the lead in the last five minutes of the half. In the 41st minute, forward Eugene Starikov had a case for a penalty kick when Kuzminsky slid in and made contact on the Eleven striker as the two converged on Kenney Walker’s ball played into the area from midfield. However, the referee instead gave Indy a corner kick, a short play that broke down and turned into an 80-yard breakaway for Charleston midfielder Romario Piggott, who finished low and left past Eleven netminder Evan Newton. The Battery’s lone shot on goal of the match would indeed be enough to send the home side into the locker rooms up 1-0, although Eleven defender Ayoze’s free kick from 25 yards at the death of the half certainly put that into question after missing just wide.It was another Ayoze ball, this time off a corner kick, that nearly led to an Indy equalizer three minutes into the second half, but defender Karl Ouimette’s crashing header inside the six was sent high. Straight after that play it was the Battery nearly scoring on the other end, but Eleven midfielder Tyler Gibson’s intervention at the right post was enough to keep Piggott from poking home for his second. In the 53rd minute it was Indy midfielder Matthew Watson making his presence known after entering late in the first half for an injured Walker, his 25-yard blast dragged just wide left, and a minute following it was another Ayoze service setting up Kelly, whose header, like Ouimette’s, was sent over the crossbar.Ayoze made more things happen in the 57th minute, when the Spaniard entered a 50-50 challenge against the Battery’s Kyle Nelson that drew a second yellow card against the Charleston rookie midfielder for a high boot, giving the visitors a man advantage for the last half-hour plus change.While Indy Eleven predictably began to boss the possession after the red card, the next truly dangerous chance would fall against to Piggott in the 70th minute, his shot from 20 yards out bouncing just wide of Newton’s left post. Starikov was twice frustrated by Kuzminsky on headers 90 seconds apart, first in the 76th minute when the Charleston ‘keeper tipped the Ukrainian’s attempt wide off the post, followed by an open shot from eight yards that went right to Kuzminsky on his line.Repeated crosses into the danger zone by Indy Eleven would go wanting over the last quarter-hour plus six minutes of added time, the increasing frustration boiling over in the 94th minute when a scrum inside the six yard box on yet another service saw the teams trade shoves and a yellow card issued to substitute striker Gabriel. That would be the last gasp for the visitors, who were shutout for just the second time in their last 15 matches dating back to early June.“We were pretty much on top anyways, but what the red card did was really made them sit back and bunker in. When a team does that, we’ve got to be a little quicker and creative in our play. That would be the one thing I think we need to take from tonight,” Rennie explained. “Also, making sure that when we’re being that dominant, that we’re decisive around the box, more creative in our movement and more confident in taking people on. When we do that, more chances will come.”Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium with a pair of games this week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night on Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

Charleston Battery  1 : 0  Indy Eleven 

Sunday, September 8, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. ET   MUSC Health Stadium – Charleston, S.C.  Attendance: 1,359

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9/6/19  USA vs Mexico Tonight 8 pm FS1, International Games next 4 days, Indy 11 21 unbeaten at home,

US Men vs Mexico Fri Night 8 pm FS1

Its USA vs Mexico –time – TONIGHT !!  Excited to see so many new young players in camp this week at newcomers from the U20 team include Paxton Pomykal and Sergino Dest from Ajax.  Hoping to see a younger but experienced team tonight with John Brooks back on the center line with newcomer Dest on the left and Reggie Cannon (who played so well vs Mexico last time) on the outside right and probably Aaron Long inside.  I hope to see Alfredo Morales in the Dmid – as he’s starting at Dusseldorf now – but maybe its time to put Wil Trapp out there to show he’s not good enough at this level. (I for one do not trust Trapp).  Look for Weston McKennie and Cristian Roldan to fill the attacking mid roles – while Chrisitian Pulisic finally moves to his proper wing position.  Not sure who is on the other wing between Tyler Boyd and Sebastian Lletget.  Finally hopefully we will see Josh Sargent up top – fresh off this last weekend Josh Sargent Scores Wonder First goal for Werder Brennan.   I certainly hope we get to see some Paxton Pomykal along the way as well.  Either way its USA vs Mexico Tonight – must see TV!

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas; Brad Guzan, Atlanta United; Sean Johnson, New York City FC; Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

Defenders: John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany); Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas; Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands); Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes; Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls; Daniel Lovitz, Montreal Impact; Tim Ream, Fulham (England); Miles Robinson, Atlanta United; Walker Zimmerman, LAFC

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy; Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany); Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew; Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Forwards: Corey Baird, Real Salt Lake; Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey); Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders; Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England), Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany); Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

Indy 11 Beats Top Team in East to Slide into 3rd overall

Our Indy 11 tied Louisville 1-1 before returning home to extend their home unbeaten Streak to 21 games. That’s 21 straight games without losing over 2 years at their new home in Lucas Oil Stadium.  So let me ask you soccer fans – how many of you haven’t been to a game in the Luke?  Honestly as the 3rd place team in the East fresh off a win over the top rated NY Red Bulls 2   1 to zero on Wed night – a team that hasn’t lost in front of its home fans but 1 time in 2 years – what do they have to do to get you to come out and take in a game?  While the Eleven are averaging over 9K per game – it takes 20K to get the Luke really rocking! Cincy did it starting in year 2 – averaging 20K+ per game and are now in the MLS.  There are only 4 more chances this year to take in a game. Lets fill that lower bowl on our final 2 Saturday night games Indy !   Next Games are Wed, Sept 11 vs Ottawa at 7 pm at Lucas Oil followed by Hispanic Heritage night next Sat, Sept 14.   Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

CFC GK

Carmel FC Goalkeeper Training will be Monday at Badger and Thursday next week at Shelbourne.  Indy 11 Goalkeeper and Carmel FC Head GK Coach Jordan should be there for both sessions this week.

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Sept 6

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    Germany vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifiying)

8:30 pm Fox Sports1                USA vs Mexico

Sat, Sept 7

12noon ESPN+                                      England vs Bulgaria (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Albania (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Serbia vs Portugal (Euro Qualifiying)

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Cincy vs Toronto FC

10:30 pm ESPN+                                  Portland vs Sporting KC

Sun, Sept 8

2:45 pm ESPN News                            Sweden vs Norway (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Finland vs Italy (Euro Qualifiying)

Mon, Sept 9

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Northern Ireland vs Germany (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Scotland vs Belgium

Tues, Sept 10

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    England vs Kosovo(Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Andorra (Euro Qualifiying)

8 pm FS1                                               USA vs Uruguay

9:30 pm Fox Desportes                  Hondurus vs Chile

10 pm Univision, FUBOTV             Argentina vs Mexico

Weds, Sept 11

7 pm MyindyTV                                  Indy 11 vs Ottawa at Lucas Oil 

7 pm ESPNNews                                  Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Fri, Sept 13

2:30 pm    FS2                                        Dusseldorf (Steffan /Morales) vs Wolfsburg, Sept 11

Sat, Sept 14

7 pm MyindyTV                                  Indy 11 vs Bethlehem Steel at Lucas Oil 

USA

What I want to See the US Do vs Mexico – Greg Doyle MLS.com

W2W4 Stars & Stripes

Berhalter concedes Mexico ‘slightly ahead’ of USMNT ahead of friendly rematch

3 key battles for USMNT v. Mexico 

Christian Pulisic, four other Americans will return to their clubs after USMNT-Mexico – sources

Aaron’s Long Road: USMNT, Red Bulls Center Back’s Unlikely Journey

Pulisic intrigued by possibility of playing in Olympics
Christian Pulisic gushes about life at Chelsea under Frank Lampard

Dest set for US debut but could switch to Netherlands

Reggie Cannon carries feeling of loss vs Mexico last time

Scouting Mexico –

Josh Sargent Scores Wonder First goal for Werder Brennan

World

Why the likes of Bale, Neymar and Dybala were not sold

 Study finds huge wealth gap in European soccer

Neymar behind only Messi and Ronaldo, says Tite

Neymar is happy despite failed Barcelona move – Ederson

 Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 4

Atletico looks like class of La Liga

North London derby lessons 

 Juve, Napoli show flaws  

– Horncastle: Juve, Napoli show Serie A is wide open

Barca drop points  

Lukaku abused 

Man United’s transition 

 Bale back for Real?  

Dortmund’s wake-up call 

Salah, Mane drama?  

Super Simeone and Atletico| Rome derby a fun one 

Trouble for Lampard? 

Big statement by Bayern 

Ladies Soccer

US Drops 3 Goals on Portugal

Women’s Soccer is Coming on Strong – Marcotti

Jamaican women’s football team go on strike in protest at not being paid for historic World Cup performance

PREVIEW-Soccer-Women’s Super League kicks off amid high expectations with Manchester derby

Finland announces equal pay for national teams to help develop ‘a more responsible society’

Armchair Analyst: What I want to see from the USMNT against Mexico

September 5, 20191:34PM EDTMatthew Doyle  Senior Writer

he US men’s national team have two friendlies coming up, as you probably well know. They’ll play against Mexico in New Jersey on Friday night (8:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, TUDN), and then against Uruguay next Tuesday in St. Louis.

These games are big in that they’re against two very good teams – the Mexico side we’ll see on Friday night should be a level-and-a-half above the one that beat the US in the Gold Cup final, as Tata Martino has basically a full-strength roster this time – and these games are not big in that they are friendlies. The US should feel pressure to come out and play like their lives depend upon the result, given that things can get out of hand in a hurry against excellent teams. And the US should feel free to experiment and take chances and kick the tires on new personnel and new tactical ideas and new formations given that … yeah, they’re friendlies. A bad loss would be a humiliation, but it also kind of* doesn’t matter.

(*) Weirdly, we’re in an era in which friendlies against smaller Concacaf sides matter a little bit more than friendlies against Mexico right now. One of the things Gregg Berhalter & Co. have to do in the next 24 months is just beat the living hell out of the Panamas and Trinidads of the world and rekindle a little bit of the fear those teams used to feel when they faced off against the US. Non-Mexico Concacaf teams have gotten too used to going toe-to-toe with us.

Beating those teams is how you make the World Cup. Failing to beat those teams is how you miss the world cup.Beating Mexico is awesome in any context, but any honest assessment of the player pools and relative form of the US and Mexico says that El Tri are significantly better at the moment. Games like Friday’s are about making progress in closing the gap rather than establishing genuine superiority. Be sure to check out Andre Wiebe’s look at possible XIs we’ll see.Ok, my preamble is over. Let’s just put together a list questions, concerns and requests for the next 180 minutes:

Change the defensive shape in midfield

There’s been a lot written – a lot of it by me – about The System™, Berhalter’s very clever way of getting his side into a 3-2-2-3 formation when the US are in possession. It’s been written about because the way Berhalter has gone about getting his team into that shape has often been clever and sometimes ingenious. It’s been fun to watch.There’s been less written about the team’s defensive shape, which has been a pretty standard 4-2-2-2. And in the Gold Cup final, we saw what might have been the limits of that look as the lack of a true third central midfielder put the US at an almost constant numbers disadvantage against a Mexican side that just swarmed them, especially in the second half. Neither Michael Bradley nor Weston McKennie are reliable ball-winners at the international level at this point, but in their defense they were playing 2v3 and getting overrun.In both of these games I’d like to see a more standard 4-3-3. It’s ok to simplify a bit in order to win the numbers game, especially since it should open up playing time for players who are good at winning the second ball…

Punish the press & win the second ball

Berhalter’s teams always love to build from the back, but Martino did not let them do that at any point in the Gold Cup. And in the early going the US took advantage of that by repeatedly playing over the top of the press and then winning the second ball:It’s very Red Bulls-ish in the idea is less about completing meaningful passes and more about winning the ball in crucial spots where you have, if not necessarily numerical superiority, dynamic superiority. Christian Pulisic getting onto the ball on the move is a nightmare for even the best defenders in the world, and the “on the move” part is the dynamic part.When teams press you they are picking their poison. They are saying it’s worth it to exchange the danger of getting beat over the top for the increased chances of winning the ball in the attacking third and ramming it down your throat. The US very nearly made Tata regret that decision, and the truth is if Pulisic and Jozy Altidore had been a little sharper in front of net they could’ve been 2-0 up inside of 20 minutes.But after those first 20 minutes, the US didn’t do as good of job of winning those second balls. Whatever the midfield shape, if Mexico press then the US have to punish them for it.

Pulisic on the wing & a ball-winning 10

Pulisic is not a central midfielder, or a pure No. 10, or any other label you want to put on it. Maybe he grows into that (probably not, though).Regardless, he is so good on the wing now that it doesn’t make a ton of sense to play him elsewhere. And that becomes especially evident given the need for an extra, ball-winning/duel-winning presence in central midfield.It’s got to be Sebastian Lletget or Paxton Pomykal there. Lletget has had an under-the-radar year for the Galaxy, who are still struggling to figure out their best formation and approach. But he wins 57.4% of his duels, which is Ozzie Alonso/Diego Chara territory. Pomykal is even better in those situations, at 59.7% (for context, Jonathan dos Santos is at 52.5%).The numbers don’t tell the entire story, of course, but they’re a useful data point for understanding each player’s skill set.And to be clear: Neither guy is a true No. 10. Both guys have strengths in the attacking third – they combine well; have good, quick feet; are good on the half-turn; both are willing to take space off the ball – but neither is a pure chance creatorThat doesn’t matter, though, because in the modern game the No. 10 is a less specialized role, and in the US set-up it’s less about visionary passing and more about the ability to execute pre-arranged patterns. Lletget’s already shown a facility for that, and hopefully Pomykal will get his chance to show the same.Beyond anything else at this camp I’m very, very interested in seeing whether Pomykal and Lletget can affect the rhythm of the game by 1) winning second balls, and 2) facilitating. If they’re able to do that in central midfield, that changes so, so much about how the US can/should play.

Josh Sargent, please

We know Altidore can manhandle most center backs, and we know Gyasi Zardes‘s limitations in those situations.We don’t know a ton about Josh Sargent at this level just yet. There’s a lot we suspect, and there have been pretty strong data points in the past. Just think back 11 months:

Sargent’s going to have to do some of the donkey work the US asked of Altidore in the Gold Cup final, and hopefully he’ll also get to do some of the combination work you can see in that compilation above.I will be actively disappointed if he doesn’t start vs. Mexico, even with his fitness concerns.

What type of d-mid?

Berhalter very explicitly wants a defensive midfielder – like Bradley or Wil Trapp – who excels at hitting long diagonals to the flank in order to pick out a winger in isolation or an overlapping fullback in primary assist zones. A few of the US goals this summer came from exactly those types of passes.“What I’d say is we always want a player that has a good range of passing and if you look at a lot of chances we created in the Gold Cup it’s from trying to overload on one side of the field, we can’t overload, it comes back into the middle and then that player plays a diagonal ball to a fullback or to a winger running behind the line. How many goals did we score in the Gold Cup like that?” Berhalter told The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio last month. “So I feel like we need that person on the ball. A person has to be able to process the ball in tight space, has to be able to open up, has to have the vision and the technique to be able to hit a pass like that. Michael is a great example of a guy who can do that, Wil is a good example of a guy who can do that.”We want to see these qualities from other players because that’s a really valuable weapon in soccer.”In the long-term, this is a request from Berhalter to Tyler Adams: Please add this to your game! In this camp, it sounds like a suggestion that another Bundesliga starter, veteran Alfredo Morales, will get his opportunity to prove he can do this as well.Morales has been a fine player for a long time, but long-range, zone-moving passing has never been his forte. He has an opportunity in this camp, it seems, to show otherwise.Of course, Martino did everything in his power to take those passes away from the US back in July. The El Tri central midfield swamped Bradley and McKennie, daring the rest of the team to build enough to beat them. It didn’t happen.There’s a lot on the line in this camp for both Trapp and Morales. Trapp knows the system and has the range of passing, but has frequently looked out of his depth both athletically and defensively against good teams at the international level. Morales has been on the outside looking in for nearly half-a-decade, and this might be his last, best shot at carving out a meaningful international career.

Invert the left back

I actually suspect that neither the right back nor the left back will be inverted, playing that hybrid FB/DM role against Mexico that Berhalter concocted back at the start of the year. It feels too risky against a team that’s likely to line up Rodolfo Pizarro (dominant in the Gold Cup final) on one side and Hirving Lozano on the other.But if he’s determined to try The System™ in this one, I’d like to see him swap sides and have the left back invert rather than the right back doing so. Both Sergino Dest and Nick Lima have proven their comfort at LB, and both have shown a measure of comfort coming inside as ad hoc defensive midfielders.It would be a slightly different, but worthwhile look. And any time Dest, in particular, is pushed forward into attacking spots, he is a potential game-breaker.For what it’s worth it sounds like Dest is going to play a bunch in these games. You can listen to Berhalter’s full interview on last week’s Extratime here:

The No. 1 CB pairing

It’s just important to get John Brooks and Aaron Long some reps. Maybe they won’t be the No. 1 pairing a year down the road when World Cup qualifying starts, but at this point the US should proceed as if they will be. Get them used to each other.nd get them used to beating the first wave of pressure on the ball, please! Brooks and Long both have the ability to drop a shoulder and step past a closing defender, which is becoming a required skill for center backs at the highest levels of the game. There will be times against both Mexico and Uruguay when they’re required to be brave.Worth noting that Miles Robinson, who’s in his first full camp here, has shown to be very, very good at this already:

Folks are calling it “The Miles Robinson Run”. It’s the perfect advertisement for ball-carrying center backs. MR receives the ball, moves past an onrushing opponent, breaks into midfield, and forces the opposing right back to step to him, leaving a left-sided attacker in space.

Wes the boss

My biggest complaint about McKennie thus far in his young career is that he doesn’t find the game enough. His usage rate has tended to be lower than you’d expect of a $20 million-rated central midfielder, and against El Tri this summer there were times when it looked like he was just determined to stay as far away from the engine room as possible. He’s basically the opposite of Adams and Pomykal in that regard.The beginning of his Bundesliga season has been promising in this regard. He’s still not close to being a field general, but he’s not an E-2 anymore. He might be an NCO at this point, with the potential for much more.Long-term, though, in Berhalter’s system (and David Wagner’s at Schalke), he’s going to be asked to boss the midfield – everything from receiving on the half-turn in traffic, to hitting long switches, to creating overloads with his movement, to popping up between the lines in possession, to creating easy outlets for his back line. And, of course, to getting around the damn ball defensively and winning it.We already know that he can be a devastating force when playing downhill in attack – either running off the ball, or carrying it himself – but there’s so much more he needs to do in order to reach his potential and be the type of player a team (club or country) can build around.

Patience in possession

Related to the above, and to the Lletget/Pomykal discussion, and to the Sargent’s combination play idea, and to everything else: The US have to be both more patient and more confident on the ball in those instances when they do establish some possession. Let runs unfold, be willing to cycle up-and-down the field, and trust that you have the skill and shape to do it.

Gimme this lineup:

Sargent

Pulisic /Boyd

Llegett/McKinney

Morales

Dest/Brooks/Long/Cannon

Steffan

Wiebe: Three starting lineups for the USMNT’s revenge match vs Mexico

September 5, 201912:43PM EDTAndrew WiebeSenior Writer

This is not a tactical deep dive. This is not a think piece that’ll strain your brain. I’m leaving the heavy lifting to Matt Doyle. He’s got nothing better to do than spill thousands of words previewing a couple friendlies, and I respect that.I’m standing over the US men’s national team grill, beer in hand, throwing red meat on the flames. These USMNT XIs have been marinating in my mind for a couple days: one dedicated strictly to fan service, one I hope to see against Mexico and one my prediction for what we’ll actually see on Friday against Mexico (8:30 PM ET | FS1, Univision, TUDN). Yes, I am still upset that rain ruined my Labor Day barbecue.While you peruse the lineups – you’re free to drop your own squads in the comment section for evaluation – hit play on this Extratime interview with Gregg Berhalter from last week. You’ll learn something. Promise. I’ve got it all cued up for you, too.

What the fans want

Sergino Dest, you get an international debut against Mexico! Miles Robinson, you get an international debut against Mexico! Paxton Pomykal, you get an international debut against Mexico!Josh Sargent, your reward for staying patient after that Gold Cup snub is a start against Mexico! Score a goal or two, please. Lord knows US Soccer Twitter and MLS Reddit don’t want to see Gyasi Zardes up top again.What could go wrong, right? As Doyle said on Mass Confrontation on Tuesday, “throw the kids into the blender!” Everybody likes smoothies! Unless you’re the fruit…As for the rest of the team, we saw Reggie Cannon against El Tri in the Gold Cup final, so now it’s time for Nick Lima to get a run out and show us all what San Jose Earthquakes coach Matias Almeyda has taught him.  We also haven’t seen Alfredo Morales in US colors since 2016. Into the lineup you go, Bundesliga vet! Everybody seems to believe Christian Pulisic will be more effective on the wing. Your wish is my command (and he gets to combine with Dest!). Tyler Boyd starts for Besiktas, and therefore he starts for the US.There’s no doubt this is fun to imagine, even if it might not be so fun to see this XI in practice against a Mexico team that’s got Chucky Lozano and Chicharito back in the ranks.

What I want to see

Light your torch, grab your pitchfork and join Doyle in pounding on my front door. Yes, Gyasi Zardes is in my team. Yes, Tim Ream and Wil Trapp also start. Yes, I believe/hope that the best version of the USMNT likely has other names at striker, left back and defensive mid a year down the line.That’s not to say Zardes, Ream or Trapp are bad players! They aren’t! This is a chance to prove they belong in the lineup. Good luck to them.We all know a friendly against Mexico isn’t actually a “friendly,” so some consistency and experience in the team is important. Sargent, Dest and Pomykal can come off the bench. Just because they don’t start doesn’t mean they won’t play. I’m on record, by the way, saying Sargent ought to get the nod in his hometown next Tuesday against Uruguay.Against El Tri, the US must do a better job pressing defensively and dealing with the press when in possession than they did in the Gold Cup final.Sebastian Lletget ought to help with the latter. He’s not afraid to take the ball in tight spaces, and he can turn and create opportunities to play the ball to Pulisic’s feet in space or in behind to Jordan Morris or Zardes. Lima deserves a shot against Mexico, and he is more than capable on both sides of the ball. Morris gives Berhalter a direct route to goal and speed Tata Martino has to respect. Plus, he’s a willing defender. Track those runs, Jordan!

What Berhalter will probably do

Sargent

Pulisic /Morris

Lletgett/McKinney

Trap

Dest/Brooks/Long/Cannon

Steffan

UPDATE, 3 pm ET on Thursday: Berhalter announced at his pregame press conference that Sergino Dest will start the match. Get excited, folks! Best I can do is 10 for 11!  I will be over the moon if I get seven of 11 right here. I feel most confident about, in order, Pulisic, Zack Steffen, Weston McKennie, John Brooks, Aaron Long, Trapp and Zardes.Doyle believes Dest will start, both because Berhalter has raved about him publicly and also because the US needs to send a clear signal to the dual-national that he’s a big part of the program’s future. I think that could come against Uruguay. In the meantime, Ream provides a stay-at-home option to give the US defensive structure behind Pulisic.Cannon vs. Lima (or maybe Dest) at right back? Yeah, I have no idea. Zero. I closed my eyes and threw a dart at the wall. I expect to be wrong. The odds aren’t great. As for Morris and Lletget, I already explained those selections above, just from my own perspective. Berhalter will tell us what he thinks when the lineup comes out on Friday.

USA vs. Mexico, 2019 friendly: What to watch for

The rivalry continues immediately after the previous installment. By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Sep 5, 2019, 6:00am PDT

It’s back. The United States Men’s National Team will face off against Mexico tomorrow at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. If you’re thinking it hasn’t been that long since the last time these two teams have played, you’re absolutely right. It was July 7th when the two teams last faced each other in the 2019 Gold Cup final, which was a 1-0 victory for El Tri. Less than 2 months later, the teams will square off again. In a not-so-friendly matchup, who will have the edge? Will some of the newer players make an impact? Tomorrow, the latest chapter in North America’s biggest rivalry is written.

Recent Form

USA

L (0-1) – Mexico – Gold Cup Final

W (3-1) – Jamaica – Gold Cup Semifinals

W (1-0) – Curaçao – Gold Cup Quarterfinals

Mexico

W (1-0) – United States – Gold Cup Final

W (1-0 AET) – Haiti – Gold Cup Semifinals

W (1(5)-1(4) AET) – Costa Rica – Gold Cup Quarterfinals

What to watch for

How will the defense hold? Against Mexico last time, the defense did a fairly decent job for the first 45 minutes of the match. In the second half, they wilted under the pressure of Mexico’s attackers, eventually allowing the Gold Cup-clinching goal. Will there be a new game plan to hold El Tri off the scoreboard?

Can the USMNT limit Mexico’s possession? It’s likely unrealistic to hope that the USMNT can hold possession longer than Mexico, but the Yanks can’t allow El Tri to have 70-80% possession. If the midfield can limit Mexico to having the ball only 50-55% of the time, that means more opportunities for the USMNT to move forward and try to score. You can bet that head coach Gregg Berhalter will want to do what it takes to keep the ball off the feet of Mexico’s attackers.

Is there a hero in this group? Who’s going to step up? Every USA-Mexico match needs a hero, someone that can rise up and seize the challenge and be the guy that fans remember when it’s all over. Will it be a veteran? Will it be a newcomer hoping to make an impact? Someone will need to take charge and lead this team.

Lineup Prediction

Gregg Berhalter wants to develop a consistent lineup, but he also wants to evaluate some talent and determine if they can be counted on in a big time match. This is as big as it gets for a friendly. To that end, it’s expected that Berhalter opts for consistency with the lineup that he has used the most.   LINEUP Steffan // Ream/Long/Brooks/Lima  DM –Morales  AM  McKennie & Roldan  Pulisic & Boyd on Wings – Zardes up top.

In goal, Zack Steffen is back, and Berhalter will likely stick with him. Tim Ream, Aaron Long, John Brooks, and Nick Lima make up the back line, with Lima operating in that hybrid right back to defensive midfielder role. It’s entirely possible we eventually see youngster Sergiño Dest, but it’s hard to imagine that he makes the starting lineup.

In the midfield, Alfredo Morales is the lone “newcomer” that gets a look in the starting lineup. He operates the defensive midfield role, leaving Weston McKennie and Cristian Roldan free to roam and move the ball forward. Those three guys also seem to be the best three on the roster at holding possession as well, so it could be what Berhalter chooses to keep the ball away from Mexico.

Up front, expect Christian Pulisic to play on the right, but he will also operate space in the middle as a center attack mid at times. Tyler Boyd is back in the lineup and will patrol the left. He will have the challenge of covering a lot of space on the left side, particularly when McKennie presses forward. Finally, Gyasi Zardes is Berhalter’s main choice up top, so expect that to continue against Mexico.

Score Prediction

This is going to be a slugfest on a soggy night in New Jersey. Not a lot of action will happen with expected torrential rains associated with Hurricane Dorian moving through the North Atlantic Ocean. However, one man will become a hero: Tyler Boyd. He hammers home a rebound in the final 30 minutes to give the USMNT a 1-0 victory.

Berhalter concedes Mexico ‘slightly ahead’ of USMNT ahead of friendly rematch

Goal.com 6 hours ago

The U.S. coach believes his team are behind their rivals at the moment but says his squad will continue to fight for Concacaf supremacyUnited States national team manager Gregg Berhalter believes Mexico are “slightly ahead” of his squad, but says his squad remain in a position to battle them for Concacaf supremacy.The Americans face their biggest rival in a Friday friendly, the first game for either national team since El Tri topped the USMNT 1-0 in the Gold Cup final.

The victory for El Tri in Chicago continued a recent spell of dominance in Concacaf since the fall of 2017, when Mexico qualified top of the region in World Cup qualifying while the USMNT missed out on the 2018 tournament.And though Berhalter conceded Martino’s team has a bit of an edge at the moment after its Gold Cup final win and triumphs in World Cup qualification, he believes the USMNT remain in the battle to reign supreme in Concacaf. “I think that we’re both in a position where we’re battling for supremacy in Concacaf. We’re both trying to be the top team,” Berhalter said at a news conference Thursday. “I think right now Mexico is slightly ahead of us, having beaten us in the last game and performed well in the last few years.”But when we play them, you see the intensity takes a different level. Everything is up a level. The tempo of the game is up, tackles are a little harder. These are special games. It’s always an occasion to be playing against Mexico – even if it’s a friendly game or a Gold Cup game or qualifying game or World Cup game.”Friday’s friendly will be a back-to-back meeting for the two nations, albeit separated by two months. It will also feature different squads than the ones that battled in the Gold Cup final. Berhalter once again gets the services of center back John Brooks, who missed the Concacaf championship with an injury. There are also returns for Bundesliga duo for Josh Sargent and Alfredo Morales.Mexico’s team is different as well, with World Cup veterans Hector Herrera, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Hirving Lozano among the players who didn’t take part in the Gold Cup but are in Tata Martino’s squad for the September games.But Berhalter is looking forward to the opportunity to face the same opponent twice in a row, anxious to see how his adjustments will pay off. “That’s the beauty of playing them in the next game. You get to make adjustments,” said Berhalter, who played in the rivalry matches as a player and now is participating as the coach. “You get to look at what you want to learn, how you want to learn, change things a little bit, how the team is going to react. For us it’s good. What we’re trying to do is just gather information on Mexico, gather information on what we can do to off-balance them.”These are fun games. When you get to play them back-to-back, we’re obviously going to alter things and see what affect it can have.”The contest is set to kick off at 8:30 p.m. ET. at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

3 key battles for USMNT v. Mexico

Daniel Karell  NBC Sports•September 5, 2019

The U.S. Men’s National Team has a chance to avenge its defeat to Mexico in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup final as CONCACAF’s two giants face off in a friendly match on Friday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.The teams will look slightly different on Friday than on that July evening in Chicago, but it should be a terrific matchup between two squads full of talented youngsters, with some veterans sprinkled in. There will be battles all over the pitch, but here’s three key matchups to keep an eye on during the match.

[READ: Premier League Power Rankings: Week 4]

Christian Pulisic v. Miguel Layun/Luis Rodriguez

All eyes will be on Christian Pulisic – and his Mexican winger counterpart Hirving “Chucky” Lozano. More on that later. Pulisic could certainly play in midfield, as the top of a three, but he seems more likely – having been listed as a forward on the roster, to take up one of the wide positions.That puts a lot on Mexico’s wide players on the backline, Jesus Gallardo on the left and either Miguel Layun or Luis Rodriguez on the right, to keep Pulisic in front of him. If Pulisic can repeatedly find space down the wings and cross into the box, that could leave to issues. Also, they’ll have to communicate effectively if Pulisic floats around, combining with the center forward to create goal-scoring opportunities for himself too.In the Gold Cup final, Andres Guardado and Edson Alvarez did enough to stifle Pulisic. If he plays out wide, away from those pair, can he be the difference?

Lozano v. Reggie Cannon/Sergino Dest

Similar to Pulisic, another key matchup will be the USMNT outside backs against Lozano. Assuming he starts on the left, Lozano will likely go up against incumbent right back Reggie Cannon or Sergino Dest. Both are young and inexperienced at this level, but they certainly have the speed to keep up with Lozano in a footrace.Lozano presents a difficult opponent, as he can certainly play within the channels or play outside along the wing, and he’ll certainly be a key focal point that El Tri will try and utilize during the game. How Cannon or Dest respond to this matchup will certainly also help the pair in future USMNT call-ups.

Aaron Long v. Raul Jimenez

Long, subject to transfer rumors from West Ham, will likely be battling with Wolves star forward Raul Jimenez all evening. Jimenez has taken his game to a new level, turning into a consistent scorer and great striker for Wolves. He’s a rare breed of a physical target forward, who also has excellent technical ability on the ball.For Long, he’s adept at positioning and reading the game from his time as a central midfielder growing up and his transition to centerback with the New York Red Bulls. He’ll have to be on his toes, anticipating passes into Jimenez’s feet or his head, as well as win long-balls in Jimenez’s direction. If the USMNT can keep Jimenez quiet in front of goal, it bodes well for the final score.

Pulisic intrigued by possibility of playing in Olympics

RONALD BLUMBritain Soccer Premier League

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, left, and Sheffield United’s John Egan battle for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (John Walton/PA via AP)

SHORT HILLS, N.J. (AP) — Christian Pulisic thinks about all the talented young American players and thinks they could go far in next year’s Olympic men’s soccer tournament, perhaps himself included.”I would never completely count that out because it’s a huge honor to play for your country in the Olympics,” the 20-year-old Chelsea midfielder said Wednesday, two days before the U.S. senior national team plays Mexico in an exhibition.Olympic men’s soccer qualifying is limited to players under 23, with three overage players allowed for the final tournament in Japan. Age-eligible Americans include Pulisic and midfielders Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Tim Weah.Clubs, however, are not required to release players for the Olympics or for qualifying, scheduled for March 20 to April 1 in the North and Central American and Caribbean region. The Olympic soccer tournament runs from July 23 to Aug. 8 in and likely would overlap a contemplated preseason tour by Chelsea and perhaps the start of the Premier League season.”A lot of factors come into play, I guess, but we’ll see,” Pulisic said.The United States failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2016 Olympic men’s soccer tournaments, a stumble that preceded the senior team’s failure to reach for last year’s World Cup. Pulisic thinks the U.S. could emulate Mexico, which won the 2012 Olympic men’s soccer gold.”We’re a confident young group of guys and I think there’s no reason why we couldn’t,” he said. “We set big goals for ourselves and, yeah, that would be one of them. That would be something I think we could do.”Pulisic was acquired by Chelsea in January from Borussia Dortmund for a 64 million euros (then $73 million) transfer fee, the most for an American player, then loaned back to the German club for the remainder of the season. He made his Premier League debut in the opening 4-0 loss at Manchester United and has started the last three league matches under new coach Frank Lampard, who replaced Maurizio Sarri.”It’s amazing. I mean, it’s everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s incredible,” Pulisic said. “It worked out really well, for sure. Frank’s a great guy and he’s helped me so much and he understands where I’m coming from and he’s done a really good job and helped me, teaching us, especially a lot of the younger guys on the team.”Pulisic laughed when asked who was the better player: himself or Mexican winger Hirving Lozano,”I’m not going to give you like an Ibra answer here,” he said in a reference to huge-egoed LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who two years ago boasted “lions do not compare themselves to humans” when asked where he ranked himself among strikers. Pulisic, naturally introverted, is reticent at times when speaking with media.”I’ll never be comfortable. I don’t like being in front of cameras,” he said. “I’m still getting used to it, I guess.”

Pulisic will be part of a rare trio of Americans this fall in Champions League Group D, joined by 18-year-old Ajax defender Sergiño Dest and Weah’s Lille, who is missing the match against Mexico and Tuesday’s friendly against Uruguay because of a hamstring injury.Dest introduced himself to Pulisic this week and joked about the possibility of playing against him.”I was asking him are you playing on the left side, right side, things like that?” Dest said with a smile.Pulisic left Hershey, Pennsylvania, to sign with Dortmund at age 16. While living in Germany, he could meet up with McKennie, a starter for Schalke. McKennie is proud of his friend but doesn’t have a chance to follow his club exploits too closely.”I’m not a big guy to watch sports,” McKennie said. “It’s always a big deal whenever you have an American you know being in Europe let alone at a giant club like Chelsea. I’ve heard he’s been doing well.”Pulisic has played primarily on the flanks with Chelsea, and falling back deep at times is part of his responsibility”Learning to help more on the defensive side of things, which is like a good challenge for me, as well,” he said.With the U.S., he has increasingly ventured into the central portion of the field. Coach Gregg Berhalter changed Pulisic’s listing from midfield to forward for this training camp.”We want him to be able to affect games in a number of different ways,” Berhalter said. “We want to be able to isolate him one vs. one at times but we also want him getting them ball between the lines.”Notes: Dest played for the U.S. at this year’s Under-20 World Cup and could make his senior debut Friday. He said the Royal Dutch Football Association contacted him about the possibility of playing for the Netherlands’ Under-23 team. Dest said he was not sure whether he would accept an invite from the U.S. for next month’s CONCACAF Nations League camp. By playing in a competitive senior match, Dest would tie himself to the U.S.

Aaron’s Long Road: USMNT, Red Bulls Center Back’s Unlikely Journey

Brian Straus,Sports Illustrated Wed, Sep 4 11:15 AM EDT

If there’s a level playing field to be found anywhere at an MLS club, where some make millions while others carpool to training with roommates, it’s in the sauna at the Seattle Sounders’ Starfire practice facility. That was the place where one of those millionaires, Clint Dempsey, often would hold court.Dempsey could be guarded, curt and cautious. But once you were familiar, you could become something like extended family. And that was the case whether you were his playing peer, an assistant equipment manager or Aaron Long, a relative no-name whose most significant soccer accomplishment at the time was the All-Big West selection that followed his junior season at UC Riverside.Inside the sauna, you were just another teammate in a towel. All were equal.“After training, he was always in there,” Long said of Dempsey. “We’d have these little sauna talks.”It turned out they had something in common that may have sparked some of those talks—a late start. Until the day he retired and no matter what he accomplished, Dempsey was fueled by the time he missed. When Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley were 20, they were at the World Cup. When Dempsey was 20, he was a junior at Furman. He wasn’t scouted or celebrated as a youth, and then as a pro, his determination to compensate for that delay was relentless. He spoke about it frequently. Dempsey wasn’t focused on establishing dominance or dominion where he was. He fixated on forging a new path through higher and more challenging terrain.“In terms of Clint, he did mention that: ‘I’m against the clock.’ He’d say little things like that. I figured strikers just have that mentality,” Long told SI.com. “I don’t know if I’m racing against the clock. But I do know I have things I want to accomplish, and I have less time in my pro career. I’m very aware.”They now have something more in common. They’re unlikely U.S. national team players. Long’s status isn’t in question now, even though he has only 11 caps. After a strong Concacaf Gold Cup—during which the central defender started five of six games, scored twice and earned a spot on the tournament’s Best XI—he seems like the most probable starter among the backs selected to take part in the USA’s upcoming friendlies against Mexico (Friday at the Meadowlands) and Uruguay (Sept. 10 in St. Louis). To draw a line from that spot in U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter’s 11 to the beginning of Long’s career in San Bernardino County, Calif., seems almost impossible. “It’s a story. It’s incredible,” said Chris Armas, Long’s coach at the New York Red Bulls. “It wasn’t the natural progression of guys coming through the national team ranks—youth national teams. It just wasn’t the path that he took. It was the one less traveled. He gets a lot of the credit—most of the credit. He has to.”Long said, “I wasn’t exactly a top dog comin through.”To say the least.Long grew up about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, over the San Gabriel Mountains in what he called “the high desert.”“He’s not really from California. He’s from the desert. you know? He claims he’s from L.A., but he’s from like an hour-and-a-half away,” said good friend (really) and Red Bulls center back partner Tim Parker. “We land at LAX and we get to [the hotel in] Santa Monica and he goes, ‘[inhales deeply] Ah, I’m home.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re like an hour-and-a-half away. what are you talking about?’”Long made the Cal South state team once, in his final year of eligibility. He played near the fringes, and when it was time to pick a school he signed his one and only scholarship offer, from family friend and Riverside coach Junior Gonzalez. Long was a robust, athletic box-to-box midfielder, and at the end of his senior season at Riverside, even though he wasn’t invited to the 2014 MLS combine, he’d done enough to get drafted toward the end of the second round by the Portland Timbers. He went on two USL loans and then was cut in July.The rival Sounders scooped him up, and Long rode the bench for the rest of 2014 before starting the following season with S2, the club’s new USL reserve outfit (it’s now Tacoma Defiance). It was in Seattle, before those sauna talks, that Long’s evolution began. Sigi Schmid appreciated Long’s midfield versatility and imagined him as a “Brad Evans-type”—someone who could transition between multiple positions in midfield and along the back line.But Evans was still entrenched as the Sounders’ resident Brad Evans-type, leaving Long to spend the year in the USL. By its conclusion, he was 23 and still hadn’t played an MLS minute. The Sounders offered to bring Long back as the S2 captain in 2016. There also was interest in the Twin Cities, where Minnesota United was making its expedited jump to MLS. And then there was a somewhat surprising call from the New York Red Bulls, whose enticing proposal came with a hard and fast condition.Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch promised Long a preseason with the first team. But it was going to be as a center back. And only as a center back.It was not an easy decision.“It was moving across the country. I’ve been a west coast guy my whole life, Even Portland and Seattle are a couple hours a way from my parents. My girlfriend, who I’m still with, lived in Seattle at the time,” Long recalled. “Then there’s the whole thing where like, I don’t know anyone on the Red Bulls. I don’t know anything about Jesse Marsch. I don’t know anything about this Red Bulls system, this Red Bulls pressing. And I have to play this whole new position that I don’t really love, to be honest. As a center mid, you don’t love center back. You want be on the ball.”But he also wanted to avoid regression. And he could feel the clock starting to tick. So he packed up and switched coasts, making the sort of leap into the unknown that’s often necessary to further or jumpstart a career. Dempsey would’ve approved.“Jesse says, ‘Look, we think we’re a good place for young players. We see athleticism in you—courage,’” Armas told SI.com. “He was a confident kid. Showed up and worked hard, showed a real ability to read the game well and just put out fires. He had a top speed that was impressive. And he had the mind and feet of a six.“He decided to choose us, thankfully. He got thrown into the fire,” Armas continued. “Introducing the style of play to him, playing fast, this was a culture shock for a lot of players. You sink or swim. He swam. He was great. Jesse worked with him.”Long needed games at center back, so was willing to sign a USL contract because the club so frequently included Red Bulls II players in first-team training.“The culture at Red Bull is insane. It’s integrated like crazy, more so than anywhere else,” he said.The USL team was a juggernaut, rolling through the regular season before thrashing Swope Park Rangers, 5-1, in the final. Long was the league’s defender of the year, and the Red Bulls II roster included several players who made the jump to MLS, including Tyler Adams and Derrick Etienne.Only FC Dallas partisans would dispute the Red Bulls’ position as American soccer’s premier talent identifier and incubator. Whether it’s turning a journeyman like Bradley Wright-Phillips into an icon, Adams into a Champions League player, or Brian White into this season’s co-leading scorer, the club has become a launch pad. Long’s ascent is testament to the efficacy of the Red Bulls’ approach.“It helps that I was naturally pretty good at [center back], for sure, but the amount of time Jesse put into a USL player was crazy. The amount of time he spent with me doing video and talking to me after my games. He watched every Red Bulls II game. I think they still do, the coaches. That’s why they develop so much young talent. They watch every single USL game, which Seattle didn’t, by the way. That’s one of the reasons I wasn’t so keen on going back there,” Long said. “Jesse would call me in after every game, and we’d do personal video sessions. A lot of work went into it, and as a second-team guy, I was blown away. I was like, ‘This guy definitely cares about me. He definitely sees a future.’”Armas, then an assistant and now in charge with Marsch off to a strong start at Red Bull Salzburg, confirmed that they still watch every RBII match. New York’s frenetic style also was ideal for a player still learning the mental side of the position.“The club was perfect for him,” Armas said. “It’s aggressive, and it keeps him alert at all times. He almost got fast tracked and had to play catch-up. Playing center back on this team—what a demand. We’re not sitting deep in a block, shifting and stepping. It’s massive fires to put out, reading the game, combativeness, playing forward, playing fast. There’s a lot of details to how we play and I credit the philosophy of our club to his development.”Finally, things began happening quickly for Long. In 2017, he started 33 MLS regular season and playoff games, and then in ’18, there was another breakthrough. He was the league’s defender of the year, the Red Bulls won the Supporters’ Shield and in September, he earned his first national team invitation of any kind, junior or senior. He roomed with Parker. And although Dave Sarachan left Long on the bench during a pair of friendlies, the interim manager gave him his USA debut the following month against Peru.Parker jokingly said Long’s ego was out of control upon his return to the Red Bulls form U.S. duty.“He comes back and starts criticizing everyone,” Parker deadpanned.Which means, of course, that Long did anything but, instead handling it with his disarming California cool. Long is funny, candid, somewhat acerbic, and confident—without appearing to stray toward arrogance. He draws attention to himself only with his play and an inexplicable haircut.“He’s a real guy,” Armas said.Long believed in himself even when others didn’t, and he’s chased his goals with the sort of disciplined relentlessness that earns respect rather than antipathy.He needs those skills now more than ever. Because on the heels of his sterling Gold Cup, and with his professional bona fides cemented, European clubs came calling. Long said he is “very grateful” to the Red Bulls. They signed him to an extension in January that’ll pay him $800,000 this season and is guaranteed through 2021. They gave him the chance, the coaching and the platform he needed. But there’s little point to that platform unless you use it. And now Long wants to leave. He’s moved once for the chance to take his late-blooming career to the next level. And like Dempsey, he believes it’s time to do so again. Long turns 27 next month. There are only so many contracts left for a player that age. The window to move abroad won’t stay open forever.In January 2016, the Red Bulls sent 20-year-old center back Matt Miazga to Chelsea for $3.5 million. Adams, regarded by many as a future USA linchpin, made an in-house move to RB Leipzig for $3 million. That’s the same amount that West Ham United offered the Red Bulls in July for Long. It was rejected. An unidentified French club upped the ante to $4 million. That would tie the record for a transfer fee paid for an MLS defender. The Red Bulls weren’t interested.Long acknowledged his frustration. Meanwhile, the club was caught between competing missions. Yes, the Red Bulls have a proven knack for developing players and identifying talent and, yes, participating in the transfer market should be a vital component of every MLS team’s mission. But there’s only so much pride New York fans can take in knowing their club is where careers are born but not always where they blossom. From Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley to Tim Ream, Adams and Miazga, New York is known more for transfers than for titles.The club is starved for the latter (Supporters’ Shields are nice, but it’s not a championship of anything), and you can’t hang a transfer fee from the rafters. Selling a top player requires the development or acquisition of a replacement. That’s not always a given, even at Red Bull. Doing so in short order, with the playoffs approaching, represents an especially tough sell for a club with multiple constituencies. There’s the player and the market. But there’s also the fans, sponsors and community who have been through more on-field heartbreak than any others in MLS.“He can play in almost any league in the world. But what we need is another club out there to see his value and come in strong with an offer that makes sense to our club. … We’re not going to just give away our best players,” Armas said.  “It’s always going to be what’s best for the club with the player in mind. We don’t want to hold anyone back. We never have,” Armas continued, before rattling off the names of former Red Bulls. “They want a starting center back. One of our best players, starting for the national team, and he’s growing still. [The offer] has got to match that. At the same time, no matter what the offer is, of course there’s frustration if it doesn’t work out. I understand that.”Armas said his relationship with Long remains good. In the end, it’s not up to the manager anyway. Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett and Red Bull Global executives Oliver Mintzlaff and Paul Mitchell will have the final say. Either way, it’s out of Long’s hands. His ability to shape his career has been limited, and the fate of his team and his potential appeal during the January transfer window will be impacted by his performance this fall.Parker joked that if the Red Bulls finally win MLS Cup, they’ll all go to Europe.“He had a tough time early on, when this came and went,” Armas admitted. “Like I said, he’s a real guy. He’s not going to have those dreams and have a chance to go and then just show up like nothing’s going on. Yeah, it bothered him. But he wasn’t a distraction to the team at all. He shows up every day as a pro. He endured a lot emotionally, but it didn’t stop his commitment to the team.”Long will get another chance in the shop window over the next couple weeks with the USA. Berhalter’s style is more balanced and possession-based than New York’s, but Long’s midfield pedigree is important to a manager who wants players who can see and pass through lines. Plus, there’s a chance at another crack at Mexico following defeat in the Gold Cup final.“We could’ve and should’ve won that game, in my opinion,” Long said, still sore over his silver medal. “It’s almost like a new rivalry beginning with these new generations. There’s not enough bad blood at this time between some of the players like Tyler Adams, Weston [McKennie], Christian Pulisic, and the young Mexican guys. Over 10 years, there’s going to be a lot of crazy games and there’s going to be some serious bad blood. Seeing Jozy [Altidore] and Michael [Bradley] getting psyched for that game was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”Then comes the MLS Cup playoffs, perhaps more Red Bull heartbreak, and then the transfer dance will begin again. Considering his past, it might seem like Long is already playing with house money. But he’s always felt capable. So the next big step is an integral and inevitable part of his journey.“I understand where they’re coming from. … [But] I’ve got to make moves and I need to make them as soon as possible,” he said. “I want to take every opportunity I can take. I’m riding a wave right now and I want to see where it goes.”Added Parker: “He’ll have more opportunities. He’s good enough, and hopefully it happens again this winter. It would suck to lose Aaron, and it would be kind of good to lose Aaron.”It sounds like he’s channeling Ben Affleck’s Chuckie in Good Will Hunting when he said, “Because you’d be losing a bad guy in the locker room!”More banter, amid what’s becoming serious business.“I want to see Aaron succeed,” Parker said. “Whether that’s in New York, in Europe, whatever his desires really are.”

Dest set for US debut but could switch to Netherlands

RONALD BLUM,Associated Press 4 hours ago

FILE – In this May 24, 2019, file photo, Ukraine's Serhii Buletsa, front, duels for the ball with United States' Sergino Dest during a Group D U20 World Cup soccer match in Bielsko Biala, Poland. Dest, an 18-year-old Ajax outside back eligible for the United States and the Netherlands, could make his U.S. debut in Friday's exhibition against Mexico but also has been in contact with the Dutch soccer federation. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)

SHORT HILLS, N.J. (AP) — Sergiño Dest’s tenure with the U.S. national team could be lengthy. Or he might cut it short.The 18-year-old defender is scheduled to start Friday night’s exhibition against Mexico in his debut for the American senior team but could switch his affiliation to the Netherlands in the future.Eligible to play for both nations, the outside back is keeping his options open after getting playing time with Dutch power Ajax at the start of this season.”I’m happy for this opportunity and I’m happy that I’m here right now, but I don’t know for the future yet,” he said this week at the U.S. team’s hotel.Dest was born in Almere, Netherlands, and his mother is Dutch and his father is a Surinamese-American. Dest played for the U.S. at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and this year’s Under-20 World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals at both tournaments.While the Royal Dutch Football Association has contacted him about making a change, Dest decided to report to U.S. camp this week. Asked about the conversation Wednesday, he paused and smiled before answering.”Yeah they said something to me,” he replied. “It was not the first team yet, it was with the Under-23s. They want to have a meeting with me. I keep the options open for both ways.”He would not commit to playing for the U.S. next month in CONCACAF Nations League games against Cuba and Canada. Because those are competitive matches, if he appears for the Americans he would not be able to switch to the Dutch.”It’s about communication,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said, “and then creating an environment that they want to be in.”There is little depth at outside back for the U.S., and the right-footed Dest can play on both sides. DeAndre Yedlin and Tyler Adams, the top right-sided U.S. players, have seen sidelined by injuries since spring, and left back is a traditional American weak spot.”I don’t think age matters. If you’re ready, you’re ready, and I think him coming in here is a sign of that,” said 21-year-old midfielder Weston McKennie, a regular starter for Germany’s Schalke. “It seems like he definitely has a good attacking mentality and good speed and everything that his position really needs.”Dest grew up in the Netherlands and had been to the U.S. only once, a trip to New York when he was about 14, before joining the U.S. youth team program. He started four of five matches at the Under-20 World Cup in Poland. His failure to get his head on the ball in a clearance attempt led to Ukraine’s first goal in an opening 2-1 win, and he rebounded to play far better in the following games.”I was thinking it’s like a childish fault and I was still a little bit upset about it in the hotel,” he said. “I learned from that moment.”His profile rose during preseason with Ajax, which was seconds from reaching the Champions League final last season before allowing a stoppage-time goal to Tottenham. Dest made his first-team competitive debut for Ajax in the Dutch Super Cup against PSV Eindhoven on July 27.”I played with second team and I did really well, so they gave me a chance in preseason to play with the first team and that went very well,” he said. “My focus was I want to stay there and I don’t want to go back to the second team.”He has since appeared in three Eredivisie matches and a pair of Champions League qualifiers.”Everyone has their own progress, right, and the speed in which they continue to progress is unpredictable,” Berhalter said. “He got an opportunity, he seized his opportunity and now he’s a starter for Ajax, a semifinalist in the Champions League, and that’s an unbelievable story.”Berhalter called Dest in mid-August and offered him the invitation to U.S. camp.”I didn’t expect it,” Dest said. “I like to play for the U.S. I love the opportunity.”Ajax was drawn into Champions League Group D, which Dest called “the opportunity to show myself to the world.” He could face a pair of young Americans, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Lille’s Tim Weah, a teammate on the Under-20 team.Dest playfully tried to gain some tactical knowledge this week from Pulisic.”I was asking him are you playing on the left side? Right side? Things like that,” Dest said.Dest could slot in nicely on either side for the Americans, still experimenting ahead of the start of World Cup qualifying next September,”It happens all the time where you see a guy get an opportunity, take advantage of that opportunity,” Berhalter said. “You never can tell when it happens, who it’s going to happen to, but Sergiño’s in a good moment now, and we definitely want to capitalize on that.”Notes: The game is a rematch of the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in July, when Mexico beat the U.S. 1-0 despite missing many of its top players, including Hirving Lozano, Javier Hernández and Jesús Corona.

Forget Barcelona and Real Madrid: Atletico have the look and feel of La Liga champions

Sep 3, 2019Graham HunterSpain writer

Sometimes, especially when you’re trying to win just your third title in 42 years, you need things to go your way.You need the crowd to, almost literally, become your 12th man. You need your substitutes to produce three goals in two games. You need a wonderkid. You need your greatest comeback in a decade. You need your richer, more powerful rivals to drop four or five points across three games. And sometimes you need to suffer a shock, something akin to waking up to find a scorpion in your pajamas. Oh, and a last-minute winner to go clear at the top of the table doesn’t hurt either.

– Champions League group stage: All you need to know

Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the mad, pulsating but deeply promising world of Atletico Madrid — Spain’s sudden title favourites. Mind you, please whisper that phrase or Diego Simeone might take you by the shirt front and pin you to the wall. More of that later.Let’s join all those dots, starting with the 12th man.On Sunday night, as Simeone’s rather punch-drunk men tried to haul themselves back into their contest with Eibar after going 2-0 down inside 20 minutes before Joao Felix struck back, goalkeeper Jan Oblak began a move by rolling the ball out to his central defender, Jose Gimenez. Now, I don’t know for sure whether Gimenez was planning his postmatch meal or just taking a standing micro-nap, but he had his back turned. At that moment, he couldn’t have dreamt that an Atleti attacking move might be starting with him.The ball rolled towards Gimenez, unbeknownst to him, and Eibar look poised to go 3-1 up at the Wanda Metropolitano. But at that crucial moment, the 12th man, or rather 54,000 of them, roared to the rescue. Just before Gimenez’s position became fatally embarrassing, every man, woman, child and ball-boy in the stadium screamed at him to wake up and pay attention. No parental warning needed here because while there was language which would make anyone blush, I won’t repeat it.As soon as the Uruguayan was startled into turning around and gathering the ball, Atleti’s move for Vitolo’s goal that would draw them level at 2-2 began. The newspapers on Monday morning should have read: Assist: Lemar/Crowd. But they didn’t.

Remember the fears that leaving the now demolished Vicente Calderon stadium might be, for Atleti, like Samson getting a haircut? A huge drop in power? Forget it.The subs? Well Vitolo now has two goals in two blistering second-half performances, each contributing to wins which looked like being a draw and a defeat respectively. Thomas Partey joined the party (do excuse me) with a 90th-minute winner despite having only been on the pitch just over 10 minutes.Afterwards, Vitolo said: “I’ll keep on fighting in every training session, with every match minute I get to help the team and to try and force the coach into picking me.”Thomas added: “Every one, starter and sub, feels equally important here. The work the team did from the moment Eibar went 2-0 up was absolutely phenomenal.”The two of them followed the right actions with the right words. Everyone here sings from the same hymn sheet. Smells like 2013-14, doesn’t it?Whatever else is going on, Simeone has all his back-up players pawing the ground with energy, resilience and determination rather than sulking. They seem to know that the biggest trophies are always won by an 18-man squad, not 11 men. While 19-year-old Rodrigo Riquelme didn’t turn the game on Sunday, his introduction as a sub means that Atleti‘s coach, unfairly branded as “conservative,” has now brought on seven homegrown kids for their debuts since April last year.I don’t think it’s necessary to explain, again, what a dramatic impact Simeone has had on the club, the fan base, the media, the training ground environment, the squad, the academy or the trophy cabinet (seven in just under eight years). But I’ll bet you didn’t know that not only was Sunday against Eibar the first time his team had conceded twice at home before the 20-minute mark, or that Atleti hadn’t fought back to win from 2-0 down since 2009?Sunday’s fightback against Jose Luis Mendilibar’s Eibar represented just that for Atleti — calamitously shipping in one smash-and-grab goal, followed by a comedy second to give the impression that Barcelona drawing and the prospect of Real Madrid doing the same later on didn’t matter to them.But they have this wonderkid, see?Joao Felix is not only special, he’s durable and oozes winning mentality. After hogging the entire European preseason with his performances, the Portuguese phenom, still just 19, has a goal, an assist and a penalty won through three games for the top-of-the-table and title favourites. His delightful piece of skill (the Spanish have begun to call such tricks “delicatessen” recently) near the halfway line to take a crisp pass, flick it past his marker and set Diego Costa off on a run which would end with Felix side-footing home Atleti‘s first to make it 2-1, brought a primeval roar of approval from the gullets of the red-and-white 54,000.Yet when the Portuguese starlet tired, Simeone had the chutzpah to replace him with match-winner Partey. Normally a right-back, midfield enforcer or even a centre-back, here the Ghanaian was deployed as a second striker … and scored. I liked the cut of Simeone’s jib postmatch. He said: “I saw that Joao was flagging and I knew that Thomas had the impetus to play off Diego Costa. I wanted speed, I wanted to attack Eibar.”It brought drama, a third goal, postmatch questions about winning the title and three beautiful points but Simeone remained realistic.”If you win 3-2 then you’ve committed some errors. But the point is the fight back and winning. We want to win, then win some more then win again and again …” was his payoff, an homage to Luis Aragones, his only challenger as Atleti’s most famous, most loved servant, and the ‘Wise Old Man of Hortaleza’s’ historic phrase: “Ganar, y ganar y volver a ganar.Atleti are well stocked across their squad, trust their academy products, look fit, fast, renewed with the energy and competition that astute new signings can bring and, up front, they seem to ooze scoring power.Here’s the rub. It’s not for nothing that they’ve only won the title twice since 1977. Madrid and Barcelona have often claimed La Liga with “moderate” performances where their deep resources are impossible for Atleti to emulate. This time Simeone has the resources, several special players, a throbbingly good home support and his principal rivals are, at best, flat-planing and, likely, regressing.That leaves us with the fact that if they are to become Spanish champions it will be the first time in nearly half a century that they’ve done so starting as most people’s outright favourites. A burden.Expect the “one game at a time,” “we aren’t thinking about that” and “if you mention the title one more time” to be growled out from Atleti‘s Majadahonda training ground and postmatch news conferences all the way to next May. When, based on recent evidence, great things await.

It’s time to map out successful, meaningful change for women’s soccer

Sep 3, 2019Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

There’s no debate: as a standalone tournament, the Women’s World Cup is a rip-roaring, commercially viable success. The 2019 edition broke women’s football viewing records around the world. This happened not only in Europe, where the time zones were friendly and new marks were set in France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, but also in the United States and Brazil. In fact, according to FIFA, Brazil set a new global viewing record when 35 million watched the Selecao take on France in the round of 16.And it’s not as if this audience was simply football junkies getting their fix at the end of the European season because there was nothing else on. They had plenty of other options, from the European under-21 championships to the Africa Cup of Nations, from the Copa America to the Gold Cup and Major League Soccer.The tournament was rightly celebrated across mainstream media, but you can’t help but wonder what happens next and whether the right questions are even being asked, not just of FIFA, but of stakeholders in the women’s game — players, fans, associations — around the world. Because the risk for women’s football is that it becomes like most Olympic events: massive audiences and media attention every four years, and then zero on the Richter scale until the next Olympiad. And like many Olympic events, it becomes not a true mass participation sport but a niche pursuit for the privileged elite.There is a significant window of opportunity for women’s football. It requires creative thinking. It requires belief. It requires a willingness to hold institutions, from FIFA to federations, to account. Above all, it requires a clear-eyed realization that the priority must be making the game accessible and sustainable to every woman and girl who wants to play it. With that said, here’s my take on the some of the most important issues facing women’s football as it looks to build on the successful Women’s World Cup.

Q: OK, let’s start at the top, with FIFA. Shouldn’t we be holding it to account over equal pay and equal prize money?

A: I can see why you would conflate the two issues, since much of the media has. But they’re entirely separate.Equal pay refers to what women’s national teams earn relative to their male counterparts. In some federations the women’s team is not just more successful, but also generates comparable, if not greater, amounts of money than the men’s team. It’s not quite “pay” in the sense that these aren’t salaried employees, but more like contractors. It’s also complicated by the fact that for most of the bigger men’s teams, the bulk of the players’ earnings comes from their club sides and the national team stipends are basically pocket money, whereas for the women they’re often the main (and sometimes only) source of income. So it seems justified and reasonable to treat the men’s and women’s teams equally.Norway were among the first federations to do it, and in the U.S., the women’s team took legal action last March.

Q: What about prize money? The men’s prize money pool in 2018 was $400 million. The women’s prize money in 2019 just $30 million.

A: Like I said, that’s a totally different issue. The men’s World Cup also had 32 teams instead of 24, so on a per-team basis, on average, the men’s prize money was 10 times as high. There’s a reason for that. (I’ll get to it in a minute.) But what many seem to fail to understand is that prize money doesn’t go to the players. It goes to the federations that then decide how to allocate it.Some of it goes to World Cup preparation and expenses — in the case of less wealthy federations, FIFA covers the cost with an additional pot of $20m — some of it goes to players and staff. In the case of men’s teams there’s another massive expense relative to the women: insurance. FIFA pays the cost of insuring players at the World Cup itself, but not for qualifiers and friendlies. But obviously you need to play qualifiers and friendlies to get there.In any case, there’s nothing stopping successful women’s teams like the United States from going to their federation and demanding equal pay, as they have done. It shouldn’t be tied to prize money.There’s also another, more pertinent, reason why discussion about investing in the women’s game shouldn’t focus on prize money.

Q: What’s that?

A: Increasing prize money would simply steer more cash to those who need it least. The countries who perform best at the Women’s World Cups are all wealthy nations with the best-established women’s football programs. All eight of the countries with the most registered women footballers reached the round of 16 in France and seven of the eight made the quarterfinals. That shouldn’t be surprising: when you have far more players to choose from and more money to train them you usually end up winning.FIFA’s mission is to promote and develop the game worldwide, not to run a commercial enterprise that rewards countries which already enjoy all sorts of advantages. Every dollar spent on prize money is a dollar not going into development, and FIFA’s job is primarily development. Roughly a quarter of FIFA member nations (156 of 209) don’t even field senior women’s teams and it’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) for a woman to play organized football at any level.This gap is why there’s such a disconnect in the conversation. The U.S. and Australia, two of the countries that have pushed hardest for increased prize money, are actually two of the ones who, frankly, need it least. The U.S. has more than 1.6 million registered women’s footballers, which is roughly 40 percent of all registered women’s players in the world. It has Title IX, which ensures opportunities for women to play at university level. These are luxuries most of the world’s countries can only dream of.Demanding more prize money from FIFA smacks of a “first world” attitude if it comes at the expense of development money, especially when these players can (and should) get more pay from their own federations.

Q: What exactly do you mean by “development money”?

A: These are funds that FIFA sends to member associations to promote football development. It can mean everything from coaching education to building pitches and training centers to buying equipment to leasing minivans to drive kids to matches. Right now, in addition to the general funds that FIFA makes available to member nations, it also has half a billion dollars earmarked specifically for women’s football programs.As FIFA president Gianni Infantino says, if you don’t run a woman’s program that meets certain requirements, you don’t get the money.

Q: Can we trust FIFA to hand out this money, given its past history of corruption and malfeasance? A football pitch is a football pitch after all: how do we know it’s going to be reserved for women’s football? In fact, how do we know it’s not going to be used for some local FA official to build himself a new swimming pool?

A: No doubt stuff like that happened in the past, as Infantino himself readily admits.Money just leaks out of the system. FIFA says it has tightened up requirements and oversight to ensure it won’t happen. And, possibly because of this oversight (or maybe because they simply don’t care), many FAs have left money on the table, But it requires more vigilance on a local level, that’s for sure, and it requires education — people in less developed footballing nations demanding the funds are spent — as well as, perhaps, some solidarity from the bigger, wealthier countries.

Q: But isn’t FIFA sitting on $2.75 billion in cash reserves (money sitting in the bank at the end of the last fiscal year)? Surely it can do both: increase prize money and increase development funds.

A: Of course it can, and that’s what Infantino has pledged to do. He wants to double prize money to $60m (plus another $40m to help cover World Cup expenses for less wealthy nations) and also double development funds for the women’s game from $500m to a billion over the next four-year cycle. It’s just a little disappointing that so much of the talk has focused on prize money and not development.In any case, hopefully this whole argument will be moot next time around.

Q: How’s that?

A: What many don’t seem to realize is that more than 95 percent of FIFA’s income comes from a single tournament every four years: the men’s World Cup and, specifically, the sale of tickets, commercial and broadcast rights.Effectively, the men’s World Cup subsidizes everything FIFA does, from development grants to organizing competitions like the Women’s World Cup, youth tournaments, beach soccer and so on. Without the men’s World Cup, none of these things would exist because none of them can pay for themselves — at least that was the case in the past.Take the current cycle from 2015 to 2022: those rights were sold off between 2010 and 2012, and FIFA would sell its international tournaments to broadcasters as a package deal by territory. You’d pay for the men’s World Cup, primarily, and FIFA would throw in competitions such as the Women’s World Cup, the under-20s, futsal and beach soccer for “free.” Infantino vows to change that when the next set of rights — for the 2027 World Cup — comes on the global market and, on a regional basis, possibly earlier.He pointed out that the men’s World Cup, with its global reach of around 4 billion, generates $6.5 billion in revenue. If the Women’s World Cup in France reaches a quarter of that audience, it should generate a quarter of the men’s World Cup revenue, or around $1.6 billion. Instead, because the commercial and broadcast rights are bundled with the men’s, it has generated close to zero: some ticket sales, minor local sponsorships and some merchandise and/or concessions.When he took charge of FIFA in 2016, Infantino appointed a dedicated head of women’s football, Sarai Bareman. Now the goal is to market the Women’s World Cup as a separate competition. If you look at the numbers and audience, surely sponsors and broadcasters will come on board. That’s a huge first step, and when it happens, it will be easier to increase prize money as well. But the goal, as far as FIFA is concerned, has to be development, grassroots and access to the game.

Q: What about the top end, the women we saw at the World Cup in France?

A: Here again it’s complicated, and this is where the biggest decisions need to be taken, not so much by FIFA but by those who care about the women’s game. Some see professional women’s leagues as a key stepping stone to promote and grow the sport. I’m not so sure

Q: How come?

A: There are basically two models for this. Neither has had much success thus far, though it’s still early. In Europe, they’ve tried to piggyback off of men’s clubs. On the surface, it makes sense since you already have a strong brand, ready-built facilities and a fan base that loves the club. Commercially, though, it has been tough.Atletico Madrid drew more than 60,000 for the visit of Barcelona last season in Spain and 39,000 showed up to watch Juventus take on Fiorentina in Italy. In reality, those are one-off, heavily marketed games that saw many tickets given away free or at deep discounts. Atletico’s average attendance is about 600 a game, while Juve attract less than 500.

Even in England’s Women’s Super League, or WSL, the only fully professional league in Europe, attendance is less than a thousand people per game. The Times reported that the FA, which runs the WSL, “did not see the women’s domestic game as a long-term project” and “were not the ones to take it forward.”In the United States and Australia, they’ve opted to create leagues and clubs from scratch with a franchise system. The first attempt at a fully professional league was the WUSA, launched in the wake of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, which lasted three years before investors pulled the plug. (There’s an excellent ESPN 30 for 30 about it.) Another league, the WPS, was started a few years after that and also went bust shortly thereafter.Now there’s the NWSL, in its seventh season. They’ve tried to avoid mistakes of the past by being more conservative in their spending (an approach also taken by the W-League in Australia) and their attendances, around 7,000 a game, are the highest in the world. (Those numbers are swelled a little by the staggering success of the Portland Thorns, who average 20,000 a game, which is higher than 14 of the 24 MLS clubs.)

Q: OK, so the numbers aren’t huge in most cases, but it’s still sustainable professional football, right?

A: Well, yes and no. The three fully professional leagues have very tight salary caps. The average NWSL salary is $21,000 (with a minimum of $16,000) and in the W-League, it’s $14,000 (with a minimum of $7,000). If that’s your only income, it puts the player close to the poverty line. In the U.S. in particular, where many of these players are college-educated and have more lucrative career options, it can be a tough sell.In England’s WSL, the average is around $34,000, but many teams are losing money: both Manchester City and Chelsea, for example, lost more than a million dollars last season on their women’s teams. Elsewhere in Europe you have a mix of professional teams paying high wages and being bankrolled by benefactors, and amateur sides, with players taking second jobs.So I guess it depends on your definition of sustainability. For now, it’s sustainable under the European model if someone subsidizes it. And it’s sustainable under the U.S./Australian model if you pay players a pittance.

Q: So are you saying that we should just abandon women’s professional club football?

A: Not at all, but we need to remember that the men’s game has a hundred-year head start and didn’t turn fully professional in most cases until 50 years ago. In other words, it grew organically, which is why it’s so important to grow the base, develop the game and get people playing, perhaps more so than seeking out investors to bankroll professional clubs.The reality is that investors, whether they’re NWSL owners or big European clubs bankrolling their women’s teams, want to see a return on their investment at some point. And if it doesn’t materialize soon enough, they often walk away, as they did with the WUSA and WPS. Reaching profitability from scratch takes time.

  1. So what should they do?

A: First of all, realize that the landscape across the globe is different and what’s good for women’s football in the U.S. may not work in China or Brazil or Germany.Second, don’t automatically mimic the professional men’s game and its structures, whether it’s the European setup or the U.S. version with franchises and no promotion/relegation. Those models developed over time for different reasons, neither is perfect and, most importantly, they may not fit the needs of the women’s game.In Europe, where a number of countries have a couple of professional teams and the rest are amateur, that might mean creating cross-border leagues to raise the standard and generate commercial critical mass. In the U.S., where distances are vast and travel costs massive, that might mean regionalizing play.More broadly, rather than insisting on the word “professional” (i.e. paid) maybe the emphasis ought to be on “full-time,” meaning ensuring women have a guaranteed certain number of hours to train per week, along with mechanisms that allow them to take time off. That would expand the base and help the club game grow organically.Most of all, maybe they could learn from other sports, like cricket and rugby.

Q: Oh? Why those sports?

A: Because cricket and rugby, despite having been around for a very long time, face some of the same challenges — and have some of the same strengths — as the women’s game. They’re not mass participation sports the way men’s football is and, like women’s football, they have to compete for attention. But they do have a thriving international game that commands huge audiences — think the Six Nations in rugby or the Ashes/Twenty20 in cricket — and the Women’s World Cup showed that women’s football can attract comparable audiences. So maybe the objective should be to monetize international women’s football since the interest is already there.Infantino wants to create a Global Nations’ League, along the lines of the very successful UEFA Nations’ League. That could well move the needle, and you already kind of see it in the U.S. with the women’s team’s “Victory Tour.” Indeed, this is one of the starkest differences between men’s and women’s football and, perhaps, one that the women’s game ought to embrace: stars are identified more with their national teams than with their clubs.Megan Rapinoe was all over the mainstream media after the World Cup, yet very few casual fans could name the club for which she plays (the Seattle Reign). It’s evidence of the different balance of power that exists in women’s football. You couldn’t imagine, say, Manchester United releasing Paul Pogba two months before the World Cup and then letting him go on a France national team victory tour for a month afterward the way many U.S. women did.

Q: OK, but they can’t just make a living playing for the national team, they need club football, no?

A: Sure. But maybe the answer is, if the international game is lucrative enough, putting a pool of players (say the top 50 or top 100) on central, or “national team,” contracts with the federation. (This is how it works in cricket.) That would give you a talent base from which to choose and relieve the pressure on leagues like the NWSL and others to pay the players.

And maybe, at the high end, you can create seasonal tournaments for the world’s top players.Infantino talked about a Club World Cup: it was one of his five proposals on the eve of the Women’s World Cup final this summer. You take the world’s top 24 club sides, put them in one place for a month and host a tournament. With fewer travel costs, centralized promotion and more stars, maybe it can work. Or — and I admit this is out of left field — you have mini-tournaments where the stars are drafted in, like the Indian Premier League does for cricket, to play in short, offseason competitions outside of their club careers.The point is there are creative solutions. Men’s elite football, with its polarization, imbalance of power and Euro-centrism, doesn’t need to be the model for the global women’s game.These are all conversations that need to be happening. FIFA can help — and after decades of hindering, it’s finally on board — so too can sponsors and investors. (But, remember, their help comes with strings attached.) What the women’s game needs most is for the people who care about it to sit down and figure things out. And that needs to happen before the window of opportunity generated by France 2019 closes.

USA drops 3 goals on Portugal in second friendly

Business as usual.By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Sep 3, 2019, 7:16pm PDT

Starting XI: Alyssa Naeher, Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Sonnett, Sam Mewis, Julie Ertz, Morgan BrianTobin HeathCarli Lloyd, Jess McDonald

The United States women’s national team played out their second friendly against Portugal in Saint Paul much the same as their furst, utterly dominating space and gobbling the lions share of chances. They started off the half working the ball into wide space, often building through Tobin Heath or Morgan Brian, looking to finish on a cross. They also kept up pressure, defending high up the field, even pushing Julie Ertz higher and dropping Mewis behind her at times.Portugal contracted defensively again, looking hesitant to try and open up their play against the United States, making it hard to see through traffic around the goal. Abby Dahlkemper floated a great ball over all the congestion in the 18’ that dropped near perfectly for Carli Lloyd, but her volley went wide.Lloyd made up for the miss in the 22’ as she swept up a garbage ball that Portugal was still scrambling to clear. That didn’t open the floodgates, though. Portugal were definitely much more alert to crosses in this game and the United States resorted more to shooting from outside the 18. Portugal’s keeper certainly put together some great saves, including a big double block on both Mewis and the Heath follow up in the 29’, but she couldn’t stop the ref from awarding a penalty. Heath, perhaps with the aid of some small dark arts, earned a penalty kick in the 31’ for a foul just inside the box. Lloyd stepped up and buried it without hesitation to make it 2-0.But for the rest of the first half, the United States resorted to quick pushes or probing wide play without much in the way of shots on goal.The second half started off with a block of subs. Sauerbrunn, Sonnett, Heath, and Dunn all came off for Christen Press, Tierna Davidson, Casey Short, and Lindsey Horan. Davidson went left on the back line and Short took up her usual right back position, while Ertz dropped deeper, leaving space in the midfield for Horan. The change created some more movement through the midfield as Horan and Brian played off of each other, but the US still relied on dragging the game wide and building play through the flanks. It wasn’t a bad idea, trying to pull Portugal out of their shell, which they would sometimes do as two or three players swarmed Lloyd whenever she drifted wide.Horan also kept her head up just outside the box, pinging some hard shots from distance. She was unlucky to have one shot in the 62’ ring the crossbar after finding the shooting lane with a quick juke.The US made their fifth sub in the 57’ with Mewis off for Mal Pugh; Lloyd also dropped into the midfield to allow for Pugh to slip into the front line, with McDonald now playing centrally. McDonald didn’t get the chance to act as a target for much of the night, usually drawing other players out of position on set pieces or setting up the cross herself. She ended up getting replaced by her North Carolina Courage teammate in the 75’ as Kristen Hamilton came on for her first USWNT, which was arguably the best moment of the night.Lloyd and Press made for a decent duo along the left side, trying to play each other in quickly and often succeeding at dropping balls well enough to elude Portugal’s back line. But neither of them was quite able to put a finishing touch on the ball.The game picked up again in the last 10 minutes, first as Ertz made a hockey goalie stop on the ball to break up Portugal’s drive and restart play. Portugal’s only resort to stopping her was to literally attempt to drag her back by holding on to her with both arms. But the USWNT kept up the quick buildup from deep, which earned them a corner kick in the 83’. Press took the corner and Lindsey Horan slipped freely through Portugal’s zone to find the header and make it 3-0.That’s how the game ended, although not for lack of trying from Hamilton, who seemed fine in the fifteen minutes we got from her. It would be a shame if she didn’t get further opportunities to see where she fits in with the forward pool. It would also be nice to see the USWNT connect more through open play in their upcoming friendlies against South Korea; tonight they got a garbage goal, a penalty, and a set piece finish, but with a midfield as crazy good as the US has, in almost any configuration, they certainly have the ability to build very quickly through the middle and exploit defensive gaps.

RECAP | DANE KELLY’S LATE WINNER GIVES INDY ELEVEN 1-0 WIN OVER FIRST-PLACE NEW YORK RED BULLS II

By IndyEleven.com, 09/04/19, 10:45PM EDT

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Indiana’s Team Equals Club-record 21-game Home Undefeated Streak; Boys in Blue Now Within a Win of Top Spot in Eastern Conference

#INDvNY Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center

Indy Eleven kept its cool under pressure and a steady attacking assault by New York Red Bulls II, eventually working its usual late-game magic – this time courtesy of forward Dane Kelly – to notch a pivotal 1-0 win at Lucas Oil Stadium.“We felt New York’s space as the game went on, since they press really high, the space was going to be behind a lot,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We knew Pasher couldn’t keep going behind for 90 minutes, so we felt that maybe with a little bit of time left that Dane would be a threat behind. That worked out well for us because then it keeps them honest all of the time. It was a great goal for us and, like I said in the beginning, against a really good team, lots of good players. I think their system and how they play is really hard to play against.”The win over Eastern Conference leading Red Bulls II allowed Indy Eleven (15W-4L-5D, 50 pts.) to jump into third place and within a win of the top spot, while still holding three huge games in hand on both New York (16W-6L-5D, 53 pts.) and second-place Nashville SC (51 pts.).Kelly’s 83rd minute winner off the bench also pushed Indy Eleven’s home undefeated streak to a record-tying 21 games, equaling a similar run across the 2015-17 seasons during the club’s NASL era at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium. The home unbeaten streak, which began last July 7, includes a 9W-0L-4D ledger in 2019 at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Boys in Blue have outscored the opposition 17-4 and shut out nine opponents in 13 games after tonight’s clean sheet by goalkeeper Evan Newton, his eighth of the season and the club’s 11th overall.The game’s first action came as a pair of early chances for New York Red Bulls II, both by way of forward Mathias Jorgensen. The first came in the fifth minute as a cross played in deflected off Jorgensen’s foot and forcing Newton into a close quarters save. The second came five minutes later when midfielder Vincent Bezecourt played a cheeky chip into the forward, but his one-time volley inside Indy’s box carried narrowly wide of Newton’s post.Red Bulls II continued to apply pressure the bulk of the pressure until a 26th minute mistake by goalkeeper Evan Louro nearly led to the game’s opening a goal for the Eleven. A poor pass across his box was intercepted by Indy midfielder Tyler Pasher, who then faced Louro one-on-one. The New York ‘keeper nullified his mistake by coming up with a big kick save inside his six-yard box. Pasher nearly struck again in the 39th minute, when the pacey midfielder cut in on his preferred left foot after receiving the ball in the midfield. After easily dancing his way around three New York defenders, he unleashed a driven effort that floated just over the goal.The last action of the first half would come just before the whistle after a Red Bulls II corner was cleared only as far as defender Janos Loebe, whose left footed, one-time strike from the top right of Newton’s box rattled off the crossbar, leaving the sides to enter the half level at nil-nil.The first chance of the second half came in similar fashion to Pasher’s initial opportunity, a quick counter sprung by Indy midfielder Ayoze’s long ball in the 53rd minute freeing the Canadian for another one-on-one chance with Louro. Despite Pasher’s best effort to dribble past the goalkeeper, Louro stretched himself wide and got a paw to the ball, shutting the door on the goal scoring chance.Red Bulls II forward Tom Barlow nearly broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, when a ball played into the box connected with the young forward. Barlow attempted an acrobatic flick with the outside of his right foot from near point blank range, but quick reactions from Newton allowed the Indy ‘keeper to push the ball wide. Two minutes later, Newton made another big save denying Loebe on another attempt from distance, this time thwarting the ball on frame with a strong two-handed diving save.Despite New York’s pressure and several quality chances, it would be the forward substitute Kelly who would break the deadlock in the 83rd minute. A long cross played in by fellow substitute Macauley King from the right flank would find the Jamaican at the back post. Kelly would climb and win the headed opportunity over two Red Bull center backs, sending the ball into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the 2019 USL Championship. The finish marked his second late-winner off the bench at Lucas Oil Stadium in the team’s last three home games, harkening back to the 81st minute tally that ultimately downed Saint Louis FC on August 18.Like much of the nation, Indy Eleven is keeping an eye on conditions along the Atlantic Coast, with Hurricane Dorian’s presence threatening a potential date change for this Saturday’s scheduled away game against the Charleston Battery (7:30 p.m. kickoff, live on ESPN+).Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium with a pair of games next week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night next Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvNY
Indy Eleven  1 : 0  New York Red Bulls

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ET   Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.  Attendance: 9,124

2019 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (15W-4L-5D, 50 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference)

New York Red Bulls II (16W-6L-5D, 53 pts., 1st in Eastern Conference)

Scoring Summary:
IND – Dane Kelly (Macauley King) 83’

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Drew Conner (Yellow card) 17’

IND – Paddy Barrett (Yellow card) 28’

IND – Kenney Walker (Yellow card) 61’

IND – Karl Ouimette (Yellow card) 79’

NY – Amro Tarek (Yellow card) 92’
Indy Eleven lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Evan Newton; Mitch Osmond, Paddy Barrett, Karl Ouimette; Ayoze, Kenney Walker (Matt Watson 76’), Tyler Gibson, Drew Conner, Lucas Farias (Macauley King 45+1’); Tyler Pasher, Ilija Ilic (Dane Kelly 78’)

IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Eugene Starikov, Nico Perea, Gabriel Rodrigues
New York Red Bulls II (4-3-3, L–>R): Evan Louro; Sean Nealis, Amro Tarek, Janos Loebe, Edgardo Rito (Sean McSherry 62’); Jared Stroud, Vincent Bezecourt (Ben Mines 85’), Jean-Christophe Koffi (Kyle Zajec 75’); Christopher Lema Mathias Jorgensen, Tom Barlow

NY Substitutes: Rashid Nuhu (GK); Sebastian Elney, John Tolkin, Jordan Scarlett

 

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

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

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

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

8/30/19  Indy 11 Tonite & Home Wed,  EPL Arsenal vs Spurs Sat 12:30 NBC, USA vs Mexico next Fri, Carmel Girls 2 Games Sat 

Shane Best  The Ole Ballcoach

Champions League Draw Set + Defender Van Dyke Wins Player of the Year   

The Champion League draw was made this week and the EPL teams certainly seem to have an easier road as the Spanish teams are going to be hugely challenged.  We’ll review more as we get closer to the First leg kick-offs of Group Stage play on Sept 18. Cool to see what could be a record # of Americans in Champions League this season.

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiakos, Red Star Belgrade

Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta

Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk

Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague

Group G: Zenit St. Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon, Leipzig

Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille

US Men’s and Women’s National Teams Play Next Week US Ladies vs Portugal Tues 8 pm ESPN2/US Men vs Mexico Fri Night 8 pm FS1

Great to see 50,000 fans poured into Philly’s stadium to celebrate the US Ladies as they pounded Portugal 4-0 Thursday night. They face each other again on Tuesday night at 8 pm on ESPN2.  Friday night its USA vs Mexico in NJ on Fox Sports 1.  Fantastic to see so many young US Players called in as the U20s fresh off their fine World Cup Run this past summer – are finally putting new comers on this team.   See the Full Roster and write ups below.

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas; Brad Guzan, Atlanta United; Sean Johnson, New York City FC; Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

Defenders: John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany); Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas; Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands); Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes; Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls; Daniel Lovitz, Montreal Impact; Tim Ream, Fulham (England); Miles Robinson, Atlanta United; Walker Zimmerman, LAFC

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy; Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany); Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew; Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Forwards: Corey Baird, Real Salt Lake; Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey); Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders; Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England), Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany); Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

MLS Derby Weekend was Spectacular

Well soccer fans if you took my advice and watched some MLS soccer this weekend during rivalry week you were treated to some fantastic action.  Seattle and Portland started things off with a well played 2-1 win for Seattle at Portland.  NYCFC upset the Red Bulls in the Hudson River Darby, Columbus shut down Cincy at Cincy 2-0 and el TRAFFICO was well El Traffico.  Yes I stayed up until 1 am watching the LAFC vs LA Galaxy and it did not disappoint.  This game could well be the most intense rivalry in soccer and perhaps in sports in America right now.  LAFC is vying to be the most successful team in MLS history –it has a chance to break the single season record as the best MLS team in history.  Despite all their success however – the 1 team they have never beaten is the LA Galaxy – and Zlattan Ibrahimovich is a big reason.  He scored 2 goals in the first 10 minutes to put the Galaxy out in front before a second half surge and goal by MPV favorite Carlos Vela tied it at 3-3.  The emotion in the stands as a full house looked on screaming and chanting the entire game was inspiring.  It was drama and injuries and weird calls and all around great soccer.  MLS may not have the quality yet of the EPL or La Liga or the German Bundesliga but we have some established rivalries now that are second to none.  MLS is getting there – the quality of play is much better, the crowds and fans are inspiring and this weekend of Derby’s exemplified everything that is great about soccer in America.  Keep watching US Soccer fans – we are getting there!  And speaking of getting there – Atlanta United captured their second cup of the season with a 2-1 win over Minn United in the US Open Cup this week.  Along with last season’s MLS Cup win, and the Campeones Cup win over Mexico’s top team, that’s now 3 in a row for the 3 year old club.  Games this week on national TV Sunday eve feature playoff position battles in the Western Conference as Seattle hosts the LA Galaxy at 6:30 pm on Fox Sports 1 followed by league leading LAFC hosting Minn United at 10:30 on FS1.  Saturday Carmel High Grad and former US National team player Matt Hedges for Dallas FC will host Cincy on ESPN+ at 7:30 pm.

EPL

American Christian Pulisic notched his first assist and played well overall in Chelsea’s first win of the season 3-2 at Norwich. (See full details here) Pulisic moved to the right wing with Pedro out injured and put in a workman performance as he continued to show blazing speed in his attacking runs at the goal.  His assist set up Chelsea’s 2nd goal as he left a ball for Mount who scored his second of the season.  Pulisic just missed a shot wide late in the 2nd half.  Its been great seeing Pulisic start and feature for the Blues – hopefully he can hang on to a starting spot as he adjusts to life on the big stage in the EPL.  Looking ahead to this last weekend of play before the international break – we only get 1 match among top 6 squads at Arsenal hosts a reeling Tottenham on Sunday at 11:30 am on NBCSN.  Sat’s EPL slate is Southampton hosting Man United at 7:30 on NBCSN, followed by Chelsea and American Christian Pulisic hosting newcomer Sheffield United who stands in 10th place in this first season back in the EPL in 3 decades at 10 am on NBCSN.  The Sat 12:30 NBC features Burnley hosting league leader Liverpool and Player of the Year Defender Virgil Van Dyke.

Indy 11 Fri Night @ Louisville on WISH8 TV and Wed at Home 7 pm vs NY Red Bulls2

Friday’s away installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest will mark the beginning of Indy Eleven’s busiest stretch of games in club history, a 10-game, 36-day gauntlet that will see Indiana’s Team make up the several games in hand it has on its fellow Eastern Conference elite.  Indy Eleven will then return to Lucas Oil Stadium next Wednesday, September 4, when it will look to even its club-record 21-game home unbeaten streak in a pivotal contest against East-leading New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

Carmel High and CFC GK

The #1 Ranked Ladies Carmel High Soccer team will host two topped ranked teams this weekend – Sat at 9 am vs #1 2A Ranked Cathedral and Saturday at 7 pm vs #13 Fishers. Be sure to head to Noble Romans in Carmel to support the team in between as they support the Catherine Peachey Fund.  With the holiday on Monday – Carmel FC Goalkeeper Training will just be on Thursday next week at Shelbourne.  No Monday GK Training at Badger!!

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 30

2:30 pm FS 2                                         MGladbach (Johnson) vs RB Leipzig

2:45 pm bEIN Sport                          PSG vs Metz

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+          Louisville vs Indy 11

Sat, Aug 31

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Southhampton vs Man United

9:30 am FS1                                            Bayern Munich vs Mainz

9:30 am FS2                                            Schalke (McKinney) vs Hertha BSC

10 am NBCSN                                        Chelsea (Pulisic)  vs Sheffield United

11 am beIN sport                               Osasuana vs Barcelona

12 noon ESPN+                                     Parma vs Juventus

1 pm bein Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Burnley vs Liverpool

12:30 pm FS1                                        Union Berlin vs Dormund

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Juventus vs Napoli

3 pm beIN Sports                               France vs Spain (Ladies)

7;30 pm ESPN+                                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Cincy

10:30 pm ESPN+                                 Portland vs Real Salt Lake

Sun, Sept 1

9 am NBCSN                                           Everton vs  Wolverhampton

9:30 m FS1                                              Werder Bremen vs Ausburg

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Arsenal vs Tottenham 

12 noon FS1                                           Frankfort vs Dusseldorf (Steffan)

3 pm beIN sport                                  Villarreal vs Real Madrid

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars 

6:30 pm FS1                                           Seattle vs LA Galaxy 

10:30 pm fS1                                        LAFC vs Minn United 

Tues, Sept 3

1 pm ESPN2                                       USA Ladies vs Portugal

WEds, Sept 4

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+          Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls2

Fri, Sept 6

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Germany vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifiying)

8:30 pm Fox Sports1                USA vs Mexico

Sat, Sept 7

12noon ESPN+                                      England vs Bulgaria (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  France vs Albania (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Serbia vs Portugal (Euro Qualifiying)

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Cincy vs Toronto FC

10:30 pm ESPN+                                  Portland vs Sporting KC

Sun, Sept 8

2:45 pm ESPN News                                                 Sweden vs Norway (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Finland vs Italy (Euro Qualifiying)

Mon, Sept 9

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Northern Ireland vs Germany (Euro Qualifiying)

Tues, Sept 10

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    England vs Kosovo(Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Andorra (Euro Qualifiying)

1 pm FS1                                               USA vs Uraguay

 USA

USMNT roster: Josh Sargent, Alfredo Morales, Brad Guzan return for Mexico/Uruguay friendlies

Doyle: US future is here with September roster

Berhalter: It’s a process to get kids to progress

Americans Abroad: Weekend roundup

Matt Miagza injured early in Reading win over Huddersfield

18 MLSers named to latest US U-23 roster

US U-17 roster called up to prep for World Cup

US Ladies Win 4-0 in front of 50K in Philly

EPL

Emery could go for goals and pick Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe against Tottenham
Salah penalty ‘very soft’ – Emery defends David Luiz

Palace stuns wasteful Manchester United at the death

 Weekend Review: Are Tottenham getting stale?
– O’Hanlon: Should we be worried about “superteam” Man City?
– Jones: Sheffield United prove heart can beat talent

Lampard wants Kante to skip France’s Euro 2020 qualifiers

Chelsea Player Ratings – Pulisic a 6

MLS

Josef approaching a Messi world record

How Seattle Plans to Corral Zlattan and Pavon

Week 26: How the West playoff race is shaping up

Bogert: 5 big questions heading into the weekend

MLS Power Rankings after Rivalry Week

Tim Howard returns home one last time
The hype is real! Ibrahimovic and Vela help provide another instant classic as El Trafico remains best in MLS

Report: Atlanta United interested in NWSL expansion franchise

WORLD

UEFA Champions League group-by-group draw
– Van Dijk beats Messi, Ronaldo to UEFA POTY award 
– Cantona delivers unique acceptance speech

Ranking UCL draw: Which PL team was handed best group?

American’s in Champions League

Live, Europa League: Wolves, Celtic, Rangers one step from group stage

Marcotti’s Muzings From Around the World of Soccer – Gab Marcotti – ESPNFC

Rodríguez returns but Real Madrid held in home opener

Serie A: Milan stunned; Roma draw in six-goal thriller (video)

Juventus news: Maurizio Sarri leaves Matthijs De Ligt on the bench as Juventus begin season with win

Juventus opens Serie A with 1-0 throw-back win at Parma

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview vs Louisville City Fri Eve on ESPN+

Drew Conner Named to USL Champ Team of the Week

Indy 11 Sign New MF Nico Perea

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM 

USMNT roster: Josh Sargent, Alfredo Morales, Brad Guzan return for Mexico/Uruguay friendlies

Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsAug 28, 2019, 11:01 AM

.S. men’s national team fans clamoring for fresh faces ahead of next week’s friendly-in-name-only match against rival Mexico and another exhibition against Uruguay Sept. 9 won’t be disappointed by Gregg Berhalter’s latest roster — even if some of the names on the coach’s list aren’t new.The USMNT boss called up 26 players on Wednesday ahead of the two tilts. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic headlines the squad, which did not include veterans Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley or injured quartet Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga, Tim Weah and DeAndre Yedlin.But fellow vets Brad Guzan and Alfredo Morales were summoned for the first time under Berhalter, teenage striker Josh Sargent returned after being overlooked for the Gold Cup earlier this summer, and former youth national teamers Sergino Dest, Paxton Pomykal and Miles Robinson received their first senior invites.Here’s the full roster:

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas; Brad Guzan, Atlanta United; Sean Johnson, New York City FC; Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

Defenders: John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany); Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas; Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands); Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes; Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls; Daniel Lovitz, Montreal Impact; Tim Ream, Fulham (England); Miles Robinson, Atlanta United; Walker Zimmerman, LAFC

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy; Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany); Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew; Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Forwards: Corey Baird, Real Salt Lake; Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey); Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders; Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England), Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany); Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

The 20-year-old Pulisic has played as a midfielder in most of his 31 international appearances, but he’s listed as a forward this time around, suggesting a more advanced role.

“He’s a great attacking player and we want to put him in position to affect the game,” Berhalter said.The coach also indicated that Guzan, a veteran of two World Cups, would’ve been summoned earlier this year — Berhalter’s first at the helm — but wasn’t because of conflicts with his club team.“Brad is a guy that I have a ton of respect for – respect for his career, but more importantly, respect for what type of guy he is,” Berhalter said. “He’s a guy that we tried to get involved in January camp and Atlanta had some Champions League games that took precedent there, but we’re excited to bring him back.”The last of Morales’s 13 caps came in 2016. But he’s been excellent through two Bundesliga matches this season, scoring a goal against Bayer Leverkusen over the weekend.“He’s done such a good job with Fortuna Dusseldorf, not only through the first two Bundesliga games, but we’ve seen reports from preseason where he’s been an outstanding player,” Berhalter said of Morales. “It’s nice to give a guy a reward like that – an opportunity because of how he’s performing at his club.”

Armchair Analyst: At long last, USMNT’s future begins to arrive

August 28, 20195:39PM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

There has been a lot written, most of it justifiable, about the “Lost Generation” of talent in US men’s national team age groups. The 1990-through-1994 birth years were relatively barren in comparison to the four five-year cohorts that had directly preceded it, the ones that had produced the likes of Claudio Reyna, Eddie Pope and Brian McBride, or Clint Mathis, Carlos Bocanegra and Tim Howard, or Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley, or Michael BradleyJozy Altidore and Benny Feilhaber.Those guys had all played huge roles not just at every World Cup from 1998 to 2014, but in qualifying for them. Those guys above, and dozens of others, had had what it took to get results in Honduras, never lose against Caribbean teams, protect home field against almost all comers, and grind through the Hexagonal time after time after time.We all know that didn’t happen for the 2018 World Cup, and we all know there are myriad factors as to why (I still say that coaching, both at the beginning and at the end of the Hex, was the biggest reason). One of the more determinative was lack of top-end talent in that entering-its-prime, 1990-94 birth year cohort. Guys like DeAndre Yedlin, Jordan Morris and Bobby Wood have been good players for the US, and others in that group – John Brooks, Gyasi ZardesSebastian Lletget – have made contributions at various stages throughout their national team careers including, at times, during the last qualifying cycle. But none of those guys, individually or collectively, raised the team to where it needed to go, and that remains a big reason why the USMNT watched last summer’s World Cup from home.When there were moments of desperate need in previous cycles there always seemed to be at least one or two players entering their prime who were ready to step onto the field in a qualifier and announce themselves by winning a huge game. Mathis and Josh Wolff in the first Dos-a-Cero way back in 2001 were and are the very best example, but are just one of many (Pope vs. Mexico in 1997; Pablo Mastroeni when Chris Armas went down; even Mix Diskerud vs. Mexico in what was to be the final Dos-a-Cero in 2013 all come to mind). Maybe Lletget would’ve been that guy if he’d been able to stay healthy, or maybe it could’ve been Morris or Aron Johannsson. Maybe if Walker ZimmermanNick Lima and Aaron Long had been identified and progressed through the system earlier the defense wouldn’t have been as fragile, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. There is probably a slice of the multiverse where that is true.But not here. Not for us.Regardless, that’s all looking backwards. And the point of this is that, since the loss in Couva, the US fanbase as a whole has looked forwards, and done so with the great hope that the subsequent age-groups would produce more top-end talent and fill the US roster with players who would make the 2018 cycle’s failures seem like an aberration rather than the start of a trend.Given the success of the three cohorts following the Lost Generation (the 1995/6es, the 1997/8s and the 1999/2000s) at the last three U-20 World Cups – the US have made it to the quarterfinals in each of them, the only nation who can claim as much – there’s been reason for optimism. Given that players from those cohorts have steadily matriculated from youth national teams to professional starters and, in increasing numbers, full USMNT regulars, the reasons for optimism seem to be founded on more than just age-group dominance. Given that there were more players from those teams and those cohorts knocking on the door over the past few months in the aftermath of this summer’s Gold Cup, it seemed logical to hope that more help was on its way.And now, with this roster, it’s here. Gregg Berhalter has called in a lot of familiar faces, but he’s also turned on the faucet and begun what most USMNT fans expect will be a steady trickle of young, exciting, dynamic talent into the team. They will have to prove they can do the job, but if they’re doing so already for Ajax, or for FC Dallas, or under Matias Almeyda, or playing against Club America, is there a reason to think they can’t do the same for the US? If Reggie Cannon, at age 20, can step on the field in the Gold Cup final against Mexico and more than hold his own, what’s to stop his club teammate Paxton Pomykal from doing the same against El Tri in a friendly? If Miles Robinson put the clamps on Las Aguilas‘ $20 million attack in the Campeones Cup, why not expect him to do the same against the rest of Concacaf, for both club and country?

The first eight months of 2019 were Phase 1 of the Gregg Berhalter era. He established his team’s principles of play, he put three of his biggest young stars – Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Zack Steffen – in position to be the core leaders of the team going forward, he bid adieu to a cadre of veterans, and he got his team to really compete for the Gold Cup title, though they eventually came up short of winning it.Now it’s onto Phase 2: Adding more of that next young group of players, integrating it with the core group, getting them minutes in friendlies and Concacaf Nations League, and building both depth and cohesiveness throughout the roster. Everything over the next 12 months is about preparing for World Cup qualifying, which begins at this time next year.This is the part we’ve all been looking forward to, for almost two years. It’s finally here.

A few notes on the roster

  • The inclusion of Sergino Dest, a dynamic, 18-year-old,  attacking fullback for the US U-20s this past spring and for Ajax this summer – he’s already played for the Dutch giants in the Johan Cruyff Shield, then twice in league play and twice in Champions League qualifying – comes as a sigh of relief for many who worried Dest would abandon the US for the Netherlands (he’s a Dutch-American dual national) should his home country come calling. These friendlies don’t cap-tie him, but he’s been a core part of the US youth teams for the past four years, and this call-up looks like a prelude to next month’s Nations League games, which wouldpermanently cap-tie him.

It’s not a done deal yet but it’s trending in that direction.

  • To paraphrase a take on the roster expressed to me by three different folks: The best part of this group (aside from Dest accepting the call-up) is that Pulisic is listed as a forward and not a midfielder. I thought it was a worthwhile experiment this summer to play Pulisic in the middle as a No. 10, but he doesn’t offer enough defensively or in possession to play that spot against the likes of Mexico, and keeping him central robs both him and the team of his best feature: His dynamism as a winger either bursting into the open field or cutting inside to combine.
  • With Pulisic likely playing on the wing, the big question will be about how the midfield lines up. My guess is that this will be Pomykal’s chance to debut in that left-sided No. 10 role – the one that Pulisic played this summer. While Pomykal’s not an elite chance creator from that spot, he’s super clever about his combination play and movement, and should sort of naturally interchange with Pulisic (who, as mentioned, loves to cut inside).

If you think back to this summer, Pulisic and Paul Arriola – the left winger in the Gold Cup – spent a ton of time swapping spots during the run of play. And while Pomykal isn’t elite at creating chances from Zone 14, he actually is when he flares out wide:

I don’t just have “hopes” for how these guys work together; I have expectations.

  • With Tyler Adams injured and Bradley not called in, it seems like Wil Trappis going to get another look at d-mid. Alfredo Morales – who, at 29, is one of the oldest players on the roster – is another factor at that spot, though he more often plays as a roving destroyer rather than as a sit-and-protect orchestrator as Berhalter prefers.
  • Don’t take the absence of Bradley and Altidore to mean that we’ve seen the last of those guys in Red, White & Blue. Toronto FCare in the midst of a playoff race and have two games during the international date, so Berhalter was probably doing the Reds a solid by letting those two guys stay with their club.

I do wonder if Seattle‘s Morris and Cristian Roldan will join the camp late, as they’re also in a playoff race and have a game on September 7.

  • In addition to Pomykal and Dest, it’s likely that their U-20 teammate Tim Weah would’ve been here had he stayed healthy, but he picked up a knock recently for Lille. It’s still not clear where Weah’s best spot is in the short-term, but long-term my guess is he’s a winger in Berhalter’s system.
  • Another member of the U-20s I’d have liked to see in this camp is FC Dallas’s Brandon Servania. He’s been excellent all summer, and given how thin the US are at d-mid, I’d argue it would’ve made some sense to give him a call. Servania isn’t an Adams-level prospect at the spot, but he’s shown the ability to do some stuff on both sides of the ball:
  • Pulisic, Morris, Corey Baird(who’s played very well over the past six weeks) and Tyler Boyd (who’s starting for Besiktas) should be the group on the wing. Arriola withdrew from the camp due to family considerations, as reported by Steven Goff of The Washington Post.

Up top, Josh Sargent and Zardes are the only center forwards on this team. Sargent hasn’t played much for Werder Bremen so far, but it shouldn’t matter – he’s got to get the bulk of No. 9 minutes in these games.

  • Guys from the post-Lost Generation age-group on this roster:
  • 1995s: Steffen, Jesse Gonzalez, Roldan
  • 1996: Baird
  • 1997s: Robinson, Jackson Yueill
  • 1998s: Pulisic, McKennie, Cannon
  • 2000s: Sargent, Dest
  • Yedlin, Matt Miazga and Duane Holmes, like Adams and Weah, probably would’ve been here but for injury.

Here’s the full roster:

Pos. Player Club
GK Gonzalez, Jesse FC Dallas
GK Guzan, Brad Atlanta United
GK Johnson, Sean New York City FC
GK Steffen, Zack Fortuna Düsseldorf
D Brooks, John Wolfsburg
D Cannon, Reggie FC Dallas
D Dest, Sergino Ajax
D Lima, Nick San Jose Earthquakes
D Long, Aaron NY Red Bulls
D Lovitz, Daniel Montreal Impact
D Ream, Tim Fulham FC
D Robinson, Miles Atlanta United
D Zimmerman, Walker LAFC
M Lletget, Sebastian LA Galaxy
M McKennie, Weston Schalke 04
M Morales, Alfredo Fortuna Düsseldorf
M Pomykal, Paxton FC Dallas
M Roldan, Cristian Seattle Sounders
M Trapp, Wil Columbus Crew SC
M Yueill, Jackson San Jose Earthquakes
F Baird, Corey Real Salt Lake
F Boyd, Tyler Besiktas
F Morris, Jordan Seattle Sounders
F Pulisic, Christian Chelsea
F Sargent, Josh Werder Bremen
F Zardes, Gyasi Columbus Crew SC

Champions League draw reaction: Premier League clubs happy; difficult for Spain’s big three Ross Dyer rank Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool in terms of who got the hardest group draw in the UEFA Champions League.

Aug 29, 2019Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

The draw for the UEFA Champions League group stage took place in Monaco on Thursday and, as ever, threw up some intriguing story lines. Mark Ogden picks his highlights and makes some predictions.

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

English clubs get it easy

It is the luck of the draw, but while the likes of Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid got groups with heavyweight rivals, the Premier League’s quartet will all be happy with their outcomes.

Tottenham landed Bayern Munich, but will expect to overcome Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade, while Liverpool and Manchester City will expect to coast through as group winners and Chelsea are favoured to take Group H.

– Full group-stage fixture schedule 2019-20

Another year, another Man City vs. Shakhtar clash

The two clubs were paired together in the group stage for the third successive season, so it might take an imaginative publicity campaign to tempt supporters to turn out for this fixture again. City’s executives will be happy to land yet another group lacking big-name glamour, but their fans might have wished for a bit more star quality.

Group F is the most difficult

Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter were drawn together in Group F, alongside Slavia Prague, whose cheerful directors chuckled at the prospect of three huge games in the Czech capital. It will be different for the hierarchy at the other three, however, with concerns over missing a top-two spot due to the strength of competition.

Messi and Ronaldo get along

In recent years, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have sat stony-faced with each other, as they wait to discover who has won the Player of the Year and Forward of the Year awards. This time around, the pair were laughing and joking — mainly at Eric Cantona’s speech — before the prizes were announced. Messi claimed best forward, but both missed out to Virgil van Dijk for the big one.

Eric Cantona

Having been given the UEFA President’s Award, convention dictated that Cantona give an acceptance speech. Dressed in jeans, creased shirt and flat cap, the former Manchester United forward made the most of his moment by quoting Shakespeare and discussing science and the ageing of cells, before closing by saying “I love football.” All of which left the audience utterly bewildered.

‘ class=”imageLoaded lazyloaded” data-image-container=.inline-photo v:shapes=”_x0000_i1025″>Matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League is on Sept. 17 and 18. Getty

Group A: PSG and Real Madrid go through

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid meet in heavyweight clashes and while both will expect to progress to the round of 16, the story of this group is likely to be about which team finishes top and earns a seeding in the knockout stages. Finishing second could lead to a nightmare draw against another Champions League big-hitter. Galatasaray and Club Brugge, meanwhile, will enjoy a tough battle for the Europa League spot that comes with third place.

B: Bayern Munich and Tottenham go through

Bayern and Tottenham will be favourites to qualify, but both must be wary of slipping up in hostile arenas when they travel to Athens and Belgrade for clashes with Olympiakos and Red Star. Red Star beat Liverpool 2-0 at home last season and are the dangerous outsider in this group; they could upset Spurs if last season’s runners-up fail to rediscover consistency. Olympiakos can be tough to beat at home, though they are something of a soft touch on the road.

C: Man City and Dinamo Zagreb go through

This group is basically a case of who will finish runners-up behind City, who are many observers’ favourites to win the Champions League. Shakhtar have the most recent pedigree in the competition, but Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta will believe they can reach the knockout stages. Champions League debutants Atalanta may suffer from losing home advantage by playing at the San Siro in Milan rather than their 21,000-capacity stadium in Bergamo.

– 

D: Juventus and Leverkusen go through

Juventus and Atletico Madrid, who met in last season’s round of 16, are the two to beat in this group, but Bayer Leverkusen could separate them. Juventus have strengthened in the summer, but questions hang over Atletico following the departures of Antoine GriezmannRodri and Diego Godin. Diego Simeone remains at the helm and has signed Portuguese wonderkid Joao Felix, but Leverkusen will be a tough nut to crack; Lokomotiv Moscow could also challenge for second.

E: Liverpool and Napoli go through

Reigning European champions Liverpool meet Napoli again, having played out two big encounters in last season’s group stage. Salzburg and Genk look to be making up the numbers, so Liverpool’s encounters with Napoli should decide who tops the group. Only a last-minute save by Alisson at Anfield stopped Napoli from dumping Liverpool out at the group stage a year ago, so the Italians will fancy their chances.

F: Barcelona and Inter go through

The most eye-catching group of all features three previous winners — Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter — slugging it out for two places. Barca will expect to finish top, but Dortmund could beat them. Inter, meanwhile, are still an unknown quantity under Antonio Conte, but the nerrazzuri have plenty of quality so don’t take your eyes off this group. Slavia Prague make up the numbers.

G: Lyon and Leipzig go through

Zenit St Petersburg’s Twitter feed joked prior to the draw that the Russian champions were the top seed that everyone wanted to get. Benfica, Lyon and Leipzig were the lucky clubs in each pot and while this group might lack glamour, it is perhaps the most competitive, with all four teams having a chance to qualify. Lyon made it to the knockout stages last season and will be favourites.

H: Chelsea and Valencia go through

Europa League winners Chelsea will be delighted to get an Ajax team weakened by the departures of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie De Jong, as well as a Valencia outfit that scraped in as Spain’s fourth qualifier and Lille, who finished a distant second to PSG in France. Chelsea, with Christian Pulisic signed to replace Eden Hazard, are in transition under Frank Lampard, but should top this group.

 

Premier League W2W4: Arsenal primed to take derby spoils against Tottenham

Nick MillerESPN.com writer

Ten clubs find themselves with one win, one draw and one loss after three games, making the 2019-20 Premier League picture as clear as mud. Nick Miller tries to make sense of the madness ahead of matchday four.

Jump to: The folly of Man United’s summer | Spotlight on Gracia | Bruce still fighting Rafa’s ghost | Time for the Toffees to unleash Kean

Who will cut through the chaos in north London?

The north London derby arrives this Sunday with two teams in differing sorts of chaos and flux.Arsenal have begun the season in reasonable fashion but are still figuring out what they are, still unpicking the problems left by the last, neglectful days of Arsene Wenger’s reign, a team with a promising attack and an unpredictable defence but one that is arguably on the upswing.For Tottenham, is this the beginning of the end of the Mauricio Pochettino glory days? Maybe. Logically speaking, it shouldn’t be a surprise, the only surprise being those glory days have lasted this long. They have looked tired and bereft of ideas in their last three fixtures, which is troubling considering these are the opening few weeks of the season.Pochettino said after their defeat to Newcastle last weekend that his squad were “unsettled,” with doubts over the futures of Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, among others, which could explain a few things.In some respects, it might be a relief for them both that they are playing each other this weekend. For a day they can forget the weighty business of wider context, of where both clubs are headed, and instead just concentrate on the frantic, self-contained world of the derby.Then again, it might be impossible to do that, so the question then becomes: Who will best be able to cope with the uncertainty around their clubs to win this game?

The folly of Man United’s summer becomes clear

The sight of Anthony Martial limping around the Old Trafford pitch last weekend was alarming for Manchester United fans, but also inevitable. Of course he’s going to suffer an injury at some point, an injury which lays bare the paucity of resources available to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and by extension the strangeness of their summer transfer business.

The departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez without signing a replacement have left United with a pretty bare cupboard when it comes to strikers, with Martial and Marcus Rashford their only two senior options through the middle. Next on the list is Mason Greenwood, still only 17 and very promising, but not at the stage of his career when a club like Manchester United should be relying upon him.United had better hope that Martial is miraculously fit for this weekend’s trip to Southampton, or else the mistakes they have made will be laid out for all to see, in glorious technicolour.

Could this be it for Gracia?

Watford, as you will know, are not shy about sacking managers. The Pozzo family — the club’s owners — have got through nine of them in seven years at Vicarage Road, so maybe the big surprise is arguably that Javi Gracia has lasted this long; never mind their solid league form last season and reaching the FA Cup final.But the Pozzos do not just sack for the sake of it. They’re decisive and ruthless when they think a problem is more trouble than it’s worth, which is probably why reports have been circulating that Gracia’s position is in danger. Watford have lost their first three games of the season, as well as losing the last three of last season, and since around November last year have basically been in little better than relegation form.It may seem harsh to the outside world, but this is how Watford have operated for the last few years. If Watford lose at Newcastle on Saturday, it might be enough for them to conclude Gracia is not the man to stop the rot, and make a change.

Bruce needs another win to convince the Newcastle crowd

In the other dugout at St James’s Park will be another man with a point to prove. The extent to which Steve Bruce is disliked among the Newcastle fans is probably overstated: They will give their new manager a chance of course, but they will need to be convinced pretty quickly that he is a worthy successor to Rafa Benitez.

Of course, the only way he will do that is with more victories to follow the excellent 1-0 win at Tottenham last weekend, but it will be interesting to see how they play at home against a struggling side, as opposed to at a team expected to make all the running. Being the underdog and winning is one thing, but setting a side up to play on the front foot and be the protagonists on the pitch is another entirely.

If Bruce can pull this off too, he’ll go a long way to convincing the faithful that he’s their man. But the midweek defeat at home to Leicester in the Carabao Cup hasn’t helped his cause, and they need to bounce back.

Will Kean start for Everton?

It has been an indifferent start to the season for Everton. They have a win, a draw and a defeat to their name, but haven’t been convincing in any of those three games and what’s more, they haven’t been scoring goals. They have just one from 270 minutes of football so far, Bernard‘s winner against Watford in their second game.The good news for Marco Silva is it’s not as if his team aren’t creating chances: They’ve taken 34 shots so far, placing them in the middle of the Premier League’s chance creators. It’s good news because that statistic suggests they’re creating chances but not converting them, a slightly easier structural problem to solve than if they weren’t carving out those opportunities.With that in mind, you would think Moise Kean has a great chance of starting an Everton game for the first time, against Wolves on Saturday. The Italian has shown flashes of encouraging play during his three substitute appearances so far, and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin having not scored since March, surely the time is right to see what Kean can do against Premier League defences.

Americans Abroad: Weekend roundup

Joel SoriaNBC Sports•Aug 26, 2019, 12:12 AM

 

Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham stole the show in Chelsea’s victory, but Christian Pulisic recorded his first Premier League assist.

In Germany, although in different competitions, Alfredo Morelos and Terrence Boyd opened their scoring accounts. Also in Germany, coming on as a substitute, Timmy Chandler assisted late in Eintracht Frankfurt’s loss. 75 minutes into his Austrian Bundesliga debut, Erik Palmer-Brown was shown a straight red card and sent off.Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic played 84 minutes and recorded his first Premier League assist, setting up Mason Mount for Chelsea’s second goal in their 3-2 victory over Norwich City.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — The fullback remains sidelined as he continues to recover from a groin injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson started and went all 90 minutes for the Latics in their 3-1 loss to Geoff Cameron‘s QPR.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old started but came off in the 10th minutes due to a reported hamstring injury in Reading’s 2-0 against Huddersfield Town.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain was sidelined for Hull City’s 3-1 loss to Bristol City due to injury.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The defender didn’t feature for QPR – on the field or on the bench – for the first time this season, having played at midweek.

Tim Ream, Fulham — 90 minutes and a start for the 31-year-old in Fulham’s 2-1 loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Earlier this week, Ream extended his contract at Craven Cottage until 2021.

Eredivisie

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — Wright is starting to fall in VVV-Venlo’s pecking order. On Sunday, the 21-year-old was not called off the bench in his team’s 2-1 win over FC Utrecht.

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Ajax are inactive this weekend.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback didn’t play in FC Emmen’s 2-1 loss to Willem II.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Lille are inactive this weekend.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — On Sunday, the Washington D.C. native came on as substitute and played 45 minutes in Rennes’ 2-0 win over Strasbourg.

Bundesliga

Weston McKennie, Schalke — Early signs indicate McKennie will, once again, be a vital piece at Schalke. On Saturday, the midfielder started and played all 90 minutes in his side’s 3-0 to Bayern Munich.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen and Morales started and went all 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 3-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen. Morales was Fortuna’s lone bright spot, scoring his first goal of the season.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen — The 19-year-old stayed on the bench in Werder Bremen’s 3-2 loss to Hoffenheim.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson, who didn’t start last week, started and played 81 minutes in Mönchengladbach’s 3-1 win over Mainz.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — In his first minutes of the new season, Chandler recorded an assist in Frankfurt’s 2-1 loss to RB Leipzig. The fullback played 13 minutes on Sunday.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t feature for Leipzig as he continues to deal with a reported“complicated” injury.

Honorable Mentions:

Erik Palmer-Brown, Austria Wein – Palmer-Brown’s stint in Austria is off to a poor start. In his league debut, the defender saw a straight red card in the 75th minute.

Terrence Boyd, Hallescher FC – Meanwhile in Germany, all things indicate that Boyd is feeling comfortable. The ex-Toronto striker scored a goal and played 82 minutes in Hallescher FC’s 3-0 win over Unterhaching in Germany’s third division.

Pulisic watch: How did USMNT star perform for Chelsea at Norwich?

Joe Prince-WrightNBC Sports•Aug 24, 2019, 9:40 AM

 

Saturday was a big day for USMNT star Christian Pulisic in the Premier League, as he played a pivotal role in Frank Lampard securing his first win as Chelsea’s boss with the Blues beating Norwich City 3-2.

Pulisic, 20, grabbed an assist and a hockey assist in the first 17 minutes as the Chelsea winger caused Norwich all kinds of problems as he drifted off the right flank time and time again.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The Pennsylvania native needed a big display with Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi both fit and fighting for his spot out wide on the left but with Pedro out injured in the warm up, Pulisic played really well on the right and went 84 minutes.

Here’s a look at how Pulisic performed against Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday.

1st minute: Pulisic lines up on the right wing after Pedro is injured in the warm up and Ross Barkleyreplaces him in the lineup.

3rd minute: Launches himself into three tackles in quick succession, winning the final with a perfect sliding lunge.

4th minute: Controls a long pass across the pitch, runs at Norwich’s defense and plays in the overlapping Cesar Azpilicueta. His cross is volleyed home by Tammy Abraham to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead.

6th minute: Norwich attack down Pulisic’s side and get behind Azpilicueta, as Pukki crosses for Cantwell to make it 1-1.

11th minute: Pulisic pops up centrally but Norwich win the ball box just before he bursts into the box.

13th minute: Slides into a tackle and is getting through a lot of defensive works with Buendia drifting inside from Norwich’s left.

14th minute: Links up well with Mateo Kovacic on multiple occasions with clever passing and flicks. He is starting to drift inside a lot more.

17th minute: Pulisic pops up centrally, again, and slots in a perfect pass to Mount who slots home to put Chelsea 2-1 up. Pulisic grabs his first Premier League assist.

23rd minute: After making a surging run down the right, moments later he slips as he tries to wriggle free from a defender in the box.

29th minute: Pulisic gets on the ball and plays in Jorginho in the box. All the Italian midfielder has to do is slot home, but he makes a mess of it.

33rd minute: After Norwich’s Teemu Pukki made it 2-2, the home side have the momentum. Pulisic launches into a fine tackle on Lewis and is dropping deeper and deeper to help his team defend.

36th minute: Azpilicueta whips a cross into the box and Pulisic jumps high but the ball is just flicked away from him.

38th minute: His cross to the back post misses everyone and drifts out of play.

39th minute: Falls down in the box under pressure as he tries to control a looping pass.

44th minute: After a lovely darting run inside, Barkley picks him out and he twists and turns in the box. Eventually gets a shot off which is blocked.

45th minute + 2: Pulisic again wriggles free centrally and sets up Barkley who smashes way over the bar.

47th minute: Races free into the box and slams a shot into the side-netting with Abraham waiting for the pass. Should have done better with the finish. Didn’t look confident at all when taking the shot on.

55th minute: Tammy Abraham flicks the ball around the corner to Pulisic but Lewis wrestles him off the ball. Moments later Pulisic is tackled by Lewis.

61st minute: Cuts inside from the right and plays the ball to Mount who sets up Emerson who fires an effort right at Krul.

66th minute: Wins a foul just outside of his own box as his fantastic battle with Lewis continues.

71st minute: Loses a tackle on the edge of the box as Norwich push for an equalizer after Abraham put Chelsea 3-2 up. Godfrey hits the crossbar from a corner soon after.

75th minute: Tracked back as Buendia controlled a flashed in a dangerous cross. Good defensive work.

79th minute: Again, fine work down the right and a ball cut back to the edge of the box is dummied by Mount and Barkley’s shot is blocked.

80th minute: Pulisic is found by Kovacic in the box and his cross to Giroud is scrambled clear by Norwich.

84th minute: Subbed out and replaced by Willian. Gets a pat on the back from Frank Lampard and a warm ovation from the Chelsea fans.

USA sets friendly attendance record during 4-0 win over Portugal

On a Thursday night!

By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Aug 29, 2019, 6:10pm PDTAll sharing options

Starting XI: Adrianna Franch, Tierna Davidson, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Sonnett, Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Morgan Brian, Christen Press, Carli LloydTobin Heath

There were some changes but not as many as you’d think to a line up dealing with several ongoing injuries. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle, and Kelley O’Hara were all unavailable for the USWNT’s friendly against Portugal in Philadelphia, while Ali Krieger was dealing with a family commitment. That meant starts for both Tierna Davidson and Emily Sonnett, which was somewhat surprising given the availability of Crystal Dunn and Casey Short.Still, defensive choices didn’t seem to be too detrimental to the United States, as they opened up the first half with a goal in the 4’. Tobin Heath cleaned up a a ball dropped across face of goal by Christen Press and the US followed that up with plenty of midfield and forward pressure to keep Portugal pressed back. The midfield added numbers high at times, putting four and five players into Portugal’s back line, while also forcing turnovers to interrupt any attempt from Portugal to make a foray forward.The US doubled their lead in the 18’ after Carli Lloyd earned a corner with her thwarted attack on goal from a steep angle. Press took the corner and literally dropped the ball on an unmarked Morgan Brian’s head at the far post. Brian barely had to move to pop the ball into the back of the net.Portugal contracted a bit after that, looking afraid to get suckered out of position, giving the US some easy opportunities to play wide and drop balls into the box. But they also turned up their defending, swarming any player with the ball in the 18. That left room for the US to operate out of the midfield, with Horan, Ertz, and even Press picking up the ball in space and looking up, but Lloyd wasn’t able to pounce as required on forward passes.The second half started with three subs, as Heath, Davidson, and Dahlkemper came out for Jess McDonald, Sam Mewis, and Crystal Dunn. Dunn went to left back and Ertz dropped into the back line, letting Mewis take over central midfield.Lloyd made up for any missed opportunities in a hurry, scoring in the 52’ as a long McDonald throwin deflected into her path. Lloyd’s stabbing kick was good enough to make it 3-0.The United States made another substitution en masse in the 60’, pulling Brian, Sonnett, and Horan and putting in Mal Pugh, Allie Long, and Casey Short. Lloyd dropped back, making it a Mewis – Long – Lloyd midfield.The US took a while to adjust to all the changes, getting tangled up a bit in midfield with their ball movement. They got stuck trying to move the ball out of the back with sloppy passing, but eventually crisped up again.Christen Press had a goal ruled out in the 78’ as a switch to McDonald put her into space for the cross. Unfortunately, as the ball deflected off the goalkeeper’s hands, it hit Press and was ruled a handball. The US was unbothered, making it 4-0 anyway in the 82’ as Carli Lloyd took that wide right space for herself, juked her defender, and hit Allie Long near post. Long dropped her head smartly to deflect it in.Press had another go in the dying minutes of the game, bringing the ball down in the box and setting herself up for a shot, but the ball hit the post. It was an unlucky moment for Press, who was a handful for defenders all night long whether she drifted wide or moved central.Portugal had a late push forward, trying to exploit space behind with Dunn pushed high, but the US defended it out and finished the game at 4-0.For all that the US had the occasional issue working their way through Portugal’s defensive shell, particularly while trying to reorganize themselves after group substitutions, they looked just fine, particularly given that many of them are sorely in need of a rest that they’re just not going to get as NWSL approaches playoff season (that sound you hear is Rory Dames yelling in the distance for Julie Ertz to sit out even 45 minutes). The midfield again showed off their ability to fluidly adapt, with Ertz, Mewis, and Horan drifting in and out of each other’s spaces. Action from the fullbacks was varied – to be expected, given Davidson being shuffled out of her more familiar central role. But Sonnett and Short were active on the wings; it was particularly nice to see Short getting good minutes and showing her ability to work in the current system.In the end it was a win with no injuries in front of a record friendly crowd of 49,504 on a Thursday night in Philly and the team can inch ever-closer to a (hopefully) restful offseason.

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HEADS SOUTH TO TAKE ON LOUISVILLE CITY FC

Boys In Blue Gear Up for Second Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest of 2019

#LOUvIND Gameday Preview   Indy Eleven at Louisville City FC
Friday, August 30, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. ET   Louisville Slugger Field  |  Louisville, Ken. 
 Local/National TV: WISH-TV, ESPN3

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 14W-4L-4D, 46 pts., 4th in Eastern Conference

Louisville City FC: 12W-7L-6D, 42 pts., 7th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

FIRST 2019 MEETING:

Indy Eleven  1 : 1  Louisville City FC | Saturday, June 29

The first edition of the 2019 Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest ended in a 1-1 stalemate at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy opened the scoring in the ninth with a goal from midfielder Tyler Pasher, but an impressive, equalizing direct free kick from Louisville midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo 10 minutes into the second half left Indy goalkeeper Jordan Farr flat footed.

LAST TIME OUT:

Indy Eleven  3 : 1  Charlotte Independence  |  Sunday, August 25

Indy Eleven claimed three points in a 3-1 victory over Charlotte Independence on Sunday night after a second-half brace from midfielder Drew Conner sent fans home happy. Charlotte struck first in the 15th minute after an unlucky deflection off Niki Jackson from a free kick found the back of Indy’s net. However, Indy defender Karl Ouimette leveled the scores just before the half. Come the second half, Conner netted his first professional goal in the 53rd minute and a cheeky second 30 minutes later to secure the win.

#INDVLOU STORYLINES

  • A victory on Friday night would see the Boys in Blue climb as high as second place in the Eastern Conference. Indy Eleven currently sits within a win of both the second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies (49 pts.) and third-place Nashville SC (48 pts.) – and holds three and four games in hand on those clubs, respectively.
  • Friday marks the second of two scheduled 2019 editions of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (or LIPAFC, for short).
  • After their June 29 draw at Lucas Oil Stadium, the all-time regular season series is deadlocked at 1W-1L-2D each. Last year’s regular season series was split 1W-1L-1D, Indy Eleven taking the opener at home 1-0 on May 5 before crossing the Ohio River for a 2-2 draw on August 5 and a 0-1 defeat in the regular season finale on October 13.
  • It was LCFC capturing the most important LIPAFC fixture of 2018, a 4-1 win at Louisville Slugger Field in the USL Championship Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that began their march to a second consecutive USL Cup title.
  • In addition to last year’s meetings, the border rivals also met twice in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action in back-to-back years at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium. Fittingly, the games were split, Louisville City upsetting the Boys in Blue 2-0 in the 2015 USOC Third Round and Indy Eleven capturing a 2-1 win in the same round the following year.
  • Indy Eleven leads the USL Championship with only 17 goals allowed. The Boys in Blue are also third in the Eastern Conference in clean sheets recorded with 10 and tied for fourth in the entirety of the league, trailing by only one in each category.
  • First-year Indy Eleven forward Ilija Ilic spent 2015-2018 with Louisville City FC, making 75 appearances and scoring 17 goals for the Kentucky-based team. Ilić, one of Louisville City FC’s inaugural signings, tallied 13 of his 17 goals and 10 assists in a record 32 games in his breakout season last year.
  • Ilic and teammate Macauley King, as well as LCFC’s Niall McCabe, played collegiately for Young Harris College, a Division II school based in Young Harris, Ga.
  • Louisville Defender Shaun Francis made two appearances for former USL Premiere Development League side Indiana Invaders in 2008. Since joining Louisville, the defender has made 12 starts in 13 appearances for the club.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF DREW CONNER

Midfielder Drew Conner had himself a game last Sunday night in his first start since signing for the Boys in Blue on August 13. The former Chicago Fire homegrown product scored his first professional goal and added another for good measure against Charlotte Independence in a 3-1 win at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The midfielder also completed an outstanding 96% of the passes he played against Charlotte, showing the 25-year-old not only knows how to put the ball in the back of the net, but can swiftly move up the pitch, as well. If that wasn’t enough, Conner created two more scoring opportunities for his teammates during his 87 minutes on the pitch, making him all the more dangerous in Indy’s attacking third. What other possible attribute could the versatile Conner bring to the table, you ask? He’s not shy to get stuck in either, which could help the visitors set the tone in an importantrivalry game.

LOUISVILLE CITY FC PLAYERS TO WATCH | LUKE SPENCER … OR GEORGE DAVIS IV

Back on July 28, both midfielder Luke Spencer and striker George Davis IV got the start in attacking roles in a 3-0 loss at Loudoun United FC – one that apparently didn’t sit too well with Head Coach John Hackworth. In the four games since, both players have entered every game as second half subs – and both have contributed a pair of goals, including a game-winner.So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, with red-hot team leading scorer Magnus Rasmussen suspended for Friday’s fracas due to yellow card accumulation, Hackworth’s hand will be forced, meaning one of the two recent “super subs” will likely be back in the starting XI. Whichever one it is will have plenty of motivation to keep his spot, and therefore might be an extra handful for Indy’s stingy defense.

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY DF LUCAS FARIAS VS LOUISVILLE MF OSCAR JIMENEZ

Coach Martin Rennie is starting to rely on Lucas Farias to man his right flank more and more as we march into the latter half of the 2019 USL Championship season. In the first outing against Louisville, the man tasked with keeping tabs on Farias was midfielder Oscar Jimenez.The two squared off as attacking outside backs in each team’s system. In the first match against Indy, Louisville played a 3-5-2 formation that saw each player act as an attacking wing back. Since the end of June, Farias has been a prominent figure in Indy’s starting XI, appearing seven times on the right side of the midfield, with the last four consecutive appearances in the starting lineup. The Brazilian has racked up three assists when Indy has had homefield advantage, but playing on the road doesn’t appear to bother him too much. In his most recent away fixtures against North Carolina FC and Nashville SC, the 25-year-old completed 90% of his passes and created one chance.Jimenez has been an iron man in the Louisville backline, starting all of his 25 appearances and only being subbed off three times. He lined up on the same wing as Farias on June 29 and created five chances compared to that of Farias’ lack of key passes. Neither attacking back was able to complete a hefty number of passes, as the aggressiveness of the last match disrupted the flow of the game, seeing six yellow cards even distributed to both teams. In his last three matches, Jimenez has continued to flex his ability to distribute, recording one assist on 10 chances created. The 29-year-old leads his team by leaps and bounds in that category, having created 80 chances this season. Friday’s away installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest will mark the beginning of Indy Eleven’s busiest stretch of games in club history, a 10-game, 36-day gauntlet that will see Indiana’s Team make up the several games in hand it has on its fellow Eastern Conference elite.Indy Eleven will then return to Lucas Oil Stadium next Wednesday, September 4, when it will look to even its club-record 21-game home unbeaten streak in a pivotal contest against East-leading New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

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8/23/19  MLS Rivalry Weekend, EPL Liverpool vs Arsenal Sat 12:30 NBC, Indy 11 Home Sun 6 pm, Italy Season Starts

Italy becomes the last major European league to kick off their season this weekend as Juventus and Renaldo look to carry the baton for Italian teams into the Champions League season.  My favorite Goalkeeper Gigi Buffon has returned to his longtime home at Juve – this time as a backup – (yeah 3 weeks I give it till he startsJ).  Here is a quick Serie A Preview  here – but I look for Juventus to of course win the league – the battle will be for the Champions League spots among Napoli, Inter and AC Milan,  and more.  Of course all the games will be on ESPN+ with the occasional game on ESPN2 or News. 

Huge Congrats to US Keeper Zach Steffan who was Glorious in First Start in Germany he made no fewer than 10 saves in his first start for Dusseldorf – even stopping a sure goal from fellow US youngster Josh Sargent.  This week Steffan and Dussledorf travel to Bayer Levekusen at 9:30 am on FS1.  Later Sat US Dmid Mckinney will be in the spotlight at his Schalke travels to Bayern Munich Sat at 12:30 on Fox Sports 1 as Bayern looks to avenge their opening game tie.   US starlet Christian Pulisic will look to bounce back this weekend for Chelsea at 7:30 am on NBCSN vs Norwich, while Man U hosts Crystal Palace at 10 am and a solid top 6 matchup – as Liverpool hosts Arsenal at 12:30 pm on NBC.  Of course I will be keeping an eye on American players across the world as the seasons oversea’s get started.

MLS

The Playoff picture comes into focus this weekend as Rivalry Weekend kicks off with no fewer than 4 Championship Caliber Games on National TV this weekend.  Great piece on the Crazy fans in MLS as ESPN features some of the top MLS stadium experiences – that could rival many in Europe.  The fun starts Friday on ESPN with Orlando City looking to break their Atlanta United curse (8pm ET), followed by a Cascadia clash between Portland and Seattle (10 pm ET) with both teams looking to secure their playoff positions. Last but certainly not least, Hudson River Derby rivals New York Red Bulls and New York City FC clash Saturday in the Big Apple on ESPN 2 (7pm ET).  Finally and perhaps the BEST of them all is El Traffico between MLS best team LAFC with Vela and the LA Galaxy with Zlatan Ibrahimovich who has never lost to LAFC –  Sunday night at 10 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Hey you European Soccer Snobs – (you know who you are) do yourself a favor and tune in tonight or tomorrow or Sunday to MLS – you might find like me – that the overall play has really improved and the TV experience is truly magnificent at some of these new temples of Soccer in America.  Oh and if you haven’t seen this yet – Carlos Vela with a Magic goal – (with a proper Goal Call by an American!!)  Was the goal maybe the best ever in MLS history – the boys at MLS Soccer discuss.

Indy 11 @ Home Sun 6 pm

I had a chance to head out to the Indy 11 win last Sunday night a solid 2-1 win over new MLS to be team St. Louis.  The Boys in Blue (13W-4L-4D, 43 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference) will return to USL Championship action Sunday night at 6 pm vs Charlotte Independence on Aug. 25 (“Red Out” Summer Celebration). Tickets for those 6:00 p.m. contests at Lucas Oil Stadium remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.  The games will be on MyIndyTV and ESPN+ as well.

Pack the House Night for #1 Ranked Carmel Carmel Girls Friday night 7 pm

Pack the House night is this Friday Night, 8/22 at Murray Stadium at Carmel High School as the CHS battle Guerin High.  Here’s a quick Season preview  ton’s of former Carmel FC girls on that squad – including All State GK Erin Baker.  Congrats to former Carmel FC Goalkeepers Gabe Moorman and Henry Giesel for making the boys varsity team – Moorman helped lead #24 ranked Carmel to a 1-1 tie with #15 ranked Noblesville last night.  If you would like to have your team be Ballgirls for the Defending State Champion Girls team please reach out to Tom Baker at Tom@embarkto.com.

CFC Goalkeeping Training with myself and Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr will be Monday at Badger 6-8 pm and Thursday at Shelbourne 6-8 pm.

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Aug 27

3 pm TNT                                              Crevena Zvedzda vs Young Boys  UCL

8 pm ESPN+                                            Atlanta United vs Minn United (US Open Cup) 

Thurs, Aug 29

7 pm Fox Sports1                             USA Ladies vs Portugal

Fri, Aug 30

2:30 pm FS 2                                         MGladbach (Johnson) vs RB Leipzig

2:45 pm bEIN Sport                          PSG vs Metz

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+                Louisville vs Indy 11

Sat, Aug 31

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Southhampton vs Man United

9:30 am FS1                                            Bayern Munich vs Mainz

9:30 am FS2                                            Schalke (McKinney) vs Hertha BSC

10 am NBCSN                                        Chelsea (Pulisic)  vs Sheffield United

11 am beIN sport                               Osasuana vs Barcelona

12 noon ESPN+                                     Parma vs Juventus

1 pm bein Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Burnley vs Liverpool

12:30 pm FS1                                        Union Berlin vs Dormund

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Juve vs Napoli

3 pm beIN Sports                               France vs Spain (Ladies)

7;30 pm ESPN+                                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Cincy

10:30 pm ESPN+                                 Portland vs Real Salt Lake

Sun, Sept 1

9 am NBCSN                                           Everton vs  Wolverhampton

9:30 m FS1                                              Werder Bremen vs Ausburg

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Arsenal vs Tottenham 

12 noon FS1                                           Frankfort vs Dusseldorf (Steffan)

3 pm beIN sport                                  Villarreal vs Real Madrid

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars 

6:30 pm FS1                                           Seattle vs LA Galaxy 

10:30 pm fS1                                        LAFC vs Minn United 

Tues, Sept 3

1 pm ESPN2                                       USA Ladies vs Portugal

WEds, Sept 4

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+          Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls2

Fri, Sept 6

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Germany vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifiying)

8:30 pm Fox Sports1                         USA vs Mexico

Sat, Sept 7

12noon ESPN+                                      England vs Bulgaria (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  France vs Albania (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Serbia vs Portugal (Euro Qualifiying)

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

NWSL. You can stream every game live on Yahoo Sports.

MLS – Rivalry Weekend

Best goal in MLS history? Inside Vela’s worldie

Wiebe: No need for hype, MLS rivalries are real

Doyle: STL, Rivalry Week & more in the mailbag

Seattle vs. Portland: History behind the rivalry

EL TRAFFICO – La Times

Robles: “No excuses” as RBNY run rivalry gauntlet

What a golazo! Matchday Central on Vela’s stunner

Wayne Rooney sent off early in Atlantic Cup

Meet the deadliest derby players in MLS history

Wondo: Breaking LD’s record brought me freedom

Warshaw: Why Montreal made their surprising change

Check out Nashville SC’s new stadium renderings

Soccer-MLS awards expansion franchise to St. Louis

What to know about soccer history in St. Louis

Twellman: MLS in St. Louis will “surprise” people

Actor McConaughey joins MLS expansion team Austin FC as part owner

USA

US Players Playing on TV

US Keeper Zach Steffan was Glorious in First Start in Germany

Why Christian Pulisic chose Chelsea over Man United

Predicting the USMNT September call-ups

Adams expected to return to training with RB Leipzig in ‘two or three weeks’

USMNT’s Green flying high with new manager, new position

LADIES USA

USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

NC Courage gets to Final with Lyon in Women’s ICC Cup

 EPL

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks Joe Prince-Wright reveals his score predictions for the 10 PL games this week

Arsenal nowhere near good enough to challenge Man City and Liverpool for title – Parlour

Kroenke talks Arsenal transfer success despite no UCL

WORLD

Why Juventus’s dominance isn’t a problem for Serie A

Serie A Preview – ESPNFC

Serie A 2019-20 preview: Juventus has strengthened, but so have their rivals

Messi ‘made me better player’, says Ronaldo

GOALKEEPERS

Most Valuable Keepers in the World Today (missing Buffon and Coach Jordan Farr)

US Keeper Zach Steffan was Glorious in First Start in Germany

Loris Saves Spurs vs Man City

Chelsea’s Kepa Great double Save vs Liverpool

USL Save of the Week

Great PK Saves

Manuel Neuer Training

NWSL Save of the Week Kailen Sheridan Sky Blue

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview of Charlotte Game at Home Sunday

Indy 11 – 3 Things

Indy 11 – 2-1 over St Louis

Indy 11 Signs pair of South American Strikers

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

 

Girls soccer: Carmel expects another competitive season

POSTED BY: RICHIE HALL AUGUST 18, 2019

Soccer seasons don’t get much better than the one the Carmel girls team had last year. The Greyhounds had a brilliant campaign in 2018, finishing with a 20-1-2 record and the school’s 10th IHSAA state championship. Carmel won the Class 3A final in overtime 2-1, with Kelsie James scoring the winning goal.So what will 2019 bring for the ‘Hounds? It’s likely there will be more success, as Carmel has what coach Frank Dixon calls “a very experienced team” with 10 seniors and seven juniors. That includes seven starters from last season’s state championship team.The list of returners starts with James, now a senior, who was Carmel’s leading scorer last year with 11 goals and 10 assists. The defense will be experienced too, led by goalkeeper junior Erin Baker, who was named to the All-State team last season. Baker totaled 45 saves and only allowed four goals to the Greyhounds’ opponents during the entire season.Carmel will have the majority of its returners in the midfield, with three starters coming back: Seniors Cassidy Eckstein and Morgan Parker and junior Susie Soderstrom. The other two returners were defenders, senior Olivia Fray and junior Claire Bonnici.“We graduated the right side of our back four as well as our starting defensive midfielder so we will be working on defensive organization and communication to start the season,” said Dixon. “One of those defenders was the Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year and she was very big in our attack so we will need to try to replace that production also.”That Player of the Year was Emily Speidel, now playing at Western Kentucky. Dixon said his team currently has five players who are verbally committed to continuing their soccer careers in college.
“With all the experience, I believe this team has the potential, if the players work as a team, to be very good,” said Dixon.
Carmel will begin its season Friday by hosting Guerin Catholic.“It should be another competitive year for the Greyhounds,” said Dixon.  Lots of former Carmel FC girls on this roster – including all-state Goalkeeper Erin Baker.

VARSITY ROSTER
Seniors: Emma Antoine, Abby Dickerson, Cassidy Eckstein, Olivia Fray, Gracie Gilbert, Mia Glass, Kelsie James, Naomi Mann, Morgan Parker.
Juniors: Brooke Bailey, Erin Baker, Claire Bonnici, Carly Jessup, Olivia Johnson, Riley Pennington, Susie Soderstrom.
Sophomores: Lauren Bailey, Saliyah Brady, Emily Roper, Tamara Smith.

 

USMNT Aug 23-25 viewing guide and open thread

By jcksnftsn  Aug 23, 2019, 8:00am PDTPhoto by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

It’s rivalry week in the MLS and there are a number of regional match-ups throughout the weekend, including six on national TV. Add to that another seven nationally televised games being played across Europe and you have a weekend full of viewing options for people trying to find a glimpse of USMNT players in action with their club teams. Here’s what you can watch:

Friday

Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders – 10p on ESPN

Portland and Seattle face off late Friday in Portland in what seems sure to be an exciting match between Western Conference playoff contenders and pacific northwest rivals. It’s apparently Seattle’s turn to win as the teams have alternated victories their past five matches with Portland winning most recently in July.

Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan will see the field for Seattle who are coming off a 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy while Jorge Villafana and Jeremy Ebobisse are likely to see time for a Portland team coming off a 2-0 loss to Atlanta.

Other Notes:

Saturday

Fortuna Dusseldorf v Bayer Leverkusen – 9:30a on FS1

Zack Steffen will look to follow up his man of the match performance last weekend with Fortuna Dusseldorf when the team meets Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday morning. It was a fantastic start to the season for Steffen as his 10 saves led Dusseldorf to a 3-1 win over Werder Bremen in their season opener. Steffen will look to build on that this week when the team meets Bayer Leverkusen who are coming off a 3-2 win over SC Paderborn. Also joining Steffen will be Alfredo Morales who went 90’ in the teams opener last weekend.

Other Notes:

  • Christian Pulisic will look to rebound from a rough outing when Chelsea face Norwich Cityat 7:30a on NBCSN.
  • Fabian Johnson has been seeing regular minutes as a sub for a Borussia Monchengladbach team that has top four aspirations this season. They play Mainz 05 at 9:30a on FS2.
  • Weston McKennie and Schalke will need to create some offense if they’re going to keep up with Bayern Munich when the teams meet at 12:30p on FS1.
  • New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls meet at 7p on ESPN2. Keaton Parks has been seeing regular minutes for NYCFC, for the Red Bulls keep an eye on Aaron Long.

Sunday

Hertha Berlin v Wolfsburg – Noon on FS1

John Brooks and Wolfsburg got their 2019-20 campaign off to a solid start last weekend with a 2-1 win over FC Koln and will look to build on that this weekend when they take on Hertha Berlin. Brooks had a nearly injury free season last year but was unfortunately injured towards the end of the season and forced to miss the Gold Cup. Thankfully Brooks is back to full health and looking ahead to another solid year in the Bundesliga.

Other Notes:

  • RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt meet at 9:30a on FS1. Tyler Adams is still 2-3 weeks from a return from his adductor injury but Timothy Chandler should be available for Eintracht Frankfurt though he has seen limited minutes for the club thus far this season.
  • DeAndre Yedlin also continues to recover from injury and will not be available when Newcastle meet Tottenham at 11:30a on NBCSN,
  • FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew meet at 6p on FS1 with Gyasi Zardes and Wil Trapp likely to see time for Columbus.
  • FC Dallas and the Huston Dynamo play at 8p on FS1. Paxton Pomykal leads the way for Dallas who’s youth movement also includes Brandon Servania, Edwin Cerrillo, Reggie Cannon, Jesse Gonzalez, and perhaps even Ricardo Pepi.
  • In the nightcap the Los Angeles Football Club and the Los Angeles Galaxy face off at 10:30p on FS1. Walker Zimmerman continues to lead the LAFC defense while Joe Corona will likely see time for the Galaxy.

 

Serie A Preview: Juve remain favourites, but Napoli, Inter poised to pounce if Sarri experiment backfires

12:57 PM ETTom WilliamsESPN.com writer

After a three-month hiatus, Serie A returns this Saturday, starting with Juventus at Parma, while every game in Italy’s top flight can be seen live in the United States on ESPN+ this season.On the eve of the 2019-20 campaign, there is hope for all 20 clubs and questions abound: Will Juve win a ninth consecutive Scudetto? Who will qualify for the Champions League? Can Mario Balotelli keep his hometown club Brescia from being relegated?Tom Williams is here to answer those questions and examine all of the calcio storylines to watch in 2019-20.

Serie A is still Juventus’ to lose

If Juventus fans will be closely scrutinising how their team adapts to life under new head coach Maurizio Sarri over the opening weeks of the new Serie A season, the same will be true for supporters of their expected title rivals, Napoli and Inter Milan.

Sarri, who might miss Saturday’s opening fixture against Parma after being diagnosed with pneumonia, was brought to Juventus to take the club to the next level. After eight successive Serie A titles, won by an average of more than nine points, mere domestic dominance will no longer suffice. The former Napoli coach is expected to inject panache into the somewhat perfunctory football that was Juve’s calling card under Massimiliano Allegri and end the club’s 23-year wait for a third Champions League crown.

It is no small order, but he has plenty of resources at his disposal. Juve saw off competition from various super clubs to sign centre-back starlet Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax and have bolstered their midfield with free transfers Aaron Ramsey from Arsenal and former PSG ace Adrien RabiotCristiano Ronaldo, last season’s Serie A Player of the Year, has had a full year to acclimate to life in Italy and is chasing a sixth Ballon d’Or. Although Juve must adapt to an unfamiliar coach, so too must Inter, AC Milan and Roma.

If everything clicks, the Scudetto will be Juve’s to lose. But if Sarri experiences any of the teething problems he encountered during his solitary season at Chelsea, where the fans never took to his vision or style, the chances of Italy crowning a first champion other than Juve since Allegri’s Milan took the spoils in 2011 will significantly increase.

 

Who can strike if Juve slip?

Runners-up last season, Napoli have enjoyed a more tranquil summer than their major rivals, with Carlo Ancelotti remaining at the helm and the club quietly conducting some impressive transfer business. Kostas Manolas, a €36 million capture from Roma, looks set to form what could become one of Europe’s most imposing centre-back partnerships alongside Kalidou Koulibaly, while Mexico winger Hirving Lozano will add dynamism and directness in attack — and soften the blow of losing to Arsenal for Nicolas Pepe.

Stream soccer on ESPN+: Serie A, MLS, Nations League, FA Cup and more (U.S. only)

Napoli failed to replicate 2017-18’s captivating title charge last season due to their inability to win the big games. They lost twice to Juve in the league, were eliminated by Milan in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals and crashed out of the Europa League against Arsenal, having previously failed to advance out of a Champions League group with PSG, Liverpool and Red Star Belgrade. But Ancelotti believes Napoli’s serene summer could give his side an edge.”Napoli will get to the start of the season quite tried and tested,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We don’t need to experiment in our play in order to become more fluent. That may give us a small advantage over our rivals, who have changed something.”If Napoli are banking on stability, an offseason of clear-minded evolution at Inter has left Nerazzurri supporters dreaming of a first league title since Jose Mourinho’s 2010 treble.Inter head into the new campaign with a management team that knows exactly what it takes to win the championship, after former Juve CEO Beppe Marotta brought in former Juve coach Antonio Conte to replace Luciano Spalletti. A born winner, Conte’s task is to infuse Inter with the kind of uncompromising mentality he instilled at Juve, where he won three Scudetti in a row, and with Chelsea, who stormed to the Premier League title in his first season in England.Conte’s preferred 3-5-2 system will benefit from intelligent additions in every department: the wily Diego Godin bolstering the defence, young Italy internationals Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella bringing craft and guile to midfield, and Romelu Lukaku, a €80 million acquisition from Manchester United, furnishing the new coach with the kind of battering ram striker he adores in attack. With Radja Nainggolan (loaned to Cagliari) and Ivan Perisic(loaned to Bayern Munich) gone and divisive former captain Mauro Icardi expected to follow, Inter will also hope to avoid some of the internal conflicts that hampered them in 2018-19.”I don’t have a magic wand, but it’s up to me to show the way, and it’ll be important for everyone to follow this path,” Conte said earlier this summer. “A spirit of sacrifice, ferocity, passion and a great desire to work hard will be required if we want to have a season where we’re one of the key players, as is our intention.”

 

The race for Champions League qualification

Conte’s return to his homeland maintains Serie A’s quota of tigerish former Italy midfielders, following Gennaro Gattuso’s departure from Milan in the wake of last season’s disappointing fifth-place finish. Former Sampdoria coach Marco Giampaolo will look to add some sparkle to the Rossoneri’s football, and with no European commitments to worry about, after Milan were excluded from the Europa League due to Financial Fair Play infringements, he will have plenty of time to hone his signature 4-3-1-2 system.Ismael Bennacer, signed from Empoli after starring in Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations triumph, is an eye-catching acquisition in midfield, while young Portuguese forward Rafael Leao, bought from Lille for €35 million to replace the outgoing Patrick Cutrone (Wolves), will form a new-look strike partnership with Krzysztof Piatek, who hopes to put the curse of the Milan No. 9 shirt to bed after inheriting the jersey following his impressive start to life at San Siro last season.Sixth last term, Roma are looking to new head coach Paulo Fonseca and a youthful squad to find calmer waters after a turbulent few months in which the Giallorossi parted ways with a coach (Eusebio Di Francesco), a sporting director (Monchi) and two club legends in Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi. Simone Inzaghi remains in charge across town at Lazio, where last season’s Coppa Italia winners will attempt to improve on an eighth-place showing, despite modest dealings in the transfer window to date.Then there is last season’s surprise package, Atalanta, who were guided to a superb third-place finish by Gian Piero Gasperini. They must contend with the distraction of the first Champions League campaign in their 111-year history, which seems certain to take a toll on the squad over the first half of the season at least.

Other storylines to watch

The other clubs bidding to upset the established order include Sampdoria, where Di Francesco is now in charge, Walter Mazzarri’s water-tight Torino and Bologna, who are likely to benefit from widespread neutral support following head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic’s leukemia diagnosis. The former free-kick maestro, who steered Bologna to safety last season after arriving in January, has been watching training sessions and friendly matches from his hospital bed and delivering team talks via Skype.Brescia, promoted from Serie B alongside Lecce and Verona, have generated plenty of column inches following Mario Balotelli‘s decision to sign for his hometown club. The striker, who spent the second half of last season at Marseille, is motivated by the ambition of claiming a spot in Italy’s squad for Euro 2020, but national coach Roberto Mancini — who knows the 29-year-old better than most — has warned him to not expect any special treatment.”I love him, but I can’t do anything for him. He must remember that he’s in the prime of his career and that he still has so much to give,” Mancini told La Gazzetta. “It’s all about how much he wants it.”

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN CONTINUES HOMESTAND VS. CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE

By IndyEleven.com, 08/22/19, 5:45PM EDTShare bBoys In Blue Look to Continue Hot Form at Home in Second Match-up vs. Charlotte Independence

Sunday, August 25, 2019 – 6:00 P.M. ET  Lucas Oil Stadium  |  Indianapolis, IN       

FOLLOW LIVE:

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23   Radio (Spanish): Exitos Radio 1590 AM

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 13W-4L-4D, 43 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference

Charlotte Independence: 5W-10L-10D, 25 pts., 12th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

FIRST 2019 MEETING:

Indy Eleven 3 : 2 Charlotte Independence | Friday, March 15

The Boys in Blue staved off two late goals at Charlotte Independence to secure a 3-2 victory in Week Two of USL Championship play. Goals from midfielders Macauley King and Tyler Gibson, in addition to a third from forward Thomas Enevoldsen, were enough to maintain the lead and begin a four-game winning streak.

LAST TIME OUT:

Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Saint Louis FC  | Sunday, August 18

Indy Eleven’s relationship with late-game drama continued to burn bright after an 81st minute goal from forward Dane Kelly grabbed another three points last Sunday, lifting the undefeated run at Lucas Oil Stadium to 19 games. In-form midfielder Tyler Pasher scored the game’s opening goal, and his ninth of the season, in the 67th minute before Kelly doubled the lead. Forward Eugene Starikov also returned to the field for the first time since March 30, and new signee Drew Conner made his debut for Indy.

Charlotte Independence 1 : 3 Nashville SC  | Saturday, August 17

Charlotte Independence fell to Nashville on Saturday night after midfielder Enzo Martinez’s equalizer in the 23rd minute was nullified by a pair of second-half goals by Nashville’s Daniel Rios and Kharlton Belmar. The loss extends Charlotte’s winless streak to five (0W-3L-2D), with their last victory dating back to a 2-1 win over Saint Louis on July 13.

#INDVCLT STORYLINES

  • Indy Eleven has an all-time record of 2W-0L-1D against Charlotte Independence, scoring five goals and allowing three goals in the three meetings.
  • Indy has a chance to extend its 19-game home undefeated streak (12W-0L-7D) to 20 on Sunday, with the possibility of equaling the longest such streak in club history coming against the team, Charlotte Independence, it began against on July 7, 2018.
  • Indy Eleven remains undefeated through 11 games at home in 2019 (7W-0L-4D). The Boys in Blue have scored 12 goals while allowing just three,and have recorded eight clean sheets.
  • A victory on Sunday night could see the Boys in Blue jump as high as a three-way tie for second place in the Eastern Conference standings. Indy Eleven (43 pts.) enters the weekend with three games in hand on the Tampa Bay Rowdies (46) and a whopping four games on Nashville (45), North Carolina FC (46) and New York Red Bulls II (50).
  • Sunday night’s match will feature the two most prolific scorers in USL Championship history in Indy Eleven forward Dane Kelly (72 goals) and Charlotte Independence forward Jorge Herrera (71 goals). Kelly broke the tie for the title he held for most of this season with last weekend’s game-winner versus Saint Louis FC.
  • Indiana’s Team is level with Tampa Bay Rowdies for least goals conceded in the league, allowing just 16 goals in 21 games while recording a total of 10 clean sheets, which sees the side tied for third most across both USL Championship conferences.Charlotte’s Aaron Maund will return to Indiana after spending 2008-11 in the Hoosier state playing collegiately with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, in addition to spending one year with former USL Premier Development club Indiana Invaders in 2011. Goalkeeper Brandon Miller also spent the 2010 PDL season with the Invaders.
  • The Independence will also feature former Major League Soccer heavyweight Dominic Oduro, who made 346 MLS appearances during his 12-year career in first division American soccer.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | DF NEVEAL HACKSHAW

When not on international duty, Neveal Hackshaw has been the man tasked with handling the left side of Head Coach Martin Rennie’s backline. The Trinidad & Tobago international has been Rennie’s go-to defender, playing every minute of the 17 starts he’s received in his first year with the team. He’s been a prolific defender since signing for the Boys in Blue, working in tandem with the likes of Paddy Barrett and Karl Ouimette to keep the opposing attack at bay.The 23-year-old’s transition from the midfield to the back third has also contributed to his excellent passing numbers. Hackshaw has completed 81% of his passes this season in addition to contributing two goals. He’ll be tasked with keeping forwards Jorge Herrera and Dominic Oduro quiet on the flanks against Charlotte on Sunday.

CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE PLAYER TO WATCH | MF ENZO MARTINEZ

Enzo Martinez’s 23rd minute equalizer was Charlotte’s lone goal against Nashville SC in the previous loss to the Tennessean side. Normally though, the 2016 and 2017 All-League First Team member acts as the team’s creator rather than goal scorer.Martinez leads Charlotte with six assists through 23 appearances. The 28-year-old leads his side in chances created as well, supplying 44 scoring opportunities for his teammates, nearly 10 more than the next in line. The Boys in Blue back third will have to keep an eye on Martinez come Sunday, as he created two chances, one of which led to a goal, in their previous meeting.

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY FW DANE KELLY VS. CHARLOTTE FW JORGE HERRERA

Sunday night’s fixture will feature a marquee matchup between the USL Championship’s all-time leading goal scorer in Indy forward Dane Kelly and the runner up to the title in Charlotte’s Herrera.In his last time out, Kelly broke his 13-game goalless streak when he toe-tipped the winning goal past Saint Louis FC ‘keeper Tomas Gomez in the 81st minute. The goal was the Jamaican’s fifth of the season. putting him back atop the all-time goal scoring chart in league history with 72 regular season goals to his name. His pace and power in the final third make Kelly difficult for centerbacks to track and contain, as he showed against Saint Louis when he bodied off captain Sam Fink and applied the finishing touch to claim the full three points. Kelly has a bone to pick with Charlotte, after he hit the crossbar in the first meeting between the two sides.A goal for Herrera on Sunday night would bring the Columbian back on level terms with Kelly for most goals scored in all-time Championship play. The 38-year-old has netted six times in 2019, making him the side’s second highest goal scorer behind Oduro. In his last three games, he’s contributed to three goals, scoring one and assisting the other two. Herrera will look to keep in form going against the Boys in Blue, but may find it difficult as he failed to put a single shot on target the last time he faced Indiana’s Team.Indy Eleven will look to continue its climb up the Eastern Conference standings this Sunday, Aug. 25, when Indiana’s Team plays host to Charlotte Independence (5W-10L-10D, 25 pts., 12th in East). Kickoff for the team’s “Red Out Night” contest – for which fans are encouraged to wear their favorite red gear to Lucas Oil Stadium – is set for 6:00 p.m. (live on WISH-TV 8), and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.