10/23 El Classico, El Traffico & Man U vs Chelsea Sat 12:30 NBC lead the Weekend Games, Champ League Tues/Wed 7 American’s play!

El Classico between a reeling Real Madrid and Barcelona leads the big games this weekend as they kick off at 10 am on Saturday on beIN Sport. El Classico is the biggest club game in the world and will be watched by over 2 million people worldwide.  Manchester United will host Chelsea and American Christian Pulisic at 12:30 pm Saturday on NBC.  Ok American Soccer Fans – We’ll get a chance to see if Pulisic can help pull the American market in a real game against a marquee team like United!  Also at 12:30 pm on Sat on ESPN+ Dortmund and American Gio Reyna will host Schalke in one of the most heated Derby’s in Soccer.  And Finally on Sunday – El Traffico – as LAFC hosts LA Galaxy on ABC at 3:30 pm.  We have asked for Big Soccer games on Network TV folks – so here they are this weekend !! Will American’s tune-in to watch soccer over football? 

Champions League is Back Tues/Wed – Group Stage Matchday 2

Ah it was great to have Champions League back (even in empty stadiums).  Hugely exciting to have Champions League games with American’s not just playing but starting and playing important roles.  Pulisic started for Chelsea on the right side but was mainly held in check in the 0-0 tie at home vs Spanish Side – but US Players in prominent roles on 9 of the teams.  Gio Reyna had an assist in his game as he came on at the half of Dortmunds’ surprising 3-1 loss at Lazio. Adams played center back in a 5 man back line for RB Leipzig in their 2-0 win and of course Dest, 19, started for Barcelona in their 3-0 win.  In total a new Record of 5 American’s played Tuesday here’s how they ended up.  The best might have been GK Ethan Horvath who made a surprise start in goal for Club Brugge – he made 3 or 4 incredible saves to help them secure the 2-1 upset at Zenit.  It was his first game in almost a year as he normally backs up Belgium star Simon Mignolet who had covid.  Can’t wait to see how the American’s do this week!  Here’s the standing’s after Matchday 1.

Man is there a team more dependant on one player than Real Madrid?  In their second game without Center back and Captain Sergio Ramos – Real gave up 3 first half goals to an undermanned Shakkar team and honestly should have given up 2 or 3 more. They fought back for 2 in the 2nd half at home but the equalizer was overruled by VAR leaving Madrid with a first game lost at 3-2. The “marquee” matchup ended up being a dud as Champions Bayern Munich took control in the 2nd half at home to defeat Atletico 2-0.  (sad not to have American Chris Richards-injured, or Canadian Alphonso Davies playing.) 

I will give credit to CBS – the wrap around coverage on CBS Sports Network was pretty cool showing scores for all the games and goals and shots on replay every time one happened.  Not bad coverage.  Now if we can get the to cover the post game and pre game shows the way they are on CBS All Access all will be good.  Again AA is fine I hate that you can’t go back and watch a goal you may have missed though.  The Live only coverage with no ability to re-wind really sux for a PAID Service.  But one step at a time I suppose.   

GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat, Oct 24  

7:30 am Peacock                                Man City vs West Ham

9:30 am ESPN+                                  Bayern Munich vs Frankfort (Chandler)  

9:30 am ESN+                                    RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Hertha Berlin

10 am NBCSN                                    Fulham vs Crystal Palace

10 am beIN Sport             Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona EL CLASSICO

12:30 pm NBC                  Man United vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  

12:30 am ESPN+                            Borrusia Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Schalke

3  pm Peacock                      Liverpool vs Sheffield United  

3:30 pm ESPN+                               Inter Miami vs Orlando City SC

Sun, Oct 25

10 am NBCSN                                    Everton vs Southampton  

12:30 pm NBC                     Wolverhampton vs New Castle

3pm ABC                     LAFC vs LA GALAXY – EL TRAFFICO

3:15 pm Peacock                 Arsenal vs Leicester City

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

(American’s in parenthesis)

Tuesday, October 27

Lokotomiv Moscow vs. Bayern Munich (Richards), 1:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Inter Milan 1:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Atletico Madrid vs. RB Salzburg, 4pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Real Madrid, 4pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Porto vs. Olympiacos (Champions League Group Stag, 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Marseille vs. Man City, 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Atalanta vs. Ajax (Mendez) 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Liverpool vs. Midtjylland 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)

Wednesday, October 28

Krasnodar vs. Chelsea (Pulisic) 1:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Istanbul Basaksehir vs. PSG, 1:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Sevilla vs. Rennes 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Brugge (Horvath GK) vs. Lazio  4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Dortmund (Reyna) vs. Zenit 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Ferencvaros vs. Dynamo Kyiv , 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Juventus (McKinney) vs. Barcelona (Dest) , 4pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Man United vs. RB Leipzig (Adams), 4pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV

EUROPE


Clasico, Dortmund v Schalke – what to look out for in Europe this weekend

‘It won’t be the same’ – silent Clasico leaves fans feeling empty
Ibrahimovic defies Father Time to set up Milan’s derby victory  19mGabriele Marcotti
 USA
Americans Abroad weekend preview

Juventus confirm USMNT’s McKennie recovered from COVID-19
Americans Abroad: Pulisic returns; Reyna’s hat trick of assists; Dest debuts
Dest makes debut for Barcelona as first American player
Berhalter: Wouldn’t be happy if Sebastian Soto chooses Chile

Tobin Heath, Christen Press Manchester United jerseys outsell male counterparts
Report: Salzburg buys USMNT teen Aaronson from Philadelphia

MLS

Supporters’ Shield to be awarded following reversal of decision
LAFC vs. Galaxy: How many El Tráficos are too many for one season?

Twellman on why Galaxy are “soft” and LAFC are still most dangerous in West

Seltzer: Picking every game this weekend

Alonso: Miami-Orlando is more than a clasico, it’s a final

Zakuani: 3 things we learned from Seattle’s dramatic draw with Portland

Seattle ruin Portland’s “perfect game” but both rivals say draw is a good sign

Head injury subs in soccer moving closer to reality

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Champions League’s ultimate sleepers: RB Leipzig to win, Inter Milan to reach final, Sevilla to semis
UCL stats: Suarez’s 12 reasons to hate Bayern, Madrid’s misery without Ramos
Shock-tar! Real Madrid stunned in UCL opener
Porto boss slams Guardiola for touchline antics
Man City win UCL opener but will need to eliminate mistakes to finally reach the elusive summit
Liverpool win not ‘sunny, shiny’ football – Klopp
Liverpool’s win over Ajax steadied Klopp’s side after a rocky week
Late Hassan goal gives Olympiakos win over Marseille
Lukaku rescues late draw for Inter at home to Gladbach
Manchester City come back for 3-1 win over Porto
Zapata inspires Atalanta to comfortable win at Midtjylland
Rampant Coman stars as Bayern thrash Atletico
Liverpool hold on to win without Van Dijk
Zidane: ‘Bad game, bad night’ for Real Madrid
Eder Militao 3/10, Varane 4/10 as Real suffer shock UCL defeat to Shakhtar
Salzburg let Lokomotiv off the hook in 2-2 draw
UCL stats: Suarez’s 12 reasons to hate Bayern, Madrid’s misery without Ramos
Liverpool’s win over Ajax steadied Klopp’s side after a rocky week
Man City win UCL opener but will need to eliminate mistakes to finally reach the elusive summit
Rashford outdoes Neymar, Mbappe as Man United’s Paris hero again
    3dMark Ogden

It’s time for Chelsea to start justifying its £220m summer spending spree with results  3dJames Olley

Tuesday, 20 October 2020
FT+12:55pmZenit 1 – 2 Club BruggefuboTVGalavisionTUDN.comUnivision NO…
FT+3:00pmBarcelona 5 – 1 FerencvárosfuboTVTUDN USAUniMásTUDN.comUniv…
FT+3:00pmChelsea 0 – 0 SevillafuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…
FT+3:00pmLazio 3 – 1 Borussia DortmundfuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…
FT+3:00pmPSG 1 – 2 Manchester UnitedfuboTVGalavisionTUDN.comUnivision NO…
FT+3:00pmRB Leipzig 2 – 0 İstanbul BaşakşehirfuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…
FT+3:00pmRennes 1 – 1 KrasnodarfuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…
Wednesday, 21 October 2020
FT+12:55pmReal Madrid 2 – 3 Shakhtar DonetskfuboTVTUDN USAUniMásTUDN.comUniv…
FT+12:55pmSalzburg 2 – 2 Lokomotiv MoskvafuboTVGalavisionTUDN.comUnivision NO…
FT+3:00pmAjax 0 – 1 LiverpoolfuboTVTUDN.comTUDNxtraCBS All Acce…

The Future of the CCL–in 2020 and BeyondBY BRIAN STRAUS

Indy 11 Falls to St. Louis Out of Playoffs – The Game Beckons Blogspot

10/19/20 Champions League on CBS AA, CBSSN, Most US Players ever in UCL

Champions League is Back Tues/Wed – Group Stage

As the Champions League kicks back into gear  – just 2 months after the late wrap-up saw Bayern Munich raise the trophy, we get the excitement of not just great soccer – but US Players in prominent roles on 9 of the teams.  From more established players like Christian Pulisic for Chelsea, or Tyler Adams for Red Bull Leipzig, and Gio Reyna at Dortmund to Weston McKinney now at Italian powerhouse Juventus, and Sergio Dest at Spanish Giant Barcelona.  All of these players (under the age of 25) look to be starting for their respective clubs during the group stage games.  McKinney does have Covid and may miss this week’s games along with the injured Chris Richards 20 year old Right back of Bayern Munich who is also expected back by Matchday 3 at the latest.  Click for a full list of American’s suiting up in the competition.   

Of course not sure how we are watching Champions League here in the US this year – I did break down and buy CBS All Access now that I can see it using my roku stick– so I can watch the American’s play in English.  Of course if you have Univision (TUDN), Unimas and Galavisions or FuboTV you can always watch in Spanish still without having to pay the extra $5 a month in streaming costs.  Now CBS Sports Network is debuting a Wrap-Around coverage GOLAZO– (think NFL Red Zone) and I am excited to see how they handle that.  I could see watching 1 game on all Access or in Spanish and the other TV on CBSSN for GOLAZO Coverage which starts at 2:30 pm.  We’ll have to see how they handle it.  World Soccer Talk breaks it down here.   I can say that I was impressed with CBS coverage of the Final 4 and Final games last season with a 90 minute pre-game and 60 to 90 minute postgame delivered on CBS All Access.  We’ll see how they do and how CBSN SN handles their coverage as well.   Must watch games to see American’s play will include Chelsea and Pulisic vs Spanish Euro Legends Sevilla at 3 pm Tues on CBS AA and Dortmund and Gio Reyna at the same time on CBS AA.  Of course the big game is Man United traveling to 2019 Runner-ups PSG at 3 pm on Galavision and CBS AA at 3 pm.   Wednesday the only American set to play should be Alex Mendez of Ajax vs Liverpool at 3 pm on TUDN Extra and CBS AA.  The big game of the day on Wed is either Bayern Munich (with American defender Chris Richards out injured) hosting Atletico Madrid at 3 pm on Unimas and CBS AA. 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TV SCHEDULE

(American’s in parenthesis)

Tuesday, October 20 

Zenit St Petersburg vs. 12:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Dynamo Kyiv vs. Juventus (McKinney) 12:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Rennes vs. Krasnodar 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Chelsea (Pulisic) vs. Sevilla 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Lazio vs. Dortmund (Reyna)  3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Barcelona (Dest) vs. Ferencvaros , 3pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
PSG vs. Man United 3pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
RB Leipzig (Adams) vs. Istanbul Basaksehir 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)

Wednesday, October 21

RB Salzburg vs. Lokomotiv Moscow 12:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Real Madrid vs. Shakhtar Donetsk 12:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Bayern Munich (Richards) vs. Atletico Madrid 3pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Inter Milan vs. Borussia Monchengladbach 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Olympiacos vs. Marseille 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Man City vs. Porto 3pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Ajax vs. Liverpool 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Midtjylland vs. Atalanta 3pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)

Tuesday, October 27

Lokotomiv Moscow vs. Bayern Munich (Richards), 1:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Inter Milan 1:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Atletico Madrid vs. RB Salzburg, 4pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Real Madrid, 4pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Porto vs. Olympiacos (Champions League Group Stag, 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Marseille vs. Man City, 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Atalanta vs. Ajax  4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Liverpool vs. Midtjylland 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)

Wednesday, October 28

Kranodar vs. Chelsea (Pulisic) 1:55pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV
Istanbul Basaksehir vs. PSG, 1:55pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Sevilla vs. Rennes 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Brugge vs. Lazio  4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Dortmund (Reyna) vs. Zenit 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Ferencvaros vs. Dynamo Kyiv , 4pm, CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (in Spanish) and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Juventus (McKinney) vs. Barcelona (Dest) , 4pm, UniMas, TUDN, CBS All Access and fuboTV (in Spanish)
Man United vs. RB Leipzig (Adams), 4pm, Galavision, CBS All Access and fuboTV

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Champions League matchday 1: Man United underdogs at PSG, will Liverpool thrive without Van Dijk?
Champions League: How to watch, odds, start time, predictions
Champ League Predictions – yahoo soccer
Leipzig to launch European campaign in front of 999 fans

Reluctant travellers Dortmund set to play makeshift defence at Lazio

Maguire out, Fernandes to captain Man Utd against PSG

USA

Look out Champions League, here comes the USMNT  6dESPN
Gio Reyna, U.S. stars on Barcelona’s and Real Madrid’s radar

McKinney to miss UCL Matchday 1 has Covid 19

Viewers’ Guide to 2020–21 UEFA Champions League

With the 2020–21 Champions League group stage set to begin, here’s how viewers in the U.S. can take in all the action.

AVI CREDITOR OCT 15, 2020 SI

Another UEFA Champions League season, another new set of viewing patterns for fans to learn and memorize.Less than two months after Bayern Munich defeated Paris Saint-Germain in Portugal to win the 2019–20 Champions League title, the quest for the 2020–21 trophy begins. And with CBS Sports taking the baton from Turner Sports a year (and a few months) ahead of schedule, English-speaking viewers will have to pivot when making plans to watch Europe’s premier club competition. Of course, there’s nothing stopping English-speaking viewers from watching in Spanish, and Univision will continue to be airing games on its platforms this season as well

With the group stage set to begin on Oct. 20–and with 10 U.S. internationals and one American manager in the mix–here’s what you need to know entering another Champions League campaign:

EMPHASIS ON STREAMING

DVERTISEMENT

CBS, like many other networks, is focused on building out its streaming app, with many viewers and cord-cutters opting to get their entertainment in ways other than just cable TV.As a result, there’s a large emphasis on CBS’s All-Access product (soon to be known as Paramount Plus), and every match—along with pre-match and post-match shows—will be available to watch wherever All-Access is available.Once again, there are two match windows per group stage match day, with two games at 12:55 p.m. ET followed by the remaining six at 3 p.m. ET. (There will be that brief period at the end of October where daylight saving time ends in Europe and hasn’t yet in the U.S., and the windows become an hour later, but 12:55 and 3 will otherwise be the standard.) CBS, which also operates CBS Sports HQ (an all-day, free streaming product on CBS’s website), will begin its gameday coverage at 11 a.m. ET on HQ and All-Access, move to a pre-match show on All-Access only at noon and then transition into matchesThe matches that Univision does not have on TV will be available either via its streaming service, TUDNXtra, or FuboTV.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ON TV

In English, CBS will be selective in its television offerings. While every match will go on All-Access, CBS adds that won’t entirely be set in stone throughout, “with select marquee matches also airing on the CBS Television Network and CBS Sports Network through the 2023–24 season.” It remains to be seen what qualifies as a “marquee match,” whether any group stage match will be deemed “marquee” and whether specific player absences play a role in the programming (i.e., if Cristiano Ronaldo, who is now in isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus, misses Juventus’s first group showdown vs. Lionel Messi’s Barcelona).In Spanish, Univision will be airing “over 75” matches on TV on a regular basis throughout the competition via Univision, UniMas, TUDN and Galavision. For the first two two-part match days, four of a day’s given eight games will be on TV: two on UniMas and TUDN and two on Galavision. The remaining four will be streamed.Univision’s platforms will also feature “Futbol Central,” its pregame show that previews the upcoming matches, and “Mision Europa,” which will cover the highlights and wrap-up material.

RED ZONE MEETS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

One new wrinkle CBS is offering is a whiparound show during matches that will hop from game to game to show goals from around the continent during the window in which six games are being played simultaneously. The Golazo Show will air on CBS Sports Network and All-Access and act as either a complementary screen or a sole focus depending on the viewer’s preference (and attention span).“With multiple matches being played simultaneously across Europe, we wanted to give soccer fans a fun way to experience that excitement and see every goal from every match as well as all the key moments as they happen,” CBS Sports executive VP of programming Dan Weinberg, said in a statement. “The Golazo Show will keep fans updated throughout the day’s action with all the goals and latest results, bringing them highlights as soon as they occur while also providing expert analysis—all at a single destination.”There will also be a Golazo Pre-Match Show that kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET to run down what happened in the day’s first two games and set the stage for what’s to come in the ensuing six.Univision, meanwhile, will return with a second season of Zona Futbol, which is a whiparound show of its own. Those subscribing to participating TV providers will have access to “the best action from concurrent group stage matches as it happens. TUDN experts will guide the audience from game to game across the continent with key context and expert analysis,” according to a Univision statement.

Champions League group stage analysis and predictions: Which teams will advance?

Ryan Bailey

Yahoo Sports•October 19, 2020 https://vplayer.nbcsports.com/p/BxmELC/nbcsports_embed/select/media/kkvY6I_5ZwzP A mere 51 days after Bayern Munich lifted the 2019-20 trophy in Lisbon, the Champions League carousel starts up once again on Tuesday. Read on for Yahoo Soccer’s comprehensive guide to the group stage…

Champions League Group A

Teams: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Lokomotiv Moscow, Red Bull Salzburg

The reigning champions may have shown some fragility in recent outings — Bayern conceded an uncharacteristic six times in the three matches before the international break — but they will have little trouble topping Group A. The Bavarians won all six of their group games last season and haven’t lost at this stage since a 3-0 humbling to Paris Saint-Germain in September 2017.

Bayern, however, does not possess a sterling record against Atletico Madrid, who eliminated the Germans at the seminal stage in 2015-16 with a typically tenacious away-goals masterclass. Atleti also defeated Bayern in the group stage in the previous season.

Red Bull Salzburg were especially prolific in the group stage last year, but half of their 16 goals came from Erling Haaland, who has since moved to Borussia Dortmund

Lokomotiv Moscow, meanwhile, boast Portuguese forward Eder, but they finished rock-bottom of their group last season. Expect more of the same here. 

Player to Watch: Robert Lewandowski

Atletico Madrid’s boisterous strikers Diego Costa and Luis Suarez will certainly make headlines — for one reason or another — but Robert Lewandowski is the undoubted star of the show. Last year’s Champions League top scorer struck 10 times in the group stages, and remains paramount to Bayern Munich’s success. 

Prediction: 1. Bayern Munich 2. Atletico Madrid 3. Red Bull Salzburg 4. Lokomotiv Moscow 

Group B

Teams: Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan, Borussia Monchengladbach 

Real Madrid don’t typically struggle at the group stage, but the perennial European titans find themselves in what may be the group with the most parity. 

Los Blancos are usually well equipped to get out of any situation, but they stumbled several times in last season’s group stage, dropping points at home to Club Brugge, and in both meetings with PSG. 

When Zinedine Zidane’s side faced Manchester City in last season’s recent round of 16, they couldn’t handle the pace and press, and that does not bode well for meetings with Inter Milan and Borussia Monchengladbach, both of whom like to press high.

2020 Europa League finalists Inter Milan will be expecting to progress, and they have the tools to do so. Gladbach are the outsiders, competing in the competition for the first time in four years, but have established themselves among the Bundesliga’s elite in the interim. 

Prediction: 1. Inter Milan 2. Real Madrid 3. Borussia Monchengladbach 4. Shakhtar Donetsk

Player to Watch: Romelu Lukaku

If Inter is to make Real Madrid to drop points, their talismanic Belgian striker will have something to do with it. Lukaku scored nine times in European competitions last season, and will likely increase his continental tally this term. 

Group C

Teams: Porto, Manchester City, Olympiakos, Marseille

There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and Man City getting a comparatively favorable ride in the Champions League group stage

Pep Guardiola’s men have been the favorites with the bookmakers in the last two campaigns, and only sit behind Bayern Munich in this edition (per BetMGM). They have, however, stumbled against French opposition in recent European contests, being ousted by Lyon at the quarterfinal stage last season.

Marseille, coached by Andre-Villas Boas, finished second in Ligue 1 last season and have strengthened the squad with the likes of Luis Henrique, who arrived from Botafogo over the summer. They will be aiming for second place, and represent a banana peel for the Premier League side. 

But don’t sleep on reigning Portuguese champs Porto, who were seeded in Pot 1 and are technically the top team of the group. However, the 2004 Champions League winners sold Alex Telles and Fabio Silva to Premier League opposition over the summer, and may not be entirely competitive. 

Olympiakos were impressive in last season’s Europa League, but they may struggle to make an impact on this group.   

Prediction: 1. Man City 2. Marseille 3. Porto 4. Olympiakos

Player to Watch: Kevin De Bruyne

Man City’s midfield gem regularly delivers game-changing passes and has proven pivotal to their successes. Outside of City, Marseille will lean heavily on former West Ham star Dimitri Payet. 

Group D

Teams: Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, Midtjylland 

Liverpool’s last Champions League outing saw them suffer at the hands of Atletico Madrid at a packed Anfield, in what would become one of the finals games with a full complement of fans in 2020. All eyes will be on Jurgen Klopp’s side to see if they can regain their furious pace and cloak of invincibility that has slipped since that night in March.

Group D presents what may be the best fixture of the entire group stage: Liverpool’s pair of bouts with Atalanta. The highly entertaining Italians had the mettle and the talent to go deep in the competition last season, and their fearless press will be highly entertaining when it comes up against Klopp’s charges. 

Ajax were a hair from making the 2019 final, but their team has been mined of much of its talent since then. The summer departures of Donny van de Beek, Hakim Ziyech and American defender Sergino Dest will weaken their chances. 

As for FC Midtjylland? Sadly, the plucky Danes rank among the weakest sides in this season’s contest. 

Prediction: 1. Liverpool 2. Atalanta 3. Ajax 4. Midtjylland

Player to Watch: Papu Gomez

Liverpool may have bigger stars, but Atalanta deserve much credit for keeping their squad entirely intact this season, with the exception of departed fullback Timothy Castagne. The Italians have awesome firepower in their ranks — they scored 13 goals in their opening three league games this season — and captain Papu Gomez is more than capable of some dazzling individual skill. 

Group E

Teams: Sevilla, Chelsea, Krasnodar, Rennes

 It’s been a swashbuckling season for Chelsea so far, whose policy of “score now, defend later” remains in place. Frank Lampard has been granted several high-profile signings this summer, and should be in a good position to progress. 

Sevilla, meanwhile, face a problem: If they progress from this group, how will they win the Europa League for the millionth time? 

The Spanish side are true experts in the continent’s secondary continental contest, but stand an excellent chance of topping this group. Julen Lopetegui’s team have been reunited with Ivan Rakitic, and have already caused Barcelona problems on the domestic front this season. They are likely to have more fortitude than Chelsea — certainly from a defensive perspective.

Group E appears to have a clear dichotomy between its top two sides and the other two. Both Krasnodar and Rennes are appearing in the group stage for the first time, and will likely be battling it out for progression to the Europa League. Krasnodar have an awkward away trip to southern Russia to their benefit, but Rennes — who are enjoying a spectacular start to the Ligue 1 season — are likely to nab third place. 

Prediction: 1. Sevilla 2. Chelsea 3. Rennes 4. Krasnodar

Player to Watch: Luuk de Jong

Beyond Chelsea’s American star Christian Pulisic, Sevilla’s Luuk de Jong has certainly shown his credentials on the European stage. The Dutchman scored the winner against Manchester United in last season’s Europa League semifinals, and netted twice in the final against Inter Milan. 

Group F

Teams: Zenit Saint Petersburg, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio, Club Brugge

The headliners here are clearly Borussia Dortmund, who share many traits with Chelsea: excitement going forward, youthfulness and a tendency to capitulate in defense. Lucien Favre’s side will almost certainly progress from a relatively weak group, which may offer star striker Erling Haaland a chance to pad his stats. The group may also offer a showcase for American attacking midfielder Gio Reyna, who impressed in his debut in the competition last season.

Second spot in the group is likely to be a battle between Lazio and Zenit. The former were league title contenders last season until their form fell off a cliff after the restart — and they have been a mixed bag this term. The latter remain dominant in their native Russia, but typically fail to make a significant impact on this stage. 

Club Brugge have finished third in their respective group in the last two seasons, but will be hard-pressed to achieve such heights this time around. 

Prediction: 1. Borussia Dortmund 2. Lazio 3. Zenit Saint Petersburg 4. Club Brugge

Player to Watch: Erling Haaland

The most prolific striker in the competition not named Robert Lewandowski will be a treat to watch for his incredible finishing, outstanding positioning, furious pace and dangerously intense goal celebrations. 

Group G

Teams: Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kiev, Ferencvaros

The headline of the entire group stage is the battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. This will be the first time they have faced each other in the group stage. 

As if that prospect wasn’t mouthwatering enough, the fixtures between Juventus and Barcelona also offer a head-to-head that will intrigue U.S. fans, as Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest lock horns. 

Barca may have a better pedigree in this contest, but this campaign is uncertain for the Catalans. Manager Ronald Koeman was not able to make the summer signings he wanted, Barcelona remains a mess off the field and the 8-2 shellacking at the hands of Bayern Munich a few months ago still lingers. 

Juventus are not yet a known quantity under inexperienced manager Andrea Pirlo, but this group could be the Old Lady’s for the taking. 

Like Group E, there is a divide between the European titans and the humble challengers. Dynamo Kiev have long departed the European spotlight, while Hungarian champions Ferencvaros are likely the weakest side in the contest by some distance. 

Prediction: 1. Juventus 2. Barcelona 3. Dynamo Kiev 4. Ferencvaros

Player to Watch: Lionel Messi

Naturally, Ronaldo will be a key player in this group, but Barca will be relying on their fading talisman more than ever in this campaign. 

Group H

Teams: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, Istanbul Basaksehir

This season’s Group of Death looks particularly threatening to Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — who is already under fire at Old Trafford — must face a finalist and semifinalist from last season’s competition. Yikes. 

PSG were designed by their Qatari owners to compete in the Champions League, and they came agonizingly close to reaching their objective in August. They famously faltered against Solskjaer’s United two seasons ago, but seem like a certainty to progress. 

Leipzig is weakened by the departure of striker Timo Werner, but were able to reach the semifinals this past summer without his assistance. Julian Nagelsmann’s side may lack United’s heritage, but they have better pedigree to go further in this competition.

Istanbul Basaksehir, meanwhile, should not be entirely dismissed. Away trips to Istanbul are never easy and the Turkish champions will be looking for an upset in their group stage debut. 

Prediction: 1. Paris Saint-Germain 2. RB Leipzig 3. Manchester United 4. Istanbul Basaksehir

Player to Watch: Neymar

Kylian Mbappe is PSG’s most potent outlet for goals, but Neymar will be pulling the strings. The Brazilian has slowly phased out the theatrics and may have a handle on his temper — he will be laser-focused to bring PSG the silverware they desire.

More USMNT players at Champions League clubs can only improve World Cup prospects

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How are the players Berhalter will be relying upon for World Cup qualifying performing with their clubs? ESPN’s correspondents from around the world bring you inside information to help explain the successes and stumbles of American players around the world.

Giovanni Reyna — On the rise : Reyna has featured in all five of Dortmund’s competitive fixtures so far this season, registering a pair of goals and three assists. The 17-year-old has bonded with fellow prodigies Erling HaalandJadon SanchoJude Bellingham and Reinier, helping the latter settle into life in Germany following his loan move from Real Madrid. Sources tell ESPN’s Stephan Uersfeld that Dortmund see similarities between Reyna and Marco Reus, specifically noting the teenager’s defensive improvement and aggressiveness on the ball — just like his captain.

DeAndre Yedlin — Trending down : In Newcastle’s first seven matches of the 2020-21 season, Yedlin has made just three matchday squads — two starts in the Carabao Cup, and as an unused sub in the Premier League draw vs. Tottenham. The 27-year-old is now the third-choice right back on Tyneside, with sources telling ESPN that there are doubts about his defensive positioning. The former Seattle Sounders standout had been linked with a move away all summer, but wages proved to be an issue, sources say. If he isn’t named to Newcastle’s Premier League squad next week, he could be motivated to find a new home in January.

Tim Ream — Holding steady : It’s been a rough start to Fulham‘s return to the Premier League, with no points and 11 goals conceded in four matches. Ream has started three of those games, and another in the Carabao Cup, demonstrating his value to manager to Scott Parker. However, the Cottagers brought in two center backs on deadline day, putting the 33-year-old’s place under threat. Sources tell ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Tom Hamilton that there’s “no panic” from Ream’s camp, and that he’s prepared to compete for his place, citing the nearly 20 center backs who’ve moved to Craven Cottage during his time at the club and failed to displace the former Bolton man.

Timothy Weah — Trending down : Weah has featured in just 31 minutes of Lille‘s six Ligue 1 contests this year. Sources tell ESPN’s Julien Laurens that the French side is being cautious with the 20-year-old after a pair of hamstring injuries cost him nearly all of the 2019-20 season, his first after leaving Paris Saint-Germain. But that’s not the reason for his lack of action this term, with manager Christophe Galtier wanting Weah to play as a center forward, where Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan David are the preferred pairing atop Lille’s 4-4-2. Weah is said to be frustrated by his lack of action as the third-choice striker, but remains in good spirits and awaits his chance with Yilmaz and David netting just two league goals between them.

A few minutes with …

For most of the summer, Weston McKennie had been linked with a move to the Premier League, so it came as some shock when he joined Italian giants Juventus on loan in August. Since, the 22-year-old has started all three matches in the Bianconeri‘s young campaign, including the first two games of their Serie A title defense.The FC Dallas academy product sat down with our Matteo Bonetti to talk about his decision to move to Turin, how he’s settling into life in Italy and what it’s been like to join a dressing room full of stars he has grown familiar with through years of playing FIFA.

Scouting report

Another tremendously gifted teenager from the impressive pack of American talents in European football, California-born Ulysses Llanez has Mexican parents and was close to representing Mexico at youth levels before settling for the U.S. youth national teams. After impressing at various youth levels, he made his USMNT debut in a friendly against Costa Rica in February, playing the full 90 minutes.

A skillful, unpredictable winger with a frightening turn of pace, the 19-year-old has evidently been inspired by the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar, as demonstrated by his trickery, quick feet and ability to deceive an opponent. But he’s not merely dribbling for the pure fun of it; he’s very positive in his play, tending to look for the direct route to goal when taking on opponents — although, like most teenagers, he can be found running into blind alleys. Llanez also possesses a fearful strike on the ball with his preferred right foot (although he’s practically two-footed) and he’s always looking to pick the early pass in behind when drifting into playmaking positions in the middle of the field.

The loan move to Heerenveen should offer the American a gentle yet educational environment in which to undertake his baby steps in European senior football (Real Madrid prodigy Martin Ødegaard spent a rewarding 18 months at the same club beginning in 2017). In the Eredivisie, where he made his debut as a second-half substitute earlier this month, he will be looking to develop the defensive side of his game and get on the ball more frequently. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen

10/6/20 – International weekend – Euro’s, Indy 11 miss playoffs with 2-1 loss

TV GAMES

Wed, Oct 6

2:45 pm ESPN2                   Netherlands vs Mexico

2:45 pm ESPN+                   Portugal vs Spain – friendly

Thur, Oct 7                           

2:45 pm ESPN2                   Norway vs Serbia Euro Qualifying

2:45 pm ESPN3                    Scotland vs Israel  Euro Qualifying

Sat,  Oct 10                          Europes Nations League

2:45 pm ESPN+                   Spain vs Switzerland

2:45 pm ESPN+                   Ukraine vs Germany

Sun,  Oct 11  

9 am  ESPN+                        Ireland vs Wales  

12 noon  ESPN+                  England vs Belgium

12 noon  ESPN+                   Croatia vs Sweden

2:45 pm ESPN                     France vs Portugal

2: 45 pm ESPN +                  Poland vs Italy

2: 45 pm ESPN +                  Iceland vs Denmark

Tues, Oct 13 

2:45 pm ESPN2                   Germany vs Switzerland

2:45 pm ESPN+                    Ukriane vs Spain

Weds, Oct 14 

2:45 pm ESPN2                   Italy vs Netherlands

2:45 pm ESPN+                    England vs Denmark

2:45 pm ESPN+                    Croatia vs France

10/2/20 – Indy 11 must win Sat @ St. Louis 7 pm, Pulisic back for Chelsea 7:30 am game, US-Dest to Barcelona, High School Sectionals, Former CFC GK Erin Baker Athlete of Wk on TV8

Indy 11 Must Win Sat night to Advance

Frustrating night for our Indy 11 once again as they gave up a goal in the last minutes to lose 2-1 to Sporting KC II at home Wed.  Indy 11 (7W-6L-2D, 23 pts.) dominated play but allowed the late goal as Sporting literally had a fair # of U18s on the field.  Amazing how our 11 have struggled down the stretch.  Its sets up a winner moves on match at St. Louis (6W-5L-4D, 22 pts.) this Saturday night at 7:30 pm on MyindyTV and ESPN+.  A win or tie actually allows the eleven in the playoffs backdoor as the 2nd seed in Group E where they can look to recover that early season magic.

Bayern Munich Wins 5th Trophy in 2020

Followed up their 2-1 win over Sevilla in the EUFA Supercup with a 3-2 win over Dortmund in the German cup this week and 19 year-old American defender Chris Richards got time again at right back where he as moved up 2nd string!  Saturday at 9:30 am on ESPN+ 2 American’s play as and Gio Reyna of Dortmund will face Frieburg and Stuart and Werder Bremen host Arminia. Tyler Adams of RB Leipzig host Schalke at 12:30 on ESPN+ Sat.   

Games to Watch

Chelsea with a returning Christian Pulisic kick things off on Peacock at 7:30 am Sat followed Everton and Brighton on NBCSN.  Atletico + Villarreal are at 10 am on beIN Sport, while Leeds United hosts Man City and (GK Stephen) at 12:30 on NBC.  MLS gets a prime 4 pm FOX slot for the rejuvenated Orlando City v NY Red Bulls 2 teams battling for supremacy in the East with Columbus.  Sunday gives us Man United vs Spurs at 11:30 am on NBCSN after Fulham and Tim Ream travel to Wolverhampton at 9 on NBCSN.  Italy’s Serie A serves up another star-studded clash this weekend, and another big test for Juventus’ American midfielder Weston McKennie as they host Napoli at 2:45 pm on Sunday on ESPN+.  Napoli has a loaded attack led by forwards Dries Mertens, Fernando Llorente, and 21-year-old Nigerian Victor Osimhen.   While at 3 pm the newly minted US Defender Sergio Dest might make his debute vs Sevilla on beIN Sport.  US Players games wrap up here.

Good Luck at Sectionals Next Week

Good luck to both the Men’s and Women’s Carmel High Soccer teams heading into sectionals next week.  The #10 Ranked CHS boys who are hosting the Sectionals at home – start Wed vs Westfield and must get by 7th ranked Zionsville or #2 ranked North Central, along with 16 Pike in the sectional. The #2 ranked ladies return to action Tuesday vs Westfield and most get by #10 Zionsville, #3 Guerin and #14 North Central along the way.  Games are at Guerin Catholic Mon – Sat off Grey Road.  In case you missed it look who made athlete of the week on Wish TV 8 this week – former Carmel FC and current Carmel High GK Erin Baker – see video here.   

American players learn Champions League draw

One group awaits us all  By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Oct 1, 2020, 2:28pm

UEFA conducted the draw for the group stage of the 2020-21 Champions League. Matches begin October 20th with a double round robin, and the road to the Champions League final begins for 32 teams.

Eight United States Men’s National Team players will have their chance to play in the Champions League with their teams: Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), and Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge). Also, an American coach, Red Bull Salzburg’s Jesse Marsch, will hope to lead his team to Champions League glory.

The groups for the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League: 8 Teams in Red have American players or coaches.

Group A – Bayern MunichAtlético Madrid, Red Bull Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group B – Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter MilanBorussia Mönchengladbach

Group C – FC PortoManchester City, Olympiacos, Olympique de Marseille

Group D – Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, FC Midjtylland

Group E – Sevilla, Chelsea, FC Krasnodar, Rennes

Group F – Zenit St. Petersburg, Borussia DortmundLazio, Club Brugge

Group G – Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencváros

Group H – Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, İstanbul Başakşehir

The biggest group for American fans is Group G, which will have a big-time pair of matchups between Juventus and Barcelona, where Weston McKennie will face off against USMNT teammate Sergiño Dest. It’s also the first match between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juve in 2018. They are two matches that are perfect to be shown on CBS. Let’s see if the network boosts those matchups to network television for the country to see.Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig may have the toughest group in the field, as they share Group H with PSG, Manchester United, and İstanbul Başakşehir, who won the Turkish SuperLïg this past season. It will be a remarkable test for Adams and Leipzig to get out of that group and advance to the knockout stage.The team that looks to have the easiest road to the Round of 16 is Borussia Dortmund, who face Zenit, Lazio, and Club Brugge. Gio Reyna should be a major factor for the Black & Yellow during the group stage. For American fans of Manchester City, they hope that they can outlast Porto, Olympiacos, and Marseille so that backup goalkeeper Zack Steffen will get to see some matches. Finally, Group A could be a tough test for Jesse Marsch and Red Bull Salzburg. To squeak past Atleti or Bayern to get to the knockout stage will be difficult to do, but Salzburg will not quit. Chris Richards, who’s just starting to work his way onto the field for Bayern’s first team, could see some action in Champions League. We can all hope Bayern gives Richards that much-needed experience in a few matches in the group stage.Which matchups interest you? Which Americans do you think can make it out of the group to the knockout stage?

GAMES ON TV 

Sat, Oct 3  

7:30 am Peacock                                Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Crystal Palace 

9:30 am ESPN+                                   Werder Bremen (Stuart) vs Arminia

9:30 am ESPN+                                Borrusia Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Freiburg

10 am beIN Sport                               Atletico Madrid vs Villareal

10 am NBCSN                                     Everton vs Brighton 

12:30 pm ESPN+                                 RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Schalke

12:30 pm NBC                                Leeds United vs Man City

3  pm bein Sport                                 Valencia vs Real Betis 

3 pm Peacock                                      New Castle vs Burnley

4  pm FOX                           Orlando City vs NY Red Bulls 

7:30 pm My Indy TV 23, ESPN+   Indy 11 @ St. Louis

8 pm ESPN+                                        Cincy vs Minn United       

8 pm ESPN+                                        Dallas (Hedges) vs Columbus Crew (Zardes)

Sun, Oct 4

9am Peacock                                       Arsenal vs Sheffiled United

9 am NBCSN                                       Wolverhampton vs Fulham (Ream)

9 am ESPN+                                        Lazio vs Inter Milan

10 am beiN  port                                Levante vs Real Madrid 

11:30 am NBCSN                           Man United vs Spurs

12  ESPN+                                           Bayern Munich vs Hertha Berlin

2 pm Peacock                                      West Ham vs Wolverhampton          

2:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus (McKinney) vs Napoli

3 pm beIN Sport                           Barcelona (Dest, Konrad) vs Sevilla

2:15  pm NBCSN                                 Aston Villa vs Liverpool

9:30 pm ESPN+                                   Real Salt Lake vs LAFC 

USA

Games on TV with US Players
Christian Pulisic is healthy again, expected to make season debut for Chelsea on Saturday
Is the USMNT in danger of developing into a world-class outfit?
Englands Guardian
US Coach Marsch’s Salzburg among six to complete Champions League field

Dest becomes first US player signed by Barcelona’s top squad
Champions League groups drawn for Premier League sides, USMNT stars
For Reyna and Co., Germany is the place to be om Hamilton, Stephan Uersfeld
Move Details of McKinney move to Juve – SI
San Diego soccer team walks off pitch after opponent allegedly calls gay player an anti-gay slur

San Diego Loyal forfeits match after opposing player allegedly directed homophobic slur at Collin Martin

Inside story on a soccer team’s bold protest

San Diego Loyal midfielder Collin Martin, who was at the center of his team’s statement against homophobia, explains how it all went down.‘I wasn’t going to let it go’ »

 EPL
Premier League Pick ‘Em: Matchweek 4

Relentless Liverpool raise bar for title rivals

Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester United Preview

Man City, Man Utd ease into League Cup quarter-finals

Chelsea – Crystal Palace: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Crystal Palace-Chelsea Preview

Why you should watch Tottenham vs. Manchester United this Sunday

Arsenal reach League Cup quarter-finals after Liverpool shoot-out

 WORLD


Bayern beats Dortmund 3-2 to lift German Super Cup

Bayern win German Super Cup to lift fifth title in 2020

Lewandowski named UEFA men’s player of year

Messi and Barcelona: The inside story on how everything fell apart, and what’s next
Pogba returns to France squad for Nations League matches

Christian Pulisic is healthy again, expected to make season debut for Chelsea on Saturday

Doug McIntyre,Yahoo Sports•October 2, 2020


Doug McIntyre,Yahoo Sports•October 2, 2020

Christian Pulisic is finally healthy again after spending two months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.Chelsea manager Frank Lampard announced Friday that Pulisic would be included in the Blues squad for the first time this season on Saturday, when the London club hosts Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.Pulisic was injured Aug. 1 after scoring Chelsea’s only goal in a 2-1 FA Cup final loss to Premier League rival Arsenal. The 22-year-old American attacker appeared in 32 games across all competitive league for Lampard last term, his first in England following four years with German titan Borussia Dortmund.He scored 11 goals and added 10 assists in 2019-20, and was Chelsea’s best player after the Prem resumed in June following a three-month shutdown in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.- ADVERTISEMENT -During his pre-match press conference Friday, Lampard said that while Pulisic would dress for the game against Palace, he would not start “as his recovery from injury continues to be managed.” With Pulisic in need of match-fitness, though, a cameo off the substitutes bench is a near-certainty.But with the ninth-place Blues off to a 1-1-1 start in the Premier League, his team needs Pulisic back in the lineup as soon as possible. After Saturday’s tilt, the Blues next two league games are at home to Southampton and then away to Manchester United, where they lost 4-0 last season in Pulisic’s Prem debut.n Thursday, Chelsea was drawn into a UEFA Champions League group with Sevilla, Krasnodar and Rennes. The club kicks off Europe’s top club competition later this month.Friday’s news is also a positive development for the United States men’s national team. Pulisic has not played for the USMNT in a year, but would be expected to participate in planned friendly matches in Europe next month if healthy. The U.S. is hoping to finalize a pair of exhibitions in the U.K., with Wales and New Zealand the rumored opponents.The U.S. was scheduled to visit Wales in March, but that match was cancelled amid the health crisis.



USMNT and the Bundesliga: Why so many top young Americans choose Germany on career path

Sep 29, 2020Tom HamiltonStephan Uersfeld ESPNFC




Former USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann looks ahead to the USMNT stars involved in this season’s Bundesliga.Already at Schalke were fellow Americans Nick Taitague (promoted to the first team over the summer) and McKennie. “I think he [Weston] was an influence,” Hoppe told ESPN. “He was a big star here at Schalke, and he was willing to show that Schalke were willing to play young players and young Americans. I spoke to him a few times and he gave me some encouragement and advice. It was a good conversation.” The Future As one Bundesliga academy head told ESPN, “there is huge potential for extraordinary footballers [in Germany]. There is a huge growing rate, a huge pool of players who are all well-trained.” The U.S. 2019 Under-20 World Cup team had six players contracted to German clubs, while the last Under-17 team had Pablo Soares from Borussia Monchengladbach and Noah Jones from RB Leipzig.With the top Bundesliga clubs aware of promising American talent as young as 12 years old, the pathway is established. And with the Bundesliga’s brand as a place that trusts in youth (Borussia Dortmund’s opener against Gladbach was created by Reyna and Bellingham, who are both 17), it’s seen as a place where age is irrelevant if you’re good enough.”There’s not much politics involved,” Klinsmann told ESPN. “The coaches are usually very straightforward. If the kid understands that it’s all down to performance and they’ll get the chance, the Bundesliga’s the place to be.”Said Hoppe: “All the young players have an extreme talent and the Bundesliga’s able to offer these players an opportunity to use their talent, to tweak it, improve all the things they need to work on. It’s so wholesome [in Germany] — they need to work on their strength, their technique, their tactical ability, their mental strength — the league helps make them more a complete player.”The migration shows no signs of slowing. This summer gone, Arminia Bielefeld signed 16-year-old goalkeeper Carver Miller from DC United, while Joel Imasuen arrived at Hertha Berlin. Then Bayern and Barcelona were involved in a scramble for Dest. While some move on — like Sebastian Soto, who joined Norwich City before going out on loan to SC Telstar in the Netherlands, or Blaine Ferri, who swapped Greuther Furth for Fort Lauderdale CF in the USL — the machine keeps going.”I think there are a lot of talented players in the USA,” Hoppe says. “They just need to take the jump to Europe, they need to keep developing their game and take the risk.”

Messi and Barcelona: The inside story on how everything fell apart, and what’s next Sep 24, 202 0Multiple Contributors ESPNFC
A year ago, Lionel Messi set out his terms for staying at Barcelona. “I want to be at Barcelona for as long as possible. This is my home,” he told the Catalan newspaper Sport. “But I don’t want to have a long-term contract and to only be here because of it. I need to see that there’s a winning team because I want to keep winning things at this club. “For me, money or a clause don’t mean anything. I don’t have any intention of going anywhere but I want to keep competing and winning.”Twelve months later, Messi was refusing to train, insisting that his 20-year relationship with Barca was over, and trying to force a move to Manchester City.  That Messi, one-club man, captain and icon, would seek to leave Barcelona like this — notifying them in a now-infamous burofax that, as far as he was concerned, he had already gone — should have been unthinkable. And yet this was no spur-of-the-moment decision. We should have seen it coming.Messi had not been happy at Barcelona — with the president, the board or management — for a long time. He admitted as much in the interview that brought a temporary end to the crisis this summer: “I’ve been telling [president Josep Maria Bartomeu] that I wanted to leave all year.” Known for being a reluctant public figure, Messi speaks only when he has something to say — and at 33, he has been more vocal than ever. He was desperate to be heard. Those in charge at Barcelona didn’t listen.This is the story — told with the help of numerous first-hand accounts from sources close to both player and club — of how Messi’s nagging doubts about Barcelona eventually became impossible to ignore, and what happened next.Editors’ note: This story contains reporting from Moises Llorens, Sam Marsden, Alex Kirkland, Rodrigo Faez and Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal.

ABOVE ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS both personal and professional, Messi’s discontent stems from his desire to win. And for Messi, winning means the Champions League. Barcelona haven’t done that since 2015. They haven’t even come close. Embarrassed by Liverpool and Roma in recent years, the 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich at the quarterfinal stage of the competition last season, in August, was the tipping point. Messi is intensely aware of the impact Barca’s European failings will have on his legacy. Four Champions League titles are more than enough for mortals. But not for Messi. Several sources pinpoint one moment that best reveals Messi’s disenchantment. It came at Camp Nou in May 2019. Barca were 3-0 up in the first leg of their semifinal against Liverpool. In the 96th minute, Messi — who had scored twice — drew three defenders before squaring the ball for an unmarked Ousmane Dembele. Dembele miskicked, Alisson made the easy save and Messi fell theatrically to the floor, face down in the turf. He knew that Barcelona needed another goal — the season before, Roma erased a first-leg, 4-1 deficit to advance on away goals to the semifinals — because his teammates couldn’t be trusted to defend a 3-0 lead away from home. Six days later, he was proved right.”The last chance for Dembele was clear-cut,” Messi told reporters after the first leg. “Four goals would have been better than three.”How do you prevent those mistakes from happening again and again? One approach might involve a clear-eyed vision of the kind of team you want to construct. But Barcelona’s planning has been incoherent at best. Losing Neymar, with whom Messi loved to play, to Paris Saint-Germain was perhaps forgivable. Wasting almost €300 million on Dembele and Philippe Coutinho — both yet to come good, three years on — less so. The club failed to bring Neymar back last summer, signing Antoine Griezmann instead for a similar sum. Griezmann is a player who has failed to adapt for various reasons, including the fact his preferred position is taken by MessiA series of sporting directors — Andoni Zubizarreta, Robert Fernandez, Pep Segura, Eric Abidal and Ramon Planes — have come and gone over the past five years, all of them unable to implement an effective long-term strategy because they were never afforded the time to do so. They have all been made scapegoats by Bartomeu, sacrificed as symbols of the club’s shortcomings. Among them, they brought in a mishmash of players recruited with different ideas in mind. New signings arrived, flopped and left. Legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta departed. Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets got older.Messi waited, despairingly, for things to get better. E

VEN AS BARCELONA FAILED IN EUROPE, they at least continued to win La Liga. Manager Ernesto Valverde, despite his unpopularity among some Barca fans, won the league ahead of Real Madrid in 2018 and 2019. Messi liked Valverde. Sources told ESPN that the easygoing, diplomatic Valverde maintained relative harmony in a dressing room divided between two cliques: one, led by Messi, Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal, who were essentially happy under the coach’s laid-back regime; and another, including Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong, who would have preferred a more disciplined approach. That balance endured until January this year when Valverde was sacked — with Barca top of the league — after defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa in Saudi Arabia. He was replaced by Quique Setien, a man with no experience managing a group of players at this level. The fallout from Valverde’s firing was damaging, too. Sporting director Abidal said in an interview with Sport in February that “a lot of players weren’t happy [with Valverde] and weren’t working a lot.”Messi, in a rare moment of rage, snapped. “I honestly don’t like to do these things, but I think everyone should take responsibility for their decisions,” he wrote on Instagram. “The sporting department should take responsibility. When you talk about players, you should give names. If not, you’re tarnishing all of us and feeding things which people say and aren’t true.”Abidal touched a nerve. Messi is incredibly sensitive to the idea that he runs things at Barcelona, responsible for hiring and firing coaches and identifying transfer targets. It’s understandable, even if it’s hard to dispute the grain of truth at its heart: that Barca should do everything possible to keep their best-ever player happy.Barca had been failing to do that on the pitch; they were failing off it, too. In February, it was alleged that a company the club had hired to protect its image was behind social media accounts posting disparaging comments about current and former players. Messi and his family were mentioned. It was another blow to his already fragile relationship with Bartomeu, even if Barca continue to deny any wrongdoing in the scandal that’s come to be known as “Barcagate.”

SETIEN HAD A BRIEF AND TROUBLED SPELL IN CHARGE. From the beginning, Messi was not impressed with him despite hyped-up claims of a return to the more attacking, possession-based style of play made famous at the club by Johan Cruyff and, later, Pep Guardiola.An uneasy, six-month truce lasted until June, when La Liga returned after its pandemic-enforced break. When Barca dropped their first points in a frustrating goalless draw with Sevilla, sources told ESPN that there was a tense dressing room showdown between captain and coach as stunned teammates looked on.The top-of-the-table lead that Setien had inherited from Valverde quickly disappeared. Real Madrid won 10 games in a row, while Barca dropped points in four of theirs. Their title challenge ended with a 2-1 home defeat to Osasuna on July 16. Speaking immediately afterward, Messi didn’t hold back.Things had “all gone wrong” since January, he said, in a blatant criticism of his new coach. “We’ve been a very erratic, weak, low-intensity team. Today’s game is a summary of the season. We have to be self-critical, starting with the players but across the whole club.”

BARCELONA HAD WON NOTHING IN 2019-20, their first trophyless campaign in 12 years. Setien was dismissed. His replacement was club legend Ronald Koeman, but it was too late. Messi’s mind was made up. A first meeting between Messi and Koeman — one that saw Messi interrupt his holiday with Suarez and Jordi Alba in the Pyrenees to return to Barcelona on Aug. 20 — did not go well. Messi expressed his doubts and remained determined to leave the club.Around the same time, he called Guardiola.”Messi and Pep spoke for hours,” a source told ESPN. The pair are close and have much in common. Messi, Guardiola and Manchester City all share an obsession with the Champions League. City have never won it; Guardiola and Messi are thought not to have won it often enough.Messi knew that his options for leaving Barcelona were limited. Unlike Barca, he viewed City as having a clear strategy and an upward trajectory. The player told his former coach that he wanted to move. Guardiola said he would talk to decision-makers at City. It wouldn’t be straightforward, he warned.Messi’s flirtation with City was nothing new. In fact, City’s rebuild under their new owners over the past decade has been carried out with the aim of attracting first Guardiola and, later, Messi. There were discussions in 2014, and again in 2016. Yet City’s hopes of signing Messi this summer were dependent on them playing in the Champions League. Once their two-year ban from European competitions was lifted on July 13, they knew they would be the front-runners to sign him if he left Barca.There was never any direct contact between the clubs, nor did Messi’s camp transmit directly to Barca a desire to move to City, but sources at the Catalan club say were informed of City’s interest in signing Messi by a third party. It gave City a lot to think about. Could they afford Messi’s salary? How much would they have to pay Barca? What about financial fair play? His €700m buyout clause was impossible, even for City. There was a more tantalising prospect, though: Messi might be available for nothing.The mechanism by which they thought they could pull off a deal had existed for years. Messi’s long-term doubts led his advisers to insert a release clause in his Barca contract when it was renewed in 2017. At the end of the 2019-20 season, within a defined period, he could unilaterally rescind his contract and walk away.And so, Barcelona’s board nervously waited. In the end, the date — initially widely reported as May 31, later corrected to June 10 — fell when La Liga was about to resume. Nonetheless, when it had passed, the club were quick to brief the media. As far as they were concerned, Messi would be staying until 2021. Messi has since said he didn’t inform the club before then because they were still involved in La Liga and the Champions League; one source, though, says the fact City were banned from European football before winning an appeal also complicated his route out of Camp Nou.The original date in Messi’s contract had been drawn up to coincide with the end of the season. But with the campaign extended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Messi’s camp felt they had some wiggle room when it came to the interpretation of the clause.Sources told ESPN that the feedback Messi received from legal experts was mixed. Only one law firm out of at least four consulted, Cuatrecasas, believed the argument had a realistic chance of success. That was enough and Messi decided to go ahead. If he stood his ground, perhaps Barca would blink first.
AUG. 24 BEGAN WITH A PHONE CALL from Koeman to Suarez. In a conversation that lasted around a minute, the coach told Messi’s best friend in the squad that he was not in Barca’s plans and should look for a new club. Vidal received similar treatment. Messi’s allies were being pushed out and, in his view, disrespected. Later that day, Messi took action. On advice from Cuatrecasas, the player opted to use a burofax — a registered letter, used when legal proof of receipt is required — to inform Barcelona that he wished to leave for free, exercising his release clause. Signed by Messi, it was sent just after 7 p.m. By mid-morning on Aug. 25, the letter had arrived at Camp Nou. – Lowe: Messi, bad blood and a ‘burofax’ The first to read it, aghast, were Bartomeu and the head of Barca’s legal department, Roma Gomez Ponti. “They could not believe their eyes,” a source told ESPN. For them, there was no debate: The clause had already expired. “Put aside everything else you’ve been working on and focus on this,” Bartomeu told the club’s lawyers. Barcelona contacted two firms specialising in sports law — Costa Torrecillas & Associates and Bufete Antras — for advice. (The former had won the club a favourable judgment months earlier in their dispute with Neymar over a renewal bonus.) Both firms agreed Barca were in the right and should not give in to Messi’s demands. Despite that, sources told ESPN at the time there were board members who supported letting Messi go. Not for free, mind you, but if it meant bringing in a large fee and removing his €90m salary from the wage bill, the club might be able to dig itself out of a €300m financial hole during the COVID-19 crisis.”Messi has so much power at the club, both on a financial and sporting level,” one source said. Another, close to the dressing room, went further. “It’s the moment to sell him, it’s a historic opportunity to be able to change things. There are players who will perform a lot better without him in the team.”Those voices believed a managed departure could be beneficial, but the president would not entertain the prospect. It was €700m from a buying club, or he stays. “Bartomeu doesn’t want to be the president who agrees to the sale of Messi,” a source told ESPN, even as another source said, “it’s the best thing he could have done.”Bartomeu might have ruined his relationship with Messi — the player called him a liar, claiming Bartomeu had assured him he would let him go — but he got his wish. In the end, he won’t be the president who oversees Messi’s departure; after all, the club’s presidential elections will happen on March 20 or 21 next year, before Messi’s contract expires.
AT MANCHESTER CITY, there had been a growing acceptance that signing Messi for free was impossible, so they turned their attention to a negotiated settlement. After several days of crunching numbers, a source told ESPN that “if Barcelona let him leave for €100 or 150m, Messi will be a City player.” City were also willing to include players of interest to Barca, such as young defender and La Masia product Eric Garcia, in a deal, although ESPN was told that others, including Gabriel JesusBernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez, would not be included.All of that depended on Barca being willing to budge. Messi waited and maintained his silence, even skipping coronavirus testing ahead of a return for preseason training with new coach Koeman. Board members who’d been critical of Messi felt he should be fined for that; Bartomeu believed doing so would escalate the crisis. As Barca drafted burofaxes of their own to correspond with their absent captain, sources told ESPN that some versions specified that there would be no punishment, while others left the option open. On the morning of Sept. 2, Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, flew from Rosario, Argentina, to Barcelona for a meeting with Bartomeu that evening, but no progress was made. Bartomeu had one important thing as leverage: Messi could not stomach a legal battle. He was determined to leave, but not if the process descended into lengthy litigation. City were reluctant to take that road, too.Everything changed on Sept. 4. In an interview with Goal’s Ruben Uria, Messi announced his decision to stay. “The president told me the only way to leave was to pay the €700m clause, which is impossible, and that the alternative was going to court,” Messi said. “I would never take Barca to court because it’s the club I love.” It could have ended differently. Some at Barcelona feel that Messi’s approach — both in law and in public relations — was flawed from the start. “He didn’t choose the best communications strategy,” one source told ESPN. “If he had timed it better, he could have finished off Bartomeu and he’d be at Manchester City by now.” In this reading, Messi’s fundamental mistake was a failure to articulate his decision to leave sooner, and to speak directly to the fans — perhaps, as many other players might have done, on their social media accounts — before the burofax was sent.Others question whether the prospect of another year of an unhappy Messi is best for Barca. The No. 10 has channelled his anger on the pitch before with positive results for the team; he might do so again. But ESPN has been told that some players thought a fresh start, with a new coach and without Messi, might have been the best for everyone. SO MESSI STAYS FOR NOW, but so do his doubts, expressed so clearly and concisely when he finally spoke out. “The truth is that for a while there hasn’t been a project or anything,” he said. “They’ve been juggling things and plugging holes.”But the story doesn’t end there. Bartomeu will be gone soon and a new president is to be elected in March. He might not even make it until then if a vote of no confidence, launched on the back of Messi’s burofax, goes against him in the coming weeks. There could be as many as 10 people in the running to replace Bartomeu, too — Victor Font is one of the early favourites to inherit the role and he has said that, in addition to bringing former Barca midfield maestro Xavi Hernandez back as coach, he wants to make sure Messi stays. Not one of the candidates has said they want to build a Barca without Messi, despite the fact he will be 34 next summer.Messi has leverage. With his deal officially expiring in June, he is able to negotiate with other clubs starting in January. No legal battle, no drama, at least of the sort we’ve witnessed this past summer.Will the new president be able to convince him to renew his deal? Messi has said the club must sign young players to freshen up an aging squad. That is slowly happening, but it’s coming at the expense of his closest friends at the club: Vidal has joined Inter Milan and Suarez is headed to Atletico Madrid.So much depends on the next eight months, on how Koeman does and on who wins the elections. Beyond all that, though, it depends on one thing: on Barcelona having a winning team.



PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN LOOKS TO CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH IN REGULAR SEASON FINALE AT SAINT LOUIS FC By Indy Eleven Communications, 10/01/20, 7:30PM EDT Click Here to View the Official Indy Eleven #STLvIND Game Notes – October 3, 2020 #STLvIND Gameday Preview  Indy Eleven at Saint Louis FC    Saturday, October 3, 2020 – 7:30 P.M. ET   West Community Stadium | Fenton, Mo.  FOLLOW LIVE Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23  Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click to subscribe)  Radio (Spanish): Exitos 94.3 FM/exitos943.com In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers    Live stats: USLChampionship.com #STLvIND Match Center   2020 USL CHAMPIONSHIP REGULAR SEASON RECORDS  Indy Eleven: 7W-6L-2D, 23 pts. (+3 GD), 2nd in Group E  Saint Louis FC: 6W-5L-4D, 22 pts. (0 GD), 3rd in Group E  A postseason berth is on the line as Indy Eleven travels west to Saint Louis FC in its 2020 USL Championship Regular Season finale this Saturday. With Indy currently in second place in Group E (23 pts.) and STL sitting right behind in the standings (22 pts.), a draw or victory will be needed for Indiana’s Team to clinch the group’s second seed and the team’s third playoff berth in as many season. The Missouri side is currently riding a two-game winless streak, a statistic that will have to change if it wants to continue playing after October 3. Sitting in third place, just one point behind Indy Eleven, Saint Louis needs all three points out of Saturday’s affair to advance to the playoffs. Any other result will see Saint Louis permanently end its USL Championship run after six season as the organization announced on August 25 it would cease operations at the conclusion of the 2020 season.  SERIES HISTORY The series history between the I-70 sharers has seen both sides evenly split regular season points since its 2019 berth at 2W-2L-1D, with both clubs registering wins when they have homefield advantage. Indy Eleven started its 2020 ledger against Saint Louis FC – and its post-quarantine restart of the 2020 regular season – on July 11 at Lucas Oil Stadium by posting a 2-0 win on the strength of second half goals by Tyler Pasher and Neveal Hackshaw. STLFC got its revenge at West Community Stadium on July 26, with Tyler Blackwood’s tally midway through the first half being good enough for a 1-0 win, despite Indy Eleven outshooting the home side 20-2 on the day. In the last outing at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 23, STLFC’s Russell Cicerone secured the lead in a chippy affair that saw the visitors end the night with nine players on the pitch, but a second-half equalizer off Hackshaw’s head brought both teams level into the final whistle. Both teams close out the season against each other in this Saturday’s regular season finale in the Gateway to the West that will see one team lock in its place in the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs.   INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: DF KARL OUIMETTE Now in his third season with Indy Eleven, Ouimette has firmly established himself into Head Coach Martin Rennie’s backline. The Repentigny, Quebec native has started all 14 games he’s appeared in this season, tied with ‘keeper Evan Newton and Hackshaw for second most minutes played this season at 1,260, trailing behind only last year’s “Ironman,” Tyler Gibson (1,295). So far this year, the Canadian has been a thorn on every opposing attack’s side, placing top three in all major defensive categories for Indy Eleven – clearances (2nd, 35), blocks (2nd, 9) and interceptions (3rd, 17). Moreover, Ouimette leads the team in duels won (93), aerial duels (87), aerial duels won (58) and tied with midfielder Drew Conner for more tackles won (17). In his last game against Saint Louis, Ouimette won 10 of the 12 duels he was involved in, in addition to winning five of his six aerial duels. The 28-year-old has a knack for blocking opposing traffic, capitalizing on opportunities to regain possession that often kickstart counterattacking runs into the opponent’s half. Look for the eight-year veteran to handle business in the defending third Saturday evening as he and the rest of Indiana’s Team fight for a postseason run.
 

SAINT LOUIS FC PLAYER TO WATCH: MF RUSSELL CICERONE Cicerone has debatably been the most dependable player for Saint Louis FC Head Coach Steve Trittschuh’s attack this season, playing in all 15 contests played this season –  starting in 14 of them – and clocking in the second most minutes played among his teammates at 1,256. Cicerone has been the bane of Saint Louis’ opponents all season. Mostly lurking around the upper right corner of opponent’s 18-yard boxes, Cicerone spends his game antagonizing defenders with an offensive onslaught. The second-year midfielder currently leads his team in shots (34) and shots on target (18), and is tied with forward Tyler Blackwood atop the scoring table with five goals. Although he hasn’t been able to assist on any goals, Cicerone leads his side in chances created (24), adding another layer of frustration for opposing defenders to carefully monitor. Last time he played against Indy Eleven, Cicerone’s 50th minute goal was enough for STLFC to come out of Lucas Oil Stadium with a point in a 1-1 draw on September 23. With Saint Louis now in a “winner takes all” scenario heading into the final weekend of the regular season, Indy defenders will need to keep level heads to minimize Ciceroni’s attacking opportunities.      RECAP | INDY ELEVEN FALLS TO SPORTING KANSAS CITY II IN REGULAR SEASON HOME FINALE By Indy Eleven Communications, 09/30/20, 11:00PM EDT Share   size=1 width=”100%” align=center> Last-Minute SKC Goal Breaks 1-1 Draw, Setting Up Showdown Between Indy Eleven and Saint Louis FC for Playoff Berth https://www.youtube.com/embed/in3r-sw8cu8 #INDvSKC Post-Game Quotes – September 30 #INDvSKC Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center Despite battling back from a one goal deficit in the first half, Indy Eleven ultimately fell 1-2 against Sporting Kansas City II in the club’s 2020 regular season home finale. Andrew Carleton’s first goal of the season closed the gap in favor of Indiana’s Team at the start of the second half, but a 95th minute goal from Sporting KC II’s Bailey Sparks in dying minutes of the game secured the three points for the visitors. Even with the result, Indy Eleven’s postseason aspirations are still alive as the club remains in second place of Group E (23 pts.) with Saint Louis FC nipping at its heels (22 pts.). Both teams will meet one more time this Saturday to wrap up the final weekend of USL Championship regular season play in a must-watch affair that will decide which team will clinch a second-seed playoff berth in Group E – Indy needing a win or a draw in order to advance into the 2020 postseason. “We are playing games where a little bounce of the ball here or there could make a big difference for us to actually go out and win these games very comfortably,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “At the moment, the ball hasn’t bounced our way for quite a few weeks, and we find ourselves in a position where we need a result in the last game of the season. That’s okay – we need to make sure that we get our heads up and get focused on how we do that. We are very capable of doing that and we have to make sure we get it done.” Indy Eleven came out the gates firing, creating four opportunities – three of which from the feet of Tyler Pasher –  in the opening 12 minutes of the night. The best of those four chances came in the eighth minute, Carl Haworth serving a low cross past two SKC defenders to Pasher near the top of the 18-yard box, who only had goalkeeper Remi Prieur in between him and his 10th goal of the season. His one-touch left-footed attempt proved unsuccessful however, as Prieur managed to push the strike wide off his fingertips. Having already been eliminated from playoff contention, Sporting Kansas City II entered Lucas Oil Stadium looking to prolong Indy’s chances to clinch the postseason early Wednesday evening. After taking a hard foul from Cam Lindley late in the first half, which earned the Carmel, Ind. native his first yellow card of the season, SKC’s Fredlin Mompremier found himself in the middle of Indy’s box in a one-on-one situation in 41st minute. A long through pass from the midfield found Mompremier along the left flank, who quickly danced right towards goal inside of the box. Mompremier’s chipped cross found the head Wilson Harris, who nodded the ball in the upper corner to give the visitors a one-goal advantage before the halftime whistle. Coming into the second half, Pasher went from looking to score to creating opportunities for his teammates. The Canadian found his way into the visitor’s box and found Carleton, who was a halftime substitution, at the top of the box. Taking one touch to settle, the 20-year-old sent a left-footed strike skidding just out of Prieur’s reach and into the bottom-right corner for his first goal of the season. Indy Eleven kept the Sporting’s offense at bay for most of the second stanza, only allowing three shots from the visiting side going into stoppage time and the contest looked as if it were going to end with the points being shared. Sparks, a late-game substitute, found himself at the top of Indy’s box, managing to find a bit of space for a right-footed attempt that went past ‘keeper Evan Newton at full extension and into the back of the net in the 95th minute for the final lead, breaking the visitor’s four-game losing streak. Indy Eleven (7W-6L-2D, 23 pts.) will have one more chance to clinch its third playoff berth in as many season this Saturday, October 3, travels to Saint Louis FC (6W-5L-4D, 22 pts.) in both team’s final game of the 2020 USL Regular Season. The 7:30 p.m. ET matchup can be followed live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.   USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSKC Indy Eleven 1 : 2  Sporting Kansas City II Wednesday, September 30, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind. Attendance: 6,039

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Former USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann looks ahead to the USMNT stars involved in this season’s Bundesliga.Already at Schalke were fellow Americans Nick Taitague (promoted to the first team over the summer) and McKennie. “I think he [Weston] was an influence,” Hoppe told ESPN. “He was a big star here at Schalke, and he was willing to show that Schalke were willing to play young players and young Americans. I spoke to him a few times and he gave me some encouragement and advice. It was a good conversation.” The Future As one Bundesliga academy head told ESPN, “there is huge potential for extraordinary footballers [in Germany]. There is a huge growing rate, a huge pool of players who are all well-trained.” The U.S. 2019 Under-20 World Cup team had six players contracted to German clubs, while the last Under-17 team had Pablo Soares from Borussia Monchengladbach and Noah Jones from RB Leipzig.With the top Bundesliga clubs aware of promising American talent as young as 12 years old, the pathway is established. And with the Bundesliga’s brand as a place that trusts in youth (Borussia Dortmund’s opener against Gladbach was created by Reyna and Bellingham, who are both 17), it’s seen as a place where age is irrelevant if you’re good enough.”There’s not much politics involved,” Klinsmann told ESPN. “The coaches are usually very straightforward. If the kid understands that it’s all down to performance and they’ll get the chance, the Bundesliga’s the place to be.”Said Hoppe: “All the young players have an extreme talent and the Bundesliga’s able to offer these players an opportunity to use their talent, to tweak it, improve all the things they need to work on. It’s so wholesome [in Germany] — they need to work on their strength, their technique, their tactical ability, their mental strength — the league helps make them more a complete player.”The migration shows no signs of slowing. This summer gone, Arminia Bielefeld signed 16-year-old goalkeeper Carver Miller from DC United, while Joel Imasuen arrived at Hertha Berlin. Then Bayern and Barcelona were involved in a scramble for Dest. While some move on — like Sebastian Soto, who joined Norwich City before going out on loan to SC Telstar in the Netherlands, or Blaine Ferri, who swapped Greuther Furth for Fort Lauderdale CF in the USL — the machine keeps going.”I think there are a lot of talented players in the USA,” Hoppe says. “They just need to take the jump to Europe, they need to keep developing their game and take the risk.” Messi and Barcelona: The inside story on how everything fell apart, and what’s next Sep 24, 2020Multiple Contributors ESPNFC A year ago, Lionel Messi set out his terms for staying at Barcelona. “I want to be at Barcelona for as long as possible. This is my home,” he told the Catalan newspaper Sport. “But I don’t want to have a long-term contract and to only be here because of it. I need to see that there’s a winning team because I want to keep winning things at this club. “For me, money or a clause don’t mean anything. I don’t have any intention of going anywhere but I want to keep competing and winning.”Twelve months later, Messi was refusing to train, insisting that his 20-year relationship with Barca was over, and trying to force a move to Manchester City.  That Messi, one-club man, captain and icon, would seek to leave Barcelona like this — notifying them in a now-infamous burofax that, as far as he was concerned, he had already gone — should have been unthinkable. And yet this was no spur-of-the-moment decision. We should have seen it coming.Messi had not been happy at Barcelona — with the president, the board or management — for a long time. He admitted as much in the interview that brought a temporary end to the crisis this summer: “I’ve been telling [president Josep Maria Bartomeu] that I wanted to leave all year.” Known for being a reluctant public figure, Messi speaks only when he has something to say — and at 33, he has been more vocal than ever. He was desperate to be heard. Those in charge at Barcelona didn’t listen.This is the story — told with the help of numerous first-hand accounts from sources close to both player and club — of how Messi’s nagging doubts about Barcelona eventually became impossible to ignore, and what happened next.Editors’ note: This story contains reporting from Moises Llorens, Sam Marsden, Alex Kirkland, Rodrigo Faez and Eduardo Fernandez-Abascal. ABOVE ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS both personal and professional, Messi’s discontent stems from his desire to win. And for Messi, winning means the Champions League. Barcelona haven’t done that since 2015. They haven’t even come close. Embarrassed by Liverpool and Roma in recent years, the 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich at the quarterfinal stage of the competition last season, in August, was the tipping point. Messi is intensely aware of the impact Barca’s European failings will have on his legacy. Four Champions League titles are more than enough for mortals. But not for Messi. Several sources pinpoint one moment that best reveals Messi’s disenchantment. It came at Camp Nou in May 2019. Barca were 3-0 up in the first leg of their semifinal against Liverpool. In the 96th minute, Messi — who had scored twice — drew three defenders before squaring the ball for an unmarked Ousmane Dembele. Dembele miskicked, Alisson made the easy save and Messi fell theatrically to the floor, face down in the turf. He knew that Barcelona needed another goal — the season before, Roma erased a first-leg, 4-1 deficit to advance on away goals to the semifinals — because his teammates couldn’t be trusted to defend a 3-0 lead away from home. Six days later, he was proved right.”The last chance for Dembele was clear-cut,” Messi told reporters after the first leg. “Four goals would have been better than three.”How do you prevent those mistakes from happening again and again? One approach might involve a clear-eyed vision of the kind of team you want to construct. But Barcelona’s planning has been incoherent at best. Losing Neymar, with whom Messi loved to play, to Paris Saint-Germain was perhaps forgivable. Wasting almost €300 million on Dembele and Philippe Coutinho — both yet to come good, three years on — less so. The club failed to bring Neymar back last summer, signing Antoine Griezmann instead for a similar sum. Griezmann is a player who has failed to adapt for various reasons, including the fact his preferred position is taken by MessiA series of sporting directors — Andoni Zubizarreta, Robert Fernandez, Pep Segura, Eric Abidal and Ramon Planes — have come and gone over the past five years, all of them unable to implement an effective long-term strategy because they were never afforded the time to do so. They have all been made scapegoats by Bartomeu, sacrificed as symbols of the club’s shortcomings. Among them, they brought in a mishmash of players recruited with different ideas in mind. New signings arrived, flopped and left. Legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta departed. Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets got older.Messi waited, despairingly, for things to get better. EVEN AS BARCELONA FAILED IN EUROPE, they at least continued to win La Liga. Manager Ernesto Valverde, despite his unpopularity among some Barca fans, won the league ahead of Real Madrid in 2018 and 2019. Messi liked Valverde. Sources told ESPN that the easygoing, diplomatic Valverde maintained relative harmony in a dressing room divided between two cliques: one, led by Messi, Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal, who were essentially happy under the coach’s laid-back regime; and another, including Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong, who would have preferred a more disciplined approach. That balance endured until January this year when Valverde was sacked — with Barca top of the league — after defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa in Saudi Arabia. He was replaced by Quique Setien, a man with no experience managing a group of players at this level. The fallout from Valverde’s firing was damaging, too. Sporting director Abidal said in an interview with Sport in February that “a lot of players weren’t happy [with Valverde] and weren’t working a lot.”Messi, in a rare moment of rage, snapped. “I honestly don’t like to do these things, but I think everyone should take responsibility for their decisions,” he wrote on Instagram. “The sporting department should take responsibility. When you talk about players, you should give names. If not, you’re tarnishing all of us and feeding things which people say and aren’t true.”Abidal touched a nerve. Messi is incredibly sensitive to the idea that he runs things at Barcelona, responsible for hiring and firing coaches and identifying transfer targets. It’s understandable, even if it’s hard to dispute the grain of truth at its heart: that Barca should do everything possible to keep their best-ever player happy.Barca had been failing to do that on the pitch; they were failing off it, too. In February, it was alleged that a company the club had hired to protect its image was behind social media accounts posting disparaging comments about current and former players. Messi and his family were mentioned. It was another blow to his already fragile relationship with Bartomeu, even if Barca continue to deny any wrongdoing in the scandal that’s come to be known as “Barcagate.” SETIEN HAD A BRIEF AND TROUBLED SPELL IN CHARGE. From the beginning, Messi was not impressed with him despite hyped-up claims of a return to the more attacking, possession-based style of play made famous at the club by Johan Cruyff and, later, Pep Guardiola.An uneasy, six-month truce lasted until June, when La Liga returned after its pandemic-enforced break. When Barca dropped their first points in a frustrating goalless draw with Sevilla, sources told ESPN that there was a tense dressing room showdown between captain and coach as stunned teammates looked on.The top-of-the-table lead that Setien had inherited from Valverde quickly disappeared. Real Madrid won 10 games in a row, while Barca dropped points in four of theirs. Their title challenge ended with a 2-1 home defeat to Osasuna on July 16. Speaking immediately afterward, Messi didn’t hold back.Things had “all gone wrong” since January, he said, in a blatant criticism of his new coach. “We’ve been a very erratic, weak, low-intensity team. Today’s game is a summary of the season. We have to be self-critical, starting with the players but across the whole club.” BARCELONA HAD WON NOTHING IN 2019-20, their first trophyless campaign in 12 years. Setien was dismissed. His replacement was club legend Ronald Koeman, but it was too late. Messi’s mind was made up. A first meeting between Messi and Koeman — one that saw Messi interrupt his holiday with Suarez and Jordi Alba in the Pyrenees to return to Barcelona on Aug. 20 — did not go well. Messi expressed his doubts and remained determined to leave the club.Around the same time, he called Guardiola.”Messi and Pep spoke for hours,” a source told ESPN. The pair are close and have much in common. Messi, Guardiola and Manchester City all share an obsession with the Champions League. City have never won it; Guardiola and Messi are thought not to have won it often enough.Messi knew that his options for leaving Barcelona were limited. Unlike Barca, he viewed City as having a clear strategy and an upward trajectory. The player told his former coach that he wanted to move. Guardiola said he would talk to decision-makers at City. It wouldn’t be straightforward, he warned.Messi’s flirtation with City was nothing new. In fact, City’s rebuild under their new owners over the past decade has been carried out with the aim of attracting first Guardiola and, later, Messi. There were discussions in 2014, and again in 2016. Yet City’s hopes of signing Messi this summer were dependent on them playing in the Champions League. Once their two-year ban from European competitions was lifted on July 13, they knew they would be the front-runners to sign him if he left Barca.There was never any direct contact between the clubs, nor did Messi’s camp transmit directly to Barca a desire to move to City, but sources at the Catalan club say were informed of City’s interest in signing Messi by a third party. It gave City a lot to think about. Could they afford Messi’s salary? How much would they have to pay Barca? What about financial fair play? His €700m buyout clause was impossible, even for City. There was a more tantalising prospect, though: Messi might be available for nothing.The mechanism by which they thought they could pull off a deal had existed for years. Messi’s long-term doubts led his advisers to insert a release clause in his Barca contract when it was renewed in 2017. At the end of the 2019-20 season, within a defined period, he could unilaterally rescind his contract and walk away.And so, Barcelona’s board nervously waited. In the end, the date — initially widely reported as May 31, later corrected to June 10 — fell when La Liga was about to resume. Nonetheless, when it had passed, the club were quick to brief the media. As far as they were concerned, Messi would be staying until 2021. Messi has since said he didn’t inform the club before then because they were still involved in La Liga and the Champions League; one source, though, says the fact City were banned from European football before winning an appeal also complicated his route out of Camp Nou.The original date in Messi’s contract had been drawn up to coincide with the end of the season. But with the campaign extended because of the coronavirus pandemic, Messi’s camp felt they had some wiggle room when it came to the interpretation of the clause.Sources told ESPN that the feedback Messi received from legal experts was mixed. Only one law firm out of at least four consulted, Cuatrecasas, believed the argument had a realistic chance of success. That was enough and Messi decided to go ahead. If he stood his ground, perhaps Barca would blink first. AUG. 24 BEGAN WITH A PHONE CALL from Koeman to Suarez. In a conversation that lasted around a minute, the coach told Messi’s best friend in the squad that he was not in Barca’s plans and should look for a new club. Vidal received similar treatment. Messi’s allies were being pushed out and, in his view, disrespected. Later that day, Messi took action. On advice from Cuatrecasas, the player opted to use a burofax — a registered letter, used when legal proof of receipt is required — to inform Barcelona that he wished to leave for free, exercising his release clause. Signed by Messi, it was sent just after 7 p.m. By mid-morning on Aug. 25, the letter had arrived at Camp Nou. – Lowe: Messi, bad blood and a ‘burofax’ The first to read it, aghast, were Bartomeu and the head of Barca’s legal department, Roma Gomez Ponti. “They could not believe their eyes,” a source told ESPN. For them, there was no debate: The clause had already expired. “Put aside everything else you’ve been working on and focus on this,” Bartomeu told the club’s lawyers. Barcelona contacted two firms specialising in sports law — Costa Torrecillas & Associates and Bufete Antras — for advice. (The former had won the club a favourable judgment months earlier in their dispute with Neymar over a renewal bonus.) Both firms agreed Barca were in the right and should not give in to Messi’s demands. Despite that, sources told ESPN at the time there were board members who supported letting Messi go. Not for free, mind you, but if it meant bringing in a large fee and removing his €90m salary from the wage bill, the club might be able to dig itself out of a €300m financial hole during the COVID-19 crisis.”Messi has so much power at the club, both on a financial and sporting level,” one source said. Another, close to the dressing room, went further. “It’s the moment to sell him, it’s a historic opportunity to be able to change things. There are players who will perform a lot better without him in the team.”Those voices believed a managed departure could be beneficial, but the president would not entertain the prospect. It was €700m from a buying club, or he stays. “Bartomeu doesn’t want to be the president who agrees to the sale of Messi,” a source told ESPN, even as another source said, “it’s the best thing he could have done.”Bartomeu might have ruined his relationship with Messi — the player called him a liar, claiming Bartomeu had assured him he would let him go — but he got his wish. In the end, he won’t be the president who oversees Messi’s departure; after all, the club’s presidential elections will happen on March 20 or 21 next year, before Messi’s contract expires. AT MANCHESTER CITY, there had been a growing acceptance that signing Messi for free was impossible, so they turned their attention to a negotiated settlement. After several days of crunching numbers, a source told ESPN that “if Barcelona let him leave for €100 or 150m, Messi will be a City player.” City were also willing to include players of interest to Barca, such as young defender and La Masia product Eric Garcia, in a deal, although ESPN was told that others, including Gabriel JesusBernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez, would not be included.All of that depended on Barca being willing to budge. Messi waited and maintained his silence, even skipping coronavirus testing ahead of a return for preseason training with new coach Koeman. Board members who’d been critical of Messi felt he should be fined for that; Bartomeu believed doing so would escalate the crisis. As Barca drafted burofaxes of their own to correspond with their absent captain, sources told ESPN that some versions specified that there would be no punishment, while others left the option open. On the morning of Sept. 2, Messi’s father and agent, Jorge, flew from Rosario, Argentina, to Barcelona for a meeting with Bartomeu that evening, but no progress was made. Bartomeu had one important thing as leverage: Messi could not stomach a legal battle. He was determined to leave, but not if the process descended into lengthy litigation. City were reluctant to take that road, too.Everything changed on Sept. 4. In an interview with Goal’s Ruben Uria, Messi announced his decision to stay. “The president told me the only way to leave was to pay the €700m clause, which is impossible, and that the alternative was going to court,” Messi said. “I would never take Barca to court because it’s the club I love.” It could have ended differently. Some at Barcelona feel that Messi’s approach — both in law and in public relations — was flawed from the start. “He didn’t choose the best communications strategy,” one source told ESPN. “If he had timed it better, he could have finished off Bartomeu and he’d be at Manchester City by now.” In this reading, Messi’s fundamental mistake was a failure to articulate his decision to leave sooner, and to speak directly to the fans — perhaps, as many other players might have done, on their social media accounts — before the burofax was sent.Others question whether the prospect of another year of an unhappy Messi is best for Barca. The No. 10 has channelled his anger on the pitch before with positive results for the team; he might do so again. But ESPN has been told that some players thought a fresh start, with a new coach and without Messi, might have been the best for everyone. SO MESSI STAYS FOR NOW, but so do his doubts, expressed so clearly and concisely when he finally spoke out. “The truth is that for a while there hasn’t been a project or anything,” he said. “They’ve been juggling things and plugging holes.”But the story doesn’t end there. Bartomeu will be gone soon and a new president is to be elected in March. He might not even make it until then if a vote of no confidence, launched on the back of Messi’s burofax, goes against him in the coming weeks. There could be as many as 10 people in the running to replace Bartomeu, too — Victor Font is one of the early favourites to inherit the role and he has said that, in addition to bringing former Barca midfield maestro Xavi Hernandez back as coach, he wants to make sure Messi stays. Not one of the candidates has said they want to build a Barca without Messi, despite the fact he will be 34 next summer.Messi has leverage. With his deal officially expiring in June, he is able to negotiate with other clubs starting in January. No legal battle, no drama, at least of the sort we’ve witnessed this past summer.Will the new president be able to convince him to renew his deal? Messi has said the club must sign young players to freshen up an aging squad. That is slowly happening, but it’s coming at the expense of his closest friends at the club: Vidal has joined Inter Milan and Suarez is headed to Atletico Madrid.So much depends on the next eight months, on how Koeman does and on who wins the elections. Beyond all that, though, it depends on one thing: on Barcelona having a winning team.

9/25/20 – EPL Week 3, MLS schedules released, Indy 11 tie St. Louis – play Wed vs KC in must Win, Former CFC on All American Watchlist

EPL

Ok after bitching last week I gave up signed up for the free week on the Peacock – and while I could see the game on my phone and computer only no TV – man it was not good quality?  After watching German games this weekend on ESPN+, and Champ League/SuperCup on CBS all Access Thurs – seriously the peacock stinks.  Replays are immediately available on most streaming but not on Peacock.  If you miss the game live – tough crap you have to wait until 9 pm to see a replay.  Heck – you can’t even re-wind if say you miss the first few minutes of the game – login late.  And the quality is questionable at best oh and it can’t be seen on your TV though I hear they made a deal with Roku sticks finally which kicks in this weekend I guess.  Again – the whole thing makes me sick – the money grabbing to watch these games will not help grow the game of soccer in this country.  Oh well – of course the biggest game of the weekend was on Peacock as defending champs Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-0 after Chelsea went down to 10 men on a questionable red card call just after half of a 0-0 game.  This weeks games offer a little more on NBCSN as Everton vs Crystal Palace at 10 am on NBCSN Sat and Man City vs Leicester City on Sunday at 11:30 am.  NBC gives us Chelsea vs West Brom – not sure yet if Pulisic will play.  Of course the best game is Monday’s Liverpool vs Arsenal on the Peacock of course at 3 pm after Fulham vs Aston Villa at 12:45. Interesting story reputation in Soccer regarding Kepa at Chelsea.  Also huge news that Garreth Bale is returning to Spurs on a season long loan from Real Madrid where they are paying more than half his wages – still I suspect he’ll do fine when he finally gets on the field from injuries. 

Indy 11 Tie

Frustrating night for our Indy 11 once again as they needed 2 sending offs to rally and tie St. Louis 1-1 late on Wednesday night at the Luke.  As a result, Indy Eleven (7W-5L-2D, 23 pts.) kept its grip on second place in Group E, with Saint Louis FC (6W-4L-4D, 22 pts.) remaining right on its heels one point behind. With Louisville City FC (9W-3L-2D, 29 pts.) all but clinching the top spot with tonight’s deadlock, Indy and Saint Louis can now focus solely on claiming the group’s other USL Championship Playoffs spot via favorable results in their final two games over the next 10 days – including next Saturday’s finale in Missouri. Prior to that ultimate showdown, STL will host Louisville this Saturday evening, followed by Indy Eleven welcoming Sporting Kansas City next Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium, tickets are available at www.indyeleven.com/tickets.  Oh and we all need to root for Louisville Sat. night game 8 pm on ESPN+ vs St. Louis.

Bayern Munich Wins Super Cup

After winning the Champions League in dominating fashion this summer – Bayern followed that up with a hard fought 2-1 win over Sevilla in the EUFA Supercup on Thurs.  It went to extra-time before Germany won on a corner header into the backpost –where no defender was of course!  I have to say I was a bit disappointed to see American outside defender Sergino Dest choose Barcelona this week over Bayern.  I have always respected Bayern but hate the way they buy all the good players in Germany – much like the Yankees in baseball.  But having Dest would have me tuning in more to watch.  Oh well – we do get the Bayern vs Dortmund German Supercup this Wednesday at 2:30 pm on ESPN+.  Saturday at 9:30 am on ESPN+ both American’s play as Tyler Adams of RB Leipzig vs Leverkusen and Gio Reyna of Dortmund (fresh of his first goal last weekend at just 17) will face Ausberg.

MLS Announces Rest of Schedule

MLS is moving from regional pod play to full country travel now as they try to get the remainder of the season in as safely as possible.  Attempting to limit hotel stays and fly only on gamedays while the Canadian teams hunker down in the US with no ability to return home for the next 3 months.  Lots of Wednesday night games on ESPN+ and Sat and Sun nights mainly.  Not sure yet on TV games as FS1 seems to have slowed down MLS coverage?  I see nothing on network TV this week?  Lots of games on ESPN+ see schedule below including league leaders Seattle traveling to LA Galaxy Sunday at 10:30 pm on ESPN+. 

Games to Watch

CBS has NWSL on Saturday at 1 pm with the Chicago Red Stars hosting the Washington Spirit– the game last week had ½ million in viewership – better each week.  Juve and American midfielder Weston McKinney host Roma on Sunday at 2:45 pm on ESPN+, right before Barcelona faces Villarreal at 3 pm on beIN Sport.  US Players games wrap up here

Congrats CHS MIC Champs

Congrats to the both the Men’s and Women’s CHS Soccer teams for winning the MIC Conference this week.  The #2 ranked ladies lost a close one 2-0 at #1 Noblesville Monday – they return to action Sat at home 11 am vs Zionsville.   The 4th ranked boys fresh off a 1-1 tie with Pike to secure the MIC title play home to Guerin Sat at 2 pm.  Lots of former Carmel FC players on the teams – especially on the girls side might be worth checking out.  Also Huge Congrats to home grown former Carmel FCers CHS Seniors Brooke Bailey and GK Erin Baker for making the 2020 All-American Watchlist

GAMES ON TV 

Sat, Sept 26 

7:30 am Peacock                            Brighton vs Man United  

9:30 am ESPN+                               RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Bayer Levekusen

9:30 am ESPN+                              Dortmund (Gio Reyna) vs Ausburg

10 am NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Everton

11 am bein Sport                                 St Etienne vs Rennes  France  

12:30 pm ESPN+                                Schalke vs Werder Bremen (Stuart)

12:30 pm NBC                  West Brom vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

1 pm CBS                                 Chicago Red Stars vs Washington NWSL

3  pm bein Sport                                  Real Betis vs Real Madrid Spain 

3 pm Peacock                                      Burnely vs Southampton

3:30 pm Univision                              Nashville vs Houston Dynamo

7 pm ESPN+                                       Cincy vs NYCFC            

Sun, Sept 27 

9am NBCSN                                       Tottenham vs New Castle United

9:30 am ESPN+                                  Hoffenhiem vs Bayern Munich

10 am beiN  port                                 Atletico Madrid vs Grenada

11:30 am NBCSN                             Man City vs Leicester City  

2 pm Peacock                                      West Ham vs Wolverhampton           

2:45 pm ESPN+                                Juventus (McKinney) vs Roma

3 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Villarreal

1 pm Peacock                                      Aston Villa vs Sheffield United

3:15 pm Man City                               Wolverhampton vs Man City 

9:45 pm Univsion                               Cruz Azul vs America  (Mex)

10:30 pm ESPN+                                LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

Mon, Sept 28 

12:45 pm Peacock                               Fulham (Tim Ream) vs Aston Villa

3 pm Peacock                       Liverpool vs Arsenal   

Wed, Sept 30   

12 pm ESPN+                                     Benevento vs Inter

2:30 pm ESPN+                   Bayern Munich vs Dortmund (Reyna) – SuperCup

3:30 pm beIN Sport                            Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid  

7 pm My Indy TV 23, ESPN+    Indy 11 vs KC 2 at Lucus Oil

USA

Reyna scores his first Goal in Bundesliga Play for Dortmunddea

Where the USMNT stars are playing across Europe   Jeff Carlisle, Tom Hamilton
Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

Reports: Ajax, Barcelona reach agreement over USMNT’s Dest

USA GK Steffen on Life at Man City
USMNT GK Steffen Makes His Man City Debut BY AVI CREDITOR SI

How 7 Americans fared in Bundesliga Wk 1

Why is soccer a White Only Sport in America?   – yahoo Soccer

EPL

Mendy to Chelsea analysis
Edouard Mendy to Chelsea: What does it mean for Kepa, Blues’ defense?
Kepa – Issues lie with Reputation and Price Tag more than Regression  – Leander Schaerlaeckens yahoo soccer  
English lower leagues face £200m loss from empty stadiums

 WORLD

Chelsea’s changes, Madrid’s malaise, Bayern’s challengers: way-too-early analysis from Europe’s big leagues  7hBill Connelly

Chelsea’s changes and more way-too-early analysis from Europe’s big leagues 4hBill Connelly
Morata returns to Juventus on loan from Atletico Madrid
UEFA allows five substitutes in Champions League and international matches
Derek Rae: How I fell in love with German soccer, culture and the Bundesliga
  Derek Rae
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Tests Positive for CoronavirusBY AVI CREDITOR
 

USMNT weekend viewing guide: relegation thoughts already?

Schalke and Werder face off in an early season disaster waiting to happen among other action

By jcksnftsn  Sep 25, 2020, 9:00am PDT

It could be a quiet weekend for those still holding out on getting ESPN+ and without access to beIN Sports as there are just a couple of alternatives and one of those looks to be ruined by Christian Pulisic’s unavailability this weekend. But enough about what we can’t have here’s what you can watch this weekend.

Friday

Lille v Nantes – 3p on beIN Sports

Timothy Weah has consistently appeared off the bench for Lille as he continues to work his way back into the team following a long struggle with hamstring injuries. The team has collected eight points through their first four matches but have scored just one goal in each game so there may be a need for an offensive spark that Weah could provide. This weekend Lille will be facing a Nantes side coming off a 2-2 draw and currently sitting in 14th place.

Looking through the paywall:

  • Timothy Chandler’s Eintracht Frankfurt face Hertha Berlin at 2:30p on ESPN+. Chandler has seen just 19 minutes combined across all competitions early in the season.

Saturday

West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea – 12:30p

What would be the match of the weekend for mainstream USMNT fans is unfortunately ruined by Christian Pulisic being unavailable due to ongoing recovery. Pulisic is reportedly unavailable this weekend but could be back in action next week.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1309492350570299395&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.starsandstripesfc.com%2F2020%2F9%2F25%2F21455776%2Fusmnt-weekend-viewing-guide-relegation-thoughts-already-budesliga-chelsea-epl-ajax&siteScreenName=StarsStripesFC&theme=light&widgetsVersion=219d021%3A1598982042171&width=550px Chelsea are coming off a 2-0 loss to Liverpool and will be looking to bounce back against a West Brom team that has given up eight goals in their first two matches.

Other Notes:

  • The Chicago Red Stars face the Washington Spirit at 1p on CBS in NWSL action. The NWSL has been a but gutted by major stars heading overseas for the next several months but Alyssa Naeher remains in goal for the Red Stars and Kealia Watt scored a brace in the teams last match.
  • Nashville and Houston face off in MLS action on Univision Saturday afternoon at 3:30p. Honestly, there’s not much in this match that most USMNT fans want to claim with even Walker Zimmerman falling out of favor in many circles.

Looking through the paywall:

  • Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig face Bayer Leverkusen at 9:30a on ESPN+ in an early season matchup of potential top-four competitors.
  • Giovanni Reyna and the Borussia Dortmund youngster’s face Augsburg at 9:30 a on EPSN+.
  • An early season relegation face-off as Schalke and Werder Bremen meet at 12:30p on ESPN+? Both teams have looked pretty poor early on this season but at least Josh Sargent is seeing some good minutes (IN THE MIDFIELD!?!)
  • Ajax play Vitesse at 3p on ESPN+. The Sergino Dest tug of war that most would have never imagined for a USMNT player just a couple years ago continues to swing wildly back and forth between Bayern and Barcelona but for the moment Dest remains with Ajax.

Sunday

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United – 9a on NBCSN

Another American that seems likely to be on the move is DeAndre Yedlin who has yet to see any minutes in league play for Newcastle this season. In fact the RB who is reportedly receiving interest from MLS and Besiktas has not even made the bench in the teams first two matches. Yedlin did have a very generous assist in the teams 7-0 thumping of League Two side Morecambe FC in EFL Cup action but it seems he’ll be unlikely to feature as the team faces Tottenham on Sunday morning.

Looking through the paywall:

  • John Anthony Brooks and Wolfsburg face Freiburg at Noon on ESPN+. Wolfsburg drew their opening match with Bayer Leverkusen 0-0.
  •  

USMNT learns Nations League dates, says no October friendlies

Nicholas MendolaNBC Sports•September 22, 2020CONCACAF’s summer is going to be red-hot as its top sides will scrap multiple times on the road to World Cup qualifying.In other words, we might see the USMNT meet Mexico twice in a month.The USMNT, Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica are among the group of sides waiting to see who advances from the postponed first stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The final round of World Cup qualifying had already been postponed.It was revealed Tuesday that the quartet will now play the first ever CONCACAF Nations League Finals in June, three months behind schedule and just before the 2021 Gold Cup.The Gold Cup was previously postponed to June 10 – July 1 and the draw is set for Monday.The Nations League semifinals see No. 1 seed Mexico against No. 4 Costa Rica and the No. 2 Catrachos of Honduras meeting the third-seeded USMNT.A U.S. Soccer Federation release said the move is to put the focus on first stage of qualifying (It also gives all of the participants more time to figure out the pandemic atmosphere if it, as anticipated, reaches into a second year dramatically affecting sporting competitions):

This official competition Finals event will take place in a centralized location in the United States in June 2021. Concacaf will now work with our stakeholders to finalize the location and specific dates for this competition.

Playing this competition in June 2021 will enable the First Round of the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup, which involve 30 Concacaf Member Associations, to take center stage in March 2021.

Concacaf remains in discussions with FIFA to agree a new schedule for the Concacaf Qualifiers which retains the current format.

[ WATCH: Gooch’s solo goal for Sunderland ]

U.S. Soccer also announced that it will not play any matches or train in the October international break, aiming for a November return. That means Christian Pulisic will have even more time to find top form for Chelsea.General manager Brian McBride says Gregg Berhalter’s group may have an additional December camp with its January camp, which is great news for MLS players hoping to cement their statuses in Berhalter’s mind while the European talent continues to play overseas.“After extensive conversations about holding a men’s national team camp in October, we ultimately determined the unique challenges created by COVID-19 as it relates to hosting international opponents and getting our players together wouldn’t allow us to move forward,” men’s team general manager Brian McBride said, via the Associated Press. “While we won’t have the team together in this upcoming window, we are making considerable progress for November.”

Matt Doyle’s best hypothetical US men’s national team starting XI

September 24, 20209:26AM EDT  MLSsoccer staff

Here’s the hypothetical. The US men’s national team has a critical 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier coming up in November. What would be your starting XI?It’s a question posed to Matt Doyle on Extratime presented by Continental. Watch the video and check out the breakdown by position after the video below.

In goal, Doyle would go with New England Revolution backstop Matt Turner over Zack Steffen.

Defenders

Doyle had no doubts about his backline: Sergiño Dest, John Brooks, Aaron Long and Reggie Cannon.

Midfielders

The fixtures for Doyle are MLS academy products Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie partnering in central midfield. Also, ex-NYCFC academy player Gio Reyna would occupy the string-pulling No. 10 in midfield, with a caveat:

“Although Sebastian Lletget has been great for the US national team every time he’s played for the US national team and he has been great recently for the Galaxy, one of the best players in the league, Reyna is probably a different level,” Doyle said.A healthy Christian Pulisic mans the left wing spot, while Jordan Morris is on the right ahead of Tim Weah, who isn’t at full fitness yet.However, if this important match were to be held in March 2021, Doyle would consider one potential change.“I would put Reyna as that right side pinched-in winger and [Paxton] Pomykal in the central midfield,” he said. “But Pomykal hasn’t been healthy at all this year, but when he has played, he has been one of the very best players in the league.”

Forward

Up front, Doyle picks Josh Sargent over Jozy Altidore.“Jozy does not look like the Jozy of even last year so far in 2020 and we have to recognize that,” he said.In fact, the Toronto FC striker wouldn’t even be his No. 2 choice.“I’m considering Gyasi [Zardes] because Gyasi’s been incredible,” Doyle said, calling the Columbus Crew SC forward “the MVP of MLS at this point,” while touting Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse as one to watch eventually.“I love Ebobisse, it’s not at the point where I’m thinking of starting him in a World Cup qualifier,” Doyle said. “Not quite yet.”

Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now

Nicholas MendolaNBC SportsSep 22, 2020, 10:10 PM

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The European season is back in full flow, Major League Soccer is hitting its stretch run, and we have USMNT calendar news.Yet it’s the transfer market that’s inspired us to revisit our periodic ranking of the top 25 players in the USMNT player pool.Sergino Dest looks destined for either Barcelona or Bayern Munich, while Weston McKennie is off to Juventus and is currently learning midfield next to Adrien Rabiot, behind Aaron Ramsey, over Arthur, and under the watchful eye of Andrea Pirlo.If you’re the swooning type, here’s where you swoon.It’s been 10 months and 10 days since our first rankings hit ProSoccerTalk and there’s been a pandemic pause, restart of one season, and beginning of another since our second.Where is the player pool now? As a reminder, here are some ground rules:

  • The ranking is meant to illustrate who would be most likely to positively affect a USMNT match, regardless of manager or teammates, right now.
  • Health doesn’t matter to our rankings if a current injury isn’t one that could drastically alter the player’s skill set moving forward.
  • Age/potential/experience doesn’t matter either, at least not much; It’s how likely you are to contribute to the team if put on the field right now. Obviously Konrad de la Fuente is a better long-term prospect than 30-year-old Jozy Altidore, but most would rather have the Toronto FC man in a big spot right now.

Obviously there’s been plenty of movement.

Top 25 USMNT players – September 2020 

1. Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (1)

2. Tyler Adams, RB Leizpig (4) — Just out here scoring UCL tie-deciding goals

3. Weston McKennie, Juventus (2) — Oh, hi there. This is cool.

4. John Brooks, Wolfsburg (3)

5. Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund (13) — This is 17 years old? Come on.

6. Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders (8)

7. Sergino Dest, Ajax (5) — Barcelona or Bayern Munich?

8. Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (18) — Midfield?

9. Zack Steffen, Manchester City (9) — First Man City start probably comes Thursday.

10. Antonee Robinson, Fulham (10) — Come on, Scott Parker. Put him in there.

11. Timothy Weah, Lille (14) — Working back to fitness and form. Came off the bench in first three Ligue 1 games.12. Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (21) — Looking good in second full season with the Turkish giants

13. Julian Green, Greuther Furth (12)

14. Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy (25)

15. Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (7)

16. Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew (NR) — If you’re yelling at this, I get it, but you’re not watching MLS. He’s been wonderful.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1307492707313606657&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fsports.yahoo.com%2Ftop-25-players-usmnt-pool-021055892.html&siteScreenName=YahooSports&theme=light&widgetsVersion=219d021%3A1598982042171&width=550px 17. Matt Miazga, Chelsea (17) — Rumors of a Trabzonspor loan are interesting.

18. Cameron Carter-Vickers, Spurs (20) — Crushed it at Luton Town. Is Bournemouth next?

19. Darlington Nagbe, Columbus Crew (NR)

20. Reggie Cannon, Boavista (NR)

21. Brendan Aaronson, Philadelphia Union (NR) — Credit to Gregg Berhalter, who saw it before any of us.

22. Matt Turner, New England (NR) — Incredible season alert.

23. Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls (NR)

24. Tim Ream, Fulham (13)

25. Henry Wingo, Molde (NR) — Unsure where the Norwegian league rates in relation to MLS, but Wingo’s moved from non-regular with Seattle to starting right back on a team knocking on the door of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Plus I had like nine names I liked for spots 23, 24, and 25.

() last ranking

Notes

  • Columbus’ resurgence this season has seen Zardes and Nagbe shine. It’s difficult not to place them higher than we initially planned.
  • Judging the center back pool has become fraught. Chelsea’s Matt Miazga and Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers are on a loan recycling program and have done well but we haven’t really seen them outside of the Championship. MLS regulars Walker Zimmerman, Miles Robinson, and Aaron Long are good on inconsistent teams. After John Brooks, who knows?
  • Dropping out are DeAndre Yedlin, Jozy Altidore, Cristian Roldan, Ike Opara, Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Miles Robinson, Paul Arriola, and Jackson Yueill.
  • Small sample size, but if you’re the top rated player on Besiktas then you’re Tyler Boyd and you’re getting a higher spot than we anticipated when we started the post.

Last five out: Chris Richards, Bayern Munich; Duane Holmes, Derby County; DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United; Timothy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt; Frankie Amaya, FC Cincinnati.

Keep an eye on: Ulysses Llanez, Heerenveen (loan from Wolfsburg); Cole Bassett, Colorado Rapids; Julian Araujo, LA Galaxy; Chris Mueller, Orlando City; Konrad de la Fuente, Barcelona; Indiana Vassilev, Burton Albion (loan from Aston Villa); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Walker Zimmerman, Nashville SC.

McKennie, Pulisic, Reyna and more: Breaking down a big season for USMNT stars across Europe

14, 2020Jeff CarlisleTom Hamilton ESPN FC

The 2020-21 soccer season is kicking off all over Europe, with the English Premier League and Spanish Primera Divisions beginning this past weekend, and the German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A (both leagues available LIVE all season long on ESPN+ in the United States) starting on Sept. 18 and Sept. 19 respectively. In addition to the usual talking points and discussions over title favorites and relegation threats, it’s indirectly a big season for the U.S. national team, who boast several of their stars in top European leagues along with several prospects beyond the 2022 World Cup cycle.With so many USMNT stars dotted around Europe and gearing up for a long campaign, ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Tom Hamilton broke down where they all are, and what their prospects are for the new season.

Christian PulisicChelsea (English Premier League)

Overall, Pulisic’s first year in the Premier League was a success, as he tallied nine goals and four assists in 34 league and cup appearances. In the process he put to rest any doubts about whether he could hack it skill-wise in the EPL, as he often dazzled on the left wing while also drifting inside.

This season, Pulisic will be hoping to build on what he achieved in 2019-20, but with an added challenge: staying healthy. The U.S. international suffered two muscle injuries — a hip ailment at the start of the year and a hamstring issue in the FA Cup final — and that continued a trend from his time at Borussia Dortmund. The competition for places is still there with the likes of Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech arriving to replace William and Pedro, along with Callum Hudson-OdoiMason Mount, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to contend with. But there seems to be a bit more faith in Pulisic heading into the season, as witnessed by him being given the No. 10 shirt. — Carlisle

John Brooks, DF, VfL Wolfsburg (German Bundesliga)

As has been a recurring theme throughout his career, Brooks endured an inconsistent season for the Wolves. He made 31 appearances in all competitions in helping Wolfsburg to a seventh-place finish and qualification for the Europa League. But he also endured a hamstring injury that sidelined him for a month, and he was even benched for a time by manager Oliver Glasner in February. To his credit he reclaimed his spot shortly thereafter, but then faded a bit after the return from the COVID-19 shutdown.Brooks is likely to continue to be a mainstay for Wolfsburg this season, even if his start — he was red-carded in a Europa League defeat to Shaktar Donetsk — was auspicious. That only highlights the need for more consistency. Can he achieve it? At age 27, Brooks is basically fully formed as a player, but one can still hope that his accumulated experience will see him raise his level during the current campaign. — Carlisle

Weston McKennie, MF, Juventus (Italian Serie A)

All summer, as McKennie trained at Schalke waiting for his move, it looked like the USMNT star centre midfielder would be off to the Premier League. McKennie, 22, was being chased hard by Southampton and Leicester; then, as Andrea Pirlo settled into the hottest of seats at Juventus, in came the Serie A giants and in the blink of an eye McKennie was on a private jet to Turin.McKennie is a brilliant box-to-box midfielder. Throughout Schalke’s tough campaign, in which they finished 12th in the Bundesliga, McKennie’s energy was infectious and he was a rare ray of light in a dismal campaign in Gelsenkirchen. He led from the front and was also one of the early voices in football’s messages of anti-racism and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.This season, McKennie will not have it easy at Juventus. At Schalke he was one of the first names on the team sheet, but this term he has the likes of Arthur (arriving from Barcelona for £66m), Sami KhediraAdrien RabiotRodrigo Bentancur and Aaron Ramsey to contend with for a spot in the starting XI. Still, expect him to thrive. He has signed for Juventus on a loan deal with the option to make this a permanent stay, and we predict this will become a formality as he slots right into life at the Serie A champions. — Hamilton

Tyler Adams, MF, RB Leipzig (German Bundesliga)

The versatile 21-year-old scored the winning goal for RB Leipzig in their Champions League quarterfinal win over Atletico Madrid in the 2019-20 campaign and has established himself as a key cog in the Julian Nagelsmann machine. Having signed for the Bundesliga high-flyers from New York Red Bulls in January 2019 for a bargain £2.37m, Adams’ versatility means he can cover any position across the back four and happily slot in along the midfield. For a manager who doesn’t believe in formations and values pressing, Adams is a dream of a player.

Having played 18 times for Leipzig last campaign, Adams’ goals for this term will be to start more matches for the Bundesliga side. With a relentless campaign facing Nagelsmann’s squad as they battle on three fronts, with the Champions League also on their radar, his versatility and work rate will be key. The goal for Leipzig is a top-four finish in the German league, and Adams will be doing everything to ensure they reach and, ideally, surpass expectations like they did last season. — Hamilton

Zack Steffen, GK, Manchester City (English Premier League)

Having signed for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City from Columbus Crew in July 2019 for £6.14m, the goalkeeper is still waiting for his first-team debut as he spent last term out on loan at Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf. He made 18 appearances in Germany until injury cut short his season in December. Having suffered from a problem with his knee, he battled back to full fitness only to sustain MCL damage in April that saw him play no further part in the 2019-20 campaign.

Carlisle: Why are US clubs not getting paid for developing talent?

Now back at Manchester City, Steffen is seen by Guardiola as a key part of their squad. With Claudio Bravo having left City at the end of last term on a free transfer and now between the pots at Real Betis, Steffen will vie with the world-class Ederson for a spot in City’s first team. He will likely clock up a number of starts in cup competitions and will add to his 17 caps for the USMNT. — Hamilton

Sergino Dest, DF, Ajax (Dutch Eredivisie)

The young right back enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2019-20 and went from the fringes of the senior squad to being one of the most sought-after fullbacks in Europe. Dest, 19, signed his first professional contract with Ajax in December 2018 and made his first-team debut in August 2019. His impressive form for Ajax started turning heads at the Netherlands and then-boss Ronald Koeman was keen for Dest to declare for the Oranje. But Dest, who played youth-level football for the U.S., took his time to shore up his decision and opted for the USMNT.

Exclusive: Why Dest chose U.S. over Netherlands

His trajectory has been rapid, like his darts down the right flank, and he was crowned U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Player of the Year for 2019. But there’s still a chance he has a new club by the end of the transfer window on Oct. 5 as he’s getting plenty of interest. Ajax have a practise of eking out one final season from their ridiculous list of prodigious young talents before they secure a move to one of Europe’s bigger fish. Bayern Munich are still being heavily linked with Dest, and if he moves there he’ll have Benjamin Pavard and Joshua Kimmich as rivals for a spot. But if he does stay put he’ll still be front and centre of Ajax’s Eredivisie and Champions League campaigns. He will look to another season of starting week-in-week-out for the Dutch giants and continuing to develop his game. — Hamilton

Gio Reyna, MF/FW, Borussia Dortmund (German Bundesliga)

The sky’s the limit for the 17-year-old forward. Having joined Borussia Dortmund from MLS side NYCFC in July 2019, Reyna made his debut for the Bundesliga giants in January 2020 and scored a memorable first goal in their DFB-Pokal defeat to Werder Bremen in February. But it was enough to make people sit up and take notice, while those who had followed his promising career — including father Claudio, who won 112 caps for the USMNT, and mother Danielle Egan, who won six caps for the USWNT — knew it was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Reyna would start making his mark for Europe’s elite.

– Borden: Gio Reyna is USMNT’s next Captain America

It is easy to forget he has played just 18 first-team matches for Dortmund. But in a team that boasts all-world young talent like Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, Reyna has the perfect role models around him to take his game to the next level. He is still waiting to make his USMNT debut — his first chance was delayed in the spring due to the coronavirus outbreak — but expect that to come sooner rather than later. He has all the ability and application to be a USMNT mainstay for the next 15 years, but his goals this season will be to get as much first-team football as possible for Dortmund and continue to develop. — Hamilton

Antonee Robinson, DF, Fulham (English Premier League)

Robinson’s 2019-20 campaign was a veritable roller-coaster. He was one of the few standouts on a Wigan team that ended up being relegated from the English Championship, with his runs forward offering a threat in attack. He nearly parlayed that into a dream move to AC Milan, only to have it scuttled by a heart condition that showed up during his medical. He eventually made a move to Fulham, freshly promoted back to the English top flight.

Robinson’s goal this season will be to force his way into the first team, no easy task at a Premier League club, especially with playoff final hero Joe Bryan ensconced at left-back. Robinson didn’t make the subs bench in the Cottagers’ 3-0 opening-day defeat to Arsenal, but given the investment Fulham have made in him, he’ll be given time to acclimate. — Carlisle

Tim Weah, FW, Lille (French Ligue 1)

Injuries — in particular a recurring hamstring ailment — have so curtailed Weah’s playing time that he’s almost the forgotten man of the U.S. player pool. In his first season with Lille, Weah made just three appearances totaling 84 minutes. Given the time lost, this is very much a critical season for the New York City-born attacker. The early returns on the 2020-21 campaign are that Weah is still in the thoughts of Lille management, making two substitute appearances. Given the difficulty Weah has had staying healthy, it amounts to a promising start that he hopefully can parlay into additional minutes. — Carlisle

Reggie Cannon, DF, Boavista (Portugal Primeira Liga)

Patience paid off for Cannon, who, after two years in FC Dallas‘ academy, a brief stop in college soccer at UCLA and then three-plus seasons with FCD, made the move to Europe with Portuguese side Boavista in September. Since the start of the 2018 season, Cannon was a consistent presence at right back and while his numbers didn’t necessarily catch the eye — he had three goals and five assists in 68 league and playoff appearances — his attacking instincts impressed U.S. national team manager Gregg Berhalter.

At Boavista, Cannon will be making his initial foray into European soccer and he’s already made a positive impression, scoring the opening goal in the club’s 4-1 friendly win over CD Tondela last weekend. The right-back spot for the U.S. is there for the taking, so he’ll need to adapt quickly if he is to grab that position at the international level. — Carlisle

DeAndre Yedlin, DF, Newcastle United (English Premier League)

The big question for Yedlin is simple: Will he even be in Newcastle much longer? Yedlin was a peripheral figure last season, making 20 league and cup appearances, but just 10 starts in league play. (The majority of those came in the front half of the season, too.) Hip and hand injuries also made it difficult for Yedlin to remain in the lineup and he ultimately lost his starting spot to Javier Manquillo.

A change of scenery might do Yedlin good. One would expect that at age 27, and given his Premier League experience, Yedlin would be a shoe-in to be the right back for the U.S. men’s national team, but he seems far from first-choice there. If he can establish himself at a new club — Turkish side Besiktas is among the sides interested in Yedlin — then that might revitalize his career and allow him to reclaim his spot with the U.S. national team. — Carlisle

Tim Ream, DF, Fulham (English Premier League)

The center-back has been a mainstay with Cottagers for the last five seasons, making his 200th appearance for the club in the season-opening 3-0 defeat at Arsenal. In last season’s promotion push, Ream made a staggering 47 league and playoff appearances, testament to his consistency and durability. His passing ability out of the back remains a strength, though as U.S. fans can attest he is guilty of the occasional gaffe.

This season will mark Ream’s third foray into the Premier League, having had previous campaigns with Bolton Wanderers in 2011-12 as well as Fulham’s previous season in the top flight in 2018-19. If Fulham are to avoid relegation this time around, Ream will certainly need to be at his best on both sides of the ball. Fulham can only hope that Ream’s consistency comes to the fore over the course of the campaign. — Carlisle

Matt Miazga, DF, Chelsea (English Premier League)

The 25-year-old centre-back signed for Chelsea in 2016, but has made two Premier League appearances in four years having spent much of that span out on loan. It’s long been Chelsea’s policy to buy promising talent and develop them by sending them out to trusted teams to aid their development. Miazga spent two seasons with Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie and six months at Nantes before arriving at Reading in the Championship. He has played there for the past 18 months.

Miazga made 24 appearances for Reading last term, in a campaign disrupted by a hamstring injury at the start of the season and an ankle injury in January. He picked up a red card in their defeat at Derby in June, following an altercation with Tom Lawrence after the final whistle, and would play one further match for the Royals. This term Miazga will likely spend another season out on loan and is not short of suitors, though his destination is at yet unknown. — Hamilton

Josh Sargent, FW, Werder Bremen (German Bundesliga)

Mark 2019-20 as a season that tested the hugely promising 20-year-old, though one that would have taught him a huge amount. Having been left out of the USMNT Gold Cup squad in the 2019-20 preseason, he had to battle with oscillating between starting for Werder Bremen and finding his role reduced to that of an impact substitute. He picked up an untimely hamstring muscle tear in December that kept him out for six weeks, but as Werder Bremen battled to avoid the drop in the latter part of the Bundesliga campaign, Sargent was instrumental in the German side keeping their spot in the top flight as they won their relegation playoff against Heidenheim.

Hamilton: Talking tattoos and challenges with Josh Sargent

The signs in 2020-21 are promising for Sargent, who played across the front line last term. He carried his impressive preseason form into Bremen’s opening match of the 2020-21 season proper, starting and scoring in Bremen’s 2-0 win at FC Carl Zeiss in the first round of the DFB-Pokal. — Hamilton

Alfredo Morales, MF Fortuna Dusseldorf (German 2. Bundesliga)

Morales shook off an early hamstring injury to be a steady presence for Dusseldorf last season in the center of midfield, making 31 league and cup appearances. But despite his ball-winning and prowess in the air, it wasn’t enough to prevent the Rhinelanders from avoiding the drop.Now Morales will play in the 2. Bundesliga. It’s a league with which he is familiar, having spent a total of five seasons in Germany’s second tier with the likes of Hertha Berlin and Ingolstadt. The challenge this time around will be to return Dusseldorf immediately back to the top flight, and Morales appears to be very much in his team’s plans. He logged 78 minutes in a two-way midfield role in Dusseldorf’s 1-0 German Cup road win over Ingolstadt, the kind of result that Morales and Dusseldorf will need more of as the season progresses. — Carlisle

Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkish Super Lig)

Boyd spent the 2019-20 campaign adjusting to the pressure and expectations of playing for Besiktas, one of Turkey‘s biggest clubs, and it proved to be an up-and-down campaign. The good news is that Boyd made 28 league and cup appearances, but he scored just three goals along with one assist. That level of offensive production was far below what he achieved during a loan stint the previous season with Ankaragucu, when he tallied six goals and four assists in 14 matches.

This season, matters are already looking up for Boyd, with Besiktas showing continued faith in the winger. That was repaid in part when he scored the opener in Beşiktaş’ 3-1 win over Trabzonspor to start the Turkish Super Lig campaign, cutting in from the left wing to fire inside the far post with the help of a slight deflection. Boyd and Besiktas will no doubt be hoping that this is a sign of things to come. — Carlisle

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH

Christian Cappis: The midfielder established himself at Danish Superliga side Hobro last season, making 30 league appearances and scoring one goal while filling a variety of central midfield roles. Cappis even secured an invite to the annual January camp for the U.S. men’s national team, though he was an unused substitute in a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica. Those performances were such that there was talk of Cappis moving on, but now he finds himself in an unusual situation. Cappis has two years left on his contract, but his work permit to play in Denmark wasn’t renewed and he had to leave the country. Reports out of Denmark say that Hobro’s owner, Lars Kühnel, believes that Cappis will be back some time in the autumn, assuming the player isn’t transferred. In the meantime, all Cappis can do is wait to see how the situation plays out. — Carlisle

Chris Richards: The 20-year-old centre-back is yet to make his USMNT debut, but is on Berhalter’s radar. He is at Europe’s reigning Champions League holders, Bayern Munich, and made his debut in June. This season he will either be in the first-team mix or leave on loan. — Hamilton

Nick Taitague: The 21-year-old attacking midfielder was promoted to Schalke’s first team ahead of this season. He arrived at Schalke in 2017 from the Carolina RailHawks and has played for Schalke II but has the number 29 to his name and will want to make his mark in the Bundesliga this term. — Hamilton

Matthew Hoppe: The Schalke forward has his sights set on breaking into the Bundesliga side’s first team this season and following in the footsteps of the departed McKennie. He is performing well for Schalke’s Under 19s and will look to put forward his case for senior recognition this term. — Hamilton

Ulysses Llanez: The 19-year-old signed for Wolfsburg from LA Galaxy in April 2019 and was promoted to the Bundesliga side’s first team a year later. He scored on his full USMNT debut in February, too, but he’ll spend the season on loan in the Dutch Eredivisie with SC Heerenveen after signing his first professional contract with Wolfsburg this week, a deal that connects him to the club through 2024. — Hamilton

FIFA 21 goalkeepers: Who are the best-rated GK players on the game?

Mon, September 21, 2020, 1:37 AM EDT

While now sometimes powerless to stop a perfectly timed finish in recent FIFA games, a strong goalkeeper remains a huge asset to any side.

Ahead of FIFA 21’s release, EA Sports has released the ratings for the best 20 shot-stoppers in the upcoming game with Atletico Madrid’s number one Jan Oblak coming out on top.

The Slovenia international is only just heading into his prime at 27 years of age but has been a consistent performed for Diego Simeone’s side in both La Liga and European competitions.

Oblak’s one weakness in FIFA 21 is a kicking rating of 78, but 92-rated handling and 90-rated reflexes more than make up for any shortcomings with his boots.

Liverpool’s Alisson has taken out second spot this year with his saves helping guide the Reds to the Premier League title across the 2019-20 season.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen then rounds out the podium, with the Barcelona shot-stopper one of the most well-rounded keepers in the game.

The Premier League has seven representatives in the top 20 this year with Wolves’ Rui Patricio the surprise packet and boasting an overall rating of 84.

Other lesser known names that could be worth scouting out on FIFA 21 include RB Leipzig’s Peter Gulacsi and Torino’s Salvatore Sirigu.

AC Milan prodigy Gianluigi Donnarumma remains the best young goalkeeper in the game and is an ideal long-term signing for any side.

Best goalkeepers on FIFA 21

PlayerClubOverall ratingHandling
Jan OblakAtletico Madrid9192
AlissonLiverpool9088
Marc-Andre ter StegenBarcelona9085
Thibaut CourtoisReal Madrid8989
Manuel NeuerBayern Munich8987
EdersonManchester City8882
Samir HandanovicInter8885
Keylor NavasParis Saint-Germain8781
Hugo LlorisTottenham8782
Wojciech SzczesnyJuventus8782
David De GeaManchester United8681
Yann SommerBorussia Monchengladbach8686
Gianluigi DonnarummaAC Milan8581
Bernd LenoArsenal8583
Peter GulacsiRB Leipzig8585
Roman BurkiBorussia Dortmund8482
Kasper SchmeichelLeicester City8477
Rui PatricioWolverhampton Wanderers8480

The Privilege of Play: Why the world’s game is a white game in the U.S.

Henry BushnellSeptember 22, 2020, 11:00 AM

This is a story about opportunity.It begins in Columbia Heights, a gentrifying neighborhood in Washington D.C., where elite soccer opportunities barely exist. But several years ago, on a lively field behind a public charter school, Precious Ogu clearly deserved one.She glided past helpless middle schoolers that afternoon, unaware of where the sport she loved could take her. She didn’t know much about high-level youth soccer; didn’t know how to progress beyond after-school games. Fortunately, an onlooker did. Amir Lowery, executive director of the Open Goal Project, connected her with a travel program. Precious, the Black daughter of a Nigerian mother, showed up to try out. And she remembers being “shocked.”She’d grown up surrounded by people of all hues, including many who looked like her. Soccer, she’d soon find, looked different.“It was pretty much all white girls,” she says.Soccer, in its purest form, is the most accessible and racially diverse team sport in the world. But American soccer, as Precious realized, is not. It’s disproportionately white and upper-middle-class. Doug Andreassen, the former chair of a U.S. Soccer diversity task force, recognized this decades ago. He’d look around a country home to tens of millions of non-white people. Then he’d look around soccer boardrooms, and out onto fields, and wonder: “Why doesn’t soccer in America look like America?”The superficial answer is obvious. Participation, in most cases, requires money. Soccer’s diversity problem, at its core, is a socioeconomic problem. And in America, after centuries of racial oppression – of slavery, Jim Crow lawsredliningongoing mass incarceration, and so much more – socioeconomic problems are race problems. In 2017, the median non-Hispanic white household owned $171,700 in net wealth; the median Black household owned $9,567. White America controls soccer, just as it controls so much else.But the full answer is more complex. It’s rooted in a uniquely American youth sports industry built around economic and social capital. The industry fuels a sprawling soccer network that excludes minorities and perpetuates the power of those white men in charge.“This,” Lowery says, “is systemic racism in soccer.”

‘The hidden soccer economy’

Once upon a time, soccer was a working-class sport. It still is in many countries. A century ago, it was in the United States. Early amateur teams sprung out of ethnically diverse urban areas. Semi-pro leagues came and went.In the 1960s and 70s, however, soccer’s tectonic plates began to shift. Universities developed programs. The North American Soccer League formed and wooed foreign stars. Pelé arrived. George Best and Johan Cruyff followed. Mainstream interest in the sport percolated. Demand for youth soccer soared. But there was no infrastructure. No supply to readily meet demand.Elsewhere around the world, supply comes from professional clubs. Most youth soccer systems exist to develop professional players. In the U.S., the NASL wasn’t financially stable enough, so a youth system had to fund itself. The burden fell to parents.“Pay-to-play” clubs proliferated. The American system burgeoned around those who could afford it. It became an unchecked industry that exists less to develop players and more to make money for anybody who can get in on the scheme.“The way the model is right now, the consumer seeks out soccer and buys it,” says Ed Foster-Simeon, CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation. And consumers who can afford it, the ones with generational wealth and disposable income, are largely white.

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

Cost, first and foremost, is the sturdiest barrier that can make soccer inaccessible. Registration fees at many top youth clubs are four figures. They’re also merely a fraction of the necessary investment. Uniforms, tournaments, equipment, transportation, camps and specialized trainers all comprise what Lowery calls “the hidden soccer economy.” Some parents report paying five figures annually. A 2019 Aspen Institute study found that youth soccer participation costs more on average than youth tackle football participation, and more than twice as much as youth flag football participation. For many Black families, who on average make $26,416 less than non-Hispanic white families, those prices can be prohibitive.“There’s so much untapped potential in these communities. But if it costs $1,500, 2-grand a year for a 12-year-old to play soccer, well that’s just not feasible for a large number of people,” says Brandon Miller, a goalkeeper for the United Soccer League’s Charlotte Independence who co-founded the USL Black Players Alliance.Adds Hugh Roberts, a Charlotte defender and fellow co-founder: “If you don’t have any money, from the start, as a youth, then your opportunities are slim to none.”The increasingly common solution has been scholarships. Many elite clubs now waive fees for underprivileged kids, or fully fund their eldest teams. But “scholarships are not the answer,” Andreassen says. Others agree. Former U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati points out that some clubs essentially subsidize scholarships by charging more in younger age groups.“It’s a taxation of a broad base,” he explains.And while it chips away at one barrier, it neglects many others.

Soccer is geographically inaccessible

The parents who could pay lived in suburbs. The industry, therefore, grew in suburbia. And for talented teens like Precious Ogu, that’s problematic. The nearest elite club is 45 minutes away. Practices begin at 8:30 p.m. on weekdays. Her single mother works nights and doesn’t drive. No teammates live nearby.The pipeline isn’t just economically inaccessible. It’s geographically inaccessible as well. Yahoo Sports analyzed the locations of 161 elite youth clubs that comprised U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy. In 2010, the average median household income of the ZIP codes in which those 161 clubs are based was $80,950 – more than $30,000 above the nationwide median at the time, and the equivalent of around $96,400 today. Some of the best American soccer players ever grew up hours away from a club that could offer valuable coaching and access to showcase events. Their parents shuttled them to and fro. But for every parent that could, there are many that can’t. Time is a resource. Schedule flexibility is an offshoot of socioeconomic class. “I think about when I was the president of a [Virginia youth] club in the ‘90s,” Foster-Simeon says. Parents who volunteered were “white-collar workers who could say to their boss, ‘I’m leaving early on Tuesday and Thursday ’cause I’m coaching my kid’s team.’ If you’re an hourly wage worker, you don’t have that kind of flexibility.”For Precious, the only solution is Uber. Open Goal, a non-profit aiming to bring soccer to underserved communities, funds her travels. Many kids without similar support simply can’t play.“These are the invisible barriers that have taken too long for us to recognize and address,” Foster-Simeon says. “There are structural and historical barriers to participation.”They largely affect poor families in inner cities. And poor families in inner cities are disproportionately families of color.Reciprocally, Black people are underrepresented in 132 of those 161 ZIP codes housing Academy clubs. Those who do grow up in suburbs, like USWNT star Crystal Dunn, are often the only Black players on youth teams. Those raised in cities often aren’t able to latch onto the game.“If I had stayed actually in the city,” Dunn said on a recent panel, “there’s a good chance I wouldn’t even be playing this sport.”

Cultural barriers: ‘I felt like I just didn’t fit in’

Precious sometimes returns home from practice after 11 p.m., with homework still to do. She wakes up the next morning before 7 a.m. She still maintains straight-As. And she’s excelling on the soccer pitch. Division I colleges have been in touch. She initially worried she couldn’t compete with the suburban girls, then quickly realized she absolutely could.But along the way, she encountered another type of barrier. On the field, she adapted quickly. Off it, she wondered: “How am I gonna make friends?” Most of her new teammates went to private school. They were nice, but talked about private school things. About lake houses, fancy restaurants.

“I would be scared to approach any of them, or try to start a conversation,” Precious says. “I didn’t really know how. Like, what are we gonna talk about?“At first, I was kind of uncomfortable, because I felt like an outcast in some way. I felt like I just didn’t fit in.”This, to Foster-Simeon, is the “overlooked” puzzle piece. “You can create a great opportunity for a kid in a middle-class, suburban club,” he says. “But if you’ve not spent any time thinking about what that means to that child culturally, coming from a community where they don’t have many resources,” then the child can struggle. They experience microaggressions. They can’t partake in conversations about iPads and exotic vacation spots. Elite clubs, in this sense, can be culturally inaccessible too.

Especially, players of color say, because many white coaches don’t understand this cultural divide. They can’t understand poverty and the mental challenges that accompany it. Roberts, the USL defender, grew up with Black and Latino teammates. He remembers a coach benching a few “because of their attitude.”“But he’s not understanding that my friends are struggling at home, because they’re not getting enough food,” Roberts says. “They’re frustrated with school and stuff. And yes, we take it to the field, but it’s never us disrespecting a coach. But sometimes coaches just don’t understand us – because they’re not us.”So barriers beget more barriers, and keep one another in place. A predominantly white system produced overwhelmingly white leaders. A recent FARE report found that across Major League Soccer, out of 229 head coaches, assistant coaches, majority owners and top club executives, 7.4% are Black; 5% are Latinx; and 87.6% are white. In the National Women’s Soccer League, the corresponding numbers are 0%; 1.1%; and 98.9%. The report’s authors called the findings “alarming.” Black players’ coalitions have formed in MLS and the USL to, among many other things, correct the imbalance.Representation is often valued for its inspirational faculties, and with good reason. Humans gravitate toward role models who look like themselves.“I played basketball [growing up], all my friends played other sports,” Roberts says. “Subconsciously, you don’t even give soccer the attention, because there’s no people who look like you.”But representation is also about diversity of perspectives.“The people that are making the power decisions,” Miller says, “don’t have diverse views, and therefore don’t make diverse decisions.”The people in charge of fixing flawed systems are the very people whom those systems benefit.

What’s being done to address soccer’s inequities

When Lowery and Simon Landau, the Open Goal Project’s founders, first set out to address soccer’s inequities, they attacked from within. They raised money. They covered club fees and arranged transportation. They took kids from underserved communities out into the ’burbs, to the preeminent travel teams, to play for respected coaches and in front of college recruiters. They filled any gaps that arose.But if you mention that strategy to Lowery now, having seen the industry’s underbelly, and having seen all the concealed barriers it presents, he might cut you off.“No! Nooo! Noooo, nooo, nooo,” he says. “It’s so wrong.”Many who’ve confronted these issues, who’ve gone into neglected communities, who’ve analyzed the barriers first-hand, now advocate for a fresh approach. Rather than jam underprivileged kids into the pipeline, their solution is to create a different pipeline. Rather than bring the kids to soccer resources, the solution is to bring soccer resources to them.

It starts on ground floors. Soccer, Foster-Simeon points out, “is a relatively low-cost sport when you pare it back to its basics.” But so often, even some basics aren’t present. An early-2000s NIH study found that 69.6% of Black neighborhoods and 81.4% of Hispanic neighborhoods didn’t have a single recreational facilitySo Foster-Simeon’s U.S. Soccer Foundation decided to build some. They’ve committed to funding 1,000 “mini-pitches,” or inner-city courts that serve as soccer havens. They offer kids an introduction to the game that’s so often elusive.And rather than swoop in or dictate from afar, Foster-Simeon says, “it’s sort of like a collaborative effort.” The Foundation doesn’t solve problems for inner-city kids. It works with people who already know the inner-cities, who intimately understand their challenges. It leverages existing infrastructure and trust. “We identify community-based organizations,” Foster-Simeon says. “And we provide them with the curriculum and training and other supports that they need to be able to offer programming to the kids. [We] give them the tools that they need to create access and opportunity.”Open Goal, meanwhile, brought all its efforts in-house. It launched its own inner-city club, which is completely free for players. It runs its own camps, and clinics, and nutrition programs, and fitness training. The plan requires aggressive fundraising and networking. It may or may not be replicable across the country, at scale. Lowery and Landau feel it’s the only sustainable way forward. “The system has to be there in their communities,” Lowery says of underserved kids. “Just like it’s in everyone else’s community.”Over time, more and more Black and brown players will push through the system, or earn their way in from outside. More and more will attempt to reform it. “I made it all the way to the other side,” says MLS veteran Quincy Amarikwa, a co-founder of the Black Players for Change coalition. “I understand how I was perceived the entire way, I understand how people spoke about me as I went through, I understand why they did the things they did, and how they went about doing it. Because that’s how they maintain the system. So now that I have that understanding, I can now relay the message back to those who may be in the middle of it, who might be going into it, or who actually have the best intentions to address and fix it, and update it, for the betterment of everybody else.”

But widespread reform is a gargantuan task. Barriers are fortified. “The system, thus far, has been monopolized by entities who say that we can only do it one way,” Lowery says. “You can only get to college one way, you can only be a professional one way, and it has to be through the academy system, and you have to do X, Y, Z. That’s all entrenched in the system. It’s systemic racism, right?”Precious understood very little about it when she first trekked out to suburbia for practices a few years ago. The cultural and socioeconomic divides, she remembers, sparked an awakening. She’s realized, in years since, that “where a kid grew up, and their financial situation, can be a huge barrier on their sports career.”But why? Precious wondered. Now a senior, her high school tasked her with finding a topic for her senior project. A research prompt to investigate throughout the year.Hers, she says, will be “about why sports aren’t diverse, and how it affects people of color like me.”

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN SECURES CRUCIAL POINT IN 1-1 DRAW AGAINST SAINT LOUIS FC

By Indy Eleven Communications, 09/23/20, 10:30PM EDT

Neveal Hackshaw’s Second-half Header Keeps Indiana’s Team in Playoff Position

https://www.youtube.com/embed/HInpe4kMe5s #INDvSTL Post-Game Quotes – September 23, 2020

#INDVSTL STATS VIA USLCHAMPIONSHIP.COM MATCH CENTER

An eventful 90 minutes – and then some – saw Indy Eleven eventually end its duel with Saint Louis FC up two men and even in goals via a 1-1 draw at Lucas Oil Stadium. Neveal Hackshaw’s 72nd minute header countered Russell Cicerone’s early second-half score to force a share of the spoils.“I’m happy overall with that performance; the one disappointing moment was losing that goal on the counterattack,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “There were a few things there that we should’ve done better and we just lost a little bit of concentration. I think we deserved to get a little bit more out of it, but it’s an important point.”As a result, ndy Eleven (7W-5L-2D, 23 pts.) kept its grip on second place in Group E, with Saint Louis FC (6W-4L-4D, 22 pts.) remaining right on its heels one point behind. With Louisville City FC (9W-3L-2D, 29 pts.) all but clinching the top spot with tonight’s deadlock, Indy and Saint Louis can now focus solely on claiming the group’s other USL Championship Playoffs spot via favorable results in their final two games over the next 10 days – including next Saturday’s finale in Missouri. Prior to that ultimate showdown, STL will host Louisville this Saturday evening, followed by Indy Eleven welcoming Sporting Kansas City next Wednesday.

With pole position for the coveted second place spot on the line, it was Indy that looked the more likely to claim an early advantage. Following a 4th minute yellow card given to Saint Louis’ Todd Wharton, Carl Haworth’s shot off the restart and another blast from distance by Ayoze 30 seconds later required STL goalkeeper Kyle Morton into tough saves to keep scoreboard clean.  In the 18th minute, forward Tyler Pasher’s centering pass to the six found a streaking Nick Moon, who couldn’t keep his first-touch shot on frame.Indy would collect the better chances throughout the rest of the first 45 minutes, but it was Morton coming up big at his right post on the two most dangerous opportunities in the final five minutes, thwarting near-angle efforts by Cam Lindley and Pasher to ensure the teams heading in the locker room even.After a first half that saw zero shots on target for the visitors, Saint Louis changed that statistic – and the scoreboard – early on a counterattack chance. In the 50th minute, Tyler Blackwood found a cutting Cicerone with space in front of him, and his running strike into the lower-left corner of the net resulted in the Missouri club taking the lead.The continued energy from Saint Louis would prove to be hurtful, however. A challenge from defender Sam Fink in the 61st minute missed the ball completely, his collision with Pasher resulting in a second yellow card on the evening and an ejection that forced Saint Louis to play a man down.   Indy would take advantage soon after. Looking to catch the defense off guard, Haworth played a quick corner to Ayoze, who crossed into traffic at the top of the six the ball. It was there where Hackshaw beat the masses to the punch, a header by the Tobago & Trinidad international finding its way to the right side of goal to equalize, giving him his second goal of the season – both coming against Saint Louis at home.Frustrations would continue rise for the visitors after another subtraction in the 75th minute. This time it was Wharton heading to the locker room early after seeing his second yellow of the night for a challenge from behind on Drew Conner, forcing Saint Louis to play down two men for a frantic finish.Indy Eleven would make a late push in hopes of taking the full three points, but a defensive stand from Saint Louis that pushed past the eight minutes of original added time would be enough to earn a draw for both sides.  Indy Eleven ends its September homestand – and its 2020 home slate – next Wednesday, September 30, when it welcomes Sporting Kansas City II (4W-9L-1D, 13 pts.) to Lucas Oil Stadium for the fourth and final time this season. Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff on Fan Appreciation Night are available at indyeleven.com/tickets, and fans who can’t make the match can follow live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

 USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSTL

Indy Eleven  1 : 1  Saint Louis FC

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET

Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

Attendance: 5,664

 2020 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (7W-5L-2D, 23 pts., 2nd in Group E)

Saint Louis FC (6W-4L-4D, 22 pts., 3rd in Group E)

 Scoring Summary:

STL – Russell Cicerone (Tyler Blackwood) 50’

IND– Neveal Hackshaw (Ayoze) 72’


Disciplinary Summary:

STL – Todd Wharton (yellow card) 4’

STL – Kyle Grieg (yellow card) 45’

STL – Tobi Adewole (yellow card) 45+2’

STL – Sam Fink (yellow card) 45+4

IND – Drew Conner (yellow card) 55’

STL – Sam Fink (second yellow/red card) 61’

IND – Neveal Hackshaw (yellow card) 64’

STL – Todd Wharton (second yellow/red card) 75’

IND – Paddy Barret (yellow card) 85’

IND – Andrew Carleton (yellow card) 89’

 
Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton; Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze (Andrew Carleton 88’), Drew Connor (Matt Watson 87’), Tyler Gibson (Ilija Ilic 61’), Carl Haworth; Tyler Pasher, Cam Lindley, Nick Moon (Jeremy Rafanello 79’)

IND substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Mitch Osmond, Conner Antley

Saint Louis FC (4-3-3, L–>R): Kyle Morton; Phanuel Kavita (captain), Sam Fink, Tobi Adewole; Todd Wharton, Guy Abend (Richard Bryan 90+6’), Wal Fall, Paris Gee; Kyle Grieg (Kadeem Dacres 79’), Tyler Blackwood (Daniel Fischer 65’), Russell Cicerone

STL substitutes: John Berner (GK), Mour Samb, Nikiphoros Vlastos, Joaquin R

9/18/20 – German Bundesliga + Serie A kick off on ESPN+, Indy 11 lose to Louisville, CHS Girls Senior Night a success

NBC- Peacock Money Grab on EPL Coverage

Ok after bitching a month back about having to shell out $5 a month for Champions League to get CBS All Access to see the Final 8 games – that nasty Streaming only delima comes up again with NBC.  Yes NBC has been great about showing us a lot of EPL games over the past couple of years most on a new Network called NBCSN which is  now included on most cable networks (thanks in part to their EPL Coverage).  They have featured the best pregame and post game set-up in the US for soccer and thrilled us by showing almost all of the games and all of the big games on either NBC, NBCSN or sometimes USA or CNBC.  Their gold package was there to see all the other games from smaller EPL clubs that were playing what were essentially the 8 or 9th most popular game of the weekend – no big deal.  Now with the New Peacock Streaming Service however – NBC wants us all to poney up again another $5 a month to watch now BIG Games like Tottenham vs Everton last Sunday.  (yes I missed James debut)☹.  Of course getting the streaming service is impossible however on TV unless you have Comcast cable because Roku and Amazon Firesticks don’t even recognize the new Peacock App.   So poney up and watch the game on your phone with massive delays and no replays I hear??  I don’t even know what to say.  Oh and buying Peacock doesn’t mean you get all the games?  No you still need NBCSN for their games and NBC for their games.  So this is not just spend $5 and get all the games like ESPN+.  This is buy our app and still have to pay to get NBCSN.  I tried to find a stream online with the Chelsea game Monday with no luck?  Man being a fan of soccer in the US is honestly as difficult as like 4 to 5 years ago.  Now the EPL (Peacock), Champions League, Europa League (CBS) , FA Cup, Serie A, German Bundelisga, European Nations League, MLS and USL (ESPN+) are all behind  firewalls with monthly subs needed while Spain’s La Liga and France’s Legue 1 are on beIN Sports – a cable station few get.  Univision and telemundo have some games as well – heck I don’t even know anymore as I don’t get those stations either.  Heck even Serius Radio FC 157 – seems to have lost some games this year as well – they have always been the one constant place you could find the big game if nothing else.  These are trying times my fellow soccer fans.  I guess we’ll all have to share our logins and try to defeat the money grabbing stations trying to take our soccer away here in the US!!

Indy 11 fall to 2nd with 3 straight defeat to Louisville

Frustrating night for our Indy 11 – first they shut down sales the day before reducing capacity to 2500 instead of the normal 5000 – then we started a front line that had no chance of scoring – and of course we didn’t score.   I assume Tyler Pasher – our leading scorer was injured as he didn’t enter until the 60th minute after we ere already down 1-0 to dreaded Louisville.  City won 2-0 on the night.  They really have our # – and now are all but assured 1st place in the East with mark of (8W-3L-2D, 26 pts.)  The Indy 11 (7W-5L-1D, 22 pts.)  still have a 4 point lead for 2nd place and should secure a playoff if they can knock off St. Louis (5W-4L-3D, 18 pts., 3rd in Group E) next week. The 11 host St. Louis Wed, Sept 23 at 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium, tickets are available at www.indyeleven.com/tickets.  This is game 4 of a 5 game homestand.

Germany & Italy Start this Weekend on ESPN+

Germany kicks off its first season on ESPN with Friday’s opener wih fans of UCL Champion Bayern Munich hosting Schalke at 2:30 pm on ESPN.  Saturday Werder Bremen and Stuart host Hertha Berlin at 9:30 am on ESPN+, and Gio Reyna and Dortmund will host B Mgladbach at 12:30 on ESPN+ (I miss free FS1 coverage already).  Sunday at 9:30 Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig host Mainz on ESPN+.  Italy and Juventus kickoff Sunday with newly minted midfielder Weston McKinney hosting Sampdoria at 2:45 pm on ESPN+. 

Games to Watch

CBS has NWSL on Saturday at 1 pm with the North Carolina Courage hosting the Orlando Pride – the game last week 350K in viewership.  Eight EPL games this weekend but only 2 of them on TV –Arsenal facing West Ham at 3 pm on Sat on NBCSN and Liecester City vs Burnley on NBCSN Sun at 2 pm.  Real Madrid opens its campaign at Real Sociedad at 3 pm on beIN Sport Sunday, while early morning gives us Nice vs PSG at 7 am on beIN Sport.  Of course the biggest game of the weekend in Chelsea – (WITHOUT CHRSTIAN PULISIC-who is injured still) hosting Liverpool on Peacock on Sunday at 11:30 am – too bad we can’t see it!!   

Former Carmel FC GK Erin Baker and other Seniors at 2nd Ranked Carmel honored on Senior Night

Great seeing 5 of the 8 seniors celebrated for Carmel High last week were former Carmel FC players who all played for former Carmel FC Coach Carla Baker in the middle.  Here’s a great story from the Indy Star about Erin and her mom -former long time Carmel FC Coach Carla Baker  (see in the OBC below)

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GAMES ON TV 

Fri, Sept 18

2:30 pm ESPN                                   Bayern Munich vs Schalke- GERMAN Bundesliga Starts

Sat, Sept 19 

7:30 am Peacock                                 Eveton vs West Brom

9:20 am ESPN+                                   Werder Bremen (Stuart) vs Hertha BSC

10 am Peacock                                    Leads United vs Fulham (Ream, Robinson) 

11 am bein Sport                                Lens vs Bourdaauex

12:30 pm ESPN+

12:30 pm NBCSN                                Man United vs Crystal Palace 

1 pm CBS                                            NC Courage vs Orlando Pride NWSL

3  pm bein Sport                                 Celta Da Vigo vs Valencia – Spain 

3 pm NBCSN                                       Arsenal vs West Ham United             

Sun, Sept 20 

9:30 am ESPN+                                   RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Mainz

11:30 am Peacock                              Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Liverpool 

12 noon ESPN+                                   Wolfsburg vs Bayer Leverkusen

1 pm CBS All Access                           Chicago Red Stars vs Sky Blue NWSL

2:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus (McKinney) vs Sampdoria

3 pm beIN Sport                                 Real Sociedad vs Real Madirid

Mon, Sept 21

1 pm Peacock                                      Aston Villa vs Sheffield United

3:15 pm Man City                               Wolverhampton vs Man City 

Wed, Sept23 

7 pm My Indy TV 23, ESPN+        Indy 11 vs St Louis at Lucus Oil 

USA

McKennie, Pulisic, Reyna and more: Where the USMNT stars are across Europe  Jeff Carlisle, Tom Hamilton ESPNFC

American’s in the EPL This Season – Brian Straus SI

Reports: Bayern, Barcelona Battling to Sign USA’s Defender Sergio Dest SI – Avi Creditor

US National Team and Dallas Defender Reggie Cannon headed to Portugal

Inter Miami owner welcomes Gonzalo Higuain at the airport

WORLD

Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and more: We predict the champions  3dBill Connelly

Liverpool shouldn’t panic, unpacking PSG-Marseille mess, Arsenal win big but questions remain  6hGabriele Marcotti   ESPNFC

Bundesliga is welcoming back fans; when will Premier League, La Liga and Serie A follow suit? 

Why the German Bundesliga is one of the world’s funnest leagues to watch  3dBill ConnellyJuventus and Pirlo are gambling that the club legend can get the best out of Ronaldo & Co.  4hGabriele Marcotti

Messi beats Ronaldo to top Forbes rich list

EPL

Lackluster Liverpool could be in trouble  Leander Schaerlaeckens »

Salah saves the day in 7 goal thriller Doug McIntyre Yahoo Soccer – 

Chelsea’s Pulisic still in doubt for Liverpool clash
Extended highlights: Brighton 1, Chelsea 3
  In Case Like Me you Missed Seeing the Game
Big-spending Chelsea start with win at Brighton

Lampard assesses Chelsea win – ‘We were OK’; Pulisic injury update
Jiménez opens EPL season with freaking worldie
Mourinho, Tottenham lack creativity against promising Everton

Mom was a World Cup goalkeeper. Now Carmel soccer’s Erin Baker is paving her own legacy.

Matthew VanTryon  Indianapolis Star

It’s not every day you find out your mom played in a World Cup.Not everyone is Erin Baker.It wasn’t until seventh grade that Baker, now a senior goalkeeper for Carmel, got the news. “I’m not even completely sure if I understood how much of a big achievement that was and how unique it was,” Baker said. “I always thought it was pretty cool. I remember going and telling my friends and being like, ‘My mom played for the Canadian national team. Like, isn’t that cool, guys?’”

Carla Baker (No. 18) with the Canadian women's national soccer team in the 1995 World Cup.

Carla Baker certainly didn’t have to wait that long to tell her daughter about a 12-year international career in Canada, one that reached its peak in 1995 when she played in the World Cup in Sweden. It was also the same year she won a national title as an assistant coach for Notre Dame’s women’s soccer team.“1995 was a very good year for me,” Carla said.

But that’s about as far as she will go in touting her own accomplishments. Even in her time as an assistant coach at the high school level, first for Carmel and now for Park Tudor, some players come and go without knowing her achievements.So even when it came to her own daughter, Carla wasn’t in a hurry to mention her own legacy. If anything, she was hesitant to do so — especially when Erin developed her own passion for soccer.“There’s no reason for me to brag about that. I didn’t want it to influence anything that she did,” Carla said of her daughter’s career. “I wanted her to play soccer because she loves playing soccer. I didn’t want her to play just because her mom was a national team player. I wanted her to be able to decide what journey she wanted to be on.”It wasn’t a coincidence that Erin a two-time All-State selection for Carmel, chose to be a goalkeeper.“Most people look up to their mom,” the senior said. “I’d always wanted to play goalkeeper because it was something that my mom did and I thought it was really cool.”While the younger Baker might not play for the national team, she has certainly made her mark. After sitting on the bench as a junior varsity player during her freshman year, she took advantage of roster turnover and was the varsity starting goalkeeper as a sophomore. That team won a state title, losing just once all season. Baker allowed just four goals all season with 45 saves.“I had the best defensive backline in the state that year,” she said. “It was an incredible first-year experience and I was able to learn, communication-wise, how to set up my defense.”

FILE – Carmel's Erin Baker hasn't allowed a goal in six games this season.

Carmel returned to the state finals last season, again losing just once, but this time in the championship match against Noblesville. Baker had 59 saves and allowed just five goals on the season. This season, Carmel is off to a 6-0 start. Baker has 21 saves and hasn’t allowed a goal.Baker’s persona has changed over the past few years as her role on the team has increased. Her leadership on and off the field has become a bigger priority, thanks in large part to her mom’s influence.“From a young age, I would watch her coach,” Baker said of her mom. “Observing how she talked to people, which was always super kind, she never made them feel bad about if they’re making a mistake, she would positively improve what they’re capable of. That was a big thing for me, learning how to show people respect as you lead them.”Baker isn’t sure what her college plans are yet. Of course, her mom isn’t afraid to vouch for her potential.“I think Erin can go on and play at a very high level if she chooses to do so,” she said. “And I’ll support whatever journey she ends up going on post-secondary.But Erin doesn’t feel pressure to follow in her mom’s footsteps.“I try not to connect her legacy with mine too much. She doesn’t put pressure on me,” Baker said. “If I didn’t want to end up playing soccer in college, that’s totally fine. I can do whatever I want. If I want to just focus on my academics, that’s totally fine. She just lets me make my own decisions.”Follow IndyStar high school sports insider Matthew VanTryon on Twitter @MVanTryon and email him story ideas at matthew.vantryon@indystar.com.

Soccer on TV: Bundesliga kicks off on ESPN, Weston McKennie’s Juventus debut, NWSL on CBS, Chelsea-Liverpool

by Jonathan Tannenwald, Posted: September 18, 2020- 5:00 AM

Soccer on TV: Bundesliga kicks off on ESPN, Weston McKennie’s Juventus debut, NWSL on CBS, Chelsea-Liverpool
Bayern Munich vs. Schalke 04

Americans Abroad in England: Pulisic’s Chelsea Encore, Steffen’s Man City Role in Spotlight

With the start of the new league seasons in England, all American eyes are on players who figure to play a role in World Cup qualifying—and a handful of others working their way into the mix.

BRIAN STRAUS  SEP 11, 2020

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A decade ago, among the 23 players on the U.S. team that would win a World Cup group for the first time in 80 years, there were eight who spent the 2009-10 club campaign in England. Seven were on Premier League teams. On the 2015 squad that faced Mexico in a climactic playoff for a Confederations Cup place, there were seven men based in England. Four were from the Premier League, which was the most well-represented foreign circuit on the squad. For a while, it appeared the England’s top tier was either the most welcoming or most preferred (or both) destination for American players abroad. But if there were a World Cup next summer, following the 2020-21 English season, how many Premier League players would U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter likely call on?

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is the country’s best player and is a certainty to start—if he’s healthy. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen appears to have the national team’s No. 1 shirt sewn up, but he may find minutes at Manchester City hard to come by. Defender Tim Ream is a veteran who has Berhalter’s trust, and Antonee Robinson is in position to make the left back role his own. But both play for Fulham, which is favored by many to face relegation after one season in the top flight. And DeAndre Yedlin has slipped behind right backs Sergiño Dest and Reggie Cannon on the USA depth chart, and appears to be on his way out at Newcastle United.   There are additional Americans in England, either coming through at Premier League clubs, on loan from Premier League clubs, or in the Championship and League One. But at first glance, it does seem like the number of U.S. players in the top tier has declined. There are a few potential explanations: the increased buying power of MLS clubs, the Bundesliga, a dip in generational quality, the stringent U.K. work permit criteria or coincidence. Perhaps it’s some of each. Whatever the reason, as the Premier League season kicks off this weekend—less than two months after the 2019–20 campaign concluded—there are fewer Americans expected to play prominent roles. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s less reason for intrigue.It begins with Pulisic, who enters 2020-21 facing more pressure and under a brighter spotlight than any American in Premier League history. And also, fittingly, with concerns about his fitness. Last season, following a groin injury and the pandemic shutdown, Pulisic lit up London and helped carry Chelsea to a fourth-place finish and the FA Cup final with five goals and four assists in 11 appearances. His adaptation to the Premier League was quick and appeared complete, and his ability to put defenders on their heels and change games was remarkable. He emerged as a legitimate star.But this season presents several challenges, both new and wearisome. The first is Pulisic’s health. When he’s fit, he’s borderline unstoppable. But on a worrying number of occasions in his young career, Pulisic, who turns 22 next week, has been sidelined with muscle injuries. He’ll always be the first name on Berhalter’s team sheet when healthy, but the unpredictability of Pulisic’s fitness isn’t ideal. And the Premier League is relentless.After scoring a sensational goal in the FA Cup final against Arsenal, Pulisic limped off with a hamstring injury. He’s been fighting to be ready for Chelsea’s Premier League opener on Monday at Brighton & Hove Albion, the last of eight games scheduled this weekend.“He’s doing well. The leg is doing really well. It’s recovering, it’s healing and he’s in good spirits and the club is focused on getting him back ASAP. We have a lot of confidence in Chelsea and a lot of confidence in their medical staff, and a lot of confidence in Christian,” Berhalter said two weeks ago.The U.S. manager said Pulisic’s “explosion on the scene” is “all down to his work ethic and him being focused on playing well. It was great to see, and we’re excited to see how he comes back and starts his second season in England.”Berhalter isn’t in denial, however. He knows Pulisic has struggled to stay healthy for extended periods.“This is something we have to look at, but it’s certainly not uncommon,” the coach said. “A lot of players go through this, particularly early on in their careers. But as his body strengthens and he gets used to these congested fixtures, I think he’s going to be fine.”Chelsea manager Frank Lampard certainly will want to see Pulisic healthy, but he’ll be better equipped to handle his absence than Berhalter. That’s because Chelsea is deep, and this summer the Premier League’s third-most productive attack got even deeper thanks to a spending spree by owner Roman Abramovich. The Blues spent around $200 million to acquire in-demand attackers Timo Werner (from RB Leipzig), Kai Havertz (from Bayer Leverkusen) and Hakim Ziyech (from Ajax).With that spend comes expectation, and in Lampard’s second season in charge, Abramovich probably will want to see his club push title favorites Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the table and do well in the Champions League. The pressure for points, and maybe even for playing time, will be like nothing Pulisic has experienced in his career. It’ll be fascinating to watch. The second sure-fire USA starter in the Premier League is Steffen, who was U.S. Soccer’s men’s player of the year in 2018 and spent last season on loan at Fortuna Düsseldorf. Man City has recalled the 25-year-old netminder, however, which leaves him sitting behind Ederson on Pep Guardiola’s depth chart. If City doesn’t make a move over the next few weeks, how many games can Steffen realistically expect to play this season? And would sufficient rust accumulate to give Berhalter pause when selecting his teams?Berhalter chose to focus on the positive when addressing the issue last month.“Man City is a super high level … To gain that experience for a year, to be in that training environment and have the opportunity to potentially break into that team is exciting, and I think it’d be worth it,” the manager said. “You always have to weigh if you’re going to be sitting on the bench and not playing enough games, but to me that opportunity alone is something special. Not too many players in the world get a chance to play for one club like that.“Hopefully they continue to play goalies in cups and other competitions and you can get some games there,” Berhalter continued. “Hopefully the national team can feature heavily in his development in that case.”Manchester City launches its quest to reclaim the title on Sept. 21 at Wolverhampton Wanderers (which features another American on the rise, 19-year-old midfielder Owen Otasowie).At the other end of the spectrum sit Ream and Robinson, who may get national team development every day while playing next to each other for the Cottagers. The USA’s left back spot is open, and Robinson has said he’s committed to seizing it. And Ream remains an experienced option for Berhalter at center back. It’s likely the pair will get plenty of work this season as Fulham adjusts to Premier League opposition. The club’s fight for survival will make for a tense campaign for the two Americans and for Berhalter, who will want as many players as possible competing at the highest level as qualifying for the 2022 World Cup begins next September. Fulham’s last stay in the Premier League lasted one season. It was relegated in 2019 after finishing 19th.Among other Americans on Premier League rosters, both Yedlin and Tottenham Hotspur defender Cameron Carter-Vickers likely will be on the move. Yedlin, 27, has been at Newcastle for four seasons and his contract expires next summer. Both player and club have been considering their options, and reports have emerged recently tying the former Seattle Sounder to a potential return to MLS or to a league elsewhere in Europe. Carter-Vickers, 22, hasn’t been able to break through for Spurs and spent the spring of 2020 on loan at Championship club Luton Town. He was ever-present for the Hatters as they finished 19th and avoided relegation by three points. But that consistency was short-lived. The defender’s 2020–21 destination is uncertain. In recent days, AFC Bournemouth, which was relegated from the Premier League to the Championship, reportedly expressed interest in a permanent transfer.Matt Miazga is another American Premier Leaguer on perpetual loan. The 25-year-old center back has been on the books at Chelsea but spent the past four seasons at Vitesse Arnhem, Nantes and Reading. His contract expires in 2022, but a future at Stamford Bridge seems unlikely.Meanwhile, nobody would blink if Aston Villa loaned out American attacker Indiana Vassilev. He’s just 19. But the U.S. U-17 World Cup veteran, who signed with Villa out of the IMG Academy in 2018, already has earned his first taste of Premier League football. He made his debut on Jan. 18, entering as a substitute against Brighton, and then made three more cameo appearances as Villa staved off relegation by a point. So even if the number of Americans in the Premier League drops, there may be a new one to watch.The marathon Championship schedule begins Friday as Middlesbrough visits Watford, and a few familiar American faces will be starting their seasons this weekend. Duane Holmes, a crafty midfielder who played in two U.S. friendlies last year, was a regular starter for Derby County in 2019–20 before having injury issues toward the end of the season. The Rams host Reading on Saturday. Geoff Cameron remains at Queens Park Rangers (where he was named club captain), although he’s out of the national team picture. And New York Red Bulls academy product Matthew Olosunde, a defender who initially signed with Manchester United, now is at Rotherham United and was a regular as the club earned promotion from League One. The Millers begin their Championship campaign Saturday at Wycombe Wanderers. Remaining in League One but perhaps still on Berhalter’s radar is Lynden Gooch, who’s 24 and scored 10 goals in 33 matches for Sunderland last season.

McKennie, Pulisic, Reyna and more: Breaking down a big season for USMNT stars across Europe

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https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.410.0_en.html#goog_1346325439 14, 2020  Jeff Carlisle  Tom Hamilton

The 2020-21 soccer season is kicking off all over Europe, with the English Premier League and Spanish Primera Divisions beginning this past weekend, and the German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A (both leagues available LIVE all season long on ESPN+ in the United States) starting on Sept. 18 and Sept. 19 respectively. In addition to the usual talking points and discussions over title favorites and relegation threats, it’s indirectly a big season for the U.S. national team, who boast several of their stars in top European leagues along with several prospects beyond the 2022 World Cup cycle.

With so many USMNT stars dotted around Europe and gearing up for a long campaign, ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle and Tom Hamilton broke down where they all are, and what their prospects are for the new season.

Christian PulisicChelsea (English Premier League)

Overall, Pulisic’s first year in the Premier League was a success, as he tallied nine goals and four assists in 34 league and cup appearances. In the process he put to rest any doubts about whether he could hack it skill-wise in the EPL, as he often dazzled on the left wing while also drifting inside.

This season, Pulisic will be hoping to build on what he achieved in 2019-20, but with an added challenge: staying healthy. The U.S. international suffered two muscle injuries — a hip ailment at the start of the year and a hamstring issue in the FA Cup final — and that continued a trend from his time at Borussia Dortmund. The competition for places is still there with the likes of Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech arriving to replace William and Pedro, along with Callum Hudson-OdoiMason Mount, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to contend with. But there seems to be a bit more faith in Pulisic heading into the season, as witnessed by him being given the No. 10 shirt. — Carlisle

John Brooks, DF, VfL Wolfsburg (German Bundesliga)

As has been a recurring theme throughout his career, Brooks endured an inconsistent season for the Wolves. He made 31 appearances in all competitions in helping Wolfsburg to a seventh-place finish and qualification for the Europa League. But he also endured a hamstring injury that sidelined him for a month, and he was even benched for a time by manager Oliver Glasner in February. To his credit he reclaimed his spot shortly thereafter, but then faded a bit after the return from the COVID-19 shutdown.

Brooks is likely to continue to be a mainstay for Wolfsburg this season, even if his start — he was red-carded in a Europa League defeat to Shaktar Donetsk — was auspicious. That only highlights the need for more consistency. Can he achieve it? At age 27, Brooks is basically fully formed as a player, but one can still hope that his accumulated experience will see him raise his level during the current campaign. — Carlisle

Weston McKennie, MF, Juventus (Italian Serie A)

All summer, as McKennie trained at Schalke waiting for his move, it looked like the USMNT star centre midfielder would be off to the Premier League. McKennie, 22, was being chased hard by Southampton and Leicester; then, as Andrea Pirlo settled into the hottest of seats at Juventus, in came the Serie A giants and in the blink of an eye McKennie was on a private jet to Turin.

McKennie is a brilliant box-to-box midfielder. Throughout Schalke’s tough campaign, in which they finished 12th in the Bundesliga, McKennie’s energy was infectious and he was a rare ray of light in a dismal campaign in Gelsenkirchen. He led from the front and was also one of the early voices in football’s messages of anti-racism and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

This season, McKennie will not have it easy at Juventus. At Schalke he was one of the first names on the team sheet, but this term he has the likes of Arthur (arriving from Barcelona for £66m), Sami KhediraAdrien RabiotRodrigo Bentancur and Aaron Ramsey to contend with for a spot in the starting XI. Still, expect him to thrive. He has signed for Juventus on a loan deal with the option to make this a permanent stay, and we predict this will become a formality as he slots right into life at the Serie A champions. — Hamilton

 

Tyler Adams, MF, RB Leipzig (German Bundesliga)

The versatile 21-year-old scored the winning goal for RB Leipzig in their Champions League quarterfinal win over Atletico Madrid in the 2019-20 campaign and has established himself as a key cog in the Julian Nagelsmann machine. Having signed for the Bundesliga high-flyers from New York Red Bulls in January 2019 for a bargain £2.37m, Adams’ versatility means he can cover any position across the back four and happily slot in along the midfield. For a manager who doesn’t believe in formations and values pressing, Adams is a dream of a player.

Having played 18 times for Leipzig last campaign, Adams’ goals for this term will be to start more matches for the Bundesliga side. With a relentless campaign facing Nagelsmann’s squad as they battle on three fronts, with the Champions League also on their radar, his versatility and work rate will be key. The goal for Leipzig is a top-four finish in the German league, and Adams will be doing everything to ensure they reach and, ideally, surpass expectations like they did last season. — Hamilton

Zack Steffen, GK, Manchester City (English Premier League)

Having signed for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City from Columbus Crew in July 2019 for £6.14m, the goalkeeper is still waiting for his first-team debut as he spent last term out on loan at Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf. He made 18 appearances in Germany until injury cut short his season in December. Having suffered from a problem with his knee, he battled back to full fitness only to sustain MCL damage in April that saw him play no further part in the 2019-20 campaign.

Carlisle: Why are US clubs not getting paid for developing talent?

Now back at Manchester City, Steffen is seen by Guardiola as a key part of their squad. With Claudio Bravo having left City at the end of last term on a free transfer and now between the pots at Real Betis, Steffen will vie with the world-class Ederson for a spot in City’s first team. He will likely clock up a number of starts in cup competitions and will add to his 17 caps for the USMNT. – Hamilton

Sergino Dest, DF, Ajax (Dutch Eredivisie)

The young right back enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2019-20 and went from the fringes of the senior squad to being one of the most sought-after fullbacks in Europe. Dest, 19, signed his first professional contract with Ajax in December 2018 and made his first-team debut in August 2019. His impressive form for Ajax started turning heads at the Netherlands and then-boss Ronald Koeman was keen for Dest to declare for the Oranje. But Dest, who played youth-level football for the U.S., took his time to shore up his decision and opted for the USMNT.

Exclusive: Why Dest chose U.S. over Netherlands

His trajectory has been rapid, like his darts down the right flank, and he was crowned U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Player of the Year for 2019. But there’s still a chance he has a new club by the end of the transfer window on Oct. 5 as he’s getting plenty of interest. Ajax have a practise of eking out one final season from their ridiculous list of prodigious young talents before they secure a move to one of Europe’s bigger fish. Bayern Munich are still being heavily linked with Dest, and if he moves there he’ll have Benjamin Pavard and Joshua Kimmich as rivals for a spot. But if he does stay put he’ll still be front and centre of Ajax’s Eredivisie and Champions League campaigns. He will look to another season of starting week-in-week-out for the Dutch giants and continuing to develop his game. — Hamilton

 

Gio Reyna, MF/FW, Borussia Dortmund (German Bundesliga)

The sky’s the limit for the 17-year-old forward. Having joined Borussia Dortmund from MLS side NYCFC in July 2019, Reyna made his debut for the Bundesliga giants in January 2020 and scored a memorable first goal in their DFB-Pokal defeat to Werder Bremen in February. But it was enough to make people sit up and take notice, while those who had followed his promising career — including father Claudio, who won 112 caps for the USMNT, and mother Danielle Egan, who won six caps for the USWNT — knew it was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Reyna would start making his mark for Europe’s elite.

– Borden: Gio Reyna is USMNT’s next Captain America

It is easy to forget he has played just 18 first-team matches for Dortmund. But in a team that boasts all-world young talent like Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, Reyna has the perfect role models around him to take his game to the next level. He is still waiting to make his USMNT debut — his first chance was delayed in the spring due to the coronavirus outbreak — but expect that to come sooner rather than later. He has all the ability and application to be a USMNT mainstay for the next 15 years, but his goals this season will be to get as much first-team football as possible for Dortmund and continue to develop. — Hamilton

 

Antonee Robinson, DF, Fulham (English Premier League)

Robinson’s 2019-20 campaign was a veritable roller-coaster. He was one of the few standouts on a Wigan team that ended up being relegated from the English Championship, with his runs forward offering a threat in attack. He nearly parlayed that into a dream move to AC Milan, only to have it scuttled by a heart condition that showed up during his medical. He eventually made a move to Fulham, freshly promoted back to the English top flight.

Robinson’s goal this season will be to force his way into the first team, no easy task at a Premier League club, especially with playoff final hero Joe Bryan ensconced at left-back. Robinson didn’t make the subs bench in the Cottagers’ 3-0 opening-day defeat to Arsenal, but given the investment Fulham have made in him, he’ll be given time to acclimate. — Carlisle

Tim Weah, FW, Lille (French Ligue 1)

Injuries — in particular a recurring hamstring ailment — have so curtailed Weah’s playing time that he’s almost the forgotten man of the U.S. player pool. In his first season with Lille, Weah made just three appearances totaling 84 minutes. Given the time lost, this is very much a critical season for the New York City-born attacker. The early returns on the 2020-21 campaign are that Weah is still in the thoughts of Lille management, making two substitute appearances. Given the difficulty Weah has had staying healthy, it amounts to a promising start that he hopefully can parlay into additional minutes. — Carlisle

Reggie Cannon, DF, Boavista (Portugal Primeira Liga)

Patience paid off for Cannon, who, after two years in FC Dallas‘ academy, a brief stop in college soccer at UCLA and then three-plus seasons with FCD, made the move to Europe with Portuguese side Boavista in September. Since the start of the 2018 season, Cannon was a consistent presence at right back and while his numbers didn’t necessarily catch the eye — he had three goals and five assists in 68 league and playoff appearances — his attacking instincts impressed U.S. national team manager Gregg Berhalter.

At Boavista, Cannon will be making his initial foray into European soccer and he’s already made a positive impression, scoring the opening goal in the club’s 4-1 friendly win over CD Tondela last weekend. The right-back spot for the U.S. is there for the taking, so he’ll need to adapt quickly if he is to grab that position at the international level. — Carlisle

 

DeAndre Yedlin, DF, Newcastle United (English Premier League)

The big question for Yedlin is simple: Will he even be in Newcastle much longer? Yedlin was a peripheral figure last season, making 20 league and cup appearances, but just 10 starts in league play. (The majority of those came in the front half of the season, too.) Hip and hand injuries also made it difficult for Yedlin to remain in the lineup and he ultimately lost his starting spot to Javier Manquillo.

A change of scenery might do Yedlin good. One would expect that at age 27, and given his Premier League experience, Yedlin would be a shoe-in to be the right back for the U.S. men’s national team, but he seems far from first-choice there. If he can establish himself at a new club — Turkish side Besiktas is among the sides interested in Yedlin — then that might revitalize his career and allow him to reclaim his spot with the U.S. national team. — Carlisle

Tim Ream, DF, Fulham (English Premier League)

The center-back has been a mainstay with Cottagers for the last five seasons, making his 200th appearance for the club in the season-opening 3-0 defeat at Arsenal. In last season’s promotion push, Ream made a staggering 47 league and playoff appearances, testament to his consistency and durability. His passing ability out of the back remains a strength, though as U.S. fans can attest he is guilty of the occasional gaffe.

This season will mark Ream’s third foray into the Premier League, having had previous campaigns with Bolton Wanderers in 2011-12 as well as Fulham’s previous season in the top flight in 2018-19. If Fulham are to avoid relegation this time around, Ream will certainly need to be at his best on both sides of the ball. Fulham can only hope that Ream’s consistency comes to the fore over the course of the campaign. — Carlisle

Matt Miazga, DF, Chelsea (English Premier League)

The 25-year-old centre-back signed for Chelsea in 2016, but has made two Premier League appearances in four years having spent much of that span out on loan. It’s long been Chelsea’s policy to buy promising talent and develop them by sending them out to trusted teams to aid their development. Miazga spent two seasons with Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie and six months at Nantes before arriving at Reading in the Championship. He has played there for the past 18 months.

Miazga made 24 appearances for Reading last term, in a campaign disrupted by a hamstring injury at the start of the season and an ankle injury in January. He picked up a red card in their defeat at Derby in June, following an altercation with Tom Lawrence after the final whistle, and would play one further match for the Royals. This term Miazga will likely spend another season out on loan and is not short of suitors, though his destination is at yet unknown. — Hamilton

Josh Sargent, FW, Werder Bremen (German Bundesliga)

Mark 2019-20 as a season that tested the hugely promising 20-year-old, though one that would have taught him a huge amount. Having been left out of the USMNT Gold Cup squad in the 2019-20 preseason, he had to battle with oscillating between starting for Werder Bremen and finding his role reduced to that of an impact substitute. He picked up an untimely hamstring muscle tear in December that kept him out for six weeks, but as Werder Bremen battled to avoid the drop in the latter part of the Bundesliga campaign, Sargent was instrumental in the German side keeping their spot in the top flight as they won their relegation playoff against Heidenheim.

Hamilton: Talking tattoos and challenges with Josh Sargent

The signs in 2020-21 are promising for Sargent, who played across the front line last term. He carried his impressive preseason form into Bremen’s opening match of the 2020-21 season proper, starting and scoring in Bremen’s 2-0 win at FC Carl Zeiss in the first round of the DFB-Pokal. — Hamilton

Alfredo Morales, MF Fortuna Dusseldorf (German 2. Bundesliga)

Morales shook off an early hamstring injury to be a steady presence for Dusseldorf last season in the center of midfield, making 31 league and cup appearances. But despite his ball-winning and prowess in the air, it wasn’t enough to prevent the Rhinelanders from avoiding the drop.

Now Morales will play in the 2. Bundesliga. It’s a league with which he is familiar, having spent a total of five seasons in Germany’s second tier with the likes of Hertha Berlin and Ingolstadt. The challenge this time around will be to return Dusseldorf immediately back to the top flight, and Morales appears to be very much in his team’s plans. He logged 78 minutes in a two-way midfield role in Dusseldorf’s 1-0 German Cup road win over Ingolstadt, the kind of result that Morales and Dusseldorf will need more of as the season progresses. — Carlisle

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Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkish Super Lig)

Boyd spent the 2019-20 campaign adjusting to the pressure and expectations of playing for Besiktas, one of Turkey‘s biggest clubs, and it proved to be an up-and-down campaign. The good news is that Boyd made 28 league and cup appearances, but he scored just three goals along with one assist. That level of offensive production was far below what he achieved during a loan stint the previous season with Ankaragucu, when he tallied six goals and four assists in 14 matches.

This season, matters are already looking up for Boyd, with Besiktas showing continued faith in the winger. That was repaid in part when he scored the opener in Beşiktaş’ 3-1 win over Trabzonspor to start the Turkish Super Lig campaign, cutting in from the left wing to fire inside the far post with the help of a slight deflection. Boyd and Besiktas will no doubt be hoping that this is a sign of things to come. — Carlisle

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH

Christian Cappis: The midfielder established himself at Danish Superliga side Hobro last season, making 30 league appearances and scoring one goal while filling a variety of central midfield roles. Cappis even secured an invite to the annual January camp for the U.S. men’s national team, though he was an unused substitute in a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica. Those performances were such that there was talk of Cappis moving on, but now he finds himself in an unusual situation. Cappis has two years left on his contract, but his work permit to play in Denmark wasn’t renewed and he had to leave the country. Reports out of Denmark say that Hobro’s owner, Lars Kühnel, believes that Cappis will be back some time in the autumn, assuming the player isn’t transferred. In the meantime, all Cappis can do is wait to see how the situation plays out. — Carlisle

Chris Richards: The 20-year-old centre-back is yet to make his USMNT debut, but is on Berhalter’s radar. He is at Europe’s reigning Champions League holders, Bayern Munich, and made his debut in June. This season he will either be in the first-team mix or leave on loan. — Hamilton

https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html Nick Taitague: The 21-year-old attacking midfielder was promoted to Schalke’s first team ahead of this season. He arrived at Schalke in 2017 from the Carolina RailHawks and has played for Schalke II but has the number 29 to his name and will want to make his mark in the Bundesliga this term. — Hamilton

Matthew Hoppe: The Schalke forward has his sights set on breaking into the Bundesliga side’s first team this season and following in the footsteps of the departed McKennie. He is performing well for Schalke’s Under 19s and will look to put forward his case for senior recognition this term. — Hamilton

Ulysses Llanez: The 19-year-old signed for Wolfsburg from LA Galaxy in April 2019 and was promoted to the Bundesliga side’s first team a year later. He scored on his full USMNT debut in February, too, but he’ll spend the season on loan in the Dutch Eredivisie with SC Heerenveen after signing his first professional contract with Wolfsburg this week, a deal that connects him to the club through 2024. — Hamilton

 

INDY ELEVEN FALLS 0-2 IN LAST Game 2020 WITH LOUISVILLE CITY FC

By Indy Eleven Communications, 09/16/20, 10:15PM EDT

Indiana’s Team Still Controls Postseason Destiny with Three Games Remaining in Regular Season

https://www.youtube.com/embed/9Rxs8g99KDU #INDvLOU Post-Game Quotes – September 16

#INDvLOU Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center

 In the final of four regular-season matchups between Indy Eleven and Louisville City, the surging Kentucky side posted a 2-0 win over Indiana’s Team at Lucas Oil Stadium. Following a late first-half score from Cameron Lancaster, a goal by Corben Bone in the 76th minute provided the final margin for the visitors.With only one point separating the rivals in the Group E standings coming into Wednesday’s affair, this latest chapter of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (LIPAFC) series had plenty riding on it. While the result pulled Louisville (8W-3L-2D, 26 pts.) four points clear of Indy (7W-5L-1D, 22 pts.) atop the group, Indiana’s Team is still in control of its playoff destiny, itself sitting four points ahead of Saint Louis FC for the second available playoff spot from the group.“It was a disappointing score-line and a disappointing result for us. I was really proud of the players tonight and felt that we were unfortunate to certainly be down a goal at half time. In the first half, we were on top most of the time and they got a goal out of nothing, really,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “For the majority of the game, maybe my mind will change when I look back on it, I felt at this time we deserve much better than we got tonight. I don’t usually say that, and if I think we didn’t deserve to win, I would say that, but I definitely don’t think that we deserve to be on the losing side tonight.”If there was any doubt as to whether the last installment of the LIPAFC rivalry for 2020 would be a physical affair, Louisville’s Pat McMahon put that to rest early with a flying knee into the back of Ayoze just 60 seconds after the opening whistle. The energetic start was not entirely adversarial, however, with both sides circling together at midfield across the seventh and eighth minutes to pause the match and honor the ongoing movement around social injustice and the need for positive change in our sport and in our society.

Indy captain Paddy Barrett’s 13th minute shot from 50 yards out in an effort to catch LCFC goalkeeper Bun Lundt off his line began a series of half-chances for both sides that dominated the middle of the first half.  Following a 37th minute yellow card issued to Eleven defender Karl Ouimette, Louisville took their possession and played all the way down the field, concluding with a corner attempt. Louisville defender Oscar Jimenez’s kick was headed out of the box, but it bounced to a waiting Antoine Hoppenot, whose right-footed strike was redirected by Lancaster past Indy goalkeeper Evan Newton and into the upper-right corner for his seventh goal of the season.Hoppenot was awarded with a shot-turned assist for his efforts, and two minutes later he nearly had one for himself, but his near-angle effort flashed just past the far-left post. Indy striker Nick Moon nearly equalized in first half stoppage time, but his header off a corner kick flashed just over the bar, leaving LouCity in front 1-0 heading into the break.

Not even two minutes into the second half, Indy Eleven’s energetic play almost tied the game, but midfielder Cam Lindley’s cutback pass from the endline that made its way past the keeper and into the center of the box was cleared before it could reach an Eleven teammate. The home side kept knocking on the door with two crosses providing plenty of danger at the top of the six-yard box around the hour mark, but a volley by midfielder Carl Haworth and a header by Ouimette two minutes apart both just missed Lundt’s frame.In the 76th minute, a counter-attack opportunity allowed Louisville to double its advantage. Midfielder Napo Matsoso crossed a ball into the middle of the field, where an unlucky deflection by Tyler Gibson fell directly to a cutting Brian Ownby, whose touch pass set up Bone behind the Indy defense. Bone successfully converted low and left in his 1-v-1 with Newton to get his fourth goal of the season and extend the Louisville lead.Indy kept the pressure on in an attempt to salvage a result, with substitute Conner Antley’s flick-on of Ouimette’s centering ball in the 79th minute that forced a save by Lundt at his left post providing the most drama of the Eleven’s late chances. Gibson’s last-ditch effort to get on the scoreboard from outside the box was high-and-wide in the 93rd minute, ending the action and keeping Indy winless against its rival in 2020.Indy Eleven continues its five-match September homestand next Wednesday, September 23, with the first of two pivotal meetings down the stretch of the 2020 regular season against Saint Louis FC. (5W-4L-3D, 18 pts., 3rd in Group E). The 7:00 p.m. kickoff on Indy Eleven’s annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, can be followed live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

 USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSKC   Indy Eleven  0 : 2  Louisville City FC

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ETLucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.Attendance: 2,500

 2020 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (7W-5L-1D, 22 pts., 2nd in Group E)

Louisville City FC (8W-3L-2D, 26 pts., 1st in Group E)

 Scoring Summary:

LOU– Cameron Lancaster (Antoine Hoppenot) 39’

LOU – Corben Bone (Brian Ownby) 76’


Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Karl Ouimette (yellow card) 37’

LOU – Paolo DelPiccolo (yellow card) 66’

LOU – Corben Bone (yellow card) 66’

LOU – Antoine Hoppenot (yellow card) 73’

LOU – Sean Totsch (yellow card) 79’


Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton; Neveal Hackshaw, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze (Conner Antley 72’), Drew Connor (Matt Watson 72’), Tyler Gibson, Carl Haworth; Jeremy Rafanello (Tyler Pasher 59’), Cam Lindley, Nick Moon


IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Mitch Osmond, Ilija Ilic, Andrew Carleton

 Louisville City FC (4-3-3, L–>R): Ben Lundt; Oscar Jimenez, Alexis Souahy, Sean Totsch, Pat McMahon (Wes Charpie 90’); Antoine Hoppenot (Brian Ownby 74’), Corben Bone, Speedy Williams, Paolo DelPiccolo (captain) (Jimmy Ockford 85’), Napo Matsoso (Akil Watts 90’); Cameron Lancaster (Jason Johnson 85’)

9/11/20 –EPL kicks off Saturday-Liverpool vs Leeds 12:30 NBC, Indy 11 host Louisville Wed 7 pm TV23

EPL & La Liga kick off Seasons

With the new season set to kick off Saturday excitement bounds as US Star Christian Pulisic was awarded the #10 shirt at Chelsea.  Not 100% sure if he will be healthy enough to start on Monday vs Brighton at 3:15 pm but the #10 shirt certainly signifies how important the American is to Chelsea’s squad this season.  Arguably the best player after the break – Pulisic will look to improve on his stats with a host of new potential scorers on hand like Timo Werner from Leipzig and Hakim Ziyeck from Ajax up front.  Liverpool returns almost its entire squad from the title winning group of last year, while Man City added a player or 2 looking to overtake the champions.  Of course my favorite – Fulham America – is back in the EPL with US players Tim Ream and the newly added US left back Antonee Robinson looking to hold down the defense – they kick off Saturday morning at 7:30 am on NBCSN.   Liverpool vs newly promoted Leeds United follows at 12:30 on NBC.  I think it will be a 4 way race between Liverpool, Man City, Man United and Chelsea (I hope with Pulisic starring) this season, with Liverpool and Man City the favorites for sure.  Tons of previews and predictions below in the OBC. 

US Weston McKinney to Juve is Huge

So huge news that US midfielder Weston McKinny has signed with Juventus – my favorite Italian club!  If McKinny can actually get playing time at this Giant of World football – along the likes of Renaldo and Dybala.  Man the sky is the limit!  This is arguably the biggest club any American player has ever signed with and should pay huge dividends in the future assuming he can break into the starting line-up and play. I do think this hard working, ball winning midfielder will find a place for new Juve coach Pirlo. He opened his first press conference by speaking some Italian – which was a big hit with the Italian media.  Huge news for McKinney and all of US Soccer you can watch the Italian Serie A on ESPN+ with the occasional game on ESPN 2 or ESPN News starting next weekend.

Indy 11 home vs Louisville Wed Sept 16

The Indy 11 took an important 2-1 win at home over Sporting KC II with goals from Nick Moon and Jimmy Rafanello in the first half and a late stand in a flury of action from KC late in the 2nd half to hold on for the win.  With the victory, Indy Eleven (7W-4L-1D, 22 pts.) repossessed the top spot in the four-team group, overtaking Louisville City FC (20 pts.) and setting up another fight for first between the two rivals on Wednesday night, Sept 10 at 7 pm in the Circle City and on MyIndyTV 23. The result also put some more distance between Indy and Saint Louis FC (18 pts.), the group’s other contender for one of its two playoff berths.  Hopefully leading scorer Tyler Pasher will return from injury for this key showdown – a virtual must win for the Indy 11.  Tickets for the next installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest rivalry series, set for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium, are available at www.indyeleven.com/tickets.  This is game 3 of a 5 game homestand.

NWSL Games on Sat 3:30 CBS

With the NWSL kicking off its regular season – games will be featured on CBS over the next 2 weeks on Sat at 3:30 pm with the North Carolina Courage hosing the Houston Dash this Sat.  See other games on CBS All Access and Twitch. 

Carmel FCers on Carmel High Teams

I can’t believe I missed 2 of our Carmel FC GKs who made the CHS Boys team- I had a chance to slip out and see them play this week.  Varsity Starter Henry Geisel is a former Carmel FCer, along with current Carmel FC’ers Charlie Featherson for JV, and Jacob Havice, Ryan Bartley and Kevin Russo for 9th grade!  Congrats all!

GAMES ON TV 

Fri,  Sept 11

3  pm beIN Sport                                France- Bordeaux vs Lyonnais

4 pm beIN  Sport                                Valencia vs Levante

Sat, Sept 12 

7:30 am NBCSN                                  Fulham (Ream, Robinson) vs Arsenal 

10 am NBCSN                                     Crystal Palace vs Southhampton

11 am bein Sport                                Montpellier vs Nice

12:30 pm NBC                                     Liverpool vs Leeds United

3  pm bein Sport                                 Cadiz vs Osasuna – Spain 

3:30 pm CBS                                       NC Courage vs Houston Dash NWSL

3:30 pm Univsion                                Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew

Sun, Sept 13 

7:30 am NBCSN                                  West Brom vs Leicester City

10 am NBCSN                                     Crystal Palace vs Southhampton

11 am bein Sport                                Montpellier vs Nice

11:30 am NBCSN, Peacock                 Tottenham vs Everton 

3  pm bein Sport                                 PSG vs Marseille –France  

8:30 pm ESPN+                                   Sporting KC vs Minn United

11 pm ESPN+                                      LAFC vs Portland Timbers

Mon, Sept 14

1 pm NBCSN                                       Sheffield United s Wolverhampton

3:15 pm Peacock                                Brighton vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

Wed, Sept 16 

7 pm My Indy TV 23, ESPN+        Indy 11 vs Louisville FC at Lucus Oil

riFFri, Sept 18

2:30 pm ESPN                                     Bayern Munich vs Schalke

Sat, Sept 19 

7:30 am Peacock                                 Eveton vs West Brom

9:20 am ESPN+                                   Werder Bremen (Stuart) vs Hertha BSC

10 am NBCSN                                     Leads United vs Fulham (Ream, Robinson) 

11 am bein Sport                                Lens vs Bourdaauex

12:30 pm NBCSN                                Man United vs Crystal Palace 

1 pm CBS                                            NC Courage vs Orlando Pride NWSL

3  pm bein Sport                                 Celta Da Vigo vs Valencia – Spain 

3 pm Peacock?                                    Arsenal vs West Ham United              

Sun, Sept 20 

9:30 am ESPN+                                   RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Mainz

11:30 am USA Network                     Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Liverpool 

12 noon ESPN+                                   Wolfsburg vs Bayer Leverkusen

1 pm CBS All Access                           Chicago Red Stars vs Sky Blue NWSL

2:45 pm ESPN+                                   Juventus (McKinney) vs Sampdoria

3 pm beIN Sport                                 Real Sociedad vs Real Madirid

Mon, Sept 21

1 pm Peacock                                      Aston Villa vs Sheffield United

3:15 pm Man City                               Wolverhampton vs Man City 

Wed, Sept23 

7 pm My Indy TV 23, ESPN+        Indy 11 vs St Louis at Lucus Oil

 USA

Pulisic Given the #10 Shirt at Chelsea
What should we expect from Pulisic in 2020-21?

MCKENNIE TAKES ANOTHER STEP FOR AMERICAN SOCCER PLAYERS  BY JASON DAVIS
McKennie opens his 1st news conference with Italian flair
What it took to get McKennie to Juve – SI Brian Straus
Gio Reyna – son of Captain America set to be next German Star for Dortmund
Bocenegra Gets In Hall of Fame – but others are Scorned – SI Brian Straus
Bocanegra joins National Soccer Hall of Fame; Cherundolo, Solo snubbed
If Hope Solo is Not Worthy of Hall of Fame – No One is – Yahoo Doug McIntyre
USWNT stars Tobin Heath, Christen Press sign for Man United

EPL Kicks of Saturday

Premier League 2020-21 season preview: Big questions, new players to watch, team-by-team projections ESPN
Premier League Season Preview: Top Contenders, Newcomers  –BY JONATHAN WILSON
EPL Preview – Ryan Bailey Yahoo Sports
Liverpool, Man City face tough battle from Premier League challengers

Can Liverpool regain their aura of invincibility in the Premier League? 2dIan Darke ESPN.


De Bruyne is PFA Player of the Year, Liverpool dominates Team of the Year
Season preview: Manchester City
Season preview: Liverpool
Lampard expects added pressure after Chelsea spending spree
Season preview: Chelsea
What will Chelsea’s attack look like? Breaking down top clubs’ dilemmas for 2020-21
Season preview: Manchester United
Man United Prview – Yahoo
Season Preview Arsenal
Season preview: Leeds
Season preview: Sheffield United
Season preview: Fulham
·        Season preview: Everton
James Rodriguez signs for Everton
Season preview: Leicester City

WORLD

Breaking Down the Biggest Questions Across the World Leagues – Bill Connelly ESPN

 Madrid to ‘blossom,’ Barca drama and watch Sevilla  –4mGraham Hunter ESPN
La Liga preview: Real Madrid to ‘blossom,’ more Messi and Barca drama, Sevilla a dark horse? 2dGraham Hunter

The excitement of the unknown that is Andrea Pirlo as Juve manager

Pirlo wants to bring back enthusiasm with proactive Juventus football

Messi back to training after deciding to stay with Barcelona 

Nations League Wrap-up

Nations League: Record-breaker Fati stars in Spain rebuild
Switzerland extends Germany’s wait for win in Nations League
Nations League: Mbappé’s goal gives France 1-0 win at Sweden
Southgate admits ‘we got away with it’ as Sterling saves 10-man England in Iceland
European heavyweights enjoy winning starts in Nations League
England’s Foden, Greenwood sent home, fined for ‘naive’ virus breach

France striker Mbappe tests positive for virus
Italy beat Dutch to take top spot as Zaniolo awaits knee verdict

 

MLS
Galaxy restores its SoCal soccer supremacy with another win over LAFC

Timbers get late winner from Mora, top rival Sounders 2-1

Portland Timbers must prepare for life without Sebastián Blanco

Atlanta United wraps up Martinez sale to Saudi Arabian club

Summer Soccer TV Ratings

INDY 11

Indy 11 Claim Group E lead with 2-1 win over KC 2

RECAP | RIVALS’ HOT START TOO MUCH FOR INDY ELEVEN TO OVERCOME IN DEFEAT TO LOUISVILLE CITY FC
NEWS | FORWARD JOSH PENN REJOINS INDY ELEVEN ROSTER

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

 USMNT’s Pulisic to be given No. 10 shirt at Chelsea

oe Prince-WrightNBC Sports•September 9, 2020

Christian Pulisic Chelsea No 10 sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?According to a report from The Athletic’s Simon Johnson, Pulisic will be given the No. 10 shirt at Chelsea for the 2020-21 season and beyond. That sound you can hear is USMNT fans rushing to their laptops to order their new Pulisic jersey.Pulisic, 21, had previously been wearing the No. 22 which he wore at Borussia Dortmund too but the Pennsylvanian winger is now being handed an iconic jersey.The No. 10 was previously worn by Willian, who wore it for just one season before leaving Chelsea for Arsenal on a free transfer earlier this summer. And of course we all know that before Willian, the No. 10 shirt at Chelsea was worn by Eden Hazard.Let the Christian Pulisic-Eden Hazard comparisons continue.Pulisic being handed this jersey number makes sense for so many reasons. Firstly, he is pretty much one of the first names on the teamsheet following his simply sensational form during ‘Project Restart’ in the Premier League. Secondly, imagine how many ‘Pulisic 10’ jerseys Chelsea are going to sell?Imagine how many young soccer fans in the USA will now be asking for a Christian Pulisic Chelsea No 10 jersey for their upcoming birthdays?Heck, every USMNT fan will be yelling ‘shut up and take my money’ as this is a big moment. Yes, it’s a shirt number. We get it. But this is a big deal for U.S. fans. Pulisic being handed an iconic jersey number at such a huge club rubber stamps his status as one of Chelsea’s top players and means he is viewed as a mainstay by Frank Lampard.The Pulisic hype is very real. From a USMNT perspective, we’ve all known that for some time now. The rest of the world is now fully on board the Pulisic hype train.Other Chelsea jersey news is coming up too, with Kai Havertz expected to be handed No. 29, while Thiago Silva will take No. 2.

What should we expect from Pulisic in 2020-21?

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports•September 9, 2020

Christian Pulisic news has calmed down at the moment, but with the start to the 2020-21 Premier League season just a few days away, the USMNT star will soon be front and center once again.Pulisic, 21, is currently recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered during the FA Cup final but he should be fit to play for Chelsea by the end of September.

As we saw from his incredible form during ‘Project Restart’ in the Premier League, the Pulisic hype is now very real. From a USMNT perspective, we’ve all known that for some time now. The rest of the world is now fully on board the Pulisic hype train after his 10 goals and five assists led to a Premier League Young Player of the Year nomination.What lies ahead for Pulisic at Chelsea in 2020-21?

A key cog in a new-look Chelsea attack

Pulisic will now have Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech joining him in the attacking lineup and these are exciting times for Chelsea. With veterans Willian and Pedro moving on, Chelsea have spent big to bolster their attack this summer and Pulisic’s performances at the end of last season have put him at the heart of tat new-look attack. Pulisic provides something a little different to the fluid movement and passing of Havertz, the trickery of Ziyech and the clinical finishing of Werner. As a quartet, they will be Chelsea’s future for the next five to six years.

Increased responsibility

Some of the latest Christian Pulisic news states that he will be handed the No. 10 jersey at Chelsea and it makes sense for so many reasons and it is a signal of how important he is to this team. Firstly, he is pretty much one of the first names on the teamsheet. Secondly, imagine how many ‘Pulisic 10’ jerseys Chelsea are going to sell worldwide, and in the USA? Pulisic has been compared to Eden Hazard so many times in his first season in England and the American winger will now be given the chance to be Chelsea’s go-to guy. This is only a shirt number but it means a lot and shows the faith Frank Lampard has in him. Pulisic is trusted by the Chelsea players and coaching staff and all of a sudden he’s taken on a leadership role in this young side. It will be intriguing to see if he can keep putting the team on his back in big moments like he did against Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City during ‘Project Restart’ this summer.

More competition than last season

Okay, so Pulisic struggled for minutes early in the season as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Mason Mount and Pedro were all favored ahead of him but this season will be no joke. As we mentioned above, he is likely to be a key cog in this attack but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a cog which can be placed to one side and isn’t at risk of getting rusty. If Pulisic’s levels drop there are so many key attacking players ready to step up. Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham are set to battle for a place on the bench and that shows you the new depth. Werner can play out wide, so too can Havertz and Mount, so Pulisic will have plenty of competition for his place on the left flank. That helped his levels rise last season but this season is probably even tougher as new talent is arriving and instead of youngsters and veterans to battle past, Pulisic now has to start over some of the best attackers in Europe such as Werner and Havertz.

Second-season syndrome: No longer an unknown

He was marked closely in the closing stages of the 2019-20 season after he kept ripping opposition defenses to pieces. Expect that to keep happening as teams started to double up on Pulisic because he was finding those half spaces between full backs and center halves far too often. Close attention from holding midfielders will be plentiful and Pulisic has to deal with the fact that teams will now be planning to shut him down, whereas for most of the 2019-20 season he wasn’t seen as a huge threat. Some of the most obvious Christian Pulisic news is that he is now a marked man.

Injuries could play their part

Pulisic suffered a big adductor injury in the middle of the season which kept him out for many months but the break due to the coronavirus pandemic allowed him to recover. Pulisic then suffered a bad hamstring in the FA Cup final and that was the last thing he needed. It also followed a trend. He’s had plenty of hamstring injuries during his young career already and his searing pace and lightweight frame means he will probably pick up these kind of injuries throughout his career. Chelsea have bulked him up and he will develop further, and needs to physically, if he’s going to be a sustained success in the Premier League. Expect Pulisic to develop hefty glutes like Eden Hazard in the coming months.

MCKENNIE to JUVENTUS -TAKES ANOTHER STEP FOR AMERICAN SOCCER PLAYERS

SEPTEMBER 9, 2020 BY JASON DAVIS

By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Sep 9, 2020) US Soccer Players – As is always the case with these things, it’s best to wait until it’s official. There’s no point in jumping ahead and getting excited until everything is official. These things have a history of falling apart at the minute.The world of big-time soccer transfers is a cauldron of intrigue. It’s often hard to separate fact from fiction. It’s best to wait until the old club issues a “goodbye and good luck” message while the new one gets excited on social media.Ask Manchester City fans how it feels to have everyone talking about your club as the new home of one of the best players in the history of the game, only to see it not happen. Before you know it, the player is sitting in shorts and slides talking about why he’s now not leaving the only club he’s ever known for a new adventure somewhere else.

Then there are the moments where the odd rumor picks up. All of a sudden, a player is making that ridiculous move. To put that another way, it’s now official. Weston McKennie is a member of Juventus Football Club. An American now plays for the biggest club in Italy and one of Europe’s elites.In July, Juventus won Serie A for the ninth time running and 36th title overall. The idea of anyone catching Juventus is almost laughable at this point. That’s because the club maintains its talent advantage via big spending while the rest of Serie A maintains a decidedly different financial existence.McKennie’s arrival in Turin came with the requisite social media hits, including a video in which the American midfielder got a first look at Juventus’s trophy room. Yes, that’s “room”, as in a large space filled with trophies. Most clubs barely need a trophy case. Juventus’s space would fetch $3000 a month on the New York apartment market, and it probably has better views.This is why McKennie’s surprise move to Turin is such a massive thing for the player and his home country. McKennie is taking a dramatic step up in level. He joins a club that expects nothing less than to win multiple domestic trophies and compete for the most celebrated silverware in the sport, the Champions League.McKennie’s growth as a young player in Germany happened in one of the best leagues in the world. Still, he never faced the kind of week-to-week scrutiny that comes with playing for a club as predominant as the Italian giants. McKennie’s transfer to Juventus cuts two ways for the 22-year-old. It’s both a daunting push into the unknown and a validation of his ability.Juventus is not in the business of counting pennies. It doesn’t sign on players it doesn’t think can do the job. Simply by acquiring McKennie, Juventus is vouching for him.With apologies to Christian Pulisic, who remains the most expensive American player in history following his transfer to Chelsea, McKennie joining Juventus is a new high watermark for players from the United States in Europe. Chelsea is ambitious but doesn’t have the pedigree of Juventus. Manchester United does and certainly did when Tim Howard jumped from Major League Soccer to the Premier League. American goalkeepers were well established in Europe at that point. In our bizarre section of the sport, it’s the field players who are different.There are plenty of unknowns about McKennie’s fit at Juventus and plenty of reasons to worry. That puts him in the same situation as many of his talented peers from soccer-rich cultures on the Continent and in South America.

American soccer’s ceiling exists in many forms. Coaching remains a difficult area for Americans, though Jesse Marsch is forging a path that could lead to greater respect. Sometimes it takes just one example to open the minds of the soccer elite. We might be looking at a future with much more American influence at the highest levels.It’s fair to think, however, that American players have to achieve at the game’s top tier before the rest will follow. The last two decades saw Americans make inroads into Europe’s top leagues. Several standout performers emerged as the standard-bearers for the first truly professional generation of players developed in the United States.Few of those players did their work at Champions League level clubs in the top five leagues, however. We’re talking about exceptions. Tyler Adams this season with Leipzig. DaMarcus Beasley with PSV back in the 2000s. Jovan Kirovski ‘s winning run with Borussia Dortmund in 1997. All of those were surprises.To put it more simply, Juventus is part of an ultra-elite group of clubs that have the resources and history to claim to be among the top 15 or 20 on the planet. Like Pulisic before him, McKennie is now in rarified air. If he succeeds, the impact will be immense.Serie A might not be the most popular foreign league in America, but everyone knows about Juventus. That was true before Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid to join the Italian giants, but the club’s visibility is even higher now. For that reason, it’s hard to imagine Juventus signed McKennie because of some desire to “grow” the club’s reach in the United States. McKennie isn’t a big enough name yet to have that sort of effect.Joining Juventus will raise his profile, however. Though McKennie isn’t the Sportscenter-ready attacking star that Pulisic is, his appearances on the field for his new club will garner attention from otherwise soccer-agnostic corners. There’s nothing more Americans like to do than wave the flag, and McKennie allows sports fans whether they care about soccer or not to do that.Juventus’s move for McKennie likely came down to a host of factors: availability, price, age, skillset, etc. Some of those could be spun to undermine the American’s talent and explain away his signing as a budget-minded move by a big club trying to maneuver its way around UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations. Even if there’s something to that theory, it hardly matters. McKennie is still at Juventus, and Juventus will still expect to lift trophies in 2021. It’s official, and it’s a really, really big deal.Jason Davis is the founder of MatchFitUSA.com and the host of The United States of Soccer on SiriusXM. Contact him: matchfitusa@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/davisjsn.

Dortmund’s Gio Reyna, the son of Captain America, is U.S. soccer’s next superhero

Sep 4, 2020Sam BordenESPN Senior Writer

Gio Reyna is terrified. It is June 13. His team, Borussia Dortmund, beat Dusseldorf earlier in the day. On the bus after the game, everyone is ecstatic. But Gio didn’t feel right. His throat is raw and he is tired.Only now, he can’t sleep. It is late, near midnight in Germany. Gio is cold, even under his blankets. His parents live halfway around the world in New York and he is alone in his apartment in a country where he doesn’t speak the language.Gio is 17. His fever spikes. His mind runs wild.What if it is the coronavirus? What if he has to quarantine for a week? Or a month? What if he can’t go home when the other players leave? What if Dortmund has to forfeit all of its games?Gio is a rising star in the Bundesliga. He is one of the American sensations who is supposed to help transform the U.S. national team over the next two World Cup cycles. His parents are soccer royalty and yet, even at his young age, there are plenty who believe he might end up being better than both of them.But at this moment, Gio isn’t any of those things. He is just a sick kid, far from home, who has sandpaper in his throat and a runaway train in his head. He tosses and turns, and then, finally, bolts upright, gripped suddenly by the thought that truly frightens him:What if I have the coronavirus and it leads to the whole league getting shut down? He groans. What if I ruin everything?


A MONTH LATER, sitting in the living room of his family’s house about an hour outside New York City, Gio can laugh, at least a little, about his hysteria that night. “My mind was going so many places,” he says through a shy grin. He had strep throat, it turned out, not COVID-19. He missed only one game.The experience still mattered, though. The sheer panic he felt that night in June was real, and the wringer he went through in the days that followed — as he dealt with doctors, his own worries and a series of internet rumors speculating that he had the coronavirus — left a mark. In many ways, it crystalized for him the biggest challenge that comes with being a prodigy at an age when you are supposed to be going to prom.”I’ve heard some athletes speak about mental health issues,” he says at one point, his eyes widening, “and I can understand why.”He explains that it isn’t about Dortmund. Not even a little. In truth, the soccer part of his life is perhaps the most straightforward for him. Gio’s game is a marriage of the best parts of his parents: his father, former national team captain Claudio Reyna, had legendary ball control and vision, and his mother, Danielle Egan, made her name at North Carolina, and on the women’s national team, with electric speed and a loping stride. Dortmund recruited Gio as he showed off both skill sets playing for New York City FC’s youth teams.He arrived at Dortmund’s academy last summer. Within months, he’d shown he could play at a higher level and spent the second half of the season with the first team, playing mostly as an attacking midfielder off the bench. His touch on the ball was unhurried. His confidence was high. He has quickly connected with two of Dortmund’s other young stars, Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho, and the trio play video games and bond over their shared love for television shows such as “Outer Banks” on Netflix.Haaland, who is quickly becoming one of the sport’s biggest names, has been “like a big brother,” Gio says, which “almost makes me feel like I’m at home a little bit.” The chemistry between the two of them, as well as Sancho, moves easily from on the field to off it, and after making his Bundesliga debut on Jan. 18 — moving past Christian Pulisic as the youngest American to appear in the league — Gio’s first goal was an absolute stunner.In that game, against Werder Bremen on Feb. 4, Gio made a sharp dribble near the top of the box and unleashed a wicked, curving shot that ripped into the top corner of the net as the stadium exploded. “It was just the perfect opportunity,” he says, breaking into a small smile as he runs through the memory again. “It couldn’t have been placed any better.”That part — the pure sport and competition — is what makes sense to Gio. It is straightforward. But there is another part to all this, he says. The part where he leaves school and moves into an apartment and tries to learn a language and gets strep throat and lives through a pandemic and tries to comprehend a worldwide reckoning on race all alone. That part? At 17, it is harder.Some of it is the little things. Lately, Gio has started ordering sweatshirts in larger sizes because he can’t seem to do laundry without shrinking everything, and any time he wants to go to the grocery store, he has to enlist someone — often, it’s Haaland — to drive him. Gio is still a few months from getting a license.Other issues weigh heavier. As news coverage of the U.S. government’s harsh response to protests in support of Black Lives Matter spread around the world, several Dortmund teammates asked Gio — the resident American now that Pulisic has moved on to Chelsea — what was going on. Why were these protesters being treated like this?Gio knew they were just talking to him as a peer, a status affirmation he craved, and he knew exactly how he felt about what he was seeing. But he also was sure that, like most 17-year-olds (and perhaps even most 77-year-olds), he wasn’t quite prepared to speak authoritatively on why, exactly, the United States hasn’t yet solved systemic racism. He didn’t have answers.”I support this movement like no other,” he tells me, “But in those situations, I just didn’t really know what to say.”Danielle and Claudio are certain that someday he will. Over the past year, they have felt so much pride about what they’ve seen from Gio. His play on the field, sure: That incredible assist against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League or the first goal are memories that won’t be forgotten. But impressive as they were, those sorts of accomplishment aren’t what his parents see as critical: They are more grateful that as Gio’s life has morphed from American teenager to European soccer star, his focus on what is important hasn’t shifted.Most days, Gio and Claudio talk after training is over, which is early morning in the U.S. There will be a few quick check-ins through lunch, and then, in the late afternoons, Danielle will FaceTime with Gio for an hour, setting him on the counter as she cooks dinner. They don’t have to chat the entire time; Danielle just likes hearing her son bang around his apartment because it’s the closest she gets to feeling as if he is at home. Gio enjoys it because it gives him a tether; it is what keeps him feeling safe.”He’s still so little in some ways, but he’s doing this man’s job and he’s still never exhibited that anything other than family is his main priority,” Danielle says. She nods. “I think that’s really important.”               t is. Particularly when you consider what the Reyna family has already endured.


WHEN GIO WAS LITTLE, other parents in the local kids’ league were always more impressed by how far he could kick the ball, as opposed to how easily he could dribble it. This perpetually amused Claudio, whose father is Argentine and mother is Portuguese-American. It doesn’t take much to get him started on the misplaced priorities of many American soccer novices.”Everyone liked seeing him take goal kicks — like, goal kicks! — which, OK, I guess,” Claudio says, rolling his eyes. Even so, it wasn’t long before everyone, including the most casual observer, could see that Gio’s talent was remarkable.No one was shocked. Claudio played in three World Cups and Danielle won four college championships at North Carolina. But even as it became obvious he was a wunderkind, Gio wasn’t much interested in what his parents had done. He only wanted to be like his big brother, Jack.Jack was four years older than Gio, sturdy and strong and fast. The boys often played one-on-one soccer in the hallway upstairs, and most of the time the games ended with flailing punches, someone crying and “definitely some punishments,” Danielle says. As competitive as they were, though, Jack never hesitated to highlight his brother’s growing skills. At Gio’s games, Jack would often listen to the spectators on the other sideline, remarking about the tiny 6-year-old who was playing in the 8-year-old division, then sprint over to Claudio, cackling and shouting, “They don’t know what they’re in for!” as Gio would score again and again. Jack was plenty good at sports, too. He played everything he could, was a natural athlete and, in 2010, his soccer team won the New York State Cup. Everyone in the family was thrilled.But a few weeks later, Jack began complaining of crippling headaches. Doctors first suggested it might be a bad sinus infection, maybe, or meningitis. Then a CT scan showed a mass on Jack’s brain. There was a surgery and, finally, a diagnosis: Jack, who was 11, had brain cancer — specifically stage IV glioblastoma, a disease that typically affects people who are in their 70s.”We were just blindsided,” Claudio says. “It was literally, from one day to the next, our whole life changed.” His voice catches and he puts his hand to his face. “Everything you think is going to happen just … didn’t.”There were treatments. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Blood draws. Long days, waiting rooms and tests. Jack played with Legos over and over; he was often too tired to do anything more.

After about nine months, it seemed as though Jack’s cancer had responded to the treatments. Everyone felt a sliver of hope. But the disease returned a few months later, and the Reynas tried to squeeze in as many bucket-list items as they could, attending a big game or taking a family trip to Mexico or eating at a famous restaurant or going to a show. Jack’s speech began to decline. He couldn’t walk.On July 19, 2012, Jack died. He was 13. His baby sister, Carolina, was 2. Another brother, Joah-Mikel, was 5. Gio was 9.How can you measure what something like that does to a person? To a family? It is impossible. Gio never erupted; he never did any of the things the therapists told Danielle and Claudio to look out for. He never raged or lashed out. He went on, as best as he could, the way they all did. He stayed close to Jack’s friends. He became the big brother he lost. Now, when Gio comes home from Germany, he and Carolina and Joah have sleepovers together. They stay up late. They snuggle close.Gio doesn’t like talking about Jack publicly. So much of his life is on display — remember, the result of a nasal swab he took was literally international news — but he isn’t yet sure how much of his grief he wants to expose. Much of that is, as Danielle says, probably because he doesn’t want to be vulnerable on stage, and part of it is almost surely how deeply Jack still underpins all that Gio does.Gio still plays for Jack, still driven by the support he knows he would be getting from his brother. Within the family, Jack is a constant presence: His pictures are all over the house. When Claudio and Danielle and the kids sit in their Dortmund sweatsuits and watch Gio play on television, they sometimes talk about how Jack might have moved over to Germany to live with Gio during all of this, and how joyfully insufferable Jack might have been to his friends about what his little brother is doing.Claudio tears up when we talk about Jack, but he explains that it’s not just because of the tragedy of it all. Rather, it has to do with the incredible joy a parent feels when one of their children is proud of a brother or sister. That sort of admiration from one to another is almost ethereal, and the bond between siblings is the fiercest a family can know. For Claudio, thinking about how Jack can’t do that for Gio — even now, eight years later — remains devastating.”That is what’s so hard for Danielle and I,” Claudio says, and then he stops. His eyes water and he croaks, “That … you know … that Jack would be the happiest.”


ON JULY 28, Claudio loads Gio’s bags into the car and the entire family drives an hour to JFK Airport. The terminal is quiet. Normally, Claudio or Danielle would reassure Gio that one of them will be over to Germany in a few weeks to see him, but in these pandemic times, no one knows when that can happen. “See you … soon,” Claudio says. Gio walks into the security line.Sending one child to live on another continent after losing another child years earlier seems borderline impossible to me as a parent. But when I mention this to Claudio and Danielle, they are adamant it is not that difficult a decision. They lived abroad for years when Claudio played overseas (Gio was actually born in England during Claudio’s spell with Manchester City), so more than most parents, they have experienced a fair bit of their son’s life already.”We know there is so much in front of him,” Danielle says, “so how could we do anything but let him follow that path?”Danielle is pragmatic. She makes it sound simple. But was it? How easy could it have been? The Reynas call Danielle “Doctor D” because she always knows what medicine to take or what drink to sip when someone is feeling sick. She always makes things better. But that night when Gio thought he had the coronavirus — all Doctor D wanted was to be able to sit by his bed and help him — she was on another continent. As a parent, is there a more helpless feeling?But then, this is the journey. Dortmund is only a portion of it, too. The pandemic also delayed Gio’s first appearance with the U.S. national team, but that call-up is inevitable. Becoming a professional soccer player is part of Gio’s DNA, and representing the U.S. on its biggest stage is something Gio has been looking forward to for years. It comes with the name.”It’s basically in our blood,” Gio says.So, Danielle and Claudio let him go. To Germany. To national team games. To an Olympics, if it happens. To a World Cup, if the U.S. reboot is what everyone hopes.

They know the pressure will only grow hotter. Claudio’s nickname was “Captain America” and by going to Dortmund just as Pulisic did, Gio has made it even easier to put himself alongside the player many see as the most important player in the U.S. men’s revival. There are other players at big clubs who will make a difference, too — Weston McKennie has gone from struggling Schalk to Italian giants Juventus, and Tyler Adams is a key player at Leipzig — but Reyna’s potential is unmatched.Gio, at least for the moment though, seems unbothered.   “My dad did a lot of things, I know that, but he’s my dad — to me, he’s my dad,” Gio says. “My mom is my mom. And I’m going to be me.” Some days, he says, that means putting together a sharp move with Haaland or Sancho in front of goal, while on others it means playing FIFA past midnight with Joah, who always likes to play as Dortmund so he can start his big brother on the bench.All of it is important. And all of it — soccer and family — is what Gio sees as the existence he is chasing. A few weeks after returning to Europe, he scores the first goal of Dortmund’s exhibition schedule by coolly slipping the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs after taking a pass from Haaland. In the second preseason match, he does it again and adds another.Claudio and Danielle and the kids watch the stream of the second game back home, howling. That night, they talk with Gio on FaceTime about the match, and how Gio got to play through the middle more and what it feels like to start off the season as part of the team’s plans. There are so many matches — league games and cup games and the Champions League — that Gio is certain he will have more chances than ever to prove he belongs.”There is so much happening, in his world and around the world and everything,” Claudio says on the phone when we connect last week. “But when we talk to him, it’s like he sounds …” Claudio pauses and thinks for a second. Then he says, “It’s like he sounds ready.”Danielle and Claudio have lived what Gio is living, but not as he will live it. Not in this time. Not in this moment. In the end, Danielle says, “He’ll be himself.” And that will be enough.

Bocanegra joins National Soccer Hall of Fame; Cherundolo, Solo snubbed

Nicholas MendolaNBC Sports•September 8, 2020

The National Soccer Hall of Fame  will induct one human this summer.That player is a no-doubter in Carlos Bocanegra, who deserves plenty of praise for his incredible USMNT tenure and a solid club career with Fulham, Rennes, Saint-Etienne, and Rangers in addition to multiple stops in MLS.But instead we’re (again) left wondering who voted against other no-brainers like Steve Cherundolo and Hope Solo, a year after the Hall somehow saw fit to put in Sunil Gulati last season over Cherundolo. That’s not meant as a knock on the career of Gulati but measuring him as clearly above Cherundolo is… a challenge. Solo has 202 caps for the USWNT and only nine players have more than the three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup Golden Glove winner. Perhaps the controversial nature of her off-field and anti-establishment life has hurt her in the eyes of voters, and Abby Wambach wasn’t even close to unanimous last season.Cherundolo played from 1999-2014 for Bundesliga mainstays Hannover 96 and was even captain of the German club. He’s won 87 USMNT caps and been hired on the staffs at Stuttgart, Hannover, and the USMNT before joining the Germany youth set-up.Tell me what Hall of Fame voter should be shutting down either!There are now 40 members in the National Soccer Hall of Fame including five executives. Five are former or current U.S. Soccer presidents and MLS commissioners, which is good news for… current and future U.S. Soccer presidents and MLS commissioners (This omits a sixth in Cindy Parlow Cone, who was elected as a player far before she was elected USSF prez).Each has a great story to tell, sure, but a number of those stories would collect less ears than Cherundolo’s and Solo’s (Jaime Moreno’s and Lauren Holiday’s, maybe too).If you want people to respect your process and selections, have a respect-worthy process.

Chelsea’s attack, Man United’s goalkeepers, Real Madrid midfield: Biggest dilemmas for 2020-21

Sep 3, 2020Bill ConnellyESPN Staff Writer

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks in the European soccer universe, with teams attempting to cram a full offseason’s worth of both transfers and transfer rumors into the shortest offseason ever. But as moves have become official, they have created a few particularly interesting position battles among the top teams on the continent. Here are a few of the most interesting, and most important battles on the docket, the outcomes of which could decide title races in Europe’s biggest leagues.

(Note: the list below is not intended to be a comprehensive list of contenders, but a focus on teams with new-ish players and particularly interesting decisions to make. So the absence of Liverpool, for instance, isn’t a suggestion that Liverpool won’t contend in the Premier League this year.)

Jump to: Man City | Man United | Chelsea | Real Madrid | Barcelona | Bayern Munich | Borussia Dortmund | Juventus | Napoli

Premier League

Manchester City centre-backs

We’ll start with one of last year’s most definitive storylines. Manchester City allowed the most high-quality shots in the Premier League in 2019-20. Opponents averaged 0.144 XG per shot, the highest in the league, and while it’s pretty common for a high-possession team to give up good looks because said looks are often coming in rare counter-attacking chances, City was still average at worst in this department when winning the title the year before.

There were a couple of reasons for this. First, the aging Fernandinho moved from defensive midfield to central defense, with new acquisition Rodri taking his place in the DM role. Rodri is brilliant from a pressure standpoint — his 228 ball recoveries easily led the team — but he was less effective than Fernandinho in terms of tactical fouls and emergency tackles. That gave opponents a few more fast-break opportunities.

Then, their opponents made the most of those chances by charging in on a disheveled set of defenders. Star CB Aymeric Laporte was hurt for much of the season and never really reached fifth gear, which meant that Fernandinho went from backup to minutes-leader. Voila: quality shots.

With Fernandinho now 35, and with John Stones and Benjamin Mendy struggling to fully retain Pep Guardiola’s trust, a remodel has begun. A healthy Laporte could solve one problem, but City have acquired 25-year-old Nathan Ake from relegated AFC Bournemouth and might not be done. How this duo shakes out will determine a massive portion of the Premier League race, perhaps even more than if City were to acquire Lionel Messi up front.

Manchester United goalkeepers

Jan Joost Van Gangelen believes Solskjaer will play Donny van de Beek alongside both Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.

We don’t completely know what United have in store for the remainder of this transfer window, but theoretically they don’t have to make any major move. The Red Devils were the Premier League’s points leaders after acquiring Bruno Fernandes in late-January, and while both attack and defense have room for upgrades, there were no definitive weaknesses.

Adding 23-year-old midfielder Donny van de Beek from Ajax gives United an upgrade in creativity in the middle, but as things currently stand, the most interesting position battle might come at the back.

Scouting report: Van de Beek perfect for United

With 23-year-old Dean Henderson returning from loan after two productive years with Sheffield United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now must decide between one of the most proven long-term entities in the league (29-year-old David de Gea) and a battle-tested, but not Europe-tested, Henderson.

Goalkeeper stats are obviously context-dependent, but here are some per-90 averages from all competitions in 2019-20:

– de Gea: 10.5 shots against, 1.02 XG conceded from shots on target, 1.02 goals against, 70.1% save percentage
– Henderson: 11.2 shots against, 1.17 XG conceded from shots on target, 0.94 goals against, 74.5% save percentage

Keeper stats can be unreliable. De Gea was unsustainably brilliant in 2017-18, unsustainably bad in 2018-19 and directly in between last year. Henderson, meanwhile, posted better averages last year in the Premier League than the year before in the Championship. That’s not quite how that’s supposed to work. Do you rely on last year’s small-sample success as a sign of years of brilliance to come and cast de Gea aside? Do you stick with the veteran a bit longer?

The Chelsea attack — like, all of it

As with Manchester City, Chelsea’s success could be dependent on a rebuilt defense, but forgive me for getting distracted by bright, shiny objects. Chelsea has also rebuilt its attack … on top of an already pretty good attack. They added RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner and Ajax winger Hakim Ziyech, and they’re almost certainly going to add Bayer Leverkusen attacker Kai Havertz in the coming days. That’s in addition to young attackers Tammy AbrahamChristian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi, as well as the wily veteran Olivier Giroud.

Chelsea will, upon the addition of Havertz, boast seven or eight Premier League-quality attackers for what might amount to either three or four spots in the lineup. How in the hell will this all fit together?Here’s what we broadly know about each player:- Werner, Abraham and Giroud are all primarily centre forwards. Over the last three years in league play, from the center, Werner has averaged a combined 0.84 XG+XA (expected goals plus expected assists, per Opta), Giroud 0.79 and Abraham 0.70. We’ll see how Werner’s numbers are impacted by the move to the Premier League.- Ziyech split time between central midfield and right winger at Ajax; predictably, he was more productive at the latter (1.07 XG+XA, last three years) than the former (0.95), but if clutter becomes an issue, he could move around.- Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi are primarily wingers. Hudson-Odoi has been used almost completely on the right, while Pulisic has logged lots of minutes on the left and right through the years.- Havertz could be the wild card, assuming he indeed ends up in the blue shirt. Over the last three years in the Bundesliga, he logged 37% of his minutes from a central attacking midfielder role (0.45 XG+XA), 32% at right winger or right attacking midfield (0.54), 16% in central midfield (0.44) and 8% as a centre forward (0.74). He could be the anchor for lots of different looks.Lampard has a wealth of options, but we’ll see what choices he makes.

La Liga

Real Madrid’s midfield

Gab Marcotti says “it’s not a good look” for Gareth Bale to be complaining about Real Madrid not letting him go.

You know the coronavirus stoppage has thrown the sports world for a loop when Real Madrid decides it needs to watch its spending for a bit. Los Blancos haven’t really brought anyone new into the fold this offseason, and they might not, but they do have one pool to choose from: loanees. But while players like midfielder Alberto Soro (back from Zaragoza), fullbacks Alvaro Odriozola (Bayern Munich) and Sergio Reguilon (Sevilla), winger Hugo Vallejo (Deportivo) and striker Borja Mayoral (Levante) might all eventually figure into manager Zinedine Zidane‘s plans to some degree, one particular loanee will officially see his time come at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu: midfielder Martin Odegaard.

The 21-year old from Norway made his Real Madrid debut at the age of 16, but made just three appearances before getting sent away to soccer boarding school: the Eredivisie’s SC Heerenveen for two years and Vitesse for one, followed by a year of finishing school at Real Sociedad, where he logged 40 appearances in all competitions, with seven goals and 10 assists. He joins an already crowded midfield that includes veterans Toni KroosLuka Modric and Casemiro, plus 22-year-old up-and-comer Federico Valverde. All four of them logged over 1,900 minutes in league play last year.

His passing stats are more like Casemiro’s than anyone’s, but with Sociedad he averaged 0.37 XA+XG per 90 minutes, better than anything the Madrid quartet has produced over these last few seasons.

Does Modric give way to the youngster? Does Zidane end up fancying Odegaard more as a winger, as he was used for quite a few of his Eredivisie minutes? His usage could determine whether we have a La Liga race this year, or whether Real runs away with the title.

Barcelona’s midfield

Talking about Barcelona at the moment is the ultimate in known-knowns vs. known-unknowns. The latter — that whole “Leo Messi very much wants out, but the transfer fee is mammoth, even by European soccer standards” thing — muddies up the waters for talking about anything else. But here’s what we do know: Barca did trade Arthur to Juventus for Miralem Pjanic, brought in winger Francisco Trincao from Braga and brought back attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho from Bayern Munich.

We’ll have to wait to figure out Coutinho’s and Trincao’s roles, because we have to see what happens with Messi first. But let’s talk about the Barca midfield.

– Lowe: Bad blood and ‘burofax’ between Messi, Barca
– Hunter: Why Barcelona should let Messi go
– Connelly: How would Barca look without Messi?

Last year it was led by 23-year-old Frenkie de Jong, Arthur (24) and three veterans in Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic. Rakitic is gone, Vidal could be soon and, as mentioned, Arthur was replaced by the 30-year-old Pjanic, who was second on Juve in assists last year.

A starting point of de Jong and Pjanic, with Busquets still playing a large role, is pretty good, but I continue to hold out hope that new manager Ronald Koeman will determine that de Jong could play more of an interesting role moving back to centre-back, where he played for Ajax for much of 2017-18. He has still averaged 0.18 assists per 90 from that position — by comparison, he averaged 0.08 from central midfield for Barca last year — and playing there allowed some of his nature-made defensive abilities (ball recoveries, aerials, dispossession) to shine.

If Koeman thinks Pjanic and Busquets can hold down the fort in a 4-2-3-1 (or perhaps youngsters like Carles Alena and Riqui Puig can play larger roles), then he has an opportunity to move de Jong and improve his attack while improving his defense. Either way, Koeman has some decisions to make here.

Bundesliga

Bayern Munich’s wings

Jan Joost Van Gangelen says Sergino Dest needs to be more consistent to regain his starting role at Ajax.

There could still be a bit of a domino effect of moves regarding the Champions League winners during this transfer window — if midfielder Thiago ends up leaving for Liverpool, as seems to be his desire, then that might prompt a new acquisition and position battle. But right now, all we know for sure is that Coutinho is heading back to Barcelona and former Manchester City winger Leroy Sane has moved back to Germany.

Sane joins an astounding crew of wingers at the Allianz Arena. Serge Gnabry scored 23 goals in all competitions last year, primarily from the left wing. Kingsley Coman scored eight, including the Champions League clincher. Veteran Ivan Perisic came into his own after Hansi Flick’s midseason hire, and the Inter Milan loanee could still end up in Munich this coming year. Thomas Muller can play out wide when he needs to, and Alphonso Davies might have become a world-class winger if he hadn’t instead become a world-class fullback last season.

Sane’s 2019 injury might have led us to forgetting just how good he is, but during Manchester City’s two Premier League title runs in 2017-18 and 2018-19, he posted a combined 20 goals and 25 assists. He’s outstanding. If he’s in the lineup, some other outstanding winger won’t be.

Borussia Dortmund’s attacking midfield

Tormeister Erling Haaland will be lining up at the top of whatever formation manager Lucien Favre favors. That much we know. The 20-year-old scored a combined 44 goals for Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund last season and returns for a full season at the Signal Iduna.

The row of attackers behind Haaland, however, has minutes up for grabs. You could say that the youth-friendly BVB have made three primary young-talent acquisitions during this window: they signed 17-year-old Jude Bellingham from Birmingham, they brought Real Madrid’s 18-year-old Reinier in via a two-year loan, and they evidently managed to keep the marvelous Jadon Sancho for another season as Manchester United have seemingly elected not to meet the asking price.

Bellingham could play just about anywhere, but might mostly roam the midfield for BVB. Sancho does most of his work from the right wing, Thorgan Hazard dished 13 assists in league play from the left wing, veteran and central attacking midfielder Marco Reus is still good for double-digit goals when healthy, 17-year-old American Giovanni Reyna has potential from all of these positions (and has expressed a preference for that CAM spot), and Reinier posted six goals and two assists in 14 matches for Flamengo last year, also from the CAM position.

That’s five high-level players — without even counting Bellingham (who has looked good further up the field) — for two to three spots on the pitch.

Favre has to figure out a nice way to balance playing time for the club’s future stars while giving Bayern another fight, as BVB have done the last two years.

Serie A

Juventus midfielders

Julien Laurens believes Weston McKennie is the ideal player for Andrea Pirlo to bring in for Juve’s rebuild.

Back in July, as Juventus were wrapping up their ninth consecutive Serie A title, I wrote about how this was maybe the club’s least convincing win in the title streak and how the Bianconeri were a little bit lucky to both win as many close matches as they did and watch all their primary challengers falter at just the right time. I also noted something that club higher-ups most certainly already new: the roster needed a makeover. Juve was getting old and creaky and needed new energy, especially in the midfield.

The makeover has begun. Blaise Matuidi left for Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami, and forward Gonzalo Higuain is likely to follow. Miralem Pjanic left for Barcelona, while the younger Arthur was sent back in return. American Weston McKennie was brought in from Schalke, while a host of players returned from loans, including 20-year-old midfielder Dejan Kulusevski (10 goals and eight assists for Parma, albeit more from a winger role).

Their moves might not be over — we’ll see what happens with 33-year-old Sami Khedira and 29-year-old Aaron Ramsey — but that’s already a solid refresh. Arthur is a solid passer and could thrive in a pivot-type role, McKennie is developing a solid pressure-and-physicality presence, and Kulusevski is already a proven creator. Add them to a stable that still includes 23-year-old Rodrigo Bentancur, 25-year-old Adrien Rabiot and potentially Khedira and Ramsey, and you’ve got a lot of potential combinations for new manager Andrea Pirlo. But it might take him a bit to figure out the best combo of the bunch.

Napoli forwards

While Inter Milan has added wingback Achraf HakimiAtalanta has added attacking midfielder Aleksey Miranchuk and both AC Milan and Roma have made some interesting smaller moves (Lazio, not so much), by far the most interesting move among Juve’s main challengers came when Napoli added 21-year-old striker Victor Osimhen.

After scoring 20 goals on loan for Belgian side Charleroi in 2018-19, Osimhen landed at Lille and scored 18 for Lille, including two in the Champions League. Napoli were utterly desperate for firepower up front: Gli Azzurri averaged just 0.101 XG per shot in Serie A last year, second-worst in the league and by far the worst among contenders. Even an average performance in this regard could have resulted in five to 15 more goals, far fewer tight losses and a sustained title contention. So they spent a club-record $70 million for Osimhen, who averaged 0.19 XG per shot in Ligue 1 last year.

Only winger Jose Callejon has left the club, though. Centre-forward Arkadiusz Milik scored 11 league goals and averaged a healthy 0.16 XG/shot himself — really, veteran Dries Mertens was the biggest offender from an inefficient shots standpoint — and 29-year-old Lorenzo Insigne remains dangerous on the left wing. Hirving Lozano and super-sub Fernando Llorente could remain solid options, too.

Manager Gennaro Gattuso prefers a 4-3-3 structure, which could lead to a couple of players logging lots of minutes outside of their best positions; will the addition of Osimhen provide the balance that last year’s attack lacked, or will it just create a logjam?

Premier League 2020-21 season preview: Big questions, new players to watch, team-by-team projections

Arsenal vs. Spurs is always a battle, and consistency will again be key to seeing who “wins” North London as Mikel Arteta and Jose Mourinho embark on their first full seasons in charge.A few big victories put a gloss on what was Arsenal’s worst finish in 25 years. The signing of an experienced Premier League player in Willian will go a long way to reinforcing Arsenal’s defence, while the choice between two first-rate keepers in Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez gives Arsenal a solidity they’ve been missing. Bukayo Saka‘s breakout season hints at promise, but it’s hard to look past securing the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — the latest is that he’s “close” to signing a new deal — as key to any Arsenal success.Despite Mourinho’s abrasive approach to management, he did oversee an upturn in Spurs’ fortunes last season. While the expectation might have been for some headline summer signings, Mourinho has opted for solidity instead with Premier League-proven additions in Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Wolves defender Matt Doherty and veteran goalkeeper Joe Hart. Popular or not, Mourinho was brought in to win trophies, and being in the Europa League might lead Spurs to focus on other, attainable competitions.It’s hard to look past the excitement that Arteta has brought to Arsenal, an injection of energy that was sorely needed after a tired few years. Mourinho’s colourful management history (and tendency to self-destruct) has prevented a similar bump at Spurs, putting the Gunners in good stead to paint North London red this season. — Kathleen McNamee Which promoted team will ‘pull a Sheffield United,’ and why? After last season’s surprise-packed Sheffield United finished ninth in the Premier League, they have set the benchmark for the latest crop of promotion hopefuls. West Brom and Fulham have the most recent top flight experience — WBA finished last in the Premier League in 2018, and Fulham copied them 2019 — but it’s Leeds who we expect to enjoy their return to the elite for the first time since 2004.Under the maverick Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds have a manager who has forged a side that trusts in the system and fears nobody. The summer signing of Spanish striker Rodrigo from Valencia for £30m — he should contribute at least 15 goals — and defender Robin Koch from Freiberg are bits of smart business, while they also have managed to bring back in the impressive Jack Harrison from Manchester City on loan. Kalvin Phillips is getting international recognition in the UEFA Nations League with England, while Pablo Hernandez is ageless, so expect this Leeds team to run and run with El Loco, ensuring they leave nothing on the field. West Brom have recruited well, and Fulham still have several of the players who experienced their last Premier League adventure, but neither side boast the same strength in depth as Leeds, nor the Bielsa factor. — Tom Hamilton Who will contend for the Golden Boot? When it comes to goal scorers in the Premier League, the question once again this season is: Can someone new break into the Golden Boot Club? After all, it’s always the same stars topping the charts. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy won last season with 23 goals, one ahead of Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who shared the award the season before with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Salah lifted the Golden Boot alone in 2018 after his incredible campaign (32), ahead of Harry Kane, who finished first for the previous two seasons with 29 and 25 goals, respectively. Then there’s always Man City’s ageless Sergio Aguero, who’s never far from the top. So can someone break the hegemony of the “top six” players, or will it be one of them again? Southampton’s Danny Ings got very close last season, with 22 of his own. Can he go one better? Can Chelsea’s new signing, Timo Werner, be the man? Or how about Man City’s Raheem Sterling? Can Man United’s Anthony Martial or Wolves’ Raul Jimenez improve on their 17 league goals from last season? Or are we in for a big surprise “à la Kevin Phillips” — he notched 30 for Sunderland in 1999-2000 — from the likes of Everton’s Dominic Calvert-LewinAleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham), Rodrigo (Leeds United) or Callum Wilson (Newcastle)? Whoever wins it will be hoping to set a new mark. Salah’s 32 goals in 2018-19 was the highest tally since Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hit 34 in 1994 and 1995. Can someone do better this season? Only Phillips (2000), Thierry Henry (2003), Cristiano Ronaldo (2008), Robin Van Persie (2012), Luis Suarez (2014) and Salah achieved 30+ goals in a single season in the past 20 years. Whatever happens, it promises to be another close and exciting race… — Julien Laurens What can we expect from Marcelo Bielsa? The only thing we can truly expect from Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa this season is the unexpected. After a 16-year absence from the top flight, Leeds are finally back where many believe they belong, but it needed the unpredictable genius of Bielsa to crack the code of promotion from the Championship. Leeds won the Championship title by playing classic Bielsa football — a game of fast-moving possession with players capable of moving around the pitch at high energy. When they faced Arsenal in the FA Cup third round at the Emirates last season, Bielsa’s Leeds gave an hour-long masterclass that belied their lower-league status before losing the game due to a lack of cutting edge. If Leeds and Bielsa are to succeed in staying up this season, they have to find a way to score goals in games that they dominate, and the move for Rodrigo suggests that they have found a solution to that problem. That said, it’s best not to make assumptions where Bielsa is concerned. He will certainly bring a different flavour to the Premier League with his brand of football, but will it be too open and adventurous for the top division? And will Bielsa last the pace? Will he want to? His track record has been patchy — he walked out on Lazio after two days in the job, quit Marseille one game into his second season and lasted less than six months at Lille — so time will tell whether he will stay for the ride with the Leeds or find the Premier League too challenging. — Mark Ogden New arrivals to get excited about The Premier League has seemed slower in the transfer market this summer given the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but so far deals worth an estimated £850 million have been completed up and down the table. Tor-Kristian Karlsen is a Norwegian football scout and executive, and is the former chief executive and sporting director at AS Monaco. Here, he assesses the six incoming players worth paying attention to as the new campaign kicks off. play Rodrigo, FW, Valencia to Leeds United, €30m: It may seem like a steep price for someone who’s just six months from turning 30, but in the Brazil-born Spanish international, Bielsa gets a quality player with plenty of pedigree. The left-footed forward, who had a rather unremarkable loan stint with Bolton 10 years ago, can play in practically any attacking position and is full of the energy, movement and determination that Bielsa requires from an attacker. Quick, sharp and unpredictable, Rodrigo is an excellent counter-attack player. Kai Havertz, MF, Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea, €80m: Out of a spectacular bunch of summer signings by the West London club, the German is the cream of the crop. Despite being just 21, Havertz is already a seasoned Bundesliga player and already has useful experience in both the Champions League and the German national side. The superbly talented footballer with a lovely touch on the ball is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder through the middle, out wide to the right or as a deep-dropping forward. On the one hand he’s an intelligent playmaker with the skill and creativity to set up goals and on the other he’s an excellent finisher who finds great positions in and around the penalty area. Eberechi Eze, MF, Queens Park Rangers to Crystal Palace, €17.8m: The nimble, creative attacking midfielder moves from west to south London after an impressive season in the Championship. Most commonly deployed as an inverted wide midfielder on the left, Eze loves running at opponents and his outstanding balance makes him able to withstand challenges despite his relatively small build. Now 22, Eze, who has plenty of clever ball skills and loves backheel passes, made his debut for the England U21 side last year and was closely monitored by several other Premier League sides before joining the London rivals. All in all, he’s a good finisher who’s able to hit the target from well outside the penalty area. Donny van de Beek, MF, Ajax to Manchester United, €39m: Despite spending heavily over the past few years, it’s only January 2020 signing Bruno Fernandes who has emerged as an instant hit for the Red Devils thus far, though it looks as though the 23-year-old Dutchman could follow in the same vein. Judging from his profile, van de Beek has all it takes to succeed in the Premier League; he’s sharp, industrious, neat on the ball and has the priceless ability of converting well-timed attacking runs into chances and goals. Though he faces tough competition in midfield, one wouldn’t be surprised if van de Beek ends up as one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team sheet once he gets settled. Ferran Torres, FW, Valencia to Manchester City, €23m: For a club accustomed to paying over the odds, the Spanish winger — who was about to enter the last year of his contract — represents something as rare as a bargain signing. Manchester City may not have ended up with Lionel Messi (yet?), but the 20-year-old Spaniard certainly possesses some of the technical abilities that are required for an attacking player to function within Pep Guardiola’s framework of fluid football. Torres has usually been fielded as an out-and-out right winger, but expect him to take up more central positions in the blue shirt. An exciting, tricky flair player who is a delight to watch when at his best. James Rodriguez, MF, Real Madrid to Everton, €25m: There’s no denying that the career of the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner has gone somewhat downhill in the past couple of seasons, with just 18 league starts during the past two campaigns. However, the presence of Carlo Ancelotti speaks in favour of Rodriguez becoming a success at Merseyside, with the Colombian joining up with the Italian manager for the third time in his career. While there might be some doubt about his mobility and determination to push himself for another challenge, the amazing left foot — with which he can finish from anywhere — is still evident. Coupled with his highly impressive vision and (hopefully) his playmaking abilities, this makes him potentially a major reinforcement for Everton. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen The 2020-21 Premier League season in a sentence You’ve read the big questions and you’ve got the new names to keep an eye on from week to week. Now it’s time to examine what each of the 20 teams might be expecting from the 2020-21 campaign and how they might (or might not) accomplish their goals. Tom Hamilton has you covered. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/359.png&w=126&site=espnfc ARSENAL: (8th last season, 56 points) The goal will be a top-four finish and while Arsenal fans will be waiting to see if Mikel Arteta is further backed in the transfer window to achieve these lofty aims, they’ll take heart from Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s new contract and the signing of Gabriel Magalhaes to shore up their unpredictable defence. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/362.png&w=126&site=espnfc ASTON VILLA: (17th, 35 pts) Villa will hope to finish with breathing space away from the relegation zone, sign a striker and keep their talisman, Jack Grealish; do that and they have a chance of staying up. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/331.png&w=126&site=espnfc BRIGHTON: (15th, 41 pts) Brighton fans will hope for a mid-table finish, and this should be achievable after a good summer that saw Adam Lallana arrive, Ben White return and Lewis Dunk sign a new deal. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/379.png&w=126&site=espnfc BURNLEY: (10th, 54 pts) Burnley fans have faced the annual uncertainty over their beloved Sean Dyche’s future and are battling to hold on to James Tarkowski; accomplish both and they should be mid-table. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/363.png&w=126&site=espnfc CHELSEA: (4th, 66 pts) After signing half of Europe’s stars, Chelsea fans will hope for a title challenge this season with new recruits Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech spearheading their charge; after a valiant battle, expect them to finish third. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/384.png&w=126&site=espnfc CRYSTAL PALACE: (14th, 43 pts) After a dismal end to last season, Crystal Palace fans will be keeping everything crossed they manage to get a striker in who can score double figures this season; if they manage that, they should escape the drop, but it’ll be another nail-biting campaign from start to finish. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/368.png&w=126&site=espnfc EVERTON: (12th, 49 pts) Their new-look midfield of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure will give Everton fans confidence they are going to finish in the Europe places, but they will need to start the season well and hope Richarlison is firing on all cylinders. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/370.png FULHAM: (Promoted via Championship playoff, 81 pts) This season will be about survival and learning from their last disappointing venture in the Premier League; however, they will fall short, but not for want of effort or application. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/357.png LEEDS UNITED: (Promoted as Championship winners, 93 pts) It’s a welcome return for Leeds this season and the Premier League will have to brace itself for Bielsa and their new big-money signing, Rodrigo, which should be enough to secure a mid-table finish and plenty of drama along with it. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/375.png&w=126&site=espnfc LEICESTER: (5th, 62 pts) Having lost Ben Chilwell this summer, Leicester will fail to emulate last season’s fifth-place finish with the Europa League, giving Brendan Rodgers a selection headache and a battle to keep his squad fresh. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/364.png&w=126&site=espnfc LIVERPOOL: (Champions, 99 pts) Topping last season’s remarkable title charge will be hard, and Liverpool’s fans will hope for a repeat this term, but with Manchester City strengthening, they will end up finishing second by a hair’s breadth. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/382.png&w=126&site=espnfc MAN CITY: (2nd, 81 pts) With Pep Guardiola probably still fuming at last season, Manchester City will be a wounded animal this term, and even without Leo Messi, they have recruited well over the summer (Ferran Torres, Nathan Ake) and should end up Premier League champions for the third time in the past four seasons. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/360.png&w=126&site=espnfc MAN UNITED: (3rd, 66 pts) The summer was dominated by Jadon Sancho talk and if they manage to get him over the line, United fans will be dreaming of a title challenge; fall short of that, and it’ll be another top-four fandango, but they should be good for a spot in the Champions League places. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/361.png&w=126&site=espnfc NEWCASTLE: (13th, 44 pts) Newcastle fans still aren’t rid of their controversial owner Mike Ashley, but with some smart recruitment over the summer — including Callum Wilson — Steve Bruce’s side will hope for a mid-table finish but will likely finish a little lower down. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/398.png SHEFFIELD UNITED: (9th, 54 pts) It’s going to be hard to top last season, but teams will no longer underestimate Chris Wilder’s side; a mid-table finish is likely, yet they’ll still hand out defeats to some of the league’s bigger fish. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/376.png&w=126&site=espnfc SOUTHAMPTON: (11th, 52 pts) With arguably England’s most prolific striker in their ranks, Southampton fans will hope Danny Ings and some smart summer signings will be enough to see them break into the top half, but a finish of 10th or so is projected. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/367.png&w=126&site=espnfc TOTTENHAM: (6th, 59 pts) Flip a coin for this season: On the face of it, Tottenham should finish in the top six, but they could go higher if Jose Mourinho works his magic following a prudent summer’s transfers and they manage to keep their star players fit. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/383.png&w=126&site=espnfc WEST BROM: (Promoted as 2nd in Championship, 83 pts) They have recruited well over the summer, with Grady Diangana arriving and the wondrous Matheus Pereira signing permanently, and they have a smart manager in Slaven Bilic, but although West Brom fans will hope the team avoids relegation, it’s going to be a struggle. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/371.png&w=126&site=espnfc WEST HAM: (16th, 39 pts) Even the West Ham captain is unhappy at the owners, so goodness knows how this season will pan out, but they have enough quality to finish mid-table if they manage to find some off-field stability. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/380.png&w=126&site=espnfc WOLVES: (7th, 59 pts) The Portuguese contingent is growing at Molineux with the signing of £36m wonderkid Fabio Silva, so Wolves should be good for another Europe charge and further improvement under Nuno Espirito Santo.     RECAP | ELEVEN BACK IN GROUP E LEAD WITH 2-1 VICTORY OVER SPORTING KANSAS CITY II By Indy Eleven Communications, 09/09/20, 10:45PM EDT   Goals by Forwards Jeremy Rafanello and Nick Moon Put Indiana’s Team Back in Win Column, First Place #INDvSKC Post-Game Quotes – September 9 #INDvSKC Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center Goals by the young forward duo of Nick Moon and Jeremy Rafanello were enough for Indy Eleven to fend off a late surge by Sporting Kansas City II, lifting Indiana’s Team to a pivotal 2-1 win at Lucas Oil Stadium that pushed it back into first place in the Group E standings.“I think we played well especially really up until the last 10 minutes in which we dropped a bit and they scored a great goal,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “Before that, I thought we were well on top – we created good chances and had a lot of shots, especially in the first half. It’s exciting to see two young players both playing up front together, both scoring goals.”With the victory, Indy Eleven (7W-4L-1D, 22 pts.) repossessed the top spot in the four-team group, overtaking Louisville City FC (20 pts.) and setting up another fight for first between the two rivals one week from tonight in the Circle City. The result also put some more distance between Indy and Saint Louis FC (18 pts.), the group’s other contender for one of its two playoff berths. With the loss, Sporting Kansas City II (4W-7L-1D, 13 pts.) saw a dent put in its hopes for postseason qualification, now seven points away from being above the red line with just four matches remaining.The opening of the contest proved to be an emotional rollercoaster for Indiana’s Team, starting with the dip of seeing defender and captain Paddy Barrett receive the first of the game’s eventual seven yellow cards just three minutes in. However, the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd would be on a high soon after, courtesy of Moon’s second goal of the season in the sixth minute. The play began with a long service over the backline by midfielder Ayoze, who made his return felt instantly after missing the squad’s last two contests. From there it was all Moon, who maneuvered his way through a pair of SKC II defenders and saw his left-footed strike go between the legs of goalkeeper Brooks Thompson to give Indy the early 1-0 advantage.Ayoze seemed to be at the heart of Indy’s most dangerous chances – and Sporting’s mounting frustrations – in the first 45 minutes, suffering fouls to set up numerous free kicks in the final third, one of which he nearly converted on in the 36th minute. Three minutes later, his short layoff set up Rafanello to cut inside and unleash a 30-yard blast that just missed wide left. Meanwhile, the Indy backline – minus stalwart left-back Neveal Hackshaw – proved formidable against the young SKC attack, limiting the visitors to just one shot and a late corner kick in the opening stanza.  The second half began with the visitors’ aggression boiling over, with SKCII shown three cautions in a span of six minutes just prior to the hour mark. That feistiness also had positive gains, the urgency to set the tone for the rest of the half resulting in captain Dillon Serna’s first true test of Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton on a hard left-footed strike from outside the box. A few minutes later, a cross from Camden Riley set up a solid header opportunity for Dominik Resetar, which was pushed high and wide.Indiana’s Team kept its foot on the gas, too, driven by forward Andrew Carleton. The 20-year-old playmaker had a couple dangerous looks a minute apart, including one in the 57th minute set up by his dummy and a well-weighted through ball by Rafanello that forced Thompson into a tough save off his line.It would be Rafanello that would give the match a deserved second goal in the 63rd minute, set up by defender Carl Haworth’s cross from the right flank that bounced inside the Sporting six-yard box, making its way past a sliding Moon and three SKCII defenders. Waiting on the other end was Rafanello, whose tough first-time finish gave Indy a 2-0 lead and opened the account of the New Jersey native, making him the ninth Indy player to tally in 2020. Now down two goals, the visitors continued to attack in hopes of keeping their playoff aspirations alive in earnest. A moment of hope came in the 88th minute, when substitute Tyler Freeman’s right-footed free kick drove into the upper-left corner of Newton’s goal, setting up an energetic finish. In the second of three minutes of stoppage time, Sporting KC II thought it had its equalizer off another set piece opportunity, but while Daniel Barbir successfully put his header into the Indy Eleven goal, the finish was waived off after he was whistled for shoving Barrett to gain space at the left post.Indy Eleven will reach the middle of its five-match September homestand next Wednesday, September 16, when Indiana’s Team closes out its regular season series against Louisville City FC (6W-3L-2D, 20 pts., 1st in Group E). Tickets for the next installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest rivalry series, set for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium, are available at www.indyeleven.com/tickets, and those who cannot be there in person can follow the action live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.  USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSKC  Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Sporting Kansas City II     Wednesday, September 9, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET    Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.Attndance: 5,066  2020 USL Championship records Indy Eleven (7W-4L-1D, 22 pts., 1st in Group E) Sporting Kansas City II (4W-7L-1D, 13 pts., 4th in Group E)  Scoring Summary: IND – Nick Moon (Ayoze) 6’ IND – Jeremy Rafanello (Carl Haworth) 63’ SKC – Tyler Freeman (unassisted) 88’
Disciplinary Summary: IND – Paddy Barrett (yellow card) 3’ SKC – Dominik Resetar (yellow card) 23’ SKC – Dillon Serna (yellow card) 53’ SKC – Camden Riley (yellow card) 58’ SKC – Jacob Davis (yellow card) 59’ SKC – Petar Cuic (yellow card) 73’ IND – Drew Conner (yellow card) 86’  
Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton; Mitch Osmond, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze (Conner Antley 82’), Drew Connor, Tyler Gibson, Carl Haworth; Jeremy Rafanello (Matt Watson 82’), Andrew Carleton, Nick Moon (Ilija Ilic 89’)
IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Felicien Dumas, Matthew Senanou, Cam Lindley IND Stats: Shots: 19, Shots on Goal: 6 Possession: 50.6%, Passing Accuracy: 79.1%, Passes: 421, Fouls: 11, Corners: 6, Offside: 0
Sporting Kansas City II (4-3-3, L–>R): Brooks Thompson; Dillon Serna (captain), Daniel Barbir, Kaveh Rad, Camden Riley (Sam Raben 67’); Jacob Davis, Petar Cuic (Tyler Freeman 76’), Duval Wapiwo (Christian Duke 46’); Enoch Mushagalusa (Fredlin Mompremier 77’), Wilson Harris, Dominik Resetar (Jaret Townsend 67’) SKC Substitutes: Remi Prieur (GK), Isaiah LeFlore SKC Stats: Shots: 7, Shots on goal: 3, Possession: 49.4%, Passing Accuracy: 76.5%, Passes: 405, Fouls: 19, Corners: 6, Offside: 5

Sep 8, 2020  ESPN 

It seems like only yesterday that the 2019-20 season was wrapping up (well, maybe a month?) across Europe but after a quick breather and some UEFA Nations League fixtures as a sporting aperitif, it’s time for the 2020-21 Premier League season to begin.

There’s a lot to preview, too, with some clubs investing big this summer (we see you, Chelsea) and creating the tantalizing prospect of a three- or four-way title fight. (Expect Liverpool and Manchester City to set the pace, however.) Meanwhile, three familiar clubs (West Bromwich AlbionFulhamLeeds United) return to the top-flight, we’ve got a glut of top strikers and a slew of intriguing new signings to look forward to.Who will win the league? Who will fall short? What is each team setting as their goals and expectations for the campaign? We’ve got all that and more in our bumper Premier League preview to get you ready for the season.

Jump to: Liverpool faves or not? | Projecting Pulisic, year 2 | Same top four again? | Man United to do better? | Arsenal or Spurs finish higher? | Which promoted team will shine? | How will Bielsa fare? | New arrivals to watch | Season in a sentence

 

Are Liverpool favorites, or a one-season wonder?

Arsenal vs. Spurs is always a battle, and consistency will again be key to seeing who “wins” North London as Mikel Arteta and Jose Mourinho embark on their first full seasons in charge.A few big victories put a gloss on what was Arsenal’s worst finish in 25 years. The signing of an experienced Premier League player in Willian will go a long way to reinforcing Arsenal’s defence, while the choice between two first-rate keepers in Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez gives Arsenal a solidity they’ve been missing. Bukayo Saka‘s breakout season hints at promise, but it’s hard to look past securing the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — the latest is that he’s “close” to signing a new deal — as key to any Arsenal success.Despite Mourinho’s abrasive approach to management, he did oversee an upturn in Spurs’ fortunes last season. While the expectation might have been for some headline summer signings, Mourinho has opted for solidity instead with Premier League-proven additions in Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Wolves defender Matt Doherty and veteran goalkeeper Joe Hart. Popular or not, Mourinho was brought in to win trophies, and being in the Europa League might lead Spurs to focus on other, attainable competitions.It’s hard to look past the excitement that Arteta has brought to Arsenal, an injection of energy that was sorely needed after a tired few years. Mourinho’s colourful management history (and tendency to self-destruct) has prevented a similar bump at Spurs, putting the Gunners in good stead to paint North London red this season. — Kathleen McNamee Which promoted team will ‘pull a Sheffield United,’ and why? After last season’s surprise-packed Sheffield United finished ninth in the Premier League, they have set the benchmark for the latest crop of promotion hopefuls. West Brom and Fulham have the most recent top flight experience — WBA finished last in the Premier League in 2018, and Fulham copied them 2019 — but it’s Leeds who we expect to enjoy their return to the elite for the first time since 2004.Under the maverick Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds have a manager who has forged a side that trusts in the system and fears nobody. The summer signing of Spanish striker Rodrigo from Valencia for £30m — he should contribute at least 15 goals — and defender Robin Koch from Freiberg are bits of smart business, while they also have managed to bring back in the impressive Jack Harrison from Manchester City on loan. Kalvin Phillips is getting international recognition in the UEFA Nations League with England, while Pablo Hernandez is ageless, so expect this Leeds team to run and run with El Loco, ensuring they leave nothing on the field. West Brom have recruited well, and Fulham still have several of the players who experienced their last Premier League adventure, but neither side boast the same strength in depth as Leeds, nor the Bielsa factor. — Tom Hamilton Who will contend for the Golden Boot? When it comes to goal scorers in the Premier League, the question once again this season is: Can someone new break into the Golden Boot Club? After all, it’s always the same stars topping the charts. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy won last season with 23 goals, one ahead of Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who shared the award the season before with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Salah lifted the Golden Boot alone in 2018 after his incredible campaign (32), ahead of Harry Kane, who finished first for the previous two seasons with 29 and 25 goals, respectively. Then there’s always Man City’s ageless Sergio Aguero, who’s never far from the top. So can someone break the hegemony of the “top six” players, or will it be one of them again? Southampton’s Danny Ings got very close last season, with 22 of his own. Can he go one better? Can Chelsea’s new signing, Timo Werner, be the man? Or how about Man City’s Raheem Sterling? Can Man United’s Anthony Martial or Wolves’ Raul Jimenez improve on their 17 league goals from last season? Or are we in for a big surprise “à la Kevin Phillips” — he notched 30 for Sunderland in 1999-2000 — from the likes of Everton’s Dominic Calvert-LewinAleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham), Rodrigo (Leeds United) or Callum Wilson (Newcastle)? Whoever wins it will be hoping to set a new mark. Salah’s 32 goals in 2018-19 was the highest tally since Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hit 34 in 1994 and 1995. Can someone do better this season? Only Phillips (2000), Thierry Henry (2003), Cristiano Ronaldo (2008), Robin Van Persie (2012), Luis Suarez (2014) and Salah achieved 30+ goals in a single season in the past 20 years. Whatever happens, it promises to be another close and exciting race… — Julien Laurens What can we expect from Marcelo Bielsa? The only thing we can truly expect from Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa this season is the unexpected. After a 16-year absence from the top flight, Leeds are finally back where many believe they belong, but it needed the unpredictable genius of Bielsa to crack the code of promotion from the Championship. Leeds won the Championship title by playing classic Bielsa football — a game of fast-moving possession with players capable of moving around the pitch at high energy. When they faced Arsenal in the FA Cup third round at the Emirates last season, Bielsa’s Leeds gave an hour-long masterclass that belied their lower-league status before losing the game due to a lack of cutting edge. If Leeds and Bielsa are to succeed in staying up this season, they have to find a way to score goals in games that they dominate, and the move for Rodrigo suggests that they have found a solution to that problem. That said, it’s best not to make assumptions where Bielsa is concerned. He will certainly bring a different flavour to the Premier League with his brand of football, but will it be too open and adventurous for the top division? And will Bielsa last the pace? Will he want to? His track record has been patchy — he walked out on Lazio after two days in the job, quit Marseille one game into his second season and lasted less than six months at Lille — so time will tell whether he will stay for the ride with the Leeds or find the Premier League too challenging. — Mark Ogden New arrivals to get excited about The Premier League has seemed slower in the transfer market this summer given the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but so far deals worth an estimated £850 million have been completed up and down the table. Tor-Kristian Karlsen is a Norwegian football scout and executive, and is the former chief executive and sporting director at AS Monaco. Here, he assesses the six incoming players worth paying attention to as the new campaign kicks off. play Rodrigo, FW, Valencia to Leeds United, €30m: It may seem like a steep price for someone who’s just six months from turning 30, but in the Brazil-born Spanish international, Bielsa gets a quality player with plenty of pedigree. The left-footed forward, who had a rather unremarkable loan stint with Bolton 10 years ago, can play in practically any attacking position and is full of the energy, movement and determination that Bielsa requires from an attacker. Quick, sharp and unpredictable, Rodrigo is an excellent counter-attack player. Kai Havertz, MF, Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea, €80m: Out of a spectacular bunch of summer signings by the West London club, the German is the cream of the crop. Despite being just 21, Havertz is already a seasoned Bundesliga player and already has useful experience in both the Champions League and the German national side. The superbly talented footballer with a lovely touch on the ball is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder through the middle, out wide to the right or as a deep-dropping forward. On the one hand he’s an intelligent playmaker with the skill and creativity to set up goals and on the other he’s an excellent finisher who finds great positions in and around the penalty area. Eberechi Eze, MF, Queens Park Rangers to Crystal Palace, €17.8m: The nimble, creative attacking midfielder moves from west to south London after an impressive season in the Championship. Most commonly deployed as an inverted wide midfielder on the left, Eze loves running at opponents and his outstanding balance makes him able to withstand challenges despite his relatively small build. Now 22, Eze, who has plenty of clever ball skills and loves backheel passes, made his debut for the England U21 side last year and was closely monitored by several other Premier League sides before joining the London rivals. All in all, he’s a good finisher who’s able to hit the target from well outside the penalty area. Donny van de Beek, MF, Ajax to Manchester United, €39m: Despite spending heavily over the past few years, it’s only January 2020 signing Bruno Fernandes who has emerged as an instant hit for the Red Devils thus far, though it looks as though the 23-year-old Dutchman could follow in the same vein. Judging from his profile, van de Beek has all it takes to succeed in the Premier League; he’s sharp, industrious, neat on the ball and has the priceless ability of converting well-timed attacking runs into chances and goals. Though he faces tough competition in midfield, one wouldn’t be surprised if van de Beek ends up as one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team sheet once he gets settled. Ferran Torres, FW, Valencia to Manchester City, €23m: For a club accustomed to paying over the odds, the Spanish winger — who was about to enter the last year of his contract — represents something as rare as a bargain signing. Manchester City may not have ended up with Lionel Messi (yet?), but the 20-year-old Spaniard certainly possesses some of the technical abilities that are required for an attacking player to function within Pep Guardiola’s framework of fluid football. Torres has usually been fielded as an out-and-out right winger, but expect him to take up more central positions in the blue shirt. An exciting, tricky flair player who is a delight to watch when at his best. James Rodriguez, MF, Real Madrid to Everton, €25m: There’s no denying that the career of the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner has gone somewhat downhill in the past couple of seasons, with just 18 league starts during the past two campaigns. However, the presence of Carlo Ancelotti speaks in favour of Rodriguez becoming a success at Merseyside, with the Colombian joining up with the Italian manager for the third time in his career. While there might be some doubt about his mobility and determination to push himself for another challenge, the amazing left foot — with which he can finish from anywhere — is still evident. Coupled with his highly impressive vision and (hopefully) his playmaking abilities, this makes him potentially a major reinforcement for Everton. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen The 2020-21 Premier League season in a sentence You’ve read the big questions and you’ve got the new names to keep an eye on from week to week. Now it’s time to examine what each of the 20 teams might be expecting from the 2020-21 campaign and how they might (or might not) accomplish their goals. Tom Hamilton has you covered. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/359.png&w=126&site=espnfc ARSENAL: (8th last season, 56 points) The goal will be a top-four finish and while Arsenal fans will be waiting to see if Mikel Arteta is further backed in the transfer window to achieve these lofty aims, they’ll take heart from Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s new contract and the signing of Gabriel Magalhaes to shore up their unpredictable defence. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/362.png&w=126&site=espnfc ASTON VILLA: (17th, 35 pts) Villa will hope to finish with breathing space away from the relegation zone, sign a striker and keep their talisman, Jack Grealish; do that and they have a chance of staying up. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/331.png&w=126&site=espnfc BRIGHTON: (15th, 41 pts) Brighton fans will hope for a mid-table finish, and this should be achievable after a good summer that saw Adam Lallana arrive, Ben White return and Lewis Dunk sign a new deal. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/379.png&w=126&site=espnfc BURNLEY: (10th, 54 pts) Burnley fans have faced the annual uncertainty over their beloved Sean Dyche’s future and are battling to hold on to James Tarkowski; accomplish both and they should be mid-table. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/363.png&w=126&site=espnfc CHELSEA: (4th, 66 pts) After signing half of Europe’s stars, Chelsea fans will hope for a title challenge this season with new recruits Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech spearheading their charge; after a valiant battle, expect them to finish third. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/384.png&w=126&site=espnfc CRYSTAL PALACE: (14th, 43 pts) After a dismal end to last season, Crystal Palace fans will be keeping everything crossed they manage to get a striker in who can score double figures this season; if they manage that, they should escape the drop, but it’ll be another nail-biting campaign from start to finish. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/368.png&w=126&site=espnfc EVERTON: (12th, 49 pts) Their new-look midfield of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure will give Everton fans confidence they are going to finish in the Europe places, but they will need to start the season well and hope Richarlison is firing on all cylinders. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/370.png FULHAM: (Promoted via Championship playoff, 81 pts) This season will be about survival and learning from their last disappointing venture in the Premier League; however, they will fall short, but not for want of effort or application. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/357.png LEEDS UNITED: (Promoted as Championship winners, 93 pts) It’s a welcome return for Leeds this season and the Premier League will have to brace itself for Bielsa and their new big-money signing, Rodrigo, which should be enough to secure a mid-table finish and plenty of drama along with it. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/375.png&w=126&site=espnfc LEICESTER: (5th, 62 pts) Having lost Ben Chilwell this summer, Leicester will fail to emulate last season’s fifth-place finish with the Europa League, giving Brendan Rodgers a selection headache and a battle to keep his squad fresh. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/364.png&w=126&site=espnfc LIVERPOOL: (Champions, 99 pts) Topping last season’s remarkable title charge will be hard, and Liverpool’s fans will hope for a repeat this term, but with Manchester City strengthening, they will end up finishing second by a hair’s breadth. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/382.png&w=126&site=espnfc MAN CITY: (2nd, 81 pts) With Pep Guardiola probably still fuming at last season, Manchester City will be a wounded animal this term, and even without Leo Messi, they have recruited well over the summer (Ferran Torres, Nathan Ake) and should end up Premier League champions for the third time in the past four seasons. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/360.png&w=126&site=espnfc MAN UNITED: (3rd, 66 pts) The summer was dominated by Jadon Sancho talk and if they manage to get him over the line, United fans will be dreaming of a title challenge; fall short of that, and it’ll be another top-four fandango, but they should be good for a spot in the Champions League places. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/361.png&w=126&site=espnfc NEWCASTLE: (13th, 44 pts) Newcastle fans still aren’t rid of their controversial owner Mike Ashley, but with some smart recruitment over the summer — including Callum Wilson — Steve Bruce’s side will hope for a mid-table finish but will likely finish a little lower down. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/398.png SHEFFIELD UNITED: (9th, 54 pts) It’s going to be hard to top last season, but teams will no longer underestimate Chris Wilder’s side; a mid-table finish is likely, yet they’ll still hand out defeats to some of the league’s bigger fish. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/376.png&w=126&site=espnfc SOUTHAMPTON: (11th, 52 pts) With arguably England’s most prolific striker in their ranks, Southampton fans will hope Danny Ings and some smart summer signings will be enough to see them break into the top half, but a finish of 10th or so is projected. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/367.png&w=126&site=espnfc TOTTENHAM: (6th, 59 pts) Flip a coin for this season: On the face of it, Tottenham should finish in the top six, but they could go higher if Jose Mourinho works his magic following a prudent summer’s transfers and they manage to keep their star players fit. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/383.png&w=126&site=espnfc WEST BROM: (Promoted as 2nd in Championship, 83 pts) They have recruited well over the summer, with Grady Diangana arriving and the wondrous Matheus Pereira signing permanently, and they have a smart manager in Slaven Bilic, but although West Brom fans will hope the team avoids relegation, it’s going to be a struggle. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/371.png&w=126&site=espnfc WEST HAM: (16th, 39 pts) Even the West Ham captain is unhappy at the owners, so goodness knows how this season will pan out, but they have enough quality to finish mid-table if they manage to find some off-field stability. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/380.png&w=126&site=espnfc WOLVES: (7th, 59 pts) The Portuguese contingent is growing at Molineux with the signing of £36m wonderkid Fabio Silva, so Wolves should be good for another Europe charge and further improvement under Nuno Espirito Santo.     RECAP | ELEVEN BACK IN GROUP E LEAD WITH 2-1 VICTORY OVER SPORTING KANSAS CITY II By Indy Eleven Communications, 09/09/20, 10:45PM EDT   Goals by Forwards Jeremy Rafanello and Nick Moon Put Indiana’s Team Back in Win Column, First Place #INDvSKC Post-Game Quotes – September 9 #INDvSKC Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center Goals by the young forward duo of Nick Moon and Jeremy Rafanello were enough for Indy Eleven to fend off a late surge by Sporting Kansas City II, lifting Indiana’s Team to a pivotal 2-1 win at Lucas Oil Stadium that pushed it back into first place in the Group E standings.“I think we played well especially really up until the last 10 minutes in which we dropped a bit and they scored a great goal,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “Before that, I thought we were well on top – we created good chances and had a lot of shots, especially in the first half. It’s exciting to see two young players both playing up front together, both scoring goals.”With the victory, Indy Eleven (7W-4L-1D, 22 pts.) repossessed the top spot in the four-team group, overtaking Louisville City FC (20 pts.) and setting up another fight for first between the two rivals one week from tonight in the Circle City. The result also put some more distance between Indy and Saint Louis FC (18 pts.), the group’s other contender for one of its two playoff berths. With the loss, Sporting Kansas City II (4W-7L-1D, 13 pts.) saw a dent put in its hopes for postseason qualification, now seven points away from being above the red line with just four matches remaining.The opening of the contest proved to be an emotional rollercoaster for Indiana’s Team, starting with the dip of seeing defender and captain Paddy Barrett receive the first of the game’s eventual seven yellow cards just three minutes in. However, the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd would be on a high soon after, courtesy of Moon’s second goal of the season in the sixth minute. The play began with a long service over the backline by midfielder Ayoze, who made his return felt instantly after missing the squad’s last two contests. From there it was all Moon, who maneuvered his way through a pair of SKC II defenders and saw his left-footed strike go between the legs of goalkeeper Brooks Thompson to give Indy the early 1-0 advantage.Ayoze seemed to be at the heart of Indy’s most dangerous chances – and Sporting’s mounting frustrations – in the first 45 minutes, suffering fouls to set up numerous free kicks in the final third, one of which he nearly converted on in the 36th minute. Three minutes later, his short layoff set up Rafanello to cut inside and unleash a 30-yard blast that just missed wide left. Meanwhile, the Indy backline – minus stalwart left-back Neveal Hackshaw – proved formidable against the young SKC attack, limiting the visitors to just one shot and a late corner kick in the opening stanza.  The second half began with the visitors’ aggression boiling over, with SKCII shown three cautions in a span of six minutes just prior to the hour mark. That feistiness also had positive gains, the urgency to set the tone for the rest of the half resulting in captain Dillon Serna’s first true test of Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton on a hard left-footed strike from outside the box. A few minutes later, a cross from Camden Riley set up a solid header opportunity for Dominik Resetar, which was pushed high and wide.Indiana’s Team kept its foot on the gas, too, driven by forward Andrew Carleton. The 20-year-old playmaker had a couple dangerous looks a minute apart, including one in the 57th minute set up by his dummy and a well-weighted through ball by Rafanello that forced Thompson into a tough save off his line.It would be Rafanello that would give the match a deserved second goal in the 63rd minute, set up by defender Carl Haworth’s cross from the right flank that bounced inside the Sporting six-yard box, making its way past a sliding Moon and three SKCII defenders. Waiting on the other end was Rafanello, whose tough first-time finish gave Indy a 2-0 lead and opened the account of the New Jersey native, making him the ninth Indy player to tally in 2020. Now down two goals, the visitors continued to attack in hopes of keeping their playoff aspirations alive in earnest. A moment of hope came in the 88th minute, when substitute Tyler Freeman’s right-footed free kick drove into the upper-left corner of Newton’s goal, setting up an energetic finish. In the second of three minutes of stoppage time, Sporting KC II thought it had its equalizer off another set piece opportunity, but while Daniel Barbir successfully put his header into the Indy Eleven goal, the finish was waived off after he was whistled for shoving Barrett to gain space at the left post.Indy Eleven will reach the middle of its five-match September homestand next Wednesday, September 16, when Indiana’s Team closes out its regular season series against Louisville City FC (6W-3L-2D, 20 pts., 1st in Group E). Tickets for the next installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest rivalry series, set for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium, are available at www.indyeleven.com/tickets, and those who cannot be there in person can follow the action live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.  USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSKC  Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Sporting Kansas City II     Wednesday, September 9, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET    Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.Attndance: 5,066  2020 USL Championship records Indy Eleven (7W-4L-1D, 22 pts., 1st in Group E) Sporting Kansas City II (4W-7L-1D, 13 pts., 4th in Group E)  Scoring Summary: IND – Nick Moon (Ayoze) 6’ IND – Jeremy Rafanello (Carl Haworth) 63’ SKC – Tyler Freeman (unassisted) 88’
Disciplinary Summary: IND – Paddy Barrett (yellow card) 3’ SKC – Dominik Resetar (yellow card) 23’ SKC – Dillon Serna (yellow card) 53’ SKC – Camden Riley (yellow card) 58’ SKC – Jacob Davis (yellow card) 59’ SKC – Petar Cuic (yellow card) 73’ IND – Drew Conner (yellow card) 86’  
Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton; Mitch Osmond, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze (Conner Antley 82’), Drew Connor, Tyler Gibson, Carl Haworth; Jeremy Rafanello (Matt Watson 82’), Andrew Carleton, Nick Moon (Ilija Ilic 89’)
IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Felicien Dumas, Matthew Senanou, Cam Lindley IND Stats: Shots: 19, Shots on Goal: 6 Possession: 50.6%, Passing Accuracy: 79.1%, Passes: 421, Fouls: 11, Corners: 6, Offside: 0
Sporting Kansas City II (4-3-3, L–>R): Brooks Thompson; Dillon Serna (captain), Daniel Barbir, Kaveh Rad, Camden Riley (Sam Raben 67’); Jacob Davis, Petar Cuic (Tyler Freeman 76’), Duval Wapiwo (Christian Duke 46’); Enoch Mushagalusa (Fredlin Mompremier 77’), Wilson Harris, Dominik Resetar (Jaret Townsend 67’) SKC Substitutes: Remi Prieur (GK), Isaiah LeFlore SKC Stats: Shots: 7, Shots on goal: 3, Possession: 49.4%, Passing Accuracy: 76.5%, Passes: 405, Fouls: 19, Corners: 6, Offside: 5

Sep 8, 2020  ESPN 

It seems like only yesterday that the 2019-20 season was wrapping up (well, maybe a month?) across Europe but after a quick breather and some UEFA Nations League fixtures as a sporting aperitif, it’s time for the 2020-21 Premier League season to begin.

There’s a lot to preview, too, with some clubs investing big this summer (we see you, Chelsea) and creating the tantalizing prospect of a three- or four-way title fight. (Expect Liverpool and Manchester City to set the pace, however.) Meanwhile, three familiar clubs (West Bromwich AlbionFulhamLeeds United) return to the top-flight, we’ve got a glut of top strikers and a slew of intriguing new signings to look forward to.Who will win the league? Who will fall short? What is each team setting as their goals and expectations for the campaign? We’ve got all that and more in our bumper Premier League preview to get you ready for the season.

Jump to: Liverpool faves or not? | Projecting Pulisic, year 2 | Same top four again? | Man United to do better? | Arsenal or Spurs finish higher? | Which promoted team will shine? | How will Bielsa fare? | New arrivals to watch | Season in a sentence

What to expect from Pulisic in Year 2 at Chelsea?

Christian Pulisic has plenty of objectives for this season for Chelsea. There are more goals, more assists and more trophies to secure. But perhaps most of all, there is one that can be taken for granted: health.  The American sustained a hip injury just before the new year, and he had yet to return to the field before the coronavirus pandemic hit in March. Upon the season’s resumption in June, Pulisic hit top gear, only to sustain a hamstring injury in the FA Cup final.That injury could shelve him for the start of the season, though sources close to the situation say he’ll be back training this week. One can only hope that when he returns, he can reprise the form he showed at the end of the season, when he was among the best players in the Premier League.Granted, at a club like Chelsea, the competition for places is always fierce, and nothing has changed on that front. If anything, it’ll be tougher in 2020. Pedro and Willian are gone, but Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech arrived from Bayer Leverkusen and Ajax, respectively, for combined fees of over $130m. There are also holdovers Callum Hudson-OdoiMason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to contend with on the flanks. Maintaining fitness will allow Pulisic to see off those challenges and build upon his debut season with the Blues.

Yet the arrivals of Havertz and Ziyech, as well as world-class forward Timo Werner, also present an opportunity. Their success will create more spaces for Pulisic to exploit. Havertz, who operated mostly as a central playmaker with Leverkusen, seems a complimentary piece to Pulisic, with Ziyech capable of operating on the opposite wing. Assuming Pulisic stays fit this season — and there are never any guarantees there, as we’ve seen — he could and should thrive alongside such quality. — Jeff Carlisle

Will we see the same four teams in the top four?

Liverpool and Manchester City were by far the best two teams in the Premier League last season, and they are likely to set the standard again. The levels of consistency they’ve shown over the past two years suggest they will again compete for the top two positions. Beyond that, Chelsea’s business in the summer transfer window has been eye-catching and if the majority of their new players can settle quickly, they look best equipped to challenge the top two.

– VAR is back! How has it changed for 2020-21

Manchester United were a different team during the second half of last season after the arrival of Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon and if they can replicate that consistency over a full campaign, a top four finish shouldn’t be a problem.Arsenal, Tottenham and Leicester will all challenge for the Champions League places, particularly Arsenal and Tottenham, who should be over the upheaval of both changing managers in midseason last year. Arsenal have shown they can beat the best teams under Mikel Arteta and Jose Mourinho will have his Tottenham side organised and well-drilled.Last season’s top four will fancy their chances of repeating it but there should be a more sustained challenge from the chasing pack. — Rob Dawson

Can Man United do better than fourth?

Arsenal vs. Spurs is always a battle, and consistency will again be key to seeing who “wins” North London as Mikel Arteta and Jose Mourinho embark on their first full seasons in charge.A few big victories put a gloss on what was Arsenal’s worst finish in 25 years. The signing of an experienced Premier League player in Willian will go a long way to reinforcing Arsenal’s defence, while the choice between two first-rate keepers in Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez gives Arsenal a solidity they’ve been missing. Bukayo Saka‘s breakout season hints at promise, but it’s hard to look past securing the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — the latest is that he’s “close” to signing a new deal — as key to any Arsenal success.Despite Mourinho’s abrasive approach to management, he did oversee an upturn in Spurs’ fortunes last season. While the expectation might have been for some headline summer signings, Mourinho has opted for solidity instead with Premier League-proven additions in Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Wolves defender Matt Doherty and veteran goalkeeper Joe Hart. Popular or not, Mourinho was brought in to win trophies, and being in the Europa League might lead Spurs to focus on other, attainable competitions.It’s hard to look past the excitement that Arteta has brought to Arsenal, an injection of energy that was sorely needed after a tired few years. Mourinho’s colourful management history (and tendency to self-destruct) has prevented a similar bump at Spurs, putting the Gunners in good stead to paint North London red this season. — Kathleen McNamee Which promoted team will ‘pull a Sheffield United,’ and why? After last season’s surprise-packed Sheffield United finished ninth in the Premier League, they have set the benchmark for the latest crop of promotion hopefuls. West Brom and Fulham have the most recent top flight experience — WBA finished last in the Premier League in 2018, and Fulham copied them 2019 — but it’s Leeds who we expect to enjoy their return to the elite for the first time since 2004.Under the maverick Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds have a manager who has forged a side that trusts in the system and fears nobody. The summer signing of Spanish striker Rodrigo from Valencia for £30m — he should contribute at least 15 goals — and defender Robin Koch from Freiberg are bits of smart business, while they also have managed to bring back in the impressive Jack Harrison from Manchester City on loan. Kalvin Phillips is getting international recognition in the UEFA Nations League with England, while Pablo Hernandez is ageless, so expect this Leeds team to run and run with El Loco, ensuring they leave nothing on the field. West Brom have recruited well, and Fulham still have several of the players who experienced their last Premier League adventure, but neither side boast the same strength in depth as Leeds, nor the Bielsa factor. — Tom Hamilton Who will contend for the Golden Boot? When it comes to goal scorers in the Premier League, the question once again this season is: Can someone new break into the Golden Boot Club? After all, it’s always the same stars topping the charts. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy won last season with 23 goals, one ahead of Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who shared the award the season before with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Salah lifted the Golden Boot alone in 2018 after his incredible campaign (32), ahead of Harry Kane, who finished first for the previous two seasons with 29 and 25 goals, respectively. Then there’s always Man City’s ageless Sergio Aguero, who’s never far from the top. So can someone break the hegemony of the “top six” players, or will it be one of them again? Southampton’s Danny Ings got very close last season, with 22 of his own. Can he go one better? Can Chelsea’s new signing, Timo Werner, be the man? Or how about Man City’s Raheem Sterling? Can Man United’s Anthony Martial or Wolves’ Raul Jimenez improve on their 17 league goals from last season? Or are we in for a big surprise “à la Kevin Phillips” — he notched 30 for Sunderland in 1999-2000 — from the likes of Everton’s Dominic Calvert-LewinAleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham), Rodrigo (Leeds United) or Callum Wilson (Newcastle)? Whoever wins it will be hoping to set a new mark. Salah’s 32 goals in 2018-19 was the highest tally since Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hit 34 in 1994 and 1995. Can someone do better this season? Only Phillips (2000), Thierry Henry (2003), Cristiano Ronaldo (2008), Robin Van Persie (2012), Luis Suarez (2014) and Salah achieved 30+ goals in a single season in the past 20 years. Whatever happens, it promises to be another close and exciting race… — Julien Laurens What can we expect from Marcelo Bielsa? The only thing we can truly expect from Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa this season is the unexpected. After a 16-year absence from the top flight, Leeds are finally back where many believe they belong, but it needed the unpredictable genius of Bielsa to crack the code of promotion from the Championship. Leeds won the Championship title by playing classic Bielsa football — a game of fast-moving possession with players capable of moving around the pitch at high energy. When they faced Arsenal in the FA Cup third round at the Emirates last season, Bielsa’s Leeds gave an hour-long masterclass that belied their lower-league status before losing the game due to a lack of cutting edge. If Leeds and Bielsa are to succeed in staying up this season, they have to find a way to score goals in games that they dominate, and the move for Rodrigo suggests that they have found a solution to that problem. That said, it’s best not to make assumptions where Bielsa is concerned. He will certainly bring a different flavour to the Premier League with his brand of football, but will it be too open and adventurous for the top division? And will Bielsa last the pace? Will he want to? His track record has been patchy — he walked out on Lazio after two days in the job, quit Marseille one game into his second season and lasted less than six months at Lille — so time will tell whether he will stay for the ride with the Leeds or find the Premier League too challenging. — Mark Ogden New arrivals to get excited about The Premier League has seemed slower in the transfer market this summer given the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but so far deals worth an estimated £850 million have been completed up and down the table. Tor-Kristian Karlsen is a Norwegian football scout and executive, and is the former chief executive and sporting director at AS Monaco. Here, he assesses the six incoming players worth paying attention to as the new campaign kicks off. play Rodrigo, FW, Valencia to Leeds United, €30m: It may seem like a steep price for someone who’s just six months from turning 30, but in the Brazil-born Spanish international, Bielsa gets a quality player with plenty of pedigree. The left-footed forward, who had a rather unremarkable loan stint with Bolton 10 years ago, can play in practically any attacking position and is full of the energy, movement and determination that Bielsa requires from an attacker. Quick, sharp and unpredictable, Rodrigo is an excellent counter-attack player. Kai Havertz, MF, Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea, €80m: Out of a spectacular bunch of summer signings by the West London club, the German is the cream of the crop. Despite being just 21, Havertz is already a seasoned Bundesliga player and already has useful experience in both the Champions League and the German national side. The superbly talented footballer with a lovely touch on the ball is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder through the middle, out wide to the right or as a deep-dropping forward. On the one hand he’s an intelligent playmaker with the skill and creativity to set up goals and on the other he’s an excellent finisher who finds great positions in and around the penalty area. Eberechi Eze, MF, Queens Park Rangers to Crystal Palace, €17.8m: The nimble, creative attacking midfielder moves from west to south London after an impressive season in the Championship. Most commonly deployed as an inverted wide midfielder on the left, Eze loves running at opponents and his outstanding balance makes him able to withstand challenges despite his relatively small build. Now 22, Eze, who has plenty of clever ball skills and loves backheel passes, made his debut for the England U21 side last year and was closely monitored by several other Premier League sides before joining the London rivals. All in all, he’s a good finisher who’s able to hit the target from well outside the penalty area. Donny van de Beek, MF, Ajax to Manchester United, €39m: Despite spending heavily over the past few years, it’s only January 2020 signing Bruno Fernandes who has emerged as an instant hit for the Red Devils thus far, though it looks as though the 23-year-old Dutchman could follow in the same vein. Judging from his profile, van de Beek has all it takes to succeed in the Premier League; he’s sharp, industrious, neat on the ball and has the priceless ability of converting well-timed attacking runs into chances and goals. Though he faces tough competition in midfield, one wouldn’t be surprised if van de Beek ends up as one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team sheet once he gets settled. Ferran Torres, FW, Valencia to Manchester City, €23m: For a club accustomed to paying over the odds, the Spanish winger — who was about to enter the last year of his contract — represents something as rare as a bargain signing. Manchester City may not have ended up with Lionel Messi (yet?), but the 20-year-old Spaniard certainly possesses some of the technical abilities that are required for an attacking player to function within Pep Guardiola’s framework of fluid football. Torres has usually been fielded as an out-and-out right winger, but expect him to take up more central positions in the blue shirt. An exciting, tricky flair player who is a delight to watch when at his best. James Rodriguez, MF, Real Madrid to Everton, €25m: There’s no denying that the career of the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner has gone somewhat downhill in the past couple of seasons, with just 18 league starts during the past two campaigns. However, the presence of Carlo Ancelotti speaks in favour of Rodriguez becoming a success at Merseyside, with the Colombian joining up with the Italian manager for the third time in his career. While there might be some doubt about his mobility and determination to push himself for another challenge, the amazing left foot — with which he can finish from anywhere — is still evident. Coupled with his highly impressive vision and (hopefully) his playmaking abilities, this makes him potentially a major reinforcement for Everton. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen The 2020-21 Premier League season in a sentence You’ve read the big questions and you’ve got the new names to keep an eye on from week to week. Now it’s time to examine what each of the 20 teams might be expecting from the 2020-21 campaign and how they might (or might not) accomplish their goals. Tom Hamilton has you covered. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/359.png&w=126&site=espnfc ARSENAL: (8th last season, 56 points) The goal will be a top-four finish and while Arsenal fans will be waiting to see if Mikel Arteta is further backed in the transfer window to achieve these lofty aims, they’ll take heart from Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s new contract and the signing of Gabriel Magalhaes to shore up their unpredictable defence. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/362.png&w=126&site=espnfc ASTON VILLA: (17th, 35 pts) Villa will hope to finish with breathing space away from the relegation zone, sign a striker and keep their talisman, Jack Grealish; do that and they have a chance of staying up. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/331.png&w=126&site=espnfc BRIGHTON: (15th, 41 pts) Brighton fans will hope for a mid-table finish, and this should be achievable after a good summer that saw Adam Lallana arrive, Ben White return and Lewis Dunk sign a new deal. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/379.png&w=126&site=espnfc BURNLEY: (10th, 54 pts) Burnley fans have faced the annual uncertainty over their beloved Sean Dyche’s future and are battling to hold on to James Tarkowski; accomplish both and they should be mid-table. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/363.png&w=126&site=espnfc CHELSEA: (4th, 66 pts) After signing half of Europe’s stars, Chelsea fans will hope for a title challenge this season with new recruits Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech spearheading their charge; after a valiant battle, expect them to finish third. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/384.png&w=126&site=espnfc CRYSTAL PALACE: (14th, 43 pts) After a dismal end to last season, Crystal Palace fans will be keeping everything crossed they manage to get a striker in who can score double figures this season; if they manage that, they should escape the drop, but it’ll be another nail-biting campaign from start to finish. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/368.png&w=126&site=espnfc EVERTON: (12th, 49 pts) Their new-look midfield of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure will give Everton fans confidence they are going to finish in the Europe places, but they will need to start the season well and hope Richarlison is firing on all cylinders. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/370.png FULHAM: (Promoted via Championship playoff, 81 pts) This season will be about survival and learning from their last disappointing venture in the Premier League; however, they will fall short, but not for want of effort or application. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/357.png LEEDS UNITED: (Promoted as Championship winners, 93 pts) It’s a welcome return for Leeds this season and the Premier League will have to brace itself for Bielsa and their new big-money signing, Rodrigo, which should be enough to secure a mid-table finish and plenty of drama along with it. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/375.png&w=126&site=espnfc LEICESTER: (5th, 62 pts) Having lost Ben Chilwell this summer, Leicester will fail to emulate last season’s fifth-place finish with the Europa League, giving Brendan Rodgers a selection headache and a battle to keep his squad fresh. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/364.png&w=126&site=espnfc LIVERPOOL: (Champions, 99 pts) Topping last season’s remarkable title charge will be hard, and Liverpool’s fans will hope for a repeat this term, but with Manchester City strengthening, they will end up finishing second by a hair’s breadth. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/382.png&w=126&site=espnfc MAN CITY: (2nd, 81 pts) With Pep Guardiola probably still fuming at last season, Manchester City will be a wounded animal this term, and even without Leo Messi, they have recruited well over the summer (Ferran Torres, Nathan Ake) and should end up Premier League champions for the third time in the past four seasons. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/360.png&w=126&site=espnfc MAN UNITED: (3rd, 66 pts) The summer was dominated by Jadon Sancho talk and if they manage to get him over the line, United fans will be dreaming of a title challenge; fall short of that, and it’ll be another top-four fandango, but they should be good for a spot in the Champions League places. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/361.png&w=126&site=espnfc NEWCASTLE: (13th, 44 pts) Newcastle fans still aren’t rid of their controversial owner Mike Ashley, but with some smart recruitment over the summer — including Callum Wilson — Steve Bruce’s side will hope for a mid-table finish but will likely finish a little lower down. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/398.png SHEFFIELD UNITED: (9th, 54 pts) It’s going to be hard to top last season, but teams will no longer underestimate Chris Wilder’s side; a mid-table finish is likely, yet they’ll still hand out defeats to some of the league’s bigger fish. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/376.png&w=126&site=espnfc SOUTHAMPTON: (11th, 52 pts) With arguably England’s most prolific striker in their ranks, Southampton fans will hope Danny Ings and some smart summer signings will be enough to see them break into the top half, but a finish of 10th or so is projected. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/367.png&w=126&site=espnfc TOTTENHAM: (6th, 59 pts) Flip a coin for this season: On the face of it, Tottenham should finish in the top six, but they could go higher if Jose Mourinho works his magic following a prudent summer’s transfers and they manage to keep their star players fit. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/383.png&w=126&site=espnfc WEST BROM: (Promoted as 2nd in Championship, 83 pts) They have recruited well over the summer, with Grady Diangana arriving and the wondrous Matheus Pereira signing permanently, and they have a smart manager in Slaven Bilic, but although West Brom fans will hope the team avoids relegation, it’s going to be a struggle. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/371.png&w=126&site=espnfc WEST HAM: (16th, 39 pts) Even the West Ham captain is unhappy at the owners, so goodness knows how this season will pan out, but they have enough quality to finish mid-table if they manage to find some off-field stability. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/380.png&w=126&site=espnfc WOLVES: (7th, 59 pts) The Portuguese contingent is growing at Molineux with the signing of £36m wonderkid Fabio Silva, so Wolves should be good for another Europe charge and further improvement under Nuno Espirito Santo.

 

The challenge for Manchester United this season is to back up the talk with actions. Three semifinals and a third-place finish in the Premier League last season represented progress for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the task now is to take another step forward. The message from Solskjaer since his arrival in December 2018 has been about his rebuild taking time, but there comes a point when it needs to turn into trophies and a Premier League title challenge.Since Bruno Fernandes’ arrival in January, United have shown they are capable of long runs of good form, but that has to be replicated over an entire campaign if they are going to get back to where they were under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek is a positive addition to the squad in midfield, but there are other gaps to fill, and United’s prospects of bridging the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City will depend on how well they perform in the transfer market before the deadline on Oct. 5. Chelsea have already made their statement with a number of high-quality signings.United’s start will be crucial. Start well and they won’t have to answer questions about whether they can qualify for the Champions League — and the attention will turn to putting pressure on Liverpool and Manchester City at the top end of the table. Start poorly and Solskjaer could be facing questions about his future by Christmas. — Rob Dawson

Which side of North London will reign supreme?

Arsenal vs. Spurs is always a battle, and consistency will again be key to seeing who “wins” North London as Mikel Arteta and Jose Mourinho embark on their first full seasons in charge.A few big victories put a gloss on what was Arsenal’s worst finish in 25 years. The signing of an experienced Premier League player in Willian will go a long way to reinforcing Arsenal’s defence, while the choice between two first-rate keepers in Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez gives Arsenal a solidity they’ve been missing. Bukayo Saka‘s breakout season hints at promise, but it’s hard to look past securing the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — the latest is that he’s “close” to signing a new deal — as key to any Arsenal success.Despite Mourinho’s abrasive approach to management, he did oversee an upturn in Spurs’ fortunes last season. While the expectation might have been for some headline summer signings, Mourinho has opted for solidity instead with Premier League-proven additions in Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Wolves defender Matt Doherty and veteran goalkeeper Joe Hart. Popular or not, Mourinho was brought in to win trophies, and being in the Europa League might lead Spurs to focus on other, attainable competitions.It’s hard to look past the excitement that Arteta has brought to Arsenal, an injection of energy that was sorely needed after a tired few years. Mourinho’s colourful management history (and tendency to self-destruct) has prevented a similar bump at Spurs, putting the Gunners in good stead to paint North London red this season. — Kathleen McNamee Which promoted team will ‘pull a Sheffield United,’ and why? After last season’s surprise-packed Sheffield United finished ninth in the Premier League, they have set the benchmark for the latest crop of promotion hopefuls. West Brom and Fulham have the most recent top flight experience — WBA finished last in the Premier League in 2018, and Fulham copied them 2019 — but it’s Leeds who we expect to enjoy their return to the elite for the first time since 2004.Under the maverick Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds have a manager who has forged a side that trusts in the system and fears nobody. The summer signing of Spanish striker Rodrigo from Valencia for £30m — he should contribute at least 15 goals — and defender Robin Koch from Freiberg are bits of smart business, while they also have managed to bring back in the impressive Jack Harrison from Manchester City on loan. Kalvin Phillips is getting international recognition in the UEFA Nations League with England, while Pablo Hernandez is ageless, so expect this Leeds team to run and run with El Loco, ensuring they leave nothing on the field. West Brom have recruited well, and Fulham still have several of the players who experienced their last Premier League adventure, but neither side boast the same strength in depth as Leeds, nor the Bielsa factor. — Tom Hamilton Who will contend for the Golden Boot? When it comes to goal scorers in the Premier League, the question once again this season is: Can someone new break into the Golden Boot Club? After all, it’s always the same stars topping the charts. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy won last season with 23 goals, one ahead of Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who shared the award the season before with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Salah lifted the Golden Boot alone in 2018 after his incredible campaign (32), ahead of Harry Kane, who finished first for the previous two seasons with 29 and 25 goals, respectively. Then there’s always Man City’s ageless Sergio Aguero, who’s never far from the top. So can someone break the hegemony of the “top six” players, or will it be one of them again? Southampton’s Danny Ings got very close last season, with 22 of his own. Can he go one better? Can Chelsea’s new signing, Timo Werner, be the man? Or how about Man City’s Raheem Sterling? Can Man United’s Anthony Martial or Wolves’ Raul Jimenez improve on their 17 league goals from last season? Or are we in for a big surprise “à la Kevin Phillips” — he notched 30 for Sunderland in 1999-2000 — from the likes of Everton’s Dominic Calvert-LewinAleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham), Rodrigo (Leeds United) or Callum Wilson (Newcastle)? Whoever wins it will be hoping to set a new mark. Salah’s 32 goals in 2018-19 was the highest tally since Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hit 34 in 1994 and 1995. Can someone do better this season? Only Phillips (2000), Thierry Henry (2003), Cristiano Ronaldo (2008), Robin Van Persie (2012), Luis Suarez (2014) and Salah achieved 30+ goals in a single season in the past 20 years. Whatever happens, it promises to be another close and exciting race… — Julien Laurens What can we expect from Marcelo Bielsa? The only thing we can truly expect from Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa this season is the unexpected. After a 16-year absence from the top flight, Leeds are finally back where many believe they belong, but it needed the unpredictable genius of Bielsa to crack the code of promotion from the Championship. Leeds won the Championship title by playing classic Bielsa football — a game of fast-moving possession with players capable of moving around the pitch at high energy. When they faced Arsenal in the FA Cup third round at the Emirates last season, Bielsa’s Leeds gave an hour-long masterclass that belied their lower-league status before losing the game due to a lack of cutting edge. If Leeds and Bielsa are to succeed in staying up this season, they have to find a way to score goals in games that they dominate, and the move for Rodrigo suggests that they have found a solution to that problem. That said, it’s best not to make assumptions where Bielsa is concerned. He will certainly bring a different flavour to the Premier League with his brand of football, but will it be too open and adventurous for the top division? And will Bielsa last the pace? Will he want to? His track record has been patchy — he walked out on Lazio after two days in the job, quit Marseille one game into his second season and lasted less than six months at Lille — so time will tell whether he will stay for the ride with the Leeds or find the Premier League too challenging. — Mark Ogden New arrivals to get excited about The Premier League has seemed slower in the transfer market this summer given the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but so far deals worth an estimated £850 million have been completed up and down the table. Tor-Kristian Karlsen is a Norwegian football scout and executive, and is the former chief executive and sporting director at AS Monaco. Here, he assesses the six incoming players worth paying attention to as the new campaign kicks off. play Rodrigo, FW, Valencia to Leeds United, €30m: It may seem like a steep price for someone who’s just six months from turning 30, but in the Brazil-born Spanish international, Bielsa gets a quality player with plenty of pedigree. The left-footed forward, who had a rather unremarkable loan stint with Bolton 10 years ago, can play in practically any attacking position and is full of the energy, movement and determination that Bielsa requires from an attacker. Quick, sharp and unpredictable, Rodrigo is an excellent counter-attack player. Kai Havertz, MF, Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea, €80m: Out of a spectacular bunch of summer signings by the West London club, the German is the cream of the crop. Despite being just 21, Havertz is already a seasoned Bundesliga player and already has useful experience in both the Champions League and the German national side. The superbly talented footballer with a lovely touch on the ball is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder through the middle, out wide to the right or as a deep-dropping forward. On the one hand he’s an intelligent playmaker with the skill and creativity to set up goals and on the other he’s an excellent finisher who finds great positions in and around the penalty area. Eberechi Eze, MF, Queens Park Rangers to Crystal Palace, €17.8m: The nimble, creative attacking midfielder moves from west to south London after an impressive season in the Championship. Most commonly deployed as an inverted wide midfielder on the left, Eze loves running at opponents and his outstanding balance makes him able to withstand challenges despite his relatively small build. Now 22, Eze, who has plenty of clever ball skills and loves backheel passes, made his debut for the England U21 side last year and was closely monitored by several other Premier League sides before joining the London rivals. All in all, he’s a good finisher who’s able to hit the target from well outside the penalty area. Donny van de Beek, MF, Ajax to Manchester United, €39m: Despite spending heavily over the past few years, it’s only January 2020 signing Bruno Fernandes who has emerged as an instant hit for the Red Devils thus far, though it looks as though the 23-year-old Dutchman could follow in the same vein. Judging from his profile, van de Beek has all it takes to succeed in the Premier League; he’s sharp, industrious, neat on the ball and has the priceless ability of converting well-timed attacking runs into chances and goals. Though he faces tough competition in midfield, one wouldn’t be surprised if van de Beek ends up as one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team sheet once he gets settled. Ferran Torres, FW, Valencia to Manchester City, €23m: For a club accustomed to paying over the odds, the Spanish winger — who was about to enter the last year of his contract — represents something as rare as a bargain signing. Manchester City may not have ended up with Lionel Messi (yet?), but the 20-year-old Spaniard certainly possesses some of the technical abilities that are required for an attacking player to function within Pep Guardiola’s framework of fluid football. Torres has usually been fielded as an out-and-out right winger, but expect him to take up more central positions in the blue shirt. An exciting, tricky flair player who is a delight to watch when at his best. James Rodriguez, MF, Real Madrid to Everton, €25m: There’s no denying that the career of the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner has gone somewhat downhill in the past couple of seasons, with just 18 league starts during the past two campaigns. However, the presence of Carlo Ancelotti speaks in favour of Rodriguez becoming a success at Merseyside, with the Colombian joining up with the Italian manager for the third time in his career. While there might be some doubt about his mobility and determination to push himself for another challenge, the amazing left foot — with which he can finish from anywhere — is still evident. Coupled with his highly impressive vision and (hopefully) his playmaking abilities, this makes him potentially a major reinforcement for Everton. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen The 2020-21 Premier League season in a sentence You’ve read the big questions and you’ve got the new names to keep an eye on from week to week. Now it’s time to examine what each of the 20 teams might be expecting from the 2020-21 campaign and how they might (or might not) accomplish their goals. Tom Hamilton has you covered. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/359.png&w=126&site=espnfc ARSENAL: (8th last season, 56 points) The goal will be a top-four finish and while Arsenal fans will be waiting to see if Mikel Arteta is further backed in the transfer window to achieve these lofty aims, they’ll take heart from Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s new contract and the signing of Gabriel Magalhaes to shore up their unpredictable defence. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/362.png&w=126&site=espnfc ASTON VILLA: (17th, 35 pts) Villa will hope to finish with breathing space away from the relegation zone, sign a striker and keep their talisman, Jack Grealish; do that and they have a chance of staying up. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/331.png&w=126&site=espnfc BRIGHTON: (15th, 41 pts) Brighton fans will hope for a mid-table finish, and this should be achievable after a good summer that saw Adam Lallana arrive, Ben White return and Lewis Dunk sign a new deal. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/379.png&w=126&site=espnfc BURNLEY: (10th, 54 pts) Burnley fans have faced the annual uncertainty over their beloved Sean Dyche’s future and are battling to hold on to James Tarkowski; accomplish both and they should be mid-table. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/363.png&w=126&site=espnfc CHELSEA: (4th, 66 pts) After signing half of Europe’s stars, Chelsea fans will hope for a title challenge this season with new recruits Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech spearheading their charge; after a valiant battle, expect them to finish third. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/384.png&w=126&site=espnfc CRYSTAL PALACE: (14th, 43 pts) After a dismal end to last season, Crystal Palace fans will be keeping everything crossed they manage to get a striker in who can score double figures this season; if they manage that, they should escape the drop, but it’ll be another nail-biting campaign from start to finish. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/368.png&w=126&site=espnfc EVERTON: (12th, 49 pts) Their new-look midfield of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure will give Everton fans confidence they are going to finish in the Europe places, but they will need to start the season well and hope Richarlison is firing on all cylinders. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/370.png FULHAM: (Promoted via Championship playoff, 81 pts) This season will be about survival and learning from their last disappointing venture in the Premier League; however, they will fall short, but not for want of effort or application. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/357.png LEEDS UNITED: (Promoted as Championship winners, 93 pts) It’s a welcome return for Leeds this season and the Premier League will have to brace itself for Bielsa and their new big-money signing, Rodrigo, which should be enough to secure a mid-table finish and plenty of drama along with it. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/375.png&w=126&site=espnfc LEICESTER: (5th, 62 pts) Having lost Ben Chilwell this summer, Leicester will fail to emulate last season’s fifth-place finish with the Europa League, giving Brendan Rodgers a selection headache and a battle to keep his squad fresh. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/364.png&w=126&site=espnfc LIVERPOOL: (Champions, 99 pts) Topping last season’s remarkable title charge will be hard, and Liverpool’s fans will hope for a repeat this term, but with Manchester City strengthening, they will end up finishing second by a hair’s breadth. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/382.png&w=126&site=espnfc MAN CITY: (2nd, 81 pts) With Pep Guardiola probably still fuming at last season, Manchester City will be a wounded animal this term, and even without Leo Messi, they have recruited well over the summer (Ferran Torres, Nathan Ake) and should end up Premier League champions for the third time in the past four seasons. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/360.png&w=126&site=espnfc MAN UNITED: (3rd, 66 pts) The summer was dominated by Jadon Sancho talk and if they manage to get him over the line, United fans will be dreaming of a title challenge; fall short of that, and it’ll be another top-four fandango, but they should be good for a spot in the Champions League places. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/361.png&w=126&site=espnfc NEWCASTLE: (13th, 44 pts) Newcastle fans still aren’t rid of their controversial owner Mike Ashley, but with some smart recruitment over the summer — including Callum Wilson — Steve Bruce’s side will hope for a mid-table finish but will likely finish a little lower down. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500/398.png SHEFFIELD UNITED: (9th, 54 pts) It’s going to be hard to top last season, but teams will no longer underestimate Chris Wilder’s side; a mid-table finish is likely, yet they’ll still hand out defeats to some of the league’s bigger fish. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/376.png&w=126&site=espnfc SOUTHAMPTON: (11th, 52 pts) With arguably England’s most prolific striker in their ranks, Southampton fans will hope Danny Ings and some smart summer signings will be enough to see them break into the top half, but a finish of 10th or so is projected. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/367.png&w=126&site=espnfc TOTTENHAM: (6th, 59 pts) Flip a coin for this season: On the face of it, Tottenham should finish in the top six, but they could go higher if Jose Mourinho works his magic following a prudent summer’s transfers and they manage to keep their star players fit. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/383.png&w=126&site=espnfc WEST BROM: (Promoted as 2nd in Championship, 83 pts) They have recruited well over the summer, with Grady Diangana arriving and the wondrous Matheus Pereira signing permanently, and they have a smart manager in Slaven Bilic, but although West Brom fans will hope the team avoids relegation, it’s going to be a struggle. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/371.png&w=126&site=espnfc WEST HAM: (16th, 39 pts) Even the West Ham captain is unhappy at the owners, so goodness knows how this season will pan out, but they have enough quality to finish mid-table if they manage to find some off-field stability. https://a.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/i/teamlogos/soccer/500-dark/380.png&w=126&site=espnfc WOLVES: (7th, 59 pts) The Portuguese contingent is growing at Molineux with the signing of £36m wonderkid Fabio Silva, so Wolves should be good for another Europe charge and further improvement under Nuno Espirito Santo.  

Arsenal vs. Spurs is always a battle, and consistency will again be key to seeing who “wins” North London as Mikel Arteta and Jose Mourinho embark on their first full seasons in charge.A few big victories put a gloss on what was Arsenal’s worst finish in 25 years. The signing of an experienced Premier League player in Willian will go a long way to reinforcing Arsenal’s defence, while the choice between two first-rate keepers in Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez gives Arsenal a solidity they’ve been missing. Bukayo Saka‘s breakout season hints at promise, but it’s hard to look past securing the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — the latest is that he’s “close” to signing a new deal — as key to any Arsenal success.Despite Mourinho’s abrasive approach to management, he did oversee an upturn in Spurs’ fortunes last season. While the expectation might have been for some headline summer signings, Mourinho has opted for solidity instead with Premier League-proven additions in Southampton midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Wolves defender Matt Doherty and veteran goalkeeper Joe Hart. Popular or not, Mourinho was brought in to win trophies, and being in the Europa League might lead Spurs to focus on other, attainable competitions.It’s hard to look past the excitement that Arteta has brought to Arsenal, an injection of energy that was sorely needed after a tired few years. Mourinho’s colourful management history (and tendency to self-destruct) has prevented a similar bump at Spurs, putting the Gunners in good stead to paint North London red this season. — Kathleen McNamee

Which promoted team will ‘pull a Sheffield United,’ and why?

After last season’s surprise-packed Sheffield United finished ninth in the Premier League, they have set the benchmark for the latest crop of promotion hopefuls. West Brom and Fulham have the most recent top flight experience — WBA finished last in the Premier League in 2018, and Fulham copied them 2019 — but it’s Leeds who we expect to enjoy their return to the elite for the first time since 2004.Under the maverick Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds have a manager who has forged a side that trusts in the system and fears nobody. The summer signing of Spanish striker Rodrigo from Valencia for £30m — he should contribute at least 15 goals — and defender Robin Koch from Freiberg are bits of smart business, while they also have managed to bring back in the impressive Jack Harrison from Manchester City on loan. Kalvin Phillips is getting international recognition in the UEFA Nations League with England, while Pablo Hernandez is ageless, so expect this Leeds team to run and run with El Loco, ensuring they leave nothing on the field.

West Brom have recruited well, and Fulham still have several of the players who experienced their last Premier League adventure, but neither side boast the same strength in depth as Leeds, nor the Bielsa factor. — Tom Hamilton

Who will contend for the Golden Boot?

When it comes to goal scorers in the Premier League, the question once again this season is: Can someone new break into the Golden Boot Club? After all, it’s always the same stars topping the charts. Leicester’s Jamie Vardy won last season with 23 goals, one ahead of Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who shared the award the season before with Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Salah lifted the Golden Boot alone in 2018 after his incredible campaign (32), ahead of Harry Kane, who finished first for the previous two seasons with 29 and 25 goals, respectively. Then there’s always Man City’s ageless Sergio Aguero, who’s never far from the top.

So can someone break the hegemony of the “top six” players, or will it be one of them again?

Southampton’s Danny Ings got very close last season, with 22 of his own. Can he go one better? Can Chelsea’s new signing, Timo Werner, be the man? Or how about Man City’s Raheem Sterling? Can Man United’s Anthony Martial or Wolves’ Raul Jimenez improve on their 17 league goals from last season? Or are we in for a big surprise “à la Kevin Phillips” — he notched 30 for Sunderland in 1999-2000 — from the likes of Everton’s Dominic Calvert-LewinAleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham), Rodrigo (Leeds United) or Callum Wilson (Newcastle)?

Whoever wins it will be hoping to set a new mark. Salah’s 32 goals in 2018-19 was the highest tally since Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hit 34 in 1994 and 1995. Can someone do better this season? Only Phillips (2000), Thierry Henry (2003), Cristiano Ronaldo (2008), Robin Van Persie (2012), Luis Suarez (2014) and Salah achieved 30+ goals in a single season in the past 20 years. Whatever happens, it promises to be another close and exciting race… — Julien Laurens

What can we expect from Marcelo Bielsa?

The only thing we can truly expect from Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa this season is the unexpected. After a 16-year absence from the top flight, Leeds are finally back where many believe they belong, but it needed the unpredictable genius of Bielsa to crack the code of promotion from the Championship.

Leeds won the Championship title by playing classic Bielsa football — a game of fast-moving possession with players capable of moving around the pitch at high energy. When they faced Arsenal in the FA Cup third round at the Emirates last season, Bielsa’s Leeds gave an hour-long masterclass that belied their lower-league status before losing the game due to a lack of cutting edge.

If Leeds and Bielsa are to succeed in staying up this season, they have to find a way to score goals in games that they dominate, and the move for Rodrigo suggests that they have found a solution to that problem. That said, it’s best not to make assumptions where Bielsa is concerned. He will certainly bring a different flavour to the Premier League with his brand of football, but will it be too open and adventurous for the top division? And will Bielsa last the pace? Will he want to?

His track record has been patchy — he walked out on Lazio after two days in the job, quit Marseille one game into his second season and lasted less than six months at Lille — so time will tell whether he will stay for the ride with the Leeds or find the Premier League too challenging. — Mark Ogden

New arrivals to get excited about

The Premier League has seemed slower in the transfer market this summer given the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but so far deals worth an estimated £850 million have been completed up and down the table.

Tor-Kristian Karlsen is a Norwegian football scout and executive, and is the former chief executive and sporting director at AS Monaco. Here, he assesses the six incoming players worth paying attention to as the new campaign kicks off.play

Rodrigo, FW, Valencia to Leeds United, €30m: It may seem like a steep price for someone who’s just six months from turning 30, but in the Brazil-born Spanish international, Bielsa gets a quality player with plenty of pedigree. The left-footed forward, who had a rather unremarkable loan stint with Bolton 10 years ago, can play in practically any attacking position and is full of the energy, movement and determination that Bielsa requires from an attacker.

Quick, sharp and unpredictable, Rodrigo is an excellent counter-attack player.Kai Havertz, MF, Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea, €80m: Out of a spectacular bunch of summer signings by the West London club, the German is the cream of the crop. Despite being just 21, Havertz is already a seasoned Bundesliga player and already has useful experience in both the Champions League and the German national side. The superbly talented footballer with a lovely touch on the ball is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder through the middle, out wide to the right or as a deep-dropping forward.

On the one hand he’s an intelligent playmaker with the skill and creativity to set up goals and on the other he’s an excellent finisher who finds great positions in and around the penalty area.

Eberechi Eze, MF, Queens Park Rangers to Crystal Palace, €17.8m: The nimble, creative attacking midfielder moves from west to south London after an impressive season in the Championship. Most commonly deployed as an inverted wide midfielder on the left, Eze loves running at opponents and his outstanding balance makes him able to withstand challenges despite his relatively small build.

Now 22, Eze, who has plenty of clever ball skills and loves backheel passes, made his debut for the England U21 side last year and was closely monitored by several other Premier League sides before joining the London rivals. All in all, he’s a good finisher who’s able to hit the target from well outside the penalty area.Donny van de Beek, MF, Ajax to Manchester United, €39m: Despite spending heavily over the past few years, it’s only January 2020 signing Bruno Fernandes who has emerged as an instant hit for the Red Devils thus far, though it looks as though the 23-year-old Dutchman could follow in the same vein.

Judging from his profile, van de Beek has all it takes to succeed in the Premier League; he’s sharp, industrious, neat on the ball and has the priceless ability of converting well-timed attacking runs into chances and goals. Though he faces tough competition in midfield, one wouldn’t be surprised if van de Beek ends up as one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team sheet once he gets settled.Ferran Torres, FW, Valencia to Manchester City, €23m: For a club accustomed to paying over the odds, the Spanish winger — who was about to enter the last year of his contract — represents something as rare as a bargain signing. Manchester City may not have ended up with Lionel Messi (yet?), but the 20-year-old Spaniard certainly possesses some of the technical abilities that are required for an attacking player to function within Pep Guardiola’s framework of fluid football.

Torres has usually been fielded as an out-and-out right winger, but expect him to take up more central positions in the blue shirt. An exciting, tricky flair player who is a delight to watch when at his best.

James Rodriguez, MF, Real Madrid to Everton, €25m: There’s no denying that the career of the 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner has gone somewhat downhill in the past couple of seasons, with just 18 league starts during the past two campaigns. However, the presence of Carlo Ancelotti speaks in favour of Rodriguez becoming a success at Merseyside, with the Colombian joining up with the Italian manager for the third time in his career.

While there might be some doubt about his mobility and determination to push himself for another challenge, the amazing left foot — with which he can finish from anywhere — is still evident. Coupled with his highly impressive vision and (hopefully) his playmaking abilities, this makes him potentially a major reinforcement for Everton. — Tor-Kristian Karlsen

The 2020-21 Premier League season in a sentence

You’ve read the big questions and you’ve got the new names to keep an eye on from week to week. Now it’s time to examine what each of the 20 teams might be expecting from the 2020-21 campaign and how they might (or might not) accomplish their goals. Tom Hamilton has you covered.

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ARSENAL: (8th last season, 56 points)

The goal will be a top-four finish and while Arsenal fans will be waiting to see if Mikel Arteta is further backed in the transfer window to achieve these lofty aims, they’ll take heart from Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s new contract and the signing of Gabriel Magalhaes to shore up their unpredictable defence.

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ASTON VILLA: (17th, 35 pts)

Villa will hope to finish with breathing space away from the relegation zone, sign a striker and keep their talisman, Jack Grealish; do that and they have a chance of staying up.

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BRIGHTON: (15th, 41 pts)

Brighton fans will hope for a mid-table finish, and this should be achievable after a good summer that saw Adam Lallana arrive, Ben White return and Lewis Dunk sign a new deal.

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BURNLEY: (10th, 54 pts)

Burnley fans have faced the annual uncertainty over their beloved Sean Dyche’s future and are battling to hold on to James Tarkowski; accomplish both and they should be mid-table.

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CHELSEA: (4th, 66 pts)

After signing half of Europe’s stars, Chelsea fans will hope for a title challenge this season with new recruits Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech spearheading their charge; after a valiant battle, expect them to finish third.

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CRYSTAL PALACE: (14th, 43 pts)

After a dismal end to last season, Crystal Palace fans will be keeping everything crossed they manage to get a striker in who can score double figures this season; if they manage that, they should escape the drop, but it’ll be another nail-biting campaign from start to finish.

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EVERTON: (12th, 49 pts)

Their new-look midfield of Allan, James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure will give Everton fans confidence they are going to finish in the Europe places, but they will need to start the season well and hope Richarlison is firing on all cylinders.

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FULHAM: (Promoted via Championship playoff, 81 pts)

This season will be about survival and learning from their last disappointing venture in the Premier League; however, they will fall short, but not for want of effort or application.

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LEEDS UNITED: (Promoted as Championship winners, 93 pts)

It’s a welcome return for Leeds this season and the Premier League will have to brace itself for Bielsa and their new big-money signing, Rodrigo, which should be enough to secure a mid-table finish and plenty of drama along with it.

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LEICESTER: (5th, 62 pts)

Having lost Ben Chilwell this summer, Leicester will fail to emulate last season’s fifth-place finish with the Europa League, giving Brendan Rodgers a selection headache and a battle to keep his squad fresh.

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LIVERPOOL: (Champions, 99 pts)

Topping last season’s remarkable title charge will be hard, and Liverpool’s fans will hope for a repeat this term, but with Manchester City strengthening, they will end up finishing second by a hair’s breadth.

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MAN CITY: (2nd, 81 pts)

With Pep Guardiola probably still fuming at last season, Manchester City will be a wounded animal this term, and even without Leo Messi, they have recruited well over the summer (Ferran Torres, Nathan Ake) and should end up Premier League champions for the third time in the past four seasons.

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MAN UNITED: (3rd, 66 pts)

The summer was dominated by Jadon Sancho talk and if they manage to get him over the line, United fans will be dreaming of a title challenge; fall short of that, and it’ll be another top-four fandango, but they should be good for a spot in the Champions League places.

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NEWCASTLE: (13th, 44 pts)

Newcastle fans still aren’t rid of their controversial owner Mike Ashley, but with some smart recruitment over the summer — including Callum Wilson — Steve Bruce’s side will hope for a mid-table finish but will likely finish a little lower down.

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SHEFFIELD UNITED: (9th, 54 pts)

It’s going to be hard to top last season, but teams will no longer underestimate Chris Wilder’s side; a mid-table finish is likely, yet they’ll still hand out defeats to some of the league’s bigger fish.

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SOUTHAMPTON: (11th, 52 pts)

With arguably England’s most prolific striker in their ranks, Southampton fans will hope Danny Ings and some smart summer signings will be enough to see them break into the top half, but a finish of 10th or so is projected.

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TOTTENHAM: (6th, 59 pts)

Flip a coin for this season: On the face of it, Tottenham should finish in the top six, but they could go higher if Jose Mourinho works his magic following a prudent summer’s transfers and they manage to keep their star players fit.

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WEST BROM: (Promoted as 2nd in Championship, 83 pts)

They have recruited well over the summer, with Grady Diangana arriving and the wondrous Matheus Pereira signing permanently, and they have a smart manager in Slaven Bilic, but although West Brom fans will hope the team avoids relegation, it’s going to be a struggle.

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WEST HAM: (16th, 39 pts)

Even the West Ham captain is unhappy at the owners, so goodness knows how this season will pan out, but they have enough quality to finish mid-table if they manage to find some off-field stability.

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WOLVES: (7th, 59 pts)

The Portuguese contingent is growing at Molineux with the signing of £36m wonderkid Fabio Silva, so Wolves should be good for another Europe charge and further improvement under Nuno Espirito Santo.

RECAP | ELEVEN BACK IN GROUP E LEAD WITH 2-1 VICTORY OVER SPORTING KANSAS CITY II

By Indy Eleven Communications, 09/09/20, 10:45PM EDT   Goals by Forwards Jeremy Rafanello and Nick Moon Put Indiana’s Team Back in Win Column, First Place

#INDvSKC Post-Game Quotes – September 9

#INDvSKC Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center

Goals by the young forward duo of Nick Moon and Jeremy Rafanello were enough for Indy Eleven to fend off a late surge by Sporting Kansas City II, lifting Indiana’s Team to a pivotal 2-1 win at Lucas Oil Stadium that pushed it back into first place in the Group E standings.“I think we played well especially really up until the last 10 minutes in which we dropped a bit and they scored a great goal,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “Before that, I thought we were well on top – we created good chances and had a lot of shots, especially in the first half. It’s exciting to see two young players both playing up front together, both scoring goals.”With the victory, Indy Eleven (7W-4L-1D, 22 pts.) repossessed the top spot in the four-team group, overtaking Louisville City FC (20 pts.) and setting up another fight for first between the two rivals one week from tonight in the Circle City. The result also put some more distance between Indy and Saint Louis FC (18 pts.), the group’s other contender for one of its two playoff berths. With the loss, Sporting Kansas City II (4W-7L-1D, 13 pts.) saw a dent put in its hopes for postseason qualification, now seven points away from being above the red line with just four matches remaining.The opening of the contest proved to be an emotional rollercoaster for Indiana’s Team, starting with the dip of seeing defender and captain Paddy Barrett receive the first of the game’s eventual seven yellow cards just three minutes in. However, the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd would be on a high soon after, courtesy of Moon’s second goal of the season in the sixth minute. The play began with a long service over the backline by midfielder Ayoze, who made his return felt instantly after missing the squad’s last two contests. From there it was all Moon, who maneuvered his way through a pair of SKC II defenders and saw his left-footed strike go between the legs of goalkeeper Brooks Thompson to give Indy the early 1-0 advantage.Ayoze seemed to be at the heart of Indy’s most dangerous chances – and Sporting’s mounting frustrations – in the first 45 minutes, suffering fouls to set up numerous free kicks in the final third, one of which he nearly converted on in the 36th minute. Three minutes later, his short layoff set up Rafanello to cut inside and unleash a 30-yard blast that just missed wide left. Meanwhile, the Indy backline – minus stalwart left-back Neveal Hackshaw – proved formidable against the young SKC attack, limiting the visitors to just one shot and a late corner kick in the opening stanza.  The second half began with the visitors’ aggression boiling over, with SKCII shown three cautions in a span of six minutes just prior to the hour mark. That feistiness also had positive gains, the urgency to set the tone for the rest of the half resulting in captain Dillon Serna’s first true test of Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton on a hard left-footed strike from outside the box. A few minutes later, a cross from Camden Riley set up a solid header opportunity for Dominik Resetar, which was pushed high and wide.Indiana’s Team kept its foot on the gas, too, driven by forward Andrew Carleton. The 20-year-old playmaker had a couple dangerous looks a minute apart, including one in the 57th minute set up by his dummy and a well-weighted through ball by Rafanello that forced Thompson into a tough save off his line.It would be Rafanello that would give the match a deserved second goal in the 63rd minute, set up by defender Carl Haworth’s cross from the right flank that bounced inside the Sporting six-yard box, making its way past a sliding Moon and three SKCII defenders. Waiting on the other end was Rafanello, whose tough first-time finish gave Indy a 2-0 lead and opened the account of the New Jersey native, making him the ninth Indy player to tally in 2020. Now down two goals, the visitors continued to attack in hopes of keeping their playoff aspirations alive in earnest. A moment of hope came in the 88th minute, when substitute Tyler Freeman’s right-footed free kick drove into the upper-left corner of Newton’s goal, setting up an energetic finish. In the second of three minutes of stoppage time, Sporting KC II thought it had its equalizer off another set piece opportunity, but while Daniel Barbir successfully put his header into the Indy Eleven goal, the finish was waived off after he was whistled for shoving Barrett to gain space at the left post.Indy Eleven will reach the middle of its five-match September homestand next Wednesday, September 16, when Indiana’s Team closes out its regular season series against Louisville City FC (6W-3L-2D, 20 pts., 1st in Group E). Tickets for the next installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest rivalry series, set for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Lucas Oil Stadium, are available at www.indyeleven.com/tickets, and those who cannot be there in person can follow the action live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

 USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvSKC  Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Sporting Kansas City II     Wednesday, September 9, 2020 – 7:00 p.m. ET    Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.Attndance: 5,066

 2020 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (7W-4L-1D, 22 pts., 1st in Group E)

Sporting Kansas City II (4W-7L-1D, 13 pts., 4th in Group E)

 Scoring Summary:

IND – Nick Moon (Ayoze) 6’

IND – Jeremy Rafanello (Carl Haworth) 63’

SKC – Tyler Freeman (unassisted) 88’


Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Paddy Barrett (yellow card) 3’

SKC – Dominik Resetar (yellow card) 23’

SKC – Dillon Serna (yellow card) 53’

SKC – Camden Riley (yellow card) 58’

SKC – Jacob Davis (yellow card) 59’

SKC – Petar Cuic (yellow card) 73’

IND – Drew Conner (yellow card) 86’

 
Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton; Mitch Osmond, Paddy Barrett (captain), Karl Ouimette; Ayoze (Conner Antley 82’), Drew Connor, Tyler Gibson, Carl Haworth; Jeremy Rafanello (Matt Watson 82’), Andrew Carleton, Nick Moon (Ilija Ilic 89’)


IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Felicien Dumas, Matthew Senanou, Cam Lindley

IND Stats: Shots: 19, Shots on Goal: 6 Possession: 50.6%, Passing Accuracy: 79.1%, Passes: 421, Fouls: 11, Corners: 6, Offside: 0


Sporting Kansas City II (4-3-3, L–>R): Brooks Thompson; Dillon Serna (captain), Daniel Barbir, Kaveh Rad, Camden Riley (Sam Raben 67’); Jacob Davis, Petar Cuic (Tyler Freeman 76’), Duval Wapiwo (Christian Duke 46’); Enoch Mushagalusa (Fredlin Mompremier 77’), Wilson Harris, Dominik Resetar (Jaret Townsend 67’)

SKC Substitutes: Remi Prieur (GK), Isaiah LeFlore

SKC Stats: Shots: 7, Shots on goal: 3, Possession: 49.4%, Passing Accuracy: 76.5%, Passes: 405, Fouls: 19, Corners: 6, Offside: 5

 

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

8/28/20 – Messi to Leave Barcelona?, Community Shield Sat ESPN+ 11:30, Nations League on ABC/ESPN Sept 3-8, Bayern Wins Champions League, CFC players make HS teams!

Yes you read the headline right – The world’s best player-Lionel Messi has told Barcelona, the club he has been at since he was a kid, he want’s to leave.  The penultimate “home grown” player who has carried Barcelona to such great hights as THE BEST PLAYER in the World today has officially given up on the ineptitude and screwups of the Catalan giant’s board of directors and he’s ready to give it a go elsewhere.  Where is the best place for him to land is debatable. Man City with Pep in charge has the edge for now, but PGS, Inter Milan and perhaps even Man United or Chelsea could enter the picture.  I still wonder if Barcelona won’t do whatever needs to be done to convince him to stay – but wow!  My favorite rumour so far is Messi to Man City for 3 years followed by a 2 year stint at NYCFC in MLS. 

Indy 11 home vs Louisville Sat Sept 5

Our Indy 11  return home next weekend Sat Sept 5 against Louisville FC in a must win game at 7 pm at the Luke and on Wish TV + ESPN+. The 11 lost 1-0 at Louisville Wed despite some great saves by GK Evan Newton.   Despite the setback, Indy Eleven (6W-3L-1D, 19 pts.) maintains a three-point lead over Louisville (5W-3L-1D, 16 pts.) in the tightly packed Group E standings that also includes Saint Louis FC sitting on 14 points.

Champions League & Europa League Champions Crowned

The longest ever Champions League season came to a roaring end Sunday as Bayern took the 1-0 win over PSG to claim their 6th UCL Title as over 2.6 million watched in Spanish and estimated over 1 million more in English. Bayern became the first team to not lose 1 single match in the Champions League on route to their first final and win since 2016.  In reality though it was Bayern Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer who saved the day with 2 incredible kicksaves 1 in each half to save the day for Bayern.  The first half was up and down as each team would attack and the other would counter attack – forcing both world class keepers into multiple saves.  But in  a game that was expected to be high scoring with 2 of the highest scoring teams in the world, misfires were the theme of the day.  Bayern would wrestle more control in the 2nd half in way to a lovely header goal by former PSG man and Parisian Kingsley Coman to score the winning goal.  Bayern Canadian Leftback Alpohonso Davies formerly of MLS Vancouver was strong and helped keep forward Mbappe at bay.  Gotta give credit to new Bayern Coach Hansi Flick as he took a squad that was floundering in 3rd place in the German Bundesliga back in the fall and turned it into a jugernaught and Champions League winner winning 29 of their last 30 matches overall including a perfect 11-11 in Champions League – A feat that had never been done (albeit under different circumstances).

As exciting as the UCL Final was the Europa League final between Sevilla and Inter Milan was even better as Sevilla and head man Lopetigue pulled off the late winner in the last minutes of a thrilling 3-2 victory over the favored Italians.  Both teams played well and the action was up and down the field but in the end Sevilla claimed their 5th? ??Europa league title to become again kings of Europa play. 

Nations League Coming to ABC/ESPN Sept 3-8

With the European Championships cancelled this summer due to Covid – the EUFA Nations League will take center stage with a bevy of broadcasts Sept 3-8 including a rare double header on ABC TV Sept 5th with England and Portugal games featured. 

Thurs Sept 3

2:45 pm ESPN2                              Germany vs Spain

2:$5 pm ESPN3                              Ukraine vs Switzerland

Fri,  Sept 4 

2:45 pm ESPNnews                     Italy vs Bosnia 

2:45 pm ESPN+                              Netherlands vs Poland

Sat,  Sept 5 

12 noon pm ABC                           Iceland vs England

2:45 pm ABC                                   Portugal vs Croatia

Sun,  Sept 6  

2:45 pm ESPN News                    Germany vs Switzerland

Mon  Sept 7 

2:45 pm ESPN News                    Czech Republic vs Scotland

Tues,  Sept 8  

2:45 pm ESPN 2                             Denmark vs England

US WC Qualifying Games Announced + Weston McKinney to Juventus

Wow Weston Mckinney has signed on loan at my favorite Italian Club Juventus with an option to buy!  Huge news for the just turned 22 year old American midfielder.  If he can break the starting line-up at Juve that will be huge and impressive.  I sure hope Mckinney can wrangle some playing time but a huge chance to prove his worth at a superclub is worth it in my mind!   

CONCACAF announced the 8 team knockout stages last week and the US looks fairly well positioned to make the WC 2022.  Qualifying will begin next year and of course US coach Greg Berhalter will have a new younger generation of players many starting overseas to help.  Our under 23 group right now looks mighty strong – sure hope we qualify for the Olympics next summer so we can see many of these players competing!  In the meantime the discussion turns to where we should play our big games – notably Mexico.  I have heard the calls for Kansas City or Orlando and the popular one now in Minnesota’s new digs.  But honestly how can anyone think any place other than Columbus – and the new downtown stadium with Grass – should be the spot.  The original home of 2-0 Dos a Cero is still the place where the US has dominated Mexico – (without letting many of their fans in).  Just because Klinnsman was stupid enough to play a back 3 for the first time ever – in a game we barely lost 2-1 despite the horrible personel and lineup decisions made by Klinns.

Carmel FC Players Galore Make High School Teams /

So excited to have so many players from our Carmel FC Club make their respective high school teams this fall. Carmel FC is excited to share the list of current players that have made their respective High School teams this fall. Based on the unique relationship with the Carmel Clay School system, through Carmel Dads’ Club, one of our goals is to continually develop our players to play for Carmel High School. Due to the policies of travel soccer and high school athletics some of our players do come from other communities. We also see players leave our program for other clubs due to these policies. In the end, our goal is to place as many current (and past) players in their respective High School programs. Congratulations to these current Carmel FC Players:

Men’s Program
Cade Turton – 03 Gold – Carmel High School Varsity
Richard Monsey – 03 Gold – Carmel High School Varsity
William Latham – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Varsity
Carson Benton – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity
GK Charles Featherson – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junio Varsity
Evan Wirth – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity
Aaron Young – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity
Max Ledingham – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman
Kal Rohrbach – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman
Robert Hammond – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman
GK Ryan Bartley – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Freshman
Kevin Russo – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman
Nathan Struve – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Freshman
Andrew Thomson – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Freshman

Jude Shattuck – 04 Gold – Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity Gold
Alex Sosa – 04 Gold – Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity Gold
William Hagel – 05 Gold- Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity Purple
Armen Chapman – 06 Gold – Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity Gold
Landon Huber – 05 Gold – Noblesville High School Varsity
Beck Hunter – 05 Gold – Westfield High School Junior Varsity
Oliver Smith – 05 Gold – Westfield High School Junior Varsity

An additional 16 Carmel High School players are past Carmel FC players. Congrats to those men too!

Women’s Program
Cana Duckworth – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Blue
Lucy Floyd – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Blue
GK Chloe Fouts – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Blue
Olivia Gardner – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Blue
GK Claire Bartley – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Elyse Foutty – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Audrey Jackson – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Elizabeth Kenney – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Maya Mason – 06 Blue – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Riann O’Leary – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Lilie Pelletier – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Sophia Rosenthall – 05 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Gabrielle Siegel – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold
Phoebe Wheeler – 06 Gold – Carmel High School Junior Varsity Gold

Emma Broach – 06 Blue – Brebeuf Jesuit Junior Varsity
Lilly Franciosi – 06 Gold – Guerin Catholic Junior Varsity

An additional 28 Carmel High School players are past Carmel FC players. Congrats to those women too!  Especially proud of our former and current Carmel FC Goalkeepers (bolded above) –  In fact the starting Girl’s Varsity Erin Baker and Back-up Goalie Bethany Ducat, along with JV Chloe Fouts and 9th grade Claire Bartley.  On the CHS Boys side Varsity Starter Henry Geisel is a former Carmel FCer, along with current Carmel FC’ers Charlie Featherson for JV, and Ryan Bartley for 9th grade!  Congrats all!

CHS Girls Soccer Invitational

The 2nd ranked Carmel Greyhoud ladies with plenty of former Carmel FC players including all-state Goalkeeper Erin Baker host 2 of the top ranked teams in the state the following Sat, Aug 29 as they host 13th ranked Avon at 9 am and 12th ranked Fishers at 7 pm at home. 

Games to Watch this Week

Hard to believe the EPL is back already with the Nations Shield match between Arsenal and Liverpool this Sat at 11:30 am on ESPN+ (not sure why not on ESPN??).  Of course the French Ligue 1 fresh off having 2 teams in the final 4 of Champions League is the first Euro league back with games Fri/Sat/Sun of this week on beIN Sport see Preview on the OBC. European Nations League gets underway Sept 3 thru 8 on ESPN with can’t miss games like Germany vs Spain Sept 3 2:45 pm on ESPN2, England vs Iceland Sat 12 noon on ABC and more.  MLS gives us New England vs NY Red Bulls Sat 8 pm on FS1, and Seattle vs LAFC at 10 pm on  Sunday on FS1 along with Atlanta vs Miami Wed at 7 pm on FS1 and Portland vs LA Galaxy at 10:30 pm ESPN+. 

GAMES ON TV 

Fri, Aug 28

11 am beIN Sport                         Lyon vs Dijon  French League 1

 Sat, Aug 29

11:30 am ESPN+                           Arsenal vs Liverpool – Comm. Shield

8 pm FS1                                          NE vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm ESPN+                                 Atlanta vs Orlando MLS

Sun, Aug 30

9 am beIN Sport                           Metz vs Monaco  French League 1

2 pm CBS All Access, Utube     Women’s Champions League Final

3 pm beIN Sport                           Brest vs Marseille French League 1

10 pm FS1                                        Seattle vs LAFC 

Wed, Sept 2

7 pm FS1                                          Atlanta vs  Inter Miami MLS

10:30 pm ESPN+                           Portland vs La Galaxy  MLS

Thurs Sept 3                                   Europes Nations League

2:45 pm ESPN2                              Germany vs Spain

2:$5 pm ESPN3                              Ukraine vs Switzerland

Fri,  Sept 4 

2:45 pm ESPNnews                     Italy vs Bosnia 

2:45 pm ESPN+                              Netherlands vs Poland

Sat,  Sept 5 

12 noon pm ABC                           Iceland vs England

2:45 pm ABC                                   Portugal vs Croatia

7 pm ESPN+, Wish           Indy 11 vs Louisville FC

Sun,  Sept 6  

2:45 pm ESPN News                    Germany vs Switzerland

8 pm FS1                                          Inter Miami vs Nashville

10 pm ESPN2 or +                         Seattle vs Portland  

Mon  Sept 7 

2:45 pm ESPN News                    Czech Republic vs Scotland

Tues,  Sept 8 

2:45 pm ESPN 2                             Denmark vs England

Sat, Sept 12                       EPL and German Bundesliga Start

Messi + World Soccer

Messi told Barcelona he wants to leave, and this is why they should let him go  22hGraham Hunter

Messi tells Barca he wants to leave
How social media reacted to Messi news

Everything you need to know about the Community Shield. What’s the deal with the name?7hMark Ogden
Raiola: Pogba staying at Manchester United, contract negotiations coming

Agent: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, AC Milan continue negotiation

Ligue 1 preview: Can PSG avoid a Champions League hangover?  2dJulien Laurens

USA

McKinney to Juventus on Loan

There is Something Different about this New Golden Generation – Doug McIntyre  

Where should the USMNT play home matches in The Ocho?
Where should the US play Mexico in QC Qualifier – Charles Boehm

USMNT’s Berhalter on summer transfer targets McKennie, Aaronson, McKenzie

Steve Cherundolo becomes Germany U-15 assistant coach
Jonathan Klinsmann heads to LA Galaxy

INDY 11

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN FALLS 0-1 AT LOUISVILLE CITY FC

NEWS | FORWARD JOSH PENN REJOINS INDY ELEVEN ROSTER

NEWS | GOALKEEPER EVAN NEWTON NAMED TO USL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF THE WEEK FOR WEEK 8

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN OUTLASTS PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS FOR 1-0 WIN

MARTIN RENNIE VOTED CHAMPIONSHIP’S COACH OF THE MONTH

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

MLS
MLS is pulling fans into stadiums, but TV audiences remain underwhelming

Hernández: MLS, TV should take heat for making Galaxy and LAFC play in extreme weather

Galaxy break out of funk by beating rival LAFC, which loses Carlos Vela to injury
Carranza scores twice, Inter Miami beats Orlando City 3-2
Atlanta finally scores, Martinez brace beats Nashville 2-0
Toronto beats Vancouver 1-0, extend unbeaten streak to 17
DC United plays FC Cincinnati to scoreless draw

European Nations League Back Sept 3-8 

ABC/ESPN to Show Nations League Matches

Champions & Europa League Finals

Bayern’s triumph built upon Flick’s influence, refusal to panic  18hGabriele Marcotti  ESPNFC

– Laurens: PSG rue missed chances as UCL glory slips away

Rising star Davies ‘hungry’ for even more Bayern success

Alphonso Davies promised on Sunday that Bayern Munich would continue their quest for domination after being crowned European champions for the sixth time.

Bayern defeat PSG to become European champions for sixth time

Bayern Munich became kings of Europe for the sixth time on Sunday as Kingsley Coman’s goal gave them a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League final in Lisbon, completing a fantastic season for the German giants and leaving their opponents still searching for the trophy they covet more than anything.

PSG old boy Coman comes back to haunt former club

Kingsley Coman spent a decade at Paris Saint-Germain, coming up through the club’s academy and making four senior appearances, but it was his goal which condemned the French giants to defeat in Sunday’s Champions League final.

PSG boss Tuchel backs Neymar and Mbappe after final loss

Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel defended his 400 million euro strike force of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe after they were unable to find a way past Bayern Munich in their 1-0 Champions League final loss on Sunday.

Flick delights at ‘crazy’ growth of treble-winners Bayern Munich

‘It feels terrible, but we are building something,’ says PSG’s Herrera

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Ander Herrera admitted losing the Champions League final 1-0 to Bayern Munich was tough to take but insisted the mega-rich French club cannot put 

Paris-born Coman’s ‘heartache’ after crushing PSG’s Champions League dreams

Kingsley Coman admitted on Sunday that he felt “a little heartache” after his goal ended his boyhood club Paris Saint-Germain’s dreams of conquering Europe.

Player ratings: PSG v. Bayern Munich

The Bayern – PSG player ratings, as the Bavarians won their sixth Champions League title in club history.

Lewandowski ends Champions League as top scorer

Robert Lewandowski ended the 2019/20 Champions League season as the tournament’s top 

3 things we learned as Bayern beat PSG in UCL final

Bayern Munich – PSG was a tight, captivating UEFA Champions League final and here’s what we learned.

AP Interview: UEFA head considers retaining single-leg games

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin will hold talks about retaining the single-game eliminator format that has been used to complete the pandemic-disrupted Champions League and Europa League seasons, although it could only be used for semifinals. “I have to say that this system of one match seems more interesting to me than the other system with two legged matches,” Ceferin told the AP ahead of Paris Saint-Germain playing Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Champions League is Odriozola’s FIFTH trophy of 2019-20 in TEN games

Bayern Munich win the Champions League: How social media reacted to the Bavarians being kings of Europe


Sevilla return home triumphant with Europa League trophy
End of the line? Conte and Inter at a crossroads after one season


Goalkeeping

Goalkeeper gaffe gifts winning goal in NY derby
FPL Draft – Goalkeeper Rankings and Analysis

Messi told Barcelona he wants to leave, and this is why they should let him go

5:32 PM ETGraham HunterSpain writer 

It’s incredible to think about, but there’s precedent for Barcelona and Lionel Messi to end up in court over their latest battle, which escalated Tuesday when Messi informed the club that he wants to leave after nearly 20 years of service. That the positions adopted by both parties — the wounded genius vs. the modern version of the Keystone Kops — mean that unless someone blinks, they’ll end up back there again is astounding.From Josep Bartomeu through departed football “brain” and sporting director Pep Segura, plus the hapless Quique Setien, his assistant coach Edu Sarabia and now the surviving “technical secretary,” Ramon Planes, I can’t quite imagine how they have the gall to look themselves in the mirror tonight, tomorrow or in the coming months. They have, cumulatively, taken Leo Messi’s love and devotion for the club that he has made great and pretty much soiled it.However, here we are. The fact is that my argument, given that it involves accurate historical precedent, good guidance, maturity and vision, will probably be ignored by Bartomeu and his acolytes, but here goes nothing.The unhappiness and discord between the two sides, plus the club’s continuing ineptitude, mean that it is time for Messi to leave Barcelona.

— Messi tells Barca he wants to leave
— How social media reacted to Messi news
— Hunter: Barca’s humiliation is of their own making
— Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+

When Joan Laporta’s board decided in 2008 that Messi was “too important” to the velvet revolution that was taking place at Barcelona, now that they’d promoted a B-team coach named Pep Guardiola to the first team, for him to be allowed to tilt at the Olympic football gold medal for Argentina in Beijing, the conflict was drawn-out, ill-judged and ill-tempered, and it ended with a ruling in the club’s favour by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the definitive legal jurisdiction.

Back then the club’s president, who has always been an arch-critic of this board and their leader, Bartomeu, was in a situation that felt, to him, as “rock and hard place” as the current one does to those in power at Camp Nou. With a couple of trophy-less years, an atrophied squad and the risk, which in 2008 felt like a huge risk even to Guardiola, of promoting an untested boy wonder at the expense of a proven winner such as Jose Mourinho, Laporta desperately wanted the new season, which included having to qualify for the Champions League, to begin with Messi in the first team — not at risk of injury in China.Guardiola took one of the all-time great risks of modern football and, just in the door as the big boss, defied his employers, told Messi he must go to China, argued Laporta into unhappy acceptance and then reaped the benefits when the proud Argentinian dazzled at the Olympics, won the gold medal and returned to explode like football’s version of a mighty atom for the following 12 years.Admittedly, if Barcelona now abandon their right to point at Messi’s contract, which lasts until the end of next June, and avoid a legal battle to enforce their contractual superiority, it isn’t as if Messi is going to go away for a few weeks, only to surge back full of gratitude. This, if he leaves, is the end — in playing terms at least. But Messi’s “burofax” to the club Tuesday asks not simply that he be allowed to leave, i.e. via a club purchasing him at a reasonable rate, it suggests that he still has access to a “get out of jail free” clause in his contract that actually expired in May.

Should “Team Messi” choose to argue that idea in court, Barcelona are currently committed to fighting back. As such, I think my comparison to the acrimonious summer of 2008 holds.What Pep Guardiola witnessed in 2008, even when Messi was just 21, was a guy who was broken, vastly down in the dumps and likely to carry a grudge. Guardiola saw it, understood it and made a massive wager that whatever happened in the Olympics that year, it could barely be worse than depriving Messi of something he not only deserved but also knew he deserved.What’s the scenario for Barcelona’s power brokers in 2020 if they force Messi to stay against his will or, worse, go to court to enforce their right not to grant him liberty or liberty at a fair price?The pragmatists who say “No one is bigger than the club, even if it’s Messi” can be discarded as knowing absolutely zero about this situation or its protagonists. Messi, unhappy, at half-effort, negotiating midseason with a host of clubs, perhaps stripped of the captaincy and locking antlers with a new, hard-nosed, lacking-in-subtlety coach such as Ronald Koeman, is a disastrous prospect.Not that he should be allowed to go simply because he’ll sulk, of course; I’m not advocating that. He should be allowed to go because he deserves to be maximising his last couple of magnificent years in a competitive, demanding atmosphere in which daily excellence is demanded of every single employee. More than that: He should be allowed to go, either for free or for a token price because Messi is so massively above your common or garden superstar that the footballing public — by which I mean fans, fellow players, coaches, media, sponsors and any single constituency that loves our sport — deserve to see him thriving, happy, devastating, committed, successful and tested for the next three or four years.The next 12 months, especially if this board remains in post until the mandatory elections next summer, promises to be, for Messi, a waste of golden time.What makes all of this so much more disastrous for Barcelona and anyone who cares a jot for the club is that the board has been staring into oncoming headlights, like a particularly dopey and stubborn rabbit, for many months. To lose one superstar, Neymar, because of a complete inability to either interpret a situation or do anything about it, can be regarded as careless, but to repeat the pattern with the greatest player ever is simply ineptitude on a gargantuan scale. By that I mean that when, in October 2016, Neymar rejected a contract improvement, which would have meant a vastly increased buyout clause (up from the €222m that was written in his contract), Barcelona’s board seemed completely unaware of the fact that this was a clear message: “I INTEND TO LEAVE IN THE NEXT SUMMER TRANSFER MARKET.” Capital letters intended.

Right up until PSG deposited the €222m at La Liga offices in Madrid and whisked Barcelona’s playing genius off to the French capital, the Camp Nou hierarchy continued to behave like the Emperor with “new clothes.” Everyone else knew they had been denuded, but they were boasting of wearing peacock-feathered suits. That this scenario is repeating, just three years later, and with an all-time powerhouse talent (and asset) such as Messi defies belief. In fact, if there were football justice in the world, it should be a criminal offence, even if it resulted only in probation or tidying up roadside litter.hen Messi’s people negotiated his contract renewal in 2017, they bargained hard enough that they achieved a clause stating that every summer, from May 2018 onward, he’d be allowed to leave for free if he simply told the club before the end of May that he wanted to quit.Again, how much clearer did the Camp Nou executives need it to be that it was already in Messi’s mind that a time, like this week, might come when the club’s ineptitude and the self-interest of certain office holders would force him to say, “I’m too good for you. I’m leaving.” From the moment Messi’s entourage left Bartomeu’s office in 2017, Bartomeu and his acolytes should have been using just about every working hour to put in place players, strategies, habits, decisions and attitudes that guaranteed Messi was happy and would remain at the club until he retired. Instead, they’ve performed so badly that they’ve sickened the guy. They’ve made him discard both his love and loyalty of FC Barcelona — things he has declared repeatedly and pugnaciously.It’s akin to the pope declaring himself an atheist or Manchester United fans voting Leeds their second-favourite team.

Messi tells Barcelona he wants out: How social media reacted

Barcelona was always Koeman’s dream job. But will this be a nightmare assignment?
Barca’s humiliation was their own fault, yet they didn’t see it coming

There will be a tumult of angry opinions to follow. Everything from “Messi is disloyal” and “he can’t dictate terms to the club” to “President Bartomeu must resign” and “immediate elections are vital!” But let’s not lose sight of the fact that this man, irrespective of which club you love, has lit up our lives over the past 15 years.Messi is up there, at least, with Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer — name your sport, name your legend. Messi matches them. In fact, I defy you to argue that your life hasn’t been better, brighter, jauntier, more fun after watching Messi during his time at Barcelona. Don’t let that be obscured.Two of the few things that the skeptics have thrown at Messi have been his preference, until now, for being a one-club man, an argument against him that I’ve always found spurious. Only the greats excel when they pass their entire careers in one place, doing the same things but remaining utterly imperious.Then there’s the World Cup thing. No, he hasn’t won it, but yes, the Champions League is now a far more important, far more prestigious tournament, and the nonsensical idea that Maradona won his World Cup single-handedly has been a boring trope.However, no one will deny that Messi yearns for that trophy — as much to prove his love and dedication for Argentina, I believe, as to satisfy any personal lust for glory. Right now, I’d bet anything that the way in which Barcelona, on Monday, discarded Messi’s best friend in football, Luis Suarez, had an influence in his making this move so rapidly. But I’d also bet that what lies at the heart of his disgust with standards at the Camp Nou is his desire to train and play at an ultra-competitive football club every week between now and when Argentina, hopefully, compete for the 2022 World Cup — his last, I’d guess, as a competitive international footballer.Where to next: Manchester City? PSG? Inter Milan? Inter Miami? I don’t know what his preference is, but this move hasn’t happened without him, mentally at least, choosing where he’d like to be when the season starts again.Man City? Well, it’s a safe haven and in a league he’d love, albeit that I’m sure Guardiola, given his wish for City to press teams high, would actually be the author of a City move for Messi. That would be down to the owners, and who could argue with their intentions?PSG: If they could unite Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria in the same team, then by god anyone not transfixed by that prospect needs help.Inter Milan: Not the right league, not the right club, but that’s an outfit that has tried so, so hard over the years to get Messi.Inter Miami: No, just no. The city and the project might interest him, but the standard, of teammate and of opposition, doesn’t fit what he needs right now.Anyway, he has a big match to win first, one in which, if they have any decency, Barcelona’s board will save themselves tens of millions of euros by gracefully conceding and saying, “We screwed up, Leo. We accept it’s time for you to leave. Thank you, good luck and god bless.”Sadly, though, the Camp Nou Keystone Kops are more likely to run around crashing into one another and letting the situation get worse, not better.

There’s something undeniably (and quantifiably) different about this USMNT ‘golden generation’Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsAug 18, 2020, 12:25 PM

Back in late February, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, former United States men’s national team and current New England Revolution coach Bruce Arena was sitting in a hotel lobby, discussing the USMNT player pool, when it was suggested to him that the current crop of American youngsters beginning to break through at the highest levels of the sport marked an unprecedented development in the country’s soccer history.“You’re completely wrong,” Arena said. “You don’t think we ever had young players playing in clubs in Europe? We’ve had good players before. Players from other countries are getting sold to big clubs, they’re not having parades over it.“You idiots hype up every kid that steps on the field as the next star,” he added, speaking of the media. “It’s ridiculous.”Arena, of course, is the wise-cracking Brooklyn-born coach who took the USMNT within a whisker of a World Cup semifinal in 2002 — the USMNT’s best showing in the event in the last 90 years — and also the man who was at the helm in 2017 when an aging American squad failed to qualify for the planet’s greatest sporting party for the first time in more than three decades. In other words, he’s seen it all, including countless prodigies who in some cases failed to become even journeymen pros, let alone world beaters.Yet in the almost-three years since the catastrophe in Couva, Trinidad and Tobago, where an unthinkable loss to the hosts ushered in the lowest moment in program history, a number of blue-chip talents have emerged as regular contributors in some the best leagues in the world, an obvious sign of hope for the future.Christian Pulisic, 21, was nominated for the Premier League’s best young player award following his often spectacular first season with English titan Chelsea. Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna, the 17-year-old son of two-time U.S. World Cup captain Claudio Reyna and former U.S. women’s national teamer Danielle Egan, became the youngest American ever to appear in the UEFA Champions League a few days before Arena spoke to Yahoo Sports.

And last week, 21-year-old Tyler Adams scored the most significant goal ever by an American at club level, one that gave RB Leipzig a last-gasp 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid and sent it to Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal against Paris Saint-Germain. If he plays in that match, as expected, Adams will become just the second Yank to appear in the final four of Europe’s top club competition, after DaMarcus Beasley with PSV Eindhoven in 2005.Three players does not equal a golden generation, to be sure. But there are other promising signs. Another 21-year-old, Schalke’s Weston McKennie, has been a starter in the German Bundesliga for three seasons and has played in the knockout stage of the Champions League. Striker Josh Sargent, just 20, already has almost 40 Bundesliga appearances under his belt. And last September, 19-year-old Ajax fullback Sergino Dest became one of just two American teenagers to start a Champions League match, joining Pulisic, who did it with Dortmund at 17.This? This is entirely new. With all due respect to Arena, the U.S. has never had this many players, this young, playing regularly with top-flight European clubs as relevant as some of the ones mentioned above. The country has had good players before, but it’s never had six of them between the ages of 17 and 21 who are key players for teams competing in the Prem, Bundesliga or Champions League.Arena is right to preach caution with young players. Even diehard USMNT fans might not remember or know that Manchester United, during its height in the 1990s and 2000s, was home to young Americans Kenny Cooper, Jovan Kirovski, John Thorrington, Jonathan Spector and Tim Howard. Only Howard ended up playing more than a handful of games for the club. Cooper, Kirovski and Thorrington never cracked the first team or made a U.S. World Cup roster.More recently, prospects such as Joe Gyau, Julian Green and Matt Miazga saw minutes with Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Chelsea, respectivekly, before eventually finding their level in lower leagues.“What people don’t realize is the big clubs in the world invest millions and millions of dollars into these players hoping that one out of 10 make it, or one out of 20,” Arena said. “It’s a crapshoot.”It’s true. Perhaps the biggest reason the U.S. failed to qualify for Russia 2018 was because of the so-called lost generation of U.S. players born in the early- to mid-’90s who failed to pan out as many hoped, as difference-makers in their prime able to bridge the gap between a then-teenage Pulisic and aged veterans like Howard and Clint Dempsey.But with Pulisic, Adams and Reyna leading the way as regular contributors with three of Europe’s most prominent teams, this new cohort of U.S. players has already hit some uncharted data points. That’s all it is for now; what happens day-in, day-out over the next decade — not least their ability to stay healthy — will ultimately determine their legacies.But hey, every golden generations has to start somewhere.

MLS is pulling fans into stadiums, but TV audiences remain underwhelming

The Guardian•August 25, 2020

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The ties between the MLS Is Back Tournament and TV were undeniable. The mid-season tournament, designed to keep the league rolling during the Covid-19 pandemic, was by its very nature a TV product right down to its hosting at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. No fans in the stands didn’t mean no fans watching.

In fact, with almost every other major sports league in the United States put on ice over the early part of the summer this was a chance for MLS to dominate the airwaves. The NBA would eventually join MLS in gathering in Florida, but there was nearly a month between the start of the MLS Is Back Tournament and the resumption of the basketball season. Soccer had Walt Disney World to itself for weeks.

Despite all this, MLS’s viewing figures over July and August left some underwhelmed. The final between Orlando City and the Portland Timbers drew an audience of 394,000 on ESPN platforms (as per Steven Goff of the Washington Post), making it the third most-watched game of the MLS Is Back Tournament after the opener between Inter Miami and Orlando City (503,000) and the group stage match between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders (408,000).

The average TV audience for the tournament charted at 226,000 per game (not counting streaming and Spanish-language viewership), a figure lower than the league’s average TV audience for the 2019 season as a whole (260,000). If this was MLS’s big chance to make a mainstream impression, it did not pan out.

MLS claims the Orlando tournament was successful in attracting younger and Latino viewers to the league, with a large proportion of the audience classed as new viewers. “The tournament also afforded us the opportunity to try many new things and experiment with programming windows we had never tried before – including matches at 9am on weekdays,” Angela Alfano, senior director of corporate communications at MLS, told the Guardian.

The league also says gross viewership was up 70% for July 2020 compared to July 2019 and that primetime figures were up. These figures, however, can’t mask how MLS has long struggled to get a grip on TV. For all that the league has enjoyed undeniable growth over the last decade or so, television remains something of a final frontier. A significant barrier stopping MLS from becoming a truly major sports league in North America.

The current TV rights package with ESPN, Fox and Univision is valued at a combined $720m over eight years with the deal up for renegotiation in 2022. This works out at $90m a season, meaning MLS isn’t even the most lucrative soccer league in the United States – NBC pays $166m annually to broadcast the Premier League. In commissioner Don Garber’s own words, MLS’s package is “upside down compared to all the other leagues,” with local markets stronger for the league than its national audience.

Until now, MLS has relied on its expansion into new markets to grow its TV audience, but progress has stagnated. Austin, Charlotte, Sacramento and St Louis will all welcome MLS fans as expansion locations over the next three years, but recent trends suggest the league shouldn’t expect any significant uptick in its TV audience. While MLS’s average attendance ranks as the third highest in North American sports leagues, behind only the NFL and MLB, its broadcast revenue pales in comparison (even the NHL’s current national TV deal is worth $200m a season).

One of MLS’s greatest strengths as a central organisation has been its ability to stay nimble in its pursuit of a younger, more diverse demographic. The league’s drive into downtown areas in recent years has been the purest manifestation of this and now teams are following broadcast trends by handing live rights to streaming services. “With the youngest audience in professional sports, we are uniquely positioned to deliver content in an ‘always on’ or ‘anywhere, anytime’ environment,” Alfano said. Just this week Amazon Prime Video became the Seattle Sounders’ streaming partner, with Los Angeles FC’s home games broadcast live on YouTube TV.

But at a time when such streaming services have still to truly work out how to package and sell live rights, MLS has been left in a difficult position. There is not a sports league on the planet right now pondering what its broadcast future holds, with declining ratings across the board for live sports. It’s up to MLS to figure out where it can thrive in that landscape.

“I do believe in the new world, the new streaming over-the-top world, media companies are going to need Major League Soccer as sports content, more in the future than they even have in the past,” Garber told CNBC earlier this year, but what’s to stop MLS being squeezed out in the “new world” the commissioner speaks of just as they have in the old world?

Related: Will MLS and Liga MX merge to form a North American behemoth?

It may take something truly drastic for MLS to reach the next level in terms of its TV reach. A merger with Liga MX has been mooted recently, with Garber even calling a league including American, Canadian and Mexican clubs the “ultimate dream.” Having said that, LigaMX is already popular in Mexico, and the US, and may not feel it needs to link up with US and Canadian teams.

Promotion and relegation, the creation of a true soccer pyramid, could also move MLS into a new era, but those franchise owners who have paid hundreds of millions for a seat at the top table might not take too kindly to being shunted down to the kids table. They have invested in a closed circuit. It seems implausible that MLS could make such a fundamental change to its structure, at least in the short to medium term.

MLS can take comfort from the fact that they are not the only major sports league to have struggled for a TV audience this summer. Nielsen numbers show the NBA’s viewership since its restart in ‘The Bubble’ is down 13% compared to before lockdown. Many assumed fans would flock back to live sports having gone so long without them, but the encounter between the LA Clippers and the LA Lakers on opening night of the NBA’s return drew the lowest audience (3.4 million) of any Clippers-Lakers game so far this season.

Increasingly, it appears MLS is approaching a crossroads and nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the shaping of the league as a TV product. 2022 and the new TV deal negotiated to start then will reveal a lot about where MLS stands. If there is no real progress by then, either in the growth of TV audiences or in the money pulled in through rights, MLS may have to consider taking a different route.

Premier League schedule: Chelsea, Christian Pulisic meet champions Liverpool in first home match

Doug McIntyre Yahoo Sports•August 20, 2020

Chelsea and Christian Pulisic won’t have to wait long to get a crack at the champs.

Upon Thursday’s unveiling of the 2020-21 Premier League schedule, the Blues and their American talisman learned that just five days after opening the new season at Brighton and Hove Albion on Sept. 14, they would welcome title-holding Liverpool to Stamford Bridge.Chelsea will take on at least one high-profile foe in each subsequent month for the rest of the calendar year, culminating with a Boxing Day match against Arsenal Dec. 26. Chelsea will travel to Manchester United Oct. 24 before hosting north London rival Tottenham Nov. 28.Pulisic is still working his way back from the hamstring injury he suffered after scoring Chelsea’s only goal in a FA Cup final loss to Arsenal earlier this month. He was a revelation for Frank Lampard’s squad last campaign — the 21-year-old’s first in the EPL after four years with Borussia Dortmund — especially during the season’s stretch run in June and July following an unplanned three-month shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.- ADVERTISEMENT –

It’s not clear if Pulisic will be ready to go by the time the Reds come to town; Lampard said Aug. 8 that the winger could miss “the first one or two games” of the new season. Pulisic had perhaps his best game for Chelsea in last month’s loss to Liverpool, scoring and adding an all-planet assist after slaloming through defenders in just 31 minutes off the bench at Anfield.On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter said that was recovering well by all accounts.“I talked to Christian,” Berhalter said. “The leg is doing really well, it’s recovering, it’s healing and he’s in good spirits. The club is focused on getting him back as soon as possible.“We have a lot of confidence in Chelsea, a lot of confidence in their medical staff and a lot of confidence in Christian. He’s a guy that has exploded on the scene in this last year in the Premier League and it has been great to watch.”Pulisic scored nine goals and set up seven more in 25 league appearances despite dealing with several nagging ailments last term, helping Chelsea to a fourth-place finish and the coveted Champions League berth that comes with it. Afterward, he was nominated for the Premier League’s Young Player of the Season award that was ultimately won by Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.Despite establishing himself in Lampard’s first-choice lineup by the end of last season, Pulisic will have to continue to excel to keep his place with the summer arrival of former Ajax attacker Hakim Ziyech.Chelsea’s full 2020-21 Premier League slate is as follows:

Neymar, PSG left to rue missed opportunities as Champions League glory slips through their fingers

It is 12.40 a.m. and Thiago Silva is the first Paris Saint-Germain player to get off the bus at the Myriad hotel in Lisbon city centre, for the last time. Unlike in his dreams, though, the captain is not holding the Champions League trophy. Instead, he heads to the entrance of the hotel, mask on his face, AirPods in his ears, white plastic bag with his match shirt in his hand… and he seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. After eight years, Silva has played his last game for the club. He will leave with great memories, but without the Holy Grail.

The rest of the squad and the technical staff follow him, like a funeral march. Thomas Tuchel is there, in the middle of the pack, still on his crutches. Outside, the fans who turned up to welcome their beaten heroes are singing “thank you, Paris, thank you.” It is little comfort for the Parisians after they lost a cruel final. Hardly any of them acknowledge the supporters. Neymar does. He is the last player to get off the coach and he offers a wave.

Inside the Myriad, a late dinner is ready but most players go straight to their rooms. They won’t be able to sleep. How could you? Ever since referee Daniele Orsato blew the final whistle, signalling a 1-0 win for Bayern Munich, the key moments have been replayed in their heads over and over. Had they taken their chances? Could they have defended better for Kingsley Coman‘s winning goal? What if Marco Verratti been fit to start? So many questions, so few answers.

  •  

Bayern’s triumph built upon Flick’s influence, refusal to panic

Bayern Munich win the Champions League: How social media reacted to the Bavarians being kings of Europe

Bayern’s historic numbers: 43 goals, 35 GD, 11/11 wins, 6 UCLs, 2 trebles

– UCL is Odriozola’s FIFTH trophy of 2019-20 in TEN games

 

There are also a lot of regrets, of course. In the changing room after the final whistle, the comforting words of coach Tuchel, sporting director Leonardo or president Nasser al-Khelaifi, who told the players after the game that they were proud of them, were scant consolation. Neymar had tears in his eyes. The Brazilian was sat next to Kylian Mbappe on one side, with Silva on the other. Both tried to comfort an inconsolable player. So far in Neymar’s career, big finals had been his forte, particularly in winning the Copa Libertadores (2011), Champions League (2015) and Olympic Games (2016). This time he came up short, and his display was disappointing. He looked lost when trying to rescue the game alone as the clock counted down.

PSG had big chances to make this final their own. They had to be super clinical. Instead, they were left to rue missed opportunities. What maybe hurts most is that it was their two superstars, their two princes, who misfired. First Neymar and then Mbappe, one early and the other one late in the first half. They could have become kings of Europe right there, but Manuel Neuer was a colossus in the Bayern goal.

On the opposite side of the room, Mauro Icardi is also quiet. The Argentine didn’t even get off the bench, just like in the semifinal against RB Leipzig, and just like in both legs of the round-of-16 tie against Borussia Dortmund. A €60 million player sat on the bench. The big difference was that in this game, PSG really needed him.Instead, Tuchel chose Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the saviour in the quarterfinal against Atalanta. It was a decision that seemed to defy reason. If the coach’s tactical approach was effective for the first hour, his decisions after Bayern scored were questionable. Angel Di Maria should not have been substituted. Icardi should have come on.

Rumours soon resurfaced — though they have never been far away — that Tuchel would be sacked. Officially, the line is that he will be on the PSG bench next season (or should we say this season, considering the 2020-21 Ligue 1 campaign kicked off on Friday night?). It would be harsh, considering he has just taken PSG to a first Champions League final in the club’s history and after winning the domestic treble. He should get the chance to build on this.There are plenty of positives to take from this extraordinary 2019-20 season, even if they seem so far away right now. This team finally is a team. PSG took a Bayern side that thrashed Barcelona 8-2 in the quarterfinals right to the wire. They have showed great togetherness and with some additions to the team, they can come back stronger. When the best player for the opposition is their goalkeeper, the performance of your own team has to come with great credit.But there are things to fix. When Thomas Meunier agreed to join Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer, he also opted out of the Champions League mini-tournament. That proved to be a huge blow because Thilo Kehrer, who had to fill in, was simply a centre-back playing as a right-back. With Silva now departed, PSG need a op-class centre-back to replace him. Even if Marquinhos drops back into defence, that leaves a gaping hole in defensive midfield.Leonardo will have to be clever and shrewd. It won’t be about signing a big name, it will be about signing the right name.More important is that Mbappe and Neymar remain at the club. The club is hoping to open talks over extending their contracts, which both expire in June 2022. But rumours of big-money moves to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively won’t go away. That PSG are on the right path might help persuade the two forwards to sign.The disappointment and the frustration for the whole squad right now will be huge, but they will return home with their heads high. They made their club, their fans and their community proud. They have little time to reflect, however, as on Saturday they are due to face Lens away as their Ligue 1 title defence begins. Tuchel and his players will have to overcome their Lisbon hangover quickly and switch their focus to the league. Champions League finalist or not, no one will give them a pass domestically.For now, this will be seen a huge missed opportunity, but PSG must hope that it is the first of many and not just an isolated moment.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN FALLS 0-1 AT LOUISVILLE CITY FC

By Indy Eleven Communications, 08/27/20, 12:00AM EDT  Despite Four Saves from GK Evan Newton, Indy Sees Group E Lead Over Archrival Shrink to Three Points

https://www.youtube.com/embed/vyKRZE6lBGE #LOUvIND Post-game Quote Sheet – August 26, 2020

Indy Eleven fought stifling heat and a surging Louisville City FC squad tonight at Lynn Family Stadium, ultimately dropping a hard-fought 0-1 result in the latest installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest rivalry. Indy Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton made four big stops on the night, but Louisville City captain Paolo DelPiccolo’s second half tally was enough to push the home side to a third straight victory.Despite the setback, Indy Eleven (6W-3L-1D, 19 pts.) maintains a three-point lead over Louisville (5W-3L-1D, 16 pts.) in the tightly packed Group E standings that also includes Saint Louis FC sitting on 14 points. While the Kentucky side holds a game in hand on Indy Eleven, Indiana’s Team has the advantage of hosting five of its final six games at home – including two against LCFC – while Lou City has to close with four of seven on the road after restarting the 2020 campaign with an eight-game homestand at its new home ground.“I think we played pretty decent in spells, even in the one where we lost the goal. We were disappointed by the chances we didn’t take as well as we could have, not hitting the target or not making their goalkeeper make a save,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “With where we are at now in the season, we have set ourselves up in a good spot with a lead in the group and almost all of our games at home to finish out. Sometimes when you have a disappointing result like tonight it’s good to see that team again the next time out, so we’ll recharge our focus and our energy and look forward to seeing them at our place next weekend.”Coming off his USL Championship-record 50th career shutout 11 days ago against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Newton picked up where he left off, guarding his left post three minutes in to turn aside a near post effort by Corben Bone. Lou City striker Napo Matsoso put Newton on notice nine minutes in with a floated effort from the corner of the area that drifted just wide left of frame.Eleven forward Andrew Carleton was buzzing around the field to start the match, and a 19th minute sequence that began with his clean sliding tackle from behind on Bone in Indy’s defensive third led to him leading a dangerous chance at the other end. While LCFC ‘keeper Ben Lundt pounced on Carleton’s dangerous cross deep inside the six yard box, the effort seemed to awaken the Eleven attack, as chances by forward Nick Moon and defender Carl Haworth, making his return from an injury that saw him miss the last five contests, came in quick succession just a minute later.While Lou City held much of the possession in the middle of the half, a 24th minute free kick service by Oscar Jimenez that was punched clear by Newton on his line marked the only real danger. A nifty build-up through Carleton and midfielder Tyler Gibson’s back-heel in the 33rd minute set up an onrushing Tyler Pasher, who dragged his effort from 25 yards just wide of the right post, leaving the Eastern Conference’s leading scorer wanting. The first half hydration break followed, as did mostly chances from distance by Louisville that didn’t threaten goal in the final 10 minutes of the stanza, sending the rivals to the halftime break scoreless.While the second half struggled to come to life, Moon provided a spark in the 55th minute with a low effort from 20 yards that trailed just wide of the right post. Just after the hour mark it was Cam Lindley creating danger on the endline for Indy, his service finding Carleton near the penalty spot for a first-time shot that LCFC center back Alexis Souahy slid over to block inside the six.It was a similar play to that one for Louisville City FC that finally moved the scoreboard in the 61st minute. Forward Antoine Hoppenot’s cutback through traffic found a streaking DelPiccolo 10 yards out for a redirect into the left-side netting that Newton could do nothing about, putting the home side up 1-0. Indy looked to counter quickly just two minutes later, but Haworth’s header off a Carleton free kick was gathered by Lundt. Newton showed up big a minute later by using both hands to bat away a strong shot by Bone, and he did the same on Hoppenot’s near-angle blast in the 70th minute.The 80th minute looked to bring the chance Indy Eleven had been hoping for when Moon’s through ball split two Louisville defenders and put Pasher behind the backline, but Lundt’s charge off his line cut down the angle, forcing the Canadian attacker to send his chance just wide right.As the match passed the stated five minutes of stoppage time, Indy Eleven had one last desperate attempt at an equalizer, and controversy ensued after Lundt rose to snag a long free kick into the area, only to bring the ball down on the head of Indy substitute forward Jeremy Rafanello. Fellow sub Ilija Ilic deposited the loose ball into the back of the net, but the play was whistled dead before the finish for a foul the visitors didn’t think was warranted, launching heated disapprovals by the Eleven both on the bench and the field. The match itself would be whistled dead 90 seconds later, resulting in a Louisville win – and even more anticipation for a rematch in 10 days’ time.Said reunion will happen on Saturday, September 5, when the LIPAFC rivalry heads north up I-65 to Lucas Oil Stadium for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff. Tickets for the match are going fast but still available at www.indyeleven.com/tickets, and those who cannot be there in person can follow the action live on WISH-TV, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM/exitos943.com, and the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

 USL Championship Regular Season – #LOUvIND

Louisville City FC  1 : 0  Indy Eleven

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 – 8:00 p.m. ET

Lynn Family Stadium – Louisville, Ken.

Attendance: 4,8

2020 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (6W-3L-1D, 19 pts., 1st in Group E)

Louisville City FC (5W-3L-1D, 16 pts., 2nd in Group E)

 Scoring Summary:

LOU – Paolo DelPiccolo (Antoine Hoppenot) 61’


Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Tyler Gibson (yellow card) 37’

IND – Karl Ouimette (yellow card) 74’

IND – Neveal Hackshaw (yellow card) 90+7’

 Indy Eleven lineup (3-4-3, L–>R): Evan Newton; Neveal Hackshaw (captain), Mitch Osmond, Karl Ouimette; Cam Lindley (Jeremy Rafanello 87’), Drew Connor (Kenney Walker 78’), Tyler Gibson, Carl Haworth (Conner Antley 78’); Tyler Pasher, Andrew Carleton (Ilija Ilic 78’), Nick Moon

IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Felicien Dumas

 IND Stats: Shots: 7, Shots on Goal: 1, Possession: 45.3%, Passing Accuracy: 74.7%, Passes: 391, Fouls: 10, Corners: 0, Offsides: 3

Louisville City FC (4-3-3, L–>R): Ben Lundt; Oscar Jimenez, Alexis Souahy, Sean Totsch, Pat McMahon; Paolo DelPiccolo (captain) (Wes Charpie 78’), Speedy Williams, Corben Bone (Jonathan Gomez 88’); Antoine Hoppenot (Cameron Lancaster 88’), Luke Spencer (Brian Ownby 56’), Napo Matsoso

 LOU Substitutes: Chris Hubbard (GK), Jason Johnson, Jimmy Ockford

LOU Stats: Shots: 9, Shots on goal: 5, Possession: 54.7%, Passing Accuracy: 80.3%, Passes: 471, Fouls: 7, Corners: 4, Offsides: 2

Ligue 1 preview: Can PSG avoid Champions League hangover? Do Monaco have the right formula?

Aug 26, 2020Julien LaurensCorrespondent

French football doesn’t do things like everyone else. When the other big leagues restart their season, Ligue 1 doesn’t. When others don’t allow fans, Ligue 1 does. The French top flight started its 2020-21 season last weekend despite one of its teams (Lyon) reaching the semifinals of the Champions League and another (Paris Saint-Germain) falling to Bayern Munich in the final.Despite another inevitable exodus of players — Houssem Aouar, Mbaye Niang, Memphis Depay, Mike Maignan, Gabriel, Moussa Dembele, Victor Osimhen to name only a few who could leave or have already left — Ligue 1 and its new fortune from TV rights money is gearing up for another exciting campaign. Here’s what to look for as the new campaign kicks in.

Teams to watch

Can Paris Saint-Germain avoid a Champions League hangover? Who can catch them? After seven titles in the past eight years, Paris are once more the massive favourites to be crowned champions. However, it also looks like this season could be far more dangerous than any before. PSG are still full of regrets after their Champions League final defeat against Bayern Munich last weekend. How will they get over it? Will they get over it?

In a campaign congested with fixtures, they will have to get straight into their rhythm while also dealing with the extra pressure now on them in Europe.

Do AS Monaco finally have the right formula? After years of shambles and disarray, along with many managers and sporting directors, Monaco have changed everything again this summer. Out went Robert Moreno, in came Niko Kovac. Paul Mitchell has also arrived to run the recruitment, and hopes are high.

The 2017 champions drew their first game of the campaign against Reims 2-2, but they showed some promise. They have great young players like Youssouf Fofana and Aurelien Tchouameni, as well as experience with the likes of Wissam Ben Yedder, Stevan Jovetic and even Aleksandr Golovin. They should certainly do better than the ninth-place finish they achieved last season.

Same story, new hope in Lyon? This summer should be like the last one, when Nabil Fekir, Tanguy Ndombele and Ferland Mendy all left the club. This time, it should be Aouar, Depay and Dembele’s turn. Lyon sell and rebuild; it’s what they do, and already there is another wunderkind in the pipeline in 20-year-old midfielder Maxence Caqueret. They have fresh hope and belief born from their run to the Champions League semifinals.

Rudi Garcia is more popular among fans than ever, and the club will invest in his squad so they can erase from their memory the

Do Lille have another good cycle in them? For the second summer in a row, Lille have lost their best player. Nicolas Pepe went to Arsenal in August 2019 for €72 million and Victor Osimhen joined Napoli in August 2020 for €81m. Year after year, Lille produce good teams and good results. They finished fourth last year while navigating a Champions League campaign as well.

Sporting director Luis Campos has worked his magic again this summer, with the arrival of Jonathan David, Isaac Lihadji, Eugenio Pizzuto and Sven Botman all so promising.

Players to watch

Will the fourth time be the charm for Neymar? His numbers in Ligue 1 since he arrived three years ago are incredible, really. At 28, he is the best player French football has ever seen, and it’s a privilege to have him in the league for a fourth year. His objective, like PSG’s, will be the Champions League, but let’s hope that he lights up Ligue 1 with his talent, too.

Is this Mbappe’s final season in Paris? Like Neymar, his contract with Paris expires in June 2022 and until he extends it (which the club is hoping for), there will be a question of whether this could be his last season in Ligue 1. The 21-year-old could win a fifth title in a row and will try to improve on his ratio of a goal every 87 minutes in the league last season.

Will Ben Yedder carry Monaco? He did everything he could last season, finishing as top scorer with 18 goals and seven assists, but the team’s ninth-place finish was disappointing. Ben Yedder, 30, will have to carry them again this year. He is their primary finisher and with the Euros rescheduled for next summer, this is a big season for him if he hopes to get a France call-up.

Thauvin, Marseille’s old-new signing: Before the really bad ankle injury that kept him out all of last season, Florian Thauvin had been Marseille’s best player. Now the 27-year-old is back and will feel like a new signing for l’OM. Without him, they had a great season last year and if he can get back to his best, the 2018 World Cup winner will make them so much stronger.

Young players to watch

Eduardo Camavinga, MF, Rennes: At 18, he is arguably the best in the world in his age group and position. His vision, technique, skills, maturity, pace and strength make him a phenomenon in central midfield. Rarely will you see a talent like him, and he will take Ligue 1 by storm again this year.

Adil Aouchiche, MF, Saint-Etienne: He left PSG on a free to join Saint-Etienne, where he was promised far more game time. Already the star of France’s youth teams, the 18-year-old playmaker showed great things in preseason and his wonderful technical ability should shine through this season.

Amine Gouiri, FW, OGC Nice: Lyon let him go to Nice for only €8m this summer, which raised eyebrows, and then he scored twice on his debut against Lens last weekend. The 20-year-old striker has incredible potential and Lyon might regret selling him so early.Axel Disasi, DF, AS Monaco: The 22-year-old centre-back had a great season with Reims last year and was highly coveted this summer. He chose Monaco and scored on his club debut… against Reims. He is impressive defensively and has amazing determination.

New signings to watch

Seko Fofana, MF, Lens: He was one of the revelations in Serie A last season with Udinese, scoring in their win against Juventus for example. The 25-year-old will be the boss of this newly promoted Lens team with his power in midfield.

Morgan Schneiderlin, MF, OGC Nice: After 12 years in England with Southampton, Manchester United and Everton, the France international, 30, is back home. He was seduced by the Nice project and brings his experience, intensity and physicality to an upwardly mobile team.

Jonathan David, FW, LOSC Lille: He and Alphonso Davies make up the crown jewels of Canadian football. After a great season with Gent, many clubs were after him but Lille beat them to the punch. His pace, skills and finishing make the 20-year-old a superb prospect.Pape Gueye, MF, Marseille: He was one of the best midfielders in Ligue 2 last season with Le Havre, who made him captain despite only being 20 at the time. He really impressed with his left foot and his workrate on the pitch. Marseille pulled off a great coup in convincing him to make the step up.

Managers to watch

Patrick Vieira, Nice: Last season’s sixth-place finish didn’t tell the whole story about the job Vieira did on the French Riviera. He struggled at times and it was hard to make out his philosophy, but he kept going and the season was ultimately a positive one in the end. He has to do better in terms of performances and quality of football this year.

Andre Villas-Boas, Marseille: In his first season at the club, he overachieved and brought Marseille back into the Champions League after a six-year absence. He almost left in the summer because of many disagreements with ownership, but the players convinced him to stay.

Julien Stephan, Rennes: The youngest manager in Ligue 1 at 39, he just completed two almost-perfect seasons with Rennes: the team qualified for the Champions League last season and won the French Cup the previous year. He has the talent to do it again, and maybe go one better this time around.

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and a host of other guests every day as football plots a path through the coronavirus crisis. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).Claude Puel, Saint-Etienne: The former Leicester City manager has changed everything at Saint-Etienne. He got rid of most of the older, more experienced players to start a new cycle with young and exciting talents like Fofana, Aouchiche and Yvan Neyou. His gamble has to pay off, though.

The race for the title

https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html It will be very hard to compete with PSG and their superior squad throughout a long and congested campaign. Marseille will want to confirm their excellent 2019-20 season was no fluke, Lyon and Monaco want their revenge while Lille, Nice and Rennes will want to keep being the troublemakers. Saint-Etienne under Puel and Bordeaux under Jean-Louis Gasset will hope they can do better than last year

Top three predictions: PSG, Marseille, Monaco.

The fight against relegation

It will be another fascinating battle at the bottom of the Ligue 1 table this season. The two promoted teams, Lens and Lorient, have strengthened their squad really well and look promising. Metz managed to stay up last year, but they could struggle more this time like Brest and Dijon.

Bottom three predictions: Brest, Dijon, Metz.

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8/21/20 – Champions League Final Sun 3 pm TUDN, CBS Sports Network, CBS All Access, Europa League Final Fri 3 pm CBS Sports Network, El Traffico Sat 6 pm Fox, MLS Rivalry weekend, Indy 11 at Louis Wed.

Champions League Bayern Munich vs PSG 3 pm Sunday TUDN, CBSSN

I have heard a bunch of people say these Champions League Quarterfinal games have been among the best and most exciting ever with the one game knockout style of play.  We got great upsets as Lyon bested Man City and RB Leipzig knocked out Atletico and Atalanta was minutes away from deposing of PSG.  But honestly back to back 3-0 yawners is what we got for the Semi-Finals as both PSG and then Bayern Munich – absolutely dominated play and each won 3-0 in games that had little excitement – and were blowouts.  Its why I think NCAA hoops is great – but rarely does the best team really win. The thing about Champions League with a game in each team’s home stadium – is normally the better team wins. If they somehow tie or lose on the road they come home for what is normally a stirring win to close things out.  Not always – but normally the Champions League Final 4 are very competitive games.  Either way we do have a competitive final as Bayern Munich will face a PSG that has spent millions trying to get past the Quarterfinals and finally has a chance to lift the trophy.  Two powerhouse teams with world class strikers in Mbappe and Neymar for PSG and Lewandowski, Mueller and Gnabry for Bayern.  Both have great keepers in Nuerer, and Navas (if he’s healthy to return) – it should be one heck of a game Sunday at 3 pm on CBS Sports Network (why not CBS? Who knows – Andy Griffin shows to air I am sure). PSG has won nine of the last 10 French league titles, but the European Cup is the trophy it really wants. Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Mauro Icardi and all the team’s other stars were signed to bring the prize to Paris — and the club’s Qatari owners — for the first time ever.  While PSG is the nouveau riche, Bayern is European royalty. The eight-time reigning German champions have won the European Cup five times, most recently in 2013. And as Alphonso Davies, Thomas Müller and prolific scorer Robert Lewandowski have shown, they don’t mind steamrolling every team in their path. Bayern have scored 15 goals over their last three games, highlighted by the historic 8-2 demolition of Barcelona.  Great Preview Stories below on the Ole Ballcoach !  I like Bayern 3-2.

Europa League Sevilla vs Inter 3 pm Friday TUDN, CBS All Access

Sevilla will look for their 6th Europa league trophy vs a resurging Inter Milan on Friday at 3 pm on TUDN and CBS Sports Network and of course (streamed on CBS all-access).  Sevilla slipped by Man United 2-1 to slide into their first final since winning 3 straight times from 2014-2016.  For Inter Milan its their first final since 1998.  Sevilla is aiming for its sixth Europa League title, and it would be the third with the club for captain Jesús Navas.  Inter hasn’t won a trophy of any kind since the 2011 Club World Cup despite its status as an Italian heavyweight. This squad has the firepower to do it in playmaker Lautaro Martínez and striker Romelu Lukaku, who has four goals in his last three games.  Also huge news that CBS All Access will be showing the Women’s Champions League Finals starting this Saturday – see details on the Ole Ballcoach. 

UCL round of 16 hits U.S. viewer high

Saturday’s FC Barcelona-Napoli UEFA Champions League round of 16 match averaged 1.1 million viewers on Univision and TUDN, the largest audience on record for the round of 16 on U.S. television. Meanwhile, Manchester City-Real Madrid averaged 571,000 on UniMas and TUDN Friday, ranking sixth all-time for the round.English-language coverage aired on CBS Sports Network, which is not Nielsen-rated.

MLS on Fox Sat 6 pm El Traffico

Rivaly Weekend starts – and there won’t be any fans in the stands to watch, but there will be a big TV stage on Saturday at 6 pm on FOX for Carlos Vela’s return to LAFC after he skipped the MLS tournament to be with his pregnant wife. The stage will be big for Diego Rossi, too, after he was the MLS summer tournament’s top scorer.  Unfortunately, Galaxy star forward Javier Hernández is out injured (right calf), but fellow Mexican headliner Jonathan dos Santos (groin) will play. Sunday night 10 pm we get the Cascadia Cup with Portland hosting Seattle on Fox Sport 1.  It’s one thing to watch sports in empty stadiums, but a Cascadia Cup game at an empty Providence Park will be truly surreal. No game in MLS is more defined by its raucous atmosphere. So the players will have to create their own fireworks, especially Portland playmakers Diego Valeri and Sebastián Blanco, and Seattle forwards Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz.

Indy 11 at Louisville Wed

Our Indy 11 get a much needed break this weekend after disposing of Pittsburgh last weekend 1-0 at the Luke.  The Eleven travel to Louisville for a 7 pm match on Wish TV+ ESPN+ Wednesday before returning home Sat Sept 5 for a repeat again them at 7 pm at the Luke.

CHS Girls Invitational

The 2nd ranked Carmel Greyhoud ladies with plenty of former Carmel FC players including all-state Goalkeeper Erin Baker are off to a good start after posting 2 victories this week – they travel to 17th ranked Guerin Catholic in Westfield on Sat night before hosting 2 of the top ranked teams in the state the following Sat, Aug 29 as they host 13th ranked Avon at 9 am and 12th ranked Fishers at 7 pm at home. 

Story Behind the Legendary Champions League Anthem
The Champions League anthem which debuted in 1992 is one of the most iconic anthems in all of sports.  I thought I would dive in a bit to its history and how it was done.  The UCL anthem has words in French, German and English – below are the actual words. 

English version of what is sung

They are the best teams
They are the best teams
The main event
 
The master
The best
The great teams
The champions
 
A big meeting
A great sporting event
The main event

The master
The best
The great teams
The champions
 
They are the best
They are the best
These are the champions
 
The master
The best
The champions

GAMES ON TV 

Fri, Aug 21 

3 pm TUDN, CBSSN                     Europa League Finals  Inter vs Seviilla

Sat, Aug 22

3 pm beIN Sport                           Lille vs Rennes – Ligue 1 Starts

6 pm Fox                             LAFC vs LA Galaxy – MLS

7 pm ESPN+                                    Atlanta vs Nashville

8 pm ESPN+                                    Miami vs Orlando

Sun, Aug 23

3 pm TUDN,  CBSSN      Champions League Finals PSG vs Bayern Munich

10 pm FS1                                    Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders MLS

Wed, Aug 26

10 pm ESPN+                                 LA Galaxy vs  Seattle Sounders MLS

7 pm ESPN+ , WishTV                      Louisville FC vs Indy 11

Sat, Aug 29

11:30 am ESPN+                           Arsenal vs Liverpool – Comm. Shield

11 am beIN Sport                         Rennes vs Montpellier

8 pm FS1                                          NE vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm ESPN+                                 Atlanta vs Orlando MLS

Sun, Aug 3010 pm FS1                                        Seattle vs LAFC 

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Story behind the Champions League Anthem
Video Story behind the Champions League Anthem
Champions League Anthem with words on screen
A Superclub UCL Final With All the Fixins–Even the Ugly Ones
Champions League final 2020: Comparing Bayern’s treble-winning class to today’s crop
PSG stars’ unity pledge in Verratti’s restaurant takes them to UCL final
Bayern must tighten defence against PSG in Champions League final, warns Flick
Against Bayern You Can’t Miss your Chances Lyon – SI
Neymar and attacking stars align for PSG in pursuit of Champions League glory
Gnabry’s stirring display is perfect Euro recipe for Bayern Munich

Champions League run weakens German resistance to ‘proud’ RB Leipzig
Numbers: Di Maria level with Messi; free-scoring PSG equal Real Madrid


Barca’s humiliation was their own fault, yet they didn’t see it coming
4dGraham Hunter

Gnabry and Lewandowski fire ruthless Bayern into Champions League final

American Tyler Adams scores winning goal in the 88th minute for RB Leipzig to beat Atletico Madrid

USMNT’s Adams helps Leipzig upset Atletico late

Is Guardiola’s UCL drought a sign he’s no longer a genius?

 Europa League

Sevilla vs Inter Preview
Inter are ready for greatness – Lautaro Martinez
Inter breeze past Shakhtar to set up UEL final vs. Sevilla
Future uncertain but Conte within sight of Inter silverware
Sevilla knock Man United out of Europa League
Solskjaer on Europa exit: Manchester United “will have to learn”

Inter’s ‘LuLa’ partnership fired up to end wait for trophy

Lukaku, Lautaro lead Inter back among the European elite

‘Records there to be broken’ as Lukaku extends run

De Gea shrugs off criticism, says he is still safe pair of hands

 USA

Its Ok to be Excited About this current US Team – Doug Mcintyre
• USWNT’s Lavelle joins Man City
US Coronvirus leads to UNWNT Players leaving NWSL for Europe
Ream, Berhalter react to USMNT back Robinson’s possible Fulham 
Official: Antonee Robinson signs with Fulham
Weston McKennie: USMNT star holding out for PL move

Breaking down the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying schedule

USMNT’s Berhalter on World Cup qualifying, player transfers

US could open WCup qualifying in Trinidad, site of ’17 loss
US Players On TV this WEekend

Goalkeeping

Top Saves UCL Round of 16 + 8

Best Saves of the QuarterFinals – Europa League

Best Saves in MLS History

Spurs sign Hart on free transfer

WORLD

• Koeman to coach Barca, Messi staying
• Sources: Arsenal agree €22m Gabriel deal
Spurs sign Hart on free transfer
Lazio: Lost respect for David Silva

Will Koeman’s dream job be a nightmare assignment? 2hGraham Hunter
‘Return of a legend’ – Koeman officially named new Barcelona coach

Barcelona sack Setien, Koeman favourite to take charge

Koeman downplays need for Barca ‘revolution’

Will Messi leave Barcelona? If so, would he leave for Argentina, MLS or a team with Ronaldo?
Where could Messi Go ?  

INDY 11

NEWS | GOALKEEPER EVAN NEWTON NAMED TO USL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM OF THE WEEK FOR WEEK 8
RECAP | INDY ELEVEN OUTLASTS PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS FOR 1-0 WIN
MARTIN RENNIE VOTED CHAMPIONSHIP’S COACH OF THE MONTH
INDY ELEVEN BRINGS HOME POINT FROM 1-1 DRAW AT LOUISVILLE CITY FC

 Indy 11 Sponsor – Grab a bite at these local spots – https://www.thedistricttap.com/ & https://www.rosatispizza.com/location/carmel-in/ 
Galaxy acquire winger Yony González and goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann

Sevilla – Inter Milan: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

icholas MendolaNBC Sports•August 19, 2020

Sevilla – Inter Milan is a story of silverware seekers, as the Serie A side seeks its first trophy since the 2011 Coppa Italia while their La Liga rivals aim for a sixth UEFA Cup this century.

Team news: Sevilla – Inter Milan

A report in Italy says Antonio Conte will not change his Starting XI for the fifth-straight match, as the red-hot Serie A side bids for a first trophy since 2011.

Sevilla is healthy and primed as well after beating Manchester United despite providing plenty of work for goalkeeper Bono. The Spanish side dismissed another Premier League side, Wolves, in the quarterfinal round.

What they’re saying

Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui on facing Inter: “Inter will force us to play an extraordinary game. They are a team of a magnificent level, a team made to play in the Champions League who finished one point behind Juve in Serie A and has magnificent players and an experienced coach.”

Inter boss Antonio Conte on the task at hand“We have to play with the desire to win and bring the trophy back to Italy and to bring a trophy back to Inter. Sevilla will have the same idea, so we have to show that we’re the better team. For me, it’s always important to be able to say to the lads, at the end of the game, that we don’t have any regrets. If we’re the better side, we’ll lift the trophy. If not, we’ll have given our all, and we’ll applaud our opponents.”

Odds: Sevilla – Inter Milan – Full UEL, UCL odds

Sevilla is +235 to win the match, with Inter Milan a bit ahead at +125.

Prediction

Sevilla has a lot of weapons but Inter Milan has the star power at striker and hunger to end a relatively-long trophy drought for a club of its ilk. Look for Christian Eriksen and Romelu Lukaku to be celebrating silverware after a 3-1 win sends silverware to Milan.

Inter Milan vs. Sevilla Europa League final: Players to watch and tale of the tape ahead of Friday’s matchup Here’s what to know about each team entering the final in Cologne, Germany

By Roger Gonzalez   6 hrs ago2 min read CBS Sports Network

Two teams remain in the UEFA Europa League, and they’ll meet in the final on Friday as Inter Milan take on Sevilla. Inter were one of the favorites to win the competition after entering in the round of 32 following their elimination from the UEFA Champions League. Don’t discount Sevilla, who are five-time champions and not afraid of playing the big dogs, proving so in their semifinal win over Manchester United.But how did each team get here, how do they line up, who should you keep an eye on, and who has the edge? Let’s have a look. 

How they got here

With Europa League play picking back up in August, Sevilla beat Roma (3-0), Wolverhampton (1-0) and Manchester United (2-1) to make the final. Meanwhile, Inter Milan beat Getafe (2-0), Bayer Leverkusen (2-1) and Shakhtar Donetsk (5-0). 

Tactical breakdown

Inter like to line up in a 3-5-2 with wing backs, meaning their back line can shift from three to five at any moment. That wing back formation gives them a ton of width, and they love playing crosses into the box. The stars of the team are strikers Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, who combined for over 50 goals this season. They both scored twice in the semifinal win over Shakhtar. Sevilla are a side that typically use a 4-3-3 formation and are more compact in the middle. They do get wide in attack with fullbacks in Jesus Navas and Sergio Reguilon who love to get forward, allowing their attackers to stay more centrally. They use quick passes and their speed to create havoc in attack, while also possessing creativity in the middle in Ever Banega. 

Player to watch

For Sevilla, it’s probably Banega. This will be his last match for the club, and he’s the engine in the middle. He not the player he once was, but his ability to shield off defenders buys him time to ping clever balls forward. Inter’s is Lukaku because of his scoring threat. His first touch may be questionable at times, but he can score in a variety of ways and matches up well with the physical backline of Sevilla. 

Who has the edge?

Goalkeeper: Sevilla’s goalkeeper, Bono, is a fantastic, underrated shot-stopper. He saved some many golden chances against Manchester United, but Samir Handanovic of Inter is a star. He’s experienced as he approaches 300 matches with the Italian side and will be as motivated as ever to win his first major trophy. He’s just so sturdy in goal. Edge: Inter Milan

Defense: Both clubs have strong defenses, and while Sevilla are quicker and younger, Inter are more experienced. In a major final, give me experience with Diego Godin leading the way. Edge: Inter Milan

Midfield: They’re so different, but both have some ballers who can take over a game. Don’t discount the lesser known names in the middle of the park for Sevilla. Joan Jordan is a fantastic player who is only getting better, while Inter have Christian Eriksen off the bench. Edge: Tie

Forwards: This is the easiest one. One of these teams has Lautaro and Lukaku, and the other doesn’t. Lucas Ocampos is a fine player who has made a name for himself, but the combo of speed and size of Inter’s attack is just so superb. Edge: Inter Milan

Manager: Antonio Conte is the more experienced and successful manager, but Julen Lopetegui has fit in so well at Sevilla. While Conte has a loaded team, Lopetegui has done more with less, making this quite even. Edge: Tie.

PSG – Bayern Munich: How to watch UCL final, start time, team news, odds

Andy EdwardsNBC SportsAug 20, 2020, 2:38 PM

Bayern Munich – PSG looks set to be a thrilling UEFA Champions League final matchup on Sunday (start time, 3pm ET), featuring the “been there, done that” five-time European champions from Germany and the big-spending have-nots with all the French glory they could ever want but nothing from Europe’s biggest stage.Bayern were most recently crowned champions of Europe in 2013, when they topped fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium. Perhaps no side has been as dominant, or made it look so easy, as Bayern have done since the knockout rounds resumed two weeks ago. Whether they were embarrassing Barcelona 8-2 in the quarterfinals, or hammering Chelsea and Lyon, no side has finished a game or a two-leg tie fewer than three goals down.Not only have PSG never won the Champions League or the old European Cup, but they had never even been to the semifinal final round of Europe’s preeminent competition prior to knocking off RB Leipzig on Tuesday. Sunday’s showdown in Lisbon is set to be the culmination, in victory or defeat, of eight years of obscene investment by owners Qatar Sports Investment for the express purpose of winning the Champions League.Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Bayern Munich – PSG, including how to watch on TV in the USA and how to follow all of the action live.

How to watch, stream Champions League: Leipzig – PSG

Date: Sudnay, August 23, 3pm ET kick off
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
How to watch: CBS Sports Network
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com

What they’re saying: Bayern Munich – PSG

Bayern manager Hansi Flick on needing to improve defensively: “Lyon fought hard and made things hard for us, we know PSG have quick players and we will have to organize our defense differently. Paris are a great team, they fought their way into the semi-final and then reached the final. We know they have quick players, but we know our biggest strength is putting our opponents under pressure.”

PSG winger Angel di Maria on the historic occasion: “We’re very happy. It’s a first for the club. We worked hard and played a great game. We want to make history for the club. We succeeded tonight and we’re in the final, that’s very important. We have to continue like tonight to make our dream come true.”

Odds and ends – Full Champions League odds

Unsurprisingly, Bayern are favorites for the final (+105), but it’s hardly expected to be a landslide with PSG checking in at +230. The draw (+285) is the greatest outlier amongst the odds, with the expectation that someone will be crowned champions of Europe after 90 minutes.

Prediction

If ever we are to be treated to an exciting final with the potential for goals galore, Bayern Munich – PSG must be the one. Bayern have scored 15 goals in three games since the UCL resumed play, and PSG are as attack-happy as any side in the world. As the kids are saying these days, the sides have no chill. This feels like Bayern 3-2 PSG.   Massive, massive advantage to Bayern.

A Superclub Champions League Final With All the Fixins–Even the Ugly Ones

Bayern Munich and PSG are two rich and powerful star-laden clubs that have dominated their domestic competitions and have similar vulnerabilities. The connection, particularly PSG’s, to Qatar’s sportswashing cannot be forgotten amid the fanfare, though.JONATHAN WILSONAUG 20, 2020   SI 

The Champions League final will be a meeting of two superclubs, both of which have a very superclub way of playing. Both are used to dominating: Bayern Munich has won a domestic double, winning the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal titles. Paris Saint-Germain has won a domestic treble, claiming the Ligue 1 title and Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue trophies. Both are superb on the ball. Both attack with abandon. And both, unused to being properly and regularly tested, are defensively vulnerable. In that sense, this is the perfect modern final.But Bayern and PSG are not the same. Bayern has won five European Cup/Champions League titles before. It has won eight Bundesliga titles in a row. It has won more Bundesliga titles than every other German club put together. It is a club that represents pure capitalism, ruthlessly exploiting its dominant market position to the extent that when it pillages its rivals for their best players, the reaction tends to be little more than weary resignation at the natural order of things.PSG, though, represents something far more sinister. Founded in 1970 to try to give the French capital a team to compete with the might of Saint-Etienne, Marseille and Reims, it was taken over in 2011 by Qatari Sports Investments. It’s a subsidiary of the Qatari Investment Agency, the body established by the Qatari state in 2005 to manage the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund. No less than Manchester City, PSG is nakedly an agent of soft power, part of a broader attempt to popularize and enhance the image of the state through sport–of which hosting the 2022 World Cup is the centerpiece. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/XKufKb.2lUiJhkuU34S2rg--~A/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODQ7aD04NA--/https:/s.yimg.com/os/creatr-uploaded-images/2020-08/1e4cc100-db98-11ea-9ffe-f7091ab1e007
Barcelona’s Jennifer Hermoso (10) led Spain’s national team against the United States at last year’s World Cup, and battled Tobin Heath (17) in this year’s SheBelieves Cup.

Sevilla vs. Inter Milan

Friday, 3 p.m. (CBS Sports Network, UniMás, TUDN)

The spotlight shifts to the men Friday afternoon for the Europa League final in Köln, Germany. Sevilla is aiming for its sixth Europa League title, and it would be the third with the club for captain Jesús Navas.

Inter hasn’t won a trophy of any kind since the 2011 Club World Cup despite its status as an Italian heavyweight. This squad has the firepower to do it in playmaker Lautaro Martínez and striker Romelu Lukaku, who has four goals in his last three games.

Saturday, 2 p.m. (CBS All Access)

This is the most intriguing of the four women’s Champions League quarterfinals.

Arsenal has an outstanding attack with prolific Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema, Dutch playmaker Daniëlle van de Donk and English striker Beth Mead. Miedema — who has 60 goals over the last two years for Arsenal — and van de Donk also starred on the Netherlands squad that played the U.S. in last year’s World Cup final.

PSG forward Marie-Antoinette Katoto is one of France’s most underrated players, despite having scored 68 goals over the last three seasons for the club. She’s flanked by compatriot Kadidiatou Diani and two promising young Canadians, Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema. The midfield is anchored by Brazilian legend Formiga, who’s still great at age 42.

Vivianne Miedema, right, has scored 60 goals for Arsenal and 18 goals for the Netherlands over the last two years.
TESS DERRY / PA VIA AP Vivianne Miedema, right, has scored 60 goals for Arsenal and 18 goals for the Netherlands over the last two years.

Lyon vs. Bayern Munich

Saturday, 2 p.m. (CBS All Access)

Lyon, the biggest team in women’s club soccer, is the overwhelming favorite to win a historic fifth straight Champions League title. No team in the world has more stars on its roster, from towering French centerback Wendie Renard to German playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsán to Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg. Then there’s England’s Lucy Bronze, Japan’s Saki Kumagai, France’s Amandine Henry … and the list keeps going.

So of course Lyon is favored to win this game. But keep an eye on Bayern’s 21-year-old German midfielder Giulia Gwinn. She’s a rising star who’s already a major national team player.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: rivalries and returns

Ligue 1 returns along with a full slate of MLS action.

By jcksnftsn  Aug 21, 2020, 7:00am PDT

MLS returns in earnest with a rivalry weekend, which should lead to some entertaining matchups. Ligue 1 kicks off their 2020-21 season as well this weekend, which could lead to the long awaited return of Timothy Weah to the field with Lille. Here’s what you can catch this weekend:

Friday

Given the amount of MLS teams with at least one potential USMNT connection following all the games behind the paywall (literally every MLS game that’s not on network TV) is a bit more than we can bite off, so we won’t be regularly running down all these games. However, since all of Friday’s action is on ESPN+ (free trial here if you need it), here’s a quick look (all times Eastern):

Looking through the paywall:

  • FC Cincinnati v D.C. United at 7:30p on ESPN+. Bill Hamid is the most likely USMNT candidate in the short term playing for either team, but D.C. United’s Ben Olson has indicated that he may rely a bit more on young players such as Moses Neyman and Griffin Yow this season.
  • Minnesota United v Sporting Kansas City at 7:30p on ESPN+. Gianluca Busio saw some minutes in the MLS is Back tournament for Sporting Kansas City, while Chase Gasper was a surprise at LB for Minnesota and Mason Toye also saw some time.
  • Houston Dynamo v FC Dallas at 8p on ESPN+. FC Dallas have quite the group of potential USMNT players to watch, including Reggie CannonPaxton PomykalJesus Ferreira, Ricardo Pepi, Tanner Tessman, and Edwin Cerrillo, but the team is off to a slow start with a loss and a scoreless draw against Nashville in their opening two matches.
  • Toronto FC v Vancouver Whitecaps at 8p on ESPN+. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Marky Delgado started Toronto’s midweek 3-0 win over Vancouver. Ayo Akinola who was a bright spot in the tournament missed the match with a hamstring injury.

Saturday

Lille v Rennes – 3p on beIN Sports

Timothy Weah, who had a nightmare start to his time with Lille, is reportedly nearing his long-awaited return, though there are still questions about what role, if any, he will play this weekend. Weah suffered an injury just two matches into the 2019-2020 season and attempted a return in February, only to again be taken down by a hamstring injury just ten minutes into his time on the field. It’s been a hard year for Weah, but he appears to have maintained a positive attitude and a hunger to get back out on the field.

Lille will be facing a Rennes side that finished the abbreviated season in fourth place. Theoson Jordan Siebatcheu, who remains eligible to play for the United States (though there have been no real signs of bringing him in), played just 65 minutes for Rennes in their last 13 matches of the season.

Other Notes:

  • Ajax play a friendly against Red Bull Salzburg at 10a on ESPN Deportes. Sergiño Dest remains with the club and will likely see roughly 45 minutes.
  • PSV Eindhoven and Eintracht Frankfurt also have a friendly scheduled at noon on ESPN Deportes. Timothy Chandler may see the field for Frankfurt, while Richie Ledezma and Chris Gloster have yet to break through for PSV.
  • Los Angeles Football Club and the LA Galaxy meet in the latest edition of El Tráfico at 6p on Fox. The Galaxy will be looking to avoid a repeat of their embarrassing 6-2 loss to LAFC in the MLS is Back tournament. 19-year-old Julian Araujo is the most interesting player to keep an eye on, though Sebastian Lletget is probably closer to a USMNT call-up.
  • Sebastian Saucedo and Pumas UNAM face Tigres UANL at 8p on ESPN Deportes. Saucedo started Pumas UNAM’s most recent match, a scoreless draw with Mazatlan.

Sunday

Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders – 10p on FS1

MLS is Back champions Portland Timbers face the Sounders late on Sunday in what should be an entertaining match. Jeremy Ebobisse and Eryk Williamson were key players for Portland throughout the tournament, with Ebobisse scoring four goals to pair with an assist and Williamson seemingly popping up all over the place. The Sounders were easily handled by LAFC in the first round of elimination games, but Jordan Morris did pickup a goal and two assists in the group stages.

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8/18/20 – Champions League Semi’s Tues/Wed 3 pm TUDN, CBS All Access, US Tyler Adams goal sends RB Leipzig to Semi’s vs PSG today.

You can certainly can’t argue that the one game elimination style Champions League that the pandemic has forced has given us some exciting soccer and some incredible upsets. RB Leipzig scoring late with US star Tyler Adams scoring the winning goal (1st of his career for Leipzig) in the 88th minute was amazing.  See here – American Tyler Adams scores winning goal in the 88th minute for RB Leipzig to beat Atletico Madrid.

PSG scored 2 goals in the last 10 minutes to beat Atalanta and Man City was then handled by Lyon on Saturday 3-1 in another stunner.  Of course Bayern Munich’s dismantling of Barcelona 7-2 has lead to the firing of the Barca head coach and Sporting Director with more turmoil to come I am sure.  Will Messi stay or win he go??  Either way it leaves us with a battle of huge money fed teams in PSG and RB Leipzig facing off today at 3 pm on FUBO TV, TUDN and  (streamed on CBS all-access).  Tomorrow we get Bayern Munich vs upstart Lyon same time, same channels.  Again I got the Free month trial so I could watch these games on CBS All Access in English.  I will admit the 1 hour pregame and 1 hour + post game shows are fantastic with Kate Abdo leading the panel of former stars.  It’s the best pre and post game I have ever seen – much like we handle the NFL normally.  Great to see – I just wish it was on CBS Sports Network so everyone could see it on TV.  By the way the games are being re-played each night on CBSSN if you would like to wait and watch at 9 pm each night.  Great Preview Stories below on the Ole Ballcoach !  I like Bayern 3-1 and PSG in a tight one 3-2 over RB Leipzig – though wouldn’t it be fun to see an American Tyler Adams in the Champions League Finals. 

UCL round of 16 hits U.S. viewer high

Saturday’s FC Barcelona-Napoli UEFA Champions League round of 16 match averaged 1.1 million viewers on Univision and TUDN, the largest audience on record for the round of 16 on U.S. television. Meanwhile, Manchester City-Real Madrid averaged 571,000 on UniMas and TUDN Friday, ranking sixth all-time for the round.English-language coverage aired on CBS Sports Network, which is not Nielsen-rated.

GAMES ON TV 

Tues,  Aug 18

3 pm FuboTV,                      RB Leipzig vs PSG Champs League Semis

Weds,  Aug 19

3 pm FuboTV,                      Bayern Munich vs Lyon Champs League Semis

Fri, Aug 21

3 pm FuboTV, TUDN, CBSSN   Inter vs Sevilla Europa League Finals

Sun, Aug 23

3 pm FuboTV, CBSSN         Champions League Finals

10 pm ESPN?                       Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders MLS

Champions League

Fans are biggest losers in ugly CL matchup

The Champions League semifinal matchup between Paris-Saint Germain and RB Leipzig is tough given how both teams represent the dark side of the sport.Who do you root for? »
Champions League semifinal preview: PSG, Neymar too good for Leipzig? Can Lyon stop mighty Bayern?

Champions League stage set for Neymar to prove he’s one of the best
UEFA Champions League semifinals: Paris Saint-Germain vs. RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich vs. Lyon offer intrigue

Yahoo DFS Soccer: Tuesday/Wednesday UCL Picks

Key battles for UEFA Champions League semifinals

American Tyler Adams scores winning goal in the 88th minute for RB Leipzig to beat Atletico Madrid

USMNT’s Adams helps Leipzig upset Atletico late
Leizpig’s Nagelsmann faces Tuchel reunion after besting Mourinho, Simeone

Qatar versus Red Bull — a Champions League semi-final for the 21st century

‘Greedy’ Bayern wary of Man City-slayers Lyon

Is Guardiola’s UCL drought a sign he’s no longer a genius?

Mbappe mocks Ligue 1’s ‘farmers league’ label after Lyon reach UCL semis

 Europa League
Solskjaer on Europa exit: Manchester United “will have to learn”

Inter’s ‘LuLa’ partnership fired up to end wait for trophy

Lukaku, Lautaro lead Inter back among the European elite

‘Records there to be broken’ as Lukaku extends run

De Gea shrugs off criticism, says he is still safe pair of hands

Barcelona sack Setien, Koeman favourite to take charge

Champions League semifinal preview: PSG, Neymar too good for Leipzig? Can Lyon stop mighty Bayern?

4:40 PM ETESPN

fter a dizzying, dramatic slate of quarterfinals in Lisbon, Portugal, that saw last-second drama (PSG vs. Atalanta), historic scores (Bayern Munich 8, Barcelona 2) and a pair of serious updates (RB Leipzig over Atletico MadridLyon knocking Man City out), we’re down to the final four in the UEFA Champions League. Two games pitting Ligue 1 sides against Bundesliga opposition are up next, as Lyon face Bayern and RB Leipzig look to end PSG’s date with destiny.Which teams are likely to move on to the final? Which players could be decisive in either contest?

Here’s your preview for the semifinals.

RB LEIPZIG vs. PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (Tues., 3 p.m. ET)

RB Leipzig

Master vs. Apprentice

When Julian Nagelsmann was forced into premature retirement as a young central defender at Augsburg in 2008, it was his then-coach, Thomas Tuchel, who nudged him down the coaching path. Under Tuchel, Nagelsmann (still on the Augsburg payroll) started scouting and then took his first steps into coaching as an assistant with 1860 Munich U-

Key players

Naglesmann’s approach is all about transitions and the speed of turning defence into attack. Dayot Upamecano, their towering centre-back, was magnificent against Atletico Madrid and neutralized the threat of Diego Costa with ease. Upamecano will have his hands full trying to stop Neymar and Mauro Icardi.

– Hamilton: Adams the hero as Leipzig beat Atletico

With Werner at Chelsea, the pressure is on Leipzig’s forwards to deliver. Yussuf Poulsen will be their go-to striker, but Marcel Sabitzer is integral. The Austrian attacking midfielder has 16 goals and 11 assists to his name, and Leipzig will need him to be at his most creative vs. PSG.

Why they will win

Leipzig have a fearless mentality. In short, the bigger the opponent, the greater the opportunity. They are defensively solid, and through the brilliance of Naglesmann’s tactical approach, they can switch from a 3-4-3, to a 3-4-1-2 or a 4-2-3-1 in the blink of an eye. The players have an inherent understanding of their roles and are equally confident in moving out of position to plug gaps. They are so hard to break down, with Kevin Kampl integral to their system as he hovers in front of the back three snaffling out any potential attacking threats.

Why they will not win

They have one thing going against them, and it’s a big one: the absence of Werner. He scored 34 goals for them this season and was the heartbeat of their rapid attack. While they’ve already moved to sort that for next season with the signing of Hwang Hee-Chan from Salzburg, on Tuesday night they will need players to once again step out of the Werner shadows and embrace the spotlight. — Tom Hamilton

Paris Saint-Germain

1:58

Mbappe & Neymar will have to be ‘special’ to make UCL final

Frank Leboeuf says PSG have “many question marks” heading into their Champions League semifinal vs. RB Leipzig.

This is Neymar’s time to shine

When you think of the PSG version of Neymar in the Champions League, you think of inconsistency and an inability to deliver, having missed their last two exits from the competition because of injury. In the round of 16 against Dortmund, Neymar was equal parts brash and brilliant. Against Atalanta, he was wasteful in front of goal but never stopped trying to crack the Serie A side’s defenses. Apart from Lionel Messi, no one else can dribble past people like him and can own a game like he did against the Italians. He was the only creative touch against them. He was PSG’s attacking system alone.

– Laurens: PSG end their Champions League curse
– Marcotti: Atalanta’s story is far from over

The French champions relied on him against Dortmund in the past 16 and he delivered with two goals. They relied on him against Atalanta and he carried them, assisting the first goal and with a second assist on the second. They will rely on him again on Tuesday against RB Leipzig. Will he take them to the final? That’s why they signed him. That’s why he left Barcelona. He has two more games to get to the top of Europe, like in 2015 with Barca, but this time, he would be the main man doing it like he wanted it.Key players

Neymar will of course be the leader, but Kylian Mbappé will be his faithful lieutenant, the duo resembling a footballing version of Batman and Robin. The French prodigy is back in the semifinal of the Champions League three years after reaching it with Monaco in 2017. At the time, he was 18 and had taken Europe both by storm and by surprise. This is a different, better KMB, and he is where we expect him to be. Like against Atalanta, his pace and his partnership with Neymar will cause havoc in the Leipzig defence.

Then there is Marquinhos, the best hybrid centre-back/holding midfielder in the world. No other player can do both jobs as well as him. He will be key for PSG once more, as he will have to protect his back four from the waves of Leipzig attacks as well as providing the right balance in transition for his team. At 26, he is also a real leader even if he doesn’t wear the armband; he told his teammates not to panic against Atalanta when they were 1-0 down and to not give up when the clock was ticking down.

Why PSG will win

The Parisians are giants both in terms of their star power and their financial might. They’re the haves against Leipzig’s have-nots, and they’re on a mission. Before the coronavirus pandemic lockdown and before they faced Dortmund in the last 16 second leg, with a 2-1 deficit to overturn, they made a pact as a group to go all the way. They believed this was their season, and they’re proving it so far.

Better yet, their individuals are in top form, unlike in previous seasons. Neymar, Mbappé, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva form a winning spine capable of carrying this team to the final. They have too much brilliance for Leipzig to combat, especially given Neymar’s form. That brilliance extends to the coaching battle: Tuchel knows Nagelsmann better than anyone else and he will be ready to win the tactical battle against him, especially to beat Leipzig’s press.

Why PSG will not win

The expectations are massive. Having waited 25 years for this opportunity, not reaching the final four of the Champions League/European Cup since 1995, the pressure could be crippling. PSG don’t usually cope well with this kind of stress, having crashed out of this competition in the quarterfinals or earlier in each of the past seven attempts. Despite boasting the likes of Mbappe, Neymar, Edinson Cavani and even Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Champions League has been truly beyond their grasp.

The French champions are not used to facing a team like Leipzig that plays with so much energy, intensity and movement. It will be tough for them to keep up with all the runs from the wing-backs, the forwards and the midfielders.

Based on the latest training sessions, it looks like Tuchel will revert to his favourite 4-4-2 formation for this game, which would be a mistake, as it would play into Leipzig’s hands, especially in midfield where PSG risk to be totally outplayed. The other risk is that if things start going wrong and if Leipzig take the lead, Neymar or Mbappe will try to do their thing on their own and it will be counterproductive for the team. — Julien Laurens

Predictions

If Leipzig can keep PSG’s attacking riches at bay, they will book their place in the Champions League final with a 2-1 victory. — Tom Hamilton

PSG is stronger individually but Leipzig is better collectively. However, in a game like this, I think individual talent will prevail. PSG will win 2-1. — Julien Laurens


https://thepodium.espncreativeworks.com/poll/5f382527022c320028975676/5f38255b022c320028975681 size=1 width=”100%” noshade style=’color:#A5A6A7′ align=center>

OLYMPIQUE LYON vs. BAYERN MUNICH (Wed., 3 p.m. ET)

Lyon

The secret to Lyon’s success: This was never on the cards. Never, at any point this season, did something about Lyon’s game make you think they would be on the verge of something so special in the Champions League. Yet, here they are. They managed to defy adversity and negativity all season, even weathering the premature end to the Ligue 1 season caused by the coronavirus outbreak across the globe.

Coach Rudi Garcia and his players created a fantastic team spirit, a sense of togetherness and a mental strength that has taken them 90 minutes from the Champions League final. They also found the perfect tactical system for them — a 3-5-2 that suits most of their top players. In this formation, they’re hard to break down and hard to beat. They are solid in midfield, crowding out opponents, they’re disciplined in the tackle and they can play on the counterattack.

The FC crew debate if the better team won the Champions League tie between Man City and Lyon.

The other secret is the emergence of a remarkable midfield three. In Houssem Aouar, Lyon already had a gem on their hands. This could be his last game for the club if a bigger team comes for him this summer, but Aouar has been a wonderful technical leader. He is the total package: can create scoring chances, retain possession under pressure and advance with the ball through tackles even in his own half.

– Olley: Guardiola outthinks himself vs. Lyon

Next to him, Lyon have unearthed a real star in the making in Bruno Guimaraes. The Brazilian was already praised in his country but quite unknown in Europe. Not anymore, as the holding midfielder was superb against Juventus and Manchester City. The third and last musketeer in the Lyon midfield is the youngest and the new kid on the block, Maxence Caqueret, 20, who plays with the maturity of a 30-year-old. Everything is clean with him, and he puts so much pressure on the opposition too.

Key players

In addition to the aforementioned Houssem Aouar, Bayern must heed the threat created by Memphis Depay, who arguably shouldn’t even be playing. When he injured a knee before Christmas, he and club officials thought that his season was over. On Wednesday, he will lead his team as the captain into one of the biggest games in Lyon’s history. He wants to make his second chance count.

Equally, this is a great opportunity for Depay to show how far he’s come since his disappointing spell at Manchester United. He was young then, and probably not ready after leaving PSV. At Lyon, he’s found himself again. Whether he plays at a false nine or a second striker, his influence on the team’s game is huge. He is the boss of this team — its guide and its soul. For Lyon to beat Bayern, they will need a great night from him and a great partnership with Karl Toko Ekambi, who complements him well up front with his runs.Why Lyon will win

No one expected them to get this far, and they will keep doing what has worked so far against Juventus and City: defend deep with a back five and play on the counter. It should be effective if Bayern stick with their high line, giving Lyon opportunities and room to run in behind. There will be lots of space there for Depay, Toko Ekambi and the wing-backs to exploit. In midfield, the three young Lyonnais should cope with the pressure from Bayern’s midfield.

Why Lyon won’t win

Did you see what Bayern did to Barcelona? Make no mistake, Lyon are facing the favorites to win it all. There will be no shame in losing against a better side, one that has the experience in midfield to block Lyon’s trio. Stopping Alfonso Davies and Robert Lewandowski could also be very difficult and could cost them the game with an early goal. — Julien Laurens

Bayern Munich

Is this Bayern’s trophy to lose?

Where do you go after you’ve already scored eight against Lionel Messi & Co.? That’s the challenge facing Bayern Munich: how to keep it going. Having secured a spot in Champions League immortality with that once-in-a-lifetime result, they know it’ll count for nothing unless they back it up with two more wins and the trophy.

Oliver Kahn, the great Bayern Munich goalkeeper, is now on their board and said recently that the club needs to win the Champions League “more often.” (Their last title: 2012-13, when they beat Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund 2-1.)

– Marcotti: Bayern’s brilliance, not Barca’s woe, the story
– Hunter: Barca’s humiliation is their own fault

“I look at the future and it is not enough to win the Champions League title one time every 10 years,” he continued. Well, there’s the challenge to Hansi Flick’s side and a sign of their ambition. The Bundesliga title — as others like Maurizio Sarri at Juventus found after clinching Serie A — is no longer enough to satisfy the hunger of ambitious boardrooms. But this is now Bayern Munich’s Champions League to lose.

They have been magnificent all season, dominated the Bundesliga and far away lead the Champions League standings for expected goals, or xG (31.38), have averaged 4.3 goals per game and are second behind Manchester City for expected assists, or xA (19.67). They have incredible depth — just look at their bench against Barcelona, as they were able to bring on Kingsley Coman and Philippe Coutinho to strengthen their grip on the match — and the world’s best striker in Robert Lewandowski. Then they have unsung heroes such as Joshua Kimmich, the box-office talent of Davies and the ever-calm Manuel Neuer between the posts.

Key players

You can pick anyone from Bayern’s remarkable squad, but it’s hard to look past their brilliant raumdeuter (or, literally, “space interpreter”) Thomas Muller. The attacking midfielder was out of the picture under previous manager Nico Kovac, but Flick’s introduction saw Muller return to centre stage and he has been outstanding for Bayern this season. He is their glue: always the link man in attack (he has registered 21 assists this term) and also chips in with his fair share of goals. He has a wonderfully unique style and the deftest touch on the ball; with freedom in attack, he’s so difficult to mark.

Alongside Müller, Bayern will also need David Alaba to be on form in the heart of their defence. The 28-year-old has formed an impressive partnership with Jerome Boateng, but he will need to be on song to halt the likes of Depay and Moussa Dembele. He was vulnerable against Barcelona, and though it didn’t cost Bayern in the end, he’ll need to rebound quickly for the challenge of Lyon.Why Bayern will win

When you have Lewandowski in the team, you fancy your chances, but Bayern are far bigger than just one man. Their motto “Mia san Mia” roughly translates to “we are who we are” and is the lifeblood of their identity — everything flows through this, and they put so much emphasis on team harmony and a collective will. Flick manages the club through encouragement, rather than an authoritarian approach, and the players have responded.

Boateng, their impressive veteran centre-back, has previously spoken of how Flick has brought the fun back to Bayern and the players are clearly thriving. They dominated the Bundesliga, winning their eighth straight title by 13 points, and have Champions League winners in the squad in Müller, Neuer, Alaba and Boateng. In short, they know how to win.

Why Bayern won’t win

Lyon won’t be overawed by Bayern, after the French side polished off Man City, and will target the German champions’ centre-backs, looking to push and pull Boateng and Alaba out of position. Both defenders are vulnerable to pace given Bayern’s propensity to play a high line; if the likes of Davies and Kimmich are isolated upfield, there could be room for Depay & Co. to exploit. — Tom Hamilton

Predictions

I think that Bayern will be too good for Lyon. I can see the Germans winning 3-1. — Julien Laurens

Bayern Munich will come through with a 4-2 victory, Lewandowski will score and Müller will have an outstanding game. — Tom Hamilton

PSG vs. RB Leipzig: Which team do you want to lose in the Champions League semifinal more?

Ryan BaileyYahoo SportsAug 17, 2020, 6:08 PM https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.html?screen_name=RyanJayBailey&show_screen_name=false&show_count=false

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that this season has been very strange. It is, therefore, appropriate that we have ended up with a curious Champions League final four

In a European campaign defined by the coronavirus pandemic pause and a single-elimination denouement in Lisbon, we have arrived at the most diverse range of semifinalists in decades. None of the finalists in the last six years of the competition are still in the competition, and it’s the first time since the 1992 Champions League rebrand that the semifinals have not featured a team from England, Spain or Italy.Tournament favorites Bayern Munich — who didn’t even appear to be playing at their best during their 8-2 humiliation of Barcelona — are the only “heritage” team who may be expected to attend the final stages of Europe’s premier domestic competition. Lyon, who finished seventh in Ligue 1 this season, were able to get the better of moneyed powerhouse Manchester City to secure their second-ever semifinal berth. Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, are in the semifinals for the first time since 1995, when star striker George Weah led them deep in the competition. The current President of Liberia earned the Ballon d’Or for his efforts in that campaign. At the time, Neymar was 3 years old.And the final four is rounded out by RB Leipzig, who are making their debut at this stage in the competition, having being established as a club with taurine-fueled propulsion in 2009.With such a broad and unexpected range of teams, competing in an urgent format, this season’s Champions League group stage is a treat for neutral fans. But those without a dog in the fight have a difficult decision to make when it comes to Tuesday’s semifinal between Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.The reason? It’s hard to know who to hate more.Has there ever been a Champions League knockout game between two teams who are so thoroughly maligned by the soccer community?Let’s start with the case against RB Leipzig. On the surface, the East German side may hold appeal for the American fan: They are funded by Red Bull, which is familiar to MLS supporters for rebranding the New York/New Jersey MetroStars team in 2006. They play an exciting brand of soccer that isn’t built around megastars, and are guided by 33-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann. They’re also a touchstone club for USMNT fans thanks to midfielder Tyler Adams, who scored the winning goal in the quarterfinal.

RB Leipzig are, however, by far the most hated team in Germany. For many, they represent the antithesis of what a club should be, and a damning encapsulation of corporate “modern soccer.”

Not only were they started by a multinational company — which is looked down upon in the European game, as teams are traditionally built by local communities — but they purchased the rights from fifth-tier side SSV Markranstadt to obtain their league license. Yes, they bought a place in the German league while putting another club out of existence.

RB Leipzig’s name technically stands for “RassenBallsport Leipzig,” but it is clear that they exist, at least in part, to market an energy drink.

A Borussia Dortmund fan who participated in a mass boycott of an RB Leipzig match in 2016 explained why many are irked by Leipzig’s origin story. “Dortmund makes money, but we do it in order to play football,” the fan said. “Leipzig plays football in order to sell a product and a lifestyle. That’s the difference.”

This is such a sticking point in the German soccer community that “11Freunde,” the biggest soccer magazine in Germany, is refusing to cover Leipzig’s Champions League run.

The East Germans are also heavily criticized for the manner in which they have flouted German soccer rules that are intended to keep clubs democratically controlled by their members. The “50+1 rule” ensures that fans own a majority of the stakes in teams, with very few exceptions. RB Leipzig have bent the rules to restrict their membership to less than 20 people, most of whom are Red Bull executives. 

German fans make no secret of their hatred for the side that’s ascended from the fifth tier to the semifinals of the Champions League in a little over a decade. In addition to boycotts, Leipzig are regularly treated to unwelcoming banners on away trips, and their fans are referred to as “customers.” Union Berlin held a silent 15-minute protest in their first-ever Bundesliga match in August 2019, as Leipzig were their visitors. In 2016, Dynamo Dresden fans threw a severed bull’s head onto the field to greet their energy drink-funded guests. 

The open disdain for Leipzig is clear on a domestic level, but it is probably eclipsed by PSG on an international level. Like Leipzig, the Parisians are a young club, having only started in 1970. The Ligue 1 side enjoyed success in the 1990s, but were elevated to the very top tier of the game when they were purchased by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in 2011.PSG have spent over a billion Euros since their takeover, and have become virtually unassailable in their domestic league, winning seven of the last eight Ligue 1 titles. The malice directed at them, however, isn’t due to the amount of money they spend. It’s the source of the money, and what it represents. 

The club is fully backed by a Gulf state that is frequently criticized for denouncing basic human rights. PSG stands accused of being a tool of political “soft power,” whereby Qatar aims to increase its appeal and standing in the western world via its megastar-laden soccer team. 

Of course, the Parisians are not the only team to benefit from state backing: Manchester City enjoy a similar arrangement with Abu Dhabi. And they are far from the only team in the world to have risen to power thanks to finances obtained from potentially dubious and allegedly unethical sources. Isn’t that right, Chelsea fans?

For many, however, PSG’s combination of problematic funding, a lack of history and a healthy dose of hubris form a particularly unedifying combination.  

Thus, Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal is the Battle of the Maligned Monoliths. 

It is not Paris against Leipzig; it is Political Influence against Rampant Commercialism. 

It may be possible for the neutral fan to appreciate the quality of the product on the field, but it will be more challenging to pick a side to back. 

But whether we like it or not, the game and its machinations are changing before our eyes. And one of these teams is heading to the Champions League final.

Yahoo DFS Soccer: Tuesday/Wednesday UCL Picks

Schuyler Redpath

RotoWire.comAug 18, 2020, 3:39 AM

MATCHES (ET)

FORWARDS

Robert Lewandowski, FCB at LYN (€30): Lewandowski continues to put up video-game like numbers, bagging a goal and an assist in Bayern’s 8-2 thrashing of Barcelona and registering 25 points. He’s three goals away from equaling Cristiano Ronaldo‘s single-season record, and with Bayern heavily favored to advance, it would not be surprising to see him make a run at the record in the semifinal versus Lyon.

Neymar, PSG at RBL (€28)Neymar had his way, for the most part, in PSG’s 2-1 win over Atalanta in the quarterfinals, yet he only came away with an assist despite firing off seven shots. He drew a ridiculous nine fouls and created four chances, highlighting his ability to rack up fantasy points regardless of whether he gets on the score-sheet. Expect the Brazilian superstar to play an integral role in seeing PSG through to the final.

Thomas Muller, FCB at LYN (€21): Muller was in fine form in Bayern’s quarterfinal win over Barcelona, scoring two goals and adding an assist for 27 points. It feels a bit like chasing points here, but on a short slate and with Bayern overwhelming favorites to advance, Muller’s salary is within reason to plug him in as part of a Bayern Munich stack.

MIDFIELDERS

Angel Di Maria, PSG at RBL (€25): Di Maria is set to return from suspension for Tuesday’s UCL semifinal against RB Leipzig. The versatile attacker will be a welcome spark after the French side were shut out for 90 minutes before scoring two goals in the dying minutes to advance. He stands over a share of set pieces and his 10 goals and 18 assists on the season show just how involved he is in the PSG attack.

Joshua Kimmich, FCB at LYN (€22): Kimmich got in on the fun with a goal and an assist in Bayern’s 8-2 shellacking of Barcelona. He topped 22 points in that one, and as Bayern’s primary set-piece taker, he comes with a reliable floor and big attacking upside.

Christopher Nkunku, RBL vs. PSG (€10): Nkunku has scored more than three fantasy points just once in this season’s UCL, but we’re going back to the well with him here thanks to his bare minimum price. He typically splits set pieces with defender Angelino (€18), and he turned in 13 assists during the Bundesliga campaign, so it’s not a complete dart throw. More than anything, he opens up funds to fit in the big names.

DEFENDERS

Alphonso Davies, FCB at LYN (€18): Davies showed why he’s considered one of the best young prospects in the world with a dazzling display in the quarterfinal win over Barcelona. He tallied an assist and seven points, and frankly, that point haul just doesn’t do his performance justice. The Canadian sensation is constantly getting forward and making things happen on the left wing, and there’s no reason to think we don’t see more of the same in the semifinal versus Lyon.

Jerome Boateng, FCB at LYN (€12): Boateng doesn’t offer much from an attacking perspective, but I’m okay with using him here as a cheap inlet to the Bayern Munich defense, one that has by far the best clean sheet odds on the slate.

Thilo Kehrer, PSG at RBL (€12): Kehrer is another value defender play to help make way for the big dogs. He doesn’t get involved on the attacking end very often, but with PSG favored to get the job done, there’s a chance he collects enough points on the defensive end to make value.

GOALKEEPER

Anthony Lopes, LYN vs. FCB (€10) : We took a shot with Lopes on the last slate, and he paid big dividends with six saves and 11 points in staving off Premier League powerhouse Manchester City. There’s no doubt this is a risky play after watching Bayern Munich score eight goals on Barcelona, but the opportunity for bulk save points will surely be there. If he can parry enough opportunities away to offset any goals allowed, Lopes could come up with another serviceable score at minimum price.